Sunday, July 24, 2016

Book Lovers Side Tables

Side Table Old Books

Look at these book lover end tables from Houzz. At $715 they are not cheap, but they are super fun

Cassiodorus Book Boxes, Set of 6
They also have these book boxes that come in set of 6 for $90. Although if you want just one, I've seen these pretty regularly at Home Goods. 

They also have this delightful book house for kids books. I love this idea. 

Book House With A Green Roof

Saturday, July 23, 2016

World Map Necklaces

You can have the world around your neck with these lovely cut-out world necklaces from the Ivy by Design shop on Etsy

They also have different countries like the UK, Kenya, Taiwan and Australia

Friday, July 22, 2016

Murder Most Howl & Nutella Hot Chocolate

Laura Brennan of the Destination Mystery podcast is here matching Krista Davis' book, Murder Most Howl with the perfect drink.

I’m a big fan of Krista Davis’ cozies, particularly her Paws & Claws series, set in fictional (but wouldn’t it be great if it were real?) Wagtail, Virginia. Murder Most Howl is the third in the series, and Holly Miller continues to find trouble -- and dead bodies. 

In this third outing, her grandmother has left Holly in charge of Sugar Maple Inn, just in time to oversee a murder mystery weekend. Holly is keen to prove herself capable of running the inn -- and boy, is that going to be a challenge! She takes snow storms, crazy guests, and ex-boyfriends in stride, but when someone deliberately sabotages the mystery weekend and a real dead body turns up, she and her friends need all the help they can get.

Murder Most Howl is un-put-downable. The pace is terrific, it’s funny, and the mystery kept me guessing right up until the end. There are a ton of surprises and smaller mysteries to untangle as guests and Wagtail residents alike are revealed to have their own secrets, not to mention surprising connections to the dead man. Holly is a wonderful protagonist, smart and loyal. It’s fun to see her building a new life for herself back in Wagtail, and even better to see her succeeding.

This is a great series, and Murder Most Howl was my favorite entry to date. Loveable dogs and cats, good friends, light romance, humor, and murder -- what more could you ask for? 

Oh, yes. Recipes.

Krista provides recipes for many of the drop-dead-delicious goodies that her characters enjoy. I’m not much of a cook, but when she included hot chocolate with Nutella, I had to try it. Luckily, it’s simple enough that not even I could goof it up. Here’s her recipe. In addition, I sprinkled raw chocolate nibs on top of the whipped cream for added decadence. Enjoy!

Nutella Hot Chocolate

3 Tablespoons powdered chocolate (or the amount recommended for your brand)
2 Tablespoons cold water
¼ cup sugar (omit if chocolate powder is already sweetened)
3 cups milk
¼ cup Nutella
¼ cup hazelnut liqueur, such as Frangelico (optional) 
Whipped cream

Mix the chocolate with the water, then stir in the milk. Heat until the milk just starts to simmer, or microwave until hot. Whisk in the remaining ingredients until smooth. Top with whipped cream. 


Don't forget to check out other Drinks with Reads

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Sherlock Tree: Illustration Cutout Ornaments

It’s still Christmas in July and we’ve got another great ornament to make. Every Thursday this month we will make a new ornament to decorate our Sherlock Holmes tree. If you start now, you’ll be able to make all of your ornaments by Christmas and have your very own Sherlock Holmes tree.

Our first ornament was the Mind Palace Ornament. Then we made the Silhouette Cube Ornaments. Today we’re making Illustration Cutout Ornaments and these offer the most flexibility because you can use any illustration you like.


  • Ceramic Ornaments 
  • Printed illustrations 
  • Mod Podge 
  • Spray Adhesive 
  • Glitter 
  • Scissors 
  • Paint Brush 
  • Ribbon

Step One: Cutout your illustrations. I printed mine from the Internet, but if you have an illustrated Sherlock Holmes book that you’re willing to cut up, that will work too.

Step Two: Spray the ornament with the adhesive and lay the cutout illustration on the glue, holding it down until it sticks.

Step Three: Using Mod Podge and your paint brush, paint over the entire ornament. Mod Podge dries clear, so don’t worry that it looks white when it’s wet. Allow to dry.

Step Four: Spray the front of your ornament with a thin coat of the adhesive and sprinkle glitter over the ornament. This gives it a shiny, snowy look.

Step Five: Cut your ribbon so that you can hang the ornament on your tree. I used the ribbon shown because it reminded me of Sherlock’s wallpaper on the BBC show Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch.

Next week is the last Thursday in July and we will be making 221b Door Ornaments to finish our Sherlock Holmes tree.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Q&A with Terrence McCauley

We're talking to Terrence McCauley, author of A Murder of Crows, today about his new book and other writers that he admires. 

Where did you get the idea for A Murder of Crows? How did you know that was the book you wanted to write?

I got the idea for A MURDER OF CROWS from the way SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL ended. I know that might sound like a bit of nonsense, but it’s true. I never know how my books will end when I begin writing them. I have an idea, but not a rock-solid notion of what will be written on the last page. I prefer to allow my novels to unfold at their own pace during the first draft and then cut them down during the editing process. During that process, the original ending could change and often does.

As soon as the ending for SYMPATHY gelled, I knew the kind of book A MURDER OF CROWS would be. I wanted to continue taking the reader down the rabbit hole to see exactly where all of this ends. In this book, I attempt to do that in the most compelling way I know how. I also put my protagonist – James Hicks – into more dangerous situations than in SYMPATHY. He’s in constant danger throughout 99% of this novel, which I think holds the reader’s interest.

A MURDER OF CROWS is the second in your James Hicks series. How do you keep your series fresh?

In an attempt to keep the series fresh, I try to do something different in each novel, without changing it so much that the reader finds it unrecognizable from the book before it. It’s a delicate balance, but it challenges me as a writer to stay focused and continue to find a new way to tell the story.

SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL was written to introduce the audience to The University, its technology and, of course, to James Hicks. The events in A MURDER OF CROWS are very much driven by the actions and decisions Hicks makes in the first novel. Does someone have to read the novel before they read MURDER? No. I summarized the events of the first book in this work. However, in MURDER, I detail the world in which the University resides. I highlight the complexities facing the University and Hicks, the competition from other intelligence agencies with the same mission and the ambitions of those who seek to harm America. In that sense, MURDER is a far more detailed book than SYMPATHY because the antagonists aren’t necessarily ‘bad’ guys and the ‘good’ guys aren’t necessarily good.

What is the best thing that has happened to you as a result of your novels?

The best thing that has happened to me as a result of my novels is meeting complete strangers who have read and loved my work. I’m not with a big publishing house and I’m certainly not a household name, but the number of people who have spent their hard-earned money to read my books amazes me. I love going to events and hearing from people who know the characters as well as I do. I love hearing their feedback and suggestions on what they’d like to see happen next. It makes all of the hours spent alone in crafting these books worth it.

If your protagonist were actually a real person, would you be friends with them? Why or why not?

Even though I created Hicks, I doubt we’d be friends in real life. He’s a loner. He’s not stoic about it. He’s not noble about it. Life’s circumstances didn’t make him this way. The kind of work he does hasn’t made him this way, either. He was born that way and has never wanted to be anything else. He can easily adapt to various situations because he hasn’t got much of a personality. His flaws as a human being are the reasons why he’s so good at his job. He’s a great character and I enjoy writing about him, but I wouldn’t want to be friends with him. And, as readers of the novels can tell you, he’s also vindictive as hell, so I wouldn’t want to cross him!

If you could meet any author alive or dead, who would it be and why?

One author I regret not meeting was Richard Matheson. The man wrote all different types of stories in all types of genres. Westerns, fantasy novels, horror, and even crime fiction. His work has been adapted into several movies, like I Am Legend, Duel, Somewhere in Time, What Dreams May Come and more.

I’d like to meet him, partially due to the question you asked earlier. I’d like to know how he kept his work fresh. I’d like to know how he could write so well for so long in so many genres. He’s someone I greatly admire and I’m sad that I never had the chance to meet him personally. 

Crime & Beyond Book Club Reads Lee Child

The Denver-based Crime & Beyond Book Club is at it again with this month's pick, Lee Child's Make Me. Kerry Hammond reports back. 

Last month the Crime & Beyond Book Club met to discuss Make Me, the latest book in the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child. The members of the Crime & Beyond Book Club are huge fans of Jack Reacher and the author who created him. We read most of the books in the series as they come out and we even took a field trip to see the movie Jack Reacher, based on the Lee Child character.

Make Me is the 20th book in the Jack Reacher series. The book opens as the dead body of a large man is buried with a backhoe in the middle of nowhere, USA, also known as Mother’s Rest. When Reacher (a similarly large man) arrives on the train in Mother’s Rest, Michelle Chang, ex-FBI agent and current private investigator, meets him at the station. She is looking for her colleague, Keever, and realizes that not only is Reacher not Keever, but that Keever isn’t going to show up.

In true Reacher fashion, he decides to help Chang. Partly because he likes the look of her, and partly because he’s just wandering around with nothing else to do. As the two investigate the disappearance of Keever, they find out that he most likely uncovered something that the residents of Mother’s Rest did not want uncovered, something possibly related to the Deep Web of the Internet. And then there is the question that seems to be haunting Reacher……why is the town called Mother’s Rest?

Reacher has a sidekick in each of the books and, not surprisingly, many of them are of the female persuasion. Many of them also end up having a little fling with our hero. We really liked the Make Me sidekick, Michelle Chang. She was a perfect match for Reacher and added a lot to the storyline. In this book we also see a slight physical vulnerability in Reacher. The discussion of the Deep Web was fascinating and probably closer to the truth that we’d like to think. Another great book in a great series.

Mystery Playground is on twitter @mysteryplaygrnd or find us on Facebook.

Follow Kerry on Twitter @kerryhammond88