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BTB Spotlight ON: Dandelion Dead


Dandelion Dead
Chrystle Fiedler


dandelion-deadChapter OneI absolutely love edible plants, many of which are also my favorite natural remedies. But I don’t mean fruits and vegetables. I mean weeds that are usually perceived as a nuisance and something to be “rid of,” but are, in fact, packed with nutrients and have amazing healing powers. Take the much-maligned dandelion, for example. Believe it or not, it’s actually chock-full of good-for-you vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, vitamins C and E, iron, potassium, and calcium, and can be used to make everything from smoothies to salads. I’d been fascinated by edible plants ever since my late aunt Claire Hagen handed me her dog-eared copy of naturalist Euell Gibbons’s book Stalking the Wild Asparagus when I was fifteen years old. An instant hit when it was first published in 1962, it provided a blueprint that anyone could follow to find, gather, and prepare wild foods.

After giving me the book, Claire encouraged me to go along with her as she foraged for wild edibles in the fields and woods of the North Fork, on the East End of Long Island, New York. I was born out here, in Greenport, and Claire moved here after living in London for many years, where she worked as an editor for British Vogue. My passion for edible plants and natural remedies came from her, and twelve years later, I was just as fascinated.

For this reason I was out in the fields teaching a class in edible plants early Sunday morning in October, a week before Halloween. Fall was one of my favorite seasons and a prime time to be out in nature, identifying and foraging to my heart’s content. Fall was also the North Fork’s best-kept secret. Not only were the summer tourists gone, and the beaches and the woods empty, the weather was cool, with just a little nip of cold, signaling that winter was on its way, but not here just yet.

My latest project, a medicinal herb garden dedicated to Claire, opened last year and had turned out to be a smashing success. This despite my finding a dead body near the digitalis plants, on the opening day of the annual Maritime Festival. Fortunately, with the help of my boyfriend and ex-cop, Jackson Spade, and my ex-boyfriend, television writer-producer Simon Lewis, we brought the killer to justice. The garden became a popular place to visit, and I kept busy leading tours several times a day along with running the health food store I’d inherited from Claire, Nature’s Way Market & Café on Front Street.

Now, with the cooler weather, the garden had turned dormant, rejuvenating and regenerating itself for spring. So, in the off-season, I’d turned my attention to my workshops in Nature’s Way on how to benefit from edible plants, and other natural remedies, for health and wellness.

This morning we were foraging in the fields behind Jackson’s house and animal sanctuary, far from the road, and away from exhaust fumes and nasty chemicals that could contaminate any plants we picked. Each class participant had a copy of one of Claire’s most popular books, the Edible Planet, which featured twenty-five commonly used plants complete with color photographs.

The first rule of foraging was to be absolutely certain in plant identification, and the photos helped ensure this. While most plants were safe and helpful, poisonous plants also exist, and we wanted to avoid these. I led the group, which was made up of ten women of various ages, some local, some from New York, and few from a day trip from Connecticut across the Sound. Lily Bryan[SHB1] , twenty-five, my new assistant at Nature’s Way, was also here.
Lily had graduated from the New York Culinary Institute in June and hoped to open her own restaurant on the East End one day. Lily was intelligent, motivated, and a hard worker—much like her uncle, Wallace Bryan[SHB2] , my manager—and an enthusiastic student. I was glad to have her along today.

We continued to head East across the fields as the early-morning sunshine slanted through the trees at the north edge of Jackson’s property, and birds wheeled and chattered overhead. A few feet later, I spotted a cluster of yarrow, a plant with firm, compact lacy white flower clusters on top of long, elegant green leafy stems.

“This is good start,” I said as I got on my knees and examined it, and the group gathered around me.

“Yarrow is one of my favorite herbs, especially in the fall. You can make a lovely cup of tea with its leaves if you have a cold, and it’s also relaxing and a mild pain reliever. This was also one of my aunt’s favorite edibles, and there’s a section on it in the back of your book that will tell you more about it.” I paused as everyone found the section.

“There’s plenty of it here, but we never take more than we need,” I said. “But since we’ll be using the leaves, flowers, and stem, I’ll take this plant whole.” I used my spade to gently dig it up and handed it to Lily, who put it in the big blue bucket that she always carried when foraging.

“Now, at our next class, on Monday morning, I’ll show you how to use these to make tea and a yarrow, calendula, and oatmeal facial. So, we need to find calendula next. Let’s turn to that page in your book and start looking for it.”

The group eagerly began to search for calendula plants, which sported bright yellow and orange flowers. “Some people say that calendula glows like the sun,” I continued. “It’s a member of the daisy family, also known as English marigold. It’s one of my favorite edibles. We can use it in the facial, but it also adds taste and color to salads and other dishes.”

As we continued to head in an easterly direction, we moved beyond Jackson’s property to the parcel next door, and the Pure vineyard. I had permission to forage here as well, since the property belonged to Simon. Simon had purchased the winery a year ago, as an investment, with David Farmer, a talented winemaker who came from one of the first families of winemaking on the East End. Together they had turned the vineyard into an organic, sustainable winery using biodynamic methods and native yeast, powered only by wind and sun.

Today was important for Pure and all the vineyards on the East End—the first day of North Fork UnCorked!—a weeklong affair that featured wine tours, tastings, and events from Riverhead to Orient, sponsored by the Long Island Wine Council and Farm to Table magazine. Pure and other wineries were competing for the title of best North Fork vintage, and a cash prize of $200,000. The judging of individual wines produced by the vineyards would take place throughout the week, and the winner would be announced a week from today, at a gala ball at historic Southwold Hall.

Simon’s winery was the clear front-runner in the competition. Not only was his vineyard the first on the East End to grow and make organic wine, but his vineyard had already nabbed several top awards this year and had received a ton of positive press. Of course, the rival vineyards were jealous. But facts are facts, and David Farmer was now widely regarded as one of the up-and-coming winemakers out here and in the United States.

This afternoon, Simon was hosting a cocktail party and tasting for the editor of Farm to Table magazine at Pure and had asked Nature’s Way to cater it for him. So, along with teaching my class this morning, both Lily and I were on the lookout for tasty edible plants to add to the menu.

An hour later we’d discovered not only calendula, but chamomile and mint, and Lily had added few handfuls of dandelion greens for garnish. While she led the class back to Greenport and Nature’s Way, I headed over to see Simon in his office at Pure to discuss last-minute preparations for party.



Business is blooming at Nature’s Way Market & Café, and shop owner, holistic doctor, and amateur sleuth, Willow McQuade has never been happier. Her new medicinal herb garden is a hit, and so is her new book, she’s in love with ex-cop and animal sanctuary founder Jackson Spade, and enjoying teaching seminars about edible plants and natural remedies.

But everything changes when Willow’s old boyfriend and TV producer, Simon Lewis, winemaker David Farmer, and his wife Ivy, ask her to cater a party at Pure, their new organic vineyard, to kick off North Fork’s Uncorked! week and the competition for Wine Lovers magazine’s $200,000 prize. Pure’s entry, Falling Leaves, is the favorite to win, and the wine flows freely until after Simon’s toast when smiles give way to looks of horror. Ivy’s twin sister, Amy has been murdered! Turns out, the poison that killed her was actually meant for David. But who wants him dead? A rival vintner? Or someone closer to home? This time the truth may be a bitter vintage to swallow.

About the Author:
CHRYSTLE FIEDLER is a freelance journalist specializing in natural remedies, alternative chrystlemedicine and holistic health and healing, and is the author of the Natural Remedies Mysteries series. Her many consumer magazine articles have appeared in USA Today’s Green Living, Natural Health, Remedy, Mother Earth Living, Spirituality & Health, and Prevention. She is also the author/co-author of seven non-fiction health titles including the Country Almanac of Home Remedies with herbalist Brigitte Mars, and The Compassionate Chick’s Guide to DIY Beauty with Vegan Beauty Review founder, Sunny Subramanian. Chrystle lives on the East End of Long Island, NY in a cozy cottage by the sea. Visit http://www.chrystlefiedlerwrites.com.


Visit Chrystle:
Website link: www.chrystlefiedlerwrites.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dandeliondeadbook/?fref=ts
Twitter: @ChrystleFiedler
GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3360187.Chrystle_Fiedler
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/chrystle123/dandelion-dead-a-natural-remedies-mystery/

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Spotlight on Death Among The Doilies by Mollie Cox Bryan

Death Among The Doilies


Excerpt:  For thirty-something blogger Cora Chevalier, small-town Indigo Gap, North Carolina, seems like the perfect place to reinvent her life. Shedding a stressful past as a counselor for a women’s shelter, Cora is pouring all her talents—and most of her savings—into a craft retreat business, with help from close pal and resident potter Jane Starr. Between transforming her Victorian estate into a crafter’s paradise and babysitting Jane’s daughter, the new entrepreneur has no time for distractions. Especially rumors about the murder of a local school librarian . . .

But when Jane’s fingerprints match those found at the grisly crime scene, Cora not only worries about her friend, but her own reputation. With angry townsfolk eager for justice and both Jane’s innocence and the retreat at risk, she must rely on her creative chops to unlace the truth behind the beloved librarian’s disturbing demise. Because if the killer’s patterns aren’t pinned, Cora’s handiwork could end up in stitches . . .


About The Author:


Mollie Cox Bryan is the author of the Cumberland Creek Scrapbooking mystery series. 

She is also author of two cookbooks, the regional bestseller Mrs. Rowe’s Little Book of Southern Pies and Mrs. Rowe’s Restaurant Cookbook: A Lifetime of Recipes from the Shenandoah Valley . An award-winning journalist and poet, she currently blogs, cooks, and scrapbooks in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with her husband and two daughters. Scrapbook of Secrets was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel.


Author Links:

Twitter – https://twitter.com/molliecoxbryan

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/molliecoxbryanauthor

Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/molliecoxbryan/

Webpage – http://molliecoxbryan.com/

Buy “Death Among The Doilies”-http://amzn.to/2cRTE5X



—>Click HERE to enter to win death-among-the-doiliesone of two print copies<—



Raisin The Dead by Karoline Barrett

I am so excited to get a chance to review Karoline’s new book.  I will just go ahead and say that it was amazing.  I loved the them of “crazy” running through it.  Yes, I said crazy.  Some of the people in this book aren’t quite right.  I like it!  Make sure to make your way to the bottom for the giveaway entry link!  But, read the review first…okay?  Okay!

We are back in Destiny with Bread and Bagel owner, Molly Tyler and her mother is causing quite the scandal on the front page of the local newspaper with a mystery man. So goes the gossip of a small-town paper and how this quickly turns bad for Annie Tyler when the raisin the dead large banner334man, Philip Baldelli, is found dead and she becomes the main person of interest in his murder.

The investigation focuses on a squabble over the library’s wanting to expand and the fact that the newly engaged Mr. Baldelli had been caught in the middle having said he would donate the money for said expansion. With people on both sides of the issue, the list of people involved in his murder is numerous. When his niece, perfume mogul, Serefina Alessi, that of whom he never had a relationship with, comes to town; another suspect gets added to the list.

Once again, Molly goes in head first searching for the true killer to clear the innocent. She forms a group of amateur detectives from her monthly book club that don the name, “The Destiny Divas” to help Serefina and Mrs Tyler clear their names in the murder of Philip Baldelli. As they dig deeper, they begin to realize that the issue causing the murder is much deeper than money, the library and family.

If not to add injury to insult, Molly’s new boyfriend, Detective Sean Corsino’s ex-sister-in-law comes to town trying to win him over by impersonating his dead former wife after he is involved in a work related accident.

Molly eventually solves the death of Mr. Baldelli, but the road to that is paved with nothing but a path of crazy. That is the best way I can honestly describe it. Once you read this story, it might make you start questioning the people you know in your small town no matter how long you’ve known them. Now, that’s the mark of a good author. She got in my head and made me relate the characters to some of the people I have come across in my town, scratch my head and rethink how much I really know them. Who knew a small-town library could have so much drama?

There was never a moment in Raisin the Dead where I was bored. Karoline never let the story lag or drag, which made for an enjoyable read. I loved seeing Molly grow in her relationship with Sean, her mother and her friends. This book really surprised me. I expected to like it, but not to fall in love with Destiny like I did this time. I am now sold out to this community and it’s characters. Time to find me an apartment there.



Karoline’s Links

Amazon: Raisin The Dead

Webpage: http://www.karolinebarrett.com/

Blog: http://www.karolinebarrett.com/category/blog/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KarolineBarrettBooks

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KarolineBarrett

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3315555.Karoline_Barrett

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Shh… don’t tell the cat! The Ninth Life by Clea Simon

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I am so excited to have author,  Clea Simon as a guest blogger here today at Booth Talks Books.  I was thrilled to be able to chat along with Clea after I received the book to read and as I journeyed through the dark world of Blackie and Care.  Before I tell you what I thought about “The Ninth Life”, Clea has some fun information that led up to the formation of Blackie.


Don’t tell Blackie. He’s the narrator of my new “The Ninth Life” mystery, the first in a new series for me. But for a few hours there, it was all about the squirrel.

I should explain. I have a complicated history with squirrels. Unlike my (real-life) kitty lg_26172-ARMusetta, I generally think they’re cute. While she sits by the window, muttering and lashing her tail and generally having homicidal (squirrel-cidal?) fantasies, I like seeing their fat white bellies when they sit up to eat and their bright eyes as they run up and down the trees in my yard. But when I find my bulbs dug up in the fall – and the heads bitten off my tulips in spring? Then they’re not so cute. And the one summer I tried to grow eggplant and each time one grew to be almost ready … and then I’d find it on the patio table with one bite taken out of it? I was almost ready to side with Musetta then!

But that all changed when I went for my new author photo. Now, you have to understand, author photos are challenging – probably for all of us. We’re writers, not movie stars, and we spend most of our days living more in our heads than on treadmills or in malls. So when it comes time to be photographed, well, let’s just say that the reality doesn’t often match up with the fantasy. And while maybe some authors can pay for the full-bore glamour treatment, the rest of us are just hoping that makeup (a lot) and lighting (a little) will produce something that will make us recognizable at conferences but won’t scare small children.

“Make me look friendly,” I told my photographer friend Naomi. “If you can also make me not too baggy and saggy, that would be great.”

“You are friendly,” she replied. “And don’t worry about the rest.” That wasn’t quite the encouragement I had hoped for.

But the real problem came when she started shooting. “Look over here,” she’d tell me – pointing to some distant spot. “Then move your eyes back to the camera.”

Well, I’m not the most coordinated person in the first place (I’m a writer, right? Not a pro athlete). Also, to make a portrait that would be timeless – or at least be good for a few years – Naomi had insisted that I take my glasses off. The glasses that I put on my nightstand last thing at night and grab for first thing in the morning. The latest version of what I’ve been wearing since third grade….

You can see where this is heading. Between my inability to see and my inability to follow directions, I was looking at the camera and moving my eyes away, or staring off at some vague movement – one of Naomi’s two cats? – when I should have been focusing in.

And then Naomi had a brainstorm. “Be right back,” she said, leaving me in her studio blinded by the million degree lights and the lack of my glasses. “Here,” she said, a minute later, and held out to me a fluffy plush squirrel – fake, of course – but with the same bright eyes as the little fellows in my yard. “You can see him, right?”

“Yes,” I confirmed. I could. And from then on, it was “Squirrel!!” “Look at the squirrel!” “Oh my, it’s a squirrel!”


The Ninth Life by Clea Simon

It worked. Which makes sense, when you think about it. As any readers of my books probably know by now, I relate more to animals than I do to most people. After all, there’s a reason why a cat narrates my latest mystery. Once Naomi brought the squirrel into it, not only was I laughing, but I moved as she wanted me to, looking where and when I was supposed to. And if the photos aren’t beautiful, they are honestly relaxed and happy. Musetta, I think, would be proud.

Review of “The Ninth Life” by Booth Talks Books

We know nothing of Blackie when we meet him and when we meet Care, the ragged, pink-haired street rat that soon becomes his favored companion. His memory picks up from where she picks him up and their adventure seems to begin there. Blackie feels an unusual connection with this Care girl and chalks it up to the fact that she saved him from what he can only remember as three foggy shadows of what he assumes are men from their shapes.


Through Blackie, his eyes, his observations, his smells and cat-senses we get a look at the world in a different way. We go on a journey with his newfound companions to find out who murdered her former friend and father-like figure whom she refers to as “The Old Man.” Through this journey we are introduced to a boy, Tick, who used to share a foster home with her and who also is now on the street. He, a younger brother-like figure to Care.  Only, this boy is tied up in the world of drug smuggling, and other illegal trades, unable to shake their hold. Having escaped this life, Care had been taken under the wing of The Old Man and learned how to become a detective of sorts, taking down men such as those who Tick was now working for. Only a young boy, Care hopes to save him from this life of crime and need for drugs that are now becoming a life-style. Being a cat, Blackie has a heightened sense of smell, location and knowledge of people. He doesn’t know how, but he just seems to know what to do, how to go about it and that this girl, this Care has been well-trained and that he must stick with her and help her as best he can. Again, you become aware of how human-like Blackie is in his way of dealing with issues. Even though the people around him can’t hear his thoughts, we as readers are treated to his genius schemes and insights all through the book. If all cats think like this, I will never look at another cat the same again.


As “The Ninth Life” progresses, Care and Tick come in and out of each others lives and danger envelopes them both many times. Blackie is able to help them with various warnings and even searching out places beforehand. By the end, we are invested in the characters. I, for one, wanted Care to triumph in her journey and accomplish what she had been trying to do through the entire book. I also wanted Blackie to figure out the dream that continued to haunt him; the dream of the three shadow men.  Care is a brilliant sleuth with Blackie. A most shocking reveal is made at the end that changes all you think about Blackie and the future of Care. The second book cannot come soon enough.

Clea Simon has twisted my brain with this book.  I have been taken to the dark, damp underbelly of a drug infested, money greedy, mob-like world.  My tour-guide, a cat.  Normally, this would sound silly to me, but Blackie is amazing.  Anyone else telling the story would be all wrong.  We would know nothing like we know had she written in a different narrator.  My mind is blown by this angle and I love it.  Brilliant Clea, just brilliant.


 Want to win your own hard-cover copy of Blackie and Care’s first meeting and find out what happens?  Believe me, you DO! Click below to be entered in the Rafflecopter giveaway!

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I was sent this book in exchange for a fair review