Sunday, May 11, 2014

Blog Tour Stop: Murder Gone A-Rye by Nancy J. Parra (Guest Post, Review and Giveaway)

Please join me in welcoming Nancy J. Parra to Debbie's Book Bag, today. Nancy is here promoting the second book in her Baker's Treat Mystery series, Murder Gone A-Rye. Enjoy her guest post, along with my review of her book and a giveaway!

People ask me all the time if I'm really gluten-free. The answer is yes. A little more than six years ago, I was sick all the time and after many tests and much discussion it was suggested that I try to eat a gluten-free diet. Now I love to bake. I've been baking since I was a small child. In fact I was five when I made my first cake from scratch. It was a lazy day cake which is a simple two egg yellow cake. The idea of never being able to bake again was horrifying. Still when you are sick all the time there comes a point where you try everything-even giving up gluten. Within a week, I was much better.

It was a natural progression then to create a character who owned a gluten-free bakery. Toni Holmes is a lot like me. She grew up in a small town in Kansas and has a very large and eccentric family. Large families are a blessing and a curse. Large families filled with brilliant and creative people can sometimes be embarrassing - especially when you set them in the middle of a conservative oil town in the Bible Belt, the heartland, the breadbasket of America. People in Kansas have relatives who are upstanding, responsible farmers, ranchers, oilmen, bankers and truckers not writers, artists and carefree hippy types. Thus conflict is everywhere for poor Toni who is trying to run her gluten-free bakery in the heart of wheat country.

In Murder Gone A-Rye, Toni's beloved Grandma Ruth is brought in for questioning when incriminating scooter marks are found near the murder scene of Grandma's arch rival, Lois Striker. It's not enough to get Grandma Ruth out of jail; Toni must keep her out of trouble as Ruth decides to investigate Lois' death. 

The book is set around Thanksgiving and full of crazy relatives and yummy recipes for gluten-free pies, cakes and cookies. If you know someone who is gluten-free then you know there is a full spectrum from so highly sensitive that you can't walk down a flour aisle at the grocery store to those who think a piece of real chocolate cake is worth the price of getting sick for two days.

Below is my recipe for gluten-free Pumpking Custard.


3/4 cup of granulated sugar
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves
2 large eggs
1 can (15 oz.) pureed pumpkin
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk - can be fat free


Mix sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves in a small bowl. Beat eggs in a large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Pour into a ceramic dish - place dish in baking pan filled with approximately 1/4 inch of water - keep and eye on the water to ensure it does not evaporate completely during baking. Bake in a pre-heated to 350 degrees. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream before serving.

Book Information:

Murder Gone A-Rye (Baker's Treat Mystery - Book 2) by Nancy J. Parra

Publication Date: 05/06/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Prime Crime
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 304
ISBN-10: 0425252442
ISBN-13: 978-0425252444

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)

Nancy J. Parra on the WEB: websitetwitter, facebook, goodreads

Books in the series

Baker's Treat Mystery

2. Murder Gone A-Rye

Coverart: Click the Image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.


Toni Holmes is the best gluten-free baker in Oiltop, Kansas—okay, she’s the only one—but when her grandmother becomes a murder suspect, she’s more concerned with keeping Grandma free… 

When Toni’s beloved—and eccentric—grandma Ruth is arrested for the murder of her archenemy, Lois Striker, it’s time for a senior moment of truth. Telltale tracks from a scooter like the one Grandma Ruth rides lead the police to suspect the outspoken oldster, but Toni knows her grandmother wouldn’t burn a cookie, let alone extinguish a life.

In fact, the case has Grandma more revved up than her infamous scooter. A former investigative journalist, she decides to solve the murder herself—with help from Toni—by digging up long-buried town secrets. But as Grandma scoots in where others fear to tread, Toni needs to make sure she not only stays out of jail but out of harm’s way…


Nancy J. Parra brings readers the second book in her Baker's Treat Mystery series. Readers looking for a small town with a lot of heart will love Oiltop, Kansas. The townspeople are close knit and full of secrets, which makes for a great mystery. Grandma Ruth is back, as well as, heroine Toni and the gang from her gluten-free bakery. Toni will have her hands full keeping Grandma Ruth out of jail and solving a cold case murder from the 1950's. Readers looking for great gluten free recipes won't be disappointed either, as Parra produces great treats and a great new whodunit.

What I liked:

My sister tries admirably to eat a gluten-free diet. She isn't necessarily allergic to gluten but it makes her feel so much better when she doesn't eat it. But let's face it gluten-free recipes are hard to find. Having a cozy mystery series with a gluten-free bakery in it was a genius idea from Nancy J. Parra. It's obvious that Parra does not know exactly what she's talking about when she describes Toni's bakery and the concoctions that she turns out for her customers. I always feel like I have learned something new about gluten-free cooking when I read her books. Her authenticity does ring true. 

Grandma Ruth is one kick-butt grandma. She may be in her 90's but that certainly hasn't slowed her down or dampened her enthusiasm. She is a great character who tends to add not only great characterization to this series, but also a lot of comic relief. Her antics are not what one would expect from the average granny. Having been an investigative journalist in her past, grandma's curiosity gets her in trouble in this installment of the series. Finding out some disturbing information about a former pillar of the community isn't what some Oiltop townspeople want to here. Parra does a great job with Ruth, making her believable and entertaining.

Toni once again finds herself trying to keep grandma contained. But that doesn't stop grandma and Toni has to figure out how to keep her out of jail when her arch enemy ends up dead. Toni is so patient and loving with Ruth. I enjoy their relationship a lot. This series focuses on more than gluten-free cooking, but also family and friends and the relationships they share. Toni is central to figuring out the whodunit but it's really a family affair. I look forward to seeing who Toni chooses as her love interest. She has a couple of good guys vying for the honor. Parra knows how to write about camaraderie and family and keeps the reader interested in what will happen to Toni next.

The mystery itself including the murder of Lois and the cold case from 1959 was totally engrossing. The reader will love following all of the gluten-free bread crumbs that Parra has doled out. There were plenty of reasons someone might want Lois dead, but what does the statue of Everett have to do with it? It was really fun figuring that out. The addition of Aunt Phyllis also added to the story and the overall family atmosphere that Parra has created. A great whodunit.

What I didn't like:

There was quite a bit of repetition with this one and at times it was a little too wordy. Now I'm a fan of descriptors in my own writing, and I don't think this was a huge problem, but it did get a little annoying at times. Certainly not a deal breaker!

Bottom Line:

This is shaping up to be a very good series. I love the gluten-free angle and Grandma Ruth is a blast. I thought Parra created an entertaining mystery that was full of surprises, suspects and motives. I liked this one better than the first.

Murder Gone A-Rye is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

About the Author:

Nancy J. Parra lives in the Midwest with her trusty Bichon-Poo, whom she refers to warmly as “Little Dog.” Parra’s novel, The Counterfeit Bride, was named “one of the top ten romances of 2010" by BooklistGluten for Punishment was the first book in the Baker’s Treat Mysteries.

Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Murder Gone A-Rye by Nancy J. Parra.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, May 25th.

1. Please leave a comment about what you know about gluten-free baking.
2. Please fill out the FORM.


Angela Holland said...

I really do not know much about gluten free baking but I do know it is becoming more and more common

Alicia said...

I've never tried Gluten-Free so I know very little.

Lisa Brown said...

I like gluten-free baking, i only wish I could afford to bake that way, it can be expensive.

Anonymous said...

I don't know much about gluten-free baking. My doctor recommended I try going gluten-free for a couple of months to see if I felt better, but after reading the info he provided I was so intimidated by the prospect, I didn't even try it.

Barbara T. said...

Gluten-free seems to be the latest thing to try to cure whatever ails you. Can't hurt to try and it may help. Bobbipad at

Charlotte said...

Only see things have turned out that I haven't liked.

Rita said...

I don't know anything about Gluten-free baking but I have seen more and more foods that are gluten-free.

Raquel Muniz said...

I don't do gluten free baking, but have noticed that companies are providing more gluten free products in supermarkets.

Melissa @ My Recent Favorite Books said...

I have heard alot about gluten free baking, and it sounds like it would be helpful to alot of people.

Sue Farrell said...

I know absolutely nothing about gluten free baking---and very little about traditional baking, either.

Linda Kish said...

It seems to be the latest trend. I'm not sure that everyone who is touting it needs to be gluten-free but they seems to think so. I will stick to my wheat and oats.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Carol M said...

I don't know anything about gluten-free cooking but I do have a cousin who needs to eat that way and so do her two daughters.

Katreader said...

Fortunately for me, I Don't require a gluten free diet-I love my bread! I know a little about it from Avery Aames Cheese Shop series and I first heard about celiac disease from a local ice cream place.

Kimberly Wyatt said...

I don't know anything about gluten free baking but I know I should look into it.

cyn209 said...

don't really know much about gluten-free baking........

skkorman said...

I have never done any gluten-free baking myself, but I have eaten and liked gluten-free baked goods!

skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

Carol Bee said...

I don't know much about gluten-free baking. Have been wanting to try it. :D

Michelle F. said...

I know that not everyone needs to go gluten-free and that products you buy that are gluten-free might be more expensive and aren't necessarily better for you because they may have added ingredients.

Anita Yancey said...

I don't know anything about gluten-free baking. I don't really know anyone who has a problem with gluten.


bn100 said...

haven't tried it; not sure

traveler said...

I haven't tried gluten free baking. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Brooke Bumgardner said...

I don't know much about it at all, though I have seen the gluten free baking mixes and other products at the store.

Natasha said...

I don't really know anything about it.
Thanks for the chance to win!

lag123 said...

I know absolutely nothing about gluten free baking.

lag110 at mchsi dot com