Category Archives: Review

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: Dead on the Vine by Elle Brooke

Dead on the Vine 

Elle Brooke White

A Finn Family Farm Mystery, Book 1 

Hardcover
Expected publication: April 7th 2020 by Crooked Lane Books

Perfect for fans of B. B. Haywood and Peg Cochran, Ellie B. White’s whimsical series debut is full of farm fun, complete with a helpful teacup pig.

Reluctant farmer Charlotte Finn needs the help of the livestock to sleuth a mysterious death.

Charlotte Finn never wanted to inherit the family’s produce farm–much less plow a heap of money into it. Her plan is to hammer a great big FOR SALE sign into the farm’s fallow furrows–but Charlotte’s sunny hopes of a quick sale succumb to a killing frost when she finds a dead body entwined supine in the tomato vines. The poor man, it seems, was run through…with a pitchfork?

Now, Charlotte is stuck with running the farm in the midst of a murder investigation. Charlotte’s knowledge of farming is smaller than her bank balance, so she relies on caretakers Joe and Alice Wong and their farmhands. Can she trust them? She doesn’t know them. There’s also farmer Samuel Brown, who still carries a childhood grudge. But the case gets personal when Charlotte learns that the victim might have been her own kin–and seeds of suspicion grow into a fertile field of suspects.

Charlotte turns to the farm’s teacup pig to help root out the killer. Soon, the goats, geese, and horse join in, but will Charlotte harvest a murderer–or buy the farm?

 

 

 

 

 

3.5 Stars 

 

A charming and fun beginning to a new cozy mystery series.

 

Inheriting the family farm is not the ideal plan that Charlotte had in mind. She has it in her mind to sell but when a dead body is found amongst the vines that leaves her stuck on the farm for longer than she would like.  Being new in town and not knowing who to trust, Charlotte sets her mind to some old fashion sleuthing to get to the bottom of this.

As Dead on the Vine begins to unravel the laughs just begin. Charlotte and her unlikely yet extremely helpful band of friends are a hoot and then some. This is truly a laugh out loud read. I love how the townsfolk come together To help and the personality of this town really starts to stand out.

Author Elle Brooke did a fantastic job with the story. The characters are bubbling with personality, the mystery will have you guessing and guessing again. I love the personal touches to the personalities of the animals within the story. I found that to be unique and added something special to the story.

 

Review: Shameless With HIm by Carrie Ann Ryan

 

Shameless With Him 

Carrie Ann Ryan 

Less Than Series, Book 3

Paperback, 250 pages

Published March 24th 2020 by Carrie Ann Ryan

 

 

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Carrie Ann Ryan completes a sexy contemporary series with an unrequited crush on the bad boy next door.

Caleb Carr might have once been ready for commitment, but when the unexpected slams into him with the force of a two-ton truck, he knows he has to run away from anything that might be important. Zoey might well be his final temptation, but to keep her whole, he’ll walk away.

Zoey Wager has loved Caleb since they were eight. And has had her heart broken from afar repeatedly ever since. It doesn’t help that every time she sees him—even when she’s running away halfway across the world—he’s with another woman. She’s watched him fall in lust her entire life. Now, she’s ready to watch him fall in love. With her.

 

 

 

 

4 Stars

This is one of those books that you were rooting for the couple from the get go even though it takes the many years to even find a way to start something that could be more. Zoey and Caleb have known each other practically their entire lives, Ms. Ryan starts the story with moments from the past that bring us forward to the feelings of the future. I loved that through different times and places in their lives they found each other just when they seem to need to.

Zoey and Caleb are both genuinely good hearted and wonderful people yet each of them has their own issues that hold themselves back more than anything else. I love that they seemed to pick up where they left off each time they met. Their friendship was genuine and that made their attraction even more so. These two took a bit to find their way and every bit of rooting for them page after page was well worth it when we came to the end.

Shameless With Him is the story of a lifetime crush that finally finds love in the end. I love how Carrie Ann Ryan intertwines the Carr’s and the Montgomery’s. It’s always good to visit with characters we read about in the past as they impact the current tale we are wrapped up in. . Just like the Montgomery’s and Carr’s would say, Family.

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.