Saturday, January 27, 2018

Murder Borrowed, Murder Blue

Author:  Stephanie Blackmoore
Series:  A Wedding Planner Mystery #3
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Kensington
Publication Date:  January 30, 2018

Description:  Actress Dakota Craig is set to tie the knot with her famous musician boyfriend at Mallory’s Pennsylvania B&B on the most romantic day of the year. Best of all, the whole thing will air on the reality TV show I Do. But the maid of honor has dropped out of the wedding party—by dropping dead. 
A lot of people insist the show must go on, so Mallory’s investigation keeps getting sidetracked by everything from a meddling mother to a foot of snow to a side project making arrangements for a high school Winter Ball. But if she doesn’t catch the noxious culprit, the bride might wind up with a funeral wreath instead of a bouquet.

My Review

This is the third book in the Wedding Planner Mystery series by this author.  Having read all of the books to date, I think fans of this series fill find this installment to be very enjoyable.  I found this book to be a whirlwind read that will keep readers turning the pages to discover the killer's identity.   

One of the things that I enjoy about this series, and have since the very first book, is the relationship between the sisters - Mallory and Rachel.  Having a sister myself, I can relate to their relationship and some of the growing pains and the triumphs.  Both are terrific characters and because they are so different, they complement each other.  It makes for a good balance between them with the usual sibling tension thrown into the mix.  The regular cast of secondary characters make a return along with some new one. 

The mystery was really engaging.  There is a lot happening and I was glued to the pages trying to figure out which one of the characters was the culprit.  The murder and other events in the present day are tied to a murder that occurred thirteen years prior.  Many of the suspects in the current murder are in one way or another linked to the past murder.  I thought this made for plenty of plausible suspects and definitely plenty of twists.  The number of possible suspects gave the author the opportunity to plant clues that could implicate one or more of the suspects so I was always on my toes.  I didn't guess the culprit and was surprised by the identity.  The reveal came with a very dramatic conclusion to a mystery that had Mallory in jeopardy more than once.

I very much enjoy this series and thought this book was highly entertaining.  The characters are well written, the plot was fast paced and the mystery engaging.  I will definitely be back to see what Mallory and Rachel have in store for them with the next wedding they plan.

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

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Biscuits and Slashed Browns

Author:  Maddie Day
Series:  A Country Store Mystery #4
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Kensington
Publication Date:  January 30, 2018

Description:  As Robbie arranges a breakfast-themed cook-off at Pans ‘N Pancakes, visitors pour into Brown County for the annual maple extravaganza. Unfortunately, that includes Professor Connolly, a know-it-all academic from Boston who makes enemies everywhere he goes—and this time, bad manners prove deadly. Soon after clashing with several scientists at a maple tree panel, the professor is found dead outside a sugar shack, stabbed to death by a local restaurateur’s knife. When an innocent woman gets dragged into the investigation and a biologist mysteriously disappears, Robbie drops her winning maple biscuits to search for answers. But can she help police crack the case before another victim is caught in a sticky situation with a killer?

My Review

This is the fourth book in the Country Store Mystery series by Maddie Day and I continue to enjoy each new book as much as the previous one.  Set in the Midwest, which is where I am from, I find this series to be an easy, fun read.

The main character, Robbie Jordan, is a terrific heroine for this cozy mystery series.  Still settling in after moving from California, Robbie continues to grow and develop as a character.  She is smart, caring, independent and can get herself into trouble without much effort.  The regular cast of secondary characters make their appearances as well.  The characters are enhanced by a charming Midwest setting and some terrific local dialect thrown in the dialogue between the characters.  

The mystery itself was engaging.  The victim was not well liked by his professional peers, so this allowed the author to provide her readers with plenty of suspects to choose from.  Once again, Robbie is drawn into a murder to help someone she knows who is involved with the investigation.  This time, there are a couple of people she knows that are suspects.  The author did a great job of weaving in clues, twists and turns to try and throw the reader's attention off the real killer.  I had a suspicion about the identity of the killer but it did not diminish my enjoyment (as most of you know - I'm rarely right in my guesses so odds were good I was wrong).  The mystery wound up with a climatic ending that leaves this reader hoping Robbie doesn't have any more of these close calls.

This is a wonderful culinary cozy mystery series with great characters, terrific local dialect, a charming setting and an engaging mystery.  I am looking forward to book five in the series when we Robbie's dad comes for a visit.

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

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Scone Cold Killer

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

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

My Review

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

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

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

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

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Another One Bites The Crust

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

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

My Review

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

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

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

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

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