by Kathleen Costa
This week we have a review of Silenced by Sugar by Catherine Bruns, and a fortune cookie recipe from one of her other books in the series perfect for your Valentine’s Day fun, is at the end of this post. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win either an audiobook or an ebook copy of the first book in the series, Tastes Like Murder, and a link to purchase the new book from Amazon.
Silenced by Sugar: A Cookies & Chance Mystery By Catherine Bruns
Review by Kathleen Costa
Catherine Bruns knows ‘Karma.’
Catherine Bruns introduced Karma into her Cookies & Chance Mystery series in August 2015. In Tastes Like Murder, Sally Muccio returns home, after a difficult divorce, to open Sally’s Samples bakery with her BFF, head baker Josie Sullivan. Serving up mouthwatering treats, customers are always eager to receive the signature free fortune cookie that often adds a prophetic message, but isn’t it really karma that’s on the menu? For Sally’s mean girl, yes, her “just desserts” are poisoned!
In Baked to Death (January 2016), the bakery is gaining popularity and the fortune cookies are a big hit, but Sally’s ex-husband demands a piece of the pie; instead the ex gets “exed” with an order of Karma. In Burned to a Crisp (October 2016), Sally’s love life is heating up, but it’s a mobster with designs on Sally’s sister who gets an offer from Karma he can’t refuse. In Frosted with Revenge (April 2017), Sally is planning a wedding, but gets distracted when a murder and a cryptic note indicates “Karma” may be looking to visit closer to home ? and now, Karma is covered in sugar in Silenced by Sugar, released in January 2018.
Silenced by Sugar earns 5+/5 Sweet Treats…Karma 5, old Nemeses 0!
Karma has returned to Colwestern, New York, and Catherine Bruns is brilliant at putting it center stage! This fifth book in her Cookies & Chance Mystery series finds Sally Donovan (finally married to Mike) and Josie Sullivan (her BFF and head baker at Sally’s Samples) being invited to be guests on Someone’s in the Kitchen with Donna, a popular show on the Food Network. The host, Donna Dooley, has purchased the Cookie Crusade contest and hopes to revisit past winners highlighting their signature cookie recipes and plugging their businesses. What an absolute honor and the wonders it would do for the bakery’s bottom line is incalculable! But, enter Josie’s former culinary school nemesis!
Kelly Thompson, Dooley’s personal assistant and owner of her own popular sugar free bakery Naturally Delish, sabotaged Josie’s work at the culinary school, and now does not miss an opportunity to insult and demean Josie at every turn. Even when Sally and Josie (promising to hold her anger in check) show up at the studio to tape their spot, Kelly goads Josie into a violent reaction when she reveals to everyone the very personal reason Josie left the culinary school without graduating. Josie will seriously regret the ensuing cat fight when Kelly ends up Karma’s next victim…I love it!
Catherine Bruns has penned another steady-paced mystery with more than Josie on the list of suspects that would have loved to see Kelly out of the kitchen for good. On set conflicts? Professional jealousies? Secrets and lies? Karma has a lot to choose from! Bruns provided clever clues to follow, engaging descriptions and dialogue, and a realistic investigation style for Sally, although Sally admits multiple murders have forced her to improve her sleuthing skills.
Catherine’s story is the signature exciting page-turner, but it’s the character-driven plot lines that keep me coming back for second, third, fourth, fifth helpings. I love Sally and her quirky family, and the new challenges with which she is confronted in her newlywed life. I enjoyed the spotlight on Josie’s background, too, as well as the friendship between Sally and Josie that is more like sisters. Fans, like me, are thrilled with this new book, but newbies should not shy away even though a lot has already passed. There are references made to background and character connections, but no spoilers to interfere with going back and enjoying the other books. Start here to satisfy your sweet tooth, then go back to book one, “Tastes like Murder.” Be sure to get baked, burned, and frosted, and you’ll be a fan, too!
Don’t forget the easy-to-follow recipes once again included for family gatherings, book clubs, or just a treat to enjoy with your favorite latte…Yum! Lemon Crisp Cookies, Tiramisu, Frangelico Chocolate Pie, and Double Chocolate Chip Cookies!
BONUS! A favorite part of the Cookies & Chance Mystery series is the clever, yet cryptic, messages revealed in the fortune cookies Sally offers her customers. So, what can Catherine Bruns do to top that for her fans? She can offer a free short story, “Formals, Fortune Cookies & Fraud,” to those who purchase Silenced by Sugar.
“Formals, Fortune Cookies & Fraud” earns 5/5 Fortuitous Fortune Cookies!
Set ten years before the time of the first book, “Tastes like Murder,” Catherine provides fans with a glimpse into the tragic misunderstanding on prom night between Sally and her high school beau, Mike Donovan, events that would ultimately catapult Sally on one of life’s detours. We have prom, a formal affair at the country club, prophetically themed with gypsy fortune tellers, fortune machines, and plates of fortune cookies with Catherine’s signature cryptic messages to ponder. Sally’s reads “There are several more fortunes in the future,” and Mike’s warns “An act of haste may cost you happiness.” By the end of the evening, we see Sally and Josie exhibiting a penchant for investigating criminal activity and we know the journey ahead will lead everyone to the fortune they deserve.
Be a Big Catherine Bruns Fan!
“Real estate deals can be murder.” Catherine Bruns also pens the Cindy York series centering on the real estate community. Book one, Killer Transaction (November 2015), has office politics putting Cindy in jeopardy when a co-worker is murdered. Book two, Priced to Kill (April 2016), has Cindy reliving a childhood tragedy. Fans will be excited to know book three, For Sale by Killer, is to be released in the spring.
Don’t miss out on Audiobooks!
Audiobooks are becoming a very popular way for me to enjoy, even revisit, books from my favorite authors. Catherine’s first book in the Cookies & Chance Mystery series, Tastes like Murder, is an audiobook narrated by the very talented Karen Rose Richter. Although I read the printed version, my redo experience was greatly enjoyed as Richter went beyond the traditional reading with her voice artistry emphasizing emotions, personality, and various accents. It was extremely entertaining to hear Mrs. Gavelli’s broken English, Josie’s “New ‘Yawk” twang, Sally’s parents and Grandma Rose’s Italian accent, middle class and upper class tones, and the female and male voices. I absolutely loved revisiting this favorite book in audio version!
Like, Visit, and Follow…Oh, my!
Catherine Bruns Books (Facebook)
Catherine Bruns (Website)
Catherine Bruns (Newsletter Sign Up)
Catherine Bruns (Goodreads)
A favorite holiday for all ages, we enjoy exchanging cards, flowers, candy, and wishes of “I love you” galore. Do you remember the Conversation Hearts? How about a special Conversation Fortune Cookie! Add a bit of food coloring to make yours very festive.
Typed or handwritten fortunes [messages]. Make at least two inches long so that you can see where they are when the cookie is folded.
Approximately 4 ounces chocolate chips for dipping, Toll House, Reese’s, or Heath-flavored, whichever you prefer.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and grease a metal cookie sheet.
In a medium sized bowl, stir together egg whites, vanilla, cinnamon, flour, and sugar. The batter should be very loose. If not, feel free to add a few drops of water.
Scoop about a tablespoon of batter and pour onto the cookie sheet in a circle.
Use the back of a spoon to smooth the circle out and make a thin layer to form a medium sized cookie.
Only bake a couple of cookies at a time since they harden quickly upon removal from the oven.
Bake cookies for about 6-8 minutes, only until the edges begin to brown.
Remove the cookies from the oven. Then use a thin spatula to remove them from the tray. Immediately place the fortunes in the center and fold the cookie in half. Pinch the open edges inward and together to create the fortune cookie shape. Cookies harden instantly after they are formed, so you want to try to get this right the first time.
After all cookies have been baked and shaped, melt the entire amount of chips in the microwave for about 30 seconds on medium heat. Afterward, dunk the rounded edge of the cooled cookies into the chocolate. Immediately roll in sprinkles, and let harden. Place on parchment paper. Makes about one dozen cookies.
*Recipe: Excerpt Bruns, Catherine. Tastes like Murder. Gemma Halliday. iBooks.
Are you less adventurous, or do you lack the confidence to bake your own fortune cookies? Check out this marvelous DIY craft project from the February 11, 2016 Evermine.com Blog–Free Printable Valentine’s Paper Fortune cookies Directions are easy to follow, and in Step One there is a link to the printable pages.
To enter to win either an ebook copy, or audio book copy of of Tastes like Murder, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “tastes,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen February 10, 2018. US winners only for audio book copy but anyone can enter for the ebook copy. If entering via email please include your mailing address and whether you want ebook or audio, and if via comment please include your email address and either way be sure to state if you want ebook or audio.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.
You can use this link to purchase this book from Amazon. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link:
Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. 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.