Nogged Off (A Maine Clambake 4.5) by Barbara Ross

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Publisher: Kensington

Published: October 29, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

My Review: This was my first visit to Busman’s Harbor, Maine and I am hooked. I have already downloaded several books from the series to my Kindle. Fingers crossed the first one can be used during this most recent round of Book Bingo.

Nogged Off takes place the week before Christmas and starts when Julia goes to NYC to get the rest of her belongings from the apartment she has sublet to Imogen. From the minute Julia enters everything she thought was planned out goes to stink.

The ride is wild and the conclusion is anything but Christmassy.

If you have questioned entering the world of the Maine Clambake series or if this is your first time hearing of the series, Nogged Off is the perfect entry. Bonus: two cookie recipes included in the novella.

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

NetGalley: Previously published in the collection Egg Nog Murder.

‘Twas the week before Christmas, and Julia Snowden’s escape from New York has just hit a snag. Fresh off accidentally poisoning half her colleagues with her “Killer Eggnog,” Julia’s would-be subletter, Imogen Geinkes, is now jobless and homeless—leading Julia to invite the young woman home for the holidays in Maine. But when they unload the rental truck in Busman’s Harbor, they find something that wasn’t on anyone’s packing list: the body of Imogen’s former boyfriend.

Suddenly, the wordplay in Imogen’s name—“I’m a jinx”—isn’t so adorable. But for all the calamities that follow in Imogen’s wake, Julia’s certain she’s no killer. As Julia digs into the case, the appearance of the ex’s brother—his identical twin—doubles the confusion. Has Imogene been double-crossed by an evil twin? Was the eggnog “accident” no accident at all? If Julia doesn’t unwrap the murderer’s true identity soon, one of the twelve days of Christmas could be her last . . .

Fudge Bites (Candy-Coated Mystery #7) by Nancy Coco

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Pages: 320

Publisher: Kensington

Published: September 24, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: Halloween on Mackinac Island is a season of fun tricks, but finding a corpse is no treat for fudge shop owner Allie McMurphy . . .

NIGHT OF THE REALLY DEAD

It’s late October, the off-season for tourists, but locals are up and lurching for the annual zombie walk charity event. Though everyone’s living it up, trouble is just a few pawprints away. Allie follows the bloody tracks of her calico cat, Carmella, to a body in the alley behind the Historic McMurphy Hotel and Fudge Shop. Unlike the island’s other walking dead, this one’s flatlined for good. It seems that someone is using the zombie fest as the perfect backdrop for murder. Now amateur sleuth Allie and dreamboat officer Rex Manning must use every trick in their treat bag to unmask a killer in disguise.

My Review: I have to be honest I have not read the entire series… yet. I have read three of the eight and my plan is to read the rest before the next one comes out. I am so invested in Allie and The Murphy. Plus I want to know if she picks Rex. Sigh.. I hope she does. I really think he is the sugar that sweetens her world.

Fudge Bites has everything from murder and mayhem to love. I thought I had the mystery figured out but I was proven wrong. Coco is very good at keeping it hidden until the right time.

Pick this series up with any book and you will be fine. Don’t say that I didn’t warn you that you will be addicted.

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

Roll with It by Jamie Sumner

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Pages: 256

Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing

Published: October 1, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: In the tradition of Wonder and Out of My Mind, this big-hearted middle-grade debut tells the story of an irrepressible girl with cerebral palsy whose life takes an unexpected turn when she moves to a new town.

Ellie’s a girl who tells it like it is. That surprises some people, who see a kid in a wheelchair and think she’s going to be all sunshine and cuddles. The thing is, Ellie has big dreams: She might be eating Stouffer’s for dinner, but one day she’s going to be a professional baker. If she’s not writing fan letters to her favorite celebrity chefs, she’s practicing recipes on her well-meaning, if overworked, mother.

But when Ellie and her mom move so they can help take care of her ailing grandpa, Ellie has to start all over again in a new town at a new school. Except she’s not just the new kid—she’s the new kid in the wheelchair who lives in the trailer park on the wrong side of town. It all feels like one challenge too many until Ellie starts to make her first-ever friends. Now she just has to convince her mom that this town might just be the best thing that ever happened to them!

My Review: A beautiful read. If you like Wonder than you will love Roll with It.

Ellie is an inspiration that will stick with you. I couldn’t put this book down and I was hooked from page one. Yes, at times Ellie could be a tad whiny and smart-mouthed but what pre-teen isn’t and sometimes she had a right to be whiny. It made her character seem believable.

I definitely will be buying a copy or five for some local elementary schools in my area. I want to share Ellie’s story with as many as I can.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing, through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

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.

 

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.

Hope’s Table: Everyday Recipes from a Mennonite Kitchen by Hope Helmuth (Preview copy only)

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Publisher: Herald Press

Published: September 10, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

If tradition has a taste, this is it.
Like your grandmother’s beloved recipe file, Hope’s Table brings enticing meals to your family’s table. From the kitchen of Mennonite cook, Hope Helmuth comes this mix of more than 150 delectable recipes, stunning food photographs, and stories of strawberry picking, corn day, and Christmas cookie bakes. Traditions of a hearth, home, and hospitality run deep, and those values flavor every recipe and story.
Hope’s Table offers simple step-by-step instructions that help you create wholesome dishes with artistic flair. Practical kitchen hints and memories from a Mennonite life garnish the pages. In Hope’s Table, you’ll find recipes sure to become family favorites:
• Mom’s Rolls
• Bacon and Corn Chowder
• Creamy Macaroni and Cheese
• Maple-Glazed Pork Chops
• Apple Dumplings
Step into the serene, natural beauty of a Mennonite home. Take a seat at Hope’s table, and you’ll find plenty of reasons to linger.

My Review:

The copy I received was a small sample of the work. What I read was intriguing enough to make me want the book.

I learned that homemade cinnamon rolls are best frozen the same day even if you wish to eat the next day.

I plan on fixing the broccoli salad recipe for my husband on his birthday.

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

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.

Strangled Eggs and Ham (A Country Store Mystery #6) by Maddie Day

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Pages: 295

Publisher: Kensington

Published: June 25, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

While Robbie scrambles through breakfast orders for her expanding clientele at Pans ‘N Pancakes, tempers run as high as the sticky August heat in South Lick, Indiana. Real-estate developer Fiona Closs plans to build a towering luxury resort at one of the most scenic hilltops in Brown County, and not everyone can see the sunny side of the imposing proposition—including Robbie’s furious Aunt Adele, who doesn’t waste a minute concocting protests and road blockades. When tensions boil over and a vocal protester is silenced forever at the resort site, Robbie ditches the griddle to catch the killer. But if slashed tires are any indication, she’ll need to crack this case before her own aunt gets served something deadly next . . .

My Review:

I alternated between reading and listening to the audiobook for this addition to the series. I much prefer to read the books than listen as I am not a fan of the narrator on the audiobook. She makes Robbie sound a lot older than she is and it kept throwing me off as I thought Aunt Vera was talking.

Book six is a strong addition to the series. Plenty of red-herrings to keep you guessing who the murderer could be. You can read each book as a standalone with no problems. Day does such a good job of describing the area around Bloomington, Indiana that you can’t help wish you could drop in and visit with Robbie and eat some pancakes at Pans-n-Pancakes.

A clean read in that there is no foul language, sexual situations or overly grisly murder scenes.

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

Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by Heather Webber

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Pages: 329

Publisher: Forge Books

Published: July 16, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Bookbub:

Nestled in the mountain shadows of Alabama lies the little town of Wicklow. It is here that Anna Kate has returned to bury her beloved Granny Zee, owner of the Blackbird Cafe.

It was supposed to be a quick trip to close the cafe and settle her grandmother’s estate, but despite her best intentions to avoid forming ties or even getting to know her father’s side of the family, Anna Kate finds herself inexplicably drawn to the quirky Southern town her mother ran away from so many years ago, and the mysterious blackbird pie everybody can’t stop talking about.

As the truth about her past slowly becomes clear, Anna Kate will need to decide if this lone blackbird will finally be able to take her broken wings and fly.

My Review:

Evocative. Magical. Heartbreaking. Hopeful.

A beautiful novel that will move you to your core. Heather Webber is a fresh voice to women’s fiction. You will want to eat this novel up in one sitting but I promise you it is worth taking your time and savoring every bite. Let the story seep into your soul and fulfill you.

Fans of Southern fiction will not want to miss this. I am already missing my time at the Blackbird Cafe.

I received a complimentary copy from the author. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.