Thursday, July 9, 2015

A Batter of Life and Death Tour + Giveaway!

A Batter of Life and Death (A Bakeshop Mystery, #2)
A Batter of Life and Death by Ellie Alexander
A Bakeshop Mystery #2
Publisher: St Martin's
Publishing Date: June 30, 2015
Welcome to Torte-a small-town family bakeshop where the coffee is hot, the muffins are fresh, and the cakes are definitely to die for...

It's autumn in Ashland, Oregon-'tis the season for a spiced hot apple cider with a serving (or two) of Torte's famous peach cobbler. It's also the perfect time for Jules Capshaw to promote her family's beloved bake shop by competing in The Pastry Channel's reality show, Take the Cake. The prize is $25,000. But as Jules quickly learns, some people would kill for that kind of dough. Literally.

Then, just as Jules dusts off her Bavarian Chocolate Cake recipe and cinches up her apron, the corpse of a fellow contestant is discovered-death by buttercream. What began as a fun, tasteful televised adventure has morphed into something of a true-crime detective show for Jules and everybody else on set. Who could have killed Chef Marco, and why? Can Jules sift out the killer before someone else gets burned?

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for a blog tour in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Buy a copy today! 

Ellie Alexander is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter to learn more.

AUTHOR ONLINE: Facebook | Twitter

My Thoughts:
Book one of the Bakeshop series introduced us to a great cast of characters. Typically in a cozy mystery, the characters can be too quirky, a result of trying to make the book 'memorable' and stand out. Quirky is fun in small doses, but Alexander has found a better recipe: characters with background, history, story. The ending of 'Meet Your Baker' was full of action and made me so glad I already had book two on my shelf. 

'A Batter of Life and Death' keeps our great cast of characters, but adds a few new friends. Each of the "originals" has a lot of story both in this book and in the future, which makes me excited to continue reading. Our newbies are fun and also mysterious. Both Jules and the reader will suspect each one in turn. I don't think I had it completely figured out by the time I got to the end. 

Still no resolution with Carlos, Jules' husband, maybe ex. But she is developing an attraction to Thomas and as a fly on the wall reader, so am I. My biggest dread with this series would be for the Carlos storyline to drag on forever, or for a prolonged love triangle to develop. A separate cozy mystery series did this to me and it drove me bonkers! **I did just read the synopsis for book three, 'On Thin Icing'! It seems we may get some possible resolutions soon??**

'A Batter of Life and Death' is cute, fun, and mysterious. The characters, and explosive endings, will keep me coming back to this series again and again! 4 stars and I recommend to those who enjoy baking cozies, mystery, action, great characters, and so far: minimal romance. I'm dying to read book three already!


The author will be giving away signed copy of Meet Your Baker and A Batter of Life and Death, 1 pound coffee, Oregon Chai, Gourmet cupcake liners (US) to a winner of the below Rafflecopter.  The giveaway ends July 21st.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Philip definitely fit the part of a Hollywood television producer. The skin around his eyes had been stretched and smoothed. His entire face looked tight and slightly shiny. It reminded me of the saran wrap we stretch over cookie dough while it chills.
He placed his phone on the table. “Jules, this is your lucky day.”
I raised an eyebrow. “How so?” I’d met plenty of charmers, like Philip, during my time on the ship and growing up in a community centered around the stage. It was going to take more than a dazzling smile for me to trust his motives. A warning voice sounded in my head. Proceed with caution, Jules.
His phone buzzed. He reached down to silence it. “I’ll let that go. You, my dear, are my top priority at the moment.”
I could feel my muscles tense. Whenever people are overtly complimentary I get suspicious.
“We had a last-minute scheduling glitch.” Philip said, with his hand covering his phone. I wondered if this was to stop himself from looking at it. “One of our Take the Cake contestants had to drop out. I believe you know him—Jed Cellars.”
Jed Cellars was the head chef at The Ashlander, the nicest hotel in town. However it was currently operating without anyone in its dining room. Not because of the dwindling tourists, but because they had a huge kitchen fire last week, and the restaurant was currently shut down.
“Of course I know Jed.”
“Then you heard about the fire?”
I nodded
“We need someone to take his place. He’s too involved in getting his kitchen up and
running again.”
I felt terrible for Jed. Recovering from a total kitchen demolition was no small task.
Phillip continued. “This a boutique show, and I need a boutique chef like you. We’re not a major production like some of the other junk the network likes to put out.”
“A boutique chef?” I raised my brow. “I’m not sure what that means.”
He removed his hand from his phone and began gesturing as his spoke. “The network likes to put out these competitions with glorified home bakers as the contestants. You know, a “chef” who owns a drive-through coffee shop. Please.” He rolled his eyes.
“They let twelve, maybe twenty people compete. Most of them can’t even boil water. Take the Cake is filmed on location, in a stunning town, with only the crème-de-la-crème of pastry chefs. It’s an expensive production, which means we handpick the five best chefs in the country. Each week one person will get voted out by the judges, until we come to the finale episode where we’ll crown a new winner.”
“Okay.” I’m sure I sounded skeptical.
Philip didn’t seem to notice. He studied me. “How tall are you?”
“5’8. Why?”
He knocked on the table. “That’s what I thought.” Sneaking a look at his phone, he shook his head and turned it upside down. “Jules, has anyone ever told you that you have the look for television?”
“No.” I winkled my nose. Wow, he was really laying it on thick
“Oh, but you do.” He reached over and turned my face to the side. “Those cheekbones are to die for. Do you know how many actresses would kill for your bone structure?”
I stepped away from him, and shook my head. Praising my appearance wasn’t going to help his cause, nor was invading my personal space. I wished he would just get to his pitch, and stop trying to butter me up.
Philip stared at my hair. “Is that color natural? It’s so blonde.”
I nodded. Where was this going?
            “I can see that you’re unsure. Hear me out.” He steadied his gaze on me. “I want you, Juliet Capshaw, to be a contestant on the show. It’s perfect. In the biz we call it a synchronistic opportunity. This was meant to be. You’ll win viewers over the moment they see you, and, you can bake!” Philip practically bounced in his seat. “Plus there’s a twenty-five thousand dollar prize and major network contract for the winner—we’re talking your own show, cookbooks, magazines, and appearances on morning talk shows. You could be a real star, Jules.”
            “Uh, let’s slow down here. TV’s not really my thing.”
            His phone buzzed again. “Listen, I have to take this call. You wait right here. But you should know that I’m used to getting my way and you are going to be on this show.”
            I tried to protest, but he waved me off and hurried outside to take his phone call. Synchronistic opportunity. That sounded like Hollywood jargon to me. Having sailed all over the world on the cruise ship, I’d learned that the word opportunity actually gets its roots from the sea. It’s derived from the phrase “Ob Portu” which Carlos, my currently estranged husband, told me means waiting for the tide. A ship can’t leave port in low tide, so in days past sailors would wait for the tide to change by hauling cargo on board. Once the tide came in, they would set sail.
            In some ways that’s what I’d been doing in Ashland—waiting for the tide to change, for the sea to rise and send me in a new direction. Was this my opportunity? I’d never had visions of becoming a television star, but twenty-five thousand dollars was a lot of cash. The prize money could help us take Torte to the next level. As I waited for Philip to return, I tried to imagine myself on TV. How would I come across? Stiff? Too serious? On the other hand, I absolutely love baking. The idea of sharing that love through the airwaves with viewers all over the country sent a shiver of excitement up my spine. Maybe this was my “synchronistic opportunity” after all. If I didn’t jump on board now, the ship might sail without me.

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