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La Dame Blanche by Anna Lee Huber

After deciding that the heroine of my newest historical mystery series—Verity Kent—had worked in the foreign division of the British Secret Service during the Great War, it wasn’t long before I determined I also wanted her to have served in some capacity abroad, perhaps even behind enemy lines. Uncovering exactly what role I wanted her to play as a field agent was the trickier part, particularly as I wanted it to be realistic. But it was as I was perusing the history section of MI6—British Secret Intelligence Service’s website—that I stumbled upon my answer. There, listed among its achievements during the First World War, was a brief mention of a spy network called La Dame Blanche. This immediately piqued by curiosity, and I went in search of more information.

La Dame Blanche was an intelligence gathering network at work in German-occupied Belgium and northeastern France during the latter years of the Great War. The network derived its name from the legend of the White Lady whose appearance was supposed to herald the downfall of the Hohenzollern dynasty—a dynasty which the German Kaiser was part of. In order to better assist the Allied forces, the group elected to attach itself to the British War Office, so they could pass along the information they gathered.

La Dame Blanche utilized citizens of all ages and social classes, from the elderly to young children working in concert with their parents to furtively record information about German troop and equipment movements in their homes along the rail-lines, all under the enemies’ watchful eyes. Midwives used their abilities to travel great distances at odd hours to act as couriers of the network’s reports. Nuns from convents where wounded German soldiers were being treated passed on information they gleaned from their patients.

Members of La Dame Blanche were militarized and brilliantly organized, keeping companies and battalions as separate from each other as possible, so that if one were caught by the German Secret Police, the rest of the network would not be compromised. And while it may have been conceived and established by three men, the group also employed thousands of women as well as men. The leaders understood that in such an endeavor there was no space for niceties or concerns over gentility and gender roles. The dangers of war affected everyone, and the best person for the job must be tasked with it. As such, women were often used to an advantage, exploiting the fact that the enemy often dismissed them as harmless. They also held leadership positions, outranking the men who served beneath them.

Given these facts, it was easy to see Verity working as an attachment and a liaison to La Dame Blanche when it became necessary for her assignments to send her into the German-occupied territories. Those tasks which send her under the electrified fence separating Belgium from neutral Holland are the most treacherous she must undertake, though not more precarious than the reality of the woman who are forced to coexist side-by-side with the enemy endure every day. Continue reading “La Dame Blanche by Anna Lee Huber”

Ghost stories and Smarties by Lynn Cahoon

This post could be called, why I love October.  It could be the fact it has the best weather. Cool enough to appreciate the warmth of the sun in the afternoon. But warm enough for short sleeves and sometimes, shorts. And it’s my birthday month. (I’ve taken over the entire month of October because it’s just not right to try to cram all of the fun into one day.)

But the true reason I love October is Halloween. What’s the best Halloween candy ever? Smarties. And they’re really fresh and wonderful in October. Bite in to one or a bunch, and the tartness will make your mouth pucker as you breath in the wonder that is the small, tart disc. Yes, there are a lot of amazing candies sitting around desks in plastic pumpkins, but Smarties are the real thing.

I fell in love with ghost stories early on. My brother had a fondness of teasing me with theatric renditions of Chicken Heart when he was babysitting. Especially since the ending always had me cowering in the corner with a quilt over my head. Big brothers are sadistic. That’s all.

Horror movies were shown on Saturday night, after the nightly news. I tried to stay awake to watch, but more times than not, I’d fall asleep during a build up scene and scare myself when I awoke to the carnage on the screen. Continue reading “Ghost stories and Smarties by Lynn Cahoon”

The Tricks And Treats of Fall by Sarah Fox

I’m always a bit sad to see summer disappear—and along with it the days of swimming outdoors—but I’m never too disappointed, because fall is my favorite season of the year. I enjoy so many things about autumn, but what I love most of all is Halloween.

All things spooky are right up my alley and one of my favorite things to do in late October is to carve pumpkins. I used to grow my own pumpkins—and sometimes I still do—but they rarely ended up big enough to suit my needs. So now I make an annual visit to the pumpkin patch. With hundreds—maybe even thousands—of pumpkins to choose from, I can find ones that are the perfect size and shape for my carving plans.

It’s not unusual for me to carve around half a dozen pumpkins each year. I typically carve two or three traditional jack-o-lanterns and sometimes I use pre-made patterns for fancier designs. For at least one pumpkin each Halloween, I like to make my own pattern. In the past I’ve carved pumpkins that featured a cover from one of my books and characters from one of my favorite television shows, like The X-Files. Last year I won a prize in an X-Files pumpkin carving contest, much to this long-time X-Phile’s delight.

This year I’m looking forward to pumpkin carving as much as ever. I’ve been working on some patterns and I’ve got all my tools ready to go. Let the carving commence! Continue reading “The Tricks And Treats of Fall by Sarah Fox”

A KILLING BY THE SEA by KATHLEEN BRIDGE (A By The Sea Mystery #2)

Books, Books and More Books!

A Killing by the Sea (A By the Sea Mystery #2)The breathtaking barrier island of Melbourne Beach, Florida, is every tourist’s fantasy—until murder washes ashore . . .  

Indialantic By The Sea in Melbourne, Florida, is home for Liz Holt. Has been for generations and now she is back home after a bad relationship and an injury she would rather not talk about. Back with Aunt Amelia and the quirky characters who own the shops in the Emporium, she is feeling safe and loved and just maybe she can write again.

But before she can settle in to write, a body washes up on their beach. The body of a local fisherman. But it doesn’t look to Liz like an accident. So with their big Pirate’s Weekend coming up and her guy, Ryan, she’s poking her curious nose in dangerously close to a killer while a hurricane is getting closer by the moment.

There is a lot of action going…

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Cocoa-Crunch Cookies by Joanne Fluke

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F., rack in the middle position.

1 and 1⁄2  cups softened butter  (3 sticks, 34 pound, 12 ounces)
1 and 1⁄4  cups white (granulated) sugar
2 large eggs
1⁄2  teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1⁄4  cup unsweetened cocoa powder  (I used Hershey’s)
2 and 1⁄4  cups all-purpose flour (pack it down in the cup when you measure it)
1 and 1⁄2  cups finely crushed plain regular potato chips (measure AFTER crushing. I used Lay’s, put them in a plastic zip-lock bag, and crushed them with my hands)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate  chips (I used Nestlé)
1⁄3  cup white (granulated) sugar for dipping

Hannah’s 1st Note: Use regular potato chips, the thin, salty ones. Don’t use baked chips, or rippled chips, or chips with the peels on, or kettle-fried, or flavored, or anything that’s supposed to be better for you than those wonderfully greasy, salty, old-fashioned, crunchy potato chips.

In a large mixing  bowl,  beat  the butter, sugar,  eggs, salt,  and  vanilla  extract  until  the mixture  is light  and fluffy.  (You can do this by hand, but it’s  a lot easier with an electric mixer.)

Add the quarter-cup of unsweetened cocoa  powder. Mix it in thoroughly.

Add  the  flour  in  half-cup  increments,   mixing  well after each addition.

Add the crushed potato chips and mix well. Continue reading “Cocoa-Crunch Cookies by Joanne Fluke”

Just in Time by Suzanne Trauth – Blog Tour and Giveaway

The Book's the Thing


FACE THE MUSIC

Business is humming at Dodie O’Dell’s Windjammer Restaurant, where she offers theme menus connected to the Etonville Little Theatre’s amateur productions. This June, the theatre is collaborating with the neighboring Creston Players to stage Bye Bye Birdie under the stars—their first musical! There’s a contest in the play to pick a fan to receive rock idol Conrad Birdie’s last kiss before he ships off for the Army, so Dodie plans a contest to pick the food for a pre-show picnic.

But before the show opens, Ruby, the rehearsal accompanist, is found dead in her car. Why would anyone murder the crusty old gal who loved to sneak a smoke and a nip between wisecracks? Once again, the resourceful restaurant manager must play the part of amateur sleuth, accompanied by Police Chief Bill Thompson, who also happens to be her beau. Confronted with a chorusof suspects, she’ll need…

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Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours–The Gold Pawn

mjbreviewers

I’m so excited to be a stop on the blog tour for author L. A. Chandlar and her new release The Gold Pawn.  This is the second book in An Art Deco Mystery series.

The Gold Pawn (An Art Deco Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Kensington (September 25, 2018)
Paperback: 336 pages
ISBN-10: 1496713435
ISBN-13: 978-1496713438
Digital ASIN: B078QSRGRY

Purchase Links

 

November 1936. Mayor La Guardia’s political future buckles under a missing persons case in New York City. Simultaneously, Lane unravels devastating secrets in the outskirts of Detroit. As two crimes converge, judging friends from enemies can be a dangerous game . . .

Finally summoning the courage to face the past, Lane Sanders breaks away from her busy job at City Hall to confront childhood nightmares in Rochester, Michigan. An unknown assailant…

View original post 2,152 more words

Autumn Blog by Nancy Bush

When it comes to writing, I’ve always done my best in the fall. I try to block out my summers with fun . . . although I just went to Urgent Care two days in a row after never having been in my life for separate injuries, the first to the thumb on my right hand, the second for the middle finger on my left that made it tricky to type and have that FUN I just spoke of . . . more about that later.

Before the afore mentioned injuries, I was working on my next thriller, BAD THINGS, which I plan on completing this fall. I’ve already settled  into my writing station with my computer, my paper tablet where I write notes down in longhand about what’s in every chapter, a cup of decaf coffee – yes, I decaffeinated years ago, which leaves me open to napping in the middle of a sentence and interesting results on the computer screen – and my Kindle. The weather’s changing, but I still get a morning walk in and it’s the best time of year for clearing my head. That change of scent in the air. You can almost smell the cold coming. The  brown and gold and red leaves.  No, wait, that red was the blood spurting from my finger injury that made my thirty-eight year old daughter scream, “MOM!” and gave me a jolt, too, at how fast it ran down my hand though I said calmly, “It’s okay,” and wrapped a paper towel around my finger and then another and another and well, back to Urgent Care . . . more about that later.

So autumn . . . it really is the best time to write. (I can still feel a teensy pain from my middle finger as I pen this.) Recently my husband moved from his office and is working from home now, too. It’s so nice for us to be together and enjoy our days sitting on the deck and communicating our thoughts. Actually, I have a tendency to stare at him and wonder if forty-two years of marriage is maybe long enough. Can we really share communal space 24/7 and survive? I guess time will tell. But he was the one who drove me to Urgent Care for the thumb injury where I jammed a splinter under my nail to the quick and the Urgent Care staff weren’t certain they would be able to get it out. They did manage to, with my daughter aiming the light directly onto the end of my thumb so the doctor could get the tweezers in and drag that miserable splinter out. I didn’t scream when it released but I jumped a foot and every muscle in my body contracted. I had bravely and possibly foolishly decided to have the splinter removed without a deadening agent. My husband was in the waiting room, pacing. It sounds like he was worried but he does that at home, too, above my head as I’m writing in the room below him. It’s just his way. Pure bliss.

My daughter and her family had been spending a good portion of August with us in Oregon as she lives in southern California. I had purchased a round loaf of blue cheese and onion bread from the local bakery. Delicious. But after that first thumb-splinter incident, I wasn’t as good with my right hand. Nevertheless, I persevered and got out the bread knife and started sawing against the rather slippery left edge and well . . . bread knife, flesh, blood, my daughter’s scream . . . off to Urgent Care the second time and the same doctor suggesting maybe I should try not to come back again. Continue reading “Autumn Blog by Nancy Bush”

Jane Fonda and Spice Cake by Edwin Hill

Nothing quite says fall to me like a New England fair, and my favorite one of all is the Sandwich Fair in New Hampshire, which takes place every year over Columbus Day Weekend. My uncle lives in Sandwich – where much of my first novel, Little Comfort, takes place – and I’ve been going to the fair for as long as I can remember. One of the most memorable years for me is 1981, when I was eleven.

That year, the whole town was abuzz because filming had completed on the movie version of On Golden Pond, which was shot on Squam Lake, and was due to be released in December. People had stories about seeing Jane Fonda at the local general store, or hearing Katharine Hepburn talking as she walked in the woods. The filmmakers were trying to keep a lid on the location of the lake, which the locals agreed to in theory – except they talked about it all the time. 

I didn’t much care about the movie. What I did care about was my spice cake.

Like most fall fairs in New England, the Sandwich Fair is an agricultural fair, meaning there is sheep shearing and oxen pulls and, yes, bake offs. I proudly baked up a spice cake for the junior competition. So what if it was a tiny bit lopsided and I may have forgotten the ginger when I mixed it up? Who cares if the Tupperware I stored it in tipped over during the drive from Massachusetts? I’d made it. It tasted good. I knew I’d win. Continue reading “Jane Fonda and Spice Cake by Edwin Hill”

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