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!

 

 

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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

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


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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

Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James


74F245B5-0819-4571-947E-528E80119335Something hasn’t been right at the roadside Sun Down Motel for a very long time, and Carly Kirk is about to find out why in this chilling new novel from the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.

Upstate New York, 1982. Viv Delaney wants to move to New York City, and to help pay for it she takes a job as the night clerk at the Sun Down Motel in Fell, New York. But something isnʼt right at the motel, something haunting and scary.

Upstate New York, 2017. Carly Kirk has never been able to let go of the story of her Aunt Viv, who mysteriously disappeared from the Sun Down before she was born. She decides to move to Fell and visit the motel, where she quickly learns that nothing has changed since 1982. And she soon finds herself ensnared in the same mysteries that claimed her aunt.

The Sun Down Motel is yet another chilling ghost story from Simone St. James, who seems to surpass the level of shivers with each book. St. James’ style is an appealing blend of mystery and horror that straddles that gap between young adult and adult fiction. She consistently delivers some of the creepiest ghosts out there, and the vengeful ghost at The Sun Down is no exception.

The narrative bounces between present day with Carly and 1982 with Viv. Carly’s arrival in the small upstate NY town uncovers old secrets and stirs up some vengeful ghosts at the Sun Down Motel. This book will keep you hooked from the first chapter to the last.

Publication Date: February 18, 2020
Published By: Berkley Publishing Group
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

Woman in the Veil by Laura Joh Rowland


cover166960-mediumFrom the Publisher: Sarah Bain and her friends Lord Hugh Staunton and Mick O’Reilly are crime scene photographers for the Daily World newspaper. After solving a sensational murder, they’re under pressure to deliver another big story. On a foggy summer night, they’re called to the bank of the river Thames. The murder victim is an unidentified woman whose face has been slashed. But as Sarah takes photographs, she discovers that the woman is still alive.

The case of “Sleeping Beauty” becomes a public sensation, and three parties quickly come forward to identify her: a rich, sinister artist who claims she’s his wife; a mother and her two daughters who co-own a nursing home and claim she’s their stepdaughter/sister; and a precocious little girl who claims Sleeping Beauty is her mother. Which party is Sleeping Beauty’s rightful kin? Is someone among them her would-be killer?

Then Sleeping Beauty awakens—with a severe case of amnesia. She’s forgotten her name and everything else about herself. But she recognizes one of the people who’ve claimed her. Sarah is delighted to reunite a family and send Sleeping Beauty home—until one of the claimants is murdered. Suddenly, Sarah, her motley crew of friends, and her fiancé Detective Sergeant Barrett are on the wrong side of the law. Now they must identify the killer before they find themselves headed for the gallows.

Fourth in a series, The Woman in the Veil continues the current trend of mysteries set in the Victorian era and featuring remarkably liberated female detectives and the men who assist them.

The story is well-plotted and begins with the horrifying event described above. When Sarah discovers the woman is alive, she sets in motion a complicated, sometimes terrifying set of events that will leave you with a pounding heart at the end. The characters are well-developed if familiar, ranging from the precocious, beautiful child to the nonredeemable cad everyone loves to hate.

Rowland is a capable writer who has delivered a highly readable, engaging, and tightly plotted mystery that will appeal to fans of Deanna Raybourn and Tasha Alexander. Recommended.

Publication Date: January 7, 2020
Published By: Crooked Lane Books
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

The Thief Knot by Kate Milford


cover168401-mediumGhosts, a kidnapping, a crew of young detectives, and family secrets mix in this new standalone mystery set in the world of the bestselling Greenglass House, from a National Book Award nominee and Edgar Award-winning author.

Marzana and her best friend are bored. Even though they live in a notorious city where normal rules do not apply, nothing interesting ever happens to them. Nothing, that is, until Marzana’s parents are recruited to help solve an odd crime/kidnapping, and she realizes that this could be the excitement she’s been waiting for. She assembles a group of kid detectives with special skills—including the ghost of a ship captain’s daughter—and together, they explore hidden passageways, navigate architecture that changes overnight, and try to unravel the puzzle of who the kidnappers are—and where they’re hiding. But will they beat the deadline for a ransom that’s impossible to pay?

Legendary smugglers, suspicious teachers, and some scary bad guys are just a few of the adults the crew must circumvent while discovering hidden truths about their families and themselves in this smart, richly imagined tale.

Kate Milford’s Nagspeake books just keep getting better. The world-building that began in Greenglass House continues with this latest entry featuring characters introduced in The Ghosts of Greenglass House last year. Marzana and her parents are back, as are Lucky and Emmett, in this case living a peaceful (if boring) life in The Liberty of Gammerbund. Marzana chafes at the ordinariness of her life, not understanding why her parents keep her from fully understanding their old lives as smugglers.

As the story picks up steam, Marzana finds herself making friends and taking charge, two things that have been difficult for her. Milford often includes a character who struggles with some sort of issue. For Milo in the Greenglass books, it’s anger. For Marzana, it’s shyness and anxiety that takes the form of a bear gnawing away at her insides. Milford wraps bibliotherapy into a cracking good story, which will keep kids reading at the same time it makes them feel better about themselves. Well done.

Publication Date: January 14, 2020
Published By: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

Treachery by S.J. Parris


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From the Publisher: August, 1585. A relentless enemy. A treacherous conspiracy. Elizabethan England is on the brink of war.

Sir Francis Drake is preparing to launch a daring expedition against the Spanish when a murder aboard his ship changes everything. Giordano Bruno agrees to hunt the killer down, only to find that more than one deadly plot is brewing in Plymouth’s murky underworld. And as he tracks a murderer through its dangerous streets, he uncovers a conspiracy that threatens the future of England itself.

Fans of historical mysteries will enjoy this story featuring Sir Francis Drake – explorer, pirate, sea captain, and favorite of Queen Elizabeth I. Here, Drake engages Giordano Bruno and Sir Philip Sidney to investigate the possible murder of a shipmate, but also to decipher a mysterious text that may be the only account of the Gospel of Judas.

Bruno delivers an adept performance as detective, ferreting out clues and following suspicious men, including his old nemesis, the Man With No Ears. Nothing earth-shattering here – just a good mystery to pass the time on a cold, rainy afternoon.

About the Author:  S. J. Parris is the pseudonym of Stephanie Merritt. Since graduating from Cambridge, she has worked as a critic for a variety of newspapers and magazines as well as for radio and television. She currently writes for The Guardian in London and is the author of five novels in the Giordano Bruno mystery series. Visit S.J. Parris at www.sjparris.com.

Publication Date: December 3, 2019
Published By: Pegasus Books
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

Music Macabre by Sarah Rayne


cover171122-mediumResearching a biography of the composer Franz Liszt, Phineas Fox uncovers evidence of a brutal murder – and finds his own life in danger.

Music researcher Phin Fox has been enjoying his latest commission, gathering background material for a biography of Franz Liszt. But although he has – as anticipated – uncovered plenty of scandal in the 19th century composer’s past, matters take a decidedly unexpected turn when his investigations lead to Linklighters, a newly-opened Soho restaurant built on the site of an old Victorian music hall, and unearth evidence of a possible murder involving the notorious music hall performer known as Scaramel.

Just what was Liszt’s connection to Scaramel … and, through her, to the infamous Victorian serial killer Jack the Ripper? As he delves further, Phin’s enquiries uncover clues to a fascinating and extraordinary story – and plunge his own life into jeopardy.

I have never been disappointed in a Sarah Rayne book, but this time she has outdone herself!

Books about Jack the Ripper abound and I’ve read most of them, so I was not expecting the shaken-to-the-bone experience Rayne delivers here. She continues with the same convention of a mystery unraveling in the present tied to the actual events in the past.  We watch Phin try to solve the mystery of Scaramel and a strange, macabre song associated with the nightclub where she performed. At the same time, we follow the story of Scaramel and her lady’s maid Daisy as they live the history that Phin is researching.

Rayne has an uncanny ability to instill real fear in her readers. It’s been a very long time since I felt my heart racing as I read a passage as terrifying as Daisy’s encounter with Jack in the ghost river. Rayne is just as skilled at fleshing out her characters, and gives us a larger-than-life Scaramel, a saucy but respectful Daisy, tweedy academics, caring sisters, and colorful ordinary people. I also enjoyed the continued development of Phin, Arabella, and Tobey.

I would adore this series adapted for television. Netflix or Acorn TV, are you reading Sarah Rayne? If not, you should!

Publication Date: December 3, 2019
Published By: Severn House Publishers
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy