Assaulted Pretzel – Laura Bradford

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4/5 Amish Pretzels

On The Back:

Claire Weatherly found the simple life she always wanted when she opened a gift shop in Heavenly, Pennsylvania—a small town in the heart of Amish country. But when murder disrupts her Heavenly home, it’s up to Claire and Detective Jakob Fisher to find the not-so-simple truth.

The quiet town of Heavenly is buzzing with excitement over the latest guests at the local inn, Sleep Heavenly. Toy manufacturer Rob Karble is in town to meet the members of the Amish community who will soon be crafting a new toy line for his company. But when word gets out that Karble intends to use the Amish designs without employing the Amish to make them, someone sends the interloper to his final reward.

No one wants to believe anyone from the Amish community could commit such an act, but as Claire and Detective Fisher have learned, no one is above sin—or suspicion.

My Thoughts:

Though not quite as good as the first, Assaulted Pretzel was a wonderfully engaging book that I enjoyed.

Claire is the same wonderful MC she was portrayed to be in the first book. Benjamin and Jakob are also wonderful, but for them it’s a bad thing, in my opinion. If, and that’s a big if, I like a love triangle in my mysteries it’s only if one of the characters will be a clear winner. That didn’t happen here, though, and it’s honest to goodness annoying because both men are portrayed as equally great guys.

Diane grated on my nerves a bit, also. She was portrayed as such a strong character in the first book, but in this book she reversed all of that and became so fragile it was annoying. If an author’s going to make a strong character please keep them at least moderately strong.

The mystery was well thought out. It was filled with twists and turns and I honestly didn’t know what would happen next.

Overall a very solid book that I enjoyed! I will be reading the next one.

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Bran New Death – Victoria Hamilton

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4.5/5 Bran Muffins

On The Back:

Expert muffin baker Merry Wynter is finally ready to turn her passion into a career. But when a dead body is found on her property, she’s more worried about cooking up an alibi…

Merry is making a fresh start in small-town Autumn Vale, New York, in the mansion she’s inherited from her late uncle, Melvin. The house is run-down and someone has been digging giant holes on the grounds, but with its restaurant-quality kitchen, the place has potential for her new baking business. She even has her first client—the local retirement home.

Unfortunately, Merry soon finds that quite a few townsfolk didn’t like Uncle Mel, and she has inherited their enmity as well as his home. Local baker Binny Turner and her crazy brother, Tom, blame Melvin for their father’s death, and Tom may be the one vandalizing her land. But when Tom turns up dead in one of the holes in her yard, Merry needs to prove she had nothing to do with his death—or her new muffin-making career may crumble before it starts…

My Thoughts:

Wow, two great first-in-a-series books in a row! I confess, I didn’t know what to think when I picked up this book; I’ve read mixed reviews on it, but I am glad to say that I really enjoyed this book!

Merry was a fun main character, and she had a very different past. However, she was hard to warm up to, especially at the very beginning. Shilo, Pish, and the other characters were also fun to read about. Autumn Vale had an absolutely hilarious quirky group of characters that I’d love to learn more about.

The mystery was solid, and I didn’t put together the clues until Merry did. It was solid, yet simple and I really enjoyed it. The setting was also wonderful, I loved the quirky town with it’s unfriendly inhabitants.

Overall a solid, very good book. I will certainly be reading the next one. Highly recommend!

Hearse and Buggy – Laura Bradford

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5/5 Horse and Buggies

On The Back:

Claire Weatherly has fled a high-stress lifestyle for a slower pace—in Amish country: Heavenly, Pennsylvania. She only planned a short visit but instead found herself opening an Amish specialty shop, Heavenly Treasures, and settling in.Claire loves her new home, and she’s slowly making friends among the locals, including Esther, a young Amish woman who works in the shop. So when the store’s former owner,the unlikable Walter Snow, is murdered, and the man Esther is sweet on becomes a suspect, Claire can’t help but get involved.

Newly returned Detective Jakob Fisher, who left Heavenly—and his Amish upbringing—as a teenager, is on the case. But his investigation is stalled by the fact that none of his former community will speak with him. Claire’s connections make her the perfect go-between.

As Claire investigates, she uncovers more than she wanted to know about her neighbors. And suddenly, everything she had hoped to find in this peaceful refuge is at risk . . . 

My Thoughts:

I’ve had this book on my physical TBR shelf for close to two years now. It was a ‘lucky’ find that I wasn’t expecting at a thrift store for an extremely cheap price. I have to say I am extremely disappointed in myself for the simple fact that I didn’t read this book earlier. It was superb!

I love Claire, she was broken and put-together at the same time and the author weaved her backstory in a way that made it suitably distant, yet close at the same time. Claire was slightly tedious at the beginning when she thought over and over again how lucky she was to be in Heavenly, but that soon remedied itself. The other characters were also great. I loved Diane, and I think a subplot involving her would be extremely enjoyable to read. The author seems to be setting up a love triangle, but I hope that’s remedied in the next book.

The mystery was well-plotted and solid. There was nothing really ‘surprising’ about it, but it was a good cozy plotline. The setting was wonderful. I loved how the author described Heavenly. It sounded perfect, and it renewed my interest in the Amish culture.

Overall an excellent book, it was a perfect light cozy for a beach read. Highly recommend!

Read to Death – Terrie Farley Moran

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3.5/5 Shrimp Cookouts

On The Back:

The national bestselling author of Caught Read-Handed revisits Fort Myers Beach, Florida, where the proprietors of a local bookstore café occasionally take a stab at solving murder…

At their seaside Read ‘Em and Eat bookstore café, Sassy Cabot and Bridgy Mayfield offer fresh scones, great books, and excellent detective work…

With their book club season wrapping up with The Florida Life of Thomas Edison, Sassy and Bridgy decide to take their group on a day trip to the beautiful Edison and Ford Winter Estates. Hiring driver Oscar Frieland, who’s known for his colorful stories and love of the café’s Robert Frost fruit tartlets, the bibliophiles set off for a day of sunshine and history.

After a lovely excursion, the club returns to the café for lunch and a book discussion, but the group falls silent after Oscar is found dead in his van. The sheriff’s deputies have some questions of their own for the group, and if the ladies don’t find some answers soon, the next book they read might be from a prison library.

My Thoughts:

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from Berkley and Netgalley. All thoughts stated in this review are entirely my own.*

This is series is one of the series currently in danger of being cancelled by Berkley. It’s an honest-to-goodness shame that that’s the case because this series has so much potential! So, please go out and buy the first, second, or third book in this series and give it a chance. I truly believe that, given a few more books, this series will shine.

This book started slow for me; I honestly found the first 1/3 tedious, however after that the book started gaining momentum and the last third of the book was a solid 4 star read. Because of that I settled for a 3.5 star rating.

Sassy is an absolutely stand-out character. She jumps a little too eagerly into investigations, but in the end it works because Sassy jumps headfirst into everything. This book was slightly different in the fact that it didn’t merely focus on the mystery, it also had a strong secondary plotline of Sassy and Bridgy’s relationships with their mothers. Ir added a lot to the story and I hope that if this series continues we see more of the mothers.

The mystery was very solid. The killer took me by surprise and I loved the events leading up to the unveiling! The setting is beautiful as always. I’d absolutely love to visit the herb farm Sage went to!

Overall a solid book that I enjoyed. I will read another one and I recommend that you help #saveourcozies by buying one of these books!

The Diva Serves High Tea – Krista Davis

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5/5 Tea Parlors

On The Back:

The New York Times bestselling author of The Diva Steals a Chocolate Kiss serves up a new mystery steeped in murder…
 
When The Parlour opens up in town, domestic diva Sophie Winston finally has a place to satisfy her cravings for all things tea and crumpet related. And the shop serves as the perfect place for the ladies of the town to gather and gossip, especially since it’s conveniently located right across the street from the new antique store run by the handsome and charming Warren Smith.

But speculation around Warren really boils over when he’s found dead—a victim of poisoning after attending a literacy fundraiser at The Parlour the night before. What Sophie learns about the man leaves a bitter taste in her mouth, and she’ll have to strain out a killer from a strange brew of suspects…

Includes delicious recipes and entertaining tips!

My Thoughts:

There are some cozy authors that consistently blow me out of the water with the solidity of their book; Krista Davis is one of them. I have never read one of her books and come off it thinking that it was a bad or even mediocre book. Her books are consistently solid, reliable mysteries that I look forward to reading when they’re released. The Diva Serves High Tea was no exception to this rule.

Let me start by saying that the titles are extremely corny and they honestly cast a bad light on the books, in my opinion. They make the books seem superficial, when in fact, each book has had solid characters, that grow in each story. A good book should always play out like a movie in your head, and these books are a prime example of that.

As I said above, in each book the characters grow and learn from their mistakes. The ‘diva’ in the title is an extremely intelligent, capable woman named Sophie. She makes mistakes, yet learns from them, and she isn’t afraid to ask when she needs something. The other cast members, if you will, also have their specific place in these books and without them Old Town Alexandria wouldn’t seem as lively. Natasha, Mars, Bernie, Francie, Wanda, Wolf, Alex, and Wong all reappear, along with some notable new characters.

The mystery was superb. I thought I knew exactly where it was going, but then another small plot was revealed and it threw a wrench in what I thought were Ms. Davis’ plans.

Please, please, please do yourself a favor and read this series. Or, even if you don’t read this series, read the Paws and Claws series also by Krista Davis. Both are two of my favorite cozies still being published. Highly recommend!

Death of a Country Fried Redneck – Lee Hollis

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4/5 Country Fried Rednecks

On The Back:

Local food and drink writer Haley Powell thinks she’s done solving murders in scenic Bar Harbor, Maine. But when a taste of the South comes to New England, Haley’s following another recipe for disaster…

As a single mom, Hayley Powell already has a full plate—she’s got deadlines to make and a teenage daughter with eyes for an aspiring singer-songwriter. But when country music superstar Wade Springer rolls into town, Hayley spies an irresistible side gig: personal chef to her all-American idol. After he tries her home cooking, Wade’s so impressed that he hires her on the spot—and invites her to dine with him alone.

Hayley and Wade are hitting all the right notes…until a body turns up. Wade’s tour bus was torched overnight and a roadie named Mickey Pritchett came out well-done. But the real cause of death isn’t barbecue: Mickey was shot, his mouth stuffed with one of Hayley’s trademark chicken legs. An ornery drunk, Mickey had already made plenty of enemies in town, but Wade’s reputation is on the rocks. Hayley reckons it’s up to her to settle this mess—a charbroiled mystery with all the fixin’s.

My Thoughts:

An excellent follow-up, Death of a Country Fried Redneck reaffirmed why I love cozy mysteries. Every part of this book was solid and well-written, from the mystery to the characters.

As always, I’ll start with the characters. They were wonderful. Lee Hollis (the pseudonym of a brother and sister writing duo) did an absolutely superb job of creating realistic, less than perfect, inviting characters that will make anyone want to move to Bar Harbor and become a year long resident.

The mystery was excellent. I absolutely had no idea who the killer was until the end, and even then I was shocked, however, looking back, I realize that the clues were all there, I just didn’t piece them together. The setting was also absolutely to die for (no pun intended)!

Overall a superb book! I will be reading the next one.

Evans Above – Rhys Bowen

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4/5 Welsh Mountains

On The Back:

Evan Evans, a young police constable, has traded city life for that of Llanfair – an idyllic Welsh village. Nestling in the Snowdonia mountain range, Llanfair looks to Evans like a town forgotten by time, but he quickly learns that even the bucolic countryside has its share of eccentric – and deadly – characters. Evans’s new neighbours include two competitive ministers vying for the souls of their flock, one lascivious barmaid, and three other Evanses: Evans-the-Meat; Evans-the-Milk and Evans-the-Post (whose favourite hobby is to read the mail before he delivers it).

Before Evans has time to sort through the complicated relationships and rivalries of his new home, he’s called to the scene of a crime as brutal and fearsome as any he encountered in the big city. Two hikers have been murdered on the trails of the local mountain, and Evans must hunt down a vicious killer – who may or may not be linked to the mysterious destruction of Mrs. Powell-Jones’ prize-winning tomatoes.

My Thoughts:

Let me start off by saying that Rhys Bowen is hands down the best historical mystery author I’ve ever read. She manages to combine true events and her characters so well that you wonder if her characters couldn’t have really been at these events. However, I’ve finished her Royal Spyness series (though I have the ARC for the next one sitting on my Nook!) and her Molly Murphy series, so that left me with only one more series to read; the Constable Evan Evans mystery series. I can say that, though not quite as good as her historical mysteries, this book was excellent!

Evan was an extremely likable character. He was smart, funny, and yet he wasn’t perfect, he had his faults, and those faults made him seem like a more relatable character. The rest of the characters were also wonderful, and endearing. I cannot wait to read more about them!

The setting was absolutely idyllic. Thanks to this book Wales was just added to my bucket list of places I want to visit before I die. The mystery was solid, however, the killer was projected quite forcefully about 10-15 pages before the reveal, which made the reveal slightly disappointing.

Overall a very good book! I will be reading the next one. Highly recommend.

Vacation Haul (Again?)

Well, this’ll probably be my last vacation haul, seeing as this was my last vacation of the year. This one’s significantly less than my first vacation haul, but I still got some books I’ve been looking forward to for awhile!

Books Bought: 8

Money Spent: about $30

Dying to Call You — Elaine Viets I don’t know what it is about these books! I finish them and they’re simply okay, but I love the characters, so I bought another one!

Murder at Westminster Abbey — Amanda Carmack First one was pretty good.

This Pen for Hire — Laura Levine Sounds funny. The old(er) Kensington mysteries (like this series, the Hannah Swensen series, the Lucy Stone series) have always been extremely popular, so I figured I’d give it a try

Scandal in Fair Haven — Carolyn G. Hart First one was excellent

Take the Monkey and Run — Laura Morrigan There are very few series that I buy brand new, but this is one of them. Loved the first three in this series, and I’m excited for this one!

Death of a Perfect Wife — M.C. Beaton I’ve been looking for a used copy of this book for a VERY long time. Finally found one!

A Taste for Murder — Claudia Bishop Really the only wild card in the bunch. This was only $2, and it looked pretty good so I picked it up. However, I haven’t heard anything (good or bad) about it.

Death of a Country Fried Redneck — Lee Hollis I cannot wait to read this book! The first one was superb and I’ve been trying to find this one for a bit now.

Overall, I’m very proud of this haul, I absolutely cannot wait to read Death of a Country Fried Redneck and Take the Monkey and Run!

Review Shot: Death by the Book – Julianna Deering

*Again, sorry for the lack of posts. I took another mini vacation last week. However, three review shots are coming up!*

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REVIEW SHOT: Death by the Book 

4.5/5 Almost Fiances

Excellent. Simply excellent. This book was an improvement over the last one, and that’s saying something, because the last book was solid. A solid mystery, excellent characters, and a beautiful setting all fit together to make a wonderful book. I absolutely love Drew, Madeline, and Nick, all are extremely well-thought out characters who have intricate backgrounds. The mystery in this book was complex and weaving. I absolutely did not guess who the killer was until the end of the book. I’ll definitely read the next one. Highly recommend!

Review Shot: Murder Between the Covers – Elaine Viets

*Again, sorry for the lack of posts. I took another mini vacation last week. However, three review shots are coming up!*

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REVIEW SHOT: MURDER BETWEEN THE COVERS 

3/5 Closing Bookstores

Well, folks, this one wasn’t as good as the first, but yet it held my attention extremely well. Murder Between the Covers was leaning towards the non-cozy spectrum, yet it stayed within the cozy boundaries, just barely. The characters were extremely well-written and the setting was good, but yet something about this book just didn’t click for me. Overall good, and I recommend it, but if the next few don’t get any better, then I may not stick with this series.