Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Butter Beer: Fictional No More!

Halloween is this week, a time for witches and ghosts and supernatural stuff. Maybe a little magic. What says magic more than Harry Potter? After a long cold night of trick or treating (or of ignoring Halloween altogether) nothing could be a better end to the day than settling down with a Harry Potter DVD (any one!) (This of course can be said for any day that ends in y.)

On a regular basis (as often as I can without looking crazy) I like to hold Harry Potter theme nights with the kids; themed snacks are essential. It doesn't take much imagination to call licorice a magic wand. But one thing that you cannot mess around with is the drinks. It's Harry Potter, there really is one option; Butter Beer (okay maybe pumpkin juice, but do you really want that?)

A couple of years ago we went to Harry Potter World at Universal Studios in Florida. My inner geek was thrilled, I could have spent all day there. We even had lunch at the Three Broomsticks, it was awesome. The one thing we all agreed on was that we had to try Butter Beer. This may have been the best decision ever; I have never had anything more delicious.

Ever since then, I tried to find the perfect DIY version (thank you Pinterest!) some were long and complicated, while some were just too simple and unappealing (butterscotch syrup and club soda? Yuck!) But with determination (and some cross-border shopping we have found a recipe that we love.)

2L cream soda (I like to use a brown cream soda, or a root beer)
2Tbsp Butter flavour extract
2tsp vanilla extract (some people like to use rum flavoured)

Pour the extracts into the 2 liter bottle, put on cap and slowly rotate until combined.

1 7oz container of marshmallow creme
1 cup 35% whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (once again, some people like rum)

Mix all ingredients with a mixer until smooth.

Pour the soda into a glass,  cover with the whipped topping, and and sip!

While it's not exactly the same, we love it and every time we see Fluff or the Jet-Puffed marshmallow creme in the store the kids get that look in their eyes.

It's definitely time for another Harry Potter night!

What to Read this Halloween? Heather Graham!

As much as I love sweet and happy boy meets girl stories, or scandalous courtships in a regency ballroom, there is something to be said for books that make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up or make you question every sound and shadow. But, it's still important that there be as much of a happy ending as possible. A romantic thriller.
When I want a book that makes my toes curl I have two "go to" authors; Maggie Shayne and Heather Graham. And, while I am never shy to share my love of Maggie, it's time for Heather to get her due.

Heather is another author that I have been reading for years (we are talking over a decade here, oh my god I feel old) it always excites me to find a book of her's that I may not have read yet. Her paranormals are among my favourite books. I'm happy to say that this fall, her newest books had me gripped.

Let's meet Heather!
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Heather Graham has written more than a hundred novels. She's a winner of the RWA's Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Thriller Writers' Silver Bullet. She is an active member of International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America. For more information, check out her websites:,, and You can also find Heather on Facebook.

About The Hexed
A place of history, secrets…and witchcraft. 
Devin Lyle has recently returned to the Salem area, but her timing couldn't be worse. Soon after she moved into the eighteenth-century cabin she inherited from her great-aunt Mina—her "crazy" great-aunt, who spoke to the dead—a woman was murdered nearby. 
Craig Rockwell—known as Rocky—is a new member of the Krewe of Hunters, the FBI's team of paranormal investigators. He never got over finding a friend dead in the woods. Now another body's been found in those same woods, not far from the home of Devin Lyle. And Devin's been led to a third body—by…a ghost? 
Her discovery draws them both deeper into the case and Salem's rich and disturbing history. Even as the danger mounts, Devin and Rocky begin to fall for each other, something the ghosts of Mina and past witches seem to approve of. But the two of them need every skill they possess to learn the truth—or Devin's might be the next body in the woods….

The Krewe? Yes!
Ghosts? Yes!
Salem Witches? Yes please!

I loved this book!
I have had a long time fascination with Salem and the Witch Trials (I'm not sure if it is just my curious nature, or a past life thing, but anything Salem related always catches hold of my interest and does. not. let. go.)
The Hexed is very well written and is no exception the rule. The story catches hold of you and takes you on a thrilling ride with twists and turns until you get to the end, completely caught by surprise. Sure, I may have figured out part of the "whodunit", but all of it as a whole was a mystery to me.
As with many of Heather's books, you have the group of local friends, the Krewe group, and the odd balls. Everyone always blends together well.
The characters were great, I especially liked Devin's great-aunt Mina; she is quite the character!
It is not a difficult book to read, so don't be surprised when you find yourself finishing the book in one or two sittings; I did not want to put it down!

About The Betrayed
Sleepy Hollow isn't so sleepy anymore… 
One night, New York FBI agent Aiden Mahoney receives a visitor in a dream—an old friend named Richard Highsmith. The very next day he's sent to Sleepy Hollow because Richard's gone missing there. 
Maureen—Mo—Deauville now lives in the historic town and works with her dog, Rollo, to search for missing people. She's actually the one to find Richard…or more precisely his head, stuck on a statue of the legendary Headless Horseman. 
Mo and Aiden, a new member of the Krewe of Hunters, the FBI's unit of paranormal investigators, explore both past and present events to figure out who betrayed Richard, who killed him and now wants to kill them, too. As they work together, they discover that they share an unusual trait—the ability to communicate with the dead. They also share an attraction that's as intense as it is unexpected…if they live long enough to enjoy it!

This book kept me on my toes!
I was never one for the tale of the Headless Horseman, I'm not even tempted to watch the show Sleepy Hollow (even thought the main character certainly qualifies as man candy); it just wasn't my thing. But this book had me intrigued. 
A killer is on the loose in Sleepy Hollow, and has put a spin on the local legend; leaving head on otherwise headless displays. Rather grotesque.
In typical Heather Graham fashion, the book is well written and riveting. While the leads didn't quite hold me as much as I would have liked (I'm sorry to say that I just wasn't feeling them until their HEA), the story had me in a strong vice grip, I wanted to keep reading. That being said, I loved the ghost characters and was completely caught off guard by who the villain/villains were.
If you like a story that grabs you by the throat, and keeps you interested or if you like modern plays on old legends, I definitely recommend this book.

Heather is also holding a contest on her website where you can win the complete Krewe of Hunter series! Enter here.

Book Review - Innocent Prey by Maggie Shayne

Innocent Prey (A Brown and De Luca Novel, Book #3)            by Maggie Shayne

Format: eBook via Netgalley
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

From the Publisher:

To save innocent lives, they'll have to risk their own. 

Self-help superstar Rachel de Luca and Detective Mason Brown have finally given in to their overwhelming attraction to each other, but neither of them is ready to let physical passion turn into full-blown romance, so they carefully maintain an emotional distance. Then a judge's daughter disappears, and Mason has a terrible sense that it's connected to the most recent case they solved together: the abduction of Rachel's assistant. 

The discovery of a string of missing women—all young, all troubled—seems like a promising lead. But there's no clear connection between the missing girls and the high-profile young woman Mason is trying to find. He realizes that once again he'll have to rely on his own well-honed instincts and Rachel's uncanny capacity to see through people's lies in order to catch a predator and rescue his captives. But can they do it before Rachel becomes his next victim?

It's no secret and no surprise that I am a huge fan of Maggie Shayne. I have been reading her books for years, and have no intention of stopping; I can only hope the same goes for her.

Here's the thing, she never disappoints!

Innocent Prey is the third book of the Brown and De Luca series (the fourth installment, thanks to the brilliant novella Dream of Danger.) While I do strongly recommend that you read the whole series in order (really, it's exciting, and thrilling and the character development is phenomenal) the book could certainly stand on its own two feet.

Rachel De Luca was blind for 20 years, but thanks to a corneal transplant she can see; and boy does she see more than she bargained for (seriously read the first book). But, she does not have ESP (at least according to her...) Mason Brown is a wonderful hero. He is handsome, smart, good at his job, honorable, loyal, and he can handle Rachel's snap and snark. Together they make a mean team, and you do not want to mess with them; they will find you out!

The story involves the disappearance of a judge's daughter, this ties in with the novella Dream of Danger, and uncovers so much more. There is twist and turns, surprises, laughs and gasps, but also some lovely moments along the way. Maggie Shayne is a gifted storyteller; this book is a thrilling ride, I did not want to put it down.

Maggie is a brilliant author, she is also quite a well rounded knowledgeable person. She really puts a lot of herself into her books; I like to think that Rachel's snappy and sarcastic wit is really Maggie shining through.

Can we have the next one now please?

Innocent Prey, and the complete Brown and De Luca series is available for purchase on, and on as well as other book retailers.
(The next book, Deadly Obsession is available for pre-order!)