Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A Batter of Life and Death - Blog Tour Review + Giveaway and Excerpt

Welcome to my tour stop for A Batter of Life and Death by Ellie Alexander! This is the second book in the Bakeshop Mystery series. The tour runs July 6-17 with reviews, interviews, guest posts and excerpts. Check out the tour page for the full schedule.

About the Book:

A Batter of Life and DeathWelcome to Torte--a small-town family bakeshop where the coffee is hot, the muffins are fresh, and the cakes are definitely to die for…

It's autumn in Ashland, Oregon--'tis the season for a spiced hot apple cider with a serving (or two) of Torte's famous peach cobbler. It's also the perfect time for Jules Capshaw to promote her family's beloved bake shop by competing in The Pastry Channel's reality show, Take the Cake. The prize is $25,000. But as Jules quickly learns, some people would kill for that kind of dough. Literally.

Then, just as Jules dusts off her Bavarian Chocolate Cake recipe and cinches up her apron, the corpse of a fellow contestant is discovered--death by buttercream. What began as a fun, tasteful televised adventure has morphed into something of a true-crime detective show for Jules and everybody else on set. Who could have killed Chef Marco, and why? Can Jules sift out the killer before someone else gets burned?

My Review:
This is my 2nd visit to Ashland and I loved it as much as my first visit!  We're back with Jules, her mother and the rest of the staff at Torte cooking up delightful sounding baked goods and tasty coffee concoctions.  This time we have the added drama of a cooking competition show that Jules gets roped into participating in.  And of course there's also a murder victim.  The mystery is interesting with lots of suspects and a variety of motives.  It kept me curious until the end though I did have a number of half formed theories as to the who and the why.

While I enjoy the mystery aspect of this book what I really love is the bakery aspect.  There's a good bit about menu planning, recipe experimenting and just the day to day operations of the bakery and it's so much fun to read.  The cooking competition added another element of interest and I loved getting a behind the scenes look at the show as well as meeting the other contestants.  Jules herself is a sympathetic and easy to relate to character.  In there first book she's just separated from her husband and in this book she's still not sure what she wants to do and is kind of taking it one day at a time.  There's some talk about what she's going to do about her marriage as well as considering how she feels about Thomas and it feels very natural.  She's not always behaving perfectly logical but it feels real and doesn't take over the book.  I was also glad we got considerably less Richard Lord in this book.  He was a little over the top in the first book so it was nice to see him used considerably less this go round.  He's great as Jules' nemesis.

While the mystery itself can be read as a standalone I think it'd be best to read the first book to understand who Jules is and get a better feel for Ashland and the running of Torte.  Now if only I could get a Torte to open in my town!

About the Author:
Ellie Alexander is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter to learn more.


Signed copy of Meet Your Baker and A Batter of Life and Death, 1 pound coffee, Oregon Chai, Gourmet cupcake liners (US)
Ends July 21st

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They say that time heals a broken heart. I’ve noticed that no one mentions exactly how much time it takes, though. A week? A month? A year?  Having a solid number might have made me feel better, since my heart was mending slowly.
While I waited for the heartache to subside, I busied myself with building a new life in my sweet hometown of Ashland, Oregon. Never would I have imagined that I’d be saying that, when I left the ship and my husband last summer. Returning to Ashland was supposed to be a temporary stop until I figured out what I was going to do next.
Mom had advised me to take things slow. “One day at a time, Jules. You don’t need to figure everything out this minute.”
She was right. Her words stuck, and so did I.
The summer breezed by in a whirlwind of activity. Ashland is home to the world-famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival and a playground for outdoor enthusiasts with sunny mountains and rivers. During the summer months, our little town bursts at the seams with tourists, actors, playwrights, backpackers, and whitewater guides. Torte, our family bakeshop, sits right in the middle of downtown.
Mom’s been serving up a selection of sweet and savory pastries with a side of love for nearly three decades. She and my dad purchased the cheery space that houses the bakery when I was a kid. Most of my early memories are of sitting on a bar stool next to the butcher block island while the two of them kneaded bread dough and chatted with customers. Dad would quote Shakespeare sonnets and engage out-of-town visitors in lively discussions about OSF’s latest plays. Mom would press tart crust into tins and act as a sounding board for locals who came to the shop for more than just a warm cup of coffee.
Their love affair wasn’t fancy. It was quiet and easy. Maybe that was part of my problem. I wanted what they had. The other part of my problem could have been that my name set me up to be a romantic. Really, Juliet Montague Capshaw? I didn’t have a chance. Ill-fated romance is literally my namesake.
My parents thought naming their only child after one of literature’s greatest heroines would ensure a life of passion. I’m not sure they thought it all the way through though.
When I left for culinary school after Dad died, I shortened my name to Jules. It fits. I’m pretty laid back and casual for the most part. The one exception is in the kitchen. There I run a tight ship. It’s a good thing because after being home for a few weeks I realized that Torte needed me as much as I needed it. Mom’s a genius when it comes to caring for our customers and in the kitchen, but running the bakeshop on her own had really taken its toll. I was glad to be able to help lighten her load.
Torte needed updating and a serious influx of cash. The steady throng of tourists in and out the front door this summer had helped. We’d been so slammed for the last few months that I was actually looking forward to the off-season so we that we could spend some time mapping out a long-term plan for Torte’s future.

That’s what we’ll focus on today, I thought as I laced up my tennis shoes and grabbed a jacket off the hook hanging by my front door. The October sun greeted me as I headed down the stairs from my apartment and out onto the main square. Downtown Ashland is like a little village with a collection of shops, restaurants and the famed OSF theater complex an easy walk up the hill. Lithia Park, the jewel of town, flanks one end of the downtown. Its meandering pathways, ancient trees, and natural streams make it one of my favorite places on the planet, which is saying a lot. A decade of working on a cruise ship allowed me to visits ports of call all over the world. Other places might be more exotic or boast a more happening night life scene, but Ashland’s sophisticated charm and quaint beauty was unparalleled.

This event was organized by CBB Book Promotions.


  1. I haven't heard of this series, but since I grew up in Oregon and visited Ashland a number of times this sounds like fun. Plus I love the baking aspect. Good review, Katherine!

  2. The bakery aspect would be what draws me in as well. Who can resist a bakery? Did it make your mouth water?
    As much as I don't want to speed through the short summer we get here, I love the setting of autumn. Especially the fall like delights that come with a bakery. :)
    Happy reading!
    Brittany @ This is the Story of My(Reading) Life

  3. I enjoy the baking and cooking tips in cozy mysteries too! Nice review.

  4. Yum! I can just smell the baked good from here. :-)

  5. The TV cooking competition part sounds fun. I love bakery/coffee shop cozies. Makes me want to be in the book!

  6. Oh I love that the baking was included so much. I'm such a sucker for all things cooking :D