Category Archives: Cozy Mystery

Review: Killer Chardonnay by Kate Lansing

Killer Chardonnay

Kate Lansing

A Colorado Wine Mystery, Book 1

Paperback, 304 pages
Expected publication: May 26th 2020 by Berkley Books

A young winery owner won’t let one sour grape ruin the bunch in the first installment of this exciting cozy mystery series.

Parker Valentine has always dreamed of opening her own winery in her hometown of Boulder, Colorado. But she gets more than she bargained for when a food and wine critic unexpectedly shows up at Vino Valentine on opening day. A negative review could be fatal for her business, and not only does he seem to hate her chardonnay, he also collapses and dies shortly after drinking it.

Although Parker hoped that the attendees would put a cork in it, soon her winery is at the center of a social media firestorm. With #killerchardonnay trending online, Parker’s business is in danger of closing, and she has no choice but to investigate the murder herself.

To restore her reputation, catch a killer, and keep her struggling business open, Parker needs only one thing: some good proof.

 

 

 

 

 

4 Stars

Parker Valentine is about to see her dream come true. Her winery Vino Valentine, is opening its door. The wine is ready to flow, allowing Parker’s talent shine through grapes and fruits she blends. Opening day is not quite what Parker envisioned when a local food and wine critic unexpectedly stumbles into Vino Valentine. Not being too found of Parker’s Chardonnay, Mr. Critic doesn’t manage to stumble his way back out of the winery when he ends up dead on the floor. Creating the hashtag #killerchardonnay. Parker is caught in the middle of a hot mess as she instantly goes from a new business owner to one trying to save her business.

Parker rocks! I love how she approached everything that was happening around her. She was smooth, just like her wines. She could’ve fallen apart at many points in time yet she held her head high and made it her mission to get to the bottom of it. The descriptions of the wines alone make me wanna run to my local vineyard and see if I can find something even remotely close. I could totally see myself hanging out at the Vino Valentine. The mystery is well written. The story flows easy and just when you think you have it figured out, nope. Kate Lansing throws that twist that changes the game. The story flows so easily and the characters entertain and intrigue before you know it you have become fully invested in Parker. Killer Chardonnay is a mystery, with a good deal of suspense and a great heaping of romance added in. We all know I love the romance, Ms. Lansing blended it perfectly making it an enjoyable part of the story.

Killer Chardonnay is an easy lighthearted enjoyable cozy mystery that is just the beginning to what I’m sure is going to be a fantastic series.

The cat, Zin!!!! That cat, any cat owner will completely understand.

 

 

Review: Pumpkin Spice Peril by Jenn McKinlay

 

Pumpkin Spice Peril

Jenn McKinlay

A Cupcake Bakery Mystery, Book 12

Paperback, 272 pages
Expected publication: April 28th 2020 by Berkley Books

In the twelfth Cupcake Bakery Mystery from New York Times bestselling author Jenn McKinlay, the Fairy Tale Cupcake crew follows the clever crumb trail of a killer who’s anything but cookie-cutter.

Life is all sugar and spice for the Fairy Tale Cupcake bakers–Melanie Cooper is engaged to the delectable Joe DeLaura, Angie Harper and her husband Tate are savoring married life, and the bakery is bustling with happy customers. Until one of their most valued cupcake connoisseurs ends up dead.

Local glass artist and cupcake lover Rene Fischer-Klein has always suffered from a wide variety of health issues. In an effort to cheer her up, her doting husband, Peter, brings her a four-pack of her favorite cupcakes every week. But when the police discover that Rene has been poisoned, there’s no sugarcoating the fact that the last things she ate were the bakery’s signature pumpkin spice cupcakes! With their lives and bakery at stake, it’s up to Mel and Angie to find out who poisoned their artist friend and why, before their future is frosted for good.

 

 

 

 

4 Stars

 

Pumpkin Spice Peril is an entertaining and light read that brings out the laughs.

Mel’s life is surrounded by sweetness on so many levels. She has a bakery that produces the best cupcakes in town, her best friend and business owner is happily married and Mel herself is riding the wave to the happiness that is wedded bliss. Life just may be on the verge of perfect for our lovely cupcake baker.

Mel’s cake goes flat when her good friend and client, Rene is in a state unlike she’s ever seen before and becomes a victim of murder. Now Who could think the delectable goodness that is cupcakes or their maker could be anyway responsible for this tragedy has lost her mind.
Mel and her gang at Fairy Tale Cupcakes bake up a few laughs while a few of them find themselves asking questions, causing questions or chasing after answers. Mel has once again found her way smack in the middle of a murder investigation and no lack of sweetness will slow her down to figure out the who and why.

Jenn McKinlay’s Pumpkin Spice Peril is like walking into your local neighborhood bakery and visiting with friends that you’ve known forever. Even if you’ve just met them. Ms. McKinlay gives readers wonderful characters blooming with personality and charm, in a fun, warm and welcome setting. Pumpkin Spice Peril is a light hearted read yet the plot is solid and will make you think. Not to mention if you don’t want a cupcake by chapter 3 you probably don’t like sweets. I have not read this entire series and the titles that I have read were in no sense of order whatsoever, Pumpkin Spice Peril is a treat for the new reader or those that have been following for a while.

 

 

Review: Sugar and Vice by Eve Calder

 

Sugar and Vice 

Eve Calder 

A Cookie House Mystery, Book 2 

Paperback, 320 pages
Expected publication: April 28th 2020 by St. Martin’s Press

In Eve Calder’s Sugar and Vice, things are heating up at the Cookie House when star pastry chef and amateur sleuth Kate McGuire finds herself in the midst of a shocking murder mystery.

OUT OF THE OVEN
Lately, Kate has a lot on her dessert plate. She’s launching a cookie-of-the-day challenge in the heart of Coral Cay, providing sweet treats for the reception of the town’s handsome new veterinarian—not to mention dealing with tourists in town for a pirate festival and the surprise arrival of her former fiancé, Evan, who seems determined to win her back.

AND INTO THE FIRE
And if that’s not enough, a skeleton has been found—in the backyard behind her best friend Maxi’s floral shop. Kate knows Maxi could never hurt a fly. Maybe the remains belong to Sir George Bly, a long-dead pirate whose name has become urban legend—until now? It’s time for Kate to use every trick in the recipe book to prove Maxi’s innocence, and find the truth about the skeleton, before the last of the cookies crumble…

 

 

 

 

4.5 Stars

 

Cookies, pirates and a dead body….. oh my. Sugar and Vice is the highly entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable second book of the Cookie House Mystery series.

 

The town of Coral Cay is in full preparation for the annual pirate festival. Kate and Maxi, along with our furry friend Oliver, uncover a body that has been buried in the flower shop yard. When the body found is dressed like a pirate, it is if the town’s local legend is more than just a legend. However things are not that easy and now Maxi is a suspect of a murder that she couldn’t have possibly committed. Kate breaks out new cookies and sets her nose to the ground to prove her friend’s innocence, discover the identity of the murdered person and get some answers surrounding the town’s local history.

 

I absolutely adored Sugar and Vice. Kate is an amazing lead character with tons of personality. Her ability to seek out your favorite cookie without asking is truly a talent. She is friendly and has a charming personality that allows her to befriend people easily and has an excellent way of getting things out of people that others might not normally be able to. The Cookie House is a wonderful setting that is welcome and warm. Even if Sam is a little rough around the edges. The town of Coral Cay is like a mini paradise and the residence within the town adds so much to the story.

 

Eve Calder weaves a mystery unlike anyone I have read before. The way she twists her plot and keeps the reader guessing at who done it,  is pretty exceptional. From the personalities of the characters to the amazing cookies that Kate is constantly baking to the way she sets little clues that one doesn’t think are clues until the end when all the discoveries are made.   Sugar and Vice is an excellent follow-up to the first book in the series, Then There Were Crumbs. Ms.Calder truly has something special with her Cookie House Mystery series.

 

Review: Dead in the Doorway by Diane Kelly

Dead in the Doorway

Diane Kelly

A House-Flipper Mystery, Book 2

Mass Market Paperback, 352 pages
Expected publication: March 31st 2020 by St. Martin’s Press

Dead in the Doorway is the second in a delightful cozy series from Diane Kelly set in Nashville—where the real estate market is to die for.

A HOUSE WITH GOOD BONES. . .

Whitney Whitaker has scored the perfect piece of real estate: a ramshackle white Colonial at the top of a hill with views of downtown Nashville. What more could a self-taught home-improvement maven and occasional house-flipper ask for? Ideally, the property of Whitney’s dreams would not have come with a dead body blocking the entrance to the foyer. But Whitney, always quick to take heavy-duty matters into her own hands, also happens to be a skilled amateur sleuth. So that helps.

AND SKELETONS IN THE CLOSET.

Who is this older woman—and how did her corpse end up at the bottom of the staircase of this locked, unoccupied house? That is what Whitney, along with the support of her wood-working cousin Buck, Detective Collin Flynn, and, of course, feline partner-in-crime Sawdust, intends to find out. Her friendly-neighbor investigation takes a sharp turn, however, when Whitney discovers that the house’s former owner was a gourmet baker whose secret recipe for peach pie was to die for—perhaps literally. Now it’s up to Whitney to learn the truth about what happened before she loses this killer real-estate deal . . . and the killer comes knocking at her door.

 

 

 

 

4 Stars

 

Dead in the Doorway is a fast paced cozy read embedded with humor and wit. Diane Kelly thoroughly entertains her readers with fantastic main characters, a solid plot and a peach pie to die for.

 

Whitney Whitaker is a busy woman. Property manager, Carpenter and flips houses on the side. She is a lady that knows how to get things done, has a good head on her shoulders and is genuine to the core. I enjoyed her relationship with her Uncle Buck. The back and forth banter between the two is comical and entertaining. They are a solid team and it shows. The chapters from the cats, Sawdust, point of view are priceless. That is a wonderful addition to the story, as Sawdust is in tow Whitney quite a bit. The flip house neighbors were a lively bunch that kept the story interesting. Another enjoyment of the story was seeing the house come together. Ms. Kelly balances the details of the restoration of the house without going overboard, yet has a reader interested in the outcome of not only the mystery of what this house is gonna look like at the end.

 

Dead in the Doorway takes the saying this pie is to die for to a whole new meaning. Diane Kelly has wrapped home improvement, some delectable eats, a little bit of romance and a well spun mystery into an enjoyable and entertaining cozy read. Whitney is a wonderful lead character. She’s smart and funny and adds so much personality to the story. Ms. Kelly twisted the story well as I had no clue who had done it yet should have known from the clues she is giving us. Dead in the Doorway was much more enjoyable than I expected and I give my highest props to the Author for her enjoyable tail.

 

 

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.