Saturday, June 23, 2018

Claws of Death

Author:  Linda Reilly
Series:  A Cat Lady Mystery #2
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Lyrical Underground
Publication Date:  June 26, 2018

Description:  Whisker Jog, New Hampshire, is a long way from Hollywood, but it’s the place legendary actress Deanna Daltry wants to call home. Taking up residence in a stone mansion off Cemetery Hill, the retired, yet still glamorous, septuagenarian has adopted two kittens from Lara Caphart’s High Cliff Shelter for Cats. With help from her Aunt Fran, Lara makes sure the kitties settle in safely with their new celebrity mom. 
But not everyone in town is a fan of the fading star. Deanna was in Whisker Jog when she was younger, earning a reputation for pussyfooting around, and someone is using that knowledge against her. After being frightened by some nasty pranks, Deanna finds herself the prime murder suspect when the body of a local teacher is found on her property. Now, it’s up to Lara, Aunt Fran, and the blue-eyed Ragdoll mystery cat Lara recently encountered to collar a killer before another victim is pounced upon.

My Review

It's time to return to Whisker Jog, New Hampshire to visit with Lara Caphart, Aunt Fran and he cats of the High Cliff Shelter.  I enjoyed the first book in this series so I was looking forward to seeing what the author had in store next for these characters.  I was not disappointed.

I find Lara to be one of those protagonists that come across the page as warm and genuine.  I like the way the relationship with her Aunt Fran is written.  Both women have a wonderful affection for each other and as a reader is it evident in the writing.  Lara's best friend Sherry and her mother also add to the dynamic as part of the secondary cast of characters.  There is even a budding romance for Lara but it feels like it is progressing at a natural pace and doesn't detract from the story.  The story of how the cats are adopted from the shelter is a nice addition and I even found myself getting a bit chocked up when one found his/her forever home.

The mystery involves a murder in the present with the motive buried in the past.  Deana Daltry is the hometown girl turned Hollywood celebrity.  When she returns home not everyone is happy to see her and it drudges up the past.  This allows the author to provide a number of clues for Lara to search out and verify.  It also allows for a number of viable suspects to choose from.  The author does a nice job of having the mystery unfold throughout the course of the book and there are a nice bit of clues designed to mislead tossed in as well.  Needless to say I fell for the clues that were there to mislead.  I didn't not suspect the identity of the culprit until the reveal and thought it was done with a nice bit of suspense.

I enjoyed this story and was entertained by the characters and the setting.  I will definitely return to Whisker Jog to follow this series.

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

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Murder Made to Order

Author:  Lena Gregory
Series:  All-Day Breakfast Cafe Mystery #2
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Lyrical Underground
Expected Publication Date:  June 19, 2018

Description:  New York native Gia Morelli is just getting used to life in Florida when she gets word that the town government wants to shut down her pride and joy: the charming little diner known as the All-Day Breakfast Café. A forgotten zoning regulation means that the café was opened illegally, and hardboiled council president Marcia Steers refuses to budge. Gia is considering hanging up her apron and going back to New York, but before she gives up on her dream, she discovers something shocking in the local swamp: Marcia Steers, dead in the water. There’s a secret buried in the books at town hall, and someone killed to keep it hidden. To save her café and bring a killer to justice, Gia and her friends will have to figure out a killer’s recipe for murder.

My Review

I really enjoyed the first book in this series so I was happy when I was offered the opportunity to read and review this second book in the series.  I thought Ms. Gregory did such a good job of creating a realistic, relatable character in Gia Morelli and they surrounding her with a terrific supporting cast that I was eager to dive into this book to see what was happening in Boggy Creek Florida.

Gia is still trying to get used to living in Florida while dealing with a bit of homesickness for New York and doubts about whether she made the right decision in moving.  Those doubts are magnified when she discovers that she may lose her cafe because it is not zoned properly.  On top of that, she once again finds a dead body and is in the middle of another murder investigations.

I enjoy Gia's character.  In the second book, I think the author does a good job of balancing additional growth in her character with a bit of unresolved doubt about whether she made the right choice.  Her best friend Savannah is a good complement to Gia in terms of personality and temperament.  The relationship feels genuine and I like how Savannah will tell Gia to pull up her big girl panties while making the decision whether or not to stay in Florida.  It is the type of conversation one can only have with their best friend.  Hunt and Leo also make return appearances and there is progress in their relationships with Gia and Savannah respectively.

The mystery combines a murder from the past and how it plays a role in the body that Gia finds on the hiking trail. The reader also gets more of the backstory on the murder of Savannah's mom.  At the heart of both mysteries is the zoning of the building that houses the All Day Cafe.  There are plenty of twists, turns and clues woven throughout the story along with other natural disasters as well.  I really had no idea who was behind the present day murder let alone the death of Savannah's mom.

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

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Death of a Dead Man

Author:  Karin Kaufman
Series:  A Juniper Grove Mystery #1
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publication Date:  June 17, 2017
Source:  Amazon Kindle Unlimited

Description:  In the small town of Juniper Grove, newcomer Rachel Stowe has finally found the good friends and quiet life she always craved. So when a stranger arrives in town and stirs painful memories of a baffling episode in the town’s past, Rachel vows to put an end to his mischief.

But events take a nasty turn when Rachel discovers a body in her own backyard and suspicion for the murder falls on her widowed neighbor. Despite being warned off the case by the town’s handsome but aloof police chief, Rachel makes it her mission to clear her neighbor’s name and find the real killer. Can she crack the case before another body turns up?

My Review

This book has shown up as recommendations from friends as well as in my recommendations from Amazon several times in the past couple of months so after taking a break from some ARC reviews I decided to give this book a try.
This is a light, quick cozy mystery read.  It is shorter in length (at 197 pages) than most of the cozy mysteries that I read. That is always a concern for me when I look at the page length of a book.  Unless it's a novella that is part of an established series, many times I find that the author doesn't have enough time to properly develop the story, characters and mystery.  That was not the case here.  I didn't find that the shortened page length impacted the author's ability to develop the characters and lay out a well crafted mystery.
I thought Rachel was a personable character and I could relate to her both on an age level and where she was in her personal/professional life.  She is not a reckless or thoughtless sleuth and only becomes involved once the dead body of her neighbors recently declared dead husband is found in her backyard.  Rachel is coupled with a cast of diverse secondary characters including her two friends that round out the cast nicely.

I though the mystery was well done and carried throughout the entire story line.  The plot has a good pace that kept me turning pages.  There were also plenty of clues with some twists and turns thrown in the mix to keep the reader guessing.  I had some suspicions about who I thought might be the culprit but did not guess the motive or the correct person.  

This is was fun, quick read with a personable protagonist, a well rounded cast of secondary characters and a mystery that kept me guessing.  I will be adding this series to my to be read list and will be returning to Jupiter Grove to read the other books in the series.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Peppermint Mocha Murder

Author:  Pam Moll
Series:  A Molly Brewster Mystery #1
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publication Date:  April 14, 2018
Source:  Amazon Kindle Unlimited

Description:  Molly Brewster’s new café bookshop is the go-to spot for strong coffee, flaky pastries, and juicy gossip. But everything changes when the tide washes a dead body up on shore… practically on the shop’s doorstep. As a newcomer to the tight knit South Florida village, the local sheriff pegs Molly as the prime suspect.

Determined to track down the real killer to clear her name, Molly enlists the help of her loyal chocolate lab, her cantankerous Granny Dee, and the handsome Officer Lucky. With Holly Fest just days away, she must rely on her wits and her fiery spirit to crack the case. Molly’s holiday season is about to go from hectic to downright dangerous…
Peppermint Mocha Murder is the lighthearted first book in the Holidays Are Murder series, a set of cozy mysteries. If you like mouthwatering recipes, charming island villages, and twists you won’t see coming, then you’ll love Pam Moll’s delectable whodunnit.

My Review

Lately I have been reading a lot of advanced reader copies of new releases.  Don't get me wrong, I love being an ARC reader and helping authors promote their books and series.  However, it started to feel like the books were running my reading schedule and not me.  So, I decided to take a break and read a cozy mystery that was just for me.  
I had seen a couple of reviews for this book on Goodreads and when I read the blurb and saw that it was part of my Kindle Unlimited subscription I decided to take a chance on this new to me author and the book.
This is the first book in Ms. Moll's new series featuring Molly Brewster, the owner of Addicted to the Bean, a new cafe bookshop in southern Florida.  Molly has recently started her business with an inheritance left to her by her grandfather.  Right from the start of the book I found her to be a likable character who was warm and genuine.  She is surrounded by a cast of diverse secondary characters comprised of her employees, her grandmother - Granny Dee, and Officer Lucky with whom she has a budding romance.  Molly unwittingly becomes a suspect in a murder investigation after finding the body of one of the townspeople on the beach.  As a result, Mo feels she must clear her name before the police arrest her for a murder she didn't commit.  I thought Molly was a good amateur sleuth but a bit impetuous which got her into some trouble she didn't necessarily need to find herself in.  

The mystery was good and woven throughout the story.  The victim was not well liked in the town so the author provide the reader with plenty of suspects all of whom had a good motive to commit murder.  There were enough clues peppered throughout the story to keep the reader guessing as to the identity of the culprit.  I will say that I was surprised by the culprit but it made sense and fit within the overall story and plot.

I enjoyed this author and the story and will check back in for the next book in the series. 

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Comic Sans Murder

Author:  Paige Shelton
Series:  A Dangerous Type Mystery #3
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Berkley
Publication Date:  December 2017

Description:  The visit of quirky world-famous horror author Nathan Grimes to Star City is especially thrilling for Clare Henry and her grandfather Chester. As the owners of The Rescued Word, a charming boutique shop in town, Clare and Chester specialize in restoring old typewriters and repairing beloved books. They’ve invited Nathan to their shop to use their equipment for his next book.
But all plans to work on the book take a step in the wrong direction when a tourist discovers an abandoned ski boot on the slopes—and the only sign of the owner is the dismembered foot he left inside! Nathan’s writer’s curiosity for all things horror is further piqued after the body of Clare’s high school friend Lloyd Gavin is discovered sans one foot. When all toes point to a class reunion gone wrong, Nathan can’t help but join Clare and her best friend, police officer Jodie Wentworth, as they hurry to track down the killer before more former classmates become Most Likely to Be Killed.

My Review

I've been reading a lot of advanced reader copies of new books so far this year and I decided that I really need to catch up on some series and books that have been on the to be read list.  So, it's time to return to Star City Utah to see what new trouble Clare and her friends can stir up.  Paige Shelton has crafted a terrific series with characters that hook you from the beginning.  This third book in the Dangerous Type Mystery series was just as entertaining as the first two.  

What continues to draw me to Paige Shelton books is the way she crafts her characters and combines them with engaging mysteries.  Clare Henry is one of those characters.  In fact, She is well rounded, dimensional and engaging.  I think the secondary cast of characters is also well developed and add to the overall depth of the story.  Clare continues to grown into her own as a protagonist and amateur sleuth.  She is still dating Seth and their relationship is written so that if feels natural and not rushed.

I thought the mystery in this third book was really well done and it kept me guessing.  Ms. Shelton certainly threw in plenty of plot twists that kept me re-evaluating my guess as to the culprit or culprits.  I love a mystery that keeps me guessing and on my toes.  This one definitely did that. 

I love reading about Clare, the Rescued Word and the rest of the citizens of Star City.  Ms. Shelton has crafted a delightful series that entertains and takes the reader along for the ride as a wonderfully crafted mystery unfolds.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

A Magical Match

Author:  Juliet Blackwell
Series:  A Witchcraft Mystery #9
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Berkley
Publication Date:  April 3, 2018

Description:  Lily Ivory and her friends are planning a 1950s-themed brunch to benefit the local women's shelter. When a figure from her past shows up unannounced, threatening her unless she returns something that belonged to him, Lily's fiancé, Sailor, steps in to defend her. After the same man is found dead later that day, Sailor is the primary suspect. He swears he's innocent, but multiple witnesses ID him as the perpetrator of the assault. Lily vows to clear his name...only she's not sure where to start with the mounting evidence against him. 

When she sees Sailor in the neighborhood despite knowing he's in jail, Lily starts to wonder if there could be a doppelganger in San Francisco. When she's not busy helping customers find matching outfits for the upcoming event, searching for a vintage wedding dress for her own nuptials, and dealing with an ill-timed magical cold, Lily begins to suspect one of her magical foes is targeting her loved ones in an attempt to weaken her.

My Review

It's been almost two years since readers have had a new book in this series, so when I received a notice that there was a release date for book 9, it was an automatic pre-order.  This is one of my favorite paranormal cozy mystery series and I have loved the characters, the setting and the mysteries from the very first book.

What keeps me coming back to this series is the author and the characters.  Ms. Blackwell has a writing style that creates such a wonderful world that the reader is instantly transported to San Francisco and becomes engaged in the story.  Lily Ivory is a wonderful protagonist.  I have enjoyed watching her grow and develop through the course of nine books now.  It hasn't always been an easy journey.  Lily struggles to continue on her path to grown her talent and powers and a witch while balancing that with the family she has created with her friends.  The secondary cast of characters  is delightful.  It is comprised of both human and magical characters that each has a role to play in Lily's life and development.  I also like that Lily has found love.  Although, in typical Lily fashion, that goes a bit awry as well.

The mystery is well done and is woven through the entire story.  It has a unique premise involving a doppelganger who looks like Lily's fiance Sailor, which of course results in Sailor being arrested for a crime.  With an already full plate that includes a fundraiser at the shop, a wedding to plan, and a caravan of coven grandma's headed to San Francisco, Lily now has to add "get her fiance out of jail" to that list.  Because of the uniqueness of how the murder is committed, there are plenty of suspects to choose from in the magical community.  Ms. Blackwell throws in plenty of twists and turns to the mix to keep her readers guessing.  In the end, I was surprised by the identity of the killer, but it made sense.  j

This is a delightful series and one that I always pre-order.  It has wonderful characters that are rich and developed but continue to grow in each story.  The setting in a vintage clothes shop in San Francisco with paranormal elements which I find to be very interesting.  Top all that off with well crafted mysteries and strong plots and it hits all the marks I look for in a good cozy mystery series.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Lethal Literature

Author:  Kym Roberts
Series:  A Book Barn Mystery #4
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Lyrical Underground
Publication Date:  May 1, 2018

Description:  Sponsoring the literacy drive to benefit the foster care system should be a feel-good endeavor, but one of Charli’s helpers is definitely on another page. Charli’s dad is distracted and keeping something secret, which Charli suspects is a harmless flirtation with an attractive county clerk who offered to lend them a hand. It’s nothing to worry about—until the same clerk winds up dead…
When nosy locals begin pointing fingers, Charli finds herself entangled in a race to uncover the killer’s identity—and to get to the bottom of a shattering family secret that could rewrite her history in alarming ways. Suddenly Charli is facing her worst fears and her childhood nemesis in order to unmask a murderer—before he silences her for good…

My Review

It is time to return to Hazel Rock, Texas to check in on Charli Rae and her pink armadillo Princess to see what new trouble has arisen.  Because, lets face it, if there is trouble in Hazel Rock, Charli is most like right in the middle of it.

This is the fourth book in this series and I have enjoyed all of them. This one was a two day read for me. Charli Rae is a different type of character. She is a little scattered, impulsive and can be childish but she knows this about herself. She is loyal to those who are closest to her and will stand up and fight for them. The author has surrounded her with a good solid cast of secondary characters that balance and ground Charli Rae.  The one thing I hope that is resolved soon is Charli Rae's romantic life.  I just need her to make a decision because I am not a fan of the love triangle or a character that can't make a decision about a relationship.

The mystery was well written and flowed through the entire story. There were plenty of twists and turns that I did not see coming, relative to Charli's family. I was surprised but thought that the twists made sense and added to some of the tensions in the story. There were enough clues and some good red herrings thrown into the mix to keep the reader guessing as to the identity of the killer. And for those of you wondering, yes, Princess does play a role in helping save the day once again.

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

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Flowers and Foul Play

Author:  Amanda Flower
Series:  A Magic Garden Mystery #1
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date:  May 8, 2018

Description:  Florist Fiona Knox’s life isn’t smelling so sweet these days. Her fiancé left her for their cake decorator. Then, her flower shop wilted after a chain florist opened next door. So when her godfather, Ian MacCallister, leaves her a cottage in Scotland, Fiona jumps on the next plane to Edinburgh. Ian, after all, is the one who taught her to love flowers. But when Ian’s elderly caretaker Hamish MacGregor shows her to the cottage upon her arrival, she finds the once resplendent grounds of Duncreigan in a dreadful shambles—with a dead body in the garden.

Minutes into her arrival, Fiona is already being questioned by the handsome Chief Inspector Neil Craig and getting her passport seized. But it’s Craig’s fixation on Uncle Ian’s loyal caretaker, Hamish, as a prime suspect, that really makes her worried. As Fiona strolls the town, she quickly realizes there are a whole bouquet of suspects much more likely to have killed Alastair Croft, the dead lawyer who seems to have had more enemies than friends. 

My Review

I can't think of anything better than a new book by author Amanda Flower, unless it is a new series by this author.  I am a huge fan and have made no secret about how much I love her writing and her books.  Her cozy mysteries hit all the marks I look for when selecting a book in this genre.  Her writing style flows with such description that you can easily picture yourself in whatever setting she has created.  Her characters come to life as the reader turns the pages and is transported to into the story for hours of enjoyment.  

Flowers and Foul Play, set in Scotland, has endearing characters, a well written plot and an enchanting garden that provides a bit of magic to the story.  Fiona Knox is an American who inherits property in Scotland from her deceased godfather.  Given what Fiona has gone through (a broken engagement and the closing of her business) she doesn't give in to pity but sets out on an adventure to Scotland to deal with her inheritance.  Like so many of the protagonists that Ms. Flower's writes, Fiona has strength and resilience to begin again.  Her new adventure, however, doesn't begin as she imagined after she finds a dead body in the garden.  There is a diverse and eclectic cast of secondary characters that I am really looking forward to getting to know in future books. 

The mystery is what a reader/fan would expect from Ms. Flower.  It is woven throughout the story and the author provides her readers with plenty of clues, twists,  and turns.  While the victim was a "hometown" boy, it appears that he lost some of his shine through his recent actions.  This allows the author to open up the suspect pool and give the reader plenty of suspect to choose from.  I did not suspect the identity of the killer and thought the reveal was climatic.  There is also the mystery of the garden, how that will play out in Fiona's life and how it will lead her to help others.

I was highly entertained with this new series, the setting and the characters.  And, as you may have already guessed, I will be returning to Scotland to see what Ms. Flower has in store next for Fiona Knox.

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

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Murder in the Locked Library

Author:  Ellery Adams
Series:  A Book Retreat Mystery #4
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Kensington
Publication Date:  April 24, 2018

Description:  Welcome to Storyton Hall, Virginia, where book lovers travel from near and far to enjoy the singular comforts of the Agatha Christie Tea Room, where they can discuss the merits of their favorite authors no matter how deadly the topic . . . 
With her twins, Fitzgerald and Hemingway, back in school, Jane Steward can finally focus on her work again—managing Storyton Hall, and breaking ground on the resort’s latest attraction: a luxurious, relaxing spa named in honor of Walt Whitman. But when the earth is dug up to start laying the spa’s foundation, something else comes to the surface—a collection of unusual bones and the ragged remnants of a very old book. The attendees of the Rare Book Conference are eager to assist Jane with this unexpected historical mystery—until a visitor meets an untimely end in the Henry James Library. As the questions—and suspects—start stacking up, Jane will have to uncover a killer before more unhappy endings ensue . . .

My Review

I am a fan of Ellery Adams and haven't read a series written by her that I haven't thoroughly enjoyed.  When Berkley cancelled this series I was disappointed.  I thought there was so much potential for these characters and this setting.  So, when Kensington picked it up and I was offered the chance to read an advanced reader copy, well I couldn't turn down the opportunity.

I have missed Jane, her family and the staff of Storyton Hall.  I think the premise of this series has a unique twist on a bibliophile theme and with each new story Ms. Adams continues to draw me back to this series.  I find her to be a terrific storyteller. No matter what book or series I am reading, Ms. Adams has a way of writing a plot, crafting characters and creating a setting that just draws me into the story. This book was no exception. 

Jane Steward is an engaging character.  She is already well written, but I can still see the growth and potential in her character.  She is a single mother of twin boys but she also harbors her family secret and the role she plays.  I think Ms. Adams has crafted a set of secondary characters that are rich, unique, quirky, interesting and complement Jane's characters to give the reader a well balanced and rounded set of characters.  Jane's two boys are adorable and precocious.  I really like how the author is working them into the story and the family's history instead of having them as just the children of the protagonist.

The mystery was well plotted and woven throughout the entire story.   I thought there was a nice twist on the mystery in this book.  What starts out as a historical mystery soon turns to murder, allowing the author to combine the past and present into a mystery that kept me guessing.  The murder takes place at another Storyton event.  Although there were many guests attending the event, there were really only a few suspects that were viable candidates to be the culprit. Ms. Adams weaves plenty of clues and some really well done twists and turns that I didn't not expect. The reveal was climatic and leaves the reader with a lingering question that I hope will be solved in the next installment.

I find this to be an interesting premise on the bibliophile theme coupled with engaging characters and a charming setting crafted by an author who has a great talent for storytelling.  I will definitely be returning to Storyton for as long as the series continues.

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

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Read Herring Hunt

Author:  V. M. Burns
Series:  A Mystery Bookshop Mystery #2
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Kensington
Publication Date:  April 24, 2018

Description:  To the town of North Harbor, Michigan, MISU quarterback Dawson Alexander is a local hero. To Samantha Washington, owner of the Market Street Mysteries Bookstore, Dawson is more than a tenant—he’s like an adopted son. But to the police, he is their prime suspect after his ex-girlfriend is found murdered. It’s more than enough real-life drama for Sam to tackle, but her role as a mystery writer also calls. Returning to the English countryside between the wars, she finds Lady Daphne Marsh in quite the quandary. Someone has tried to murder the scandalous American divorcée Wallis Simpson, for whom Edward VIII so recently abdicated his throne. It seems finding a suspect is no small challenge when most of England has a motive . . .
While Sam’s lawyer sister Jenna rushes in to build Dawson's defense, Sam and her lively grandmother, Nana Jo, huddle up to solve the mystery and blow the whistle on the real killer. With the tenacious members of the Sleuthing Senior Book Club eager to come off the sidelines, Sam and her team just might stop a killer from completing another deadly play.

My Review

When I finished the first book in this series, I was excited to see what Ms. Burns had in store for these characters and this series.  She  delivered a second book, that for me, continues to build on the excellent series she has started.

I love the setting for this series - Michigan.  It is my home state and I am instantly drawn into the fictional town of North Harbor and can picture the western side of the state as I read this book.  As soon as I opened the book, I was drawn into the story and started to get reacquainted with Sam, Nana Jo and the rest of the characters.   I like all of the characters and it was nice to see Sam's character grow and start to emerge from her grief. Nana Jo and the rest of the ladies from the retirement community make a return appearance and provide a lot of fun and humor to the story. The secondary cast of characters is solid and rounds out the story nicely. I know some people struggle with this, but I am a fan of the story in a story. In fact, I find myself equally engaged in both mysteries.  In fact, if Ms. Burns ever decides to write about Lady Elizabeth and her family, it is definitely a historical cozy series that I would be interested in reading.

I thought the mystery was woven nicely throughout the entire story. The author offers the readers a few different suspects who may have committed the crimes. It was a bit surprising to me that I figured out the identity of the killer before it was revealed and was close to the motive. That said, it didn't detract from my enjoyment because it is always interesting to me to see how the protagonist discovers the identity of the culprit and how it is revealed.

I will be back for more in this series.  I find the characters very likable and relatable, the setting charming and the mysteries solid.

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

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Murder at the Mushroom Festival

Author:  Janet Finsilver
Series:  A Kelly Jackson Mystery #4
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Lyrical Underground
Publication Date:  April 17, 2018

Description:  Redwood Cove Bed and Breakfast manager Kelly Jackson is hosting a cooking class during the Week of the Mushroom festival to attract guests, not drama. But soon after she finishes foraging for an edible mushroom species on sacred Native American land, a local newspaper reporter gets shot dead at the same site. With suspicions spreading like fungi in the quaint Northern Californian community over the culprit’s identity, Kelly and a savvy gang of sleuthing seniors known as the “Silver Sentinels” must uncover the truth about the secluded property before a tricky killer prepares another lethal surprise.

My Review

The fourth book in the Kelly Jackson Mystery series by Janet Finsilver is a delightful, entertaining addition to this series.  For me, this series has been enjoyable right from the start and this author has done a terrific job of keeping these characters engaging.  Each book just builds upon the last in terms of character development, steady plots, charming setting and entertaining mysteries.

Kelly Jackson is a very enjoyable main character.  She is settling in to her new life nicely and has made a terrific set of friend that comprise the secondary cast of characters.  What I enjoy is that the secondary characters are very diverse in age, background, personalities and circumstances.  Kelly has a good sense of self, comes across as level headed and doesn't purposely put herself in jeopardy when she and the Silver Sentinels are solving a case.  

The mystery is well done in this fourth book.  What I enjoy about the mysteries in this series is that there is always more than one and they are layered throughout the entire story.  Sometime it's hard to see it, but when the mysteries are resolved they tend to connect to one another on some level.  This is true for the mystery in this story.  There are plenty of suspects with differing motives along with a number of twist and turns thrown in for good measure.  

Whenever I pick up a Kelly Jackson mystery I know I am going to dig into a good mystery with wonderful characters that will keep me entertained throughout the entire story.

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

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Death by the Sea

Author:  Kathleen Bridge
Series:  A By the Sea Mystery #1
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Lyrical Underground
Publication Date:  April 3, 2018

Description:  The Indialantic by the Sea hotel has a hundred-year-old history on beautiful Melbourne Beach, Florida, and more than a few guests seem to have been there from the start. When Liz Holt returns home after an intense decade in New York, she’s happy to be surrounded by the eccentric clientele and loving relatives that populate her family-run inn, and doubly pleased to see the business is staying afloat thanks to its vibrant shopping emporium and a few very wealthy patrons.
But that patronage decreases by one when a filthy rich guest is discovered dead in her oceanfront suite. Maybe this is simply a jewel theft gone wrong, but maybe someone—or many people—wanted the hotel’s prosperous guest dead. Only one thing is sure: there’s a killer at the Indialantic, and if Liz lets herself be distracted—by her troubled past or the tempting man who seems eager to dredge it back up—the next reservation she’ll book could be at the cemetery.

My Review

This is the first book in a new series by author Kathleen Bridge and the first book that I have read by this author.  I have heard good things about her Home and Garden Mystery series, so when I was offered the opportunity to read an advanced reader copy I was happy to give it a try.  I also was pleased to learn that she has roots in my home state of Michigan as well.

I found Death by the Sea to be a delightful start to a new series for Liz and the rest of the residents of the Indialantic Hotel in Florida.  I was entertained from start to finish.  The books is well written and the story just flows taking the reader along for the ride.  I really liked the character of Liz Holt.  While she has returned home after some tragic events in New York, she has spunk and doesn't let what happened define who she is.  Ms. Bridges surrounds Liz, with a great cast of secondary characters that are diverse in age, background and personalities.   Aunt Amelia was my favorite.  She is quirky in a good way that will endear her to the reader.  

The mystery was solid and built to the murder which occurred about 1/2 way through the book.  There were a good number of suspects to choose from and with the help of some residents of the Indialantic, Liz and the crew are able to solve the murder.  There is even a touch of romance for Liz.  

I enjoyed this book and will be continuing with the series.  I am looking forward to see how Liz grows in her new life and what path her writing career takes.  I voluntarily read an advanced reader copy provided to me by the publisher, Lyrical Underground, through Netgalley.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Til Death Do Us Party

Author:  Vickie Fee
Series:  A Liv and Di in Dixie Mystery #4
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Kensington
Publication Date:  March 27, 2018

Description:  Las Vegas knows how to party, and for once, event planner Liv McKay won’t be entirely behind the scenes. The Dixie gang is in Sin City to celebrate Mama and Earl’s rockin’ Elvis-themed wedding. And between juggling the botched bachelorette party and a problem-plagued soirée back home, Liv’s ready to double down on some fun.

Mama & Earl’s happily-ever-after seems like a sure thing, but all bets (and nuptials) are off when they get to the Burning Love Wedding Chapel. Their Elvis-impersonating minister has left the building . . . permanently. And even worse, Liv’s cousin, Little Junior, is suspected of his murder.

With Mama’s happy ending on the table and Little Junior about to lose it all, the stakes are higher than ever. Liv and her best friend, Di, must hit the Strip to find the real killer before he finally plays his ace.

My Review

This is such a terrific series and always so entertaining, that when Vickie Fee offered me a chance at an advanced reader copy I couldn't turn her down.  As some of you know, it has been a tough month and 1/2 for me having lost my dad suddenly and unexpectedly in mid-February.  When I was ready to dive back into reading, a Liv and Di mystery was definitely what I needed.

This book picks up right where book 3 ended, and the group is in Vegas for of Virginia and Earl. One would hope that Liv and Di could stay our of trouble long enough to see her Mama married, but trouble just follows this duo wherever they go. These characters are so much fun to read about. They have depth, wit and humor. I love the friendship between Liv and Di but the relationships between all of the characters are what make this series engaging. The secondary cast of characters always add to the story and I think that Liv's husband Larry Joe exhibits quite a bit of patience where his wife's sleuthing is concerned.  We also get meet some of Liv's unique extended family in this book which just added to the overall enjoyment of the story.

The mystery doesn't occur until about 1/3 through the book, but honestly it didn't detract from the story. I was enjoying reading about the wedding preparations and meeting Liv's cousin, Little Junior. I thought the mystery was well done and carried well throughout the rest of the story.  While there were not a lot of suspects, I thought there were enough twists and turns to throw me off and I was surprised the identity of the killer. 

I really enjoy this series and feel honored that the author was kind enough to provide me with an advanced reader copy. If you are a fan of this series, you won't want to miss this installment. I will definitely be back to see what the author has in store next for Liv and Di. 

Saturday, March 24, 2018

The Uninvited Corpse

Author:  Debra Sennefelder
Series:  Food Blogger Mystery #1
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Kensington
Publication Date:  March 27, 2018

Description:  Hope’s schedule is already jam packed with recipe testing and shameless plugs for her food blog as she rushes off to attend a spring garden tour in the charming town of Jefferson, Connecticut. Unfortunately, it isn’t the perfectly arranged potted plants that grab her attention—it’s the bloody body of reviled real estate agent Peaches McCoy.
One of the tour guests committed murder, and all eyes are on Hope’s older sister, Claire Dixon—who, at best, saw Peaches as a professional rival. And suspicions really heat up when another murder occurs the following night. Now, with two messy murders shaking Jefferson and all evidence pointing to Claire, Hope must set aside her burgeoning brand to prove her sister’s innocence. But the closer she gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer intent on making sure her life goes permanently out of style.

My Review

This is the first in a new series by Debra Sennefelder featuring Hope Early, a food blogger.  What initially drew me to this series was the food blogger premise.  I read another series where the main character was a food blogger and enjoy it so I thought I would give this one a try.  I found it to be a very enjoyable start to a new series.

Hope Early is one of those characters that I liked right from the start.  She is finding her footing again in her home town after some set backs that played out publicly.  Hope comes across the page as genuine, caring and someone who values family and friends.  I also enjoyed the relationship she has with her sister, Claire.  They are very different from each other in terms of personalities and how they live but their relationship feels genuine and one to which I could relate.  Once her sister becomes a suspect in two murders, Hope feels she has no choice but to offer her assistance to the police to help them see suspects beyond Claire.

I thought the mystery was well written.  The victim was not well liked by plenty of people in the town, allowing the author to provide her readers with plenty of viable suspects.  There are a clues woven through the twists and turns of the story and kept this reader guessing until the climatic reveal.  I was surprised by the identity of the killer and this person was really never on my radar.  I thought Hope proved to be a good amateur sleuth; she wasn't too impetuous and did try to share her theories and clues with the authorities.  There is even a potential for some romance down the line for Hope as well.

I thought this was a charming first in a new series that provides well written characters, a steady pace that keeps the reader turning pages, a solid mystery that kept me guessing and a satisfying conclusion.  I will be continuing with this series and look forward to the next book.

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

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Lethal In Old Lace

Author:  Duffy Brown
Series:  A Consignment Shop Mystery #5
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date:  March 13, 2018

Description:  There are two social functions in Savannah guaranteed to get people talking: weddings and funerals. And just as consignment shop owner Reagan Summerside agrees to marry the hunky Walker Boone, her neighbors, sisters Annie Fritz and Elsie Abbot, step up their business as professional mourners. They are so successful that the Sleepy Pines Retirement Center has hired them as a part of their retirement package. But the celebration over good business is cut short when the residents at Pines suddenly begin dying at an alarming rate. And the sisters are the first suspects.

My Review

I will start out by saying I love this series and I am so happy to have a new installment. It has been awhile since the last book because the author changed publishers.  When I opened the first page and began to read, it felt like coming home to visit old friends.

Opening a Consignment Shop mystery by Duffy Brown is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face, brighten your day and keep you entertained. This series, in my opinion, has some of the best characters in the cozy mystery genre. The characters are all well written, have depth, wit and humor.  Reagan, Aunt Kiki and the Judge just depict what I imagine of modern southern women - intelligence, wit, style, humor and charm.  And as the cherry on top of the sundae, we get what I think most readers were hoping for - a wedding between Boone Walker and Reagan.  Let's face it, Boone Walker is the perfect husband for Reagan; he has the patience for her sleuthing along with its trouble and has the skill to spring her from jail when/if needed.  The perfect qualities in a husband for Reagan Summerside.

The mystery is well crafted with plenty of suspects to choose from as well as twists and turns that will keep you guessing. Even though Reagan has sworn off any more dead bodies now that she is engaged, the corpses didn't get the message and once again she sets out to save some beloved friends.  There are plenty of suspects to choose from as well as potential new victims - especially once Aunt Kiki checks into Sleepy Pines.  The story is fast paced and keeps the reader on their toes with a climatic ending that will cement Bruce Willis as the perfect dog for Reagan and Boone.

If you are a fan of this author and/or series, don't miss this book. You will not be disappointed.  I voluntarily read an advanced reader copy provided to me by the publisher, Crooked Lane Books, through Netgalley.