You Are What You Eat…and Read, 2.0! Ate by Ate’s Favourite Foodie Murder Mysteries & Other Novels

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The Donut Shop Mysteries by Jessica Beck!

This past week I made a startling discovery: I am THISCLOSE to running out of precious real estate on my bookshelf.  Translation?  I’m going to have to figure out, in Sheldon Cooper’s words, “a new organizational paradigm” or stop buying books.

Yeah, that’s not an option.  New organizational paradigm it is.

I know this won’t be easy but there’s just no other way around this snafu.  I love books too much to stop buying them.  I just bought 5 Nancy Drews yesterday from a used book sale to add to my collection for goodness sake.  And I know off the top of my head there will be 3 new books coming out this year for a few of my favourite series.  Not to mention there are plenty of books that I haven’t gotten around to buying yet (and series that I haven’t even gotten around to reading/starting/collecting yet, like the Coffeehouse Mysteries by Cleo Coyle or the Orchard Mysteries by Sheila Connolly) because I believe in pacing myself.  So before anyone says, “oh, well, that’s easy, just get a kindle/kobo/e-reader/whatever other tablet device that’s available out there and you won’t run out of space” I should warn you that if you dare to utter anything even remotely close to that sentence I will chase you down with a wooden spoon.  I don’t do e-readers.  End of story.

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So, how did this mini bout of panic over bookshelf space come about in the first place?  After posting the recipe for the Twin Chocolate Delights cookies from Joanne Fluke’s Blueberry Muffin Murder last Friday and tweeting about the first book of the series being made into a tv movie (I was so excited that I squealed after finding out about this), I received a very enthusiastic response from friends who were really intrigued by the foodie murder mystery genre.  Being the aficionado that I am, I started yammering about how much I loved the series and mentioned how I read and followed a number of other foodie murder mystery series.  Well, that just opened up a can of worms: “There are other series?!” and “Wait, this [genre] is a thing?!”  I haven’t posted about my love for the foodie murder mystery genre in a long time so it’s understandable folks may not have seen those posts.  So I took inventory of my growing collection and took brand new photos to show you all.  And that is when I realized I really needed to reevaluate things!  I am queen of organization and squish though so I have no doubt I’ll come up with a solution to remedy the situation.

Here is my book collection in all its glory and may new ones find a comfy space on my bookshelf in my soon-to-be new “organizational paradigm”.

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I love the Donut Shop Mysteries by Jessica Beck but unfortunately, my collection has to stop at 9 because if I’m not mistaken, the series went exclusively digital from the 10th book onward and are now only published as e-books.  This makes me sad, sigh.  Anyway, below you will see:

  • the Cupcake Bakery Mysteries by Jenn McKinlay
  • the Cookie Cutter Shop Mysteries by Virginia Lowell
  • the Ice Cream Shop/Mystery a La Mode Mysteries by Wendy Lyn Watson
  • the Magical Bakery Mysteries by Bailey Cates
  • the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries by Victoria Hamilton
  • the Fresh Baked Mysteries by Livia J. Washburn
  • the Pizza Shop/Lovers Mysteries by Chris Cavender
  • the Lucy Stone Mysteries by Leslie Meier (the series isn’t a foodie one but there are a number that are food-themed, like this one!)
  • and while the Icing on the Cupcake and the Christmas Cookie Club aren’t mysteries, they are food-themed and they are wonderful novels that I adore to itty bitty pieces and I highly recommend both if you love food as much as I do.
  • And finally, my beloved Hannah Swensen Mysteries collection by Joanne Fluke!  This is, hands down, my favourite foodie murder mystery series and one of my all-time favourite book series in general which is saying a lot because I am a die-hard Baby-Sitters Club, Sweet Valley, and Nancy Drew fan!  I love these books like crazy and I get so excited every time a new one is released.  I am waiting with baited breath for the latest one, Blackberry Pie Murder, to be released in paperback at the end of the month and for the newest one in the series, Double Fudge Brownie Murder, to come out next month in February!

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Good Eats, Good Reads – A British Cookbook, and Ice Cream & Donut Shop Mysteries!

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If you’re anything like me, you have a bookshelf (or even multiple bookshelves!) full to bursting with books of all kinds: novels, comic books, coffee table books, and one of my loves, cookbooks!  It’s been a long time since I posted anything related to food books and reading material so I wanted to share with you all some of the things I’ve been head over heels in love with as of late.  I am a cookbook addict.  I’m one of those people that loves them for the photography and art direction even more than the actual recipes inside.  There are so many different styles of cookbooks though and while not all of them are practical, straight-forward, or even remotely useful to the average homecook, I think there is value and beauty in all of them no matter what the focus may be.  Everyone has their own priorities when they go about hunting for great cookbooks and it’s all about what you gain the most insight from. 

For me, cookie cookbooks are, hands down, the most practical and useful for me.  I know I’ll use the recipes, I know I’ll go back to them time and time again for inspiration, for actual baking, and for resourceful things like measurement conversions.  Then there are the coffee table type of cookbooks.  The type that most likely have some great recipes in them, but are so pristine and beautiful you can’t bare to crack the spine much less use them in the kitchen.  And then there are the ones like the one I’m posting about here.

I was in conniptions when I saw the magazine advertisement for Cook Britain by Canadian Living ($15.99, Transcontinental Media).  Sure, I’m absolutely amoured by Prince William and the darling Kate Middleton (I love her to pieces), but my motivation for getting this book had far more to do with my desire to learn more about British food than just a trivial fascination with the British royalty.  There’s no doubt that I love food.  But I am far from a global eater.  I’m a girl who’s just soaking it all in, learning day by day and when I saw the ad for the book, I knew there was no better time to get my feet wet in learning about British cuisine. 

I will be the first to admit that I know nothing about British food but that I’m SO excited about this book and what I’ll learn from it.  I certainly won’t turn into an expert after reading it, but it’ll give me insight and a very basic knowledge to springboard from because I can’t talk about British food on the blog until I start learning about it and I think this will be a great start.  This book is wonderful because it’s a mix of everything: recipes, beautiful photos of food, and plenty of food history and information about regional British, Scottish, and Irish food including steak and kidney pudding, Irish champ, and Scottish shortbread.  Along with the incredible amount of fun I had during my last visit to Sorauren Park farmers’ market back in June tasting, photographing, and learning about some British and Irish eats, this is, in my opinion, the best way to dip my toes in the water.

Annnd cookbooks can also be disguised as beautiful, adorable, colourful and amazing murder mystery novels!  If you’ll recall, I am all hugs and squishes over the Hannah Swensen mysteries by Joanne Fluke and I’ve continued building my collection and reading my way through the series (newest book in the series that I don’t have and need to read?  Cinnamon Roll Murder!), but my oh my has this particular genre ever exploded!  There are SO MANY foodie murder mystery series out on the market and I am ecstatic about it!  The two series that I’ve been spending a little more time on are Wendy Lyn Watson’s ice cream shop mysteries (A Mystery a la Mode) and Jessica Beck’s Donut Shop Mysteries.  I’m missing one book from each series (the first one in the ice cream shop, I Scream, You Scream, and I believe the 4th one in the Donut Shop Mysteries, Evil Eclairs) and the latest two, Killer Crullers and Drop Dead Chocolate I just purchased last weekend!  These books are so much fun (and yes, they do have recipes in them) and I could spend eternity reading these from cover to cover.

In addition to these two series, I’m eyeing a whole truckload of others including Cleo Coyle’s Coffeehouse Mysteries, Sheila Connolly’s Orchard Mysteries (apples!), Livia Washburn’s Fresh-Baked Mysteries (Ooo, killer crab cakes and pumpkin muffin murders!), Chris Cavender’s Pizza Lovers Mysteries (mmm, pepperoni), AND – get this – a CUPCAKE BAKERY MYSTERY SERIES!  I just discovered this series over the weekend and like any avid bookworm foodie, I snatched up the first one in the series: Sprinkle with Murder.  The series is written by Jenn McKinlay and there are, I believe, 3 books so far.

There’s nothing like a fresh new food magazine, novel, and cookbook to cuddle up with, so if you get the chance, definitely take a look-see at some of these fab reads and feel free to share your favourites too!