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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Valentine Candy Murder
December 20th, 2018 by diane92345

Two Lucy Stone novels, Valentine Murder #5 originally published in 1998 and Chocolate Covered Murder #18 originally published in 2012, are combined in Valentine Candy Murder.

Two weeks before Valentine’s Day, Lucy is attending her first library board meeting. When she goes to the basement looking for Bitsy, the librarian, she finds her shot dead. The police suspect the board members and Lucy investigates to remove her own name from suspicion in Valentine Murder.

Nine years later in Chocolate Covered Murder, Lucy is once again thrust into a murder investigation. Max is found drowned in an iced over lake surrounded by fishing line. He has a head bruise but the coroner rules it an accident. Lucy disagrees and investigates.

Valentine Murder seems incredibly dated now. It spends a lot of time talking about a newfangled contraption called a computer. The book never mentions a time frame but I would assume early 1990s. The second book is set so much later that her pre-school age daughter in the first book in now in eighth grade. I think it would have better to add an introduction to each of the books to set the stage.  However, both cozy mysteries are well worth the reader’s time. 4 stars!

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

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Catch Me if Yukon
December 13th, 2018 by diane92345

Senior moments, travel mishaps and murder meet in Catch Me if Yukon.

Husband and wife team Etienne and Emily run Destinations Travel, a senior tour group out of Iowa. This trip is a twelve-day Alaskan bus tour. Along with their twelve regulars are seven new travelers from the same Iowan bookclub. It doesn’t take long before Bigfoot is spotted and one of the group is murdered, possibly by Bigfoot.

The feisty old ladies make for a humorous ride. It is nice to get a free travelogue along with your cozy mystery. My only complaint was that the conclusion was wrapped up a little too quickly for me. Catch Me if Yukon is an enjoyable cozy mixing senior humor and travel. 3 stars.

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

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Scandal in Scarlet
November 15th, 2018 by diane92345

Another fun-filled romp from Vicki Delany! A Scandal in Scarlet is the fourth cozy in the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop mystery series.

Gemma is walking her dog late one night when she sees flames behind the window of the historic Scarlet Museum. A candle left burning is ruled the cause of the fire. Due to interior damage, Kathy and the rest of the museum’s Board decide to have an auction to raise money for repairs. Jayne, co-owner with Gemma of Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Shop next door to Gemma’s bookshop, volunteers to hold the auction.

Only one business refuses to donate an item for the auction, the uniformly disliked Maureen. When Maureen brings a truly hideous painting to donate the day of the auction, refuses to pay the entrance fee, and starts a loud fight with Kathy, Kathy’s day couldn’t get worse. But then she sees her recently ex-husband with his new older wife sitting in the back of the room. She goes into a backroom to recuperate after the two shocks. When she doesn’t come out to begin the auction, Gemna and Jayne find her in the back room strangled. The decorative cord used to kill her is missing from the front of the tea shop implying that one of the attendees did the crime. However, a back door to the alley was also unlocked so there was access from outside.

Kathy was not well liked by half of the museum’s Board and volunteers leading to plenty of disgruntled suspects. When Gemma is asked to help the hated Maureen to clear her name, she agrees and the game is afoot.

I adore this series! Gemma and Jayne are genuine, relatable, and seem like old friends. The mystery is rather difficult to solve, which makes this a great choice for armchair detectives. Gemma’s romance with handsome Detective Ryan is moved forward a bit as is her friendship with Grant. A Scandal in Scarlet has something for all cozy readers. 4 stars!

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

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Murder at Harbor Village
November 14th, 2018 by diane92345

When there is a Murder at Harbor Village, everyone is a suspect in this new cozy mystery series.

Cleo Mack is offered a golden parachute to retire early from her Social Work professorship at an Atlanta university. She decides to move to Fairhope Alabama, recognized as one of the best retirement towns. Cleo quickly gets a job and apartment in Harbor Village, a retirement community.

The weekend before starting her new job the little seen corporate bigwig, Lee, is found dead of apparent drowning in the resident’s indoor pool. Cleo is surprised to learn that her long ago ex-husband, Travis, married Lee a month earlier. When Lee’s sister, Jamie, leaves her Director job the day after the murder, Cleo is made acting Director.

Police Chief Boozer soon discovers that Lee was bludgened to death. As the one to benefit the most by inheriting his wife’s considerably wealth, Travis is suspect number one. Cleo decides to investigate to clear Travis’ name.

The characters in Murder at Harbor Village were genuine. Cleo would make a good friend—helpful and intelligent. However, I found it difficult to get over the many unbelievably coincidences in the novel. Cleo kept meeting random strangers in Fairhope that all had a connection to Harbor Village. Her new boss married her ex only a month earlier? Still I liked the characters enough to read the next in the series, Murder at Royale Court, coming out in June 2019. 3 stars.

Thanks to the publisher, Lyrical Underground, and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

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