Tuesday, August 11, 2020

August 2020 Cozy Releases

Thank you to the authors, publishers, and NetGalley for providing these ARCs in exchange for honest reviews.

15 Minutes of Flame (A Nantucket Candle Maker Mystery)
By Christin Brecher
Published by Kensington
Release date: August 25, 2020, available on Kindle and paperback

A Halloween inspired cozy complete with an old history mystery mixed together with a new mystery of murder. The story starts out with a brief recap so a new reader is never in the dark about who the important characters may be. Stella stumbles upon the original Cooper's Candle workshop (the chandlery)  location behind the old Morton house. while helping some scouts plan for a haunted house event.  This mystery has as many layers as a dip candle. The uncovering of a 100+ year old skeleton of young Patience Cooper who seems to have died as a result of truama. Archeologists are called out to investigate the find which leads them to another find, which leads to the "snuffing out" of an archeologist. All of this is filmed for a supernatural adventure story for Netflix. Stella  and Peter are more than ready to help shed some light on the mysteries both old and new. There are plenty of colorful characters and clues for any armchair detective to follow. Best of all, there is a clam chowder recipe at the back of the book that is super simple to make, since I am not near Nantucket, I had to settle for clams in a can instead of quahogs of quality, but it turned out quite tasty! I am not sure if I liked where the book was going at the end but I am eager to find out in the next scentsational story. I do wish there was a local candle shop near me to go and make a candle timer/clock and some of those wonderful Halloween inspired candles as well.     

Dough or Die (A Breadshop Mystery)
By Winnie Archer
Published by Kensigton
Release date: August 25, 2020, available on Kindle, Audible, audio CD, and paperback 

This story is one that you could just sink your teeth into, and I strongly suggest you try making the recipes found at the back of the story to enjoy. Definetly an uplifting story with a unique social program for women that is seasoned with an international flavor. This is my first Breadshop Mystery, but I had no problem following along with the timeline or character developement. There was the perfect portion of past story items and character background to keep everyone straight while also introducing new people. Very good social message about women helping other women and a reminder that while we may not have the same backgrounds we can still come together to do something good. As with any cozy we also learn that greed has the potential of making you a goner.  

Eat, Drink, and Be Wary
By: Devon Delaney
Published by: Kensington 
Release date: August 25, 2020, available on Kindle and paperback

Sherry Oliveri ( I love the way her name rolls off your tongue) and her  visiting brother, Pip team up to take on the Hand-On portion of the New England Fall Festival Contest sponsored by Maine Course and their Shrimply Amazing Division. While this might seem like a run of the mill contest for Sherry, there is definitely something fishy going on. Sherry's top challenger is found dead and all the out-of-towners seem to know each other. This story reels you in from the start and tempts you with mouthwatering seafood recipes (found at the back of the story). The salmon and the herrings are both a lovely shade of red.  A pushy pod casting reporter is looking to make a name for herself with any means necessary and has Sherry running all over town trolling for clues and working hard to keep her brother from the top of the suspect list. Where has he been going and what has he been doing that is such a secret? Sherry will not stop until she has helped the Sheriff to catch the killer. As with the other Cook Off Mysteries, this one has the right recipe to keep you entertained and well fed with easy to follow story plot that doesn't require a great deal of backstory to understand.

For Whom the Book Tolls (An Antique Bookshop Mystery)
By Laura Gail Black
Published by Crooked Lane Books
Release date? August 25, 2020, available on Kindle, Audible, audio CD, paperback

A troubled past, a bright future, a broken heart, a heart flutter, old family, new friends all sum up Jenna  Quinn. Wrongly accussed of a crime she didn't commit, Jenna just needs a fresh start in a new place and her Uncle, whom she hasn't seen in years contacts her to offer the very sanctuary she seeks.  Right away this story grabs a hold of your emotions, as Jenna's life goes from bad to really bad when she finds her Uncle, dead at the bottom of the stairs and learns that she is the sole heir to his shop, his home, and his various book investments. Needless to say, she is suspect number ONE and the lead detective refuses to see it any other way, his partner on the other hand, well he is not only easy on the eyes but also open minded. Jenna makes new friends as she takes on the task of starting her life over while trying to find out why her Uncle's life is over. This is a great start for a new series with an nice amount of interesting characters who may or may not be the guilty party. I do believe there was even a little foreshadowing and maybe even some name clearing for Jenna further down the road. 

Gourd to Death (Pie Town Mystery)
By: Kirsten Weiss
Published by: Kensington
Release date: August 25, 2020, available on Kindle and Paperback

This time instead of unidentified flying objects we have a very large identified falling object, namely one would-be prize-winning pumpkin that was found on top of the local optometrist. Charlene and many of the active adult locals are sure that it is an attack on the Pumpkin festival by rival town....Val is sure that this is more than kids and pranks. The Baker Street Bakers are back on the case, especially when Gordon is stuck on the sidelines because Sheriff can't seem to not want to blame Val for the increase inthe  body count. I absolutely adore the relationship that Val and Charlene have, but then who couldn't smile when imagining Charlene with  around her neck like a mink stole while they search for clues and question, well...everybody. Another wonderful recipe is in store at the end of this story so I suggest that you start there so you can have a snack while you read and then take a moment to look up the recipe for that marvelous sounding Fireball Pumpkin Pie, aft,er all it was the winning pie. Each Pie Town mystery is better than the one before it. Val is living in a tiny house wcemeterymetary in her back yard, has a Dad with a questionable vocation, a half brother who likes to keep things to himself, and now a stepmom who is just as secretive.   

Murder Take Two (A Witch City Mystery)
By Carol J. Perry
Published by Kensignton
Release date: August 25, 2020 available on Kindle and paperback

I never realized that you could play CLUE like a murder mystery role playing game! The things you learn from cozys never fail to amaze me. This story was entertaining on various levels. As with any cozy that contains I recipe, I suggest you start at the back first so you can enjoy something tasty while reading about two murders in one, or rather the copy cat murder that reproduces a crime from LONG ago. You don't have to know that the twins are Lee's former students, nor do you need to know that Aunt Ibby and Lee are better known as the Snoop Sisters to be able to follow along without getting lost. History from the previous stories is interwoven in the descriptions in such a way that you never feel lost or confused. Much like the game of CLUE you can follow the characters from room to room guessing as to how it was accomplished and by whom. The twins swear that their nephew is innocent so of course Lee and Aunt Ibby's posse will do what they can to find the CLUEs while taking a stab at playing a live action version of the game complete with full sized props. Oh and I can offer up that Aunt Ibby's Crockpot Coq au Vin makes a divine and easy dinner.

Thread and Dead (An Apron Shop Mystery)
By Elizabeth Penny
Published by
Release date: August 25, 2020 available on Kindle, audio CD, and paperback

Pretty linens, classic Chanel,  a family mystery, a foreign affair, leafy green biofuel, a cardboard boat, and a coniving co-ed. There is a mystery thread within another mystery and then pieced to gether by Iris Buckly and her best friend Madison Morris.  They did as good a job on solving both as they did in creating a one of a kind cardboard catboat complete with a "darling apron" for the sail.    This story follows the cozy pattern perfectly with not one story going on but multiple that are stitched up at the end. The characters are woven in and out of the chapters in such a way that you are never at a loss to understand who they are and how they relate to each other as well as the story line. I was able to work my way through one aspect but with the number of characters and motives I did not see the finished product until the end. A well put together mystery and I look forward to reading another Apron Shop Mystery soon!

Death at High Tide (An Island Sisters Mystery)
By Hannah Dennison
Published by
Release date: August 18, 2020 available on Kindle,Audible, audio CD and paperback         

An unexpected death, a bankrupt will, a mysterious debt, an island getaway, and a sister from Hollywood by way of England. Everything you need for a new cozy mystery series. Take a spa get-away weekend she said, check out the new property she said. Just a little sisterly advice, what could go wrong? I am pretty sure very little went right including finding the "Lord" of the hotel manor dead. Nice start to a new series with loads of possibloitlites for future installments. Right away, this story has you feeling protective of our newest heroine, young widow Evie Mead. Her world goes topsy-turvy when her husband suddenly has a heart attack, racked with guilt because they had been having an argument and Evie took off to cool down. A mysterious letter with an even more mysterious IOU seems to put her in possession of a hotel on an island off the coast of Cornwall. Against the solicitor's wishes, the sisters take a small trip to the remote island and even more remote hotel where they encounter what could very well be characters right out of an Agatha Christie novel. Past, present, and future interests clash as do many of these characters and Evie finds herself in a fog of deceit as she tries to make sense of the situation. The story had me enthralled the entire time and I only wish that the next book was ready so that I might be able to continue the story!

Behind the Frame (A Shepherd Sister Mystery)
By Tracy Gardner
Published by Hallmark Publishing
Release date: August 11, 2020 available on Kindle, Audible, audio CD, and paperback

So far I have only come across one other series that features a trio of sisters and I must say that the Shepherd sisters are every bit as good as the Swensen sisters. This story instantly draws you in with the horrific crime of the statue beheading followed by a murder.  There is a lot of smart to go with that art that that Savannah teaches to the school kids as she uses her skills of observation to notice that the things are off just enough to not be right. Plenty of suspects to choose from after all, there is an ex-wife, a disgruntled son, some hinky business dealings, and political plotting. While this is the second book in the new series, it takes no time to figure out who is who in the cast of characters. All three Shepherd sisters are unique and vibrant ladies who work well together, much like a picture with balanced colors. The usual cozy story must-haves are present including the splash of romance that makes you feel as warm and gooey as a rhubarb pie, which happens to be the recipe found at the back of the book. By the way, this pie pairs quite well with a yooper hand pie, which is not only mentioned but also described in such a way that I had to look it up and make one. This was my first Shepherd Sister Mystery and my first time trying both rhubarb and rutabaga.  

Booked for Death: A Book Lovers B&B Mystery
By Victoria Gilbert
Published by Crooked Lane Books
Release date: August 11, 2020 available on Kindle, Audible, audio CD, and hardcover

Victoria Gilbert knows a thing or two about writing a cozy with literary learned characters. What a novel idea to have a B&B located in beautiful Beaufort, NC which caters to those who love mysteries or reading in general. It is the perfect backdrop fbook-relatedlated event that becomes more real than surreal as one of the guests becomes the vict  and one of the event attendants becomes the suspect. As this story draws you in it gives you not one mystery but two. There is a mystery which takes place at the B&B and there is the mystery surrounding it's very vibrant previous owner Isabella. Charlotte Reed, Isabella's great niece, and heir to the B&B will stop at nothing to learn about Isabella's past while working to clear herself and those she cares about off of the suspect list. There are many secrets surrounding not only the guests but also some of the locals and Charlotte is not sure who she can truly trust. Finding an allie close by might just help her on both fronts. This was a great start and I can say that without a doubt, you get the feel of Beaufort while reading this story. I am encouraged to get back to holding murder mystery dinner parties and live action Clue nights thanks to this story. 

The Key Lime Crime (A Key West Food Critic Mystery)
By Lucy Burdette
Published by Crooked Lane Books
Release date August 11, 2020 available on Kindle, audio CD, and Hardback 

I would have to say that the last thing a new wife wants to do is have her new MIL, who didn’t make it to the wedding, to suddenly announce a visit. The only thing worse would be if the newlyweds were waiting on their houseboat to be remodeled and habitable while sharing a boat with an old friend and 3 pets. I’m not talking yacht I am talking sailboat that is less than 30 feet in length. And to add a cherry to the top of this oh so special ice cream sundae is for the new husband, who is also a local detective, to get pulled into a murder investigation during the New Year’s eve Key West crazy time. Imagine taking your new MIL to tour the Christmas lights around town on the Conch Train and coming upon the dead body of a local pastry chef in a Santa Suit Time waits for no one and neither does the newspaper which means that Hayley needs to cover the David Sloan Key Lime Pie Contest. Apparently there are several ways to make key lime pie, flaky crust vs. graham cracker, meringue piping vs. a mile high meringue top, even creamy vs. thick. So in addition to trying all of the pies, because how can one possibly write a proper article without getting a taste of each an every type of pie is essential and also gives Hayley and new MIL Helen a chance to “not investigate” the mysterious murder. 

Mums and Mayhem (Magic Garden Mystery)
By Amanda Flowers
Published by Crooked Lane Books
Release date: August 11, 2020 available on Audible, Kindle, Hardcover, Audio

Well fiddle-dee-dee, Fiona's parents and Stephan Knox are on holiday in Scotland to visit Fiona and her sister, Isla just in time to see Barley McFee  and his legendary fiddling put on a show in his former hometown of Bellewick. Turns out that the famed performer not only knew Fiona's "Uncle" Ian but also her dad, Stephan. Who could have killed the small in stature but big on talent artist? There is the obvious suspect, Fiona's dad, Stephan, as there is something to that story that no one is sharing and Fiona knows that it is a key to the mystery of her family tree. She has so much on her mind, with the condition of the garden, it is absolutely heart wrenching what happens to the garden, but more so is the fact that Stephan Knox is suspect #1, although DA Craig is doing his best to be a great officer of the law and a great boyfriend at the same time. Closely behind Mr. Knox, is Barley's manager and band members, plus the crazy BMG’s also known as the Barley McFee Grannies. While reading the story I came to the conclusion that some tea and a nice chai scone like Presha would have at Presha's Teas would be the perfect pairing.

Deadly Drama (A Briton Bay Mystery)
By Jody Holford
Published by: Kensington Publishing
Release Date: August 4, 2020 on Kindle

Oh dear, cozy enthusiasts we aren't in Kansas anymore and the local theater production director has everyone wondering when a house is going to land on the once famous TV celebrity, Magnolia Sweet. No yellow brick roads here, but there is some delicious sounding lemon loaf. I am thoroughly convinced that it is not a Briton Bay cozy unless there is lemon loaf mentioned. In addition to the lovely lemon loaf the usual cast of characters do their part to further this wonderful series while Molly and Sam do their best to help the local high school janitor who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sam and Chris refuse to believe that he had anything to do with foul play and acting Sheriff Chris goes as far as to "wink, wink, nod, nod," ask Molly to get involved but only in the safest of ways. It seems like no one really had a good relationship with her as we are led clue by clue from red herring to red herring. You will surely enjoy this latest Briton Bay cozy, my pretty and Molly's little dog (Tigger), too. 

The Falcon Always Wings Twice (Meg Langslow Mystery)
By Donna Andrews
Published by Minotaur Books
Release Date: August  4, 2020 on Kindle, Audio, and Hardback

I have not read a Meg Langslow in a while and I am very happy to report that the story was just as good as its predecessors. A Ren Faire is the perfect setting for this Virginia based cozy, and Biscuit Mountain sounds like a lovely place to visit. It’s hard to believe that the twins are tweens and are essentially apprenticing with Meg at the forge. In case you aren’t familiar with this series, Meg is a blacksmith and a very good one as well. Another thing that you need to know about Meg is that her Mother’s side of the family is HUGE and they all have a variety of jobs so if you ever need a specialist of any type there is sure to be a Hollingsworth making a living doing what ever it is you might need. To round out Meg’s family is her Dad, the doctor, her Mom who is incredibly creative and in charge of costuming for the faire, her Grandfather is an ornithologist and thorn in her Grandmother’s side (nope they are not together, never have been outside of her Dad’s creation event), Michael, the love of her life, husband, and drama professor at Caerphilly College, and her twins Josh and Jamie. With that all said, add some old English, a variety of vendors, Falconer’s Grove, a few characters with questionable comings and goings, semi-improvisational entertainment, and a guy that everyo,ne really, and I do mean REALLY didn’t like as the victim and you have a great little cozy. Makes me want grab some mead and a turkey leg or shepherd’s pie or possibly trade insults in the Queen’s English, that’s Queen Cordelia’s English to be sure. The Game is definitely  afoot and you must be careful because everyone had the means and the motive.

Penned In (Fork-to-Farm Mystery)
By Lynn Cahoun
Published by Lyrical Press
Release date: August 4, 2020 available 

Kudos for using the most unusual sort of team building event that I have ever heard of to be the setting of the newest Farm-to-Fork mystery. I also think that this was the first one that did not involve the County Seat cuisine team to show off their culinary skills as well as their clue finding the ills. An honest to goodness ghost story and most likely, the last time that Matt Young is allowed to plan the out of office meeting. Before you sit yourself in solitary to enjoy this new cozy be sure to whip up a batch of chocolate chip muffins, the recipe is found at the end of the story. No peeking at the preceding pages or you will ruin the surprise ending. I would be surprised if you could figure this one out, it is a good one. I quick easy to read novella that does not require you to know the past histories of the characters in order to be able to follow along or to enjoy the haunting tale of Lyda Southard or those Special Chocolate Chip Muffins either. 

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