In September, I hope to read many of the cozy mystery series that I have started and not finished. As well, it is Finish a Series in a Month challenge, so I am hoping to read all four books in the Garden Squad Mystery. Here are the first four reviews for my month of cozies.

Lemon Drop Dead (Amish Candy Shop Mystery #6)

Lemon Drop Dead (Amish Candy Shop Mystery #6) by Amanda Flower

Published April 27th 2021 by Kensington Publishing Corporation

5 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

In this sixth Amish Candy Shop Mystery, Emily Keim, Bailey’s assistant, is expecting her first child. Even though Amish people do not have showers, several of the English townspeople want to celebrate and they throw her a lemon themed shower. It turns out that Emily has a secret, and a mysterious Amish woman who shows up at the shower, upsets her. Apparently this isn’t Emily’s first child. When the mysterious woman is found dead that night in the Esh family pretzel shop, it makes Emily’s estranged sister, Esther, look guilty. Bailey is pretty sure Esther had nothing to do with it, so she begins her own investigation into the death and what she finds out may change some lives forever.

I am continuing to enjoy my visits to Harvest, Ohio and catching up with all the characters both Amish and Englisch. I enjoy the eccentric ones, the bossy ones and the sweet friendly ones, and I especially like to see what Jethro the pig is up to. Bailey and Aiden are still dancing around whether or not to get married, with his mother already insisting to everyone that they are engaged. Emily is the focus of this story, which I have been curious about, and am glad we finally find out about her past and now her future. The mystery was a good one, with Bailey doing some digging and finding out information before Aiden does. As always there are some twists and red herrings to keep the reader guessing. I was not sure who the guilty party was and I really liked the ending of this one. I am wondering where Bailey and Aiden’s relationship is going to go in future books, but I have my hopes. Once again, Amanda Flower has penned an enjoyable addition to the Amish Candy Shop series. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book upon request. The rating and opinions shared are my own.

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Pruning the Dead (A Garden Squad Mystery #1) by Julia Henry, Laural Merlington (Narrator)

Published January 29th 2019 by Dreamscape Media, LLC, Kensington Publishing Corporation

3 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐

Pruning the Dead by Julia Henry is the first book of the cozy A Garden Squad Mystery series. This series finds sixty-five-year-old Lilly Jayne in the role of trying to change Goosebush, Massachusetts for the good. She is still trying to get over the death of her husband, but realizes that she has been ignoring the town the she loves for far too long. A group of friends and townspeople want to revive a local park that has gone to ruin. Unfortunately for the group, the third wife of Lilly Jayne’s first husband, Merilee, is found dead in the garden shed on the morning of the first day of work. Lilly Jayne has no desire to get involved, but when her best friend and ex become the main suspects, she knows she can’t just let it go.

I really like the character of Lilly Jayne. There is so much I can identify with, her age, being a widow and enjoying gardening (although my gardens are not anything like hers). She has always been a pillar of the community, and many people look up to her. She also has money, which often helps when the town needs something. The crime is a bit complicated, but I was pretty sure I knew who the culprit was and I was right (that doesn’t happen often). I enjoyed finding out the motives and getting to know the various characters in the Garden Squad, but overall this was just an okay read for me. I am hoping that the mysteries will get a bit harder to solve as this one was telegraphed from the beginning. I will continue to read this series, even though I only gave this one 3 stars as I like the characters and hope that the next ones are a bit more enjoyable. The narrator, Laural Merlington did a better job with the male voices than she has in other books she has narrated. She does a good job reading the book with expression and emotion and is a performer that I am becoming to enjoy, the more often I listen to her.

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Killer in the Carriage House (Victorian Village Mysteries #2) by Sheila Connolly, Emily Durante (Narrator)

Published July 9th 2019 by Tantor Audio, Minotaur Books

4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

In the first book we meet Kate Hamilton who returned to her hometown to help out her best friend with a town situation. In this addition to the series, Kate is once again back in Asheboro, Maryland, but it might be for good. She recently lost her job when the hotel chain she worked for was bought out by a foreign company. She is hoping to help the town transform itself into a Victorian Village to bring in more tourists and keep them afloat. She is working with papers and manuscripts that have been found in the Barton mansion as well as the office in the old Barton factory. They are moving them to the closed library for safety, as well as to have room to examine them. What they didn’t expect to find in the library was the body of a man that recently arrived in town. Who is he and why is he in Asheboro? Will this derail the plan for the town? Was it an accident or was he killed?

Kate, Josh and a few others are working hard to try and convince the town’s movers and shakers that this plan is viable and will help save the town. Examining the paperwork and trying to highlight the history is necessary, but some information they find could shake up a few people and a large company. The characters are realistic and I like that. They have jobs and other responsibilities which makes them easy to identify with. The murder is not the real mystery in this story and as more information is revealed, it becomes a bit harder to figure out who killed the man in the library. I had some suspicions, but that changed a few times. I enjoyed this mystery and liked learning more about early electricity and what it was like to live just after the Civil War. I enjoyed this story and am ready to start the next one. Emily Durante narrated this story. I am always pleased to listen to books she performs. She has a pleasant voice and reads with expression and emotion. Always a good listening experience for me.

The Secret Staircase: Victorian Village Mystery Series, Book 3

The Secret Staircase (Victorian Village Mysteries #3) by Sheila Connolly, Emily Durante (Narrator)

Published July 9th 2019 by Tantor Audio, Minotaur Books

4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Although this is only the third book in the Victorian Village Mysteries, with the death of its author, Sheila Connolly, it will probably be the last. Her daughter finished this one for her and did a wonderful job making the story seamless. In this story, Kate Hamilton is feeling good about her plans to recreate Asheboro, Maryland as the Victorian village it once was. She has some financial backing (you need to read the second book to find out why) and is working on renovating the Barton Mansion. She wants it to look like a Victorian home, but knows that the plumbing and electrical need to be brought up to code. She is meeting with construction crews to get some information, when one of them finds a hidden staircase in the kitchen. They also find a body in the staircase. Solving the cold case is not a priority, but, it will help the mansion and the recreation of the village if the mystery is solved. When a second body turns up in the mansion, this one more recent, the backers get a bit antsy. Can Kate continue with her work as well as help to find out what is happening?

Once again, Kate and her friends are sorting through papers to find out the history of the Barton family and the mansion. As they discover new information, the identity of the older victim is uncovered as well as the why and who of the recent one. I am a huge history buff, so I enjoy the fact that they are uncovering the past and bringing it to light. The characters we meet in this story are both unlikable and likable. They are realistic in their attitudes and work ethic. I was a bit worried about Kate’s and Josh’s relationship, but by the end we get an answer to what is happening. This is an interesting story with a good mystery (both of them) and great characters. The ending does tie up the series nicely and I was happy with the way it ended. The audiobook was once again narrated by Emily Durante, so was a very pleasant listening experience.