Hobby Reads

Because everyone's hobby is having fun!



Chocolate Lasagna by Lisa Jackson

Whenever I have an impromptu family dinner, I usually make chocolate lasagna for dessert as it’s a fave and easy to throw together.  Well, except for one time when I picked up regular pudding rather than instant—uh, that doesn’t work at all.  So take note.   Anyway, I found this recipe on the Internet about two years ago and it’s been a hit with my family—especially the grandkids—every time.  There are variations I’ve tried—such as graham crackers for the crust or adding in Nutella or peanut butter to the filling but the basic recipe is wonderful.  I don’t know who originally came up with it, but here’s the recipe I use:

Chocolate Lasagna
Author: The Kitchen Snob



36 Oreo cookies (regular, not double stuffed)
6 tablespoons butter, melted
8 oz cream cheese, softened Continue reading “Chocolate Lasagna by Lisa Jackson”

Great-Grandma’s Chocolate Espresso Cake by Andie J. Christopher

In this first book in the new One Night in Miami series, readers meet the quirky Cuban/Irish Hernandez family. Alana Hernandez, the baby sister of the family, knows the second-best way to former Navy SEAL Cole Roberts’ heart. And, on Valentine’s Day, this chocolate espresso cake would be just the ticket.

Cake Ingredients:
2 cups flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp baking soda
1 large egg Continue reading “Great-Grandma’s Chocolate Espresso Cake by Andie J. Christopher”

The Hope Chest that Inspired Hope Chest Of Dreams by Lisa Jones Baker

When I was a little girl, my mother’s hope chest fascinated me.  Not because it was fancy; it’s not, but rather because of what loomed inside.  Her wedding veil.  Love letters from my father.  Grandmother’s special linens.  What intrigued me most was that my father made it himself and presented it to her just before they married.  The beloved possession rests upstairs beneath the wall quilt of my great grandmother’s beautiful, ornate, delicate handkerchiefs that were sewn together by my great aunt, June.

Intrigued, I researched the origin of the hope chest, aka Hope for Marriage, and learned that the pieces, constructed from different types of wood and often lined with cedar to protect the contents from insects, fungus, and moths, are often referred to as dowry chests.  Typically, they’re used to store special things such as linens, quilts, and china that are handed down in the family.  Single girls are, many times, gifted a hope chest before marriage.

Hope chests are routinely placed at the foot of the bed and have existed since the times of pharos.  In fact, Egyptians used them for storing valuable documents during long, treacherous, oceanic voyages.  But to me, my mother’s hope chest carries what only dreams are made of.  Something mystical and intangible.

It’s a rare, blessed treasure that prompts my imaginative mind to wander back to the days when my parents fell in love and had no idea how many times their children’s and great-grand children’s fingers would touch the heirloom.  My mother’s hope chest will be passed down to me, and I will place their wedding picture on top while the beloved quilt with its own compelling stories looms in the distance.

In my HOPE CHEST OF DREAMS series, Rebecca, Annie, and Rachel will experience their own stories with William, Levi, and Jarred.  And eventually, their hope chests constructed carefully and artfully by creative genius Old Sam, will be filled with great symbols of love that they will cherish and pass down to their daughters.  To me, these characters and stories are personal, a natural inspiration and connection to my mother’s hope chest.

My parents aren’t rich, but what they have, money can’t touch.  And the sentimental piece constructed by my father over fifty-nine years ago plays its own special role in my parent’s forever journey of true love as well as their nearly six decades of marriage that continues on earth as long as they both live and will pick up when they join in heaven.  And maybe someday, a couple in our family will treasure the hope chest over fifty-nine years, and inherit my parents’ abounding Christian love and happiness that’s a wondrous, generous, rare blessing from our Creator.


Three young Amish women, each gifted with a hand-carved hope chest, find that one by one, with patience and faith, their most blessed dreams for the future can come true…

Annie Mast and Levi Miller were best friends until his father was shunned by the church. Now, ten years later, Levi has returned to Arthur, Illinois, for a brief visit, and he and Annie discover their bond is as strong as ever. Spending as much time together as possible, Annie finds herself dreaming of a future with Levi. And Levi is soon dreaming of building a home on a beautiful local hillside—to live in with Annie. Yet their longings are unlikely to become reality…

Levi is part of the English world, and while Annie cannot see herself there, she knows she must reveal her heart’s truth to him. And Levi, strongly reminded of his Amish roots, knows he must heal the bitterness of the past. And together, with love on their side, they just may find their way to an answered prayer…


dads dassdasd The New Americana Series

In the heart of Arizona’s Sonora Desert, a little girl in need of her father, a woman in need of forgiveness, and a war hero in need of love come together to create a family…

Before he left for Afghanistan, Jake O’Reilly had everything—a beautiful wife, a baby on the way, a wonderful life. Three years later, his wife is dead and he is so haunted by his memories of war that he can’t bring himself to go home. But when his wife’s grandfather tracks him down and persuades him to come work on his ranch, where Jake’s daughter is living, he agrees—even though he is reluctant to expose his little girl to the man he’s become.

At Flying Cloud Ranch, his daughter doesn’t recognize the brooding stranger he’s become. But the beauty of the ranch and the immediate connection Jake feels with his wife’s cousin Kira slowly begins to heal his wounds. Though he doesn’t want any complications, he finds himself impossibly drawn to the tough woman who runs a horse therapy program for troubled teens. And as they each begin to imagine a new future, they discover that happily ever after is always within reach—if only you are willing to open your heart . . .


First in a new series by the author of Night Hawk and Out Rider

Still waters run deep . . .

From the moment Roan Taggart picked up the pretty redhead at the Jackson Hole airport, his training and experience told him she was spooked. She’s left New York City to visit the Wind River Ranch, where Roan is a wrangler, and just as he can pick up a horse’s mood, he can feel the tension coming off her body. And that vulnerability is triggering all his protective instincts . . .

Shiloh Gallagher likes the gray-eyed cowboy’s dry humor—and the Special Forces background that lends him a stoic, powerful presence. But she’s been scarred by trauma and her mother’s murder . . . and knows a strong man can be dangerous. She came to wide-open Wyoming to flee a threat that’s left her unable to write her novels. Now, as she rides horses with Roan and helps him build an isolated cabin, she’s slowly letting down her guard. But danger has followed her west, and they won’t have a future together unless they defeat a killer from her past . . .


Something to hold on to . . .

Not so long ago, Reese Lockhart was commanding a company of Marines. Now his life is spiraling out of control. The Bar C ranch outside Jackson Hole, Wyoming may be his last chance to save himself . . .

Shaylene Crawford, an Afghanistan veteran herself, knows all too well the demons of PTSD—that’s why she’s determined to turn her family’s cattle ranch into a place where wounded warriors can work, find a home, and rebuild their souls. Her embittered father nearly drank and gambled the place away, but with help from a small crew of vets—including the newest arrival, the quietly compelling Reese Lockhart—she intends to hold on to her dream. And when someone tries to destroy that dream, Reese will do whatever it takes to defend her . . .


An unexpected reunion . . .

Kira Duval was part of a Special Forces team that got caught in an ambush—leaving only two wounded survivors: herself and Weapons Sergeant Garret Fleming. Losing her team was traumatic, and in the chaotic aftermath, as the Army moved them from hospital to hospital, she lost Garret too. But she never lost her secret yearning for him.

Finally, she gave up trying to track him down back in the States. But as she settles in at the Bar C cattle ranch in Wyoming, a place where veterans can find a home and a place to heal, she’s introduced to her sandy-haired, hazel-eyed housemate: none other than Garret Fleming.

They’re a long way from Afghanistan—and a long way from the people they used to be before tragedy changed their lives. But as Kira earns her keep by caregiving for the ranch owner’s bedridden, alcoholic father—a task that sometimes feels more challenging than any black ops mission—she finds that even in peacetime Garret still has her back, and that in this warm, welcoming place, the passion she resisted in the heat of battle may finally have a chance to flouish . . .



Healing, like love, takes time . . .

For Noah Mabry, it’s easier sometimes to relate to the dogs and horses he trains than to other people. Ever since his marriage became a casualty of the war in Afghanistan—torn apart by the PTSD he brought back with him—he prefers to be on his own. At the Bar C Ranch, where he works with a crew of fellow military vets, his gentle patience helps tame even the rowdiest mustang—but he’s about to meet a woman who needs a healing touch he’s not sure he can give.

Dair Wilson, a half-Comanche ex-Marine who lost a foot to an IED, has been hired on to assist Noah, but her deepest wounds aren’t visible. Growing up in an abusive home, she learned not to trust men, even ones who seem nothing but kind. After a wild horse sends her sprawling, the attentive care she receives from the Bar C family—and especially from Noah—is enough to convince her she’s found a place she can finally breathe easy. But one angry, damaged man poses a threat not only to Dair and Noah, but to everyone who’s built a new home at the Bar C . . .


Joanne Fluke on TOUR!

Tuesday February 28, 2017 @ 6:00 pm
4014 N Goldwater Blvd # 101
Scottsdale, AZ 85251-4344

Thursday March 2, 2017 @ 6pm
6101 Frisco Square Blvd
Frisco, TX 75034

Friday March 3, 2017 @ 7:00 pm
7700 West Northwest Hwy
Dallas, TX 75225

Saturday March 4, 2017 @ 12pm
9015 Grand Ave
North Richland Hills, TX 76180

Monday March 6, 2017 @7:00 pm
Sanibel Public Library
770 Dunlop Rd.
Sanibel, FL 33957

Wednesday March 8, 2017 @ 6:30pm
2342 Bissonnet St
Houston, TX 77005 Continue reading “Joanne Fluke on TOUR!”

Salted Caramel Martini by Stepahnie Blackmoore

Mallory Shepard’s wedding planning business is off to a shaky start when a member of the bridal family drops dead at a food tasting . . .

Mallory hopes to unveil her new B&B just in time for her first ceremony as a wedding planner. The renovations to Thistle Park—the mansion she inherited in small-town Port Quincy, Pennsylvania—are almost complete. But what Mallory didn’t plan on is the bride’s aunt being poisoned at the wedding tasting and her perfect venue becoming a crime scene.

Adding to the mystery is the discovery that this is not the first murder in the bridal family, and as Mallory becomes engaged in her own investigation she learns the man convicted of the crime may not be guilty. Now she has two crimes to solve before the bride walks down the aisle—but a killer has other plans to ensure that Mallory forever holds her peace . . . Continue reading “Salted Caramel Martini by Stepahnie Blackmoore”

Coconut-Carob Cookies by Liz Mugavero

Kristan “Stan” Connor gladly turned tail on her high-flying job and moved to a quaint New England town to sell organic pet treats. But with her nose for solving murders, there’s no such thing as a quiet life…

Summer is winding down in Frog Ledge, Connecticut, but Stan’s love life and career are both heating up nicely. In between planning her new pet patisserie and café, Stan is settling into living-in-bliss with sexy pub owner Jake McGee. Love’s on the menu for Stan’s mom, Patricia, too, who’s engaged to Frog Ledge’s mayor, Tony Falco.

Mayor Falco’s dogged ambition isn’t popular among locals, but it’s his executive coach, Eleanor Chang, who’s inspired a dangerous grudge. When Eleanor is found dead, there’s a whole pack of suspects to choose from. Stan has first-hand experience of Eleanor’s unsavory business tactics. But finding out who forced her to take a fatal plunge off the corporate ladder means unearthing some shady secrets…and a killer who’s too close for comfort. Continue reading “Coconut-Carob Cookies by Liz Mugavero”

The Festivals in the Kelly Jackson Mystery Series by Janet Finsilver

My series takes place in Redwood Cove, a small fictitious town based on Mendocino, California, on the Pacific coast in the northern part of the state. Because of Mendocino’s remote location and the twisty roads a visitor needs to travel to get there, the community offers a wide array of events and festivals to attract tourists.

I’ve woven one these into each of my books. In Murder at Redwood Cove my affair is called A Taste of Chocolate and Wine Festival, although A Taste of Chocolate, Wine, and Ale is the name of the actual happening. Huge tents are set up and numerous tables are filled with—you guessed it—chocolate, wine, and ale!

The last one I attended had many beautiful and delicious artisan candies and cookies. It wasn’t all sweets, however. There were also entrees and side dishes using chocolate in the recipes. The area is known for its wine, and there were many to choose from. For those who preferred ale, that was available as well.

In addition to the food and drink, local businesses donated items for a raffle. Different bands played throughout the day. People could sit or dance as they enjoyed the afternoon. At the most recent one, the money raised went to the Mendocino Art Center.

Whales migrate past the area so Mendocino hosts a Whale Festival in honor of the giant aquatic mammals. Whale Frolic in Murder at the Mansion is based on this event. The morning starts with chowder sampling. The doors of the Crown Hall built in 1901 are flung open and people flood in. One side of the room is lined with tables holding huge pots of steaming soup. Representatives from the local restaurants donating the chowder ladle samples for attendees. The opposite side of the room has many tables with local crafts and other items for sale. Continue reading “The Festivals in the Kelly Jackson Mystery Series by Janet Finsilver”

Unpunished Book Review

Thanks to NetGalley, the publisher and author for the opportunity to read and review this book!

I did not realize that this was second in a series of books involving Maggie (forensic tech) and Jack (cop) set in Cleveland. Reading Unpublished would definitely have been more enjoyable knowing the backstory. However, it was still a great mystery. I’m definitely going back to read the first in the series, That Darkness.

This book involves a series of murders at The Herald Newspaper. You definitely learn so much about the state of the newspaper and journalism in general in this book – very fascinating stuff. I really liked the characters and their interactions (again, would have been better having read the first book) and the list of suspects was long and kept you guessing.

Highly recommended!

Please Visit our Reviewer, Crazy Book Addictionhere.

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