Grade in Red| Chapter 6

Chapter Six

I was asked to wait outside in front of the school while the paramedics and police were inside securing the crime scene. I couldn’t believe it, Bridgett Nickel was dead, actually dead. I knew there were many times as a teenager that I wished she would disappear, but I never wished her any physical harm. 

What had happened? There was no way that was an accident, someone actually meant her harm. I remembered from Biology class that there was an artery in the neck. That had to have been where the pen entered, there was too much blood otherwise. I just couldn’t get the image of her lying there, blood congealing on the floor. She had to have been there for quite some time. hat is what they say on the show, Crime Scene Investigation, right?

I was shivering and shaking. The lights from the ambulance and police cars were playfully dancing in the grass in front of me. I felt someone’s hand on my shoulder and I jumped. “What?!” I yelped. 

“Hey! Mags, I know that you’re in shock, but I need to ask you a couple of questions. We can do that here or we can go down to the station, whichever one works for you.” Jake was talking to me in a low and soft voice. 

I could tell that he was trying not to make me go further into shock or freak out anymore then I was at the moment. The way he was acting now, so kind and considerate reminded me of how was when we used to hang out. 

“Sure, what do you need to ask me? Anything I can do to help catch this killer.” I was starting to get angry over this whole event. Someone came into our town and decided to kill one of our own. Just because I didn’t like her didn’t mean that I didn’t value life. 

“Now Mags, we do not know that there was a killer. We cannot assume anything. However, I need to know when was the last time that you saw the victim alive?” Jake asked as he flipped out his notepad and started jotting down notes. 

“What do you mean we can’t assume there was a killer? There was a pen sticking out of her neck!” I started breathing heavily and my hands clenched in frustration. 

“Maggie, we can’t assume anything. We have to weigh out all other possibilities. The medical examiner needs to officially determine the cause of death. We need to question the victim’s last day. There is a lot to think about and consider. Now, when was the last time that you saw the victim alive?” Jake’s eyes were piercing into mine with an intensity I wasn’t comfortable with. 

“Umm, last night at Murphy’s. She was wasted and stumbling everywhere.” I started shivering. It had to be at least 90 degrees outside and I was cold. 

“Did you two have an altercation last night at the pub?” Jake continued looking at his notepad. I felt like this was a rhetorical question because by the tone of his voice he already knew the answer, but I told him what happened anyway. I didn’t need the grapevine to be the one telling the police about the argument Bridgett and I had. 

“She ran into the back of my chair and spilled her drink down my back. I was shocked, turned around and saw that she was intoxicated. She claimed that I had ruined her drink and demanded that I buy her a new one. If you don’t believe me, you can ask anyone in the bar. Vic was there and so was Cindy.” I knew that I was getting defensive, but it had turned into a long night and all I wanted to do was go home and wash off the night. 

“Listen Maggie, I don’t need you to get a tone with me. I have to ask these questions. I need to corroborate your last moves and Bridgett’s. Now do you have an alibi for approximately 3:00 pm today?” Jake’s eye were boring into mine. I could feel them penetrating my own looking for the truth. 

“I was at home, unpacking, listening to music, getting my lesson plans ready for the school year.” I said in a deadpan voice. 

“You have no one to backup your alibi? You were at home by yourself?” He asked, completely serious. There wasn’t a hint of the  playful glint in his eyes that I had seen not only two hours before. 

“No, my dad was at work and my mom was called to do a consult in Tulsa for the day. I was home alone.”  I felt dread entering my body. I knew at that moment that I was a suspect. There wasn’t anything I could do about it. 

Or was there?

Graded in Red| Chapter 3

Chapter 3

I couldn’t believe I was back home. Even after packing all of my earthly belongings, driving three and a half hours from the city, and unpacking my things into the basement apartment, I couldn’t believe it. But here I was, walking into my favorite local pub, Murphy’s. Scott and Cindy were the owners and had been alive for as long as I could remember. I swear it was the homemade brew that they made here in Broken Bow. That was what kept them alive and kicking. 

Our town was small. Everyone knows everyone. A person’s personal business is technically not their own here with a population of around 4,000 people. There were some great things about this.  For example, I grew up never knowing a stranger. However, there were downs to this as well. Every person I ran into knew about the fact that I couldn’t make it in the big city, Oklahoma City. 

“Hey everyone! Look who’s back! Mags!” squealed Cindy as she ran from around the counter to envelop me in a huge hug. 

“Hey Cindy! How’s it going?” I breathed as Cindy squeezed all of the breath out of my lungs. She smelled the same, of citrus and cigarette smoke. Not the most appealing of scents but it made the reality of being home so much more clear. They said that scent was one of the most important of the five senses, it could bring back memories a person thought was forgotten. 

“Oh, you know! My back has been acting up, and Scott fractured his hand when a crate of beer fell on it! It’s never boring here! But we are fine just the same. Smithwicks for you, Mags?” Cindy asked as she squeezed my shoulders one last time before heading back behind the bar. 

“Yes! You remembered! You’re the best. Have you seen Vic? She was supposed to meet me here to talk about the beginning of the school year.” I  said as I wove my way in-between the tables to get to an empty barstool table with two seats. 

“ Of course I remembered! I follow you on your Facebook! Trying to keep up with all of those city drinks! And no, she hasn’t made it in yet. But grab that table and I will point her your way when she gets in. Until then here is your beer, want anything to snack on while you wait?” Cindy took out a notepad from her apron and took the pencil out from behind her messy bun. 

“Got any specials today?” My stomach was rumbling. I remembered that I hadn’t had anything to eat since this morning when I was filling up my car with gas at a QuikTrip. 

“We have some cheese fries, chili, and some broccoli soup with bread from the bakery down the street. Any of that sound good to you?” 

“I think I’ll have some broccoli cheddar soup and two pieces of bread, thanks Cindy. You’re the best.” I smiled at her as she nodded and walked back to the kitchen. 

Looking around the pub I noticed that things hadn’t changed much in the 10 years since I had last been here. The booths still had the same green cracked leather and faux wood veneer. The lights were still dim and caked with years of dust and other things that I didn’t want to think about. But I could tell that Cindy and Scott were doing well. They had new beer mugs, new taps, and a new POS system, with a fancy touch screen. 

As I was scanning the room my eyes fell on the last person I wanted to see, Bridgett Nickel. I could tell time had not been kind to her. There were lines deeply edge in her face from years of smoking and a hard life, I assumed. Her hair was bleached to the last possible inch of its life. She looked a good ten years older than me, and yet she was still wearing clothing from what looked like our high school days. 

A tight red halter top, a size too small, a black lacy bra, not strapless, a short jean skirt with embroidered flowers on it, and  bright red stiletto heels. She was leaning down talking to a man at the bar, so she didn’t notice me staring. They looked to be having a heated discussion, he grabbed her arm, she pushed back and yanked it out of his grasp. He grabbed her waist and pulled her in, giving her a very sloppy and messy kiss. I couldn’t tell if she was enjoying it or not. As I was trying to figure it out someone came up from behind me. 

“Hey Mags, what are you staring at?” A soft voice whispered behind me. 

My heart jumped into my throat at being caught staring, but I knew that voice almost better than my own, “Victoria Star! You know it’s rude to sneak up on people unannounced!” I said as I grabbed her and forced a hug on her. 

“Ha! Says the woman who was staring down Bridgett over there. You know, if you are going to spy on people, you should at least be more secretive about it. Maybe put a magazine in front of your face, and peak over it every once in a while. Haven’t you ever watched a James Bond movie? Or Harriet the Spy?” Victoria lectured as she put her Mary Poppins bag on the table and started to bring out stacks of papers. I swear that purse had no ending. 

Victoria Star had been my best friend since we were in middle school. She was into oldies music, black and white movies, and old books. Of course, in a small town like Broken Bow, where sports ran the schools, this made her an outcast. It didn’t help that she was 5’2” with bright red hair, and had a garish laugh. She might have been small, but she was fierce. As an awkward middle schooler who basically lived in the library, hit puberty way to early, and actually liked school, I wasn’t part of the ‘cool kids club’ either. Thus a wonderful friendship bloomed. 

Victoria took to her artistic way of living and got her degree in the Visual Arts at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. She tried her hand at show business, I mean, with the last name of Star, she had a lot to live up to. But she missed home too much and came back home about 5 years ago. She got a job at the local high school as the Art and Drama teacher.  

“Listen, you know Harriet the Spy was my favorite book and movie growing up. I just didn’t expect to see Bridgett here in town. I thought when we graduated she was going to make it big as a TV anchor or something like that. You hadn’t mentioned her during our weekly phone calls. I was just caught off guard.” I said defensively and I watched Cindy weave her way through the now full pub with my bread and soup. 

“Hear ya go, darling. Enjoy! Anything I can get you, Vic?” Cindy asked while wiping the table next to us off with a damp rag. 

“I’ll have what she’s having. A smithwicks right?” Victoria looked at me with a glint in her eye. I knew I was predictable but I liked what I liked. No sense in straying from something I knew was going to taste good. 

“Alright, it might be a little bit longer, we always get slammed around this time every day. The new school they’re building brings in a lot of thirsty and hungry construction workers. See ya in a bit, I’ll bring your drink over first. though.” Cindy made her way back to the bar, getting stopped every few steps to take empty glasses, pick up tabs, and orders. She made it look easy, but I know it takes a special person to be able to handle this kind of crowd. 

“I didn’t know that she was back in town. I knew that she was in and out of rehab after we graduated high school. She got knocked up, by her drug dealer, I believe, and the kid lives with her parents while she wanders around town to town.” Victoria looked like she was going to cry. I knew that she didn’t feel bad for Bridgett, she was just as mean or worse to Victoria in high school then she was to me. There had to be something else that Vic was upset about. 

“What’s wrong? Why are you so upset?” I asked

“It’s just, I know her son, Blake. He is in 3rd grade now, and is the sweetest, most talented kid I have in the Young Actors Guild that I run after school. She isn’t the kindest to him. She picked him up last week, drunk off her rocker and swearing at him. Calling him a fairy because he had stage makeup on. It was just hard to watch, and I feel so bad for him.” Victoria wiped away a tear as she started to sort the papers in front of her into piles that only made sense to her. 

“Hey, Vic, I’m sorry! Just know that everything you are doing with your after school clubs and before school tutoring is amazing! You are a wonderful mother figure for these kids and you are helping them with everything that you can.  But you have to remember that you’re only human, you can’t do everything.” I squeezed her arm and smiled at her. 

“Oh, I know! This is me being tough, you should have seen my first year teaching. I cried every day. Speaking of first year teaching, you ready to tackle History for Juniors and Seniors? I brought the textbook and the most recent state standards for you to look over before school starts. You’ll be working with Mike, the 9th and 10th grade teacher on collaboration and lesson plans.” Victoria went into organization and planning mode. I knew that I wouldn’t get anything else out of her if we didn’t get everything settled and sorted out now. 

“Mike? Who’s Mike? You never mentioned that I would have to work on a team with anyone else. What was it that you said? ‘Mags, you’re basically your own boss. You won’t even have to deal with adults, besides parents. I promise this will be amazing!’, I’m pretty sure you didn’t mention working with anyone else.” I didn’t like surprises and Victoria knew that. 

“Listen, I knew that you might say no if I told you that you weren’t going to be 100% on your own. And no job lets you work all alone, you need to socialize more! Besides, it’s not like its a stranger. You know Mike.” She said while averting her eyes from my gaze. 

“I do? Who is Mike?” I could feel the apprehension climbing from my stomach to my heart and into my throat. 

“Michael Johnson. He was a year behind us. He followed you around like a lost puppy our senior year. Asked you to prom but you decided to go with Jake instead. Which I still can’t understand.” Victoria scrunched up her face to show her displeasure in my choices ten years ago. 

“You knew from the beginning that I was going to be working with him didn’t you?!” I squeaked just a little bit too loudly, causing others in the tables near us to turn around and stare. 

I don’t know why I was so upset or why I was acting like a scared teenager. Mike never creeped me out or anything. He wasn’t a stalker by any means, but he did like to hang out with our group and try to be next to me most of the time.  He actually helped me study a time or two in the library for a history exam from Mr. Rod. His tests were always so brutal it was hard to keep up. 

Looking back I realize that I wasn’t the best of friends with him that I could have been and I didn’t want to have to relive my past mistakes even more than I was already going to. 

“Yes Mags, I knew that you would be working with him. I didn’t think it would be a big deal. You both are mature adults, right? You can be kind and helpful to one another. Plus, he is your mentor actually, so you have to meet with him at least once a week.” Victoria said the ending sentence as quickly as she could while drinking a large gulp from her beer. I think she was hoping that I wouldn’t hear the last part. 

“EVERY WEEK?! Jeez Vic, I’m not a child. Just because this is my first teaching job outside of my internships doesn’t mean I need to be babysat. I do have a degree in American Studies, I know what I am teaching. I have my teaching certificate which is more than a lot of alt-certified teachers here in the state.” I could feel the vein in my forehead bulging. When I get mad or upset that traitorous vein always pops. 

With the recent cuts to education in the past ten years Oklahoma teachers were flocking to the surrounding states for better teacher pay and support in the classroom. This left a lot of empty holes that needed to be filled in Oklahoma schools. 

Instead of actually raising teacher pay, the legislators decided that they were going to give emergency certifications to people who have degrees semi-close to what they would teach. They would have two years to pass the state test for the subject, but until then the school districts would throw these adults into the lion’s den with students who would eat them alive due to lack of classroom management or understanding of children’s phycology. 

“Do you know how to read IEPs? 504s? BIPs? What about the new OAS standards? There are many more acronyms that have come out since you graduated. You will need help with accommodations, talking to helicopter parents, and the flow of classroom management.” 

“Wait a minute, what is a helicopter parent? That sounds like something that would come out of a Science Fiction novel.” I laughed into my drink

“A helicopter parent, is a parent who thinks they know more about educating their child then you do. They’ll march into the Principal’s office to demand a 5-page report on why little Suzy got a B+ instead of an A for the paper they wrote for them because God forbid kids do their own homework and then they’ll force you to share your lesson plans with them and quickly respond by supplying you with their own they downloaded off some home-schooling website, while threatening to have you fired because they attend the same country club as the superintendent. And all because their child didn’t score high enough on the SAT, which how could they have when their parents were doing all the work for them or hired it out to tutors….” Victoria’s voice got low and turned into a hissing whisper. It was like she was afraid a helicopter parent was going to pop up and scare her even before the school year started. 

Just as Victoria was finishing her scare tactic lecture someone bumped into my chair and sloshed their drink down my back. 

“Excuse me!” I gasped as the warm beer trailed down my back and into my shorts. 

I turned around to see none other than Bridgett Nickel, trashed. She was so wasted that her eyes were barely open. No wonder she slammed into my chair she could hardly see. 

“Whaaat?! You bumped into me witch.” Bridgett slurred, “You owe me a new drink!”

“The hell I do. You slammed into my chair, spilled your beer down by back, and you’re blaming me?” My voice was raising and people around the pub stopped their conversations to peer our way. I remembered quickly that this was an extremely small town and anything said would get around quickly. 

Bridgett narrowed her eyes as though she was trying to focus on them, “ Maggie Turee! Ha! Is that you? It can’t be, your face isn’t the Grand Canyon anymore and you’ve lost the baby fat. It looks like you’re still stuffing your bra though.” Bridgett hissed and looked around the bar to get people to snicker with her. She was met with silence. 

One of the many rumors that Bridgett spread around the high school was that I stuffed my bra or got breast implants. She was tall and skinny in high school and part of what my mom called the Itty Bitty Titty Committee. It was the one thing that I had that she couldn’t take from me. My genetics. 

Being heavy on top was not all it was cracked up to be. I had to buy shirts a size too big so that they would fit my chest. Bras would wear out quicker. Worst of all was the back pain that they caused. They were actually a bigger problem than they were a blessing. I had thought many times about getting a reduction, but never went through with it. 

“Wow, you really haven’t grown up have you? You still have to put others down in order to bring yourself up don’t you?” I was trying not to let her put me back into my old high school mindset. I knew who I was and what kind of person I am. I wasn’t going to sink to her level. 

“Hey Cindy! Do you think you can get Bridgett here a pot of coffee? She needs to sober up!” I called over all the people to the bar. 

Nodding Cindy started pouring a glass of coffee out for Bridgett. As I walked closer to Bridgett the smell of alcohol seeping from her pores and the acidic stench of cigarette smoke insulted my nostrils as I tried to coerce her towards the bar.

 “Bridgett, you should go and sober up. Your son needs a mom. Someone to be there for him. You can’t continue to live life like this.” I was trying to be as kind as I could be. I was doing it for her son, not for Bridgett I told myself. 

Bridgett did not see this as a kind gesture. She yanked her arm out of my grasp and screamed as loud as she could, “DON’T TOUCH ME! You all saw! Maggie Turee assaulted me! I am going to the cops! I’m going to sue you!” She was walking towards the door as she was yelling, tripping over her own feet as she went, “This isn’t over, Turee! I will get you! No one makes a fool out of Bridgett Nickel!” Her voice faded as the pub door slammed shut.

Top 5: Male Cozy Sleuths

Want to watch my reactions to punny titles and more? Watch the video as well! 

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Stay At Home Dead (Stay At Home Dad Mysteries) Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 2012
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by Jeffrey Allen  (Author)

It’s a day like any other for Deuce Winters, a stay-at-home dad in sleepy Rose Petal, Texas, where he and his three-year-old daughter Carly are making their weekly trip to the grocery store. But the discovery of a dead body in his mini-van quickly throws his quiet life into disarray. In a town where gossip spreads faster than a brush fire in July, it doesn’t help that the victim ruined Deuce’s high school football career and married his ex-girlfriend. . .

As the number one suspect in the court of public opinion, Deuce is determined to clear his name, with a little help from his wife Julianne, a high-powered attorney who lovingly refers to him as her “househusband.” His search for the killer leads him to a business plan gone awry and a gaggle of jilted lovers. All the while, he’ll have to contend with a diminutive but feisty detective, the ruthless preschool PTA, and more than his fair share of Texas-sized hairdos–not to mention the laundry. . .

First in a New Series!

 

51latp+to2l._sx326_bo1,204,203,200_Murder on the Mind Paperback – February 2, 2011
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by L. L. Bartlett  (Author)

After a brutal mugging in Manhattan leaves him with a broken arm and fractured skull, insurance investigator Jeff Resnick reluctantly agrees to recover at the home of his estranged half brother, Richard. At first, Jeff believes his graphic nightmares of a slaughtered buck are just the workings of his traumatized mind. But when a local banker is found in the same condition, Jeff believes the attack has left him with a sixth sense–an ability to witness murder before it happens. Piecing together clues he saw in his visions, Jeff attempts to solve the crime. His brother Richard is skeptical, but unsettling developments begin to forge a tentative bond. Soon, things that couldn€™t be explained by premonition come to light, and Jeff finds himself probing into dangerous secrets that touch his own traumatic past in wintry Buffalo–and the killer is ready to eliminate Jeff€™s visions permanently.

 

41sjw2hcksl._sx300_bo1,204,203,200_Fellowship of Fear (A Gideon Oliver Mystery) Mass Market Paperback – April 5, 2005
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by Aaron Elkins  (Author)

First in the Edgar Award–winning series “that never disappoints,” featuring the forensic anthropologist known as the Skeleton Detective (The Philadelphia Inquirer).

When anthropology professor Gideon Oliver is offered a teaching fellowship at US military bases in Germany, Sicily, Spain, and Holland, he wastes no time accepting. Stimulating courses to teach, a decent stipend, all expenses paid, plenty of interesting European travel . . . What’s not to like?

It does not take him long to find out. On his first night, he is forced to fend off two desperate, black‑clad men who have invaded his Heidelberg hotel room with intent to kill. And then there are a few trivial details that the recruiting agency forgot to mention—such as the fact that the two previous holders of the fellowship both met with mysterious ends.

From there, it is all downhill. Gideon finds himself the target in an unfamiliar game for which no one has bothered to give him the rules. What he does have is his own considerable intellect and his remarkable forensic skills. He will need them, for he is playing for some fairly high stakes: the security of Western Europe.

 

51scvtoheplRetirement Homes Are Murder (Paul Jacobson Geezer-lit Mystery Series Book 1) Kindle Edition
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by Mike Befeler  (Author)

Remembering nothing from the day before, crotchety octogenarian Paul Jacobson must become an amateur sleuth to clear himself as a murder suspect when he finds a dead body in the trash chute of a retirement home. As Paul’s snooping and short-term memory loss get him in trouble with the local police, his new friends and granddaughter Jennifer help him solve an expanding list of crimes. Paul finds romance as he struggles to escape a murderer intent on a repeat performance.

 

51zxezu3jdl._sx308_bo1,204,203,200_It Happened One Knife (A Double Feature Mystery) Mass Market Paperback – July 1, 2008
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A new Double Feature mystery opens— with fun movie facts and trivia.

Elliot Freed is beyond happy when legendary comics Lillis & Townes appear at his refurbished all-comedy theater. But when insinuations arise that the duo were involved in a decades-old Hollywood murder, Elliot sets out to prove the rumors wrong.

Curvy Cozy Sleuths

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4130lc3n71lSize 12 Is Not Fat

A Heather Wells Mystery (Heather Wells Mysteries Book 1) Kindle Edition

by Meg Cabot  (Author)

Heather Wells Rocks!

Or, at least, she did. That was before she left the pop-idol life behind after she gained a dress size or two — and lost a boyfriend, a recording contract, and her life savings (when Mom took the money and ran off to Argentina). Now that the glamour and glory days of endless mall appearances are in the past, Heather’s perfectly happy with her new size 12 shape (the average for the American woman!) and her new job as an assistant dorm director at one of New York’s top colleges. That is, until the dead body of a female student from Heather’s residence hall is discovered at the bottom of an elevator shaft.

The cops and the college president are ready to chalk the death off as an accident, the result of reckless youthful mischief. But Heather knows teenage girls . . . and girls do not elevator surf. Yet no one wants to listen — not the police, her colleagues, or the P.I. who owns the brownstone where she lives — even when more students start turning up dead in equally ordinary and subtly sinister ways. So Heather makes the decision to take on yet another new career: as spunky girl detective!

But her new job comes with few benefits, no cheering crowds, and lots of liabilities, some of them potentially fatal. And nothing ticks off a killer more than a portly ex-pop star who’s sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong . . .

51ptkcgz3alDying to Be Thin: A Fat City Mystery Mass Market Paperback– October 2, 2007

The first course in a sleuth series sure to satisfy.

In just a week, plus-sized TV producer Kate Gallagher has been laid off because of her weight and dumped by her boyfriend. So she enrolls in a weight loss clinic in Durham, NC. Soon, Kate’s ready to sell her soul for some sweets. But when a diet guru turns up dead with fondue forks where his eyes were, Kate loses her appetite-and has a breaking story on her hands…

51+s2h7tzclCarbs & Cadavers (Supper Club Mysteries Book 1) Kindle Edition

by Ellery Adams  (Author)

Meet the Supper Club, a group of friends dead set on counting calories and catching killers . . .

After giving up his dream job and moving back home to the small town of Quincy’s Gap, English literature professor James Henry is tired of finding his happiness at the bottom of a bag of cheese doodles. In an effort to expand his social life and reduce his waistline, he joins a supper club for dieters who lovingly call themselves the Flab Five. He knows he and his new friends will have to watch what they eat, but he never expected to find murder on the menu.

Former high school football star Brinkley Myers was worshipped by fans and loathed by women. When he mysteriously drops dead in the local bakery, a young waitress at the town diner is suspected of foul play. Convinced she’s innocent, the Flab Five team up to weigh in on the investigation.

As the group begins to digest the clues and track down the real killer, they start to worry that they’ve bitten off more than they can chew, and it will take every ounce of willpower they have to keep losing weight without losing their lives . . .
51tu2ilge0lChocolate Chip Cookie Murder (Hannah Swensen series Book 1) Kindle Edition

by Joanne Fluke  (Author)

Take one amateur sleuth. Mix in some eccentric Minnesota locals. Add a generous dollop of crackling suspense, and you’ve got the recipe for this delicious new mystery series featuring Hannah Swensen, the red-haired, cookie-baking heroine whose gingersnaps are almost as tart as her mouth and whose penchant for solving crime is definitely stirring things up.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder

Hannah already has her hands full trying to dodge her mother’s attempts to marry her off while running The Cookie Jar, Lake Eden’s most popular bakery. But once Ron LaSalle, the beloved delivery man from the Cozy Cow Dairy, is found murdered behind her bakery with Hannah’s famous Chocolate Chip Crunchies scattered around him, her life just can’t get any worse. Determined not to let her cookies get a bad reputation, she sets out to track down a killer. But if she doesn’t watch her back, Hannah’s sweet life may get burned to a crisp.

 

51e2c66istlDeath Nell (A Noshes Up North Culinary Mystery Book 1) Kindle Edition

by Mary Grace Murphy  (Author)

Nell Bailey has always suspected food would be the death of her, but never did she consider her relationship with tempting treats would cause her to be a target for murder.

After writing an extremely negative review of “Sam’s Slam” and posting it on her blog “Noshes Up North,” a follower takes issue with her comments and won’t let it go. The cyber bullying continues culminating in a gruesome murder.

A fellow foodie, coincidentally also named Nell, has been slain in a most heinous manner. Could it be a case of mistaken identity and she was the intended victim?

As Nell wonders how to deal with the situation, her lifetime battle with weight and self image give her no relief. She finds herself relying on her group of good friends for advice and support. Then she gets help from an unexpected source – Sam, the owner of the restaurant she had torn to shreds in her review.

As sparks start to ignite between them, a chilling question rears its ugly head in the back of Nell’s mind. Could Sam possibly be the killer? And does he want her dead?

 

Cozy Mystery Releases| November 2018

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NOVEMBER RELEASES!

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Release Date:November 3rd
An All-Day Breakfast Cafe Mystery
3rd Book
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When an ice cream vendor discovers a frozen stiff, Florida diner owner Gia Morelli has to serve up some just desserts . . .

Gia has become good friends with Trevor, a fun, flirtatious bachelor who owns the ice cream parlor down the street from her popular All-Day Breakfast Café. Trevor has the scoop on all sorts of local attractions and activities. But when he bursts into her diner, trembling and paler than a pint of French Vanilla, she can tell something’s very wrong. Trevor points her toward his shop then passes out cold. When Gia runs down to his shop, she discovers a chilling sight—a dead body in the open freezer. But the ice cream man’s troubles are just beginning. The police suspect him of this murder a la mode, especially when details of his questionable past surface. Gia believes in her friend and is determined to clear his name and find the real cold-blooded killer before someone else gets put on ice . . .

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A Christmas Tree Farm Mystery
2nd Book
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It’s out of the cupcake tin, into the fire for Holly White’s best friend, Caroline. Can Holly clear Caroline’s name in time to go caroling?

When a body turns up in a larger-than-life candy bowl filled with peppermints on the town square, Holly White is horrified to learn her best friend Caroline is the main suspect. Everyone in town, including Mistletoe, Maine’s sheriff, saw Caroline fighting with the victim on the night of his death. Worse, a custom kitchen knife, engraved with Caroline’s initials was found with him.

Now, just ten days before Christmas, Holly’s up to her jingle bells in holiday shenanigans and in desperate need of a miracle. Juggling extra shifts at her family’s Christmas tree farm and making enough gingerbread jewelry to satisfy the crowd is already more than she can handle―and now she has to find time to clear her best friend of murder. Add in her budding relationship with the sheriff, and a personal stalker dressed as Santa Claus, and Holly’s ready to fly south until springtime.

But her Sherpa-lined mittens come off when Caroline is taken into custody. Can Holly wrap up the case in time for Christmas…even after she gains the true killer’s attention? Find out in ‘Twas the Knife Before Christmas, Jacqueline Frost’s second pine-scented Christmas Tree Farm mystery.

51LMfIkjnlLRelease Date: Nov. 27th
A Secret, Book, and Scone Society
2nd Book
https://amzn.to/2R8QIk2

Nora Pennington, owner of Miracle Books, believes that a well-chosen novel can bring healing and hope. But she and the other members of the Secret, Book, and Scone Society know that sometimes, practical help is needed too. Such is the case with the reed-thin girl hiding in the fiction section of Nora’s store, wearing a hospital ID and a patchwork of faded bruises. She calls herself Abilene, and though Nora and her friends offer work, shelter, and a supportive ear, their guest isn’t ready to divulge her secrets. But when a customer is found dead in an assumed suicide, Nora uncovers a connection that points to Abilene as either a suspect—or another target.Summer’s end has brought other new arrivals to Miracle Springs too. Entrepreneur Griffin Kingsley opens Virtual Genie, a cyber business that unloads people’s unwanted goods for cash. With the town in an economic slump and folks hurting for money, Virtual Genie and its owner are both instantly popular. A patient listener, Griffin dispenses candy to children and strong coffee to adults, and seems like a bona fide gentleman. But Nora’s not inclined to judge a book by its cover. And when a second death hits town, Nora and her intrepid friends must help the new, greenhorn sheriff discern fact from fiction—and stop a killer intent on bringing another victim’s story to a close.

61n1YGolL7LRelease Date: November 27th
Pen & Ink Mystery Novel
2nd Book
https://amzn.to/2D2dSpy

Life is looking rosy for Florrie Fox, manager of the Color Me Read bookstore in Georgetown, Washington D.C. She’s working on an adult coloring book of gardens, her romance with Sergeant Eric Jonquille has entered a new chapter, and the bookstore’s weekly coloring club is a source of friendship and entertainment. No member is more vibrant than Dolly Cavanaugh. Dolly likes to say she was blessed with beauty and cursed with lousy husbands, but at least she has a grown daughter and a stunning brownstone to show for it!

When Dolly’s love of garage sales results in her showing up at Color Me Read with a rare book in hand, Florrie is astounded. The Florist, the earliest known coloring book, was first published in 1760. An original copy would be worth a fortune—and someone else knows it. That same evening, Florrie finds Dolly dead on the floor of her apartment, a corner of a coloring book page clutched in her hand. As Florrie delves into Dolly’s past and her personal effects, she discovers a skeleton in the closet—literally—and a whole lot of shady suspects. One of them is an expert in the fine art of murder, but can Florrie draw the right conclusion?

51S7kSLiT1LRelease Date: November 27th
A Rose City Mystery
2nd Book
https://amzn.to/2SbDBA4

 Britta Johnston and her aunt Elin are delighted that their Portland floral boutique is part of the city’s Rose Festival, which draws thousands to the Pacific Northwest for dragon boat races, fireworks, and other attractions—capped off by a big parade. They’re building a float that’s sure to rock the judge’s boat . . . until a gang of angry protestors shows up. The group, who call themselves Dark Fusion, are decidedly not into flower power, and they want to take down the system . . . including the upcoming extravaganza.

Then their leader is strangled with a garland of violets—and Britta finds the body. With tensions running high and so much at stake, there are plenty of suspects, from the Grand Marshal to a longtime volunteer to a former Rose Queen. But before Britta and Elin can stem the violence, the case is going to get even more explosive . . .

 

 

Cozy Releases| October 2018

51zhxlmDaZLThe Pint of No Return
A Sloan Krause Mystery
Author: Ellie Alexander
https://amzn.to/2xK7kH4
Release Date: October 2nd 

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?

51D0Cvn2+kLBe Our Guest

A Merry Ghost Inn Mystery
Author: Kate Kingsbury https://amzn.to/2zp4RUh
Release Date: October 9th

The Merry Ghost Inn is well and truly open for business. Melanie West, her grandmother, Liza, and their beloved sheepdog/wolfhound mix, Max, are rapidly getting the hang of running their charming bed-and-breakfast inn on the rocky Oregon coast. Not that business goes without a hitch―when your hostelry boasts its own laughing resident ghost, you’d better be expect the out-of-the-ordinary. But Melanie and Liza take it all in stride…until a hotshot real estate developer arrives in Sully’s Landing, touting his plans to build a tacky amusement arcade smack dab in the middle of the tasteful cliff-side town.

No one in Sully’s Landing can stand the gaudy developer, but it’s still a shock when he ends up murdered. It’s even more shocking when Liza’s friend, Doug, emerges as the chief suspect. Melanie and Liza put on their sleuthing caps yet again and set out to clear Doug’s name. They nearly check into accommodations six feet under when, en route to the crime scene, their brakes give out and they narrowly miss plunging over the cliffs to the beach below. Meanwhile, the merry ghost who haunts the inn tries to help by dropping clues for Melanie to find, but her mind is otherwise preoccupied when the killer kidnaps Liza and holds her prisoner.

Now, it’s up to Melanie to piece together the ghost’s clues, save her mother, exonerate her friend, keep her guests happy, and make sure Max gets his walkies in Kate Kingsbury’s third mirthful Merry Ghost Inn mystery, Be Our Ghost.

515sAnuOb7LKilled On Blueberry Hill
A Berry Basket Mystery 
By: Sharon Farrow
https://amzn.to/2xJU598
Release Date: October 30th

The Blueberry Blow Out festival has begun and it’s time for Marlee Jacob, owner of The Berry Basket, to shine. Unfortunately it’s also bringing out the worst in her fiancé Ryan Zeller. Ryan’s rivalry with Porter Gale, owner of Blueberry Hill Farm, spills over into a very public and very ugly fight. And after they compete in the pie-eating contest and a raucous tug of war, their orchard blood feud takes a deadly turn . . .

The death of the king of Blueberry Hill is a shock but not too surprising—he was a diabetic whose last pig out meal was deliciously fatal. But when authorities discover that someone tampered with Porter’s insulin, a tragic accident is looking like murder—and Ryan is the key ingredient.

Now Marlee’s investigation to clear his name is taking her deep into the Gale family secrets, and she’s being shadowed every step of the way by a killer whose sweet revenge is just beginning . . .
Includes Berry Recipes!

511SaFapeELMurder in Her StockingA Granny Reid Mystery
By: G.A. McKevett
https://amzn.to/2Dn1GRi
Release Date: October 30th 

Christmas has arrived in sleepy McGill, Georgia, but holiday cheer can’t keep temperamental Stella Reid from swinging a rolling pin at anyone who crosses her bad side—and this season, there are plenty. First an anonymous grinch vandalizes a celebrated nativity display. Far worse, the scandalous Prissy Carr is found dead in an alley behind a tavern. With police puzzled over the murder, Stella decides to stir the local gossip pot for clues on the culprit’s identity . . .

Turns out Prissy held a prominent spot on the naughty list, and suspects pile up like presents on Christmas morning. Unfortunately, the more progress Stella makes, the more fears she must confront. With a neighbor in peril and the futures of her beloved grandchildren at risk, Stella must somehow set everything straight and bring a cunning criminal to justice before December 25th . . .

51qrrdvDd2LYule Log Murder
An Anthology
Authors: Leslie Meir, Lee Hollis, Barbara Ross
https://amzn.to/2IdKVqx
Release Date: October 30th

YULE LOG MURDER by LESLIE MEIER
Lucy Stone is thrilled to be cast as an extra in a festive period film—until the set becomes a murder scene decorated in blood and buttercream icing. Returning to her role as sleuth, Lucy dashes to restore peace to Tinker’s Cove, unwrap a cold-hearted criminal’s MO, and reveal how one ornate Yule log cake could possibly cause so much drama.
 
DEATH BY YULE LOG by LEE HOLLIS
Hayley Powell’s holidays aren’t off to a very merry start. Not only has her daughter brought Conner—an infuriatingly perfect new beau—home to Bar Harbor, but a local troublemaker has been found dead with traces of her signature Yule log cake on his body. As Conner becomes the prime murder suspect, Hayley must put aside her mixed feelings to identify the real killjoy.

LOGGED ON by BARBARA ROSS
Realizing she can’t make a decent Bûche de Noël to save her life, Julia Snowden enlists the help of her eccentric neighbor, Mrs. St. Onge, in hopes of mastering the dessert for Christmas. With everyone in the old woman’s circle missing or deceased, however, it’s up to Julia to stop the deadly tidings before she’s the next Busman’s Harbor resident to meet a not-so-jolly fate.

Reading Wrap Up!| June 2018

Copy of Copy of June Cozy Myster Releases

Video Now Available 

Happy Wednesday and Happy 4th of July everyone! What an amazing year so far, am I right? I can’t believe that we are already halfway through 2018. It seems like yesterday that it was the beginning of the New Year and now we are already almost done with Summer break and I’ll be heading back to work later this month!
I had a pretty decent reading month! I was super exited to find new authors, new characters to fall in love with, and a new genre to read. Sometimes you have to get outside of your comfort zone to really spread your horizons and fall in head over heels with something different. This month, I would say that I stepped outside of my comfort zone! So, without further ado lets get into this!

32495444Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab was the second book in the series and I really enjoyed it. Normally with Young Adult novels you expect everything to end happy and that the main character will get what they want or are looking for.

I did not expect that this book would be so dark! Even though the title most certainly did warn me! Haha! I loved getting to know Kate and August more. Watching them evolve and become the young adults that they were meant to become was something that I really enjoyed.
I will admit, I did tear up in this book. I was more attached to these characters then I thought I would be and I am super happy that I decided to finish this duology. It was most certainly worth the read.

15810915Mayhen at The Orient Express was the first book in A League of Literary Ladies Cozy Mystery Series. It was also the Cozy Mystery Bookclub book of the month for June.

I rated this book a 4/5 Stars. I really enjoyed the different characters and the fact that it gave a nod to the Mystery Queen Agatha Christie. I loved that there wasn’t just one main character. I enjoyed getting to know the four ladies who ended up being the League of Literary Ladies.

I do anticipate reading more from this series because I am eager to see how their friendships blossom and I also want to know more about Bea Cartwright’s life from before she moved onto the island.

While I was joining in for the Library-A-Thon I picked up the Court of Thorns and Roses series. As my blog post for the readathon stated, I was originally going to be listening to Cinder on audiobook. However, once I started the audiobook I realized that I couldn’t stand the woman’s voice who was narrating it and that I needed to pick up something else in that genre and read it for myself.

Thus started an addiction to a brand new series that was totally outside of my comfort zone. I have fallen in love with the Fae world in this series. The characters are so well developed. The flaws, the strengths, the weakness, the falls, and the way they bring each other up.

I can’t explain what this series really means to me. I loved it so much that I brought my best friend Bre into reading the series and she is as in love with the series as I am, maybe even more if I’m being honest. All I know is that I will be reading everything written by Sarah J. Maas soon. If she writes this way in all of her books, then I am already in love.

51vzujA3AAL._SX303_BO1,204,203,200_As always Ellie Alexander has left my heart fluttering and my mouth watering! This was the 8th book in The Bakeshop Mystery series featuring the amazing baker Jules Capshaw. She has a lot on her plate during this book! A wedding to plan, an expansion of her bakeshop Torte, her feelings for her estranged husband, and trying to be there for her friends. To top it off someone has a grudge towards Jules herself and tries to poison her!

This book had me laughing, it had me tearing up, and falling in love with the characters over and over again. Ellie has a way with her characters, she brings them alive. She is able to weave words of meaning, feeling, and scrumptiousness like The Bard himself!

I recommend this series to anyone who loves coffee, friends, family, and a good mystery! You will find yourself lost in the world of the characters trying to figure out the ‘whodunit’. This book had me on my toes the whole time guessing and I loved every second of it!

I have always been wary of reading poetry. I have never really been able to get into it. Even in high school when I took a Creative Writing course and we were required to do a whole unit on Poetry and write our own I always felt silly. I don’t know why.

It didn’t help that all of the poetry that was required reading during school was the old and classical poetry. I know that as a history major I should appreciate and love the classics, but I personally don’t. At least not a lot of them.

So when Bre and I hung out last week and went to Books-A-Million we stopped by the poetry section. Bre is an English Major and is getting her Bachelors in English. She was talking to me about poetry and mentioned this author and her poetry books. I opened the first one up and immediately knew that I was hooked.

I bought both books on Thursday and read both of them while laying in bed on Friday. I loved this set of poetry. I could relate to all of it. Some of it broke my heart. Other parts made me laugh. I loved all of the different aspects.

download Fawkes is one of those books that surprised me. I went into it believing that this was going to be a Young Adult Fantasy novels, which is the reason why I picked it up! I have been on a Fantasy kick lately. This book was so much more than that.

This is technically a Historical Fiction novel with a fantastical twist. It was a wonderful rendition of 1600s England. An outcast of people who live by the pure way of magic called the Keepers versus the Igniters a group of people who talk to the White Light, the original color who created all other color powers. There is a war between them with the Keepers being exiled, killed, tortured, and worse.

This story is based on true events with fantastical characteristics. I loved the characters. The elements of magic were really intricate and fun. I loved the idea of having a mask that helps with their magic.

Our main character is Thomas Fawkes. He is a teenager who is readying himself for his last year in school where he will get his mask from his famous father Guy Fawkes and he will finally be able to cure himself from the Stone Plague that has swept through the country since the Igniters have taken the White Light.

Thomas’ father fails to show up to the ceremony where he is supposed to be getting his mask. Thomas is bound and determined to find his father and demand his mask. He finds himself in London and scary place for Keepers and Plague. He is drawn into a plot, trying to find his feelings for his father, whether or not he is a Keeper or an Igniter.

This was a fun, magical, and well written book about finding yourself, accepting others for their differences, and learning a little bit about history. I highly recommend.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley, Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.