Posts made in February, 2020

Book Blog: The Body Under the Piano (Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen #1) by Marthe Jocelyn

Posted by on Feb 7, 2020 in Blog, book blog | Comments Off on Book Blog: The Body Under the Piano (Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen #1) by Marthe Jocelyn

I review everything I read and post reviews on Goodreads and LibraryThing. That’s not enough. Good books are meant to be shared. Therefore, I’m spotlighting some of my favorite reads here on my site.

body under the piano

The Body Under the Piano (Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen #1) by Marthe Jocelyn
out now; Indiebound, B&N, and Amazon

I received an advance copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley.

I need a time machine so I can go back to 1990 to hand my 10-year-old self this book. Almost-40-year-old me ADORED this novel, and I know my 10-year-old self would love it even more. Why? Because the book is smart, savvy historical fiction with an honest depiction of the era, and a heroine with a morbid bent that reminds me lot of myself–though Aggie is actually inspired by the childhood of the Queen of Mystery Writers herself, Agatha Christie.

Aggie is a young girl in 1902, growing up in a small British coastal town. She has a wild imagination and a taste for the macabre, and she can’t help but get involved when her music teacher’s cruel mother is found dead–dead of poison! Aggie and her friend Hector set out to investigate. Their methods are smart, but they also cause a lot of problems along the way, especially when a meddlesome local reporter gets tangled up in everything.

The characters are fantastic and fun, just as you expect in a cozy British mystery village; plus, they have fun portraits at the front of the book. One of the things I loved most was the honest depiction of the past. It was not sugar-coated. The book deftly addresses bigotry (Hector is a “foreigner,” a Belgian refugee inspired by Hercule Poirot), sexism (girls can’t/shouldn’t do many things), and the complications that arise in this period from a child born out of wedlock. The book feels quite cozy with its fun mystery and whimsical characters, but also grounded in realism because of how these other issues are handled. The balance is so well done.

I highly recommend this book for kids and their parents. If the child isn’t already into classic whodunits, this novel could very well be what kicks off a life-long love of the genre.

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Bready or Not: Sable Breton (French Shortbread)

Posted by on Feb 5, 2020 in Blog, Bready or Not, cookies, French | Comments Off on Bready or Not: Sable Breton (French Shortbread)

Last month I shared my recipe for Almond Sable. This time I present another French (from Brittany, to be specific) take on shortbread: Sable Breton!

Bready or Not: Sable Breton (French Shortbread)

These cookies are much more straightforward than the previous recipe. The ingredients are shortbread basics: butter, sugar, flour.

Bready or Not: Sable Breton (French Shortbread)

What sets this apart is, foremost, that it is not as sweet as its counterparts across the channel.

Bready or Not: Sable Breton (French Shortbread)

I also recommend that you use a kitchen scale to get that European-style precision–along with actual French butter. President-brand is expensive but widely available, even where I am in Arizona.

Bready or Not: Sable Breton (French Shortbread)

These cookies are downright pretty, too, with a crosshatched pattern and an egg yolk wash. They are perfect alongside a cup of coffee or tea!

Bready or Not: Sable Breton (French Shortbread)

Modified from the original at Mon Petit Four.

Bready or Not: Sable Breton (French Shortbread)

Bready or Not: Sable Breton (French Shortbread)

This French version of shortbread cookies is gorgeous to behold, and delicious to eat. Measurements are provided in grams as well as standard American measurements; a food scale is helpful here for precise measurements. Use salted French-import President butter, if possible; one stick is 198 grams, meaning a smidgen more of another butter will provide the perfect amount--plus, the end taste will be more like the French original! If making with unsalted butter, add 1/2 teaspoon salt to compensate. Recipe makes about 22 cookies.
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: French
Keyword: cookies, french
Author: Beth Cato


  • parchment paper
  • small cookie cutter
  • food scale


  • 200 grams salted butter 1/2 cup plus 5 Tablespoons, President butter recommended
  • 120 grams white sugar 1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon
  • 3 egg yolks divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 280 grams all-purpose flour 2 cups plus 2 Tablespoons, plus more if needed to dust work surface


  • Preheat oven at 375-degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or use a silicone mat.
  • Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add two egg yolks and vanilla extract. Add flour until just incorporated.
  • Lightly flour work surface and hands. Using rolling pin or hands, press dough to about 1/4-inch thickness.
  • Use a small round cookie cutter on dough. Transfer rounds to cookie sheet, spaced out a bit. Use a fork to scratch a crosshatch pattern in the top, like a hashtag with more lines.
  • Beat remaining egg yolk in a small bowl. Brush tops of cookies with yolk.
  • Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until cookies are a consistent golden color. Transfer to a rack to completely cool.
  • Store in a sealed container.
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