Wednesday, December 7, 2016


Lisa Ks Book Reviews blog is proud to bring to you
THE COZY TIMES

This is a weekly online publication focused on connecting cozy mystery readers to favorite cozy characters by way of their town's newspapers. 

The Cozy Times will be available every Wednesday right here on Lisa Ks blog.

This week The Cozy Times is checking in with the
Brooks Landing Weekly News

There's shocking news coming out of 
Brooks Landing, Minnesota this week.

Check it out!


Brooks Landing Mayor Found Dead in His Office
By Christine Husom, Staff Reporter

The small Brooks Landing, Minnesota community was stunned and saddened to learn Mayor Lewis Frost had been found dead in his office at city hall. It appears an unknown assailant delivered a snow globe blow to his head. His death is being investigated as a homicide.

Controversy had been swirling around the mayor as of late, and he was under scrutiny by citizens and councilors alike for decisions he’d made, and projects he’d brought before the council. Mayor Frost reportedly had confrontations over separate issues with an area farmer and two council members on the day he died. One of the councilmen told the mayor he was giving up his seat on the council.

According to a witness, a few hours before his death, Mayor Frost paid a visit to Curio Finds shop manager, Camryn Brooks. He first purchased a snow globe, and then asked Brooks to consider running for the seat that would be opening on the city council. Brooks had previously served as the Director of Legislative affairs for a U.S. Senator in Washington D.C. It is unknown what answer Brooks gave to Mayor Frost.

The police have not made an arrest in this case, but they reported they have no reason to believe members of the general public are in danger.



Christmas is here, and so is the cold weather.

It's the perfect time for cup full of hot, rich coffee! It's a good thing we here in Brooks Landing have the best little coffee shop in town, Brew Ha-Ha! And they are sharing two great recipes with us today!


Coffee Recipes from Brew Ha-Ha, 
the Brooks Landing Coffee Shop adjoining Curio Finds


Kona Mocha Latte (Curio Find's owner Camryn Brooks’ favorite)



Combine the following in a 12 ounce mug:

1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon half and half
¼ cup brewed espresso (double shot)

Drizzle 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup over the mixture, and top with whipped cream, if desired.


Almond Joy Coffee

 
Combine the following in a 12 ounce mug:

2 Tablespoons brewed espresso coffee
2 teaspoons almond syrup
2 teaspoons chocolate syrup
2 teaspoons coconut syrup
10 ounces steamed milk
Stir well and enjoy!
~~~~~~

That's this week's edition of 
The Cozy Times 
I hope you enjoyed!

To learn more about Brooks Landing, MN, check out the Snow Globe Shop Mysteries by author
Christine Husom!



Is there a cozy town you'd like to see featured in 
The Cozy Times? 
Please let me know in the comments section.


As always, please leave a comment and 
let me know what you think!

Follow my blog by 
clicking on the link in the 
upper right hand corner of this page.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016


Christmas is coming!

So many things come to mind when thinking of Christmas, and they all bring a smile to my face. 
One of the things that brings the biggest smile?

COOKIES!!!

Dessert, parties, cookie exchanges . . . 
Cookies play a big part in the holidays.

Luckily for cozy fans, there are tons of tasty cookie recipes in many of our favorite cozy mysteries! 

Every Tuesday, now until Christmas, I'll be sharing some amazing cookie recipes from some of your favorite authors and books! 

Today's cookies are

CHRISTMAS CANDY CANE COOKIES
Photo courtesy Daryl Wood Gerber

 a recipe from author
Daryl Wood Gerber / Avery Aames
You can't find these in Daryl's books, 
but she did feature them on the
Mystery Lover's Kitchen blog
and she assures me they are . . . "a recipe that Charlotte from the Cheese Shop Mysteries would like because it involves cheese." . . . and that . . . "Jenna in the Cookbook Nook mysteries would like them, too, because they don't require a lot of ingredients."

CHRISTMAS CANDY CANE COOKIES
Photo courtesy Google Images

Ingredients:

1 cup white sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 3-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened (or about 5 tablespoons)
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
1 egg yolk
2 ¼ cups flour
1 egg white (for brushing on top of cookies)
½ cup crushed candy canes
red colored sugar (optional)

Photo courtesy Daryl Wood Gerber

Directions:

In large bowl, combine sugar, butter, cheese, salt, extracts and yolk. Beat until smooth. Stir in flour. [This dough can be prepared ahead and chilled. You can also use half a recipe and freeze the other half in "rolls."]

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Drop walnut-sized spoonfuls 1 inch apart on a cookie sheet. Press with spoon.

Bake for 7-10 minutes until golden brown.

Photo courtesy Google Images

More ways to enjoy:

Option #1:

If you want, before you bake, you can brush the cookie with slightly beaten egg white and sprinkle with crushed candy canes and red colored sugar. 

Option #2:

Bake, let cool. Frost with cream cheese frosting and then sprinkle with crushed candies. 

Photo courtesy Google Images
Option #3:

These can be made gluten-free by switching out the regular flour with gluten-free sweet rice flour and 1 tsp. Xanthan gum.

Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe:

Ingredients:

1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature (soft)
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract.

Directions:

Put all ingredients in a bowl and blend with blender. Spread on cookies as you please. What you don't eat, you can store in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Let stand at room temperature to re-use.

Photo courtesy Google Images

I can taste the peppermint on my tongue, can't you?

Perfect for so many holiday events!

Check back next Tuesday for another yummy cookie recipe! 

🍪🍪🍪🍪🍪🍪🍪🍪🍪🍪

As always, please leave a comment and 
let me know what you think!

Follow my blog by 
clicking on the link in the 
upper right hand corner of this page.

Monday, December 5, 2016


Every Monday I will spotlight a different series that I have loved from the very first book. 

This week my series spotlight is on the
Nick & Nora Mysteries
by author
T. C. LoTempio


Author T. C. LoTempio on her series

Of Cats and Cozies…..and Nick and Nora!

Most of the mysteries on my bookshelf, I confess, are cozy mysteries.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the genre, cozies are a sub-genre of crime fiction where the crime and the detection takes place in a small town.  Remember the old Murder She Wrote series? That’s a good example of a cozy.  The detectives in such stories are nearly always amateurs (cue JB Fletcher) sometimes retired lawmen or women. The majority of the detectives are of the female persuasion, and often hold jobs that bring them into contact with the other residents of their town.  More often than not they’ll have a contact on the local police force who’ll help them out with a clue or two.

The killers aren’t usually hard boiled serial killer types, and once unmasked, are most often taken into custody with little or no violence. If there is violence, it happens off-screen…no grisly murder scenes depicted in any cozies! Foul language is also kept to a minimum.  The murders are generally members of or related to someone in the town wherein the murder occurs and the motives – greed, jealousy, revenge – often are deep rooted. 

Cozies frequently revolve around a theme – for example, Diane Mott Davidson’s revolves around cooking, Parnell Hall’s around crossword puzzles, Monica Ferris’ needlework…you get the idea.  Animal lovers are also well represented, as well, which brings me to my cozy mystery series, debuting in December from Berkley Prime Crime…..think Jessica Fletcher with a cat and you’ve got it!

My series is the Nick and Nora mystery series.  Nora is Nora Charles, ex-crime reporter turned restaurant entrepreneur.  She’s returned after a 12 year absence from reporting on crime in Chicago back to her hometown of Cruz, California, to take over her deceased mother’s sandwich shop.  Shortly thereafter, Nora finds a surprise waiting outside her door – a stocky, black and white cat.  She takes the cat in and names him Nick (after Nick Charles, the Thin Man, of course).  She later finds out that the cat did in fact belong to a PI, Nick Atkins, who is currently MIA – she also finds out that Nick has many talents, among them the ability to spell out words with Scrabble tiles – plus, he’s got a nose for scenting out crime.

Here’s the teaser, taken from the back of the book:

Nora Charles doesn’t believe in fate, even if she is a crime reporter who shares a name with a character from The Thin Man. In fact, she’s moving back to Cruz, California, to have a quieter life. But after finding an online magazine eager for material, and a stray cat named Nick with a talent for detection, Nora’s not just reporting crimes again. She’s uncovering them…
Back in her hometown, Nora reconnects with old friends and makes some new ones, like Nick, the charming feline who seems determined to be her cat. But not everything about Cruz is friendly. Writing for a local online magazine, Nora investigates the curious death of socialite Lola Grainger. Though it was deemed an accident, Nora suspects foul play. And it seems that her cat does too. 

Apparently, Nick used to belong to a P.I. who disappeared while investigating Lola Grainger’s death. The coincidence is spooky, but not as spooky as the clues Nick spells out for her with Scrabble letters—clues that lead her down an increasingly dangerous path. Whether fate put her on this case or not, solving it will take all of Nora’s wits, and maybe a few of Nick’s nine lives. 

The saga continues in Book 2, CLAWS FOR ALARM, with Nora’s search for Nick’s missing owner derailed by her sister’s getting jailed for the murder of her art professor.  And in Book 3, CRIME AND CATNIP, the mystery surrounding Nick’s former owner reaches a resolution – or does it?

While catering a gala for the Cruz Museum, Nora Charles agrees to look into the disappearance of director Violet Crenshaw’s niece, a case previously undertaken by her frisky feline friend Nick’s former owner, a private eye whose whereabouts are also currently unknown. 
 
As Nora and her curious cat Nick pull at the string of clues, they begin to unravel a twisted tale of coded messages, theft, false identities, murder, and international espionage. Nora dares to hope that the labyrinth of leads will not only help them locate the missing young woman, but also solve the disappearance of the detective. That’s if Nora can stay alive long enough to find him...

I hope you’ll join Nick and Nora on some of their adventures, but even if a crime solving cat isn’t your cup of tea, I’m sure that there are many other cozies out there that are.  Sample the genre today – I think you’ll be very pleasantly surprised!


Book One

First in a new series!

Nora Charles doesn’t believe in fate, even if she is a crime reporter who shares a name with a character from The Thin Man. In fact, she’s moving back to Cruz, California, to have a quieter life. But after finding an online magazine eager for material, and a stray cat named Nick with a talent for detection, Nora’s not just reporting crimes again. She’s uncovering them… 
 
Back in her hometown, Nora reconnects with old friends and makes some new ones, like Nick, the charming feline who seems determined to be her cat. But not everything about Cruz is friendly. Writing for a local online magazine, Nora investigates the curious death of socialite Lola Grainger. Though it was deemed an accident, Nora suspects foul play. And it seems that her cat does too. 
 
Apparently, Nick used to belong to a P.I. who disappeared while investigating Lola Grainger’s death. The coincidence is spooky, but not as spooky as the clues Nick spells out for her with Scrabble letters—clues that lead her down an increasingly dangerous path. Whether fate put her on this case or not, solving it will take all of Nora’s wits, and maybe a few of Nick’s nine lives.  

Book Two

“The purrfect sleuthy duo”* is back, and this time murder hits close to home for Nora Charles and her partner Nick, a stealthy little feline gumshoe groomed to solve a shocking crime.
 
Since inheriting her mother’s sandwich shop, Nora Charles is more about hot grilled paninis than cold-blooded murder—until her sister Lacey is arrested. The victim, an esteemed art collector and Lacey’s bullying professor, was stabbed in the heart. Apparently, all over a lousy grade.  
 
Off campus, things were just as dicey. The prof had an ex with secrets, a trophy wife set to inherit a fortune in masterworks, and a scorned student mistress. Going undercover, Nora realizes that investigating this crime is the biggest test of her sleuthing career. Because if she fails, even Nick’s animal instinct won’t be enough to rescue Lacey from a perfectly executed framing.

 
INCLUDES DELICIOUS SANDWICH RECIPES

Book Three
Available now for pre-order
Releases tomorrow
December 6!

Nick and Nora aren’t just pussyfooting around this time as they deal with a missing person’s case and murder.
While catering a gala for the Cruz Museum, Nora Charles agrees to look into the disappearance of director Violet Crenshaw’s niece, a case previously undertaken by her frisky feline friend Nick’s former owner, a private eye whose whereabouts are also currently unknown. 
 
As Nora and her curious cat Nick pull at the string of clues, they begin to unravel a twisted tale of coded messages, theft, false identities, murder, and international espionage. Nora dares to hope that the labyrinth of leads will not only help them locate the missing young woman, but also solve the disappearance of the detective. That’s if Nora can stay alive long enough to find him...


INCLUDES DELICIOUS SANDWICH RECIPES

MY REVIEW


I’ve been a fan of this since the first book, MEOW IF IT”S MURDER.

I’m so happy to have had the chance to once again spend time with Nora Charles and her feline buddy, Nick. This duo knows how to take a bite out of crime. And I’m sure Nick has no problem biting if he has to. For that matter, I think Nora wouldn’t either.

Author T. C. LoTempio’s writing has a certain something that grabs hold of the reader and won’t let go until the last page. As with books one and two, CRIME AND CATNAP quickly pulled me into the story, and there I stayed until I finished the last word. I will forgive Ms. LoTempio for keeping me up past my bed time. It was worth it a hundred times over.

CRIME AND CATNIP was a cozy with a little more than your normal element of suspense. With more than one mystery in play, Nora and Nick had their hands, and paws full. This tale of secret codes, espionage, and missing people will have you questioning everyone and everything.

Make sure to check out the simple yet yummy sandwich recipes at the end of the book!


This is a series that no cozy fan wants to miss!
Make sure to give it a try!



As always, please leave a comment and 
let me know what you think!

Follow my blog by 
clicking on the link in the 
upper right hand corner of this page.

Sunday, December 4, 2016


FROSTY THE DEAD MAN by Christine Husom
DEAD, BATH, AND BEYOND by Lorraine Bartlett with Laurie Cass

FROSTY THE DEAD MAN
Book 3 in the Snow Globe Mysteries
by Christine Husom


A snow globe becomes a murder weapon in the latest cozy mystery from the national bestselling author of Snow Way Out and The Iced Princess.
Mayor Lewis Frost has always been known as Frosty to his friends—not that he has many these days. Controversies swirling around the city council have members wondering if Frosty is trying to snow them. After one councilman storms off in a huff, the mayor turns to curio shop manager Camryn Brooks and asks her to consider taking a seat on the council.
 
Later, when Cami goes to his office to discuss the proposal, her blood runs cold. She finds Frosty dead, and the very snow globe she sold him earlier that day lies in sparkling shards on his carpet—along with a large diamond. Does the snow globe—which features a peculiar tableau of an armed man and three menacing bears—hold a clue to Frosty’s demise? One way or another, it’s up to Cami to shake things up before the killer’s trail goes cold...


Snow globe-making projects and tips included!
 

MY REVIEW


Let it snow globe, let it snow globe, let it snow globe!

FROSTY THE DEAD MAN, the third installment in the Snow Globe Mysteries, once again has us in the world of Camryn Brooks, and her friend Pinky Nelson who own the connecting stores of Curio Finds and Brew-Ha-Ha. I am and have been in love with these shops since the first book. They are exactly the types of small businesses I love to visit. (Sadly, in our real word, these shops are having a hard time of it because of the big box stores, but at least I get to enjoy them in the fantastic world of cozy mysteries!) I also really enjoy that so much time is spent in the stores. In some stories, the protagonist is away from her business more than she is there.

This is by far the best book in the series to date. I know I say that with a lot of the books I review, but having started many series from the very first book I can see where the author has grown and enriched their series. And that is very true here. Author Christine Husom has really taken this series and raised it up. In FROSTY THE DEAD MAN, there are more suspects than in the other books in the series, as well as more plot twists to keep readers guessing.  

Altogether an enjoyable tale, with an ending that took me by surprise, FROSTY THE DEAD MAN was a great addition to the Snow Globe Mystery series.

Make sure to check out the back of the book for a fun and simple snow globe craft!

~*~*~*~

DEAD, BATH, AND BEYOND
Book 4 in the Victoria Square Mysteries
by Lorraine Bartlett with Laurie Cass


The New York Times bestselling series is back, as Katie Bonner—owner of Artisans Alley in the quaint shopping district of Victoria Square—attempts to solve a murder at a nearby B & B.

Katie Bonner—owner of Artisans Alley in the quaint shopping district of Victoria Square—feels like nothing can spoil her perfect day off, sailing Lake Ontario with her good friend and lawyer Seth Landers. Then she runs into her ex-boss Jake on the dock. It was never smooth sailing with Josh, and Katie is only too happy to get away from him as he makes a scene.
 
Unfortunately, the next day her unpleasant former employer is found drowned in a bathtub at a bed-and-breakfast in Victoria Square. Who would pull the plug on Josh? When an autopsy reveals lake water—not bath water—in his lungs, Katie quickly finds herself in over her head. She’ll need to race to find the killer before her business and her freedom both go down the drain…

MY REVIEW


After too long a wait, the Victoria Square Mysteries are back.

It was nice to be back in the familiar setting of Victoria Square and Artisans Alley, a nice place to spend the day browsing. But things haven’t slowed down for series lead, Katie Bonner. Not surprisingly, there is a murder. This time however, it’s someone Katie could care less about . . . her ex-boss.

DEAD, BATH AND BEYOND was a well written, quick read that held my attention with every turn of the page. I didn’t like the victim, but that didn’t stop me, like Katie, from wanting to know who the killer was, and why he/she killed. There were plenty of suspects since other characters in the book did like the victim either.

With the mystery building and building, the whodunit reveal comes in an action packed ending that had me holding my breath.

It may have been a long wait for this installment, but author Lorraine Bartlett, along with author Laurie Cass (Laurie’s first time co-penning this series) certainly made it worth the wait! That being said, ladies, please don’t make us wait so long for book five! ;-)

Once the story is over, you’re going to find tasty recipes at the back of the book!


Both of these great titles are now
available for pre-order
and release
December 6!


As always, please leave a comment and 
let me know what you think!

Follow my blog by 
clicking on the link in the 
upper right hand corner of this page.