First of all

Friday, November 6, 2020

Is it too early for Christmas Mode? I say no!

That being said, I have to share some November content.  Here is my coffee station decked out for Turkey Day. The turkey has feathers on it and shows what youngest child was grateful for on a day long ago. - Family, Friends, School, and Home, I think it would be safe to say that she is still grateful for those same things and also Harry Styles, Dunkin Donuts coffee, and her Learner's Permit. 

The Hubs is grateful that Aldi's has these very quirky potato chips that he thinks tastes great. He is planning to go buy more as he finished his bag yesterday.  
And now a book review!  

Merry Scary Victorian Christmas: A Victoria Town Mystery NovellaMerry Scary Victorian Christmas: A Victoria Town Mystery Novella by Mollie Cox Bryan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Yes, I know it is only the beginning of November, but this year more than ever I'm ready for holiday reading. Bring on the tales of Christmas trees, scenes about making cookies, and a murder or two. This third book in the Victoria Town Mystery series is a nice read to kick off your holiday season.

Viv has more bad luck when it comes to being on the scene when someone meets an untimely demise. Someone is framed for the murder, but Officer Willoughy, clearly isn't falling for the framing. Viv uses her skills as a hacker to narrow down the list of suspects and a new character is introduced who offers a clue for Viv.

I enjoyed the book and getting to know Viv better. If you love a good Christmas mystery, pick this one up!

View all my reviews

Friday, October 30, 2020

When No One is Watching Review and A New Recipe


When No One is WatchingWhen No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An excellent thriller! As I read I could not see any way out for Sydney and Theo--I had to keep reading to see where this story was going to go. I appreciated the history lessons interspersed in this fictional version of Brooklyn, I was very glad to see that Alyssa Cole included sources for more information on Weeksville, New Yor because I did not know of Weeksville and now I would like to learn more about its story.

The story was loaded with tension, the two Point-of-view characters were slowly unveiled as their lives were unraveling, and history lessons are shared with the readers who probably didn't learn any of this in school.

I'd love to see HBO make this book a limited series.

View all my reviews

This was my first time cooking Spaghetti Squash in the slow cooker. This recipe was easy to follow. I used ground turkey instead of ground beef. I added fresh basil, a couple extra garlic cloves and a tablespoon of Italian blend seasoning. I also added a pinch of sugar to offset the acidity of the tomatoes and I cooked tomato paste before adding it to the pot.  Here is a link to the recipe from Real Simple magazine: Slow-Cooker Ragu with Spaghetti Squash.

We will definitely have this again because the husband bought three spaghetti squash when they were on sale.  

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Remember My Abundance of Apples?

 Here is a recipe I found from the Minimalist Baker blog: Easy Cinnamon Baked Apples  I made some substitutions based on what I had on hand.  I used flour instead of cornstarch, I used 1/3 cup granulated sugar and 1/3 cup pure maple syrup, I left out the nutmeg (because I had none) I added some lemon zest with the tablespoons of lemon juice. I also used more fresh grated ginger than the recipe stated. I am quite glad I did because I used enuogh that you could taste ginger in each bit, but it wasn't overpowering. The Hubs had purchased Hudsonville Cinnamon Sugar Cookie Ice Cream so that is the ice cream you see with the baked apples. 

I used Gala, Golden Delicious and Honey Crisp Apples.
I'm glad I came across this recipe, it was delicious and smelled divine while it was cooking!

Masquerade Murder: A Victoria Town Mystery Novella (Victoria Town Mysteries Book 2)Masquerade Murder: A Victoria Town Mystery Novella by Mollie Cox Bryan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the second book in the series. It's a seasonal novella, you can sit down on a cold October night after the kiddos are done ringing your doorbell demanding candy and slip away to Victoria Town.

I like Viv our protagonist, she has a wry sense of humor and it's fun to tag along inside her head. In this installment, I thought that Viv's Aunt Libby was less judgemental than in the first book and more involved in the sleuthing. I liked the build-up to the killer's reveal.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Festive Mayhem Book Blast Giveaway!

If you’re looking for a good mystery with a little holiday twist, look no further. Today I’m participating in the FESTIVE MAYHEM Book Blast featuring 10 talented authors with stories of mystery, crime, and suspense with a holiday flair. Read on for an excerpt from one of the short stories and my review. 

◊ Genre: MysteryAnthologies
◊ Publisher: Marla Bradeen (October 26,2020)
◊ eBooks
◊ File Size: 1232 KB
◊ Print Length: 159 Pages



Ten crime writers of color have teamed up to offer you the gift of escape this holiday season. From Christmas crime capers to Thanksgiving thrillers, historical hard-boiled to contemporary cozies, mystery fans of all genres will find something to love in this limited-time collection of exclusive, never-before-published seasonal short stories.


What you’ll find inside:
• “The New Year’s Hex” by Carolyn Marie Wilkins. Carrie McFarland finds her New Year’s plans derailed when a psychic vision pulls the 1920s African American amateur sleuth into someone’s evil scheme.
• “Pipe Dreams” by S.G. Wong. In this hard-boiled Crescent City short story, infatuation, and passion drive Minnie Chen straight into danger as she tries to best the City’s most glamorous private detective in a reimagined 1930s-era Chinese Los Angeles. (see the excerpt below)
• “A Christmas Tip” by Elizabeth Wilkerson. A surprise Christmas bonus becomes too tempting for Philadelphia nursing assistant Brianna Byers to resist—even if accepting requires some skillful skirting of the law.
• “The Stranger in the House” by Stella Oni. This London House Mystery prequel stars Elizabeth Ojo, a Nigerian housekeeper at a posh guest house, who finds her Christmas intersecting with that of a mysterious resident in trouble.
• “What Lies Inside” by Kia Dennis. A tormented university professor falls deeper and deeper into a destructive obsession in this harrowing tale of love and longing.
• “A Pub, Bed & Breakfast & A Dead Body” by Forest Issac Jones. A dark past becomes the deadly present when North Carolina police detective Ike Coates and his intrepid young partner are tasked with determining the cause of a suspicious death.
• “A Deadly First” by Delia C. Pitts. Thanksgiving takes a fatal turn when New York private eye SJ Rook finds himself thrust into his first murder case in this darkly atmospheric tale of noir.
• “The Holiday Murder Mélange” by Myra Jolivet. This Sarah Doucette Jean-Louis short story follows the Creole P.I. around the San Francisco Bay Area on her quest to figure out who killed a man outside of her office.
• “Those Holiday Blues” by Jennifer J. Chow. Jasmine, aka “Jazz,” can’t escape the tragic past when an old boyfriend asks to meet on the anniversary of his mother’s death.
• “Holiday Holdup” by Paige Sleuth. In this Cozy Cat Caper Mystery Short, Imogene Little gets tangled up in a Christmas Eve bank robbery orchestrated by none other than Santa Claus himself.


This anthology is only available for a short time, so grab it now before it’s gone. It would be criminal to miss it!

My Review:

These writers decided to come together and create this short story collection in spring at the start of the pandemic and I am so glad that they had the foresight to put this together.  All the mysteries are brand-new and holiday-themed, perfect to read here and there as nighttime starts earlier and earlier. The rating system of cozy, cold, or chilling was very handy and allowed me to choose stories to match my mood or enhance my mood.  I really appreciated that at the end of each story I could click on the author's website and see their other books and upcoming releases. 

Below you will find an excerpt from Pipe Dreams: A Crescent City Short Story by S.G. Wong. Pipe Dreams was one of my favorite stories in this because that strong 1930's noir setting is so distinct and such a departure from the mysteries I usually read. The story was compelling and I need to know more about Minnie.

I think this book is a perfect way to transition from the spooky season to the holiday season!

FESTIVE MAYHEM is available at the following sites:





About the Authors


FESTIVE MAYHEM features a collection of never-before-published short stories authored by 10 mystery, crime, and suspense writers of color: 

Carolyn Marie Wilkins
S.G. Wong
Elizabeth Wilkerson
Stella Oni
Kia Dennis 
Forest Issac Jones
Delia C. Pitts
Myra Jolivet
Jennifer J. Chow
Paige Sleuth


Be sure to enter the giveaway below. If the widget doesn’t work, just click HERE to enter. You can read more about this fascinating book by visiting the other stops on the Book Blast.


Thanks for stopping by today. Don’t you just love a good mystery with a holiday theme?

Here is an excerpt of one of the stories: Pipe Dreams: A Crescent City Short Story 

By S.G. Wong

AS SHE WATCHED LOLA Starke cross the floor of the mah-jongg parlour, Minnie supposed she oughta be grateful even if it was late and she was tired. This was research after all and Starke was the only gumshoe she knew personally, if only tangentially. Though Minnie was certain she couldn’t name a more unlikely looking shamus this end of the west coast. Hells, maybe even in the entire country. Weren’t private dicks supposed to be a seedy lot? Failed coppers unable to stay off the sauce? Big men with crooked noses and uncertain teeth, and the fluid scruples to match?

Minnie thought of her research project so far. She couldn’t dig up a single instance that contradicted these preconceptions—except for the striking woman in a column of dark green silk she was now watching from the corner of her eye. Gods, Starke sure knew how to wear a dress. It helped that the get-up in question likely cost more dough than Minnie made in a month, even with the generous salary she got working for her uncle. Must be nice to be a trust fund baby.

Pretending to wipe down a few final ashtrays behind the bar, Minnie watched as Starke bade Uncle Sammy a good night at the doors of his office and smoothly glided through the maze of tables toward the doors. Heads popped up in her wake like a gods-damned gopher convention. What was it about Starke, Minnie marvelled. Pretty girls were a dime a dozen in Crescent City and beautiful ones walked down every street. And yet.

Not a single person at the tables tonight could resist staring after her. Sure, Starke was tall. What gwai wasn’t, compared to most Chinese? It’s not like there weren’t plenty of foreigners in the City, though. They came when the Chinese staked their claim during the 1820s gold rush, and either clawed their own riches from the earth or died trying. A hundred years and change later, foreigners were still dazzled by the City’s gilded reputation. Tourists, business people, politicians, artists—they all flocked here to steal a little of the glamour the film studios made such good cabbage selling. What made Starke so damned special?

Minnie shook herself. Eyes on the prize, Chen. She had a shamus to tail.

Scurrying out the back and into the shadowed alleyway, she made for her motorized scooter, hidden behind a stack of wooden pallets near the door. Minnie slammed on her helmet, fiddled with the straps beneath her chin as she pushed the moto down the alley toward the front of the mah-jongg parlour. As she neared the street proper, she slowed until she could peek around the corner of the building.

Stop by the other blogs on this tour!  

Monday, Oct. 26 – Just Jemi – Review
Rockin’ Book Reviews – Feature
Nesie’s Place – Excerpt
Writer’s Gambit – Review & Feature

Tuesday, Oct. 27 – First of All – Review & Excerpt
CelticLady’s Reviews – Feature
Bookish Rantings – Excerpt

Wednesday, Oct. 28 – I Found This Great Book – Review & Excerpt
Book Reviews by Pat Garcia – Review
Thoughts in Progress – Excerpt
Author Deborah A. Bailey – Excerpt

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Sunday, October 25, 2020

The Last Week of October is Already Here! Witches! Warlocks!

 Halloween is coming up this Saturday and then a week from today the time changes and we will be in the dark until March.  As you know by now, I am always in the mood to curl up with a good book, and what better time to read about witches and warlocks than now as the temps drop and the nights start before dinner is on the table.   Below is a review of a book I can say is one of the best new books this year. If you enjoy contemporary fantasy or paranormal books. You have to get this book because you are going to love it. 

White Trash Warlock (The Adam Binder Novels Book 1)White Trash Warlock by David R. Slayton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I finished this book a few days ago and I find myself thinking about the story at random moments like when I am washing the dishes. I'm thinking about how I was not surprised about one part of a major plot reveal because it was so very well foreshadowed so I knew something was up, but when the whole truth comes out, it's so much deeper and more impactful.

This book is in the top five of all books I have read this year. It's a great ride and I highly recommend it. David Slayton does such a beautiful job of giving us a cohesive world that spans several dimensions and in those worlds, David gives us just the right amount of fully drawn characters. I cannot wait to read what happens next.

One last thing, I really really like the love triangle. It's there, but it isn't overwhelmingly angsty.

View all my reviews

Are you decorated?  Here is a picture of my kitchen area coffee station all decked out for All Hallow's Eve! 

Happy Haunting! 

Thursday, October 22, 2020

What's a Cook To Do When You Have Apples, Lots of Apples!

 I asked the hubs to get me 3 Honey Crisp Apples from the store and he brought home three bags of apples. One bag of Honey Crisp, one bag of Golden Delicious and one bag of Gala apples. 

Here is the Apple Crisp Recipe I tried

An old picture with some lovely fall foliage! 

Because I follow many Cozy Mystery writers on social media, I found this podcast All Things Cozy.  The Cozy lifestyle is my jam. In the most recent episode, I listened to one of the hosts talked about Yankee Candle called warm and cozy.  It's supposed to smell like a bonfire in the fall.  I had Kohl's cash, and I decided today was a good day to order that candle- so hopefully I'll get a notice from Kohl's and be able to pick that candle up and see if it lives up to its name! 

I double-checked my order and sadly, it seems that I am going to have to wait until next week to get my candle.  That's not cozy! 

I've been working on living my best Spooky Season life this week.  I've painted pumpkins and I made my scarecrow for the front porch. A week from Saturday is Halloween!  I hope you and yours have been enjoying some Autumnal Fun! 

It rained all night last night, so I'm waiting to put out my scarecrow until this weekend. It will be sheltered, but I want to avoid having a soggy wet blob on our front porch! 

Monday, October 19, 2020

13 days until Halloween! How are you celebrating the Season?

 Because I have the "I Heart Radio" on my phone, I got a notification today for what they call a 3-D podcast for Halloween. It's like Tales from the Crypt for your ears, lots of background sounds as you listen to a creepy story this is less than 30 minutes.  A great way to enjoy the spooky month of October while you are cooking, cleaning, or walking the dog. 

Yesterday afternoon I was making phone calls to voters and while no one could see me, I decided why not wear some Autumnal Aldi gear. How cute are these socks!  The green leggings are also from Aldi. I'm glad I embraced the legging lifestyle, I may never wear pants that button or zip again. 

One Dark and Stormy Knight: A Cozy Witch Mystery (The Avalon Café, #1)One Dark and Stormy Knight: A Cozy Witch Mystery by Hermione Moon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you grew up reading tales of King Arthur and you love reading cozy mysteries, you've got to read this book!
This novella length book has a decent mystery and a nice cast of characters. Even though this is a paranormal, I would say there is one small plot point that is a bit hard to believe, but I decided to go with it and not let one small thing stop my general enjoyment of the book.

Hermione Moon has created a lovely town that you'll want to visit again and again!

View all my reviews

Thursday, October 15, 2020

#FraterfestRAT Day One!

 It's here!  A great excuse to immerse myself in spooky season. Today I started listening to Mexican Gothic. Tonight I am going to finish reading One Dark and Stormy Knight  and today I also picked up a book I had a hold on at the library, I'm so glad that I get to read this for the Fraterfest Read a Thon:  Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas  Oh and also I'll be reading the new release - White Trash Warlock

Join me and read some spooky/cozy paranormal/YA paranormal/Halloween themed books! You can even win prizes! Click Here  So if the weather is gloomy, download a book or grab one from your local library and spend some time cozied up in a chair. --And let me know what you are reading!  I love book recommendations! 

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Where Is The Great Pumpkin?

 Folks, I have checked the ABC schedule and there is not an airing of one of the best holiday specials in existence scheduled between now and 10/26 (which is the furthest date I could check on ABC Chicago Channel 7).

What the heck! In previous years we have gotten to enjoy It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" twice during October.  However, in 2020, a year when we could use at least two showings on good old over the air TV, it's not even on the schedule yet.  Hopefully, they will air it at least once the week of Halloween. 

You can purchase the DVD, provided you still own a device that plays DVDs. I personally like to watch it on live TV with commercial breaks.  You can pay to stream it as well.  Here is an article that says where you can find the special. 

It's just not Halloween without the Great Pumpkin! 

Before I go, here is a recipe for Harvest Pumpkin Dip, enjoy! 

Sunday, October 11, 2020

What I'm Up To This Week -Halloween Talk!


My favorite kinds of ravioli are back at Aldi! Yum! If you haven't tried these yet, go get some.  Pumpkin and Sage as well as Butternut Squash.  Trader Joe's has an Autumn Alfredo which is great with these or you can just use a little melted or browned butter. Delicious for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!

Thus far October weather has been very kind to those of us in Illinois. I am hoping this trend continues as it makes running outside so enjoyable. Based on my personal experience, I think people are really throwing themselves into decorating for Halloween this year and I am here for it! 

One of my goals this week is to make a lifesized scarecrow for our front porch.  My delay is really just a matter of stuffing. I think I can use old clothes in lieu of hay or straw. If I hold out making the scarecrow until I go find and purchase hay, I'm not going to get it done. 

Middle son has procured a temp job working for a drugstore chain, fortunately, they take mask-wearing very seriously--as a store with a pharmacy should. Note to self, remind said child to get his flu shot ASAP. 

What am I reading right now?  I'm finishing Emerald Blaze today and then I will have to wait for Ilona Andrews to write the third book in this trilogy! 

Then for the upcoming week, I'm reading witchy books--starting with One Dark and Stormy Knight: A Cozy Witch Mystery 

#FraterfestRAT !