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Friday, June 7, 2013

Still Life in Brunswick Stew by Larissa Reinhart (Author Interview / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Still Life in Brunswick Stew by author Larissa Reinhart!

Author Interview

Welcome to Jersey Girl Book Reviews, Larissa!

Before we get to the interview, can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself.

Thanks so much for having me on. I love your blog and was so excited to learn I could be a guest. You’ve had on some of my favorite authors!

I’m a Midwestern small town girl who’s lived in big and exotic cities, but now live in a middle-sized town in Georgia. My husband and I have two beautiful daughters, ages seven and ten, adopted from China. We also have Biscuit, our “little dog, too” Cairn Terrier, two frogs, and two fish (I am forced to mention the frogs and fish). My life is writing, room mom stuff, and other mom stuff. We’ve been lucky to live in Japan three times and given the chance we would live overseas again, although we love living in Georgia.

How long have you been a writer?

I remember writing lists of words around age 4, then started putting the words in a story structure around first grade. By second grade, I created magazines and sold them to my neighbors. I won a national writing award in fourth or fifth grade and in high school, I had a column with our local paper. Then I went to college, discovered boys, and after graduation, didn’t write again until my children went to school full time. This was four years ago. Just kidding, but sort of not.

Do you have a day job, or is being an author your career?

I admire anybody who works full time and is a published author. I’m a stay-at-home mom and still have trouble finding time to get everything done. I used to teach high school history and was always too exhausted to do anything creative when I got home from school.

What inspired you to become a writer? Describe your journey as a writer.

I read a lot and have always had stories running through my head. That’s how I entertain myself. However, I never thought my stories were good enough to put down on paper. I did well in my creative writing classes in high school and college, but what I wanted to write was not what I wrote. It took me 20 years to get over “I’m not going to be Hemmingway” and begin to think “but you can still be entertaining.” When I started my first manuscript I was blessed to find myself in a space/time continuum of living-in-a-foreign-country-without-other-commitments and children-in-school which let me dive into a manuscript without fear.

Please give a brief description/storyline about Still Life in Brunswick Stew.

Cherry Tucker’s in a stew. Art commissions dried up after her nemesis became president of the County Arts Council. Desperate and broke, Cherry and her friend, Eloise, spend a sultry summer weekend hawking their art at the Sidewinder Annual Brunswick Stew Cook-Off. When a bad case of food poisoning breaks out and Eloise dies, the police brush off her death as accidental. However, Cherry suspects someone spiked the stew and killed her friend. As Cherry calls on cook-off competitors, bitter rivals, and crooked judges, her cop boyfriend get steamed while the killer prepares to cook Cherry’s goose.

What was the inspiration for this story?

When living in Japan in the late nineties, there was a HUGE story about someone who poisoned all these people with curry at a festival. There are not many murders in Japan, so any crime story gets a lot of national attention. I found the story fascinating and decided to do my own twist on it. I also found a similar poisoning case that happened about ten years ago in New Sweden, Maine.

How did it feel to have your first book published?

It felt unreal, not something I could wrap my mind around. I still feel like that!

Do you write books for a specific genre?

No, I’m horrible at figuring out genre! Actually, I originally thought my first Cherry Tucker book, PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY, was a romance. My editor told me it was a mystery.

What genres are your favorite(s)? What are some of your favorite books that you have read and why?

I do read a lot of mysteries and romance. I also like quirky fiction, suspense, and classics. I love Janet Evanovich, Nancy Martin, Stephanie Bond, Meg Cabot, Martha Grimes, Ngaio Marsh, Jasper Fforde, Gregory Maguire, Ian Fleming...I have to stop because I’m just listing off the top of my head and I could take up pages. Mary Stuart, Barbara Michaels, and Agatha Christie are my favorites, though.

Do you have a special "spot/area" where you like to do your writing?

I have a lap top so I travel around the house and where I land depends if the weather is warm or cold. We have the worst insulation. I’ve tried to write in coffee shops, but I’m too easily distracted.

How do you come up with the ideas that become the storyline for your books?

Usually the idea just pops into my head unbidden, prompted by something odd. I wrote a romantic suspense about a half-gypsy fortuneteller after passing a fortunetelling cottage in the West Virginian mountains and having a “what if” moment. What would happen if a fortune teller couldn’t see your future but could see your past?

When you write, do you adhere to a strict work schedule, or do you work whenever the inspiration strikes?

I can’t afford to have inspiration strike me and when it does strike me, I’m usually in the middle of something else like a shower! So, I have to do the sit-my-behind-in-the-chair method.

What aspects of storytelling do you like the best, and what aspects do you struggle with the most?

Dialogue is easiest for me, description is harder and takes more time. The hardest for me is clothing. Cherry Tucker wears unique, self-embellished clothing. I have to go back and insert those wardrobe changes after the story is written. Everyone else is similarly nude until my second draft stage. I’m not a fashionista and it tends to show in my writing!

What are your favorite things to do when you are not writing?

My family and I love to travel. It can be a local festival or an overseas destination, we love to explore new places.

What is/was the best piece of writing advice that you have received?

My favorite writing book is Stephen King’s ON WRITING. He talked about taking characters, putting them into a terrible situation, and letting them try to get it out of it themselves (better worded by him). That’s what I try to achieve when I write.

What is the most gratifying thing you feel or get as a writer?

When the words flow so fast I feel like I’m a medium for the characters. That’s an incredible feeling. However, having a fan take time to send me an email or chat with me on Facebook just makes my day. I have a special mailbox folder for those emails called “Brighten Your Day Emails.”

How do you usually communicate with your readers/fans?

They can check my website at for news and events (I also have a newsletter), but I’m always present on Facebook (maybe too present). I have an author page ( and they can also search for my Larissa Reinhart Facebook profile which tends to be more personal. I’m on Twitter some (@RisWrites), Pinterest(@LarissaReinhart and @CherryTucker1), and Goodreads. Occasionally a reader will send me an email, which is thrilling. I love hearing from readers.

Is there anything in your book based on real life experiences or are they purely all from your imagination?

I grew up in a small town and my grandparents had a farm, so I can intuit the dynamics of Halo and the surrounding towns in Forks County. I’ve studied art and art history, so that helps me write from Cherry’s perspective. Most of what happens is from my imagination, though.

What authors have been your inspiration or influenced you to become a writer?

I have read a lot in a variety of genres and authors, so I think that provides the best foundation. I don’t know if any particular author influenced or inspired me to write, but I do know without reading great authors, I never would have learned to write.

What is your definition of success as a writer?

It changes all the time! Four years ago it would have been completing my first manuscript. Then writing another full manuscript. Then I finaled for a big contest (the Daphne), which was thrilling. Then publication. Now I’ve got three books coming out this year. I’d love to make some big lists some year, but right now I’m content to try to get as many of these stories in my head on paper and hopefully have them published.

Are you currently writing a new book? If yes, would you care to share a bit of it with us?

I just finished writing Cherry Tucker’s third mystery, HIJACK IN ABSTRACT, and a prequel novella for the anthology, THE HEARTACHE MOTEL. The prequel takes place just before Cherry and Todd arrive in Vegas for Todd’s ill-fated poker tournament and their subsequent wedding/annulment. The anthology has three mysteries that takes place in Memphis at the Heartache, a dive motel rip-off of The Heartbreak Hotel. LynDee Walker, Terri L. Austin, and I had a ball writing together. HIJACK comes out in November and THE HEARTACHE MOTEL launches in December. This summer I will be working on Cherry’s fourth mystery and a non-Cherry romantic comedy called PROM NIGHT.

Thank you for visiting Jersey Girl Book Reviews, Larissa! 

About The Author

Larissa Reinhart loves small town characters, particularly sassy women with a penchant for trouble. STILL LIFE IN BRUNSWICK STEW (May 2013) is the second in the Cherry Tucker Mystery Series. The first, PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY, is a 2012 Daphne du Maurier finalist, a 2012 The Emily finalist, and a 2011 Dixie Kane Memorial winner. She lives near Atlanta with her minions and Cairn Terrier, Biscuit. Visit her website, her Facebook page, or find her chatting with the Little Read Hens on Facebook.

Still Life in Brunswick Stew by Larissa Reinhart ~ Virtual Book Tour Page: Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours

Book Review

Still Life in Brunswick Stew by Larissa Reinhart
Book 2: A Cherry Tucker Mystery Series
Publisher: Henery Press
Publication Date: May 17, 2013
Format: Paperback - 288 pages / Kindle: 638 KB / Nook - 855 KB
ISBN: 1938383400
Genre: Cozy Mystery / Chick Lit / Women's Fiction

BUY THE BOOK: Still Life in Brunswick Stew

BUY THE SERIES: A Cherry Tucker Mystery Series
Book 1: Portrait of a Dead Guy
Book 2: Still Life in Brunswick Stew
Book 3: Hijack in Abstract - publication date in Nov 2013

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.

Book Description:

Cherry Tucker's in a stew. Art commissions dried up after her nemesis became president of the County Arts Council. Desperate and broke, Cherry and her friend, Eloise, spend a sultry summer weekend hawking their art at the Sidewinder Annual Brunswick Stew Cook-Off. When a bad case of food poisoning breaks out and Eloise dies, the police brush off her death as accidental. However, Cherry suspects someone spiked the stew and killed her friend. As Cherry calls on cook-off competitors, bitter rivals, and crooked judges, the police get steamed while the killer prepares to cook Cherry's goose.

Part of the Henery Press Mystery Series Collection, if you like one, you'll probably like them all! Still Life in Brunswick Stew is the second book in the Cherry Tucker humorous mystery series. Bonus: Includes book club discussion questions.

Book Excerpt:

Eloise begged me to participate in this cook-off turned art festival, which is why I’m spending my weekend slumped in a camp chair, drinking tea by the jug, and sweating up a storm. And not selling any paintings. People come to taste stew, eat pulled pork, and watch the rednecks churn up the Georgia clay with their four- by-fours. So when the guy hawking koi ponds in the booth opposite leaned into our tent to report the newest altercation, I jumped at the chance to break my boredom. Actually, my jump was more of a sweat-soaked slide out of my seat.

“Eloise,” I asked. “You want to come and see what the fuss is about?”

“And miss the possibility of a single customer? I’m not hauling my butt out of this chair except to get more stew.” She stubbed out a cigarette. On the folding table sat her second or third bowl of the thick Brunswick Stew, brimming with shredded meat, tomatoes, butter beans, and corn. “One of my students gave me a bunch of free tickets to his family’s booth, and I plan to use them all. My Crohn’s isn’t bothering me, so I’m eating to make up for the times my stomach doesn’t let me.”

Although the stew had a lovely cinnamon color, eating it in record-breaking heat held no appeal to me. Particularly the amount Eloise had already consumed. The concoction of veggies and meat once got poor folks through hard times by tossing in whatever you could salvage. I’ve had it made from chicken, beef, pork, venison, and even rabbit. Some like to add squirrel with their pork. However in college, after enjoying a bowl with a large side of tequila shots at a Savannah bar, I vowed never to touch the stuff again. Does not taste as pleasant the second time around.

Watching Eloise eat made sweat break on my neck. “On a scorcher like today, I would think you’d rather have a Sno-Cone than a hot bowl of stew.”

“As a Sidewinder native, it is my duty to eat Brunswick Stew, particularly at our annual cook-off,” said Eloise. “I love Brunswick Stew. You should know better. How long have we been friends?”

“Let me see,” I pretended to think, not trying to hide my grin. “Seems I beat you in the Forks County Art Competition in third grade...”

“And I stole your drawing and you promptly announced it over the PA, getting me in all kinds of trouble. I still have the handprint on my behind.”

“Serves you right, you art thief.”

“I loved your drawing,” Eloise’s eyes grew misty. “I couldn’t help it. I’d never seen such a beautiful unicorn.”

“It was not a unicorn. I would never draw a unicorn.”

“I’m pretty sure there were rainbows, too,” Eloise laughed at my horrified look. “You were eight. Anyway, I recognized talent then and now. I’m lucky to have a friend like you.”

“Are you kidding? You’re the one that got me into the Reconstituting Classicism gallery show. If I can pull off something great, that crowd will pay big bucks. I’m down to my last twenty dollars and change.” At that thought, I fished in the pockets of my cutoffs to look for Sno-Cone change, disappointed to find only thirty-five cents and a few gum wrappers.

“No one around here wants a portrait made, not even one of their pet,” I moaned. “I had the hunting dog market cornered there for a while. The art well in Forks County has mysteriously run dry ever since I was snubbed by the Bransons after painting the portrait of Dustin. Then Shawna Branson became president of the Forks County Arts Council and suddenly I have paintbrush leprosy.”

“How are those classical paintings coming?” Eloise dropped her eyes to her stew bowl. She knew me well enough to avoid conversation about Shawna Branson. “Aren’t you supposed to send digital photos of the portfolio soon?”

“Week from Monday,” I said. “Plenty of time. I’m doing famous Greek statues as paintings. Except to make it edgier I’m covering the model’s body in tiny Greek letters. Head to toe.”

Eloise swatted me with her spoon. “You haven’t done them yet? Don’t make me look bad, Cherry Tucker. The show is organized by my old drawing professor at UGA. He’s still ticked I went into pottery. I’m hoping to get back in his good graces and get my own show out of the deal.”

I held one hand over my heart, the other palm up in Pledge of Allegiance mode. “I swear I would never do anything to make you look bad, Eloise Parker. You have my word. I’m just having a little trouble convincing my model to pose nude as the Dying Gaul.”

“Who are you using as a model?”

“Luke Harper.”

It took a moment for Eloise to regain control over her laughter. I helped her right her chair when it threatened to tip.

“Luke is the perfect model for a Greek statue,” I explained. “Tall, lean, with great muscle definition. Especially those indentations between his waist and hips.” I paused a moment in delicious ecstasy, ruminating over Luke’s V-cut. “He even has the dark curly hair and the straight nose of a classic Greek. And I don’t think he’s got a drop of Greek blood in him. Pretty sure Harper’s not a Greek name.”

“Nor Roman. You just want to paint Luke naked,” Eloise cackled. “This doesn’t have anything to do with art.”

“Of course it does. I have an eye for beauty, that’s all.”

“You got a thing for beauty, all right. As long as it’s got a—”

“You can stop right there, Eloise Parker. No need to get trashy.”

“I’m not the one obsessed with painting Luke Harper nude.”

“He never lets me paint him, nude or otherwise. I don’t get it. What’s the big deal?”

“Probably because he’s worried the criminals in Forks County will laugh at him after seeing his bare ass in a painting,” Eloise lifted her brows. “Hard to arrest somebody when they’re laughing at you.”

My Book Review:

I've always enjoyed reading a cozy mystery that is set in the South and has humor and romance intertwined within the storyline, and author Larissa Reinhart did not disappoint me with her entertaining novel Still Life in Brunswick Stew!

Still Life in Brunswick Stew is the second book in the Cherry Tucker Mystery Series. This fun whodunit story is written in the first person narrative, set in the small Southern town of Halo, Georgia, and it engages the reader to follow the latest investigative adventure of struggling artist Cherry Tucker.

Cherry Tucker and childhood friend Eloise Parker set up a tent to sell their art work at the Sidewinder Annual Brunswick Stew Cook-Off. But slow sales and an outbreak of food poisoning leads to tragedy when Eloise dies after consuming the bad stew. The medical examiner proclaims that Eloise has died from a combination of accidental food poisoning and health related issues due to having Crohn's disease. But Eloise's family does not believe that her death was accidental, they think someone has poisoned Eloise, and they ask Cherry to investigate the real cause of her friend's untimely death. What starts out as a quest to find the cause of her friend's death turns into a zany adventure that causes all kinds of trouble for our sassy amateur sleuth!

This was such a fun read that had a great mixture of mystery, romance and humor. Even though I did not read the first book in the series, Portrait of a Dead Guy, I easily found myself entertained by Cherry's craziness that I now want to go back and read the first book. From Cherry's dysfunctional family, to her ongoing romantic issues, to her amateur sleuthing skills, this sassy southern lady's antics kept me entertained and laughing as I followed her quest to solve Eloise's murder.

With a zany cast of characters (many who return from Portrait of a Dead Guy) who keep the reader in stitches with their witty dialogue and hilarious interactions; a storyline filled with enough drama, suspense and twist and turns that keeps the reader guessing; and a richly detailed setting that transports the reader to a quirky Southern small town for some down home sweet tea and brunswick stew; Still Life in Brunswick Stew is an entertaining cozy mystery interwoven with Southern charm and humor that leaves you wanting to go on more crazy adventures with sassy Cherry Tucker!


Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaway

Win A $20 Amazon Gift Card

Contest Dates: May 20 - June 10

Everyone who leaves a comment on Still Life in Brunswick Stew by Larissa Reinhart ~ Virtual Book Tour Page: Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours will be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift card! Anyone who purchases their copy of Still Life in Brunswick Stew before June 10 and sends their receipt to, will get five bonus entries.

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

May 20 – Mrs. Mommy Booknerd Book Reviews – Excerpt 
May 21- Mary Castillo – Review & Q&A
May 22- Sarah Belle – Q&A & Excerpt
May 23- The Book Bag – Review
May 27 – A Blue Million Books – Q&A & Excerpt
May 28 – The Self-Taught Cook – Review
May 30 – Tlassy Beyond Belief – Review
June 3 – Lindi Peterson – Review & Excerpt
June 4- Chick Lit Plus – Review
June 6 – Melissa’s Mochas, Mysteries & More – Review
June 7 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Q&A & Excerpt
June 10 – Lavender & Camomile Press- Excerpt


  1. Thanks so much for having me on Jersey Girl! So thrilled to be here and even more thrilled by your review! So glad you liked Cherry and her motley crew!

  2. Thanks so much for having me on, Jersey Girl. Really insightful interview questions and I'm so thrilled with the review! Thank you!

    BTW, love, love, love that painting. Great brushstrokes.

    1. Hi Larissa! I really enjoyed the book, now I'll have to go back and read book 1. Thank you for the opportunity to host your virtual book tour event. Come back and visit again! :)