Saturday, January 23, 2021

I'm joining Berkley Mystery today
in celebrating the release of  
Book 1 in the Beloved Bookroom Mysteries
by Dorothy St. James

The first in an exciting new series featuring Trudell Becket, a spunky librarian who will stop at nothing to save her beloved books and catch a killer!

Trudell Becket, book-loving librarian, finds herself in a bind when the library where she works is turned into a state-of-the-art bookless library. In a rare move of rebellion, Trudell rescues hundreds of her library's beloved books slated for the recycle center. She sets up a secret book room in the library's basement and opens it to anyone who shares her love of the printed book.

When the town councilman, who was the vocal proponent of the library's transformation into a "futuristic technological center," is crushed under an overturned shelf of DVDs, Trudell becomes the police's prime suspect for his murder. She was the only person in the library at the time of his death, or so the police believe. But that's not true. For the past month, Trudell had been letting a few dozen residents into the building through the basement entrance so they could read and check out the printed books.

But if she tells the police about the backdoor patrons who were in the library at the time of the murder, she'd have to explain about the secret book room and risk losing the books. In order to protect herself from being arrested for a murder she didn't commit, Trudell--with the help of a group of dedicated readers--decides to investigate. She quickly discovers you can't always judge a book by its cover.

When I first read the description of, THE BROKEN SPINE, it sounded more like a dystopian (Hey, no books in a library is a grim thing to me), but certainly futuristic tale than it did a cozy set in modern times.

From the back cover . . . Trudell Becket finds herself in a bind when her library is turned into a state-of-the-art bookless 'technological center'. A library with no books breaks Trudell's book-loving heart and she decides to rescue hundreds of beloved tomes slated for the recycle center. Under the cover of darkness, Trudell sets up a secret book room in the library's basement and opens it to her loyal patrons.

I could see if Tru had maybe moved the books to her home, but in the basement of the library seemed unbelievable with all the activity that it would cause.

Despite the back cover, I did go ahead and read THE BROKEN SPINE. There is no doubt author Dorothy St. James is a good writer, so I wanted to follow through.

To me, the mystery was solid right up until the reveal. There were plenty of suspects so I found myself yo-yoing between who I thought the killer was. Turns out I was right, but had changed my mind, so I ended up being wrong at the finish.

There were some nice comedic bits in this story, allowing the author’s sense of humor show through. One bit even made me laugh out loud. However, even with the humorous aspects, I didn’t connect well with most of the characters. But, that has happened to me many times with the new book in a series. It can take a while to flesh out the characters.

I will give the next book in the, Beloved Bookroom Mystery series a try. As for, THE BROKEN SPINE, there are wonderful reviews, so please, if it sounds like a book you would like to read, give it a try. It has generated some wonderful reviews!

Mystery author Dorothy St. James was born in New York but raised in South Carolina. For the past 20+ years, she made her home on an artsy island community in South Carolina with her husband. Though writing has always been a passion for her, she pursued an undergraduate degree in Wildlife Biology and a graduate degree in Public Administration and Urban Planning. She put her educational experience to use, having worked in all branches and all levels of government including local, regional, state, and federal. She even spent time during college working for a non-profit environmental watchdog organization.

Switching from government service and community planning to fiction writing wasn't as big of a change as some might think. Her government work was all about the stories of the people and the places where they live. As an urban planner, Dorothy loved telling the stories of the people she met. And from that, her desire to tell the tales that were so alive in her heart grew until she could not ignore it any longer. In 2001, she took a leap of faith and pursued her dream of writing fiction full-time.

* Dorothy St. James is the alter-ego of award-winning multi-published author, Dorothy McFalls. She enjoys writing in several different genres. Her works have been nominated for many awards including: Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award, Reviewers International Organization Award, National Reader's Choice Award, CataRomance Reviewers' Choice Award, and The Romance Reviews Today Perfect 10! Award. Reviewers have called her work: "amazing", "perfect", "filled with emotion", and "lined with danger."

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Friday, January 22, 2021

I'm having a Cozy Food Friday Flashback!
And this one has me feeling all warm inside.
I hope you enjoy!

NOTE: From this point on, everything you see in this post is just as l posted it on September 11, 2014.


Cozy Food Friday!

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

Today I'm featuring a recipe from the cozy book 
Book 1 in the delightful new 
Food Festival Mystery series. 

How many of you had some wonderful crab this summer? With Fall around the corner, who says crab season has to end? 
Penny offers us a perfect solution. 


1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter
3 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup flour
 2 cups peeled and diced potatoes
2 cups clam juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 1/2 teaspoon seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound crabmeat
1 (14-ounce) package refrigerated piecrusts
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon water
tartar sauce (secret ingredient)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Melt 2 tablespoon of the butter in a large pan over medium heat

Add the onions. celery, carrots, and peas, and cook for 5 minutes

Add the potatoes, clam juice, lemon zest, seafood seasoning, and salt; bring to boil

Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender

Remove from heat

Melt the remaining 1/2 cup butter in a frying pan over low heat; cook and stir for 3 minutes until golden brown

Combine butter and crabmeat, add the vegetable mixture, and stir

Unroll the piecrusts, place 6 ramekins on the crusts and cut out circles of piecrust the same diameter as the ramekins to cover the pies 

Spoon crab mixture into the ramekins

Whisk the egg with the water and brush the cutout piecrusts with the egg wash

Place a crust circle, egg wash side down, over each ramekin of crab mixture and seal the edges of the crust to the edges of the ramekins

Pierce the crusts a few times with a knife or fork to create vent holes

Place the ramekins on a foil-lined baking sheet

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown

Top with tartar sauce

Serves 6

Please note that all food photos are from Google Images. Your version may vary in appearance

Do I hear stomachs growling out there? 
I know I sure got hungry typing this up!

You can purchase DEATH OF A CRABBY COOK by Penny Pike at your local bookstore or order it online

Want to appear on my blog?
Take photos making a recipe 
featured on my blog
 and email them to me at 
I will post them on an upcoming 
 Cozy Food Friday!

Keep reading to check out my installments of 
Book Beginnings on Fridays
The Friday 56

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

Keeping my Cozy Food Friday theme going with... 
Book 1 in the Food Festival Mystery series
My Book Beginnings for this week...

Life sucked.

Forget counting calories. I needed this cream puff.

It would have been the perfect spring day in San Francisco---no fog, sunshine, with a light, salty breeze coming off the bay---if it weren't for the news I'd just received from my editor at the San Francisco Chronicle. 

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.

Continuing with DEATH OF A CRABBY COOK theme
My Friday 56...

Aunt Abby tilted her head, almost coquettishly, and finally returned my gaze. "I wouldn't call it 'blackmail', exactly. More like...'leverage.' "


At the San Francisco Seafood Festival, someone is steamed enough to kill a cook.... 

When restaurant reviewer Darcy Burnett gets served a pink slip from the San Francisco Chronicle, she needs to come up with an alternative recipe for success quickly. Her feisty aunt Abby owns a tricked-out school bus, which she’s converted into a hip and happening food truck, and Darcy comes aboard as a part-timer while she develops a cookbook project based on recipes from food fests in the Bay Area.

But she soon finds someone’s been trafficking in character assassination—literally—when a local chef turns up dead and her aunt is framed for the murder. The restaurant chef was an outspoken enemy of food trucks, and now Darcy wonders if one of the other vendors did him in. With her aunt’s business—and freedom—on the line, it’s up to Darcy to steer the murder investigation in the right direction and put the brakes on an out-of-control killer….


Penny Pike/Penny Warner

Follow Penny at her website...


I hope you enjoyed this Flashback. 
Let me know if you give this potpie a try!

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

Follow my blog by submitting your email in 
upper right hand corner of this page (on the side bar).

Reading from your phone? Scroll to the bottom of your page and click "View web version". Then follow the above directions.

Thursday, January 21, 2021


I'm joining Berkley Mystery today
in celebrating the release of  
Book 2 in the Tuscan Cooking School Mysteries
by Stephanie Cole

American chef Nell Valenti's high hopes for a successful Tuscan farm-to-table cooking school are in danger of withering on the vine in this delectable cozy mystery.

Nell Valenti is settling into her role of transforming the Villa Orlandini into a superb farm-to-table cooking school, and the time has finally come for a full taste test run. But when Chef Orlandini prepares to reveal his top secret marinara recipe for the first time to a group of American gastro-tourists, Nell realizes she might have bitten off more than she can chew.

Nell begins to suspect that one of the tourists is actually a private detective sent to spy on her by her overprotective father, and the fussy foodies are noisy and disrespectful from the very start of the Marinara Mysteriosa workshop. Even worse, when one visitor appears to be poisoned by the famous marinara recipe, Nell will have to work fast to uncover a killer and keep a lid on bad press before her fresh start is spoiled for good.

The Rabbit Holes of Research

by Stephanie Cole

            In Crime of the Ancient Marinara, Book Two in my Tuscan Cooking School Mystery Series, I have an important secondary character who owns a car dealership in Naples, Florida. Cozies are tight-knit little fictional communities, which for the writer means doing what we call these days a "deep dive" into all the shadowy corners of a character's nature and backstory. If there aren't these gradually revealed secrets about the core characters, why should we want to visit them time after time? I've discovered that the same need for roundness and depth applies to the secondary characters in each book, as well.

            My car dealership owner from Naples is one of the five American gastrotourists (traveling foodies) who arrive at my cozy setting, the Villa Orlandini Cooking School in Cortona, a Tuscan hillside town. Getting him there was the easy part. But before very long, as I followed him -- as his creator -- into the story of Crime of the Ancient Marinara, I was Alice chasing the White Rabbit, and down the research rabbit hole I tumbled. What was the car dealership? Lamborghini. How long has he owned it, and were those luxury cars imported into Florida in that year? Could he have hit a rough patch in the sales of Lams in the U.S.? Certainly, but will that period satisfy my narrative need for when that happened? And that's where rabbit hole meets mine field.

            Along the way in any nosing around for the facts of something -- an object, an event, really anything -- pretty soon it becomes an endless search. I found myself needing to know all sorts of things. Did the 1984 model have heated seats? Was the 1997 model available in yellow? How fast could they go? Can they take regular gas?  When did USB ports show up? Did seat belts appear in models not exported to the U.S.? I Had. To. Know. all of it, I think, because as writers, (1) we can make an error anywhere along the way in even the smallest detail, (2) we'll hear about it from mystery readers, and (3) we never ever know what we might actually need to use, right? Nosing out those sorts of facts seem like the little stuff. Getting them takes a whole lot of time.       

            But rabbit hole meets mine field when the fact we uncover doesn't meet the narrative need. When the truth conflicts with how we want something to work in a plot. If, for example, a critical clue has something to do with a cigarette lighter in the 2014 Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4, but my research shows me that model didn't have cigarette lighters. . .what then? New rabbit hole, one full of scary possibilities.

·         ·         Change the car model and year in the story. To do this may actually mean changing the ages of the characters involved, which may have major implications for the rest of the story.

·             ·        Change the clue to something in the car other than a cigarette lighter. To do this may involve re-conceptualizing a lot about the story from the ground up. What if X doesn't smoke? What else does that new fact about X affect?

·             ·        Change the clue to something NOT in the car at all. See above.

·             ·        Fudge it. Make up a Lam year and model that never existed. Tempting, but unsatisfying.

            I believe those of us who write research-tied novels actually like the rabbit holes. There's something satisfying about "just the facts, ma'am." There's always room for error, sure, and finally we have to insist to ourselves that it's jolly well time to climb up out of the rabbit hole and get on with things. But, for me at least, the thrill of the head-over-heels tumble into the unknown is both knowing I've done my best to write a credible story with depth and, frankly, enjoying the sheer adventure of the tumble itself.

Stephanie Cole is an active member of the mystery writing community. Writing as Shelley Costa, she was nominated for both an Edgar® and an Agatha Award, and she cofounded the Northeast Ohio chapter of Sisters in Crime. She teaches creative writing workshops and lectures on American literature in the greater Cleveland area. For fun, she takes violin lessons, studies art history—and eyes them both for murder plots.

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

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upper right hand corner of this page (on the side bar).

Reading from your phone? Scroll to the bottom of your page and click "View web version". Then follow the above directions.

Monday, January 18, 2021


Check out these giveaways at GoodReads!

There could be a mix of print and eBooks, so make sure to check before you enter.

Use the link below each book for a chance to enter.

NOTE: I'm not sure every title in this list is a cozy, A lot of, descriptions, titles and covers and be a bit deceiving.



PS . . . While you're there, I'd love for you to friend me and check out my reviews! If you enjoy them, please make sure to Like them. Thanks!

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

Follow my blog by submitting your email in 
upper right hand corner of this page (on the side bar).

Reading from your phone? Scroll to the bottom of your page and click "View web version". Then follow the above directions.