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Slay in Character (Cat Latimer Mystery #4) by Lynn Cahoon

Carla Loves To Read

Slay in Character (Cat Latimer Mystery, #4)4.5 Stars

Published November 27th 2018 by Kensington Publishing Corporation

I’ve read all the previous books in this series and enjoyed them all, this one was another winner for me. This months writer resort group is a group of writer friends from CT and the Covington student Jessi, who has family ties and whose mother is friends with local mob family member Dante. Cat has decided to take the group to Outlaw, which was a ghost town that had been brought back to life as a tourist town depicting life in the late 1800s. Jessi also works in Outlaw with her roommate Danielle. When Danielle is found dead, strangled in an upstairs room at the saloon, there is speculation that Jessie was the actual target, not Danielle. Cat promised Dante she’d keep Jessi safe, and now she was worried about being able to keep that promise as a couple more…

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Premeditated Peppermint, by Amanda Flower

The Girl with Book Lungs

There hasn’t been this much intrigue in the Amish community since that 80s (90s?) film starring Harrison Ford as a detective undercover with the Amish. Premeditated Peppermint is the third book in Amanda Flower’s Amish Candy Shop mystery series. I was happy to find that I was able to join and follow the story without having read books one or two. The series is set in Harvest, Ohio and features chocolatier Bailey King and her family’s candy shop. The whole town is getting ready for Christmas when an unwanted–and unwelcome–guest arrives: bad boy chef Eric Sharp strolls into Swissmen Sweets and back into Bailey’s life. Eric and Bailey were in a relationship at one time, but it’s a chapter of her life that Bailey wants to keep firmly in the past. Eric, however, has other ideas–plans that not only get Bailey back in his life, but also advance his television…

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October 21, 1799

They were coming.

Men with dogs and guns. Men he’d once called friends and neighbors.

Gabriel Vane wiped sweat from his face and zigzagged deeper into the woods. A sliver of moon shadowed him, ghost-white behind the frantic scuttle of spider clouds. The limited light helped him weave unnoticed through dense pillars of trees, but not without cost. He’d lost count of how many times branches nicked his skin or tore his clothing. On another night he would have dodged the obstacles with ease, but the fever made him clumsy. He tried to vault an overturned tree but misjudged the leap in the darkness. His leg buckled on landing, and his ankle twisted beneath him. Sprawling to his hands and knees, he inhaled the mold of decayed leaves, the peat of hard-packed soil.

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The Importance of Strong Women in Romance Novels by Pat Esden

Hi, my name is Pat Esden. I’m delighted to have been invited to chat about the importance of strong women in romance novels. I’m the author of the Dark Heart series from Kensington Books and the upcoming Northern Circle Coven series.

Whether a woman is strong or not has nothing to do with physical strength, mental prowess, or aggressive behavior. They can be a kick-ass woman, a high-powered executive, or an underworld spy. But they can also be someone who’s physically frail, introverted, frightened, or a down on their luck. What makes a woman come across as strong to readers is that they are active. It’s the feeling of strength that is created when someone strives toward a worthy goal, facing hardships and obstacles, failing and backsliding, but never giving up for long.

Readers derive pleasure from this struggle. It drives the story forward and gives the reader a sense of hope that despite all the horrible things going on in the woman’s life, despite their weaknesses and failures, they will never surrender. Instead, they grow and change, become stronger and try harder. In the end, the strong woman deserves their happy ever after because they have earned it. And, when they finally get it, the reader can let out their breath and enjoy the feeling of success and joy with the woman. Also, when two strong characters fall in love, the innate tension is stronger than if one character passively surrenders. Continue reading “The Importance of Strong Women in Romance Novels by Pat Esden”

My Corny Holiday Tradition by Mary Lee Ashford


Because our holiday get-togethers can be a little too big for anyone’s dinner table – there are often 40-45 people – we tend to go for a very non-traditional everyone-bring-something holiday meal. Last year we had around forty family members, plus some foreign exchange students whose host families were traveling out of town. They were slightly confused by the informal atmosphere. We’re guessing it was nothing like they’d seen in American movies. But the nice thing about the only-slightly-planned collection of dishes is that a few more last-minute guests present no problem.

I was thrilled recently, in a discussion about what everyone brings, to find my Corny Corn Casserole is a favorite of several family members. It’s a family recipe from a co-worker who always made it for her own family and so in my recipe box it’s listed as “Mary’s Corny Corn Casserole.” It’s also one of my favorite types of recipes – easy ones! So, here you have it:

Mary Lee’s Corny Corn Casserole


  • 1 package Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 can whole kernel corn, drained.
  • 1 can creamed corn
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 egg


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place the butter in a casserole dish and put it in the oven to melt. Keep an eye on it and take the dish out when the butter is melted. Don’t leave it in too long as you don’t want the butter to brown. Continue reading “My Corny Holiday Tradition by Mary Lee Ashford”

Cover Reveal!

The first novel in Mollie Cox Bryan’s brand new mystery series, set in the Blue Ridge Mountains, will keep you guessing until the cows come home . . .

Christmas is a time for new beginnings, so after her big breakup, Brynn MacAlister takes the gouda with the bad. With her three Red Devon cows, she settles in bucolic Shenandoah Springs, eager for a new life as an organic micro-dairy farmer and cheese-maker. Then her dear cow Petunia’s bellows set the whole town on edge. But it isn’t until Brynn’s neighbor, Nancy, dies in a mysterious fire that her feelings about small town life begin to curdle . . .

It seems some folks were not happy with Nancy’s plan to renovate the Old Glebe Church. But is a fear of change a motivation for murder? As a newcomer, Brynn can’t ignore the strange events happening just on the other side of her frosty pasture—and soon on her very own farm. Suddenly Christmas doesn’t feel so festive as everyone demands she muzzle sweet Petunia, and Brynn is wondering if someone wants to silence her—for good . . .

 Praise for Mollie Cox Bryan’s mysteries

 “A playful charmer!” —Woman’s World on No Charm Intended

“Scrapbookers and hobby cozy fans will enjoy this delightful holiday escape.”

Library Journal on A Crafty Christmas

 “A font of ingenuity . . . superb entertainment.”

Mystery Scene magazine on Scrapbook of Secrets

Includes Moo-valous Recipes!

View Other Titles By This Author!

My Island Christmas by Kate Pearce

Christmas on the Big Island of Hawaii is quite unlike the Christmas I grew up with in the UK. Here the weather is pretty much guaranteed to be warm, with the temperature averaging out at around 74 degrees (24 Celsius), with a low of 70. This means Christmas dinner will be eaten outside, or on the beach, or on your lanai, or maybe even in an air-conditioned dining room if you’re near the coast.

There are many kinds of church services here. You can attend church on the beach, or go to a service in Hawaiian with traditional Hula dancing offered up with the prayers. A lot of families still dress up to go to church with many wearing matching Aloha (Hawaiian) shirts and fragrant flowers tucked behind both male and female ears.

You might be surprised to find out that on the Big Island we even have snow! Sure, it might be 14,000 feet up on the top of a volcano like Mauna Kea or Mauna Loa, but you can see it clearly from the beach. One local tradition when it snows is for families to race up to the top of the volcanoes, fill their truck bed up with snow, and get back down to the beach as fast as they can before it melts to build a snowman. Continue reading “My Island Christmas by Kate Pearce”

Knitting, Writing, and Making Friends by Sally Goldenbaum

One of the great unexpected perks of writing cozy mysteries is that of forming new friendship. It happens in lots of different ways. Some I get to meet in person at events, and that’s truly wonderful.

And some come from my search for the one perfect pattern to include in the book I’m working on at that moment. In addition to finding patterns, I have found lovely people behind those designs.

Examples (just a few):  While writing a holiday themed mystery, I was on the lookout for an ornament pattern that the seaside knitters could work on. I quickly fell in love with Linda Dawkins’ fanciful knit animals and toys on line. (Linda lives on a farm in South Africa with her family and lots of animals. Check her out on Ravelry) Being the generous soul she is, she sent me her a pattern for a sailboat ornament for the seaside knitters to hang on their tree.

For another book, a PhD student who designed knitting patterns as a break from studying, allowed me to use her ‘shipwrecked shawl’—renamed in the book and presented as a gift for Izzy on her wedding day.  And in yet another book, a talented yarn shop manager in Kansas City agreed to design a wedding shawl afghan the knitters could work on for a wedding anniversary in the book.

And when I was looking for a ‘girl-sized’ pattern so Birdie could knit a sweater for her granddaughter, Cheryl Erlandson, owner of In the Loop yarn shop in Plainville, MA, designed the perfect one for Gabby. Continue reading “Knitting, Writing, and Making Friends by Sally Goldenbaum”

Female-driven Thrillers in the World of ‘Girl’ Books by Sara Driscoll

This may be a controversial opinion, but Gone Girl really didn’t work for me. I read it when it was a number one bestseller and, in the face of overwhelming critical acclaim, I really felt as if I was out of step with thrillers at that particular moment. That’s a rather disquieting fact when you write in that genre. So, I took the time to really look at why I didn’t enjoy it. It was a solid story, but the gritty portrayal of the protagonists’ marriage, and the nastiness and betrayals were just not fun to experience with them. It was dark and disturbing and unsettling. Kudos to Gillian Flynn for bringing her readers along for the ride, but, for me, life is heavy enough without that kind of realism invading my brief and precious entertainment space. Many books have followed with a similar psychological thriller theme: Girl on the Train, The Woman in the Window, Pretty Girls, etc. By and large they haven’t worked for me either (Pretty Girls being the exception), often leaving me unsatisfied.

I’ve been a long-time reader of J.D. Robb’s In Death series, which straddles the mystery and thriller genres against a light science fiction backdrop. Set forty years in the future, Lieutenant Eve Dallas is an officer of the New York City Police and Security Department, and handles cases from murder to terrorism. Eve is a little rough around the edges, but one of her most notable characteristics is the moral code that influences every aspect of her life and especially her law enforcement career. She is joined by a large cast of characters who either share that code (her partner or fellow law enforcement officers) or challenge it (her ex-criminal husband who wants to take the law into his own hands on occasion). But I have long recognized that one of the aspects of this series that keeps me coming back is the theme of emotional justice that is integral to every book. Yes, bad things happen, people die, or their lives are altered forever, but there is always a sense that justice will prevail to varying degrees. Restitution cannot be made, but the people responsible for horrible deeds will pay for those actions in some way. At base, I think this was my difficulty with Gone Girl—in a world where real emotional justice often seems elusive, spending so much time with dishonorable people who continually got away with their schemes was exhausting and unsatisfying.

I recognize those same themes of emotional justice in my own writing. Yes, perhaps it is unrealistic—not every crime comes to a satisfying conclusion, cold cases go unanswered, some murders are never solved—but getting away from the sometimes brutal reality of the real world means we can find answers in the fictional world we’d never dream of in our own lives. That’s a satisfaction I can live with.


The heart-pounding thriller of a series continues as FBI Special Agent Meg Jennings and her search-and-rescue K-9 companion confront the fury of nature—and the more dangerous nature of man . . .

In the wake of a devastating hurricane, Special Agent Meg Jennings and her Labrador, Hawk—invaluable members of the FBI’s Human Scent Evidence Team—have been deployed to Virginia Beach. They have their work cut out for them. Amid graveyards of debris, and the buried cries for help, the search and rescue operation begins. The most alarming discovery is yet to come—a teenage girl hiding in the Great Dismal Swamp. Shaken by the storm, she has reason to be scared. But this young survivor is terrified of so much more.

Her name is Emma—a disheveled runaway lost to the sordid underbelly of a Virginia sex-trafficking ring. Its leader has disappeared in the chaos—along with other victims. With so much evidence, and so many witnesses, seemingly washed away, Meg joins forces with Special Agent Walter Van Cleave to ensure no further harm comes to their vulnerable charge. They soon discover that this is no small-time localized syndicate. Its branches are rooted in some of the most influential powers in Virginia. Now as Meg’s investigation digs deeper, she’s making some very dangerous enemies. And one by one, they’re coming out of the storm to stop her.

Praise For Lone Wolf The First FBI K-9 Novel By Sara Driscoll

“A wonderfully readable series launch.” —Publishers Weekly

“Tense and exciting, Sara Driscoll has created a new power couple, Meg and her FBI K-9, Hawk.” —Leo J. Maloney, author of Arch Enemy


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