Tuesday, March 28, 2017

You thought you had all of the 
new releases for March didn't you?
Well then, you'd better check out these 
great titles that released today!

With summer approaching, Ellie Avery’s schedule is ruled by attending end-of-the-year events at her kids’ school—and avoiding run-ins with her arch competitor. When a murder disrupts the core curriculum, can the two women form an alliance to teach the killer a lesson in justice?

As a regular volunteer at North Dawkins Elementary, Ellie would never miss the annual Mother's Day breakfast—even if she has to tolerate the likes of Gabrielle Matheson. The rivals aren't exactly sworn enemies, although Ellie still thinks there's only room for one professional organizer in their small Georgia town.

But when Ellie sees Gabrielle in the hallway, she’s a mess. It looks like Gabrielle’s seen a ghost—or, as she explains, a dead body inside the supply closet. Before Ellie can get help the body vanishes . . . only to mysteriously reappear later at the school.

Little is known about the victim, a secretive snoop with a nosy nature and a penchant for keeping quiet about her own past. Ellie will leave no desk unturned to protect her kids and expose the cunning criminal’s identity. Because if she doesn’t, the killer may chalk up another textbook case of murder . . .
Don’t miss Ellie Avery’s great tips for PTA moms!

In the coastal town of Haven Harbor, blood runs thicker than water—and just as freely . . .

Antique dealer Sarah Byrne has never unspooled the truth about her past to anyone—not even friend and fellow Mainely Needlepointer Angie Curtis. But the enigmatic Aussie finally has the one thing she’s searched for all her life—family. And now she and long-lost half-brother, Ted Lawrence, a wealthy old artist and gallery owner in town, are ready to reveal their secret connection . . .

Ted’s adult children are suspicious of their newfound aunt Sarah—especially after Ted, in declining health, announces plans to leave her his museum-worthy heirloom paintings. So when Ted is poisoned to death during a lobster bake, everyone assumes she’s guilty. If Sarah and Angie can’t track down the real murderer in time, Sarah’s bound to learn how delicate—and deadly—family dynamics can truly be . . .

Despite the bitter winter in South Lick, Indiana, business is still hot at Robbie Jordan’s restaurant. But when another murder rattles the small town, can Robbie defrost the motives of a cold-blooded killer?
Before she started hosting dinners for Indiana University’s Sociology Department at Pans ‘N Pancakes, Robbie never imagined scholarly meetings could be so hostile. It’s all due to Professor Charles Stilton, who seems to thrive on heated exchanges with his peers and underlings, and tensions flare one night after he disrespects Robbie’s friend, graduate student Lou. So when Robbie and Lou go snowshoeing the next morning and find the contentious academic frozen under ice, police suspect Lou might have killed him after their public tiff. To prove her friend’s innocence, Robbie is absorbing local gossip about Professor Stilton’s past and developing her own thesis on the homicide—even if that means stirring up terrible danger for herself along the way . . .

Inn owner Rachel Mast is no longer a devout member of the Amish community of Stone Mill, Pennsylvania, but she still cares deeply for them. So she’s staying at her family’s farm to help her mother through an illness—and at the same time, trying to track down two missing people . . .
When the young gather to sing, it’s usually an evening of wholesome fun—but this time, the event has stirred whispers of scandal. Elsie Hostetler and her sweetheart, Dathan Bender, never came home afterward. There’s not even a trace of their horse and wagon, leading some to suspect that they’ve run off to marry and join the Englisch world.
But Rachel fears there’s more to the story than a rebellious elopement. Her fiancΓ©, a state trooper, is out of town, so she starts investigating herself, using her Amish background to pry information from the tight-lipped community. It turns out things were not so peaceful between Elsie and Dathan—and there was also a confrontation at the singing with a short-tempered ex-Marine. Among the simple houses and quiet country roads of Stone Mill, Rachel must find out just what kind of sins have been committed—and who is need of forgiveness . . .

Which of these great titles are you most looking forward to?

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

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Monday, March 27, 2017

March 20, I read a blog post by, author Mary Kennedy, on the Cozy Chicks blog entitled

I don't always leave comments on other's blogs because I always seem to be rushing for time.
(Not a good excuse, because I love when people take a few minutes to comment on my blog, as I hope you will today.)
That being said, I did stop and comment this time.
I was not prepared for how long my answer would be.

I'm going to share it with you here today.



Why I Love Reading Cozy Mysteries
by Lisa A. Kelley

I love Cozies for many reasons . . . 

1) Cozies led me back to reading. I had been reading suspense/thrillers for years. Suddenly I found excuses not to read. I didn't read a book for well over a year. My sister, also an avid reader, was concerned about me. She handed me a cozy mystery and told me to give it a try. I devoured it! That was over 5 years ago, and I haven't looked back since. The suspense/thrillers had become too dark for me. They had literally stolen my love of reading. 

The very first cozy mystery I ever read.
After reading BUTTERCREAM BUMP OFF, book two in the Cupcake Bakery Mysteries, I went back and read book one, then the rest of the series. After that, I read every book, in every cozy series, under every pin name Jenn McKinlay had published. I even had to buy a few used ones that were out of print. (This is a big deal to me because I am a germaphobe and I do not read used books. Only if I knew the person who read it before me.)

2) I love that I can read a well written mystery without darkness, cursing (most of the time), heavy sex scenes, or gruesome descriptions of murder or crime. (I'm kind of sad that some cozy authors are pushing the envelope a bit in some of these areas. Cozies are perfect as is, but I guess I see the author's need to try). 

These are the first two cozies that I walked into a bookstore, picked out and purchased for myself. All of the Jenn McKinlay books (other than the few I had to order used) belonged to my sister. THAT OLD FLAME OF MINE by J.J. Cook (the late Joyce and Jim Lavene) and HEARSE AND BUGGY by Laura Bradford are the I could call mine. I was concerned that all of the books I had read up to that point were by Ms. McKinlay. What if it was just her writing I liked? But the books by the Lavenes and Ms. Bradford showed me I was just starting my cozy mystery journey.

3) I learn so many new things! Occupations, and hobbies and crafts that had no appeal to me, I now find fascinating! I love when the book spends a lot of time in a character's shop. 

Bakerys, deep fried food restaurants, blueberry farms, food trucks, libraries, book clubs, scrapbooking, tea shops, knitting, sewing, needlepoint, glass bead making, yard sales . . I could go on and on about the different occupations and hobbies found in cozies. I learn so much!

4) Because of cozies, I have started my own blog, and found out...I'm good at it! I have never felt good about anything in my life. But people enjoy my blog and my reviews. They tell me so! 

I started reading cozies for enjoyment (I still do of course), then started writing reviews, and that led to blogging, and that led to having the best time of my life. No, seriously . . . blogging and reviewing have literally been the best part of my life. I have a feeling of achievement I've never had before. 

5) And because of the first four, #5 is the most important of all. I have made so many friends! The cozy community is full of kind, loving, goodhearted, creative, intelligent, supportive people. The authors, readers, reviewers, and bloggers in the cozy mystery community are like a family to me. I cheer for them as they do for me, I cry for them, as they do for me, I pray for them, as they do for me. This may sound corny to many, and I don't care if it does, cozy mysteries have given me a new life. One I was searching for without even knowing it. 

With some of the lovely authors I've been blessed to meet. 

Honestly, I have come to know the most amazingly good and kind people, all because of reading cozies. While I have had the chance to meet some of the authors, and a couple of sweet friends . . . other readers, reviewers, and bloggers I only know from online. They are some of the most wonderful people I've ever known. These people, this cozy community I have become a part of, they don't care what you look like. A lot of us have never even seen photos of each other. We get to know each other from the inside first,where it truly counts. No one cares that I am overweight. I have been all my life, and I have been very shy and backward because of it. Uncomfortable in my own skin. But those I have had the chance to meet, they made me forget while I was with them, that I was "fat" Lisa. To them, I am friend Lisa. 

There you go. 
The five reasons I read cozy mysteries. 
Truth be told, I could come up with many more, but I think I touched on the most important ones. 


A big thank you to Mary Kennedy for her original post. It gave me the opportunity to express what I have been wanting to say for a very long time. You can find Mary's post here. . . 

Check out the Cozy Chicks blog here. . .

Nancy Drew. . . Technically my first cozies. 

Please leave a comment and tell me,
why do you read cozies? 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

BLOOD ORANGE by Susan Wittig Albert

Book 24 in the China Bayles Mysteries
by Susan Wittig Albert


As the New York Times bestselling series continues, China Bayles comes to the aid of a nurse who ends up in the hospital...
China is renting her guest cottage to Kelly Kaufman, who needs a temporary place to live as she contends with an acrimonious divorce, including a nasty dispute over ownership of the Comanche Creek Brewing Company. At the same time, as a nurse employed by a local hospice, Kelly has discovered instances of suspicious practices and believes that a patient has been murdered. 
On her way to China’s house, Kelly is forced off the road and critically injured, putting her in a medically induced coma. Who wants Kelly out of the picture? Her soon-to-be ex? His new lover—who happens to be the sister of China’s friend Ruby? Or someone connected with the corruption at the hospice? China owes it to her friend to uncover the truth—but she may be putting her own life at risk...


After twenty-four stories, the new China Bayles Mystery is as fresh as the herbs mentioned throughout.

The first thing I know about a new China Bayles book is, I’m going to learn so many new things. Practically every chapter begins with information on different herbs, spices, and whatever each individual book is about. The second thing I know is, I’m in for an exciting, fast moving read. BLOOD ORANGE lives up to all of those expectations.

This book touched on so many subjects. The everyday running of China’s many businesses, the world of beer brewing, and even hospice care. Oh, and murder. Like it or not, murder does seem to be a business for China. While that may sound to be all over the place confusing, author Susan Wittig Albert blends is all flawlessly into an intricate, and entertaining mystery that will have fans and new readers alike enthralled.

Once you red BLOOD ORANGE, you’ll understand why this such a long running series. 

Don’t forget to check out the back of the book for some tasty recipes!


Book 25 in the China Bayles Mysteries
by Susan Wittig Albert


In this exciting new mystery from New York Times bestselling author Susan Wittig Albert, China Bayles fears for her husband’s life as an escaped convict targets him...
Max Mantel, the killer McQuaid put away years ago, has busted out of the Huntsville prison and appears to be headed for Pecan Springs. McQuaid knows there’s only one way to stop the vengeful convict—set a trap with himself as bait.
China wants to stay by her husband’s side and keep him from harm. But McQuaid  insists that she get out of town and go to the Last Chance Olive Ranch, where she’s agreed to teach a workshop on herbs.
When China and her best friend arrive at the ranch, she learns the owner, Maddie Haskell, has her own troubles. She inherited the ranch and olive oil business from the late matriarch, Eliza Butler, but Eliza’s nephew is contesting the will. 
While China throws herself into helping Maddie, McQuaid’s plan backfires when Mantel executes a countermove he never saw coming. Now McQuaid’s life is not the only one at stake—and this time may really be his last chance...


THE LAST CHANCE OLIVE RANCH, is a novel packed with action. Between the chapters dealing with China, and the other chapters dealing with her husband McQuaid, readers with be hard pressed to find any down time in this story. Both characters have their hands full in their respective storylines. Splitting the chapters as she does, author Susan Wittig Albert makes her books feel like two or more stories in one, yet having them cross at times to connect everything together.

As always, I love that each chapter starts off with something interesting. In this case, each chapter featuring China, had a fact to do with olives. The chapters featuring McQuaid simply start by following a time line.

This was a story with so much energy, at times I felt a rush of adrenaline so strong that I just wanted to get to the end of the book so I could take a deep breath. In the end I was I satisfied with the outcome, and found THE LAST CHANCE OLIVE RANCH to be a great story.

I have noticed that with the China Bayles Mysteries, the author is slowly branching away from the more traditional feeling mystery, and getting closer to being considered (at least to me) a suspense thriller series. So far, you will still see cozy-ish things like small towns, an educational aspect, and wonderful recipes, but you will also see a few edgier scenes, and a bit more cursing.

No matter what genre author Albert is aiming for, the one thing that can’t be denied is her truly wonderful writing.

Paperback                                          Hardcover

Now available for pre-order.
Both books release
April 4!

You all know that as a rule, I only review Cozy mysteries. I started reviewing Susan Wittig Albert's books a few years ago. I would say they have been a slightly edgier cozy. However, I have found that they are evolving a bit more still. As always, wonderful writing, but not a true cozy in the sense of what I prefer and review, but not so edgy that traditional cozy readers can't enjoy them. There is cursing. Not one after the other "F" bombs, but lots of h*ll, d*mn, and a few others thrown in.

All that being said, the China Bayles series will appeal to a wider group of readers no. But true cozy purest may not care for them a great deal. 
I'll read the next one, but if they slide any further away from the traditional cozy feel, it may be time for me to say goodbye to them. 

I only bring this up because I know a lot of you who follow my blog, know to expect certain types of books in my reviews. 

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

Want to follow my blog? 
Click on the link in the 
upper right hand corner of this page!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Cozy Food Friday

That means it's time to share a recipe from 
another great cozy mystery!

Today I'm featuring 
Book 2 in the Callie's Kitchen Mysteries
by Jenny Kales

The holidays can be murder! Greek-American restaurateur Callie Costas finds herself on thin ice when a colleague is killed. Recipes included!

The season is bright when Calliope “Callie” Costas agrees to contribute her Greek snowball cookies to a December bridal shower at The English Country Inn in the scenic waterfront town of Crystal Bay, WI. But when Callie finds a colleague dead, she's sucked into another murder investigation -- all while juggling her growing business and staggering holiday workload. 

As she reluctantly agrees to help the Inn’s owner track the killer, Callie is soon up to her spiced Greek biscotti in difficulties. For one thing, the hotel staff is freezing her out as she tries to uncover information, helped by her feisty Grandma Viv and her sweet but nosy aunt who’s visiting from Greece. And then there’s her deepening relationship with the suave and mysterious Detective Sands, a British expat now living in Wisconsin, who seems to have a few secrets of his own.

The icing on the cake is a host of simultaneous family mayhem including her father's surprising fixation on a real estate agent and her ex’s plans to move back to Crystal Bay. As the Inn’s annual Christmas Tea approaches, things are heating up in Callie’s Kitchen, but she’s on thin ice! Will Christmas be a festive celebration this year – or will it be murder?

Turn to the end of the book for six delicious recipes, including Greek cookies and savories, plus traditional Midwestern holiday favorites!


A word from Jenny about 
"Supper Clubs"

Welcome to the World of Wisconsin Supper Clubs!
By Jenny Kales

When I started writing SPICED AND ICED, the second book in my Callie’s Kitchen Mystery series, I really, really wanted to include a scene with a Wisconsin supper club. Luckily for me, it fit easily into the story. “The Elkhorn Supper Club” is where Callie Costas and her BFF Samantha stumble upon what could be a clue.  Or maybe not. You have to read the book to find out!

If you’re not from the Midwest (and even if you are), you might be wondering what a Wisconsin supper club is. Though they vary in dΓ©cor and theme, a supper club is a Wisconsin institution where solid, hearty and most importantly, delicious, food is served, along with classic cocktails. (More on those later).

Think juicy steaks, a perfectly roasted duck with orange sauce, crispy fish fry and tender, flavorful pork chops. This is meat and potatoes fare, all the way, but with an elegant touch, if your standard of elegance is old-school dining (and frankly, that’s what I like the best).

Supper clubs are wonderfully retro with their rustic or elegantly vintage dΓ©cor and yet, they are somehow never stuffy because of the friendly service and remarkable food. The food isn’t overly worked, not “avant garde” and not precious in any way: just reliable, tasty and meant to make you happy. What’s not to like?

There are a few other hallmarks of Wisconsin supper clubs. One is that steak in some way, shape or form will be prominently featured on the menu (yay). Also, you will be offered a “relish tray.” The relish tray will usually include fresh cruditΓ© like celery, carrots, cucumber and radishes as well as pickled vegetables of all kinds (beets, cauliflower, carrots, etc.), an assortment of crackers, breadsticks and a signature cheese spread (a recipe follows!) and pimento-stuffed olives. If the supper club is really retro, your relish tray will be brought to you on a glass tray with square compartments for each item and a round spot in the center (for the cheese spread).

With your relish tray, you’ll probably want to indulge in a cocktail. Traditional supper club cocktails are decidedly old-school, just like the food. One of the most common is the Brandy Old-Fashioned. Instead of the usual whiskey that’s used in a regular Old-Fashioned cocktail, brandy is used, resulting in a sweeter drink. It’s thought that the use of brandy can be attributed to the huge German population in Wisconsin’s earlier days, who preferred sweet alcoholic beverages. If you think about German wines, you can see that could have been the case.

OK, you’ve had your relish tray, your cocktail and a juicy steak with a baked potato and probably a house green salad, a homemade soup and maybe even a side of cottage cheese. Now, I hope you’ve saved room for dessert and after-dinner drinks. Many supper clubs pride themselves on their homemade desserts, like chocolate cake, pies and cheesecakes. Don’t skip dessert!

You also may want to indulge in a minty Grasshopper, a dessert in itself. This frozen, light green, crème-de-menthe-based drink was hugely popular in the 1960s. Supper clubs compete to see who can offer the biggest, tallest, most impressive Grasshopper.

Some supper clubs offer live music certain nights, many offer a year-round Friday fish fry and all of them have a feeling of welcome and warmth. They’re “cozy” in the best sense of the word.

I had a fun supper club experience last summer when I visited the Geneva Lakes area of Wisconsin (incidentally, the inspiration for Crystal Bay in The Callie’s Kitchen Mysteries). My husband and I drove from Fontana, Wisconsin (near Lake Geneva) to Delavan, where we had the pleasure of visiting The Duck Inn. We drove through a severe rainstorm to get there and weren’t sure if they would be open – it was a Sunday evening and supper clubs close early on Sunday. But they were there and we were treated to a delicious meal. The cheese spread that came with our relish tray is what inspired the following recipe, which can be found in my latest Callie’s Kitchen Mystery, SPICED AND ICED. (I didn’t ask them for the recipe, but this is pretty close).

On to the recipes!

Wisconsin Supper Club Cheese Spread

All food photos courtesy of Google Images


1 container cheddar cheese spread (such as Kraft Old English spread)
4 oz. cream cheese
8 oz. sour cream
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp cayenne pepper

   In large bowl, blend ingredients using a hand mixer (or use a Kitchen Aid standing mixer). 
  Chill at least one hour and preferably longer, to blend flavors and ensure that the mixture sets and is spreadable. 
   Keep leftovers covered in the refrigerator. 

  Great with cruditΓ©, crackers, bread or even on baked potatoes.

🍽Last but not least, a supper club cocktail recipe:🍽

Wisconsin Supper Club-Style
Brandy Old Fashioned

2 oz. brandy (Korbel is the preferred WI brand; any light-bodied brandy will work)
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Soda water or seltzer
1 sugar cube
2 orange slices (including skin)
2 maraschino cherries

   Put the sugar in the base of an old-fashioned glass (a short tumbler or “rocks” glass) and dash the bitters onto it. 
   Add a drop of soda water to help dissolve sugar. Add the fruit and muddle, avoiding the pith, until the sugar is dissolved.
   Add the brandy and stir to combine. Add ice cubes or crushed ice. 
   Top with seltzer, or to make it “sweet,” add lemon-lime soda or a mix of lemon-lime and seltzer (this combo is known as “press”).    
   Garnish with additional fruit, such as cherries and/or an orange slice.

I hope you get the chance to visit a Wisconsin supper club someday, but if you don’t, I hope these recipes will give you a taste of what they’re all about. Thanks to Lisa for hosting me today! I hope you will check out my Callie’s Kitchen Mystery Series if you haven’t already.

Happy Cozy Food Friday! ~Jenny


About Jenny

Jenny is an avid reader, cook and baker and she’s addicted to mystery TV, especially anything on Masterpiece Mystery or BBC America. A member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, she lives just outside of Chicago with her husband, two daughters and one cute but demanding Yorkshire terrier. Keep up with author news for Jenny Kales by following her on social media: Facebook (@JennyKalesMysteryAuthor), Twitter @Jenny_Kales, Instagram (jennykales_author) and Goodreads. 
Visit her website at jennykales.wordpress.com/


Please keep reading and check out my 
installments of 
Book Beginnings on Fridays
The Friday 56

Both the BB and 56 are from 
Book 2 in the Callie's Kitchen Mysteries


Book Beginnings on Fridays is a meme hosted by Rose City Reader
Share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading

My Book Beginnings

"Why does anyone think it's a good idea to have their bridal shower right before the holidays?" grumbled Natalie Underwood, her long red curls bouncing pertly as she rushed about the room.
The Friday 56 is a meme hosted by Freda's Voice
Rules: *Grab a book, any book. *Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader (If you have to improvise, that's okay.) *Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it) that grab you. *Post it.

My Friday 56 
(Switching it up . . .
using the first 
sentence from 
chapter 5 and the 
first from chapter 6)

(Chap 5) - Callie was too busy at Callie's Kitchen to snoop at the inn the day after ____'s death, but the following day, she promised herself she'd be there bright and early for a brief check-in.

(Chap 6) - Returning home that evening, Callie was determined to relax.

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.