Terns of Endearment
August 12th, 2019 by diane92345

Terns of Endearment brings the whole Meg Langslow crew aboard a cruise ship to Bermuda where both murder and secrets abound!

When called upon to be a wildlife lecturer, Meg’s grandfather Dr. Blake brings the whole family along on the questionably run Pastime cruise line. The ship’s crew is disorganized and unfriendly. The ship itself is falling apart. When Meg meets a group of authors, she learns they suspect another writer, Desiree, of plagiarism and causing a friend’s suicide. When Desiree disappears, presumed drowned, Meg and her family investigate. But there is more than one mystery aboard this cruise.

I can’t believe we are up to the 25th Meg Langslow mystery. Having read them all, I feel like part of the Langslow family now. My favorite character continues to be Meg’s curmudgeonly grandfather so it is nice to see him away from the house and spreading his large quantity of wildlife knowledge. While reading previous books in the series will increase your enjoyment, you can easily begin right here.

An enjoyable day or two joining the Langslow extended family on a cruise is a pleasant way to spend your time. It would be a perfect beach read. 4 stars!

Thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Bark of Night
July 20th, 2019 by diane92345

Bark of Night had me with the cute French Bulldog on the cover. But I stayed for the hatred of veggies and pronounced love of dogs evident in this conflicted defense lawyer protagonist’s cozy mystery.

Truman, a healthy French Bulldog, is brought into a vet clinic to be euthanized. The vet asks one his patient’s fur daddy, defense attorney Andy, if he is legally obligated to kill Truman after the dog’s chip reveals that the man who dropped him off is not his owner. In fact, the owner is recently murdered. Andy says no and takes Truman in to his rescue association to be placed in a forever home.

Laurie, Andy’s wife, encourages semi-retired Andy to look into the death of Truman’s owner, James Haley, including defending the possibly innocent boy in jail for the crime. Andy finds layer upon layer of murder.

Bark of Night is the fastest paced cozy mystery I’ve ever read—and I’ve read a lot of them. There are four murders and one attempted dog “murder” before the 25% mark. The perspective is unique too. We hear first person from Andy about what he is discovering. However, we also get an omniscient third person narrative about the murders. Despite that viewpoint, there aren’t any explicit or graphic scenes of violence within the book.

I enjoyed the unusual narrative structure. It’s rare in cozies to know more than the main character does. I also liked the easy wordplay and dynamics between Andy and Laurie. Andy’s snarky asides about his hatred of vegetables and karaoke add some needed humor into the plot. The mystery is complicated and a challenge to solve. I would have appreciated more involvement by Andy’s two dogs and Truman in the book. Overall, Bark of Night is an excellent cozy mystery choice. 4.5 stars!

Thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Peach Clobbered
July 18th, 2019 by diane92345

Peach Clobbered is a great start to Nina’s life after divorce and to the reader’s (hopefully) long journey through the Georgia B&B cozy mystery series. I’m already looking forward to the next one!

Nina decides to start over after her divorce. She impulse buys a Queen Anne house in small but touristy Cymbeline, Georgia in the hopes of opening a Bed & Breakfast. Unfortunately, to get a license to operate a business in her home, she has to “volunteer” to take in six homeless nuns and a Mother Superior until they get relocated by their diocese. In the meantime, the nuns are picketing the land owner, who is intent on developing their convent into golf club estates. When the developer ends up dead while dressed in a penguin costume, Nina decides to investigate.

The characters are the best part of Peach Clobbered. Nina is new to town so we get to meet all the local people as a stranger initially, which is great fun. Who will be Nina’s love interest? Who will be her best friend? The mystery was good too. However, I will read the next in the Georgia B&B mystery series because of the agreeable and funny characters especially her Australian Shepherd, Mattie. This entry is recommended for cozy mystery readers looking for a new series that contains humor, mystery, and a bunch of nuns fighting to save their home. 4 stars!

Thanks to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Left Fur Dead
June 25th, 2019 by diane92345

The author of Left Fur Dead had me at “telepathic rabbit”.

Jules runs a rabbit rescue on her farm in rural New Hampshire with a yarn store on the premises. Walking with Jules one snowy morning, her pet rabbit, Bun, finds a dead body. The body is Arty, the local mime. Later, a break-in at Jule’s farm brings a warning that the rabbits must be released as Arty wanted. What is the connection between Arty’s death and the perpetrator? Jules and Bun investigate to find out.

I was grateful to read a cozy mystery that wasn’t about needlework, cats, or dogs for a change. A telepathic rabbit at a rabbit rescue seemed like a fun idea. Unfortunately, Left Fur Dead also dumps the traditional light romance and the placing of clues to follow to identify the murderer. I missed the romance. The only person that Jules seems attracted to is the married sheriff and her bunny. Seriously…really? By the end, I was hoping she would hook up with the female vet. Now that would be innovative! For me the biggest problem is that there is literally no way to determine the murderer’s identity (or at least I never saw it) before his reveal at the end of the book. As an armchair detective, I expect the author to play fair and this one appeared not to. I realize J.M. Miller has written many other cozy series so I may try one of those before investing any more time in this one—though I will miss Bun. 2 stars.

Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Crepe Expectations
May 31st, 2019 by diane92345

Darn Crepe Expectations! The good news is that I have found another great cozy mystery series where the characters feel like real friends. The bad news is that I will have to buy and read the four prior books in the series even though my To Be Read pile is already overflowing.

Marley owns the Flip Side pancake house in Wildwood Cove, a small seaside town in the Pacific Northwest. She is a volunteer for the local annual amateur cooking contest, where her chef Ivan is one of the judges. As the contest progresses over three weekends, questions abound about sabotage when several of the judges get sick.

When Marley brings a snack to the work site of her boyfriend Brett, a kitten causes them to chase it into the woods. When Marley catches the kitten, she also finds a human skull. The skull belongs to Demetra, who vanished twenty years ago after a high school graduation party nearby. When the sheriff suspects the attendees at the party, suspicion falls on Brett’s sister, Chloe. arley decides she must clear Chloe’s name and solve the murder.

The characters are enchanting in Crepe Expectations. The plot moves quickly and has many red herrings that were totally believable. The use of one major plot and at least three subplots kept the story interesting. The killer of Demetra was a challenge to discover before Marley. The clues are fair and that makes this a fun read for amateur detective readers like myself. I enjoyed spending a relaxing evening reading Marley’s story especially the chemistry between her and Brett. 4.5 stars!

Thanks to Lyrical Underground and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Game of Bones
May 21st, 2019 by diane92345

The private investigative team of Sarah Booth and Tinkie are investigating a murder by exsanguination during an archaeological dig in Game of Bones.

Two competing archaeology professors set up an excavation on a Native American burial mound. To stop the work, a local Native American attorney files an injunction. When one professor is killed ritualistically, the other becomes the number one suspect though the attorney is also under suspicion. Professor Haynes hires Sarah Booth and Tinkie to clear his name. Despite warnings from a ghost and a psychic, Sarah Booth is determined to solve the case.

Game of Bones is one of the best books in this excellent cozy mystery series. There is just enough paranormal activity to keep it interesting without overwhelming the dynamics between the living characters. The mystery was full of convincing red herrings making this tale a good choice for armchair detectives. 4.5 stars!

Thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Foul Play on Words
April 11th, 2019 by diane92345

Foul Play on Words is a cozy mystery set at a writer’s conference with dogs and a possible kidnapping on the side.

Charlee, a mystery writer, is forced to run a writer’s conference when her best friend, Liv, tells her she has to look for her daughter Hanna, who has been kidnapped. The conference is rather a mess what with double booking the conference rooms with a dog agility show and the recent firing of the chef that was providing the food. In addition, all the experienced volunteers are home sick with food poisoning from tasting the chef’s food. Maybe it is a good thing he was fired!

As Charlee begins to whip the conference into shape, she gets pulled into Hanna’s disappearance. Charlee increasingly believes that Hanna has run off—rather than being kidnapped. At 21 years old, Hanna can basically do as she likes.

I’m not sure why but Foul Play on Words didn’t enchant me the way I expected. It had a writer’s conference, a dog show, funny lines and a cozy mystery plot. However, it never seemed to come together into a coherent plot. But just because I didn’t like it doesn’t mean that you will not so I’ll give it 3 stars.

Thanks to Midnight Ink and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Scot & Soda
April 8th, 2019 by diane92345

Scot & Soda is a humorous fish-out-of-water tale and the second in the Last Ditch Mystery series.

Lexy Campbell is a Scottish therapist in rural Northern California. During a small Halloween party on her houseboat home, a body is found caught on the rope holding the party’s cold beers in the slough, or swamp, where the houseboat was parked. The shooting victim had a tam o’shanter stapled to his head so it was hard for Lexy not to take it personally. With the help of her odd friends at the nearby “Last Ditch” motel, Lexy can’t help but investigate especially when a ring seen on the body in the slough is missing after its retrieval.

The characterizations of the unique denizens of the hotel are varied and refreshingly different from the usual cozy mystery sidekicks. As a matter of fact, this wacky tale seems almost like a cross between a cozy and a Serge Storm novel. However, the mystery followed a convoluted course with a dearth of clues until right before the conclusion. The witty one-liners and unusual characters helped raise Scot & Soda to 3 stars despite the disappointing mystery.

Thanks to Midnight Ink and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Murder Lo Mein
March 27th, 2019 by diane92345

Murder Lo Mein is the latest Noodle Shop Mystery.

Lana Lee is the new manager at her family’s noodle house. At the annual Cleveland’s Best Noodle contest, her restaurant wins day one of four. Later that day at the karaoke after-party, one of the contest judges is murdered. Lana decides to investigate.

In the meantime, Lana’s detective boyfriend Adam isn’t around much. Is he really too busy with work or is his interest waning? New Community Director Freddie might take Lana’s mind off of Adam.

A plethora of characters are introduced in the first few chapters. I was worried about keeping them all straight. However, as each got their turn in the plot spotlight, their different personalities made them easy to distinguish.

A possibly more serious problem is that not only the victims but even the perps are named from the two earlier books in the series. While this book can be read as a standalone, there will be no surprises if you read the previous books later.

If you liked Crazy Rich Asians or Straight Off the Boat, you will enjoy this look at a crazy Taiwanese family. While the mystery was easy to solve, the characters, humor, and unique setting make Murder Lo Mein a good afternoon’s entertainment. 3.5 stars!

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

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Trouble on the Books
March 22nd, 2019 by diane92345

Trouble on the Books is the first in a new cozy mystery series, A Castle Bookshop Mystery.

Shelby takes leave from her job to help her Aunt Edie with opening her new bookstore after Edie’s knee replacement surgery. The bookstore is in a real-life castle on Blye Island in upstate New York.  Only one day before opening day, Shelby finds the obnoxious castle curator, Loreena, dead in a grotto on the estate. When the castle’s caretaker, Matthew, is suspected, Edie asks Shelby to investigate. Shelby thinks that smugglers could be using the grotto to smuggle in contraband. During her investigation, she meets the good looking Coast Guard investigator Zack Griffin.

Trouble on the Books was a good, but not great, cozy mystery read. I loved the idea of a castle on an island but this wasn’t developed much in this book. I loved the gentle romantic interests of some of the characters. However, the mystery was too easy to solve plus the book was a slow slog. No one needs so much description of everyday tasks, like shelving books and pouring wine, when the time could be spent describing the setting or adding more potential suspects. There are also many loose ends left at the conclusion of the book. 3 stars.

Thanks to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Death by Dog Show
March 14th, 2019 by diane92345

Death by Dog Show is a cozy mystery set in a dog show that, unfortunately, disappointed this reader.

Perri Morgan sells leather pet products and attends the Big E Dog Show with her friend Babette, who has a dog in the show, to further her business. The first night, Perri and her journalist boyfriend, Pruett, find a body.  Despite the local police telling her not to investigate, Perri can’t resist.

I found some serious issues with this book:

  • I love dog shows on television and have watched many over the years. Therefore, I know that Best in Show is the last event. The prior events are based on dog group (i.e.; sporting group) and then the winners of the groups go on to the Best in Show event.
  • The names of the characters are silly. Wing, Roar and Alf being the worst examples. These are people’s names—not dogs.
  • The character of Perri is not likeable at all. She is both arrogant and insecure plus she appears to be incredibly horny all the time despite having a boyfriend for the past year. Note that Death by Dog Show has more sexual content than most cozies so if you are not into that, I would recommend giving this a pass.
  • The worst part was that the murderer was obvious from the beginning but we still had to continue reading to confirm what we already knew. There are no surprise twists here.

I believe this is this author’s debut book but I wouldn’t read anything else by her. Overall, I would give Death by Dog Show 2 stars.

Thanks to Lyrical Underground and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Something Read Something Dead
March 13th, 2019 by diane92345

Lighthouse? Check. Library? Check. Library cat? Check. Wedding? Check. Amateur sleuth? Check. Murder? Of course, check. There is a little bit of everything cozy in Something Read, Something Dead.

Lucy is the assistant librarian at the Lighthouse Library in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. She is helping her cousin Josie plan her nuptials with the two other bridesmaids, Stephanie and Grace. While they may not agree on the wedding colors, they do agree on this mantra: “small, simple, and perfect in every way.”

The mantra only lasts until Josie’s cousin, Mirabelle, and her grandmother, Gloria, appear. As Josie is her only granddaughter, Gloria insists on a more formal, and expensive, celebration. During the bridal shower at the library, Mirabelle sickens. After an ambulance ride to the hospital, she dies. Believing Mirabelle was poisoned, the police investigate. As Josie is the number one suspect, Lucy vows to clear her cousin’s name.

Some cozy series just feel like you’re catching up with old friends. The Lighthouse Mystery series gives that feeling to me. Do I care I guessed the murderer early in the book? No, because that’s not the main reason I read this series. Lucy, Steph, Josie and Aunt Ellen are genuine characters that I like to visit. I was disappointed that there were no gluten-free recipes included but after reading the book, it is easy to understand why. Overall, Something Read, Something Dead is an excellent way to pass an afternoon. 4 stars!

Thanks to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Drawn and Buttered
March 8th, 2019 by diane92345

The third Lobster Shack mystery, Drawn and Buttered, is another great cozy mystery. It’s Halloween in Mystic Bay Connecticut. A giant Lobzilla goes missing! Houses are broken into but nothing is taken! A witch is afoot! Someone is murdered (of course)!

Allie is out of her ankle cast but cannot yet resume her ballerina life. She continues to help her Aunt Gully at her business, the Lazy Mermaid Lobster Shack, and solve murders in her spare time. This murder is no exception.

Though published in February, Drawn and Buttered is sure to get you in the mood for Halloween.  The setting, plots and sub-plots all revolve around a Halloween theme. The plot moves swiftly and the characters seem like family now. Plus who doesn’t enjoy picturing a three-foot long lobster in their heads! This book is highly recommended for all cozy fans. However, if you plan on reading the entire series, you should read them in order to avoid spoilers to earlier books. 4 stars!

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Death by Committee
February 27th, 2019 by diane92345

Death by Committee is a cozy mystery that emphasizes romance and quilting more than sleuthing.

Abby’s recently deceased elderly Aunt Sybil left her a house. Abby hires several goats to eat some overgrown foliage in the backyard. One goat uncovers Dolly, Sybil’s rival, who is buried in the backyard in Sybil’s quilt. When the town, including the police chief, rush to assume Sybil is a murderer, Abby vows to clear her Aunt’s name. Luckily, she will have the help of her boarder, the hunky Tripp.

I enjoyed the relationship between Abby and Tripp. They both seemed genuine. The mystery within Death by Committee was a bit too easy to solve making this book a better choice for romance fans. 3 stars.

Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Past Due for Murder
February 12th, 2019 by diane92345

Amy, the public library Director, and her friend, Sunny, are thrown into a missing person’s investigation in Past Due for Murder.

Lacey, a college student, is missing presumed lost in the woods outside of Taylorsford, Virginia. Does her mysterious trek into the mountains have anything to do with the fairy lights or the legendary hidden treasure? Mona, a local Professor and folklorist, is trying to determine the truth about the lights when she too disappears. Since the police suspect Amy’s boyfriend Richard, Amy steps in to clear his name.

Another great entry in the Blue Ridge Library Mystery series. Past Due for Murder can also be read as a standalone. The characters in this book are the stars. All have their own internal motivations and needs. Their actions make sense in the context of the plot. The mystery is just puzzling enough to keep the reader guessing until the end. This book is highly recommended for cozy readers. 4 stars!

Thanks to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Murder Likes it Hot
January 14th, 2019 by diane92345

Pleasurable cozy read set in the world of yoga, infertility, and homeless teens. Murder Likes It Hot is a good choice for a late night book reading session.

Kate owns her own business, Serenity Yoga. She and her newlywed husband Michael, who owns a pet store, are having infertility issues. They need money for ivf so Kate takes a part-time job at the teen center teaching yoga once a week to troubled, mostly homeless, teens. While there, she meets Rainbow, a young runaway, who comes to Kate’s house for help. Kate only allows her to stay if she gives her the gun that her stepfather alleged she stole from him. When she hears Michael insist on calling the police, she flees taking her gun. The next day, Kate looks for Rainbow at the teen center but instead finds the police investigating a staff member’s death from a gunshot wound in the chest. When a gun looking suspiciously like Rainbow’s is found behind the center’s dumpster, the police suspect Rainbow for the murder. Kate feels obligated to clear Rainbow’s name by solving the crime.

Murder Likes It Hot is an enjoyable evening cozy read. The characters all have clear motivations. Most seem like they would be good friends in real life. This is the sixth book in the Downward Dog Mystery series. However, this entry can be read as a stand-alone. I reviewed the previous book, Pre-meditated Murder, and rated it 3.5 stars. I liked it slightly better than this entry as this one doesn’t have the humor of the previous entry. Still it is recommended and rated 3 stars.

Thanks to Midnight Ink for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

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