Monday, October 15, 2018

Autumn and Halloween Decor

Halloween is a little over two weeks away.  Do you decorate for Halloween?  

Happy Monday, My Lovelies!

I thought it would be fun to put together a round-up post to help me decide how to decorate for fall and/or Halloween.  I've only taken out a few velvet pumpkins, and I want to decorate for Christmas early this year so it's done before Thanksgiving.  That means Christmas decor will be up for a very long time because Thanksgiving this year is November 22,  the earliest it can be.

Below is a stroll down memory lane of how I've decorated for autumn and Halloween in the past.

I have a nice collection of glass pumpkins that reflect light on our breakfast room table.

A few years ago I used a lot of white in my autumn decor.  I hope my photography has improved a little since then!   ;P

Traditional autumn colors with a touch of blue

Pale in the dining room

Scooby Doo...Where are you?

Fall colors and pinks

One thing I've noticed is that I don't decorate very much for Halloween because October is our busiest month.  October brings travel to several horse shows, fall break (this year we have two), and  Shanley Belle's birthday.  

I think I'll decorate for Halloween this year and skip Thanksgiving because I won't be hosting Thanksgiving this year.

Come back later in the week for my Halloween decor!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Cozy Mysteries Set in Autumn Round-up

Happy Weekend, My Lovelies!  We attended a Fall Festival this morning, and I almost forgot to post!  Are you in the fall mood yet?  If not, then why not pick-up a cozy mystery from your local library set during autumn?  I spent a couple of hours curating a few I thought y'all would like, and I've included a brief description of each.

I love this series, and this one involves an archaeological dig, plans for a Harvest Festival, and ghosts in the Vicar's meadow.  This one is a bit more village secrets than mystery, but the creepy factor makes it a good choice for fall.

This is the twelfth in a series, and it involves a the Heritage Society's "Pirates and Plunder" soiree. A valuable ring goes missing at the same time a history intern is murdered.  

It’s late autumn in Tinker’s Cove, Maine, and the last surviving flowers on Lucy Stone’s porch have fallen victim to the first frost of the season. The Turkey Trot is a 5K run in the village, but before the event Lucy discovers a frozen body in a pond.  I find this series to be a little darker than most cozy mysteries (I've read a couple) but they are highly popular, and I do love Lucy's character.

In this book from the series featuring catering sisters Bernie and Libby Simmons, a Thanksgiving dinner goes awry thanks to a killer who's hiding a cornucopia of secrets.  This one might be worth it because of the recipes in the back; one of them is for Pecan Pie using Steen's Syrup, a Louisiana pantry staple.

I love the Hannah Swenson murder mysteries.  I've read several of them! You might have seen them on the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries Channel.  In this one, Hannah is a newlywed, and Hannah has felt as bitter as November in Minnesota since Ross (her husband) vanished without a trace and left their marriage in limbo. Still, she throws herself into a baking frenzy for the sake of pumpkin pie and Thanksgiving-themed treats while endless holiday orders pour into The Cookie Jar. Hannah even introduces a raspberry Danish pastry to the menu, and then her husband's business partner is found dead.  There are around thirty wonderful recipes woven throughout the narrative in this book.  I usually buy Fluke's books on my Nook app so I can follow the recipes using my iPad.

Carmela Bertrand knows that Halloween in New Orleans means a week of rabble-rousing, costumed craziness—and she can’t wait to get the party started. But when a local antiques dealer turns up dead, Carmela suddenly finds herself in a real-life danse macabre…
If you love stories set in New Orleans and scrapbooking, then this is the cozy mystery series for you!  Plus this one has some classic New Orleans recipes like Carmela's Crazy Dump Cake, Party Shrimp Dip, and New Orleans-Style Beignets.  All the recipes are super simple!

I love the Hamish Macbeth series, and I also love M.C. Beaton's other series: Agatha Raisin Mysteries.   
In the isolated villages in the very north of Scotland, the villagers rely on the services of the itinerant chimney sweep, Pete Ray, and his old-fashioned brushes. Pete is always able to find work in the Scottish highlands, until one day when Police Constable Hamish Macbeth notices blood dripping onto the floor of a villager's fireplace, and a dead body stuffed inside the chimney. Some citizens in Loch Dubh are certain that Ray is the culprit....but is he?

Whispers, footsteps, and a cold white mist are plaguing Mrs. Witherspoon, but the police have failed to come up with any leads, supernatural or otherwise. But when she turns-up dead under suspicious circumstances, it's up to the Cotswolds most famous amateur detective to solve the case.  I love Agatha Raisin mysteries.  Agatha is so sassy and endearing!

This is the 23rd installment of Daheim's Bed and Breakfast Mysteries Series.  I could simply entice you to read this by describing a vacation in a remote and possibly haunted Scottish castle owned by a rich whiskey distillery baron, but when I also add that there's a murder mystery and some of the oddest, most quirky character north of Hadrian's Wall, then this one is a slam-dunk.

And finally, if you want to read my full reviews of the new Sloane Krause Murder Mysteries by Ellie Alexander, you may read my reviews HERE.  I highly recommend both.

Which of these mysteries appeals to you most?  Let me know in the comments section below!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill

Friday, October 12, 2018

Literary Friday: Death on Tap and The Pint of No Return

Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!  Today I want to share the first two books in a new cozy mystery series by Ellie Alexander.  I've read many of the books in her Bakeshop Mystery Series, and I'm enjoying the Sloane Krause Mystery Series so very much!

First of all, there's a story that features both Jules Capshaw, owner of the charming bakeshop Torte and main character in the Bakeshop Mysteries, and Sloan Krause, who’s in from out of town for the beer festival that has landed in Ashland, Oregon. Sloan is the brewmaster at the famed Der Keller brewing company that operates out of Leavenworth, Washington, and she’s come to the festival to show off the newest spring brew. When Sloan drops in to Torte for a pistachio bar and a latte, she meets Jules, who is interested in the idea of adding beer to some of her baked goods.  Jules and Sloan become instant friends, and when they both head out to sample Sloan's beer, they discover that one of the kegs is missing.

This is a cute introduction to the Sloane Krause Mystery Series, and it's only available on Kindle or Nook.  I got it for my Nook app on my iPad.  

And now, on to the novels....

According to Goodreads:

When Sloan Krause walks in on her husband, Mac, screwing the barmaid, she gives him the boot. Sloan has spent her life in Leavenworth, Washington becoming an expert in brewing craft beer, and she doesn’t have time to be held back by her soon-to-be ex-husband. She decides to strike out on her own, breaking away from the Krause family brewery, and goes to work for Nitro, the hip new nano-brewery in the Bavarian-themed town. Nitro’s owner, brewmaster Garrett Strong, has the brew-world abuzz with his newest recipe, “Pucker-Up IPA.” This place is the new cool place in town, and Mac can’t help but be green with envy at their success.

But just as Sloan is settling in to her new gig, she finds one of Nitro’s competitors dead in the fermenting tub, clutching the secret recipe for the IPA. When Mac, is arrested, Sloan knows that her ex might be a cheater, but a murderer? No way. Danger is brewing in Beervaria and suddenly Sloan is on the case.

My Review:

The first thing I love about this book is the setting.  Leavenworth, Washington is a quaint "alpine village" that's German-themed.  It reminds me of Helen, Georgia, and I imagine it as a picture-perfect Hallmark Christmas movie town.  The second thing I love is Sloane's character.  She has such a big heart, and she's the sweetest mama to her son, Alex.  She's also the best in-law to her husband's family, and they are the first family she's ever known because she grew-up in foster care.  This is why her husband Mac's infidelity is such a tremendous blow to her.

I enjoyed the mystery in this book because there are several colorful characters who could have been the murderer. Sloane's new boss at Nitro, Garrett, is a little bit of an enigma, and there's definitely chemistry between Sloane and Garrett, but she would never act on it because she's still married to Mac.  Also, Alexander did her research because she's well-versed on the brewing process.  I learned a lot about it, and I found it interesting even though I don't drink beer.  This series is going to be so good, and I might end up liking it better than Alexander's  Bake Shop Mysteries.

According to Goodreads:

Amateur sleuth Sloan Krause returns in The Pint of No Return, another delightful cozy by Ellie Alexander—this time investigating a movie star who's murdered not long after arriving in Leavenworth, WA to film his latest project.

No other festival compares to Oktoberfest in Leavenworth, Washington. The whole town is buzzing with excitement over this year’s activities and eagerly awaiting Nitro’s latest offering Cherrywizen, made with locally sourced cherries. But local brewmaster Sloan Krause is tapped out. Between trying to manage the pub, her pending divorce with Mac, and her mounting feelings for Garrett, she’s fermenting in internal turmoil.

To complicate matters, dreamy movie star Mitchell Morgan and his production crew have arrived in the village to film during the authentic Bavarian brewfest. Mitchell has his eye on Sloan and a taste for Nitro’s Cherrywizen. Sloan escapes his advances for good when she finds Mitchell slumped over the bar. Is this a case of one pint too many, or has Mitchell been murdered by microbrew?

My Review:

This is one of my favorite cozy mysteries ever, and that's saying a lot because I've read many of them!  Like the previous installment, this one has plenty of suspects with possible motives because the victim is not very delightful.  And I love the premise: a documentary chronicling micro and nano breweries and women brewmasters.  The producer quickly sees a gem in Sloane: She is beautiful, and the camera loves her.  It's an added bonus that she knows her way around a brewery!

This mystery has more layers than the first installment, and I enjoyed considering all the suspects and their possible motives.  Plus Leavenworth's Octoberfest atmosphere with the thousands of tourists made the mood seem festive and oppressive at the same time.  I also liked the tension growing between Garrett and Sloane: they are a great team, and their creativity fits together nicely.  It's obvious that they're attracted to each other, and I really want Sloane to be happy and free from that obnoxious Mac!

This is the perfect cozy mystery for autumn.  I highly recommend it!


I received a copy of Pint of No Return from the publisher, Minotaur Books.  I would like to thank them for the opportunity to read it in exchange for a fair and honest review.  I liked it so much I purchased the first one in the series, Death on Tap, because I wanted to read more about Sloane's backstory.

Come back tomorrow for a round-up of other fall-themed cozy mysteries!

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill