Category Archives: Cozy Mystery

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: 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.

 

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: Southern Double Cross by Caroline Fardig

 

Southern Double Cross

Caroline Fardig

A Southern B&B Mystery, Book 3

Kindle Edition
Expected publication: February 11th 2020 by Alibi

 

A fundraising party goes south in a delightful cozy mystery from the USA Today bestselling author of Southern Discomfort and the Java Jive novels

Quinn Bellandini is ready to get back to running her grandfather’s B&B in Savannah, Georgia, with her sister, Delilah—but first, she has to coordinate a fundraising event at the house of local philanthropists, with the help of her boyfriend, Tucker Heyward. Everything is running smoothly until Quinn’s friend, Pepper Fox, frantically calls her with the horrifying news that the lady of the house was found dead, and Pepper’s brother, who was working as a caterer, has been charged with her murder.

Pepper knows her brother didn’t commit the crime and asks Quinn, now a veteran detective with two solved murders under her belt, to prove his innocence. Quinn can’t bear to see her friend upset and enlists Delilah and Tucker to help investigate.

The invite list quickly turns into the suspect list as tensions mount and old feuds are brought to light. Could Quinn have hired the only catering company in Georgia that throws in a murder on the side?

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.5 Stars 

Quinn and Delilah are a hoot!

When you are known around town as the solver of murders and your best friends brother is framed for murder he didn’t commit, Quinn can’t help but get her arm twisted into this mess that is as hot as the southern heat.

Quinn is a sweet southern girl with a knack for solving murders faster than the local police. She’s kind to the core with a quirkiness and spunk. She is a guitar player after all. I enjoyed the entertaining banter between Quinn and her sister Delilah. They are so different and that is part of what makes them so comical. Delilah will speak her mind and has a great knack for putting two and two together. Pepper is a hot mess with everything going on but even with her pushiness she’s a grateful and loyal friend. From rubbing noses with the elite to shady meet ups in dive bars and crazy stakeouts Quinn and Delilah walk with their head held high into craziness that their world seems destined to stumble upon.

Southern Double Cross is a fun and twisty cozy in the Southern B&B Series. This is my first read by Caroline Fardig. I enjoyed her fun and entertaining style of writing. A plot that hand me guessing and then double guessing myself. With so many suspects and a lot of personalities going around Quinn uses her good and not so good wits along with her southern charm to peel through the many layers of this mystery.

 

 

Review: Dying to Cruise by Dawn Brookes

Dying to Cruise

Dawn Brookes

Alex Lee (Narrator)

A Rachel Prince Mystery, Book 4

Kindle Edition, 305 pages
Published August 1st 2019 by Oakwood Publishing
The only thing worse than getting stuck aboard a cruise ship with a murderer, is discovering that your ex is on board…
A ruthless killer intent on revenge. Can Rachel get to the bottom of an intriguing mystery before it’s too late?.

Rachel Prince is drawn to investigate when the body of the leader of a Bucket List tour party is discovered in the library on the first day of her Antipodean cruise. Can this seemingly harmless group of elderly people have a killer among them?

Rachel thinks she is living the dream. Taking a cruise around Australia and New Zealand as a guest lecturer and meeting up again with her best friend, cruise ship nurse, Sarah. The scene is set for the holiday of a lifetime!

Difficulties abound for everyone when an interim chief of security causes countless problems and appears to take an intense dislike of Sarah. Not trusting the new chief to get to the bottom of the murder, Rachel investigates on her own, soon discovering that the dead woman from the Bucket List tour party had been receiving anonymous threatening emails. To make matters infinitely worse, Rachel’s ex turns up on board, and things start to go horribly wrong.

The cruise ship sleuth needs to work fast to find out if one of the gentle elders on the bucket list tour is a murderer while avoiding her ex like the plague.

 

 

 

 

4 Stars

 

Rachel is back at sea for another adventure that could only happen to her in Dying to Cruise.

 

Rachel is aboard the Coral Queen to teach a self defense class and for some fun and relaxation but she has once again found herself in the mindless of a murder.  When Florence, travel director for the Bucket List group, dies suddenly, Rachel finds herself in the thick of it again. With Rachel’s charming nature and humorous cast of friends weave readers with their witty banter and smile worthy antics through the twist and turns of Dying to Cruise.

 

I have enjoyed every story in the Rachel Prince Mysteries Series thus far. Dying to Cruise is a fantastic addition to this fun and entertaining series. Rachel is a top notch character with a lot of drive and will. I love how she has developed over the course of the series.  Ms. Brooke balances the humor and suspense nicely giving read a fun. It makes you think read. Dying to Cruise is a quick paced, keep you guessing, laugh out loud cozy read. Narrator Alex Lee truly brings these amazing characters to life. Giving that extra that makes a good story great.

 

 

Review: A View to a Kilt by Kaitlyn Dunnett

A View to a Kilt

Kaitlyn Dunnett

Liss MacMrimmon Mysteries, Book 13

Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Expected publication: January 28th 2020 by Kensington

A series of blizzards have kept tourists away from Moosetookalook, Maine, and shoppers out of Liss MacCrimmon’s Scottish Emporium. But as warmer weather brings promises of tartan sales and new faces, melting snow reveals cold-blooded murder . . .

Liss has suddenly found herself in charge of the March Madness Mud Season Sale, a town-wide celebration created to boost the local economy during the slushy weeks of early spring. With businesses ailing after a rough winter, the pressure is on to make this year’s effort the can’t-miss-event of the season. But before Liss can get her hands dirty, her husband makes a horrifying discovery. There’s a dead man on their property, and he didn’t die of natural causes . . .

Stunned by the murder mystery developing in her own backyard, Liss receives another shock. The victim is identified as Charlie MacCrimmon, an uncle believed to have died eleven years before Liss was born. No one has seen or heard from Charlie since he went off to fight in Vietnam. What secrets could he have been hiding for so many years, and who would want to kill a man long thought to be dead?

Enlisting the help of her family, Liss uncovers more questions than answers as she delves into her uncle’s murky past. One thing is clear—before he met his end, Uncle Charlie was desperately trying to warn her about something sinister. And unless Liss can soon track down a maniacal criminal as elusive as the Loch Ness Monster, she just might be the next MacCrimmon to disappear . . .

 

 

 

3.5 Stars

 

Liss seems to find herself tangled into trouble whether she is trying or not. She’s a fun and strong woman that has a caring streak that runs deep. Lover of cats and amateur sleuth, she will make you laugh while getting the information she wants.  She’s a small town girl will a mind that thinks outside the box. A wonderful main character.

 

A View to a Kilt was a fun cozy read. Ms. Dunnett keeps the reader going with a well developed, keep you thinking plot.  You can tell this was part of a long going series, however new readers like myself are easily about to jump right in and not feel lost. I love when the town or setting of the book is almost like a character. Moosetookalook is an interesting town with personality and flair.  The residents are even more so. Small towns are always full of secrets and sometimes they end up in your own backyard. The backyard is Liss’ this time and hits close to home. From the quaintness of the town, to the colorful personalities of the people within it, to a plot that spins an excellent tale, Ms. Dunnett’s A View to a Kilt was a one sit read for me.

 

 

 

Review: Murder Ink by Lorraine Bartlett

 

Murder Ink 

Lorraine Bartlett with Gayle Leeson

Victoria Square Mystery Series, Book 6 

Published December 31, 2019

Berkley Books, 304 pages

 

 

The charm of Victoria Square may prove to be only skin deep when murder follows the arrival of a tattoo parlor in town in this latest installment of the New York Times bestselling series.

A tattoo parlor on Victoria Square? Some of the merchants get hot under the collar at the proposal, but could they be driven to kill to stop it? That’s what the sheriff’s office and Katie Bonner want to know when the building’s owner is electrocuted with his own saw.

Meanwhile, tensions rise when a hot chef takes over the square’s tea shop. Will Katie have three men vying for her affections, or will her rival take the tea cake?

 

 

 

3.5 Stars

When a tattoo shop plans to open on Victoria Square it shakes up more than the merchants view of what business should be on the square. When the owner of said tattoo shop dies one of their own is the prime suspect.

 

Katie is the owner of Artisans Alley and Tealicious as well as president of the Victoria Square Merchants Association. She is a strong woman, not intimidated and an amazing entrepreneur.  Katie finds herself in the middle of murder, trying to help a friend, playing detective and trying not to second guess everything she sees. There were moments when I thought Katie was overreacting and other when I thought, girl you got this together.

 

Murder Ink is my first read in the Victoria Square and an enjoyable one. It did take me to be to catch up with who was who and how they all worked together but I got it. I enjoyed the mystery that kept me guessing. I’m a romance reader first and foremost so Katie and Andy’s romance and squabbles were a bonus to this read. The writing style of Lorraine Bartlett is fun and keeps the pages turning. I was able to feel like I was right at home with these characters even though this was my first read of the series.