Tuesday, January 23, 2018

A Way to the Manger

Christmas time in New Mexico is filled with tradition - both Tewa Pueblo and Christian. But this Christmas there's a dark foreboding when star basketball player Charlene Toya goes missing. In A Way to the Manger by Susan Slater, psychologist Ben Pecos has some unusual help in his search for Charlene.

Charlene is the star basketball player on the high school team with a goal of getting a full scholarship to the University of New Mexico, but something is standing in her way. She is eight months pregnant and has managed to hide this from everyone.

After the game Charlene heads to a building she hopes will have someone to help her with her pregnancy. Not an abortion, but with the adoption of the baby. She slips a note into the letter box asking someone to call her on a pay phone in the recreational center the next day.  As she turns to walk away, a woman answers the door and encourages her to come into the agency.

When the woman discovers Charlene is Native American, she tells her the child is shielded by law from adoption outside the reservation. With a sinking heart, Charlene flees to her truck and into a dangerous situation.

After Charlene has been missing for several days, Ben enlists the assistance of several members of the pueblo to find her. No one believes Charlene ran away, she had too much going for her. Most feel something terrible has happened to her. 

And something terrible has happened to Charlene but she uses her strength and resolve to find a way out of her situation.  An unlikely hero is Lorenzo Loretto, 96-year-old village hero.

A Way to the Manger is a Christmas novella in the Ben Pecos Mystery series. I look forward to getting to know Ben Pecos and the Tewa Pueblo better in the other books.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Malice in the Palace

Being 35th in line for the British throne doesn't guarantee an income or a place to live. When Lady Georgiana Rannoch returns from American with her dilettante mother, she finds the family home in Belgrave Square occupied by her brother and her not-so-welcoming-sister-in-law. In Malice at the Palace by Rhys Bowen, Georgie takes on another case.

Luckily before Georgie frays her sister-in-law's last nerve, she is summoned by the Queen to the palace. It appears the Queen wants Georgie to act as a companion to Princess Marina of Greece, the fiancee of Prince George. This role includes moving into Kensington Palace which is a huge relief to Georgie.

Once she settles in and meets the Princess, she is thrilled to be acting as a companion, showing her London. They make plans to go shopping, visit a night club and various other hot spots.

When they return home one rainy evening, Georgie sees something odd in the courtyard. It turns out
to be the body of Bobo Carrington, a former mistress of Prince George. Is this meant to implicate the prince? Is he guilty of trying to rid himself of a liability before his wedding or did someone else kill her? Is the rumor true that Bobo had a baby and is Prince George the father?

When Georgie's boyfriend Darcy O'Mara looms in the frame as a suspect, Georgie works doubly hard to discover who killed Bobo Carrington.

The Her Royal Spyness Mystery series is always an enjoyable read. Malice is the Palace is another eye-opening look at life among the royals.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Devil's Gorge

When Sam Angelov's grandmother dies in Sofia, Bulgaria, and he inherits property, he must go to Bulgaria to make arrangements with her lawyer. In The Devil's Gorge by Dora Ilieva, Sam and his best friend Ben Galloway head to Sofia, thinking they will only be there for a few days to sightsee and receive the inheritance.

Sam's parents fled Bulgaria during the Communist era, but they rarely talk about their days in their home country. The only two relatives still living in Bulgaria are cousins - a university professor Kiril Kirilov and his daughter Kossara. Kossara is a PhD candidate in Epigraphy. Her father is well known for his Thracian studies and expedition.

At his parents urging, he tries to find them only to discover Professor Kirilov is on a two-year sabbatical working in the Rhodopes Mountains at Perperikon and has found the Altar of Dionysus. Kossara is heading there and she urges Sam and Ben to join her. Her father thinks he is on the verge of a breakthrough Thracian discovery, which might include the tomb of Orpheus and his magical lyre.

Sam begins have frighteningly realistic dreams about the Thracian civilization and at a traditional village festival the dreams seem more realistic. Someone is also on the trail of Orpheus and seems to know the team's every move. Who else wants the lyre and what are their plans for it?

This was a bold adventure through stunning countryside into the history of a civilization few remember. I enjoyed the journey.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Recipe From Giveaway Comments

To enter last week's giveaway, readers were asked what their favorite dessert was. The answers were as varied as you can imagine, but one reader, Kay Garrett, went so far as to send a recipe, so here it is.

Three Day Coconut Cake

1 box of Duncan Hines Butter Cake mix
3 pkgs of the fresh frozen coconut (freezer section at WalMart) thawed
8 ounces of sour cream
2 cups sugar

Prepare cake mix according to package directions.
Recipe calls for 3 layers – this gal used the 9 X 13” pan and then just split the cooled cake into two layers.
Cool 10 minutes and then cool on racks.

While cake is baking make the icing.
Mix the sour cream and sugar stirring until sugar dissolves – DO NOT BEAT.
Then stir in the thawed coconut and place in refrigerator until ready to ice cake.
When cake has cooled spread icing onto cake already on cake plate that has a sealed cover like Tupperware. Top with layer(s) and finish icing. Cover with lid, seal and place in refrigerator for a minimum of three day before eating. I check once a day and if any liquid comes off cake I spoon back to top of cake.

After three days, you will never know there is sour cream in the icing and it’s the best moistest cake you will eat. It will just continue to get better. It will never dry out. The longer it sits the better it gets If you can have it last long enough to find that out. It also freezes very well.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

And the Winner is . . .

Congratulations to Bobbi Makuch for being the winner of the MapYourMystery.com Giveaway. The prizes are a copy of Secrets and Lies by Jenny Kales and Ginger Snapped by Gail Oust.

Thanks to everyone who entered and for all the comments on favorite desserts. I had to say there were some of my own personal favorites - key lime pie or just about any type of pie. That's why I love to read books with food themes, although I am always hungry while reading.

Watch for another Giveaway in the middle of February.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Curses, Boiled Again

Caution: do not read this book if you love lobster rolls and live no where near the ocean or have access to these tasty treats! In Curses, Boiled Again by Shari Randall, it's Aunt Gully's lobster rolls that get her into trouble.

Aunt Gully is excited to be a contestant in the YUM Network's search for the best lobster rolls. She recently opened her Lazy Mermaid Lobster Stand in Mystic Bay and is delighted to be competing against another local favorite Kahuna's and two other shops from Massachusetts and Maine. With both of her nieces, Allie and and Lorel, helping her, she's sure the shop will be a success.

Judges for the event include Broadway star and local celebrity Contessa Wells, Mayor Packer and YUM Network stars Rio and Rick Lopez. When the first lobster roll is served from Kahuna's, all four judges react as if they have been poisoned - in fact they have. In front of the horrified spectators, the four judges are treated by paramedics and rushed to hospitals.

When the police discover the contestants were, indeed, poisoned and one of them is dead, Allie jumps
in to keep her aunt from being a suspect. Searching for security video to prove that Ernie from Kahuna couldn't be guilty of poisoning only implicates her aunt. Not her intention.

As she investigates she discovers secrets about the others involved and finds herself unearthing some startling results.

This was a fun read and it was the first in the series. I hope there are more to come. I wonder what will happen to Allie, injured ballerina, turned lobster roll maker. 

Friday, January 12, 2018

A Treacherous Curse

Don't forget to enter the MapYourMystery giveaway. 

Veronica Speedwell and her partner Stoker are busily organizing the budding museum for the Earl of Rosemorran when their presence is requested by Sir Hugo Montgomerie, head of Special Branch. In A Treacherous Curse by Deanna Raybourn, The Riverton Expedition in Egypt has discovered a treasure trove of artifacts.

The Expedition lead by Sir Leicester Tiverton has uncovered a sarcophagus of a princess and an assortment of grave goods that ignited international excitement. Immediately after the discovery, a series of calamities forced the expedition to return to England earlier than planned.

It was reported an Egyptian god named Anubis visited the site and frightened away most of the workers. After his appearance, the director of the excavation died and the expedition photographer disappeared along with the precious diadem belonging to the mummified princess.

Veronica and Stoker jump at the chance to investigate although they do not believe in Egyptian curses. The flames of the curse are being fanned by an unknown reporter named J.J. Butterworth, but Veronica fears there is something more on Stoker's mind. She soon discovers he was once married to the wife of John de Morgan, the expedition photographer who disappeared, and the circumstances of their divorce were less than amicable. In fact there was talk of brutality and abuse.

Shocked by these accusations, Veronica continues to believe in Stoker and searches for the photographer, the missing diadem and the truth. When they nearly lose their lives in Veronica and Stoker realize there is more at stake here.

This is the latest book in the series by Deanna Raybourn, so I missed some of the backstory, but it was exciting and suspenseful and I plan to read the others in the series. Veronica is not you average 19th century Victorian-era woman.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Loving Vincent

Although MapYourMystery is a blog for reviewing books, I had to tell you about a film I saw this week. It is called Loving Vincent and it is a movie depicted in oil-painted animation in the style of Vincent Van Gogh.

It's a mystery of sorts. Known for his prodigious correspondence with his brother Theo, Vincent's last letter to his brother was never delivered. In this exquisitely hand-painted movie, the son of a postmaster comes to the last hometown of the troubled artist one year after his death to deliver his final letter and ends up investigating his last days.

Did Vincent kill himself or was he a victim of an accidental shooting? As the young Armand Roulin goes in search of someone to whom he can deliver the letter, he learns about Vincent's life in Auvers. He hears one side of Vincent from Dr. Paul Gachet, the man who treated him for his depression and who was so obsessed with becoming an artist himself, he copied much of Vincent's work himself.

There's also Adeline Ravoux, the innkeeper's daughter, who tells of a happy, contented man the days before his death. She tells Armand that you cannot believe a word Dr. Gachet says about Vincent.

What Roulin finds leads to more questions about Vincent and his state of mind. Wonderful movie painting in glorious colors.

The artists who created the film painted over 65,000 frames in oils to produce the movie. In the coming months some of the artboards will be available for purchase. This is a wonderful film and a joy to watch.

The trailer link for Loving Vincent is here.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Skeletons in the Attic

 Enter the Giveaway. Click here to enter!

Callie Barnstable fully expects to be her father's sole heir to his estate which she thinks might consist of well-worn furniture, a few mismatched dishes and some well-worn books. Much to her surprise the estate includes money and a house - one she did not remember. In Skeletons in the Attic by Judy Penz Sheluk,  Callie is in for more surprises as she heads to the Toronto suburb of Marketville.

A provision in the will requires Callie to live in the house for one year and find out who murdered her mother. Shocked because she always believed her mother just deserted them when she was six, Callie isn't sure how much she can learn from a 30-year-old cold case.

Over the years the house had been rented and the last two tenants claimed to have heard strange noises and a woman crying. Freaked by this Callie is not sure she is ready for this house.

The latest tenant, Misty Rivers, is a psychic and she is sure she can contact Callie's mother. Not ready
for spectral contact, Callie continues with her renovations. Finally one day she decides to investigate the attic to see if she can find any papers or clues as to why her mother disappeared. While she has two movers with her, she coaxes them up into the attic.

What they find sends chills down her spine. A coffin complete with a skeleton is in the attic.

Skeletons in the Attic is like a real life jigsaw puzzle. Callie begins putting the pieces together around the edges and slowly adds pieces to the middle. As she works to complete the puzzle, she reaches a startling conclusion.

Looking forward to another book by Judy Penz Shulak.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Enter the New Giveaway!

It's contest time and it's easy to win. Enter to win a copy of Jenny Kales' newest book Secrets and Pies and a copy of Gale Oust's Ginger Snapped. Contest ends on Monday, January 15.

For a review of Secrets and Pies, click here.

For a review of Ginger Snapped, click here.

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