Baked to Death by Catherine Bruns

Baked to Death by Catherine Bruns

Life was going well for bakery owner and amateur sleuth Sally Muccio. She’s been divorced from her low life, cheating, ex husband, Colin, for a few months and she’s now back in snowy Buffalo, New York with her old boyfriend, Mike.

Sally and Mike talk about living together and possibly getting married and having kids in the near future but Sally is happy with the way things are now and doesn’t want to rush into another marriage. Of course Mike is nothing like her ex Colin but Sally wants to wait a little while before she walks down the aisle for a second time.

Her new bakery is doing well with Sally’s best friend Josie working as the head baker. Josie also got them into a big baking competition in Florida with the winning prize of $20,000, what could possibly go wrong? Only everything.

Out of nowhere Sally’s ex, Colin returns to Buffalo from Florida and tells her that it was his idea to open the bakery and she owes him money for that. Colin had nothing to do with the new business and it was opened after their divorce so Sally is sure Colin does not have a vested interest.

But when Josie, her husband, Sally, and Mike are out celebrating Josie’s birthday at a local bar, a drunk Colin comes in and physically hurts Sally. The police are called but boyfriend Mike is very angry. That night he leaves his apartment while Sally is asleep and comes back a few hours later.

In the morning everyone in Buffalo finds out that Sally’s ex, Colin, was found murdered in his hotel room and Mike’s fingerprints are all over. Mike is arrested for Colin’s murder and is soon let out on bail. But instead of staying put he leaves Buffalo with a text message to Sally saying that he needs to be alone. And that is the last anyone hears from him.

When Sally and Josie go to Florida for the baking competition they also do some investigating during their free time and they find out a lot about Colin. Not only was he cheating on Sally when they were married but he was also cheating on the women he was cheating with. Colin also had a drug problem and owed a lot of money to mobsters who want Sally to pay back the debt now that Colin is dead.

Things are getting complicated. Sally is trying to hide the fact that Mike left Buffalo and she’s also trying to avoid the romantic advances of not only a policeman but Colin’s best friend. That, along with keeping an eye open for the mobsters who are threatening her it’s getting harder and harder to figure out what to do or how she feels. And there is that baking competition that she and Josie need to win.

Did Mike really kill Colin or is someone trying to frame him? Sally is sure that Mike is innocent but she has to prove it to the police and to the rest of Buffalo and especially to Colin’s not so nice family.

I love a good cozy and this is one of them. The characters are great especially Sally’s grandmother who is the backbone of not only Sally’s family but all of her friends as well.

Sally’s parents embarrass her all the time by their constant public displays of affection and also because her 50 plus year old mom dresses like a 20 year-old with men ogling her and Sally’s dad walks around in shorts with sandals while wearing socks. 

Sally’s ever suffering younger sister lives with her parents and grandmother while helping out at the bakery and studying for her law test.

The part I liked the best was the story line and the fact that I didn’t figure out who the killer was until I was almost at the end of the book.

“Baked to Death” is Catherine Bruns second book in her Cookies & Chance Mystery Series. I enjoyed this second story so much that now I’ll have to read the first.

If you enjoy a nice cozy this series is for you. Oh, and lots of recipes included at the end. Nothing like some good recipes to round out a book about a bakery.

Paperback

Edition Language: English

Series: Cookies & Chance Mystery #2

 

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Death by Coffee by Alex Erickson

Death by Coffee by Alex Erickson

Krissy Hancock and her friend Vicki decide to leave California and move to a small town where they open a coffee/book shop called Death by Coffee. Vicki loves the name of the store but Krissy isn’t thrilled with it especially when the first day they open and Brandon Lawyer nastily buys a cup of joe. He sits at a table and immediately gets a phone call from his realty office across the street. Brandon growls some, grabs his java, and rushes to work.

Before too long ambulances are pulling in front of Brandon’s realty firm and the EMS are taking out a body. Brandon Lawyer is dead. He was severely allergic to peanuts and somehow peanut dust was found in his coffee and Brandon didn’t have his epipen.

This is all too much for Krissy. Peanut dust in the coffee she gave him? Impossible. After checking all over the store Krissy is sure that there are no peanuts, dust or otherwise anywhere in the vicinity but she feels guilty just the same. Did her coffee kill the realtor? Well, she’ll just have to investigate and find out who the killer is because she knows that neither she nor her coffee did the deed.

Krissy knows a thing or two about investigating murders. She’s an expert. Her father is a very famous mystery writer and she watches a lot of television crime shows. Who needs the police when Krissy has that kind of background in solving murders? Of course, it would be nice if Officer Paul Dalton gave her a hand. He does have those cute dimples and awesome abs and his mom is the Chief of Police who would like Krissy and Paul to “hook up.” What could possibly go wrong? Only everything.

Krissy is a bit annoying until you get used to her. She’s plagued with guilt believing her coffee killed Brandon even though luscious Officer Paul told her that the police knew she didn’t add any peanut dust to the coffee. But there’s just something about a mystery that propels Krissy to want solve the crime.

It’s just lucky for Krissy that Vickie, co owner of the coffee shop, doesn’t mind being left alone to tend the establishment while Krissy investigates. Of course that’s because no one is really coming into the shop to buy coffee. Both owners are a little concerned that they might have to close the doors if business doesn’t pick up soon. And that doesn’t look like it will happen anytime in the near future since word has gotten out that their coffee killed Brandon.

“Death by Coffee” is a author Alex Erickson’s first in the Bookstore Cafe Mystery Series and of course I enjoyed it. I love cozies.

The small town is filled with quirky characters that all good cozies need and readers will have a good time meeting.

This series’ first book is a good one and I’m looking forward to reading the next, “Death by Tea.”

Like all good cozies there are no gruesome death scenes, some good laughs, two crazy cats to go along with the two crazy owners of the coffee shop and an interesting murder. The Bookstore Cafe Mystery Series  has all the makings of a long, ongoing run.

Paperback, 320 pages

Published May 26th 2015 by Kensington

ISBN 1617737518 (ISBN13: 9781617737510)

Series  Bookstore Cafe Mystery #1    

High School Hatred Against Fat – Circa 1967

High School Hatred Against Fat – Circa 1967

I graduated high school in 1970, a month before I turned 18. That was almost 47 years ago. A long time for me to remember something that happened my first year in high school. I was 15 years old. This incident happened almost 49 years ago but it could have occurred yesterday.

In that first year I never ate lunch. I was chunky, chubby, okay, I was fat and as we all know, fat people are not allowed to eat in public be it in a restaurant or in school. When lunch time rolled around I would drink Tab. Remember Tab? The first diet soda. Tab was an acquired taste. I’m not sure if anyone liked the taste of it right away. It took time.

Anyway, everyday I would sit at a table in the cafeteria with some of my friends, Janice, Barbara, Janet, and a few others. They all ate lunch because, being thin, they were allowed. They didn’t know that fat people weren’t allowed to eat.

Being my friends they were concerned that I never ate and urged me to have something, an apple, anything. But I didn’t because I was fat. But one day, one day was different. I wasn’t feeling well.

It was my “time of the month” and I felt dizzy and weak. Janice and the rest of my friends came with me to the food line in the cafeteria because they sensed I needed an escort.

Way back then students didn’t have any real choice of what to have for lunch. Well, does deciding to have jello or chocolate pudding a choice? I guess so but otherwise the cafeteria lady put a clump of mystery meat on your plate with a clump of mashed potatoes and some green beans next to it. That was it. No salad or anything like that.

I was walking back to my table, holding my tray of mystery meat, potatoes, green beans, and my Tab when some boy walked by me. He glared at me, actually glared, stood in front of me, pointed his finger and said, “Yeah, you really need that. You really need to eat with the way you look. You shouldn’t eat.” Then he stalked off. I told you fat people aren’t allowed to eat in public even if they’re sick. No eating allowed!

So I went back to my table and told my friends that I didn’t feel well and didn’t want to eat the lunch I bought. I told them to eat it and I’d just have the Tab.

They were surprised knowing that I should have some of it but I refused. I also refused to tell them that I was embarrassed and humiliated because some boy just accosted me because I “broke the rule.” I was going to attempt to eat lunch. The fat girl was going to eat. Not allowed and against all the laws of society.

The only thing I was proud of was the fact that I didn’t break down in tears. I did that when I got home.

Two years later that same boy was running for student president or something like that. He came over to me, in the cafeteria no less, and asked me for my vote. I didn’t vote for him. I don’t know if he won, he probably did.

My point is that this happened when I was 15, I’m 64 now and I remember it.

Oh, lots of bad stuff happened to me  in high school. Lots of bad stuff happens to everyone in high school. High school hurts, high school is mean, high school sucks. I despised high school.

I’m sure some women now might remember me from high school. About a year ago I spoke to a woman who I haven’t seen since my high school days. One of her first questions to me was, “Are you still fat?” I looked at the phone then asked her why that was the first thing she was compelled to ask. I guess she heard the anger in my voice and didn’t answer my question. I didn’t answer her question and haven’t spoken to her since.

Now look, I don’t want to hear that life is hard, and high school is hard, and kids are mean, and crap like that. I know it. I also don’t want to hear that I should have lost weight because how do you know that I didn’t try? And why do I have to defend myself to anyone about what I weigh?

My grandmother, uncles, aunts, they all made remarks. I remember it all. My aunt once told me I had to lose weight because my uncle hated fat women. I knew this wasn’t true, I got along with my uncle it was just my aunt’s way of trying to get me to lose weight. A little tough love she would call it. Many people think that in order to get people to lose weight you need to show them a little tough love. I think that a person’s weight is no one else’s business because if push comes to shove we all have problems and a fat person could, someday, tell a person off and show them some tough love right back. But I think that might be rare.

Why did I go on this rant now? I’m not real sure. I guess I’m in a bad mood. I guess I was thinking about what happened when I was 15 years old. I guess I’m angry. I guess I think people have a lot of nerve.

Do you want to know if I’m still fat? No, I’m not. Well, I’m considered a little overweight. Not as fat maybe and now I don’t hear anything about my weight anymore. Maybe that’s because I’m older now or maybe that’s because my former schoolmates have put on some weight of their own and I’m thinner than some of them.

But I still don’t eat in public because I was “taught” by society, by “friends” and relatives that fat people aren’t allowed to eat in public. Not ever. So I don’t.

To see more of my childhood memories go to  S.A.K. Remembers on my blog.

Gem of a Ghost by Sue Ann Jaffarian

Gem of a Ghost by Sue Ann Jaffarian

Thank goodness not everyone is as lucky as Emma Whitecastle, if you consider what she can do lucky. Emma can see, hear, and speak to ghosts. It’s a family trait since her mom can hear ghosts but not see them, or so she says. Emma wonders how true it is that her mom can only hear them. Emma also thinks her daughter, Emily, who’s in college, has the family gift as well but Emily has neither confirmed nor denied it.

Mostly Emma lives a nice life. She spends part of her time living with her boyfriend and part of the time living with her parents and working on a television series that’s about ghosts. The only little problem she has is with Granny Apples, her great, great, great, great, grandmother who was hanged years ago when the townsfolk thought she killed her husband, Jacob. Emma helped clear Granny Apples’ name and Granny has been popping in and out of Emma’s life ever since.

In this third of the Granny Apples series a very angry spirit, Addy, sets up shop in a piece of jewelry, a diamond ring, and is forcing whomever wears the ring to kill themselves. This take a personal turn with Emma when her daughter Emily’s childhood friend tried to kill herself three times.

Emma and Granny Apples find themselves in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania investigating why mean spirited Addy wants to kill people. Helping Emma and Granny are a ghostly crew of Molly Maguires who were thrown into jail back in their time for trumped up charges. The Molly Maguires know Addy and try to persuade her to go to the light and leave the living alone but Addy has her reasons for the anger she feels and wants revenge.

I’ve read all the books in the Granny Apples series and while most of them are rather light hearted “Gem of a Ghost” has more substance to it. In the previous books the ghosts Emma meets and helps have a certain sadness to them but in this book I was torn between actually not liking Addy and then kind of understanding what she was going through and what she felt as a ghost. Addy is the first ghost that author Sue Ann Jafarian gave some credence to. “Gem of a Ghost” is also the best in the series.

Yes, there are some cute moments in it when Emma wonders if she should date other men than just her boyfriend, and Granny is of course putting her two cents in all the time, and readers finally meet Granny’s husband Jacob as the couple rock in their rocking chairs on the porch.

There’s a lot more to this book than the previous ones, maybe it’s even a little scarier because Addy is the first really vengeful ghost that we’ve me.

Look, “Gem of a Ghost” is not going to keep you up at night hiding from shadows because you think Addy is coming for you but it will keep you up wondering about the past and how the Irish were treated back in the late 1800’s. And you get to learn a little something about the Molly Maguires too.

This is one good cozy and I enjoyed reading it.

Paperback, 307 pages

Published February 8th 2012 by Midnight Ink (first published February 1st 2012)

ISBN 0738713813 (ISBN13: 9780738713816)

Edition Language English

Series: A Ghost of Granny Apples Mystery #3

Characters: Granny Apples (Ghost), Emma Whitecastle

 

Stiff Penalty by Annelise Ryan

Stiff Penalty by Annelise Ryan

In this 6th installment of the Mattie Winston Mystery Series Mattie, a Deputy Coroner of Sorenson, Wisconsin is going through quite a lot. Her on again/off again relationship with the hunky police detective Steve Hurley is still on again and off again; Hurley’s newly discovered teenage daughter, Emily, is acting just like a teen; Mattie’s father, whom she hasn’t seen in decades seems to be stalking her; a new beautiful police videographer wants Hurley’s attentions; someone is out to kill Mattie yet again; and Mattie is pregnant with Hurley’s child. No wonder she’s seeing a psychiatrist to try get her life back on track.

And Mattie also has to work. Someone’s got to support her baby who is due soon and Mattie isn’t sure how Hurley feels about becoming a daddy again.

Popular math school teacher, Derrick Ames is found murdered in his home with a barbecue fork. Derrick has been separated from his wife and two sons for a while and now has a girlfriend. In fact, Derrick’s soon to be ex wife has a girlfriend too. But who wants Derrick dead? His ex wife? She has no reason to want to see him dead and neither does Derrick’s girlfriend. The only possible murderer is Derrick’s oldest son, Jacob.

Jacob sneaks out of his bedroom window to see his father hoping to persuade him to go back to his family. But when Jacob goes into his dad’s home he sees daddy in a compromising position with the new girlfriend. Jacob leaves only to return later where he argues with his father. They get into a scuffle and Jacob leaves.

The police are sure that Jacob killed his father. They have a video as proof and Jacob is arrested. But Mattie doesn’t believe that Jacob is a murderer and tries her best to find out who really did the deed and why.

The Mattie Winston cozy series is really good. The characters are interesting and readers can get very involved with them. Most of the characters have cute little quirks like Mattie’s mom who is dying from a different disease every day. She’s a little bit of a hypochondriac. Mattie’s sister, Desi, is doing her best to bring up two kids and a husband, and of course Mattie has a dog and couple of cats to keep an eye one. I won’t even start with the constant problems she has with her relationship with Detective Steve Hurley.

I’ve read every book in the series and enjoyed every moment of it. The mysteries are always good with a nice twisty ending and it’s nice to discover what the recurring characters are up to.

“Stiff Penalty” is a well written cozy to spend some time with. Nothing violent and it’s easy to read and to get involved in the story. Every book in the series is a gem. Have fun with it and sit back and enjoy a good novel.

Kindle Edition, 368 pages

Published February 24th 2015 by Kensington Books

ASIN B00M4ASUL0

Edition Language English

Series Mattie Winston Mysteries #6   

A Winter Haunting by Dan Simmons

A Winter Haunting by Dan Simmons

Back in 1960, Dale Stewart and his 11-year old friends, along with Dale’s younger brother, had a bicycle “gang” in their hometown of Elm Haven. They’d ride their bikes all over the small town and, as all boys, get into some trouble.

They suspected, no, they knew, that something was odd with their school, spooky even, and very dangerous because the school was out to kill them. Not the teachers or anyone who worked there, but the school itself. The bike gang dug around and found out some information about the town and the school was not going to let them get the information out. Making things weirder was that some of the inhabitants of Elm Haven knew what was going on with the school and needed the boys to mind their own business

Now, 41 years later, Professor Dale Stewart returned to his old home of Elm Haven to write a book about what happened in 1960, if only he could remember  what that was but he’s sure this is where he has to be to get his memory back.

He has nothing to lose by going on sabbatical from his teaching job, he’s lost everything that matters anyway. Dale’s wife left him and took his two daughters because Dale fell in love with one of his students. Then the student left him because she grew bored with him. It was all Dale’s fault, all of it. He couldn’t blame anyone else for the way his life turned out so he’s determined to go back to Elm Haven and write his book.

But you know what they say about going home again and maybe Dale shouldn’t have because there’s something wrong with his hometown and he might not live long enough to write and finish his book.

Dale rents the farm of his old friend, Duane. Duane’s parents are long dead and so is Duane for that matter. Duane was killed in 1960 by a piece of farm equipment that ran over and then shredded him. Many believed that Duane’s perpetually drunk father killed his son by mistake but he had a solid alibi; the father was at a bar getting drunk.

Winter has come to Elm Haven and even though it’s early winter in 1999, right before Thanksgiving, the town is being hit with a lot of snow and there’s no cell reception which greatly helps the supernatural forces that are determined to finally do away with Dale. And these supernatural forces are getting help from some of the inhabitants of the town.

“A Winter Haunting” is the third installment of author Dan Simmons’ Seasons of Horror series. I loved the first book of the series, “Summer of Night” where Dale and Duane were kids in 1960. It’s pretty important t read “Summer Night” before the other two books because many of the characters reoccur and readers have to know who and what they were.

The horror aspect in “A Winter Haunting” is there but the book, while still very good, is a little too “talky” for me. Yes, the reader needs to know some background on what Dale has been doing these last 40 years and we need to know how and why Dale ruined his life but it went into more detail than I thought necessary.

The best parts of the novel was when it was focused in Elm Haven in the year 1999 right before the turn of the century and what was happening to Dale then and there. That is where the nightmare comes in.

If you’re not a fan of ghost stories maybe you should stay away of this book. I’m not a real lover of stories like this because they scare me but every once in a while I do read them and I’m glad I chose to put my fears aside and read this. If you enjoy a little scare to excite your dull life read the Seasons of Horror series. It will get your blood flowing.

Paperback, 371 pages

Published December 31st 2002 by HarperTorch (first published 2002)

Original Title: A Winter Haunting

ISBN: 0380817160 (ISBN13: 9780380817160)
Edition Language: English
Series: Seasons of Horror #3, Summer of Night
Literary Awards: Locus Award Nominee for Best Fantasy Novel (2003), Colorado Book Award for Genre Fiction (2003

Book Giveaway

Stay tuned all you book lovers. On March 4th I’ll be giving away two copies of Laura Child’s newest book, “Devonshire Scream.” I’ll post my review on my blog on February 29th and any one who would like a chance to win a copy has to post on the review page by March 4. The winners will be picked and announced on March 4 and Laura will send each person an autographed, inscribed copy of the book.

Book winners have to live in the US.

I can’t wait for my first book giveaway and hope that I’ll have many more.