Blog Archives

Review: Checked Out for Murder by Allison Brook

Checked Out for Murder

Allison Brook

Haunted Library Mysteries, Book 4

Hardcover, 320 pages
Expected publication: September 8th 2020 by Crooked Lane Books

 

Carrie Singleton and Evelyn the ghost sleuth the slayings of a starlet and a star-crossed psychic in Agatha Award nominee Allison Brook’s fourth Haunted Library mystery.

Daphne Marriott strolls into Clover Ridge and informs librarian Carrie Singleton that she’s a psychic. But had she foreseen what fate awaited her, Daphne would have steered clear of the quaint Connecticut town. Evelyn, the library ghost, tells Carrie that there’s more to Daphne than she lets on.

The mysterious woman grew up in Clover Ridge with her no-good dad, who apparently met his end at the hands of Daphne’s brother, Billy. Still, Daphne proves a welcome distraction when Carrie’s overbearing mother hits town. Mom’s much younger husband, Tom, is in a movie that’s lensing locally, and she’s there to keep an eye on him: Tom’s costar, sultry Ilana Reingold, is also his ex-fianc�e, and there’s no denying the chemistry is still there. Soon after mingling with the moviemakers at a meet-and-greet, Daphne is found dead.

Carrie and Evelyn investigate, assisted by bushy-tailed library cat Smoky Joe. But the suspect list could overflow the library shelves. Has Billy killed another relative? Is their long-missing mother involved? Or Daphne’s mean ex-husband? Carrie’s sure she knows who committed the crime, but can she bind together the clues before the culprit Dewey-decimates the town?

 

 

 

4 Stars

 

A psychic, a ghost and a movie cast walk into a library……. Well not really walk into a library but all three are the makings of a good mystery

 

Carrie is the programs and events director for the Clover Ridge library. Her little town has a lot going on and is filled with excitement and anticipation for the movie about to be filmed.  Along with the excitement of the movie, Carrie is approached by a patron who is wanting to give a program on psychic abilities and her mother is in town as her husband is an actor in the movie. If things were already all over the place add in not one but two murders to place the icing on the cake. So to speak. Carrie can’t help but want to help find out who’s wreaking havoc in their small cozy town.

 

 

Checked Out for Murder is an engaging and fast paced read with a lot of fun characters. Carrie is a fun lead. She goes out of her way to those she cares for and admits her faults. With a little bit of luck and some ghostly help, Carrie seems to get to the bottom of what is going on. I loved Smokey Joe the cat and Evelyn the Ghost. Both played an important role to Carrie and they just add that extra to the story.  The story is well written and entertaining. The plot had layers that unfolded complexities well weaves within the story. I also love that there was a romance within the story. 

All in all I enjoy Checked Out for Murder. The Haunted Library Mysteries series is one I can see myself going back and reading previous titles.

 

 

 

 

Review: For Whom the Book Tolls by Laura Gail Black

For Whom the Book Tolls

Laura Gail Black

An Antique Bookshop Mystery, Book 1  

Hardcover, 264 pages
Expected publication: August 11th 2020 by Crooked Lane Books

In this cozy series debut from Laura Gail Black, Jenna Quinn finds her uncle murdered in his antique bookstore, and Jenna–his primary beneficiary–becomes the prime suspect.

Trouble follows Jenna Quinn wherever she goes. Fleeing some unsavory doings in her hometown of Charlotte, Jenna accepts her uncle’s gracious invitation to stay with him in small-town Hokes Folly, NC. In exchange, she’ll help him out in his antiquarian bookstore. But soon after she arrives, Jenna finds her uncle’s body crumpled at the base of the staircase between his apartment and the bookstore.

Before the tragedy even sinks in, Jenna learns that she’s inherited almost everything her uncle owned: the store and apartment, as well as his not-so-meager savings and the payout from a life insurance policy…which adds up to more than a million dollars. This is all news to Jenna–bad news, once the police get wind of her windfall. An ill wind, indeed, as a second murder cements Jenna’s status as the prime suspect in both deaths.

Jenna can hit the road again, taking her chances that she can elude trouble along the way. Or she can stick it out in Hokes Folly, take over the bookstore, and try to sleuth out her uncle’s killer. On the one hand, she’s made some wonderful new friends, and she feels she can thrive in the genial small-town environment. On the other hand, trouble knows her address–and so does the killer, who is determined to write the final page of Jenna’s story.

 

 

4 Stars

 

Jenna Quinn seems to have this black cloud following her. After an unfortunate incident leaves Jenna in a low place she takes up the offer of a change of scenery from her uncle and makes her way to Hokes Folly, NC. Jenna has barely made her way into town when she stumbles across the fallen body of her gracious uncle. In what should be a time of healing and getting her life back together, has become a roller coaster ride Jenna was not expecting. Now she has a business to figure out what to do with, a dead relative and has found her way as one of the prime suspects in the murder. Will this woman’s day get any better or is all about to go down the drain. 

 

I very much enjoyed For Whom the Book Tolls. Jenna is a fantastic character. She was down on her luck, at the bottom of her rope and needing a breath of fresh air. She shows determination, adaptability and forgiveness. I found her to be an exceptionally strong and willful character for cozy mystery. The more I got to know her the more I enjoyed her. I very much enjoyed the story and plot line. There are many twists that keep the story interesting in going. It’s fast paced and even has a touch of romance. I was able to figure out our culprit before the end of the story, however it wasn’t much before the end.  The setting was perfect and the town was charming. The characters definitely drive part of the story giving the reader entertaining antics to go along with this twisting mystery. For Whom the Bell Tolls is a good start to what I feel will bring many entertaining cozy reads in the future.

 

 

 

Review: Little Bookshop of Murder by Maggie Blackburn

 

Little Bookshop of Murder

Maggie Blackburn

A Beach Reads Mystery, Book 1 

Hardcover
Published September 8th 2020 by Crooked Lane Books

 

 

A Shakespearean scholar inherits a beachside bookshop–and a murder mystery–in this delightful new cozy series for fans of Kate Carlisle and Ellery Adams.

Summer Merriweather’s career as a Shakespeare professor hangs by a bookbinder’s thread. Academic life at her Virginia university is a viper’s pit, so Summer spends her summer in England, researching a scholarly paper that, with any luck, will finally get her published, impress the Dean, and save her job. But her English idyll ends when her mother, Hildy, shuffles off her mortal coil from an apparent heart attack.

Returning to Brigid’s Island, NC, for the funeral, Summer is impatient to settle the estate, sell her mom’s embarrassingly romance-themed bookstore, Beach Reads, and go home. But as she drops by Beach Reads, Summer finds threatening notes addressed to Hildy: “Sell the bookstore or die.”

Clearly, something is rotten on Brigid’s Island. What method is behind the madness? Was Hildy murdered? The police insist there’s not enough evidence to launch a murder investigation. Instead, Summer and her Aunt Agatha screw their courage to the sticking place and start sleuthing, with the help of Hildy’s beloved book club. But there are more suspects on Brigid’s Island than are dreamt of in the Bard’s darkest philosophizing. And if Summer can’t find the villain, the town will be littered with a Shakespearean tragedy’s worth of corpses–including her own.

 

 

 

 

3 Stars

 

Little Bookshop of Murder is a light and easy cozy mystery read that is more than fitting for beach reading. 

 

Summer Merriweather is having a time of it. A Shakespeare Professor researching a paper in England to try to save her career when the unexpected death of her very healthy mother brings her back to her childhood home.  Upon return she realizes things are not as they seem. Summer decides that if the local law won’t listen she will have to figure out this one herself. 

 

There are many things I enjoyed about Little Bookshop of Murder. First and foremost the store, Beach Reads!  The Idea of this store is a reader stream on the beach. From its name to its beach themed decor, It’s a place that I wouldn’t mind spending an afternoon or two enjoying reading by the sea. Second small towns whether I’m reading cozies or romance are always a favorite. This one has a vast array of quirky characters that make up a very fun and interesting town. Next the family dynamic within the story is priceless. I love the inner jokes and squabbling that goes back-and-forth between them. Summer it’s an interesting main character. She may have left a few ill feelings when she left home yet it’s still her home and has a love for it even if she didn’t realize how deep it goes. The mystery of the story itself was rather easy to figure out but the why was a bit off for me. However I enjoy this little town and these crazy characters enough that it will make me read the next book in the series.

 

Review: Mums and Mayhem by Amanda Flower

Mums and Mayham

Amanda Flower

A Magic Garden Mystery, Book 3

Kindle Edition
Expected publication: April 7th 2020 by Crooked Lane Books

A famous fiddler has been kilt. A magic garden’s left to wilt. Does Fiona Knox’s father hold the guilt? Will florist Fiona’s blood be spilt?

World-famous fiddle player Barley McFee arrives in blustery Bellewick, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, for a grand homecoming concert organized by jeweler Bernice Brennan. Fiona Knox, owner of the Climbing Rose Flower Shop, is starting to regret volunteering to help with the concert. Bernice is an exacting taskmaster, and Fiona has enough tension dealing with her parents, who have traveled from Tennessee to visit Fi and her younger sister, Isla, and to reveal a secret about Fi’s birth. But when Barley is found dead in his trailer during the concert’s intermission, and his death is shockingly tied to Fiona’s father, Fiona discovers there are more secrets surrounding her family than she realized.

Much to the chagrin of handsome Neil Craig, Chief Inspector of the County Aberdeen Police, Fiona delves into the case to clear her father’s name. To make matters worse, Fiona learns that Duncreigan, the magical garden that she inherited from her godfather, is dying. At some point during the concert, someone broke into the garden and cut the centuries-old climbing rose–the source of the garden’s magic–from the standing stone.

The stakes are higher than ever and Fiona could lose all that she’s grown unless she’s able to dispel this terrible curse and dig up the truth–fast.

 

 

 

 

4 Stars

 

A sweet touch of romance, some family drama,a bit of magic and a twisted mystery wrapped all in one. Mums and Mayhem is an entertaining read. 

 

Fiona Knox has more than a little going on. She’s part of the merchant Society preparing for a major concert in their little town, dealing with a dead body in her garden, someone trying to sabotage her garden and family secrets that she can’t seem to find the answer she needs. A flower shop owner who has a knack for solving mysteries and the holder of a legacy that she doesn’t quite understand. Fiona is smart, funny and just beginning to see what this new life of hers in Scotland is all about.  Yet dead bodies have a tendency to fall within her path.

 

As the mystery unfolds this one hits a little too close to home as the family secrets unfold and answers Fiona has been waiting for our revealed.  The characters drive the story with their charm,  personality and charisma making it very difficult for the reader to guess who done it on this one.  Author Amanda Flower adds just enough of a magical touch to keep the story very interesting without making it a full-blown paranormal. The magical garden series is quite magical and this latest installment of Mums and Mayhem it’s a wonderful addition to this cute and sweet series.

 

 

Review: The Key Lime Crime by Lucy Burdette

The Key Lime Crime

Lucy Burdette

A Key West Food Critic Mystery, Book 10

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

National bestselling author Lucy Burdette’s tenth Key West Food Critic mystery is piping hot with pie-enthusiasts and murder suspects.

When a fierce rivalry between key lime pie bakers leads to a pastry chef’s murder, food critic Hayley Snow is fit to be pied.

During the week between Christmas and New Year’s, the year-round population of Key West, Florida, faces a tsunami of tourists and snowbirds. It doesn’t help that outrageously wealthy key lime pie aficionado David Sloan has persuaded the city to host his pie-baking contest. Every pie purveyor on the island is out to win the coveted Key Lime Key to the City and Key Zest food critic Hayley Snow is on the scene to report it.

Meanwhile, Hayley’s home life is turning more tart than sweet. Hayley’s new hubby, police detective Nathan Bransford, announces that her intimidating mother-in-law is bearing down on the island for a surprise visit. Hayley offers to escort Nathan’s crusty mom on the iconic Conch Train Tour of the island’s holiday lights, but it becomes a recipe for disaster when they find a corpse among the glittering palm trees and fantastic flamingos. The victim–Au Citron Vert’s controversial new pastry chef–was a frontrunner in Sloan’s contest.

It’s bad enough that Hayley’s too-curious mother-in-law is cooking up trouble. Now, the murderer is out to take a slice out of Hayley. Can she handle the heat of a killer’s kitchen?

 

 

 

 

 

4 Stars

Holidays, key lime pie and murder, The Key Lime Crime is a deliciously entertaining cozy mystery. 

 

As if life isn’t crazy enough for food critic and newlywed Hayley Snow with it being Christmas in the beautiful Key West, there is a Key Lime Pie contest that every baker in town is trying to win and she is a judge. All the while trying to finish out her articles for the remainder of the year. Toss in a surprise visit from her new mother-in-law that turns her into a tour guide that has them stumbling upon a dead body.  I believe the day just got worse.

 

Key Lime Crime is a funny and entertaining cozy mystery. If you are not craving several slices of key lime pie by the time you’re reading then somethings just not right. Hayley is a wonderful character that readers can relate with. She smart, charming, in love and a good person. She’s still becoming comfortable in her new married life, as many readers can relate to. Hayley navigates the reader through an interesting and twisting plot that keeps you guessing. You see significant character growth within one book. As being a primary romance reader that is something I see frequently within romance but not quite so much in cozies. I definitely enjoyed that factor of the book. This is a long going series that fortunately I stumbled upon and was able to pick up at book 10 and didn’t feel like I was left out from anything of previous books. Author Lucy Burdette twisted a fantastic mystery well giving you fantastic descriptions of every possible Way of having Keylime pie.  I very much enjoyed Key Lime Crime. I look forward to going back to previous books in the series and truly getting to know these characters.

 

 

Review: Peachy Scream by Anna Gerard

Peachy Scream 

Anna Gerard 

Georgia B&B Series, Book 2

Hardcover
Published June 9th 2020 by Crooked Lane Books

To die or not to die? Georgia B&B proprietor Nina Fleet struts and frets to bring the curtain down on a Shakespearean actor’s killer.

It’s nothing short of inevitable that Cymbeline, GA, hosts an annual Shakespeare festival. But stage-struck Nina Fleet is about to learn that putting on an amateur theatrical production can be murder. Nina’s anticipating showbiz glamour and glitz when a community Shakespearean troupe arrives for a two-week stay at her B&B. But the lights dim when she learns the company’s director is her nemesis, struggling actor Harry Westcott–who still claims to be the rightful heir to Nina’s elegant Queen Anne home.

Meanwhile, the troupe members are not content to leave the drama upon the stage. Accusations of infidelity and financial malfeasance make a shambles of rehearsals. And then, two days into the troupe’s stay, the lead actor is found dead in Nina’s formal Shakespeare garden. Murder most foul!

Worse, it seems every member of the amateur troupe has a motive–including wealthy construction company owner Marvin Jeffers, who seems to have a personal interest in Nina. But when the sheriff arrests the supposed boyfriend of the slain actor’s widow, Nina suspects that the wrong troupe member is in jail. She and her trusty Australian Shepherd, Matilda, join forces (none too happily) with Harry to sleuth out the murder plot.

Will they find the real killer before someone else shuffles off this mortal coil? Find out in Anna Gerard’s delightful second Georgia B&B mystery.

 

 

 

4 Stars

Peachy Scream has the most diverse cast of characters that contribute to the every twisting plot of this tale.  A very entertaining read. 

 

Nina Fleet has started over in life with a wonderful and cozy B&B that is as charming as she is. Geared up for the Local Shakespeare festival Nina’s hands just got full as the Theater group that is performing the play will now be using her B&B for their accommodations. A wonderful windfall that she cannot refuse yet comes with a bit of baggage in the form of the troop leader Harry, the newest nemesis in her life. Then to make things worse one of the guests is found dead. Nina is not having the best of weeks. Determined to figure out who the killer is and remove the tarnishment on her business his reputation, Nina is one tough cookie with some gutsy ideas that down to the bottom of the mystery. 

 

With as much drama as a Shakespeare play itself, Peachy Scream is a very entertaining read. This is definitely a character driven story. There are so many personalities and interesting people that draw you into the story. Just wait until you get to meet the Reverend.  Author Anne Gerard has done something extremely unique with the story. In retrospect the plot is really quite simple however her talented writing will constantly keep the reader guessing as to who and why. The B & B is truly charming and I’m sure I’m not the only reader that would enjoy a visit. The setting is spot on, the story is engaging and I guarantee you’ll love the way these characters interact with one another. A wonderful cozy mystery with a wonderful helping of humor add it in.

 

 

 

 

Review: A Spell for Trouble by Esme Addison

A Spell For Trouble 

Esme Addison 

The Enchanted Bay Mystery Series, Book 1

Hardcover
Expected publication: May 12th 2020 by Crooked Lane Books

 

Alexandra Daniels hasn’t set foot in the quiet seaside town of Bellamy Bay, North Carolina in over twenty years. Ever since her mother’s tragic death, her father has mysteriously forbidden her from visiting her aunt and cousins. But on a whim, Alex accepts an invitation to visit her estranged relatives and to help them in their family business: an herbal apothecary known for its remarkably potent teas, salves, and folk remedies.

Bellamy Bay doesn’t look like trouble, but this is a town that harbors dark secrets. Alex discovers that her own family is at the center of salacious town gossip, and that they are rumored to be magical healers descended from mermaids. She brushes this off as nonsense until a local is poisoned and her aunt Lidia is arrested for the crime. Alex is certain Lidia is being framed, and she resolves to find out why.

Alex’s investigation unearths stories that some have gone to desperate lengths to conceal: forbidden affairs, family rivalries, and the truth about Alex’s own ancestry. And when the case turns deadly, Alex learns that not only are these secrets worth hiding, but they may even be worth killing for.

 

 

 

4 Stars

An enjoyable cozy paranormal mystery.

The new Enchanted Bay Mystery Series introduces readers to the small, corky town of Bellamy Bay and Alexandra “Alex” Daniels. Alex is a former risk manager from New York returning to see family that she hasn’t seen in two decades, and to help with the family Apothecary. Little does she know, but is soon to find out that there are reasons that Alex’s father kept her away.

A Spell for Trouble is a light, entertaining and fun paranormal cozy mystery with lots of twists and spunk. From the picturesque descriptions of this beautiful town, to the way the magic is woven through the plot and the way the characters charm their way into your liking. The world building is off to a fantastic start and within one book you really get a feel for the personality of the characters. Alex may have made some not so great choices at times but I did love her tenacity and will do what she needs to do to achieve her goals. Esme Addison has caught my attention and I’m eager to see what she has in store for The Enchanted Bay Series.

 

 

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: 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.