Christmas Cow Bells (A Buttermilk Mystery #1) by Mollie Cox Bryan

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Pages: 336

Publisher: Kensington

Published: September 24, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: The first novel in Mollie Cox Bryan’s brand new mystery series, set in the Blue Ridge Mountains, will keep you guessing until the cows come home . . .

Christmas is a time for new beginnings, so after her big breakup, Brynn MacAlister takes the gouda with the bad. With her three Red Devon cows, she settles in bucolic Shenandoah Springs, eager for a new life as an organic micro-dairy farmer and cheese-maker. Then her dear cow Petunia’s bellows set the whole town on edge. But it isn’t until Brynn’s neighbor, Nancy, dies in a mysterious fire that her feelings about small-town life begin to curdle . . .

It seems some folks were not happy with Nancy’s plan to renovate the Old Glebe Church. But is a fear of change a motivation for murder? As a newcomer, Brynn can’t ignore the strange events happening just on the other side of her frosty pasture—and soon on her very own farm. Suddenly Christmas doesn’t feel so festive as everyone demands she muzzle sweet Petunia, and Brynn is wondering if someone wants to silence her—for good . . .

My Review:

I am enamored with the beginning of this series. I have a soft spot for cows and found myself wishing I could meet Petunia and her sisters.

This is the first book by the author I have read and am already looking to see if my local library or Hoopla carries her other series. If you like strong female characters this is the book for you. There are four strong females. One is briefly mentioned but I think she will make plenty of appearances in future books. If not it would be a great shame.

Opening the series at Christmas time was perfect for me. Where I live we are still in a terrible summer heatwave and drought even though it is almost October. I found myself shivering thinking of the bone-chilling cold Brynn experiences and I appreciated that! The author uses the perfect amount of descriptive words without overdoing.

This perfect if you love Christmas, cows, and murder. Available now from your favorite bookseller.

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

 

Killer in the Carriage House(Victorian Village Mysteries #2) by Sheila Connolly

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Pages: 288

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: July 9, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Welcome back to Asheboro, Maryland, where real estate can be a matter of life and death. Killer in the Carriage House is the second book in the Victorian Village Mystery series from New York Times bestselling author Sheila Connolly.

Coming back to her hometown was never on the agenda for hotelier Katherine Hamilton. But when she’s offered a chance to lead the charge of transforming the landscape into a Victorian village and tourist attraction, Kate can’t quite refuse. The only problem? Nobody in Asheboro has the passion, nor the funds, to get plans off the ground…until Kate teams up with handsome historian Joshua Wainwright, who has ambitious ideas of his own involving an old mansion and a treasure-trove of documents that could attract investors and help seal the deal.

Then, just as Kate and Josh seem ready to pull the trigger, a dead body turns up in the town library. Do these mysterious papers spell danger instead of dollars? That’s what Kate intends to find out before all bets are off…and someone else ends up six feet under.

My Review:

I love the idea of turning a town into what it looked like in the past. Honestly, though, I wasn’t sure how this series was going to progress after the first book and still stay interesting. I was pleasantly surprised. The premise of Thomas Edison selling his electricity patents and Henry Barton buying them was a joy to read. I’m ashamed to say I have not taken the time to look this up and see if there is a smudge of truth to this or if creative artistic license was used. Either way, it made for interesting reading.

I am eagerly anticipating the third book in this series to see where we go next in the development in the town.

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

Death by Dumpling (Noodle House #1) by Vivien Chien

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Pages: 331

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: March 27, 2018

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads:

Welcome to the Ho-Lee Noodle House, where the Chinese food is to die for. . .

The last place Lana Lee thought she would ever end up is back at her family’s restaurant. But after a brutal break-up and a dramatic workplace walk-out, she figures that a return to the Cleveland area to help wait tables is her best option for putting her life back together. Even if that means having to put up with her mother, who is dead-set on finding her a husband.

Lana’s love life soon becomes yesterday’s news once the restaurant’s property manager, Mr. Feng, turns up dead―after a delivery of shrimp dumplings from Ho-Lee. But how could this have happened when everyone on staff knew about Mr. Feng’s severe, life-threatening shellfish allergy? Now, with the whole restaurant under suspicion for murder and the local media in a feeding frenzy―to say nothing of the gorgeous police detective who keeps turning up for take-out―it’s up to Lana to find out who is behind Feng’s killer order. . . before her own number is up.

My Review:

I finally read book one of this delectable series. Vivien Chien is a true delight to the culinary cozy mystery world. I have devoured every book like a starving reader.

In Death by Dumpling we meet Lana, learn how she started her hobby of amateur sleuthing, and how her relationship with Detective Trudeau began. Chien gives her characters depth from the beginning. I like that Lana is strong but still has reservations and questions where her life is at this moment in time. It makes Lana as it is human nature to be reserved after a tough breakup. The fact that she does not let it knock her down completely is a sign she has inner strength. Inner strength she needs to deal with the murders she runs into.

Each book in the series can be read as a standalone but as always you get more from the series read in order. Cozy mystery lovers who love culinary series will be a fan of this series. Hurry by the first four books in the series as a gift for the reader in your life.

Town in a Cinnamon Toast (A Candy Holliday #7) by B. B. Haywood

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Pages: 311

Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime Mystery

Published: February 2, 2016

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads:

The much-anticipated wedding of local resident Maggie Tremont and popular baker Herr Georg has stirred up the usually quiet coastal town of Cape Willington. To make sure the wedding of the year goes off without a hitch, the participants gather at a pre-wedding dinner—everyone, that is, except the best man…

Worried, Candy, the maid of honor, goes looking for him, finally tracking him down to the upstairs archive rooms at the English Point Lighthouse and Museum. There’s only one problem: he’s dead, struck over the head with a bottle of champagne, the same exclusive brand that was ordered for the dinner. Before the wedding plans fall flat, Candy rushes to find the murderer, unearthing a conspiracy that could spill over into the whole town…

My Review:

I am sad. Why? Because I know after this book I only have one left in the series. I have thoroughly enjoyed every book in this series. Candy and her dad, Doc, feel like old friends when I open up the book and start reading. I feel comfortable and content while reading.

In book 7, Candy’s BFF, Maggie, and old boss, Herr Georg are getting married. For long-time readers of the series, this is a happy occasion. Maggie finally deserves some happiness after her rotten ex-husband. Unfortunately, the best man is murdered before the wedding. As we come to learn he had information on a mystery that has run throughout the entire series. We finally learn all the secrets involved in that mystery by the end of the book.

As always, the story is a clean read with no foul language, no sex and no grisly murder scenes that make your tummy roll. Please read the series from the beginning or you will not understand exactly what is going on with the secondary mystery.

Now, if you will excuse me I am going to go ponder if I should read the last book immediately or wait until I need a farm book for my next cozy mystery book bingo on Goodreads and savor the thought that there is one book left for my enjoyment.

Wonton Terror )A Noodle Shop Mystery #4) by Vivien Chien

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Pages: 300

Publisher: St. Martins Press

Published: August 27, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

In the fourth in Vivien Chien’s Noodle Shop delicious mystery series, Ho-Lee Noodle House is ready to take the Cleveland night market by storm—until a brand-new food venue literally explodes onto the scene.
Lana Lee is all smiles when the first evening of Cleveland’s Asian Night Market kicks off the summer. The weekly festival is always good for business, packed with locals and tourists, and this year, some stiff new food-truck competition. Wonton on Wheels, run by old friends of Lana’s parents, promises to have customers lining up for their delicately wrapped delights—until the truck blows up at evening’s end.
Lana’s boyfriend, Detective Adam Trudeau, had been planning a birthday getaway for the two of them but, lo and behold, Lana must assume the role of amateur sleuth yet again. With one proprietor of Wonton on Wheels dead, it’s beginning to look more like murder and less like an unfortunate accident. And as they begin to unwrap layers of disturbing secrets, Lana’s own family erupts into new drama. Will Lana be able to solve this crime—or has she jumped from the wok right into the fire?

My Review:

This series started off entertaining and delightful and keeps getting more so as each new book is released. Lana and her family are what I consider a typical American family no matter the ethnicity. They have their drama and yes sometimes everyone within 20 feet hears that drama but at the same time, they love just as deeply as they disagree. Lana wants to be independent and live her own life but her mom has a hard time letting go. I think a lot of young woman from close-knit families find in their twenties that is a common growing pain. I know I did.

You will be craving everything from wontons and dim sum to Asian noodles as you read. I admit I have never had dim sum and it isn’t for lack of want. I’m just not sure where to get it in my city. Lana makes it sound very delicious.

The only wish I had for this series…recipes for some of the dishes. I am a sucker for trying recipes that are included in my cozy mysteries.

Whether you are looking for a delicious read or a murder mystery, Wonton Terror is the book for you.

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

A Deadly Dealer (Antiques and Collectibles #3) by Ellery Adams

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Pages: 333

Publisher: Beyond the Page

Published: January 22, 2015

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Molly Appleby’s career as a reporter for Collector’s Weekly is finally taking off, as is her relationship with coworker Matt Harrison. But the more time she spends covering Southern antiques and collectibles, the more times she finds herself face-to-face with a new mystery. And when she’s sent to Nashville to cover the famous Heart of Dixie auction, where all the major players in the world of collectibles gather, her hopes of steering clear of foul play are quickly dashed when a renowned and well-respected dealer is found murdered.

My Review:

The third book to the Antiques and Collectibles series is a great addition. Molly and Matt are moving forward with their relationship. Molly and her mom are still enjoying their time together around the antiques and collectibles.

I enjoy how Ellery Adams keeps you guessing until the killer is revealed. I did not guess who it was and thought to myself, “Wow, how did I miss that?”

Now on to the next one in the series.

A Killer Collection (Antiques and Collectibles #1) by Ellery Adams

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Pages: 301

Publisher: Beyond the Page

Published: January 22, 2015

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Molly Appleby is a young writer for Collector’s Weekly, and when the reporter isn’t covering auctions and antique shows all over the South, she’s trying to get her new relationship with a coworker off the ground. When her latest assignment takes her to North Carolina pottery country to cover an exclusive kiln opening, she’s certain the show promises surprising offerings and rare finds. What she doesn’t expect to find is a dead body.

My Review:

Quirky and I like quirky. This novel read differently than her Books by the Bay and Book Retreat series but I think that is good. It shows the wide range in which Ms. Adams is able to write.

I had very limited knowledge regarding pottery before reading this novel and honestly did not care to but found myself very interested in pottery by the end of the novel.

I’m anxious to learn more about Matt and Molly.

Buried in the Stacks (A Haunted Library #3) by Allison Brook

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Pages: 325

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Published: September 10, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Librarian Carrie Singleton is building a haven, but one of her neighbors is misbehavin’. Can resident spirit Evelyn help Carrie catch the culprit who made her a ghost?

In winter, the Haunted Library is a refuge for homeless townspeople. When a group purchases a vacant house to establish a daytime haven for the homeless, Carrie offers the library as a meeting place for the Haven House committee, but quickly learns that it may be used for illegal activities.

As the new Sunshine Delegate, Carrie heads to the hospital to visit her cantankerous colleague, Dorothy, who had fallen outside the local supermarket. She tells Carrie that her husband tried to kill her–and that he murdered her Aunt Evelyn, the library’s resident ghost, six years earlier.

And then Dorothy is murdered–run off the road as soon as she returns to work. Evelyn implores Carrie to find her niece’s killer, but that’s no easy task: Dorothy had made a hobby of blackmailing her neighbors and colleagues. Carrie, Evelyn, and Smoky Joe the cat are on the case, but are the library cards stacked against them?

My Review:

This series has grown on me to the point I’m finding myself impatient for the next one.

Carrie has come into her own and grown-up quickly. She finds herself with a job she loves, a comforting home, an extended family she adores and a hunky boyfriend. She has allowed herself to get involved with the community by agreeing to be the library liaison for the Haven House, a day home being built for the homeless in the area. At first, she is not too excited but things pick up when she realizes there is a connection between the Haven House and the death of a co-worker.

Buried in the Stacks will keep your interest for many hours of reading. It is a clean read with no foul language and no gruesome, detailed death scenes. You may read as a standalone but I think you will find it much better if you read the series in order.

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

A Fatal Appraisal (Antiques and Collectibles #2) by Ellery Adams

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Pages: 645

Publisher: Beyond the Page

Published: January 22, 2015

Rating 4 almost 5 stars

Amazon:

In the world of antiques and collectibles, it helps to have a sharp eye for quality, a good ear for gossip, and a nose for murder.

Molly Appleby loves her job at Collector’s Weekly covering auctions and estate sales all over the South. When her latest assignment takes her to Richmond, Virginia, to interview the staff of the hit TV show Hidden Treasures, she’s expecting a quick, fun trip. But when one of the show’s appraisers is found murdered, Molly realizes that once again she’ll have to put on her detective’s cap until the culprit is captured.

As Richmond locals flock to the show hoping their family heirlooms turn out to be valuable antiques, Molly’s busy behind the scenes interviewing the show’s staff and tracking down clues. When yet another staff member is killed and Molly herself is threatened, she’s determined to discover which of the expert cast members of Hidden Treasures might be hiding a sinister secret, because no matter how priceless, she knows that no antique is literally to die for.

My Review:

“Fewer and fewer Americans possess objects that have a patina, old furniture, grandparents’ pots, and pans – the used things, warm with generations of human touch… – Susan Sontag, On Photography

Ellery Adams opens chapter 1 with this quote and I tell you I was blown away. It hit me like a ton of bricks because it is so true. Everyone wants new, new, new and nothing from their parents or grandparents. The thought is, “Just throw it away.” I look around my house and I have a lot of hand-me-downs from my parents and grandparents and those items seem to be my favorite things to use. I am currently using a blender and food chopper from my great aunt who bought them new in the early 80s. Every time I get them out I think of her and miss her. I feel as if she is in the kitchen with me. This is what Adams does when she writes, she makes you think and reflect on your life. I have no idea if she is aware she does that but she does.

A Fatal Appraisal is one of her earlier books she originally published under Jennifer Stanley. I really liked it and you can see she has always been a gifted writer. Molly, her main character, in The Antiques and Collectibles series is a gem. She is, what I call, average size, but she thinks she is too heavy and is wanting what most of us what in life, someone to love and share our daily life with. Unfortunately, her current interest gets called away on a family emergency to Ohio and she gets to sent to North Carolina to write an article on an antique and collectible show. Of course, she finds a dead body or two.

I could not put this book down and then when I finished I listened to the audiobook. I wanted to see how well the narrator portrayed the characters and I was impressed. Either way, you read this book I do not think you will be disappointed. I suggest starting with the first book in the series, A Killer Collection but you do not have to.

Judge Thee Not (A Quaker Midwife Mysteries #5) by Edith Maxwell

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Pages: 327

Publisher: Beyond the Page

Published: September 10, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Quaker midwife Rose Carroll must fight bias and blind assumptions to clear the name of a friend when a murderer strikes in nineteenth-century Massachusetts . . .

No stranger to judgmental attitudes in her small town of Amesbury, Quaker midwife Rose Carroll is nonetheless stunned when society matron Mayme Settle publicly snubs her good friend Bertie for her nontraditional lifestyle. When Mrs. Settle is later found murdered—and a supposed witness insists Bertie was spotted near the scene of the crime—the police have no choice but to set their sights on the slighted woman as their main suspect.
Rose is certain her friend is innocent of the heinous deed, and when Rose isn’t busy tending to her duties as a midwife, she enlists the help of a blind pregnant client—who’s endured her own share of prejudice—to help her sift through the clues. As the two uncover a slew of suspects tied to financial intrigues, illicit love, and an age-old grudge over perceived wrongs, Rose knows she’ll have to bring all her formidable intelligence to bear on solving the crime. Because circumstantial evidence can loom large in small minds, and she fears her friend will soon become the victim of a grave injustice . . .

My Review:

This is the second book I have read in the series and I really need/want to read the ones I have missed. Rose is a spitfire whose escapades I enjoy.

I find I not only learn about midwifery and how people lived in the 19th century but I also learn about the Quaker faith. The Quakers are very interesting and I have high respect for how they stood up to others to stay true to their faith.

Maxwell is not afraid to touch on themes such as lesbianism and rape. She handles them with such poise. I like how she includes them but does not feel the need to make it the focal point.

The Quaker Midwife series is a noteworthy addition to the genre of cozy mysteries.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Beyond the Page, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.