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.

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.

Red Dove, Listen to the Wind by Sonia Antaki

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Pages: 232

Publisher: One Elm Books

Published: October 15, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley:

Abandoned by her white father, thirteen-year-old Red Dove faces another lean winter with her Lakota family on the Great Plains. Willful and proud, she is presented with a stark choice: leave her people to live in the white world, or stay and watch them starve. Red Dove begins a journey to find her place in the world and discovers that her greatest power comes from within herself.

My Review:

A very moving middle-grade book. You will not want to put down once you are near 50% done.

Red Dove is geared to middle-grade readers but I find it may be difficult for them to read and understand on their own. It speaks of the horrible way our ancestors treated the Indians as we populated the country by moving West. Some kids may find the ruthless killing discussed a trigger for harsh emotions.

I would love to see this incorporated in a 5th-grade classroom using many of the subjects. History (Sitting Bull and Custer), Reading, Science (the herbs Indians relied on), Art and Music. There is much to be learned from this book and lessons we can apply today on how to treat others fairly.

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

Class Mom (Class Mom #1) by Laurie Gelman

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Pages: 302

Publisher: Henry & Holt Co.

Published: August 1, 2017

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads:

Jen Dixon is not your typical Kansas City kindergarten class mom–or mom in general. Jen already has two college-age daughters by two different (probably) musicians, and it’s her second time around the class mom block with five-year-old Max–this time with a husband and father by her side. Though her best friend and PTA President see her as the-wisest-candidate for the job (or oldest), not all of the other parents agree.

From recording parents’ response times to her emails about helping in the classroom to requesting contributions of-special-brownies for curriculum night, not all of Jen’s methods win approval from the other moms. Throw in an old flame from Jen’s past, a hyper-sensitive -allergy mom,-a surprisingly sexy kindergarten teacher, and an impossible-to-please Real Housewife-wannabe, causing problems at every turn, and the job really becomes much more than she signed up for.

My Review:

I’m not sure how I came across this book. It showed up in my email as an available book I put on hold with my e-library. I’m so glad I read it. It was the perfect book for a holiday weekend. Plenty of laughs.

Jen is hilarious in the emails she sends to the class parents. Coming from the educator side and the parent side it is so frustrating when the same parents volunteer and some parents are pretty much invisible.

There is a sequel to Class Mom and I’m thinking I will see what it is about.

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.

Read on Arrival (A Bookmobile Mystery #2) by Nora Page

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Pages: 329

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Published: May 7, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Amazon:

Septuagenarian librarian Cleo Watkins believes in gracious manners, sweet tea, and justice—library justice. For over forty years, Cleo has tried every trick in the book to get delinquent patron Dixie Huddleston to return the most overdue volume in Catalpa Springs, Georgia. When Dixie says she’ll finally relinquish the book, Cleo is shocked. She’s even more startled by the reason: superstitious Dixie says she’s seen the signs: she’s about to die and is setting her affairs in order.

Cleo dismisses Dixie’s ominous omens…until she and her gentleman friend, Henry Lafayette, arrive at Dixie’s home to find her dead. Cleo suspects murder. The police agree but promptly list Cleo among the likely culprits. To clear her good name and deliver justice, Cleo uses her librarian skills to investigate, with Henry and her trusty bookmobile cat, Rhett Butler, at her side.

However, the killer has opened a new chapter of terror. Death threats appear around town, and residents start seeing bad luck everywhere, including in Cleo and her beloved bookmobile Words on Wheels. With her bookmobile and legacy on the line, Cleo accelerates her sleuthing. Suspects and clues stack up, but so does the danger. Another death is coming due, and Cleo fears the killer may be about to turn the final page on someone she loves most.

My Review:

You cannot read this series and NOT fall in love with the septuagenarian, Cleo. She is a real hoot. I want to visit Catalpa Springs, GA and take a ride on the infamous bookmobile. I know I will be guaranteed to have a rollicking good time.

The Bookmobile Mystery series is a refreshing series as we see the world through a mature amateur sleuth. I have a tendency to stick with sleuth’s who are are in their 40’s or younger. I cannot wait to read more in this series. It is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. How can you can wrong: books, pancakes, and murder?

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

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

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Pages: 320

Publisher: SOURCEBOOKS/Landmark

Published: May 7, 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: The hardscrabble folks of Troublesome Creek have to scrap for everything—everything except books, that is. Thanks to Roosevelt’s Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project, Troublesome’s got its very own traveling librarian, Cussy Mary Carter.
Cussy’s not only a book woman, however, she’s also the last of her kind, her skin a shade of blue unlike most anyone else. Not everyone is keen on Cussy’s family or the Library Project, and a Blue is often blamed for any whiff of trouble. If Cussy wants to bring the joy of books to the hill folks, she’s going to have to confront prejudice as old as the Appalachias and suspicion as deep as the holler.
Inspired by the true blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse library service of the 1930s, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a story of raw courage, fierce strength, and one woman’s belief that books can carry us anywhere — even back home.

My Review: Wow, what a learning experience while reading Cussy’s story. When a book teaches me something I enjoy it even more. I knew about Pack Horse Librarians but never thought about the dangers they faced daily or the extreme weather conditions they traveled through to reach their customers. Dedication at its best.

Cussy will find a way into your heart. It’s hard to imagine what she and other “blue” people experienced. Discrimination on all points is wrong no matter who you are.

There are a few semi-violent scenes but they add feeling to the story and show what was happening at the time. Faith is strong throughout the story. A book I would share with my older, mature teenagers. The perfect book for book clubs.

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

A Deadly Feast (A Key West Food Critic #9) by Lucy Burdette

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Pages: 283

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Published: May 7, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: Thanksgiving is nearly here, and Key West food critic Hayley Snow has just one more assignment to put to bed for Key Zest magazine before she gets to celebrate with her family and her police officer fiancé, Nathan Bransford. Then, just days later, wedding bells will ring—if death doesn’t toll first.

The sweet potatoes and stuffing will have to wait when Hayley picks up a distraught phone call from her friend, Analise Smith. On the last stop of a seafood tasting tour run by Analise, one of the customers collapsed—dead. With the police on the verge of shutting down the tour—and ruining Analise’s business—Hayley can hardly refuse her friend’s entreaties to investigate.

As if wedding jitters and family strife weren’t enough for Hayley to worry about, there’s crusty pastry chef Martha Hubbard, whose key lime pie may have been the murder weapon—but did she poison her own pie or was she framed? As the hours to Turkey Day tick away, the pressure cooker is on for Hayley to serve up the culprit on a silver platter in A Deadly Feast, national bestselling author Lucy Burdette’s taste-tempting ninth Key West Food Critic mystery.

My Review: This was my first foray into the world of Lucy and her Key West adventures. I am HOOKED! So much so I have already requested the first book in the series from my local library and have checked daily on its progress to my anticipating hands.

Even though I entered at book 9, I was never lost. The author did a great job in explaining the characters but it never felt like she was overdoing for those readers who have been reading since book one.

The story kept me riveted to the end and the description of the food made me rush to the store to make her Mojito Cookies this past weekend. They have been a hit. Next, I will try her pecan bars.

This is the perfect book to read outside, with a glass of sweet tea and some form of sparkling water in front of you.

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

 

Last Pen Standing (Stationary Shop #1)by Vivian Conroy

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Pages: 288

Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press

Published: September 24, 2019 (according to NetGalley and Amazon)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: As the new co-owner of Tundish Montana’s stationery shop WANTED, Delta Douglas knows how to organize a killer crafting event. Creativity and cardstock are all she needs to move one step closer to her ultimate dream: developing her own line of crafting products. But on the night of the workshop, at the swanky hotel venue, glitter isn’t the only thing found sprawled on the floor. A hotel guest is discovered dead in the bar, and amid the confusion, Delta’s best friend is suspected of the crime.
Enlisting the help of her Paper Posse and Spud, her canine sidekick, Delta dives into the investigation. But with many high-powered suspects on the line, Delta soon realizes her sleuthing may come with deadly consequences.

My Review: A solid four stars. This is the first book I’ve read by Vivian Conroy and I will definitely be checking out her other books. She kept the story going with making sure enough red herrings were evident to keep the reader guessing the killer.

I was thrilled the series is set in Montana. A state on my bucket list of places to travel. She combined that with retired K-9 digs and I was hooked.

I am not a crafter but this book has piqued my interest. I had no clue what washi tape was and have since watched several YouTube videos in what you can do with it. I just might become dangerous in decorating.

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

Stone Bridges (A Swift River Valley #9) by Carla Neggers

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Pages: 384

Publisher: Harlequin/MIRA

Published: March 26, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

NetGalley: Adrienne Portale has never settled in one place for long, but takes a job as innkeeper in tiny Knights Bridge, Massachusetts, to spend some time getting to know the father she only recently found. When three small boys get lost in the wilderness that borders the inn, Adam Sloan leads the search. His family ties to the town go back generations. Adrienne sees the bond that people in a small town have as they band together to find the missing children. Adam is impressed with her calm strength, but he’s sure she won’t find what she’s looking for in his quiet hometown.

Despite their differences, Adam and Adrienne discover they have more in common than they’d expected. They love to explore old stone walls and bridges, and she adores his dog. As summer bleeds into the gorgeous New England fall, the attraction between them grows, and they must decide where—and who—makes a place home.

My Review: A spectacular addition to the Swift River Valley series. Even if you’ve never read any books in the series you will be fine delving right in. In fact you will probably be tempted to read the first eight books immediately following this one as you will fall in love with Knights Bridge and not want to leave.

I enjoyed being back at the inn with Adrienne and Adam’s story. The inn is magical when it comes to love. The inn makes me want to start an herb garden in my backyard.

Stone Bridges is the perfect romance to read on the first pool weekend of the season. It just may help heat up the water!

I received a complimentary copy from Harlequin/MIRA through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.