Posts Tagged ‘book clubs’


Posted on July 5, 2018 - by

FOR BOOK CLUBS: Death on the Menu

Food critic Hayley Snow is attending a three-day international conference at the Harry S. Truman Little White House. Things get off to a bad start when Hemingway’s Nobel prize gold medal (which belongs to Cuba and is on display for this weekend only) disappears. And they only get worse when a body is discovered in the storeroom. Hayley must spring into action before the killer adds another victim to his menu.

The book features some history, especially that of Harry Truman’s Little White House, and the conundrum of Cuba/US relations, and Hemingway, and lots of food, but in the end it’s always about families. Hayley Snow’s family is front and center, of course, but also the Cuban families that have been torn apart by acrid relations between Cuba and the US. Lots to talk about in this book, and here are some questions to get you started…

Book Club questions for DEATH ON THE MENU by Lucy Burdette

1. Much of the action in this eighth Key West mystery is set at the Harry S. Truman Little White House. In the course of the book, some of the history of this structure is woven into the story. How do you feel about the presence of history in your mystery fiction, especially if it isn’t billed as historical mystery? What did you learn about Harry Truman as you read?

2. Hayley says: “In my mother’s family, lovingly prepared food meant comfort and care and even hope. A warm snickerdoodle cookie, for instance—maybe with a little chai spice added in for mystery—was a declaration of heartfelt affection. Great meals couldn’t save my mother’s marriage to my father because he didn’t speak her language. For him, food was fuel—the dinner table merely a quick stop at the human gas station.” If you had to sum it up, what would you say food meant to your family?

3. Hayley compares the work of her Tarot-card-reading friend Lorenzo to that of a therapist, or even a cop: So many problems are presented to him over the course of a work day, that he can’t help but absorb some negative energy along the way. And even Hayley turns to him as a kind of therapist. Have you ever had your cards read, or perhaps your palm? How do you feel about the work of fortune-tellers in general, and Lorenzo in particular?

4. One of the serious issues raised in this mystery involves the immigration of Cuban citizens to the US, and the former US policy called “wet-foot, dry-foot.” What was your reaction to this part of the story—particularly hearing about the Cuban chugs, and Gabriel’s family story?

5. Hemingway plays a small but significant part in this book, though Hayley admits she is hardly a student of his writing. And Dana Sebek has a view of the writer that is quite different from that of his adoring fans—in a nutshell, she says people admire the lore that has grown up around the man, more than his actual prose. Have you read Hemingway’s work? Are you a fan? Why or why not?


Posted on September 28, 2014 - by

Best Fudge #Recipe for #Bookclubs


LUCY BURDETTE: At least once a year, we have Book Club Week at one of my group blogs, Mystery Lovers Kitchen. I love book clubs–love belonging and love visiting. And I love recommending books for clubs to consider:). This time around I suggested MURDER WITH GANACHE, the fourth in the Key West food critic mystery series.

As you probably already know, MWG is a cozy mystery starring Hayley Snow, a food critic who lives on a houseboat in Key West. Her extended family is descending on the island like a category 3 hurricane for her best friend’s wedding. When her stepbrother disappears into the spring break party scene, she must put the baking of cupcakes and other wedding chores on hold in order to search for her brother. The book features Hemingway cats, and cupcakes, and wedding drama, but in the end it’s about finding and embracing family in whatever form they come.

If you are going to choose MURDER WITH GANACHE for one of your book club selections this year (and I hope you will–I love this book, and there are so many things to talk about), as the hostess, you must resign yourself to providing something chocolate.

You might choose hot fudge pie or chocolate cake, both swoon-worthy, but here is an easy alternative. This recipe began as Chocolate Nutella Fudge from the Tasty Kitchen–until I read the list of ingredients on the Nutella package. At that point, thinking there must be something better, I searched for a substitute, and found an organic chocolate-hazelnut spread that is really quite incredible.

Nocciolato Fudge

Ingredients

1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (make these good quality, as it will show)
1 cup Nocciolato (organic chocolate-hazelnut Spread–I used the whole 9.5 oz jar)
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
½ teaspoon sea salt or pink salt

To make the fudge:

Line an 8 by 8 inch pan with two layers of parchment paper, overlap on the sides.

In a stainless steel bowl, stir together sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, chocolate chips, hazelnut spread, and butter.

Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water. (The pan should not touch the water.)

Stir until the chocolate chips are melted and the mixture is smooth, 5 to 7 minutes.

Scrape the mixture into the papered pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with sea salt. (I would have used some of Krista’s pink sea salt if I’d had it on hand–so pretty!)

Refrigerate until the fudge is firm, at least 2 hours. Lift the fudge out of the pan using the parchment paper. Cut the fudge into bite-sized pieces and arrange on a pretty plate. Store leftovers (if there are any) in an airtight container in the fridge. This can also be made ahead and frozen.

As for what to discuss while enjoying the fudge, here are some questions to get things going:

1. Hayley’s mother says that “life develops around the kitchen table” and that “kids need to understand how food connects the people in their lives.” Hayley’s stepmom insists that life develops at work–who cares whether a mother uses a cake mix or serves macaroni from a box? Where would you stand in this argument?

2. Hayley’s parents have a disagreement about social justice on the way to the marina. How do you feel about the homeless people as presented in the book? Have you had any personal experience with homeless folks?

3. When Hayley’s brother Rory gets into trouble, the family struggles with how much to tell the police. They wonder whose side the cops are on. How do you think you might react in a similar situation? Would you trust the police to have your interests at heart?

4. Hayley says “Food meant comfort and love and even peace in my family.” If you had to sum it up, what would you say food meant to your family?

5. Hayley tells Rory “I’ve discovered that family has less to do with biology than it does with who cares enough to make the effort.” Does this statement ring true for you? Talk about a person who isn’t a blood relation in your life who feels like family.

6. When spirits are low, Hayley and her mom make comfort food for the extended family–spanakopita and Greek salad and strawberry whipped cream pie. What menu would you design to cheer up a troubled family member or friend?

 If you’d like to read some of the reviews on MURDER WITH GANACHE, you can do that right here. I was completely delighted this spring, when Woman’s World magazine selected MURDER WITH GANACHE as a pick for a foodie book club. As you can see in the photo, they also recommended reading with a daiquiri in hand:).  Sounds like a good idea, right? Recipe here.

And, if you think your book club might like signed postcards from the Key West mysteries, leave a comment today with your email.

Lucy Burdette is the author of the Key West food critic mystery series. DEATH WITH ALL THE TRIMMINGS will be on bookshelves on December 2. You can preorder it now, from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your favorite independent bookstore.

Follow Lucy on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

DEADLY ADVICE, the first advice column mystery (written as Roberta Isleib) is finally available as an ebook.


Posted on September 10, 2014 - by

Hayley Snow: A Character’s Work is Never Done @LucyBurdette

by Hayley Snow from Lucy Burdette’s Key West food critic mysteries
As many of you know, MURDER WITH GANACHE was published last February. Hooray! I was very proud of my part in this book. We made it through spring break, a family reunion, and a wedding, and hardly anyone died. I don’t mean to joke about that because murder is a very serious thing and not one bit funny at all.

It’s just that we characters get a little slap-happy sometimes, you know? My writer and I threw a big launch party and visited some book clubs and went all over the world online. And we got some very good publicity too!

Isn’t this the coolest thing ever? It was featured in Woman’s World, the March 10 issue. Of course they didn’t mention me or Evinrude or Miss Gloria, but if the ladies who buy the magazine read the book, they’ll find out soon enough who’s who.

So you might think that I could rest on my laurels for a while–eat some good meals and write up a few easy reviews. But no, that’s not how this mystery business works. We’re on to the fifth Key West adventure–in fact it’s due out in December.

And I found some notes on my writer’s desk that made me very, very nervous. Things like: What would make Hayley’s life more difficult? What would test her physically, emotionally, morally? What might expose her deeper side to the world?

Good gravy, can a character not get a rest? What do you think, how worried should I be?

You can find Lucy Burdette’s Hayley Snow Key West mysteries wherever books are sold. Find out more about the books on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter.


Posted on December 29, 2013 - by

Book Group Discussion Questions: MURDER WITH GANACHE

I can hardly wait for MURDER WITH GANACHE to hit bookshelves. And I am thrilled to talk to book groups, whether it’s in person or online. If your group might like a book discussion with me, Lucy, on board, please send an email to LucyBurdette at gmail dot com. Meanwhile, here are a few questions that might get your group’s discussion off to a good start!

1. Hayley’s mother says that “life develops around the kitchen table” and that “kids need to understand how food connects the people in their lives.” Hayley’s stepmom insists that life develops at work–who cares whether a mother uses a cake mix or serves macaroni from a box? Where would you stand in this argument?

2. Hayley’s parents have a disagreement about social justice on the way to the marina. How do you feel about the homeless people as presented in the book? Have you had any personal experience with homeless folks?

3. When Hayley’s brother Rory gets into trouble, the family struggles with how much to tell the police. They wonder whose side the cops are on. How do you think you might react in a similar situation? Would you trust the police to have your interests at heart?

4. Hayley says “Food meant comfort and love and even peace in my family.” If you had to sum it up, what would you say food meant to your family?

5. Hayley tells Rory “I’ve discovered that family has less to do with biology than it does with who cares enough to make the effort.” Does this statement ring true for you? Talk about a person who isn’t a blood relation in your life who feels like family.

6. When spirits are low, Hayley and her mom make comfort food for the extended family–spanakopita and Greek salad and strawberry whipped cream pie. What menu would you design to cheer up a troubled family member or friend?


Posted on February 7, 2013 - by

Book Discussion Questions for TOPPED CHEF

Hayley Snow and I love it when book groups read our Key West mysteries. So we’ve provided some questions to help get the discussion going. And if you want to serve snacks that fit the theme, you’ll find recipes in the back of the book!

I wish I could travel the country meeting with book clubs–nothing is more fun than talking with readers! I would love to consider attending your group–either in person or by Skype. Shoot me an email and we’ll discuss! Lucyburdette at gmail dot com

1.  TOPPED CHEF opens with Hayley worrying about her first negative review. How do you feel about restaurant reviews, either online or in newspapers? Do you trust them? Do you write them? Do you feel critics should write about their negative experiences as well as their positive?

2.  Do you watch celebrity chef or cooking TV shows? Which chefs do you like and why?

3.  Peter Shapiro mentions several times that reality TV is entertainment. And entertainment means conflict. So all’s fair in what they film and how they attempt to goad the participants into reacting on camera. How do you feel about TV shows exploiting the conflict in real people’s lives? Which reality TV shows do you watch and why are they appealing? Would you consider being a participant in such a show?

4.  One of the most challenging parts of writing a mystery with an amateur sleuth has to do with her stake in solving the mystery. Were you convinced by Hayley’s insistence on getting involved in this story? How does this fit with her character?

5.  Hayley struggles with her feelings about the homeless people who inhabit Key West. What conclusions do you see her drawing by the end of the book?

6.  Hayley puts her own safety at risk to rescue someone else. Do you see this as consistent with what you know about her? How do you think you would react in a similar situation?

7.  In TOPPED CHEF, one of the contestants makes recipes from the tradition of molecular gastronomy. Does this kind of cooking appeal to you? Why or why not?

8.  How do you feel about the quote from chapter nineteen, from Mona Talbott, that the grandmother is the ultimate cooking teacher in the world? What is your family’s cooking like? Do you have treasured recipes passed down from a grandmother or another relative?

Thank you for reading and discussing TOPPED CHEF! Look out for the fourth Key West food critic mystery, coming in February, 2014. And don’t forget to spread the word–leave your reviews on Amazon or Barnes and Noble or Goodreads–anywhere books are sold!


Posted on August 30, 2012 - by

Discussion Questions for Book Groups: DEATH IN FOUR COURSES

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR DEATH IN FOUR COURSES

1.  Hayley has mixed feelings about inviting her mother to the food writing conference. Why? How does this affect your feelings about her a character?

2. The role of food in the families of the conference speakers varies widely. How was food seen in your family? Who cooked the meals and what were they like? How has that history affected your relationship with food today?

3. What is your favorite recipe? Cookbook? Do you prefer to stick to old standbys or are you adventurous in cooking and eating?

4. How has Hayley changed since AN APPETITE FOR MURDER? Or hasn’t she? What would her best friends Eric and Connie say?

5. Hayley is surprised by her mother in several ways over the course of the book. Have you had an experience where someone close to you does something unexpected? Do you think this happened because you had a certain view of them that proved to be incorrect or because they actually changed?

6. Hayley’s friend Eric says “At first it might feel good to confess, but honesty can have terrible consequences for the people who have to hear the so-called honest truth. ” Do you agree? why or why not? How can we decide when telling the truth will cause more damage than good?

7. How does Hayley see her mother’s life choices at the beginning of the book? How does that change?

8. Which of the fictional speakers’ books would you be interested in reading? Which might you want to have at your book group meeting–and why?


Posted on February 23, 2012 - by

Discussion Questions for An Appetite for Murder

The Killer Coffee Club that meets at the Barnes and Noble in Ithaca, New York, recently invited me to their book club (by Skype.) Their moderator, Nikki Bonanni, nudged me to develop some discussion questions for AN APPETITE FOR MURDER. These led to a lively session–so much fun to talk to folks who have read the book about their reactions!

Book Club meetings are some of my favorite events, so feel free to email me if you’d like to have me attend your group’s meeting! And here are some questions to start the ball rolling.

1. Setting is crucial in the Key West food critic mystery series. What
does Hayley Snow notice and/or appreciate about the town that
longer-term residents might not?

2.  Hayley left New Jersey to be with Chad Lutz rather impulsively.
Can you imagine doing what she did? What are the other factors that
played into this decision.

3. Food plays a huge role in Hayley’s life. Where did her love for
food and eating come from? What would you say is her relationship to
food?

4. What would be the best and worst parts of being a food critic in real life?

5. Both Hayley and her mother believe in the power of tarot card
readings. How do you feel about fortune telling? Do you find her
reliance on Lorenzo believable?

6. Defining the reasons that an amateur sleuth gets involved with
solving a mystery (her stake) is always challenging. Talk about
Hayley’s stake in solving this murder. What will be challenges of
having her investigate future crimes in this series?



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