Wednesday, October 4, 2017

In The Stars by Zanna Mackenzie | Blog Tour with Review, Guest Post, and Giveaway

The Blurb

One desperate phone call is all it takes to turn Amber’s previously dull day into one speeding scarily out of control!

Amber Reed’s at work making up the horoscopes for the local newspaper and wishing for some excitement in her life, when she gets a phone call offering her just that.

Plunged into the middle of a celebrity murder investigation she’s desperately trying to convince the scarily handsome special agent assigned to solve the case that she can help him catch the killer.

Amber’s soon battling something far more dangerous than she could ever have imagined  and it has nothing to do with the equally scary chemistry fizzing between her and special agent Charlie.

Is it Amber’s wish for more excitement in her life which has landed her in big trouble  or is her fate written in the stars?

In The Stars is part of the fun, romantic Amber Reed Mystery series:

* In The Stars (book 1)
* On Trial ( book 1.5)
* Precious (book 2)
* Forever Mine (book 3)
* Past Perfect (book 4)
* Stop The Beat (book 5)
* Paradise Lost (book 6)

In The Stars by Zanna Mackenzie
Series: An Amber Reed Mystery, #1
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Self Published
Publication Date: December 11, 2014
Print length: 364 pages

The Review

I just read a really good book, y'all — In The Stars by Zanna Mackenzie, book one in the Amber Reed Mysteries. Let me tell you a little about it.

In The Stars is a fun, quick read. Amber is relatable, and easy to root for. Amber's old pal Ennis is a celebrity, whose brother's murder must be kept secret from neighbors and media.  To ensure discretion, Ennis calls in the Celebrity Crimes Investigation Agency (CCIA), but since he doesn't quite trust the CCIA agent (Charlie), Ennis recruits Amber (who's so not an agent) to keep an eye on him. Humor, hijinks, and hilarity ensue, as the CCIA agent and wannabe-agent investigate. 

I love the chemistry that develops between Amber and Charlie, and the loyalty she has for Ennis. In The Stars is full of funny bits, as well as mystery, danger, and suspense.

I really enjoyed In The Stars, and recommend it to all fans of cozy mysteries. I think it will have special appeal to those who are fans of Zanna's Recipe for Disaster/ Celebrity Mysteries. 

I really like In The Stars by Zanna Mackenzie, and hereby award it Four Kitties!

Four out of five kitties

Zanna's Guest Post

Character Quirks & Custard Tarts

As a reader, I love discovering characters who have amusing little quirks, especially if they star in a whole series of books. That particular quirky hobby, behaviour, mannerism or obsession is gloriously familiar and really brings the character in question to life for me. When I’m eagerly turning the pages on a new book in a series that I know and love, I’m looking out for that first ‘sighting’ on the main character’s foibles, feeling as though it anchors the book perfectly.

I read across lots of genres, the common thread being an element of romance – whether it is chick lit, suspense or cozy mystery. Finding a character I like and a series I love is exciting and at the same time relaxing if that doesn’t sound odd! That sense of comforting familiarity – that you know you can pick up the next book and the one after that in the series and be certain it will be a read you’ll know and you will enjoy, that’s something special. It’s as though the character has become a book friend, quirks and all.

In one of my favourite amateur sleuth series by another author, the main character Haley has an obsession with acquiring the latest designer handbag in each book. It’s a fun little subplot as she desperately searches department stores in her quest to find the latest must-have bag.

In another series I like to read, the sleuth Sophie adores her car. Fair enough, you might be thinking. Is it a sporty little number? Something she’s inherited which has sentimental value perhaps? Nope. The vehicle in question is a lime green battered old Land Rover Defender. She even gives it a name and talks to it!

In my Amber Reed Mystery series, the newspaper admin assistant and amateur sleuth Amber adores cakes. Conveniently her best friend Debs works in the town’s coffee shop and has easy access to baked goods! Amber’s favourite cake is a decidedly British custard tart which is fine when she’s undertaking a spot of madcap sleuthing at home, but when she starts working overseas with the Celebrity Crimes Investigation Agency, tracking it down becomes much more difficult...

If you’ve never come across or tried custard tart before, here’s a recipe for it, courtesy of the Good Food UKTV website and British chef James Tanner:



For the pastry: 
250g plain flour
100g unsalted butter
2 eggs
100g icing sugar
4 drops vanilla extract

For the custard filling:
480ml whipping cream
6 egg yolks
70g caster sugar
1 vanilla pod, split
grated nutmeg

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C/gas mark 4. 
  2. Place the flour and butter in a food processor and blend to a breadcrumb consistency. 
  3. Beat eggs, icing sugar and vanilla extract in a bowl and add to food processor mix. 
  4. Pulse until the ingredients have combined together to form a ball. Remove from the food processor and wrap in cling film. Leave to rest in the fridge for about an hour, then remove.
  5. On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry out to approximately 5mm thickness and use it to line a greased 25cm tart ring. Cover the pastry with baking parchment, fill with baking beans and bake 'blind' for around 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, discard the baking beans and turn down the heat to 160C/gas mark 2. 
  6. In a saucepan, bring the whipping cream to the boil with the split vanilla pod. Whisk together the egg yolks and the caster sugar before pouring the cream onto them, stirring continually. Pass the mixture through a sieve and then add a small amount of grated nutmeg. 
  7. Pour the mix into the tart shell and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 30 - 40 minutes or until the custard appears set but not too firm. 
  8. Turn the tart out onto a plate and serve. 
  9. Enjoy!

The Author

About Zanna Mackenzie

I live in the UK (Derbyshire/ Leicestershire border) with my husband, 5 dogs, a vegetable patch that’s home to far too many weeds and an ever expanding library of books waiting to be read

Being a freelance writer and editor of business publications is my ‘day job’ but, at every opportunity, I can be found scribbling down notes on scenes for whatever novel I’m working on. I love it when the characters in my novels take on minds of their own and start deviating from the original plot.

I enjoy walking the dogs, gardening and reading.

The Giveaway

Everyone's a Winner!

Instead of a giveaway, all readers can go to the author’s website and download a free book. The book is $2.99 on Amazon.

On Trial: A Humorous Romantic Mystery (Amber Reed Mystery Book 1.5)
A rock star wedding. A missing bride. A mystery to solve  and the clock is ticking.

Rock musician Tayler is just hours away from saying ‘I do’ to his fiancée Poppy when she disappears from their luxury hotel.

Amber, an amateur sleuth with ambitions to prove herself good enough to join the Celebrity Crimes Investigation Agency (CCIA) is soon battling to solve the case. Is the bride-to-be even still alive? Amber has just 24 hours to find Poppy or it's game over...

Can Amber keep calm, keep her head and manage to solve the mystery? Will she get her dream job with the agency? Helped and hindered by fellow trainee Esme and gruff but gorgeous Mitch, Amber’s certainly got her work cut out  and then her special-agent boyfriend Charlie turns up to confuse things even further…

Join Amber as she attempts to rescue a celebrity wedding day from the brink of disaster!

On Trial is part of the fun, romantic Amber Reed Mystery series.

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