Still Life and Death (A Shepherd Sister Mystery #3) by Tracy Gardner

Pages: 213

Publisher: Hallmark Publishing

Published: August 10, 2021

Available Formats: Digital, Audio, and Paperback

Source: NetGalley

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: Still Life and Death is great on audio. I lost track of time listening to it. I will miss these characters.

This has been a fun series and I really wish there would be more than 3. Solid mysteries with a hint of romance.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Hallmark Publishing, through NetGalley. All opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

From NetGalley: A murder at the flower shop.

An uncle suspected by the cops.

Savanna and her sisters are on the case.

Savanna Shepherd, a former art authenticator turned grade school art teacher, is delighted when her Uncle Max and Uncle Freddie move to Carson. Uncle Max takes a job at Libby’s Blooms, where Savanna teaches a still life painting class for adults. But one morning, Uncle Max finds a dead body in the rooftop greenhouse…and even worse, it looks like an inside job.

Savanna and her sisters—Skylar, a lawyer, and Sydney, the owner of a pet shop and grooming salon—dig in to find the real murderer. With their connections to the community and Savanna’s keen eye for details, they uncover longstanding resentments and horticultural clues. Meanwhile, Savanna’s dating local doctor Aidan Gallager, but she worries it’ll cause a scandal, since his daughter is in her class. As Savanna’s investigation leads her into thorny situations, the killer may be arranging another murder: her own.

This cozy mystery includes a free original Hallmark recipe for Chocolate Pecan Brownies.

No Grater Crime (Country Store Mysteries #9) by Maddie Day

Pages: 310

Publisher: Kensington

Published: August 24, 2021

Available Formats: Digital and Paperback

Source: NetGalley

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review:

It’s time for an annual trip to South Lick, Indiana. This time we visit during spring and wedding season. Robbie is preparing for her wedding to Abe and not everyone is happy with the wedding. Mainly, Abe’s ex who is Sean’s mom and a relation to the new antique shop owners across the street. When a Pans and Pancakes customer dies, Robbie is the prime suspect. As she starts investigating she learns of the tangled family web. Can she find out what is going on before she spends her wedding night in jail?

This series always makes me smile as I love the descriptions of the Bloomington, Indiana area. It is a beautiful area to visit. The real Story Inn is mentioned and if you ever get a chance to visit you must.

My only issue with the book (and I had the same issue in the previous book) is there a small political agenda feel. I read cozy to escape the real world. It wasn’t bad but it is there. I did appreciate the author writing the story as after the pandemic shut down and not during.

I look forward to the next book in the series.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Kensington, through NetGalley. All opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

NetGalley: Robbie Jordan’s Pans ‘N Pancakes boasts delicious eats and the best vintage cookware finds in South Lick, Indiana. And now, for a limited time, there’s a new special featured on the menu–murder!

Ever since meeting the wary owners of an antique shop opening across the street, Robbie has been scrambling to manage weird incidences plaguing her café and country store. Pricey items vanish from shelves without explanation, a fully equipped breakfast food truck starts lingering around the area each morning, and loyal diners mysteriously fall ill. When an elderly man dies after devouring an omelet packed with poisonous mushrooms, Robbie must temporarily close down Pans ‘N Pancakes and search for the killer with a real zest for running her out of business–or else.

The Secret Staircase (Victorian Village Mysteries # 3) by Sheila Connolly

Pages: 304

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books

Published: August 24, 2021

Available Formats: Digital, Audio, and Hardback

Source: NetGalley

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: In The Secret Staircase we join Kate as she works with the town renovation board of directors as they begin work on the Barton mansion. Before they can even get started a body shows up then someone is murdered on the property. Kate has more suspects than trusted workers.

If I’m being honest, this was a series that I wasn’t going to continue after the second book. The concept of renovating a town to be similar to a place like Colonial Williamsburg was interesting but the books moved very slowly for me. I requested the third book from NetGalley after I learned of the passing of Sheila Connolly in 2020. I wanted to see if the book ended on a “finished “ note or left the reader hanging. I was satisfied with the ending. Even if another author picks up the series I don’t think I’ll continue.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, through NetGalley. All opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

From NetGalley: From New York Times bestselling author Sheila Connolly, The Secret Staircase is the third Victorian Village Mystery, which finds Kate Hamilton discovering a long-dead body in a hidden staircase.

Kate Hamilton is feeling good about her plans to recreate Asheboro, Maryland as the Victorian village it once was. The town is finally on her side, and the finances are coming together.

Kate’s first goal is to renovate the Barton Mansion on the outskirts of town. Luckily, it’s been well maintained in the century since the wealthy Henry Barton lived and died there. The only substantial change she’s planning is to update the original kitchen so that it can be used to cater events in the building. But when the contractor gets started, he discovers a hidden staircase that had been walled in years earlier. And as Kate’s luck would have it, in the stairwell is a body.

After her initial shock wears off, Kate is relieved when the autopsy reveals that the man had died around 1880. Unfortunately, it also reveals that his was not a natural death—he was murdered. And serious questions remain: who was he and what was he doing there?

Kate begins a hunt to identify the man and figure out what he was doing at the Barton Mansion. But when a second body is found—this time from the present day—Kate realizes that real dangers lie in digging up the past…

Her New Story by Laura Bradford

Pages: 320

Publisher: Kensington

Published: August 31, 2021

Source: NetGalley

Available Formats: Digital and Paperback

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

My Review: Laura Bradford has done it again…made me ugly cry. Good ugly cry though. Her trilogy of books centered Miss Lottie will move the reader in ways they never expected.

Her New Story shows us how holding on to anger and fear can ruin our chance at happiness that is waiting for us. Anger is an emotion that takes from us and never gives us peace. We are human and anger is a human emotion but we must learn to forgive to find the peace needed to move forward. This is a lesson I need to practice more in my own life.

I can’t pick a favorite in this trilogy as I’ve learned something from each. Definitely stories I will be re-reading time and time again. Each book can be read as a stand-alone but to get the full Miss Lottie experience start with Portrait of a Sister, then move to A Daughter’s Truth, and finish with Her New Story. These are Women’s Fiction with Amish characters so even if you never read Amish genre you will like these stories. Who knows, maybe you will want to read more Amish stories.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Kensington, through NetGalley. All opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

From NetGalley: From nationally bestselling author Laura Bradford comes a poignant, uplifting novel about a down-on-her-luck journalist whose less than ideal assignment to Pennsylvania’s Amish country forces her to re-think her priorities, and her life…

Tess Baker thought she had the perfect everything–until her best friend, and (now ex) husband, betrayed her, leaving her with nothing, except her career as an investigative reporter. In her work for a leading magazine, Tess can lose herself in whatever story she’s chasing. So she’s devastated when her next assignment is far from the exciting location or action-packed quest she anticipated.

Thanks to a recent misstep, Tess is handed a bus ticket to Pennsylvania–to Amish country. The story? Write about living in the past in a modern-day world. Determined to prove herself by coming up with something juicier than a run-of-the-mill human-interest piece, Tess makes her way through this strange place, digging for dirt…

Yet no matter where she turns, scandal eludes her. Instead, Tess encounters kindness and grace, even striking up unexpected friendships with women who bear a wisdom and capacity for forgiveness she can’t imagine. It’s only when she meets eighty-something Miss Lottie, beloved by the community even after decades away, that Tess realizes she may have hit upon the story she was looking for. But can she betray the people who have opened their arms–and their hearts–for the sake of a scoop?

Death Tidies Up (Charlotte LaRue Mystery #2) by Barbara Colley

Pages: 292

Publisher: Kensington

Published: January 1, 2004

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: Amazon Digital

Available Formats: Digital, Hardcover, Mass Market Paperback

My Review: In looking for a book with an orange cover I found this book on my kindle. I don’t remember buying it. I’m glad I did though. Charlotte LaRue is fiesty and finds herself in interesting places.

Death Tidies Up is book 2 in the series and Charlotte is fretting about turning 60. Her son wants her to retire from her cleaning business but she refuses. During a job, her crew finds a body but the confusing thing is Charlotte has already attended his funeral once two years prior. Can Charlotte find out the truth and stay out of hot water?

This series seems like it will be a good one. It impressed me that even though I have not read book one I had no issues keeping up. There was no foul language and no sex scenes. Just murder.

If you are looking for a virtual visit to NOLA this is a series for you.

From Goodreads: Between running her maid service (the successful Maid-for-a-Day) and fretting about her upcoming birthday (the dreaded 6-0), Charlotte LaRue doesn’t have much time for gossip. But New Orleans’s latest dust-up is hard to ignore–especially since it involves Marian Hebert, one of Charlotte’s new clients. Turns out Marian’s now-deceased husband once worked for his best friend Drew Bergeron’s real-estate agency–and when the business deal soured, so did the friendship. The whole sordid affair came to an unfortunate end when Drew died in a plane crash–and Bill Hebert was killed in what some people insist on calling an accident. Others are convinced it was murder.
Pretty juicy stuff, right? Charlotte doesn’t think so. She’s trying her best to forget all the rumors–she has more important things to worry about these days. Like vacuuming, window-washing. . .and her new job at the old Devilier house. The gorgeous historic home is being transformed into luxury apartments, and Maid-for-a-Day is in charge of the cleanup. Should be easy enough, Charlotte thinks–until she finds a barely-cold corpse in one of the closets.

The police are sure the dead man is Drew Bergeron. Funny, considering Drew supposedly died years ago–and Charlotte distinctly remembers attending his funeral. Talk about messy. Suddenly all that gossip about the Heberts and Bergerons seems incredibly timely–and Charlotte wishes she’d listened just a little bit closer. . .

With old rivalries flaring–and past secrets suddenly back in the present–Charlotte has a feeling this job will involve some real dirty work. Good thing she has a knack for cleaning up crimes.

The Plain Choice: A True Story of Choosing to Live an Amish Life by Sherry Gore

Pages: 179

Publisher: Zondervan

Published: August 25, 2015

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: Amazon Digital

Available Formats: Digital, Audiobook, Hardcover, and Paperback

My Review: I am fascinated with Plain life. Could I live it? No, but I love the premise of it. Sometimes I wish I could live without all the “noise” modern-day living brings with it. Go days without picking up my phone for one reason or another.

I learned of Sherry Gore through a 3 book fiction series set in Pinecraft, FL written by her and Tricia Goyer. So when I saw this book I was very interested. I knew she had a daughter who died young but didn’t understand why.

This book also hit home as I didn’t realize she lived in Kentucky for a few years and Felicity, Ohio. My college roommate went to school in Felicity. Such a small world. Sherry also lost close friends in the horrific accident on 65 when a semi hit a van full of Plain people. I remember hearing about it that day and crying. So many beautiful lives lost.

This book is not for the faint of heart as there are triggers (abortion, drug overdose, death of a child) but is a very moving read.

From Goodreads: Raised in a broken family and emotionally overlooked, Sherry Gore grew up without a solid foundation, a prisoner of her own poor choices, and at times without hope.  A series of terrible mistakes left her feeling wrecked and alone and a sudden tragedy threw Sherry into an emotional tailspin too powerful to escape.

Sherry hangs by a thread, unable to see how she can go on living, until it happens: on a morning of no particular significance, she walks into a church and BAM the truth of Jesus’ forgiving love shatters her world and cleaves her life in two:  She goes to bed stunned; she wakes up a Christian.

Unwilling to return to the darkness of her former life, Sherry attacks her faith head on.  Soon the life Sherry Gore remakes for herself and her children as she seeks to follow the teachings of the Bible features head coverings, simple dress, and a focus on Jesus Christ.  Only then does she realize, in a fit of excitement, that there are others like her.  They are called Amish and Mennonite, and she realizes she has found her people.

The plain choice that Sherry makes is not easy – and life still brings unexpected pain and heartache – but it changes everything for her, as she becomes one of the few people on earth to have successfully joined the Amish from the outside. 

She has found her place. And her story proves that one can return from the darkest depths to the purest light with the power of God.

Wreathing Havoc (A Garden Squad Mystery #4) by Julia Henry

Pages: 220

Publisher: Kensington

Published: September 28, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: NetGalley

Available Formats: Digital, Mass Market Paperback, and Audiobook

My Review:

I came into this series on the second book and have thoroughly enjoyed it. I keep telling myself to go back and read the first one.

In book 4 we join Lilly and the Garden Squad on Thanksgiving weekend as they attend a memorial for a dear friend who owned the local theater. One thing leads to another and murder takes center stage.

I like the clean reading this series provides and how open and accepting the characters are of each other’s lives. They just genuinely love each other for who they are.

The author does a phenomenal job of writing that you can start with any book in the series and be ok.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Kensington, through Netgalley. All opinions expressed above are my own.

From NetGalley: There’s nothing like autumn in picturesque Goosebush, Massachusetts, but beneath the season’s sun-dappled foliage, Lilly Jayne and her Garden Squad must investigate a shadowy murder mystery after a theater owner’s sudden death sows as much drama behind the scenes as on any stage…
Lilly Jayne typically spends the harvest season baking festive pies and crafting colorful wreaths to enter in the library’s annual fundraising contest. But this year, autumn opens on a somber note when beloved local theater owner, Leon Tompkin, dies unexpectedly. His memorial sets the scene for a mini reunion of The Goosebush Players’ best and brightest alumni, including Hollywood star, Jeremy Nolan…until someone plucks Jeremy from the spotlight, permanently.
Now, as dedicated theater volunteer, Scooter McGee, falls under suspicion, Lilly and her Garden Squad must spring into action. They quickly discover a cornucopia of potential suspects in Jeremy’s murder. Was it an embittered ex…or a jilted lover? A rival thespian…or an overly ambitious artist? Lilly rakes through the piles of clues, but if she doesn’t uncover the real killer soon, more than autumn leaves will be dropping in Goosebush…

A Scone of Contention (A Key West Food Critic Mystery #11) by Lucy Burdette

Pages: 327

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Published: August 10, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: NetGalley

Available Formats: Digital, Audiobook, and Hardback

My Review: Every time I read the latest book in this series I question why I haven’t read the beginning of the series. Although this was not my favorite in the series it was still an enjoyable read. I am not a fan of Outlander (gasp!) so in turn, books set in Scotland aren’t my most enjoyed reads.

My favorite aspect in this book is that Miss Gloria tagged along on the honeymoon and was a prime-focused character. She is a hoot and if she ever dies in the series I will go into mourning.

I could have done without the small secondary mystery back in Key West. It didn’t add much to the story.

There are many yummy recipes at the end and I have plans of fixing several. I like the idea that the scones can be kept in the freezer and taken out as needed.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Crooked Lane Books, through NetGalley. All opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

From NetGalley:

A murderer’s out to spoil Hayley’s honeymoon in national bestselling author Lucy Burdette’s eleventh Key West Food Critic Mystery.

Key Zest food critic Hayley Snow and her groom, police detective Nathan Bransford, chose Scotland for their long-delayed honeymoon, hoping to sightsee and enjoy some prize-winning scones. But their romantic duo swells to a crowd when they’re joined by Nathan’s family as well as octogenarian Miss Gloria.

Nathan’s sister Vera takes the women on a whirlwind tour of some of Scotland’s iconic mystic places as research for a looming book project. But the trip takes a deadly tartan turn when a dinner party guest falls ill and claims she was poisoned. And then the group watches in horror as a mysterious tourist tumbles to his death from the famous Falkirk Wheel, high above the Forth & Clyde canal.

Vera and her friends deny knowing the dead man, but after observing their reactions to the fall, Hayley is not convinced. With one person dead, a second possibly poisoned, and the tension among Vera’s friends as thick as farmhouse cheese, Hayley fears her long-awaited honeymoon might end with another murder.

Far away from home, surrounded by unfamiliar faces, eccentric characters, and a forbiddingly gorgeous setting, Hayley must call on all her savvy to keep a killer from striking again and then escaping Scot free.

An Amish Flower Farm by Mindy Steele

Pages: 328

Publisher: Hallmark Publishing

Published: July 27, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Source: NetGalley

Available Formats: Digital, Paperback, and Audiobook

My Review: An Amish Flower Farm is as sweet as honey and as beautiful as a flower in the morning sun.

The love story between Belinda and Adam is so moving that you can’t but flip the pages as fast as you can. You just have to know what happens next.

This would be the perfect book for the teenage girl in your life who doesn’t believe she is pretty enough, smart enough, or brave enough for those around her. It let’s you know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder but that with courage you can overcome any fear.

A clean romance with no sex and no foul language. I would be completely comfortable giving this to a young teenager to read who is interested in romance novels.

This is my first Mindy Steele book and it won’t be my last.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher through Netgalley. All opinions expressed above are my own.

From NetGalley:

She grows flowers.
He raises bees for honey.
They help each other out,
because that’s what neighbors do…

Belinda Graber loves growing flowers for her family to sell at the Amish marketplace. Venturing beyond the farm to sell them in town, though, is out of the question. People would stare at the birthmark on her cheek, and she’s dealt with enough teasing in her life.

As a beekeeper, Adam Fisher knows how blessed he is to live next door to the Grabers’ greenhouses and fields. But when his father is injured, Adam has to take a job at the local mill. How will he manage the honey harvest?

Adam and Belinda make a deal: if she tends his hives, he’ll sell her flowers in town.

Belinda’s sure that her growing feelings for Adam could never be returned. Meanwhile, Adam can’t help but notice how his shy neighbor charms the bees…or is he the one being charmed? Because his last courtship ended badly, Adam tells himself this arrangement is strictly business, even if Belinda is sweet as honey.

This uplifting Amish romance includes a free Hallmark original recipe.