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.

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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