Murder in the Locked Library (A Book Retreat Mystery #4) by Ellery Adams

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Pages: 320 (eBook and Paperback)

Publisher: Kensington]

Published: April 24, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Jane has decided to add a relaxing spa to Storyton Hall so her guests can have a more pampering book vacation. Her twins are excited to watch the big machinery at work and while doing so they yell at the operator to stop. It appears there is a body buried on the premises. Most unusual is the body is buried with a book. Can the attendees of the Rare Book Conference help Jane discover who is buried in her backyard and why?

Every time I read a Book Retreat Mystery I want to visit but unfortunately it is a fictional place. Can you imagine being able to spend all your time among books and reading whenever without the guilt of having to participate in the real world?

Jane is the mom, friend, boss and sleuth all of us cozy mystery readers want to be as she always is on top of her game. She finds time to cook the twins designed pancakes and work jigsaw puzzles with them. She is understanding of her staffs needs and wants. She never blows off her friends in a time of need and she can always solve a mystery. The only thing not going her way is love of a significant other. She is seeing Edwin but he is currently off on another “job” and the cryptic messages he sends makes her question the relationship. Are the messages real or fake? I don’t know you will have to read to find out.

I am interested to see if Celia, the forensic anthropologist, will become a regular since there seemed to be a spark between her and Sinclair. At this point I think she would be a nice addition. She seems to share the love of books like everyone does at Storyton Hall.

You can read each book in the series as a stand alone but for maximum effect I would read in order:
1. Murder in the Mystery Suite
2. Murder in the Paperback Parlor
3. Murder in the Secret Garden
4. Murder in the Locked Library

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kensington through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Town in a Strawberry Swirl (Candy Holliday Mystery #5) by B.B. Haywood

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Pages: 308 (Paperback)

Publisher: Berkley

Published: February 4, 2014

Rating: 4 stars

I LOVE this culinary series. It is closely getting ready to eke out the Hannah Swenson series as my favorite culinary series and that says a lot. There is something about candy that makes me happy when I read her. Maybe because I feel like I could be really good friends with her if she was real. She is down to earth and a really good person. She cares about her community, friends and family. I wish there was more people like her in the real world.

It is strawberry season (yummy!) and that means summer is beginning and time for a festival. Miles is the local strawberry supplier and has for over 30 years but there is a nasty rumor going around that he may be selling out. Does this mean that subdivisions are in the future of Cape Willington marring the beautiful farm land? Unfortunately Doc, Candy’s dad, finds Miles dead with a Blueberry Acres shovel next to him. Will Doc and Candy find themselves on the wrong side of the law?

Not only will you find yourself immersed in strawberry land as you read you will also be craving the delectable fruit. I am anxiously awaiting strawberry season here in Kentucky.

I enjoyed how this book brought the underlying mystery throughout the entire series to the forefront but still did not solve it. A mystery in a mystery is right up my alley. Again I was stumped on the whodunit until it came to light.

After Anna by Lisa Scottoline

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Pages: 352 (eBook)

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: April 10, 2018

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Maggie has been married to Dr. Noah for several years and has settled into being wife and mom to Noah’s son, Caleb. In the blink of an eye their lives are changed forever with a single phone call from Maggie’s daughter Anna. A daughter she did not talk about due to losing custody after fighting post partum psychosis. Anna moves in and starts tearing the family apart until one night she is found dead on Noah’s porch and all signs point to him. Can Maggie forgive Noah and move forward or will she believe Noah killed Anna in a fit of rage? Where does the truth lie?

After Anna had me guessing until the very end and I was still in shock as I turned the last page. These stand alone novels are my favorite of Lisa Scottoline’s work but truthfully I don’t think you can read a bad book by her.

This book made me think about what I would do in the situations Maggie found herself in for the past seventeen years. Could I have just walked away after the custody hearing no matter what my ex and his lawyers said? I would like to think I would have fought until my death to be apart of my child’s life no matter my mental illness. Especially when I found myself better after taking time to heal. Could I open my home and life immediately after being away for 17 years with pretty much no questions asked? I find it surprising when spouses make decisions that change the entire family without discussing it with the other spouse. I am not saying don’t take your daughter in but get to know who she is now verses what you remember her being at several months old. Would I believe everything my daughter said about my husband, the man I have been living with for several years? Could I forgive my husband for the transgressions he supposedly did against my daughter? Could I forgive him for murder?

Your heart will be racing faster than you can turn the pages in this emotionally packed novel. If you have a weak heart, take caution, but read the book. You will not regret it. I am already looking forward to her next stand alone novel.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press through NetGalley. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Pressing the Issue (Cookbook Nook Mystery #6) by Daryl Wood Gerber

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Pages: 350 (eBook)

Publisher: Beyond the Page Publishing

Published: February 20, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Jenna is loving being back her hometown of Crystal Cove, CA especially during the Renaissance Fair. Her store, Cookbook Nook, is packed with tourists enjoying the yummy treats her resident chef has created and the books are flying off the shelves. Her close friend, Bailey, is getting married in a couple of weeks and wants Jenna to go with her to finalize some details at the venue, a local vineyard. Upon entering the vineyard’s stately mansion they discover someone did not think too highly of the owner. He is found dead by a winepress. Can Jenna solve the murder with so many possibilities floating around?

Pressing the Issue is the sixth book in the Cookbook Nook Mystery series but I am very happy I started with this book. I have been reading mixed reviews on the series but I am in love with it already. Jenna is cute, fun and fearless. She likes to see justice served whether by her or the local police chief, Cinnamon. Her cat, Tigger, is fun also. He makes me miss having a cat of my own.

I am not a fan of Renaissance Fairs but this book has definitely piqued my interest. I did not realize there was so much to do at one. I had to look up Renaissance Fairs to see if all were as active as this one and they truly are full of fun things to do. I always just thought you watched reenactments and ate food from that time period.

The recipes in the back of the book are extremely tempting. You can learn how to make rosewater, raspberry cheesecake bites and shepherd’s pie among a few other tasty treats. I am thinking of trying a few myself in the next several weeks.

The romance in this book is tasteful and not overbearing of the murder mystery. I hope it continues in that fashion.

I have added this to my growing list of summer TBR series. I am beginning to think it will become my summer/fall TBR list.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Beyond the Page through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Killer Jam (Dewberry Farm #1) by Karen MacInerney

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Pages: 274 (eBook)

Publisher: Thomas and Mercer

Published: July 28, 2015

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Lucy has decided to buy her grandmother’s farm and live life on her own terms but first she must fight the previous owner on the rights to the oil in the middle of her broccoli patch. Before she can get very far the previous owner is found dead next to a broken jar of Lucy’s Dewberry Jam at the Founders’ Day Festival. Can Lucy overcome this obstacle before losing the farm in more ways than one?

I am absolutely in love with this series and so happy I started reading from the beginning. Every character is believable and the situations they get in are as well. Not once did I sit there and go “Really?”. Lucy is a trip. You will have many laugh out loud moments that you find others staring at you as you read because you can’t help but laugh out loud.

There is a smidgen of romance but in no way does it take up the entire story line. I like the fact that the romance may come later in the series but right now we are learning who Lucy is and what makes her the perfect amateur sleuth.

Blossom the cow is the best character yet. She is trouble with a capital T and don’t think she doesn’t know it. I cannot wait to see what she gets herself into in the future books. Lucy best just have an account open at the flower center for replacement geraniums as Blossom seems to have a taste for them.

Recipes are included in the back of the book even one for Dewberry Jam which I did not know was a real fruit. It seems they are similar to blackberries.

 

Plain Confession (An Amish Mystery #5) by Emma Miller

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Pages: 304 (eBook)

Publisher: Kensington

Published: March 27, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

As Rachel is finalizing her wedding plans to State Trooper Evan she learns that a local man’s death may not have been an accident. Daniel was an Amish man that the town had nothing bad to say until his death then stories started circulating that he was not whom he seemed. Will Rachel focus on her wedding plans so this time the wedding will go off without a hiccup or will she find herself in the middle of the investigation and losing sight of her future?

I have been wanting to read this series for several years as my mom has read a few of them and raves how good the stories are in her opinion. I have to agree, after reading the 5th book in the series it is now on my summer TBR list. I instantly liked Rachel. She is ex-Amish but still tries to follow her life as she was raised. She runs a local inn with the help of her cousin who is in her rumpsringa (a time when Amish youth get to live in both worlds). Since moving back to her hometown she has found herself in the middle of several murder investigations. This time it is two weeks before her wedding. Her wedding has been postponed once already.

On the surface Daniel appeared to be everything an Amish man should be but as Rachel starts questioning his death at the request of his mother-in-law she learns he was quite the opposite. Moses, Daniel’s brother-in-law, has confessed to killing Daniel but no one except for the English law system believes he really did it. Rachel is almost certain he is autistic and had he been diagnosed properly years ago he would be better understood. The more she investigates the more dead ends she runs into.

Two of the side characters are really amazing characters that I hope I see more of as I catch up on this series. There is Chuck, a doomsday prepper, who has seen more death and tragedy serving in the war than one should ever experience and Salome, the elderly midwife and herbalist, who knows everyone’s stories and secrets. Both turned out to be true friends to Rachel.

If you are interested the series in order is:
1. Plain Murder
2. Plain Killing
3. Plain Dead
4. Plain Missing
5. Plain Confession

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kensington through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

As the Christmas Cookie Crumbles (A Food Lovers Village Mystery #5) by Leslie Budewitz

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Pages: 288 (eBook)

Publisher: Midnight Ink

Published: June 8, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The snow is falling and the Christmas spirit is rising in Jewel Bay, Montana. Oh so one thinks. Erin, the Merc, manager has befriended the two pariah, Merrily Thornton. Almost twenty years ago her family shunned her when she pled guilty to taking money from her place of employment. She has comeback trying to make amends with her family and finds herself dead on her parents property. Erin cannot resist sticking her nose into the investigation but will she live to see her Christmas dream wedding come true?

This is the fifth book in the Food Lovers’ Village Mystery series but my first and I am hooked. I already want to start looking for the first four books in the series. Erin, the main character, is a perfect amateur sleuth for me. She is feisty, sweet and loves her family. I have been reading a lot of cozy mysteries where the sleuth is not close with her/his family so I found this a great twist for me. I love the Sunday family dinners her family has. Her mother would drive me crazy just popping in and taking over her house but I understand why she does.

One of my favorite things about the book is their is not a love triangle. Erin is perfectly happy with her fiancé and he is not a jerk. Sometimes I find the love triangle over takes the story in cozy mysteries. With the main character already in love and pretty much settled we can focus on the mystery.

As the Christmas Cookie Crumbles may be a Christmas book but I believe you will enjoy it anytime of the year. Grab your warm blanket, a hot cup of yumminess and sit back and relax and get to know the residents of Jewel Bay. You will be glad you did.

Thank you to NetGalley and Midnight Ink for a copy to read in exchange for my honest review in my own words.

 

Carbs and Cadavers (Supper Club Mysteries #1) By Ellery Adams

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Pages: 298 (eBook)

Publisher: Beyond the Page

Published: February 20, 2018

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

James Henry moved back to Quincy’s Gap to become the librarian when his mom passed away and left his dad with no one to take care of him. He befriends the local high school are teacher and she convinces him to join her diet club she has started with a group of friends. He is excited as maybe this will be a way to make some friends in his hometown. At their first meeting they name the club the Supper Club and get hooked into solving the murder of the local playboy at he town’s best pastry shop. Can James and his friends solve the murder and lose weight or will the murder derail their weight loss plans before they start?

How can you resist a main character that loves cheese doodles? I was craving them by the end of the book and wanted them as much as James did. I felt for James at every turn of the page. I understood how he felt and want he wanted out of life. Ellery Adams writes her characters with such feeling that you feel like you personally know them. You want to hop inside the pages of the book and be James’ and his Supper Club friends friend. You want them to know you understand their feelings but at the same time you want to let them now they are perfect they way they are and real friends see past the chubbiness.

I am excited to read a book about a librarian as the main character as I’m always looking for new things to add to be extensive TBR pile. I get excited thinking “oh, my favorite character has read this”. I cannot wait to read the second book “Fit to Die” and revisit my new friends.

No matter what your type of cozy mystery you like, Ellery Adams has a series you will enjoy.

Thank you to NetGalley and Beyond the Page for a copy to read and review based on my own honest words and opinion.

 

Lethal Licorice (An Amish Candy Shop #2) by Amanda Flower

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Pages: 353 (eBook)

Publisher: Kensington Books

Published: February 27, 2018

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Bailey has stayed in Harvest, OH after the death of her Daadi (grandfather) to her Maami (grandmother) run the family candy shop, Swissmen Sweets. Her grandfather was to participate in the highly competitive Amish Confectionery Competition and the judges have allowed Bailey to take his place. On the first day of the competition Bailey has a run in with a rival Amish candy shop owner, Josephine Weaver. Also, the town’s beloved polka-dotted pig, Jethro, has gone missing and his owner, Juliet, is distraught with worry. As Bailey looks for Jethro she unfortunately finds the body of Josephine. Will the police, particularly Aiden, be suspicious of her once again?

Whenever I am stressed I like to turn to cozy mysteries and Amish fiction. When you put the two of them together I am one happy reader. Amanda Flower has perfected the craft of writing Amish cozy mysteries. You are instantly transported to Harvest, OH into Bailey’s world as soon as you open the book. The details are rich with beauty and flavor. You can almost taste the candy Bailey and the others are making. It is a guarantee you will be craving whatever Bailey and her grandmother are making. Right now I want licorice and taffy. YUM!

Not only is there a murder mystery going on there is also a young Amish girl that Bailey meets that is trying to decide her path in life, stay Amish or leave or faith. The care and compassion shown from Bailey and her grandmother is the true spirit of helping one another. You will be moved like I was.

There is a small romance between Bailey and Aiden brewing but it does not take over the main story. They are both taking their time until they move to the next step. Aiden seems like the perfect match for Bailey. He lets her explore but is always around to help her pick up the pieces.

I cannot review the book without a blurb about Jethro. Who can resist a polka-dotted pig? This pig lives the perfect life. He is doted on like a king by his mom, Juliet and she just so happens to be Aiden’s mom and one of Bailey’s close friends in Harvest, OH. I found myself worrying about Jethro being lost in the dark and cold even when I was not reading. I absolutely love how Amanda Flower gives true personality to her animal characters. To me that shows she has a beautiful heart.

I am very excited to see the next adventure of Bailey and friends and to see where the romance is headed. Hurry and get your copy today from your favorite bookseller. If you have not read the first book, Assaulted Caramel, you should buy it also. Make it a sweet weekend of reading.

Playing with BonBon Fire (A Southern Chocolate Mystery #2) by Dorothy St. James

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Pages: 349 (eBook)

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Published: March 13, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Penn is finding her way as the owner of her grandma’s chocolate shop as well as organizing a beach music festival to bring in the crowds. As a favor, her sister has asked music star Bixby Lewis to perform and with the fame comes the crazy fans. Was the murder of the local a mistaken identity for Bixby as Bixby claims or is there something deeper going on? Can Penn solve the crime before damage is done?

This is the second book in A Southern Chocolate Shop Mystery and it has proven to be a winner for me. I feel in love with Penn’s character right away. She has already proven she is strong with overcoming her background of a loveless childhood. She moves to a new town and new state and starts overcoming adversity with trying to find out who her mother is and fighting family members left and right for the knowledge she is seeking.

I have not read the first book in the series (I think I am seeing a pattern for me) but I was able to follow along with who the characters were and how they related to each other. I really want to see how the friendship/relationship between Penn and Harley progresses. Harley seems like a real sweetheart but is he too soft for Penn who has a wall up around her heart?

Thank you Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for an advanced copy to read in exchange for an honest review based on my own thoughts.