Monthly Archives: February 2017

A day in the life with Ivy Culpepper by Winnie Archer

kneaded-to-deathAre you a baker? Straight from the box brownies, or are you able to follow more complex recipes? Can you bake bread with a long rise? Truthfully, I didn’t even know what a long rise was, let alone how to do it. That is, until I met Olaya Solis.

It all started when I moved back to Santa Sofia, California. I’d been in Austin, Texas for most of my adult life, but a divorce and the sudden death of my mother brought me back to my seaside hometown. It didn’t take long before I discovered Yeast of Eden, owned by the indomitable Olaya Solis. And it wasn’t long after that before I started taking a baking class at the bread shop.

And I learned the secret of the long rise.

I also learned more secrets than I ever dreamed I would. Santa Sofia, I discovered, was not always the idyllic community I remembered it to be. There were the usual community politics, especially surrounding the historic commission and the old houses on Maple Street. There was my dad and my brother, and the grief we were all feeling over the loss of my mother. But there were other problems, too. Penelope Branford was an octogenarian firecracker and had become my new best friend. But she and Olaya were enemies. Which complicated things.

What else did I discover in my return to Santa Sofia?

Miguel Baptista. Tall, dark, and the handsome man who’d broken my heart in high school. He was back. I was back. And I had no idea how I was going to deal with the wide variety of emotions that had suddenly resurfaced as a result.

And as if that wasn’t enough to deal with in my return to Santa Sofia, there was something even worse.

Namely murder.

I am not making this up. It really happened. On the first evening of the bread baking class at Yeast of Eden, actually.

Can you guess what that means? That’s right. With the help of Mrs. Branford and her velour sweat suits, I became an amateur sleuth and dove into solving that murder.

Let me just say that my baking has improved. And murder? Well, you’ll just have to wait and see how that turns out.

XO Ivy Culpepper


You can read more about Ivy in Kneaded To Death, the first book in the NEW “Bread Shop” mystery series.

Everyone swears by Yeast of Eden, the Mexican bread shop in town. But tonight, the only thing on the menu is la muerte . . .

Struggling photographer Ivy Culpepper has lots of soul-searching to do since returning to seaside Santa Sofia, California. That is, until the thirty-six-year-old enters a bread making class at Yeast of Eden. Whether it’s the aroma of fresh conchas in the oven, or her instant connection with owner Olaya Solis, Ivy just knows the missing ingredients in her life are hidden among the secrets of Olaya’s bakery . . .

But Ivy’s spirits crumble when a missing classmate is suddenly discovered dead in her car. Even more devastating, the prime suspect is Olaya Solis herself. Doubting the woman could commit such a crime, Ivy embarks on a murder investigation of her own to prove her innocence and seize the real killer. As she follows a deadly trail of crumbs around town, Ivy must trust her gut like never before—or someone else could be toast!

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Meet the author
The indefatigable Winnie Archer is a middle school teacher by day and a writer by night. Born in a beach town in California, she now lives in an inspiring century-old house in North Texas and loves being surrounded by real-life history. She fantasizes about spending summers writing in quaint, cozy locales, has a love/hate relationship with both yoga and chocolate, adores pumpkin spice lattes, is devoted to her five kids and husband, and can’t believe she’s lucky enough to be living the life of her dreams. Visit her online at WinnieArcher.com.

Winnie Archer is the pseudonym for national bestselling author Melissa Bourbon. Learn more at melissabourbon.com.

All comments are welcomed.

Kneaded To Death is available at retail and online booksellers.

A day in the life of Daphne Templeton by Bethany Blake

death-by-chocolate-labOccupation: Owner of Lucky Paws Petsitting

Excuse me for a sec. I have to turn the key to my vintage VW Bus three times then slap the dashboard twice to get her going. It takes some focus.

Okay, mission accomplished.

If we’re going to take a ride through my pet-friendly hometown of Sylvan Creek, Pennsylvania, I guess I should introduce myself, huh?

I’m Daphne Templeton, and I’m a petsitter with a Ph.D. in philosophy. (Please don’t get my mother, Realtor Maeve, started on the topic of “useless” degrees.) And the passenger who’s riding shotgun, so you’re stuck in the back seat, is Socrates, the world’s most introspective basset hound.

What’s that? You need a napkin?

Ooh, sorry about that. I should’ve warned you that you’d also be riding with Artie, my one-eared foster Chihuahua, who suffers from a severe overbite and an excess of personality. He can’t help jumping on you, and the drool isn’t his fault, either. Still, we apologize.

Here’s a napkin from my favorite Mexican place, Burrito Casita. There’s a spot of house-made salsa on it. Just tear that part off.

I have to say, you’ve caught us on a strange day. Normally, I’d be walking attorney Virginia Lockhart’s three Rottweilers, Macduff, Iago and Hamlet. But yesterday there was a murder at my sister Piper’s farmhouse, Winding Hill – where I also live, temporarily. The local kennel club was holding a dog agility trial at the farm and. . . well, things went wrong.

Now Piper – a type A veterinarian – is a prime suspect. It probably didn’t help that I got tongue-tied in the presence of a very imposing, and, I have to admit gorgeous, detective, Jonathan Black, when he came to investigate. I might’ve let it slip that Piper had argued with the victim right before the crime.

Please don’t look at me like that, Socrates.

I didn’t mean to make things worse. But when I looked into Detective Black’s dark blue eyes, I just started babbling. Which is ridiculous. A very serious, enigmatic detective is not my type. I’m quite happy in my commitment-free relationship with mellow transplanted surfer and vet tech Dylan Taggart.

Artie, sit. Seriously. Sit.

Yes, you’re right. People are staring at the van. That’s because my best friend, Moxie Bloom – owner of Spa and Paw salon for pets and people – tried to do a custom paint job to advertise my business, Lucky Paws Petsitting. Unfortunately, she overestimated her artistic talents. That thing on the side of the van is a misshapen dog, not a misshapen horse.

Oh. You guessed horse, too. Well, you’re not the first person to get it wrong.

Just to point a few things out, Moxie lives in the big yellow Victorian mansion, above my favorite bookstore, the Philosopher’s Tome. It’s run by the sweetest man, Tom Flinchbaugh. He never makes you buy anything. On a rainy day, there’s nothing better than sitting in a cozy chair in the turret and reading for hours.

Tom’s wife, Tessie, runs the pet boutique, Fetch!, across the street. You’ll know her by her seasonal-themed shirts.

If you want coffee and amazing biscotti, go to Espresso Pronto. The owner, Giulia Alberti, imports everything from Italy.

And that beautiful building with the blue-green clapboard siding, crisp white trim and overflowing window boxes is my sister’s practice, Templeton Animal Hospital.

I’m not even going to look toward my mother’s real estate office. If she’s outside, she’ll flag us down and try to force you to buy a house. I’m just warning you. If you meet her gaze, you might end up in a five bedroom on the shores of Lake Wallapawakee.

Well, here we are at the Sylvan Creek Inn. I hope you enjoy your stay and that you’ll come visit us again. The town is tiny, but it seems like something’s always happening here.

And trust me, Socrates was happy to meet you. He always looks like that. . .

Artie! Seriously! Off!

* * *


You can read more about Daphne in Death By Chocolate Lab, the first book in the NEW “Lucky Paws Petsitting” mystery series.

Pet sitter Daphne Templeton has a soft spot for every stray and misfit who wanders into the quaint, lakeside village of Sylvan Creek. But even Daphne doesn’t like arrogant, womanizing Steve Beamus, the controversial owner of Blue Ribbon K-9 Academy. When Steve turns up dead during a dog agility trial, Daphne can think of a long list of people with motives for homicide, and so can the police. Unfortunately, at the top of the list is Daphne’s sister, Piper—Steve’s latest wronged girlfriend.

Certain that Piper is innocent, in spite of mounting evidence to the contrary, Daphne sets out to clear her sister’s name—and find Axis, Steve’s prize-winning chocolate Labrador, who went missing the night of Steve’s death. Aided by Socrates, her taciturn basset hound, and a hyperactive one-eared Chihuahua named Artie, Daphne quickly runs afoul of Detective Jonathan Black, a handsome and enigmatic newcomer to town, who has no appreciation for Daphne’s unorthodox sleuthing.

Can a free-spirited pet sitter, armed only with a Ph.D. in Philosophy and her two incompatible dogs, find the real killer before she becomes the next victim?

Includes recipes for homemade dog treats!

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Meet the author
Bethany Blake lives in central Pennsylvania with her husband, three children and a menagerie that includes a quirky dog, an attack cat, a blind goldfish and a hermit crab named Shelldon P. Crabbington. When she’s not writing, she enjoys horseback riding, cross-country skiing, and searching the globe for great cheeseburgers. She is always open to suggestions, re: the cheeseburgers. Connect with Bethany at bethanyblakeauthor.com.

All comments are welcomed.

Death by Chocolate Lab is available at retail and online booksellers.

My Musing ~ Kneaded to Death by Winnie Archer

Kneaded to Death by Winnie Archer is the first book in the NEW “Bread Shop” mystery series. Publisher: Kensington, February 28, 2017

kneaded-to-deathEveryone swears by Yeast of Eden, the Mexican bread shop in town. But tonight, the only thing on the menu is la muerte.

Struggling photographer Ivy Culpepper has lots of soul-searching to do since returning to seaside Santa Sofia, California. That is, until the thirty-six-year-old enters a bread making class at Yeast of Eden. Whether it’s the aroma of fresh conchas in the oven, or her instant connection with owner Olaya Solis, Ivy just knows the missing ingredients in her life are hidden among the secrets of Olaya’s bakery.

But Ivy’s spirits crumble when a missing classmate is suddenly discovered dead in her car. Even more devastating, the prime suspect is Olaya Solis herself. Doubting the woman could commit such a crime, Ivy embarks on a murder investigation of her own to prove her innocence and seize the real killer. As she follows a deadly trail of crumbs around town, Ivy must trust her gut like never before—or someone else could be toast!

We are introduced to Ivy, who returns home upon the death of her mother. Taking solace, Ivy enrolls in a bread making class and inheriting her mother’s keen sense for ferreting out the truth, finds herself involved in a murder investigation when it looks like the owner may become the prime suspect.

I love it. The pacing and comfortable tone made it easy to follow the story as it moved from chapter to chapter. The narrative was nicely done as it put me in the middle of all the action, keeping me glued to the pages as I had to know what happens next. The author did a great job in setting the stage for this multi-plot whodunit where potential suspects kept rising to the top each with their own motive, but it was that double surprising twist that ratcheted this tale up a notch and I give kudos to the author on a job well done. Boasting a great cast of characters, engaging dialogue and a feel good atmosphere, this was a very enjoyable read and is a welcome addition to the cozy mystery genre and I can’t wait to see what new adventures await Ivy and her friends in this delightfully charming new series.

FTC Full Disclosure – I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

My Musing ~ Fatality by Firelight by Lynn Cahoon

Fatality by Firelight by Lynn Cahoon is the second book in the “Cat Latimer” mystery series. Publisher: Kensington, February 28, 2017

fatality-by-firelightCat Latimer’s Colorado bed-and-breakfast plays host to writers from all over. But murder is distinctly unwelcome . . .

To kick off a winter writing retreat, Cat and her handyman boyfriend, Seth, escort the aspiring authors to a nearby ski resort, hoping some fresh cold air will wake up their creative muses. But instead of hitting the slopes, they hit the bar—and before long, a tipsy romance novelist named Christina is keeping herself warm with a local ski bum who might have neglected to tell her about his upcoming wedding.

Next thing Cat knows, her uncle, the town sheriff, informs her that the young man’s been found dead in a hot tub—and Christina shows up crying and covered in blood. Now, between a murder mystery, the theft of a rare Hemingway edition, and the arrival of a black-clad stranger in snowy Aspen Hills, Cat’s afraid everything’s going downhill . . .

I like it. This fast-paced drama immediately pulled me in and quickly became a page turner. It’s good to be back with Cat and her friends in small town Aspen Hills, Colorado. The mystery was well done keeping me immersed in all that was happening as suspect after suspect were unmasked making this an intriguing ride as the clues presented narrowed that pool of suspects until there was one left standing. And those twists and turns. . .nice touch. Cat’s interaction with the various casts is an added bonus as each contributes to how well this story is executed. The author does a great job with character development, setting the murder stage and providing engaging dialogue that put me in the middle of all the action, as I wanted to be at the table sipping a mug of hot chocolate with Cat, Shauna, Seth and Uncle Pete. With the murder, the library theft, the situation with her ex-husband’s death and her blossoming relation, this was an enjoyable read and I look forward to reading the next book in this delightfully endearing series.

FTC Full Disclosure – I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

My Musing ~ Dead In The Water by Annelise Ryan

Dead In The Water by Annelise Ryan is the 8th book in the Mattie Winston mystery series. Publisher: Kensington, February 28, 2017

dead-in-the-waterDeputy coroner Mattie Winston is starting to feel like she’s in way over her head . . .

As the single mom of an energetic toddler and an investigator working for the medical examiner’s office in small-town Sorenson, Wisconsin, Mattie is used to her life being a juggling act. But now that she’s moved in with Detective Steve Hurley and his teenaged daughter Emily, and has started planning their wedding, her home life is looking more like a three-ring circus. And with her boss and friend, Izzy, suddenly having a health crisis, she could not be more grateful for the newest staff member in the ME’s office, Hal Dawson.

All too quickly her gratitude turns to shock when a floating body found trapped against a dam turns out to be Hal, but the cause of death isn’t drowning—his throat’s been slashed. Hal was supposed to be fishing on his day off with his girlfriend. And when their empty boat is found in a nearby lake, the whereabouts of the woman becomes an even more urgent question.

To find out what really happened to her coworker, Mattie may need to rock the boat. But a killer is just as determined to keep the truth from ever surfacing, even if that means making Mattie the next one to go under.

I enjoyed this latest foray into the life of Mattie Winston. Three deaths occupies her time with two hitting close to home. The more she digs, the more apparent there is something sinister happening in Sorenson, Wisconsin and it’ll be up to Mattie and her friends to sort this all out.

The narrative speaks for itself in this well-written tome where I was immersed in all that was transpiring in this fast-paced, action-packed drama that quickly became a page-turner as I had to know how this was going to end. The author did a great job in setting up this multi-plot mystery with a band of suspects hovering in the background until one by one a motive was found that took the discovery in another direction that I did not see coming. All the main characters, especially the scene with Mattie and her mother, played pivotal roles that truly enhanced the telling of this tale. The multiple deaths, secrets exposed, a missing relative’s appearance, questions answered and that surprise twist at the end, wow. . .l love this book. I love the personal side of this book where we get to enjoy Mattie’s interaction with Izzy, Hurley, Emily, Desi and of course little Matthew. Boasting a superb cast of characters with engaging dialogue, this was the best book yet in this delightfully endearing series.

FTC Full Disclosure – I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.