50 Book Reviews Reviews Published

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

March 2023 New Release Cozies

Thank you to the authors, publishers, and NetGalley for providing these ARCs in exchange for honest reviews. The recipe reviews and food pairing found on my Instagram feed are of my own doing. 


Curds of Prey
A Cheese Shop Mystery
Korina Moss
St. Martin’s Paperbacks

 It is crying shame that those wonderfully created cheese boards with their lovely arrangements of incredibly enticing cheeses were not enjoyed by shower guests. For those of you, who are not part of the #TeamCheese, subscribe to Korina’s newsletter (https://www.korinamossauthor.com/) so that you too can be part of the gang like Willow, Archie, Baz, and Mrs. Schultz. In this third installment, Willa is hired to cater a cheese bar at the Harrington/Everett wedding shower, the Harrington’s being the wealthiest family in Yarrow Glen, and Nelson Everett, the groom, is the nephew of Mayor Trumball. High profile players, high profile murder and it looks like Roman has managed to make himself the #1 suspect. It doesn’t help that Roman has a bit of a romantic history with the bereaved bride, history that he hadn’t shared with Willa. So why did he show up prior to the shower? Was he lured there by Summer, was it by her snarky sister Chloe, or maybe he just showed up on his own. Willa is so confused, but in her heart she knows that while Roman might have a killer smile, he isn’t a killer. At the Mayor’s behest, Willa embarks on another clue hunt In spite of possibly upsetting the very austere Olivia Harrington with uncomfortable questions. Who had the most to gain from Nelson’s death? Was it his Aunt, the Mayor, who stands to inherit? Maybe Chloe, who dated Nelson first, didn’t want to let him go? Could it have really been Roman? Maybe Nelson’s cousin? What about the photographer, where was he when the groom was meeting his end? As you can see there are plenty of suspects, and even a few red herrings, plus some petty thievery that surprised the heck out of me. This was another successful Cheese Shop Mystery success with some tasty recipes for those who like sweet or savory or a mix of the two. Now who is ready for some Bleu? 


A Midsummer Night’s Scheme
A Book Binder Mystery
Harper Kincaid
St. Martin’s Paperbacks

 "An evil soul producing a holy witness is like a villain with a smiling cheek, a goodly apple rotten at the heart. O what a goodly outside falsehood hath.” The Merchant of Venice 

 This was an eagerly awaited second in the series. This time it seems to be more from Sister Daria’s point of view, than cousin Quinn’s. The story is full of real life situations such as religious choices, high school mistakes, and learning that you can’t run from your past hurts forever. This is a serious story with some serious plot points in addition to being a great cozy. Several times I found myself laughing out loud, sniffling and murmuring, as well as making “awe, that is so cute” comments. Ms. Kincaid does a great job with not only creating interesting characters but also layering the story into an amazing creation. I am not a fan of the serpent, the spider, or the scorpion (ICK, EEK, ACK). I must give her credit for a unique murder method and a cast of characters with plenty of reasons to want Broadway star and former Vienna High’s heart-stomper Chad, dead, and in such a violent way.  I was able to figure out the “who” but not the “why”.  I was also glad that the family drama was worked through, and while I would like to think that I would not act like Bash and Quin’s folks, I will keep this book close by as a reminder. Lastly, the cliffhanger…can I say it, #TeamLucas. I am not sure why Sister Daria hasn’t figured out that running is not the answer but it sure looks like she might just get some closure. Oh, and I sure hope she gets it before Quinn realizes who is making a guest appearance because she is going to be suspect #1 if anything happens to the guy. Then again, Senya would happily represent her if needed.  Now on to those friend pickles as described in the recipe at the back of the book. I am oh so grateful that the snake taco is not listed, although I am sure it tastes like chicken. 

Strike Out 4 Murder
A Sophie Kimball Mystery
J.C. Eaton
Beyond the Page Publishing

Sophie Kimball mysteries are laugh out loud, read alone books, that build on the first book, the one that brought Phee nee Sophie to Arizona in the first place, to dispel a book curse for her Mom’s book club. Another interesting aspect of this series is that two parallel problems/mysteries going on at the same time always end up entwining. This latest book is a cross between Abbott & Costello’s bit about “who’s on first” and the night of the living dead, when one of the Book Club gals finds and then loses a dead body. Phee Kimball knows that her mom’s/Harriet’s group of gals are easily excitable but they are not senile, so when Shirley says she say a dead guy in the ditch, chances are she saw it. On the business side of things, Phee’s office, Williams Investigations, where Phee is the accounting department, her boss Nate and her new hubby Marshall are busy with an insurance fraud case. I am wondering how and when these two stories are going to intersect, which keeps me riveted to the plot line. Not to mention that these stories are just so darn funny. The characters are all so unique, and well, there is no other way to say it than, hilarious. And Phee’s moments of talking to herself, usually in a snarky but sweet way has me smiling with each turn of the page. I have been known to chortle a time or two when the topic of “sweet little man, Streetman” is brought up. Streetman is Harriet’s neurotic chiweenee who has a life of his own, in fact, he “adopted a kitten in the last book.  Be sure to grab yourself a frosty beverage and a hot dog or two before settling in to this latest Sophie Kimball mystery, it is a home run of a story! 

The Raven Thief
A Secret Staircase Mystery
Gigi Pandian
Minotaur Books

This is an expertly crafted cozy that draws you, once again, into the magical world of sleight of hand and misdirection. Thanks to the wonderful imagery, I am on the hunt for jaggery coffee because it sounds so tempting and a perfect accompaniment to this second Secret Staircase mystery, with a cardamom and chocolate chip scone on the side. The series starter was highly entertaining and this next one is even more mystifying as to the locked room sequence and the description of the amazing creation known as Lavinia’s Lair. Was it a séance gone wrong or something more nefarious or a possible supernatural reason? Four impossibilities according to Tempest and Sinjay but nothing as impossible as the idea of Tempest’s loving grandpa Ash, a retired doctor, and local Good Samaritan, being the murderer. But Ash has secrets and secrets seem to be at the heart of this mystery, magic secrets, secrets of the past, secrets of the present, and Tempest is all-together tired of the secrets. To get to the bottom of this mystery and maybe even the one surrounding the mysterious the deaths of her mother and aunt, Tempest will need the help of her friends and family, and perhaps even Moriarty…Great story that kept me enthralled from beginning to end. If only there wasn’t a year between each book. Looking forward to the next Secret Staircase Mystery and more yummy recipes.


Methods of Malice
Hope Street Church Mysteries
Ellery Adams & Tina Radcliffe
Beyond the Page

The Hope Church Bible There’s more than just theatrical drama going on with this cozy, thank goodness, that the Hope Street bible study group is “likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind” (Philippians 2:2 KJV). Cooper Lee, artistic bird house creator, manager of one of the city’s largest office machine sales and repair companies, and now a new thespian. A production of It’s a Wonderful Life, directed by the notable, if somewhat notorious Broadway director, Simon Doyle and his touring company. Grammy Lee (not your typical Grammy, more of sassy Grammy), warns Cooper to stay away from the cad of a director, not that such a warning is needed, Copper has a guy, Chef Jon Eason, her not a boyfriend-boyfriend. As usual, it is a rather unfriendly character who is the victim and there is a cast of suspects in this stand-alone story that is part of a really good series. The bible group friends work together not only with their study of Philippians but also the mystery that is threatening to derail the much needed fundraiser.  The story keeps you guessing as to the who and the why, to the point that you are guessing and then second guessing. On top of an entertaining story, you also get the recipes to some well described sweet treats, such as Pumpkin Bars and Banana Bars.      

Thursday, February 9, 2023

February 2023 New Cozies Releases

Thank you to the authors, publishers, and NetGalley for providing these ARCs in exchange for honest reviews. The recipe reviews and food pairing found on my Instagram feed are of my own doing. 


In Farms Way
Farm to Table Mysteries
Amanda Flowers
Poisoned Pen Press

After reading this I am on the hunt for a cherry stout and might have to settle for a Black and Red, (my version of a Black and Tan) using a cherry beer and a dark stout. I wonder how it would taste in a chocolate stout cake, hmmmm. Anyway, I digress from the plot of this stand-alone cozy that gives you plenty of back story, when needed. For example, the relationship between Shiloh and her father is not warm and fuzzy, rather, it is a tad chilly and stiff like the winter weather they are experiencing. This character aspect is very true to life, I could imagine a parent having a difficult time showing love to others, even their own child, while dealing with the loss of their spouse. Thank goodness for Shiloh’s grandmother, who was able to pick up that slack as it were when Shiloh’s dad pulled away, mourning. I like the way Shiloh is working towards a better relationship without compromising herself. She does point out that therapy has made her progress possible.  Several of the characters have some hard-hitting character development which draws you into the story even more. Speaking of the story, very typical cozy where our protagonist is asked to help get a friend off of the police suspect list. There are many characters as well as some questionable goings-ons. Was it a marriage of convenience gone wrong, a jealous and over eager brewer, maybe someone who had been wronged in the past? So many suspects can make it a challenge to sleuthing out the culprit or at least finding reasonable doubt. While it appears that Shiloh has her share of challenges it also looks like she is going to have her share of good fortune. I look forward to seeing what she does with both her business/farm life and her personal life in the next book. As an added bonus the book has instructions on how to make a bird treat to help our feathered friends during the cold wintery weather.   

Murder at an Irish Bakery
An Irish Village Mystery
Carlene O'Connor
Kensington Cozies

The Great British Bake Show version of Chopped meets Survivor, and an amazing Stout Chocolate Cake recipe included. Garda Siobhan O’Sullivan, newly wed and looking forward to this piece of cake event assignment at a local bakery housed within a historic mill, while her husband, DS Macdara Flannery is out of town attending work related meetings. The best of the best in Ireland and set to compete and hopefully the proceeds with help to repair the wheel that hasn’t turned for as long as Siobhan can remember. As with any reality show, there is drama, even before the cooking event starts off. Protestor drama, contestant drama (suspects), cooking chaos drama (can someone say sabotage), oh and a death that leads to even more drama. But isn’t that what reality TV is all about, drama? Siobhan, fellow Garda, Aretta, and DS Macdara (arriving in time for cake and clues) have plenty of suspects, with plenty of motives. There is even a bit of bait and switch and a mysteriously elusive attorney who gives a rather unusual (fake) name. The one thing that Siobhan wants as much as catching the culprit is a piece of pie or a baked good. Speaking of baked goods, there is an AMAZING Chocolate Guinness Cake recipe at the end of the book that pairs quite nicely with a cup of coffee and this book. This is a stand-alone mystery from an entertaining series that you are going to want to start from the beginning with.   

Primer and Punishment
House Flipping Mystery
Diane Kelly
St. Martin’s Paperbacks

If you like binging home improvement shows that include demo work, you are going to enjoy this House Flipping Mystery! Whitney Whitaker and her cousin Buck, were successful turning an old motel into a swanky Nashville apartment complex, so let’s see what they can do with a house boat named the Skinny Dipper. This will be a challenging job to be sure, what with a ruptured pontoon, the need for new floor work, a bit of paint, a new motor, and a less than ideal boat slip neighbor. Said neighbor, Grant Hardisty, is a slick one, obviously good at using charm and guile to get his way, this guy has more ex-wives than most people his age. He is living on a pretty nice houseboat that he got for a low–low price in what was to be a temporary arrangement with a friend in need, and he is getting ready to be a bartender on disability because of a slip and fall accident that should be paying out shortly. Not sure how much better his life can get since he seems to spend all his time fishing in the river and trolling the dating apps. Ms. Flower does a great job of fleshing this guy out well enough for readers to know that he is going to be the victim because he has ticked off too many people. I am not sure that I will ever look at a chemical ice pack quite the same way again and I am once again amazed at the research skills and imagination of cozy authors. On the flip side are the entries and thoughts of Whitney’s adorable kitty cat adding a little something extra cozy to the story from his viewpoint, which is not related to sleuthing but all about his world as he sees things. Good as a stand-alone but better as part of the series.


A Killer Unleashed
Low Country Dog Walker Mystery
Jackie Layton
Beyond the Page

Grab a chilled Coke and sit because you will find yourself staying with this book until the end because it is another great cozy in another great series. I have no idea how Andi Grace finds the time to not only work full time on her own dog walking/boarding/grooming business, but also see to wedding details, and solve yet another murder mystery and rehome a dog. This multipart mystery has Andi Grace and her fiancé Marc wondering if Andi Grace stumbled upon a murder and a dognapping by accident or if a stage had been set by a consummate liar? This isn't the first time Andi  Grace has had to rehome a pup due to a murder and this time, Ike, very pregnant baby sister Lacey Jane's biological father, has been identified as a person of interest and Andi Grace has been asked to find the killer. This story twists and turns but never gets you lost and always supplies background when needed. In addition to being highly entertaining there is an excellent wedding menu complete with BBQ sliders.  



Six Sweets Under
A True Confections Mystery
Sarah Fox
Berkley Prime Crime

I was blown away by the amazing backdrop of a canal town, here is the US. This mystery has all the ingredients for a winning cozy, and to top it off with chocolate…superb. Former actress Becca Ransom returns home and returns to the family sweet shop to take over the mantle of chocolatier. Hollywood might have had glitz but Larch Haven is home and home is often where the heart is. Speaking of which, Becca will have a choice to make as to who she will share her heart with, will it be the Hollywood attorney she has been seeing or will it be…? All seems good yet bittersweet as the town remembers a young girl who went missing years ago. Shortly after the town’s gathering to observe the anniversary of her disappearance is followed by the death/murder of the town curmudgeon and possible sneak thief. It was no secret that no one enjoyed Archie Smith’s company. At least that is what Pops, Becca’s granddad says since his scooter went missing, but then Pops becomes suspect No. 1, and Becca decides that she can’t stand around crafting chocolate goodies with Pops as a person of interest, even if Officer Sawyer Maguire doesn’t really think that Pop is guilty. Becca and her BFF Dizzy, town librarian with sweet research skills, are on the trail of a killer.

Monday, January 9, 2023

January 2023 New Release Cozies

Thank you to the authors, publishers, and NetGalley for providing these ARCs in exchange for honest reviews. The recipe reviews and food pairing found on my Instagram feed are of my own doing. 


Cheddar Late Than Dead
Grilled Cheese Mysteries #3
Linda Reilly
Poisoned Pen Press

Glazed grilled cheese donut…hmmm…well if the sandwich is as good as this cozy I am all in. This is book number three of the Grilled Cheese Mystery series that takes place in Balsam Dell, where the winter is cold but Grant‘s tomato soup and Carly‘s grilled cheese sandwiches are warm and toasty. Both can be found at Carly’s Grilled Cheese Eatery sandwich shop which seems to be the place to be and is also a great way for Carly to get back into the flow of Balsam Dell life by renewing old acquaintances that both increase business and her sense of community. Which brings us to the crux of this latest mystery, while trying to do a good deed and increase her business in the off season, Carly gets herself involved in a murder mystery while catering a bridal shower of all places.  The groom wasn’t even supposed to be at the shower and now he won’t be at the wedding. They bride is distraught, naturally, but also a suspect. I think that Carly is one of the few people who aren’t considered a suspect, but then again, she is well known to the Sheriff who has an open mind and a willingness to hear her when she has possible pertinent information as a result of amateur sleuthing. Good hearted Carly does her best to remind people that she is restaurateur and not an investigator, but her reputation precedes her.  This story provides not only one mystery but two, when Gretel Engstrom the town manager goes missing, or is she hiding…this is a story that is sure to please and recipes to satisfy, can be read by itself or why not start at the beginning, because after all, the best is yet to be. 


Four Leaf Cleaver
Country Store Mysteries                        
Maddie Day

This St. Patrick’s Day inspired cooking contest went from dicey to disturbing in less time than it takes it dance an Irish jig. Robbie Jordan and her country store restaurant Pans N’ Pancakes, plays host, or at least tries to play host to the Holiday Hot Off cooking show/contest. Ms. Tara Moore, show producer and victim was, shall we say, a difficult person, which means there will be plenty of suspects; among which is her assistant Jaden, as well as Vin the camerawoman, and Liam one of the eight contestants. Goodness, even Robbie’s husband Abe, has had unpleasant past dealings with Tara. Plenty of suspects means there are plenty of motives and secrets to keep you intrigued while reading about the wonderful Irish foods being made by the contestants, including Abe’s Irish Steak and Stout Stew or Phil’s Stout and Cheese Biscuits (recipes included at the conclusion of the story). There might be only one murder by there are multiple mysteries brewing, not unlike the stout beer provided by the Hoosier Brewing Company which must be used in every contestant’s recipe. Robbie will need the luck of the Irish to help Officer Buck Bird solve this one. Another great story and as always, great recipes to enjoy.

Gone but not for Garden
A Goddess of Greene St. Mystery
Kate Colling

Such an enjoyable read, and it is nice to know that I am not the only one who isn’t a huge fan of the fair. The Goddess is back and her big Greek family thinks that she needs to take some time off, enjoy some fair food with her son and Cage, but there is no rest for the Goddess when there is work to be done. Case and Athena have just put their shingle out and are excited to get their new PI business going. As luck would have it, when a case comes looking for her and it means some one on one time with an accomplished PI needing help to clear her cousin. Athena has opportunities to get out of her comfort zone and take point on several interviews in addition to public speaking, of which she has an almost paralyzing fear so making her less than perfect and completely relatable. Athena’s Goddess Anon blog is a nice touch making me wonder if maybe we could all use a similar outlet when it comes to family. The suspects were plentiful and the misdirection had me stumped until the big reveal.

Murder at a Scottish Wedding
A Scottish Shire Mystery
Traci Hall
Kensington Cozies

Take a moment to make yourself a cheese toasty before settling in to read the most exciting of the Scottish Shire Mystery series and the most emotional, by far. What should have been the happiest day of her life has become a living nightmare for Paislee’s bestie, Lydia. Was it a cursed Luckenbooth brooch or is someone out to hurt Lydia any way they can. You know a book is good when you find yourself holding your breath as you turn the pages and making audible comments on the behavior of some people/characters. As if a wrecked wedding isn’t bad enough, Grandpa is acting strangely and DI Zeffer finally has some startling information about Grandpa’s son Craigh.  The story is a stand-alone, plenty of background is given so that you are familiar with all of the characters, but you will probably want to go back and read the others as well. It’s funny, I can read the words and hear the Scot accent in my head but for the life of me, I cannae speak it (LOL).


The Game is a Footnote
A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery
Vicki Delany
Crooked Lane Books

Grab a fresh baked blueberry muffin and a spot of tea as this story takes us to Scarlet house, not the fanciest of historic houses but the one in which the Heritage Society has placed all of their proverbial eggs.  Book store manager, Gemma Doyle, is highly observant and capable of the most excellent deductions, rather like the Great Detective himself. She can also seem a tad cold and distant and rather matter of fact, but she is British and she believes in getting straight to the point. This is why she has been asked to deduce what is going on at Scarlet House. Unexplained or inexplicable happenings, missing history and a missing store clerk makes this latest Sherlock Holmes Bookshop cozy is one that you will not want to miss.  There is an unlikely victim, several suspects, and one possible specter. Gemma and Jane are on the trail while trying to stay out of the police investigation and out of trouble. Gemma can’t help it if she is in the wrong place at the right time or is it the right place at the wrong time.  In the midst of this investigation, Gemma is desperately trying to determine what has become of her trustworthy shop clerk who has disappeared without so much as a text message or note. The game or rather the mystery is afoot and Gemma’s inquisitive and deductive powers of reason will not be denied. As always, Ms. Delaney delivers in the way of interesting plots and character development. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

December 2022 New Cozies

 Thank you to the authors, publishers, and NetGalley for providing these ARCs in exchange for honest reviews. The recipe reviews and food pairing found on my Instagram feed  are of my own doing. 


Muffin But the Truth
A Bakeshop Mystery
Ellie Alexander
St. Martin’s Paperbacks


An Executive Team that needs more than just building, hires Jules and Torte to cater their roughing it and rafting retreat complete with all the glamping essentials. I am not sure that toxic truly illustrates just how bad the work relations are with the Bamboo group, the boss would make a great victim because no one seems to like her and she doesn’t seem to like her employees. While the employee that everyone says good things about ends up as the victim. The whole time I am reading this story I am wondering to myself why these people have not found new jobs and moved on! Needless to say there are plenty of suspects; there are also plenty of likable characters thanks to Jules and company. Torte would be an amazing place to work or frequent, between the menus and those who create such tantalizing food and drink.  Then there is Jules and Carlos who make a dynamic and loving couple and have worked hard to achieve their happy ever after. No need to read the earlier installments of the series as the backstory is worked in where and when needed, but you are going to want to go back and start at the beginning.  Not to mention the great collection of recipes that you will acquire with each book.  

Rum and Choke
A Chloe Jackson Sea Glass Saloon Mystery
Sherry Harris
Kensington Cozies

No one mentioned the Florida Panhandle Barback Games to Chloe, nor did they mention that she was going to be representing the Sea Glass Saloon, or that it would be against “ringers” who doubled as professional athletes of sorts. Former librarian now bartender in training and half owner of the Sea Glass saloon, Chloe Jackson, is well settled in her new lifestyle serving drinks and running on the sandy beach, she has discovered her groove and a little romance. It will be easy they said, they would prep her they said, plenty of time (10 days) to get ready. She wasn’t planning on having to do a little reconnaissance either, that is a job for Ann Williams the local fixer and descendant of the notorious John Lafitte. Speaking of Ann, she needs Chloe’s help too, to locate a treasure and to find out who killed the one contestant whom Ann knew the world renowned triathlete better than most of the locales, seems that they had some history.  There are so many things to keep Chloe busy, so many places to go, people to see, questions to ask, near misses to miss. Surely your interest is peaked? One of the best parts about this series is that Chloe is so fun to follow, completely relatable, and she shares plenty of backstory so you don’t have to know how she ended up in Emerald Cove or who all the players are since there is a list of Heritage Business characters at the start of every story.   So do you know how to make a lime rickey? Well you will after reading this cozy, maybe look up the recipe and enjoy it while you’re reading. 



Frozen Detective: A Piper and Porter Mystery
Amanda Flowers
Hallmark Publishing

It is the end of the year, when the world seems to slow down and the PI jobs seems to have gone cold. For Darby Piper and Tate Porter, background checks pay the bills but they aren’t any sort of exciting. A weekend at the exclusive Garden Peak Lodge and the threat of murder on New Year’s, now that sounds a bit more exciting. The only drawback is the rather rude and uppity female client Tate was friends with back in high school. Of course that was a while ago, and nobody stays the same. Dressed to the nines with champagne flowing and amazing food to snack on (check out the recipe for Goat Cheese Phyllo Puffs located at the end of the book) Darby and Tate get busy posing as a couple while looking for possible threats. Little did they realize that their very own client would look to be guilty, of course the spouse is always first on the suspect list. A weekend for people to pitch their beauty/skin care ideas to Dr. Garret Madd owner of MaddlyCare. So why is he being threatened and who would profit the most from his death? Cecily (do not call her CeCe) was going to be replaced by a younger spokesmodel, but was that all she was being replaced for or was there more. Not everyone was able to pitch their ideas and no all ideas were accepted, could it be an unhappy guest. Then there is the fact that Cecily is looking to sell the lodge, which was bequeathed to her by her late father with the understanding that her half-brother would continue on as ski instructor with a place to live. The job goes from looking for a threatening note writer to looking for a killer and having to share the scene with the cops, or rather with Darby’s ex-boyfriend Austin Caster who seems to have no respect for Darby’s abilities even after she figured out who had caused the death of her past partner, Samantha Porter, Tate’s aunt. There is lots of action, mystery, suspects, misdirects, and plenty of subtle warm fuzzies between Darby and Tate, or rather Tate is trying to be warm and Darby gets a little fuzzy with trust issues (due to being dumped, thrice by Officer Austin) and past relationship regrets (not that she would ever tell Austin that she missed him…sometimes). I am rooting for Tate since Austin just can't seem to appreciate or value Darby's abilities. 

Sleuthing in Stilettos
A Resale Boutique Mystery
Debra Sennefelder
Lyrical Press

Kelly Quinn has had a tough year, the death of close cousin, being forced to keep a secret for the sake of family, and the possible loss of a lifelong friendship. Keeping busy seems to help, there are always new consignors and the Shop Small Saturday event planning helps, but is it too much? Things seem to go missing and Kelly isn’t remembering to lock doors or send messages, is she getting overwhelmed?  Kelly doesn’t think so, and when she and her part time Boutique clerk Breena find shoe store owner Miranda, dead and Kelly’s uncle Ralph standing over her body…Again, Kelly is asked to help family and make sure that uncle Ralph is off of the suspect list. It shouldn’t be too hard, not one single person has said one good thing about Miranda Farrell’s return since she left Lucky Cover twenty years ago under a dark cloud and two dead husbands. Kelly is the sort of sleuth who can ask the tough questions, although it doesn’t make her popular. She is also smart enough to share what she learns with her sort of boyfriend, Detective Nate Barber. So many suspects and are they ever touchy about being questioned, are they hiding something or is it a bit of red herring? Plenty of backstory, so yes this is a stand-alone cozy mystery but you will want to read the others to see just how much Kelly has become a party of the community which has become part of her family.  

Thursday, December 8, 2022

November 2022 New Cozies

Thank you to the authors, publishers, and NetGalley for providing these ARCs in exchange for honest reviews. The recipe reviews and food pairing found on my Instagram feed  are of my own doing. 


Bake Offed
A Five Ingredient Mystery
Maya Corrigan
Kensington Cozies

 Did you see that book cover, how could you not want to pick it up and give it read? Bake Offed offers the plot of a bake off and a mystery convention with an added hook of a “locked room” who done it. Not to mention the unique history behind Granddad’s recipe box, what an incredible and valuable find that offers a unique recipe for this themed bake off. That very recipe box goes missing after the completion of the bake off contest. Granddad is sure that fellow contestant and rival recipe columnist, Cynthia Sweet must have sticky fingers. Before he is able to do some private investigating, Cynthia turns up dead in a locked room with a tea kettle whistling.  In order to help Megan keep this even on track, Val and Granddad must; in Holmes-like fashion, eliminate all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.  Many suspects for both the murder and the theft of the book come to light but how did they do it?? Recipes from the bake off and some created by the Codger cook and based on the characters from the game Clue are found at the back. I highly recommend this story and the Mrs. White bean chili, scrumptious!  

Bread Over Troubled Water
A Bread Shop Mystery
Winnie Archer
Kensington Cozies

Yeast of Eden is hopping every morning with regulars who drop in to get the delicious and freshly baked goods (recipes provided at the end of the book) from Olaya Solis and staff. That is, until a patron is found dead from poisoning that may or may not have been in his usual Tuesday morning order, a sourdough roll. I would have gone for the breakfast cookie, myself. There is no way that Ivy Culpepper, part time counter clerk and professional photographer is going to let anyone malign her home away from home and the friends she calls family.  Charismatic and soon to be divorced, Josh Prentiss, is a man thought to be a saint by by the athletic department especially the football boosters and a well-to-do financial advisor who is quite tech savvy. Maybe too savvy when it comes to a certain dating app…just ask Olaya’s sister, Martina.  There are plenty of suspects including the widow who isn’t grieving and a harem that is missing him and some of their money. Which leads to Ivy pulling out the sleuthing skills, teaming up with her octogenarian neighbor, Mrs. Branford, and track down the answers, while also getting things ready for the big party.  While this is a stand-alone mystery, and there is plenty of back story to keep you from being lost, it is always more fun to “see” the characters develop not only through a single storyline but the entire series. From Ivy’s arrival back to town to present day as she plans for her future with Miguel, after so many years.  

Murder on a Class Trip
Maya and Sandra Mystery 
Lee Hollis

Sandra and Maya are two different and complex characters who, like ying and yang, they complement each other’s differences. Maya, a former cop turned PI has a hard outer shell but a soft heart, and Sandra Wallage is as elegant as silk having spent the last two decades as a senator’s wife but is also made of tougher stuff as a result of those  DC years. Both are excellent moms who would do just about anything for their high schoolers (who happen to be dating each other, awkward for the kids). Speaking of high school, the annual trip is coming up and they need chaperones. No one wants to have their parent chaperoning the trip, and news flash, not all parents want to go either. Such is the case in this story, but without Maya Kendrick there won’t be a trip, and Maya isn’t going alone, her partner in crime solving, Sandra, will going along for the ride.  Next stop, Washington D.C., the place where politics can be cutthroat and perception is everything. It looks bad for Senator Wallage, who swears he is innocent, of both an affair with his intern and her death.  Sandra knows that her soon to be ex-husband has his flaws, but he isn’t a killer. This is fast paced cozy with several interesting characters creating multiple avenues of inquiry and the culprit was a complete surprise. There is plenty of backstory included so this can be read as a stand-alone. Looking forward to what life brings to Sandra as she navigates being single. 

Steeped in Secrets
(A Crystal & CuriosiTEA mystery)
Lauren Elliott
Kensington Books

An excellent start to a new series, with an engaging story, a multi-layered mystery, and a little brogue from Mr. McHeart-Flutter. I was all in from the first page and didn’t want to put it down until I got to the end, leaving me to ponder about how long am I going to have to wait for the next one to come out. Oh, and I have a craving for a proper Irish stew. Shay has not had the best of luck and none of it due to her choices, she didn’t choose to lose her parents, she didn’t choose to have a philandering–thief of a husband, she did not choose to have her professional reputation take a hit, but she shoulders on.  A mysterious inheritance takes her back to her childhood home where she reconnects with her sister, becomes a bit of a mentor, and meets a police detective turned pub owner. The clues were well placed and I was able to only figure out a small portion of the mystery thanks to the red herrings. I look forward to seeing how the series progresses. Sláinte, to Lauren Elliott on this great new series!


Grilled for Murder
A Sophie Kimball Mystery
J.C. Eaton
Beyond the Page Books

The smell of a slow roasted BBQ is so much better than a garbage transfer station in one’s backyard, right?!?! So says the residents of Sun City West, which will play host to a Food Network sponsored Slow Roasters BBQ challenge and the pinochle crew has made the cut with their special marinade. There are the usual laughs with Sophie Kimball aka Phee, talking to herself or rather trying to talk herself down as she “investigates” the death of Cosmo Pruett, chairman of the Maricopa County Planning Commission and also happened to be on the opposing BBQ team. Herb’s name ends up on the “persons of interest” list, which means Phee will have no peace until she listens to her mom and gets sleuthing, whenever and where ever. That will have to include a trip to the dog park with Streetman for insider info. It is not a Sophie Kimball mystery without Streetman, the neurotic chiweenie and this time he has dragged a friend along (literally). What you should know is that Phee has never called herself an investigator, she is the bookkeeper for the two man investigative agency, and regardless of how successful she is at discovering the truth aka keeping Harriet’s book club ladies and Herb’s pinochle crew calm, she will not consider getting a degree in criminal investigations until Phoenix gets a foot of snow. It could happen…

Thursday, October 13, 2022

October 2022 New Cozies

 Thank you to the authors, publishers, and NetGalley for providing these ARCs in exchange for honest reviews. The recipe reviews and food pairing found on my Instagram feed  are of my own doing. 


A Trip with Trouble
The Mountain Lodge Mysteries
Diane Kelly
St. Martin Paperbacks

Grab a warm cup of cider to pair with this story of Biker babes, the Blue Ridge Mountains, family drama, mystery and the Mountaintop Lodge. It is fall in the North Carolina mountains where the leaves are an array of autumn color and the air is as crisp as the apples used for making cider.  Dangerous Curves, a Raleigh biker club for ladies is staying at Misty Murphy's lodge for a week of riding and relaxation, these ladies don't rest, they are too busy seeing the sites. At least until their group leader  is found the victim of an unfortunate accident, or was it an accident. Possible culprits turn up around each turn as Misty's thoughts weave in and out with each passing day and each passing guest interaction.  Was it a fellow biker with a temper, something related to the recent motorcycle thefts, or the entitled stepson who wanted access to more money from a family trust, or was it something else all together?  A nice amount of mystery, romance, girl power. 


A Christmas Candy Killing
A Killer Chocolate Mystery
Christina Romeril
Crooked Lane Books

This story had me at chocolate! An engaging tale that gets you in the mood for Christmas and all things sweet and sleuth related. I was hooked by the delicious sounding chocolate candies and the tantalizing tale of murder. Have you ever watched one of those Most Wanted shows and then thought that just maybe your neighbor wasn’t the person you thought they were? Nope, me either (thank goodness). Poor Jane, she so wanted to be a sleuth, and not just a member of Sleuth, the book club that meets at Alex and Hannah’s confections and mystery bookshop, instead she becomes the victim. Did she cry wolf one too many times? The town of seems to be filled with a slightly older demographic and I do believe that this is the first time that I have read about a 43 year old, single, sleuth. Single by choice following an early marriage that only lasted a year, Alex is a bit gun-shy, but maybe there is a little something to those looks that her neighbor Tom has been giving her. Tom is one of the few who are not on the suspect list, he’s a pastor and former prison warden after all, he is also a little older than Hannah, which is probably why she just isn’t sure, and since he has only been a widower for six months, she really doesn’t think that dating is on his mind…is it? There are plenty of other people on the suspect list even though Jane wasn’t a gossip, which is quite rare in the small town atmosphere; unfortunately, it still left a bitter taste in more than one mouth.   As suspect #2, Alex is determined to find the real killer since the Sheriff is looking to wrap up this case in time for Christmas with as little effort as possible. Thank goodness she has Hannah (her twin) and a few other friends to help her. Plus, who can say no to a Christmas visitor who comes bearing chocolates in exchange for answering a few questions? Great gang of friends and each is decidedly different much like that box of Killer Chocolates. I cannot wait for the next one to come out and to try my hand at making chocolates, that way I can make some to snack on while reading the next Killer Chocolate Mystery.

Crime for the Books
A Jane Doe Book Club Mystery
Kate Young
Crooked Lane Books

Perfect for the Halloween season, a Murder Mystery parties are all fun and games until it goes a too far. A bit of a locked room scenario, the Jane Does including Grandma Daisy Moody (she is a hoot and a half) must put their heads together to figure out this Agatha Christie style crime. With Southern charm and style, Lyla demonstrates why she is not to be underestimated, especially with Uncle Calvin is AWOL in South America. This story has suspense, Southern sass, unusual suspects, and a few misdirects to keep you guessing. 

Dashing Through the Snow Birds
Donna Andrews
A Meg Langslow Mystery
Minotaur Books

Be sure to brush up on your French or French cooking because the Canadians are coming to dinner and they might be around for Christmas, unfortunately so is there extremely crass and kill worthy boss. There are worse places to be, in fact if I could choose any cozy mystery family to spend time with; it would be Meg’s family, the Hollingsworths. Not only are there more than a couple dozen, they are friendly, helpful, and organized beyond belief. This is an easy one to see who is going to be the victim but not so easy to see who is going to be the killer. Even with Meg’s ever present notebook that “reminders her when to breathe,” this story was like an advent calendar with suspects and clues being added each day. Meg does her usual job of staying off of her Mom’s assignment radar while, prepping for Christmas, looking for the elusive junkos (snow birds), helping the Canadians to feel as at home as possible, and solving the murder. Just thinking about all that she undertakes makes me winded.  

Live and Let Grind
A Coffee Lover’s Mystery Book
Tara Lush
Crooked Lane Books

Orange Vanilla cold brew or orange vanilla muffins are a great pairing for this latest Coffee Lover’s mystery. Something sweet to snack on while contemplating the sandy shores, the quiet town of Devil’s Beach, and the colorful characters of Florida. A peaceful town, as long as you don’t have that neighbor who doesn’t seem to care that it is early on a Saturday morning and most people would like to sleep in as opposed to hearing the obnoxious whine of mechanized landscaping machinery, such as the neighbor who runs the leaf blower ALL THE TIME? It’s enough to make you want to scream or find a way to silence the machine, not that either Lana or Erica would ever even consider doing more than complaining. So if they didn’t do the deed, maybe it was the young widow who spends her days roller skating like it’s 1975.  Perhaps it was a former business partner? Maybe the other folks on Lana and Tara’s street had enough of his nonsense, after all, did you hear about what he did to the manatee mailbox? There are just so many suspects and clues to be checked out, when Lana isn’t busy running Perkatory her family coffee shop, spending time with police officer Noah, and trying to keep not get a concussion from shaking her head over her Dad’s monkey antics. Highly entertaining and keeps you turning the pages while pondering the amazing coffee creations that Tara comes up with. I have to wonder if all laid-off investigative journalists are as creative with getting to the truth as Lana.  Looking forward to the next installment! 

Thursday, September 22, 2022

September 2022 Cozies

Thank you to the authors, publishers, and NetGalley for providing these ARCs in exchange for honest reviews. The recipe reviews and food pairing found on my Instagram feed (Cooking_With_My_Cozies) are of my own doing. 


Gone for Gouda
A Cheeseshop Mystery
Korina Moss
St. Martin’s Paperbacks

 Fall and cozies, two of my favorite things, topped off with a tasty beer cheese dip recipe that goes great with fresh pretzels (cheese related recipes included with the book). So grab some soft pretzels, make some beer cheese soup or dip and follow Willa, the Curds & Whey cheese shop owner, as she solves another mystery. Willa is a cheese foodie, a fan of the Gouda, the Blue, and the Havarti, who is working hard to get her business going and thriving. One way to do this is by hosting a fall event, and while Willa is highly unimpressed by this local who made it big as a millennial vegetarian social media influencer, she sure hopes that potential customers will show up for Phoebe Winston‘s cooking demonstration.  Given the diva attitude and selfish ways of the victim, there are many characters to choose from with possible motives, some from the past and some from the present, but definitely not Willa’s assistant, Archie. This is a Gouda plot (couldn’t resist the cheese pun) with a nice amount of misdirects, I thought I had it figured out but then was blown away by the reveal. I am not a fan of the triangle when it comes to cozies and hope that more develops between Willa and Detective Heath, Roman gets enough female attention as it is. 

Mrs. Claus and The Evil Elves
A Mrs. Claus Mystery
Liz Ireland

April Claus is one of the best holiday related cozy characters, completely relatable and has great taste in baked goods (looking forward to finding a cranberry and cashew cookie recipe), even if she can’t make them herself, much to the dowager Mrs. Claus’s (her MIL) chagrin. If you like the Sophie Kimball mysteries by J.C. Eaton you are going to love the Mrs. Claus mysteries. Each story is a stand-alone but they certainly show an unprecedented pattern of mayhem in Sanataland.  Meet April Claus who has recently married the embodiment of a mythical legend but that doesn’t mean she is any different as a person. She still likes good coffee and tasty treats such as the ice cream from her BFF Claire’s ice cream parlor.  Good thing Claire is spending the holiday with April in Santaland, and just in time to help with a missing elf issue, the reindeer strike (yes, they are unionized), Selfy shenanigans, and murder. Even with all of the sleuthing, shindigs, and overall cold weather, Claire is sure to be back. 

Murder in a Cape Cottage
(A Cozy Capers Book Group)
Maddie Day

One week before the wedding and control oriented Mackenzie (Mac) Alameida is helping her soon to be husband, Tim Brunelle,  tear down a wall to create a master suite in their (new to her) home. The last thing either of them expected to find was a skeleton bride chained to a wall. This does not bode well for Mac’s sense of order. Bridey, Mac’s nickname for the corpse bride is a bit of a mystery and Mac’s mystery book club is good at solving mysteries. Looks like Mac will not only need to find something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, but also a little justice for the star crossed lovers too. The clues for this very cold case are well laid, and you get some great tips for conducting family research. This story is very much about family and history. There are also the some amazing food descriptions.  Thankfully, Ms. Day shares the recipes at the end of the book and I plan to try the Cape Verdean Cachupa, which sounds perfect for a cold or wet winter’s day..  

A Murder on Poet’s Walk
A Book Retreat Mystery
Ellery Adams

An opportunity to die for or was it an opportunity to kill for?  Once again, Storyton Hall has become the site of not one but two Rip Van Winkle incidents, much to chagrin of Guardian Jane Steward. Jane and the staff of Storyton Hall plays host to a greeting card company contract contest complete with a signature cocktail, an amazing cocktail party menu, a literary scavenger hunt and plenty of suspects.  This time life will imitate art or rather poetry as the murderer takes a bit of poetic licensing with the subject matter. As if that wasn’t enough, priceless poetry pages from the secret collection are found scattered in multiple places both secret and odd.  Jane makes use of the clues, her many companions, and the cognitive skills of the Cover Girls book club members to solve this latest mystery. I am not sure what I enjoyed more, the mystery or the various meals enjoyed by the characters, such as the crêpes with apple filling. 


Berry the Evidence
Peg Cochran
Beyond the Page Publishing
This title is taken quite literally when a commode ends up in the reeds at the cranberry farm. That is not the strangest part of this mystery, Monica‘s stepmom Gina ends up in a car with a dead real estate agent. Are the two connected??? There are more than a few suspects to choose from and plenty of red herrings to throw you off track and confuse you. Monica finds herself, once again, on the trail of a mystery. This time she is also prepping for the new café located atop her husband’s book store, breaking in a superstitious baker for the Farm, and all while being in her first trimester of pregnancy which is the sleepiest trimmest of the three. As if the pregnancy doesn’t wear her out enough, the search for clues, creating cranberry yummies like the cranberry walnut muffins (recipe at end of story) is more than most people could shoulder. It does seem like the constant inquiries regarding her health from the locals might do her in, as she hasn’t told more than her closest companions that she and her husband, Mark, are expecting. This is a page turner that should be enjoyed with a nice cup of tea and a little something sweet, like those muffins.


Murder for Good Measure
Devon Delaney
Beyond the Page Publishing

This is a story of superstitions, Irish folklore, a family cooking contest, Ruggery challenges, a mystery, and a murder. This starts out with an ominous meeting at the Ruggery, Sherry Oliveri’s (I just love how her name trips off the tongue LOL) family business that has suffered some weather related damage and costly decisions need to be made. The next bit of bad luck comes in the form of a blind date that Sherry arranges for her neighbor’s Irish nanny and her brother Pep’s sous chef, Angel, which does not end well. So many possible suspects but Angel is at the top of the list since he was the last to see Nanny Cara, and Sherry is adding sleuthing to her list of duties in addition to the town newsletter, the family business, and competitive cook. Speaking of cooking competitions, this story has two, one formal one informal which provides the reader with some great dinner ideas. Be sure to check out the Irish enhanced recipes found at the end of the story such as Colcannon Potatoes with a twist and a nice Irish Pub-Style Roasted Salmon with whiskey recipe, not to confused with red herring as there are plenty of those, just enough that I was way off in my armchair deductions.