Friday, March 31, 2017

Drinks with Reads: The Thunderbird Negroni

Chuck Wendig, author, screenwriter and game designer, has stepped behind the bar this week to create a special drink just for his new book, Thunderbird. You can also find Chuck at his blog, Terrible Minds

First here's the description on Thunderbirds:

In the next installment of the suspenseful Miriam Black series, Miriam heads to the southwest in search of another psychic who may be able to help her understand her curse, but instead finds a cult of domestic terrorists and the worst vision of death she’s had yet.
Miriam is becoming addicted to seeing her death visions, but she is also trying out something new: Hope.

Miriam Black is about as bitter as they come – she’s a dark, smoky, salty drink of venom, but she’s a dark soul with a faint glimmer of light in her dead heart. She’s back in Thunderbird, pursuing a lead that hopefully helps her end her psychic curse – the one that lets her see how other people are going to die just by touching them – and that takes her on a journey through the American Southwest.
As such, I think a drink that emblemizes her and the book is a Negroni that replaces the traditional gin with Mezcal – Mezcal of course being the smoky, heady variant of tequila. But I also think you want a little tartness in there, too. And given the content of the book, I think blood orange is a nice addition. Because blood.

The Thunderbird Negroni

1 part mezcal (blanca)
1 part sweet vermouth
1 part Campari
1 oz. of blood orange juice
Shake, shake, shake. Garnish with an orange slice, or maybe an ashtray or like, let a blackbird sit on the rim of the glass.

Drink. Then curse. Then spit. Then become birds and use your beaks to dissect your enemies. 

If you want to check out some free short stories written by Chuck, all you have to do it click here, and then read them.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Murder Mystery Novel Pin

We're making the Murder Mystery Novel pin today on Crafty Thursday. As you can tell by the weekly crafts here at Mystery Playground, we love to create and I hate to waste excess craft materials, so today's Murder Mystery Novel Pin was born from materials used in previous crafts.

The pin base was one that I decided not to use for the SteamPunk Time Travel Watch Face Pin, the dangle bead at the bottom was also left over from that craft as well as the pin backing. 

The miniature novel on the pin first made it's debut in the book earrings craft. 

And the policeman bead was used in the Dial M for Murder earring set

Now you know just in case you want to get extra materials to make the other crafts. 

Here's what you'll need for the Murder Mystery Novel Pin:

  • A miniature book (available online)
  • Pin with backing
  • Filigree metal piece - they have these at Michaels
  • E6000 glue - my pin came with adhesive on the back but it doesn't seem strong enough to last long
  • A policeman bead - I got this cute little guy on Etsy
  • One base metal head pin, jewelry pliers - I used round nose
  • A color printer if you want to make the book cover  

Step One:
Make your novel cover for the miniature book. There are detailed directions on how to do this here. Let the glue dry.

Step Two:
Glue the Policeman bead and the book onto the pin as desired. 

Step Three:
Put your dangle on. Thread the head pin through the bead. Take the pliers and create a loop, thread it through the hole on the bottom of the filigree base. Use the pliers to win the wire around itself to close the loop.

Step Four:
Glue the pin to the back. And you're done! 

That was super easy.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Satanic Mechanic by Sally Andrew

There's a new book out that is sure to be a hit with armchair travelers and Kerry Hammond is here with a review. Check out our Q&A with the South African-based author, Sally Andrews - there are cool photos from Africa too. 

The Satanic Mechanic by Sally Andrew released on March 28 in Trade Paperback by Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. This is the second book in the Tannie Maria Mystery series. There were two reasons I was drawn to this book. The first was the locale, set in South Africa it promised to offer an exotic getaway that I could experience from the comfort of my couch. The second thing that drew me was the title. I am a Rocky Horror Picture Show fan and I just had to read a book that reminded me of my favorite song from the movie.

Our main character is Tannie Maria, a lover of food who writes a column for the Klein Karoo Gazette in rural South Africa. Tannie Maria answers letters from the lovelorn and offers them not only advice, but recipes that will cure their woes. Her own love life is moving along with police detective Henk Kannemeyer, but Tannie Maria is finding it hard to take their relationship to the next level because of her memories of a past abusive husband.

To work through her anxiety, she seeks the help of a support group run by a man known as the Satanic Mechanic. At the same time, Tannie Maria finds herself mixed up in a murder investigation when a man is poisoned at a festival and she is one of the people present when he dies. She feels obligated to help find the perpetrator, but Henk wants her to stay away from any possible danger.

This book was like nothing I’ve ever read before and I absolutely loved it. The characters are wonderful and I fell in love with Tannie Maria from the first page. She is a kind, caring, lovable woman, who uses food to feel better when she’s troubled (I can relate). The author’s use of the local customs and language throughout the book was extremely interesting, and she paints such a beautiful picture of the countryside.

If you are looking for a series with a lovable amateur sleuth and a puzzling mystery without a lot of blood and gore, this is the series for you. Tannie Maria offers recipes to her readers at the Gazette and often cooks for her friends. The author includes several recipes at the end of the story so the readers can try their hand at the exotic dishes mentioned in the book. Now that’s just icing on the cake. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Bone White by Wendy Corsi Staub

The next book in the Mundy’s Landing series by Wendy Corsi Staub is out and Kerry Hammond is excited to tell us about it.

Bone White is book three in the Mundy’s Landing series by Wendy Corsi Staub. It releases on March 28 in paperback by William Morrow. I have read each book in this series, and you can read reviews on Mystery Playground for Blood Red and Blue Moon. This is a great group of books. Each story is its own murder mystery but the town is the same and many of the side characters repeat—even if they don’t have a starring role—giving it the series feel without a lot of spoilers for anyone who wants to read them out of order.

Mundy’s Landing is a small town that is steeped in history and located in New York State’s Hudson Valley. In Bone White, we learn a bit more about the original Mundy family, founders of the town who have a mysterious and sordid past, as well as the family’s still living ancestors. Our latest family member is Emerson Mundy. She is new to town and has traveled there to learn more about where her family came from and to try and forge a connection to relatives she might have.

At the same time, NYPD detective Sullivan Leary has moved to town after last year’s investigation into the Sleeping Beauty Murders, a copycat serial killer case that she helped solve. She has left NYC for small town living, hoping to simplify her life and start over away from the rat race. She learns that small towns sometimes have the biggest secrets and when a stranger to town is found murdered, more of the Mundy secrets are revealed and Sully is drawn into the case.

This is a great series and I just love reading about the fictional town of Mundy’s Landing. It a way to get a look into small town living without having to move there yourself. I like jumping back and forth from present day to the year 1666 when the first settlers landed. These 1666 flashbacks are done through letters and are a fascinating look at the backstory to the town’s founders. Everything was tied up in a bow at the end, but there was definitely another storyline that could be followed in another book. I guess I’ll just have to stay tuned.    

Monday, March 27, 2017

When the Grits Hit the Fan by Maddie Day

The third book in The Country Store Mystery series from Maddie Day comes out this week from Kensington. It's called When the Grits Hit the Fan. Maddie Day is the pseudonym of Edith Maxwell, who is up for two Agatha Awards this year under her own name - one for best historical novel (Delivering the Truth) and one for best short story (The Mayor and the Midwife). 

Kerry Hammond reviews When the Grits hit the fan today...

I love a good small town cozy mystery, so I was excited to try this series, even if I had to jump in at book three.

In the story our protagonist, Robbie, has opened her breakfast and lunch restaurant for evening meetings of the Indiana University’s Sociology Department as a favor to her graduate student friend, Lou. She starts to rethink her decision when Professor Charles Stilton starts trouble at the meeting, insulting not only Lou but other members of the department.

When Robbie and Lou go snowshoeing the morning after a particularly troubled meeting, they find Charles below the ice of a frozen lake. Due to his nasty personality, there are any number of people who might want him dead, and unfortunately for Lou, she’s one of them. Robbie tries to stay out of the police investigation, but when even more of her friends are suspected of the crime, she becomes determined to help clear them.

I had no trouble starting this series in the middle. The characters were easy to get to know and the backstories that I missed didn’t hinder my progress, rather they made me want to go back and start at book one to see how things got where they are. There weren’t any spoilers to the previous mysteries, which is great for me because I never guess whodunit and always enjoy the ride all the way to the end and the big reveal.

Maddie Day is the nom de plume of mystery author Edith Maxwell, who also writes the Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries, the Quaker Midwife Mysteries and the Local Foods Mysteries.