Readers' Favorite

July 9, 2016

Monsters, Mixed Drinks & Millennials: Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge

review by Donna Huber

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge
I was really excited to start reading Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge after my interview with author Paul Krueger last month. The story's premise had great promise to be a terrific summer read.

Bailey Chen recently graduated from college and plans for a great adult life. Yet, things aren't going quite as planned as she is back living at home with her parents and working as a bar back in a high school's friends bar. But things aren't what they seem, as Bailey soon learns.

I liked Bailey. I saw a lot of myself in her when I was her age. I always had a plan growing up and knew exactly how life was going to turn out. Or so I thought. The other characters were likeable, but I felt like they could have been better fleshed out. Like I knew something was off about Mona. But instead of dropping more hints through out the story and showing the reader what was up, it is told to the reader at the end.

I also expected something more from Bailey. I thought there was too much emphasis on her ability to make a perfect cocktail without much thought, though when she was trying to make the perfect cocktail it failed, for there not to have been something of importance to it.

Actually, my biggest problem with the book was there was more telling than showing going on. This lack of showing made it feel like the story was lacking something.

If a novel is written in three acts, I felt as if there was act 1 and act 3 with a summarized act 2. Krueger did well in introducing the characters and this world where monters are attracted to the intoxicated and bartenders mix magical cocktails so they can fight them. It was when we got to the meat of the story that it faltered and turned more to telling.

Kruegar also seemed to go for 'easy outs', which, of course, telling the reader what they need to know is easier than showing. For example, little is known about the history of bartending because there was a "blackout" period were almost all documents were lost. How convenient.

While paranormal urban fantasy is not usually my thing, there were a few things that drew me to the book. I liked the plot thread of a new college graduate trying to find her way into adulthood. There was a diverse cast of characters. If you couldn't tell from the last name, Bailey is Chinese-American. I was also hoping that it being 'new adult' that the fantasy would be light or at least the reader would be slowly introduced to the universe as they often are in young adult.

I wonder though if the publisher thought the diverse cast would score enough brownie points with the reader to make up for the plot holes. For me, whatever points the book earned for diversity were lost with the reveal about Bailey's parents. It was like the author realized that he had stereotyped her parents and couldn't have that so right at the end he through in a twist, which I thought could have been executed better.

As for the 'new adult' designation...Thankfully it really did describe the target audience/age of the characters and not a code word for erotic scenes between young adults. If there weren't such an emphasis on alchohol consumption the story could have easily been YA.

Actually, my favorite part of the book was the description of the different cocktails. After each chapter there are pages from the "Devil's Water Dictionary", a manual for tremens-hunting bartenders, that provides the recipe for the cocktail and then history about the ingredients. The cocktails are real cocktails, so if you are hosting a book club meeting or a bookish party, themed libeations will be easy to provide.

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge was a fun read for when I was lounging in the pool. The plot wasn't overly complicated and the characters are unique individuals making the book an easy read. There was enough room in the ending that more stories could follow and I liked it well enough to read more should it become a series.

Buy Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge at Amazon

Donna Huber, founder & publisher. Donna is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour. She reads most genres, but her favorite books are psychological thrillers and stories that highlight the survival of the human spirit against unbelievable circumstances.

Book info:
available formats: ebook and print (288 pages)
published: June 2016 by Quirk Books
ISBN13: 9781594747595
target audience: new adults
genres: fantasy
source: publisher

Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: A free book was provided for this review. Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

July 8, 2016

3 Happily Ever After Romances to Read this Summer

by Susan Roberts

To me a good romance novel needs to be  more than a bodice ripper -   there also needs to be some romance and a relationship between the couple.  There are so many problems in day to day life that it's always wonderful to read a story with a happily ever after ending.  I always enjoy reading a good romance and here are reviews of several that I've read this year.

cover of The A to Z of Normal
Clare is a woman with a problem -- she has OCD - obsessive compulsive disorder. Her disease manifests itself by her need to organize. Everything in her apartment had to be perfectly placed, her cosmetics on her dresser had to be organized by size and color and she had to check the contents of her purse over and over. She realizes that she has a problem but is totally unable to do anything about it. Until her new boyfriend wants to visit her apartment. Can he help her overcome this disorder and live a normal life again? Will she be helped by a recovery group that she's joined for people with OCD? Or will she continue tiring herself out by trying to keep total order in her life and her surroundings?

I found this to be a very interesting look at OCD. Clare is a very likable main character and Helen Barbour does an excellent job of presenting the day to day issues of someone with this disorder. This book gave an informative view of the various types of OCD as well as being an enjoyable read.

Buy The A to Z of Normal at Amazon
(A free ebook was provided by the author for this review)

cover of One Last Fling
Daisy Maxwell is a plus size event planner who is persuaded by her cousin to join a group of twenty women that are vying for a chance to be the billionaire's bride. The catch is that they can’t meet Kaleb Derry until the wedding, which must take place in four weeks. Daisy has always hoped to marry for love but her family’s financial troubles convince her that it’s her duty to marry for money. At the initial group meeting, she meets Chef Ryder Blake and there is an immediate connection between them. He isn't the salvation to her family’s money problems but he just may be the love of her life.

One Last Fling is a light fun book. Daisy was a lot of fun to read and her chemistry with Ryder made this an enjoyable book to read.

Buy One Last Fling at Amazon

cover of Sweet Tomorrows
Sweet Tomorrows, available August 2016, is the 5th and final book in the Rose Harbor series. This is a series that you need to read in order for maximum enjoyment.

As always, Debbie Macomber comes through with the perfect light read of the summer. This is the end of the Rose Harbor series and she wraps up the main plot involving Jo Marie and Mark, a secondary plot involving Emily and Nick plus brings us up to date on various couples from the first four books in the series. In the main plot, Mark (the handyman from previous novels in this series) has left Cedar Cove to right a wrong from his past.  It's a dangerous mission and he tells Jo Marie not to wait for him to return.  After waiting over a year and starting to date again, she receives some shocking news about Mark that will change everything.  It's wonderful to see the Rose Harbor b&b work its magic and provide peace and happy endings for the people who stay there and to bring the readers so much enjoyment.

It's a great series and if you haven't read it yet, it's time to read it. I promise that you'll enjoy Debbie at her best!

Buy Sweet Tomorrows at Amazon
(A free galley was provided by the publisher via NetGalley for this review.)

Susan Roberts, reviewer. Susan grew up in the Detroit area but after deciding that city life wasn't for her she moved to North Carolina after college. She and her husband have several acres of land and they enjoy gardening and canning vegetables in the summer. They travel extensively. Susan reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on Facebook or Twitter.

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July 7, 2016

Review: Kitten Kaboodle by Kathi Daley #BigBookGiveaway

by Elisa Hordon

Kitten Kaboodle

You really have to admire an author who can write 20 books in a series and still have her fans waiting for more.

Kathi Daley has done it again with Kitten Kaboodle, the 20th Zoe Donovan Mystery, which you can enter for a chance to win a paperback copy at the end of this post.

I am a big fan, I just love Kathi's cozies. They are always, fun, exciting and mysterious with a brilliant main character and a family of other brilliant characters that bring the whole story together.

Kitten Kaboodle finds Zoe home alone with Zak's honorary Nona and this wild senior is giving Zoe a run for her money as far as getting into mischief goes. Nona is stirring up trouble with a local animal activist who is attempting to shut down a kitten mill, so when the owner of the kitten mill is found murdered Nona becomes a suspect and Zoe's mother-in-law sweeps into town unannounced with a handful of other family members to reign Nona in. When Zoe finds her mother-in-law planning home renovations to her and Zac's house, things become more intense for Zoe and she is struggling to deal with everything on her own while Zac is out of town.

I really felt sorry for Zoe in Kitten Kaboodle. She had so much to deal with, it was no wonder she felt overwhelmed, but I do love how she handled it all. Zoe Donovan is a wonderful character; she is funny, smart and an awesome friend.

While Zoe is dealing with Nona, a murder, and Zac's visiting family, she is also worried about her best friend Ellie who is feeling under the weather. Zoe is doing her best to be there for Ellie too, but she is really worried something more than the flu is going on with Ellie. But being the loyal best friend she is, Zoe is trying to patently wait for Ellie to tell her what's going on.

To top everything else going on in Zoe's life, she has animals that need tending to both at home and at the shelter and she misses Zac and the kids more than she expected to but in true Zoe style she puts aside herself and focuses on everyone else. Zoe sets her mind to keeping Nona out of jail, finding a murderer and stopping herself from killing her mother-in-law plus homing all the kittens from the mill, oh, and finally finding out Ellie's big secret. Yep no big deal at all, not for

Zoe Donovan sometimes seems like wonder woman to me as I have read and loved all of her stories. Each time I read a new one it's like reading about a best friend. This book is warm and inviting; you just can't put it down as the whole series is highly addictive.

And don’t forget as always there are some awesome recipes in the back of the book

Buy Kitten Kaboodle at Amazon

Elisa Hordon, reviewerElisa lives on the Southern Highlands of NSW, Australia were she spends her days reading, journaling, painting, cooking and home schooling her daughter. She has always been an avid reader, Elisa loves reading many genres of books except horror; her favourite genres would be mystery, romance and paranormal. Elisa also loves pursuing many creative outlets if she is not relaxing with a book she can be found writing, sketching, painting or cooking. Elisa loves to share her obsession with books especially with her family and friends. Reading and reviewing books is a favourite pastime of Elisa’s.

Plus, Kitten Kaboodle is one of 20 books in this month's Big Book Giveaway. You can see the full list of books in the giveaway here.

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Book info:
available formats: ebook and print (226 pages)
published: May 2016
ISBN13: 9781533139344
genre: cozy mystery

Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

July 6, 2016

5 Facts About E-Books That Would Impress Your Friends

by Cassie 

If you enjoy reading as much as we do, you'll love some of what has to offer. We appreciate them for featuring this article on their page and encourage you to check out some of their other articles when you're done. If you've got a Facebook page, check out this article on how to score more likes.

reading ebook

While I’ll be the first to admit your friends are probably easily impressed if they find facts about e-books impressive, there are some very cool things about them that they may not be aware of. Most people using e-books think of them as something you buy, read and forget about. That might be okay for some people, but I've always thought it's best to get your money's worth.

Although e-books are not an exact replacement for real books, they are getting closer and closer. Changes to software that reads e-book data are poised to make your life more convenient and accessible when it comes to reading. Let's see exactly what those e-books can do!

1. E-Books Can Be Rented

As someone that owns a fair number of overpriced books, I've come to learn that not all books need to be purchased. In fact, many expensive e-books now offer the option to rent them for a considerably lower price. This is great news, particularly for students tasked with purchasing the "current edition" of a several hundred dollar textbooks for their classes.

For others, it means saving money on books you don't intend to read a second time. It's not so different from the library, except that the book you want is always in stock, though for a small fee. Certainly, it's not for every situation though. But it can be handy because…

2. Not all E-Books are Cheap

Despite having no printing costs associated, some e-books are just as expensive as their physical counterparts. Prices for most e-books range between $1-$10, but in some cases, there are e-books that still cost as much as fifty bucks. While many books can be found cheaper in their e-book format, the exception to that case is used books.

Not surprisingly, used books are sometimes dirt cheap, costing just a few dollars, sometimes even under a dollar. This is especially true for books that have multiple editions (and the older the edition, the cheaper a used version will be). So be careful what you buy in e-book format. It’s not necessarily always a money saver.

3. E-Books are Tied to Your Account, Not Your Device

Your favorite book can get wet; it can get stinky, moldy, ripped apart and become so damaged that no clean soul would ever want to touch it without the help of gloves. Libraries are filled with these old, rotting books, especially archives. But that's something that won't happen to your e-books. It's not just because they're in digital format either.

When you purchase an e-book, you get access to that book on the account you bought it on. So if you switch to a new device, want to read it on a bigger screen or decide you need to go mobile, that’s fine! You can always bring up your e-book on a difference device so long as that device has that same account on it.

Sadly there are a couple of downsides. Loaning books out doesn't work so well when they're e-books. You don't want to share account details, so as a result you can't really "loan" e-books to anyone.

Additionally, accessing your e-book account requires internet access, account logins and downloads. While it might not seem like a big deal, all of those things put your devices and accounts at risk. You’d hate to spend a small fortune building your digital library only to have that account hacked or stolen.

If you’re going to be reading e-books, especially via public WiFi, it would be a good idea to subscribe to a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service. Public WiFi is rife with hackers and other perils, but they can be avoided with a VPN, which encrypts your internet traffic. Check out this review from Secure Thoughts to choose the best option to protect your self.

4. You Can Write in Most E-Books

When e-books first got started, my main criticism (aside from no "new book smell") was that you couldn't remember a precise page you'd folded or marked. You couldn't put notes on the margins, highlight lines you wanted to remember or do a lot of things that we do in physical books.
That is no longer the case. Changes to software now allow us to do just about all of those things, only considerably better than a real book. Not only can you create bookmarks and write in e-books, but you can also use “find” to search for specific text. You can use handwritten notes, or you can leave typed (clean) notes in the margin without jumbling up the page with markings.

That combined with being able to remove notes you make is pretty significant. One thing's for sure about real books: you can't erase pen or marker. But you sure can delete anything you'd like from your e-book.

5. There’s a “Netflix” for E-Books

Sure, you probably think this one was bound to happen. If you can stream movies for one low monthly price, why not books as well? Given that you can rent individual books, it's only natural that someone would develop an online subscription service that allows you to read as many books as you want!

Don’t get too excited now; there are a few limitations that come along with these subscription services. Much like Netflix, the “library” is limited by licenses the company has acquired and maintains. Your favorite book might not be in one service, while it may be available on another subscription service. There’s no guarantee that book will stay licensed with that provider either.

Fortunately, the services are pretty cheap. Most of them run around $10 per month, and if you're reading a lot of books already, that's a pretty good deal. As subscription services continue to grow, this is likely a market that will expand with time as well. Maybe it won't have the same glamor as Netflix, but it'll have huge appeal for the bookworms of the world.

Think we missed something great about e-books? We’d love to know what you think on the topic. Please share your thoughts in the comments!

About the Author:
Cassie is an avid reader and all around book lover. She enjoys writing about internet security and entertainment, as well as sharing guest posts across the net.

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July 5, 2016

#BigBookGiveaway Spotlight on Course Correction by Ginny Gilder

by Donna Huber

Course Correction

Chapter 1 - Catch
I endured my first three days of college surrounded by budding Nobel Prize winners, already-published authors, and nonchalant geniuses speaking multiple languages in the course of a single conversation. I crept into my bunk bed for three nights straight, plagued by panic and vivid dreams of walking naked on campus. I woke every morning to a crowd of thoughts clamoring to present more evidence of my mistake. Too young. Not smart enough. Unprepared. Not Ivy League material. Whatever delusion of adequacy my admission to my father's alma mater had encouraged evaporated like morning dew, and I was left to panic before the stark, unblinking truth: I was an interloper.

Course Correction by Ginny Gilder is one of 20 books in the Big Book Giveaway going on this month. With the Olympic Games starting in a few weeks, I thought it was an excellent book to feature.

From Goodreads:
Wild meets The Boys in the Boat, a memoir about the quest for Olympic gold and the triumph of love over fear

Forty years ago, when a young Ginny Gilder stood on the edge of Boston’s Charles River and first saw a rowing shell in motion, it was love at first sight. Yearning to escape her family history, which included her mother’s emotional unraveling and her father’s singular focus on investment acumen as the ultimate trophy, Gilder discovered rowing at a pivotal moment in her life. Having grown up in an era when girls were only beginning to abandon the sidelines as observers and cheerleaders to become competitors and national champions, Gilder harbored no dreams of athletic stardom. Once at Yale, however, her operating assumptions changed nearly overnight when, as a freshman in 1975, she found her way to the university’s rowing tanks in the gymnasium’s cavernous basement.

From her first strokes as a novice, Gilder found herself in a new world, training with Olympic rowers and participating in the famous Title IX naked protest, which helped define the movement for equality in college sports. Short, asthmatic, and stubborn, Gilder made the team against all odds and for the next ten years devoted herself to answering a seemingly simple question: how badly do you want to go fast?

Course Correction recounts the physical and psychological barriers Gilder overcame as she transformed into an elite athlete who reached the highest echelon of her sport. Set against the backdrop of unprecedented cultural change, Gilder’s story personalizes the impact of Title IX, illustrating the life-changing lessons learned in sports but felt far beyond the athletic arena. Heartfelt and candid, Gilder recounts lessons learned from her journey as it wends its way from her first glimpse of an oar to the Olympic podium in 1984, carries her through family tragedy, strengthens her to accept her true sexual identity, and ultimately frees her to live her life on her terms.

What others are saying about Course Correction
I found it a compelling, honest and riveting read. ~ Joyce Sullivan

This was one of those books that you prolong finishing not because it's bad, but because it's so good and you don't want to finish it. ~ Emily Farrar

This is a wonderful story about overcoming challenges and perseverance. ~ Betsy Mitchell

Buy Course Correction at Amazon

Enter the Giveaway:
(Be sure to visit the Big Book Giveaway event post to see what other books you could win)

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Get even more book news in your inbox by signing up for our newsletter: Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small commission is earned when purchases are made at Amazon using any Amazon links on this site. Thank you for supporting Girl Who Reads.

July 4, 2016

8 Audio Books for Poolside Listening #MondayBlogs

by Donna Huber

Summer is in full swing here in Georgia. We have already had one 100 degree day and we are looking forward to a weekend of 100+ degrees coming up. I foresee a lot of pool time in my future. Audio books are great for providing entertainment while allowing you to keep an eye on the kids in the water. Or maybe you are like me and like a little literary entertainment while working. Here's a run down of the books I've been listening to.

AD 30
A war that rages between kingdoms on the earth and in the heart.

The harrowing journey of the woman at the center of it all.

Step back in time to the year of our Lord...A.D. 30.

The outcast daughter of one of the most powerful Bedouin sheikhs in Arabia, Maviah is called on to protect the very people who rejected her. When their enemies launch a sudden attack with devastating consequences, Maviah escapes with the help of two of her father's warriors--Saba who speaks more with his sword than his voice and Judah, a Jew who comes from a tribe that can read the stars. Their journey will be fraught with terrible danger. If they can survive the vast forbidding sands of a desert that is deadly to most, they will reach a brutal world subjugated by kings and emperors. There Maviah must secure an unlikely alliance with King Herod of the Jews.
AD 33
But Maviah's path leads her unexpectedly to another man. An enigmatic teacher who speaks of a way in this life which offers greater power than any kingdom. His name is Yeshua, and his words turn everything known on its head. Though following him may present even greater danger, his may be the only way for Maviah to save her people--and herself.

New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker continues the epic story of a woman who rises to become a queen of the desert when she meets Jesus in A.D. 33.

Buy at Amazon A.D. 30 and A.D. 33

The Pursuit of Lucy Banning
She has a secret to keep. But will she give her heart away? Lucy Banning may live on the exclusive Prairie Avenue among Chicago's rich and famous, but her heart lies elsewhere. Expected to marry an up-and-coming banker from a respected family, Lucy fears she will be forced to abandon her charity work and squeeze herself into the mold of the well-dressed wife who spends most of her time and money redecorating. When she meets Will, an unconventional young architect who is working on plans for the upcoming 1893 World's Fair, Lucy imagines a life lived on her own terms. Can she break away from her family's expectations? And will she ever be loved for who she truly is? Get swept away into the lavish world of Chicago's high society as Olivia Newport brings to life an age of glitz and grandeur, stark social contrasts, and one woman who dares to cross class lines for what she believes.

Buy Pursuit of Lucy Banning at Amazon

A Colder War
Internationally acclaimed as "a premier writer of espionage thrillers" (USA Today), Charles Cumming is "among the most skillful spy novelists" (Washington Post) and "a worthy successor to the masters…like John le CarrĂ© and Len Deighton" (Chicago Sun-Times). Now, with A COLDER WAR, Cumming returns with MI6 agent Tom Kell (A Foreign Country), in a tour de force that will dazzle readers and critics alike.

A top-ranking Iranian military official is blown up while trying to defect to the West. An investigative journalist is arrested and imprisoned for writing an article critical of the Turkish government. An Iranian nuclear scientist is assassinated on the streets of Tehran. These three incidents, seemingly unrelated, have one crucial link. Each of the three had been recently recruited by Western intelligence, before being removed or killed.

Then Paul Wallinger, MI6's most senior agent in Turkey, dies in a puzzling plane crash. Fearing the worst, MI6 bypasses the usual protocol and brings disgraced agent Tom Kell in from the cold to investigate. Kell soon discovers what Wallinger had already begun to suspect—that there's a mole somewhere in the Western intelligence, a traitor who has been systematically sabotaging scores of joint intelligence operations in the Middle East.

Buy A Colder War at Amazon

Full Force and Effect
A North Korean ICBM crashes into the Sea of Japan. A veteran CIA officer is murdered in Ho Chi Minh City, and a package of forged documents goes missing. The pieces are there, but assembling the puzzle will cost Jack Ryan, Jr. and his fellow Campus agents precious time. Time they don’t have.

The challenge facing President Jack Ryan is an old one with a terrifying new twist. The international stalemate with North Korea continues into its seventh decade.  A young, untested dictator is determined to prove his strength by breaking the deadlock. Like his father before him, he hangs his plans on the country’s nuclear ambitions. Until now, that program was impeded by a lack of resources. However, there has been a dramatic change in the nation’s economic fortune. A rich deposit of valuable minerals have been found in the Hermit Kingdom.  Coupled with their nuclear capabilities, the money from this find will make North Korea a dangerous force on the world stage.

There’s just one more step needed to complete this perfect plan…the elimination of the president of the United States.

Buy Full Force and Effect at Amazon

The Widow
'Me, the grieving widow? Don't make me laugh.'

A voice as startling and unreliable as The Girl On The Train, a cast as compelling as Broadchurch.

Jean Taylor is the wife of a man labelled a monster.

Glen Taylor was accused of heinous crimes, implicated in the disappearance of two-year-old Bella Elliot, snatched from her front garden four years ago. But now he’s dead and Jean Taylor is finally ready to tell her story.

For the reporter who has secured the exclusive interview, this is the scoop of a lifetime. For the detective who has lived a half-life since he failed to get justice for the lost little girl, it is a chance to uncover the truth that has eluded him for so long.

It's time. Jean Taylor is going to tell us what she knows.

Buy The Widow at Amazon

The Rumor
Madeline King and Grace Pancik are best friends and the envy of Nantucket for their perfect marriages, their beautiful kids, their Sunday night double dates with their devoted husbands. But this summer, something's changed, and if there's anything Nantucket likes better than cocktails on the beach at sunset, it's a good rumor.

And rumor has it...

...that Madeline, a novelist, is battling writer's block, with a deadline looming, bills piling up, and blank pages driving her to desperation--and a desperately bad decision;

...that Grace, hard at work to transform her backyard into a garden paradise, has been collaborating a bit more closely that necessary with her ruggedly handsome landscape architect;

...that Grace's husband, successful island real estate developer "Fast Eddie" Pancik, has embarked on quite an unusual side project;

...that the storybook romance between Madeline's son, Brick, and Grace's daughter Allegra is on the rocks, heading for disaster.

As the gossip escalates, and they face the possible loss of the happy lives they've worked so hard to create, Grace and Madeline try mightily to set the record straight--but the truth might be even worse than rumor has it.

Buy The Rumor at Amazon

Mean Streak
From #1 New York Times best-selling author Sandra Brown comes a heart-pounding story of survival, that takes the age-old question, "Does the end justify the means?" and turns it on its head.

Dr. Emory Charbonneau, a pediatrician and marathon runner, disappears on a mountain road in North Carolina. By the time her husband Jeff, miffed over a recent argument, reports her missing, the trail has grown cold. Literally. Fog and ice encapsulate the mountainous wilderness and paralyze the search for her.

While police suspect Jeff of "instant divorce," Emory, suffering from an unexplained head injury, regains consciousness and finds herself the captive of a man whose violent past is so dark that he won't even tell her his name. She's determined to escape him, and willing to take any risks necessary to survive.

Unexpectedly, however, the two have a dangerous encounter with people who adhere to a code of justice all their own. At the center of the dispute is a desperate young woman whom Emory can't turn her back on, even if it means breaking the law. Wrong becomes right at the hands of the man who strikes fear, but also sparks passion.

As her husband's deception is revealed, and the FBI closes in on her captor, Emory begins to wonder if the man with no name is, in fact, her rescuer from those who wish her dead - and from heartbreak.

Combining the nail-biting suspense and potent storytelling that has made Sandra Brown one of the world's best loved authors, MEAN STREAK is a wildly compelling novel about love, deceit, and the choices we must make in order to survive.

Buy Mean Streak at Amazon

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July 3, 2016

Culinary Cozy Capers - Recipes Included

by Elisa Hordon

I love food. No, seriously I have a huge love for food and cooking. Once upon a time, a long long time ago, I loved food so much I went to school to learn more than what My Nan and Mum had taught me. Then I spent many years working in restaurants, cafes, resorts, even a bakery or two and a nursing home, so I got to cook a wide variety of food for many people. Now I cook for love and for my family which they greatly appreciate, so much so my daughter swears she is never leaving home because she knows she won't get food as good as mine anywhere

So that leads me to my topic of choice this week: cozy mysteries that also have a love of food. Some of these books even include recipes and yes I have cooked a lot of these recipes myself. I just couldn't help myself, when I'm reading a book and the author not only writes about food but describes it in such a way that I'm drooling I just know I need to try that recipe. So I am ever grateful for the recipes included with my mystery fix and if recipes are not included that's ok too because then I get to come up with my own versions of the food they describe so well in their books.

I know there are a lot of great books out there that add a love of food, these are my top 5 picks. They are my top 5 not just for the great mysteries but also for the amazing recipes.

Here are a few of my favourite recipes and an overview of each series.

Halloween Hijinks
Zoe Donovan Mysteries by Kathi Daley

Zoe starts her adventures with Halloween Hijinks and she is still going strong with her 20th mystery Kitten Kaboodle, which released May 2016. My favourite recipe from Halloween Hijinks is Apple Cranberry Crisp. Zoe runs the local animal shelter so there are a lot of awesome pets in these books too and who doesn't love great animal characters? They add so much love to the story. Zoe's best friend Ellie and her now husband Zac both love to cook so a lot of the recipes are food they make for gatherings during their mystery solving.

I loved this recipes because apples, cranberries and pecans just go so well together with cinnamon my all-time favourite spice.

Buy Halloween Hijinks at Amazon

Recipe Apple Cranberry CrispApple Cranberry Crrisp
4 cups apples peeled, cored and sliced thin
1 cup cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
2Tbsp cinnamon
2tsp nutmeg
1/2c oats
1/2c flour
1/2c brown sugar
1/2c butter but into pieces
1 cup chopped pecans
1 jar caramel sauce (I used Hershey's)

In a large bowl mix apples, cranberries, white sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, place in a buttered baking dish.

Combine oats, flour and brown sugar withe butter until crumbly I use a fork you can use your fingers, stir in the pecans and spread over apple mixture top with drizzles of caramel sauce.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180C  for 40-50min, best served with vanilla ice cream.

Murder al Dente
Southern Pasta Mysteries by Jennifer L Hart

Andy Buckland always dreamed of becoming a Chef, but when a food poisoning incident during her debut cooking show happens Andy's dreams come crashing down. Andy heads home to her overly loving Italian family and the family's Southern Pasta Shop, but what Andy wasn't expecting was to stumbled across a murder as a welcome home.

I love cauliflower so picking this recipe to try from The Southern Pasta Shop mysteries was an easy choice and it was delicious I make it often.

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Baked Cauliflower
1 head of cauliflower, cut into equal florets
recipe baked cauliflower1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1tsp dried oregano
pinch of chilli flakes
salt and pepper
3 eggs beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and baste a foil lined baking sheet with olive oil.

In a shallow bowl, toss together the crumbs, cheese, oregano, chilli, salt and pepper.
place eggs in another bowl and dip florets in egg then crumb until well coated.
place florets on baking sheet, spray with olive oil then bake in oven for 40min or until golden brown and tender crisp.

Kelly's Koffee Shop
Cedar Bay Cozy Mysteries by Dianne Harman

The Cedar Bay cozies are great mysteries Kelly Conner owner of Kelly's Koffee Shop stars in these books along with Sheriff Mike and Rebel, Kelly's gorgeously protective Boxer, I really love cozies that mix great food, awesome pets, wonderful mysteries with brilliant characters you just love reading more about.

Kelly loves solving mysteries and owning the local coffee shop is a great place for over hearing snipets of Sheriff Mike loves Kelly; he also loves Kelly's cooking. What Mike doesn't love is Kelly interfering in his cases. This makes for a great relationship between Book 1 Kelly's Koffee Shop has my all time favourite cookie recipe, I make these cookies a lot because, well, they are awesome and addictive, Decadent Bacon Chocolate-chip cookies, I know who would have thought combining bacon and chocolate in a cookie they are happiness in every mouthful.

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Decadent Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe Decadent Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 1/2 cups flour
2 eggs
1tsp baking soda
1/4tsp baking powder
3/4tsp salt
1 cup soften butter
3/4 cup sugar white
3/4 cup brown sugar
1tsp vanilla
12 ounce chocolate chips
12 ounces bacon

preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Fry the bacon and drain it on paper towel. When bacon is cool, break into small pieces.

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Mix the butter, sugars and vanilla until well combined then add eggs one at a time beating well after each one. Gradually mix in flour, when well combined stir through chocolate chips and bacon pieces. Drop round spoonfuls onto a lined cookie sheet bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown, let cool before removing from cookie sheet.
Try to stop at

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder
Hanna Swensen Mysteries by Joanne Fluke

Hanna Swensen's first book was The Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder and I must say I was hooked from the first book. Now Hanna's adventures have taken us through 19 books, the latest being The Wedding Cake Murder. Each book in between has also been a great mystery. I may not have loved each and every story but I have enjoyed most of them. I have loved Hanna through the series and her off siders Mike and Ross, Hanna's mother and sisters are always great side characters as is Lisa, Hanna's business partner but more than anything I have loved the recipes from these books and yes I have tried most of them so here are a couple of my all time favourites that I make regularly for my family and friends.

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Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies
Recipt Old Fashion Sugar Cookies2 C melted butter
2 C powdered sugar
1 C granulated sugar
2 eggs
2tsp vanilla essence
1tsp baking soda
1tsp cream of tartar
1tsp salt
4 1/4 c plain flour

Melt butter, add sugar and mix, cool to room temperature.

Mix in eggs one at a time, then add vanilla, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt, mix well the sir in flour a cup at a time mixing well after each addition. Chill dough for at least and hour I generally chill mine overnight.

Preheat oven to 325F/180C roll dough into balls place onto cookie sheet and flatten with the back of a spoon. Bake for 10-15min or until golden brown cool on cookie sheet for 2min before transferring to a cooling rack.

These cookies can be decorated for the holidays, you can also roll out the dough and use cookie cutters instead of rolling into balls and you can change the recipe by adding chopped up caramels and pretzels or m&m's or rolling the dough in sesame seeds, there are a lot of options to change this recipe. Have fun with it.

Blueberry muffins
Preheat oven to 375F/180C
Recipe Blueberry Muffins
3/4 C melted butter
1 C white sugar
2 eggs beaten lightly
2tsp baking powder
1/4tsp salt
1 C fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 C blueberry pie filling or Blueberry Jam
2 C plain flour
1/2 cup milk

Crumb Topping
1/2 C sugar
1/3 C plain flour
1/4 C softened butter

For the muffins grab a 12 Cup muffin tin and spray with cooking spray then set aside.
Melt the butter, mix in the sugar then the beaten eggs, baking powder and salt mix well. toss a spoonful of flour through the blueberries until coated this stops them from sinking to the bottom of the muffin.

Add the rest of the flour to the mix and stir through add the milk and stir then the coated blueberries mix well lastly add in the blueberry pie filling or jam your mixture will turn blue.

Fill the muffin tin 3/4 full allowing room for the muffins to rise, mix up the crumb and top each muffin before baking, then bake for 25-30 min let cool before eating.

Grilled and Seasoned with Murder
Josie Rizzo Mysteries by JR Pearson

Josie Rizzo is a fairly new to me series. JR Pearson has 4 great cozy mysteries in this series and I fell in love from the first page. Josie Rizzo is a woman after my own heart. Her passion for food is amazing and her food blog 'Good Eatin' For the Curvy Soul' just grabbed me straight off. The fact she is also great at solving mysteries dosn't hurt

The first 3 books didn't have recipes but Josie's descriptions of food throughout the stories had me scouring the Internet for recipes and then in book 4 there were recipes included. Yay! This made me extra happy.

I was inspired in Buttered and Scrambled with Murder, book 4 in the Josie Rizzo Mysteries, to make breakfast for dinner one night this week. Josie's parents own a diner in her home town of Jewel Cove where they serve breakfast all day and seeing as breakfast is my favourite meal of the day it just seems fitting to post my favourite breakfast for dinner meal.

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recipe breakfast for dinner
Breakfast for Dinner (this recipe is for 1)
2 eggs whipped with 1Tblsp cream and 1tblsp melted butter
2 rasher bacon
2 slices toast
1 cup mushrooms
2 pieces Haloumi cheese optional

Cook bacon, set aside to drain on paper towel
Fry haloumi with bacon.
Add mushrooms to pan with a bit of mutter and fry until cooked about 5min put on plate
Pour egg mix into pan and scramble as eggs cook
Cook toast while everything else is cooking plate it all up and enjoy.

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