Holiday reading is in full swing and I have read these three cozy mysteries over the last few weeks. One is Thanksgiving (Autumn) and the other two are set at Christmas time. I enjoyed them all to varying degrees. They are all in series that I enjoy and recommend.

Slashing Through the Snow: A Christmas Tree Farm Mystery, Book 3

Slashing Through the Snow (Christmas Tree Farm Mystery #3) by Jacqueline Frost

Published October 12th 2021 by Crooked Lane Books

5 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Slashing Through the Snow by Jacqueline Frost is the third book of the cozy A Christmas Tree Farm Mystery series. In the first book in the series, Holly White had returned back home to her parents Christmas Tree farm in Mistletoe, Maine after a broken engagement. She worked with her parents to make some changes and make the business viable and decided to stay. She is now running the family business Reindeer Games Christmas Tree Farm, where she has added a B&B component. Holly is also spearheading the local toy drive with donations being dropped off at the B&B. What she was not expecting to find in the donation box was the body of a critic that is in Mistletoe to not only review the Inn, but to jumpstart her career as an investigative reporter. Holly jumps right into investigating, especially as it is her place of business that is being besmirched. Her boyfriend, sheriff Evan Gray, is not happy at all, especially when she puts herself and others at risk. The victim in this book, a harsh critic who revels in ruining businesses, was easy not to like, but who hated her enough to kill her? Will Evan find the culprit before Holly ends up being another victim?

I have read all three books in this series, and even though it has been three years since book 2, I easily found myself back in Mistletoe with the characters. The mystery was well developed and had a few suspects as well as several twists and red herrings. Some of the situations Holly finds herself in were a bit tense, but fortunately, all works out. The characters are great, likable and some add the humour and quirkiness I enjoy in a cozy. The plot moves at a good pace, and there is plenty of active sleuthing. There is a side story with Evan’s sister, Libby, which ties into the murder in an interesting way and I hope it will be tied up in the next book in this series. I did a read/listen with this book, and enjoyed the narration by Allyson Ryan. Although she has narrated over 200 audiobooks, this is the first time I have selected one of her books, but it won’t be the last. She does a great job with the characters giving them their own voices using expression, tone and pacing. Her emotion added to the story and my enjoyment of it. If you enjoy a good cozy mystery, then pick this one up as it is full of action, great characters and is just plain fun!

Death by Hot Apple Cider

Death by Hot Apple Cider (Bookstore Cafe Mystery #9) by Alex Erickson

Published October 26th 2021 by Kensington Publishing Corporation

3.5 Stars:

The town of Pine Hills, Ohio is having an autumn festival and Krissy Hancock’s bookstore-cafe is supplying apple cider for the event. The staff are also volunteering to man the apple-bobbing booth. Everyone is having a great time until one of the apple bobbers doesn’t come back up. Initially the cider is suspected of being poisoned, but that is quickly dismissed. The victim was a man, known for his outspoken comments about literature that promoted murder, sex and all sorts of scandalous behaviour. Krissy’s store was one of his targets and when a local woman picks up where he let off, Krissy is pulled into the investigation, much to her boyfriend’s chagrin.

This was an interesting story, particularly because of the theme of banning books. I found this to be a bit of a slower story, with Krissy asking a lot of questions and being reprimanded by her boyfriend, the lead detective in town. There are a lot of twists to this one, and a few suspects. The victim was not well liked, but by the end I did have some sympathy for him. Once again, Krissy sticks her nose in a few places that put her in danger and barely manages to not get killed. An interesting mystery that I enjoyed, but not as much as some others in this series. If you enjoy cozy mysteries set in small communities, mysteries set around festivals and are interested in why people want to ban books, pick this one up.

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Lowcountry Boughs of Holly (Liz Talbot Mystery #10) by Susan M. Boyer, Loretta Rawlins (Narrator)

Published November 17th 2020 by Henery Press, February 16th 2021 by Tantor Audio

4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

It is Christmas season and Liz is feeling uneasy about something. Nate is planning a surprise family event and keeping it all secret from Liz. Colleen, Liz’s best friend who is also a ghost, disappeared in the last book after saving Nate’s life and she has not reappeared since, and on a run on the beach, Liz discovers a dead body, Santa no less, on a boat that has run aground. She realizes she knows the man, C.C. Bounetheau, the patriarch of a wealthy Charleston family. Liz and Nate are getting ready to go on a trip for their first anniversary, but being the on call detectives for the small community of Stella Maris, they have a job to do before they can go away.

The Liz Talbot Mysteries are a fun cozy mystery series with a bit of everything. You have your quirky characters, big families, small community with larger cities nearby, a ghost and a pair of married Private Investigators. All this is wrapped up in good writing and interesting mysteries to make this a series I very much enjoy. We met the Bounetheau family in a previous book and they are just as unlikable this time around. There were plenty of suspects as there were many people who would want C.C. dead. This book wasn’t as action packed as previous books, it was more emotional as Liz had a lot going on in her life. All the characters I have grown to love, especially Liz’s family were there adding some humour and comfort to the story. There was a twist at the end of the book that was unexpected and I am curious to see where it is going to take future books in this series. With the family preparing and celebrating the Christmas season, this was a great read as the holidays approach. I have listened to several of the books in this series all narrated by Loretta Rawlins. I enjoy her performances as she is able to give the characters voices that became recognizable as the story goes on. Her southern drawl was prefect and her expression and intonation are perfect. I will continue to listen to this series, but recommend it whether you read them or listen to them.