Saturday, January 13, 2018

Scone Cold Killer

Author:  Lena Gregory
Series:  All Day Breakfast Cafe Mystery #1
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Lyrical Underground
Publication Date:  January 23, 2018

Description:  When Gia Morelli’s marriage falls apart, she knows it’s time to get out of New York. Her husband was a scam artist who swindled half the millionaires in town, and she doesn’t want to be there when they decide to take revenge. On the spur of the moment, she follows her best friend to a small town in Central Florida, where she braves snakes, bears, and giant spiders to open a cheery little diner called the All-Day Breakfast CafĂ©. Owning a restaurant has been her lifelong dream, but it turns into a nightmare the morning she opens her dumpster and finds her ex-husband crammed inside. As the suspect du jour, Gia will have to scramble fast to prove her innocence before a killer orders another cup of murder.

My Review

This is the first book in a new series for author Lena Gregory and I found it to be a fun, fast-paced, very enjoyable cozy mystery. The book was well written with a pace that kept me turning the pages. For me, Gia Morelli was a likable character.  There were some reviews from readers who thought her fears made her unsympathetic, but having an "irrational" fear of my own, I could relate. Gia is surround by a cast of diverse and likable secondary characters along with a loveable puppy named Thor.  I thought the author did a good job of showing some growth in Gia's character through this book.  She was through something traumatic, which made her gun shy about strangers and new places.  I thought that by the end of the story she had made some progress in starting to put her past behind her.  There is even a hint of some romance in her future.

Trying to start over, Gia moves to Florida, where her troubles follow. That is the basis of a mystery that I thought was solid and woven nicely throughout the story.   Because Gia was new to Florida and given what she went through with her husband, there was plenty of room for the author to drop hints and clues about who could be the killer.  I think the mystery wrapped up nicely.

I think this is a terrific start to what I hope is a long running series for this author. I will be back for the next book to see what the author has in store for her readers.

I voluntarily read an advanced reader copy provided to me by the publisher, Lyrical Underground, through Netgalley.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Another One Bites The Crust

Author:  Ellie Alexander
Series:  A Bakeshop Mystery #7
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  St. Martin's Press
Publication Date:  January 2, 2018

Description:  It’s the role of a lifetime for Jules. The Shakespeare Festival has returned to Ashland, Oregon, for the season and Torte has been cast as the supplier of Elizabethan-era treats for the main event. But on the eve of opening night, a brawl between Jules’s friend Lance, the artistic director, and a strapping young thespian named Anthony almost brings down the house. . .and the next morning, Anthony is dead. Jules knows that Lance loves his drama—and his just desserts—but she also knows that murder is way off-script for him. Now it’s up to Jules to cut through a bevy of backstage betrayals and catty co-stars who all have their own secrets—before the curtain drops on someone else. . .

My Review

Another One Bites The Crust is the 7th installment of the Bakeshop Mystery series.  Fans of this series are going to enjoy this installment as much as the previous books.  It is always fun to return to Ashland and Torte Bakery to see what Juliet, Lance, the Professor and her Mom are up to.  In addition, the reader is always treated to mouthwatering descriptions of pastries, cookies, cakes and other delicious food served up at Torte.  It's enough to satisfy the culinary cozy lover.

What keeps me coming back to this series is the characters.  Jules Capshaw is a delight.  She has a warm personality that comes right off the page.  She is genuine, charming, determined and a loyal friend.  This time around, she is called upon to help Lance out of trouble.  With each new book these characters continue to grow and develop.  We get a glimpse of the layers that are peeled back and learn something new or are teased with some secret.  

For me, I have found that the mysteries in this series are not  as strong as others and often play a backseat to the characters and their relationships.  But as I said, the characters are so wonderful they keep me coming back.  In this book, I thought the mystery was a bit stronger than in the past and was woven throughout the story.  

If you are a fan of this series, or just love strong character driven cozy mysteries then you will probably enjoy this one.

I voluntarily read an advanced reader copy that was provided to me by the publisher through Netgalley.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Escape Claws

Author:  Linda Reilly
Series:   A Cat Lady Mystery #1
Genre:   Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Lyrical Underground
Publication Date:  December 26, 2017

Description:  For the first time in sixteen years, Lara Caphart has returned to her hometown of Whisker Jog, New Hampshire. She wants to reconnect with her estranged Aunt Fran, who's having some difficulty looking after herself-and her eleven cats. Taking care of a clowder of kitties is easy, but keeping Fran from being harassed by local bully Theo Barnes is hard. The wealthy builder has his sights set on Fran's property, and is determined to make her an offer she doesn't dare refuse.
Then Lara spots a blue-eyed ragdoll cat that she swears is the reincarnation of her beloved Blue, her childhood pet. Pursuing the feline to the edge of Fran's yard, she stumbles upon the body of Theo Barnes, clearly a victim of foul play. To get her and Fran off the suspect list, Lara finds herself following the cat's clues in search of a killer. Is Blue's ghost really trying to help her solve a murder, or has Lara inhaled too much catnip?

My Review
Linda Reilly is a new author to me and I am happy that I took a chance on this first book in her new Cat Lady Mystery Series.  I thought this was a charming start to the new series. The author did a nice job of balancing the mystery with introducing her characters. Lara and her Aunt Fran are very likable characters and I enjoyed the story line that centered on them renewing their relationship after not really seeing each other for a good number of years. Lara is very personable, warm and comes across as genuine. There is a nice cast of secondary characters as well.   I also think there is a nice hint of something a bit paranormal or other worldly involved in the story as well.  
The mystery was woven into the story nicely. The victim was not well liked by people in the town so this allows the author to weave in clues that misdirect the reader about the killer's identity.  There were some twists and turns to try and throw the reader off the scent of the real culprit (which worked on me). I was surprised by the identity of the killer.  This person was never even on my radar.  
I found this first book to be an enjoyable read that kept me entertained. I voluntarily read an advanced copy provided to me by Lyrical Underground, the publisher, through Netgalley.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Crust No One

Author:  Winnie Archer
Series:  A Bread Shop Mystery #2
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Kensington
Publication Date:  December 26, 2017

Description:  For once, Ivy Culpepper feels fulfilled. An apprenticeship at Yeast of Eden has opened her world to time-honored baking techniques under owner Olaya Solis’s guidance—as well as the freshest small-town gossip, courtesy of chatty regulars known as the Blackbird Ladies. Ivy even begins accepting that she and restaurateur Miguel Baptista may never again rekindle their romance—despite the undeniable tension between them . . .
But she’s tied to Miguel again when his trusted produce supplier goes missing. Old Hank Riviera’s financial troubles would make anyone consider running away forever. And with his relationship woes, there are plenty of people who might want to see Hank disappear. As Ivy, with the help of her octogenarian sidekick, turns to the loose-lipped Blackbird Ladies for leads, she soon finds herself caught in a web of lies stickier than a batch of Olaya’s popular pastries.

My Review

This is the second book in the Bread Shop Mystery series and it was just as enjoyable as the first book.  The story was well written and just seemed to flow with a steady pace that kept me turning pages.  I am hopeful that this is one series I can count on to have a long run.

The characters are well crafted.  For being just the second book in the series, I found the characters to have a comfortable feel to them.  I felt like I already knew these characters will allowed be to be invested in the story and the outcome.  I think Ivy Culpepper is a very likable character.  She has spunk and smarts but is also warm and character.  I like the way her relationships with Mrs. Bradford and Olaya are developing.  Each one gives her something solid that helps to ground her as she continues to adjust to life without her mother.  The secondary cast of characters are equally well written an likable.  I think readers are going to enjoy them.

The mystery in this story was a bit of a change of pace.  It starts off as a missing person mystery for most of the book, until the body is eventually found.  The author did a terrific job of weaving the mystery throughout the entire story and dropping clues like bread crumbs along the way.  There are some twist and turns, which quite frankly I did not see coming and I think some readers will be as equally surprised as I was when the identity of the culprit is revealed.

I think this is a terrific culinary cozy mystery series that has such promise to be a long running series.  It has a great setting, likable characters that will connect with readers and the author does a wonderful job of crafting mysteries that keep the readers attention.  I will definitely be back for more.

I voluntarily read an advanced reader copy provided to me by the publisher, Kensington, through Netgalley.