Book Recommendation: Too Many Crooks Spoil the Broth

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The book recommendation I have for you this week is part of the Amish Bed & Breakfast series by Tamar Myers. Too Many Crooks Spoil the Broth, which takes place in Hernia, PA, is a great read with an intriguing mystery and some laugh-out-loud moments to boot.

The book is filled with quirky characters, not the least of which is Magdalena Yoder, our intrepid innkeeper. When both her parents died in a car accident, they left Magdalena the family home, with the caveat that Mags’ younger sister, Susannah, be cut in for a share of the property when she became responsible enough. An iffy prospect, at best. Magdalena turned the home into the PennDutch Inn, an Amish Bed & Breakfast where guests are treated to an “authentic” Amish experience during their stay (including an added fee for the fun of cleaning their own rooms and making dinner one night of the week).

Susannah, who left the faith temporarily when she married a Presbyterian, is back at the PennDutch Inn and generally gets in Magdalena’s hair with her flirty ways, her immodest bling, and her dog, Shnookums (his name says it all). There’s also Freni, the stubborn and on-again, off-again cook for the PennDutch, and her husband, Mose, who has his hands full dealing with Freni.

And that’s before we even get to the guests, who are a clever mish-mash of people thrown together (perhaps not so much by chance) during the opening week of deer-hunting season in the county. Magdalena has her hands full with the dietary demands of the guests, as well as their personalities, which range from sweet to down-home to brusque to downright mean. And when the bodies start piling up, Magdalena has to figure out what on earth is going on behind the closed doors of her inn.

I loved this book. As with many of the books I read, I downloaded this one on my Kindle when it was free during a marketing promotion. And I’m so glad I did. Tamar Myers has given the reader a light-hearted glimpse into the life of an Amish innkeeper, complete with the concessions Magdalena has to make to the preconceptions much of the world has about the Pennsylvania Dutch Amish. Myers has written a fun mystery that kept me guessing to the end, with humor and a light touch that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Oh, and did I mention the book includes recipes for such things as chicken and dumplings, buckwheat pancakes, and cocoa mocha cake, to mention a few?

What are you reading? I’d love to hear!

Until next week,

Amy

P.S. In addition to her Amish Bed & Breakfast Mystery Series, Tamar Myers has also penned the Belgian Congo Mystery Series, the Den of Antiquity Series, and several stand-alone books. I intend to read as many as I can!

A Few Photos…and Thanks!

Last Thursday I had a wonderful book signing attended by very good friends and wonderful strangers alike. The signing was held at Sun Rose Words and Music in Ocean City, NJ, and I’d like to thank Nancy at Sun Rose for setting up the signing. The weather was perfect and the signing was held on Market Day in Ocean City, which means there were crowds out in full force listening to live music, laughing at the jokes of the man on stilts, and getting faces painted, along with participating in lots of other family-friendly activities.

Here are some photos:

Sun Rose signing

Sun Rose signing 2

Sun Rose signing 3

Sun Rose signing 4 (I call this “the action shot”)

Thanks to Sue Murphy, the Denton Clan, Rich and Carol Thompson, Carolyn Reade, and the nice man in the sunglasses who took the pictures!

Next up: a talk and book signing at the Avalon Public Library (Avalon, NJ) on August 5th at 7:00 p.m. If you’re in the area, please stop by and visit!

This week’s post is short because I have a lot going on. I’ll be back full force on Tuesday, July 28th!

Until next week,

Amy

 

The 5 Most Important Things I Learned on Vacation

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For those of you who know me personally, you are probably aware that my family vacations don’t always work out in reality the way they unfold in my head. If you don’t know me personally, remind me to share with you someday my diary from last summer’s family vacation.

In my head, vacations are just the way they appear on TV– beautiful weather, constant joy, couples holding hands while they watch their perfectly-behaved children frolicking in the surf.

In reality, vacations are sooo different. Everyone argues, the kids complain, and I spend all of our surf time in a constant state of shark-alert. There is little relaxation. It’s more or less the same life I always lead, but in a different place and without the dog.

But lest you think we don’t have any fun, let me assure you that it’s not all bad. We do lots of things that we wouldn’t ordinarily do at home, and we take time to do ordinary things that we don’t make time to do at home.

I returned from a vacation on Saturday. We had our ups and downs, as I think any family does on vacation, but I learned a few things and I thought I’d share them with you today.

1. Do you carry a purse? Do you know someone who does? Here’s a tip: when you go on vacation, make sure the purse has a shoulder strap (or two) and not just handles. Can’t tell you how many times I wish I hadn’t taken the purse I chose on vacation because I couldn’t sling it over my shoulder when I needed to. There were times I needed my hands free and my purse was always in one of them.

Why didn’t I just leave the purse at home, you ask? That’s easy: where else am I going to keep a nail file, sunglasses case, migraine medicine, motion sickness pills, and Tylenol? Also Band-Aids? Pens? Cell phone? Mints? A small notebook? Pizza coupons? Three tubes of lip balm? You can see why I can’t simply leave home without it.

2. Finish one bottle of sunscreen before starting another. If I told you we had at least a dozen partially-used bottles of sunscreen on the kitchen counter by the end of our vacation, would you believe me? But it’s true. I can only imagine how much better our kitchen would have looked with only one bottle in use at a time.

3. When you’re on a stand-up paddle board, move it away from the rocks. This is harder than it sounds if you’re trying to avoid very deep water (which I was, so that I didn’t become shark bait), but if you want to go home from vacation without visible scars, I would highly recommend it.

4. When things look especially grim, add water.

Here’s an anecdote that illustrates this lesson: one particularly ugly afternoon, my husband and I had a choice to make. The kids were driving us absolutely nuts, so we could either go to a happy hour or go to the beach and try out our brand-new stand-up paddle board. Leaving the kids in capable hands, we opted to go to the beach. We were only there for 90 minutes, but that’s all it took to completely erase our bad moods. We never stopped laughing on that paddleboard, and once we were too exhausted to keep trying to stand up on it, we just sat on the beach and enjoyed the breeze for a while. We were happier than we ever could have been if we’d hit a happy hour. Over the following two days, our kids tried the paddleboard, too. Same result. Lots of laughter, lots of fun. Interestingly, we’ve noticed on previous vacations that the kids always get along in the water. Doesn’t matter if it’s the beach or the pool or the sprinkler or the hose, but they always have fun together when there’s water.

5. Those ordinary things you make time for on vacation but don’t at home? Keep doing those ordinary things when you get back home. It might be playing a board game or watching a television show together, or just sitting on the porch in the evening, but try to keep it going. It’s rewarding and relaxing and brings back those happy vacation memories.

What do you like to do on vacation? I’d love to hear!

Until next week,

Amy

Book Recommendation: Death Runs in the Family

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Ready for another good book recommendation? I just finished Death Runs in the Family by Heather Haven and I really enjoyed it.

Death Runs in the Family is the third book in the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries series, the first two being Murder is a Family Business and A Wedding to Die For. I first heard of Heather Haven when Death Runs in the Family was available for a free download on Kindle, and I’m happy to report that I will gladly purchase the other books in the series.

It is the story of Lee Alvarez (short for Liana) who, along with her mother and brother, works for Discretionary Inquiries, their family-owned investigative service.

When the story opens, Lee is being rudely awakened by the appearance at her front door of her ex-husband’s current wife, a beautiful and beguiling young woman who is desperate for Lee’s help.

The young wife has arrived simultaneously with some very bad news for Lee and her family, and the two events dovetail to create a whirlwind of danger, revenge, and villainy. I don’t want to get into a plot summary and spoil any of the details, but I will say that there’s murder, gambling, and catnapping.

Need I say more?

I loved the mystery. I loved the characters and the way the author developed their relationships, I thought the pacing of the story was perfect, and I even learned some Spanish! I found the family threads easy to follow, even though this was the third mystery in the series (normally I like to start at the beginning of a series, but there’s really no need to with this one).

The story takes place in several spots, including Las Vegas, Palo Alto, and one other locale that would spoil the ending if I reveal it. And speaking of Las Vegas, I learned about some of the seedier business deals that are transacted in Sin City, too.

The author ties all the plot lines together nicely at the end, so I put the book down feeling satisfied and ready to pick up some of her other novels. I hope you’ll give Heather Haven’s books a look and let me know what you think!

Until next week,

Amy