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Review: The Moonshine Shack Murder by Diane Kelly

 

The Moonshine Shack Murder 

Diane Kelly

Southern Homebrew Mystery Series, Book 1 

Paperback, 304 pages
Published July 6th 2021 by Berkley Books
In this intoxicating new cozy mystery series, the future for modern-day moonshiner Hattie Hayes looks bright–until death darkens the doorstep of her Moonshine Shack.

The Hayes family has made moonshine in Chattanooga since the days of Prohibition, and Hattie is happy to continue the tradition, serving up fun, fruity flavors in mason jars for locals and tourists alike. All signs indicate her new ‘shine shop will be a smashing success. What’s more, mounted police officer Marlon Landers has taken a shine to Hattie. For the first time ever, the stars seemed to have aligned in both her work and romantic life. But when a body ends up on her store’s doorstep alongside a broken jar of her Firefly Moonshine, it just might be lights out for her fledgling business.

The homicide detective can’t seem to identify the person who killed the owner of a nearby bar. The only witness is Hattie’s longhaired gray cat, and Smoky isn’t talking. When the detective learns that the victim and Hattie had a heated exchange shortly before his murder, she becomes her prime suspect.

Lest Hattie end up behind bars like her bootlegging great-grandfather a century before, she must distill the evidence herself and serve the killer a swift shot of justice.

4 Stars

A fantastic new cozy series.

Mystery and humor combined in one. You can’t ask for a better combination and a cozy mystery. The Moonshie Shack Murder is a great start to what I think is going to be an intriguing and humorous cozy mystery series.

Hattie Hayes is carrying on a long family tradition. She’s just doing it the legal way. Hence, The Moonshine Shack! Hattie is thrilled to be sharing her grandpa tradition shine along with her flavorful line of shine. During her grand opening party Hattie believes she has a local pub convinced to sell her shine but later backs out and just a bit later is found dead. On Hattie’s doorstep not less. And with a jar of her shine smashed on the ground next to him. To clear her name and save her reputation before it could even really start Hattie Puts her nose to the grindstone to distill the true culprit.

What a great start to a new series. Diane Kelly definitely has something special with this one. I love the family legacy being revived in a new way. The characters are amazing. Grandpa was a hoot. He was thoroughly entertaining every moment he was on the page. Whether he was strapping himself to his rocking chair or getting rowdy with the young folk he’s a true gem in the story. Hattie is still coming into her own and beginning to let her dreams flourish but she still has a lot to learn. Her determination and tenacity just makes you love her.

A little mystery, a little shine and a dash of romance, that a winner in my book.

Review: Egg Shooter By Laura Childs

 

Egg Shooter 

Laura Childs

Cackleberry Club Series, Book 9

Hardcover, 304 pages
Expected publication: January 26th 2021 by Berkley Books

A murder in the local hospital is raising everyone’s temperature in the latest book in the New York Times bestselling Cackleberry Club series.

Suzanne Dietz, co-owner of the Cackleberry Club Caf�, is visiting her fianc�, Dr. Sam Hazelet, when a masked gunman bursts into the emergency room. He shoots two people and would probably have done more damage had Suzanne not brained him with a thermos full of chili. Still, the gunman manages to escape.

Now the ladies of the Cackleberry Club are determined to find the killer before he finds them.

 

 

 

 

3.5 Stars

The Crackleberry Club will crack you up. 

 

Suzanne was just being sweet, delivering some Chili to her fiancé at the hospital. When her thoughtful gesture turns into a chili throwing, gun shooting, robbery that ends with someone dying. Suzanne gets herself tangled into a crazy pickle in Egg Shooters. 

 

Egg Shooters is the ninth book of the Crackleberry Club series. Suzanne, Toni and Petra are well developed characters with distinctive personalities and a bunch of history to go with their friendship. Seems like these women can talk themselves into just about anything. Putting themselves into some compromising situations and at times not realizing the danger that they are putting themselves into. There were quite a few moments that I wanted to take Suzanne and Toni by the shoulders and shake them just a bit. Petra’s culinary creations are described in such a delectable way that you will want to go and sit, have some tea and enjoy the things that she is cooking.  Truck high jacks and pharmacy robberies are happening around their town and somehow these three women have managed to get themselves caught up into.  The mystery unfolds as somehow these women keep themselves out of jail. Lol. 

 

Laura Child gives a good mystery with lots of laughs to go with. The characters are solid and extremely entertaining. To some of the links that they will go to make you just shake your head but if they didn’t then we wouldn’t have a great story. Egg Shooters is a funny, laugh out loud mystery.

 

 

 

Review: Our Italian Summer by Jennifer Probst

Our Italian Summer

Jennifer Probst

Paperback, 384 pages
Expected publication: January 12th 2021 by Berkley Books

From New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Probst comes a new women’s fiction novel featuring three generations of Ferrari women who need to heal the broken pieces of their lives…and one trip of a lifetime through Italy.

Workaholic, career-obsessed Francesca is fiercely independent and successful in all areas of life except one: family. She struggles to make time for her relationship with her teenage daughter, Allegra, and the two have become practically strangers to each other. When Allegra hangs out with a new crowd and is arrested for drug possession, Francesca gives in to her mother’s wish that they take one epic summer vacation to trace their family roots in Italy. What she never expected was to be faced with the choice of a lifetime. . . .

Allegra wants to make her grandmother happy, but she hates the idea of forced time with her mother and vows to fight every step of the ridiculous tour, until a young man on the verge of priesthood begins to show her the power of acceptance, healing, and the heartbreaking complications of love.

Sophia knows her girls are in trouble. A summer filled with the possibility for change is what they all desperately need. Among the ruins of ancient Rome, the small churches of Assisi, and the rolling hills of Tuscany, Sophia hopes to show her girls that the bonds of family are everything, and to remind them that they can always lean on one another, before it’s too late.

 

 

 

 

4.5 Stars

 

A spectacular story…

 

Three generations of women who love each other dearly yet don’t always see eye to eye. Francesca- a workaholic who hardly has time for herself yet alone her family. Allegra who is in those pivotal years between teenager and adult trying to figure out who she is and what she wants in life. She knows she doesn’t wanna be like her mother. Sophia hates seeing her girls suffer and yet holds a secret of her own. She knows she must take action before it’s too late and her family falls apart. The trip of a lifetime. A tour of Italy. Each of the women agree to go but each with a different reason why.  Little did they know their lives would change so much in one short month.  

 

Through beautiful cities, amazing food, breathtaking churches, small villages and a handful of extraordinary people three women, three generations found a way to come together. To solidify a bond that was deeper than they realize they had.  Yes, there were some rocky moments and ugly words were uttered yet they each found a part of themselves through their Italian Summer journey.  Something life changing that allowed each of them to get outside of their own heads and figure out something deep within themselves. In the process it allowed a grandmother, a mother and a daughter to bond in a way that would not have seemed feasible just weeks prior. 

 

I loved Our Italian Summer.  A fantastic story of family, love and adventure.  Learning to let go and being willing to take a chance. Knowing it ok to have some fun and it’s ok to shed tears when needed. Jennifer Probst hits you in all the right spots with Our Italian Summer.  It was not just a story, but a journey that me completely rooting for these women to find their happiness. 

 

 

Review: Want You to Want Me by Lorelei James

 

Want You To Want Me 

Lorelei James 

Want You series, Book 2

Paperback, 384 pages
Expected publication: August 4th 2020 by Berkley Books

 

The new sexy contemporary romance in New York Times bestselling author Lorelei James’s Want You series, set in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Hockey player Gabriella “Gabi” Welk spent her life in pursuit of championships, but she has little to show for it besides dusty trophies and second-place medals. Now her career consists of several part-time jobs to make ends meet. When Gabi gets a chance at her dream job, she swallows her pride and asks her nemesis–smart, sexy and savvy Nolan Lund–for help.

Since being named future CEO of Lund Industries, Nolan has tried hard to overcome his reputation as a fun-loving playboy and ladies’ man. For the first time ever, he’s more focused on the company than his personal life. He spends his free time at the ice rink his brother owns, cheering on his niece at her hockey games…and watching Gabriella Welk, the superstar athlete and assistant coach who gets under his skin in a way he can’t ignore. He’s shocked when Gabi agrees to trade a favor for a favor.

They have little in common besides their mutual mistrust, but between family crises and sibling rivalries, Nolan and Gabi realize they want to be more than just friends–much more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 5 A sweet and sexy slow burn kind of romance that gets you in the right spots. Want You to Want Me is a fantastic read to get lost in.

Nolan Lund is the never settle down, fun loving, different woman on his arm kind of man. With a personal shopper and always dresses to the nines there is no wonder the man has gained the nickname of the Prince of LI. Nolan is honest in what he does. He may be a ladies man but he’s no player. Nolan is smart and willing yet still has a lot to learn. In many aspects of his life. I enjoyed how his romantic side emerged when he realized that everything he thought about his type was blown out the window when love smacked him in the face before he even knew what was happening.

Gabi Welk is a force. An amazing hockey player and a fantastic coach. This woman has a talent and determination to achieve anything she could possibly want. Her will is almost as strong as her compassion and heart. There is more to Gabi than meets the eye and that is just the beginning of what I loved about her. Her tough exterior hides to the world her own self doubt. At what could be one of her lowest of low an unlikely Prince in fancy pants knocks down a wall or two and allows Gabi so see someone more.

The verbal sparring and bickering between these two are worth the read alone. The back and forth, pushing each other’s buttons, showing each other both the will and stubbornness they possess. I love their slow burn and build up. They way Gabi and Nolan got to know one another and build something wanted and needed was natural and remarkable. They allowed each other to be themselves. Even if it took them both a bit to figure it out. Enemies to lovers and opposites attract, Gabi and Nolan have an emotional story but I know you will be entertained. Ms. James gives readers heart, humor and sexiness wrapped up beautifully in Want You to Want Me.

 

 

 

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: 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.