Friday, March 27, 2020

Rum Coolers and Murder at the Taffy Shop

Agatha and Macavity finalist Edith Maxwell, author of the Quaker Midwife Mysteries and award-winning short crime fiction joins us today for Drinks with Reads. As Maddie Day she pens the Country Store Mysteries and the Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries. With twenty books in print and more in production, Maxwell lives north of Boston, where she writes, gardens, and cooks. Today she's whipping up the Pineapple Run Cooler...and giving away one of her books.

Pineapple Rum Cooler

In Murder at the Taffy Shop, it’s August, full season on Cape Cod, with plentiful sunshine and tourists alike. When Mac Almeida heads out for her early daily walk with her friend, she finds a horrified Gin staring at Beverly Ruchart, an imperious summer person, dead on the sidewalk in front of Gin’s candy shop, Salty Taffy’s.

Lots of people wanted Beverly gone. But when the police find the murder weapon in Gin’s garage, the Cozy Capers book group members put their heads together to clear Gin’s name and to figure out who killed the woman whom almost everyone disliked. Mac’s bike shop is vandalized one night, and when the killer later invades her tiny house to finish her off, Bella, Mac’s African Gray parrot, comes to the rescue.

Mac Almeida’s friend and book group member Zane King owns the only liquor store and distillery in town. He recommends this summer drink to Mac, a perfect cooler for a Cape Cod summer day, using his own King’s Bounty rum. In this version, I use a rum made locally near me north of Boston, but any good rum will do.

Pineapple Rum Cooler

Pineapple juice
Tonic water
Fresh mint

For one drink, mix two ounces each of pineapple juice, a good rum, and tonic water. Squeeze half a lime into the drink. Crush a mint sprig and swirl it through the drink. Add more juice if you like it sweeter, or substitute seltzer water for the tonic if you prefer it less sweet.

Murder at the Taffy Shop, releasing March 31, is available exclusively in paperback from Barnes & Noble for the first year, then it will be re-released on all platforms and formats. I’m happy to send one commenter here a signed copy of the book(US residents only)!

Friday, February 7, 2020

The Heartless and A #Giveaway

Author David Putnam has a new book out and his partner-in-crime and wife, Mary, has been making drinks to celebrate. The book is called, The Heartless, and we're giving away FIVE copies of the book to the first five people who comment (US residents only). Let's see what Mary has been cooking up to celebrate David's book...

David often gets questions about his main character, Bruno Johnson. As the series began to unfold, I too, asked questions about a character who appeared in, THE DISPOSABLES. His name is Junior, and is the inspiration for this drink.

But before we get to Junior, a note about the name, “Bruno Johnson.”  Bruno's an amalgamation of several people David worked with in real life, combined with some elements from his imagination. The name was taken directly from a male but he was a dog, a scrappy wired-haired terrier that belonged to David's childhood friend, Bill.

Earlier this year, our two rescue dogs were joined by a puppy a friend gave us. All the dogs we’ve had in our 25 years together came with names from previous owners or shelters, so our “rookie pup” -- a Queensland heeler -- was the first dog we’ve ever named. A tough (and scrappy) lovable little guy who reminded us of Bruno in the book. So now that name has come full circle.

Meanwhile, the big dog in David’s first Bruno book, named Junior, went missing in the story for awhile. I kept pestering David (so did some other fans): “What ever happened to Junior?” Dave finally gives us some answers. In the new book, THE HEARTLESS (release date: Feb 2020), we learn how Junior originally came into their lives and how he got the name “Junior” – short for Junior Mint. 


And if you want a boffo glass to serve it in, check out these super easy instructions to make fabulous bullet hole drink ware. And of course Mary made that too! 

Here's the recipe for the drink...

The Junior Mint

Ingredients (for one 1.5 oz shot)
1/2 oz. Irish Cream
1/2 oz. Frangelico
1/2 oz. Peppermint Schnapps 
Optional: Whipped Cream, Chocolate sauce, Junior Mints!

Chill glass, decorate with chocolate sauce. Mix booze, top w/whip cream (regular or chocolate) and a junior mint!

 Don't forget to comment below because the first five people to comment will win a book from David. We'll need your email address as well so we can get your address. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Review: The Book of Candlelight by Ellery Adams

Today Kerry Hammond is throwing caution to the wind and jumping into book three in a new-to-her series.

The Book of Candlelight by Ellery Adams was published on January 28, in Hardcover, by Kensington Books. It is the 3rd book in the Secret, Book, and Scone Society series. I had never heard of this series, but am always drawn in by a good premise. A book store owner who has a great group of female friends to help her solve a murder was right up my alley. I decided to throw caution to the wind and jump in at book three.

In the book, our protagonist, Nora Pennington, finds herself knee deep in tourists at her bookshop. The town is experiencing torrential rains and shoppers are looking for respite, not only in the stacks, but in her cafĂ©. One afternoon, she heads to the local flea market to replenish her store’s stock of knickknacks and ends up buying a beautiful bowl from a local man named Danny, a Cherokee potter. The day after Nora buys the bowl, she discovers Danny’s body floating in the river. Nora enlists the help of her friends in the Secret, Book, and Scone Society to not only try and make sense of Danny’s death, but to figure out who killed him and why.

I could tell that there was more to the backstories of each of the characters, information that was presumably given in books one and two. However, I was still able to enjoy the mystery and didn’t feel like I needed to stop where I was to go back and read the earlier installments. The author gave me just enough information to allow me to follow along and enjoy the story as is.

I consider the book a cozy mystery, but Nora’s character isn’t light and fluffy. She’s been through some things in her life that she is still working out. She’s bonded with her group of friends and shared part of her secret with them, but there still seems to be more that she’s holding back. I think this character will grow a lot as the series progresses. I really enjoyed spending time with the Secret, Book, and Scone Society.

This book was provided to Mystery Playground by the publisher. The review was fair and completely independent.

You can always find Mystery Playground on Twitter @mysteryplaygrnd and on Facebook. You can also follow the blog by clicking the link on the upper right-hand corner of this webpage. 

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Review: Grace is Gone by Emily Elgar

Kerry Hammond is here today with her review of a new novel of psychological suspense with a dark twist.

Grace is Gone by Emily Elgar was published on January 7, in Trade Paperback, by Harper Paperbacks. This is Elgar’s second novel of psychological suspense. Her first, If You Knew Herwas well received in both the UK and the US.

Grace is a girl with severe health issues. Wheelchair-bound and suffering from MS and seizures, she is completely reliant on her mother, Meg, for her care. Since the two came to town, after escaping Grace’s abusive father, they have captured the hearts of everyone they meet. They are so loved, it’s hard to think who would want to hurt them. But someone does.

Cara, Grace and Meg’s neighbor, discovers Meg, murdered in her home. Grace is missing, her wheelchair left in the chaos of the crime scene. The whole town is devastated and fearful for Grace. How will she survive without her medication? Who would kidnap a helpless child? Where is her father?

I love a book that makes you wonder what you might do in a given situation. Grace’s story really makes the reader think—about the people we think we know and the truths we choose to believe.

This was one of those just one more chapter books. I’ll go to bed after I read just one more chapter. Much like a thriller, you think you know where the book is going, but you want to see how it gets there and what surprises will be laid out along the way, and trust me, there were surprises. The book was told in alternating chapters from two different points of view, but the reader also got glimpses into Grace’s life through her journal entries. It was well written and I had a hard time putting it down.

This book was provided to Mystery Playground by the publisher. The review was fair and completely independent.

You can always find Mystery Playground on Twitter @mysteryplaygrnd and on Facebook. You can also follow the blog by clicking the link on the upper right-hand corner of this webpage. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Sherlock Holmes and Reichenbach Falls

Kerry Hammond visited Switzerland and came across a Sherlock Holmes gem.

Are you one of those mystery lovers who goes on vacation and tries to find sights to see that relate to your favorite books? No….is that just me? Well, I have to admit that on a recent visit to Switzerland, I was too busy dreaming of fondue and raclette to even think about mysteries—other than the books I would bring to read. Luckily, I spoke to a friend on the phone prior to my flight. “Are you going to Reichenbach Falls?” she asked. “Reichenbach Falls? The one Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty fell from?” I asked. “That’s in Switzerland?”

I may have been slow in realizing I was near an iconic Sherlock Holmes sight, but once I found out, I wasted no time planning a visit. The town of Meiringen, Switzerland was one of the highlights of my trip. They had a wonderful Sherlock Holmes museum, full of period artifacts and references to Sherlock’s trip through the Swiss Alps. They even have a couple of sculptures out front, and the one of Holmes is filled with 60 hidden clues, one for each of the detective’s cases.

The hotel where Holmes and Watson stayed is still standing (although the name has changed) and several other places in town have used the famous detective’s name on their doors. The references are in no way overdone, and the visit was well worth it. The tram to the falls is closed in wintertime, but I view that as just another reason to come back during warmer weather.

What’s your favorite mystery related vacation visit?

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Review: Dead in Dublin by Catie Murphy

Kerry Hammond is here with her review of a new cozy series set in Ireland.

Dead in Dublin by Catie Murphy is the first book in the author’s new series, which features Megan Malone, a limo driver whose American heritage gives her a unique take on Ireland. The book was published on December 31, 2019, in Mass Market Paperback, by Kensington Books. The second in the series, Death on the Green, is due out this September.

I’m always in search of a good cozy mystery series and this one rates high on my scale of worthy contenders. A good cozy mystery is heavy on character development, but if you have a boring plot you won’t get the book off the ground. In Dead in Dublin, I first fell in love with the characters. Murphy does a great job of writing interesting characters, making them both vivid and three dimensional. But it doesn’t stop there, the author has created not only an interesting mystery, but managed to take me on a journey of confusion as I followed along, trying to solve the puzzle.

I didn’t solve the mystery, and that suits me just fine. I love a good surprise ending and I got just that; it was a plausible and satisfying end to a great story. As an added bonus, the author takes you on a fun trip to Ireland. If you’ve never visited, you get to enjoy a few bits and pieces of local culture and color. If you have visited, you are reminded of some of the interesting qualities you experienced on your trip, from the pronunciation of words to the fun quirks of the Irish. It’s armchair traveling at its best.

If you’re a cozy mystery fan, this is a great read. I’m glad that I got in on the ground floor, starting at book one. It’s always fun to read series books in order so that you can get to know the characters as they change and grow. I will definitely continue reading this series!

This book was provided to Mystery Playground by the publisher. The review was fair and completely independent.

You can always find Mystery Playground on Twitter @mysteryplaygrnd and on Facebook. You can also follow the blog by clicking the link on the upper right-hand corner of this webpage. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The Last Sister by Kendra Elliot & A Giveaway

Today Kerry Hammond reviews The Last Sister by Kendra Elliot, and we have a great giveaway. By commenting below you could get a copy of The Last Sister, and Kendra's previous bestsellers, Vanished and A Merciful Death. Just comment below to enter, US residents only. We'll pick a winner next Saturday. 

And now for Kerry's review...

The Last Sister by Kendra Elliot was published on January 14, in Hardcover, by Montlake. Elliot is the award-winning author of several mystery series that take place in the Pacific Northwest. The characters she creates, and her readers fall in love with, often cross over from series to series, allowing her fans to get their fix of their favorites in each and every book.

In The Last Sister, Elliot starts a new series with FBI agents Zander Wells and Ava McLane. Both agents arrive in the town of Bartonville to investigate the suspected murder-suicide of two of the town’s citizens. It doesn’t take long for the agents to determine that what they’re looking at is murder, and that many of the townspeople know more than they’re saying.

As the investigation continues, Zander finds a correlation between the current murders and a hanging that took place two decades earlier. He also finds out that the woman who found the bodies was the daughter of the victim of that old crime. He’s not sure how she is connected to each scene, but he’s sure that she is a link that could lead him to discovering the truth.

This was my first experience with Zander Wells and I instantly liked his character. He is diligent, hard-working, and dedicated to finding the truth. I often read a book for the setting—what better way to visit a place and get a sense of its character than to read a mystery? Elliot, who hails from the Pacific Northwest, takes advantage of everything her locale has to offer. The area can be rugged, mysterious, and unrelenting and the climate lends itself to the suspense genre. The author definitely makes the most of the setting and her stories have an atmospheric quality that adds to the great plots.  

Don't forget to comment below with your name and email address to be eligible for the giveaway for one person to get three Kendra Elliot books. 

The Last Sister is on blog tour with gifts at almost every stop. You can check out the blog tour here

You can find Kendra on social media  @AuthorKendraElliot (Facebook), @KendraElliot (Twitter), @Kendraelliot (IG) @Kendra_Elliot (GoodReads).

You can find Mystery Playground on twitter @mysteryplaygrnd and on Facebook