BLOG TOUR – Vangie Vale & the Strangled Strudel – REVIEW, GUEST POST

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Welcome to another day and another tour! I love doing these Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours! They expose me to great authors and new series. Today’s tour is for Vangie Vale and the Strangled Strudel, the third book in the The Matchbaker Mysteries by R.L. Syme. I had mixed feelings about this book, which I’ll share below the guest post that R. L. Syme generously provided me! Enjoy!

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R.L. Syme’s Guest Post

On Facebook, I have a wonderful group of Vangie’s friends who all congregate with me to talk about the books and our lives. We occasionally talk about Vangie, and as I was preparing for this book tour, I asked them if they had any topics for me to talk about in my guest posts. I borrowed some of their questions to write about. Here are some of the ones they posted.

* Why can’t Vangie and the sheriff get along…?

I wondered if this would be a popular question, among the fans of the books. Vangie and Malcolm have sort of a love/hate relationship in the first three books, but there are definitely a swath of fans who are rooting for them to get past their differences and start a romantic relationship.

And I don’t blame them one bit. Malcolm is a hottie.

But of course, so is Derek. Her current boyfriend.

But let me take a serious stab at answering this question. I want to be honest in that Malcolm’s issues are just as much at play here as Vangie’s. In fact, maybe even more so. I think Vangie is curious about her neighbor, the Sheriff, and she finds him interesting. She finally feels like they are friends. But Malcolm is not a church guy, and he specifically has issues with pastors. You’ll find out more about those issues later. For Vangie’s part, though, she’s dating Derek.

* Where did she get her quirky charm?

That is a great question. I feel like it’s a combination of using sarcasm to deal with the difficult things in her life, and her personality making her different. She has a quick mind, too, so she does find herself speaking quickly, because she’s thinking quickly. That’s probably what I would attribute it to.

* What was her relationship with her mother like?

This is a great question. She lost her mother when she was a teenager, so she did have several years with her. But she had a solid relationship with her mom. She and Priscilla were both close with their mother, and it was part of what made the girls so close as they got older. She’s not very close with Laura—the woman her father married a few years after her mother died—and she doesn’t consider Laura to really be her stepmother, since Laura didn’t really raise her. But she’s glad her dad is happy.

These were great questions. It was a lot of fun seeing what Vangie’s fans wanted to know about her.

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Thank you to R.L. Syme for providing me with the guest post for today! Here’s information about the book followed by my review!

Vangie Vale & the Strangled Strudel (The Matchbaker Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Setting – Montana
Hummingbird Books (January 4, 2018)
Print Length: 330 pages
E-Book ASIN: B077GK124B

Purchase Links: AmazonB&NKobo

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You could call it the straw that broke the camel’s back but it was more like a Montana forest timber.

Just when Vangie Vale’s life was getting back to normal after a murder that rocked her little Rocky Mountain tourist town, she found herself in the middle of another murder… as the chief suspect.

Vangie stood shocked on the side of the curb as the sheriff stretched yellow crime scene tape around the front of her new bakery. Wouldn’t this make a lovely headline in next week’s paper: Local Baker Kills Parishioner With Pudding. Vangie’s road back to good graces as a part-time pastor was bumpy enough already. This would be a roadblock. Can’t have that.

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4.0 out of 5 stars.

As I said above, I had mixed feelings about this book. I like Vangie as a character. I like Derek and I really love Malcolm. But Vangie’s tendency to be impulsive and not THINK when she goes to investigate drives me batty. I’ve read through all three books in this series hoping that over time she’d learn to at least stop to THINK before she rushes headfirst into danger, but so far she hasn’t.

The book is well-written and the plot line was great. I had no real ideas about who had done the crime until it was revealed at the end. Ms. Syme did a really great job with the villain. I don’t want to give anything away, but it’s not easy to write the type of villain that she had in this story and Ms. Syme did a fantastic job with it.

I haven’t decided if I’m going to continue with the series at this point. But I don’t want to dissuade my readers from it because it IS well-written and the characters are great. I just hate heroines who don’t think before rushing into danger. That’s my personal preference and has no bearing on my rating of the writing. If that type of heroine doesn’t bother you, then I recommend this series highly!

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Thanks for joining me today! If you wish to visit other sites on the tour, please click on the banner below to visit the main tour page!

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Vangie Vale and the Corpseless Custard – REVIEW

4 out of 5 stars.

Today, my review is not part of a blog tour, but I’m happy to be bringing you a review of Vangie Vale and the Corpseless Custard by R.L. Syme. This is the 2nd book in the Matchbaker Mystery series. I did enjoy the book, but not quite as well as the first book.


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What could be wrong with bringing a few fancy custard tarts to your Bunco group to impress a guest of honor?

Nothing at all…except that guest of honor never shows up. And when her body is discovered, everyone at the Bunco group is a murder suspect.

Vangie Vale finds herself in another predicament trying to solve a murder in a neighboring small town before her mugshot shows up in the local anonymous gossip blog. And just when she hoped her Sherlocking days were done. No rest for the wicked…or the clergy.

Pick up your second book in The Matchbaker Mysteries today. You’ll never guess whodunit.

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I enjoyed this book quite a bit, but something was just missing that was in the first book. I can’t even quantify it with words; it just was missing something which is why it received 4 stars instead of 4.5 stars like the first book.

I enjoy Vangie. I love Malcolm and Derek. The new side characters introduced in this book were very interesting and brought new life into the scenes, which is always a plus! One thing I am hoping is that Derek has a little bit of a calming influence on Vangie. She’s a little bit too impulsive for my taste, putting herself in harm’s way without even thinking.  I know some of that comes from her personality and it will never change significantly, but I am hoping that Derek can help rein her in on her more outlandish plans.

The plot line moved along smoothly. I did suspect who the killer was before the end, but it was still a good mystery. I’m definitely looking forward to the next one being released in November or December!

All in all, it’s a fun read and definitely one I enjoyed and recommend! Check out this series! It’s a lot of fun!

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About the Author


Rebecca Syme writes small town romance as Becca Boyd and cozy mystery as R.L. Syme. She is a long-time foodie and loves fancy cheese. Becca calls the mountains of Montana her home and draws inspiration from the beautiful vistas and heartwarming people. She is the USA Today bestselling author of the Line of Fire series of sweet romances and part of the Chick Tales series set in Somewhere, TX. You can find her on Twitter talking #fancycheese or #Chopped, and on Facebook with her fans in Becca Nation.

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Thanks for stopping by today! I hope you pick up and enjoy this latest installment in the Matchbaker Mysteries by R.L. Syme!



BLOG TOUR – Vangie Vale & the Murdered Macaron – REVIEW, INTERVIEW


4 out of 5 stars.

Today I’m pleased to be bringing you the latest stop on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Vangie Vale & the Murdered Macaron by R.L. Syme. This was a delightful book to read and I enjoyed it. Stay tuned for an interview with the author after the review.

** Update 8/7/17 ** Yesterday I still didn’t feel well, so updates to the post had to wait until today, but I’m happy to report that we now have more formatting, purchase links, a link to the item on Goodreads, and links to the author’s sites, plus graphics to help break up the text. Thank you for being patient as I dealt with my migraine and the aftermath.


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© Cute Colors


Small towns and gossip go together like flaky crust and sweet pastry cream. Between the police scanners, social media, and the senior center, it’s like a zombie apocalypse where they consume people’s secrets instead of living flesh. But Vangie Vale wants nothing more than to stay under the radar…especially the police radar.

So when her new bakery becomes linked to a murder investigation, nothing will stop the gossip mill from connecting her to the dead body. Can’t have that.

Forced back into the role of investigator, this newly-arrived-in-town part-time bakery owner has to become the very thing she hates–a nosy, small-town gossip–in order to clear her good name, and keep her face off the front page. But when a date-gone-wrong brings her face-to-face with the Sheriff, Vangie can’t ignore the fact that one of her macarons was involved in a murder. She has to find out who-dun-it.

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As I said above, the book was a delightful read and I enjoyed it. I like our main character, Vangie. Sometimes she drove me a little nuts because she had a tendency to put herself into situations that held the possibility of danger without really thinking too much, but she didn’t do that often, so I didn’t get too annoyed by it.

I had mixed feelings about most of the supporting characters throughout the book. As we got more into the back story of the town and its people, I understood the characters motivations better and started to like some of them more, but there were enough red herrings in this book that I was suspicious of most of the townspeople and characters until the villain was actually revealed.

The plot line moved along at a steady and somewhat quick pace, though it wasn’t so quick that you couldn’t keep up. This was a fun read and I recommend it to anyone looking for a good whodunit.

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First, let me say a huge thank you to R.L. Syme for being willing to answer my questions.


1) Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do during the day?  Do you enjoy your day job?

I don’t. I’m lucky enough to be able to write full-time. I love it. I used to have non-writing jobs, though, and I’ve done so many different jobs, mostly in the nonprofit arena. Theater, music, church, youth, restaurants… all great experiences for me to take from in the writing.

2) Do you set aside time to write every day or do you write more sporadically? When you write, do you aim to complete a set # of pages or words? How does music/other noise affect your concentration when you’re writing?

I write every day. Pretty much during the same hours every day, too, unless I’m on deadline, and then I’ll probably write more. I usually try to write a specific number of hours, rather than a word count. That way I know I’ll always get it done.

3) When you’re writing, do your characters seem to “hijack” the story or do you feel like you have the “reigns” of the story? Similarly, do you outline your book first or just sit down and write, seeing where it takes you?

With Vangie, I definitely feel like the story was hers, and she took over. It might be because I feel like I know her so well, I can predict what she does. I love knowing a character that well.

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4) How did you break into the publishing world? How many rejections did you go through before finding a publisher? Did you ever think about quitting? If so, what did you do to keep yourself hopeful?

I definitely went through a lot of rejections first. I never thought about quitting before…I’ve thought about quitting after. Lol. It’s definitely hard work. But I love it. To keep myself hopeful, I try to focus on the characters and the story I’m telling. I want to see them get their justice or their happy ending.

5) In general, how many revisions do you go through before a book is published? Do you have beta readers or is it just your editing team and their suggestions? Do you set your books aside for a period of time and then pick them up and edit them?

Macaron went through three pretty major revisions. Normally, I don’t do that many, but this book has a lot of moving parts. I have two editors and several beta readers, and they are so helpful. I definitely set the book aside after every draft or every read-through. I like it to be fresh when I look at it.

6) A good villain is hard to write. How did you get in touch with your inner villain(s) to write this book. Was there a real-life inspiration for him/her/it?

The thing I love about mystery is that the villain is usually someone who has a really good reason for doing what they did. They just got desperate. I think that’s what I like so much. I get to sort of write normal people who just get carried away because they want something so much. I think that’s what makes mystery so interesting.


7) Do any family members, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, etc. end up showing up in your work or are your characters all truly fictional?

My characters are definitely fictional. I try to make them as real as I can, so I almost always have pieces of something familiar in them, but I never write a one-to-one correlation of a person. I don’t think it’s fair to try to tell someone’s story so completely like that. But I also want them to feel real.

8) If you could write about anyone fiction/nonfiction, contemporary/historical who would you write about? Why?

That’s a great question. I’ve always wanted to do non-fiction, about TS Eliot. In fact, I worked on a fiction book about TS Eliot for a long time, but it never quite came to fruition. But there’s always a chance I will go back to that idea someday. I love TS Eliot.

9) What are some great books you’ve read recently?

I’m just finishing a re-read of Tana French’s The Likeness, and I’m really enjoying it. I’ve read all of her Dublin Murder Squad books, and I think they’re my favorite series out right now.


10) What books have influenced your life the most?

I’d be lying if I didn’t say The Bible, just because of my religious background. But in addition to that, I’ve been reading thriller and mystery for so long, I’d have a big list of those, as well. Nancy Drew would be up there, and Dean Koontz. John Grisham. But then, additionally, I was an English major, so I’ve read all the classics, and those have influenced me a lot, as well. Poetry, too. Eliot and Hopkins most notably.

11) If you could spend one day with a character from your book who would it be? And what would you do during that day?

It would absolutely be Derek Hobson. And I’d be okay with just riding on his bike. Although maybe a little B&E, too…. #sigh

12) Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Have you ever learned anything from a bad review and incorporated it into your future work?

I usually don’t respond to reviews. I did once, on one of my very first books, and I learned from the experience that it’s not my job to tell readers what they did and didn’t experience during my books. I’ve learned that I have to be really okay with putting the book out into the world and letting people think what they’re going to think. Not everyone will like every book, and reviews are supposed to help readers find the books they will and won’t like. As a good friend says, reviews are for readers, not for authors.


Thanks so much for having me!

And THANK YOU for being willing to answer my questions today!! 🙂

Author’s Links


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Blog Tour – Treble at the Jam Fest – REVIEW

4.5 out of 5 stars.


4.5 out of 5 stars.

Today, I’m happy to be bringing you a stop on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Treble at the Jam Fest by Leslie Budewitz! Treble at the Jam Fest is the fourth book in the Food Lovers’ Village Mystery series by Leslie Budewitz and it’s just as good, if not better than the three before it!

I apologize for the delay, I got my dates mixed up and thought this post was to go up tomorrow, the 11th!

Book Cover: Treble at the Jam Fest - A Food Lovers' Village Mystery by Leslie Budewitz - background has a country music stage with guitars, double bass, and drum set - Foreground has a table with jam for sale, a pitcher of lemonade and two cats sitting on the ground

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Erin Murphy, manager of Murphy’s Mercantile (aka the Merc), is tuning up for Jewel Bay’s annual Jazz Festival. Between keeping the Merc’s shelves stocked with Montana’s tastiest local fare and hosting the festival’s kick-off concert, Erin has her hands full.

Discord erupts when jazz guitarist Gerry Martin is found dead on the rocks above the Jewel River. The one-time international sensation had fallen out of sync with festival organizers, students, and performers. Was his death an accident—or did someone even the score?

Despite the warning signs to not get involved, Erin investigates. And when the killer attacks, she orchestrates her efforts into one last crescendo, hoping to avoid a deadly finale.

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I really enjoyed this latest installment of the Food Lovers’ Village Mystery series. I love the main characters anyway. I find that even tho’ Erin can’t stop herself from asking questions and talking to people and getting herself in danger, she’s not doing things haphazardly. She thinks about what she’s doing and if she thinks it’s going to be dangerous, she gets someone to go with her most of the time. Adam’s wonderful and I enjoyed meeting his friend, Tanner, in this book. I hope we’re able to see more of him!

The settings in these books always make me think that maybe I want to move to Montana. Then I come to my senses and remember that I’m very much at home right here in Michigan! The settings are always exquisitely described and yet, they’re not overly flowery descriptions. They’re just right for the series.

The plot line moved along steadily and was fun. I enjoyed both the mystery plot and the sub-plot in this installment. I did not know who the villain really was until the end when it was revealed. I had wondered about the person a couple of times, but I was never certain. The prose flowed well and everything was well-written.

I highly recommend this book and the rest of the Food Lovers’ Village Mystery series by Leslie Budewitz. Read them all, you’ll not be disappointed!

*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this title. I was not compensated for my review. All opinions and conclusions are my own. ***


Thank you for joining me today on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Treble at the Jam Fest by Leslie Budewitz! Click on the banner below to be taken to the tour page where you can find links to the rest of the sites on the tour!