Kiwi Lime Surprise Murder: A Donut Hole Cozy – Book 40 (Donut Hole Cozy Mystery) by Susan Gillard

Kiwi Lime Surprise Murder: A Donut Hole Cozy – Book 40 (Donut Hole Cozy Mystery) by Susan Gillard

Everybody needs a vacation every so often and Heather Shepherd surprises her baking assistants with a vacation after all their hard work baking donuts. Off they went from Hillside, Texas to sunny Key West, Florida to swim, sail, eat a lot, have lots of fun, and maybe think of some new kinds of donuts to bake.

Florida is one steamy state but Heather and her assistants are used to the heat in Texas but Florida’s weather seems to be worse. So one night Heather leaves her hotel room to get a breath of steamy air when what does she find but a dead body. No matter where she goes there’s always a murder that she needs to investigate.

This victim is a woman lying beside a pool with blue-gray jelly blobs next to her. The woman,  Daphne Wilder, is a waitress from the hotel and it looks like the murder weapon of choice was jellyfish. She went into anaphylactic shock after being stung several times. But how did these potentially deadly jellyfish get to the pool? Obvious someone wanted Daphne dead. But who and why?

Key West police Detective Smith is sure that he and his department can solve this murder without Heather and her her assistant Amy Givens’ help but Heather and Amy aren’t so sure about that. Heather has been working with the Hillside Police Department for quite some time helping to solve murders there and she knows that she can help Detective Smith. After all, Heather is really good at finding bad guys. She’s also a witness of sorts in this murder because she’s noticed a dangerous looking strange man hanging around the hotel.

Even though the detective doesn’t want Heather’s help that isn’t going to stop her from investigating just the same. She’s already discovered where the jellyfish came from and has even found a suspect or two. Nothing will stop Heather until she finds out who the killer is.

“Kiwi Lime Surprise Murder” is the 40th book in author Susan Gillard’s Donut Hole Cozy Mystery Series and of course it’s another winner. Like all the previous installments it’s chock full of fun and likable characters. The story line is short and sweet and easy to follow. Another good book to hunker down with on a snowy cold winter’s day and read about Florida, a good murder mystery, and a new yummy donut.

To see other reviews of Susan’s books see Susan’s section on my blog.

“I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.”

 

Clown Moon by Alex Jameson

Clown Moon by Alex Jameson

Okay, clowns frighten me. I don’t like clowns, they creep me out. When I was five years old my dad and I were walking when a parade came by. Maybe it was some holiday, I don’t remember. Anyway, suddenly I saw a clown walking towards me and I started to cry. My dad tried to tell me not to be afraid and the clown tried to give me a lollipop. I loved candy but even that green lollipop didn’t stop my tears. The clown felt bad and gave my father a balloon to give to me for when he left. Clowns still frighten me and “Clown Moon” by Alex Jameson showed me how right I am about not liking or trusting these painted horrors.

The book follows brothers  Sam and Jake Asher as they  seek revenge on a killer clown who murdered their nephew. The clown is having a good time going on a killing spree and the public is battling down the hatches hoping that they and no one in their family spots a red nose because seeing a clown means a sure death.

The book drew me in and Sam is a good character especially if you need a hero. This is a thriller and not to be missed if you enjoy something like it. But, let me say this, I still do not like clowns and my mind will never change but the book is a good one.

The Ghostly Flutist

The Ghostly Flutist

I talk and write about my sister, Adrienne, a lot. She was very important to me. When she died from colon cancer in 2009 I thought my life was going to end too. It was horrible. But I somehow got through it even though I still get very depressed and think a lot about her when her birthday rolls around on March 21. March is also Colon Cancer Awareness month.

Not many people know this about Ade but she was a gifted flutist, or flautist if you prefer. She started playing the flute when she was in 7th grade and by the time she was in college her talent was incredible. She majored in music as an undergraduate and when she went on for her graduate degree. I was so proud.

Everyday she’d practice for hours filling our apartment building courtyard with classical music. Mr. Brovender, who lived on the second floor opposite our apartment, would sit and listen to Ade’s practice sessions. Once his wife asked him a question and he turned to her and said, “Hush, Adrienne is playing her flute.” Mrs. Brovender, who wasn’t angry at her husband, told my mother that story.

Ade could have had a great career but in her 20’s arthritis got to her fingers and shortly thereafter the disease went to her hips and by the time she was in her 30’s she could barely walk. But she always kept playing her flute. Her fingers hurt all the time as she played but she couldn’t give up her love of that instrument.

Then the cancer manifested itself a few years later. Her health problems were too much for her and she had to stop playing but she listened to her classical music all the time.

Eventually Adrienne passed. The last three years of life had no music in it. She couldn’t play and she didn’t want to listen to music any longer.

Adrienne told me where she kept her two flutes and her piccolo and after her death every so often I would put the cheaper flute together and blow a note. She taught me how to get a note out of her instruments. Playing a flute and piccolo is a little tricky. You don’t just put your lips on it a get a note to come out. You have to kind of put it below your bottom lip, twist the instrument up, bring your lips down, breathe a little air into it, and with any luck you get a note. You do that all while holding both arms up at mouth height pressing on a ton of buttons. Well, it was tricky for me.

About two years ago I was laying in bed reading. The light was on, it was the middle of the day, and I was wide awake when suddenly I heard two notes from a flute. I looked up and around the room, my heart thumping. The room was quiet. I thought maybe I heard a pipe making noise or someone doing something or other in another apartment. Noise travels strangely in apartment buildings.

After a few minutes of listening I decided that I didn’t hear anything and went back to my book. Things were quiet and I was happily reading for another seven minutes or so when I heard the two flute notes again. I was afraid now. The notes came from Adrienne’s bed where she spent so much time lying through her cancer ordeal. I looked at the bed, stopped reading, and listened some more. All was quiet the rest of the day and that night.

The next day I was reading in the bedroom during the afternoon and I heard the flute again. I put the book down and laid there listening, not doing anything else. Ten minutes later the flute notes chimed out for the fourth time in two days. This was too much for me. I sat up in bed and said out loud, “Ady, I know you’re playing your flute to let me know that you’re still with me and love me. I know you don’t want me to feel alone and to understand that you’ll always be with me and I do need to know that. But you playing your flute frightens me. I don’t know why but it scares me. I know you would never hurt me but please don’t play your flute to me. It really frightens me to hear it.”

That was the last time I heard her playing. I feel bad asking her not to play because I knew she was doing it for me. I know that Ade is still walking around this apartment. I feel her, I sense her. Sometimes her presence is so strong that I say hello to her and tell her I love her and am happy that she’s still with me.

You can believe this or not, I’m not writing this to convince anyone that my sister is somehow still around.

Is there life after death? I don’t know but I tend to believe there is or I hope that there is because  I need to talk with my sister again.

As for Adrienne’s flutes and piccolo, I’ll keep them and when I pass they will be sent to my good friend and “sista” in New Jersey who loves flute music as much as Adrienne and myself.

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This is an old Polaroid of Adrienne in 2004. She couldn’t walk because of her arthritis. Her walker is just out of camera view.

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

 

Murder Under the Tree (A Kay Driscoll Mystery #2) by Susan Bernhardt

Murder Under the Tree (A Kay Driscoll Mystery #2)  by Susan Bernhardt

Kay Driscoll and her husband Phil are about to celebrate their first Christmas at Sudbury Falls. They have parties to attend, a party of their own to host, their sons are coming in for a holiday visit, and one of their sons will be celebrating a birthday just after Christmas. Needless to say Kay has a lot to do. Christmas presents have to be bought, birthday gifts have to be found, decorations have to go up,  and Kay is loving every moment of these hectic days especially since hubby, Phil, will be home with her for the entire week. Kay is in bliss until … yes, there’s always an “until.”

While attending a holiday party at the Hawthorne Hills Retirement Home Kay and the rest of the guests watch as Les Hollings, a caretaker, eats some food, starts to choke, falls to the ground, and dies. Les was allergic to peanuts and somehow peanut butter got into this food thus killing him.

The retirement home swears that they don’t use any peanut butter since some other guests have the same allergy. Sweet Marissa’s Patisserie had catered some of the food and Marissa said she didn’t use any sort of peanut product in the dishes that went to the retirement home. So how did the peanut butter get into Les’ food and no one else with a peanut allergy had problems? Well, that was obvious to Kay. Les was murdered for some reason.

With a little persuasion Kay agrees to investigate the murder not that she’s a detective but she did help solve a previous murder during Halloween. Husband Phil begs her not to get involved and the Sudbury Falls police chief especially doesn’t want her involved but what they don’t know can’t hurt them even though she herself just might be hurt in the process. But Kay starts her own investigation anyway with a little help from her best buds Elizabeth and Deidre.

“Murder Under the Tree” by Susan Bernhardt is the second book in the  Kay Driscoll Mystery Series. “The Ginseng Conspiracy” is not only the first in the series but also Ms. Bernhardt’s first novel. It was terrific but “Murder Under the Tree” far surpasses it. It’s almost like the author got into her natural writing groove. Her skills are sharper and seems to lack the fear that she might have had about pleasing her publishers and readers with her first novel. Here she’s obviously writing from her heart. The party scenes and Kay’s home life descriptions are just about perfect and far from boring. I especially enjoyed the way she spoke about Sudbury Falls and how the community was gearing up for the Christmas Season. It made this Jewish New Yorker wish she lived in a small town and participated in all the Christmas activities and decorations. Big kudos to Susan Bernhardt for coming so far in her skills to write what she obviously felt and throwing her fears to the wind.

Now for the mystery portion. It was good. There were lots of suspects and you never really knew who the killer was until close to the end. Although I did start to suspect before Ms. Bernhardt gave the murderer’s name. The characters are enjoyable and well thought out. There’s a nice twist at the end when one of the character’s made a surprise discovery. That part was kind of nice and heat breaking too.

One thing was left up in the air and I read the last few pages a few times to make sure I didn’t miss it. The characters did talk about this missing aspect so I’m wondering if that will be answered when I read the third book which I have in my Kindle.

Will cozy lovers like the Kay Driscoll series? Sure, although it isn’t really a cozy even though some of the basics for a cozy are here. Mystery lovers will take to it because Ms. Bernhardt’s books are wonderful thrillers too.

And while I’m at it, I want to suggest that Susan add some recipes to her books. She talks a lot about food and I’d like to see a recipe or two. What can I say? I like food.

Do yourself a favor and start the Kay Driscoll mysteries. You’ll then see for yourself how a writer progresses from being good to incredible.

For more about Susan Bernhardt’s books please see Susan’s section on my blog.

 

 

Cancer Is Not Always Pink – Dress In Blue Day -March 3, 2017 – Graphic Details

Cancer Is Not Always Pink – Dress In Blue Day -March 3, 2017 – Graphic Details

March is Colon Cancer Awareness month and tomorrow is Dress in Blue Day. Please wear something in blue to support your fight to end this cancer. I know everyone has their causes and Colon Cancer is mine. I’ve written about my sister’s battle and there are so many others struggling to become a colon cancer survivor.

Most people don’t like to talk about Colon Cancer. It’s not pretty, not that any cancer is, but Colon Cancer deals with a very personal part of the body. It’s ugly. To be brutally clear here, you defecate in a bag that is attached to your stomach. Through surgery your rectum is attached to the stomach and when you have to move your bowels everything comes out from there into a bag. Many health insurance companies only allow for  ten bags a month so each bag has to be used for three days. You have to empty the bag and then clean it before you reattach it to your stoma, which is the rectum that is now at your stomach.

Grossed out yet? I have more. The stoma bleeds very easily, IF you scratch it while cleaning it or scratch it while changing the ostom bag it will bleed -a lot. Think of how much a hemorrhoid bleeds. The stoma is very delicate

Want to hear more? There are times when the stoma become prolapsed. That’s when the bowel protrudes through the stomal opening in the skin to a greater extent than was anticipated. The amount of protruding bowel can vary from 2-3cm to more than 10cm. Although when this first happens it can be very distressing and frightening it is usually not serious. My sister’s stoma grew to 9 inches. She had 9 inches of stoma hanging from her stomach. They had to operate on her to take the hanging portion off. The doctor said it was like removing a penis. That’s how big and thick it was.

And here’s another good one – visiting nurses aren’t allowed to change the bag, at least not back when I needed a nurse to stay with my sister for a day while I had to go to a Disability appointment. I was told to have a neighbor come in and help my sister change her ostomy bag. A neighbor! A visiting nurse wasn’t allowed to change it but a neighbor was qualified? I didn’t make my appointment that day.

I can tell you a lot of horrible stories about Colon Cancer but thinking back on all of that upsets me.

But I will ask you to wear something blue tomorrow, March 3, 2017 to HONOR everyone who is going through this dreadful type of cancer and to honor their caregivers too.

If possible change your Facebook image for an hour tomorrow with the blue star that I’ll post at the bottom of this page.

Colon Cancer is not for the squeamish. It’s devastating and deadly. If you’re over 50 and don’t really watch what you eat get checked. There are symptoms but you don’t always have them but beware of blood in your stool and pains in the left side of your stomach.

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Creme Brulee Murder: A Donut Hole Cozy Mystery – Book 39 by Susan Gillard

Creme Brulee Murder: A Donut Hole Cozy Mystery – Book 39 by Susan Gillard

Things have not been going well for Heather Shepherd lately. There’s been a rash of articles about her in the Hillside Reporter about her investigating tactics. The articles say that she is unprofessional and mean with the people she interviews. Well, that’s not at all like Heather who also runs her donut bakery, Donut Delights, in Hillside, Texas. She’s also a private investigator who the Hillside Police Department consults with when they need help. Heather is always polite with the people she speaks with and usually brings them a box of her yummy donuts. Who can resist a box of donuts?

Kate Laverne, Heather’s nemesis from when they both lived in New York, is behind all these vicious articles telling the reporter lots of lies. But Heather can’t worry about Kate right now because another murder has been committed in Hillside.

This week crime novelist, Grayson Stark was found dead in his home and it looked like he committed suicide. Heather last saw the author when he left her donut shop when he was stopped, by of all people, Kate Laverne! Kate started yelling at him and pushed him into the street where he was almost hit my a car.

Oh, something fishy is going on here. Grayson had no reason to kill himself and the detective on the case, Heather’s husband Ryan, isn’t buying the suicide angle either. Yes, Grayson did have a problem with depression but he was on medication for that but he also had problems with his father and brother. His brother edited Grayson’s books and they always argued.

And  let’s not forget Kate’s nasty run in with the novelist outside of Heather’s bakery. Something is afoot in Hillside and Heather and Amy Givens, her assistant in the bakery and in investigating, are determined to find out why the man was killed, because he certainly did not commit suicide.

“Creme Brulee Murder” is the 39th book in Susan Gillard’s must read donut hole mystery series. It’s fun and quirky and gets the readers involved in the lives of Heather and all her friends and family. I’ve been reading and reviewing this series for quite awhile and am always looking forward to the next installment. These books are a keeper for all cozy lovers. Make sure you don’t miss them.

To see other reviews of Susan’s books see Susan’s section on my blog.

“I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.”

Custom Baked Murder (Pawsitively Organic Mysteries #5) by Liz Mugavero

Custom Baked Murder (Pawsitively Organic Mysteries #5) by Liz Mugavero

The small community of Frog Ledge, Connecticut, is all abuzz about the big engagement party their mayor, Tony Falco, and his fiancé, Patricia Conner, will be having. All their friends and family members will be attending this event of the century not to mention bigwigs from the area.

Everyone is excited except for Kristan “Stan” Conner, Patricia’s daughter. It’s not that she doesn’t like her new stepfather-to-be it’s just that maybe he isn’t her favorite person and to be honest she isn’t all that enthralled with her mother either. Of course Stan loves her mom but Patricia can make it hard for Stan to always like her much. But Stan will be at the affair with her boyfriend and bar owner, Jake McGee, even though Stan would much rather continue setting up for the grand opening of her organic pet patisserie and café but a daughter has to be there for her mom so she gussies herself up and goes to the party.

Unfortunately, wherever Stan goes there’s bound to be a murder and that’s exactly what happens at the party. Eleanor Chang, the mayor’s executive coach, was found in the bedroom, strangled and Patricia’s engagement ring was found in her mouth. Making matters worse is that Mayor Falco isn’t at the party yet, at least no one has seen him. The murder brings the affair to a grinding halt as the police are called in to investigate.

Who killed Eleanor? Could it have been her troubled daughter, Monica or anyone else who attended the party? And just where was Mayor Tony Falco and why was Patricia’s engagement ring in the deceased woman’s mouth? Before her cafe opens, Stan plans to find the answers to these questions.

“Custom Baked Murder” by Liz Mugavero is the fifth novel in her Pawsitively Organic Mystery Series. I ran across the first book a few years back and honestly only picked it up because I needed something to read. I knew it was about a woman who left her well-paying job in New York and moved to a small community in Connecticut and ended up opening a home-based business baking treats for cats and dogs. The description of the book didn’t actually appeal to me but it was a cozy so I thought I’d give it a try. I’m not too proud to admit that I was totally wrong. This is one good series. The characters are interesting and I enjoy the relationship Stan has with her boyfriend’s two sisters. Stan’s personal family dynamics with her mother and sister are spot on too. The people who live in Frog Ledge add a lot to the series, especially Char who owns the B & B.  She’s a gal after my own heart.

Ms. Mugavero also adds recipes in her books. I’m pretty sure these recipes can be baked for your pets and can be enjoyed along with their pet owners.

You don’t have to be an animal lover to love these books. Give the first in this series a try and you might find yourself as taken with it as I was and end up looking forward to reading the others.