Paws and Claws Mystery Series – Krista Davis

Part of the recommendations post series.

Krista Davis is one of my favorite authors. She consistently writes good books that not only let you get emotionally attached to the characters but you find yourself lost in the quality of the mystery. So, that’s why I decided to add both of her perfectly amazing series to my recommendations series.

Holly Miller comes back to her grandmother’s inn in Wagtail, Virginia after her life falls apart and she finds what she needs most; a home. Filled with fun characters, adorable pets, and an absolutely to die for setting, this series is one I look forward to!

I’m sure you’ve noticed a pattern in my recommendations by now; I love a strong, independant MC who can stand up for themself. Holly is exactly that. I love the secondary characters also, they all meld together to make Wagtail an exceedingly wonderful town that I love.

The town of Wagtail itself is a huge character; it’s absolutely idyllic! Imagine a town where pets are allowed everywhere, no cars are allowed (only golf carts), and each restaurant has a special pet menu. It sounds like a dream.

Krista Davis has a talent with mystery. The weaving of clues, suspects, and events always blend together to form a web of a mystery that is complicated, but when the killer’s revealed it’s always a person you should’ve suspected, but didn’t. One of the absolute best actual mystery plots from Ms. Davis was in the last Paws and Claws book, Murder Most Howl, it was almost a closed room mystery and I got chills during parts of it. It was absolutely splendid!

Overall one of the best new(ish) series on the cozy market. I highly recommend this series, and every book by this author!

The Big Chili – Julia Buckley

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4/5 Bingo Nights

On The Back:

First in a delicious new mystery series filled with casseroles, confidences, and killers…

Lilah Drake’s Covered Dish business discreetly provides the residents of Pine Haven, Illinois, with delicious, fresh-cooked meals they can claim they cooked themselves. But when one of her clandestine concoctions is used to poison a local woman, Lilah finds herself in a pot-load of trouble…

After dreaming for years of owning her own catering company, Lilah has made a start into the food world through her Covered Dish business, covertly cooking for her neighbors who don’t have the time or skill to do so themselves, and allowing them to claim her culinary creations as their own. While her clientele is strong, their continued happiness depends on no one finding out who’s really behind the apron.

So when someone drops dead at a church Bingo night moments after eating chili that Lilah made for a client, the anonymous chef finds herself getting stirred into a cauldron of secrets, lies, and murder—and going toe to toe with a very determined and very attractive detective. To keep her clients coming back and her business under wraps, Lilah will have to chop down the list of suspects fast, because this spicy killer has acquired a taste for homicide…

My Thoughts:

Filled with an absolutely amazing premise, a cast of diverse characters, and an intricate murder mystery; this was a very well written first in a series book!

The main character was absolutely a hoot! The fact that she always has a song in her head is a trait that I found absolutely hilarious. Lilah’s business was also amazing, I would absolutely love to have a “undercover dish” business in my hometown and I know of quite a few people who’d use it.

The mystery was wonderfully put together; I would’ve guessed a ton of people before guessing the actual killer. The town was also appropriately cozy-ish.

My main problem with this book was the romance angle. The author builds it up for so long that you expect a huge something at the end, and you get that. But then the romance absolutely gets kicked under the rug. It was a huge letdown and I felt that it made many previous parts of the book unnecessary.

I really liked this book and will be reading the next one when it comes in September!  Recommend.

All Murders Final! – Sherry Harris

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5/5 Online Garage Sales

On The Back:

Her Next Sale

When Sarah Winston started the virtual garage sale, it seemed like a keystroke of genius and the next logical step in her business. No more collapsing card tables and rainy-day washouts. But what began as a fun way to run garage sales during the long New England winter has become a nightmare of managing people and putting out fires. Online, she can avoid the crowds–but not the crazies.

May Be Her Last

She certainly never bargained on dealing with frightening threats. And when a client is murdered, it’s time for Sarah to swallow her pride and seek the help of her ex–C.J. Hooker, chief of police. Forging a tense alliance, they search–online and off–for the killer. But solving this crime before someone else gets tagged seems virtually impossible…

My Thoughts:

*I received this book in exchange for an honest review from Kensington and Netgalley. All opinions stated in this review are explicitly my own*

Sherry Harris has been one of the best new cozy mystery authors to come out in the recent years. Her first book was dynamite, the second not quite as good, but it was still high-quality work, and the third I can now say was excellent, also.

Sarah Winston is a little bit different than most cozy MCs. Yes, she follows the typical stereotype of being divorced when the series starts, but unlike many other MCs, her ex is still very much in the picture. Though I don’t necessarily care for the ex, it’s a nice change and it adds a bit more tension to the entire plotline of the story.

The secondary characters are also wonderful they all are solid and well-developed, without taking center stage too often. I absolutely love Ellington. The author keeps most of the village unknown to the reader, but what we do know is it’s a quaint, very livable type of town that I love to read about!

The mystery was well put together and the killer took me by surprise. The entire mystery was set up in such a way that genuinely sent chills down your spine. I loved it! Overall an absolutely wonderful book. Highly recommend this book and the series!

Reading Up A Storm – Eva Gates

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5/5 Lighthouse Libraries

On The Back:

The national bestselling author of Booked for Trouble returns with another charming mystery set in the most literary lighthouse in North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
 
Misfortune blows into North Carolina’s Outer Banks when a dead body in a boat on the shore leaves local librarian Lucy Richardson racing to solve a strange new mystery….

After a successful party at Bodie Island’s Lighthouse Library, librarian Lucy Richardson is ready to curl up with her cat, Charles, and a good book. But her R and R is cut short when she notices some mysterious lights leading a small boat to crash into the coast.

The two shipwrecked seafarers survive the ordeal—but one of them shows up dead ashore a few days later. Lucy finds herself again roped into a murder investigation and navigating a sea of suspects, all of whom had motives to deep-six the deceased. And this time, she has a sinking feeling that finding the real killer won’t be so easy…

My Thoughts:

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from Netgalley and NAL. All opinions are explicitly mine.*

The Lighthouse Library Series has been a consistently solid, good-quality series through it’s three books and I can honestly say that this book raised the bar even higher for my expectations from Eva Gates/Vicki Delaney.

The characters and their stories take the main stage in this book. I’m happy to say that the love triangle thing that was going on ended! We meet so many new people in this book and I loved them all! The main cast comes back also, Connor, Butch, Bertie, Charlene, Louise Jane, and others and they were as delightful as normal.

The mystery was wonderfully put together. The killer, clues, and murder all fit together like a puzzle. The setting, as always, was also delightful. I wish this library was real and I could work there!

At a time when the future of cozy mysteries in the Berkley/NAL world is up in the air, it’s good to know that an author can write an absolutely stunning book, even when their series has been cancelled. This book was amazing, as was this entire series and I am so sorry to see it go. Please, go out buy your favorite cozies, pre order them! First week sales are extremely important to publishing companies and maybe we can save a few series!

The Real Macaw – Donna Andrews

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5/5 Macaws

On The Back:

During an early-morning feeding for her four-month-old twins, Meg Langslow hears an odd noise and goes downstairs to find her living room filled with cats, dogs, hamsters, gerbils, rabbits, guinea pigs, and a stunningly foul-mouthed macaw. What the—bleep—is going on here?

Turns out that a financially-strapped local animal shelter has repealed its no-kill policy and, in an act of protest led in part by Meg’s own zoologist grandfather, the animals have been stolen and resettled around town. But now the volunteer who helped transport the shelter animals has turned up dead. The animal-rights activist’s untimely death seems very, very wrong… Was it the result of a lover’s quarrel? Or is something—or someone—more sinister at play? And, arguably as important, will Meg ever rid her home of these pesky houseguests and get back to the business of nesting with her newborns? Squawk.

My Thought:

Ugh, three great books in a row, this luck cannot hold forever. This book was a wonderful book in an absolutely engaging series. One of my favorite parts about this series is the simple fact that you can not read a book in it for like a month, but when you come to the next book it feels like you’re visiting old friends.

Meg is a great MC. Surrounded by quirky characters she keeps her cool and is dependable reliable in the most devastating situations. I loved her kids and reading about her family is always a treat.

I absolutely adored the premise of the town feud. It added suspense, humor, and intrigue to the story. I really hope they continue it in the next few books. The mystery was also great, I was semi-surprised by the ending and I wasn’t expecting the motive.

Overall this was a wonderful book. Highly recommend!

 

The Last Lecture – Randy Pausch

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5/5 Last Lectures

On The Back:

“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.”
— Randy Pausch

A lot of professors give talks titled “The Last Lecture.” Professors are asked to consider their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them. And while they speak, audiences can’t help but mull the same question: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy?

When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to give such a lecture, he didn’t have to imagine it as his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But the lecture he gave–“Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”–wasn’t about dying. It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because “time is all you have…and you may find one day that you have less than you think”). It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was about living.

In this book, Randy Pausch has combined the humor, inspiration and intelligence that made his lecture such a phenomenon and given it an indelible form. It is a book that will be shared for generations to come!

My Thoughts:

Knowing you will die soon must be hard, and writing a book and giving a lecture when you know you’re going to die soon is unfathomable to me. But Randy Pausch did it, and I’m glad he did.

This book is absolutely filled with advice, thoughts, and teachings from a former professor at Carnegie Mellon who was diagnosed with an extreme cancer. He took that diagnosis and ran with it, determined for his last days to be his best days. He chronicles stories from the past, present (at the time the book was written), and anecdotes to form this masterpiece.

I absolutely loved this book so much that I am getting my own copy as soon as I possible can. It’s absolutely chock-full of valuable advice, tips, tricks, and life hacks if you will that will help you thrive in your family, work, and personal life. It touches on everything from tips at the workplace, to how to fulfill your dreams. Even though Randy eventually died and knew he was dying while writing this, this book is honestly not a sad book. It is an extremely happy book that grabs life and sprints with it, making the most of every second.

I cannot possible tell you how much I recommend this book. Highly, highly, highly recommend for every age group!

Cozy Mystery Publishers: The Last One

Crooked Lane Books

Extremely new to the cozy mystery scene, Crooked Lane Books has nevertheless proven crooked_lane_logo._031815themselves to be a rising star in this genre. Starting with books by new authors such as Plantation Shudders by Ellen Byron and books by veteran authors such as Nine Lives by Wendy Corsi Staub and Untimely Death by Elizabeth J. Duncan. Their first release date was August 11, 2015, and they have quite a few cozy releases in the upcoming year.

Honestly, cozy mysteries tend to group in those top five publishers I mentioned before, however, Crooked Lane Books has done an absolutely dynamite job of bursting on the scene. So far, from their books I’ve read, they have been good quality. However, their books (at least cozy mysteries) have been published hardcover first, before being published in mass market paperback, this means higher price, of course.

Compared to the other publishers, Crooked Lane Books is the smallest right now, however it has already proven that it is rising up very quickly!

Be sure to check out the other posts in this series and stay tuned for the next one: independent publishing and cozies!

 

A Duty to the Dead – Charles Todd

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5/5 Fulfilled Duties

On The Back:

The daughter of a distinguished soldier‚ Bess Crawford follows in his footsteps and signs up to go overseas as a nurse during the Great War‚ helping to deal with the many wounded. There‚ serving on a hospital ship‚ she makes a promise to a dying young lieutenant to take a message to his brother‚ Jonathan Graham: “Tell Jonathan that I lied. I did it for Mother′s sake. But it has to be set right.” Later‚ when her ship is sunk by a mine and she′s sidelined by a broken arm‚ Bess returns home to England‚ determined to fulfill her promise.

It′s not so easy‚ however. She travels to the village in Kent where the Grahams live and passes on to Jonathan his brother′s plea. Oddly‚ neither Jonathan‚ his mother‚ nor his younger brother admit to knowing what the message means. Then Bess learns that there′s another brother‚ incarcerated in a lunatic asylum since the age of 14 when he was accused of brutally murdering a housemaid.

Bess rightly guesses that the dying soldier′s last words had something to do with the fourth brother. Because the family seems unwilling to do anything‚ she decides that she will investigate. It′s her own duty to the dead.

My Thoughts:

Wow, sometimes you start a new series and don’t really know what’s going to happen. That’s how I was with this book, but I am pleased to say that I was completely blown away by the simple, yet intricate, plotting of this mystery.

Bess Crawford is tending to a dying man, and when he has one last request, she feels that it is her duty to complete that request. Bess is simply amazing. She’s the perfect balance between pushy and non pushy that makes her a valuable main character without being annoying. I loved her father, mother, aunt, Peregrine, and the rest of the secondary characters, also.

However, the mystery was the absolute star of this riveting story. It was a mystery from the past int he simply fact that it had happened long before Bess investigated, and reader had ample clues to figure out the killer, and they had a general idea who the killer was when Bess did. The climax was suitingly climatic and the wrapup was great.

Really I can’t think of anything bad about this book. I loved the way the authors blended nonfiction events with fiction and the mystery. This was a superb book and I’ll be reading more! Highly recommend!

Caught Read-Handed – Terrie Farley Moran

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4/5 Green Snakes

On The Back:

From the national bestselling author of Well Read, Then Deadcomes the second mystery featuring Sassy Cabot and Bridgy Mayfield, who bring Fort Myers Beach, Florida, residents plenty of sinful treats and killer reads at their bookstore café, Read ’Em and Eat.

Happy to help her fellow bibliophiles, Sassy visits the local library with book donations for their annual fundraising sale. Unfortunately, the welcoming readers’ haven is in turmoil as an argument erupts between an ornery patron and new staff member, Tanya Lipscombe—also known as “Tanya Trouble.” She may lack people skills, but everyone is shocked when she’s later found murdered in her own hot tub.

The man last seen arguing with Tanya is soon arrested. But Alan Mersky, a veteran with PTSD, happens to be the brother of Sassy’s former boss—and he’s no murderer. Now it’s up to Sassy and Bridgy to clear Alan’s name and make sure the real killer gets booked.

Includes a recipe for Miss Marple scones!

My Thoughts:

I added the first book in this series to my pile because it looked promising, and when it won an Agatha award it moved to the top of the list. However, that first book was honestly not my cup of tea, I had a few issues with it. So, when I was putting an order in at my library for a book this book wasn’t at the top, but nevertheless I added it, and I can honestly say that I’m glad I did. This book was a delightful read, and if the next books are anything like it, then I hope the series continues for a very long time!

I have to admit, the two MC’s names really annoy me. I mean Sassy and Bridgy, really, it sounds so childish, however, for some reason they didn’t annoy me nearly as much as they did in the first book. I loved the simply fact that Sassy didn’t go running into trouble and her method of sleuthing wasn’t really sleuthing at all, it was more of a puzzle that was simply placed in Sassy’s lap. The secondary characters were also wonderful, I really hope we see more of Frank Anthony and Miguel in the next book!

The setting is beautiful, simply beautiful. The mystery was also good, the ending came together perfectly leaving no real questions. I loved the secondary plotline with the snake, it really breathed life into the story!

The only real problem I had was the scene with the teenagers. I have never heard teens speak like that, it was horrible stereotypical, and it made teens in general seem like they have no brain, which obviously isn’t true.

Overall this was a simply riveting story. I will most certainly read the next when it comes out!

 

Berried Secrets – Peg Cochran

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3/5 Cranberry Farms

On The Back:

It’s cranberry picking time—in an all-new mystery series from the national bestselling author of the Gourmet De-Lite Mysteries…

When Monica Albertson comes to Cranberry Cove—a charming town on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan—to help her half-brother Jeff on his cranberry farm, the last thing she expects to harvest is a dead body.

It seems that Sam Culbert, who ran the farm while Jeff was deployed overseas, had some juicy secrets that soon prove fatal, and Jeff is ripe for the picking as a prime suspect. Forming an uneasy alliance with her high-maintenance stepmother, Monica has her hands full trying to save the farm while searching for a killer. Culbert made plenty of enemies in the quaint small town…but which one was desperate enough to kill?

My Thoughts:

A start to a series with extremely relatable characters and an absolutely stunning setting, this was a winning debut to a series!

The characters were wonderful. They were all relatable and well-developed,a dn I found myself falling into their lives with ease. I love the fact that Jeff was a veteran, that’s not a typical cozy character background but I’m really glad that Ms. Cochran saw fit to add it; it adds another layer onto him. Monica is also not the typical “runs back home” first book MC, she doesn’t come back home, she comes to Cranberry Cove to assist her brother with his farm.

The real star of this story, however, was the setting. It was exquisite! Ms. Cochran did an amazing job of blending the setting in a way that the setting was as big a character as any of the actual characters. I loved the town (though I don’t know why it’s called Cranberry Cove when Monica’s farm seems to be the only cranberry farm in the vicinity) and I absolutely loved learning about how cranberries are harvested. I’d love to watch a harvest one day!

This book wasn’t perfect, however, and I found myself frustrated at the stunted dialogue and the abundance of internal thoughts Monica had. It really pulled the story down. The dialogue was extremely unnatural, too. It seemed like the characters had to explain in words what they were doing in times, and it was slightly annoying by the end.

A great setting, relatable characters, but unnatural dialogue and incessant internal thoughts cause this book to get 3/5 stars from me. I will read the next one if for nothing else, than the setting!