Thursday, April 3, 2014

Blog Tour Stop: Sugar and Iced by Jenn McKinlay (Guest Post, Review and Giveaway)

Please join me in welcoming Jenn McKinlay to Debbie's Book Bag today. Jenn is here promoting her latest book in the Cupcake Bakery Mystery series, Sugar and Iced. Enjoy Jenn's guest post, along with my review of her book and a giveaway.

     Cupcakes are my weakness.  It’s true.  Shocker, I know.  When I was an adolescent, going through that awkward, moody, let’s see if I can make everyone around me as miserable as I am stage, I refused to eat anything but cake.  Yes, I’m serious.  And I’ll bet your kids are looking pretty good to you right now. You’re welcome.

     My mother, who is surely up for sainthood, took me to the doctor.  I was skinny to the point of looking like a refugee from a drought ridden nation, which is what happens when you’re freakishly tall and you hide your dinner between your chair cushion and the wooden seat every night for a week or two.  

     The doctor gave me a physical.  There was nothing clinically wrong with me.  My mother raised her hands in exasperation and wailed that she didn’t know what to do as all I would eat was cake.  The doctor calmly looked at her and said, “So, let her eat cake.”  My mother was staggered.
The doctor, a lovely lady doctor I might add, said, “What’s in cake?  Eggs, milk, flour, really, is it so bad?  Plus, it might fatten her up a bit.”

     My mom let me eat cake until, as you can imagine, I got a bit sick of it.  Suddenly, I was craving meat and potatoes and cauliflower and peas.  Not zucchini, though, I still loathe zucchini and there’s a good reason but it’s a story for another day.  Anyway, allowed to ride out my hormonal whatever the heck that was by eating all the cake I wanted, I soon realized that not only did I want to eat cake I wanted to bake cakes, too.
     And that is when my love affair with baking began.  I broke out my mom’s Betty Crocker and Good Housekeeping cookbooks and went to town.  I started with cookies, moved my way up to cream puffs, quick breads and then cakes.  For a while there, I baked Bundt cakes exclusively, but I slowly began to embrace the two layer. A few Christmases ago, I even mastered the checkerboard cake.  When you slice it, the three layer cake is in alternating colors like a checkerboard -- good for those chocolate or vanilla dilemmas.

     When I started writing mysteries, the idea of setting a series in a cupcake bakery was as organic as making my own vanilla, another new trick I’ve learned.  I consider time spent in my kitchen, working out my recipes, not only therapeutic but it’s also the research and development portion of the books.  Thankfully, my family is always willing to be taste testers.

     There will be new recipes in April’s cupcake bakery mystery Sugar and Iced.  As for the story line, well, here’s a sample: Despite their beauty pageant misgivings, bakers Melanie Cooper and Angie DeLaura can’t help but support a skateboard riding, punk rock loving teen named Lupe Guzman, who is in it for the scholarship.  When Mariel Mars, a snarky judge of the competition is found dead, the beauty pageant turns ugly as Lupe, who Mariel had been decidedly cruel to, is named the chief suspect.  It is up to Mel and Angie to find out who did it, before Lupe's stroll down the catwalk turns into a run from the slammer. 

     A mystery with cupcakes!  See? Sometimes you can have your cake and eat it, too.

Book Information:

Sugar and Iced (Cupcake Bakery Mystery - Book 6) by Jenn McKinlay

Publication Date: 04/01/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Prime Crime
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 304
ISBN-10: 0425258920
ISBN-13: 978-0425258927

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Indiebound

Jenn McKinlay on the WEB: websitetwitter, facebook, goodreads

Books in the series

Cupcake Bakery Mystery

1. Sprinkle with Murder
2. Buttercream Bump Off
3. Death by the Dozen
4. Red Velvet Revenge
5. Going, Going, Ganache
6. Sugar and Iced

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

Excerpt from, Sugar and Iced, courtesy of the author's website.


Sugar and spice and murderous vice.
That’s what pageants are made of…

Normally Melanie Cooper and Angie DeLaura wouldn’t be caught dead at a beauty pageant, but when Mel’s mom asks them to provide cupcakes for the seventy-fifth annual Sweet Tiara contest as a favor for her best friend, they can’t say no. Plus, between cooking up a daily display for the three-day event and sponsoring a cupcake creation challenge for the participants, Fairy Tale Cupcakes will get great publicity.

But the world of pageants is even hotter than Mel’s kitchen. A high-strung judge and a pushy stage mom target Lupe, a young friend of Mel and Angie’s, at the competition and aim to take her out—by any means necessary. When the same judge shows up dead underneath Mel and Angie’s cupcake display, Lupe is crowned the lead suspect. Now Mel and Angie will have to find the real killer quickly or Lupe may be strutting the catwalk in prison pinstripes…


Jenn McKinlay returns to the Cupcake Bakery series with her latest book, Sugar and Iced. This title centers around the world of pageants and the lengths participants are willing to go to win. McKinlay brings back the duo of Mel and Angie from the Fairy Tale Cupcake shop and puts them right in the middle of the spectacle and elegance of the Sweet Tiara pageant. With cupcake displays, a cupcake creation contest, a dead judge and a contestant they once thought was a boy, this is going to be an exciting cozy read. Fans of the series will love the relationship drama of this one almost as much as the mystery.

What I liked:

With a Jenn McKinlay book I always know I am going to get my what I pay for. McKinlay can be counted on to provide a good mystery with an interesting theme every time. And her latest book is no different. I'll be the first to admit that I don't enjoy pageants. I think they are frivolous and promote the idea that the only way to succeed is through beauty. But I did like the pageant theme for this book. It was treated with a critical eye and showed the behind the scenes cut throat atmosphere and excessive desire to win. Some of those girls and the mothers can often be ridiculously caught up in winning and McKinlay certainly brings that out in this book. A great theme! 

Mel and Angie don't necessarily want to be involved in the Sweet Tiara pageant but it could provide a lot of publicity for the cupcake shop and maybe a little healing for Mel and her mother, so they take the job. There was a lot to their involvement in the pageant, from cupcake displays to a cupcake creation contest, which I thought was an ingenious idea. It provided a reason for them to get involved in the investigation when one of the nastiest judges in the competition ends up dead under one of their displays. I thought McKinlay did a great job of incorporating the overall theme of the series into the theme for this book. It was believable and entertaining.

I really enjoyed how McKinlay uses Lupe in this book. When readers first met her they along with the Fairy Tale cupcake gang thought she was boy for nearly six months. Now she is showing off of her rare beauty in this pageant in order to win a scholarship. I thought that was a great role reversal and making her the main suspect added another dimension to the story. I was glad to see her get a larger role in this book and thought the way things played out was perfect.

The relationship turmoil is certainly not over for Mel, even though she has called things off with Joe. She has three men pursuing her now, and even though that is a bit improbable, it is great fun to read about. I always enjoy the role Mel's family plays in each book and her relationships with them are not easy either. I like that aspect of this series a lot, family dynamics create a fun avenue to explore. The fate of the cupcake shop may be up in the air, but not at as much as Mel's love life.

What I didn't like:

Not much to report here. This is another well crafted Jenn McKinlay novel that will keep readers guessing not only about who the killer is but about where the series will go next. I love going back to the Fairy Tale cupcake shop at every chance I get. A great overall series.

Bottom Line:

You definitely want to give this one a try. The Cupcake Bakery mystery series is one my favorites by this author and I think you couldn't go wrong with reading Sugar and Iced. Also try out some of those fantastic recipes in the back. Yummy!

Sugar and Iced is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

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

About the Author:

Jenn McKinlay has baked and frosted cupcakes into the shapes of cats, mice, and outer space aliens, to name just a few. Writing a mystery series based on one of her favorite food groups (dessert) is as enjoyable as licking the beaters, and she can’t wait to whip up the next one. She is the author of the Cupcake Bakery Mysteries, including Going, Going, Ganache, Red Velvet Revenge, Death by the Dozen, Buttercream Bump Off andSprinkle With Murder, the Hat Shop Mysteries, including Cloche and Dagger and Death of A Mad Hatter, and the Library Lover’s Mysteries, including Read It and Weep, Book, Line, and Sinker, Due or Die, and Books Can Be Deceiving. She lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, with her family.

Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Sugar and Iced by Jenn McKinlay.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, April 17th.

1. Please leave a comment with your favorite cupcake. Recipes would be great!
2. Please fill out the FORM.


traveler said...

Lemon cupcakes are my favorite. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Linda Kish said...

Plain and simple...white cupcakes
with butter cream frosting.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Charlotte said...

Humming Bird with Cream Cheese icing.

Karen B said...

White with fudge frosting!

Nancy said...

This book sounds just delicious. My favorite cupcake used to be cream filled chocolate. Now that I have to really watch my sugar, not so many cupcakes.

Linda said...

Red velvet cupcakes!

Tennisace50 at yahoo dot com

Angela - Bookaunt said...

I would say chocolate would be my favorite cupcake.

Bonnie said...

I love lemon cupcakes with a light whipped cream frosting on a warm summer day.

Barbara T. said...

Devils food with the white icing my mother made.

Carol N Wong said...

Poppyseed cupcakes are my favorite!


Rita Wray said...

Chocolate with chocolate frosting, yummy.


skkorman said...

I like devil's food cupcake with chocolate frosting!

skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

Unknown said...

My favorite cupcake is chocolate or devil's food with chocolate or fudge icing. It has to be chocolate!


holdenj said...

I love yellow cupcakes with chocolate frosting!

Dotty Kelley said...

Chocolate cupcakes with buttercream frosting... and jimmies.

Sue Farrell said...

I love dreamsickle cupcakes--orange-cream flavored.

Melody said...

My daughter in law made a chocolate cupcake with a peanut butter filling with a caramel frosting. Absolutely fantastic.

Janet said...

Orange Marmalade Ricotta Cupcakes -- amazingly light and airy and so yummy

Eileen AW said...

Any kind of chocolate cupcake is my favorite. Although I had some delicious carrot cake cupcakes recently.

Stacey said...

Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate!

bn100 said...

all chocolate

Moongrrlie said...

I either love chocolate, with chocolate icing, or German chocolate cupcake. Yummy! Anything in cupcake form tastes better than regular, lol.

Brooke Showalter said...

I love chocolate cupcakes with vanilla bean frosting. Mmmm!

cyn209 said...

there's a new cupcake place on the way to work & they sell these mad-crazy combinations of flavors!!!
my favorite one, so far, is the Green Tea cupcake with blueberry filling!!!

Unknown said...

I love Salted Caramel cupcakes. :)

Carol M said...

I also love chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting!

Natasha said...

I love vanilla cupcakes with buttercream icing.
Thanks for the chance to win!

Monika E. said...

chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting! Mmmmm

Anita Yancey said...

My favorite is white cupcakes with buttercream frosting.


Unknown said...

dark chocolate cupcakes with dark chocolate frosting