I know most people envision Christmas morning with newly fallen snow outside while the family inside are curled up in front of a warm, cozy fire opening gifts and enjoying holiday treats. After all, I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas is a very popular Christmas carol! However, having been born and raised in Southern California, I’ve only experienced a white Christmas once…and that was enough to last me a lifetime. I’ll take warm weather any time, no matter how picture postcard perfect snowy landscapes may be. So when I started reading MURDER AT CHRISTMAS, the fourth book in the Sand and Sea Hawaiian Mystery series by Kathi Daley, I was right at home with the Hawaiian tropical setting!
The week before Christmas, Lani Pope is working double shifts at the Dolphin Bay Resort which is packed with holiday visitors. With the flu taking out half the staff, she’s working as a lifeguard by day and as Santa’s Elf at night. The evening of the resort’s huge “Step Into Christmas” event, Lani is sent to look for Santa while all the guests eagerly await his arrival. Things go from bad to worse when Lani finds Santa dead in the alley behind the loading dock, murdered. Lani feels a certain responsibility since she’s the one who asked her senior citizen friend, Sam, to play Santa at the last moment.
When a group of Sam and Lani’s senior citizen friends decide to investigate, Lani knows she must jump in and find the killer before one of them gets hurt. With the help of her boyfriend, Luke Austin, they try to find clues, keep the ladies out of trouble, and plan a holiday party. Can Lani keep up with her double shifts, talk to suspects, and keep the ladies occupied and out of trouble? Will Luke decide he wants a white Christmas with his family in Texas or will he stay and celebrate Christmas with Lani in the tropics? Can they capture the murderer and find justice for Sam?
Kathi paints a vivid picture with her words, drawing you in. There is one scene in particular that stayed with me long after I finished the book, where Lani rescues a boy who almost drowns. A parent’s (or grandparent’s) worst nightmare and I appreciate the valuable lesson Kathi includes in her story. I enjoyed the easy friendship Lani also has with the senior citizens, including them in both her sleuthing and in her social life. It says a lot about a person when they are comfortable not only around their own age group but also with the elderly. There are moments of humor that her senior friends provide yet they also add wisdom and insight to help Lani solve the crime. The relationship she has with Luke is sweet as it blossoms and he is very supportive of Lani and the decisions she makes. One thing that strikes me with all of Kathi’s series is that the characters are such nice people and good role models both as friends and with their romantic relationships. Even though the book is fairly short, the mystery is well plotted with plenty of suspects and a nice conclusion. It held my attention and I knew I would stay up to finish the book to see how it ended.
Set at Christmas time, Kathi provides plenty of tropical holiday ambiance along with seasonal recipes at the back of the book. I was ecstatic when I found out that one of the many recipes included at the back of MURDER AT CHRISTMAS was my own recipe for Candy Cane Snowball Cookies! One of my granddaughter’s favorite cookies (okay, it’s probable that any cookie is her favorite depending on what she’s munching on at any given moment!) it’s just not Christmas until I make these Candy Cane Snowball Cookies. Starting with a buttery cookie base, either crushed candy canes or Andes Peppermint Crunch baking pieces (usually available in December) are mixed in creating a tasty holiday treat. When Emory was very young I would form the dough into small balls and let her roll them in granulated sugar and place them on the baking sheets for me. She enjoyed getting to help in the kitchen although I know a few cookies were always missing by the time I started baking them. I hope you enjoy our recipe as much as we have!
A huge thank you to Kathi Daley for providing winner’s choice of either an e-book or print copy of MURDER AT CHRISTMAS for one lucky winner! Print copy limited to U.S. residents only. Contest ends Monday, December 12, 2016 at 11:59 pm PST. Please use the Rafflecopter box located below the recipe to enter. The winner will be announced on this page and on Cinnamon & Sugar’s Facebook page, as well as notified by email (so check your spam folder!)
- 1-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1-1/4 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 egg, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup finely crushed peppermint candy canes*
- Granulated sugar for rolling cookies
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and sea salt together. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the powdered sugar and butter together until creamy, about 2 minutes.
- Add the egg and beat until well combined.
- Add the peppermint extract and vanilla and stir to thoroughly combine.
- Slowly add the flour mixture and stir until well blended on low speed.
- Remove the bowl from the standing mixer and add the crushed peppermint candy, stirring into the cookie dough by hand.
- Form the dough into 1-inch balls and roll in granulated sugar.
- Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, 12 cookies per sheet.
- Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. The bottoms of the cookies should just start to be showing golden color.
- Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then remove and cool completely.
- Makes approximately 5 dozen cookies, depending on size.
- If the dough is too sticky when rolling into balls, refrigerate for 1 hour.
- You can substitute Andes Peppermint Crunch baking pieces for the crushed candy canes, if desired.
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I live in Northern California, so while not exactly tropical not much snow unless we drive to Tahoe. I prefer it to be warm, but I would like it to start snowing about 8pm Christmas Eve, when I am safely tucked inside. Snow and ice on the tree branches – then melt about 10am Christmas Day. Snow on demand!
The only bad thing about snow is driving when the roads are icy. If u can stay in a few days it’s fun. U should try Xmas in the snow again!
I love a white Christmas.
Definitely a white Christmas! I love the snowball cookies recipe and can’t wait to make it!
I’ve never had a tropical Christmas, living in Ohio we’ve always had a white Christmas or green Christmas. I’m not sure it would feel like like Christmas without the cold and snow but it would be interesting to try it.
Living in Texas gives me the middle ground between a white and tropical Christmas. A white one would be magical (for a change).
When I lived in Ca we always went to S Lake Tahoe for the day to have fun in the snow that was when my kids were growing up, Now that I have moved to Ia I have no choice as the snow is out my back door so my choice is I like a white christmas although i think i like it better where i can go to it and drive home and have none. My scooter doesn’t work well in the snow but they should make snow tires for it . I would love to read Kathi’s book in print as I am disabled and will review also on a few sites. firstname.lastname@example.org
A white Christmas! I live in MN but at my “advanced” age each year seems to get colder so a tropical Christmas would be nice once in a while if all the family could be there. Disney World – I could handle that!!
I love making snowballs, have never use this recipe. I will this year! Thank you for the giveaway. email@example.com
I would love to experience a white Christmas, but I live in central Oklahoma, and yes, it does get quite cold sometimes, snow isnt a very frequent visutor here. thank you for the chance.
I like the look of a white Christmas because it’s so pretty but I really prefer a tropical Christmas at the beach. I LOVE the beach!
I would love a white Christmas, but near the coast in NC, it doesn’t happen often. Both the recipe and the book sound great.
I definitely prefer a white Christmas.
I love a white Christmas, but I spent Christmas in FL with my grandparents one year and it wasn’t half bad. I would love to wake up on a beach somewhere on Christmas morning one day. Not every Christmas, but a couple like that would be really nice. 🙂
Being from Michigan, I’ve always had a white Christmas. I would like to try a tropical Christmas one year.
I would rather have a tropical Christmas. I hate snow. And I would love to have a print copy of Murder At Christmas. already have the ebook. Thank you for the chance to win it.
I have retired from NJ to FL so having experienced both types I am still ambivalent as to which I like the most. I do miss the snowy Christmas spent by the fireplace all warm and cozy, but I don’t miss the snow itself, if that makes any sense. When I first moved down to FL, it was hard to get into Christmas when it ws in the 70s and 80s. Now I am used to it.
a white Christmas but I wouldn’t turn my nose up at a tropical one if I had the chance 🙂
I prefer a tropical Christmas. I grew up in Florida and I don’t like cold weather. ☀️❤️
Cold as everything here now…I think we are heading for a White Christmas. I did however have a hot tropical Christmas in Texas several years…thank you for the recipe and if I win I would love an ebook please.
Living in Tennessee, we rarely have snow anymore, but I still love a white Christmas.
Not a fan of snow. The only time I enjoy it is Christmas Eve and Christmas Day then I’m done with it lol
I really prefer my usually Northern California neither snow or sand. This year I really want rain the day before and day after but dry for travelers. Raining right now.
I would love to have a white Christmas. The weather here is usually warm or maybe a bit chilly. I’m still waiting to see snow for the first time.
I prefer a white Christmas. But I think winter hangs around to long.
White Christmas are the Best
Christmas is the best wherever I am with my family. I’ve done years up north and now some time in south
It always seemed as a kid that the winter gifts that were meant for snow were greeted by warmish weather. And my light weight spring outfit for Easter was met with cold rain.
I love the snow but not trying to get to work in it
I love a white Christmas, I admit that we lived in Florida for a few years and decorated palm trees was fun, but I still love the snow. Then again I love Christmas so I’ll make it work wherever I am.
I prefer somewhere in between, tropical would seem to hot, not like Christmas at all, a white Christmas is pretty but not very practical for getting around to your relatives houses to celebrate and open gifts.
White Christmas! Then the snow can go away!
I live in Middle Mississippi. We have schizophrenic weather-frostbite & sunburn in the same week! Never had a White Christmas. I wish!!
I live in the south so we don’t get a lot of snow but I guess I’d rather have a white Christmas.
Thanks for a wonderful review and the candy cane snowball cookies look yummy!