Saturday, August 11, 2018

A Dark and Twisting Path

Author:  Julia Buckley
Series:  A Writer's Apprentice Mystery #3
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Berkley
Published:  July 31, 2018

Description:  Lena's best friend, Allison, is in a panic. On a walk in the woods by her home, Allison discovers the body of her mail carrier, an argumentative man who recently had a falling out with Allison's husband. Lena quickly realizes that Allison has nothing to worry about as the murder weapon points to a different suspect altogether: Lena's embattled boyfriend, Sam West. 

Sam was cleared of his wife's murder when she was found alive, and now someone is trying to make him look guilty again. Surveillance video of a break-in at his house shows a shadowy figure trying to incriminate him by stealing the weapon from his desk. Lena and Camilla work on a suspect list, but a threatening note and a violent intrusion at Graham House prove that the devious killer has decided to write them into the plot.

My Review

I have been a fan of this series from the beginning and each new book just gets better and builds on the previous books.  For me, I think this is the best book in the series to date and I have been a fan of each one.  I always look forward to what the author has in store for these characters.

This is a fun, entertaining series.  Each story has grabbed my attention right from the start.  I love Lena and Sam.  They are a great couple.  I also really enjoy the relationship between Camilla and Lena - especially how Camilla mentors Lena and is helping her grow as a writer.  I feel like in this book all of the characters are hitting their stride.  We also get to meet Lena's dad and step-mom, who were a nice addition to the story.  All the favorites are back and some new ones who will have a role to play in the plot.

I thought the mystery was well done.  As the title suggests, the mystery takes a twisting path through the entire story making a lot of turns and detours along the way.  Once again, Lena asks her friend Belinda for help with research, but no one (at least not me) saw the twists that Ms. Buckley threw at me as a reader coming.  I don't want to say more because I don't want to spoil the surprises the author has in store for her readers.

For me, this is such a great series.  The characters are all well rounded, written with a lot of depth and realism.  The mysteries keep me engaged and the plots in general seemed to be layered with clues, twists and turns pulling the reader deeper into the story.  I am so looking forward to the next book in the series, I already have it on pre-order.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

To Catch a Witch

Author:  Heather Blake
Series:  A Wishcraft Mystery #8
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date:  August 7, 2018

Description:  When wishcrafter Darcy Merriweather’s personal concierge company is hired by elite runner Abby Stillwell to organize the Wicked Mad Dash, a competition that takes place in the Enchanted Village, Darcy is more than willing to help her friend. As blizzard conditions rage on the morning of the race, Darcy’s main concern is the terrible weather—until Abby goes missing…and is later found dead, buried in the snow.

As Darcy investigates her friend’s untimely death, she learns that she didn’t really know Abby well at all. And those closest to the woman—her secret fiancĂ©, her roommate, her ex-boyfriend, and her co-workers at Balefire Sports—seem to have plenty to hide too. As Darcy digs deeper, she uncovers complicated relationships, a possible embezzlement scheme, and allegations of cheating against a top athlete. 

Just when Darcy is convinced she’s hit a dead end in the case, a startling burglary and the hunt for Abby’s elusive ex send Darcy down a dark, dangerous trail. It will take the help from friends, family, and a little bit of magic for Darcy to stop a stone-cold killer from striking again.

My Review

This is one of my favorite paranormal cozy mystery series so I was particularly happy to see a new release from Heather Blake.  I've missed Darcy, Aunt Ve, Harper and the rest of the characters.  This book was definitely worth the wait.  There is a lot happening with the characters and the author did a wonderful job giving us a foreshadowing of what's to come.

When I pick of a book by Heather Blake I know that I am in for hours of enjoyment.  She has such a descriptive writing style and creates such memorable characters that I am immediately pulled right back into the charming Enchanted Village.  Ms. Blake writes all her characters with such depth, personality and dimension that there is always someone that will appeal to any reader.  Over the course of the eight books she has done a terrific job of growing these characters to the point where they feel like familiar friends.  I love how with each book we get more depth and insight in to the history and the future of each of these characters.

The mystery in this book was well done.  Once again, Darcy is called to investigate a murder in Enchanted Village as the Crafter investigator.  There are plenty of suspects to choose from in this plot.  Throw in plenty of twists and turns and as Darcy begins to unravel each new clue, there mystery becomes murkier.  I thought the identity of the culprit was well concealed by the way I was thrown off track by these twists and turns.  I did not guess the identity of the killer until Darcy put everything together.

I hope that we don't have to wait as long for the next book in this series, because as a fan, I cannot wait to see what happens next.  I will definitely be a regular visitor to the Enchanted Village for as long as Ms. Blake writes this series.

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

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Death Over Easy

Author:  Maddie Day 
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Series:  A Country Store Mystery #5
Publisher:  Kensington
Publication Date:  July 31, 2013

Description:  Restaurateur Robbie Jordan is ready for the boost in business a local music festival brings to South Lick, Indiana, but the beloved event strikes a sour note when one of the musicians is murdered . . .
June’s annual Brown County Bluegrass Festival at the Bill Monroe Music Park in neighboring Beanblossom is always a hit for Robbie’s country store and cafĂ©, Pans ‘N Pancakes. This year, Robbie is even more excited, because she’s launching a new bed and breakfast above her shop. A few festival musicians will be among Robbie’s first guests, along with her father, Roberto, and his wife, Maria. But the celebration is cut short when a performer is found choked to death by a banjo string. Now all the banjo players are featured in a different kind of lineup. To clear their names, Robbie must pair up with an unexpected partner to pick at the clues and find the plucky killer before he can conduct an encore performance.

My Review

This is the 5th book in the Country Store Mystery series by author Maddie Day.  This series is always on my to be read list and I look forward to each new visit to South Lick Indiana.  Each book builds upon the excellent story telling and character growth of the previous books.

This time around, Robbie is enjoying a visit with her father and step-mother during the Bluegrass Festival.  Ms. Day gives such great descriptions of the music and dancing at the festival that you almost feel like you can picture the event.  I love the dialogue and how she peppers local dialect and sayings throughout the story.  For me, that adds to the feel of authenticity and location.  I really enjoy Robbie's character.  She is just one of those protagonists that I instantly liked and she just keeps getting better as the stories progress.  The secondary cast of characters make a return appearance with some new ones related to the festival.  These characters are all well rounded and give an added depth to the series.  The romance between Abe and Robbie is still going strong.  

The mystery was really good.  It was woven throughout the entire story with a very climatic reveal.  There are two murders that take place and the reader is left to wonder if there is one killer or two.  The same question being asked by the local and county police.  Robbie tries to resist sleuthing, but when someone she knows might be in trouble she can't help but see what she can find on her own.  There are not many suspects to choose from, but as the story unfolds and clues are dropped, Ms. Days does an excellent job of making a case as to why each of the suspects could be the culprit or culprits.  The mysteries have a satisfying conclusion and a dramatic reveal that makes me think it's time for Robbie to take a vacation.

This series has become one that I look forward to with each new release.  The Midwest setting is quaint, the characters are rich and well developed, and the mysteries always leave me satisfied.  

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

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Midnight Snacks are Murder

Author:  Libby Klein
Series:  A Poppy McAllister Mystery #2
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Kensington
Expected Publication Date:  July 31, 2018

Description:  Between trying to get her gluten-free baking business off the ground and helping her aunt remodel her old Victorian into the Butterfly House Bed and Breakfast in Cape May, New Jersey, Poppy is ready to call, “Mayday!” And now Aunt Ginny—who's a handful wide-awake—is sleepwalking on her new sleeping pill prescription and helping herself to neighbors’ snacks and knickknacks.
Even more alarming, a local humanitarian who worked with troubled teens is found murdered, and the police suspect the “Snack Bandit.” Other than a bad case of midnight munchies and some mild knickknack kleptomania, Aunt Ginny is harmless. Someone’s trying to frame her. Poppy will need to work tirelessly to uncover the killer and put the case to rest—before Aunt Ginny has to trade in her B & B for a bunk bed behind bars.

My Review

This is the second book in this series and so far I find it to be a fun, humorous cozy mystery series.  It has great characters that are relatable and some (like Aunt Ginny) who I just can't resist.  This time around, Poppy must find out who killed the man who ran the local teen center and clear Aunt Ginny from murder charges.

For a second book in a series, I find these characters to be delightful and well rounded.  Poppy is one of those characters that I think appeals to a broad range of readers.  We all have our own insecurities and sometime people who know how to push our buttons to bring it to the surface.  What I liked about this book is that Poppy is starting to gain some self esteem and even stand up for herself on occasion.  Aunt Ginny was just hilarious in this book.  Her antic's will make you laugh out loud.  I love how she is bold and brash which makes a nice complement to Poppy.  We even get to learn a bit more about Georgina, Poppy's mother-in-law.  She is a bit annoying but like an onion she has layers to be peeled back.  The dialogue is witty and the story line has plenty of humor.  There are two possible new love interests for Poppy.  While I don't mind that per se, I hope the author doesn't develop a love triangle.  Those typically don't sit well with me.

The mystery was really well done.  I liked that the victim was neither all good nor all bad.  He was human with flaws and a past.  This allowed the author to provide the reader with a good number of suspects, all who had good believable motives.  There were plenty of twists and turns woven throughout the plot to keep the reader guessing.  This allowed the author to obscure the identity of the killer.  I did not guess the real killer until it was revealed.

I find this series to be humorous and entertaining with great characters, witty dialogue and good mysteries that keep me guessing.  I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.

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