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In Peppermint Peril–tea and mysteries

In Peppermint Peril

by Joy Avon

In Peppermint PerilWe’ve got a new cozy mystery series for Christmas and to start out the new year. Joy Avon brings her heroine, Callie Aspen, back from a busy career as a tour guide traveling the world to her hometown of Heart’s Harbor where her Aunt Iphy runs the Book Tea Shop, a delightful place for a cup of something hot and an edible treat containing a book related clue.

Although there are lots of interesting characters, the plot’s the thing as this mystery evolves from a tea party hosted by ninety-three year old Dorothea Finster, mistress at Haywood Hall. Everyone who attends has different expectations and some result in criminal mayhem. There are romances and friendships old and new, a cake with several layers of mystery, a cute rescue dog, and political and financial shenanigans.

Usually I can take or leave recipes at the end of a cozy mystery. In Peppermint Peril doesn’t have any, but in this case I would have enjoyed a recipe for a creation that Aunt Iphy calls “The Duel” because it has “two pastries vying to be the tastiest” on the same plate. Both feature chocolate! One has a light brown base and a beige mousse that incorporates salted caramel. It is topped with a chocolate chip cookie and roasted nuts; is is soft and crispy at the same time. The other has a dark chocolate foundation and fresh raspberries topped with white chocolate. It sounds like a delicious masterpiece of culinary creativity just made for the person who wants a taste of more than one dessert on the menu.

Callie does a lot of talking to ferret out the criminal, and she works in conjunction with local Deputy Falk. He shares more about the case than he should to try to deter her from the dangerous investigation, but Callie just becomes more determined to solve the mystery and refuses to stay out of harm’s way.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Crooked Lane Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #1 in the Book Tea Shop Mystery Series

Publication:  November 23, 2018—Crooked Lane Books

Memorable Lines:

The world around her looked like it had come straight out of a fairy tale illustration; trees laced with frost; every stem of grass, every branch and bramble powdered with the snow that had fallen last night and had been scattered by the strong wind.

Still single herself and uncertain whether she’d ever have a family, Callie could relate to the feeling. At times she felt perfectly happy with her life, and then suddenly she felt something missing and wanted to change everything.

Tick-tock. The relentless rhythm of time. Reminding them of a lot of years that had slipped away and all the time that had not been spent with people it could have been spent with.

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Cry Wolf–part cozy, part police procedural

Cry Wolf

by Annette Dashofy

Cry WolfReaders get to ride along briefly with Zoe Chambers as she completes her nonstop shift as a Monongahela County EMS paramedic responding to a machete attack. As interesting as that is, it only gets more so as the characters involved are soon also identified as part of murder scenarios. In Cry Wolf, Annette Dashofy continues the personal tale of Zoe and her boyfriend, Pete Adams, who is Vance Township’s Chief of Police. The network expands to include Harry, Pete’s father with Alzheimer’s and Jason Cox, Zoe’s newly discovered half-brother.

Zoe’s boss is hospitalized, and she has to take over his coroner’s duties putting her closer to the investigation of both murders. Meanwhile the folks at Golden Oaks retirement home help out with the sleuthing, and Pete tries to come to grips with this newly found family relationship of Zoe’s. Vance’s small police force is currently undermanned due to a young officer’s reluctance to serve after his first police shooting results in a death.

Cry Wolf has a complicated plot with lots of interwoven threads and action scenes and a little humor thrown in. The characters are interesting and well-developed. This is a book you won’t want to put down until its surprise ending and satisfactory conclusion.

I would like to extend my thanks to Edelweiss and to Henery Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #7 in the Zoe Chambers Mystery Series, but the author does a great job of bringing the reader up to speed on the characters.

Publication:  September 18, 2018—Henery Press

Memorable Lines:

“Kristopher was livid. He has a very clear picture of how he wants his life to be. When anyone or anything interferes with that vision, he throws a temper tantrum to rival most two-year-olds.”

Zoe wondered what her dad would have been like in old age. On one hand, she’d been spared watching time and illness ravage his mind and body. On the other, she’d give just about anything to have him in her life, no matter what shape he’d be in.

Keep It Shut: What to Say, How to Say It, and When to Say Nothing at All

Keep It Shut: What to Say, How to Say It, and When to Say Nothing at All

by Karen Ehman

Keep it ShutHave you ever stopped to think about the “aweful” (and sometimes awful) power our tongues can have? Like, maybe, when you put your foot in your mouth…again? Or, perhaps, you have pondered the good in your life when someone spoke words of kindness and encouragement. Karen Ehman has written a special, down-to-earth book for those interested in taming the tongue: Keep It Shut: What to Say, How to Say It, and When to Say Nothing at All.

This book is humorous and full of anecdotes. It is also biblically based and gets REAL about the issues that all honest women will admit arise in their lives from time to time—especially in this digital age.  Ehman addresses various problems of communication including listening, talking to God before talking to others, gossip, flattery, and anger. She shares verses from Proverbs as the original tweets, and they are powerful. It turns out the Bible has a lot to say about what we have to say.

Ehman concludes Keep It Shut by summarizing tips and tricks derived from the body of her book as a quick and easy way to refer back to those truths. She discusses ways to find time and opportunities to get away with God for a few minutes or hours to be grounded in Him so you can make Godly decisions about what to say and when to say it. She lists ten verses that will “help you watch your words.” She has questions to ponder to help you examine your motives and decide if something is gossip or not. Ehman doesn’t stop at the negative. She also includes “powerful phrases” to speak to various people in your life and Scripture verses, quotes, and phrases that you can photocopy and display around your home or office as reminders.

Keep It Shut had a surprisingly big impact on me, giving me a lot to think about. One example is the “white lie.” Yes, I do tell white lies occasionally to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. Ehman discusses the dangers of that and offers alternatives. I recommend Keep It Shut for the humor, the chatty presentation, and the Godly truths found in its pages.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Christian, Nonfiction

Notes: Ehman addresses women in her book because psychologists have shown that women speak a lot more words every day than men (20,000 compared to 7,000). Of course there are exceptions, but in general women have a lot more opportunities to get in trouble because of things they say than men.  Men, the biblical truths in this book would not be wasted on you either!

Publication:   January 6, 2015—Zondervan

Memorable Lines:

Don’t say something permanently painful just because you are temporarily ticked off.

All the humans you encounter throughout the course of the day are “on purpose” people. God plopped them into your life for a reason.

When we harden our hearts and let every little offense poke a hole in our happiness, we only hurt ourselves…But when we soften our hearts with love for others, and toughen our skins against their barbs, we are better equipped to show the compassionate love of Jesus to a watching world.

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