Over the last week, I have been listening to several audiobooks that were provided to me by the publisher (Tantor Audio) for review. This group were all cozy mysteries from series that I read and follow. All ratings and opinions shared are my own.
Draw and Order (Paint & Shine #2) by Cheryl Hollon, Courtney Patterson (Narrator)
Published June 29th 2021 by Tantor Audio, Kensington Books
4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
This is the second book in the Paint & Shine Mystery series, but can be read as a standalone. Each mystery is self-contained, but I still recommend you read this series in order so you don’t miss out on character development and background. Miranda Trent is still trying to get her Moonshine operation up and running. She is dealing with repairs on her barn, which is where the still will go, as well as trying to get her new equipment finished and delivered. Her excursions that mix hiking/climbing with a painting class are up and running and this book has her taking a group called The Risky Business Adventurers, up the challenging Battleship Rock Trail to paint and sample moonshine. Just before they leave the paint site, they are posting for a picture when one of the group finds bones. Is it human? If it is, whose body is it?
Miranda’s a great character, a good daughter and friend. She is extremely talented, physically fit and smart. Her business is very unique and setting of the Daniel Boone National Park is very picturesque and well described. I am rooting for her to get her moonshine business up and running soon. Miranda’s family plays a big part in this book. Her mom helps her with cooking the meals she ends her excursions with and helps support both Miranda and her aunt as the mystery unfolds. I enjoy Austin’s character and like that they are getting closer together. Doris Ann was a good friend and a great source of information when Miranda is sleuthing to solve a case. There were few suspects in the murder, but once the Risky Business Adventurers were implicated, that changed. The showdown/rescue was a bit tense, and everything at the end was revealed, including the motive. There are recipes included in the book and I might just give them a try. I did a read/listen with this book and enjoyed both formats. Courtney Patterson narrates the audiobook and she is a narrator I am familiar with. She is able to give a voice to all the main characters as well as give personality to the numerous secondary characters. Her expression and inflection showed the characters emotions well and added to my enjoyment of the story. I recommend this cozy mystery in either format.
Murder in the Cookbook Nook (Book Retreat Mysteries #7) by Ellery Adams, Johanna Parker (Narrator)
Published April 27th 2021 by Tantor Audio, Kensington Books
4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Murder in the Cookbook Nook is #7 in the Book Retreat Mysteries. This is one of those series where each book builds on the one before it, but the mystery is self-contained. If you want to read all the books in this series, I recommend reading them in order, but you can read this one and enjoy it even if you have not read the previous books. Storyton Hall is its best vacation spot for lovers of books. This summer a reality show is filming at Jane Steward’s resort mixing culinary with literary. Six chefs are preparing to compete in an outdoor tent at Storyton Hall for prizes that will boost their careers. Each of the chefs is also the author of a cookbook, so there will be a book tent as well. For anyone who has ever seen a cooking show, you know that they can be very dramatic, with a lot of conflict, but this one has the added drama of the death of one of the contestants. Jane along with many of her staff, set out to discover how he died, and find the culprit before someone else is hurt.
I really enjoy the characters in this story Jane is smart, loyal and very serious about her job protecting the books and artifacts in the resort, but also the way she protects the safety, privacy and comfort of her guests. Her boys, Fitz and Hem are also a part of the story, but they are involved with the festival, not the murder. Edwin and Jane are in a wonderful relationship and it is going well. I love that the resort’s chef plays a large role in the story. Apparently some of the characters in this book have crossed over from another of her series, but it is not one that I read. The mystery starts off quickly, but settled down to a good pace while the investigation plays out. There were several clues, but I did not catch them until they were revealed and explained during conclusion. I had no idea who the culprit was and there were plenty of red herrings to throw me off. The showdown was partially planned out by the Fins, and it went well, catching the murderer. I find this series is very character driven with the reader getting to know the townspeople well. I enjoyed this mystery and recommend this series. Johanna Parker does a nice job with the narration, but I find her voices are not differentiated very much. Besides that, she adds expression, tone and emotion to the reading of this story.
Double or Muffin (Very Muffin Mystery #7) by Victoria Hamilton, Margaret Strom (Narrator)
Published May 25th 2021 by Tantor Audio, February 23rd 2021 by Beyond the Page
4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
This was the second cozy mystery book I read this week that is hosting a reality competition being filmed at their resort/hotel/B&B. Merry Wynter has her hands full catering to the endless demands of the distinguished judges and ambitious contestants in a reality TV show where aspiring opera singers are competing at Wynter Castle. There are rumors swirling about the various contestants, their families, background and possible criminal charges. When a reporter who is covering the show, who also has an eye for scandal, is attacked and left for dead, Merry’s determined to discover who wanted her dead and why.
This is the 7th book in this series, and although Merry has a lot of life and changes behind her, you can read this book as a standalone. Merry’s friend and business partner, Pish now runs her castle (a venue for events, sometimes hotel/B&B and a catering service) and has invited the cast and crew of an opera competition to film and live onsite. Each of the characters has an interesting backstory, which definitely intrigues everyone, including the reporter hired for the show. Of course with all reality shows there is drama, back-stabbing and some not so nice behaviour. Merry uses her friendly personality to get to know each of the competitors and the reporter, so when she is attacked, Merry is the one to reveal information and investigate the crime on the side. It is important to pay attention when the characters are introduced because there are a lot of them and it is easy to get confused, but they all play a huge part in the story. Merry is a great protagonist. She is strong-willed and doesn’t put up with anything. She fights back, stands up for those who are being treated badly and will not put up with disrespectful or mean behaviour. The mystery is a good one. First it was nice that there was no murder, the young woman who was attacked survives. There were a lot of suspects (pretty much everyone at the competition) and enough red herrings that I changed my mind constantly. As the culprit was revealed, everything came together well and I enjoyed the conclusion. Once again, I did a read/listen with this story. I find that reading when I get the opportunity and listening while in the car or doing certain jobs (i.e. dishes, laundry) adds to my enjoyment of a story. Margaret Strom does a good job with the story, expression and inflection. Her female voices were varied and well done, but the male voices need some work. I will listen to more books by this narrator as overall, I enjoyed her performance.