Thursday, January 14, 2016

On Thin Icing by Ellie Alexander | Blog Tour with Review, Guest Post, and Giveaway

The Blurb

Welcome to Torte 
 a small-town family bakeshop where the treats are killer good.

It's the dead of winter in the sleepy town of Ashland, which means no tourists  and fewer customers  for Jules Capshaw and her bakery. But when she's asked to cater an off-season retreat for the directors of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, business starts heating up... until Jules finds a dead body in the freezer.

"An intriguing new series."  Reader to Reader

Someone at the retreat has apparently iced the bartender, a well-known flirt with a legendary temper ― that is, before a killer beat him to the punch. Then, from out of nowhere, Jules's own ex-husband shows up at the shop ― and soon becomes a suspect. With accusations piling up higher than the snow ― and thicker than a chocolate mousse cake ― Jules has to think outside the (recipe) box to find the real culprit... and make sure he gets his just desserts.

"A delectable tale of murder and intrigue." ― Portland Book Review on Meet Your Baker

On Thin Icing by Ellie Alexander
Series: A Bakeshop Mystery, #3
Genre: Cozy Mystery, Culinary Mystery
Publisher: Minotaur Books  
Publication Date: December 29, 2015
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-10: 1250054257
ISBN-13: 978-1250054258
e-Book File Size: 1162 KB
Amazon | Barnes&Noble | PowellsIndieBound | Book Depository | KoboGoodreads

Click here for a sneak peek! You can read Chapter 1 of On Thin Icing 
on Macmillan Publishers' website.

The Review

I just read a really good book, y'all! On Thin Icing by Ellie Alexander is a really good, really fun read! Let me tell you a little about it.

On Thin Icing, a cozy culinary mystery, is the third book in the Bakeshop Mystery series by Ellie Alexander. [FYI — Book Four, Caught Bread Handed, will be released on June 28, 2016, and is now available for pre-order on Amazon and Barnes&Noble.] I reviewed Book One in the series, Meet Your Baker, here and Book Two, A Batter of Life and Death, here.

On Thin Icing takes place in January, about three months after A Batter of Life and Death. The first two chapters take place in Ashland, during which time Lance, the artistic director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, asks Jules to do the catering for a retreat of the OSF's executive board. Author Ellie Alexander includes a good introduction to Torte, if you are a newcomer to the series. There is a nice visit with the folks at Torte  Jules, her mother Helen, Andy, Stephanie, and Sterling. The rest of the book takes place at Lake of the Woods Resort, originally built as a fishing retreat in the 1920s, or driving there and back.  

Shortly after Jules and Sterling arrive at Lake of the Woods (LOW), Jules gets a surprise — a big surprise. In Book One, Meet Your Baker, Jules had just separated from Carlos, her husband of three years. They agreed to talk things over in six months. Well, the six months are over. 

Carlos unexpectedly shows up at LOW, so they can talk thing over in person. (Jules was expecting just a phone call.) She's glad to see him, but the timing could have been better. She needs to concentrate on cooking and baking, without the distractions that Carlos brings.   
▪ Carlos was rinsing dishes in the sink. In all the years that I'd known him, I'd never seen him wash a dish. We had an entire dishwashing staff for that on the ship. Chefs don't wash dishes. I couldn't believe my eyes.
"What are you doing?" I asked
"I'm helping you. I'm washing the dishes." He held up a soapy plate to prove his point. "Am I doing it wrong?" 
"No." I shook my head. "I just can't believe you're washing dishes. You never wash dishes." 
"I do for you," he said with a seductive smile.
Sterling laughed. "I've heard that's the way to a woman's heart. Do the dishes, and the laundry."
"Stop, you two." I fanned my face. "You're going to make me faint with all this romantic talk."
Snow starts falling, harder and harder, until it becomes a blizzard. The next morning, while looking for sausages in a freezer, Jules finds a dead body in the freezer. She calls 911 to report it and learns that, because of roads blocked due to blizzard conditions, the Ashland police officers (Thomas, the deputy detective-in-training, and Doug, aka the Professor, the lead detective) will be the officers responding.

Jules calls Thomas, to let him know about the murder at LOW. Her phone call wakes him up, actually. That might explain why some of his responses display less than his usual mental sharpness.   
▪ "...I found a body this morning."
"Whoa. Slow down, Jules. A murder? Why are you calling me? Hang up and call the police."
"You are the police, Thomas."
"Jules, you know what I mean. Lake of the Woods isn't my jurisdiction."
"I know. I called the local police, but they can't get here. The roads are blocked." 
"It's snowing like crazy."
"It is?"
"It's snowing in Ashland, too. Look out your window."
"Hold on." Thomas must have gotten up. I heard him whistle. "You're right, it is."
After Thomas and the Professor arrive at LOW, Thomas goes up to the Lodge for coffee and food, but mostly to find Jules.
▪ With the coffee going, I joined Thomas at the island. "I still can't believe you made it." 
"Jules, come on, I would drive anywhere for you." He held my gaze. 
Uh-oh. My stomach sank. I was thrilled to see Thomas, but I hadn't considered one minor glitch. Carlos. Thomas and Carlos had never met. I wasn't sure how either of them were going to react. Thomas and I were old friends. At least that's what I thought we were.

The victim, the resort's bartender, was an obnoxious redneck jerk. In other words, he made a lot of people very mad. But which one(s) got mad enough to kill him? With several folks acting suspiciously, it's hard for Jules to figure out whodunit right away. 
▪ "...If you hear any other news, please come find me or Thomas right away."
"Of course." The Professor didn't need to worry. There was no way I was going to try to take down a killer in the snowy woods. I was quite content to stay put in the lodge's cozy kitchen.  
Uh huh. I'm not quite sure I believe Jules. What about you? Do you think she's going to sleuth, or play it safe?
The mystery is completely resolved in the end, but Jules' dilemma is not. 

Can Jules forgive Carlos for his deception? Has he really explained the reason for it, or just said that he made a mistake? Will she be able to trust him again?

Is Helen correct in her opinion that Thomas is still in love with Jules, despite their breakup after high school? Thomas has hinted to Jules that he has regrets about it. Sterling thinks that Thomas "has it bad for her" (and so too does Carlos), and there's no way that she and Thomas are "just friends."
▪ This was it — Thomas and Carlos in the same room. The contrast between them was staggering. Thomas with his boyish face, light eyes, and blond hair looked like an all-American football star. Carlos oozed sexiness with his olive skin, dark hair, and piercing eyes.   
 The book ends with Carlos and Jules driving back from the Lake of the Woods retreat, just ten miles from Ashland. Book Four, Caught Bread Handed, begins one week after the retreat. What do you think will happen, regarding Jules, Carlos, and Thomas?

Since On Thin Icing is a Culinary Mystery, it contains seven recipes prepared at Torte or the retreat, as well as a copious amount of culinary advice. The recipes include:

  • Orange Cardamom Rolls
  • Roasted Chicken
  • Braised Green Beans
  • Double Chocolate Cookies with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Beef Stew
  • Cherries Jubilee
  • Snowflake Latte  
I highly recommend On Thin Icing to all fans of Cozy Mysteries and Culinary Mysteries. If you're new to Cozies, this would be a great introduction to the genre, as it can be read as a standalone.

I really enjoyed On Thin Icing by Ellie Alexander, and bestow upon it Four Kitties!

Note:  I received a complimentary copy of On Thin Icing in exchange for my honest review. 
All opinions shared are 100% my own.

Please check out the tour page for schedule and more information.

The Guest Post

Welcome to Torte, a family bakeshop in the charming town of Ashland, Oregon. At Torte the coffee is hot and rich, the pastries are delicious and everything is served with a side of love and a touch of drama.

Ashland, Oregon is the ideal setting for the Bakeshop Mystery series. It’s home to a thriving community of actors, playwrights, artists, and outdoor lovers and it’s also home to the world famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF). The Festival brings in visitors from every corner of the globe to take in a viewing of Shakespeare under the stars in its outdoor Elizabethan theater.

OSF is a non-profit and one of the oldest professional theaters on the west coast. Founded in 1935, historically the theater only produced Shakespearean works. Today the company offers eleven plays in three theaters during the season. Only four works of Shakespeare are offered. The remaining plays range from classics to contemporaries and independent screenplays written by local actors and playwrights. From Broadway-inspired song and dance musicals to traditionally staged productions of Shakespeare’s works, there is something for everyone during OSF’s long-running season.

Today the OSF complex houses three theaters and an outdoor stage on the “bricks” as locals call it where a green show takes place during the summer months. People gather around the stage to listen to kettle drum bands and watch interpretive dance productions. It’s a festive and engaging way to kick off a show and introduce new material. Stairs leading from Ashland’s lush Lithia Park usher guests to the bricks where the energy is humming and palpable before the doors to the main stage are opened. 

The theater employs an entire cast and crew from costume designers to set and lighting directors to carpenters to hair and makeup artists. It’s the largest employer in Ashland and almost a town within a town. In writing mysteries it makes for an ever-changing population of travelers and visiting actors who are all potential murder suspects! 

The theater is the perfect stage for a murder mystery series, not only because of its incredible old-world architecture where you really feel like you’re stepping back in time, but also because of the innate drama built into the theater culture. One of the things that makes living or visiting Ashland so unique is that the members of the company can be spotted around town having a croissant and morning coffee at the local bakeshop or stopping in for an after-show pint at one of Ashland’s many pubs. It brings audiences and actors closer together than in other locations.

While murder is fictional in the Bakeshop Mystery series, the town of Ashland is very real and vibrant. I hope that you’ll enjoy curling up with a sweet treat and a mug of something warm and tasty while you escape to the delightful Shakespearean town for a few hours.

Happy reading!


The Author

About Ellie Alexander

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.

Find Ellie on the web at

The Giveaway

Ellie will award these fabulous prizes via rafflecopter during the tour.
US Only
Ends Jan. 20, 2016
Prizing provided by the author. Must be 13 or older and have parental permission if under 17. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary to win. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This event was organized by CBB Book Promotions.

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