The Great Witches Baking Show by Nancy Warren

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The Great Witches Baking Show

by Nancy Warren

on Tour February 1-29, 2019

Synopsis:

The Great Witches Baking Contest by Nancy Warren

A baker with secrets
Witches in trouble
The cameras are rolling
Ready, set, die.

Poppy Wilkinson is thrilled to be chosen as a contestant on The Great British Baking Contest. As an American with English roots, winning the crown as Britain’s Best Baker would open doors she’s dreamed of. In more ways than one. Appearing on the reality show is her chance to get into Broomewode Hall and uncover the secrets of her past.

But strange things are happening on the show’s set: accusations of sabotage, a black cat that shadows Poppy, suspiciously unsociable residents at Broomewode Hall—and the judges can be real witches.

There are murmurs that Broomewode is an energy vortex. It certainly makes Poppy see and do things that aren’t exactly normal, and seems to draw interesting characters to the neighborhood.

When a fellow contestant dies in mysterious circumstances, Poppy has more to worry about than burned pies and cakes that won’t rise. There’s a murderer on the loose and it’s up to Poppy and her new friends to solve the crime before it becomes a real show-stopper.

From USA Today Bestselling Author Nancy Warren, this delicious series of cozy paranormal mysteries will have you guessing until the end. Includes recipes.

The premise here is so wacky that it works. 

Suspend your disbelief long enough to imagine that the celebrated hosts of one of the most popular cooking shows in the world are witches, then layer on a decently plotted murder mystery AND a personal mystery for our heroine, add a splash of sassy dialog, a sprinkle of good characterization, and finish with a romantic, bucolic English country house setting and you’ve got a winning cozy mystery.

Reading this put me in mind of this wonderful essay: Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village. I am looking forward to the next in this series. I want to know Poppy’s secret!

Book Details:

Genre: Culinary Cozy
Published by: Ambleside Publishing
Publication Date: January 15th 2020
Number of Pages: 250
ASIN: B07ZL472PK
Series: Culinary Cozy #1
Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE

As life-changing moments go, getting the call that I’d been chosen to compete in The Great British Baking Contest was right up there. I’d practiced, auditioned and practiced some more. I was a decent home baker, but was I really the best in Britain? Probably not. But I didn’t have to be.

The contest was my way of getting into Broomewode Hall, where the show was filmed. I had my own reasons for going there that had nothing to do with baking.

Still, it hadn’t been easy to be chosen. There were thousands of applicants every year and then an excruciating selection process, where the show’s producers chose twelve from the short list and made us bake on camera. Some people went to pieces; some were just really boring. They randomly selected bakers off the short list and tried out different combinations of personalities, a bit like baking, really, seeing which ingredients created the most interesting results. I quickly learned that the trick was to be a good character, try to be funny, be a good sport, pretend you didn’t notice that cameras were on you and a clock was ticking down the minutes, and still turn out a decent jam tart.

Easy peasy! Not.

One of the reasons they chose me for the show, I think, was that while I was British, I’d grown up in the States, which was kind of fun, as the show had become a huge hit in America. I’d also started life in a bakery. Or, more accurately, in a cardboard box outside a bakery in Norton St. Philip, a charming village near Bath in Somerset.

I like to think my mother, whoever she was, chose the bakery so she knew I’d be warm and, since bakers start work so early, I’d be found. And I was. When Gareth Philpott came to work that morning, he said he looked into the box and found me wide-awake, staring up at him. Not crying, not fussing, just staring as though I’d expected him. They named me Poppy. The Philpotts would have kept me if they could have. They’re a nice family, but they already had three children, and the authorities don’t just give a family a baby because they happened to stumble across one. First they tried to find my mother or any information at all about my origins. When that proved impossible, I was adopted by Agatha and Leland Wilson, and they became my parents.

They were both teachers. They’d tried for years to have their own children, and their delight in getting me was reflected in the way they pretty much turned their lives around to give me the best upbringing they could. They were loving parents, kind and patient. Strict when they had to be. We lived in Bath for the first eight years of my life, and then my dad was offered a teaching job in Seattle.

I grew up there, mostly, lost the British accent, became a typical American teenager, and then when I finished high school, my folks retired and moved back to the UK. I could have stayed in Seattle. I had friends, and I could’ve gone to college there, but I chose to come back to England. I think, deep down, it’s always felt like home. Besides, like a lot of adopted kids, the mystery of my beginnings haunts me.

Soon after returning to England, my folks moved to the south of France to bask in warmer weather, grow lavender and cook gourmet meals. My dad, who taught history, was writing a book. My mom was learning French.

They’d saved up a nice chunk of change for me to go to college but, in spite of having teachers as parents, I never felt the urge. I was always more artistic than intellectual, so I went to an art and design college for two years, and they let me use the rest of the money toward buying a tiny cottage in Norton St. Philip. It’s probably crazy, and nobody even thinks my mother was from there, but I started my life in that village and so it pulled me back. The Philpotts still ran the bakery and were my second family. I guess you’ll always have a bond with the person who picked you up off the street as a newborn. Besides, growing up as an only child, I was fascinated by their sprawling, noisy family.

I became a freelance graphic designer, which allowed me to work from home.
Gina Philpott was my age and my best friend. She was also the only one who knew why I really wanted to get on that show.
It went all the way back to when I was just a baby in that cardboard box. I’d been wrapped in a curious blanket.

I saw my baby blanket one day when I was watching The Great British Baking Contest. They always filmed at Broomewode Hall, a Georgian manor house that wasn’t open to the public. Broomewode Hall was the seat of the Earl of Frome, Robert Champney and his family. During one of the behind-the-scenes segments on the show, Lady Frome, showed them around her home.

As the camera panned around the great dining hall I was instantly transfixed by a woman in an oil painting who seemed to be wearing my baby blanket! I saw now that, in fact, it was a shawl. But the pattern was the same. I was certain of it.

And from that very moment, I began my quest to find out more about Broomewode Hall. Lord and Lady Frome guarded their privacy tenaciously, and it was impossible to get access to them and their family home. Besides, what would I say? “I think one of your ancestors once wore my baby blanket? The best way I could think of to spend time there was to qualify as a baker on The Great British Baking Contest.

I’d done it. Against incredible odds, I’d been chosen as one of twelve bakers. It was one step toward finding how who I really was. All I had to do now was figure out how to get the rest of the way.

***

Excerpt from The Great Witches Baking Show by Nancy Warren. Copyright 2019 by Nancy Warren. Reproduced with permission from Nancy Warren. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Nancy Warren

Nancy Warren is the USA Today bestselling author of more than seventy novels, including the best selling Vampire Knitting Club series and the Toni Diamond mysteries. She’s from Vancouver, though she tends to wander. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa university, appeared on the front page of the New York Times when her book Speed Dating launched the Harlequin/Nascar series. She was also the answer to a clue in a crossword puzzle in Canada’s National Post newspaper.

Catch Up With Our Author On:
NancyWarren.net, Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

 

Tour Participants:

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GIVEAWAY!!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Nancy Warren. There will be 2 winners of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card each. The giveaway begins on February 1, 2020 and runs through March 2, 2020. Void where prohibited.

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The Chill by Scott Carson


cover175799-mediumIn this terrifying thriller, a supernatural force—set in motion a century ago—threatens to devastate New York City.

Far upstate, in New York’s ancient forests, a drowned village lays beneath the dark, still waters of the Chilewaukee reservoir. Early in the 20th century, the town was destroyed for the greater good: bringing water to the millions living downstate. Or at least that’s what the politicians from Manhattan insisted at the time. The local families, settled there since America’s founding, were forced from their land, but they didn’t move far, and some didn’t move at all…

Now, a century later, the repercussions of human arrogance are finally making themselves known. An inspector assigned to oversee the dam, dangerously neglected for decades, witnesses something inexplicable. It turns out that more than the village was left behind in the waters of the Chill when it was abandoned. The townspeople didn’t evacuate without a fight. A dark prophecy remained, too, and the time has come for it to be fulfilled. Those who remember must ask themselves: who will be next? For sacrifices must be made. And as the dark waters begin to inexorably rise, the demand for a fresh sacrifice emerges from the deep…

As a New Yorker fascinated with local lore, I remember reading about the flooding of several towns and villages in the early part of the 20th century to create Great Sacandaga Lake in an effort to control flooding downstream. This has to be the basis for the fabulously inventive story told in The Chill.

It’s been awhile since I’ve read a really good, bone-chilling, hair-raising, scary ghost story, so I reveled in this creepy story. The strong female protagonist, Gillian, is much appreciated and written realistically. The ghosts and what they do will make you shiver for sure. I’d love to see this as film. Well done.

“Wow! This is one terrific horror/suspense/disaster novel. Characters you root for and a story that grips from the first page.” —Stephen King, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Institute

Horror has a new name and it’s Scott Carson. The Chill is an eerie dive into the murky depths of the supernatural. A story that has you looking back over your shoulder on every page.” —Michael Connelly, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Night Fire

Publication Date: February 11, 2020
Published By: Atria Books
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

The Hollows by Jess Montgomery


9781250184542_d2753Jess Montgomery showcases her skills as a storyteller in this powerful, big-hearted and exquisitely written follow-up to her acclaimed debut The Widows.

Ohio, 1926: For many years, the underground railroad track in Moonvale Tunnel has been used as a short cut through the Appalachian hills. When an elderly woman is killed walking along the tracks, the brakeman tells tales of seeing a ghostly female figure dressed all in white.

Newly elected Sheriff Lily Ross is called on to the case to dispel the myths, but Lily does not believe that an old woman would wander out of the hills onto the tracks. In a county where everyone knows everyone, how can someone have disappeared, when nobody knew they were missing? As ghost stories and rumors settle into the consciousness of Moonvale Hollow, Lily tries to search for any real clues to the woman’s identity.

With the help of her friend Marvena Whitcomb, Lily follows the woman’s trail to The Hollows—an asylum is northern Antioch County—and they begin to expose secrets long-hidden by time and the mountains.

Jess Montgomery has delivered a tautly plotted and inventive sequel to The Widows, where we find Sheriff Lily Ross doing her best to fill the shoes of her murdered husband, Sheriff Daniel Ross. She’s trying to put her life back together, keep her family intact, and keep the county safe.

Lily finds herself facing a gruesome case when an elderly woman plummets from the top of a railroad tunnel into a moving train. The death sets in motion a whole series of events that uncover old secrets, murders, and deception that touches very close to home for Lily.

Montgomery’s writing is smooth and engaging, keeping you reading page after page. It is refreshing to read a good mystery set in the 1920’s and featuring a strong female protagonist that doesn’t involve high society and flappers. The addition of the historical elements of union organizing and the rise of the Women’s Ku Klux Klan lends a darker aspect to the story which sets this apart. Recommended for historical mystery fans.

Publication Date: January 14, 2020
Published by: Minotaur Books
Thanks to Edelweiss for the review copy

Dangerous Shallows by Eric Takakjian


cover176712-mediumDangerous Shallows tells the story of a quest to solve maritime cold-cases. The odyssey takes the reader along for a moment-by-moment look at the events surrounding the loss of more than twenty different ships, and includes the stories of discovering their wrecks and learning about the final hours of each of these ships.

Author Eric Takakjian reminisces about devouring the National Geographic issue that featured the recovery of The Atocha, which sets the stage for this very chatty book on wreck diving. I, too, read that NatGeo issue over and over again, poring over the pictures and reading about the divers and their work, so I was right at home with Dangerous Shallows.

Writing in the first person, Takakjian draws you with his stories until you feel as though you’re ready to brave unpredictable currents, errant fishing nets, and sharks just to experience the thrill of standing on a wreck that hasn’t seen the light of day in a century. Takakjian’s storytelling style hooks you right away, and his enthusiasm keeps you enthralled through wreck after wreck.

Takakjian blends history, research and imagination to create plausible if somewhat dramatic recountings of how dozens of ships were sunk, then concludes those often sad stories with exciting tales of his dives on those wrecks.

This will appeal to armchair divers who are fascinated with wrecks and treasure. I expect Takakjian would be a marvelous speaker and hope he gets the chance to go on tour with this book.

Publication Date: February 1, 2020
Published By: Rowman & Littlefield
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

Agent Jack by Robert Hutton


cover167989-mediumJune 1940: Europe has fallen to Adolf Hitler’s army, and Britain is his next target. Winston Churchill exhorts the country to resist the Nazis, and the nation seems to rally behind him. But in secret, some British citizens are plotting to hasten an invasion.

Agent Jack tells the incredible true story of Eric Roberts, a seemingly inconsequential bank clerk who, in the guise of “Jack King,” helped uncover and neutralize the invisible threat of fascism on British shores. Gifted with an extraordinary ability to make people trust him, Eric Roberts penetrated the Communist Party and the British Union of Fascists before playing his greatest role for MI5: Hitler’s man in London. Pretending to be an agent of the Gestapo, Roberts single-handedly built a network of hundreds of British Nazi sympathizers—factory workers, office clerks, shopkeepers —who shared their secrets with him. It was work so secret and so sensitive that it was kept out of the reports MI5 sent to Winston Churchill.

In a gripping real-world thriller, Robert Hutton tells the fascinating story of an operation whose existence has only recently come to light with the opening of MI5’s World War II files. Drawing on these newly declassified documents and private family archives, Agent Jack shatters the comforting notion that Britain could never have succumbed to fascism and, consequently, that the world could never have fallen to Hitler. Agent Jack is the story of one man who loved his country so much that he risked everything to stand against a rising tide of hate.

Several years ago, I helped a man research information on the British Union of Fascists and Oswald Mosley. That was the first time I had ever heard of Nazi sympathizers and agitators in England during World War II. At the time, I found it mildly interesting but not enough to do further research of my own, so I was happy to dive into this dry but fascinating book about Agent Jack.

The cloak-and-dagger element of the undercover agent whose work was so secret that no one knew about it for decades is a definite hook to get people to pick up the book. I found the first couple of chapters to be a little dry, with lots of names and strands of stories introduced. However, it all starts to come together and results in a solid historical offering. Recommended.

Publication Date: November 12, 2019
Published By: St. Martin’s Press
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

Reader Profile – Jenn Beideman


Jenn BeidemanJenn Beideman is the Advocacy Manager at Common Ground Health in Rochester, NY. Jenn provides expertise on advocacy opportunities to advance whole child health in the region. A Canadian native, Jenn brings to the position more than a decade of experience in policy research and government relations from a variety of settings. She currently leads several campaigns across the City of Rochester that advocate for play, child-centered placemaking and whole child health. Prior to joining the organization, Jenn worked at the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in Toronto, Canada where she provided procedural research and policy support to several Standing Committees of the House, and World Vision Canada. She is currently the Vice President of the Board of Directors for the Child Care Council and a member of the PlayMakers, the Strong Museum of Play’s Young Professional Board. Jenn holds an M.P.A from SUNY Brockport and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Toronto. Jenn is a proud City of Rochester Resident where she lives with her husband in the North Winton neighborhood.

Write a one-sentence description of yourself as a Reader.

I’m a juggler and physical book snob. I love reading multiple books at once – throughout my house you’ll see piles of things I’m part way through in every type of genre. I always like to keep things interesting and so variety is key to that!

What are you reading right now?

I’m currently reading

The desert island question – What 5 books would you have to have with you if you were stranded on a desert island?

Are you a finisher? In other words, are you compelled to finish a book even if you hate it? What are some books that you’ve had to force yourself to finish, or which you’ve bailed on?

I really do want to finish most of the books I read, but there’s been a few that I’ve bailed on. This includes:

  • Anything by JR Tolkien
  • Poorly written autobiographies
  • The Goldfinch (I can’t stand to read very long run on stories).

Do you ever read the end of a book first? Why or why not?

Never!

What is at the top of your To Be Read pile?

Who is your go-to author when someone asks you for a recommendation?

Yikes – it would depend on what they’d like to read. I’d want to learn more about their interests first. I typically try to refer people to Canadian authors – mostly because they don’t get the credit they deserve here. That being said, lately I’ve been recommending to everyone read Exit West by Mohsin Hamid because it’s so beautiful.

Would you rather be your favorite author or your favorite character?

Favourite author for sure – I know their lives aren’t super glamourous but the thought of being able to drink tea and write all day seems lovely.

What book do you wish you’d never read?

The Twilight series – blargh!

Has any book defined your life, as in you would be a different person if you hadn’t read it?

We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families by Phillip Gourevitch

I remember reading this in my fourth year political science class, it had a profound impact on me and it transformed the way I thought about social justice in the world. It catapulted by desire to get involved in and learn more about government systems, advocacy and social justice movements. Without this book, I don’t think I’d have the career I do now.

Book or movie? Is there a movie that you think was better than the book?

Book – always the book.

If you were to get a bookish tattoo, what would it be?

It would mostly likely be a quote like “be the change” by Gandhi or “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light” by J.K. Rowling.

Share a favorite quote from a book you’ve read. Why is it meaningful to you?

The same as above – both really demonstrate that we can be agents of change in our own lives, and that even when times get hard or tough, there’s always a way to move forward. Progress isn’t easy – it’s tough, messy and not always straightforward, but we keep moving forward because it’s what’s right.

What book are you recommending that everyone read right now?

Exit West or Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Does reading influence your decision-making process?

Definitely! Whenever I make decisions I want to know all the facts, which requires me to dig deep and learn different perspectives. Reading is so wonderful and helps me do all of those things.

Why do you read?

It’s fun, and allows me to learn about new perspectives, ideas, and research. It also opens up a whole new world of possibilities and story lines.

Cartier’s Hope by M.J. Rose


cover170812-mediumFrom M.J. Rose, New York Times bestselling author of Tiffany Blues, “a lush, romantic historical mystery” (Kristin Hannah, The Nightingale), comes a gorgeously wrought novel of ambition and betrayal set in the Gilded Age.

New York, 1910: A city of extravagant balls in Fifth Avenue mansions and poor immigrants crammed into crumbling Lower East Side tenements. A city where the suffrage movement is growing stronger every day, but most women reporters are still delegated to the fashion and lifestyle pages. But Vera Garland is set on making her mark in a man’s world of serious journalism.

Shortly after the world-famous Hope Diamond is acquired for a record sum, Vera begins investigating rumors about schemes by its new owner, jeweler Pierre Cartier, to manipulate its value. Vera is determined to find the truth behind the notorious diamond and its legendary curses—even better when the expose puts her in the same orbit as a magazine publisher whose blackmailing schemes led to the death of her beloved father.

Appealing to a young Russian jeweler for help, Vera is unprepared when she begins falling in love with him…and even more unprepared when she gets caught up in his deceptions and finds herself at risk of losing all she has worked so hard to achieve.

Set against the backdrop of New York’s glitter and grit, of ruthless men and the atrocities they commit in the pursuit of power, this enthralling historical novel explores our very human needs for love, retribution—and to pursue one’s destiny, regardless of the cost.

M.J. Rose returns with another captivating historical mystery/romance, this time set in 1920s New York City and featuring one of her most likable heroines yet. Vera Garland, a child of wealth and privilege, longs for something more than playing the role of society matron, which her sister and mother both embrace. Vera instead spends her time pursuing social justice as an undercover reporter, living two very different lives as the pampered, privileged Vera and the tough-as nails-reporter Vee Swann.

Despite Vera’s privilege, she experiences several traumatic incidents, with the death of her beloved father triggering a life change that will rock her to the core. During her search for justice for her father and the man who betrayed his secret, Vera finds and loses love, and uncovers a shocking secret kept by her mother. Adding to all of this personal intrigue is the Hope Diamond and Pierre Cartier, the jeweler brave enough to sell it.

1920s NYC glam plus a cracking good plot make this one winner.

Publication Date: January 28, 2020
Published By: Atria Books
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

The Janes by Louisa Luna


cover169063-mediumThe electric follow-up to Louisa Luna’s acclaimed thriller Two Girls Down, featuring private investigators Alice Vega and Max Caplan.

On the outskirts of San Diego, the bodies of two young women are discovered. They have no names, no IDs, and no family looking for them. Fearing the possibility of a human trafficking ring, the police and FBI reach out to Alice Vega, a private investigator known for finding the missing, for help in finding out who the Janes were–and finding the others who are missing.

Alice Vega is a powerful woman whose determination is matched only by her intellect, and, along with her partner Cap, she will stop at nothing to find the Janes before it is too late.

Alice Vega is the shit, for real. Smart, brave, and kind but also not someone to mess with, she systematically attacks the horrifying case of the Janes, two young girls murdered and dumped. There’s some dark stuff here – a sex trafficking ring specializing in young girls and men who enjoy torturing them – so this is not for the faint of heart. However, if you like your mysteries raw and bold, you’ll appreciate Alice and her partner Cap.

Reminiscent of Robert Crais’ Elvis Cole series, this gritty, captivating murder mystery will have you turning pages long into the night.

Lead character Alice Vega is sensational–I want to see lots more of her.”–Lee Child

Publication Date: January 21, 2020
Published By: Doubleday
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

Felicity Carrol & the Murderous Menace by Patricia Marcantonio


cover168224-medium

Heiress and amateur detective Felicity Carrol makes a perilous journey to apprehend a notorious murderer who has terrorized England—and now continues his vicious killing spree across the pond.

Felicity Carrol would rather be doing just about anything other than attending balls or seeking a husband. What she really wants to do is continue her work using the latest forensic methods and her photographic memory to help London police bring murderers to justice, so when her friend, Scotland Yard Inspector Jackson Davies, weak from injury, discovers a murder in a wild mining town in Montana that echoes the terrible crimes in England, Felicity decides to go herself.

In Placer, Montana, her first obstacle is handsome lawman Thomas Pike, who uses his intuition as much as his Colt in keeping law and order in this unruly town. When the murderer strikes again, Felicity begins to suspect Davies is correct: Jack the Ripper has come to America. Felicity sets out to find the killer in a town chock full of secrets, shadows, and suspects, but as the body count rises, this intrepid sleuth faces her most dangerous adversary yet—and discovers that not all killers are as they seem.

This was my first introduction to Felicity Carrol and it was indeed a romp! Felicity joins the club of sassy, independent and totally unrealistic Victorian era females who investigate crime while thumbing their noses at social conventions, and she is a corker!

Here, Felicity travels from London to the American West, trailing the infamous Whitechapel killer, Jack the Ripper as he slashes his way into America. The author does a nice transition from Victorian London to the Wild West, providing Felicity with a handsome lawman and a tricky killer who is not at all what everyone expects. This is entertaining reading at its best. Recommended for Victorian mystery fans.

Advance Praise
Praise for Felicity Carrol and the Perilous Pursuit: “Readers who hunger for more portraits of independent women determined to make their ways in a stultifying society will take the heroine to heart.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“This new series is off to a good start with a strong, intelligent main character who struggles to overcome the cultural structures of her time. For fans of cozy Victorian mysteries and admirers of Robin Paige, Elizabeth Peters, and Deanna Raybourn.”
—Library Journal

Publication Date: February 11, 2020
Published By: Crooked Lane Books
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

What the Neighbors Read – 2019


Lists of “Best Books of 2019” are everywhere right now, so I thought I’d bring back one of my most-read posts from last year – top 10 lists of what people borrowed from the Monroe County Library System. All of this information was separated from personally identifiable information before it was shared with me.

The most borrowed book across all formats? Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens!

Top 10 Most Borrowed Adult Print Books

Top 10 Most Borrowed DVDs

 

Top 10 Most Borrowed E-Books

 

Top 10 Most Borrowed E-Audiobooks