“War and Peach”- Book Review: A Murder and a Wedding!

A murder and a wedding…this there any better combination?

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Ok…I’m going to share a little personal information: an attribute and a flaw.  The attribute…I can almost ALWAYS figure out who the murderer is in a “Who Done IT”.  The flaw…I almost always skip ahead in a book.  I can not stay focused long enough to read the book from beginning to end without cheating.

There was an exception this past week.  I had the pleasure of reading Susan Furlong’s latest cozy in the ‘Georgia Peach Mystery’ series, “War and Peach”.

Barnes and Noble gives us a nice overview:

“Nola Mae Harper is too busy restocking the jars of preserves and chutney flying off the shelves of her shop, Peachy Keen, to keep up with all the gossip about the upcoming mayoral election, but she does know the debate is sure to be a real barn burner.

Local farmer Clem Rogers claims he has a bombshell that could take small business owner Margie Price out of the running. But before Clem can reveal his juicy secret at the debate, his actual barn goes up in flames—with him inside of it. The town casts its vote against Margie, but Nola isn’t convinced the hardworking woman is capable of murder. Now to clear Margie’s name Nola will have to work fast under pressure, before Margie gets taken in by the fuzz…

INCLUDES RECIPES!”

“War and Peach” is the third book in the ‘Georgia Peach Mystery’ series, and I have to say, my favorite!  Not only did I NOT skip ahead, I didn’t figure who the murder was.  And it wasn’t because he/she was so random no one  could come to a reasonable conclusion.  Furlong so creatively crafted her story, all the clues were there, but one had to be on his toes.  I LOVED this book.  Furlong kept true to her comforting small town style with interesting stories and southern culture, while keeping the tale germain to all our lives.

A personal favorite novelty of Susan’s books?  I adore the “Southern Girl Secrets” at the beginning of each chapter.  They’re cute, at times funny, but always words of wisdom.  Below is the lovely author, Susan Furlong.

Now on to the book’s wedding…There’s so much you can do with peaches as a focal point; cocktails, dressing on the cake, (see top photo), color scheme, decorations.  Love the ideas in the photo below.

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The wedding in “War and Peach”, and this is a spoiler alert… is what many of us should aspire to.  The bride and groom have chosen to make their marriage the main event with their wedding a delicious appetizer.  Anxious to know more?  Well, you’ll just have to read the book!  I’ve included links to  Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  Just click on either link to be directed to obtain your very own copy!  Hey!  Want to WIN an author signed copy of “War And Peach”?  All you need to do to enter the contest is register as a blog user. I will randomly choose a winner next week.  Good luck!

And really…don’t you just want to take a bite out of one of the glorious peaches below?

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Wouldn’t either photo, above and below, be the perfect venue for a “peach farm” centered wedding?

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The Wedding That Almost Wasn’t

The Wedding That Almost Wasn’t …Please enjoy this guest post by the author of the delightful new cozy mystery, “Body on the Bayou”, Ellen Byron.  She shares humorous details of her OWN wedding…

In my book, BODY ON THE BAYOU: A CAJUN COUNTRY MYSTERY, a Bridezilla’s wedding is postponed when the bride-to-be is declared a murder suspect and arrested. That’s about the only thing that didn’t happen on the way to my own wedding.

Jer and I met in spring of 1992. Our first date was postponed by the Los Angeles riots. Our engagement coincided with the 1993 Malibu fires. Our wedding was almost derailed by the 1994 Northridge Earthquake. Frankly, it’s amazing L.A. has survived our relationship.

But about our wedding…

Although Jer is from St. Louis and I’m from New York, we decided to get married in the city where we met. We were committed to staging it at an historic site, and found a beautiful location in the San Fernando Valley, the Orcutt Ranch Horticulture Center. https://www.wedding-spot.com/venue/5509/Orcutt-Ranch-Horticultural-Center/

Back to the earthquake…

Being in a natural disaster is incredibly traumatic. Being a bride-to-be who discovers that her wedding location has been red-tagged, bumps that trauma up to a nuclear level.

We planned on holding the ceremony in the Orcutt’s Nature Garden, cocktail hour in the Gazebo area, and the reception in the Rose Garden. Lunch would be served buffet-style in the Ranch’s lovely adobe main house – which was the building that had been red-tagged, resulting in the entire operation being shut down. The site manager returned my panicked calls and assured me it would be repaired by our April 9th wedding date. “If nothing else, I promise you’ll be able to hold your wedding outside,” she said. “You won’t have to worry about the weather. It’s never rained in April the whole time I’ve worked here.”

The building was repaired by February. But guess what? It rained in April –only on our wedding day. That morning I ran into the street like a crazy person screaming at the sky, “Stop raining! Stop raining!” (Ironically, my husband asked me out because he heard me tell someone at a dinner party how much I missed the rain, having just moved to L.A. from N.Y.)

Miraculously, my prayers were answered. The rain stopped and the ceremony went on, although a lot of stiletto heels were lost to grass stains and soggy ground. We had a blast driving to and from the wedding in an old school bus we rented to transport our out-of-town guests. We hired a small band made up of retired big band musicians, and they entertained everyone with music from the 1940s. They alternated between up-tempo numbers and ballads because, as the bandleader told us, “We’re old and can’t catch our breath that fast.” Our guests using the magic markers and paper we put at each table to color us congratulatory messages. It was a glorious, memorable day.

And there hasn’t been a natural or man-made disaster

The lovely Ellen Byron, author of “Body of the Bayou”, the latest in the best selling Cajun Country Mystery Series.  If you’re interested in obtaining your own copy of this charming book, click on either link: Barnes and Noble or Amazon.  If you’d like to read about more wedding bloopers, click on the link: Wedding Bloopers

Body On The Bayou! A Mystery and a Wedding

We all have crazy friends and relatives…and they bring out the best AND the worst in us…especially when a wedding is involved.  Ellen Byron’s latest installment of the best selling ‘Cajun Country Mystery Series’, “Body on the Bayou”, offers us fun, mystery, laughter, and a delightful glimpse into the craziness of planning a wedding… all while solving a murder!  Amazon offers a great synopsis:

The Crozats feared that past murders at Crozat Plantation B&B might spell the death of their beloved estate, but they’ve managed to survive the scandal. Now there’s a très bigger story in Pelican, Louisiana: the upcoming nuptials between Maggie Crozat’s nemesis, Police Chief Rufus Durand, and her co-worker, Vanessa Fleer.

When everyone else refuses the job of being Vanessa’s Maid of Honor, Maggie reluctantly takes up the title and finds herself tasked with a long list of duties–the most important of which is entertaining Vanessa’s cousin, Ginger Fleer-Starke. But just days before the wedding, Ginger’s lifeless body is found on the bayou and the Pelican PD, as well as the Crozats, have another murder mystery on their hands.

There’s a gumbo-potful of suspects, including an ex-Marine with PTSD, an annoying local newspaper reporter, and Vanessa’s own sparkplug of a mother. But when it looks like the investigation is zeroing in on Vanessa as the prime suspect, Maggie reluctantly adds keeping the bride-to-be out of jail to her list of Maid of Honor responsibilities in Body on the Bayou, Ellen Byron’s funny and engaging follow up to her critically acclaimed novel Plantation Shudders.

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In my mind’s eye, the Crozats’ Family Plantation B and B looks something like the photo above.  It’s definitely on my bucket list to stay at such a picturesque establishment.

Did I like this book?  No…I LOVED it!  It’s incredibly  appealing how Byron weaves family, art, an sightful glimpse into rural Southern customs and etiquette into a tight, quickly moving cozy.  Our heroine, Maggie, is a fun mix of artist, family member, sleuth and romanic figure.  Which of Maggie’s great qualities do I like the best?… her artistic bent. She is quite talented and uses it to express herself, and help others to do so, especially a precious little boy.

Would you like to obtain your own copy of “Body on the Bayou”?  If so, click on the either the Barnes and Noble or Amazon link, to be directed to the book’s page.  Once you read “Body on the Bayou”, you’ll definitely want to read the first in the series, “Plantation Shutters”!

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What to serve at a Cajun wedding?  Well, if you’ve ever been to the region, you know the food is exceptional and plentiful. I, personally, would hope there would be some such fare as the photo above!

Below a photo of the lovely author, Ellen Byron.  Hey!  Would you like to hear about HER wedding?  Thought you might… Guess what?  My next post, already written, will feature Ellen’s “Wedding That Almost Wasn’t”, in her very own words!  Check back soon!

Summer Destination Wedding – Whale of a Crime

Can you think of a better Summer Destination Wedding site than a New England Bed and Breakfast?  I can’t.  I recently had the pleasure of reading “Whale of a Crime” by Karen Macinerney.  It’s the 7th book in a delightful cozy mystery series set on fictional ‘Cranberry Island’ off the coast of Maine.  The Amazon synopsis gives a wonderful overview:

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“When a tour company books the Gray Whale Inn for a full week, innkeeper Natalie Barnes can’t wait to get cooking — and to hitch a ride on the antique schooner Summer Winds, getting up close and personal with the local whales. But when one of the humpback whales turns up dragging a mass of fishing gear from its tail, the tour takes a dark turn. It turns darker still when the schooner’s handsome captain winds up attached to the vessel’s anchor, sixty feet underwater… and not by accident. Before long, the tour naturalist (and Natalie’s best friend’s beau) is behind bars, charged with a murder Charlene swears he didn’t commit. Stir in a surprise visit from Natalie’s quarrelsome sister, midnight kitchen sabotage, a sick orphan kitten, and a mysterious investor with plans for a massive resort on the quaint island, and Natalie’s got a recipe for potential disaster. When a second body turns up just outside the inn, the heat is on Natalie to solve the double murder… or risk ending up with her own goose cooked.”

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If you’re looking for wedding venues, and you would like a small affair, consider a B and B.  They are usually located in a scenic venue, (love the photo below!), and if you rent out the entire inn for your wedding, your guests won’t have to worry about making their way home!  Hosting a Destination Wedding, (click on the link if you’d like to read another post about Destination Weddings), encourages you to trim the guest list.  This way you will include your nearest and dearest, and keep your budget on the smaller side.

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Was the book everything it promised?  Yes, and then some.  I was never bored, the characters were loveably believable; the action always flowing.   Yet “Whale of a Crime” still provided the warm domestically we all love in the cozy mystery.  The recipes incorporated in the story made my mouth water.  There are several that I will actually try…and you know me, I don’t like to cook!  I can’t wait for the next installment in the Gray Whale Mystery series.  Hurry and write another soon, Karen!  If you like cozies, you’ll love this one.  Click on the following links to be directed to either Barnes and Noble or Amazon to obtain your own copy.  Once you do, you’ll want to read all seven!

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Love the cake above.  Its simple elegance seems to go with the more causal vibe a Bed and Breakfast Wedding offers.