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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: What the Cat Dragged In by Miranda James

What the Cat Dragged In

Miranda James 

Cat in the Stacks Series, Book 14

Hardcover, 304 pages
Published August 31st 2021 by Berkley Books

Librarian Charlie Harris and his faithful feline companion, Diesel, have inherited Charlie’s grandfather’s house, along with a deadly legacy: a decades-old crime scene, in this all-new mystery in the New York Times bestselling Cat in the Stacks series.

Charlie has always believed that his grandfather had sold his house to his longtime tenant, Martin Hale. So when Martin dies, Charlie is surprised to discover the house was not left to Martin but instead belongs to Charlie. As he and Diesel check out the house he remembers fondly from his childhood, he is pleasantly surprised that it is in better condition than expected. That is, until they find a literal skeleton in a closet.

While the sheriff’s department investigates the mysterious remains, Charlie digs deeper into the past for clues to the identity of the bones and why they are there. But the cold case heats up quickly when Martin’s grandson is found dead on the farm.

As Charlie delves into his own family history, he encounters many people who might have been motivated to take a life. But Charlie and Diesel know that things are not always what they seem, and that secrets seemingly lost to time have a way of finding their way back to haunt the present.

4 Stars 

Look What the Cat Dragged In is a thoroughly enjoyable cozy ministry. This was my first adventure with The Cat in the Stacks series and will definitely not be my last. 

Charlie Harris has just gotten some very surprising news. A house and land believed to be long gone from the family has just surprisingly come back to them.  With the ownership of the land reverting back to Charlie it also opens a big mystery along his family lines. The past and the present collide to unravel The mysteries along the family line.  

I really enjoyed getting to know Charlie Harris and his two furry and lovable companions, Diesel and Ramses.  I really enjoyed how Charlie tried to stay out of the mystery but yet kept himself within it.  I love the complex genealogical history that flows through the story allowing the reader to have that much more interest in what was going on. The mysteries piled up but the research and a few hidden family secrets help pave the way to finding the answer.  I love the family connections and the strong friendships that have obviously been well developed through this series. I love that jumping in at book 14 I was able to navigate my way easily through the story and know what was going on. Author Miranda James has a unique talent for writing I thoroughly enjoyable cozy mystery.

Review: A Deadly Chapter by Essie Lang

A Deadly Chapter 

Essie Lang  

Castle Bookshop Mystery Series, Book 3 

Kindle Edition
Expected publication: March 9th 2021

Thousand Islands bookseller Shelby Cox is caught between a lethal rock and a hardheaded newcomer in Essie Lang’s third Castle Bookshop mystery, a must-read for fans of Lorna Barrett and Vicki Delany.

Wake up on a houseboat, moored in scenic Alexandria Bay, New York. Ride the gentle waves to work at quaint Bayside Books, where you spend your days supplying literature and conversation to the charming locals and seasonal tourists. Sounds pleasant, doesn’t it? Except bookseller Shelby Cox has already sleuthed two murders from Bayside Books’s home base on Blye Island, one of New York State’s famed Thousand Islands. And this time, mayhem knocks right on Shelby’s waterside door when she finds a body lodged between the side of her houseboat and the dock, his skull shattered.

The victim is no local, but Shelby can’t shake the feeling she’s seen him before. Twice, in fact–that’s how many times he’s dropped into Bayside Books asking about an enigmatic woman who lived on Blye Island many years before. The last time? The day before he was found. But the poor man obviously was killed elsewhere, so who brought him down to the bay, and why?

When the victim’s daughter hits town demanding answers, Shelby takes the case, despite Police Chief Tekla Stone’s usual reservations. But she uncovers more suspects than there are pages in War and Peace, and Shelby can expect no peace–except the peace of the grave–unless she can turn the page on this grisly mystery. (

 

 

 

 

 3.5 Stars

Living on a houseboat is a calm and serene way of life. Starting your day on the beautiful Alexandria Bay can’t help but to give the beginning of your day the best start it can have. Shelby is living the life. Until a dead body is found floating next to where you live. That definitely changes the outcome of the day.

One can never say that Shelby is not passionate about the small town in which she lives, as she is constantly reminded not to get involved in police business. This one hits too close to home and Shelby can’t help but to get down to the bottom of what’s going on.

A Deadly Chapter is book three of the Castle Bookshop Mysteries. I have come to enjoy Shelby’s way of finding out things that not just anyone could seem to find out. Shelby’s got some personal things happening as this mystery is underfoot. More than just a dead body is going on and Shelby does what she does best and somehow juggles at all and ends up finding the answers in the end. This is such a charming setting with wonderfully written characters. So much personality shines through each and everyone of them. Miss Lang definitely has a way of transporting you to a cozy little town within the pages of the series. I love how every day issues are added in with the mystery to make it seem a bit more real. I very much enjoy the series and A Deadly Chapter definitely stands up to the rest of the series.

 

 

Review: Death by Chocolate Snickerdoodle by Sarah Graves

 

 

Death by Chocolate Snickerdoodle

Sarah Graves

Death By Chocolate Mystery Series, Book 4

Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Expected publication: February 23rd 2021 by Kensington Books

 

Jake Tiptree and Ellie White are fired up for Eastport, Maine’s Great Downeast Snickerdoodle Bake-Off, but when a cunning killer and a devastating fire threaten to ravage the quaint island town, Jake and Ellie must dip into another homemade homicide investigation before all they love goes up in smoke . . .

As co-owners of Eastport’s beloved waterfront bakery, The Chocolate Moose, Jake and Ellie know their customers expect them to cream the competition. But they’re really just in it for fun, hoping to get Jake’s daughter-in-law baking again. Those plans collapse when fearsome local curmudgeon Alvin Brown is murdered, and every crumb of evidence points to Tiptree family friend—and all-around sweet guy—Billy Sewell.

Billy’s sisters beg Jake and Ellie to prove his innocence. After all, lots of folks had gone sour on Alvin–the only thing the retired lawyer liked better than bilking widows was swindling orphans, and several victims of his long-ago schemes still lived in Eastport. But just as the ladies begin sifting through the suspects, a series of grassfires blaze across the island, cutting off access to the mainland. Could someone be trying to hide the truth about Alvin’s murder?

Now, Jake and Ellie will need all their courage—and an extra dash of that down-east Maine stubbornness—to sniff out the real killer before anyone else gets burned . . .

 

 

 

 

 

4 Stars

Jake and Ellie don’t need trouble to find them, they go looking for it in the most head shaking, laugh out loud ways you could possibly imagine.

 

Death By Chocolate Snickerdoodle has Jake and Ellie gearing up for the annual cookie competition. Jake’s daughter in law, Mika is trying to find the balance of work and kids, Jake and Ellie use the contest to help her gain some of herself and confidence back. A grouchy old man is murdered and it hits too close to home as the prime suspect is none other than Billy Sewell. Billy is an employee of Jake’s son and a close family friend.  Between baking up their delicious goodies at The Chocolate Moose, Ellie and Jake can’t help but to help and snooping is the name of their game. 

 

Author Sarah Graves makes sure the reader laughs right along with their mystery.  Death By Chocolate Snickerdoodle is excellently plotted to keep the reader thinking yet is completely entertained with the antics of Jake and Ellie along the way. There is nothing and I mean nothing these two will not get themselves into. How they just drag each other along is a riot. That’s some real friendships there. I wondered several times if they thought that they had some weird special superpowers only known to them that gave them a no fear approach to their mission. I love Jake and Ellie and their never give up attitude.  They push limits and have fun and help while doing it.  Death By Chocolate Snickerdoodle it’s fun, entertaining and a very enjoyable read.

 

 

Review: Triple Chocolate Murder by JoAnne Fluke

Triple Chocolate Cheesecake Murder 

JoAnne Fluke 

Hannah Swensen Mysteries Series, Book 27

Hardcover, 352 pages
Expected publication: February 23rd 2021 by Kensington Publishing Corporation

 

 

In the newest installment of the New York Times bestselling Hannah Swensen Mystery series by Joanne Fluke, spring has sprung in Lake Eden, Minnesota, but Hannah doesn’t have time to stop and smell the roses–not with hot cross buns to make, treats to bake, and a sister to exonerate!

Hannah’s up to her ears with Easter orders rushing in at The Cookie Jar, plus a festive meal to prepare for a dinner party at her mother’s penthouse. But everything comes crashing to a halt when Hannah receives a panicked call from her sister Andrea–Mayor Richard Bascomb has been murdered and she’s the prime suspect.

Even with his reputation for being a bully, Mayor Bascomb–or Ricky Ticky, as Hannah’s mother likes to call him–had been unusually testy in the days leading up to his death, leaving Hannah to wonder if he knew he was in danger. Meanwhile, folks with a motive for mayoral murder are popping up in Lake Eden. Was it a beleaguered colleague? A political rival? A jealous wife? Or a scorned mistress?

As orders pile up at The Cookie Jar–and children line up for Easter egg hunts–Hannah must spring into investigation mode and identify the real killer…before another murder happens!

 

 

 

 

 

 3 Stars

Triple Chocolate Cheesecake Murder is the latest edition of the long running Hannah Swensen series. Although I have not read every book in the series I always feel like each time I come to Lake Eden it’s like a visit with old friends.

It’s Easter time and The Cookie Jar is hopping. Hannah is crunching her time trying to get through her long list of orders while planning a dinner party with her mom.  Hannah’s sister gets put in the hot seat  after a few words with the mayor about the treatment of her husband. When a family member becomes a suspect on know Hannah can’t help but to involved. Hannah even strikes to deal with Mike to share evidence and interviews.  With Hannah on case and Norman by her side, we are only guess at what could happen.

All in all, Triple Chocolate Cheesecake Murder is a easy and simple read.  The mystery is very easy but the enjoyment of the story is how Hannah gets herself tangled up in all the excitement of what’s going on.  As always Hannah will make you laugh and making are you extremely hungry with all the delectable goodness that is described within the pages. Anyone who is a foodie and loves recipes along with an easy story this is definitely a book that you will enjoy.

 

 

Review: A Pairing to Die For by Kate Lansing

 

A Pairing to Die For

Kate Lansing

Colorado Wine Mystery Series, Book 2 

Paperback, 320 pages
Expected publication: January 26th 2021 by Berkley Books

 

 

A young winemaker is over a barrel when her new boyfriend is accused of murder in this delightful cozy mystery.

It’s fall in Boulder, Colorado, and the leaves aren’t the only things changing. Parker Valentine, owner of Vino Valentine, is finally settling in to her winery and her new relationship with Reid Wallace, a local chef. But their delicate pairing is endangered when Reid’s estranged family comes into town to celebrate the opening of his new restaurant.

Reid and his family are immediately at loggerheads, given their often acidic temperaments, but Parker still wants to make a good first impression. However, her efforts might be in vain when Reid’s sous chef is found dead in the alley behind the restaurant, and Reid is implicated in the murder. In order to save Reid, Parker will have to find the real killer, even if the truth is difficult to swallow.

 

 

 

 

 

Like a good wine, A Pairing to Die For surprises the pallet, leaves a lingering mystery of flavorful thoughts and leaves you nicely cozy in the end.

 

Parker Valentine is living her dream. Her wine shop Vino Valentine,is picking up in business, people are enjoying her creations and there is a man that makes her heart happy.  The opening scene of the book just goes to show you what a woman will do for a man she cares deeply for. This strong and independent woman embraces a snobby family, makes some wine, investigates a murder, cares for a lonely cat and even dangled her toes in a bit of matchmaking. Well really just a push on both sides. Not too bad for a day’s work. Parker is determined and I love how when she sets her mind to a goal, she does her best to follow through. 

A Pairing to Die For is a fantastic follow up to Killer Chardonnay.  Kate Lansing is a fantastically descriptive writer combining the delicacies of winemaking with the delectable nature of wonderful food, the comfortability of friendship, with a mystery that will keep your mind working. Along with the beautiful descriptions of Boulder and the fantastic cast of characters she has given readers, good stories and entertainment will be had. The Colorado Wine Mystery series is off and running!  I can’t wait for more time with Parker and her crew.  If you are a lover of cozy mysteries with a bit of romance and wine, you should give A Pairing to die for a try! 

 

 

 

Review: Grounds for Murder by Tara Lush

Grounds for Murders 

Tara Lush

A Coffee Lover’s Mystery, Book 1 

Hardcover
Expected publication: December 8th 2020 by Crooked Lane Books

Barista Lana Lewis’s sleuthing may land her in a latte trouble as Tara Lush launches her new Coffee Shop mysteries.

When Lana Lewis’ best — and most difficult — employee abruptly quits and goes to work for the competition just days before the Sunshine State Barista Championship, her café’s chances of winning the contest are creamed. In front of a gossipy crowd in the small Florida town of Devil’s Beach, Lana’s normally calm demeanor heats to a boil when she runs into the arrogant java slinger. Of course, Fabrizio “Fab” Bellucci has a slick explanation for jumping ship. But when he’s found dead the next morning under a palm tree in the alley behind Lana’s café, she becomes the prime suspect.
Even the island’s handsome police chief isn’t quite certain of her innocence. But Lana isn’t the only one in town who was angry with Fabrizio. Jilted lovers, a shrimp boat captain, and a surfer with ties to the mob are all suspects as trouble brews on the beach.
With her stoned, hippie dad, a Shih Tzu named Stanley, and a new, curious barista sporting a punk rock aesthetic at her side, Lana’s prepared to turn up the heat to catch the real killer. After all, she is a former award-winning reporter. As scandal hangs over her beachside café, can Lana clear her name and win the championship — or will she come to a bitter end?

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Stars

 

A fantastic start to a new cozy series. 

 

Grounds for Murder is the debut book in the new Coffee Lover’s Mystery Series. Lana Lewis as a former journalist who has returned home and is now managing the family coffee shop. Now days before a huge barista competition her best and most frustrating employee quits and leaves her high and dry, only to turn up dead the next day. Said barista has made a name for himself in their small little town and fingers are pointing in all directions when his body is found. Lana’s investigative nature kicks in and starts looking for information and clues, not only to clear her name but to find who did. 

 

A fun, laugh out loud, entertaining cozy mystery. Lana Lewis is a strong enjoyable character who has a few complications to her life but is genuinely a good person. She’s got a quirky and likable personality. Lana knows how to get to the bottom and get her answers. Lana’s home town of Devils Beach is a hoot. From the names of the businesses like the coffee shop, Purgatory, to the characters that dwell within the town. Lana’s hippy of a dad is a riot. The new barista is going to be the best kind of bad influence on Lana!!  Lol. And of course to for fill my romance needs there’s a hottie cop who catches the readers attention nicely. Grounds for Murder is a well written mystery with many twists to keep you guessing. I very much enjoyed my trip to Devils Beach and can’t wait to go back.

 

Review: Without a Brew by Ellie Alexander

Without a Brew

Ellie Alexander

Sloan Krause Series, Book 4

Hardcover, 304 pages
Expected publication: November 10th 2020 by Minotaur Books

Amateur sleuth Sloan Krause delves into a murderous winter wonderland in another delightful mystery from cozy writer Ellie Alexander, Without a Brew.

It’s winter in the Bavarian village of Leavenworth, Washington, which for local brewmaster Sloan Krause means lots of layers, pine and citrus-flavored craft beers, and getting the new guest rooms at Nitro into pristine condition before visitors flood in for IceFest—a local tradition filled with fireworks, ice carving, and winter games of all varieties. But Sloan and her boss Garrett quickly learn that being brewkeepers turned innkeepers may not be as idyllic as it sounded.

While one couple staying with them seems completely smitten, a flashy group arrives in the evening demanding rooms. Sloan and Garrett are less than impressed, but agree to rent to them anyway. The night takes a turn when brewery patron Liv Paxton finishes her frothy pint and, with no previous plan for an overnight stay in Leavenworth, eagerly takes Sloan up on the offer of sanctuary from the snow—until she has a strange run in with some locals and the other guests. Sloan could be imagining things, but when Liv’s room is found trashed the next morning, a hateful message painted on her car, and Liv herself is nowhere to be found, Sloan is convinced another mystery is brewing. With many of the potential suspects hunkering down under Nitro’s roof, she knows her co-workers and friends won’t be safe until she serves up the killer a hoppy pint of justice.

 

 

 

 

 4 Stars

Without a Brew is a fun and unique cozy mystery that really makes you want to try a craft beer. Even for a non beer drinker.

Without a Brew is my first Sloan Krause and will not be my last. The Bavarian Village Ice festival is all but underway and Nitro is doing a soft open for their B&B tasting experience! Sloan and her boss Garrett learn quickly that innkeeping and beer brewing may not go hand in hand. Nitro’s soft open turns into a full house when a small group has a messed up reservation and a lone woman seek shelter from the cold. Fun in the snow and amazing beer tasting is what should be had but when a body turns up things are not as they seem. Too many suspects and a lot of unanswered questions layer this mystery. Sloan weaves her way through a trail of clues she seems compelled to follow.

Without a Brew was a fantastic cozy mystery. I really enjoyed Sloan‘s character. She’s hard-working and independent. A caring and loyal woman who has seen a hard life. Her heart has been broken by someone she loved but yet she’s picking up the pieces and trying to live on with life. She did a lot of growing in just one book and I find that thoroughly impressive on the authors part. As someone who is just picking up a book within the series and able to understand the challenges that Sloan faces and understand them like they were just introduced in this book is a higher accomplishment in my book. The mystery was interesting and impressive how it came about and with the end results were. I also thoroughly enjoyed this little town. As someone who really doesn’t like the cold or beer for that matter I found both aspects of this book to be truly Intercal parts of the story and we’re interesting to someone who has not found an interest before.

Without a Brew was a page turning mystery that was completely entertaining and thoroughly enjoyed. I can’t wait to go back to the beginning of the series and find out all the wonderful things I’ve missed about this incredibly charming and cozy little town.

 

 

 

Review: A Page Marked for Murder by Lauren Elliott

 

A Page Marked for Murder

Lauren Elliott

Beyond The Page Bookstore Mystery Series, book 5 

Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Expected publication: October 27th 2020 by Kensington Books

In Lauren Elliott’s fifth Beyond the Page Bookstore Mystery, a murder and a missing first edition of The Secret Garden have rare bookstore owner Addie Greyborne running around her Massachusetts town trying to read the clues…

January isn’t the season for the seaside, but the big Fire and Ice festival is keeping bookstore owner Addie busy. Amid the plans for a fireworks display and an ice-carving competition, she’s also dog sitting for a friend in the hospital. When Addie goes to her friend’s house to gather supplies, she notices an interesting item on the nightstand which belongs to her shop assistant, Paige: a very valuable copy of the beloved children’s book The Secret Garden.

But Addie’s blood runs cold when she finds something else: a dead body behind the bakery next door to her shop. Martha, the bakery owner, has no alibi–and has been seen in a heated argument with the victim. And the next thing Addie knows, that first edition has gone missing. Is there a connection between the body and the treasured tome? If there is, it’s up to Addie to find a killer with a motive as hidden as Frances Hodgson Burnett’s famous garden…

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.5 Stars

 

A Page Marked for Murder is a fun, small town cozy with not one but two mysteries within its pages. 

 

The cozy town of Greybore Harbor is shaken when a dead body is found behind the bakery. That hits close to home with Addie, as the suspect is her assistant mother. Addie does what she does and starts putting her nose to the ground and figures out what is going on. When a rare book goes missing as well, Addie can’t help to think the two are connected. 

 

Addie Grayson as a fantastic lead character. I enjoyed her way of thinking. She thinks things through and uses a good bit deductive reasoning letting her see things for what they really are. 

 

I very much enjoyed A Page Marked for Murder. Author Lauren Elliott crafted a well written mystery. Well paced and plenty of things going on to keep us guessing. Many likable characters throughout the story just add to the enjoyment of the story. Easy to read yet will keep you guessing Ms, Elliott gets a thumbs up from me.

 

 

Review: A Crime of Different Stripe by Sally Goldenbaum

 

A Crime of Different Stripe

Sally Goldenbaum

Seaside Knitters Society, Book 15

Kindle Edition, 287 pages
Expected publication: October 27th 2020 by Kensington 

When a body is discovered at Sea Harbor’s opening reception for the autumn art series, the Seaside Knitters must take a break from stitching baby gear to unravel a series of secrets in Sally Goldenbaum’s 15th Seaside Knitters Society mystery.

While no-nonsense mother-to-be Cass Halloran tries downplaying her pregnancy and her frequent doctor’s visits as an “older” mother-to-be, a softer side of the lobsterwoman emerges as she joins the Seaside Knitters in knitting an abundance of delicate hats and booties. But in contrast to the happy news, terrifying events unfold at the town’s art series that puts a real chill in their New England fall…

Izzy Perry’s husband Sam had reservations about inviting his one-time mentor Harrison Grant to speak at the opening reception, although he never imagined the famed and charismatic photographer would rudely embarrass his hosts that evening. But when a dead body turns up along the wooded shoreline the next day, startling secrets come into focus that could undo the tight-knit community of local artists…

With a mysterious murder pitting neighbors against each other, Izzy, Birdie, Nell, and a vulnerable Cass find themselves entangled in a dangerous hunt for answers. Can four best friends somehow tie together scattered clues and pacify a list of potential culprits before a cascade of fallen foliage buries the pièce de résistance of a ruthless killer?

 

 

 

 

 

3.5 Stars

 

 

Welcome to the cozy seaside town of Sea Harbor where four friends come together in the joy of knitting and solving crimes. So when a body is found the day following the Autumn Art Reception, it’s time to purl into action and get some answers. 

 

A Crime of a Different Stripe was my first trip into this well established series, yet they welcomed this new comer with open arms. I loved the bonds of friendship shown all throughout the book. The age differences within friendship was awesome.  Well written characters with great personalities, fun and entertaining townspeopleA well plotted and paced mystery to keep readers turning the pages. Author Sally Goldenbaum has something special with this series. From prenatal yoga to egotistical photographers this story was kind of all over the place yet entertaining while providing a good mystery. It took me a few minutes to get everyone figured out but once I did the town of Sea Harbor was like visiting an old friend.