TOUR: Ladle to the Grave, by Connie Archer (guest post, review, & giveaway!)

February 26, 2015 Blog Tours, Book Reviews 122 ★★★★

TOUR: Ladle to the Grave, by Connie Archer (guest post, review, & giveaway!)

TOUR: Ladle to the Grave, by Connie Archer (guest post, review, & giveaway!)Ladle to the Grave by Connie Archer
Series: Soup Lover's Mystery #4
Published by Berkley on 3/3/15
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Format: eARC
Add to Goodreads

Also in this series: A Clue in the Stew
Also by this author: A Clue in the Stew

By the Spoonful is Snowflake, Vermont’s most popular soup shop, but owner Lucky Jamieson doesn’t have any time to enjoy her success—she’s too busy trying to keep a lid on false accusations against her loved ones…

It’s almost May, and some of the local ladies have organized a pagan celebration in the woods to welcome spring. But the evening goes terribly wrong when one of the attendees winds up dead, apparently poisoned by an herbal concoction prepared by Lucky’s grandfather, Jack.

Lucky’s sure her grandfather could not have made such a tragic mistake. But before she can clear him of suspicion, her best friend, Sophie, is diverted from planning her wedding to By the Spoonful chef Sage DuBois when she finds a dead man floating in the creek on her property. Now it’s up to Lucky to get both Sophie and Jack out of hot water before a killer stirs up more trouble…

I received a review copy of this book from .

I’m excited to have Connie Archer here today to talk about the setting of her Soup Lover’s Mysteries. Her newest book, Ladle to the Grave, comes out on Tuesday. Be sure you read to the bottom of the post – we’re giving away a paperback copy of the book!

Why Vermont?

A Guest Post by Connie Archer

I’ve been asked several times, why the Soup Lover’s Mystery series is set in Vermont. Well, there are lots of reasons, but the first thing that comes to mind is that it’s the perfect place for a village mystery. I grew up in New England and I can’t imagine a better location than Vermont, the most bucolic of all the New England states.


Vermont’s population numbers only 626,630, half the population of Rhode Island, the tiniest state in the union. It’s possible to drive the length of the state and encounter only a few cars on the highway. There are mountains, lakes, trees, barns, farms and quaint towns dotted everywhere. And even though my fictional Snowflake has a tiny population — only 950 souls – there are plenty of plots, adventures and stories to be told there.

But there’s an even deeper reason I think. Vermont represents something more elusive in our national consciousness, something much harder to pin down. And perhaps the best way to experience that fleeting something is to listen to some of the music that’s been written about that state.

The official state song, These Green Mountains, describes Vermont perfectly.

These green hills and silver waters are my home.
They belong to me.

*          *          *

May they be strong and forever free . . .

And of course there’s the song Snow, sung in White Christmas.

Those glistening houses that seem to be built of snow,
Oh, to see a mountain covered with a quilt of snow
What is Christmas with no snow . . .

And then there are the historic songs of Vermont like the Ballad of the Green Mountain Boys, a Revolutionary War song.

. . .  Vermonters, come down
With your britches of deerskin and jackets of brown
With your red woolen caps and your moccasins come
To the gathering summons of trumpet and drum.

*          *          *

We owe no allegiance, we bow to no throne,
Our ruler is law and the law is our own;
In the name of Vermont we defy all the world! . . .


But the song that tugs at my heart most of all is Moonlight in Vermont, a song reprised by more artists than I could possibly list here — from Jo Stafford to Tony Bennett to Willy Nelson. Moonlight in Vermont, [] is truly the unofficial state song. Not only doesn’t it rhyme, it’s written in a series of haikus, a Japanese literary tradition of seventeen syllable verses. Interesting, no?

Pennies in a stream
Fallen leaves of sycamore
Moonlight in Vermont

*          *          *

Evening summer breeze
Warbling of a meadow lark
Moonlight in Vermont

*          *          *

You and I and moonlight in Vermont.

But a really special favorite of mine is These Green Mountains played on a theremin. If you’re not familiar with a theremin, it’s an early electronic instrument controlled by the performer’s hands, and was often used to create scary sounds in horror films.

Just have a listen:

How could I not set my fictional village of Snowflake in a state like Vermont?


Fictional village of Snowflake, Vermont



Ladle to the Grave is a solidly-written, genuinely puzzling cozy mystery with a thoroughly likable and intelligent protagonist. Lucky Jamieson owns and runs a soup restaurant; she’s engaged to the doctor who runs the town’s clinic, and her grandfather’s best friend is the police chief, which gives her access to more information than most amateur detectives. (Though I usually balk at the police sharing information with civilians, in this series I buy it, both because the town is so small and because of the personal relationship between Lucky and the chief.) Lucky is pretty level-headed, very loyal to her friends, fiercely protective of her grandfather, and naturally curious but not usually foolhardy – a good combination.

Snowflake, Vermont, the book’s small-town setting, is populated by interesting yet realistic characters – by which I mean that they are the sort of people you might meet in any town, rather than the exaggerated eccentrics that proliferate in some cozy mystery series. Sophie, Lucky’s friend, plays a large role in this book, because one of the mysteries involves her at least peripherally. Lucky’s grandfather is involved in the other death – a possible accidental poisoning – and the stress is stirring up his PTSD. As protective as Leslie is, it’s no surprise that she tries to clear his name.

I really enjoyed how the mystery unfolded and the various twists that Connie Archer threw in. The solution to one death felt just a tad convenient, though it certainly came as a surprise – I honestly didn’t see it coming. The other I had begun to suspect, but not until well into the book (and I didn’t get it exactly right even then.) It’s always fun when the author can surprise me, because I’m usually pretty good at spotting the villain.

This is the fourth book in the series, and the second I’ve read, but you don’t have to read the first ones to appreciate Ladle to the Grave. The recurring characters’ lives and relationships do develop as the series goes on, but Archer does a good job of catching new readers up on the essentials without boring those who’ve already spent time in Snowflake. That said, if you enjoy reading a cozy series from start to finish, go for it! (You can find the whole series listed on Goodreads.) And be sure to check out the recipes at the end of the book – they sound delicious.


Thanks to the publisher, we’re giving away a paperback copy of Ladle to the Grave. (The contest is open to US residents only – I’m sorry! I gather it has to do with shipping.) Just enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Please make sure Rafflecopter has your current email address, or I won’t be able to contact you!
There’s also a giveaway for a $50 gift certificate at the main tour page – and you can check out the other tour stops there, as well!



Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • COYER Winter 2014-2015
  • Cruisin' Thru the Cozies 2015

122 Responses to “TOUR: Ladle to the Grave, by Connie Archer (guest post, review, & giveaway!)”

  1. Bea

    The people sound interesting and fully developed, which I appreciate. And of course, I like the New England setting! 😀

      • Lark_Bookwyrm

        Connie, thank you so much for the guest post and also for stopping by and answering all these comments! I know it means a lot to the posters.

        I’m sorry your replies were stuck waiting for approval so long – I wasn’t able to get on to moderate for most of the day and evening. Everything should be good to go now, though, and your comments will post immediately from now on.

        And can I just say that I’m looking forward to the next book already? 🙂

  2. ellie

    The setting is wonderful, the characters interesting and soup is a big hit with me. Thanks for this great feature and delightful giveaway.

  3. Patricia

    Moonlight in Vermont is a beautiful song. I enjoyed the post and thanks for the giveaway!

  4. Sandy Todd

    I have yet to start reading this series, but, I’ve read so many good reviews that I’m going to take their advice and get on the “soup train”! Thanks for the interview and review as well as the give-a-way.

    • Sandy Todd

      Oh oh oh! I also want to add that the setting in Vermont is special for me because a trip there to see the covered bridges and the change of colors in the fall is on my bucket list.

      • Lark_Bookwyrm

        I’ve never seen the fall colors, but besides a few summers spent there as a child, we spent a few days in Vermont in summer 2010, visiting things like Ben & Jerry’s and the von Trapp family resort and Cabot Creamery.

  5. Shannon M.

    I love the location of the series. I grew up in the Northeast and learned to ski in Vermont and New Hampshire. The local towns there are fantastic and have incredibly friendly people.

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      It’s a wonderful area, isn’t it? I’d forgotten I did get to ski there one winter – just for a few days, in high school. Mostly I visited in summer.

    • Connie Archer

      Hi Shannon ~ thanks for visiting! I agree, all the towns and villages are so quaint. Such a far cry from the big city! Good luck in the giveaway!
      Connie Archer recently posted…Hearing VoicesMy Profile

  6. Sheila K.

    I’ve read previous books by this author and enjoyed them very much—I’m looking forward to reading her latest work!

  7. Joanne Kocourek

    From the description I’d love to take a tour of Vermont! It is one of the States our family hasn’t visited.

  8. Robin L. Coxon

    Of course the setting is inviting but it’s the people in the book that sell it. This combined with soup recipes is like getting two books in one.

  9. Sue Farrell

    I like the idea that this book is set in Vermont, a place a would REALLY like to visit.

  10. holdenj

    What a great guest post. I’ve never been to Vermont, but I think it definitely makes me think of small towns or villages. Looking forward to the new book! Thanks!

    • Connie Archer

      Even the largest city in Vermont — Burlington — is tiny compared to other places. It sits on the shore of Lake Champlain and is absolutely charming. And, yes, Vermont is full of quaint little towns and villages. I hope you get to visit the imaginary village of Snowflake soon! Good luck!
      Connie Archer recently posted…Hearing VoicesMy Profile

  11. Karen Hansen

    The book sounds great for the people, the food and the scenery. I think I’ll really enjoy it.

  12. Linda Murray

    I have traveled all over Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine taking pictures of covered bridges, old barns and lighthouses for my art work and I loved it all, especially Vermont!

    • Connie Archer

      Hi Linda ~ New England has amazing scenery, but I think Vermont’s is the best. You can almost forget you’re in the 21st century! And I love lighthouses too! There’s something very romantic and haunting about them
      Connie Archer recently posted…Hearing VoicesMy Profile

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      Linda, do you have a website where we could see your artwork? I love the architecture of New England and would really enjoy seeing it!

      • Linda Murray

        I wish I did but all of my work has been sold over the years and I haven’t done any recently. I have been dealing with medical issues and am just now starting to get back into it. Some of the Christmas paintings we did are posted on my Facebook page by a few of the people who still have some of my older work. We did a little bit of everything for collectors – customized wood burnings, paintings, customized Christmas bulbs, and painting on old saws – anything someone wanted painted on. Since we often did work for collectors we spent a lot of time in the town archives in NH, Vermont and Maine so we would be historically correct and I absolutely loved it!

  13. Barb Wiesmann

    Hi Connie! My husband and I recently stopped in Barre, Vt, at the nicest soup and salad restaurant. Of course, I immediately thought of you and your series.

  14. Linda Kuzminczuk

    i love the idea of reading a mystery and maybe gaining a great soup recipe at the same time. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity.

    • Connie Archer

      You’re very welcome, Linda ~ and thanks for visiting today! There are usually least three soup recipes in each book, and either a special salad or sandwich recipe too. I’m not the world’s greatest baker, but I posted an easy cookie recipe in my Christmas newsletter — Death by Chocolate. You can sign up for my newsletter on my website to catch more recipes in the future if you like. Good luck today!
      Connie Archer recently posted…Hearing VoicesMy Profile

  15. Sue C

    The setting. Its nice to read about areas near where you live.

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      It’s fun when books are set near where you live, or at least in places you’ve been to. There’s the delight of recognition along with the usual enjoyment of a good book.

  16. Debbie Price

    Thanks you so much for this giveaway! I love reading new books and finding new series!