E. D. Bird: Bitter Sweet Wednesday, Jun 29 2016 

Please welcome author E. D. Bird, here to talk about Bitter Sweet, set in southern Africa:

Bitter Sweet is a fictional novel set in southern Africa. It includes many encounters with wild animals and unscrupulous people.

The book was written with the author’s accumulated mining experience and knowledge of the African wildlife, as well as that of the environment. While the setting is fictional, as are the characters, a great many of the historical locales have been moved from their rightful position and fitted into this imaginary place.

Hilton Shire, a recently appointed Private Investigator since the untimely death of his wife Sabrina, is on a mission of revenge, together with his brothers-in- law, Jordan and Kyle. They believe that Sabrina was murdered as a result of her investigation into the demise of Julie Curl’s husband a number of years before; they also believe that she was drawing close to resolving the mystery when she met with unmitigated violence.

Will Hilton get to the bottom of the mystery and avenge his wife before more killings take place?

Readers are taken on a relentless cat and mouse chase across the unforgettable southern African nations and Barbados. The unfolding adventure is menacing, perilous, intriguing and, in the end, could possibly be Bitter Sweet . . .

The author was born in Scotland during 1955 and married in 1975. Bird’s parents immigrated to Zimbabwe (Southern Rhodesia as it was then) in 1957 and has lived there ever since. E.D. has two adult sons, the eldest of whom lives in New Zealand while the youngest, who has provided the author with two grandsons, resides in England. Bird was divorced during 1987, but remarried the same person on the 20 th anniversary of their original wedding date and they remain together living happily in Bulawayo with their two rescue dogs. The author is an animal lover and has over the years had a variety of pets including horses, dogs and cats, but dogs are definitely the favourites and at one stage there were eight different breeds in the household. E.D. Bird worked for a firm of attorneys for thirteen years and during the final three of those studied law by correspondence, but was forced to give up those lessons after the divorce and joined the family business, a gold mining enterprise. Having been brought up in a rural mining environment and having been primarily involved in mining for a lifetime, there is a sound base for the fictional events created in the books. http://www.edbirdbooks.com

MC Beaton: The Blood of an Englishman Thursday, Sep 18 2014 

M C Beaton has written Agatha Raisin’s 25th adventure! The long-running witty series continues without missing a beat with The Blood of an Englishman.

When Agatha finds herself attending the Winter Parva pantomime production of “Babes in the Woods,” she never figures on the Cotswold’s village losing its popular baker. Dragged there by the vicar’s wife, the only redeeming thing about the evening appears to be meeting the producer, Gareth Craven, who sets her hormones firing.

But moments after strutting on stage as a threatening ogre, baker Bert Simple disappears through a trap door as planned, and isn’t seen at the final curtain call. His body is found by the show’s producer, standing up and pierced by a horrible spike affixed to the platform.

When the good-looking Craven asks Agatha to help him find the murderer, how can she resist?

All of the usual staff at Agatha’s PI business are on hand, from the ex-policeman Patrick, the youngsters Toni and Simon, the older Phil and her secretary, Mrs. Freedman. And she starts where she should, with the biggest gossip in the village, and branches out from there.

There will be broken marriages and engagements, a blacksmith, temperamental feuds in the cast, and a whole lot more as Agatha’s team start to get too close to a killer. In her usual manner, Agatha manages to smoke her annoying cigarettes, have a few drinks, annoy the police, and find herself perilously close to death. And all while checking out the new antiques dealer she meets in a bar. Vintage Beaton.

In honor of Beaton’s 25th book, Minotaur teamed up with Stash Tea and sent along two boxes of tea for an afternoon tea party. Here’s my favorite RAISIN scone recipe, courtesy of Gail Monaghan, NY cookbook author and cooking teacher. These freeze well, just as she promised, and I’ve made them raisins but also subbed with chocolate chips and with craisins. All variations are excellent. Pop one in the toaster straight from the freezer and relax as your kitchen fills with the scent of a baking scone. And don’t forget the culpa Stash tea!

2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tblsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/3 cups dried currants
1/3 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 cup cold heavy cream

3 Tblsp unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Over large bowl, sift flour, baking powder, salt and the 1/3 cup sugar. Stir in currants. Add heavy cream and use an electric mixer to blend on low until all ingredients are just combined.

Dump dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead very briefly. Roll sought out to 1″ thickness. Use a biscuit cutter to cut scones, or as I do, a sharp knife to make triangles. Place 1″ apart on greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.

Use a pastry brush to paint topf of scones with the melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Place sheet in center of oven and bake until golden, 12-15 mins.

Let cool on baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature with butter and jam, or as they do in England, with clotted cream. Store in airtight container if to be used in the next day; or freeze up to 12 weeks and pop in the toaster when you have a craving for tea and scones!

My own favorite tea party was this past summer, when I spent the afternoon in London with mentor and friend, P. D. James and her assistant, the lovely Joyce McLennan. There was even a cozy on the teapot!