The Begonia Bribe – Alyse Carlson

Book 2 in the Garden Society Mystery series.

the begonia bribe cover image

This was a great follow-up to The Azalea Assault. Cam (Camellia) Harris is now tasked with managing the Little Miss Begonia Pageant being held in one of Roanoke’s nicest parks. Cam runs into one of her least favorite people from high school, Mindy, and Cam’s best friend Annie likes her even less. Cam never expected she would get so wrapped up into Mindy’s personal life, but there she is, right in the middle.

Cam once again gets her reporter boyfriend Rob, as well as Annie, caught up in a murder investigation. Annie’s boyfriend, and Rob’s best friend Jake, Police officer in Roanoke, keeps trying his best to get Cam to mind her own business. Cam just seems to always be one step ahead of him.

There are many characters intertwined in this story, from past and present, and again you do not see it coming. The storyline is great, and the characters are well rounded and you really feel for them. Can Cam figure out who the murderer is before more lives are ruined?

I am looking for some new cozy series to read while Michigan is officially closed, so let me know your favorites!

The Azalea Assault – Alyse Carlson

This is the first of three cozy mysteries in the Garden Society Mystery series. As the 3rd one was written in 2014, I do not expect there to be others. Truly a shame ☹

the azalea assault cover image

Cam Harris is the PR person for the Roanoke Garden Society, and gardening has never been more dangerous. When the nationally celebrated Garden Delights magazine agrees to come to Roanoke to feature Roanoke’s best gardens, Cam is tasked with making sure everything goes off without a hitch.

With the help of her best friend Annie, and her boyfriend Rob, she soon finds herself in the middle of a bunch of suspects who had motive to kill the star photographer. Now she not only needs to find another photographer, she also needs to keep her sister Petunia and brother-in-law Nick on the right side of the law, as they soon become the main suspects.

There are a lot of characters wrapped up in this book, but they all have their place in the story, and it flows smoothly from one chapter to the next. If you have read many cozies (such as I have), you sometimes can see what is coming next. This story keeps you guessing to the end.

There are descriptions of many different plants, but not much on the side of actual gardening tips (which I wasn’t expecting).

Here in Michigan right now we are wrapped in the middle of a polar vortex, and literally the whole state is shut down. Which means I took tomorrow off from work, so I have plenty of time to finish book three, write review number two, and do some writing for my own cozy mystery book number 1!

You can learn more about Alyse here: Alyse Carlson – Penguin Random House

Are you trapped inside too? What are you reading to get you by?

Double Fudge Brownie Murder: A Hannah Swensen Mystery– Joanne Fluke

It has been quite a while since I have read one of the Hannah Swensen mysteries by Joanne Fluke. They are all titled with fun food references, such as Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder (book 1), Carrot Cake Murder (book 10), and Raspberry Danish Murder (book 22). I am currently reading book 19, The Wedding Cake Murder. The Double Fudge Brownie Murder that I am reviewing here is book 18.

Double Fudge Brownie Cover Image

Although I know I have not read all of the books up to book 19 that I am on now, I would say by looking at all of the covers and titles, I have read about 14 or 15 over the years. Hannah Swensen owns a bakery, and is the classic cozy-mystery heroine whom solves the murder case in each story. These books are significantly longer than most cozy mysteries, and they also contain several wonderful recipes throughout the story.

Hannah has her mother and two sisters in her life, a fluffy orange and white tomcat, as well as her assistant at her bakery; Lisa. She has two men in her life throughout this series, Norman and Mike. Both love her, she loves them, and they are obviously aware of the other being in Hannah’s life. Traditional to a cozy mystery, there is no swearing, graphic murder scenes, or sexual innuendos or unbearable scenes to read through.

I will not go into too many details on this story, in order to avoid spoilers, but Hannah and her sisters are helping their mother get married, and they all enjoy a trip to Las Vegas for the nuptials. What Hannah does not know, is that she is in for her own surprise in Las Vegas. This helps to keep her in positive spirits as she knows when she returns home she has to go to trial for an involuntary manslaughter charge from an accident she had (I am guessing in the book immediately before this, that I have not read). Finding the Judge who is going to try the case bludgeoned to death with his own gavel gives Hannah a lot more to worry about!

You can find all of the book titles here: Hannah Swensen Mysteries by Joanne Fluke

I highly recommend all of the Hannah Swensen mysteries! Have you read any of the Hannah Swensen mysteries?

It’s Time To Put Down The Iron…

…and pick up the pen!

I have been investing a lot of time trying to make my Etsy store better; with bookish gifts for everyone. It has also kept me from writing my 2 books.

I will admit first and foremost; I am afraid to finish these books; only to be told they are rubbish. So I bide my time doing any number of other things in order to leave them sit in my files; rotting and angry because they have a story to tell.

My poor characters want to be heard; and I continue to silence them. It is time to give them the recognition they deserve; because if I do not speak for them; no one will.

What keeps you from writing?

 

 

I Really Never Went Anywhere…

…but it has been a helluva few weeks for me.

I am still writing, and reading. I am currently taking the week off from work because my youngest, my last high school freshman, has major pre-band-camp practices all week.

I know I don’t usually get too personal here, but I am pretty sure my followers know I am a single Mom of four daughters.

Last Thursday; I put my 2nd oldest, my 20 year old, on a plane to move to Colorado. All my girls and I were able to have a last night together and a sleep-over at my oldest daughters house, and I had a panic attack as soon as I walked in her apartment. It’s been a long time since I slept somewhere other than my bed, but we swam, hit 3 different drive-thru restaurants so we could all get what we wanted to eat, and played Mario Cart for hours.

my girls 8-3-18

My anxiety had been 150% this week coming up to her leaving, and I thought it would stop once she got there; but it has not…

So I’ve been working on stuff for my Etsy store.

Not impressed….

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Yes; I had a problem with the first W

Still working on the book boxes; trying to get the 3-D effect on the paint.

I haven’t given up on my cozy mysteries; but I have Stephen King’s Outsiders, and Bill Clinton and James Patterson’s The President is Missing. I officially got the diagnosis that my Nook has died; and honestly, I don’t care about the books, but I am really pissed about my Townspeople who are dying in my app….

As soon as I get caught up on Castle Rock, Shameless, and the Kardashians, I will be right on it!

Charms and Chocolate Chips – Bailey Cates

Having skipped book 2 (because my library didn’t have it) I jumped right into book 3 and loved this one as well. There were obviously some details in the first couple of chapters referencing things that happened in book 2, but it didn’t make the book difficult to read. Which is one of my favorite thing about cozy mysteries!

Charms and Chocolate Chips cover image

Katie Lightfoot is still working with her Aunt and Uncle at Honeybee’s Bakery, dating Declan, and now volunteering at a wildlife foundation. It is this foundation where a friend is found murdered, and the threat now seems to be on Katie. An area of swampland is of interest to a few different individuals, and the foundation is trying to protect it, and the wildlife that lives there.

A surprise visit from Katie’s mother also lets us see that relationship mend, as well as the relationship between her Mom and her Aunt.

We learn a bit more about magic in this story, and Katie is much more comfortable with who she truly is. She is beginning to realize how powerful she really is, and her friends and family are realizing it as well.

And I am on to book 4! Also going to the library today to see what other books I can pick up 😊 What are your favorite cozy mysteries?

Brownies and Broomsticks – Bailey Cates

Another weekly trip to my library to trade in books for new ones, and I found 4 cozy mysteries from the Magical Bakery Mystery by Bailey Cates. I finished this first installment in less than a day, and have already started book 3. They did not have book 2, so I figured I would just wing it anyhow and grab all of them that they had.

Brownies and Broomsticks cover image

I was not sure how I felt about a cozy mystery that included Witches, but I was quickly sucked in by the great characters and descriptive writing.

Katie Lightfoot moves from Ohio to Savannah, Georgia to open a bakery with her Aunt Lucy and Uncle Ben. Little does she know that her Aunt Lucy has much to share with her about the fact that she is a Witch, as well as her parents, who chose to not let her know about that side of her life.

Her first week in Savannah has her reeling from that revelation, confused about the intense anger between two handsome men who are both showing an interest in her, and the woman murdered in her car outside of Honeybee’s Bakery.

Unwilling to let her Uncle Ben take the wrap when he is pegged as a suspect, Katie is quickly on the trail of the murderer, much to the chagrin of Detective Quinn. It’s Katie’s persistence, and Quinn’s finally acceptance of what she is learning before he does, that gets Uncle Ben off the hook.

There were two recipes at the end of the story, one for Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies, and one for Cheddar-Sage Scones. A quick scan let me know I had all the ingredients for the Scones, so I whipped up a quick batch. I only had a couple bites of one as I am sure it’s not approved Weight Watchers food 😊 It was savory, and would definitely be a great addition to any meal or for an afternoon snack. The only thing I substituted was instead of dried sage, I only had ground sage. I should have doubled the ground sage, as it didn’t have quite enough sage flavor for my liking!

Cheddar-Sage Scones

Cheddar-Sage Scones

2 ¼ C all purpose flour

1 Tbs baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 tsp dried sage

6 Tbs butter, cut into 1-inch pieces and chilled in the freezer for 15 minutes

2/3 C grated sharp cheddar cheese

1 egg

½ C milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Set aside ¼ C of flour in a small bowl. In a medium bowl, combine 2 C flour, baking powder, salt, and sage. Add chilled butter and cut into flour by rubbing with your fingers or using a pastry blender until the consistency of rough cornmeal.

Add the grated cheddar to the ¼ C flour and toss to coat. Shake to remove extra flour and add to pastry mixture, tossing with your hands to evenly distribute the cheese.

Whisk together the egg and milk. Add to flour mixture, stirring lightly with a fork until ingredients are moistened and just hold together.

Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead 20 times. Add more flour to the surface if needed. Pat into an 8 inch circle, slightly higher in the center than on the edges. Using a very sharp knife, cut 8 equal wedges. Place scones on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, slightly apart from one another. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until golden brown.