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 fiancé, 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 café, 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.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

A Souffle of Suspicion

Author:  Daryl Wood Gerber
Series:  A French Bistro Mystery #2
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date:  July 10, 2018

Description:  The buoyant mood at Bistro Rousseau deflates when Chef Camille’s sister, Renee, turns up dead in the chef’s kitchen, and Mimi Rousseau must tease the real killer out of a mélange of menacing characters.

Crush Week in Nouvelle Vie is a madhouse—in a good way. Tourists pour into town for the pressing of the Napa Valley’s world-renowned grapes and all the town’s businesses get a nice lift, including Bistro and Maison Rousseau. Mimi is raising the ante this year with a Sweet Treats Festival, a wonderland of croissants, cakes, tarts, and soufflés crafted with expert care by the area’s top talents. 

Chef Camille’s sister Renee is managing the festival with a cast-iron fist, upsetting everyone, including her sister. Which is bad for Camille when Renee turns up dead in the chef’s kitchen. Mimi is still building her business, so her first course of action is to whip up answers and catch the unsavory perpetrator before Camille takes a dusting and gets burned. 

My Review

It's time to take another trip back to Napa Valley and check in with Mimi Rousseau and the rest of the employees at Bistro and Maison Rousseau.  I have been a fan of this authors series written under both Daryl Wood Gerber and Avery Aames.  Her culinary cozy mysteries are always filled with enjoyable characters, great food descriptions and mysteries that leave you guessing.  The French Bistro Mystery series continues to follow in this tradition and I enjoyed this second book.

Once again, this author brings both the Masion Rousseau and the Bistro alive with her wonderful descriptions of the location and the characters.  Mimi is really coming into her own gaining more confidence as business owner.  She is an easy character to like.  She is well written with depth and personality.  The cast of secondary characters are equally as strong and deep, with each one complementing the other.  I also think the author is doing a wonderful job progressing the romance between Mimi and Nash. 

Once again, Mimi is drawn into investigating a murder when Chef C's sister Renee is murdered and Chef C herself is under suspicion.  The author does a terrific job setting up the murder and carrying the mystery throughout the entire story.  There are plenty of suspects with differing motives so it gives the reader a lot to consider.  Ms. Wood Gerber also peppers plenty of twists and turns throughout.  Because not much is known about Renee as a character, it was easy for this reader to fall for twists/turns and I waffled on who I thought was the real culprit.  The story and mystery had a great pace and I kept turning pages until the big reveal at the end.  I only really considered this person as a suspect as Mimi honed in the character.  However, the motive was a surprise and one I did not guess.

This is a wonderfully written culinary cozy set in the world of Napa Valley.  It is filled with great descriptions of food (I think I gained 5 pounds reading this book), locations and characters.  If you haven't had a chance to read a book by this author I suggest you give her a try.  Both books in this series can be read as stand alone's and I don't think a reader would be lost.  I will definitely be back for the next books in the series.

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

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Killer Green Tomatoes

Author:  Lynn Cahoon
Series:  A Farm-to-Fork Mystery #2
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Lyrical Underground
Publication Date:  July 3, 2018

Description:  The time seems ripe for success as Angie Turner opens her farm-to-table restaurant in her Idaho hometown—until her new tomato supplier is accused of murder and Angie has to pick the real killer . . .

To Angie, nothing tastes more like summer than her Nona's fried green tomatoes. Eager to add the recipe to the menu at the County Seat, she's found the perfect produce supplier—her sous chef Estebe’s cousin, Javier. Just one problem: ladies’ man Javier’s current hot tomato Heather has turned up dead, and he’s the prime suspect. Somehow, between managing her restaurant and navigating a romantic triangle between Estebe and Ian, the owner/manager of the farmer's market, Angie needs to produce evidence to clear Javier—before this green tomato farmer gets fried.

My Review

If you enjoyed the first book in this series, then you will want to add this one to your to be read list.  Lynn Cahoon is a wonderful storyteller and has the ability to create diverse  characters that appeal to a wide variety of readers.  Angie Turner is one of those characters.

I like Angie.  She is a bit of a type A personality so I can relate to her on a personal level.  She is very likable but also can be set in her ways.  I like that she has made her own family out of friends and colleagues.  I like the message that family isn't always the one that you were born into.  Sometimes you can "make" a family with people who love, respect and care for you but don't necessary have the same biology.  I also like the way that Ms. Cahoon is developing Angie's characters and giving us growth.  The secondary cast of characters are very enjoyable and we are getting to know them a bit better in this second book.  Her best friend is a good complement to her personality.

The mystery was solid in this second entry in the series.  This time, Angie is asked by one of her colleagues to help prove his cousin was not responsible for the death of his former girlfriend.  While she tries to stay out of it, Angie just can't help but be drawn in, much to the dismay of the Sheriff.  I like that Angie is careful (probably her type A personalty)  and shares her discoveries with the Sheriff.  There aren't a lot of suspects but the clues are woven throughout the book.  It turns out there are two culprits each committing a different but related crime.  I got one of them correct (finally!) but didn't guess the identity of the second culprit.  Once revealed in a dramatic fashion it made sense.

I enjoy Lynn Cahoon's books, characters, stories and writing style.  I always finish one of her cozy mysteries having been entertained and looking forward to the next.

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

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Till Death Do Us Tart

Author:  Ellie Alexander
Series:  A Bakeshop Mystery #8
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  St. Martin's Press
Publication Date:  June 26, 2018

Description:  Jules Capshaw has too much on her plate—and she’s feeling the pinch: the whole town of Ashland, Oregon, is in on the surprise Elizabethan-themed wedding she’s planning for her mom and soon-to-be stepdad. But is her secret scheme half-baked? She’s hiding racks overflowing with sweet treats while Torte is topsy-turvy with a major remodel and the return of Jules’s estranged husband, Carlos. And until now, Jules had no clue about the bitter family feud that has her friend Lance frazzled and suspicious. But when a party crasher takes someone out with a serving of poisoned wine and Jules discovers the deadly cup was intended for her, it’s time to turn the tables on a killer.

My Review

This is such a delightful series and I love catching up with Juliet Capshaw, the crew at Torte and the rest of the residents of Ashland Oregon.  Ms. Alexander has done a terrific job creating a cast of characters that are so genuine and real that the jump off the pages of each story.  One of the aspects of this series that I have always enjoyed is the mother daughter relationship between Juliet and her mom.  In this installment we get to see that on display as Juliet throws her mom and the Professor a surprise Midsummer's Night Themed wedding.  Ms. Alexander has also done a really good job at writing these characters in a way that allows them to continue to grow.  This is especially trust with Juliet and her relationship with her husband Carlos.  While the author does leave us with a bit of wait to see what Juliet decides, I think we as readers and Juliet as a character are close to seeing a resolution.

I have always said that this is really a character driven cozy mystery series.  With some of the books the mystery tends to take a backseat to the relationship issue of the characters.  That's okay, because these are such great characters that, I, as a reader don't mind.  There are two inter-related mysteries in this particular installment that are well done and woven through most of the books.  There are some unexpected twists in terms of how the two mysteries intersect and I found the resolution to be satisfactory. 

All in all, this is a fun series, with a charming setting and delightful characters that draw the reader in and keep them returning  for each new book.

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

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.