Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Enchanted Eclairs & Bailey Cates

Kerry Hammond recently met author Bailey Cates at a fun tea salon event. She's here today to tell us about all about it, and hang on until the end because were giving away one of Bailey's books.

I recently discovered a new book club, held at the Denver Tea Room & Coffee Salon. Once a month the Tea Room hosts a Women’s Book Lovers Tea Salon. We spend a few hours on a Sunday having afternoon tea with the ladies (complete with cucumber sandwiches and scones) and talking about books. Each month we read a book written by a woman, and whenever possible we try to choose a local author.  When reading a local author, we are sometimes fortunate enough to score a guest appearance by that author. August was one  of those fortunate months.

We read Some Enchanted Éclair, and had tea with the author, Bailey Cates. Some Enchanted Éclair is book #4 in the Magical Bakery Mystery series, also known as the Lightfoot Chronicles, as it features Katie Lightfoot, a witch and professional baker. Bailey Cates also writes as Cricket McRae and K.C. McRae, but will answer to any and all of her chosen nom de plumes—even if none of them are her real name. She has several books in addition to the Magical Bakery Mystery series. There are currently 6 books in her Home Crafting Mystery Series (written as Cricket McRae) and she is just about to release Shotgun Moon, a darker story that diverts from her more lighthearted books. Shotgun Moon is written under the name K.C. McRae and is due out this month. Check it out, it looks really good.

The books in the Magical Bakery Mystery series take place in Savannah, Georgia and center around Katie’s newly discovered skills in witchcraft, and her ability to solve crimes. In this installment, a movie company is in town to film a Revolutionary War movie. The town is all abuzz and some of Katie’s fellow witches even take part and appear in the film as extras. 

One of the member of the film crew, a man known as “the fixer” fires the film’s caterer and the Honeybee Bakery is hired to take over. The Honeybee is the shop where Katie works, is owned by her aunt, and is the location of her coven’s spellbook club meetings. When the aforementioned “fixer” is found dead, Katie gets more involved than she’d planned, and is even more drawn in when a psychic who works for the lead actress predicts that Katie will be the one to solve the crime.

Some Enchanted Éclair was a great read and we had a lively book club discussion. Everyone loved the book and many of the members in attendance had read others in the series. The characters are well written and very colorful (I did mention many of them are witches, right?). The mystery really drew me in and I enjoyed the twists and turns it took to get to the truth behind the murder. To prep myself for the characters, I read book #1 prior to reading #4. I found that although I normally prefer to read the books in order, I did not have a problem jumping ahead. The books stood alone as separate mysteries, while giving enough backstory to allow me to follow the changes in the characters’ lives. Don’t get me wrong, I plan to go back to book 2 and book 3 before there is a 5. 

Bailey Cates was gracious enough to answer all of our questions about her books, her writing, and her life in general. She even gave us a few hints as to what we can look forward to in future Magical Mystery books, without giving away any spoilers. She told us about her writing career, how she ended up as a full-time mystery writer, and her past life as a soap maker. You can read about her on her website here.

Bailey was also generous enough to donate a signed copy of Some Enchanted Éclair for readers of the Mystery Playground blog. Simply comment on this post to be entered to win (US residents only). I hope you love the book as much as I did, and seek out the other titles in the series.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Mod Cloth Literary Inspired Earrings

The folks over at Modcloth have some really fun literary inspired earrings in their catalogue right now. And here we are featuring some of my favorites - the book page pearl earrings above, the quotation marks and the Shakespeare quote, "To be or not to be." I also included the compass earrings at the end just because they are so fun. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Buy A Friend a Book Day

There is a day for everything - National S'mores Day, Adopt a Black Cat Day and today is Buy A Friend a Book Day. What a wonderful holiday! 

In celebration we are giving away a copy of Terrie Farley Moran's new book, Well Read, Then Dead

All you have to do is comment below to enter. 

Here's a description of Terrie's book. 

Well Read, Then Dead is the first novel in the Read ’Em and Eat series and is due out next week. Here is a bit of a “taste.”

Nestled in the barrier islands of Florida’s Gulf Coast, Fort Myers Beach is home to Mary “Sassy” Cabot and Bridget Mayfield—owners of the bookstore café, Read ’Em and Eat. But when they’re not dishing about books or serving up scones, Sassy and Bridgy are keeping tabs on hard-boiled murder.

Read ’Em and Eat is known for its delicious breakfast and lunch treats, along with quite a colorful clientele. If it’s not Rowena Gustavson loudly debating the merits of the current book club selection, it’s Miss Augusta Maddox lecturing tourists on rumors of sunken treasure among the islands. It’s no wonder Sassy’s favorite is Delia Batson, a regular at the Emily Dickinson table. Augusta’s cousin and best friend Delia is painfully shy—which makes the news of her murder all the more shocking.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Spy Alley: The Game of Suspense and Intrigue

I came across this award winning game called Spy Alley this week. It's billed as a cross between Monopoly and Clue where players are spies and they have to convince other players that their spying from a different country. 

The game was created by a family run company that still owns it today. I can't wait to try ours out...

Friday, August 29, 2014

Drinks with Reads: Left Turn at Paradise & Rum with Diet Coke

Tom Shawver, author of Left Turn at Paradise and The Dirty Book of Murder, joins us today for Friday Drinks with Reads. You can read Kerry Hammond's review of Left Turn at Paradise here

Michael Bevan, the protagonist of my mystery series, is a disbarred lawyer who seeks peace and redemption by opening a used bookshop.  He soon learns, however, that there are bibliophiles who will lie and cheat to obtain books as shamelessly as an addict in pursuit of his drug.

In the first of the series titled The Dirty Book Murder, Bevan loses a bid for a set of rare erotic books to a stranger with a South African accent who works for a murderous sadist.  Things don’t get much better for the bookman in Left Turn at Paradise when he ventures to the wilds of New Zealand in search of lost journals from the 18th century voyages of Captain James Cook.  

It’s enough to drive a man to drink.  

The bars he frequents are many and varied.  As a member of the Marines’ Memorial Club in San Francisco, Bevan has reciprocal privileges to some of the best clubs in the world, the East India Club in London being a particular favorite.  Others, like the Almond in Kansas City, thrive on neglect, making up for sticky table tops and exasperating service with the greatest BLTs in the universe.

And it is there that you can often find our hero when he isn’t pushing books, singing rebel songs at Fitzpatrick’s Galway Pub, or facing the occasional book fiend.  

From The Dirty Book Murder:

A few hours later, I hobbled into the Almond to meet Detective Buford Higgins for lunch. His idea.
Pegeen Flynn poured a pair of giant Cuba Libres, said she was glad to see me alive, if not well, and reminded me that I owed her gas money for the use of her Saab. I tossed her six of those dollar coins found only in stamp machines these days and she disappeared into the kitchen to prepare our order.

Being mid-afternoon, only three other customers were in the place. A lone drinker with the face of a flat tire sat at one end of the counter. He spent a lot of time shaking the ash off his cigar into empty longneck bottles placed neatly in a row like little brown soldiers. In a booth behind him, two women locked lips. When we tired of watching them, Higgins started talking...

Here’s the recipe for the Almond’s signature drink:  

Throw handful of ice from the beer cooler into 10-ounce plastic cup.

Add four shots (more or less) of cheap house rum, preferably with a pirate ship on the label.

Spray in Diet Cola from semi-functioning dispenser.  

Lime slice optional, depending on barmaid mood and/or memory.       

Place elbow of drinking arm securely on table to avoid spillage.

Shout “A la vida!” to the four other barflies in the joint.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Crafty Thursdays: Etching Glass

Today on Crafty Thursday we are going to show you how to etch glass. Our trial run was on a mason jar and I love the look. This project looks better in person that it does in the photos, so you'll just have to trust me.  

Here's what you'll need:

  • A mason jar or another glass object
  • Etching Paste (I used Armour Etch here)
  • Vinyl stencils suitable for etching (it's easier if they stick like the ones from Martha Stewart I used)
  • Popsicle stick to apply the etching creme
  • Gloves
  • A tea light for inside once you're done
  • A sink for rinsing

Step One:

Wash your jar. Make sure there are no finger prints when you are done. 

Step Two:
Pick your stencil and determine where you want to place it. Then don your gloves and place the stencil is the desired spot. 

Step Three:
Once you have the stencil where you want it, carefully apply the etching creme on the stencil in the area of exposed glass. 

You can see in this blurry photo where the etching cream has been applied over the 221b side. You get the idea. You can see I put a little too much on here. You don't want it to drip on the glass outside of the stencil. 

Step Four:
Now for the boring part - wait 7-10 minutes for your glass to etch. 

Step Five:
Rinse the etching creme off and dry your glass. Now you just have to put the candle inside and you are done. 

Come back next week for another exciting craft...

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Walt Disney Family Museum: Mickey Mouse

One of my favorite museums in the Bay Area is the Walt Disney Family Museum. It's full of fun history of Walt, his family and the characters and stories we love. Naturally the collection contains plenty of that most famous of mice, Mickey. I've taken photos of some of my favorite Mickey items in the museum and posted them below.

Mickey's original name was supposed to be Mortimer, but Walt's wife Lillian didn't think it was a likable enough so she suggested Mickey. Walt listened to his wife. Smart man. You can see the first known drawing of Mickey Mouse below. 

I love these old stuffed Mickeys. 

This shriner hat is also very fun. 

We have here Mickey watches, a folding knife and a jewelry set with the cutest Mickey glove purse made from metal. The purse is showing it's age a bit, but it's still cool. 

Here are some wonderful Mickey wind up toys. I was getting a little creative with the black and white setting on the smart phone camera.

This is really only a fraction of the wonderful Mickey items at the museum. You really need to go there for yourself. It's in a beautiful location in San Francisco's Presidio and it has a beautiful view of the Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.