[REVIEW] On Thin Icing + Interview

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Series: A Bakeshop Mystery #3
Author: Ellie Alexander
Genre: adult, mystery, cozy mystery
Published: December 29, 2015

Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Amazon | B&N | Powells

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

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you can read my review of the first two books of The Bakeshop Mystery series here. This review DOES NOT contain any spoilers from the previous books.

Let me warn first you before you read this book: (1) when you read this book, make sure you're not hungry or you ate just a minute or an hour (at most) ago; (2) don't carry a box of tissue but carry the most delectable pastry and the best coffee you can find; (3) okay, maybe you should carry a box of tissue (if you can't find good food) just in case all the delicious tasting food makes your mouth water (just in case); (4) just remember that it's a murder novel with really tasty food.

The Mystery! Jules and Sterling, along with Lance and the OSF executive board went to the Lake of the Woods for a retreat in the middle of winter season. No internet connection and phone signal. Just the body of a rowdy staff member of the Lake of the Woods chilling in the freezer (hahaha, get it?). dead and (obviously) cold.

Solving the Case. Carlos made the difference in this book for me. The first book was a great introduction for Jules. The second one wasn't as good but it still kept me reading. But this third one? Being enclosed in such a terrible weather together with Jules' 'ex'-husband was such a great read. And it gets better. I LOVE the whole love triangle. I've been hoping for this moment ever since the first book! 

I like how On Thin Icing is set in an entirely different place (and the terrible weather makes it even more exciting!). It somehow makes things a bit different and Ellie Alexander really knows how to take you well into a place and make you feel that you're really there. 

I like mysteries happening on a secluded place. Although it makes the suspect more obvious, I really like how the mystery goes and how everyone plays their role. On Thin Icing felt like it didn't exactly focused on the mystery so much. I think that most parts were Jules' cooking and her crazy love triangle. I like it but I really wish that we can get more of what's going on with the rest of the characters. But all the same, On Thin Icing had that bit of thrill and suspense when it comes to writing and I like my cozies that way.

Revelation. Nothing completely surprising. It was quite suspenseful with Jules bringing herself to another danger. While it didn't surprise me, I still find this book, as a whole, really enjoyable to read.

OVERALL, On Thin Icing is a really tasteful read. I LOVE all the mouthwatering moments at the kitchen and the crazy love triangle. I'm not a fan of Carlos but I've waited for this moment to finally see him in the actual story and not just in Jules' backstory. I still ship Jules with Thomas. Ellie Alexander is such a wonderful author - she'll take you to places, make you love the characters, and make you feel really hungry while reading. On Thin Icing is a recommended book for readers of cozy mysteries :)

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What I Like: (1) the well-written atmosphere, (2) the food (I'd LOVE to taste Andy's Snowflake Latte), (3) the further establishment of Jules and Carlos' relationship, (4) the secondary characters from Ashland (with the new setting, it's still very nice to read about all these people I've grown to love from the previous books)

What I Didn’t Like: (1) the mystery was kind of set aside (Meet Your Baker was certainly best on mystery for me..) - there was so much focus on the romance and the menu (not that I'm complaining), (2) the mystery was so predictable (and I'm certainly not blaming myself for reading a decent amount of mystery for the past year on this one)

~I received this book in exchange for an honest review~

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{ I N T E R V I E W }

Describe A Bakeshop Mystery in a delicious, mouthwatering way.

The Bakeshop mysteries are a delectable tales centered around a family bakeshop, Torte, where gooey pastries, savory sandwiches, and foamy lattes are served with a side of love and a touch of murder. 

What's your favorite food at Torte? What would you order if you visit Torte? 

Good question. Honestly, when I’m in Ashland I forget that Torte isn’t real. I’ll walk to the corner of the plaza where it lives in my head and wish that I could pop inside for a warm scone and a chat with Helen, Jules’s wise and kind mom. If I had to pick one thing that I would order it would probably be Andy’s handcrafted coffee. Andy is a local college student who works as a barista at Torte. He is constantly whipping up new coffee creations and I am a coffee addict, especially rich artisan coffee. He made a Sweet Heat mocha in Meet Your Baker with dark chocolate and hint of chili powder for spice. I love that coffee. I’ve made it numerous times at home, but somehow I think Andy’s would be better. 

In terms of pastry, I would probably order one of Jules’s dark chocolate cookies with chocolate cream cheese frosting to go with my coffee. They are one of my all-time favorite cookies to make and eat. She bakes them in On Thin Icing and they are devoured in a matter of minutes. I think they would always be on the menu at Torte. 

Is there any character you find yourself relating to or someone you're somehow similar to?

I have a special place in my heart for Helen, Jules’s mom. My mom who died almost a decade ago is the inspiration for Helen. She’s an amazing baker, but an even better listener. People come to Torte not only for the pastries, but for a kind and listening ear. I love writing about the relationship between Jules and Helen because they really care for one another and are each other’s biggest support. Sometimes in fiction mother/daughter relationships are more strained and complicated. I like writing about a mother/daughter team in the kitchen and in life. 

Do you make the food first before writing about them or is it the other way around?

Usually it’s a bit of both. Many of the recipes in the books are old family recipes. I keep a running list of my favorite recipes that I want to use in the books. Once I’ve sketched out the plot then I review my recipe list to see which ones might fit the theme of the book. For example in Meet Your Baker, the first book in the series, I knew that the book was going to take place in July which is raspberry season in Oregon, so the book opens with Jules making Raspberry Danish—one of my favorite childhood recipes. 

In On Thin Icing, Jules is catering a retreat at a high alpine lodge in the dead of winter and I wanted to incorporate recipes that fit the season and being snowed in. As I was writing the book the lodge’s kitchen came to life and I pictured Jules baking in a vintage wood-fired pizza oven. That led to many hours brainstorming what she could create in a gorgeous and smoky brick oven. Jules’s estranged husband, Carlos, shows up in this book and he’s Latin and an accomplished chef. Scenes with the two of them in the kitchen started heating up. Food is definitely an expression of love for Carlos and given his Spanish heritage tapas and wine and a delicate olive oil and lemon cake worked their way into the storyline. 

Can you recommend other cozy mysteries for readers (or future readers) of 'A Bakeshop Mystery' series?

I love cozy mysteries! There are so many good series to recommend. Here are a few great series that have common themes with the Bakeshop series. 

If you enjoy the theater in the Bakeshop mysteries, I recommend Cindy Brown’s Ivy Meadows series.
If you enjoy the coffee in the Bakeshop mysteries, I recommend Cleo Coyle’s Coffeehouse series.

If you enjoy the small town village setting in the Bakeshop mysteries, I recommend the Agatha Raisin series. 

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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.

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