Mail Order Murder

Ready for our next and final Christmas mystery? Here we go!

Mail Order Murder [also known as Mistletoe Murder] (Lucy Stone Mystery #1) by Leslie Meir

Thoughts before reading:

So a couple of years back I was at a library sale and they were doing a whole brown bag full of whatever for $1.00. I picked up all kinds of book, one of which was Lucy Stone #3 Trick or Treat Murder.

 

I read it and hated it, vowing to never read another one of the books again.

Then I picked up this book at the library

I loved the Lucy Stone MysteryCandy Canes of Christmas Past, as it was the perfect blend of a Christmas story, a family trying to get things together, and a mystery. It was fantastic and I absolutely adored it. It convinced me to try again.

Here we go again…

Plot Synopsis

Lucy Stone is working double time for Christmas. Besides all her normal homemaking duties, planning for Christmas, and family events-she works at night at the mail-order company, Country Cousins.

One night she is taking some air, and as she is walking hears a strange noise outside. When she goes to investigate it, she finds Sam Miller, owner of Country Cousins dead!

What?!

As she continues to work and prepare for Christmas, she decides to try her hand at sleuthing-even going as far as putting an ad in a newspaper to see who killed Sam.

Will this be a Christmas to remember? Or will it a Christmas in which the present is death?

Thoughts After Reading:

I hated it.

Ugh!

Lucy does like zero real investigating “falling into” the answer more than anything else. And the way it ends? Blah.

Hated it and I am not looking forward to reading the rest of the series. It was boring, bland, and I give it one star. Plus Lucy does a lot of stupid things in this book. Most definitely not a real detective or does any detective work.

The mystery moves so slooooooooooooowly. It really is just about Lucy’s holiday drama until the last few pages where everything is solved in a few moments.

For more Lucy Stone Mysteries, go to Candy Canes of Christmas Past

For more Christmas mysteries, go to Death by Desire

For more mystery reviews, go to Wuthering Heights

Advertisements

Slow-Cooker Bread

This comes from my sister blog, JaneAustenRunsMyLife.wordpress.com

I love bread. I could eat it, non-stop.

So you probably saw this pic on facebook/instagram, about me making bread. Usually bread takes quite a bit of time, but my friend shared this post on pinterest with me about making bread in your crock-pot!

Huh?

It was delicious and easy, so I felt I should share. It originally comes from delish.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 Envelope of Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 Tbsp of Sugar
  • 1.5 Cups of Lukewarm Water
  • 3.5 Cups of Flour
  • 2 Tbsp of Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tsp of Salt

Directions:

  1. Line a crock-pot with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine yeast and sugar.
  3. Add water and stir until combined.
  4. Add flour, olive oil, and salt; stir until combined and a shaggy dough begins to form.
  5. On a lightly floured surface, knead dough until it becomes smooth and soft, about 5 mins.
  6. Roll dough into a ball, then place in a slow cooker.
  7. Cook on high until golden brown and cooked through, about 2 hrs.
  8. Carefully remove bread from slow cooker.
  9. To crisp up the crust, transfer bread to a baking sheet and broil until golden, 2-3 mins.
  10. Let cool for 20 mins and serve warm or at room temp.

So delicious!!!!

For more pinterest recipes, go to Healthy Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

For more bread recipes, go to Caraway Rye Bread

For more slow cooker recipes, go to Crock-Pot Potato & Kielbasa Chowder

Death by Desire

Ready for our next Christmas mystery?

Death by Desire (Caribbean Murder #4) by Jaden Skye

This time Cindy and Mattheus head to St. Bart’s a few days before Christmas. A senator’s daughter, Tiffaney, disappeared from her engagement party and wound up dead on the beach.

As they delve into the case they meet Tiffaney’s boisterous and demanding father; an obsessed and controlling mother, Tiffaney’s twin who hated her guts, a fiancé that is the complete opposite and depressed, Tiffaney’s strange soon-to-be parents-in-law, a Russian mogul who wants to take the Senator down, and the rest of the fancy, conniving, secret-filled crowd they spend time with.

As they continue they discover there is much more to Tiffaney than what met the eye. Drugs, lovers, and lots of secrets and hidden pieces to this case.

Thoughts After Reading:

I didn’t care for it. Poor storyline and grammar.

Ugh!

Cindy and Mattheus were very annoying with each other-Mattheus seemed to belittle and ignore Cindy. The ending was  dumb, the villain picked almost at random and everything too easily wrapped up with a “twist”. And they pretty much copied Laura’s character from Twin Peaks

For more Caribbean Murder Mysteries, go to Death by Marriage

For more Jayden Skye, go to Death by Divorce

For more Christmas mysteries, go to Wuthering Heights

Basic Shortbread

This comes from my sister blog JaneAustenRunsMyLife.wordpress.comI just reblogged it from her.

Thoughts Before Cooking:

This recipe comes from my a book I received for Christmas one year, Christmas Cookies.

Background on the Cookie:

“Shortbread is made with a few basic ingredients, and the results are sensational. The key to success with this thick shortbread is baking it slowly so it doesn’t brown.”

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup of Butter, Softened
  • 1/2 Cup of Sugar
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
  • 2 1/4 Cups of Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/8 Teaspoon of Salt

Directions:

  1. Beat the butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating well.
  2. Stir in vanilla.
  3. Combine flour and salt, gradually add to the butter mixture beating on low speed until blended.
  4. Roll dough to 1/2 inch thickness on a lightly floured surface.
  5. Cut with a 2.5 inch round cutter or Christmas cookie cutter.
  6. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet.
  7. Bake at 275 degrees F for 50 minutes or until bottoms begin to brown.
  8. Cool 2 minutes on a baking shet; remove to wire rack to cool.

Thoughts After Baking:

These were delicious and so buttery good.  perfect compliment to tea, Christmas, or anytime/anything. 🙂

For more Christmas Cookies, go to Aunt Neal’s Old-Fashioned Tea Cakes

For more cookie recipes, go to Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

For more dessert, go to Baked Apple Slices

Wuthering Heights

So this year it has been really hard to find Christmas themed mysteries. I’m starting off with this one as it does have a ghost and mystery of what happened, the main character wanting to know more and the whole story. It also has a Christmas scene in it, so it counts.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

I know it is unusual but there is a Christmas scene so it does count!

I love Wuthering Heights, it has always been one of my favorite books. I used to be in love with Heathcliff.

So the book has one of the best beginnings ever. A man, Mr. Lockwood, has been renting a house in the country as he wants to get away from everyone and everything.

However, he realizes that the hermit life is not cut out for him. He visits with his landlord, finding him hospitable, if a little brusque. He decides to surprise him one day and visit and finds his host angry-the house Wuthering Heights to be very unhappy. Mr. Heathcliff is angry, there is a Mrs. Catherine Heathcliff who is also angry and says she is a witch, Haerton Earnshaw who is an illiterate Neanderthal, and Joseph a grumpy hand. The snow keeps him from leaving and he has to stay the night.

Mr. Lockwood is goes to a room no one uses, it has been untouched for years. He finds himself unable to fall asleep and stays up reading a diary by Catherine Earnshaw, who lived in that room. Then we have one of the spookiest, chillingest, best writings:

I heard distinctly the gusty wind, and the driving of the snow; I heard, also, the fir bough repeat its teasing sound, and ascribed it to the right cause: but it annoyed me so much, that I resolved to silence it, if possible; and, I thought, I rose and endeavoured to unhasp the casement. The hook was soldered into the staple: a circumstance observed by me when awake, but forgotten. ‘I must stop it, nevertheless!’ I muttered, knocking my knuckles through the glass, and stretching an arm out to seize the importunate branch; instead of which, my fingers closed on the fingers of a little, ice-cold hand! The intense horror of nightmare came over me: I tried to draw back my arm, but the hand clung to it, and a most melancholy voice sobbed, ‘Let me in—let me in!’ ‘Who are you?’ I asked, struggling, meanwhile, to disengage myself. ‘Catherine Linton,’ it replied, shiveringly (why did I think of Linton? I had read Earnshaw twenty times for Linton) ‘I’m come home: I’d lost my way on the moor!’ As it spoke, I discerned, obscurely, a child’s face looking through the window. Terror made me cruel; and, finding it useless to attempt shaking the creature off, I pulled its wrist on to the broken pane, and rubbed it to and fro till the blood ran down and soaked the bedclothes: still it wailed, ‘Let me in!’ and maintained its tenacious gripe, almost maddening me with fear. ‘How can I!’ I said at length. ‘Let me go, if you want me to let you in!’ The fingers relaxed, I snatched mine through the hole, hurriedly piled the books up in a pyramid against it, and stopped my ears to exclude the lamentable prayer. I seemed to keep them closed above a quarter of an hour; yet, the instant I listened again, there was the doleful cry moaning on! ‘Begone!’ I shouted. ‘I’ll never let you in, not if you beg for twenty years.’ ‘It is twenty years,’ mourned the voice: ‘twenty years. I’ve been a waif for twenty years!’ Thereat began a feeble scratching outside, and the pile of books moved as if thrust forward. I tried to jump up; but could not stir a limb; and so yelled aloud, in a frenzy of fright. To my confusion, I discovered the yell was not ideal: hasty footsteps approached my chamber door; somebody pushed it open, with a vigorous hand, and a light glimmered through the squares at the top of the bed. I sat shuddering yet, and wiping the perspiration from my forehead: the intruder appeared to hesitate, and muttered to himself. At last, he said, in a half-whisper, plainly not expecting an answer, ‘Is any one here?’ I considered it best to confess my presence; for I knew Heathcliff’s accents, and feared he might search further, if I kept quiet. With this intention, I turned and opened the panels. I shall not soon forget the effect my action produced.

Heathcliff stood near the entrance, in his shirt and trousers; with a candle dripping over his fingers, and his face as white as the wall behind him. The first creak of the oak startled him like an electric shock: the light leaped from his hold to a distance of some feet, and his agitation was so extreme, that he could hardly pick it up.

‘It is only your guest, sir,’ I called out, desirous to spare him the humiliation of exposing his cowardice further. ‘I had the misfortune to scream in my sleep, owing to a frightful nightmare. I’m sorry I disturbed you.’

A ghost of Catherine Earnshaw Linton.

Mr. Lockwood heads home and falls ill. He questions the housekeeper Nelly about Heathcliff and she tells them the story:

So Mrs. Earnshaw died years ago and left the gentry Mr. Earnshaw with a son, Hindley, and daughter, Catherine. Mr. Earnshaw was very abusive and so are his children-wild-like the weather on the moors.

They are like storms

Nelly lived in the house as well, taken in by Mr. Earnshaw. One day everyone’s life changed when Mr. Earnshaw returned home with a boy! A curly-hair, dark-skin (most likely Spanish, Italian, or Russian) and raises him with the family. He hates his own son and lifts up Heathcliff. 

Nelly, Hindley, and Catherine all hate him on sight. They pinch, hurt, annoy, accuse, etc.; him-although Catherine ends up growing to like him. Soon Catherine and Heathcliff are thick as thieves and never want to spend any time apart from each other.

Mr. Earnshaw dies, and Hindley becomes the head of the household. He abuses both his sister and Heathcliff, taking no interest at all in how they are raised. Catherine is a gentry daughter, a lady, but she is actually more like a wild animal-no instruction in becoming a lady.

Hindley marries a very simple. childlike woman who dies in childbirth. He then hates his son, becomes an alcoholic, and is even more abusive.

Oh no!

Catherine and Heathcliff’s relationship is changed when one day she gets injured and taken in by the Linton family. There she learns how to pretend to be ladylike-still wild and crazy and abusive when things aren’t her way. 

Even though she loves Heathcliff she will not marry him. She will not chain herself to a man who has no family, no last name, he can’t do or become anything. She marries Edgar Linton and Heathcliff runs away. 

When he returns years later he comes to get his revenge on all-He will take Wuthering Heights and his son from the high and mighty Hindley, get revenge and hurt Edgar, and lastly-break Catherine’s heart like she broke his…

Thoughts After Reading:

So Wuthering Heights is a book about passion, not just passion but unbridled passion. All these characters do whatever feels right to them, without thinking of what may come with their actions or the price they or other will pay for their passion.

Often the Bronte’s books are compared with Jane Austen’s. Austen’s books take place more inside sitting rooms, while the Bronte’s on the moors. The Bronte’s are much darker than Austen work’s playing with similar themes but much deeper.

The term wuthering means decaying, blustery, turbulent, etc-the personalities being wuthering as much as the house, and as wild as the moors they reside.

I have always loved this book, but it was hard to read as what I had gone through with my husband. He abused me in many ways, like Heathcliff and Catherine do to each other and others. I understand how Heathcliff feels-with no last name and known family-he is essentially without a social security card and has no way of really doing anything. However, because he is hurt he then hurts others-and no matter what happened to him that behavior is never okay.

Cathy is just as abusive and very conniving. With her brother as her guardian she knows she will meet no one and grabs at Edgar to get away-bringing pain and destruction and heartbreak to him.

“Edgar Linton, as multitudes have been before, and will be after him. was infatuated: and believed himself to be the happiest man alive on the day he led her to Gimmerton Chapel…”

I know how that feels, and how it feels to discover you are 100% wrong and the person you married crazy. After the abuse I suffered from my husband I defintely do not sympathize with Heathcliff as much as I do Mr. Rochester. I too married a crazy person who tried to kill me.

It still is a good story and one I recommend reading in your lifetime.

Now a while back I reviewed The Madwoman Upstairs, by Catherine Lowell, she says that the only reason that the abusive horrible Mr. Earnshaw would adopt Heathcliff and treat him good was because he was his illegitimate son-making the reason why Catherine won’t marry Heathcliff because of incest. But I don’t believe it is true. Mr. Earnshaw “adopts” Nelly and brings her into his home. If he did that and treated her well and she is of no relation, why not Heathcliff? Plus he probably likes the savageness of Heathcliff, as it made him think of himself more than his “pansy” son.

Boom

Still a worthwhile read with so many great quotes-still a favorite no matter what, just not while I’m healing.

For more on Wuthering Heights go to,The Madwoman Upstairs

For more classic literature, go to The Sign of the Four

For more Christmas mysteries, go to The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle

For more ghosts, go to Christina’s Ghost

On a sad note, given the context of this book I wanted to add this:

Are you being abused?

It’s abuse when someone who should care about you does or says things that hurt you or make you feel afraid, helpless or worthless. Here are only a few examples:

  • Slapping, hitting, punching, choking, grabbing, shoving, kicking you or your kids, your pets
  • Threatening you, your kids, friends, family or pets
  • Hitting, kicking, slamming walls, doors, furniture, possessions
  • Forcing you to have sex
  • Calling you names, swearing at you, yelling
  • Controlling all the money, even money you earn
  • Blaming you or your kids for everything
  • Putting you down, making you feel like nothing you do is ever good enough
  • Treating you like a servant or slave
  • Controlling where you go, what you do, what you wear
  • Controlling who you see, who you talk to
  • Humiliating you in front of other people
  • Refusing to let you leave the relationship

If you are in danger call 911, a local hotline, or the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224.

Zucchini Boats

So I had leftover Spaghetti sauce, and while I loved Eggs in Purgatory, I was wondering what else I could make. I found this on Eat This Not That “18 Delicious Ways to Use Up Leftover Pasta Sauce”.

You can serve it as main dish or side.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Zucchinis
  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • Pasta Sauce
  • Chopped Tomato
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Slice the zucchinis in half, lengthwise.
  3. Scoop out the insides with a spoon.
  4. Brush both sides of the zucchinis with olive oil.
  5. Place on a foil lined baking sheet and add some pasta sauce.
  6. Top the sauce with the chopped tomato.
  7. Sprinkle on grated Parmesan cheese, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper.
  8. Bake for 15 mins and then broil for the last 3 mins or until the cheese s browned.

Thoughts After Cooking:

Easy & delicious!

For more from Eat This Not That, go to  Eggs in Purgatory

For more zucchini, go to One Pan Italian Sausage and Veggies

Real Murders

Real Murders (Aurora Teagarden Mystery #1) by Charlaine Harris

So you all know how much I love book sales.

Part of the fun is the mystery that you never know what you are going to find at a sale.

So one book sale I went to, it was the last day and they were trying to unload everything. It was a dollar a bag so I filled mine up with anything I found that sparked my interest.

I can’t help it, it is an addiction.

This one struck my eye as it was a mystery, involved a serial killer, and copying “real murders”.

This was during my “I want to be a behavioral scientist” phase, before Criminal Minds came out, and I would read anything on the subject. So this idea of someone copying real murders seemed like a hit idea to me.

I enjoyed the book so much, that I read it at least four times a year. The story is great, the characters fun, the mystery just perfect. It is a fantastic read and so engrossing! I just couldn’t put it down.

I was shocked when I discovered that this was the same Harris that wrote the Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries. I never would have made that connection as this isn’t as sex generated or full of supernatural characters.

And with Hallmark turning this book into a film, one that I can review for Horrorfest if I desire, what better time to choose to review this book?

heading-banner11970857801243195263Andy_heading_flourish.svg.hi

Aurora “Roe” Teagarden is in her late twenties and lives a pretty quiet life in Lawrenceton, Georgia. She works as manager for her mother’s condos and as a librarian.

Her best friend moved away recently, and she isn’t seeing anyone romantically. The only other thing she is really involved in, is the club Real Murders.

A year ago there was a book signing of a true crime novel and several people from Lawrenceton traveled to the city to attend. When they realized they all shared an interest in true crime they created a group that meets once a month to discuss past crimes, try to figure out unsolved cases, and learn about police work or the criminal mind. Each time they meet, a different person has a chance to create a program and share with the group.

Their group consists of Roe: Jane Engle, retired school librarian and substitute, specializing in Victorian murders, particularly Madeline Smith; LeMaster Cane, African-American and interested in the racial killings of the ’60s and ’70s, especially the Zebra murders and Jones-Piagentini shootings; John Queensland, Roe’s mother’s boyfriend, an expert on Lizzie Borden; Sally Allison, newspaper reporter; Perry Allison, Sally’s son, is not quite all there and shows an unhealthy interest in the Hillside Stranglers and the Green River killer; Gifford Doakes and his friend (boyfriend?) Reynaldo, who likes massacres such as St. Valentine’s Day or the Holocaust; Detective Arthur Smith, interested in studying old crimes and seeing how police worked the case; Bankston Waites and his girlfriend Melanie; Benjamin Greer, guy who has tried everything to “belong”; Gerald Wright and his jealous wife Mamie.

Tonight is Roe’s night to share and she is covering the Wallace case from the 1930s, where William Herbert Wallace was convicted for killing his wife Julia. She is a little nervous and heads over slightly early. This month Mamie is the opener of the VFW hall they rent, followed by Sally who is in charge of refreshments. When Roe gets there she looks around for the others, but instead receives a phone call asking to speak to Julia Wallace.

Roe can’t find Mamie, but runs into Sally. As more people arrive, Roe finds it even odder they haven’t found Mamie in the building.

Surprisingly Elizabeth Ann “Lizanne” Buckley, the most beautiful and easily bored woman in town, comes to the meeting and brings Robin Crusoe, mystery writer.

Roe can’t brush off Mamie’s disappearance and starts searching the building for her. As she looks, she comes across her dead body.

Roe goes into shock over seeing her that way, but notices  the similarities between this and the Wallace case. So eerily similar that someone must have copied it and arranged the body.

Everyone is subjected to long questioning, with Detective Arthur Smith making plans to meet with Roe the next day and get more information on the Wallace case.

The next day comes and Roe is finally able to give the talk she practiced.

Wallace Herbert Wallace was a Liverpool insurance salesman (like Gerald), and married with no children (just like the Wrights). Wallace had a regular schedule for collecting insurance payments from subscribers to his company and he bring the money home on Tuesdays. Wallace played chess and was entered in the tournament at his local club. There was a chart on the wall detailing when each person would play, one anybody could see.

Wallace didn’t have a phone at home and received a message from another member who had taken a call from a “Qualtrough” to meet him at his house the next evening.

Now the call came when Wallace wasn’t at the club so he could have left it himself at a phone booth down the way. He talks about the message with his friends at the club; is he puzzled or just trying to instill the message in other’s minds?

The next night, Wallace goes out to meet Qualtrough. Qualtrough left the address Menlove Gardens East, but no such place exists. Wallace asks many people for help, even a policeman. Is he set on getting the new client or is he just trying to create an alibi?

Wallace returns home but his key won’t work. Julia has bolted the front door for some reason and won’t answer any knocks on the door. A couple who lives next door hears him as he heads in the back to get into the house; Wallace and the couple enter the house and see things out of place.

The box where the insurance money is usually held has been rifled. Wallace checks the house and finds his wife in the parlor, a room rarely used. Julia is lying in front of the gas fire with a raincoat under her, and she has been beaten to death brutally, but not raped; just like Mamie.

There was no real case against Wallace, just a lot of circumstantial evidence and pressure to arrest the killer.

Roe is absolutely disgusted with this killer. They killed Mamie not because she was Mamie or they had an issue with her; something that would be partially understood psychologically, but only because she was an insurance salesman’s wife and childless.

And who will be next and which criminal will they be following next? Jack the Ripper? Ed Gein? The Blackburn Baby Killer?

Later Roe heads to the store and right into Robin Crusoe. Robin is interested in the case, and wants to know more, along with getting away from his disheveled house. While he is there a package comes to Roe, but it is actually for her mother, Aida Teagarden, and sent by Roe’s father. Roe lets her know and she comes right over.  The package is Mrs. See’s chocolate, her favorite!

But it is a bit odd that Roe’s father, Aida’s ex, would send her chocolate; and even stranger that it took six days to get from the city, an hour away.

Aida opens up the container and picks up a caramel filled one, when Roe notices that there is a puncture underneath.

Oh no!

She stops her mom and they look at all the cream filled ones. They all have punctures.

Arthur and his partner, Detective Lynn Ligget, come to question the group about the event and later it is revealed that the chocolates were poisoned. This murder copies the Botkin Case, as it appears someone is trying to kill all those in the group, or their family, copying real murders.

What?!

Aurora calls a meeting of Real Murders to see if they can figure out who the killer might be, who dislikes any of them? But no one is helpful and the group disbands.

Unfortunately that does not stop the killing, as Benjamin Greer’s boss, potential mayoral candidate is killed in the bathtub, the same way as Marat during the French Revolution.

Who’s next?

Meanwhile, amidst the killings, Roe has struck the interest of Robin and Arthur. Both men she finds very attractive, and who will win out as the series progresses? (For me I like Robin. Arthur is too egotistical and just expects her to go along with him even though he doesn’t really ask her like he should.)

Nah, he’s not a good guy.

But Roe has more on her mind than love, what murder will be copied next and which of her friends will be the next victim?

Thoughts After Reading:

I won’t reveal any more as the ending is great. You will definitely have to check this book out for yourself. What a twist!

The other thing I like about this is that it isn’t gruesome but very intellectual, with all the past true crime that was researched, it is just fascinating to boot.

Read it today!

For more librarian sleuth mysteries, go to Death Threads

For more serial killers, go to Next Victim

For more true crime, go to The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town

The Old Plantation

“The Old Plantation” by Unknown from Tales From the Midnight Hour edited by J.D. Stamper

Jonas Ellerby turned the car into the driveway of the old plantation. He’s never seen one before except in movies.

Weird

The house was completely crazy-rooms sagging at an angle, the color a dull rotten gray, a dying house. Jonas’ company was planning on destroying it and selling the land.

This place is a mess!

The house had a strange reputation, but Jonas had decided to spend the evening in the house.

He looks through the house and spots a small bedroom, one that didn’t look gross or smell. Jonas grabs his luggage from the car and sets up in the room. There is a candle next the bed, good thing as the house has no electricity.

He lights the candle and reads the book The Old Plantation. 

The story is about a young man, a Northerner, who comes to the South on business. One night, he drives his car up to an old Southern plantation. He decides to spend the night in the old house, even though he is all alone there…

Jonas is freaked out! but also curious, maybe just a little bit more:

In the story, the young man has just turned in for the night, after having gone out on the veranda for awhile. His face is still swollen from a mosquito bite he has gotten there. He scratches the bite.

Jonas realizes he is scratching his bite! He keeps reading:

The young man in the story sees a book by his bed stand. The title of the book is The Old Plantation. He picks it up and begins to read. As he reads the first chapter, his face takes on a look of fear. Then, slowly, a look of understanding comes over his face.

What is it? What does he understand?

Jonas keeps reading:

The young man continues to read The Old Plantation. The more he reads, the more frightened he becomes. Finally, he finishes the book. Then the young man lays the book back down on the nightstand. He knows there is nothing he can do. Nothing he can do…but wait…

Eagerly, Jonas turns the page but it is blank!

WHAT!

The rest of the book is blank!

Jonas puts the book away. Then he hears a car coming up. A person opening the door and sees…

Himself.

Thoughts After Reading:

A great short story.

For more Tales From the Midnight Hour, go to The Jigsaw Puzzle

For more short stories, go to Voices in the Coalbin

For more land developers, go to Snagged

 

Healthy Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Happy Thanksgiving!

With all the cooking and baking and everything you will be doing today, why don’t you take a few minutes and make this smoothie for breakfast. Or make tomorrow before you do Black Friday shopping. I found this recipe on pinterest, but it originally comes from Shugary Sweets.

Ingrdients:

  • 1/2 Cup of Pumpkin Puree
  • 1 Large Banana
  • 6-8 Ice Cubes
  • 6 oz Vanilla Yogurt
  • 1/2 Tsp of Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1 Tsp of Agave Nectar or Honey
  • 3 Tbsp of Milk
  • Pinch of Nutmeg
  • Whipped Cream

Directions:

  1. In a blender combine pumpkin, banana, ice, yogurt, pumpkin pie spice, nectar or honey, and milk.
  2. Pulse until smooth.
  3. Serve with Whipped Cream and a pinch of nutmeg.

Thoughts After Reading:

I did not like it.

Ugh!

It was not good with a weird aftertaste. Forget what I said in the beginning DO NOT make it.

For more holiday posts, go to Flag Cake

For more smoothies, go to Blueberry Earl Grey Tea Smoothie

For more pinterest recipes, go to Crock-Pot Potato & Kielbasa Chowder

For more pumpkin recipes, go to Harvest Pumpkin Scones

Garfield in The Case of the Mystery Mail

Garfield in The Case of the Mystery Mail by Jim Kraft

So Garfield loves mysteries and is obsessed with mystery movies.

So much he has been ignoring his girlfriend Arlene. She is angry, but ignores this.

Ugh!

The next morning Garfield wakes up and finds an envelope in his dish. It has a picture of a fish in it.

The next day he finds a picture with the letter “R” leaning on a house

Hmm…

The day after that he finds a picture with a 2 and the night sky.

What do these mean?

Hmm…

Fish dinner at aRlene’s house 2-night. Get it!

Thoughts After Reading:

It was a rally cute little story. My niece loved it, but who doesn’t love Garfield?

For more children’s books, go to High Sea Adventure

The View from Prince Street

25361856

The View from Prince Street (Alexandria #2) by Mary Ellen Taylor

Thoughts Before Reading:

So three years ago I read At the Corner of King Street and loved it. I thought it was amazing. I loved the characters, the plot, the two threads: Sarah Shire-Goodwin, Scottish immigrant settling in the new colony of Virginia; and Addie Morgan, a women trying to distance herself from her family and the disease that destroyed it.

There were family curses, witch’s bottles, recollection, and a spunky sassy historian Margaret who becomes Addie’s partner in salvaging and unraveling the mystery of the witch’s bottles. I really hoped to see more of her in the future; maybe even her own book or series?

Synopsis:

Dr. Rae McDonald is known as having a heart of stone, an ice queen-but others believe she is trying to be a matchmaker for her clients.

Rae has a sad background. Her sister and her were in a car crash, her sister dying. After that Rae made some very bad decisions and ended up pregnant, choosing to give the baby up for adoption.

Since then she has become detached and suppresses all feelings.

Like a robot

Meanwhile, Addie Morgan and Margaret McCrae, from the last book, have taken over the salvaging company. Addie is also raising her niece Carrie. One day they are salvaging an area and discover another witch bottle on Rae’s property.

The book follows a second thread from the 18th century and involved the women from the previous novel and a new one.

Hmm…

Rae’s sister’s best friend, Lisa Smyth, also survived the car crash, but never told the whole truth about it. It turns out there is a link between her and Rae’s family.

Hmm…

The past and the present intertwine and all must come out for them to move forward.

Thoughts After Reading:

I didn’t like it. Rae was so boring and an ice queen. No emotion.

This book was very disappointing to me as it was a real snooze.

I enjoyed all the characters in the first book more.

For more Alexandria mysteries, go to At the Corner of King Street

For more witches, go to Rosemary’s Baby

For more reviews, go to Wolverine Noir

Crock-Pot Potato & Kielbasa Chowder

Thoughts Before Cooking:

I love soup. And I love using my crock-pot. I found this on Pinterest.  It originally comes from the Crock-Pot Ladies

Ingredients:

  • 1 Whole Onion, Chopped
  • 1 Clove of Garlic, Minced
  • 32 oz of Chicken Broth
  • 6 Whole Potatoes, Peeled and Diced
  • 2 Cups of Frozen Corn
  • 16 oz of Kielbasa Sausage, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1 Whole Bay Leaf
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Dried Thyme
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Black Pepper
  • 8 oz of Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 Cup of Heavy Whipping Cream

Directions:

  1. In a 6-oz crock-pot, add all ingredients except the cream and cheese.
  2. Stir to combine.
  3. Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours or high 5-6 hours, or until the potatoes are tender
  4. Remove the lid and take out the bay leaf and discard.
  5. Add the cheddar cheese and cream to the soup and stir to combine and melt the cheese.
  6. Serve and enjoy.

Delicious.

I’d make it again in a heartbeat.

For more Pinterest recipes, go to Cinnamon Roll Smoothie

For more crock-pot recipes, go to Crock-Pot Sausage, Spinach, and White Bean Soup

For more soup recipes, go to French Onion Soup

Wolverine Noir

Wolverine Noir (Marvel Noir Series) by Stuart Moore and C.P. Smith

Thoughts Before Reading:

This was a Christmas gift from my sister who knows my love of film noir, mysteries, private investigators, and the 1940s.

This series involves taking characters from the Marvel Universe and combining them with elements from Pulp fiction novels and film noir.

Plot Synopsis:

It is 1937 in the Bowery of New York City. Jim Logan (Wolverine) is the head of Logan & Logan Private Detective Agency with his brother Dog (Sabertooth), who is not mentally there after a horrible accident.

Logan is the best knife expert, using as many as six knives. However, he hasn’t had very much luck lately. There has been no cases coming his way.

That all changes when the beautiful Mariko Yashida walks into his office and brings a case that will bring up the past and a world of painful memories Logan hoped to never face again.

Thoughts After Reading:

It was good, but very, very dark…

For more noir, go to Archie Andrews: Not So Private Eye

For more private investigators, go to Innocent in Las Vegas

For more reviews, go to The Secret Adversary

The Secret Adversary

Today is the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI or Armistice Centurion. For this special day I felt the need to review a WWI type mystery, and chose:

The Secret Adversary (Tommy and Tuppence Mystery #1) by Agatha Christie

This is one of my favorite mysteries and the second of her mystery novels to be published. It has a fantastic mystery duo team-Tommy and Tuppence.

The mystery begins with the sinking of the Lusitania in May 1915. As they are moving people to the lifeboats, a man approaches Jane Finn and asks her to carry some secret papers. She questions him, but he tells her that she is a woman and American, much more likely to get on a lifeboat and out than him.

Five years pass and we pick up with old friends Lt. Thomas “Tommy” Beresford and Miss Prudence “Tuppence” Cowley who run into each other in London. It has been three years since the have last seen each other and they catch up. She worked as a nurse during WWI, then at a government office job, but was let go and on the search for a new job.

Tommy was in France, then Mesopotamia, and then in Egypt until Armistice. For ten months he too has been job searching. But they don’t just talk shop, they also just talk about all kinds of things, Tommy mentioning how he overheard two men mention a name “Jane Finn”, he remembers the name as he finds it very odd.

Tuppence wants money and adventure and comes up with the idea that the two could start their own business- The Young Adventures, Ltd.-and run this advertisement.

Two young adventurers for hire.

Willing to do anything, go anywhere.

Pay must be good.

No reasonable offer refused.

They part ways, but then Tuppence is approached by a man with a job offer. They meet the next day and he offers £100 to travel to Paris, speak in an American accent, and pretend to be Edward Whittington’s ward. Tuppence questions him some more but he deflects and compliments her.

When Tuppence brings up Tommy, Mr. Whittington doesn’t want him. But the real surprise comes when Mr. Whittington asks for Tuppence’s name. She gives him the name “Jane Finn”, and everything changes. Mr. Whittington is angry, accuses her of trying to play him, and questions who could have squealed-Rita? Tuppence “blackmails” £50 out of him, hears him talk to a “Mr. Brown” and agrees to meet him the next day. But Mr. Whittington disappears.

Tuppence won’t let this go and gets Tommy to put in a new advertisement:

WANTED:

Any information respecting Jane Finn

Apply Young Adventurers, Ltd.

They receive two replies. The first is Mr. Carter who Tommy recognizes as a member of the OSS, that he met in France. “Mr. Carter”, not his real name, relates to them how they had an operative on the Lusitania with the draft of a secret agreement, by various representatives of different countries. When the boat was sinking the operative passed the documents to a young girl-Jane Finn-and did not survive, his body washing ashore. But no one knows what happened to the girl and the documents.

The girl was listed on the survivors, was an orphan, and was headed to Paris to work in a hospital. They have tried everything but she has completely disappeared. They need the documents as if they were to be public today it would be disastrous. Agreements made in war do not always do well in times of peace. The head of unrest and Bolshevist movements is the elusive “Mr. Brown”.

Tuppence puts that together with what happened in Mr. Whittington’s office-they wanted her to be Jane Finn, that is until it seemed she knew all about their plan. The call from “Mr. Brown” was probably one of warning and that is why he disappeared.

Hmm…

He hires them and the two start investigating. They begin by meeting the second person who answered their advertisement: Julius P. Hersheimmer is Jane’s cousin and a millionaire. He’s searching for her, and came to get Scotland Yard to find her. He brought a picture to give, but it turns out “Mr. Brown” played him and took it.

The three team up together as this case takes ups and downs and twists and turns. Kidnapping, imprisonment, mistaken idea, red herrings, Bolshevisks, amnesia, spy games, etc.

Thoughts After Reading:

I LOOOOOOOVEEE this mystery!!!!! I could read it over and over a thousand times.

The characters are amazing, the mystery marvelous, I just LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVVVVEEEEEEEEEE It!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

For more Agatha Christie, go to The Mysterious Affair at Styles

For more World War I, go to A Duty to the Dead

For more mysteries involving a disapperance, go to Death Wears a Beauty Mask

For more mysteries with amnesia, go to C is for Corpse

For more mysteries with kidnapping, go to Gates of Thread and Stone

For more spy stories, go to The Princess Plot

Happy Veteran’s Day! Thank you all who have served and are currently serving. Thank you for giving the ultimate sacrifice.

Baked Apple Slices

I have always wanted to make baked apples, but didn’t have everything. And then I saw this recipe online and thought it would be perfect to make. It comes from LEAHHS on Allrecipes.com 

Ingredients:

  • 1 Granny Smith Apple-Peeled, Cored, and Sliced
  • 2.5 Tablespoons of Water
  • 1.5 Tablespoons of Cornstarch or Flour
  • 1.5 Tablespoons of Sugar
  • 1 Pinch of Cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Spread the apples slices in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  3. Whisk the water and flour together, and pour over the apples and gently stir.
  4. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.
  5. Cook for about 15 mins.

 Thoughts After Cooking:

Delicious! Great to eat as a side or use as a topping!

For more from Allrecipes.com, go to Sour Cream Lemon Pie

For more apples, go to My Number One Comfort Food

For more dessert, go to Flag Cake