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 soirĂ©e 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. 

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Who Moved My Goat Cheese?

Author:  Lynn Cahoon
Series:  A Farm-to-Fork Mystery #1
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Lyrical Underground
Publication Date:  March 6, 2018

Description:  Angie Turner hopes her new farm-to-table restaurant can be a fresh start in her old hometown in rural Idaho. But when a goat dairy farmer is murdered, Angie must turn the tables on a bleating black sheep . . .
With three weeks until opening night for their restaurant, the County Seat, Angie and her best friend and business partner Felicia are scrambling to line up local vendors—from the farmer's market to the goat dairy farm of Old Man Moss. Fortunately, the cantankerous Moss takes a shine to Angie, as does his kid goat Precious. So when Angie hears the bloodcurdling news of foul play at the dairy farm, she jumps in to mind the man's livestock and help solve the murder. One thing's for sure, there's no whey Angie's going to let some killer get her goat.

My Review

This is the first in a new series for author Lynn Cahoon.  There are several reason I picked up this book.  First, who could resist the title and the terrific cover.  Second, I loved the premise as farm to table is a big trend in areas of the state I live in.  Finally, while I discovered this author only recently through her Cat Latimer Mystery Series, I have become of a fan of her books and storytelling.

This is a wonderful start to this new series.  I loved the fresh premise on the culinary cozy mystery - farm to table.  This is a popular trend in the northern part of the state where I live.  In this story we meet Angie and her friend Felicia who are getting ready to open their new farm to table restaurant in Idaho town where Angie lived with her grandmother as a teenager.   I enjoyed Angie's characters.  She came across the page as independent, kind and focused on making the restaurant a success.  Her friend Felicia appears to be the more outgoing  of the two on the social side, but just as hard working and focused on her professional success.  I hope we get more of her backstory as the series unfolds.  In additional there are a cast of secondary characters, including neighbors, town people, a dog and a baby goat that round out the cast nicely.

While at the farmers market to find local vendor for her restaurant, Angie meets Mr. Moss who makes goat cheese.  Unfortunately, he is murdered and Angie is drawn into solving he mystery.  Mr. Moss is very curmudgeonly and liked by many of the town people, so when his death is determined to be by foul play, Angie feels like she needs to help.  Mr. Moss had plenty of secrets which come out as Angie searches for his killer.  The author keeps a steady pace to the story and while I did guess the killer's identity before the reveal, it was done in a climatic fashion that wrapped up the story nicely.

I am a fan of this authors writing and this book is a delightful start to a new series.  It has a fresh take on the culinary cozy theme and is peppered with interesting characters and a solid mystery.

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

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Lethal Licorice

Author:  Amanda Flower
Series:  An Amish Candy Shop Mystery #2
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Publisher:  Kensington
Publication Date:  February 27, 2018

Description:  Harvest, Ohio, is a long way from New York City, where Bailey King left a coveted job as a head chocolatier to take over Swissmen Sweets, her Amish grandparents’ candy shop. Now, while caring for her recently widowed grandmother, she plans to honor her grandfather’s memory by entering the annual Amish Confectionery Competition. But between lavender blueberry fudge and chocolate cherry ganache truffles, Bailey may have bitten off more than she can chew when the search for a missing pot-bellied pig turns up a body suffering from sugar overload—the fatal kind . . .
A candy maker from a neighboring town who wanted Englischer Bailey disqualified for being an outsider, Josephine Weaver died from an allergy to an essential licorice ingredient. The suspects include: Josephine’s niece, a young woman going through her rumspringa, or running around time, and Bailey herself. Now it falls to Bailey, who’s sweet on the local sheriff’s deputy, to clear their names and entice a killer with a cast-iron stomach for cold-blooded murder. 

My Review

I am a huge fan of author Amanda Flower.  I don't think I have read a series yet that I haven't loved.  When I pick up a book by this author I know that I am going to be taken on a adventure that will leave me entertained and eager to return to the fictional world she has created.  The Amish Candy Shop Mystery series is no exception. 

Bailey King is trying to learn how to fit in to two worlds, Amish and English, while helping her grandmother run the candy shop.  This books picks up shortly after the first, so Bailey and her grandmother are still mourning the loss of her grandfather.  The last think she needs is another dead body.  Unfortunately for Bailey, she is there when another one is found.

What I love about Amanda Flower is that she provides her readers with the total package.  Her characters are genuine, authentic, and well developed. These are people a reader can easily relate to and care about.  The settings are charming and come to life through her descriptions.  The plot is fast paced, and the mystery is woven nicely through the story.  The deceased was not well liked, even in the Amish community, so the suspect pool is plentiful.  There are some nice twist and turns to divert the readers attention.  I was surprised by how the mystery wrapped up.  There is even a bit of a possible romance brewing for Bailey.  We will just have to see how things go.

I voluntarily read an advanced review copy provided to me by the publisher, Kensington, through Netgalley.  I will definitely be back to read the next book in the series.