It's almost that time of year again. The leaves are turning and your book club might be thinking about ghosts and things that go bump in the night! So today I'm offering THE GHOST AND MRS. MEWER, which takes place at Halloween. That's right! I'm giving away a copy to one person who leaves a comment below.
A team of ghost hunters arrive in Wagtail to investigate the local ghost stories for a TV show. They're particularly interested in a legend that centers around a deserted hotel. But to keep things honest, a ghost debunker is part of the show to expose any fast tricks they might pull.
I have to tell you that researching this story was fascinating. I come from a no nonsense family that absolutely did not believe in ghosts. That is, not until my father died. Every single one of us saw or heard him after his death. So it was particularly interesting to me to delve into fact versus fiction. By including a ghost debunker in the story, I was able to explore both sides of the question do ghosts exist?
I'm including some book club questions here to get the conversation started. I think questions one and two could fill the entire evening and result in some fascinating stories.
1. Do you believe in ghosts?
2. Have you ever seen, heard, or felt a ghost?
3. Have you ever taken part in a fake haunted house as a guest or a ghost?
4. Did Eva Chevalier expose some ghost hunting tricks you didn't know about?
5. How did you feel about Eva and her personal problems?
6. Do you have a cat? Would your cat have acted like Mrs. Mewer?
7. What was the spookiest moment in the book for you?
8. How did you feel about Mallory? Did your opinion change as you learned about her past?
9. Did you know who the killer was? Who did you suspect?
10. It has to be asked. What's your favorite Halloween treat?
It goes without saying that you're going to serve something at your book club meeting, so today I'm offering pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. These were so yummy that they started disappearing before I even frosted them. So if you're in a pinch, you can just dust some powdered sugar over them and they'll still be delish. But if my friend Betsy is coming, you'd better make the frosting. She claims "the cake is just there to hold the frosting." I bet some of you think so, too.
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspooon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of cloves
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup regular sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 and place cupcake papers in the pan.
Mix together the first seven ingredients in a bowl and mix well with a fork. Set aside.
Cream the butter with the sugars. Add the egg and beat well. Add the vanilla and pumpkin and beat. Slowly beat in the flour mixture until smooth. The batter will be thick.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, filling each well about 3/4 full. (I spoon some into each well, then go back and top them all off.)
Bake 16 minutes. (The number one complaint about cupcakes is that they're dry. Don't over-bake!)
Cool on a rack. Eat plain (at brunch, maybe?), dust with powdered sugar, or top with cream cheese frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, softened
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar
Beat the butter with the cream cheese. Add the vanilla and beat. Add the sugar 1/2 cup at a time, beating in between.