Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Book Review: HERE TODAY, SCONE TOMORROW (Baker's Rise Mysteries Book One) by R. A. Hutchins

About the Book

When the self-titled Lord of the Manor, Harold Baker, meets an untimely end, the residents of Baker’s Rise believe that he has simply died from choking. It is fair to say that they are certainly not sad to see him go! 

Former city dweller Flora Miller, new to the quaint English village and in charge of the recently restored Tearoom on the Rise, is the unlucky recipient of the late man’s parrot. Her new feathered companion has no filter and a vibrant personality that cannot be ignored! Witness to Harold’s murder, the bird won’t let the matter lie, and it’s not long before Flora becomes suspicious. 

A quest to bake the perfect scone is put on hold whilst Flora helps the charming Detective Bramble to investigate Harold’s death. She has set her hopes on writing the next bestseller, not on becoming an amateur sleuth, but life sometimes has surprises in store! 

Will they find the killer before they strike again, and can Flora find the acceptance and friendship she seeks amongst her new neighbours? 

Packed with twists and turns, colourful characters and a sprinkle of romance, this is the first book in the series of Baker’s Rise Mysteries. It will certainly leave you hungry for more! (Includes a traditional scone recipe!) 


Flora is trying to keep her real reason for being in Baker's Rise quiet and most of the village believe she's come to re-open the Tearoom on the Rise. She's excited for the opening, but all the vibes from her new neighbors are not warm. She gets comfort from the parrot she inherited though his personality is strong and he convinces her there's more to the Lord of the Manor's death.

The story is well-staged, with the "cozy" nature of the village (though not always positive) providing context. Flora, though concerned with the villager's hostility toward the Lord of the Manor, is a strong character. She is determined to clean up the mess in the Manor proper, though she is not staying there. What she discovers leads to the Lord of the Manor's death considered suspicious at best. Between the good Detective Bramble and the parrot, Flora is well protected. 

I liked Flora and the sense of community, the flow of the story, and the hints and cues to the killer. If you like cozy mystery with some humor and puns, you will enjoy this one. This is my first read by Hutchins, but won't be my last.

Baker's Rise Mysteries

About the Author

R. A. Hutchins is a keen writer of cozy mysteries, contemporary romance, and historical fiction (under the pen name Anne Hutchins). Rachel's love of mysteries and women sleuths started at an early age with a fascination for the works of Agatha Christie. Her first high school English project was a biography of this author's life! 

In Rachel's contemporary romance, you can normally find themes of hope and new beginnings, loss and mental health, though her characters are always guaranteed a happy ending and her stories have more than a splash of heady romance! 

Rachel's favourite hobbies are reading, walking along the beach with her family, visiting new places, watching detective shows and researching different periods in history. She also enjoys collecting sea glass from the various local beaches on her doorstep. Now living in northeast England, Rachel has fond memories of the nine years she spent in Scotland. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Blog Tour and Book Review: FRONT PAGE MURDER (A Homefront News Mystery) by Joyce St. Anthony

Synopsis: ‎

In this World War II-era historical mystery series debut by Joyce St. Anthony, small-town editor Irene Ingram has a nose for news and an eye for clues.

Irene Ingram has written for her father’s newspaper, the Progress Herald, ever since she could grasp a pencil. Now she’s editor in chief, which doesn’t sit well with the men in the newsroom. But proving her journalistic bona fides is the least of Irene’s worries when crime reporter Moe Bauer, on the heels of a hot tip, turns up dead at the foot of his cellar stairs.

An accident? That’s what Police Chief Walt Turner thinks, and Irene is inclined to agree until she finds the note Moe discreetly left on her desk. He was on to a big story, he wrote. The robbery she’d assigned him to cover at Markowicz Hardware turned out to be something far more devious. A Jewish store owner in a small, provincial town, Sam Markowicz received a terrifying message from a stranger. Moe suspected that Sam is being threatened not only for who he is…but for what he knows.

Tenacious Irene senses there’s more to the Markowicz story, which she is all but certain led to Moe’s murder. When she’s not filling up column inches with the usual small-town fare—locals in uniform, victory gardens, and scrap drives—she and her best friend, scrappy secretary Peggy Reardon, search for clues. If they can find the killer, it’ll be a scoop to stop the presses. But if they can’t, Irene and Peggy may face an all-too-literal deadline.


The setting is World War II era, with limited supplies, women taking jobs in the work force as men are called to war, and German sympathizers. Irene Ingram's father goes off to the Pacific as a journalist and she takes over the local paper. Some are not to happy about it, especially her cousin, Donny, and even her mother. St. Anthony captured the tensions and conflicts that ultimately changed social norms for women. 

One part of Irene's job is keeping up with the local manufacturing plant producing bolts and other parts for the war effort. She also covers the Freedom Garden and metal scraps efforts. When anti-semitism rears its head, she sends Moe Bauer to meet with the victim. The next she sees Moe, he's dead. She doesn't believe it was an accident. 

Determined to prove it wasn't an accident, she goes after information, most leading to back to the plant. A boarder who works at the plant, Katherine, and Irene's best friend, Peggy, gather information. Headstrong and determined, Irene's actions place her in danger.

St. Anthony's research on the era is evident, even in the dialogue and attitudes of many. The plot is interesting and Moe's "big story" fits the time and place. Irene is a strong protagonist. Although the pace is slow, those who enjoy historical cozies will not be disappointed.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in the hopes that I would post an honest review. This has not affected the content of my review in any way

About the Author

Joyce was a police secretary for ten years and more than once envisioned the demise of certain co-workers, but settled on writing as a way to keep herself out of jail. As Joyce St. Anthony, she is the author of the Homefront News Mysteries. 

The first in the series, Front Page Murder, was,  released on March 8, 2022. Under her own name--Joyce Tremel--she wrote the award winning Brewing Trouble cozy mystery series. She is a native Pittsburgher and lives in the beautiful Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania with her husband and two cats--Hops and Lager.

Author Links 

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Book Review: MURDER UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN (Rita Calabrese Book 5) by Maureen Klovers


An idyllic retreat in rural Tuscany seems like the least likely place for a murder…. 

Rita Calabrese is a lover of all things Italian—especially the food. So she is overjoyed when Sal, her normally oh-so-unromantic husband, proposes a second honeymoon at a villa in Tuscany. For two weeks, she’ll get a respite from her hectic life as a reporter, sleuth, and mother and be able to just lounge by the pool, traipse through vineyards and olive groves, and gorge on gelato and tiramisu. 

Then Rita meets a suave Italian art crimes detective convinced that the villa is the epicenter of an antiquities trafficking ring, and her romantic getaway becomes a working vacation. As she quaffs glorious vino and learns to roll pici pasta by hand, Rita sizes up the other guests. Ostensibly, they have gathered for the nuptials of Alessandro and Giovanna, the Romeo and Juliet of the Italian archaeology world. But is one of them also a criminal mastermind? 

When the villa’s owner is found dead in an ancient Etruscan tomb, Rita begins to wonder if something even more sinister is afoot. Plunging into an investigation filled with star-crossed lovers, bitter professional rivalries, long-buried secrets, and fabulous food, Rita finds that Italy never loses its ability to amaze. 

Featuring delectable, authentic Italian recipes for caponata, pear and almond tart, peaches with mascarpone, and more! 


A second honeymoon in Italy doesn't quite pan out as Sal planned. From the time Rita gets drawn into trying to identify the antiquities trafficking ring, her inner sleuth is very busy. Then there's the murder of the villa's owner. With most of the other guests connect to the villa owner, the suspects and secrets are plenty. If that's not bad enough, the chef at the Villa tells Rita she can't cook. Those are fighting words.

The story is well-paced with the expected twists and turns as Rita unravels secrets and connections among the other guests, investigates possible antiquities trafficking when many of them are archeologists, and identify the killer, all the while keeping Sal in the dark that she's sleuthing. Admittedly, I found Rita somewhat irritating at the beginning, but she grew on me. If you like cozy mysteries with family tensions, set in Tuscany, you'll enjoy this book. Don't forget the recipes!

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in the hopes that I would post an honest review. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

Books in the Rita Calabrese series

The Secret Poison Garden 
A Secret in Thyme
Murder in the Moonshine
Of Masques and Murder
Murder Under the Tuscan Sun

About Maureen Klovers 

Maureen Klovers has held numerous positions in government, including a stint as a U.S. intelligence officer, and was a political commentator on DC 101’s talk radio show "Neighborhood Stuff." Ms. Klovers has traveled extensively in the United States, Europe, China, India, and Latin America. She’s hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, been escorted through a Bolivian prison by a German narco-trafficker, and fished for piranhas in Venezuela.

She received a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations (with a focus on Latin American politics) from the College of William and Mary in 1999 and a Master’s of Public Policy and Master’s of Business Administration from Georgetown University in 2006. She lives with her husband, Kevin, in Arlington, Virginia. 

For more information or to sign up for her newsletter, please visit

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Blog Tour and Book Review: WEED LAKE A Fuchsia/Brilliant, MN Crossover by Julie Seedorf



About the Book

Hermiony Vidalia Criony Fiddlestadt, aka Granny, and Jezabelle Jingle are supersleuths in their own communities, Granny from Fuchsia and Jezabelle from Brilliant. Because they live only twenty miles apart in rural Minnesota, they are careful not to encroach on each other’s territory. Granny and Jezabelle both believe a rivalry exists on who is the better crime solver.

When Delight Delure, Granny’s friend and Jezabelle’s niece, sends them on vacation with the women’s two best friends, Mavis and Lizzy, they don’t know they will be actual cabin neighbors at Weed Lake in Northern Minnesota. During a skirmish with each other and an accidental plop in the lake, they find a dead body. Adding to the mystery are clues and puzzles left on their doorstep that may warn of danger and others that show friendship and caring. Which one should they believe? Are their lives in peril, or are they being pranked, and to what end?

The two cunning amateur sleuths work together to solve a murder that Sheriff Phil Puxatawny doesn’t take seriously. But mayhem breaks out, having all four women wondering if they’ll leave Weed Lake alive.


With a little help from Delight, Mavis and Granny are off to the spa, or at least that's what Granny is led to believe. Instead it is an isolated at Weed Lake with the promise of nude mud baths courtesy of the lake. Only Delight also arranged for Granny's rival, Jezabelle and her best friend Lizzy to write their cookbook. When they stumble on the dead body in the muddy lake, Granny and Jezabelle reach an understanding they'll work together (sort of). Ultimately, they may not have a choice.

Whether in Brilliant, Fuchsia, or Weed Lake, MN, these women make for a fun read. The characters of Granny and Jezabelle are well-developed, their dialogue and actions providing a real sense of their personalities, quirks, and foibles. The story is well-paced with additional quirky characters like the sheriff. Nothing is ordinary when Granny or Jezabelle have a mystery or puzzle to solve. 

This is a cross-over of two series, most definitely to be enjoyed by fans of Fuchsia and Brilliant MN. Weed Lake can be read as a stand alone, given the well-crafted characters. Like unique and quirky characters, sleuths who compete to solve a stranger's murder, and humor? This one will not disappoint. 

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in the hopes that I would post an honest review. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

About the Author

Julie Seedorf grew up in Southern Minnesota, attending grade school and high school in a small community. She learned the value of small-town life and small-town relationships. Still living in rural Minnesota, she cherishes the beauty of the changing seasons and the various landscapes the state offers.

Through the years, she has worn many hats. Her favorite was activity director in a nursing home and finally computer repair and sales, eventually earning her own business before retiring to write and enjoy life.

She is a wife and proud mother of two boys and one daughter, along with four grandchildren. Being a mom and grandmother is her favorite career. Julie feels no other job can hold a candle to raising up a child in the way they should go. Remember the poem? Watching the world through a child’s eyes and seeing them light up with wonder takes us to the beauty of simple things we sometimes lose as an adult.

Julie has four-book series. Granny’s In Trouble, Fuchsia, MN, Brilliant, MN, and the Whistle Stop Series. She likes to write light mysteries occasionally bordering on silly and fantasy because she believes we need to take ourselves out of the real world for a space of time to laugh and relax.

Author Links 

Purchase Links: 

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Blog Tour and Book Review: GAMBLING WITH MURDER - A Southern California Mystery by Lida Sideris

Gambling With Murder

by Lida Sideris

February 28 - March 11, 2022 Virtual Book Tour


A late-night call is all it takes for rookie lawyer Corrie Locke to kiss her day job at the movie studio goodbye, and do what she does best: flex her sweet P.I. skills and go undercover to find a senior who’s missing from a posh retirement community. One small stumbling block: skirting past security to gain inside access to the exclusive Villa Sunset. Time to call in the heavy artillery. Besides former security guard turned legal assistant—now wannabe P.I.—Veera, Corrie relies on a secret weapon: her mother, a surprisingly eager addition to Corrie’s team. Armed with enough attitude and pepper spray to take down a band of Navy Seals, Mom impersonates a senior to infiltrate the Villa, Corrie and Veera in tow. Turns out the job’s not as easy as they’d thought. These seniors have tricks tucked up their sleeves and aren’t afraid of using them.

The action gets dicey as the missing senior case turns into attempted murder by a criminal mind who’s always one step ahead. Corrie’s hot on the trail, but finds more than she bargained for…especially when her mother becomes a target.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery (soft-boiled)
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: March 29, 2022
Number of Pages: 280
ISBN: 978-1-68512-086-3
Series: The Southern California Mystery series, #5 || Each is a stand alone work
Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Chapter One

Luck be a Lady

I maneuvered around shattered glass, splintered picture frames, and fragments of bubble wrap strewn along the cracked cement floor. Something crunched or crackled beneath my every step. Empty spaces joined hands to form a footpath meandering through the old warehouse. The beam of my flashlight circled around stacks of crates, blankets, old tires—

“Ninja One, see anything yet?” Veera Bankhead’s voice sputtered through the walkie-talkie cinched onto my belt.

Dressing up like ninjas had been Veera’s idea. To help us blend into the night. We wore matching black tunics over black slacks. The hood hid my long hair. A facemask rendered me incognito. Only the slit across my eyes kept me from tripping. Veera was posted in the parking lot outside to discourage unwelcome visitors.

“Looks like a hoarder’s paradise.” I stepped over a pile of well-used sneakers.

“Any idea of what we’re looking for?” she asked.

“Oh, the usual hidden-in-a-warehouse items. A barrel labeled ‘TNT’. A nondescript briefcase filled with rolls of cash. Dorothy’s ruby slippers would be nice.”

By day, Veera and I worked in the legal department of Ameripictures Film Studios. Tonight’s side gig was connected to our day job…by a nearly invisible thread. Props had gone missing from a high-budget movie currently in production. A police investigation was underway, but Veera suspected an inside job. She’d convinced studio security into letting us take a look. An anonymous tip led to a Los Angeles warehouse hidden beneath the 405- freeway. I stepped gingerly over dented soda cans to stay on the path.

“We gotta find something,” Veera said. “Our reputation’s at stake.”

She didn’t mean our reputation in the legal department. She meant our reputation as quasi-professional, unlicensed private investigators. I had my father to thank for showing me the P.I. ropes. Investigating suspicious deaths was what I did best, with help from Veera. It had earned us a level of respect from the studio security crew. That’s how we got the nosing around for missing props gig.

“I still say that new intern is behind the thefts,” Veera said. “He’s been hangin’ out at the prop house every day.”

“Isn’t he inventorying the props?” I asked.

“So he says,” Veera replied.

I had low hopes of finding anything tonight but I had to admit, this was the perfect location to hide stolen goods. A baby elephant could get lost in here. “Did you find out who owns this place?” I asked.

“Working on it,” she replied.

It didn’t hurt matters that Veera had handled parking lot security before becoming my legal assistant. She had connections far and wide in the Southern California security guard world.

I pinned the beam of my light into a dark corner. “That’s strange.” Four large pieces of luggage lay side-by-side, atop a long folding table. Everything surrounding me was in stacks and piles. I quick-stepped closer. The luggage exteriors, aluminum handles, and zippers looked new. Why store unused luggage in a place with worn-out, broken-down stuff?

“Oh-oh,” Veera said.

“Hold on.” I grabbed a suitcase and slid it closer to me. I shone my light on a combination lock. Next to it sat a small keyhole. Pulling out a paperclip from my pants pocket, I shoved it into the keyhole and jiggled it around.

“Two unmarked vehicles drove up,” Veera whispered.

We’d parked my car behind the warehouse. I’d left Veera hiding behind a bottle brush shrub near the entry.

I popped open the lid of the suitcase. Folded bedsheets lay on top. Easing them aside, I gaped at the blood-red cape with a stylized golden “S” on the back. “It’s Superman.”

“The cars parked next to each other,” Veera said.

To the side of the cape lay a pillowcase. I ran my fingers over something odd-shaped and bulky inside. I unwrapped it to find a one-of-a-kind, golden gun.

“No way.” A cigarette case formed the handle. The trigger was a cufflink and a fountain pen served as the barrel. It was a prop gun from a James Bond film.

“Two muscular guys came out of a van,” Veera said. “There’s a third-person taking his sweet time exiting a Prius. Looks to be someone smaller, older by the way he moves. And he’s wearing a dress, which means he could be a female. Headed your way. If there’s a backdoor, I’d use it.”

“Can’t. I hit the jackpot.” I spun around. Where to hide?


Excerpt from Gambling With Murder by Lida Sideris. Copyright 2022 by Lida Sideris. Reproduced with permission from Lida Sideris. All rights reserved.


Corrie Locke is an attorney in the entertainment field, but with her father's influence she also aspires to be a PI. Veera helps her out when there are props missing and Corrie tries to find them. Then she gets a call to help find someone missing from a senior community in Santa Barbara - a very exclusive community and a paid PI job. As would be expected there are complications, more than missing props, and many close calls. To get inside, Corrie's mother joins Corrie and Veera in their PI endeavor. That only adds additional tension. 

The story is well-written with snappy dialogue, tension, and humor. Corrie and Veera are likable characters, with Corrie the more adventurous. Then there's the geeky, tech-savvy boyfriend. The story is well-paced and Sideris adds twists and turns that kept me reading. 

This is the 5th in a series, and I always recommend readers start at the beginning of series. That said, I've only read one other in the Southern California Mystery series and this was easily read as a stand alone. An enjoyable cozy mystery series, the rest of the series will be on my TBR list. 

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in the hopes that I would post an honest review. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

Author Bio:

Lida Sideris' first stint after law school was a newbie lawyer's dream: working as an entertainment attorney for a movie studio...kind of like her heroine, Corrie Locke, except without the homicides. Lida was one of two national winners of the Helen McCloy Mystery Writers of America Scholarship Award and a Silver Falchion Award Finalist. She lives in the northern tip of Southern California with her family, rescue dogs and a flock of uppity chickens.

To learn more about Lida, please visit:

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for Lida Sideris. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.