Friday, June 5, 2015

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "The Rhyme of the Magpie" by Marty Wingate, Served with a Chocolate & Brie "Toastie" (+ an eBook/eGift Card Giveaway!)

"One for sorrow, two for joy;
Three for a girl, four for a boy;
Five for silver, six for gold;
Seven for a secret, never to be told;
Eight for a wish, nine for a kiss;
Ten for a bird that's best to miss."

A traditional children's nursery rhyme about magpies, where the number of birds spied, tells the future and the type of luck--good or bad--that someone will have. For Julia Lanchester's family, the rhyme has proven accurate--at least when predicting the gender of her sister's children. When Julia's father, a beloved nature television celebrity, goes missing, her magpie sightings take on a more ominous note as she tries to find him and solve a murder on the family's property. 

Today's TLC Book Tour stop brings us The Rhyme of the Magpie, the first book in the "Birds of a Feather Mystery" series by Marty Wingate. Accompanying my review of the book is a recipe for a Chocolate and Brie "Toastie" (grilled cheese sandwich), and at the bottom of the post, you'll have a chance to enter a drawing for an eBook copy of The Rhyme of the Magpie, plus an eGift Card for the eBook retailer of your choice.

Publisher's Blurb:

For readers of Laura Childs, Ellery Adams, and Jenn McKinlay, the high-flying new Birds of a Feather mystery series from Marty Wingate begins as a British woman gets caught up in a dangerous plot when her celebrity father disappears.

With her personal life in disarray, Julia Lanchester feels she has no option but to quit her job on her father’s hit BBC Two nature show, A Bird in the Hand. Accepting a tourist management position in Smeaton-under-Lyme, a quaint village in the English countryside, Julia throws herself into her new life, delighting sightseers (and a local member of the gentry) with tales of ancient Romans and pillaging Vikings.

But the past is front and center when her father, Rupert, tracks her down in a moment of desperation. Julia refuses to hear him out; his quick remarriage after her mother’s death was one of the reasons Julia flew the coop. But later she gets a distressed call from her new stepmum: Rupert has gone missing. Julia decides to investigate—she owes him that much, at least—and her father’s new assistant, the infuriatingly dapper Michael Sedgwick, offers to help. Little does the unlikely pair realize that awaiting them is a tightly woven nest of lies and murder.

Published by: Alibi  (June 02, 2015)
eBook: Pages: 224

My Review:

Having enjoyed the author's other cozy mystery series set in the world of gardening, the Potting Shed Mysteries, I was happy to try out her new series. Julia, our heroine, is likable and it is easy to relate to her desire to escape her circumstances and change her life. When Rupert Lanchester, her well-known father, remarries six months after her mother's untimely death (and he marries her mother's best friend to boot), it is a major blow for Julia. Having a hard time understanding how he could betray her mother's memory, she angrily leaves her job as his personal assistant and associate producer of his nature show. Licking her wounds and focusing on her new career of promoting tourism in quaint Smeaton-under-Lyme, she wants nothing to do with her father when he pops up at her rental cottage. When Rupert later turns up missing and a body of someone he recently argued with shows up at the family cabin, Julia's guilt pushes her to try to find her father and clear his name. She finds herself joined by her replacement, Rupert's new assistant Michael, and although she doesn't quite trust him, she finds herself soon falling for him. 

Like my plant and garden knowledge, my knowledge of birds is limited, but it doesn't matter in WIngate's books as she does a great job of weaving in information about her subjects in a way that is interesting and fun to read. I want to visit Smeaton-under-Lyme--it sounds like the perfect English estate and village so I hope that it is explored more in future books in this series. Julia and Michael have good chemistry, and the supporting characters--especially Rubert, Julia's boss, Lord "Call me Linus" Fotheringill, and her assistant and supportive friend Vesta, are all engaging. It's a cozy mystery, so nothing too taxing here, but Wingate throws in a few plot twists and turns. A great curl-up-with-a-cuppa book, and a fun start to a new series.    

Author Notes: Marty Wingate is the author of The Garden Plot and The Red Book of Primrose House, and a regular contributor to Country Gardens as well as other magazines. She also leads gardening tours throughout England, Scotland, Ireland, France, and North America. More Birds of a Feather mysteries are planned.

There is some food in The Rhyme of the Magpie, although it isn't central. It seems like Julia was often grabbing sandwiches; packaged to go, tea sandwiches, and sometimes cheese toasties (the UK equivalent to grilled cheese). Plenty of tea and biscuits were consumed. (Julia prefers the "too ordinary" malted milk and her boss likes bourbon creams.) Nuala's Tea Room in the village serves a variety of cakes, scones and puddings--Dundee cake, Battenberg, sticky toffee pudding, blackberry sponge, and Julia's favorite, a  chocolate layer cake with thick frosting. Julia and Michael enjoy a fish dinner (sole and mackerel respectively) with goat cheese salads with balsamic dressing. She later cooks a dinner of steak, jacket potatoes and salad for him and he brings her a box of Belgian chocolates for dessert. 

For my book-inspired dish, I decided to combine Julia's fondness for chocolate with the toasties and make a grilled cheese sandwich with chocolate and Brie. The bread is a seeded whole grain in a nod to the many feathered friends featured in the book. You could enjoy this toastie as a snack, dessert or even a quick breakfast.

Chocolate & Brie Toastie
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 1)

2 slices sandwich bread of choice
2 oz Brie, sliced thinly
2 oz dark chocolate of choice, chopped into small pieces

Lightly butter both sides of the bread slices and place brie on cheese on 1 slice of the bread. Scatter the pieces of dark chocolate on top of the cheese and top with the remaining slice of bread. Place sandwich in a heated grill pan or panini grill and toast until bread is toasted and chocolate and cheese are melty. 

Serve immediately and enjoy!

Notes/Results: Creamy brie, dark chocolate oozing out of toasty buttery bread, it's a sandwich... it's dessert... it's just kind of wonderful. The slight bitterness of the dark chocolate cuts through the creaminess of the brie really well, so use dark chocolate or at least bittersweet for this one. I thought the sandwich paired nicely with salt and pepper chips (or crisps if we are sticking with the British theme), or try a fruit salad or green salad to contrast. I would make this again. 

Note: A review copy of "The Rhyme of the Magpie" was provided to me by the publisher and TLC Book Tours in return for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review and as always my thoughts and opinions are my own.

You can see the stops for the rest of this Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.


This TLC Book Tour includes a Rafflecopter giveaway for an eBook copy of The Rhyme of the Magpie, as well as and an eGift Card to the eBook retailer of your choice! You can enter below for your chances to win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good Luck! 



  1. I don't know a lot about birds either so I appreciate having that info woven unobtrusively into an entertaining story.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!

  2. The Brie and chcolate toaster have my attention, then I just keep thinking about Brie. Ok, off to buy some Brie. Like the sound of this book too!

  3. Gluten Free A-Z BlogJune 9, 2015 at 5:12 AM

    The Brie and Chocolate sandwich is so simple but yet so rich and delicious! The book sounds interesting too.


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