Cover Reveal AND Reading Round-Up

First things first. Yesterday my newsletter subscribers got the first look at the cover of my next book, Cape Menace: A Cape May Historical Mystery, and now it’s time to share it here! This is the first book in my new Cape May Historical Mystery Collection, a collection of standalone mysteries set throughout the history of Cape May, New Jersey.

Here’s the blurb of the new book, which will be available for pre-order soon (don’t worry—I’ll get all the details to you!):

The year is 1714. Two years have passed since Ruth Hanover vanished into the wilderness of the New Jersey colony without a trace, leaving behind her husband, William, and their daughter, Sarah. Though William and Sarah have never stopped hoping that Ruth will return, as time goes by it becomes less and less likely they will ever see her again.

Now William is acting strangely. He won’t tell Sarah why he’s conducting business with a mysterious stranger in the middle of the night, he won’t explain the sudden increase in his income, and he won’t share with her what people in town are saying about her mother’s disappearance.

When the time comes for Sarah to face her father’s secrets and figure out why her mother never came home that December day in 1712, what she learns will shock her tiny community on the New Jersey cape and leave her fighting for her life.

***

And here’s the cover!

I hope you love it as much as I do.

***

And now it’s time for the Reading Round-Up. I never did post at the end of March, so this month I’ll share some of the reads I really enjoyed over the past 60 days. I thought I’d get more reading done because of the quarantine, but I was wrong. My reading schedule hasn’t changed much—this is actually good, since it means I’m sticking to my routine. Reading is always a part of my day, but so are a lot of other things, and that hasn’t changed.

Every book in this round-up gets 5 stars from me, and I will not share the only book I didn’t like.

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First up, No One Will Find Me by Marja McGraw. I loved this book, as I have loved all the other books in the Sandi Webster series. Set in the desert of the American southwest, this mystery follows Sandi, her husband, their friends Stanley and Felicity, and Sandi’s parents as they search for a serial killer who’s gotten away with murder for many years. Read my review here.

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Sprinkle with Murder, book 1 in the Cupcake Bakery Mysteries by Jenn McKinlay, was a fun cozy read that introduced readers to Mel and Angie, co-owners of the new Fairy Tale Cupcakes Bakery. Mel is accused of murdering the nightmare fiancee of one of her best friends, and the story unfolds delightfully from there. Read my review here.

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If you like thrillers, do yourself a favor and read this book. Ann Cleeves has done a fabulous job of putting the reader smack into the action of Raven Black, a whodunit that takes place on a remote Scottish island. Read my review here.

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This is the second book I’ve read by Bibiana Krall, and it was a superb and spellbinding tale of legend, paranormal suspense, and Irish folklore. I love the way Krall uses language to bring urgency and horror to Loftus Hall, Book 2 in the Irish Phantom series. Read my review here.

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Poison Branches is the first in the Perri Seamore series of genealogical mysteries by author Cynthia Raleigh. Main character Perri Seamore is off on a girls’ weekend and she’s combined it with a research trip to Kentucky to find information about her ancestors. When a murder takes place in the small town where Perri is staying, she is drawn into the investigation because the police need her expertise in ancestry research to find the murderer. Read my review here.

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I have read several of Sally’s books, and they’re always a treat. She has shown time and again, both in books and on her blog, that her writing skills go way beyond one genre or one kind of poetry. Life’s Rich Tapestry is a celebration of writing, of inspiration, of human nature, and of the natural world. But there’s so much more, and you’ll have to read it to fully appreciate Sally’s talents and wisdom. Read my review here.

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Every time I read a book of psychological suspense, I love the genre more. And The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides was no exception. If you’re looking for something that you can read quickly (because you’ll have no choice—you can’t stop turning pages), check out this novel. Read my review here.

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Please remember to review the books you read! Reviews are important for authors and we appreciate every single one.

Until next time,

Amy

We Are the World Blogfest #WATWB

It’s the last Friday in April, and time for some good news to take you into May with a smile. The post I’ve chosen to share this month is actually a compilation of stories that signal good news for the environment. You have probably noticed that as the global pandemic has raged, it has slowed down almost everything, including our use of fossil fuels and human activity in general. We know that this can’t last forever, nor do we want it to, but this break in the action has been good for the earth.

I hope you’ll check out the post, which shares news from the mass birth of endangered sea turtles to thought-to-be-extinct leopards in Taiwan. Not all the news in the post is good—there is a link to an article about closing oil refineries, which, though good for the environment, will cost jobs. But the overall tone of the post is one of hope and lessons learned.

Click here to read the story.

Here’s how #WATWB works: On the last Friday of each month a number of bloggers participate in a worldwide blog hop in which each blogger highlights a story that spreads good news, happiness, and hope.

Your cohosts for this month are Eric LahtiSusan Scott, Dan AntionDamyanti Biswas, and Inderpreet Kaur Uppal. And if you want to read more uplifting articles, please visit the WATWB Facebook page here or the Twitter home page here to find links to other stories.

Want to join? Click this link to sign up and help spread some happiness!

Chatting with Jenny Kales

This is an exciting post for two reasons: first, because it is the first time we’ve had a cookbook author on Reade and Write (and everyone who reads the blog knows I love to cook and I love to eat). And second, because the author is none other than Jenny Kales, who has been here before and whose books are FABULOUS. She’s here to talk about her newest release, The Callie’s Kitchen Mysteries Cookbook.

I have read the book and I loved it (you can read my full review here). It’s full of wonderful Greek and Midwestern American recipes, as well as some extra treats from the Callie’s Kitchen Mysteries, and I think you’ll love it, too.

Welcome, Jenny!

Congratulations on your new cookbook! I’m so excited to talk to you about it. Here’s my first question: have you always been a lover of Greek food?

Thank you so much! I’m so happy to participate in this interview with you. I have really enjoyed writing my new cookbook. Besides many new recipes, the cookbook contains new scenes as well as book excerpts from the series.  I hope my cookbook gives readers a little more insight into the characters and the series, besides providing some tasty new recipes to enjoy.

Regarding Greek food, I learned all about it from my husband who is a Greek-American. On one of our early dates, my husband took me to Greektown and introduced me to Greek food and the rest was history. I remember having the simple but very tasty dish, tzatziki (Greek yogurt-cucumber sauce) and feeling cheated I’d never had it before. It’s so delicious! Tzatziki is still one of my favorites and the recipe can be found in my new cookbook.

I’m intrigued by the idea of a supper club, which you note is commonplace in Wisconsin. Can you tell me more about them? Do they have memberships, or can anyone eat at a supper club?

Supper clubs are open to the public, and name refers to their hours of operation: any time after 4 pm, aka “suppertime.” They range from rustic charm to old-school elegance, but what they all have in common in that to attend one feels like an “event.” Supper clubs serve good, honest food like steaks, fish, chops and frequently, scrumptious homemade desserts. They also offer house cheese spread and “relish trays” aka crudité, served to every diner. What I love about supper club food is the same thing I love about Greek food: it’s simple, has bold, fresh flavors, and if done right, it’s just plain good.

Wisconsin supper clubs are also known for their classic cocktails, primarily the Brandy Old-Fashioned. Supper clubs often feature live music, always have a Friday fish fry, and are known as meeting places for friends and family to gather. However, their numbers are diminishing, so if you get a chance to visit one, go!

I know from reading your newsletters and various interviews that your husband and his family are great cooks and have inspired some of the recipes you include in your mysteries. Do you always run recipes by them before including them in your novels?

First of all, thanks for subscribing to my newsletter! I always run any new or “tweaked” recipes by the family before I include them in books. However, many of my recipes are my husband’s family recipes, and they are fabulous. So, they’ve already been given many trial runs, such as YiaYia’s Greek Meatloaf and many others. I have altered a few to my tastes and to modern health concerns, such as the spanakopita recipe found in my first Callie’s Kitchen book and in my new cookbook. I think the original recipe called for nearly a dozen eggs. It doesn’t need that many!

What is your idea of a perfect Greek celebration meal?

When you have a Greek meal, it’s always festive! But for a big celebration meal, I have to have a “pita,” aka a dish layered in baked phyllo dough, my favorite being spanakopita. At my house, we also love to have a huge Greek village salad, grilled meats and fish, Greek roasted potatoes, tzatziki and bread. For dessert, my deluxe Greek rizogalo (rice pudding) or Greek cookies with Greek coffee. P.S. A lot of people have asked me about baklava, one of the best-known Greek dishes, and why I don’t have a recipe for it in my books. The reason is that my oldest daughter has a severe nut allergy, so I don’t make it at home, and we don’t eat it at home. However, I love being able to introduce people to lesser-known Greek foods and I hope they enjoy learning about them and trying them.

Do you have a favorite recipe in the cookbook?

That’s a tough one because I love each one and I do make each recipe that I share in the cookbook and mystery books. If I have to pick one, I’ll choose the one I make the most and that’s the paxemathia, aka Greek biscotti flavored with ouzo (anise-flavored liqueur). My second favorite is spanakopita. And my third…just kidding, but it’s hard to pick just one.

I’m sure you have a vast repertoire of Greek and Midwestern recipes. How did you decide which recipes to put in the book and which ones to leave out?

To start, I included every recipe that is found in my mystery novels. I love choosing the recipes that go into the books because they often reflect the action in the mystery or on a character’s personality or behavior. Beyond those, I wanted to feature recipes that were easy to make, delicious (of course!) and that would directly reflect the spirit of the Callie’s Kitchen Mysteries. I also chose to include recipes that I make for my family. I view the cookbook as a peek not into just Callie’s Kitchen but also into my own.

Are you a see-what-tastes-good cook or a follow-the-directions-precisely cook?

If it’s a new recipe, I will try to follow it exactly and make changes later. However, I will confess that I’ve been cooking so long, sometimes I just “know” I’m going to want to add or delete something, or that the baking time needs to be adjusted. I guess you could say I’m a little bit of both.

Of all the foods Callie makes, which is Detective Ian Sands’ favorite?

I love this question! After a hard day of crime solving, he loves her comforting home cooking like the Greek Beef Stew with red wine in A Stew to a Kill. He also likes the Greek Yogurt Coffee Cake and the Loukoumades aka Greek drop doughnuts– two breakfast-type foods sold every day in Callie’s Kitchen. The sugar gives him energy what will most certainly a busy day in Crystal Bay.

Can you share what’s next for Callie?

Yes! Well, I had planned to have her travel abroad. I don’t want to say too much because there are some new scenes in my cookbook that deal with some breaking developments Callie’s life. Regarding having her travel, I considered the current situation with the worldwide pandemic and travel restrictions, and decided that I would still have her travel, because after all, this is fiction and she would have already left on her trip. I’m not sure how or if I will incorporate current events into the book. In the end, I will do what feels right for the story.

And what’s next for you?

I am on a second round of edits for a brand-new mystery with series potential. I really love the premise and characters, one of which is a more mature (retired) female sleuth who starts an online fan group and gets involved in a mystery! I hope to have that one out later this year. I am also turning 50 in May, which is prompting me to want to get busy with some projects I’ve been putting aside. Right now, I’m trying to get my current book finished and enjoying the unexpected time with both of my daughters, who are both home e-learning right now. One is in college and one is in her junior year of high school.

Where can readers connect with you?

I love to connect with readers! You can find me mostly on my Facebook author page https://www.facebook.com/jennykalesauthor/ and Instagram https://www.instagram.com/jennykales_author/?hl=en. I also publish a newsletter for readers, often featuring recipe exclusives, giveaways and more. You can sign up for that at this link or on my Facebook page. My website is www.jennykales.wordpress.com. Stop by and say hello!

Where can readers find your books?

You can find my books on Amazon, in both paperback and for the Kindle (click to be redirected). My Callie’s Kitchen Mysteries are free with a subscription to Kindle Unlimited. I am looking to expand into other formats, such as Nook and iBooks, so stay tuned!

Thank you, Amy, for such featuring me on your blog and for such great questions. I also want to thank the readers, who are so important to us authors, especially now.

It was my pleasure, Jenny. 

Until next time,

Amy

First Tuesday Recipes for April

I hope all of you are doing well and staying mentally and physically healthy as we find ourselves in this unprecedented worldwide pandemic.

Since my work is pretty solitary and I work from home, I think I’ve had an easier time adjusting to the temporary new normal. But for lots of people, this is uncomfortable and strange. It helps if you stick with a routine and get outdoors for some fresh air if you can. It also helps to turn off the television! You’re better able to focus and stay positive if you don’t have the news media in your face all the time telling you how horrible life has become.

If you get my newsletter, in early March I provided subscribers with a list of places to find free things to do while they’re isolating in the house. They ranged from virtual tours of world-famous museums to listening to the archived Berlin Philharmonic concerts. If you don’t get my newsletter, you can sign up here and I’ll send you the latest one.

At our house, we’ve been doing a lot of fun “cooking.” We’ve made pickles, gelato, rice pudding, and some other fun foods. I’ve also been writing and staying busy on social media every day, just like I do all the time.

And I’ve been learning Greek! It’s slow going, but I’m enjoying it. If you visit https://www.duolingo.com, you can choose from a huge list of languages to learn and it’s all free!

This month I’ve chosen to share three recipes that can be made with simple ingredients that many of us have on hand, since visits to the grocery store are fewer and farther between. I hope you enjoy them. If you have any go-to meals that are easy and don’t call for many ingredients, please share in the comments!

 

Broccoli Casserole

2 10-oz. pkgs. frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained
1/2 can cream of celery or cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
3 T. chopped onion
3 T. mayo
3 T. butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 t. pepper
crushed Ritz crackers (or Townhouse, Club, etc.)
extra butter, cold
Mix first eight ingredients (through pepper) in a large mixing bowl.  Spread in a greased 8×8′ casserole dish and sprinkle generously with crushed crackers.  Dot with small pats of cold butter.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 30-35 minutes.
Lemon Squares
Recipes for lemon squares are everywhere, but I thought I’d share my favorite one with you.
Crust:
1 c. flour
1/4 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. butter, chilled
Filling:
2 eggs
1 c. sugar
2 T. flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1 1/2 t. grated lemon peel
2 T. lemon juice
Topping:
powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine filling ingredients until crumbly. Pat into the bottom of an 8 x 8″ square baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes.
While crust is baking, prepare filling. Beat eggs and sugar until light yellow. Add remaining ingredients and beat well. Pour over hot crust. Bake 18-25 minutes or until lightly golden brown.
When cool, dust with powdered sugar and cut into squares.
Poppy Seed Bread
This recipe makes two loaves: one for now, one to freeze for later.
Bread:
3 c. flour
1 1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 t. baking powder
2 1/4 c. sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 c. milk
1 1/8 c. vegetable oil
1 1/2 T. poppy seeds
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1 1/2 t. almond extract
Glaze:
1 c. powdered sugar
1-2 t. water
1-2 t. almond extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two loaf pans.
Combine all bread ingredients and mix well with an electric mixer. Divide batter evenly between the two pans. Bake for about an hour or until the loaves test done. Mix the glaze ingredients until you have the consistency you desire and glaze the loaves while they are still warm
Enjoy!
Until next time,
Amy
P.S. Sorry about the spacing in this post. WordPress was being uncooperative when I wrote it.

We Are the World Blogfest

I know, it’s the first week in April and the #WATWB boat sailed last Friday. But better late than never, right?

This week I’m sharing another post filled with good news for the environment. lt’s the story of a man in Senegal who has spent the past ten years reforesting a mangrove swamp with the help of the Senegalese local coastal populations. They’ve managed to plant 152 MILLION mangrove trees to help reverse the devastation caused by clear-cutting practices of the late twentieth century. You can read the full story here.

Here’s how #WATWB works: On the last Friday of each month (ahem…) a number of bloggers participate in a worldwide blog hop in which each blogger highlights a story that spreads good news, happiness, and hope.

Your cohosts for this month are Shilpa Garg, Sylvia McGrath, Dan Antion, and Damyanti Biswas. And if you want to read more uplifting articles, please visit the WATWB Facebook page here or the Twitter home page here to find links to other stories.

Want to join? Click this link to sign up and help spread some happiness!

April 1st

A fun contest from Victoria Benchley!

Victoria Benchley

Ready to play?

Identify the location of the photo below.  Remember to register your answer by clicking on “Leave a comment” at the top of this page and then write your reply (I’ll approve comments at end of each day and reveal the locale in the following blog). 

Correct answer receives a point.  I’ll be posting a different photo, along with a hint, every day this month.  Whoever has the most points on April 30th will receive a prize (you’re not winning the lotto, dear people, but I will mail you a small gift which will include a modest Amazon card).  In the event of a tie, a randomly generated number will decide the winner.  So, be sure to check back here each day, and let’s see who can . . .

Name That Location!

Hint: This spot is considered one of the prettiest villages in this country. It’s…

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