Saturday, 31 May 2014

Chocoholic Writers

I love chocolate. No surprise to those who know me. I adore dark chocolate—at least 70% and Belgian, of course.  I have been known to venture into Swiss and German chocolates but my fave is still Belgian. I like my dark chocolate plain and ready to break into pieces that don’t make your cheeks bulge when you pop it into your mouth.  I even like it with an apricot or slice or candied orange peel or fat tart cherry or even a pecan or almond tucked inside. I’m not fond of creams but I will sample and I do inhale dark chocolate truffles. Victoria’s “Dutch Bakery”  and “Terrible Truffles” makes the best.

So I was really amazed when I dived into a mystery book where the heroine popped chocolates like a drug. She wasn’t that discerning a chocoholic but she ate chocolates as she went about solving her case. In another book, Nicola Furlong’s “Teed Off” has her protagonist, Riley Quinn, also diving into chocolates—“Rogers,” one of Victoria’s best. It helps that Nicola is also a chocoholic connoisseur. My protagonist is a private eye named Newton Figby, who has to have a continuous chocolate fix in order to boot up his flavenols to nourish his brain cells. Newton knows his sources of chocolate baked goods and of course, dark Belgian chocolates. Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg’s fun collaboration of FBI agent Kate O’Hare and international thief/conman, Nicholas Fox reveals Kate’s passion for Toblerone chocolates.  JoAnna Carl’s character, Lee McKinney Woodyard who is the owner of “TenHuis Chocolade,” uses her chocolate shop as the backdrop for her amateur sleuth.  Nancy Coco’s heroine, Allie McMurphy who operates Mackinac Island’s “Historic McMurphy Hotel and Fudge Shop includes some awesome fudge recipes in her books “To Fudge or Not to Fudge” and “All Fudged Up.”

And hey, remember you write what you know so Charlaine Harris, Nancy J. Parra (aka Nancy Coco) and R.E. Hargrave are a few chocoholics, whom I visualize nibbling their chocolate treats at their computers while crafting their chocolate inspired protagonists.

There are even websites such as Janet Rudolph’s chocolate news, reviews and recipes found at and a fun site for interactive murder mysteries (for a price) at

However in my search for chocoholic writers and their protagonists, I did find an exception. Daryl Wood Gerber, who writes mystery cosies as Avery Ames. Her amateur sleuth, Charlotte Bessette owns “The Cheese Shop” in Providence, Ohio.  Charlotte not only knows her cheeses but is passionate in seeking justice for those unjustly accused.. Her books, such as “Days of Wine and Roquefort”, “Lost and Fondue”, or “To Brie or Not to Brie” even includes tasty cheese recipes. And the reason I include this writer is her fabulous recipe for “Choco Socko Cheesecake” which includes chocolate in the ingredients.  Check out

Now excuse me while I search for my stash of dark Belgian chocolate. I seem to have developed this powerful craving. . .



Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Sammee's Summer Reading List

So many books and what better time to leisurely soak up the sun, relax with a cool drink and indulge in some great reads! This is my current list to start you off.

Blood Orange Brewing is another fun read by Laura Childs, who also does the Scrapbooking Mysteries and the Cackleberry Mysteries. Theodosia Browning, owner of Charleston's "Indigo Tea Shop" is once again embroiled in her seventh tea shop murder mystery--this time, the untimely demise of beloved politico and retired CEO, Duke Wilkes. At a benefit concert for the restoration of an 18th century mansion, Delaine Dish dramatically flings open the parlour doors to a lavish high tea, only to expose Duke's crumbled body for all of Charleston's well-heeled society to see. Supported by her loyal friends and Duke's widow, Theodosia's hunch that all is not as it seems, impels her to charge forth and prove her theory. Armed with her curiosity, exotic teas and Haley's decadent offerings from her kitchen, Theo discovers shady politics and personal payback. Laura Childs knows how to draw her Readers in and blows their minds with her fun and delicious cosies, eventually reaching its dangerous and deadly conclusion. The recipes included at the end of the book are a tasty bonus. And yes, "Blood Orange" really is a special tea.

I've always had a fondness for historical novels that are written well and Philippa Gregory's The White Princess does not disappoint. This is a well-researched story that captures the imagination, told in the voice of Elizabeth of York, the reluctant bride of Henry VII and future mother of Henry VIII. Ms. Gregory's recounting of the beginning of the Tudor lineage is a fascinating tale of Henry VII's bloody seizure of the English throne from King Richard of York. Henry's reliance on his mother and uncle's advice plus his strong distrust of anyone supporting the conquered York king, feeds his insecurities. It doesn't help his self- confidence that his reluctant bride is a York princess, whose family had always had strong support from both nobles and commoners. Even when Elizabeth produces the first Tudor heir, Arthur and later his brother, Henry--King  Henry VII never stops worrying if his throne is secure for his sons. Cleverly woven into "The White Princess" is perhaps an answer o whatever happened to Elizabeth's little brothers, Prince Edward, heir to the York throne and his little brother, Prince Richard, who both disappeared from the Tower of London. There have been York "Pretenders" popping up here and there, but none with the Royal charm and likeable manners of the one pretending to be the missing Prince Richard. This "Pretender" may be the real-deal as he gathers strong support from other European royal families and captures the loyal support of the commoners who all see him as their rightful king. "The White Princess" is a historical novel that will pull you into England's glorious pageantry, uncertainties and barbaric justice.

Nora Roberts, using her J.D. Robb alias when writing her "In Death" series, has crafted another entertaining tale involving Lieutenant Eve Dallas, her billionaire husband, Roarke and her loyal partner, Detective Peabody. In her latest, Concealed in Death, Roarke's latest multimillion dollars project begins with tearing down a derelict building to rebuild a safe haven for children who end up on the streets of New York, trying to survive and for those others, who are mistreated or neglected by a system meant to protect them. Instead, behind a demolished wall, Roarke discovers the burial place for two young victims. When Eve and her Homicide team process the site, the body count jumps to twelve. "Concealed in Death" gives an insight to the plight of runaways and homeless kids who place their trust in the wrong person. This tale also introduces the newest member of the team, Dr. Garnet DeWinter, forensic anthropologist, who will challenge Eve on cases that matter to her--and like Eve--all her cases do.  This is an entertaining and thought provoking murder mystery that also demonstrates how true love can take you places you never thought possible. Grab a copy and read for yourself.

The Benefactor is a gritty crime story written by Don Easton, a former RCMP undercover operative who knows the criminal world extremely well. His latest novel begins with the apparent hit-and-run death of a 75 year old woman until a closer look at the car links it to an organized Asian crime syndicate.  Undercover operatives, Jack Taggart and his partner, Laura Secord, once again dives  into the dark and dirty Vancouver underworld. This time they discover how extensively Chinese spies have sunk their tentacles in uncovering both industrial secrets as well as the highly complex world of computer hacking into highly classified government and military files. Easton's books and his scenarios are lifted right out of today's headlines. He definitely knows his topics and clearly has lived through some of the hair-raising adventures he writes about. For exciting escapism and a darn good read, grab Easton's "The Benefactor" published by Dundurn Publishers.

So you think you can write a better tale? If you're a wannabe "writer,"--this book, The Kick-Ass Writer by Chuck Wendig, will either kick-start you into seriously tackling your writing project and finishing it--whether it's a short-short, short story, novella or novel. Chuck covers all the reasons and excuses you give yourself on why you're still unpublished. He hits the truths hard and his staccato-style of spitting out nuggets of information, honed from years of experience, ensures you're not reading reams of useless words. Chuck's straight-forward and logical advice gets you off your duff and writing again. If you're looking for one book on how to make it as a writer, get this one. "The Kick-Ass Writer" by Chuck Wendig gives it to you straight.

This is my Summer Reading List so far.  As I mentioned earlier, so many books and the Summer's not long enough!