Friday, May 29, 2015

Chocolate Peanut Butter Milk Shake & Truffled to Death

Author Kathy Aarons is here today to match her new cozy mystery, Truffled to Death, with the perfect drink - the chocolate peanut butter milkshake. Truffled to Death is the second in the Chocolate Covered Mystery series by Berkley Prime Crime. The first in the series, Death is Like Chocolate, was a national best-seller.

AND she's giving away a copy of her new book - if the winner is a US resident, the book can be in e-book or physical form - winners choice. If the winner is outside of the US, it would be ebook. Take it away Kathy...

As you might be able to deduce from the titles, these books are set in a chocolate shop, but not just any chocolate shop. Chocolates and Chapters is the best combination of shops ever – featuring Michelle Serrano’s artisan chocolate and Erica Russell’s books. Together they provide the citizens of West Riverdale, Maryland with delicious truffles and the latest best-sellers – with a little mystery solving on the side. 

Hoping to sweeten sales for their shop, Chocolates and Chapters, Michelle and Erica host a reception highlighting a new museum display of ancient Mayan pottery curated by Erica’s former mentor, Professor Addison Moody. The evening has a few hiccups, but the ladies soon smooth things over with ample servings of wine and chocolate.

Yet with the sweet comes the bitter. The very next day, the antiquities from the reception are discovered missing. The professor accuses Erica of having sticky fingers, claiming she wants revenge on him. And she’s only in more trouble after he’s found stabbed to death with one of the artifacts. Now Michelle must help Erica track down the real killer before someone else finds themselves in less than mint condition…

Of course, Michelle’s favorite drink (besides Maryland beers) is a chocolate milkshake. The following recipe is simple, yet delicious, satisfying the urge for chocolate combined with the salty taste of peanut butter. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Milkshake

1 ½ cup Chocolate Ice Cream
2/3 cup Whole Milk
1/4 cup Smooth Peanut Butter

Add ice cream, milk and peanut butter to blender. Adjust thickness by adding or decreasing milk. Blend for 30 seconds or until mixed.

Pour into glass and top with whip cream. You can also add chocolate syrup, chocolate chips, and/or cherries as you like. 


You can find Truffled to Death at your local independent bookstore, Amazon or Barnes and Noble, and you can follow Kathy on Facebook, Twitter or 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Make Your Own Miniature Chairs

Camille Minichino (AKA Margaret Grace) joins us today for Crafty Thursdays to tell us how to make these wonderful miniatures and to tell us about her latest book, Manhattan in Miniature. AND Camille is giving away a handy craft tool, so don't forget to comment below to enter.

Geraldine Porter and her 11-year-old granddaughter are not just co-sleuths; they're partners in all things miniature. They work together building dollhouses, making room boxes, and creating small pieces like these café chairs.  

In their newest adventure, Manhattan in Miniature, released in April by Margaret Grace, the two travel to New York City to help with a miniatures fair at a hotel near Grand Central Station. One of Maddie's favorite demonstrations is this DIY miniature chair made from the cages of champagne bottles, perfect for a patio or an ice cream shop. Here's her instruction sheet.

• 2 "cages" from champagne bottles 
• pliers
• wire cutters (optional)

• cork (optional)


Step 1. Disassembly. 

Remove the bottom wire from each cage: Either use pliers to untwist the ends (usually very difficult) or use wire cutters to snip out the twisted sections. Slide the wires through the loops at the ends of the "legs." Put the loose wires aside.

* You now already have two stools! But let's get a little fancier. We'll call this the seat and legs of the chair and move on to construct the back.

Step 2. The chair back. 

Take the second cage, also minus its bottom wire, and bend two of the legs straight down, the other two across each other. (If you dislodge the cap from the legs, don't worry, it can be snapped back later, or glued in place.)

Step 3. Attaching chair back to seat. 

Twist legs of the second cage around bottom legs of the first cage.

Here's your chair! (Note, I didn't have enough supplies from the same winery, so the finished chair shown has a different logo!)  

Step 4. Finishing touches.

Straighten any crooked sections. Turn bottom loops out to form "feet" and adjust legs so that all feet touch the floor. 
You're done. Have a seat!


(1) Take the bottom wire extracted from Step 1. Twist the wire into any shape you like (Make it smoother than I've done here!).

 (2) Attach the ends of the wire to the legs of the stool in the same way as Step 3 above. Shown here: sample soda fountain chairs with fancy backs. Some of the wires have been painted black.

(3) Make a cushion from scrap fabric and add to the seat of the chair, or (as shown) simply cut a circle of any design to size and glue to cap.

(4) Make a table using a cork as a base. The top can be a piece of glass or any other rigid material that can be supported by the cork. Or simply use the cork as is. Most corks are too tall for the scale of their cages, and will probably need to be trimmed down.

I hope you have a good time furnishing a soda fountain or café.

Each of the eight miniature mysteries by Margaret Grace has tips at the end for other fun projects.

Camille Minichino (aka Margaret Grace) is the author of more than 20 mysteries, as well as short stories and nonfiction. She's at and blogs at

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Trinity College, The Book of Kells and The Long Room

Kerry Hammond is back today continuing our series on mysterious and bookish places in Ireland. Comment below to be entered to win the coaster set below, just say something about your favorite library. 

On my recent trip to Dublin, I wandered around the city in the footsteps of James Joyce, which included a gorgonzola sandwich and a glass of burgundy for lunch at Davey Byrne’s pub. But no trip to the Republic of Ireland’s capital city is complete without a visit to Trinity College to view the Book of Kells and The Long Room, the college’s famous library.

Our guided tour was led by a knowledgeable college student and ended at the library. We stood in awe of the high ceilings and two story shelves that gave the impression that the quantity of books was never-ending. The main room of the library, shown here, is over 200 feet long and there are more than 200,000 of the library’s oldest books on the shelves. The room was originally built in 1712 and 1732, and was only one story. In 1860 the ceiling was raised and the upper floor was added. Marble busts representing philosophers and writers line the rows of books. 

The Book of Kells display at the library is a permanent exhibit and definitely worth the admission fee. It is a gospel book that is believed to have been in existence since 800 AD. The text is so perfectly written that it’s hard to believe it was done by hand so long ago. The illustrations are beautifully drawn in a variety of colors and intricate designs. There is one book open for view under a glass case and everyone crowded around to get a look. The exhibit also displays many reprinted pages that are enlarged so that you can see the detail.   

We’re having another Mystery Playground contest today. The prize is a set of 4 coasters showing Doors of Dublin. All you have to do is post a comment here and tell us about your favorite library, whether you’ve visited it or just seen it in photos. The contest ends one week from today.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Book Review: Hush

Sharon Long is here today reviewing the Kate White Thriller, Hush...

Hush is a mystery thriller by Kate White.  Lake Warren is a working mother, who in the process of a divorce from her husband, Jack.  She is a marketing consultant and is currently working on a new proposal for an infertility clinic in New York.  Four months after their separation, Jack is now filing for custody of their two children, who are away at summer camp.  Lake's attorney warns her to be careful of what she is doing, who she is seeing, etc.  He basically tells her to not date or be seen with any men until the custody is decided.  This will be difficult as Lake is  attracted to the new handsome Dr. Keaton who has just announced he will join the clinic's staff.  Lake has been invited to the celebratory dinner for the handsome Doctor and when he invites her to his apartment for a nightcap afterward; she throws caution to the wind and goes.  She awakens in the wee hours of the night going out to the terrace and falling back asleep.  In the morning, Lake is terrified to discover Dr. Keaton had his throat slashed while she slept outside.  As panic sets in, she flees and goes back to her apartment.

From here, Lake's problems are only just beginning.  Once the news is out about Dr. Keaton's death, the police question everyone at the clinic and she decides to be quiet about where she was on that fateful night.  Strange things start happening to Lake; she is being followed, her phone and door bell ring in the middle of the night and she is chased into the river by a man with a knife.  During all of this, Lake is beginning to suspect Dr. Keaton's murder was an inside job.  In addition, she has stumbled on a possible scandal involving embryos at the clinic.  Lake forms an alliance with a reporter, Kit Archer, who persuades her to try and uncover the mystery.  However, we find out that Dr. Keaton also had a gambling problem and Lake begins to fear for her life.  As if that is not enough, there is the unusual behavior by her best friend, Molly, who is constantly questioning Lake about the doctor's murder, her ex husband, etc.  Not to mention how some of the clinic staff is treating her.  Lake realizes she is not sure whom she can trust and/or believe.  

What I enjoyed most about this novel was the number of suspects and how the author leads the reader from one to another. I must say I was surprised once I knew who the real murderer was.  This book is very well written with a smooth, fluid, easy writing style. The characters are extremely believable and likeable. Lake, the main character, is a well developed strong female who is credible and plausible.  I would absolutely recommend Hush to readers who like a novel which is both plot and character driven.  

Kate White has written ten books to date including a series. I was interested to learn for 14 years Kate was Editor in Chief of Cosmopolitan magazine until she left in late 2013 to be a full-time author.  This was my first Kate White novel but will most definitely not be my last!    

Monday, May 25, 2015


I first experienced that perfectly named fruit - dragonfruit - when I was on a bike riding trip in Thailand. I'd never seen it in the states so when I came across is while on a trip to Santa Fe, I had to try it again. When you cut open the fruit, this is what it looks like.

To prepare it, you peel off the thick pinkish outer skin, so you can get to the white fruit with black seeds. 

The fruit is light and filled with water. The seeds remind me of sesame seeds when you bite into them.

It's a great treat for a super hot day.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Mystery Writers of America Grand Masters

The Mystery Writers of America honors the best of the best of mystery writers each year by bestowing the Grand Master Award at it's banquet in May. This year they featured photos of all the recipients in the event program. I had so much fun combing through the names and photos that I thought I'd share. See how many you can identify before checking the chest sheet below...

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Turn Your Book Case into a Staircase

Now you can make your own staircase of books thanks to the That Makes a Statement Etsy Store. Each of these book spines comes in a vinyl decal that is custom made so you can whip one of these up in a flash. Each decal is $25.