Into the Sweet Hereafter

Into the Sweet Hereafter
(Vintage Sweets Mysteries #3)
by Kaye George

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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It wasn’t until I started reading this that I realized this was book 3 and I haven’t read the other 2 books. So I would say it would’ve helped a bit to read the earlier books, but only to help understand and “know” the characters, but it didn’t hinder being able to follow along with the events in this book.

But all that aside, this was an enjoyable and light cozy mystery. I enjoyed the plot; smuggling and burglary isn’t one I usually see in a cozy, so it was a nice change and added lots of intrigue. The change in viewpoints wasn’t confusing at all, I didn’t find it difficult to switch between Tally and Yo, as it was very well delinated and the “tone” did change well enough that you could tell them apart.

What I liked best is you knew the who but not the how, so it was great fun following Yolanda and Tilly as they followed the clues and the ending made for a satisfying read.

I’ll go back and read the first two books at some point, and I’m looking forward to spending more time in Fredricksburg, TX with the gang.

Thank you to Netgalley, Lyrical Press and Kensington Books for an advance copy to read and review.

Published March 9th 2021 by Lyrical Press

Carbs & Cadavers

Carbs & Cadavers (A Supper Club Mystery #1)
by Ellery Adams

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I completely forgot I didn’t finish this. I put it away one night before bed just before the end (didn’t want to miss the good stuff) and then forgot to finish it. Never fear, it’s done!

I loved this book! I loved that the main character is a man, and not only that, a very human and realistic man. I don’t see that often in cozy mysteries, so I liked the change of pace. It’s not hard to like and empathize with James, trying to grieve for his mother and help his elderly father while starting a new job at the library. I also loved how he was drawn in to the Flab Five supper club and the other four members are likeable and easy to relate to. I liked (and related to) Lucy the most because I also have a weakness for frosting. In fact, I have a can of frosting in my kitchen right now for the spice cake I’m making for Easter dinner tomorrow and it’s taking all of my willpower not to crack it open and feast. Should’ve bought 2, I guess. Enough with my Roomba of Thought (as an ADHD’er I don’t get the luxury of a train of thought, I’ve only got a chaotic and wandering Roomba of Thought) anyway, back to the review:

As for the plot, it was a cracker. On the day of the biggest high school football game, Brinkley causes a scene at the diner and is found dead the next day at the bakery. Lucy, who has been trying to work her way into being a police officer, has been shut out from the Old Boys Network working the case. Together with the rest of the Flab Five, they start investigating over diet friendly supper club meals. With no shortage of suspects who would be happy to see Brinkley dead, the story winds its way through the clues and leads before finally leading them to the culprit. I admit, it came as a surprise, and it was only at the end that the motive became clear. And that’s why I think I enjoyed the book as much as I did, this wasn’t one of my usual cozy mysteries where I pick out who did it pretty early on. I admit, I had no inkling.

Overall, an excellent mystery and I look forward to diving into the other books as soon as I clear my Currently Reading list.

Published February 19th 2018 by Beyond the Page

Murder at Wedgefield Manor (Jane Wunderly #2)

Murder at Wedgefield Manor (A Jane Wunderly Mystery #2)
by Erica Ruth Neubauer

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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I requested this book from Kensington on Netgalley because it sounded like it was right up my historical cozy mystery loving alley. I love books set in the 1920s and this one sounded like it was right out of a Christie novel. After a couple of chapters, I realized this was the second book in the series, so I went back and read the first book before I read this one. And I’d have to say, it probably wasn’t necessary, there were very few mentions from the first book and none of them impacted this story but it was well worth the read. This series is definitely now very high up on my must-read list! The books are so easy to sink into, with great characters, a dash of romance and amazing twists to keep the plot moving quickly.

I enjoyed this one a lot, I’ve come to love the characters and look on them as friends. Jane is easy to relate to; equal parts strong, sassy and vulnerable, you just want to be her friend. The dashing and mysterious Redvers adds some spice and watching (well, reading) their chemistry and tenacious investigating makes it easy to “fall” into the story quickly. I also liked that it picked up from where the last book left off, with many of the same characters and giving us more of a look into who they are.

While I figured out “whodunit” pretty quickly (there weren’t many suspects, which made it pretty easy,) I enjoyed watching the story unfold and all the twists and turns. I could’ve done with a bit less of the rehashing that happened throughout the book, but I didn’t feel that it slowed the plot down any; the pace moved along steadily and it really didn’t take much to draw me in and keep me there. But the ending! Absolutely smashed it, loved the thrilling North by Northwest chase at the end and the last chapter left on an open note makes me salivate for book 3.

If you enjoy Agatha Christie, great characters, lovely scenery and riveting plots, this series has it all.

Published March 30th 2021 Kensington Books

Ink and Shadows (Secret, Book, & Scone Society #4)

Ink and Shadows (Secret, Book, & Scone Society #4)
by Ellery Adams

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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This series has the power to stick with me for a long time after I finish the latest in the series and this book is definitely no exception. Equal parts heart wrenching, terrifying, heartwarming, and compelling, Ink and Shadows is the perfect read for Women’s History month. But you know what really wows me about this series? How gosh darn realistic and authentic is feels, none of the usual tropes or lazy writing. Just amazing characters, very well developed plots and the pure emotion that I feel reading through this makes each book so anticipated.

There was a lot going on in this one, which kept the pace moving quickly without sacrificing details. Celeste and her daughter are new in town and have just opened a gift shop, Soothe, near Nora’s bookstore, Miracle Books. But life is anything but soothing for the newcomers, who become the target of an overzealous church group, who brands Soothe, Miracle Books and other businesses as being “unchristian”. If that’s not enough, Bren is found dead near Nora’s house and not long after, Celeste herself becomes a murder victim. With two murders to investigate, lots of secrets and lies muddying the case, an unexpected friend of Nora’s past challenging her status quo and the agony of the impossibility of being in two places at once, this made for a taut thriller that kept me turning pages.

Published January 26th 2021 by Kensington Books

Murder in an Irish Village

Murder in an Irish Village
(Irish Village Mystery #1)
by Carlene O’Connor

Rating: 3 out of 5.
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I read this one for the r/CozyMystery Discord book club read, and I thought it was just….okay. A lot of the book was laying out the backstory for the characters, which is appreciated but rather than being woven into the story, it was more or less all dumped in the first 10 chapters or so before getting into the mystery part of the plot. The downside is that the mystery part of the plot was overshadowed by the plethora of intimate details of the family, making this feel less like a mystery and more like just plain fiction. Other reviewers commented that they felt the pace was too slow in the book and I agree completely. I skipped several chapters here and there when the story wasn’t advancing and didn’t miss much.

Overall, not a bad read but not good enough to want to continue in the series.

Details in the Document(The Inn at Holiday Bay #14)

Details in the Document
(The Inn at Holiday Bay #14)
by Kathi Daley

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
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I enjoyed this one, but it felt like a “springboard” basically just existing to introduce new plot points for future books. And as such, I feel a bit unfulfilled and as a whole, the story felt like it never really came together. The main plot about the inn’s guest who was acting strangely and later found shot on the beach after the storm and dying soon after was a good plot but I felt like it was shoved into the background, and other smaller/less important things were given more space instead, like the bones recovered from the plot of land Abby didn’t even know she owned – which also led to a lot of pages on expanding the inn. That stuff should be in the background, not eclipsing the main plot. I did like that Abby finally got resolution about the death of her husband and son.

I also questioned the hurricane as a plot device. The book is set in late spring (I’m guessing late April or early May) and there was a hurricane. Hurricane season is June 1st through November 1st, but really doesn’t get cranking until late summer/September. So how was there a hurricane racing up the coast before hurricane season even started? Hmm…looked it up, in the entire history of tracking storms, only 2 were before June 1st, one in 1887 and one in 1951, so I guess it’s possible but unlikely.

Did I love the book? Sure, I look forward to each one and devour it in one evening but I’d say it’s not one of my favorites and I’d probably skip it on a re-read.

Published March 9th 2021 by Kathi Daley Books

The Book of Candlelight (Secret, Book, & Scone Society, #3)

The Book of Candlelight (Secret, Book, & Scone Society, #3)
by Ellery Adams

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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This is a series that continues to grow as it goes on. I don’t mean character or plot development (there’s plenty of that) what I mean is each book is more intricate and surprising than the last. I was just commenting on the r/CozyMystery reddit that I thought cozy mysteries were evolving to focus more on the “feeling” of a cozy and leaving out the “mystery” part of a cozy. That is, it seems like a lot of cozy mysteries are just chick lit with a predictable murder plot thrown in as an afterthought and to me, that’s not a true cozy mystery. While Chick Lit has its place, and I’m not knocking it, I read cozy mysteries for the mystery not so much the cozy

This is probably the only series to blow that assumption out of the water. True, there’s a lot of “chick lit-y” type stuff in these – women’s issues, the tight bond of close girl friends and the power and strength of women. But what this series gets right is the powerful plots that dominate the story, keeping the reader in the dark until the last page. While this doesn’t sound like something extraordinary, let me tell you, as someone who primarily reads cozy mysteries; it is extraordinary.

Take this book; Nora is at the flea market picking up new knickknacks to use in her book shop when she buys a bowl from a local Cherokee artisan potter named Danny. Nora is struck by the obvious love Danny and his wife share, as well as the beautiful work he creates. When Danny is found dead in an overflowing creek, Nora puts the Secret, Book and Scone Society on the case. So while putting her heart and soul into finding out who killed Danny, Nora also puts her energies into helping Danny’s grieving widow, who is pregnant with their child. Along the way, Nora puts her heart to work to help a man suffering from a long-term ailment who has come to Miracle Springs in the hopes of finding healing, plus consoling and empowering her friends who are dealing with their own crises.

While it sounds like there’s a lot going on, this book (and this series for that matter) does a great job of blending the lives and personalities of the women with a taut, intricate mystery and the beautiful pacing slowly winds you into the world of Miracle Springs until you find yourself unable to put it down. The end result is a wickedly complex and tangled web of a story that traps you in its pages.

Spoiler: Highlight the space below

The only knock I have against this book (well, it’s not much of one) is the plot of June’s son was never really resolved as to why exactly he targeted the others. I could understand why he targeted June because he was angry with her, but why target the others? How did he even know about them? Why would he think they needed to be targeted? Didn’t make any sense to me, I’d have appreciated more depth to that. Perhaps it’ll come up in future books, I don’t know. But I thought it was weird

Also, I’m 3 books into this series and it wasn’t until this one that I realized my “mental image” of Nora was wrong. I had her visualized as a small, skinny waif like woman with short dark hair, so I was shook when she “put her blond hair into French braids” like WHOA, seriously? So wrong.

Also, this series is available on Prime Reading so if you have Amazon Prime and a Kindle or a Kindle App, GO GET IT!

Published January 28th 2020 by Kensington Books

Intuitive Fasting

Intuitive Fasting: The Flexible Four-Week Intermittent Fasting Plan to
Recharge You Metabolism and Renew Your Health
by Will Cole,

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I’m no stranger to fasting; I lost 50 lbs with fasting/keto but then 2020 happened and I fell off the wagon. Ugh. When I saw this on Netgalley, I requested it, as my goal for the new year is to get back on the weight loss train and I was interested in seeing if there was anything new I could add to my routine.

I’m not sure where the idea that fasting is bad for you came about, but it’s not true. When I started fasting, I had a lot of people spouting off untruths – everything from how fasting will “slow your metabolism” to “it’s not healthy” to the head scratching “you’ll become malnourished”. Seriously? None of those things are true.
And adding low-carb eating along with fasting cuts down on cravings, which means once you get past the first week or 2, you’ll find it easier and easier to do.

As far as all of the information in the book goes, I did learn a few new things that I intend to incorporate into my new program. Things like staying away from diet sodas (I’m not going to pretend I’ll give up my beloved Pepsi Free entirely, but I will reduce the amount I drink substantially) and also from dairy (As a cheese addict, this one will be tough. Goodbye Pepper Jack, I’ll miss you) so I’ve got some challenges in the weeks ahead as I adjust my eating plan.

If you are new to fasting (or are interested in learning more about it) then this is a great place to learn more. All the information is easy to understand and would be a great resource for people who want to begin fasting but don’t know where to start. Included in the program are recipes and sample plans for what the author calls “Ketotarian” – in other words a high fat/moderate protein/low carb diet that includes lean meats and vegetables, combined with a 4 week get started plan. The program is simple enough to do (although the first week may not be easy) and I recommend it for people to at least try.

Publication date: February 23rd 2021 

Murder at the Mena House (A Jane Wunderly Mystery #1)

Murder at the Mena House (A Jane Wunderly Mystery #1)
by Erica Ruth Neubauer

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Set during the roaring ’20s, Mena House is a posh hotel overlooking the great pyramids in Egypt. Jane Wunderly and her sharp-tongued aunt, Millie, arrive for a vacation with plans to tour the pyramids, see all the tomb artifacts in the Cairo museum and just relax and enjoy the beautiful hotel. But when a young woman is found murdered and Jane finds herself under suspicion, she teams up with another guest, the mysterious (and sexy) Mr. Redvers to clear her name and find a killer.

I got a few chapters into the second book in this series before realizing there was a first book and decided it would be a good idea to start the series at the beginning. I really enjoyed this one, the author did a great job painting a vivid picture of Egypt during the heyday of Egyptology, and with loads of quirky, likeable characters, an intricate plot and even a bit of action, I couldn’t put it down – and all the descriptions of the hot, sunny weather kept my feet warm during this frigid February week! A great start to a series and now I can finally dive into the second book.

Published April 1st 2020 by Kensington Books 

The Night Hawks (Ruth Galloway #13)

The Night Hawks (Ruth Galloway #13) by Elly Griffiths
Rating: 5 Stars

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I was lucky enough to get this on Netgalley (Thank you, Quercus!) and just finished it last night. This was a superbly written, edge of your seat suspenseful thriller, and the one thing I find most difficult about this series is closing the book when it’s done, knowing I’ll have to wait until next year to get the next book!

In The Night Hawks, Ruth and daughter Kate have returned to Norfolk from Cambridge. Now the head of the archaeology program after Phil retired, Ruth is settling in to her new position when Nelson calls her in to help on a new case; metal detectorists, looking for buried treasure, find a man’s body washed up on the beach. Soon after, a scientist and his wife are found dead in their home, a probable murder-suicide. As the case unfolds, secrets, lies and murder are slowly uncovered, throwing everyone involved into danger.

13 books into this series and it shows no sign of slowing down. As with all the other books, I expected sinister folklore, druids, auras, Nelson’s bad temper, a dizzyingly twisty plot and an explosive ending – and that’s exactly what I got! The legend of the Black Shuck (I think a version of it can be found on every continent, if not every country) made for a creepy element to the site of the murder-suicide and upped the eerie factor for sure. I also loved Cathbad and his unwavering dedication to the myths and legends and how he honors them (actually, I’m a huge Cathbad fan, so that probably goes without saying.)

As for the plot, the young man’s body washed up on the beach and the murder-suicide, that’s where the dizzyingly twisty comes in. Thinking back over the book and “watching” the whole story being pieced together scrap by scrap – wow! Lots of surprises, leading to many suspects and in the end, the whole mess wasn’t anything near what I sleuthed out. It all led up to an explosive, exciting ending and if you’ve been reading this series from the start like I have – get ready for a cliffhanger.

UK Publish Date: February 4th 2021 by Quercus
US Publish date: June 29th 2021 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Old Bones (Gideon Oliver #4)

Old Bones (Gideon Oliver #4) by Aaron Elkins

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I picked this book for the Takes place in a non-English speaking country square in r/CozyMystery book bingo on Reddit and it was available at my library. When I read the blurb, it had all the things I like – history, World War II tales, forensic anthropology (I’m a sucker for old bones!) and after reading several good reviews and the “Look Inside” on Amazon (always my first stop when selecting a book) started off the book off with a bang. I was looking forward to diving into this and boy, am I glad I found it! This introduced me to a new series (well, they were written in the 80s, so new to me) to devour.

“Skeleton Doctor of America” Gideon Oliver is in France to teach classes at a law enforcement seminar. After a class, Joly, a French police detective, requests his help on his new case after some bones were discovered buried the cellar of a manoir. Like a dog, Gideon salivates at the mention of old bones and with his friend, FBI Agent John Lau, head off to take a look. At the manoir are assembled the family of the manoir’s owner, Guillaume du Rocher, who called them to a family meeting to discuss something important. Before the meeting could take place, Guillaume drowns, touching off an investigation that spans back to World War II.

This was a real mystery with so many questions: who was buried the basement? Who put it there? Was Guillaume murdered? If so, why? The buried bones touch off a mystery that begs to be solved, and Gideon and John find themselves in the middle of the investigation.

This reminds me of the old mysteries I’ve read – “old” meaning classic mysteries I’ve read that were written in the 20s, 30s, and 40s. In fact, it reminded me of books I’ve read by John Bude and Joann Cannan, always a plus in my book. The author did a great job so bringing the characters to life, fleshing out their personalities without bogging down the story with unnessesary detail, which helped the book maintain its quick pace. Main characters Gideon and John are a charming, likeable team, I liked them from the start. And the plot! So many twists and turns that I didn’t see coming, leading up to an explosive ending. I would love to go into detail about the details that fascinated me the most, but I don’t want to spoil anything so let me just say…whooo boy, this was one of the most intricate and unexpected plots I’ve ever read and I’m hooked!

Slow start to 2021

So, we’re over a week into the new year and I have yet to open a book. Why? Discovery+, that’s why.

I signed up for the 7 day free trial just to see what they’d have to offer and was blown away! All of the shows I started later in the series run and was never able o watch all the way through were there – Building Alaska, The Dead Files, Renovation Realities, the list goes on and on. So for $7 a month, I can binge my heart out. I’m so terrible but man it’s so worth it to see all of the shows I want to watch completely ad free.

But! I did make up the full list for my r/CozyMystery Book Bingo. It was tough to choose which book for some of the categories, but I think I managed to put together a great list!

Takes place in a non-English speaking country – Old Bones (Gideon Oliver, #4) By Aaron Elkins (France)

Setting Featuring Lakes, Rivers, or Streams – Berried Secrets (Cranberry Cove #1) by Peg Cochran (HARD MODE: The entire book takes place in this setting.)

Historical – Murder at Wedgefield Manor By Erica Ruth Neubauer, (HARD MODE: Not Regency)

Paranormal/supernatural/alternate reality – A Ghoul’s Guide to Love and Murder by Victoria Laurie (HARD MODE: No vampires or witches.)

No romantic subplot  – The Book of Candlelight (Secret, Book & Scone Society #3) by Ellery Adams (HARD MODE: Features Asexual and/or Aromantic character(s). It should be explicitly stated (either by the character themselves, another character, or the author) that a character isn’t interested in romance or sex.)

Agatha Christie – The Pale Horse (Ariadne Oliver #5) by Agatha Christie ( HARD MODE: Not Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, or Then There Were None.)

Book/series has been turned into movie or TV series or vice versa: – Garage Sale Stalker (Garage Sale Mysteries #1) By Suzi Weinert (HARD MODE: Not Agatha Christie or Murder She Wrote.)

Gay – Time Bomb (Alex Delaware #5) By Jonathan Kellerman (HARD MODE: Not a sassy gay friend.) (using my re-read card)

Plant in the title – Nightshade for Warning (Enchanted Garden #2) By Bailey Cattrell (Is Nightshade a flower? Does a flowering plant count as a flower or not? I have no idea)

Read with a book club, read along or buddy read: – Left Fur Dead by J.M. Griffin

Self Published – Malice in Miami (Jamie Quinn Mystery #6) by Barbara Venkataraman

Set in your home state/province/district/department/other principal administrative entity – The Body in the Beauty Parlor (A Jazzi Zanders Mystery #6) By Judi Lynn (HARD MODE: Same city where you currently reside or grew up in that is not a capital of the country or administrative unit.)

Published 2021 – Details in the Document (The Inn at Holiday Bay #14) by Kathi Daley

TBR >3 months Any Given Sundae by Morgana Best (HARD MODE: On your TBR for over a year.)

Book about Books – Ink and Shadows (Secret, Book and Scone Society #4) by Ellery Adams (HARD MODE: Does not feature a library (public, school, or private).)

Set in an abbey, monastery, or other religious house  – Novena for Murder: A Sister Mary Helen Mystery (Sister Mary Helen #1) by Carol Anne O’Marie HARD MODE: Not Cadfael.

Occupation of the protagonist is a career you would have liked to be a part of it – The Breaking Point (Body Farm #9) by Bill Bass (HARD MODE: Not one you can be a hobbyist in.)

Referral from a book blog, instabook, or booktube: Haven’t decided yet. Keep the reviews coming, I’m looking for a book to fill this one! 🙂 ( HARD MODE: Review referring review or submit annotated resource.)

Social Issues – Dog Eat Dog (Andy Carpenter #23) by David Rosenfelt (HARD MODE: Social issue is central to the plot.)

Indian Author – Any suggestions?

Features an Animal– Tequila Mockingbird (Australian Amateur Sleuth) by Morgana Best (HARD MODE: Not a cat or dog.) (Parrot)

Published before 2000 – Aunt Dimity’s Death by Nancy Atherton

Transportation in the title – Any recommendations?

Audio Book – I don’t usually listen to audio books. If I happen to listen to one, I’ll fill it in.

Features Politics  Any suggestions!

None of these are set in stone, just organizing ideas. If you have any suggestions, drop me a comment. And if you’d like to participate, click the link above and join us!

Anyone up for Cozy Bingo?

r/CozyMystery on Reddit just announced our 2021 Cozy Bingo challenge!

The goal of the book bingo is to discover new and amazing reads outside your normal reading, and encourage discussion of books.

When we had the poll about the definition of a cozy, it was a close race between “must contain a theme” and one that met all the other criteria, but didn’t have a theme (no explicit sex, gore, etc.). For purposes of Bingo, the broader definition will apply (unless the square relates to a theme).

Many thanks to r/fantasy for their permission to use their bingo as a model, particularly to u/lrich1024 who drafted their rules.

Download your card here!

RULES:

  • 2021 Bingo Period lasts from Feb 1st 2021 – Jan 31st 2022
  • Each book may only be used for one square.
  • Unless otherwise specified, requires a full-length novel. You may substitute a novella for one block, or two novellas for any block.
  • All but one should be a first read; you may use one book you’re re-reading for one square.
  • HARD MODE: Hard mode is optional, but adds an extra level of challenge. You may do none, some, or all squares in hard mode.
  • When you complete the entire card (as long as it’s before the end date), we’ll assign “Book Bingo Champ”’ flair to you.
  • If you get lines completed (horizontal, vertical, diagonal) but not the entire card, we’ll assign “Book Bingo Participant” flair to you.
  • Please post about what you’re reading, progress, etc, on r/CozyMystery. Let us know what you think of the books you’re reading! Share what you found for your squares and whether you liked them.
  • Leading up to Feb. 1, 2021, we’ll have discussions about books we’d recommend in each category (that’s not personal to you).
  • Generally, the resources we have listed on the menu of r/CozyMystery are a good place to look.

You can get all of these rules and the card are available as a shared Google document. I’m preparing a spreadsheet you can use to log your books.

About the Squares:

First Row Across:

  • Takes place in a non-English speaking country:The majority of the action is NOT in a country where English is at least one of the official languages. HARD MODE: Translated from a different language.
  • Setting Featuring Lakes, Rivers, or Streams: This setting must be used for a good portion of the book. HARD MODE: The entire book takes place in this setting.
  • Historical: Takes place in any period at least fifty years in the past. HARD MODE: Not Regency
  • Paranormal/supernatural/alternate reality: A cozy featuring a paranormal/supernatural character or environment and/or an alternate reality. HARD MODE: No vampires or witches.
  • No romantic subplot – A cozy without any of the protagonists looking for love. HARD MODE: Features Asexual and/or Aromantic character(s). It should be explicitly stated (either by the character themselves, another character, or the author) that a character isn’t interested in romance or sex. 

Second Row Across:

  • Agatha Christie: Any novel by the classic author. HARD MODE: Not Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, or Then There Were None.
  • Book/series has been turned into movie or TV series or vice versa: This can include books that weren’t cozy/traditional originally, or that were and the film version made them not so cozy/traditional, as well as books that came out after the film/TV show. HARD MODE: Not Agatha Christie or Murder She Wrote.
  • LGBTQIA+: The protagonist or a major character is non-cis non-hetero. HARD MODE: Not a sassy gay friend.
  • Plant in the title: Self-explanatory. HARD MODE: Not a flower.
  • Read with a book club, read along or buddy read: Any past or still active book clubs count, as well as past or current read-alongs. You can use any you find here or elsewhere; we encourage you to use r/cozymystery to find a book buddy or invite people to read along. HARD MODE: Participate in a discussion or post a review on r/CozyMystery.

Third Row Across:

  • Self-Published: Only self-published novels will count for this square. If the novel has been picked up by a publisher as long as you read it when it was self-pubbed it will still count. HARD MODE: Self-pubbed and has fewer than 50 ratings on goodreads.
  • Set in your home state/province/district/department/other principal administrative entity: Either the one where you currently reside or one you grew up in. HARD MODE: Same city where you currently reside or grew up in that is not a capital of the country or administrative unit.
  • Published in 2021: Self-explanatory. HARD MODE: It’s also a debut novel.
  • On your TBR for three months: Any book you’ve been meaning to get to for at least three months. HARD MODE: On your TBR for over a year.
  • Book About Books: Books must be central to the plot somehow. HARD MODE: Does not feature a library (public, school, or private).

Fourth Row Across:

  • Set in an abbey, monastery, or other religious house: Either the murder, sleuth, victim, or suspect must be located in this setting. HARD MODE: Not Cadfael.
  • Occupation of the protagonist is a career you would have liked to be a part of it: Self-explanatory. HARD MODE: Not one you can be a hobbyist in.
  • Referral from a book blog, instabook, or booktube: A cozy you found from reading a blog, or from Instagram book reviewers, or YouTube book reviewers. HARD MODE: Review referring review or submit annotated resource.
  • Social issues: Includes some social issue; for example, gender inequality, sexuality, race, sexual violence, family violence, economics, or reproduction. HARD MODE: Social issue is central to the plot.
  • Indian Author: Let’s give some love to the country with the second largest number of English speakers in it.  HARD MODE: Book from an Indian small press OR self-published Indian author.

Fifth Row Across:

  • Features an animal: An animal is part of the plot or a discernible character. HARD MODE: Not a cat or dog.
  • Published before 2000: Self-explanatory. HARD MODE: Published before you were born.
  • Some form of transportation is in the title: Self-explanatory. HARD MODE: Not a train, including the word “train” or a description of a train or railroad.
  • Audiobook / Audio drama format: This is a format, not a genre however, please stick to something within cozy/traditional mystery. HARD MODE: Audiobook / audio drama over 25 hours long.
  • Features Politics: Politics are central to the plot. This covers everything from royalty, elections, wars, to smaller local politics. HARD MODE: Larger than city politics (not PD, HOA, other small group).

General FAQ’s:

  • Does ‘x’ book counts for ‘y’ square? If you wonder if something counts for a square, first ask yourself if *you* think it should count? If you’re not confident that it counts, check into some other recommendations.
  • Do I have to start the book from 1st of February 2021 or only finish it from then? If you’re less than 50% through the book when February 1st hits, you can count it if you finish it after the 1st.
  • Can I read a book of short stories for one of the novel squares? Yes, but the anthology needs to be novel length.
  • Can I read a book in another language? Yes, look at you showing those language muscles.
  • Can I listen to audiobooks for any square? Sure thing.
  • Can I turn my bingo sheet in early? Yup. When you’re done with it, just share it to r/CozyMystery. If you don’t get the flair or a confirmation from the Mods that we got it, DM us.

Resources:

I’ll add these as they are created. If anyone else makes any other resources, please DM me so I can make sure it gets here as well.

Indian mystery authors: https://www.thecuriousreader.in/bookrack/mystery-novels/

Best lists: https://www.mysterytribune.com/45-best-cozy-mystery-novels-essential-2019-guide-to-first-book-of-a-series/

A Cozy Year – 2020 Wrap Up

Happy New Year! I set out in January 2020 to read 20 books, then upped it to 50. I ended up reading 71! Amazing. Out of all the books I read, only 6 weren’t cozy mysteries and out of those 6, only 3 were not mysteries at all! According to Goodreads, I read 14,574 pages this year. Almost 80% of the books I read I rated 4 and 5 stars. That’s a lot of good books!

Here are the highlights of my cozy year:

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15 Minute of Flame (Nantucket Candle Maker Mystery #3)
by Christin Brecher
While setting up a Girl Scouts haunted house, Stella stumbles across an old skeleton entombed in the chimney of an old chandlery behind the house. Soon, police discover the bones are very old and call in an expert named Solder and his assistant Leigh to determine the age and origin of the remains. It comes to light that the victim is one Patience Cooper, who, as legend has it, was robbed of a collection of money raised to invest in merchant ships and then disappeared.

While researching the unfortunate victim in the chimney, another related case comes up of a friend of Patience who killed herself by jumping down a well, An expedition is formed to descend into the well, where another skeleton is found, clutching a map indicating the location of a treasure. When a tree suddenly falls over, trapping Leigh in its branches, Solder is found dead, strangled and bludgeoned. Can Stella untangle the threads of an old mystery while finding a modern day killer?

Hands down, probably my favorite book I read this year and I went on to read the other 2 books in the series to catch up. Can’t wait for the next one!

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His Father’s Ghost (Mina Scarletti #5)
by Linda Stratmann

Mina Scarletti has caught a nasty illness and is under strict instructions from her good friend, Dr Hamid, not to leave her bed. But Mina’s lively mind cannot be entertained for long by pretty poems and dry sermons. So when she catches wind of a local mystery, she is determined to find a way to get involved.

This is one of my favorite series! If you’re a fan of historical mysteries, don’t miss out on this one. Mina is a spunky young woman, despite her scoliosis affliction. She investigates cases resulting from the Spiritualist movement that often are criminal in nature. Set in Victorian times when women had very little freedoms, Mina not only writes best selling horror stories under a pseudonym but is also able to get out and investigate with the help of her many devoted friends. Rich in vibrant historical detail, these books are easy to slip into and enjoy

The Makham Sisters Mysteries

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Janet has Doveby House, the bed and breakfast she owns with her sister, Joan, all to herself for a few weeks, and she’s enjoying the solitude. When sirens in the middle of the night wake her, however, things get complicated.

Stuart and Mary Long have lived across the road from Doveby House for years. Now their half of the semi-detached property has burned to the ground and Stuart was lucky to escape the blaze with his life. When the police determine that the fire was started deliberately, Janet can’t help but get involved in the investigation.

The Markham Sisters Mysteries novella are another favorite and sadly coming to an end with the release of the final book this month. I rated this one 5 stars, it was so good! I enjoy these short, quick reads that manage to weave intricate non-murder mysteries into a short novella that always leave me wanting more. I will miss Janet and Joan and Doveby Dale and recommend this series to anyone looking for a pleasant, enjoyable read.

Lake Mills Main Street Program | Calendar of Events ...

To close out this year-end post, it’s definitely worth mentioning that two authors I enjoyed sadly passed away this year, taking treasured stories with them.

Sheila Connolly wrote several series, including County Cork, Relatively Dead, Orchard and Museum. It was the County Cork series I loved most, I always loved returning to the tiny village of Leap, Ireland and the cozy atmosphere of the pub Maura owned. I was very sad to hear that she passed earlier this year and she’ll always hold a special place in my book loving heart.

Lea Wait

Lea Wait, author of the Mainly Needlepoint and Antique Print series also passed away this year. Writing a beautiful series set in Maine, her artful writing brought the world she created alive.

So that’s my year in books. My plan for next year is 75 books or more. How about you? Do you have a reading goal in mind?

Cookies in the Cottage (The Inn at Holiday Bay #13)

Cookies in the Cottage (The Inn at Holiday Bay #13)
by Kathi Daley

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I saved this one to read on Christmas Eve and it was a perfect read to get into the Christmas spirit. Alongside the many festive activities for the guests were were several mysteries; the main plot of a handyman found dead at the estate the three half-sisters Sage, Shelby and Sierra inherited in the last book, which lead to the second mystery – who or what was “haunting” the mansion and did it cause the death of their grandmother, Henrietta and last, someone is leaving gifts for Abby in the cottage, but who’s behind it?

This one makes up for the turkey that was the last book (which was a Thanksgiving book, so that was a really bad pun. *Groan*) by expanding on the story line of the 3 half-sisters and the mysterious death of the handyman, which resulted from some very shady shenanigans and led to an exciting conclusion. I loved the resourcefulness of Abby and Colt to find their way out of the predicament they found themselves in.

But my favorite plot of the book was the secret Santa presents in the cottage that held fond memories for the still grieving Abby. It was so sweet that so much love was shown to her, really put me in the right Christmas mood.

Overall, an excellent, festive read and now I can’t wait for the next one!

Publication Date: December 15th 2020

Serpentine (Alex Delaware #36)

Serpentine (Alex Delaware #36)
by Jonathan Kellerman

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I was so excited to get this as a “Read Now” on Netgalley that I sat down last night and read every last page. I’ve been a fan of Alex and Milo for almost 30 years and each book just gets better and better.

This one starts with a cold case, a case so cold, it’s frozen shut. Thanks to his stellar solve rate and some politics, Milo is put on the case to help a wealthy young woman find out how her mother ended up dead in a burning car pushed off a cliff. But with next to nothing in the archives, no clues and only a faded picture of the woman, Milo and Alex are forced to start from scratch, weaving together a story of evil that spanned decades.

Very few things make me happier than cracking into a fresh new Kellerman book and this one was no exception. Watching Milo and Alex work is always a pleasure and the intricately woven plot of this nearly-impossible-to-solve case kept me guessing til the end. There were more highs and lows and twists and turns than an alpine race course! And oh man, did I love that ending! Vindication and pure, unadulterated poetic justice. Is there anything better? Nope.

There’s so much more I want to say about this one but I’m afraid I’d give too much away, so I’ll just say this: if you’re looking for a great mystery series, Kellerman’s Alex Delaware series is the top of the heap.

Publication Date: February 2nd, 2021

Turkey in the Trap Room (The Inn at Holiday Bay #12)

Turkey in the Trap Room (The Inn at Holiday Bay #12)
by Kathi Dale
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Between 3 and 4 stars, but I’m rounding down to 3.

This one didn’t wow me like the other books in the series have. Usually I read these in one evening because I can’t put it down, but this one took me a couple of weeks to read. Although it had several intriguing plots, it felt…distracted, unfocused, almost as if it was just trying to kill some time before the end of the book. And considering this was meant to be aThanksgiving themed book, it had very, very little Thanksgiving-y fuss about it. It was more or less a footnote at the end.

The main mystery, who killed Dashwood Hollander and why was the biggest head-scratcher. Not only didn’t he appear in the book (well, not while he was alive, anyway) but none of the suspects ever appeared in the book. It’s hard to try and sleuth along with Abby if there’s no frame of reference on the clues or the motives. In fact, most of the book was Abby rehashing everything over and over.

The secondary mystery of sorts, the three half-sisters given tasks to complete to inherit money from the mother of their absentee dad, was definitely the more interesting of the two plots. In fact, if that was the main plot and had more interaction with the three sisters, it would’ve been a great read on its own, but ended up being watered down in favor of the primary non-mystery.

So, the central theme to this review is….Meh. I’m hoping the next book out soon will be better.

Published November 3rd 2020

Close Your Eyes, Sleep

Close Your Eyes, Sleep: Reprogram Your Mind to Fall Asleep
–And Stay Asleep– With the Groundbreaking Power of Hypnosis
by Grace Smith

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I got this book last month on Netgalley because I’m a chronic insomniac. Once I get to sleep, I usually stay asleep, so it’s the “getting to sleep” that is my biggest problem. I decided to give this a try, even though I’m not great at meditating and I’ve had trouble “going under” through hypnosis before (thank you, ADHD). So I’m probably not the best person to test whether or not this works but then again..maybe I am? I’ll update in the weeks or months ahead with more on how well this works for me.

It was an interesting read, talking about the science of sleep and the problems many of us face, plus giving good tips and steps to retrain your mind to let go and sleep. I’ll admit, it’s been a bit of a struggle for me so far, but I’m hoping repeated practice will help this work for me. So I’d say, if you’re one of those who are great at meditating and/or visualizing, this book may be of help to you. For those of us who struggle with that, it may take time to see results. It’s mentioned in the book that there will be an accompanying website with video tutorials, but at this time it isn’t up yet (I’ll check back after publication.)

If you or someone you know has problems sleeping, I definitely recommend giving this book a try.

Publication Date: December 29. 2020

An interview with author Barbara Venkataraman

Barbara Venkataraman is the author of the Jamie Quinn series of cozy mysteries and her newest book, Malice in Miami is now available for free for a limited time, and you can get the first 3 books in the series for just 99 cents! and all are available on Kindle Unlimited. This is a great cozy series, I definitely recommend!

Malice in Miami Get for 99 cents on Amazon for a limited time!

Reluctant family law attorney Jamie Quinn is loving life–and why wouldn’t she? Her boyfriend Kip is back from Australia, her long-lost dad finally has his visa and she’s about to start her dream job at an art foundation. But it all falls apart when Jamie is accused of stealing priceless art from a rare book collection. If she can’t find out who framed her, she can kiss her dream job good-bye–and her law license too. Meanwhile, Kip has problems of his own. Now an environmental activist, he uncovers a deadly secret–one that just might get him killed. Jamie’s in trouble, Kip’s in danger, and Duke Broussard has gone AWOL. How could Jamie’s favorite P.I. abandon her at a time like this?

I invited Barbara to do a quick interview about her writing, her methods and her visions of how she crafts her books:

Q.There are now 6 books in the Jamie Quinn series, how did Jamie come about? Which is your favorite?

Barbara: My favorite Jamie Quinn book is always the most recent one, but I have a special place in my heart for the first one, Death by Didgeridoo. Although it’s the shortest and the characters have developed so much since then, the first book got me started on this journey. I’ve always been writing since I was in second grade but hadn’t managed to get past short stories and essays until I came up with Jamie Quinn. I was trying to teach myself to play a didgeridoo to help with my sleep apnea and I dropped the didge and broke a glass tabletop. It occurred to me this could be a lethal weapon and I immediately thought of the title Death by Didgeridoo. From there I just started asking questions–Who would get killed with a musical instrument? A music teacher Who would want him dead? Several people. Whose didgeridoo was it? One of his students. And I kept going until I had a story.

Q. What comes first for you, the plot or the characters?

Barbara: Plot first. I have the same main characters in all the books but the other characters just show up when I need them to make the plot move along. Sometimes I get surprised. In Jeopardy in July, I came up with Herb Lowenthal as a very minor character but as I wrote I realized he had an important part to play.

Q. How do you come up with the plots for your books?

Barbara: That’s a mystery even to me. Stephen King says put interesting characters in an interesting situation and see what happens.

Q.How do you come up with the character’s names in your books?

Barbara: I try to come up with a name that fits the person without repeating any names or making them too odd. My cousin’s daughter died tragically and her father asked me to make her a character, so I did. Jesse Sandler was my cousin’s name and the character has her personality. After I did that, several friends and relatives asked me to make them a character so that makes it easy to name them, lol.

Q.How do you cope with writer’s block? Any favorite tricks to get your plot moving again?

Barbara: Writer’s block is a pain, but it can be managed. If I’m totally blocked, I have to ask why. Did I write myself into a corner? Do I have no idea what happens next? Two things help. First, write something else, an essay, a short story,a letter to the editor–just to get the juices flowing. Then go back to the problem and ask questions like, what are all the things that could happen nest? What are the obstacles to each option? Sometimes I’m blocked because I’m going in the wrong direction and I have to shift gears.

Q. What sort of books do you like to read? Do you have any cozy mystery authors you recommend?

Barbara: I actually avoid cozy mysteries because I don’t want to accidentally borrow any ideas. The most recent book I read that I absolutely loved was the Pulitzer Prize winning “Less”. The writing is fantastic and I loved the main character. I also loved “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.”

Q. Tell us about where you write. Do you have a studio? A favorite cafe? Curled up on the couch? What do you like to eat or drink while writing?

Barbara:I sit at my computer to type at my desk in our guest room/office. When I get stuck I go for walk outside to think.

Q. If your book were made into a movie, which actors would you pick to play your characters?

Barbara: That’s tough. Jamie Quinn would be Jennifer Connelly and Kip Simons would be Jared Padalecki. Grace is Cobie Smulders.

Q. If you could be a character in one of your favorite books, who would you be?

Barbara: I would be the wife in the Time Traveler’s Wife.

Q. Last, do you have any new quirky insights for us?

Barbara: If you want to write, do it! It’s the same way you get to Carnegie Hall, practice, practice, practice.

Screech!

Screech! by Charis Cotter

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First came The Thing at the Foot of the Bed. In 4th grade, I was obsessed with it, took it out of the library so many times, I’m surprised they didn’t just let me have it.

Then came Scary Stories to Tell In The Dark. Back then I used to take care of a couple of cute kids in the summer and we used to read them out loud and they loved them as much as I did.

So, scary stories have long held a place in my heart, so when I saw this on Netgalley, I jumped on it. A collection of eerie tales from Newfoundland, Canada, the 10 or so short stories are guaranteed to get a screech! out of the little ones (and maybe even the older ones!) accompanied by gorgeous illustrations. I’d love one or two of them for my wall! My favorite story was the ghostly ballerinas (so cute!) and the Old Hag (eeek!) and the blueberry picker was both heartbreaking and eerie. It takes me back to the days when I was a kid, huddled around the campfire listening to Gramps tell The Hookman story (and when they got home, they saw, hanging from the door handle, was a HOOK! *scream*)

Screech! concludes with several tips on how to come up with your own scary story, something I might just do to scare the little ones in my family while sitting around the fire this winter. Scary good fun, and it would be a great gift for younger kids, I’d say ages 7 and up, especially for kids who like a little bit of scary and might help them to enjoy reading.

Release Date: August 31, 2020

The Gargoyle’s Secret (Stonehaven Mysteries, Book 1)

The Gargoyle’s Secret (Stonehaven Mysteries, Book 1)

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I found this book on BookSirens and thought it sounded cute and I’m a sucker for paranormal mysteries. This proved to be a cute, easy read and I loved the spooky atmosphere, made for a great read late in the evening.

Laurel is a photojournalist with an assignment for a piece on Stonehaven Mansion and the family that owns it. There seems to be several mysteries at Stonehaven; a man who went missing decades ago, someone searching the grounds for something, and even the master of the house, Marc, seems to be hiding something. Although the plot moved along quickly due to not being a very long book, it unrolled leisurely, with lots of detail to bring the story alive without dragging it down. The picture created of the beautiful Maine setting and the gothic mansion and of the many characters really brought it to life. There was a bit more romance than a typical cozy mystery, so I’d call this more a romance mystery than a cozy mystery but it wasn’t graphic or in your face. If you like a bit more romance in your cozy, this is for you.

Overall, a great start for a newer author and if there’s a second book, I’ll definitely pick it up.

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

The Cottage at Gooseberry Bay (Books 1-3)

I’ve been looking forward to this series ever since Ainsley was introduced in one of the Inn at Holiday Bay books, so I spent the weekend with Ainsley and her friends in Gooseberry Bay. Absolutely loving this series so far!

Halloween Moon (Cottage on Gooseberry Bay #1)

Halloween Moon

I’m a huge fan of (some may say obsessed with) the Inn at Holiday Bay series, so when there was a crossover introducing Ainsley, I was excited to dig into this series and I absolutely love it! Ainsley and her new group of friends are a plucky bunch, resourceful and determined in their investigation into a young woman’s death, and heroic in their rescue. The main plot of Cammy’s death was a little different than most cozies in that there was really only one suspect, so they were just looking for proof, and the cracking good ending made for an exciting read.

As with Abi’s search for answers in the Inn at Holiday Bay series, Ainsley’s search for the truth of her adoption will span several books. I’m looking forward to seeing that mystery unfold as well.

I really enjoyed this debut book of the Gooseberry Bay series and definitely recommend it (and the Inn at Holiday Bay series!) to cozy fans looking for well crafted characters and excellent plots.

Thanksgiving Past (Cottage on Gooseberry Bay #2)

Thanksgiving Past

It’s Thanksgiving in Gooseberry Bay and with it, another mystery for Ainsley and her friends. Her friend Parker, a journalist for the local paper, is reopening an investigation into a family who disappeared on Thanksgiving 5 years ago. The Thanksgiving dinner was on the counter ready to be served, the table was set and there were no signs of a struggle. Parker was just beginning her career back then and is hoping that with her refined investigative skills and new resources, she’ll finally be able to solve this mysterious case.

What I love about the books this author writes is that they’re never the same ol’ tried and true plots and this one was no exception, I thoroughly enjoyed how the plot around the missing family played out and the awesome ending. Meanwhile, Ainsley finally meets Adam, the elder Winchester brother and begins to look into the mystery of her adoption. I like the dynamic between Ainsley and Adam, it’s cute and romantic without being too cute and romantic.

Also, I just realized that the blurb about this book is different than what happened in the book I read, so I think there was some editing or retooling involved before it evolved into this book.

Overall, a super enjoyable holiday read and I’m totally sucked into this series!

Gooseberry Christmas (Cottage on Gooseberry Bay #3)

Gooseberry Christmas

This was a great holiday read and I’m loving how this series is coming along. Ainsley and her friends team up again, this time to clear a friend after he’s seen running from the scene of a murder. The victim had no shortage of people who’d want him dead, both due to his professional life as a successful realtor and his personal life of chasing women. Ainsley bowed out of helping much with this one, saying she “wasn’t a local, so it was better that the locals do the sleuthing…” which didn’t make sense to me. I mean, how are you going to know the locals if you don’t go out and learn about the locals? It was a flimsy excuse so she could spend more time with Adam, which she did; ballroom dance lessons, cozy lunches in Adam’s palatial apartment (within the mansion, no less) and volunteering at the Christmas tree farm. But we did get to learn more about Adam and his work, and I appreciated the glimpse into his life.

As with the last book, the main plot of the murdered man at the Christmas tree lot was not your usual cozy plot, and that’s what I love about this author’s books. How they tracked down the true culprit from just a few clues shows how resourceful and adept they are at putting the pieces together. Enjoyable!

Furbidden Fatality (A Catskills Pet Rescue Mystery #1)

Furbidden Fatality (A Catskills Pet Rescue Mystery #1)
by Deborah Blake

54355045After winning $5 million dollars in the lottery, Kari is still working her dead-end waitressing job and living in a crummy apartment while deciding the best way to use her winnings. When an opportunity to buy a struggling local animal sanctuary comes up, Kari knows this is what she’s meant to do. But Serenity Sanctuary comes with a fistful of problems; dilapidated buildings that need updating, an over-zealous dog warden who is inexplicably obsessed with shutting the sanctuary down and a dog who has been accused of attacking a man and his dog. As she begins to tackle everything on her to-do list, a bigger problem arises; the dog warden is found dead in the dog yard! Under suspicion, Kari and her group of sanctuary volunteers begin investigating, uncovering more than just a murderer.

As an animal lover, I can’t resist a good pet lover cozy, so when I saw this on Netgalley, I snapped it up quick. The first third of the book didn’t wow me, although I liked Kari, the “you found the body, you’re the main suspect” and the “leave the investigating to the police…” tropes really get under my skin. But I held on and, as the story unfolded, it turned into a smashing good read. Once the pace picked up and more and more leads were uncovered, it was impossible to put down. And I loved how Kari and her friends uncovered pieces of the puzzle and went to the sheriff with what they found, leading to several people headed off to jail. This little plot-within-a-plot elevated this to not-just-your-average cozy. Add in the heartwarming rejuvenation of the pet sanctuary, finishing this left a smile on my face and that warm, fuzzy feeling when all is put right.

One last note…seriously, NO ONE called out mouthy Bryn when she blames everything on Kari several times? No one, absolutely no one, told her to grow up and stop acting like a spoiled toddler? Not a fan of Bryn. She can go wash dogs somewhere else.

Heartwarming, satisfying and oh so cozy, Furbidden Fatality was a wonderful debut to a new series.

Publication Date: February 23, 2021

Mystery Movies

With the weather turning cold I’ve been binging on all the Hallmark Mysteries and Movies that I saved but never got around to watching. They’ve done a great job of bringing books to life (well, most of them) and some of them are new to me but super enjoyable.

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I tried reading the first Aurora Teagarden mysteriy at one point but I wasn’t able to get into it. I loved several of Charlaine Harris’s other series (Harper Connelly and Lily Bard are ones that I’ve read several times) but I wasn’t a fan of Aurora – until this series started on HM&M. But Candace Cameron brings the series alive. Who’d have thought DJ Tanner was a sleuth?

My favorite so far is A Bone To Pick. Aurora’s friend Jane dies and leaves everything to Aurora – including a skeleton and a mystery. Had me on the edge of my seat!

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Mystery101 is another movie series I gobbled up. I don’t know if they’re based on a series (if so, I’ve never heard of it) but I loved this from the first moment of the first movie.

Amy is an English professor and teaches a class on crime fiction, and her knowledge comes in handy when solving murders with the hunky police detective Travis. I love the cast; there’s great chemistry between Jill and Detective Travis, and this series has some great plots and don’t get me started on the scenery. Absolutely beautiful! There’s 5 movies in this series so far and I hope there’s many more.

I also love the Fixer Upper Mysteries starring Jewel and Colin Ferguson (who I absolutely love) I don’t know if they’re going to continue this series, only 4 were made and it’s been a few years since the last one came out – which is so disappointing!

In the first movie, Shannon Hughes, an expert in historic home renovation, is hired by Mac, an investigative crime reporter, to restore the old mansion he just purchased. But when Shannon’s friend Jesse, a deep sea treasure hunter, is found dead and the police chalk it up to an unfortunate accident, Shannon thinks it was murder. Teaming up with Mac, they uncover the clues to uncover a murderer.

I really enjoyed this series, Jewel is fantastic as Shannon Hughes and even gets to sing a bit. Colin Ferguson (who has been in tons of things, but most notably in SyFy’s series Eureka) is always a big draw for me. Add in the beautiful scenery, the old houses (I love old houses!) and the great plots and this is one series you just can’t miss.

So if you’re looking for something to watch, give these a try!

On Deadly Tides: Penny Brannigan #11

On Deadly Tides:  Penny Brannigan Mystery #11
by Elizabeth J Duncan

53631377. sy475 Penny and fellow painter friend Alwynne take a weekend course on painting in the nearby town of Beaumaris on the beautiful North Wales island of Anglesey. Sitting in a crowded bar on her first night, Penny first meets Colin, an attractive man, and a young news reporter named Jessica who just arrived from New Zealand to investigate a man who went missing several years before. The next morning, while out to paint a lighthouse, Penny finds Jessica dead on the beach, the victim of an apparent fall. Penny knows this was no accident and when the police have no evidence it was anything but an accident, she picks up the threads to unravel the circumstances that led to the young woman’s death.

Found this on Netgalley and snapped it up. I’ve read this series since the beginning and a few books back, I mentioned that I thought the character of Penny had stagnated, so I was really happy to see her character moving forward! I think this will breathe some new life into the series.

As for the plot, I had a pretty good idea whodunit but eagerly raced through the book to see it all unfold. Lots of twists and turns led to a satisfying conclusion that neatly wrapped up the two cases. It was also a pleasure to watch the romance blossom and to catch up with the usual cast of characters I’ve grown to love. The sweet ending left a smile on my face and I do hope this isn’t the end to the series (felt a little ambiguous to say for certain?) and if not, I look forward to more of Penny’s exploits.

Release Date: 10 November 2020

Mining for Justice (Chloe Ellefson Mystery #8)

Mining for Justice (Chloe Ellefson Mystery #8)by Kathleen Ernst

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This series blows me away with every book. There are always 3 narratives: Chloe’s, cop boyfriend Roelke’s and a haunting historical story featuring a woman facing horrible hardships. It’s managed so well, too; it seamlessly switches in between the narratives and brings a multi-dimensional facet to the story that’s unmatched in any other series I’ve read.

There was a lot going on this one; Chloe is struggling to find out who was buried in the root cellar of her friend’s stone cottage and also trying to help save the historical interpretation site Pendarvis from closing. Roelke is working on a big drugs bust while trying to protect his cousin from her ex-husband. Meanwhile, centuries ago, a Cornish woman and her brothers immigrated to Wisconsin to mine lead and her struggles and triumphs. There’s a lot packed into this book, but the story is woven so well that it’s easy to switch between characters. I loved the story of Mary Pascoe, from her time as a balmaiden in Cornwall to her immigration to the US and the struggles she faced throughout her life but also her triumphs. Meanwhile, with Chloe away, Roelke was forced to make a drastic decision that haunts him, one he can’t share with anyone, even his beloved Chloe.

I heartily recommend this series, particularly for those who enjoy historical fiction.

Released October 8, 2017

Mrs. Morris and the Ghost of Christmas Past (A Salem B&B Mystery, #3)

Mrs. Morris and the Ghost of Christmas Past (A Salem B&B Mystery, #3)
by Traci Wilton

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I love this time of year, the best time to curl up with a warm quilt, a good book with a Christmas theme to get you in the holiday spirit, and a roaring fire (well, I don’t have a fireplace, but there are videos on Amazon Prime, so that’ll have to do.)

This was the first book from the Salem B&B Mystery series that I’ve read, and I’ll definitely be picking up the first two. In this one, Charlene attends a charity auction at a restaurant owned by a recent lottery winner, David Baldwin. Tensions are high at the auction and when David suddenly bolts outside and is fatally struck by a car, there’s no shortage of suspects.

This was my introduction to all the characters and I liked them all, from the analytical and down-to-earth Charlene to hunky ghost Jack to Charlene’s dad (her mom, however, can go freeze out in the backyard. Tone it down, sweetie) and everyone at the B&B. It made for a very cozy read, and the plot, complete with juicy secrets, intrigue and even a bit of humor here and there made for an exciting and enjoyable read.

Published September 29th 2020

On Borrowed Crime (Jane Doe Book Club Mystery #1)

On Borrowed Crime (Jane Doe Book Club Mystery #1) by Kate Young

Lyla is a good ‘ol southern gal living in Sweet Mountain, GA, a small town as only the south can do. With its laid back lifestyle and good people you’ve known all your life, it should be idyllic. For Lyla, a receptionist in her uncle’s private investigation office, solving mysteries runs in her blood. Together with a circle of like minded friends organized into a true crime book club, Lyla enjoys the crime investigating life. But when one of the club members turns up dead in a suitcase delivered to Lyla’s front door, crime investigating turns serious – and deadly. Unable to set aside the danger, Lyla puts her skills to the test to track down a killer in her home town.

A first book in a new series always calls to me. What is this new world? Can I settle right in? Will these characters become friends? A first book in a new series is always an open invitation I can never pass up, and this book opened the door to a place I’d love to spend more time in. The characters were equally as charming, I loved Lyla’s granny (would love to see her more as Lyla’s partner in crime…well, crime fighting) and I’m looking forward to seeing where Lyla goes from here.

As for the plot, it was packed with intrigue and tension, from the discovery of Carol’s body to the threats and red herring to the thrilling ending, it made for a can’t-put-it-down roller coaster ride. I admit, this was one of those books where I would decide on the likely culprit but the red herrings always pulled me off the scent. I love books that do that!

Overall, an excellent introduction to the folks in Sweet Mountain, GA and I’m looking forward to reading more!

Release Date: October 6, 2020

For Whom the Book Tolls: An Antique Bookshop Mystery

For Whom the Book Tolls: An Antique Bookshop Mystery #1 by Laura Gail Black 

After some nasty business back home in Charlotte, Jenna receives an invitation from her Uncle Paul to come live with him and work at his bookstore.  When she finds Paul dead, crumpled at the bottom of a staircase, Jenna finds out she has inherited everything, putting her under suspicion.  Determined to clear her name and to start over again, Jenna starts investigating to find a killer.

Excellent start to a new series, with lots of twists and turns to throw you off the trail. I really liked Jenna and love the small town of Hokes Folly (I’d love to go stay at that inn!). There was plenty going on in this book, between Jenna’s troubles in Charlotte to finding her uncle dead and inheriting the bookstore to a man trying to usurp her inheritance and then winding up dead himself and it kept the pace moving quickly. The plot was very well done, I went back and forth between suspects throughout the book, so the ending was a bit of a surprise, but satisfying.

My only minus to this story is Sutter. I feel like the whole “bad cop” trope in cozy mysteries has been done to death; as a device to add tension to a story, all it manages to do is annoy me so much, I start flipping pages. And really Jenna, if you’ve already been falsely accused and arrested for a serious crime once, wouldn’t you realize that talking to a hostile detective without a lawyer present isn’t a good idea? And it takes her what, 3 times to do it? *sigh* Get it together, Jenna!

Overall, an excellent start to a new series and I look forward to reading more from Jenna and Hokes Folly.

Release Date: September 8, 2020