Some Halloween Reading Ideas!

Yes; I am one of those people that as soon as it is October, it is basically Halloween! This is my absolute favorite time of year, from the cool weather, to the beautiful trees here in West Michigan, to the baking of breads, and casseroles, and of course, boot and sweater weather 😊

I have a few favorite books that I like to read during the Halloween-Thanksgiving seasons, as well as some cozy mysteries that I have read that are perfect for this time of year.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow-Washington Irving

Sleepy Hollow

This is certainly one of my all-time favorites books; a quick read, a classic story, and how can you not cheer for Ichabod Crane? Determined to win the hand of Katrina Van Tassel, Ichabod needs to deal with both the Headless Horseman, and the determined suitor of Katrina, named Brom Van Brunt. This story has been retold in movies and television series alike, and I have been a fan of all of them.

Ghastly Glass: A Renaissance Faire Mystery-Joyce Lavene, Jim Lavene

Ghastly Glass cover image

I read this cozy mystery earlier this year, along with the other books in the Renaissance Faire Cozy series. This is book two, and takes place during Halloween. Jessie is the main character, and in each book, she is apprenticing at a different vendor for her thesis for her PhD. In this story, she is apprenticing with the glass blower. There is the necessary murder victim, and the personal life issues that are standard with cozy stories. I really enjoyed this whole series.

Anything by Stephen King…I have a few favorites, but you definitely need to plan ahead, as most of his books are very, very long.

From a Buick 8 Cover Image 2

My favorite King book is From a Buick 8. I have not heard from too many readers who have actually read this story, and if put on the spot, I could not exactly explain what draws me to this book, but it is fantastic! I am not sure how I ended up owning 3 copies of it; but I do 😊 Other great King stories are the classics, such as Cujo, Carrie, and Misery.

What are your favorite books to read during this time of year?

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?

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.

Button Holed – Kylie Logan

Another great first installment in the cozy mystery genre by Kylie Logan! Josie Giancola has just opened her button shop, being a leading expert in the country on buttons. Finding the hottest actress in the industry dead in her shop, along with a couple odd break-ins, and Josie is working the case.

Button Holed cover image

There are any number of suspects, and Detective Nevin Riley needs the help only Josie can provide; tracking down the origin of a rare button found under the body of the deceased. Dodging her ex-husband, as well as the thugs who seem to be following her, has Josie racing against the clock to find the murderer, before they finish her off for good.

Coming up tomorrow, another first installment by a new author, along with the recipe I tested out from the story!

Coming Out of The Writing Closet

It is scary; painful, and putting yourself out there for everyone to judge.

I have been writing stories for 30 years, and have 4 different stories completely written.

Am I ready to share them? Hell NO!

But no one ever wrote the next great book by saving them in their Word file.

I wrote a letter to an author who captured me in 1987; and he encouraged me and helped me.

Yet I keep these stories hidden.

I have over 3000 followers on my blog where I review books. Am I strong enough to let someone review MY book?

How do you authors do it? I have to learn to do this. I have something to share, in many ways. Cozy mysteries, dramas, and fantasy.

I have gotten to a point in my life that I truly believe; it is now or never.

Fingers crossed; I am scouting an agent, and hoping for the best!

 

French Fried – Kylie Logan

I finished the second book in the Ethnic Eats Mystery series rather quickly, and am hoping that the 3rd book is available at my library.

French Fried cover image

This time around the theme for the Terminal restaurant is French food, and along with that is the murder of a very close friend of Laurel and her Aunt Sophie. There are too many suspects, and not enough clues, but with Laurel’s determination, the help of her boyfriend Declan, and asking the right questions, Laurel again helps solve the case.

I liked this book better than the first, Irish Stewed, but that may be because I am now familiar with the characters, and the writing style of the author.

I know I have a cozy mystery series in my library that I had started quite some time ago, with a couple books I have not finished, so I think instead of getting too many books from the library today (yeah, right!), I will go to my own library and see what is there to read!

 

Irish Stewed – Kylie Logan

This is the first book in the Ethnic Eats Mystery cozy series. Laurel Inwood, a professional chef, moves from California to Hubbard, Ohio to help manage her Aunt Sophie’s restaurant while she has and recovers from knee surgery.

Irish Stewed cover image

Sophie has lied to Laurel about the type of restaurant she owns, and instead of finding a luxurious restaurant, she finds The Terminal, a run-down restaurant that most would refer to as a “greasy Spoon” restaurant. Not happy with her Aunt’s deceit, Laurel ends up staying to help out.

The dead body of the famous local reporter that is found in the dining room on the night of her arrival may have peaked her interest as well.

Laurel has no idea who to trust, as well as her own list of suspects, including the handsome owner of the Irish gift shop, Declan Fury, and her own Aunt Sophie. Laurel has plenty to keep her busy as she tries to bring the Terminal back to life, and figure out which one of her new acquaintances’ is a murderer.

Initially the patrons are slow to take to the idea of a new menu, but with the help of Declan, soon Laurel has an idea to get the Terminal packed with customers. Featuring ethnic foods for one or two weeks at a time, the customers are loving it, but Laurel now needs to let Sophie in on what she has done.

This is a quick read with lots of action and a great storyline! I am already reading the second book in the series, French Fried.

What are your current cozy mystery favorites?

Old School Book Favorites!

I was a voracious reader growing up; I would read a book in a day, easily, and quickly collected quite the collection of books in my preteen and teen years by going to the grocery store with my Mom. They had a section of paperbacks, and I got one on every trip. The fact that I had the book read before I went to bed that night did not please her any, but I always reread my books. I lost so many of those paperbacks when they were stored in my parent’s basement and they had a water issue. To replace them now is near impossible as these older books are very expensive.

If you have followed me for a while you know that William W. Johnstone was my favorite author as a teen, and I could not read his horror stories fast enough. I honestly cannot believe my Mom bought them for me, considering what the covers looked like. Go Mom! “Rockinghorse” sent me down a path that literally had me typing a letter to him on my sister’s typewriter, telling him how much his story inspired me, and that I wanted to become a writer. It led to several back-and-forth correspondences, and I am so blessed that he sent me a couple autographed books which are among my prized possessions. As well as the letters I received from him. He went on to write many Western series, which have always been on the best-sellers lists.

Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators were another set of books I always checked out of the school library. I read the series several times, but unfortunately now, they have become collector’s prizes and to even get a hard cover book is very expensive.

Encyclopedia Brown anyone? How I loved those stories. And who could ever not read Beverly Cleary? She got me through some tough teenage angst! And my favorite elementary school book was “The Adventures of the Black Hand Gang”. A picture after every 2-3 page story for you to figure out the clues. That one will set you back over $30.00 if you try to buy it now. I have my beat-up-worn-out-copy in my library.

Adventures of the Black Hand Gang Cover Image

What are your favorite books that you cannot let go of?

Short and Tall Tales: Moose County Legends (Cat Who Short Stories) – Lillian Jackson Braun

Having long been a fan of Lillian Jackson Braun’s Cat Who mysteries, I was pleased to finally find this book on the library shelf. I discovered these fantastic stories about 20 years ago (or more) and have read all of them; most more than once.

Short and Tall Tales cover image

Jim Qwilleran is a journalist who moved to Moose County, 100 miles north of everywhere, after receiving a windfall of money from a benefactor. He and his two Siamese cats, KoKo and YumYum, solve mysteries all over Moose County and its adjoining counties. The characters through all 20+ books quickly become familiar friends you want to spend the day with.

This set of short stories is based on tales from local residents about some of the long-held beliefs and superstitions that have made Moose County what it is. I read this book in about an hour, and it is a great addition to any nightstand for some quick reading before sleep!

Are you familiar with the Cat Who Mysteries? How did you like them?

You can find this story here: Short and Tall Tales: Moose County Legends