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A Valentine and A Book Review: Field Guide to Homicide

Happy Valentine’s Day! I grew up in Loveland, Colorado, so you can bet Valentine’s Day was a pretty big deal. Hot air balloons, a Miss Valentine, and even a signature Valentine card each year that people all over the country ordered and sent through our post office to their loved ones. When I wrote my novella, A Heart for Murder, I was channeling all that pink and red goodness from growing up in Loveland.

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Onto my Friday cozy mystery review! I read and really like A Field Guide to Homicide, mostly because it was about writers. Sometimes I feel like being a writer is akin to being the mother of a special needs child. Very few people understand what problems and joys you face in your journey. Author Lynn Cahoon writes her series with writers trying to get agents and working through drafts, editing, plotting. If you aren’t a writer, you get a pretty accurate picture of the job.

Here is my Review:

This is the first book I’ve read in this series and greatly enjoyed the atmosphere created by Cahoon at the writer’s retreat. If you are a writer or just love to read, you like these people. They bounce around the mechanics of writing along with agents and the business side of the job. The writers find the body of a man thought dead years ago and mystery begins there. This cozy mystery not only gives you a puzzle to solve but a chance to spend some time with interesting people.

More about this book:

Cat’s sweetheart, Seth, is going all out on an outing into the local mountains—for the benefit of the writing group Cat’s hosting at her Colorado B&B. But when they try to identify some plant and animal life, they find death instead. The body belongs to a man with a gold claim a few miles away. Instead of striking it rich, he’s been struck down.
 
To his surprise, Seth recognizes the victim from his military days—and up to now believed he’d already died during his last tour of duty. Now Cat has to solve this mystery before the killer takes a hike . . .

Where to get a Field Guide to Homicide

Book Review: Death Comes to the Nursery

Click on the book cover to go to Catherine’s website to order from your favorite retailer.

This week we are traveling back in time Regency England where Lady Lucy has found she is expecting her second child. What to do? Hire a nursery attendant–who is drop-dead gorgeous.

Here is my review-

Death Comes to the Nursery is a part of the Kurland St. Mary Mystery Series. Lady Lucy and Sir Robert hire an attractive young girl to become a nursery attendant for their 18-month-old son. The problem with employing such a beautiful woman is that men begin to flock to her to the point of fighting for her attention. Because this is a mystery, nothing is as it seems, and Lady Lucy and Sir Robert follow the clues and end up investigating the seedier side of the theater scene in London. This is a light enjoyable mystery with a touch of cozy!

I obtained this book through Net Galley and have left an honest review.

Other Exciting News!

Die Die Blackbird is out in ebook and print form! Click here to go to the book page. I will be having a book tour for this third book in the Piney Woods Series in March, so stay tuned for tour stops and PRIZES!

News on My Latest Mystery and a Book Review

Believe it or not, I don’t always read cozy mysteries. I love historical mysteries and women’s fiction. I found this one on Net Galley and just loved it! I put myself on the waiting list for another of her books, The White City.

My Review: Edyth Foster is your average twenty-five year old in the year 1887 who loves fencing and her fencing instructor Bane. She is about to come into her fortune when she is involuntarily committed to an institution. I really enjoyed this story! The romance, pacing, and history were all well done. I would highly recommend it, but set aside some time. You won’t be able to put it down.

CLICK HERE TO GO TO GRACE’S SITE AND ORDER THIS BOOK FROM YOUR FAVORITE RETAILER

Die Die Blackbird is now out in paperback at Amazon which means the ebook is due any day. I loved writing this and taking another trip into the paranormal, or at least the world of the paranormal investigator. Do you believe a ghost can haunt an old hotel? I stayed a night in the hotel The Shining was based on and I would have to say…YES.

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Oh Holy Fright-An Excerpt- The Port-a-Potty King is there for Aunt Maggie

As we get closer to Christmas, I wanted to share some of my Christmas mystery, Oh Holy Fright. I love creating characters for my little town, and one of my favorites is Lester Jibbets, the port-a-potty king. I couldn’t think of a funnier thing to make into a business empire than portable toilets, so Lester was born.

In this scene, which is the opening of the book, Aunt Maggie is angry because Joe, the choir director, gave her solo in the Christmas Eve production to another woman who can’t sing. She suspects something fishy is going on and vows never to sing another note.

Excerpt- Oh Holy Fright

 “What would possess Joe Nelson to give the Christmas solo to a woman who sings like a washing machine full of rocks?” Aunt Maggie’s voice echoed in the community center gym, the location hosting many of the neighborhood churches for the Christmas Eve service. Her attitude was in direct contrast to Rudolph’s blinking nose on her fire engine red Christmas sweatshirt.

“Ooh. You better watch out,” Danny whispered in my ear. “When Mama says words like that, it’s best to look busy.” I had just picked up Danny from the Christmas party for people with disabilities held at his adult care center. Today he seemed especially happy for some reason. And from the way he kept giggling, I could tell Danny had a secret he was bursting to tell me.

“Joe!” Aunt Maggie called out.

The choir director, who was busily engaged in a conversation with Enid Sanford—solo-stealer and owner of the voice that sounded like a washing machine full of rocks—didn’t respond.

“Joe!” she bellowed.

When he failed to respond a second time, she stomped back, turned him around by the shoulders, and plopped her slender black music folder into his hands.

“Take it. I can’t sing in a choir where my voice isn’t heard.”

I had to admit, Maggie was one of the better singers in the holiday choir. Some of the other vocalists possessed lesser talent. One time when I was watching Joe’s friend Howard Gunther at the soundboard, I noticed he was turning down certain microphones. It was wonderful these people volunteered, but some of the singers could be described as cats screeching in the night. Enid Sanford was one of those people; when she hit the high C, it could make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

Leaving an astonished Joe, Maggie returned to us. “Well, that’s it. You’re hearing it right here and now. I am quitting the Pecan Bayou Singers. They can jingle their bells with somebody else.”

Lester Jibbets, a tall wiry man with protruding cheekbones and the owner of the most successful port-a-potty business in Central Texas, walked over waving a bony hand. “I totally agree, Maggie. What happened here is nothing short of criminal. It will ruin the Christmas Eve performance, uh huh.” He nodded his head to reinforce his point.

“Thanks, Lester,” Maggie said, about to continue her tirade, but Lester just kept talking.

“Yes, sir, I knew right away I needed to come over and help a beautiful lady in trouble, I did.” More nods.

“Thank you, Lester,” Maggie repeated, but this time she waited. Lester Jibbets was not an easy man to shut up once he got started. I guess the portable bathroom business is pretty lonely, even if you’re at the top of your game.

Click Here to Get Your Copy of Oh Holy Fright

Cozy Prizes Friday: Bookmarked for Murder

Let’s get on the bus with Nana Jo and the residents of Shady Acres and go do some gambling! V.M. Burns is back with another great Mystery Bookshop Mystery! Don’t forget to scroll down and enter Valerie’s giveaway and to read my review!

 

About Bookmarked for Murder

Bookmarked for Murder (Mystery Bookshop)
Cozy Mystery
5th in Series

Amateur sleuth Samantha Washington’s shopping trip to Chicago takes a deadly detour when a man is murdered on her bus . . .

After some post-Christmas retail therapy in the Windy City, mystery bookshop owner and historical whodunit novelist Sam Washington is returning home to North Harbor, Michigan, on a chartered bus. With Nana Jo and her gal pals Irma, Dorothy, and Ruby Mae from Shady Acres Retirement Village along for the ride, it’s a lively trip. But one passenger is not so lively—a gentleman Irma befriended is found dead in his seat after an unscheduled stop. The ladies immediately shift gears to find out who punched his ticket, while Sam slips into the driver’s seat to make sure Nana Jo and her crew steer clear of fatal conclusions . . .

 

My Review:

Bookmarked for Murder is the second book I’ve read in the Mystery Bookshop Series, and it was like visiting family. I love Nana Jo and the crowd from Shady Acres. I loved Irma with her hooker heels and way of finding a man to flirt with and another resident who seems to be knitting all the time. The main character, Samantha, is not only escorting the group to go gambling, but she also runs a mystery book store and is busily writing a regency mystery novel. During the bus trip, a gentleman who was writing about the death of Robert Kennedy is found dead. Sam, along with her detective boyfriend, set us on a journey to find his killer. There were several times I laughed out loud while reading this book.

About V.M. Burns

V.M. Burns was born in Northwestern Indiana and spent many years in Southwestern Michigan on the Lake Michigan shoreline. She is a lover of dogs, British historic cozies, and scones with clotted cream. After many years in the Midwest, she went in search of milder winters and currently lives in Eastern Tennessee with her poodles. Her debut novel, The Plot is Murder was nominated for a 2017 Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Valerie is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and a lifetime member of Sisters in Crime. Readers can learn more by visiting her website at vmburns.com

Author Links:

Website: http://www.vmburns.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vmburnsbooks/

Twitter: @vmburns

Purchase Links – AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieBoundBooks-A-MillionHudson BooksellersKobo
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Review of Murder She Wrote: A Time for Murder

You know how much I love Jessica Fletcher! There is a new Murder She Wrote out in this beloved series and you’re going to love it. Let’s go back in time to when Jessica was an English teacher.

Description:

n the fiftieth entry in this USA Today bestselling series, two timelines converge as Jessica Fletcher returns to high school to investigate the murder of an old colleague, while we meet Jessica as a young teacher solving her very first murder…

Young Jessica Fletcher’s life couldn’t be more ordinary. She teaches at the local high school while she and her loving husband, Frank, are raising their nephew Grady together. But when the beloved principal dies under mysterious circumstances, Jessica knows something is off and, for the very first time, investigates a death.

Present-day Jessica returns to high school for a colleague’s retirement party and has fun seeing familiar faces. That is, until the colleague winds up dead–and his death has mysterious links to Jessica’s very first murder case. 

With nothing but her own instincts to guide her, Jessica embarks on a quest to find out what really happened all those years ago and who’s behind these murders. Because time is running out to catch this killer….

Click Here to Buy This Book on Amazon

My Review:

This is the second Jessica Fletcher novel by Jon land, and I liked it even more than the first. First of all, the “Tup” is back. Amos Tupper shows up in this one in modern-day and as a detective in a mystery that goes way back into Jessica’s past when Frank was still alive. It was wonderful hearing some of the backstories on Jessica, Amos, Frank, and Grady and finding out about the very first murder she ever solved as a substitute teacher. I enjoyed this book from beginning to end. The body count in this one was a little high, but I was riveted to the unfolding of the mystery and getting to visit with some of my favorite characters.

Cozy Prizes Friday: Favorite Recipes From Cozy Writers

As we all begin to think about delicious holiday dishes right around the corner, this week’s visiting cozy is a cookbook! Not only that they sent along a couple of recipes! One for Fido and one for you!

Cozy Food: 128 Cozy Mystery Writers Share Their Favorite Recipes

What happens when 128 cozy mystery writers get together to do a cookbook? You get more than 220 recipes that are as varied and interesting as an amateur sleuth’s day job.

Regional recipes come from every part of the United States and England — a couple find their way from Australia and Italy, too — and from diverse times. There are recipes from people looking to keep gluten out of their lives, eat vegetarian, or make a treat or two for their furry four-legged friends. And yes, there are recipes that appeal to the sweet tooth, lots of them, in fact.
There’s no mystery about what happens when cozy writers get together. They bring the wit, inventiveness, and adventure found in their books right along with their recipes.
The recipes are introduced by their authors and linked to the writer bios in the back of the book.
You can look up your favorite cozy writer and see which recipes are their favorites; they’ll tell you what the recipe means to them. Or you can enjoy a dish and then link to the recipe’s author’s biography and books.
Either way you enjoy the cookbook, you’re sure to find great new recipes to make and terrific new cozy authors to read.

What would a cozy mystery be without pets? And what would Cozy Food: 128 Cozy Mystery Writers Share Their Favorite Recipes be with something for those pets? Fortunately Sparkle Abbey and Laurie Cass (Bookmobile Cat Mysteries) shared some of their favorites for the book. Here’s a dog treat.

My Review:

This is a giant cookbook! With 128 cozy writers contributing there are plenty of recipes to whip up. What I liked about this recipe collection was that you get a little insight into each cozy writer’s fictional world. Great recipes like Artery-Clogging Clam Chowder and even treats for your pets. This is a big effort and a great addition to any recipe collection.

Caro’s Good Dog Treats

From the Pampered Pets mystery series by Sparkle Abbey

Carolina Lamont, animal lover and former Texas beauty queen, moved to California after a very nasty and public divorce. With eleven-thousand dogs – more dogs than kids – Laguna Beach seemed like the perfect spot to open a pet therapy business. And it had been, up until she had to catch a killer by the tail. Whether dealing with misbehaving canines or murder suspects, Caro always keeps a few of her homemade dog treats on hand. Here’s Caro’s recipe:

First, preheat your oven to 350° F.

In a big bowl, combine all the ingredients with just enough water to make it the consistency of cookie dough.

1/2 cup of creamy unsalted peanut butter

1 cup oat flour

1 cup brown rice flour (Caro uses organic)

1 egg

1 tablespoon of honey

1/2 cup finely grated carrot (Dogbert , Caro’s dog, loves carrots)

Optional: You can also add cooked bacon, a bit of grated cheese, or other ingredients for flavor, but don’t add too much or it will mess with the consistency of the dough, and cause your treats to fall apart.

Once you’ve got your treat dough all stirred up, put it between pieces of parchment paper and roll it out to about ¼ inch thickness. Then cut the dough with a cookie cutter. You can use whatever shape strikes your fancy. Caro often uses dog bone shapes of different sizes. Next, put them on a regular cookie sheet and bake them between fifteen and twenty minutes or until they’re golden retriever brown.

Let them cool and then put them in an airtight container. You can store your Caro’s Good Dog treats for about a week (or you can freeze them for later use) but keep an eye on them. There are no preservatives, so watch out for spoilage.

This makes a couple of dozen treats so there’s plenty to go around. Please share them with your dog.

Laurie Cass contributed a recipe cozy cats will love.

Catnip Burgers

From the Bookmobile Cat Mysteries by Laurie Cass

Although Minnie’s favorite recipe is a take-out menu, she does occasionally make a foray into the kitchen to cook up treats for Eddie. Catnip burgers are his favorite, not that he would ever say so to Minnie…

4 oz. sausage or ground beef

3 tablespoons oatmeal

2 tablespoons catnip, finely chopped

1 egg

Knead ingredients together thoroughly and shape into 4 flat patties.

Broil on high heat until the outside is crisp, 8-12 minutes. Turn often to make sure they crisp up evenly. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Cut cooled patties into cat bite-sized pieces and serve.

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Cozy Prizes Friday: The Body on the Train

How about a weekend trip to London by train in 1929! This week we’re going historical with a little intrigue and an overabundance of rhubarb. That’s right. Rhubarb. I’ve included the book description and my review of this British mystery and don’t forget to scroll to the bottom of this blog and enter my giveaway. You could use that $20 gift card from Amazon!

Book Description:

Frances Brody’s eleventh Kate Shackleton mystery is sure to delight readers of Rhys Bowen and Jacqueline Winspear.

Two murders. A one-way ticket to trouble.

And it’s up to Kate to derail the killer.

London, 1929. In the darkness before dawn, a railway porter, unloading a special train from Yorkshire, discovers a man’s body, shot and placed in a sack. There are no means of identification to be found and as Scotland Yard hits a dead end, they call on the inimitable Kate Shackleton, a local sleuth, confident her local knowledge and investigative skills will produce results. But it’s no easy task.

Suspicion of political intrigue and fears of unrest in the Yorkshire coalfields, impose secrecy on her already difficult task. The murder of a shopkeeper, around the same time, seems too much of a coincidence. The convicted felon was found with blood on his hands, but it’s too tidy and Kate becomes convinced the police have the wrong man.

By then it’s too late. Kate finds herself in a den of vipers. The real killer is still at large, and having tinkered with Kate’s car, nearly causes her to crash. Not only that, but Scotland Yard has turned their back on her. As Kate edges toward the shocking truth, she’s going to need all the strength and resourcefulness she can muster to uncover this sinister web of deceit.

My Review

This is the first book I’ve read in this series. It is 1929 and a body has been found on the rhubarb train. There are so many factors that figure into the mystery including a  children’s home, a mine, the Ryder Cup, rhubarb farmers and an interesting cast of detective helpers. I enjoyed the pace of the story. I was never quite sure just who to trust. Nicely done!

Giveaway!!!!

Autumn 2019 Cozy Giveaway

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Autumn Cozy Giveaway Logo A cup of hot chocolate, a good cozy mystery, and a warm fire. Enter for your chance at some cozy cash- a $20 Amazon Gift Card.

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Cozy Prizes Friday: Murder Can Mess Up Your Masterpiece

As a creative person, I thought of getting a little trailer and going from book show to book show. In Murder Can Mess Up Your Masterpiece, Rose Pressey shows how it can be done!

Where would you go if you had a little pink trailer and were pursuing your dream career?

Be sure to scroll down and read my review and there are only a few days left on my giveaway! ENTER NOW

Book Description: Artist Celeste Cabot welcomes the chance to show her paintings at a craft fair in her hometown of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, where she and her Chihuahua, Van Gogh, can park her vintage Shasta trailer and sell her creations, too.
 
Unfortunately, her sales take a hit when a customer returns a painting, claiming it’s haunted. When a fellow vendor discovers images hidden in Celeste’s artwork—and a ghost pays her a late-night visit—she’s shocked to realize she has psychic abilities. After the grumpy manager of the craft fair is found with a knife in his neck, Celeste’s brushes with the paranormal may help fill in the picture—and make sure the wrong person doesn’t get framed . . .

My Review:

I really enjoyed this quirky little cozy mystery about an artist who travels around in a trailer exhibiting her art at craft fairs. She is at her first craft fair in a cute little pink trailer that her family has helped her fix up and so the reader gets to meet her parents and brothers and aunts and it is a delightful escape . As she meets other exhibitors while living near them in their trailers a murder occurs and there are so many suspects and reasons why they could have committed homicide. She had me guessing to the end and I especially liked the paranormal element that comes through in her paintings . This is a fun mystery and easy to read. 

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Autumn 2019 Cozy Giveaway

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Autumn Cozy Giveaway Logo A cup of hot chocolate, a good cozy mystery, and a warm fire. Enter for your chance at some cozy cash- a $20 Amazon Gift Card.

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Cozy Prizes Friday: A Cup of Holiday Fear

Halloween is officially over so let’s talk Christmas. I feel like Hallmark where it seems to be Christmas all year long. We are starting out the season with a new Bakeshop Mystery from Ellie Alexander. Its Christmas time in Oregon and Torte Bakery is running at top efficiency thanks to the leadership of Jules Capshaw and her mother. The entire town is putting on an incredible Christmas celebration. When Jules treats her staff to a Dicken’s themed dinner at the Winchester Hotel, they discover everything is not so perfect in this land of holiday enchantment. Get ready for plenty of Christmas description to get in the mood for the holiday season. My favorite character was definitely Lance, the theater owner.

Here is the book description:

Ashland, Oregon, looks as pretty as a postcard this holiday season. The halls are decked, stockings hung, and eyes are all aglow—mostly thanks to the buttered rum. Jules Capshaw and her staff at Torte are busier than ever. . . still, even the town’s most in-demand bakers need to take a break. So Jules invites everyone to celebrate at the local Winchester Inn’s Dickens Feast, a six-course extravaganza with Yorkshire Pudding, Christmas goose, and all the trimmings. But as the weather outside becomes frightful, things inside turn less delightful when one of the guests ends up as dead as Scrooge’s doornail. Now it’s up to Jules and her helpers to make a list of suspects—and check it twice—to try to find out who’s naughty, who’s nice, and who’s guilty of murder…

Pick up this book on Amazon

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Autumn 2019 Cozy Giveaway

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Autumn Cozy Giveaway Logo A cup of hot chocolate, a good cozy mystery, and a warm fire. Enter for your chance at some cozy cash- a $20 Amazon Gift Card.

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My Review:

What better way to prepare for the holidays than in a busy bakeshop? I enjoyed the magical pre-Christmas atmosphere the author created as well as a murder mystery puzzle to solve. The plot moved along at a good rate but at times was slowed by the act of cooking, but there were mouthwatering recipes that were added to the book. I did have an idea who the murderer was early on, but the placement of clues and red herrings was excellent. I would highly recommend this book if you’re in the mood for a Christmas cozy.