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A Killer Book Club-Putting a Literary Spin on Drinks By Ellery Adams, author of Murder in the Locked Library and The Whispered Word

I’ve seen a funny motto about book clubs embroidered on tote bags and pillow covers. It says, “My book club can outdrink your book club.” Another one reads, “I was delighted to discover that book club is a euphemism for wine club.”

There’s no doubt about it. Food and drink are important elements of any social gathering, so when a friend of mine said that she wanted to start a book club—the kind of book club where we casually discussed a book while also socializing, drinking wine, and eating chocolate—I immediately asked, “When’s our first meeting?”

But what happens after a few months of rounding up friends, picking book titles, and opening a few bottles of wine? Good things, I hope.  But they could be even better. You could kick things up a notch at your next book club meeting by serving exciting cocktails to complement your book pick.

How do you decide which drinks go with your group read? Here are some ideas for you:

Create cocktails that reflect the book’s time period. Take a book set in the Great War, like Maisie Dobbs, Birdsong, or The Summer Before the War, and treat your historical fiction-loving book buddies to a Sidecar, Gin Rickey, or French 75. Recipes for these cocktails are easily found online.

Let’s say your book club pick is full of mystique and magic. Why not dazzle your fellow readers with a cocktail that smokes, sparkles, glows, or changes color? If that’s too much work, you could simply serve a Black Magic cocktail using black vodka, simple syrup, and lime juice.

Another option is to focus on the author’s favorite beverage. If you’re reading Hemingway, have a Mojito. Fitzgerald? A Gin Rickey. Faulkner? A mint julep. And what about the lady writers? If you’re reading Dorothy Parker, mix up a whiskey Sour.  J.K. Rowling is a gin and tonic gal. Margaret Atwood doesn’t mess around with mixers. She favors a single-malt Scotch. And what would Jane Austen do? She’d raise a toast with a glass of red wine. If you want to add some cool pizzazz to that wine, just add ice, sparkling water, and a twist of lime and you’ll have a Regency Spritzer. It’s the perfect accompaniment to that late afternoon book club meeting.</p>

In The Whispered Word, the second installment in my Secret, Book, and Scone Society mystery series, the women in my fictional book club enjoy seasonal cocktails.  They meet at an outdoor bar with a Japanese Zen garden. Sitting under the stars, they talk about how summer is fading into fall.  In this scene, they’re sipping Indian Summer cocktails—rum, melon liqueur, and pineapple juice. Served in a chilled martini glass and garnished with a translucent apple slice, they’re as refreshing as an autumnal evening.

Nora Pennington, my main character and the owner of Miracle Books, doesn’t always want to serve alcohol during her book club meetings. This raises an excellent point. Make sure to offer mocktails with the same ingredients as your themed cocktails. Simply replace the alcohol with club soda or sparkling grape juice, depending on the recipe, so that your friends can enjoy an alcohol-free alternative.

No matter what your book club imbibes, your meetings are bound to be fabulous. After all, you’re getting together to talk about books. And what’s more intoxicating than a good book?

 

 

             

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    Books We Can’t Wait to Share    
         
     

 

Reviewed by Larissa

Dogs are amazing creatures, and it is always so interesting to read about how a dog can be trained to utilize the power of their nose to save the day, which is one of the reasons why Sara Driscoll’s third FBI K-9 Novel STORM RISING is so fantastic. Special Agent Meg Jennings and her search-and-rescue Labrador, Hawk, are members of the FBI’s Human Scent Evidence Team, and they are deployed to Virginia Beach after a devastating hurricane for a search-and-rescue operation. Driscoll immediately pulls you into the story as the hurricane is already making its destructive path up the coast of North Carolina—and you can really feel the tense anticipation of the aftermath. But the hurricane leaves more than just debris—the team discovers the victims of a human trafficking ring, one with ties to prominent figures in Virginia. As Agent Jennings and her trusty Hawk work to bring down those involved in the trafficking ring, Meg’s investigation leads her to danger. Dark, dramatic, and realistic, if you have an interest in dogs, or want to know what it looks like behind-the-scenes with search and rescue operations, STORM RISING is a must for your TBR pile!

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Reviewed by Alex

I’ll start by saying that I just adore Stacy Finz’s books. The Nugget series became a must-read for me after I read the first book, GOING HOME, back in 2014. So, it was with no small amount of excitement that I dove into TEMPTING FATE, the first new full-length book in the series in nearly two years! It did not disappoint. This book will tug at your heartstrings, make you smile, catch you up with your favorite California mountain town’s residents, and let you share in the redemption of villain-turned-heroine Raylene Rosser. That’s right…you fans of the series will recognize that name. It sounds like a tall order—give Raylene her happily ever after (and have her DESERVE it)—after she was basically the most disliked character of the entire series to this point. Well, not only will you be rooting for Raylene, you might just find yourself angry at some of those other favorite characters as you start turning those first pages!

For those of you who don’t know her, Raylene Rosser is the daughter of a cattle baron who committed some serious crimes (including being a party to murder) and died in prison. Being raised under his roof was no picnic, and Raylene has the mental scars to prove it. She married the man her father hand-picked for her…and he was just as domineering and abusive. Stacy Finz takes us deeper into Raylene’s background and the motivations behind some of the terrible things she’s done in her past (including setting up her former flame for the murder mentioned above), and as a reader, you can’t help but feel for her. She’s come home to Nugget for the wedding of her brother Logan (hero of Falling Hard), and she’s got to face down all the demons of her past and the townsfolk who are holding some serious grudges for her past actions. When ex-SEAL Gabe Moretti is enlisted by Logan to keep a lookout on Raylene, sparks fly, and he can’t reconcile the woman he’s coming to know with the terrible things he knows she’s done in her past.

Will Raylene be redeemed? Will she manage to win Nugget over? Can an honorable veteran find true love with Nugget’s public enemy #1? You’ll have to find out for yourself…and definitely keep some tissues nearby for the thrilling ending!

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Reviewed by Ann

A social media mogul uses his substantial technological know-how and endless supply of money to turn the world upside down….. If that has a strangely familiar resonance to you, it should! But in the new thriller by Brigadier General Anthony Tata, the protagonist of this scarily prescient plotline doesn’t go to Capitol Hill to defensively apologize for his misdeeds. Here, the man whose social platform is more powerful than Google, Amazon and Facebook combined has gone to the dark side. His diabolical leanings and subversive dark web powers have set the global superpowers into deadly disarray. A nuclear bomb has been dropped on Tokyo. North Korea has just steamrolled through the fortressed DMZ. Iran is plowing through Syria. The Russians have crossed the border into Belarus. The entire world believes the Americans are behind the high-level assassination of North Korea’s Supreme Leader. One man is behind it all – and another, six-foot ex-Marines hero, Jake Mahegan, is the one guy on Earth who can track him down and outwit him at his own horrible game. Author Tony Tata is an expert in all aspects of military engagement, from commanding troops (which he did in Afghanistan, earning a Combat Action medal and a Bronze Star) to cyberwarfare and hand-to-hand combat to fighter jets and sleeper cells. DARK WINTER has it all – including the tug between the duties of war and the stirrings of the heart.

When DARK WINTER is made into a movie (it’s only a matter of time, Hollywood!) Jake Mahegan will be played by Adam Driver, who was an actual Marine. And the world’s most evil man, Ian Gorham, has got to be Ezra Miller. Now that I’ve done the casting for you, you need to delve into this plot!

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Reviewed by Shannon

ALL THE PRETTY BRIDES is the third installment in Marian Lanouette’s Jake Carrington thrillers and it’s definitely my favorite. The book starts with a strong opening premise: every year for the past five years, a bride has gone missing right before her wedding. This year though? This year they find a body. Jake is convinced the killer is a disgruntled man whose own wedding didn’t pan out. Yes! This is exactly what I want in my serial killer thrillers. A twisted motive. Tragic victims. And of course, we get to tag along with Jake and his partner, Louie, and solve the crime with them as they go. Lanouette offers an array of intriguing potential suspects, delving us into a world of truly deplorable men, but just because they’re horrible, it doesn’t mean they’re guilty.

I think what Lanouette does well in her books is that she offers real stakes—there are consequences to the violence Jake and his companions face. The realization that our characters can die, be severely injured, or traumatized by what they confront makes her action scenes all the more anxiety inducing. I dare you to get to the climax of this book without fearing for the characters, especially Jake!

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Reviewed by Michaela

I’d like to introduce you to Dan Morgan, the protagonist of Leo J. Maloney’s espionage thriller series.  Morgan is a loving husband, a devoted dad, a classic car buff . . . and a trained assassin. As a former CIA operative, he knows all the tricks of the spy trade.  Now a member of the clandestine Zeta organization, he continues to carry out missions vital to American interests and security.


Now meet Morgan’s daughter, Alex. Following in her father’s footsteps, Alex is Zeta’s newest recruit – and its deadliest sniper. While working undercover, she infiltrates a conspiracy that could lead America to devastation. But the farther she follows the trail, the more her life is in danger.  This job is too big for either Morgan or his daughter to handle alone. But together, they are unstoppable.


I’ve been Leo Maloney’s editor throughout the Dan Morgan series, and there’s been a lot of excitement along the way.  But I’m especially excited to see how Dan Morgan and his daughter, Alex, are developing as an engaging and dynamic father/daughter team of operatives.  Jump into this series if you like fast-paced action with a fresh voice, written by an acclaimed thriller master.

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Reviewed by Elizabeth

Are you looking for a haunting, sexy read? Welcome to the world of witches and magic in Burlington, Vermont—the perfect place for a coven to fly (no pun intended!) under the radar amongst a menagerie of colorful locals. With lush, atmospheric writing, Pat Esden pulled me into a thrilling story with a satisfying conclusion.

Chloe Winslow, born into a family of powerful witches, longs for a fresh start at the University of Vermont. And an invitation from the exclusive Northern Circle coven is an unexpected surprise that she can’t pass up – an opportunity to join a community of passionate and like-minded young witches, and a chance to repair the tragic mistake she’s agonized over for the last five years.  Chloe is enthralled by the coven’s noble mission, not to mention its mesmerizingly handsome high priest, Devlin. But when the coven’s magic turns darker than anything Chloe’s seen before, she must decide who to trust, and how to stop the coven from changing the very existence of the magical community (and the world!) as they know it.

This is the first in a new series, and I for one am excited to read the second installment and continue with the Northern Circle coven’s adventures. The book features a great cast of characters who you want to root for, electric sexual tension between the leads, and stunning, detailed magical descriptions. Curl up with a blanket and a warm drink this December and get lost in Pat Esden’s beautifully rendered world of edgy magic.

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