Sunday, September 13, 2020

Weekend Book Reviews

 The Easy Baked Donut Cookbook by Sara Mellas is one of my favorite new cookbooks.  I love the variety of recipes and that they can be done in donut pans or in one of the donut hole makers.  I was so happy that I had held on to the electric donut hole maker I bought years ago.  Most of the recipes were very easy to halve if you wanted fewer donuts/dounut holes.  The donut holes were delicious and easy to make.  Most recipes could be made with ingredients in my pantry.  

The Southeast Native Plant Primer by Larry Mellichamp and Paula Gross is a collection of plants perfect for those living in the southeast.  It is packed with information on everything from grasses to trees.  I love that each plant had detailed growing information including where to plant and the growing conditions.  This is a wonderful guide for those new to the region as well as those who have lived there all their lives.

disclosure:  I received these e-books through NetGalley but was not otherwise compensated for these reviews.  All opinions are my own!

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Weekend Book Reviews

 A Design to Die For by Kathleen Bridge is the fifth book in the Hamptons Home and Garden Mystery series.  Meg is a decorator in the Hamptons.  She has been asked by a friend to decorate some areas of her show house.  When the friend's husband is found murdered, Meg finds herself pulling double duty as a decorator and amateur detective.  This was a traditional cozy mystery.  I did suspect the killer early on although there were plenty of suspects from which to choose.  It is also very obvious that the author is a big fan of the television show Ghost Adventure.  I had not read any of the previous books and had no trouble following along.

The third book in the Bookmobile mystery series by Nora Page is Read or Alive.  Cleo is excited for the book society's book fair in Catalpa Springs.  She plans time away from the bookmobile to attend.  She soon discovers that her cousin Dot and others have been swindled by one of the attendees.  When Cleo's boyfriend Henry becomes the main suspect, Cleo decides to investigate.  I enjoy this series, but this particular book fell a bit flat.  The killer was glaringly obvious, and the flow of the story was not as smooth as in the previous books.  I would not say that I disliked it, but it is definitely not my favorite.  

The Black Cat Breaks a Mirror by Kay Finch is the fifth book in the Bad Luck Cat mystery series.  Sabrina is an author in Texas.  Her brother and nephews are in town for a country music concert.  When her older nephew stumbles on a dead body, Sabina feels compelled to solve the mystery.  I had not read any of the previous books in this series, but I was able to follow along with the characters.  Hitchcock is the "bad luck cat" and a wonderful addition to the book.  This is a good cozy mystery for those who enjoy a book heavy on the mystery with a healthy dose of mischievous cat.

disclosure:  I received these e-books through NetGalley but was not othewise compensated or these reviews.  Al opinions are my own!

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Weekend Book Reviews

 Nacho Average Murder by Maddie Day is the seventh book  in the County Store Mystery series.  Robbie has left Indiana for a class reunion in California.  While there someone shares some startling news about her mother's death.  The book was okay, but I found myself missing the country store setting.  The characters seemed a bit disjointed in this one.  The story itself jumped from one thing to the next with no flow.  While I love this series, this book is not at the top of my list.

The eleventh book in the Tourist Trap Mystery series by Lynn Cahoon is Murder in Waiting.  Jill, owner of Coffee, Books, and More, is upset to learn that the historical society has rejected her request for historical site approval.  However, things may be turning to her favor when one of the society's experts, Frank, runs into outside her store.  Sadly Frank is run down, and this starts a snowball of problems for Jill.  The mystery was a bit too predictable and seemed to be sidelined by all of the wedding stuff.  I prefer my cozy mysteries to be heavier on the mystery.  

Death on Windmill Way is the first book in the Hamptons Murder Mystery series by Carrie Doyle.  Antonia has started a new life on the East coast as the owner of a restaurant and bed and breakfast.  She bought and renovated the property without any real business plan or even a thorough check of the property's background.  She discovers that the previous owners all died under suspicious circumstances.  Antonia is not very likable.  She is extremely judgmental of everyone and is surprised to learn she is nearly broke even though she imported furnishings from overseas.  The author's writing style was a bit long-winded.  I found myself skimming entire sections as the descriptions went on and on (and on).  Antonia's best friend was a pointless addition who flitted in and out in a self-absorbed cloud.  I will be passing on future installments.

disclosure:  I received these e-books through NetGalley but was not otherwise compensated for these reviews.  All opinions are my own!

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Weekend Book Reviews

 A Call for Kelp by Bree Baker is the fourth book in the Seaside Cafe Mystery series.  Everly has her hands full with her seaside cafe but makes time for her great-aunts' beekeeping documentary.  A famous actress, Mitzi, is in town to help with the promotion.  When she is found murdered apparently by bees, the town is overrun by her distraught fans.  Everly begins to investigate and finds herself the killer's next target.  The book has several things going on aside from the murder, and readers will find it helpful not to start with this book without reading any of the previous ones.  I love the setting and am always glad to escape to the island town with each new book.

The first book in the Kitty Beret Cafe Mystery series by Ruth J Hartman is Hairballs and Homicide.  While reading this I almost felt like this was further in the series as the assumed I knew everything about the characters before reading this book.  I was missing the introductions of each character.  I liked the cat cafe setting although Ellie, the owner, is lacking depth which goes back to the first point.  Ellie's cats are also more accommodating about wearing cute costumes.  I value my life too much to ever try dressing up any of my cats.  Overall I am on the fence about this book, it had both good and bad points making me at least plan to give the second book a try. 

Dog-Gone Dead by Jackie Layton is the second book in the Low Country Dog Walker Mystery series.  Dog walker Andi Grace and her friend Juliet are going to pick up mulch from Andi Grace's brother, Nate,  at a job site.  They find a body and Andi Grace's injured brother.  Even with his injuries, Nate is the police's main suspect.  Andi Grace and her friends are determined to solve the mystery.  I liked the combination of a B&B (run by Juliet) and a dog business (run by Andi Grace).  The southern setting is wonderful, and the mystery kept me waffling back and forth between suspects.  I look forward to the next installment.

disclosure:  I received these e-books through NetGalley but was not otherwise compensated for these reviews.  All opinions are my own!

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Weekend Book Reviews

Killing Time by Suzanne Trauth is the sixth book in the Dodie O'Dell mystery series.  Halloween is fast approaching and to set the mood the Eatonville Little Theater is showcasing Dracula.  Dodie plays along with a garlic themed menu for the Windjammer restaurant.  When someone is found dead with a stake to the heart, it becomes an instance of life imitating art.  I do like this series and the characters.  The mystery on this one was a bit on the weak side, and by book six I would hope that Dodie will start being a bit smarter.  It was still a fun seasonal cozy mystery.

Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busybody by Barbara Ross is the first book in the Jane Darrowfield series.  Jane has barely started retirement and is already out of things to do.  She soon finds herself with the job of helping others with sticky situations including a friend with a pint sized pee-er in the garden.  When the director of a senior living center approaches Jane for help, she turns into a professional busybody.  A murder on the property soon has Jane wondering if she is in over her head.  I love, love, love this series.  Jane is the perfect cozy heroine.  I would give this more than five stars if I could and am anxiously awaiting the next book in the series.

The sixth book in the Maggie McDonald series by Mary Feliz is Snowed Under.  Maggie has gone with her friend, Tess, to Tess' family cabin to help organize it before Tess puts it on the market.  When Maggie finds the frozen body of Tess' missing neighbor, their organizing plans go out the window.  The story focused as much on the snow storm and other neighbors as it did on the mystery.  The book is a nice addition to the series and can be read on its own.  It did make me realize I have no interest in living anywhere that it snows more than once ever 10 years or so!

disclosure:  I received these e-books through NetGalley but was not otherwise compensated for these reviews.  All opinions are my own!

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Weekend Book Reviews

Marshmallow Malice by Amanda Flower is the fifth book in the Amish Candy Shop Mystery series.  Juliet and the reverend are getting married so of course Bailey is pulled into the nuptials.  She is serving as maid of honor as well as preparing the cake along with her grandmother.  Summer heat and marshmallow frosting are not a good mix.  Even that mess does not compare to the shocking events during and the morning after the wedding.  Bailey and her friend Cass find themselves in the middle of a mystery.  I adore this series, and it is easily one of my favorites.  The author tackles religious differences as well as alcoholism in this book.  The subjects are handled with tact and well woven into the mystery.  I look forward to the next installment!

The second book in the Vintage Sweets Mystery series by Kaye George is Deadly Sweet Tooth. I had a few issues with the main character Tally in the first book, but I decided to give the second one a try.  Tally is hosting a party for her parents and hires three new employees.  When a guest at the party is murdered, Tally's dad becomes the main suspect.  Unfortunately the murderer was quite obvious the first time the character was introduced.  Aside from the weak mystery, I had several issues with the book. First Tally is completely incompetent.  Two of the people she hires are candidates for the worst employees in the world, yet she continues to let them work.  Second Tally does not even listen when people talk and instead makes up her own "clues".  Third in the South "y'all" is only used when referring to more than two people.  When one person walks up to you, do not ask if "y'all want to sit down?".  Finally either I was missing a chapter near the end or the author gave up.  Sadly I am giving up on this series after two strikes.

Death by Auction by Alexis Morgan is the third book in the Abby McCree Mystery series.  Abby is helping her tenant and friend, Tripp, with a bachelor auction for his veteran's group.  The emcee for the evening turns out to be a very unlikable person, and no one is very sad when he is found murdered.  That is not the only shocking event of the night.  Tripp's ex-wife also returns to town.  I love the characters in this series although Abby was much nicer than I could ever hope to be.  I look forward to more from this series. 

disclosure:  I received these e-books through NetGalley but was not otherwise compensated for these reviews.  All opinions are my own!

Monday, July 13, 2020


I fell off the pantry challenge train.  I did not completely fall off though.  I decided to do a mix of a pantry challenge and freezer cooking.  I ended up doing a Wal-Mart pick up order for items I could use along with what I have to make some freezer meals/snacks.

This month thus far I have added four breakfast for supper casseroles, sausage and cheese biscuit sandwiches, baked oatmeal cups, jalapeno poppers,  cheese sticks, and two apple crisps. 

This week I am hoping to do one item a day for the freezer.  On my list are:

  • jalapeno poppers
  • eclair cake
  • pesto tortellini
  • taco spaghetti
  • chicken pot pie filling

For the main dish items I will have at least two meals worth.  I may try to divide the eclair cake into three pans since we do not need a huge amount of dessert at one time.  I bought disposable pans with lids from Amazon for about 30 cents each.  I will not feel bad if they are too messy to wash and just get thrown away.  The pans are not huge as I am not planning on leftovers for the freezer meals.  

As I am starting to put a few things in the freezer I realize that the freezer needs some attention.  My goal is to put items we plan to eat during the week in the kitchen refrigerator freezer.  The pantry refrigerator freezer will be for snack and breakfast items mainly.  The main freezer will be for storage of the freezer meals, meat, fruit, vegetables, etc.

I am always looking for tried and true recipes.  Do you have a favorite freezer meal?