Category Archives: ARC

Review: The Body in the Apartment by Judi Lynn

The Body in the Apartment
Judi Lynn
A Jazzi Zanders Mystery Series, Book 4
Paperback, 256 pages
Expected publication: March 17th 2020 by Lyrical Press
The charming homes of River Bluffs, Indiana, make perfect projects for house-flipper Jazzi Zanders. Less charming is her hothead brother-in-law, who’s a bit of a fixer-upper himself.
But could he also be a murderer? Jazzi married her gorgeous contractor Ansel—not his family. But somehow she keeps living with them. So she’s delighted to help Ansel’s brother Radley move out of their home and into his own place, in the same building as his work supervisor, Donovan. But when Donovan is shot and his apartment ransacked following an argument with Ansel and Radley’s older brother Bain, their sibling becomes a suspect—especially after his missing gun turns up as the murder weapon.Told not to leave town by Detective Gaff, big brother moves in with . . . Jazzi and Ansel. Now Jazzi needs to prove Bain’s no killer, not only to keep him out of jail—but to get him out of their house. What was the killer looking for in Donovan’s apartment? And what will happen to the next person who gets in the way?

 

 

 

4 Stars

 

A lighthearted and fun cozy mystery with extremely likable characters. The Body in the Apartment is my first forte into Judi Lynn’s writing and is very far from my last.

 

Jazzi is an awesome character, who can do just about anything. Not only can she hang drywall with the best of them, this woman can cook just about anything. She has a strong body and a strong mind yet cares above and beyond what friendship is and her sense of compassion is something that can’t be topped. Jazzi is one of those people that if she makes you a friend, you have become family. Even if that family drives her crazy, her loyalty is unwavering.

 

The Body in the Apartment finds House flipper Jazzi, her husband Ansel, and her cousin Jared In the middle of restoring a beautiful Victorian house while helping Ansel’s brother get a new start on his life when they stumble upon a murder that happens moments before. Getting mixed up in a murder is not something new to this trio but for me the way they go about it is exceptionally entertaining. Nothing like family drama to keep things interesting. What I found unique about this book was how the local cop enlisted Jazzi help and compassion with those that may be delicate to interview. This trio of characters along with their family and friends are extremely close and very nosy. Everyone seemed to know what was going on with everyone yet always seemed to help or support in any way they could.

 

The Body in the Apartment is a drama filled yet well written mystery with a good plot that keeps you thinking. I loved that Jazzi is always feeding everyone. You can definitely tell food is her thing and she loves sharing that with everyone. This book takes us from a gutted out it out house, to neighborhoods people have to be careful visiting to getting tangled with ex cons and making wedding cake. Ms. Lynn Has readers all over the place with this book and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.

Review: Death on the Page by Essie Lang

Death on the Page

Essie Lang

A Castle Bookshop Mystery, Book 2

Kindle Edition
Expected publication: March 10th 2020 by Crooked Lane Books

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Stars

 

I will admit when I read the description of this book and the setting was a bookstore within a castle I knew I had to read it. What reader doesn’t love a bookstore? Add in the fabulous setting of the castle you had me from the get go. Now when you add a compelling Plot that involves a true crime writer getting murdered inside said castle and you have more than peaked my interest.

 

The second installment of the Castle Bookshop Mystery, Death on the Page is an interesting and enjoyable read. Shelby Cox, co owner of the Thousand Island book stores and has the nose of a sleuth, host a signing for crime writer Savannah Page,  and she get more than her pages worth when the lady of the hour ends up murder inside the glorious castle. Shelby don’t necessarily want to help, yet she can’t seem to keep herself away from this binding murder.

 

Essie Lang knows how to catch her readers attention in more ways than one. The setting draws you into a beautiful place, the well-developed characters make the company fun and entertaining and then she gives you a plot that is well paced and keeps you attention fully in the book. Shelby and her aunt Edie are together. Shelby is a natural at sleuthing and entertaining while she does it. This is my first read by Miss Lang and I will tell you I was highly impressed.

 

 

 

Review: Revenge is Sweet by Kaye George

Revenge Is Sweet

Kaye George

Vintage Sweets Mysteries, Book 1

Kindle Edition, 205 pages
Expected publication: March 10th 2020 by Lyrical Press

In the picturesque tourist town of Fredericksburg, Texas, Tally Holt has opened a new candy store with a vintage twist . . .but there’s no sugar-coating a nasty case of murder . . .

Tally Holt has poured her heart, soul, and bank account into Tally’s Olde Tyme Sweets, specializing in her grandmother’s delicious recipes. Tally’s homemade Mallomars, Twinkies, fudges, and taffy are a hit with visiting tourists—and with Yolanda Bella, the flamboyant owner of Bella’s Baskets next door. But both shops encounter a sour surprise when local handyman Gene Faust is found dead in Tally’s kitchen, stabbed with Yolanda’s scissors.

The mayor’s adopted son, Gene was a handsome Casanova with a bad habit of borrowing money from the women he wooed. It’s a sticky situation for Yolanda, who was one of his marks. There are plenty of other likely culprits among Fredericksburg’s female population, and even among Gene’s family. But unless Tally can figure out who finally had their fill of Gene’s sweet-talking ways, Yolanda—and both their fledgling businesses—may be destined for a bitter end . . .

 

 

 

 

 

3 Stars

 

From the sweets of the old time candy store to Nigel, the main coon cat, to the way the mystery unfolded, Revenge is Sweet is a promising start to this new series.

Kaye George will definitely make your mouth water with all the wonderful confections that Tally Holt creates. She will also get your mind churning with mystery that is contained within Revenge is Sweet. Tally and Yolanda are a trip together. You can tell they are still finding their way, but they both have potential. With that said, there are many Aspects of the story that I thoroughly enjoyed. I love this little town. The descriptions of the confections are truly mouthwatering. There’s a lot of personality lying just under the surface that I felt needs to pop out a little bit more. Like the characters I mentioned above I feel this series has a lot of potential. We just had it for you shortcomings along the way. Revenge is Sweet is a good start to what could be a pretty awesome and yummy series.

 

Review: Lavender Blue Murder by Laura Childs

Lavender Blue Murder

Laura Childs

A Tea Shop Mystery, Book 21

Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Expected publication: March 3rd 2020 by Berkley

Tea maven Theodosia Browning and her tea sommelier Drayton Conneley are guests at a bird hunt styled in the precise manner of an English shooting party. Which means elevenses (sloe gin fizzes), gun loaders, the drawing of pegs, fine looking bird dogs, and shooting costumes of tweed, herringbone, and suede.

But as gunshots explode like a riff of Black Cat firecrackers, another shot sounds too close for comfort to Theodosia and Drayton. Intrigued but worried, Theodosia wanders into the neighbor’s lavender field where she discovers their host, Reginald Doyle, bleeding to death.

His wife, Meredith, is beside herself with grief and begs Theodosia and Drayton to stay the night. But Theodosia awakens at 2:00A.M. to find smoke in her room and the house on fire. As the fire department screams in and the investigating sheriff returns, Meredith again pleads with Theodosia for help.

As Theodosia investigates, fingers are pointed, secrets are uncovered, Reginald’s daughter-in-law goes missing presumed drowned, and Meredith is determined to find answers via a séance. All the while Theodosia worries if she’s made a mistake in inviting a prime suspect to her upscale Lavender Lady Tea.

 

 

 

4 Stars

 

Theodosia was an interesting character that is thoroughly enjoyable. She has personality for days and is easily able to capture the reader’s attention. She has heart and spunk. She has a keen eye and has learned how to ask the right questions. Theodosia is not your average southern lady. And I truly love that about her. She has charm and elegance yet isn’t afraid to jump in and get dirty when she has to.

Lavender Blue Murder was a fun and entertaining mystery. From the opening pages of the shooting party, to two crazy tragedies happening within hours, to the formalities followed when serving tea, to the lavish tea parties themselves and A tea shop owner solving a murder mystery. Laura Childs has something amazing going on with this series. From the British traditions of hunting and shooting and the tea services, to the lavish descriptions of Charleston, one could easily feel like they are visiting a very different place and not reading the pages of a book.

As with any long running series a reader can expect to see bonds between characters. I loved Theodosia, Drayton and Haley. You can tell by their interactions that they go way beyond employee and boss. The friendship they Cher is a highlight of the book. They are fun characters thus making fun times. I Love that I came in at book number 21 in the series and didn’t feel like I missed anything didn’t get a recap of 20 other books in the process.

Lavender Blue Murder is my first adventure into Laura Child’s Tea Shop mysteries and will not be my last. With more than a helping of Southern charm, a well plotted mystery and a cast of characters that keep everything interesting.

Review: Pies before Guys by Kirsten Weiss

Pies Before Guys
Kirsten Weiss
A Pie Town Mystery, Book 4
Mass Market Paperback, 320 pages
Expected publication: February 25th 2020 by Kensington

 

Val’s crime-solving club digs into a piping hot new case!

A poetry slam at a bakery? Why not! Even though Pie Town proprietor Val Harris would rather be spending time with her newfound half-brother, she knows her employee, Abril, is beyond excited to be hosting the event. Especially since it stars the apple pie of Abril’s eye, poet and professor Michael Starke. But the evening ends on a sour note when Professor Starke is found murdered mere moments after being accused of plagiarism.

Just like that, Pie Town is at the center of another criminal inquiry. At Abril’s request—and much to Detective Carmichael’s consternation—Val and Charlene decide to investigate Starke’s death. But the case is as tough as an overworked crust and the Baker Street Bakers are only coming up with scraps. If they don’t pinch the cultured killer soon, Pie Town’s reputation could crumble.

 

 

 

3.5 Stars

 

If the title doesn’t get you the story will.

 

Do poetry and pies go together? Well maybe if the poetry was a little bit better and we didn’t end up with a murder on the plate. Val and her lovely and delicious pic shop host a poetry slam that gives readers a not your typical cozy.

 

Val and Charlene are coworkers and friends and have this thing for solving crime. Charlene is an instigator and likes to have fun with people. Val has a way of going along with what Charlene suggests. These two get themselves into trouble easier than they can make a pie. And when you think they can’t get any deeper into the crust, yes they just did. They are over the top and hysterical to boot.

 

Pies Before Guys is a laughter out loud, jaw dropping, outside the norm of cozy mystery. It did take me a bit to really get into the story but the comical content sure than made up for it. Kristen Weiss twisted this mystery right and I was shocked when the who done it was revealed. Pies before Guys is an enjoyable read.

 

Review: Death by Chocolate Frosted Doughnut by Sarah Graves

Death by Chocolate Frosted Doughnut

Sarah Graves

A Death by Chocolate Mystery, Book 3

Hardcover, 288 pages
Expected publication: February 25th 2020 by Kensington Publishing Corporation
When a pirate festival blows into their small town, bakeshop owners Jacobia “Jake” Tiptree and her best friend Ellie White expect they’ll be busy baking up a storm, but instead they find themselves marooned in a new murder investigation after someone kills a well-known food writer and TV personality . . .

Everything is shipshape at Jake and Ellie’s new waterfront bakery, The Chocolate Moose, especially now that the annual Pirate Festival is dropping anchor in their quaint island village of Eastport, Maine. Jake and Ellie are ready for the bounty of tourists sure to flood their shop. But their plans quickly sink when the body of celebrity foodie, Henry Hadlyme, is discovered in the Moose’s basement.

Jake and Ellie are horrified, but their shock turns to dismay when Jake is pegged for the murder. Now, to clear Jake’s name and save the shop, Jake and Ellie must swashbuckle down and figure out who among Henry’s numerous enemies scuttled him in the cellar. Was it a long-ago jilted sweetheart’s vengeful relative? His long-suffering personal assistant? Or perhaps some bitter-as-dark-chocolate unknown enemy, now aboard the mysterious ship lurking in Eastport’s harbor?

Alas, dead men tell no tales, so Jake and Ellie will have to get to the bottom of the case on their own and find the real killer before anyone else is forced to walk the plank . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 4 Stars

Sarah Graves kept me guessing until the end.

Jake and Ellie are quite the pair. Not only can they bake the goodness of good, they are quirky and fun. The pair seem to have no problem finding themselves in the deepests of troubles. When a TV foodie makes his way into their sweet little town, Jake has no issue standing up for her fellow townspeople when Henry starts talking trash about the food of their town during the pirate festival. When the body of this not so nice food he turns up in the basement of the girls shop, The Moose, the trouble these two get into so well just started up all over again.

Death by Chocolate Frosted Doughnut is the third book of the Death by Chocolate mysteries and my first read of the series. Sarah Graves grabs readers attention with a well written story, a twisting, keep you guessing plot and fantastic characters. I liked how the author weaved in Jake’s background for new readers without overdoing it for already established readers of the series. Ms. Graves keeps a fast pace and a good bit of adventure within the unwinding of this twisted mystery. From the quaint setting of the town, to the wonderful and charismatic characters and all the yummy goodness described within the pages it’s a good read no matter how you look at it. This is new to me Author got a new fan with Death by Chocolate Frosted Doughnut.

 

ARC Review: Vlad by Patricia Rasey

 

Vlad 

Patricia Rasey

Son of Sangue Series, Book 8

ebook
Expected publication: February 24th 2020 by Patricia A. Rasey

Vlad Tepes, king of the vampires, has a problem on his hands. His brother is taking out humans at an alarming rate and drawing unwanted attention, threatening exposure for their entire race. Vlad needs to stop Mircea before that happens, even if it means taking his head. In his mission to hunt Mircea down, Vlad encounters a stunning special agent who’s out to stop a killer—namely his brother. Vlad’s inability to hypnotize her presents an entirely new dilemma, putting the beautiful law officer in harm’s way.

Special Agent Janelle Ferrari chases bad guys for a living, with a little help from her strange gift of psychic visions. That is until a sinfully sexy man, claiming to be the ancient, blood-drinking Romanian ruler steps into her office. Plunged into a secret society of vampires and a mounting war between immortal brothers, Janelle’s visions suddenly go quiet, leaving her vulnerable and placing her in the crosshairs of the killer she’s determined to take down.

Vlad and Janelle must join forces to stop the psychotic vampire before more humans perish. But when Janelle becomes next on Mircea’s hit list, will Vlad be able to protect the woman who’s captured his long-dead heart?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review: Murder Makes Scents by Christin Brecher

 

Murder Makes Scents

Christin Brecher

Nantucket Candle Maker Mystery, Book 4

Paperback, 272 pages
Expected publication: February 25th 2020 by Kensington Publishing Corporation
Stella Wright loves creating candles at her Nantucket store–and she also has a burning passion for justice. Now, after visiting a perfume conference, she must solve a vial crime . . .

Stella and her globe-trotting mom, Millie, have come home from a perfume industry conference in Paris, where their trip was marred by witnessing the stabbing death of a young man. It’s a relief for Stella to be back on her picturesque island, with the comforting company of her cat, Tinker. But lingering danger may have followed them back across the ocean.After someone breaks into her candle store, the Wick & Flame, Stella starts feeling spooked. And just as things threaten to ignite, Millie suffers a blow to the head. Stella receives an anonymous note claiming that her mother smuggled a secret formula out of France–and threatening her life if it isn’t returned. Now Stella’s picked up the scent of a cold-hearted criminal and an intriguing puzzle, and things are about to get wicked . . .

 

 

 

 

4 Stars

 

Murder Makes Scents, the second book of the Nantucket Candle Maker Mystery series is a wild ride from Paris to Nantucket.

 

Stella and her world traveling mother, Millie are a hoot. You can tell the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Both women share a passion for scents. Taking that passion and turning it into a livelihood that they love and unique to each of them.  Even though both women are very much like, they are both distinctly different and very much their own person. Millie is a care free, go with the flow where Stella is a bit more grounded and extremely happy in her little Nantucket town.Stella was a fabulous character even if she was a bit too trusting. I loved her quirkiness and how she let her determination outshine her fear.

 

Murder Makes Scents starts a little on the slow side, but that’s just the build up. An up and down, twist and turn, keep you guessing plot. We get engaging and humorous characters. I love the relationships established in the small town settings. Christin Beecher mixes a good dose of humor, some action and adventure along with a good plot that had me jumping back-and-forth on who the killer really was kind of mystery.  We even get a little bit of romance, which of course makes me very happy. I stumbled across Murder Makes Scents on netgalley and I’m very thankful to the publisher to allow me early access to this very entertaining read.

 

 

 

Review: Al Dente’s Inferno by Stephanie Cole

Al Dente’s Inferno 
Stephanie Cole
 
Tuscan Cooking School Mystery, Book 1 
Paperback, 304 pages
Expected publication: February 25th 2020 by Berkley Books

 

 

An American chef will have to serve up more than good eats if she wants to establish a successful farm-to-table cooking school in Tuscany, in this charming first installment in a new cozy mystery series set in Italy.

When Nell Valenti is offered a chance to move to Tuscany to help transform an aging villa into a farm-to-table cooking school, she eagerly accepts. After all, both her job and her love life in America have been feeling stale. Plus, she’ll get the chance to work under the acclaimed Italian Chef Claudio Orlandini.

But Nell gets more than she bargained for when she arrives. With only a day to go until the launch dinner for the cooking school, the villa is in shambles, and Chef O is blissfully oblivious of the work that needs to be done before a group of local dignitaries arrive, along with a filmmaker sent to showcase and advertise the new school. The situation only worsens when Nell discovers that the filmmaker is an ex-boyfriend, and he’s found murdered later that night. Even worse, Chef O has disappeared, and accusations of murder could shut the school down for good.

As tensions reach a boiling point at the villa, Nell must throw her chef’s hat into the ring, and investigate the murder herself. Because if she fails to solve the case, her career, or even her life, could be next on the chopping block

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Stars

 

Al Dente’s Inferno is the first book in Stephanie Cole’s new Tuscan Cooking School Mystery series.  Murder, mystery and a bit of romance are all lurking on the Tuscan countryside.

 

Chef Neil has found herself in a unique position of being able to help open a cooking school with her idol of a chef. Neil gets more than she bargained for while trying to start this farm to table is cooking school.  Neil is a hard worker with a deep sense of pride. She’s knowledgeable in what she does, and seems to handle stress better than most. But opening a cooking school and solving a murder are two completely different things.

 

Al Dente’s Inferno introduces readers to a beautiful setting within the Tuscan countryside. It was very easy to imagine the kitchen in which they were cooking and the olive fields outside of the house. I honestly could almost smell garlic if I tried hard enough.  Along with a colorful, charismatic and tight knit group of characters Neil uses her power of observation along with a little bit of nosiness to try to get to the bottom of the mystery.

 

Al Dente’s Inferno had the potential to be an exceptional read, however I found a few hiccups along the way. The amount of actual Italian used in the book made it very hard for me to read. Using a word or two here or there is not an issue but when you are using full phrases and several sentences at a time, anyone who does not have an understanding of the language is going to have a hard time. I do think the use of the Italian language to give the book a more authentic feel however for myself It was almost too much and began to take away from the entire feel and mood of the book.  I also felt that some of the characters were almost too much of a mystery. The characters that we got to know were very enjoyable but there is a cast we still know little about.  Neil, Pete and Chef were amazing and I felt like it was because we really got to know them. Stephanie Cole has a good foundation with the start of the series. I am hoping through the next book that we will actually get to know the characters a little more, the language barrier is not so high and the story will flow a little more evenly.

 

 

 

Review: A Fatal Faberge by Ellery Adama and Parker Rigg

 

A Fatal Faberge

Ellery Adams 

Parker Riggs

Antiques & Collectibles Series, Book 8

185 pages

Beyond the Page (February 2, 2020)

 

 

A new book in the Antiques & Collectibles mystery series by New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Ellery Adams and Parker Riggs!

In the world of antiques and collectibles, it helps to have a sharp eye for quality, a good ear for gossip, and a nose for murder . . .

In the grips of a cold and drab autumn, Collector’s Weekly reporter Molly Appleby is thrilled to be attending a festive black-tie fundraiser hosted by the very private Natasha Gordon, an heiress known for her charitable events and aversion to the limelight. It’s Molly first chance to see the stunning interior of the Gordon estate, but when a rare book dealer is pushed from a high window to his death, she’s confronted with a sight that’s become all too common for her. And despite the fact that the crude and pompous victim was roundly disliked by all who knew him and that any number of people may have wanted him dead, Molly agrees to look into the murder for his surviving son.

As the police go about their steady business of interviewing the dozens of people in attendance that night, Molly decides to look closer to home and begins questioning the staff and anyone else connected to the estate and the victim. More and more stories of the dead man’s troubled life and marriage begin to emerge, including a potentially lucrative deal that’s gone bust and an old Gordon family heirloom that’s gone missing—a rare jeweled Fabergé egg once owned by the Empress Alexandra of Russia.

When clues to the murderer’s identity begin to accumulate, so too do the threats to Molly, and she knows she’s getting close to the truth. But with a secret family history and an untold amount of money on the line, Molly knows she’ll need to tread carefully before she becomes the latest victim of a killer trying to cover their tracks . . .

“A wonderfully written, captivating cozy novel with likeable main characters and an interesting plot!” —Goodreads review on A Treacherous Trader

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.5 Stars

A new to me series that delivered a very enjoyable cozy mystery. A Fatal Faberge is the eighth book in the Antiques and Collectible series by Parker Riggs and Ellery Adams. A murder mystery filled will twist and deception that sucks you in from the get go.

In this little Vermont town amateur sleuth Molly has given herself a reputation of being able to solve cases. She is like a cat, and curiosity gets the best of her. Sometimes even too much for her own good. She’s smart and witty with a great personality. I love the little nudges Molly‘s husband Matt, and her mother, give her to continue to get to the bottom of the mystery. Having the ear of the local detective is not a bad thing either.

A Fatal Fabergé is an engaging and enjoyable cozy read. A twisting plot that keeps you going as the secrets unhold. For a little Vermont town and an antiques writer things sure get shaken up in A Fatal Fabergé.