I'm so excited to be a stop on the blog tour for author
and her new book
THE FINAL TAP
Book 2 in the Living History Museum Mysteries
Kelsey Taps for Something Much Deadlier Than Sap
March on Barton Farm can only mean one thing: maple sugar season. To combat the winter slump, resilient director Kelsey Cambridge organizes a Maple Sugar Festival, complete with school visits, pancake breakfasts, and a tree-tapping class. She hires curmudgeonly maple sugar expert Dr. Conrad Beeson to teach the workshop, despite misgivings over his unpleasant demeanor. It’s a decision Kelsey ends up regretting when, before the first tree can be tapped for sap, Dr. Beeson turns up dead. His death threatens to shut down not only the festival, but also Barton Farm itself. Kelsey has no choice but to tap for the truth and solve the murder to escape an increasingly sticky situation.
Maple Sugaring Quick Guide
By Amanda Flower
Last February was one of the coldest and one of the snowiest months on record in northeast Ohio where I live and where the Living History Museum Mysteries are set. The sequel to The Final Reveille, The Final Tap, takes place during a maple sugaring festival, and being me, I had to know as much as I could about the maple sugaring process to feel I could do it justice in the novel. That meant reading lots of books and articles, consulting with experts, and taking a hands-on maple sugaring class in the middle of winter with temperature hovering in teens.
There is a very small window to collect sap or maple sugar from maple trees, and it only happens once a year in the winter. Collection of maple sugar in Ohio usually happens at the end of February or early March. The class I attended was the last Saturday of February. During the class, I learned all about how maple syrup is made from maple sugar. Here are the highlights.
1) Maple sugaring or tree tapping dates back to the Native Americans. They were the first to tap trees, and they taught the white settlers how to do it. Native Americans would cut a small wedge out of the maple tree’s trunk and use a piece of bark to funnel the sap into a bowl.
2) In early days, pioneers used hand drills to bore holes into tree trunks and metal spiles to funnel sap out of the trees. Today, tree tappers use power drills and plastic tubing. Squirrels are notorious for biting through the tubing, so it has to be checked often for leaks.
3) When the sap is collected from the tree it is put into a metal trough where it is boiled. The boiling makes the water in the sap evaporate. What is left behind is maple syrup.
4) The lighter the color of the maple syrup the more desirable and the more expensive. The different colors of maple syrup are called grades.
5) In the state of Ohio maple syrup must be 66 brix or higher to be considered pure maple syrup. A brix measures sucrose or sugar content. It’s a measuring tool used for soda, fruit juice, and other liquids that contain sugar.
Despite the freezing cold, the maple sugaring class was one of the most fun research trips I’ve done. I learned so much in a short period of time, and I know taking that class made the novel better even if everything that I learned didn’t end up in the book. I hope you will give The Final Tap a try and see which of the above facts made it into the final novel. Happy Readining!
Amanda Flower, a three time Agatha-nominated mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. Amanda is a librarian in Northeast Ohio. She also writes as USA Today Bestselling Author Isabella Alan. THE FINAL TAP is the second novel in her Living History Museum Mystery Series. www.amandaflower.com
Print copy of
THE FINAL TAP!
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This giveaway is through Great Escape Book Tours, not Lisa Ks Book Reviews.
An entertaining, informative mystery that I couldn’t put down.
Author Amanda Flower pens several different series that cover all different subjects. The Living History Museum Mysteries is set in modern times, but focuses on the Civil War era. I admire the research this author must certainly do to ensure her stories contain accurate information.
I really enjoyed THE FINAL TAP. Spending time with series lead, Kelsey Cambridge was a wonderful learning experience to be sure, but it was also a marvelous whodunit that was unpredictable, and contained surprises that threw even more intrigue into the story. This all led to an action packed reveal that had me holding my breath whole way through.
Author Flower’s writing continues to grow more amazing with every book she writes. If you haven’t read one of her books, you’re missing out on incredible storytelling.
About the author
Amanda Flower, an Agatha-nominated mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she'd found her calling of making people laugh with her words. Her debut mystery, Maid of Murder, was an Agatha Award Nominee for Best First Novel and her children's mysteries, Andi Unexpected and Andi Under Pressure, were an Agatha Award Nominees for Best Children's/YA Novel. Amanda is a librarian in northeast Ohio. She also writes mysteries as USA Today Bestselling Author Isabella Alan. Visit her at