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Cozies

Twelve Slays of Christmas (A Christmas Tree Farm Mystery #1) by Jacqueline Frost

Twelve Slays of Christmas (A Christmas Tree Farm Mystery #1)4.5 Stars

Published October 10th 2017 by Crooked Lane Books

This is not only the first book in a new cozy mystery series by Jacqueline Frost. She did a wonderful job with the mystery as well as the magical and cozy setting of Mistletoe Maine. Holly White returns home to Mistletoe after her fiance breaks off their engagement for another woman. Holly is sure that the family business, Reindeer Games Christmas Tree Farm, will be just what she needs to heal her broken heart and put her life back together. It is almost Christmas, so keeping busy is also on Holly’s agenda. The Twelve Day of Reindeer Games at the farm, plus cookies and hot cocoa, are really packing in the tourists and locals. All is going well, until Margaret Fenwick. the head of the Historical Society, shows up with citations for Holly’s father for not adhering to the historical code of the town. When Holly finds Margaret beaten to death, her body gruesomely stuffed into the Reindeer Games sleigh display the owners and staff at the tree farm immediately become suspects. Holly’s father, Bud, was seen arguing with the annoying woman just before her death, making him look like a strong suspect. Holly knows her dad is not a killer, so in true cozy fashion, she is on the case to clear her father and find the murderer.

I love cozy mysteries as well as Christmas stories, so this combination was a winner for me. The background theme of a Christmas tree farm and all the holiday events really added to the plot of the book. The mystery was well paced with several suspects and some red herrings. I really enjoyed Holly as the protagonist. She is dealing with personal issues, but puts that aside to help her family. She is smart and intuitive, as well as having a sense of humor and being a bit sassy. She did get herself into trouble a couple of times due to her sleuthing, but luckily for her, the new sheriff in town was there to make sure she was okay. The secondary characters were all well-written and added to the story and atmosphere. It looks like there will be some romance in the upcoming books in this series, and I am looking forward to seeing where that goes. I like that Holly designs jewellery and will be able to stay for awhile in Mistletoe using her artistic business as an income to see if she can make a living at it. A fun story and especially a fun Christmas Caper. 4.5 Stars, rounded up to 5. Continue reading “Twelve Slays of Christmas (A Christmas Tree Farm Mystery #1) by Jacqueline Frost”

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Books Can Be Deceiving (Library Lover’s Mystery #1) by Jenn McKinlay

Books Can Be Deceiving (Library Lover's Mystery, #1)4 Stars

Published July 5th 2011 by Berkley Books

This is a series that I have wanted to read for awhile. After all the comments about how good this series is, and having read and enjoyed many other books by Jenn McKinlay, I decided I needed to give it a try. I did enjoy this story, but not as much as I had anticipated.

Lindsey Norris has been hires as the director of the Briar Creek Library in Briar Creek CT. Her best friend Beth works with her as the children’s librarian. There are several other employees, but I must mentions Ms. Cole, who is called “The Lemon” behind her back. Lindsey is settling in well, making some long overdue changes to the library and getting the Library Board’s vote of confidence. All seems well, until Beth and her boyfriend of five years, Rick break up. When Beth finds out that the children’s book she has been writing has been plagarized, she is ready to go and give Rick a piece of her mind. When Lindsey, Beth and Captain Sulley show up on the private island, they find Rick in no condition to listen to anything Beth has to say. With the breakup and plagarism, Beth becomes the main suspect, in fact, the only suspect as far as the sheriff is concerned.

This was a great cast of characters, including several townspeople, the library workers and the ladies who participate in “Crafternoon” that made the story interesting. The small town feel with the gossip mill that I love in cozies, was in full swing. Milton, the 80 something year old yoga expert was such a nice guy! He was the chair of the library board and when things got a bit sticky, I loved how he stood up for his staff. There is a rather nosy reporter who I would have liked to kick out of town, but again, it made the book interesting. There were not a lot of clues, so it is the questioning and nosiness that eventually reveal the culprit. I had a suspicion of who the killer was, and I was correct, but there was quite a twist at the end of the story that I was not expecting. A good cozy story that is a good introduction to this series and to Briar Creek. I am definitely going to read more in this series.

Continue reading “Books Can Be Deceiving (Library Lover’s Mystery #1) by Jenn McKinlay”

Bells, Spells, and Murders (Witch City Mystery #7) by Carol J. Perry

Bells, Spells, and Murders (Witch City Mystery #7)4 Stars

Published September 25th 2018 by Kensington Publishing Corporation

Bells, Spells and Murders by Carol J. Perry is the seventh book in A Witch City Mystery series and was as good as the rest in this series. There is no sign that this series is running its course. Chang is good in life as well as in books, so in this outing, Lee Barrett is starting her new job as field reporter for WICH-TV. Lee is assigned to interview Albert Eldridge, the organizer of the Holiday Walk and financial supporter of a number of charities in Salem, Mass. When she arrives for her interview, she ends up with a different story, as she finds Mr. Eldridge dead in his office from blunt force trauma. Detective Pete Mondello, Lee’s boyfriend, is assigned the case. Lee begins an investigation of her own, gathering clues and questioning those close to Albert. She is busy with her snooping, assignments for work and getting her home ready for Christmas. Luckily for Lee, with the aid of her visions, and O’Ryan her cat, she hopes to wrap up the case before sleigh bells ring out on Christmas Eve.

Christmas in Salem was brought alive in this book. Cold weather, shopping, baking, tree decorating, a Christmas play, many Santa’s ringing bells for donations, and the generosity of people around Christmas all add to the setting and ambiance of the story. The mystery was interesting with several suspects, a red herring or two and pointed clues. Even though Pete continually asks Lee to stay out of the investigation, she does not stop, even if it means she puts herself in danger. The characters are the strength of the series. Lee is smart and independent. She lives on the third floor of her Aunt Ibby’s house in her own apartment. She has O’Ryan, a cat, who is a real character in the stories, who just happens to have been a witch’s familiar before she died. Aunt Ibby, who is sixty something, is a vibrant caring character. She is a retires librarian and does research for Lee. She is also a wonderful cook and they share many tasty meals together. I like that the authors portrays her as a vibrant personalty and there is also a bit of a love triangle for her in this book. There are several characters in this book that have not been in the others, but they all help to flesh out this book. There is a little paranormal in the book as Lee can see images in reflective images (she is a scryer). She doesn’t really embrace this and seems to be apprehensive at what she will see. This is one of the ways she gathers information, but it is not overdone. I was not able to figure out the culprit until just before the clues gave it away, which I always enjoy. I will continue to look for more books in this series, as I continue to enjoy them. The publisher, Kensington Publishing, generously provided me with a copy of this book to read. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.

Continue reading “Bells, Spells, and Murders (Witch City Mystery #7) by Carol J. Perry”

Academic Curveball (Braxton Campus Mysteries #1) by James J. Cudney

Academic Curveball (Braxton Campus Mysteries #1)4 Stars

Expected publication: October 15th 2018 by Creativia

This is the third book I have read by James Cudney, and this is quite a different book from the other two. There are some similarities, such as a dysfunctional family, but this is a cozy mystery, with some humour. Kellan Ayrwick is a single father following the death of his wife in an accident. He has returned home for his father’s retirement celebration as well as to meet and talk to a woman who has a story for the reality television show he works for. The woman, who promised to give some dirt to Kellan’s boss on trouble behind-the-scenes at Braxton College, ends up being killed, Kellan steps in and begins to investigate. With the help of an old friend and head of security, Collin, the begrudging tidbits of information from the sheriff, the case heats up before the murderer is found.

Many of the characters in this book were extremely unlikable. Kellan’s parents were too busy to spend time with family members and had actually driven several siblings away. Even though Kellan’s sister Eleanor lived in town, there was no relationship between her and her parents. In fact, Eleanor and Kellan really didn’t have much of a relationship either, they met up when one of them wanted something from the other one. Then there is Nana D. She is the humour in the story. She is a smart, sassy, busybody who loves Kellan and in her own way helps him figure things out. Add in the college employees, many of them rather bitter and nasty, some students who were involved in the mystery and you have an intersting mix. This was a good mystery dealing with sports, college politics, families, flawed characters with a huge surprise at the end. There were enough of red herrings to keep me changing my mind about the culprit and their identity was a total surprise as well as the motive. It made sense when it was all laid out though. My one complaint is that this is a longer book than most of the cozies I have read, but there was enough to keep me reading. Kellan is a great MC, with a lot of baggage yet to be unpacked. I am very interested to see where this series will go next, especially with the surprise at the end. The author generously provided me with a copy of this book to read. The rating, opinions and ideas are my own.

Continue reading “Academic Curveball (Braxton Campus Mysteries #1) by James J. Cudney”

The Cat of the Baskervilles (A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery #3) by Vicki Delany

The Cat of the Baskervilles (A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery #3)4.5 Stars

Published February 13th 2018 by Crooked Lane Books

This is the third book in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery Series, and I was happy to see that this book was as enjoyable as the first one. The book can be read as a standalone, but it is always good to read a series in order to get all the back story.

The West London Theater Festival is gearing up and and Sir Nigel Bellingham will be reprising his role to star in The Hound of the Baskervilles. Jayne is catering a fundraising tea at the beautiful estate of one of the Festival Founders. Gemma Doyle is helping her friend Jayne cater the party. When Jayne finds Sir Nigel dead at the bottom of the cliff, Jayne’s mother, Leslie looks like the perfect suspect, after all, she was the last one to see him alive. Gemma decides she has to do some private investigation in order to come to the truth. Some think that Sir Nigel committed suicide after his horrible mishap of making a fool of himself during the tea when he was asked to recite some of Hounds. Gemma gets Leslie to open up about her previous relationship with Sir Nigel and tries to convince her to tell her family and the police. Her friend Grant, who owns a rare book shop is around to help her at times and there seems to be a bit of a romantic interest developing between them. Meanwhile Police Detective Ryan and his partner Louise are on the case, with heads butting as usual. As the story goes forward, there is an inkling, that perhaps Ryan is still interested in Gemma.

I really enjoy the characters in this story, especially Gemma and Jayne. They have a great relationship, almost like sisters instead of friends. It is interesting to see how Gemma sees things and using this unusual gift just like Sherlock Holmes. Alicia, the young lady who works in the Emporium for Gemma is hilarious. I love hearing about what she wears to work each day and how it reflects her feelings about all the antics in the book. The story was well written with the plot flowing well and keeping me guessing. It took me awhile to figure things out though I did figure it out just a little bit before Gemma! There was just so many good suspects to ferret out. This was a true Sherlock Holmes ending with Gemma coming up with that aha moment. I am not crazy about triangles, so I hope now that Gemma realizes that Ryan is still interested in her, she will not get together with Grant. The idea of the bookstore and adjoining tea room is a great concept that is a great setting for these stories. I am looking forward to the next on in this series. Continue reading “The Cat of the Baskervilles (A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery #3) by Vicki Delany”

Doom with a View (Merry Ghost Inn #2) by Kate Kingsbury

Doom with a View (Merry Ghost Inn #2)4.5 Stars

Published September 12th 2017 by Crooked Lane Books

The renovations on the Merry Ghost Inn are complete, and the first group of guests has checked in. Unfortunately, the first night they are in residence, one of the guests falls off the balcony and is found the next morning dead in the driveway. This time, the guests are all suspects, so can not leave the Inn until the case is solved. This leaves Melanie and her grandmother, Liza worried about their next set of guests due in a week. Time to put themselves into investigator mode again.

The storyline is well plotted and the characters were believable with interesting pasts of their own. I love the characters of Melanie and her grandmother, Liza. They love each other and share a very touching relationship. It is a realistic relationship with Melanie worrying about her grandma and Liza playing matchmaker. Their bickering and banter were fun to read about and it brought a lot of humor to the book. I love the British expressions that creep into Liza’s dialogue. I enjoy the burgeoning romance between Liza and the hardware store owner as well as the one between Melanie and the police detective. Their lighthearted teasing is cute. I can’t forget about Orville, the resident laughing ghost. He adds additional humor to the series and drops hints for Liza to interpret. The ladies have found out that his name in life was Arthur, but they like Orville better and it seems he does as well. The plot was smoothly written and well-paced with just enough twists. The mystery will keep you guessing through the entire book. There were several suspects and enough clues to sift through that it was difficult to figure out who the culprit was. I did not figure out the murderer until it was revealed in the story. I am also enjoying the ongoing side mystery of what happened to Melanie’s mother. Melanie is beginning to ask questions and I hope this mystery is eventually solved. This is a fun, cozy series that has enough mystery surrounding it to make for an interesting series. I am looking forward to the next book in this series. I listened to the audiobook and really enjoyed it. The narrator does a great job with the story and the voices of the various characters. When she says “bugger” I can see Liza speaking those words. I definitely recommend this book, and if you enjoy audiobooks, this is a good one to listen to as well.

Continue reading “Doom with a View (Merry Ghost Inn #2) by Kate Kingsbury”

Cropped to Death (Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery #1) by Christina Freeburn

Cropped to Death (Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery, #1)5 Stars

Published November 20th 2012 by Henery Press 

Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery was a very entertaining story. Faith has returned home to Eden, West Virginia and her grandmothers after a disastrous situation. Even her grandmothers do not know the whole story. She worked for JAG in the armed forces and her husband has ended up in jail. I really liked Faith and wanted her to be able to share her secrets with her friends. The store where she works, owned by her grandmothers, sounds like a great place to hang out. The group of ladies are all great friends and I would love to get to know them. When there is a murder at the Art Show and it turns out that the victim was one of Scrap This’ employees estranged husbands, it seems normal that she is arrested. Marilyn begs Faith to help her by finding the real killer, and she can not refuse. The mystery is not as cut and dried to Faith as it is to the police. Faith starts asking questions and puts off many people. The police are also not happy with her. There seem to be many other suspects to Faith and she will not stop even though she has been warned off by the police and the prosecutor.

I love the other characters in the story. Her two grandmothers, Hope and Cheryl, are a hoot. They want Faith to find a new man and push Steve, their neighbour and the town prosecutor at her. The detective, Roget, is a thorn in Faith’s side, but he is there when she needs his help. When the town gets wind of the men taking crop classes, there is an unexpected situation that is quite funny. There is just the right amount of humour, romance, family dynamics, crafting and of course mystery, to make this a great story. I was kept guessing all through the book. The story drew me in from the beginning and kept me interested right to the end. I recommend this book to cozy mystery lovers whether you are interested in scrapbooking or not.

Continue reading “Cropped to Death (Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery #1) by Christina Freeburn”

Dead and Breakfast (Merry Ghost Inn #1) by Kate Kingsbury

303161824 Stars

Published January 10th 2017 by Crooked Lane Books

This is the first book in a new series with some humour, a ghost, a murder and a pair of sleuths that are quite interesting. Melanie West, recently divorced, decides to take her grandmother up on her offer to open a bed and breakfast in a small town on the Oregon coast. The ladies purchase a haunted mansion and are in the middle of renovating when they find a skeleton in a hidden room. It is considered a cold case, so the police are in no rush to solve the case. Because this means the ladies can not open the Merry Ghost Inn until the police release the scene, they decide that they need to solve the crime themselves.

I enjoyed the characters of Melanie and Liza. Liza was originally from England so still has her accent and uses many expressing that are definitely English. Liza is one of those older characters that you just fall in love with. She is quite feisty, smart, has a strong character yet is very loving to Melanie. Melanie is also a strong character with brains, loyalty and perseveres with her actions to reach her goals. Then there is the ghost. Melanie doesn’t believe that there is a ghost, but Liza does and even names him. She also figures out clues that she believes he has left for her.

This was a realistic murder with a few suspects. A cold case is not the easiest to solve, but they ask the right questions, rattle a few cages and use the clues they find in the house to lead them to the culprit. I wasn’t that impressed with the motive, but overall, this was a fun story with an interesting mystery. I listened to this book and thought the narrator did a good job with the story and the voices. I will be listening to the next story shortly. If you enjoy a cozy mystery with multiple generations and a little bit of the paranormal, then pick this one up.

Continue reading “Dead and Breakfast (Merry Ghost Inn #1) by Kate Kingsbury”

Knot My Sister’s Keeper (A Quilting Mystery #6) by Mary Marks

365639825 Stars

Published July 31st 2018 by Kensington Publishing Corporation

This is the sixth installment of the Quilting Mystery series and I have enjoyed them all. This one is a bit different from the others in the series in that the mystery is a 32 year old murder. I think it is also important to know that you do not have to be a quilter, want to be a quilter or know anything about quilting to enjoy this book or series.

Martha Rose never met her father. He abandoned her mother when she told him that she was pregnant, Martha had been told that he died. For a gift, Martha’s daughter Quincey, paid for a DNA test for her mother. When she submits it, she finds out that her father was of Irish descent and she had a half sister. The ladies meet and Martha finds out that her father had not died before she was born, but had disappeared 32 years earlier and was presumed dead. Martha and Gisele decide to find out what e to their father. The two sisters decide to combine forces and investigate the mystery of their father’s disappearance.

I was engaged in this story throughout. It was very interesting to see the relationship between Martha (Gisele calls her Sissy) and Gisele (called G by Martha) develop. It was very realistic, although a bit quick. Lucy and Jazz were back as fellow quilters and friends as well as Yossi, Martha’s fiancee and her daughter Quincey. The police she works with as well as the ladies at the Memory Centre added a bit of the humor to the story. Gisele and Martha played off each other throughout much of the book and I couldn’t help but smile and laugh at their antics and interactions. There were a few plot twists and some good red-herrings. I had no idea who the murderer was and almost thought the ladies would never find out. I really enjoyed the details the author included about Jewish rituals and customs. There were explanations of dietary laws, Yiddish words and phrases, celebration of the Sabbath, and life cycle events. When Gisele thoughtlessly made comments using Jewish stereotypes, I liked the way Martha dealt with it. I definitely recommend this book to cozy mystery lovers, in fact, I recommend the whole series. The publisher, Kensington Books, generously provided me with a copy of this book to read. The rating, ideas and opinions are my own.

Continue reading “Knot My Sister’s Keeper (A Quilting Mystery #6) by Mary Marks”

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