The Mysteries of Anna Celeste Burke: Reviews/Giveaway

Jan 13, 2018 | 2018 Articles, Kathleen Costa, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Kathleen Costa

Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win either an ebook or print copy of one of the 3 books by Anna Celeste Burke reviewed in this post, and links to purchase them from Amazon.

“Life’s an extravaganza! You can never tell what’s coming next. Figuring out how to hang tough and make the most of the wild ride is our greatest challenge and always an adventure.”
—Quote from Anna Celeste Burke’s website Desert Cities Mysteries

Connecting with authors beyond reading and reviewing their books is the best part of my own adventure. I learn about who they are, where they came from, connections to their writing, and even some personal similarities. It was a delight to e-meet Anna Celeste Burke, USA Today’s Best Selling Author and the creativity behind a trifecta of popular and entertaining cozy series: Jessica Huntington Mystery, Corsario Cove Cozy Mystery, and Georgia Shaw Mystery. All three series offer different aged characters and different settings, but include the same well-written adventure, humor, and realism. You’ll be hooked, too.

Anna Celeste Burke‘s adventure started out far from the world of mystery, but her experiences have inspired clever stories and realistic characters. Her first big adventure was running off to Tijuana to marry her rock ‘n roll ‘soulmate’ which led to a run in with law enforcement. But this didn’t slow either of them down as they entered their next adventure at Walt Disney World University Chef Training. Anna commented about the wonderful training she received by terrific chefs, including “a former chef who worked at the White House during Lyndon Johnson’s time in office.” After graduating, she used her skills as a Prep Chef in the main kitchen at the Polynesian Hotel.

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Anna and her group at the Disney University

The world of academia called, and the next adventure earned her a PhD in Social Work & Sociology from the University of Michigan. With an “allegiance” dilemma, she eventually became the Associate Dean for Research in the College of Social Work at The Ohio State University with her research interests in the areas of Mental Health & Drug Policy and Treatment. From there and beyond she imparted her expertise through lectures on “nerdy topics” like social work and behavioral science. She loved “working with social workers and mental health professionals on the front lines.”

You might ask, she quips, “What on earth does a research scientist have in common with a mystery writer?” It seems much more than one would think. Exploring below the surface, fans would agree that one theme is common in all mysteries—the search for the truth. By piecing together facts or data, tiny fragments or clues, often seemingly unrelated, the scientist and the sleuth manage to solve even the most complex puzzles. Anna concludes, “Scientist and sleuth are cut from the same cloth.”

Join in on Anna’s Literary Adventure!
“Snooping into life’s mysteries with fun, fiction, & food—California style!”

After retiring, the passion for writing led Anna to pen three delightfully fun series. Set in California, an environment she knows well, her writing is very entertaining with mysteries that excite and sometimes challenge one’s inner detective. However, it really is the character-driven stories that keep me turning the page. Each series has a well-developed central characters that Anna thinks “reflect elements of my own past.”

“Aren’t we all intertwined with our characters and our stories?” she continues. “Not in a conscious and deliberate way since I didn’t know I was doing many of things I’m telling you now. It doesn’t mean that my characters don’t constantly surprise me either.”

When asked whether real people influenced her book characters, “Some of the more outrageous characters in my books bear a resemblance to real people, but I don’t think I should say enough to risk revealing their identities. LOL! I confess to a few bits of dialogue stolen from them!”

“One thing all the series have in common,” Anna explained, “is a lot of humor about the preposterous situations we get into – some of the humor is slapstick, some tongue in cheek, plays on words, and a general appreciation for the absurd elements of even the best-planned life.”

Heinous Habits: Corsario Cove Cozy Mystery earns 5/5 Mad Monk Mania!

Set on the California Coast, I was excited to be able to join all these fun characters as Brother Thaddeus sends the young sleuthing duo on a second honeymoon. Not the kind of honeymoon part two that I experienced: an ominous message from a hooded figure, arson, kidnapping, and murder. However, this series with its youthful exuberance and page-turning excitement has become a new favorite for 2018. Fans are thrilled, and newbies, like me, will never feel like something is left out. I highly recommend this book and series for its cleverness, quirky characters (new Bede Greco is fun!), and humor. Don’t forget to read the Author’s Notes…fascinating insights into Fact or Fiction.book

Anna reflects, “Kim and Brien, 20-somethings raised on California culture really scare me at times. Twitchin’ Mitchum calls them knuckleheads, and I must admit that their youthful enthusiasm makes them rush ahead without always doing much thinking. Madly in love, sure that the future holds plenty of “most excellent adventures,” I think in spirit they’re similar to Vic and me when we took off into the unknown without much regard for a “safety net.” It was “Wendy & Peter Pan” all the way. Maybe not a coincidence we ended up at Disney!”

A Dead Mother: Jessica Huntington Mysteries earns 5/5 Desert Dilemmas!

Set in the California desert cities near Palm Springs, I was once again thrilled with this entertaining, sometimes roller coaster, ride. Jessica is dealing with dysfunction in her life whether with family or her career. Her mother, her ex, and clients turned friends converge to make this a very intense story. But Anna adds a bit of humor in the face of disaster…and murder! I enjoyed book one, “A Dead Husband,” so I was able to jump right in reading book four like many fans, but newbies, you, too, can enjoy the story without any problems.book

Anna provides a unique insight. “Jessica Huntington, in her mid-thirties, is doing the kind of soul-searching I did a little later in life. She’s kind of a symbol for me of the wake up the Great Recession sent out to us. I’m no member of the 1% like Jessica, and I’ve worked hard since I was a kid to make a living–lots of 70+ hour work weeks. I think she’s a good reminder that money can’t buy happiness, and we all need to look deeper to figure out what matters in life. I didn’t suffer betrayal at the hands of an unfaithful husband, but I have had to come to grips with serious family traumas–some old and some more recent. That whole series is inspired by the complexities of relationships–intimate romantic ones, family relationships, and friendships.”

Murder at Sea of Passenger X: Georgia Shaw earns 5/5 Cruising Complications!

“Man overboard!” rings through the corridors putting a temporary change in direction for Georgia and Jack’s honeymoon cruise to the South Pacific. They are roped in to facilitate a lockdown of the crime scene (Why not? Jack’s a detective!), and of course, an investigation ensues. Absolute fun! Along with a questionable overboard victim, a dead body, nosy crew, rumors of a theft ring on board, and ship of 1000 suspects, this delightful duo is challenged to uncover the truth. I really like Georgia’s character, but it’s the humor, Georgia’s and Jack’s relationship, and descriptions bringing everything to life that makes this quickly becoming a favorite series!book

Anna explains, “Georgie is not only the oldest but the most level-headed of my leading ladies. I hope I’ve developed some of her self-reliance without being as closed off as she is when love walks in, unannounced, at a crime scene. I also hope I can be as open to change as she is, and to the new adventures that Jack Wheeler brings with him into their marriage. She shares my love of Siamese cats, jazz, film noir [like Jessica, too, btw], and chocolate!”

Chef Anna’s Mini Cookbooks

Many cozy authors provide recipes, but we are treated to some marvelous recipes from a trained chef. In Heinous Habits, there are seven unique cookie recipes. I am eager to try the Caramel Stuffed Chocolate Snickerdoodles! In A Dead Mother, the seven recipes seem exotic like Honey-Pistachio Spiced Roasted Pears. In Murder at Sea of Passenger X, we have eleven recipes with an Island flair (well, she did work at the Polynesian Hotel) from pupus to desserts. Each recipe includes Georgia’s Tips. Oh, yes! Pork and Mango Toast, Kailua Pork, and Páte Brisée…

We are entering a new year, making resolutions and plans to ensure our success. Anna Celeste Burke has her perspective on New Year’s resolutions.

Got Your McGuffin?

When you read my books, you can’t miss how much I believe in second chances. At 17, I dropped out of college and took off with a rock and roll guitar player. Stopping long enough in Tijuana to marry him, I was headed for Hawaii when the police nabbed me as a runaway. I got a second chance to be with the man of my dreams who wasn’t much more than a boy at the time. Fortunately, he turned out to be a decent guy—even though he hadn’t finished high school and didn’t have “a real job.” Our life together might have been very different if it hadn’t been for more second chances. A GED for my husband and our belated enrollment in college opened lots of doors we’d slammed shut while convinced “all you need is love.”

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Anna Celeste Burke

We never stop needing second chances. Each new year offers us a fresh start! Like a blank notebook on the first day of school, the wide-open calendar gives us another 365 days to get “it” right, or at least make “it” a little better. Another thing I’ve learned after years and years of fresh starts, is that “it” matters less than the effort to live an examined life, always on the look-out for ways to improve. Dwight Eisenhower made a good point when he claimed that “plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”

As a mystery writer, I’ve come to view my new year’s resolutions as “McGuffins.” According to the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, a McGuffin is a device used to move a plot forward. A classic example is the supposedly priceless statue of a bird that sets into motion all the action in the noir film, The Maltese Falcon. Dashiell Hammett could have titled his book The Maltese Diamond and set his characters on the hunt for a big diamond like the one in The Jewel of the Nile or The Pink Panther.

The point is, we all need something to chase each year that will move the plot line of our life’s story forward. What we resolve seems to matter less than that we pause, reflect, make resolutions, and then move! It’s a New Year! A Fresh Start! What’s your McGuffin?

Like, Visit, and Follow, Oh, my!
Facebook – Anna Celeste Burke
Website – Desert Cities Mystery/Anna Celeste Burke
Twitter – aburke59

Alert!
New Murder of the Maestro, book six in the Jessica Huntington Mystery available for pre-order in preparation for release on March 2, 2018.

To enter to win either an ebook or print copy of any one of these books (Heinous Habits, A Dead Mother, or Murder at Sea of Passenger X), simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “anna,” or comment on this article, and please state whether you want print or ebook and which book you want. A winner will be chosen January 20, 2018. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section.

You can use these links to purchase the books on Amazon. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link:


Kathleen Costa is a long-time resident of the Central Valley, and although born in Idaho, she considers herself a “California Girl.” Graduating from CSU-Sacramento, she is a 35+ year veteran teacher having taught in grades 1-8 in schools from Sacramento to Los Angeles to Stockton to Lodi. Currently Kathleen is enjoying her retirement revitalizing hobbies along with exploring writing, reading for pleasure, and spending 24/7 with her husband.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases using those links. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.

73 Comments

  1. I enjoyed the reviews of all three books and the author’s interview. The author and series is new to me. If I would be lucky enough to win, I would prefer a print copy of A Dead Mother. dbahn(at)iw(dot)net

    Reply
    • Thank you so much for dropping by and for your comment. Kathleen has done such a great job on this post! I love the reviews, too! Anna

      Reply
  2. Woohoo! I would love a printed copy of Heinous Habits! Mmmmm, cookie recipes + cup of coffee + good book= good times!

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    • Haha! You’ve got a winning formula for me–don’t know what I’d do without coffee, books, and on special occasions, cookies!! Good luck!

      Reply
  3. I like your cozy mysteries. I would like an ebook of A Dead Mother. Thanks for the chance. My email is marierauch@yahoo.com.

    Reply
    • Thanks for dropping by, Marie! It’s good to hear from you. Good luck with the giveaway.

      Reply
  4. What an amazing author of many books. Love anything she writes

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    • Jackie, thanks so much for the support! I can’t tell you how much your kind words mean to me as a writer. Good luck with the giveaway!

      Reply
  5. hmm… I’m speechless… Unusual for me… I’m just so impressed with everything you’ve managed to fit into such a short time.

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    • What a kind thing to say. It has been an interesting journey, with lots of twists and turns–some good, some not so good. It’s all kept me wondering what will happen next and inspired more than a little suspense at times. Life is a mystery, isn’t it?

      Reply
  6. Sounds like some great books to me

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    • Thank you! I’m grateful to Kathleen for the lovely reviews she’s written. Cheers!

      Reply
  7. I haven’t read any books yet, but after reading this blog, I am ready to start. I loved reading about Anne Celeste Burke. I like the idea that each new year is like a new start.

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    • Thanks for dropping by! I have to add to my post that a fresh new start comes with plenty of surprises. I can’t wait to see what the new year will bring.

      Reply
  8. I love all your books! Best to me is the Jessica Huntington Series. Keep up the great writing.
    Congrats on the article too!

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    • Shirley, thanks so much! I’m working hard on the plot for A DEAD COUSIN. xx

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  9. Interesting article! My McGuffin would be attaining my teaching license. I’m right at the end of college, and with a few steps left, I should be filling out that application in a few months time.
    If I were lucky enough to win, I would love a print copy of A Dead Mother.

    Reply
    • All the best with your “McGuffin”–teaching is a challenging choice of careers. I hope you get your license–good teachers are desperately needed. Good luck with the giveaway, too!

      Reply
  10. This was a very thorough article covering so much of the writings and background of author Anna Celeste Burke that I feel that we are now best friends. I would prefer a print copy of Heinous Habits. Thanks for the contest

    Reply
    • Debbie, what amazes me is how much info Kathleen packed into this post and how well it flows. Thanks for dropping by and reading it. Good luck with the giveaway!

      Reply
    • Me too–can’t get enough of them! LOL!

      Reply
  11. Congratulations, so we’ll deserved! I am always looking forward to what comes next! Thank you for sharing your gift with us!

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    • Lauren, thank you so much. I’m so grateful for your kind words and the support behind them. Best of luck to you with the giveaway.

      Reply
    • And there’s no such thing as too many, is there? Cheers!

      Reply
    • And there’s no such thing as too many! LOL! Cheers!

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  12. I can’t wait to read The Dead Mother! The others in the series were excellent so I’m sure this will be as well!!

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    • Sam, thank you so much. I hope you enjoy it! Lots more trouble for Jessica and her friends. I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying the series.

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  13. This was a great article. I enjoy Anna’s writing. I would like print copies please.

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    • Thank you, Jackie–it doesn’t say this in the article anywhere, but before I was a Burke I was a Spencer!! Thanks for dropping by and for your interest in my books.

      Reply
  14. Thanks so much for this wonderful article, for the book reviews, and the book giveaway. Glad to e-meet another “California Girl,’ Kathleen. Cheers! Anna

    Reply
  15. Congratulations to all who won in the Winter Whodunnits contests!

    Reply
    • Good luck to you with this giveaway. Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment.

      Reply
  16. I would love to win a print copy of any of those books. Thank you for the chance.
    Lamonicaks (at) gmail (dot) com

    Reply
    • Best of luck to you! Thanks so much for your interest in my books.

      Reply
  17. Hello from Daytona Beach, Happy New Year.

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    • Happy New Year, Lois. I spent lots of time in Daytona Beach during the 8 years we lived in Orlando. Hope you’re new year is off to a great start!

      Reply
  18. Love the Georgie Shaw mysteries. It’s nice to read about a heroine that has lived life, gotten to a ‘certain’ age and still has more to contribute including a great relationship. We don’t get older, we just get better!

    Reply
    • Catherine, I agree about aging. Sometimes, I just feel grateful I’ve managed to live as long as I have, but I hope I’ve improved with age. LOL!

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  19. Happy New Year

    Reply
    • Happy new year, Deb. Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. Good luck with the giveaway.

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  20. I’d love a print copy of A Dead Mother. My email addy is somesmartcookle at aol dot com

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    • Thank you, Jeanine. I’m so grateful for your interest and support.

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    • Linda, it’s good to hear from you–thanks for dropping by to enter this giveaway!

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  21. What a diverse life you’ve led! How exciting and fun, and you’re still going. Keep writing. Love your books!

    Reply
    • Jan, I appreciate the encouragement. I’m going to keep trying–I have new books planned for each series in 2018. More giveaways, too!

      Reply
  22. My choice of print book if I win would be Heinous Habits: Corsario Cove Cozy Mystery .
    library pat AT com cast DOT net

    I like the idea of second chances. We all certainly need them at one time or another. Some of us are wise enough to take those chances and others squander them. I admire people who take those chances to start over and give themselves opportunities they might otherwise miss. Approaching life with a sense of humor and adventure makes the trip so much more enjoyable.

    Reply
    • Patricia, thanks for your thoughtful comments. I agree that you can’t get very far without a sense of humor. It wasn’t easy to learn to laugh at myself since I grew up taking myself way too seriously. Now I figure life’s too short not to laugh. I can’t wait to see what adventures the new year brings us all…

      Reply
  23. Murder at Sea of Passenger X.
    Sounds like a fun read.
    I would like a print copy, please.
    thanks
    txmlhl(at)yahoo(dot)com

    Reply
    • Good luck to you! Thanks for stopping by and reading Kathleen’s wonderful post.

      Reply
  24. Books like like they’d be fun to read.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Jeffrey, for your interest in my books. Happy new year.

      Reply
  25. All three books look good. Which one would I choose? It sounds like you have led a very interesting life. I am so glad you decided to write.
    seffichinchilla@outlook.com

    Reply
    • Thanks, Sue. Deciding to write fiction has turned out to be lots of work but tons of fun, too. It’s been great to meet so many interesting readers who share my love of the mystery genre.

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  26. Have enjoyed all her books, would love any of these books!

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    • Teresa, thanks for your lovely comment. I’m grateful for your support. Blessings to you in 2018!

      Reply
  27. I enjoyed your post. I’d like to win a print copy of Henious Habits.
    sgiden at verizon(.)net

    Reply
    • Sandy, isn’t Kathleen a skilled writer? A well-plotted post, I’d say. Thanks so much for your comment and for your interest in my books.

      Reply
  28. You talked about how much food seems to be used in cozies. I, too, have noticed to the point where I have begun avoiding any mention of food or eating establishments in choosing my books. The last thing I want is to have my reading make me hungry!

    Reply
    • Hahaha! My husband reads all my books as I write them. I keep a few special treats on hand when he gets the munchies after reading about the food. I think of it as cathartic to read about others enjoying good food–especially when I’m too busy to do anything but throw a salad together.

      Reply
  29. I truly enjoyed your post. All of the books sounds intrigueing and would love to have a copy of any of them as either ebook or in print.

    Reply
    • Thank you for taking the time to stop by and read the post. I’m glad the books sound interesting. Good luck with your entry into the giveaway.

      Reply
  30. My McGuffin is a house full of too much stuff I don’t want anymore, so I’ve promised myself that this is going to be the year of organization.

    Reply
    • Decluttering is on my to-do list this year, too. I have way too much stuff stashed away in closets and cupboards that I never use. There’s someone out there who could use it, I’m sure. I hope all your wishes for the new year come true. Cheers!

      Reply
  31. Murder at Sea of Passenger X would be my choice – in print.

    Reply
  32. Would live to read a print copy of “Murder at Sea of Passenger X”. Sounds like a great read.
    diannekc8(at)gmail(dot)com

    Reply
  33. I always prefer dead tree versions. If I’m chosen I’d like Heinous Habits. I’ll check out the recipes and share them with an adopted son how is a C.I.A. graduate baker. I’m sure he’d like them.

    Reply
  34. I love reading about my favorite authors and about how they got where they are now. I’m hoping to become a published writer one day, and i love hearing about these awesome adventures! It makes me feel totally normal! Lol 😉 I’d love a on ebook copy of writer’s choice–I’m unfortunately not caught up on any of the series yet cuz my tbr pile is so big!! But if I had to choose, I’d probably say the Heinous Habits ebook? Only a couple to catch up on Ok before I can get going on it 🙂 thanks for all the great info and the opportunity!!!

    Reply
  35. Anne, Really enjoyed reading article about you in KingsRiverLife paper. You have lived an interesting diverse life. All of your books sound like Great reads, and I hope to be winner and receive one free. I would like a paper back or ebook of “Heinous Habits” if I’m lucky enough to win. I enjoy reading all kinds of books and Cozy Mysteries give that extra brain teaser to hold interest. If you need advance readers who leave reviews for your future books please keep my info and keep me in mind. We both took more than one study path and different professions. But, my favorite ‘love’ since a young child has been Books and the love of new adventures, mysteries, and characters.

    Reply
  36. I’m new to your books. So excited to start reading them! So it’d be a great new addition to my library!

    Reply
  37. We have a winner!

    Reply

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