Quantcast

Treasure Hunt Giveaway: Banana Muffins & Mayhem by Janel Gradowski

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000031_00001]Source: Janel Gradowski
EBook, 195 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Banana Muffins & Mayhem by Janel Gradowski is the fifth book in the Culinary Competition Mystery series, but it can be read as a standalone mystery, though some things change in the characters’ personal lives that you might prefer to unwind in order.

Amy Ridley is still wrestling with the idea of having her own children after her best friend Carla gave birth to Macy.  While that debate wages on in the back of her mind, that doesn’t stop Amy from entering culinary contests of every sort, and it certainly doesn’t stop killers from striking fear into the residents of Kellerton, Michigan.  During the first annual Cabin Fever Cure event, DIY Home Improvement star, Phoebe Plymouth, winds up on someone’s naughty list after her sour attitude leaves many of the culinary and home improvement crowd cold.

“Every recipe for the competition had to be made in a muffin tin, but that didn’t limit the entries to just sweets.”

“Both of the police officers and Alex still towered over her — she was always the short tulip in the bouquet of life.”

“But that was a tall order when her thoughts were reproducing like furry little Star Trek tribbles.”

Following a few near misses in the last book, Amy’s learned to be a bit more cautious, but her new mystery-solving sidekicks are less so.  She and the team begin their work independently to uncover the mystery behind Plymouth’s death and the real reason why the show’s producers are still in town even though little to no progress has been made on the case by newbie Homicide Detective Lauren Foster. When her husband Alex and his business begin receiving threats, Amy deduces that there is more to the murder than meets the eye and she’s more determined than ever to get the case solved.

Banana Muffins & Mayhem by Janel Gradowski is a delightful treat to read on a summer’s afternoon with some ice tea or coffee — your preference — and settle into the chair with some Malted Chocolate Banana Muffins (recipe included).  Gradowski has cornered the market on creating fun cozy mysteries with delicious recipes and quick quips.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

Janel Gradowski lives in a land that looks like a cold weather fashion accessory, the mitten-shaped state of Michigan. She is a wife and mom to two kids and one Golden Retriever. Her journey to becoming an author has been littered with odd jobs such as renting apartments to college students and programming commercials for an AM radio station. Somewhere along the way she also became a beadwork designer and teacher. She enjoys cooking recipes found in her formidable cookbook and culinary fiction collection. Searching for unique treasures at art fairs, flea markets and thrift stores is also a favorite pastime. Coffee is an essential part of her life. She writes the Culinary Competition Mystery Series, along with The Bartonville Series (women’s fiction) and the 6:1 Series (flash fiction). She has also had many short stories published in both online and print publications. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, and sign up for the Newsletter.

Other books by this author, reviewed here:

The Treasure Hunt letter for Savvy Verse & Wit is: A

Collect all of the letters to spell out the Treasure Hunt word then use it to gain extra entries in the Grand Prize giveaway. You can find all of the blog tour stops and enter the giveaway at www.janelgradowski.com.

BMandMTourBanner2

6/14 – My Cozy Book Nook has Letter #3

6/15 – Book Babble has Letter #5

6/16 – Life’s A Stage has Letter #8

6/17 – Read Your Writes Book Reviews has Letter #1

6/18 – Joy’s Book Blog has Letter #4

6/20 – Knyttwytch’s Crafts and Stuff has Letter #7

6/22 – Savvy Verse & Wit has Letter #2

6/24 – Romancing The Books has Letter #6

Mailbox Monday #379

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links.  Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Vicki, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received:

The Elizabeth Papers by Jenetta James for review from the author in Aug/Sept.

“It is settled between us already, that we are to be the happiest couple in the world,” said Elizabeth Bennet at the conclusion of “Pride & Prejudice”—but was it true?

Charlie Haywood is a London-based private investigator who has made his own fortune—on his own terms. Charming, cynical, and promiscuous, he never expected to be attracted to Evie Pemberton, an independent-minded artist living with the aftermath of tragedy. But when he is hired to investigate her claims to a one hundred and fifty year old trust belonging to the eminent Darcy family, he is captivated.

Together they become entwined in a Regency tale of love, loss, and mystery tracing back to the grand estate of Pemberley, home to Evie’s nineteenth century ancestors, Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy. As if travelling back in time, a story unfolds within their story. All was not as it seemed in the private lives of Mr. and Mrs. Darcy, but how can they ever uncover the whole truth?

How could they know that in 1817 Elizabeth Darcy began a secret journal? What started as an account of a blissful life came to reflect a growing unease. Was the Darcy marriage perfect or was there betrayal and deception at its heart?

Can Evie and Charlie unearth the truth in the letters of Fitzwilliam Darcy or within the walls of present-day Pemberley? What are the elusive Elizabeth papers and why did Elizabeth herself want them destroyed?

“The Elizabeth Papers” is a tale of romance and intrigue, spanning the Regency and modern eras, reminding us how the passions of the past may inspire those in the present.

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater purchased from Audible.

Nothing living is safe. Nothing dead is to be trusted.

For years, Gansey has been on a quest to find a lost king. One by one, he’s drawn others into this quest: Ronan, who steals from dreams; Adam, whose life is no longer his own; Noah, whose life is no longer a lie; and Blue, who loves Gansey… and is certain she is destined to kill him.

Now the endgame has begun. Dreams and nightmares are converging. Love and loss are inseparable. And the quest refuses to be pinned to a path.

A Moment Forever: (Liberty Victory Series #1) by Cat Gardiner for review in June.

In the summer of 1992, a young writer is bequeathed the abandoned home of a great-uncle she never knew. The house has a romantic history and is unlike any home she has ever seen. Juliana Martel felt as though she stepped into a time capsule—a snapshot of 1942. The epic romance—and heartache—of the former occupant unfold through reading his wartime letters found in the attic, compelling her on a quest to construct the man. His life, as well as his sweetheart’s, during the Second World War were as mysterious as his disappearance in 1950.

Carrying her own pain inflicted by the abandonment of her mother and unexpected death of her father, Juliana embarks on a journalist’s dream to find her great-uncle and the woman he once loved. Enlisting the reluctant assistance of a man whose family is closely related to the secrets, she uncovers the carefully hidden events of her great-uncle’s and others’ lives – and will ultimately change her own with their discovery.

This story of undying love, born amidst the darkest era in modern history, unfolded on the breathtaking Gold Coast of Long Island in 1942. A Jewish, Army Air Forces pilot and an enchanting society debutante—young lovers—deception—and a moment in time that lasted forever.

A Moment Forever is an evocative journey that will resonate with you long after you close the book. Romance, heartache, and the power of love, atonement, and forgiveness transform lives long after the horrors and scars of the Second World War have ended.

Banana Muffins & Mayhem by Janel Gradowski for review in June.

Culinary competitor Amy Ridley is as excited as anyone in Kellerton, Michigan to have DIY Home Improvement star, Phoebe Plymouth, come to town for the first annual Cabin Fever Cure event. However the TV personality’s sour attitude quickly curdles people’s opinion of her. When she’s found dead, at the business owned by Amy’s husband, Alex, the heat is on to catch the killer before his professional reputation is ruined!

When Amy seeks help in preparing for a vegan baking recipe contest, she also finds assistance from an unlikely team of sleuths who want to help her catch the murderer. But things go from bad to worse when Alex and his business suddenly suffer a series of less-than-random attacks. Are the murder and attacks related? Amy vows to figure it out before her and her husband’s lives are ruined…or ended permanently!

What beauties did you receive in your mail?

Fudge Brownies & Murder by Janel Gradowski

Source: Janel Gradowski
ebook, 209 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Fudge Brownies & Murder (Culinary Competition Mystery #4) by Janel Gradowski, which also includes recipes that will make your mouth water, can be read as part of the series or on its own.  Amy Ridley is a foodie and food competition veteran who always seems to find herself drawn into solving local murders, using her unusual amateur sleuthing skills.  As she helps out her newlywed friends and makes sure Carla’s pregnancy brownie cravings are kept in check with new varieties, Amy has stretched herself into a foodie blog and into part-time work at the local market where other vendors from town sell their wares to customers.  What she finds, even as she’s getting better at blogging and creating new recipes, is that the local market crowd can be a deep pool of sharks waiting to take a bite, especially around the holidays in Kellerton, Michigan.

“Ester Mae’s bluish-black locks were teased and hair sprayed into an inflated up-do that a crow could easily nest in.”

Ester Mae is a brash woman who loves Southern cooking, and she has no qualms about stealing customers any way she can.  But look out if you get into her cross-hairs.  Amy only gets a small taste of Ester Mae’s attitude at the latest competition, but what she sees is a strong willed older woman who knows what she wants.  Amy is balancing all her new roles with the help of yoga and her yoga teacher and friend, Rori.  When someone ends up dead at the new culinary competition, Amy is less personally involved until her friend comes under suspicion.

“He blinked at Amy’s reasoning or Amy logic, which is what he called her ideas that were on the crazier side.”

Fudge Brownies & Murder (Culinary Competition Mystery #4) by Janel Gradowski is another fun cozy mystery that brings Amy Ridley into the middle of another murder investigation.  While she’s trying to help her friends prepare for their new arrival and keep things moving in her business venture, she also stumbles upon her own feelings about motherhood and while she tries not to think about them too deeply, she knows this is an issue she’ll have to confront soon.  Gradowski’s characters are always quirky and fun, and Amy tries to investigate murders without getting into face-to-face confrontations with suspects, but sometimes even the most careful sleuth can find themselves in a bit of danger.

About the Author:

Janel Gradowski lives in a land that looks like a cold weather fashion accessory, the mitten-shaped state of Michigan. She is a wife and mom to two kids and one Golden Retriever. Her journey to becoming an author is littered with odd jobs like renting apartments to college students and programming commercials for an AM radio station. Somewhere along the way she also became a beadwork designer and teacher. She enjoys cooking recipes found in her formidable cookbook and culinary fiction collection. Searching for unique treasures at art fairs, flea markets and thrift stores is also a favorite pastime. Coffee is an essential part of her life.

Other books by this author, reviewed here:

Mailbox Monday #353

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links.  Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Vicki, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received:

Jane Austen Lives Again by Jane Odiwe from the author for review.

When Jane Austen’s doctor discovers the secret to immortal life in 1817, she thinks her wishes have come true. But when she wakes up from the dead, a penniless Miss Austen finds herself in 1925, having to become a governess to five girls of an eccentric and bohemian family at the crumbling Manberley Castle by the sea. Jane soon finds she’s caught up in the dramas of every family member, but she loves nothing more than a challenge, and resolves on putting them in order. If only she can stop herself from falling in love, she can change the lives of them all!  Inspired by Jane Austen’s wonderful novels and written in the tradition of classic books like Cold Comfort Farm, I Capture the Castle, and Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, Jane Austen Lives Again is an amusing fairy story for grown-ups.

Fudge Brownies & Murder by Janel Gradowski from the author for review.

Culinary whiz and reluctant amateur sleuth, Amy Ridley, has a lot on her plate. Her very pregnant best friend, Carla, can barely move from her couch per doctor’s orders. So Amy is tasked with preparing meals for the expanding family along with baking endless pans of brownies to quench Carla’s pregnancy cravings. Not only is she playing chef, but she’s also trying to convince the mommy-to-be that she needs to have a baby shower. But when a restaurant owner is murdered at a blogging conference, Amy finds herself in a race to catch the killer before the baby is born.

As Carla’s baby bump gets bigger, so does the list of suspects. While Amy pares down the potential murderers and staves off disgruntled cooking competition rivals, the clock ticks down, the baby’s arrival draws closer, and the danger grows stronger! If Amy doesn’t watch her back, she may be the next member of the competition going down.

The Diary of Emily Dickinson by Jamie Fuller, illustrated by Marlene McLoughlin, which I picked up at the library sale shelf for 50 cents.

The discovery of Emily Dickinson’s poetry after her death unleashed a series of mysteries and revelations that astonished those who knew her and continue to intrigue readers today. Who was the reclusive woman who wrote these wise and beautiful verses? Slowly answers came and, with them, more questions. Why did Emily continue to seek the advice of Thomas Wentworth Higginson when he never recognized her genius? To whom were the mysterious “master” letters, written at the height of her poetic creativity, addressed? Why did she keep most of her writing secret from her family? Did she hope for eventual fame? Answers to such questions could have been suggested in 1916, when, during reconstruction of the Dickinson house in Amherst, Massachusetts, a worker discovered Emily’s secret diary hidden in a crevice of the wall of the conservatory. Unfortunately, he kept the discovery to himself for many years. Only now has this remarkable document, edited and annotated by Jamie Fuller, become available to Dickinson admirers. Such is the premise of this unique fictional work. The diary begins in March 1867 and ends in April 1868. During this span Dickinson recounts the revelations and trials of her day-to-day life, from burnt puddings to professions of undying love.

With discriminating insight, Fuller helps extract from Dickinson’s cryptic style her views on God, family, nature, death, love, poetry, fame, and her role as a woman in a patriarchal society. Most of all, The Diary of Emily Dickinson is an exquisite account of what it means to live the writing life, to live for poetry. Author Jamie Fuller has given us a fictional diary based on close readings of Dickinson’s writings and contemporaneousmaterials, that is so sensitive and sympathetic, so delicately and smoothly written, in a style so closely resembling Emily’s own, that one could well believe it contains the private musings of the enigmatic poet. In it, Emily Dickinson comes alive.

Levitation for Agnostics by Arne Weingart for review from Book Savvy Public Relations.

Arne Weingart’s debut poetry collection. Winner of the 2014 New American Poetry prize.

Arne Weingart is the 2015 laureate of the New American Press Poetry Prize, awarded for his debut poetry collection, Levitation for Agnostics (New American Press, January 2016). A Pushcart Prize nominee, Arne also won the 2013 Sow’s Ear Poetry Review Poetry Contest and has had poems featured by such esteemed publications as RHINO, The Georgetown Review, Oberon, Arts & Letters and The Spoon River Poetry Review.  He has been granted a writing residency at the Atlantic Center for the Arts and is alumnus of Columbia University’s MFA program in writing. Arne and his family live in Chicago, where he is the principal of a graphic design firm specializing in identity and wayfinding.

Fall of Poppies by Heather Webb, Hazel Gaynor, Beatriz Williams, Jennifer Robson, Jessica Brockmole, Kate Kerrigan, Evangeline Holland, Lauren Willig, and Marci Jefferson for review from Harper Collins and TLC Book Tours.

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month…

November 11, 1918. After four long, dark years of fighting, the Great War ends at last, and the world is forever changed. For soldiers, loved ones, and survivors the years ahead stretch with new promise, even as their hearts are marked by all those who have been lost.

As families come back together, lovers reunite, and strangers take solace in each other, everyone has a story to tell.

In this moving anthology, nine authors share stories of love, strength, and renewal as hope takes root in a fall of poppies.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #332

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links.  Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Vicki, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received:

1. Hotel Moscow by Talia Carner from William Morrow for review.

Brooke Fielding, a thirty-eight year old New York investment manager and daughter of Jewish Holocaust survivors, finds her life suddenly upended in late September 1993 when her job is unexpectedly put in jeopardy. Brooke accepts an invitation to join a friend on a mission to Moscow to teach entrepreneurial skills to Russian business women, which will also give her a chance to gain expertise in the new, vast emerging Russian market. Though excited by the opportunity to save her job and be one of the first Americans to visit Russia after the fall of communism, she also wonders what awaits her in the country that persecuted her mother just a generation ago.

Inspired by the women she meets, Brooke becomes committed to helping them investigate the crime that threatens their businesses. But as the uprising of the Russian parliament against President Boris Yeltsin turns Moscow into a volatile war zone, Brooke will find that her involvement comes at a high cost. For in a city where “capitalism” is still a dirty word, where neighbors spy on neighbors and the new economy is in the hands of a few dangerous men, nothing Brooke does goes unnoticed–and a mistake in her past may now compromise her future.

2.  Killer Beach Reads (Mystery & Romance Short Story Collection) by various writers, including Janel Gradowski, purchased for Kindle for 99 cents.

22 summer themed short stories by bestselling mystery and romance authors! Enjoy mystery, romance, and lots of laughter under the sun with shorts from some of your favorite series. The perfect quick reads for vacation lounging or sipping frosty drinks poolside! **Recipes included!**

Stories include:
One Red Cent (Miranda Vaughn Mysteries) by Ellie Ashe
Brunettes Just Wanna Have Fun (Gilda Wright Mysteries) by Diane Bator
A Spot of Murder (Cookies & Chance Mysteries) by Catherine Bruns
Queenie Baby: On Location (Queenie Baby Mysteries) by Christina A. Burke
Done in the Sun by Mary Jo Burke
Hard to Control (Hard Targets) by Wendy Byrne
Lesson in Fear (Schooled in Murder series) by Tracy D. Comstock
Ice Cream Bombes & Stolen Thongs (Poppy Peters Mysteries) by A. Gardner
Barbecue & Bad Juju (Culinary Competition Mysteries) by Janel Gradowski
A Killing in the Market (Danger Cove Mysteries) by Gin Jones & Elizabeth Ashby
Dashed to Death (Misty Newman Mysteries) by Gina LaManna
Scout Camp Murder (Merry Wrath Mysteries) by Leslie Langtry
Heating Up the Night (Heroes of the Night) by Nicole Leiren
Killer Conch Shell (Health Nut Mysteries) by Patrice Lyle
The Pen is Mightier (Proverbial Crime Mysteries) by Dane McCaslin
Backyard Bar-be-Feud (Working Stiff Mysteries) by Kerri Nelson
Mr. Montana by Ellyn Oaksmith
Motion for Misfits (Jamie Winters Mysteries) by Kelly Rey
Mystic Mojo (Mystic Isle Mysteries) by Sally J. Smith & Jean Steffens
Blondes’ Night Out (Barb Jackson Mysteries) by Anna Snow
Caper at Castle Rock (Amelia Grace Rock ‘n’ Roll Mysteries) by Anne Marie Stoddard
48 Hours in New York by Stacey Wiedower

3. A Winter Wrong (Seasons of Serendipity, #1) by Elizabeth Ann West, free for Kindle.

When Jane Bennet’s illness at Netherfield ends up not being just a trifling cold, but an epidemic that sweeps through Hertfordshire, the lives at Longbourn are turned upside down. Elizabeth Bennet finds herself lost without a cherished loved one and the interferences of one Fitzwilliam Darcy most aggravating. Combating the bombastic behavior of Mr. Collins, Elizabeth runs to London for the protection of her aunt and uncle. But acquaintances and introductions bring Mr. Darcy back into her life and Elizabeth discovers he might just mend her broken heart.

4. The Prosecution of Mr. Darcy’s Cousin by Regina Jeffers, which I won from Diary of an Eccentric.

Fitzwilliam Darcy is enjoying his marital bliss. His wife, the former Elizabeth Bennet, presented him two sons and a world of contentment. All is well until “aggravation” rears its head when Darcy receives a note of urgency from his sister Georgiana. In truth, Darcy never fully approved of Georgiana’s joining with their cousin, Major General Edward Fitzwilliam, for Darcy assumed the major general held Georgina at arm’s length, dooming Darcy’s sister to a life of unhappiness.

Dutifully, Darcy and Elizabeth rush to Georgiana’s side when the major general leaves his wife and daughter behind, with no word of his whereabouts and no hopes of Edward’s return. Forced to seek his cousin in the slews of London’s underbelly, at length, Darcy discovers the major general and returns Fitzwilliam to his family.

Even so, the Darcy’s troubles are far from over. During the major general’s absence from home, witnesses note Fitzwilliam’s presence in the area of two horrific murders. When Edward Fitzwilliam is arrested for the crimes, Darcy must discover the real culprit before his cousin is hanged for the crimes and the Fitzwilliam name marked with shame.

5. Saving Sophie by Ronald H. Balson from St. Martin’s Press for review.

Liam and Catherine team up again to investigate an embezzlement case, and discover a link between their prime suspect, a kidnapping, and a terrorist cell.

Jack Sommers was just an ordinary accountant from Chicago. That is, until his wife passed away, his young daughter was kidnapped, and he became the main suspect in an $88 million dollar embezzlement case. Now, Jack is on the run, hoping to avoid the feds long enough to rescue his daughter, Sophie, from her maternal grandfather, a suspected terrorist in Palestine.

With the help of the investigative team who first appeared in Once We Were Brothers, Liam and Catherine, and a new CIA operative, a secret mission is launched to not only rescue Sophie, but also to thwart a major terrorist attack in Hebron. But will being caught in the crossfires of the Palestine-Israeli conflict keep their team from accomplishing the task at hand, or can they overcome the odds and save countless lives, including their own?

What did you receive?

Doughnuts & Deadly Schemes by Janel Gradowski

Source: Author Janel Gradowski
eBook, 210 pgs
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Doughnuts & Deadly Schemes (Culinary Competition Mysteries #3) by Janel Gradowski is just what you expect from a cozy mystery — an amateur detective helping out her police friend, baking up some savory dishes, and enjoying the ride. These are the kinds of books that are perfect for summer because they are full of adventure, laughs, and fun. Carla and Amy are best friends, and you can tell that they genuinely love one another and act like sisters. While one is a planner, the other is more spontaneous; when it comes to having the wedding of her friend’s dreams, though, Amy is doesn’t take no for an answer.

“‘You are a brave woman to put together a wedding that quickly.  Heroically brave to spring this on the Over-Planning Queen.'”

“‘Believe me.  We thought of that, but I’m pretty sure you would kill us if we snuck away like that.  So, as my compromise, instead of leaving you completely out of the wedding by eloping … I’m giving you over two weeks to pull one out of thin air.'”

Challenge accepted!  Amy has a tough task on her hands planning her best friend’s wedding in less than a month, but she’s never one to shy away from a challenge — including those culinary contests.  Not only is she baking up culinary confections for local contests in Kellerton, but she’s also slinking around trying to uncover who the extortionist hacker and murderer plaguing local businesses might be.  She’s not on the police force, but Carla’s fiance, Bruce Shepler, is quick to accept her outrageous theories for new perspective on a perplexing case that has business owners’ mouths taped shut.

Doughnuts & Deadly Schemes (Culinary Competition Mysteries #3) by Janel Gradowski is a fun ride, and I loved every minute spent with these ladies.  They are quirky and fun, and the confections in these pages will make readers drool.  Don’t forget, Janel always includes some recipes in the back of the book, which you’ll want to try — I’m already dreaming about that Peach Pie Iced Tea!  But I digress.  If you haven’t read these cozy mysteries, what are you waiting for?!

About the Author:

Janel Gradowski lives in a land that looks like a cold weather fashion accessory, the mitten­-shaped state of Michigan. She is a wife and mom to two kids and one Golden Retriever. Her journey to becoming an author is littered with odd jobs like renting apartments to college students and programming commercials for an AM radio station. Somewhere along the way she also became a beadwork designer and teacher. She enjoys cooking recipes found in her formidable cookbook and culinary fiction collection. Searching for unique treasures at art fairs, flea markets and thrift stores is also a favorite pastime. Coffee is an essential part of her life. She writes the Culinary Competition Mystery Series, along with The Bartonville Series (women’s fiction) and the 6:1 Series (flash fiction). She has also had many short stories published in both online and print publications. Check her Website, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

Other books by this author, reviewed here:

Mailbox Monday #324

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links.  Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Vicki, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received:

1.  Bleedovers by William Todd Rose from NetGalley for a TLC Book Tour in August.

There’s only one thing standing between humanity and the dark forces of the supernatural: the secret agency known as The Institute. The organization depends on regular guys like Chuck, a Level I Recon and Enforcement Technician who guides tormented spirits into the next life.

From an office deep underground, Chuck projects his spirit into Crossfades, monstrous realms where the souls of the dead, unable to move on due to fear or anger, devise macabre tortures for themselves and one another. He’s always been able to leave his work behind at the end of the day . . . until now.

First in dreams, then in waking nightmares, Crossfades are bleeding into the physical world. And now it’s up to Chuck—along with his partner, a woman named Control—to put a stop to it. Because there’s no telling what might come over from the other side.

2.  Doughnuts & Deadly Schemes by Janel Gradowski for a tour in June.

Amy Ridley’s best friend, Carla, is getting married, and Amy is delighted to be recruited as the head wedding planner—even if Carla’s demands are less than conventional. Case in point: Carla insists on a tower of doughnuts in place of a wedding cake. But navigating the world of nuptials becomes the least of Amy’s problems when the owner of a menswear shop is found dead, and Carla’s fiancée is assigned to the case. With the honeymoon in jeopardy, Amy and Carla vow to help track down the killer…but they soon discover there are even more sinister happenings affecting the businesses in downtown Kellerton, Michigan. If Amy doesn’t figure out who is behind the deadly schemes, the nearly newlywed detective may just be solving another murder—hers!

What did you receive?

Chicken Soup & Homicide by Janel Gradowski

Source: Janel Gradowski, the author
Ebook, 223 pgs
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Chicken Soup & Homicide by Janel Gradowski is the second in the Culinary Competition Mystery series, but readers can jump right into this series without worrying that they have missed something in previous books.  Amy Ridley is paired with Sophie from Riverbend Coffee in the Chicken Soup Showdown charity competition against some of the more polished chefs in Kellerton, Michigan.  Chet Britton has been a star chef in town and he has the ego to match, but his employees and many others in town find his demeanor abrasive.  He’s left a lot of scorched earth behind him in his rise to fame, but Amy isn’t there for the competition with him.  She’s in the competition to win money for her charity, as are many of the other competitors.  When Chet Britton ends up dead, Amy is thrust into the thick of it as a suspect.  Her best friend, Carla, is on the top of the list when a new detective takes over, and even dating a local cop Shepler doesn’t help.

“She should start wearing skull-and-crossbones patterned aprons to warn others of the possible dangers of competing with her, even though she certainly wasn’t the one committing the murders.”

“‘I honestly can’t figure out what that detective is doing.  This is a high-profile case, and the police department seems to have assigned some kind of bumbling idiot to it.  Shouldn’t my relationship with Chet have raised a red flag? Beyond that, I humiliated him a few weeks before he was murdered by demoting him at the restaurant he built.  I’m not sure if that detective hasn’t found that information or if he’s afraid of me.'”

Gradowski has a great sense of comedic timing.  Her one-liners will have readers laughing out loud.  Amy Ridley is a spunky character who has no qualms about hiding behind laundry bins to overhear conversations and also tends to be very careful when waging into her own investigations of town murders.  Should this cook be looking for killers among her friends, family, and fellow residents, probably not, but that doesn’t stop her.  Even as she’s investigating crimes, she’s thinking up recipes and reaching out to troubled friends.  She even finds the time to reach out to her vanishing husband.

Chicken Soup & Homicide by Janel Gradowski is fun and mouth-watering.  Readers will be looking to their kitchens longingly as the recipes are brewing and stewing, but never fear, there are recipes to try out in the back of the book.

About the Author:

Janel Gradowski lives in a land that looks like a cold weather fashion accessory, the mitten­-shaped state of Michigan. She is a wife and mom to two kids and one Golden Retriever. Her journey to becoming an author is littered with odd jobs like renting apartments to college students and programming commercials for an AM radio station. Somewhere along the way she also became a beadwork designer and teacher. She enjoys cooking recipes found in her formidable cookbook and culinary fiction collection. Searching for unique treasures at art fairs, flea markets and thrift stores is also a favorite pastime. Coffee is an essential part of her life. She writes the Culinary Competition Mystery Series, along with The Bartonville Series (women’s fiction) and the 6:1 Series (flash fiction). She has also had many short stories published in both online and print publications.  Check her Website, on Facebook, and on Twitter.  Check out her books.

Other books by this author, reviewed here:

 

 

 

 

Enter her giveaway here. (available through March 8, U.S. residents only)

Mailbox Monday #312

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links.  Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Vicki, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received:

1. The Daddy Diaries by Joshua Braff a surprise from Tandem Literary.

2. Diamond Head by Cecily Wong, which I won from GoodReads.

At the turn of the nineteenth-century, Frank Leong, a fabulously wealthy shipping industrialist, moves his family from China to the island of Oahu. But something ancient follows the Leongs to Hawaii, haunting them. The parable of the red string of fate, the cord which binds one intended beloved to her perfect match, also punishes for mistakes in love, passing a destructive knot down the family line.

When Frank is murdered, his family is thrown into a perilous downward spiral. Left to rebuild in their patriarch’s shadow, the surviving members of the Leong family try their hand at a new, ordinary life, vowing to bury their gilded past. Still, the island continues to whisper—fragmented pieces of truth and chatter, until a letter arrives two decades later, carrying a confession that shatters the family even further.

3.  Chicken Soup & Homicide by Janel Gradowski from the author for her blog tour.

Amy Ridley and her friend, Sophie, have perfected their chicken soup recipe, and the winter-weary residents of Kellerton, Michigan can’t wait to watch them compete against other local chefs in the Chicken Soup Showdown. But the charity event starts out with a bang, literally, when one of the rival chefs falls out of a freezer and onto Amy. If it wasn’t stressful enough for Amy to catch a dead body, the detective in charge of the investigation targets her best friend, Carla, as the chief suspect in the murder.

In order to clear her friend’s name, Amy does her own investigating. The problem is nobody liked the arrogant murdered celebrity chef, and soon her suspect list is longer than the list of ingredients in her secret chicken soup recipe. Can Amy figure out who killed the celebrity chef? Or will Carla be spending the spring in jail?

4.  The Witch of Painted Sorrows by M.J. Rose for review with France Book Tours.

Sandrine Salome flees New York for her grandmother’s Paris mansion to escape her dangerous husband, but what she finds there is even more menacing. The house, famous for its lavish art collection and elegant salons, is mysteriously closed up. Although her grandmother insists it’s dangerous for Sandrine to visit, she defies her and meets Julien Duplessi, a mesmerizing young architect. Together they explore the hidden night world of Paris, the forbidden occult underground and Sandrine’s deepest desires.

Among the bohemians and the demi-monde, Sandrine discovers her erotic nature as a lover and painter. Then darker influences threaten—her cold and cruel husband is tracking her down and something sinister is taking hold, changing Sandrine, altering her. She’s become possessed by La Lune: A witch, a legend, and a sixteenth-century courtesan, who opens up her life to a darkness that may become a gift or a curse.

What did you receive?

Short Story Friday: Christmas Canapes & Sabotage by Janel Gradowski

In a renewal, I’ve been reading some short stories in collections, and I really love Janel Gradowski‘s writing.  Her cozy mysteries are always full of food and fun.  One of her latest stories was published in the Cozy Christmas Capers: Holiday Short Story Collection.  I wanted to share a little bit about why I am enjoying these cozy mysteries from Janel and why we as a community should support more writers like her.

Christmas Canapes & Sabotage by Janel Gradowski is part of the culinary competition mystery series of books — her new one is coming out this month, Chicken Soup & Homicide — that find an amateur cook embroiled in a deadly mystery at local food competitions.  Amy is a winner when it comes to these amateur cooking competitions, but she is always humble about her skills, even if she is as inventive in the kitchen as some professional chefs.  Why do I gravitate to these books?  1. food 2. humor.

“‘Old Man Winter can ease up any time now.  It isn’t even Christmas, and I’m tired of the deep freeze.  I think the girl who handed my my registration packet had blue fingernails, and the color wasn’t from nail polish.'”

“‘You’re like a foodie super hero, saving the masses with a pot of tea.'”

Janel is the queen of the instant one-liners, and she’s a book blogger who has made her writing dreams a reality.  She started with flash fiction pieces published in online journals, and from there dove into more challenging, longer projects.  I love her spunk in tackling larger projects that challenged her, and I think that she’s found a great niche.

Have you found other book bloggers who’ve entered the world of authorship?  Have you read their books?  I’d love to hear about it.

To enter Janel’s party giveaway, go here.

Mailbox Monday #308

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links.  Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Vicki, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received:

Free e-books:

1.  A Long Christmas by Michelle Read

Can true love be found at Christmas?

What if Emily never went to the nineteenth century?

What if William went to the twenty-first century instead?

A twist on the original Centuries of Love Trilogy sees William waking up at Christmas in 2012.

Confused by this new modern era and why he has been brought here, he is soon relieved to find his wife, Emily, but is shocked when she doesn’t know who he is.

On discovering the nineteenth century tradition of kissing your true love by midnight on Twelfth Night or lose them forever, he realises it’s a race against time to make Emily fall in love with him all over again.

2.  Mansfield Ranch by Jenni James

Does true love really prevail?

All Lilly Price has ever known is living in the shadow of her widely successful foster family. But when a twist of fate deals Lilly the hand of Harrison Crawford, the most popular guy in Bloomfield, NM, everything flips upside down.

Sean Benally is a hard worker, he’s funny, he’s generous, and he’s kind. He’s also the most amazing guy Lilly has ever known. And she’s totally fallen in love with him. But he’s her foster brother…

Now she must choose between the unavailable love of her life — or the guy who promises to be available forever.

3.  Jane Austen and the Archangel by Pamela Aares

What’s to be done with an angel who breaks the rules? Introduce him to a woman known for her propriety, of course.

Until then, passion had lived only on the page…

Jane Austen hasn’t written a creative word in months. She secretly fears she may not have it in her to write a single word more about love. Yet when the mysterious Michael Grace appears on her doorstep, she’s cast into a world of emotion beyond even her wildest imaginings. Though she fears he might be a spy, she enlists his help to find her friend’s fiancé, missing in the Peninsular War. But Michael isn’t what he seems, and the passion and doubts he ignites turn everything Jane trusts upside down. What Jane doesn’t know is that her mystery man is an angel. One who’s never failed to get what he goes after.

Some rules just beg to be broken…

4. Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure by Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson

A heart-wrenching historical novel spanning seventy years, two continents, and a an imagined story that holds the power to create a safe future for a young girl. This page-turning family saga soars to a breathtaking ending that redefines the meaning of love.

When Natalie and Anna, sisters and life-long rivals, hide an abandoned child from the Nazis, their struggle re-opens a star-crossed love triangle, threatening their safety and testing the bonds of their loyalty.

Hungary’s fragile alliance with Germany insured that Natalie, a best selling children’s book author, and her family would be safe as World War Two raged through Europe. The Holocaust that has only been whispered about until now becomes a terrible reality for every Jewish family or those who hide Jews.

Beautiful but troubled Anna, a poet and university professor is losing her tenuous hold on reality, re-igniting a dangerous sibling rivalry that began in childhood. The streets of Budapest echo with the pounding boots of Nazi soldiers. Danger creeps to the doorstep where the sisters’ disintegrating relationship threatens to expose the child they are trying to protect. In one night, Anna’s rash behavior destroys their carefully made plans of escape, and Natalie is presented with a desperate choice. Interwoven with Natalie and Anna’s story, is Mila’s. The abandoned child whose future Natalie lovingly imagines in a story about an old woman named Mrs. Tuesday. Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure is an inspirational historical novel spanning two generations and exploring the unbreakable bonds of sisters.

5. Jane, Actually by Jennifer Petkus

With the invention of the AfterNet, death isn’t quite the end to a literary career it once was, and Jane Austen, the grande dame of English literature, is poised for a comeback with the publication of Sanditon, the book she was writing upon her death in 1817. But how does a disembodied author sign autographs and appear on talk shows? With the aid of Mary Crawford, a struggling acting student who plays the role of the Regency author who wrote Pride and Prejudice and Emma and Sense and Sensibility. But Austen discovers her second chance at a literary career also gives her a second chance at happiness and possibly even … love.

6.  Emma and Elizabeth by Ann Mychal

Once heiress to a large estate, Emma Watson, now penniless, is thrown back into the arms of the family she has not seen for fourteen years when Mrs Turner, her widowed guardian, accepts an offer of marriage from Captain O’Brien. On the eve of the first assembly of the season, Emma returns unexpectedly to Stanton, her family home.

Interest in the newcomer is heightened when Emma becomes the object of attention at the ball; admired by Lord Osborne, Tom Musgrave and Mr Howard, Emma’s debut at the local assembly seems nothing less than a triumph. But once her potential suitors are acquainted with the facts, will her lack of fortune make a difference?

Emma receives a mixed welcome at home, but finds a true friend in her eldest sister, Elizabeth. However, when duty to the family is tested to its limit, one sister is obliged to sacrifice her own happiness to ensure the happiness of the other.

Purchased:

7. Cozy Christmas Capers: Holiday Short Story Collection by Gemma Halliday, Janel Gradowski, etc.

19 holiday short stories by 19 New York Times, USA Today and award winning authors! Enjoy these tales of mystery, romance, and laughter amid the backdrop of pine tress, gingerbread men, and Santas galore! The perfect short bites for cozying up by the fire with a cup of cocoa…or waiting in line at gift wrapping!

 

For Review Consideration:

8. The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll in Ten Songs by Greil Marcus, narrated by Henry Rollins from Audible.

Unlike all previous versions of rock ’n’ roll history, this book omits almost every iconic performer and ignores the storied events and turning points that everyone knows. Instead, in a daring stroke, Greil Marcus selects ten songs recorded between 1956 and 2008, then proceeds to dramatize how each embodies rock ’n’ roll as a thing in itself, in the story it tells, inhabits, and acts out—a new language, something new under the sun.

“Transmission” by Joy Division. “All I Could Do Was Cry” by Etta James and then Beyoncé. “To Know Him Is to Love Him,” first by the Teddy Bears and almost half a century later by Amy Winehouse. In Marcus’s hands these and other songs tell the story of the music, which is, at bottom, the story of the desire for freedom in all its unruly and liberating glory. Slipping the constraints of chronology, Marcus braids together past and present, holding up to the light the ways that these striking songs fall through time and circumstance, gaining momentum and meaning, astonishing us by upending our presumptions and prejudices. This book, by a founder of contemporary rock criticism—and its most gifted and incisive practitioner—is destined to become an enduring classic.

9. Scent of Butterflies by Dora Levy Mossanen from Sourcebooks and TLC Book Tours.

Such audacity she has, Soraya, a woman who dares to break free of the diamond-studded leash of her culture. A woman who refuses to accept the devastating betrayal her husband has perpetrated. A woman who refuses to forgive her best friend.

Soraya turns her back on Iran, fleeing to America to plot her intricate revenge. The Shah has fallen, her country is in turmoil, her marriage has crumbled, and she is unraveling. The cruel and intimate blow her husband has dealt her awakens an obsessive streak that explodes in the heated world of Los Angeles.

Yet the secret Soraya discovers proves far more devastating than anything she had imagined, unleashing a whirlwind of unexpected events that will leave the reader breathless.

What did you receive?

Who Are Your Auto-Buy Authors?

6559777749_7831f738fb_o

Hello everyone! The holidays are nearly here, but I have a treat for you! If you haven’t liked the Savvy Verse & Wit Facebook page yet, go do it now.

Beginning Dec. 12 (sometime this afternoon the first pick will be revealed), I’ll reveal one of the books on my Best of 2014 book list, through Dec. 24.

That’s one book from the list per day, with a tidbit about why I loved the book and a link to where you can buy it.

Today, I wanted to talk about those authors we love so much that we buy their books automatically no matter what the subject.  I used to have just a few of those authors, but my list is now growing!  I thought today would be a good day to share not only the older ones on the list, but also the newer ones that have joined the ranks.

My previous list:

  1. Yusef Komunyakaa
  2. Tim O’Brien
  3. Stephen King
  4. Anita Shreve
  5. Amy Tan
  6. Isabel Allende
  7. James Patterson
  8. Anne Rice
  9. Mary Oliver
  10. Billy Collins

My additions to the list:

  1. Beth Kephart
  2. Jeannine Hall Gailey
  3. Jane Odiwe
  4. Syrie James
  5. Abigail Reynolds
  6. Karen White
  7. Beth Hoffman
  8. Jill Mansell
  9. Janel Gradowski
  10. Diana Raab
  11. C.W. Gortner
  12. John Shors

I find it interesting that there are many more female authors being added to my auto-buy list. 

I’m not really sure why so many great female authors are being added to my auto-buy list these days.  It isn’t that I haven’t read some great male authors, but perhaps I need to read more of them to get a true sense of their work and whether I want to buy it automatically no matter the subject.

Do you have auto-buy authors? Who are they?  What attracts you to their work?

Don’t forget to like the Savvy Verse & Wit Facebook page to find out over the next 12 days which books made the 2014 Best list.