Review of: What the Hatmaker Heard (A Missy DuBois Mystery)
Review of: What the Hatmaker Heard (A Missy DuBois Mystery)
Review of: Still Knife Painting (A Paint and Shine Mystery)
June 30, 2020
I really enjoyed this author's creative premise with this series kick-off and the rich, lush descriptions of the setting! This is also true for her other series, the glass shop mysteries, which also features an artist as the protagonist. I think she is really on to something here by having Miranda be a talented sketch artist - that could certainly be a handy skill for solving mysteries! The mystery also was very well-plotted, with lots of red herrings. I didn't guess the killer and thought the ending was very satisfying as it all made sense and justice was served. However, the pace of this book was a bit slow and got off track at times, such as shifting perspective to the Sheriff or his wife at random points, which didn't really make sense to me. I also thought the rivalry between the Sheriff and Detective was unnecessary and could have been left out entirely without altering the story. I think like most series, this book is setting up a world of characters, relationships, and backstories that will serve as great fodder to draw upon for future more tightly crafted tales. A great series start!
Review of: Killing Time (A Dodie O’Dell Mystery)
Reviewed in the United States on June 23, 2020
I absolutely loved this book!! I haven't read any others in the series (yet), but couldn't resist the enticing cover, Halloween setting, and the name of the protagonist (Dodie O'Dell - how fabulous is that?!). I wasn't disappointed & am excited to have discovered a new-to-me author & series! I loved the premise of the book and the tie-in of the mystery with the theater production. The setting of course, was wonderful - just the right amount of creepiness & intrigue with no actual horror or violence. The quick pace & snappy dialogue had me laughing out loud at moments (great Aunt Maureen's sayings are so good I'm memorizing them! What is "stressed" spelled backwards? Hm-hm!!) Dodie is smart, witty, and totally relatable. Some of the main characters could jump right off the page into true life - I can just see Penny, Walter, Edna, & the Banger sisters especially! The author really has a talent for creating memorable characters. That being said, there were a LOT of characters in this book, and since I hadn't read the previous ones at first I had a hard time keeping them all straight. A Cast of Characters would be a really helpful reference . Regarding the mystery, I felt like I was putting all the clues together right along with Dodie - the plot was well-done and kept me guessing until the end! Super well-done. And the ending was satisfying which was great (I was glad the book didn't end with a cliffhanger). One of my favorite reads this year & I'm looking forward to catching up with the previous books featuring Dodie!
Review of: Snowed Under (A Maggie McDonald Mystery)
Reviewed in the United States on June 15, 2020
I liked a lot about this cozy mystery - admittedly jumping into the series with this installment (book #6), as I loved the cute cover so much! And I love a cozy winter setting. The author definitely didn't disappointment - her descriptions of the setting are truly amazing, and she is definitely a gifted writer! You'll be longing for warm cider and a fleece blanket right away. The protagonist (Maggie) and her best friend are fully fleshed-out characters and I liked that they didn't always get along, but had normal emotions and reactions. Their storylines also were developed over the course of this book, and it really made me want to read more of the backstory in the earlier books, and also continue to see what Maggie and those in her world do next! It was also interesting as most cozies have a romance angle, but here the protagonist is married with 2 teenage boys. I would have liked to either have them figure more in the actual story, or be left out altogether in favor of a romantic intrigue for Maggie. Also, I had a hard time keeping track of the characters and several of them seemed interchangeable and/or showed up oddly at the very end of the book for no real purpose that I could see (the additional detectives, in particular). I didn't quite understand the characters' motivations at the very end when the killer was revealed, and found myself longing for a more complete ending with some sort of a twist! However, the story was so well-written and it felt like I could picture every scene so clearly that I was right there myself! This is a good clean, cozy mystery and a real treat. I plan to read more. For fans of this genre, it reminded me of the earlier Lucy Stone books by Leslie Meier, which is in itself a huge compliment! Enjoy.
Review of: Teaching is Murder (A Ms. Anderson Mystery)
Reviewed in the United States on May 17, 2020
This was a cute first book! I really liked the protagonist, Claire, especially her unique interest in Korean dramas. I also enjoyed the descriptions of her interactions with her new kitten and how she learned how to take care of cats. I just wished she kept his original name, I'm not sure why she changed it (especially when the original name was so much more adorable!). I liked how her family members were also featured in the book, and how well-fleshed out they were, especially Claire's brother and sister. I'd love to see more of them featured in future books! I also loved the fact that Claire is a middle-school science teacher. I felt I even learned some facts I didn't know about various subjects by reading this book, just from the dialogue between the school teachers! The mystery was good, with lots of red herrings, but there were a few hanging questions that were never fully answered by the end of the book. (Maybe the next?) The main thing the book needed was a good editor, as there were inconsistencies and grammatical errors throughout. However, this was such a fun read with such interesting characters that I loved it anyway and look forward to reading more by this author!
Review of: A Case for the Winemaker (An Ainsley McGregor Mystery)
Reviewed in the United States on February 2, 2020
This is the first of this author's books that I've read, and I'm really glad to see it's the first in a new series! I thought it looked adorable, and I wasn't disappointed. I love the setting (a quaint little town in Texas), and the protagonist's (Ainsley's) venture into entrepreneurship with the launch of a town artisan market. I can definitely see how this premise could spark ideas for future plot lines! I thought the inclusion of her Great Dane, George Clooney, was particularly cute, and loved the sparks between Ainsley and Jake (the fire chief). I also think it's a great twist by having Ainsely's brother as the sheriff (as sheriffs are usually featured as the heroine's love interest). The humor in this book was great, but a bit overkill, especially at the beginning. Also I pretty much guessed the killer right away. However, the cast of characters was really good and I enjoyed seeing how the story played out. This was a light, breezy read, perfect for being stuck on a airplane for 3 hours or lying on a tropical beach or by the pool! Or really anytime you want to put a smile on your face.
Review of: Shredding the Evidence (A Cookbook Nook Mystery)
Daryl Wood Gerber
Good, but not the best in the series
Reviewed in the United States on May 4, 2020
I read one of the earlier novels in this series - Stirring the Plot - and absolutely loved it! I admit to not having continued with the series before picking up the latest, Shredding the Evidence, as it looked so cute I couldn't resist! However, there were so many characters with so many similarities (lots of moms with babies, mother-daughter pairs, generations of families, townsfolk, etc.) and so many back-stories that I just couldn't keep up with who was who. The mystery takes place during the "Food Bowl" - a local event featuring the best chefs and finest cuisine. The descriptions of the food were absolutely delectable - be prepared to have your mouth water!! The mystery was very well-plotted with many potential suspects, and I loved seeing how the protagonist (Jenna) figured it all out. The author writes beautifully and her descriptions are amazing. However, it could have used more editing as there was just "too much" unnecessary verbiage in this particular novel. I also didn't like the constant references to women's weight and comparisons, which was a big theme here. This is a great series and I highly recommend the earlier novels most of all, but this one is still worth the read.
Review of: Apple Cider Slaying (A Cider Shop Mystery)
Reviewed in the United States on January 3, 2020
This is a cute, quick read with endearing characters and a beautiful setting! It's wonderful to escape with a lighthearted story such as this one, and the humor in it was especially enjoyable. I also liked the choice of theme. However, I feel it's been done a lot before and I like the author's Christmas Tree Farm mysteries (written as Jacqueline Frost) much better - in fact, that series is on my all-time favorites list!!! Also, the protagonist (Winnie) keeps trying to justify her sleuthing which became a bit repetitive. And at one point Granny mentioned texting but then it was stated she didn't have a cell phone. That being said, the writing is stellar as always, and I often had a smile on my face while reading! This book is really cute as a button, and definitely worth the read. Enjoy!
Review of: The Spider House (A Madam Celeste Mystery)
Linda Anthony Hill
Reviewed in the United States on August 21, 2019
This mystery sounded really intriguing to me, and it lived up to my expectations in a lot of ways but had shortcomings as well.
Review of: Down in Flames (a Webb’s Glass Shop Mystery)
Reviewed in the United States on June 25, 2019
I really enjoyed this book! It was actually the first one in the series that I read, as I hadn't read the earlier books, but didn't find this to be a problem as I quickly got to know the characters. The author writes wonderfully, and I found the premise of the series charming and creative! I loved the blend of mystery with art, and found the descriptions of the glass-making techniques very intriguing and beautiful. The characters were fully fleshed-out, and seemed like real people with real relationships (and secrets!). The mystery itself was smart and well-plotted - in fact, I found myself getting more intrigued and enjoying the story the more I kept reading. I will be very interested to read more from this author in the future, and definitely recommend this book for a great read!
Review of: Murder in the Reading Room (A Book Retreat Mystery)
Reviewed in the United States on June 19, 2019
First, I love cozy mysteries and have been reading them for years. I actually discovered Ellery Adams probably 15 years ago when she wrote the Hope Street Church trilogy as Jennifer Stanley (which I loved) - then went on to her series beginning with Carbs & Cadavers as JB Stanley. I've read a LOT of cozies by a lot of authors over the years, and Ms. Adams has remained one of my favorites. And so I do not say this lightly, but Murder in the Reading Room is probably the VERY best, or tied for very best, book I have ever read in this genre. I actually had not even read any of the preceding books in the Book Retreat series, but since I wasn't familiar with it I jumped right in with the newest. Holy moly, I should have been holding onto my seat - it was absolutely riveting from the 1st page and I have never done this before, but I actually took time off work to keep reading it! There was such a fabulously shocking twist that I gasped out loud in public! I honestly think Ms. Adams keeps getting better, and that is saying something. The foundational story couldn't be more imaginative or alluring, and the plotting in this book is brilliant. The characters, the settings, etc. made you feel like you were right there in the middle of the action. And the action was non-stop -- superb pacing, gorgeously evocative writing. Needless to say, I'll read the prior the books and every one hereafter. If you have a background in classic literature and/or history, the references and symbolism drip off the pages. Ms. Adams is probably one of the most educated mystery writers out there today, and I found myself inspired to conduct my own research into several of the topics touched upon in this book. Fascinating. The ending of the book couldn't have been more perfect or beautiful - I even cried. It was just so right!
Review of: No Escape Claws (A Second Chance Cat Mystery)
Reviewed in the United States on April 3, 2019
I completely loved this book!! It was actually the first one I have read in the series, but was hooked after page 1! The protagonist is so easy to relate to, and the author's writing is flawless. The descriptions are spot-on, and her characters are nicely fleshed out. I loved learning about them all and their relationships, and am definitely curious now to go back and read the earlier books to learn more about the back stories. Also, the cat Elvis is the cherry on the cake!! I couldn't help smiling whenever he made an appearance. The author writes with smart humor, which isn't over the top but just puts a smile on your face. I thought the mysteries were well-plotted and the resolutions made sense at the end. And of course the last chapter gives just enough of a cliff-hanger to make me count down for the next installment! Definitely recommend this book and author.
Review of: The Whispered Word (A Secret, Book, & Scone Society Mystery)
A Cozy Masterpiece!!
Reviewed in the United States on February 2, 2019
I absolutely loved everything about this book. In fact, I read it without having read the 1st in the series, which I will now promptly go out and purchase. Ellery Adams is one of the most gifted writers of the genre, and this one takes it to another level! I don't even know where to begin - the writing itself is beautiful, masterful, and poetic. The literary references abound and add layers of depth to the tale. Everything has both surface and underlying/ deeper meanings (from the characters' names to the symbols the author incorporates, not to mention the literary titles cited by the protagonist). Hidden chambers, keys, clocks, Aladdin's lamp, cats, books, and secret identities -- a gorgeous, intricately crafted tale that is a love letter to writers and book lovers alike. I could not put this down once I began reading, and am left with the sense that I saw myself in this book, as will any true lover of reading, literature, and art. This is what it is all about, the magical ways all of our stories are woven together and yet one and the same. This book is a masterpiece, one to linger over, and reflect upon with dear friends. 5 stars truly aren't enough. Ms.Adams deserves all the awards for creating this gift of a novel.
Review of: In Peppermint Peril (A Tea & Read Mystery)
Reviewed in the United States on January 5, 2019
I absolutely loved this book - a protagonist that is immediately likable, a setting that is picturesque and beautifully described, a smart and well-crafted plot, and a holiday romance!! This book was was the perfect holiday read for me this season - the author's inclusion of subtle references to "Clue" as well as classic novels kept me smiling throughout. The descriptions of each setting were so amazing and on-point I felt like I could honestly be in the conservatory of the Hall myself, smell the scent of evergreens, and feel the chill of the winter frost!! The plot was beautifully crafted, and everyone has a secret (of course!!!). This being said, I was left wondering about Callie's backstory - her family, and Aunt Iphy's role in her life. There is a lot of speculation in this book, some of which I think is nice as it shows us the thoughts of the people in the town and opens up more ideas, but at times it seems a little too forced. Also, I would have liked had the characters been fleshed out a bit more - I couldn't understand why Callie would be friends with Sheila, for example, or defend Peggy. I'd like to learn more about Falk as well and why he seemed to hold so many grudges. This being said, I was really touched to see how some of the characters grew and matured because of what happened to them, and how relationships became strengthened in the end. The way the story comes together was a *total* surprise, and I am applauding Ms. Avon!! I could not believe it, but I actually had tears in my eyes because not only was the denouement completely unexpected, but the most beautiful culmination to a story, ever. This one will exceed your Christmas dreams.
Review of: Slay in Character (A Cat Latimer Mystery)
Reviewed in the United States on November 27, 2018
I really enjoyed this cozy mystery - the premise of the series itself is definitely unique and contains a multitude of intriguing juxtapositions: a woman who inherits a home from her dead ex-husband and turns it into a writers' retreat in a quaint college town -- but where most people have secret mob connections!!). I was so excited to read this as I definitely know that truth is stranger than fiction and was interested to read how the author makes all of these threads come together in the series! I related immediately to the protagonist, Cat, as she is likeable and I easily understood her emotions and motivations. The mysteries that arc through this series are really fantastic cliffhangers - who are the good or bad guys?? As a reader, I am definitely hooked! This being said, as a reader coming in to the series without having read all of the prior books, I was a bit lost or confused as to who all the characters were and their relationships. Several characters were introduced but not explained and there was no information to explain their relationships. I think this series is fascinating, but the books should probably be read in order to get the most out of it!
Review of: In Cold Chocolate (A Southern Chocolate Shop Mystery)
Reviewed in the United States on November 11, 2018
This is actually the 1st book I have read in the series, and definitely will pick up the previous & future books!! I thought it looked like a cute read, but really surpassed my expectations. The writing is top-notch, and I loved the descriptions of the setting and felt like I was actually there and could smell the salt from the ocean on the breeze! The plot was intricately woven, with lots of crafty red herrings. I really enjoyed learning about Penn and her back-story, and didn't feel lost by not having read the prior books. Her story is definitely not the usual stereotype for most cozies - it is very unique and I'm really intrigued to find out how it will all come together in future books. I also absolutely love the supporting cast of characters - Althea, Bertie, Bubba, the Detective, Ethel, Harley, etc. and the additions they each bring to Penn's life and world. Ms. St. James does a great job at fleshing out these characters, while leaving us with some first impressions of others whose stories are yet to be fully revealed (Jody, the Maybanks, etc.). I highly recommend this book - the author is a gifted story-teller and the book took me by surprise by surpassing my expectations so much!
Review of: Tail of the Dragon (A Zodiac Mystery)
Unique series, great setting, fast-paced!
Reviewed in the United States on August 21, 2018
I read this book, the 3rd of the series, without having read the two previous books. I was very happy that the author took care to make this a great stand-alone read, and I didn't feel lost. I was able to learn the backstory easily through the continuation in this book alongside the main mystery at hand. I am definitely intrigued to learn more of Julia's history and future! The mystery in this book was well-plotted; however there were so many characters that it was a little difficult to keep track. And I definitely had to suspend a bit of belief at all the connections and coincidences. That being said, the setting and theme were perfectly suited to each other. Nothing - and no one- is quite what it seems, and Julia's insight is fascinating and unique. A fast-paced read, not too heavy, perfect for a cozy afternoon!
Review of: Crime and Poetry (A Magical Bookshop Mystery)
An unexpected treasure!!!
Reviewed in the United States on July 22, 2018
Top-notch writing, likeable & relatable characters who are nicely fleshed-out, a beautiful setting, and an intricate mystery with snippets of history & backstory. Absolutely wonderful - charming!! The best cozy I've read in months. Planning to get the rest in the series and really hoping there will be more than 3. I will definitely check out this author's other books (this is a new author to me). Unexpected and fabulous find!
Review of: The Spook in the Stacks (A Lighthouse Library Mystery)
Absolutely charming - worth the read!!
Reviewed in the United States on July 1, 2018
I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical picking up this book, as there are already multiple cozy mystery series out there that are also set in libraries. Could this one offer anything new? The answer is - yes! I found this book absolutely charming and appreciated the quick pace - I couldn't put it down and read almost the whole thing in one sitting! The setting of the library in a lighthouse definitely captures the imagination and adds to the charm of the overall story. I haven't read anything else by this author, or the first 3 books in this series, so at first I had a little difficulty keeping the characters straight. However I was able to catch on quickly. I liked the presence of the cat (he was around just enough), and also the slight paranormal element, which I think was a nice addition to the story being set around Halloween (I don't think the series has a regular paranormal element). A few of the characters were a bit two-dimensional, but the author did a great job with plotting and developing an intriguing tale. Lucy, the protagonist, is instantly likeable, and the ending is satisfying with the promise of future tales. I will definitely be reading the rest of the books in this series and looking for the author's other series as well! Worth the read - I highly recommend this book.
Review of: Moonlight Can Be Murder (a Ned McNeil Mystery)
Most beautifully written and well-crafted tale I've read in a long time!! A Must-Read!!
Reviewed in the United States on March 17, 2018
This is one of the best "cozy" mysteries I've ever read -- smart and skillfully plotted, with a likeable heroine, and setting that truly comes to life. The author's writing style is beautiful and evocative - capturing the "feel" of a mystery novel perfectly. Way better than just 5 stars in my opinion!! I really hope the author writes more books, as she has clear talent.
Review of: Mayhem at the Orient Express (League of Literary Ladies Mystery)
Smart, well-written book with great humor to boot! Best cozy I've read in ages!!
Reviewed in the United States on March 17, 2018
I loved this book!! Lots of references to the classic Agatha Christie tale (I loved picking them out!), a great set-up, fun cast of characters, and excellent plot with multiple suspects. I also loved getting glimpses into Bea's past and hints that we will learn more about her story in future books! A very smart, well-written book with great humor to boot! Definitely one of the best (if not THE best) cozy I've picked up in ages!! In fact, I already bought the next several books in the series, what can I say! :-)
Review of: Death Overdue (A Haunted Library Mystery)
Great start to a series!
Review of: That Last Weekend: A Novel of Suspense
Choose your friends wisely!! An evocative tale.
Reviewed in the United States on November 6, 2017
The author writes beautifully, but I agree with the other reviewers that this is challenging to get into as there isn't a whole lot of action - it is definitely more of a study in psychology, and a dark, uncomfortable read - each character is haunted by the past, unable to live fully into their present lives. I loved the setting and the supporting characters added layers of depth and intrigue to the tale. I have no idea, however, why any of them kept being friends with Evangeline, getting together for vacations, etc., after she did such horrible things to each one of them! Obviously it means everyone had a motive which is basically the foundation for the whole story, but still, this made no sense at all. I really couldn't figure out why any of them kept going on vacations together, when they didn't seem to like each other or were ever friends at any point in their lives. All of this being said, the red herrings and twist at the end were great and the writing was haunting and evocative. I also liked that each of the remaining innocent characters at the end seemed to gain some closure and hope for a brighter future. This was a well-written book, but not one that I necessarily "liked." Choose your friends wisely!!
Review of: Doom With A View (A Merry Ghost Inn Mystery)
Review of: Shaken, Not Purred (Undercover Cat Series)
Talented Writer, Best Yet to Come!
Reviewed in the United States on October 8, 2017
I enjoyed this book! It was very unique with a strong science/ chemistry theme, and I really enjoyed that - especially how the author demonstrated the relationship between chemistry and cooking. The book even contains the featured recipes! I also liked the main character and appreciated the fast pace of the story. It is definitely clear the author is very intellectual/ academic, which translated nicely into the character of Bree/ Cat. However, the book was a bit too wieldy, and simplifying/ streamlining it would have made it so much better. I never really understood the multitude of business relationships, businesses (I just counted 8), all the characters and their ties to which ones of the companies and to each other. As well as Bree's identity for each of these! If you can look over the confusion of the businesses, the plot development for the main story is fantastic. I'd also like to learn more about her long-term project with Zed! I hope this gets explored further in future books. Also, I thought the romance was over-the top and more like a foray into the romance genre, not to mention seeming a bit forced and unrealistic. I'd much rather have the author explore Bree's relationship with Matthew more deeply over the course of the series, as there was really no need at all for yet another love interest. The other reason I took off a star was that twice in the book the view shifted from the main character (Bree) to Matthew for about a page each time. This was jarring to the reader and made no sense if the author wished to have a love triangle sub-story. All in all, the storyline and characterization were fantastic! The author, however, should decide if she wants the series to be "cozy" (ie. with recipes, cats, non-graphic romantic encounters, no F words, etc.), romance, or suspense/ thriller. Despite the cute cover of the book, cats were not a featured part of the story.