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.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Hark the Herald Angels Slay

Author: Vicki Delany
Series:  A Year Round Christmas Mystery #3
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Berkley
Publication Date:  November 28, 2017

Description:  The town of Rudolph, New York, has the Christmas spirit all year long—but when homicide heats up a summer holiday, it’s up to shop owner Merry Wilkinson to wrap up the case.

In Rudolph, Christmas in July heralds Santa’s arrival by boat to begin his summer vacation at the lake, and Merry Wilkinson, owner of Mrs. Claus’s Treasures, is looking forward to a busy weekend. But she’s caught off guard when her ex-fiancĂ©, Max Folger, unexpectedly arrives with a team from a lifestyle magazine wanting to do a feature on the July festivities.

It’s clear that Max’s visit has less to do with business and more to do with winning back Merry’s heart. Merry has too much on her plate to deal with an old flame, but when Max is found strangled to death in Mrs. Claus’s Treasures, she must find out who wanted him dead—and stop a killer from ruining the summer holiday cheer.

My Review

This latest installment in the Year Round Christmas Mystery is another hit for author Vicki Delany.  This is such a charming, fun series and I look forward to each new installment with anticipation.

Merry Wilkinson is a terrific character.  She is fun, feisty and a character I think readers can relate to.  The rest of the cast makes a return, including all my favorites.  I love Merry's parents.  Vicki Delany writes with such a descriptive style that you can picture Noel looking just like Santa Claus.  The charming setting of Rudolph New York always lends to the atmosphere of the story.  While this one takes place as a Christmas in July story, it will easily get readers into the holiday spirit.  We also see a bit of progress in the romance department with Merry and Alan. 

The mystery is well crafted and carried throughout the entire story.  Once again she finds herself at the center of a murder mystery, and this time it is someone from her past.  With so many new people in town, the author provides her readers with plenty of suspects and throws in plenty of clues along with some twists and turns to distract the reader.  The story unfolds with a steady plot that kept me turning pages to try in solve the mystery before Merry.  As usual, I was not quick enough but thought the culprit was well thought-out and a bit of surprise.

This is such a charming series and I look forward to each new book as it is released.  It has a wonderful setting that gets the reader into the holiday spirit and is paired with wonderful characters that are a joy to read and a mystery that kept my turning pages.  I can't wait for the next one in the series.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

And Death Goes To....

Author:  Laura Bradford
Series:  A Tobi Tobias Mystery #3
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Lyrical Underground
Publication Date:  December 5, 2017

Description:  It’s an honor just to be nominated. But, let's get real, Tobi wants to win. The St. Louis Advertising Awards are like the Oscars for her field, and Tobi is up for its most prestigious prize, Best Overall Ad Campaign. The competition is always fierce, but this year it’s killer . . .
Despite her high hopes, Tobi isn't exactly shocked when she doesn’t win. But she is shocked when the winner, Deidre Ryan, takes the stage only to plummet to her death as a platform suddenly gives way. After the police discover foul play, Tobi's Grandpa Stu wastes no time in nominating suspects. But was Deidre the intended victim—or was someone else meant to take the fatal fall? Now it’s a race to catch a killer in the spotlight, before another nominee gets the booby prize and Tobi gets trapped in a no-win situation.

My Review

This is the third installment in what is quickly becoming one of my favorite cozy mystery series.  I couldn't wait to get my hands on this one and read it over the course of two days.  This series hits all the buttons I look for in a cozy and is written by the talented Ms. Bradford.

There are so many reasons to love this series and this book but one of the major selling points for me is the characters.  Tobi Tobias is one of those characters that has me engaged from the opening page until I turn the last page and finish the book.  She is well crafted, multi-layered and dimensional.  She is written to feel very real and authentic with some snark and humor that I very much appreciated.  That said, she is not perfect as we see in this installment.  The story is rounded out with a diverse, rich cast of secondary characters that stand on their own.  I liked the emotional growth we saw from Tobi in how she deals with her grandfather dating her nemesis.

The mystery is well plotted and is woven throughout the story.  Ms. Bradford does a nice job of peppering clues throughout while intertwining them with plenty of twists and turns.  The victim was unexpected and her death is a bit shocking.  The killer's identity was a bit of a surprise but once all the clues are revealed it makes sense.

This is a fun series and when I finish one book it is always hard to wait for the next one.  It is a highly entertaining series with great characters and story lines/mysteries that are well plotted and keep the reader engaged and guessing.  If you haven't given this series a try I would encourage you to pick up the first book in the series.  I don't think you will be disappointed.

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

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Of Murder and Men

Author:  Lynn Cahoon
Series:  A Cat Latimer Mystery #3
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Kensington
Publication Date:  November 28, 2017

Description:  Ever since her business partner, Shauna, fell for a wealthy landowner in town, Cat has been working double time to keep her writers’ retreat running. And with the January session almost underway, that spells trouble. As if scheduling mishaps aren’t disastrous enough, Shauna skips out on kitchen duties one morning, forcing Cat to serve unsuspecting guests store-bought muffins . . .

But best laid plans really go awry when Shauna discovers her beau missing from their bed. When his body later turns up in the horse barn, they quickly find out the victim’s scandalous lifestyle left many dying for revenge. While balancing an eccentric group of aspiring writers and a suspect list for the record books, Cat soon finds herself on the heels of a killer—and authoring her most deadly conclusion yet.

My Review

The third installment in the Cat Latimer Mystery series is an excellent read and if you are a fan I would highly recommend that you put this one on your to be read pile/list.

I found Ms. Cahoon fairly late, her Tourist Trap Mystery series well under way.  I was approved for an ARC of the first Cat Latimer book and the rest, as we say, is history.  I love the way Ms. Cahoon writes her stories in such a way that as soon as you open the book and read the first few pages, the reader is just drawn into the story.  The location is terrific.  I am a big reader and love any type of series centered around books or rights or any combination thereof.

One of the reasons I continue to be drawn to this genre is that most series are very character focused.  Ms. Cahoon provides us with an excellent cast of characters, let by Cat Latimer.  Cat is the type of person I think we would all like to have as a friend.  She is loyal, smart, independent and comes across the page as genuine.  The secondary cast of characters provide a lot of additional layers and support to the stories.  The author has created a secondary cast that is multi-layered, diverse and very likable.

When I open a Cat Latimer Mystery, one thing I know is that I am going to be entertained my the mystery.  Ms. Cahoon knows how to deliver a well crated mystery that has layers that unfold throughout the story.  As the mystery unfolds, she layers in her clues but surrounds them with twists and turns to distract and keep the reader guessing.  I thought this mystery had a terrific ending and was surprised by the identity of the killer.

All in all, this is a terrific series that continues to get better with each new installment.  It has quickly become a favorite and I look forward to each new book so that I can take a peek into Cat's world to see what new trouble is brewing as she starts a new writers retreat.

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