The Cake Therapist and Bake Happy

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I just finished reading The Cake Therapist by Judith Fertig. It was listed as a mystery on my Amazon Vine list but is not a traditional crime story. It is more a story of uncovering the secret that created a past tragedy.  It may not have enough mystery to keep hardcore whodunit fans happy but I truly enjoyed it. You can read my review here on Goodreads.

I did a dab of research on author Judith Fertig. She is a renowned cook book author, a barbecue queen and now, a novelist. The Cake Therapist will be released the same day as Bake Happy: 100 Playful Desserts with Rainbow Layers, Hidden Fillings, Billowy Frostings and More, a cookbook with recipes that use the same taste combining methods used in The Cake Therapist. This is a perfect combination for culinary mystery fans.

Bonus! You can get the recipe for The Cake Therapist’s signature Rainbow Cake on Judith Fertig’s blog, Alfresco.

judithfertig

Judith Fertig

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Grantchester

Sidney Chambers and Dickens

Sidney Chambers and Dickens

I just purchased season 1 of the British television series Grantchester on Amazon instant video. My husband and I watched the first episode last night and I think I am hooked. I admit the boyishly handsome James Norton playing the part of the main character, Sidney Chambers might just have something to do with that. Maybe. Just a little.

According to the Masterpiece page of the PBS website Grantchester is based on the acclaimed novel Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death by James Runcie, which was called “the coziest of cozy murder mysteries” by the New York Times Book Review. Runcie styled Sidney after his late father, Lord Runcie, who was Archbishop of Canterbury in the 1980s. Like Sidney, the elder Runcie was a war hero before he entered the ministry, and he was a compassionate and amiable parish priest. Unfortunately, he never took up crime-solving. Grantchester corrects that oversight.”

In the first episode, Sidney Chambers is the only clergyman that will take on the job of officiating over the funeral of a man who apparently committed suicide. His message during the service is one of compassion, not condemnation and that leads the wife of the dead man’s law partner to confide in Sidney that she believes his death was the result of murder, not suicide.

Sidney goes to the police with this information and is quickly shown the door by inspector Geordy Keating, played by Robson Green. So that is that. Except Sidney cannot help noticing little details that don’t fit. No spoilers here.  I’ll just say that a tentative relationship is formed between Sidney and Geordy by the end of the episode.

I first heard of this series as one that fans of G. M. Malliet’s Father Max might enjoy and I found that recommendation to be reliable. I’m putting the first book Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death on my reading list and I can’t wait to see the next episode of Granchester.

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More on Hallmark Mysteries

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Sooo….my husband was away for work last week and I had the TV all to myself. I used my time wisely to catch up on some of the recently released Hallmark mystery movies. I admit I am becoming quite the fan. Here’s what I know about their new mystery line up.

Hallmark approaches series in a unique way (in my experience anyway) by creating a series of movies rather than a series of hourly shows. This is nice because it means more time for that story to develop and play out. It is bad because you have to wait longer in between each episode. As far as I can tell, the mystery series that Hallmark is currently adding new “episodes” to are as follows:

Jesse Stone – Jesse Stone is a detective created by Robert Parker and played by Tom Selleck. There are already at least seven movies in this series. We have all of them at the library where I work because my coworker insists we get anything that stars Tom Selleck (not that I’m complaining.) I haven’t seen any because I didn’t think they fit into the cozy genre, but I may give them a try. I heard on Twitter that filming on a new Jesse Stone movie Stranger in Paradise has begun.

Garage Sale Mysteries – This set of movies is based on the books by Suzie Weinert, beginning with Garage Sale Stalker. Lori Loughlin stars as Jennifer Shannon, owner of a vintage goods and antique shop who has an eye for detail and a nose for trouble. Despite her best intentions, Jennifer gets entangled in some sticky situations. So far there are three movies in this series: Garage Sale Mystery, All That Glitters and The Deadly Room. There are rumors that a fourth movie The Wedding Dress will air later this year.

Aurora Teagarden – Based on the Aurora Teagarden books by Charlaine Harris, this series follows librarian Aurora Teagarden, played by Candace Cameron Bure, as she goes from member of the Real Murders Club, a group that investigates (in a scholarly way) true crime stories to solving murders in her own town. So far only the premiere movie, A Bone to Pick, has been aired. Real Murders Club has been filmed but I have no air date for that. The first two movies are in reverse order from the book series. On her website star and producer Candace Bure says “If you’re familiar with the books, you may be wondering why the first movie A Bone to Pick which airs THIS SATURDAY April 4th, is actually the second book in the series. And the second movie, Real Murders is actually the first book. It’s simply because as producers, we felt the characters were introduced to the audience more easily in A Bone to Pick. Sometimes small changes like that are necessary to translate a book to film.”

Murder She Baked – The first movie The Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder brings Joanna Fluke’s popular book series to the small screen with Allison Sweeney as Minnesota baker Hannah Swensen. Have not yet heard anything about a sequel, but there’s bound to be one.  Recipes for Chocolate Chip Crunch Cookies and Lovely Lemon Bar Cookies can be found on the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries Website.

Gourmet Detective – This is actually airing right now as I’m typing this but I’m recording it for later so no spoilers here! This is another culinary mystery but the site contains no information on the book, if any, that the movie is based on.

I have enjoyed all the movies on this list that I’ve seen and look forward to more from Hallmark.

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Hallmark Mysteries and Movies

hallmark

Last year I discovered the Hallmark Channel and their occasional mystery movies. Then recently we got the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries channel and I have been happily watching mystery movies since.

I will take a break from watching now to report on this. Hallmark movies tend to be family-friendly with minimal sex, violence and cursing. (You can count that as pro or con as you wish, lol.)  In general, Hallmark movies are good but not great. So, if they fit your personal style, you will probably enjoy them. If they are not your thing you may be less tolerant of any flaws.

Hallmark audiences, I’m guessing, are middle-aged and older. The channel features reruns of Murder She Wrote, Matlock, Columbo, and Diagnosis Murder. The stars of Hallmark movies are often experienced TV stars such as Lori Loughlin and Candace Cameron Bure. Not many of the movies have leading characters that appear to be under 30. I won’t say how old I am, but let’s just say I’m in their demographic.

For me, the real attraction of the Hallmark Movie and Mystery channel is that they are the only company that makes cozy mystery movies. Now, this is my cup of tea, so I’m ecstatic. Starting last year they began working on several movie series, beginning with the Garage Sale Mystery starring Lori Loughlin. Sequels include All that Glitters and The Deadly Room.

Then came Aurora Teagarden: A Bone to Pick, from the series by Charlaine Harris. Earlier this month the Hannah Swenson series came to life as Murder She Baked in the premier movie The Chocolate Chip Murder. On May 16th The Gourmet Detective debuts.

There are several other mysteries that, to the best of my knowledge, are stand-alones. Those include The Wedding Planner Mystery, Along Came a Nanny and Mary Higgens Clark’s My Gal Sunday.

I have more to say on Hallmark Mystery Movies, but that’s enough for now. I’ll end by saying that we did not have a package that included Hallmark Movies and Mysteries but we were able to add it for $5/month  by contacting our satellite provider and requesting the channel. This is good because it would have cost far more than that to move up the package that included this channel!

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Good-bye to Children’s Book Week

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Here we are at the end of Children’s Book Week and I will go back to concentrating on adult books. But first, a quote about libraries from middle grade novel The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two by Catherynne M. Valente.

A silent Library is a sad Library. A Library without patrons on whom to pile books and tales and knowing and magazines full of up-to-the-minute politickal fashions and atlases and plays in pentameter! A Library should be full of exclamations! Shouts of delight and horror as the wonders of the world are discovered or the lies of the heavens uncovered or the wild adventures of devil-knows-who sent romping out of the pages. A Library should be full of now-just-a-minutes and that-can’t-be-rights and scientifick folk running skelter to prove somebody wrong. It should positively vibrate with laughing at comedies and sobbing at tragedies, it should echo with gasps as decent ladies glimpse indecent things and indecent ladies stumble upon secret and scandalous decencies! A Library should not shush; it should roar!” — Abecedaria, the cataloging imp

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Here’s to children’s books and to Libraries that roar!!!

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Review: The Disappearance of Emily H.

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The Disappearance of Emily H. by Barrie Summy

Raine is the new girl at school –again. Her mother has a habit of picking up and running when things get tough. Raine has a secret ability that helps her connect with people and makes it easier to get by, if not to make friends. She can see memories, in the form of sparkles. When Raine touches a sparkle, a memory flows into her mind. But then she finds out that Emily, a girl who went missing a month ago lived in her house. And the girl that is currently bullying Raine also bullied Emily. Raine begins collecting sparkles, trying to discover what happened to Emily. She wonders if Emily is alive and if the bully had something to do with her disappearance or if there was a much more sinister reason for Emily’s disappearance.

This book is suspenseful but also thoughtful. It would be a good conversation starter for a session on bullying. Many of the characters are bullied, either occasionally or chronically. Different people respond in different ways. The bystanders all handle it differently as well. But none of this overshadows the mystery or makes the book less of a good read. There are no morals laid out at the end of the story. That’s what makes it such good food for thought. Barrie Summy does not tell you what to think but leaves it up to the reader to make their own decisions.

This is a great read for upper elementary and middle school. Some high school students may enjoy it as well.

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Children’s Book Week with Nancy Drew

The-Hardy-Boys-Nancy-Drew

I saw in the news that Nancy Drew, the original Girl Detective, turned 85 recently and I can’t think of a better way to kick off Children’s Book Week than with a salute to Nancy Drew. I was a hard-core Nancy fan in elementary school and even dabbled in the Dana Girls series which was also credited to the pseudonymous Carolyn Keene. I never missed an episode of the Hardy Boys Nancy Drew mysteries (because back then we couldn’t record our shows. If you missed out you had to wait for a re-run) and I was happy to when my youngest daughter got to meet Nancy Drew through the Emma Roberts movie. I know Nancy Drew has been a huge influence in many lives and has a great behind the scenes story, but I won’t get into that. For this post, I’ll just say Happy Birthday Nancy!

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