Kneaded to Death – Winnie Archer

30324816 3.5/5 Authentic Mexican Bread Shops

On The Back:

Everyone swears by Yeast of Eden, the Mexican bread shop in town. But tonight, the only thing on the menu is la muerte . . .

Struggling photographer Ivy Culpepper has lots of soul-searching to do since returning to seaside Santa Linda, California. That is, until the thirty-one-year-old enters a bread making class at Yeast of Eden. Whether it’s the aroma of fresh conchas in the oven, or her instant connection with owner Olaya Dias and her sisters, Ivy just knows the missing ingredients in her life are hidden among the secrets of Olaya’s bakery . . .

But Ivy’s spirits crumble when a missing classmate is suddenly discovered dead in her car, riddled with stab wounds. Even more devastating, the prime suspects are the Dias sisters themselves. Doubting the women could commit such a crime, Ivy embarks on a murder investigation of her own to prove their innocence and seize the real killer. As she follows a deadly trail of crumbs around town, Ivy must trust her gut like never before—or someone else could be toast!

My Thoughts:

A solid first in a series that’s only problems will probably be resolved in the next book, Kneaded to Death was a delight!

To be completely honest, Ivy was overly dramatic and honestly annoying, but only for the first half of the book. The second half she was wonderful. Her father annoyed me so much I basically skimmed the parts he appeared in. He was absolutely self-involved, and I really couldn’t stand reading about his character at all. The rest of the characters were positively wonderful, though.

The setting was beautiful and wonderfully described. I wish I could go to Yeast of Eden and just sit, eating bread and taking in the breathtaking views. The mystery was also good. I did not suspect the killer, and it was wrapped up nicely.

Really the only major problem I had with this book was Ivy’s mother’s death. She had died six months prior to when the book took place, but for the first half she was talked about on almost every other page. I know it hurts to lose a loved one, I’ve lost people very close to me, but I thought Ivy was being written as overly dramatic, not grief stricken. And her father, oh, her father. He basically shut out his kids and he never spoke much. When he did, it was mostly negative.

Overall an excellent book with one major problem; the mother’s death. I do recommend this one, however, and I will certainly read the next one. Recommend!

Drive Time – Hank Phillippi Ryan

26114160 5/5 Air Bags

On The Back:

Drive Time: the Agatha and Anthony nominee from bestselling author Hank Phillippi Ryan, now back in print!

Investigative reporter Charlotte McNally is an expert at keeping things confidential, but suddenly everyone has a secret–and it turns out it is possible to know too much.

Her latest scoop–an expose of a counterfeit car scam, complete with stakeouts, high-speed chases and hidden-camera footage–is ratings gold. But soon that leads her to a brand-new and diabolical scheme. Charlie’s personal and professional lives are on a collision course, too. Her fiance is privy to information about threats at an elite private school that have turned deadly.

Charlie had never counted on happy endings. But now, just as she’s finally starting to believe in second changes, she realizes revenge, extortion and murder may leave her alone again–or even dead…

My Thoughts:

If you’ve followed my blog for very long you’ll know that Hank Phillippi Ryan is one of my absolute favorite writers. She has a knack for creating real, believable characters and putting them in thrilling situations. It’s wonderful, and Drive Time was no let down!

Charlie is everything you’d expect a super-successful reporter to be. She’s honest, determined, and unrelenting. It’s a wonderful combination! I love Josh, Penny, and J.T. (A new character introduced), but I have to admit that Franklin grated on my nerves for most of this book. Even after some revelations came to light, his mood and overall attitude still rubbed me the wrong way.

The mystery was above average, as always. There were so many things going at once, but at the end they all wrapped up nicely. This book ended with a lot of changes happening in the character’s personal lives, and I can’t help but feel that this was a good place to end this foursome of books.

Though it ended nicely, I will still read another Charlie McNally mystery the second it comes out (if another one does, indeed, come out). Highly recommend this series and the Jane Ryland series also written by Hank Phillippi Ryan. Do yourself a favor and go buy the first in both series. You won’t regret it!

Cold Pressed Murder – Kelly Lane

29496469 5/5 Copper Cooking-ware Collections

On The Back:

Eva Knox and her quirky Southern family are back in the second in the “intriguing”* culinary mystery series.
It’s the pits for the attendees of the annual Farm Family Fare in Abundance, Georgia, when olive oil farmer Eva Knox finds herself in the middle of a murder case…
Eva and the residents of Knox Plantation are oozing with excitement over the activities planned for the Farm Family Fare. The weekend event consists of two days of tours, exhibitions, music, tastings, and, most importantly, cooking demonstrations with celebrity chefs from the Chow Network. The enthusiasm, however, begins to dribble away after one of the star chefs goes missing—and is later found dead in the back of a refrigerated truck.

The scandal gets messier after the police discover that Eva’s sister Daphne spent the night with the victim right before he died, making her the prime suspect for his murder. It’s up to Eva, with the help of her other sister, Pep, and her best friend, Precious, to track down the real killer before Daphne finds herself squeezed into handcuffs…

My Thoughts:

Easily one of the top ten mystery series to have come about in the last few years, the Olive Grove series is a winner!

Eva Knox alternates between impulsive absolutely hilarious reactions and sickly sweet sarcasm, and it’s a perfect balance! She is smart, kind, and strong, aka a perfect MC. Her sisters are hilarious (and VERY Southern), and Precious. Oh, Precious. Precious is probably one of my absolutely favorite characters in the book. She is stellar, yet I can’t even picture her because of how large she’s described. I love how she is tight-lipped about Ian, and yet so open about everything else.

The mystery was strong, I had an inkling of the killer, but the motive was never in my mind. The setting is also beautiful, but the orchard was barely even in the story. I loved the descriptions of it in the last book, so I was a little bit disappointed that it wasn’t as prominent in this one. I did love the facts about olive oil throughout the book.

Really the only drawback of the book is the fact that it is so southern. Literally it’s almost so unbelievable the names of the characters and the businesses (the Palatable Pecan!?!?!). Besides that, this book was absolutely superb, I highly recommend and I will be around for the next one!

Donna Andrews / M.C. Beaton – Review Shots

Last week was absolutely crazy and I didn’t have a chance to write up reviews for the two books I read. So, here are two review “shots” (aka paragraph-length short reviews). This week shouldn’t be so crazy, so expect more reviews soon!

19561910 4.5/5 Christmas Show Houses

My Thoughts:

I absolutely love Donna Andews’ Meg Langslow series. Meg is a dynamite character who doesn’t take any nonsense. She is absolutely a hoot, but she’s not my favorite character. Meg’s mother is by far my favorite. She is Meg on steroids, and I love her! The mystery was solid, but I wasn’t really surprised by the killer. I love the Christmas setting, and I love the humor Donna Andrews masterfully adds into her work. Highly Recommend!

181665 4/5 Thick as Pea Soup Fogs

My Thoughts:

Agatha Raisin’s forwardness is legendary. She is hilarious, and I love her! However, this mystery fell slightly from the quality of the previous book. To begin with, the mystery was extremely transparent. The killer was projected from the first hundred pages, and didn’t stop being projected until the end. However, this book was still above-normal in it’s quality. As I said above, Agatha is a wonderfully written character, and I’m genuinely excited to read the next one. Recommend!


Desert Heat – J.A. Jance

530643 4/5 Desert Mines

On The Back:

Life is good for Joanna Brady in the small desert community of Bisbee. She has Jenny, her adored nine-year-old daughter, and solid, honest, and loving husband, Andy, a local lawman who’s running for Sheriff of Cochise County. But her good life explodes when a bullet destroys Andy Brady’s future and leaves him dying beneath the blistering Arizona sun.

My Thoughts:

Fast-paced, engaging, and fun, Desert Heat was the perfect book for a hot summer day like today. For my cozy followers, this wasn’t quite a cozy, but it was still excellent.

Joanna was a determined, strong, and smart woman who didn’t take nonsense from anyone. I really loved Angie Kellogg and her character, and I hope she comes back in the next books. Really each and every character was well thought-out and each one was a pleasure to read about.

The mystery was stellar, absolutely stellar. It was by far the star of the entire book and it was intricately pieced together in such a way that I absolutely did not expect the end. Filled with small-town corruption, personal issues, and a faked suicide, the mystery was by far one of the best I’ve read in a while.

Overall an excellent book. Just like Loyalty, this series will be perfect when I want something a little bit different from a cozy. Recommend!

Loyalty – Ingrid Thoft

18342325 3.5/5 Ambulance-chasing Lawyers

On The Back:

The Ludlows are a hard-charging family, and patriarch Carl Ludlow treats his offspring like employees—which they are. But his daughter, Fina, is a bit of a black sheep. A law school dropout, her father keeps her in the fold as the firm’s private investigator, working alongside her brothers.

Juggling her family of high-powered (and highly dysfunctional) attorneys, the cops and Boston’s criminal element is usually something Fina does without breaking a sweat. But when her sister-in-law disappears, she’s caught up in a case unlike any she’s encountered before.

Carl wants things resolved without police interference, but the deeper Fina digs, the more impossible that seems. The Ludlows close ranks, and her brother Rand and his unruly teenage daughter Haley grow mysteriously distant from the family. As Fina unearths more dirt, the demands of family loyalty intensify. But Fina is after the truth—no matter the cost.

My Thoughts:

I first heard about Ingrid Thoft when she joined one of my favorite blogs, Jungle Red Writers, a blog dedicated to a group of women who write crime fiction (other “cozy” members include Rhys Bowen, Jenn McKinlay, Hank Phillippi Ryan, and Lucy Burdette). Soon after she joined the blog, I picked up a copy of her first book at a used book store and it’s sat on my shelf since. I was wanting a faster-paced mystery this weekend, so I decided to pick up this book, and boy, was it faster paced! Loyalty was a fast-paced, gripping read that kept me at the edge of my seat.

I loved Fina. Absolutely loved her. She was a no-nonsense, strong, smart, and funny MC who didn’t care what others thought of her. Milloy and Christian were also interesting characters, and I loved the scenes with both of them. Scotty and the rest of Fina’s family were well-written and fleshed out.

The setting is beautiful Boston, and it well-described, but the real star is the mystery. This mystery had so many different parts to it that I never thought they would come together, but they did, and when they did, they made complete sense. The mystery alone deserves five stars.

However, there were a few aspects I didn’t like about the book, mostly because the book wasn’t cozy, so some topics cozy mysteries tend to steer clear of this book touched on.

Overall a solid book. Next time I want a mystery that’s not quite cozy, I’ll get the second in this series.

A Just Clause – Lorna Barrett

32791157 5/5 Renovated Apartments

On The Back:

Just when things are getting back to normal in Booktown, Tricia and Angelica have their lives turned upside down by a shocking visitor from their past in this latest entry in Lorna Barrett’s New York Times bestselling series. 

Tricia Miles, mystery bookstore owner and amateur sleuth, is in for a surprise when her ne’er-do-well father, John, comes to town—and promptly becomes a prime suspect in the murder of a woman with her own scandalous past. Even Tricia’s faith in the old man is shaken when the Stoneham police break the news that her father is a known con man who has done jail time.

But what about bestselling thriller author Steven Richardson? Is it a coincidence that he arrived for a book signing just before the crime or that the victim was found with a signed copy of his latest bestseller?

From merlot to murder, Tricia is determined to clear the family name before another body shows up and ruins Stoneham’s first—and highly anticipated—wine and jazz festival.


My Thoughts:

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

One of the first cozy series I ever read, and one of my favorites, A Just Clause was a winner!

I love the town of Stoneham and the characters there. Tricia, Angelica, Pixie, and Mr. Everett are all the type of characters that make you feel like you’re coming home when reading these mysteries. Pixie, though, is my absolute favorite! I also loved getting to know Tricia and Angelica’s parents more throughout this book, and I really hope they reappear in later volumes.

The mystery was excellent, though slightly rushed. The pool of suspects was so small the killer didn’t really surprise me, but at the same time, it did. There were a lot of components to the mystery and Tricia investigated without calling herself and investigator, which is a trait I look for in MC’s.

Overall an excellent book and a wonderful addition to a series that I highly recommend. Wonderful, simply wonderful!

Berry the Hatchet – Peg Cochran

260679293/5 Cranberry Pecan Raisin Breads

On The Back:

Cranberry farm owner Monica Albertson is once again bogged down in murder in the second Cranberry Cove mystery from national bestselling author Peg Cochran.

The entire town of Cranberry Cove is popping with excitement. Monica Albertson is baking cranberry goodies by the dozen and shopkeepers are decking out their storefronts for the first annual Winter Walk—an event dreamed up by the mayor to bring visitors to the town during a normally dead time of year.

But it’s the mayor who turns up dead during the grand opening ceremony, his lifeless body making its entrance in a horse-drawn sleigh. Monica’s mother and stepmother quickly become the prime suspects when it’s discovered that the mayor was dating both of them, and to make things worse, her half brother Jeff uncovers a clue buried near one of the bogs on Sassamanash Farm. Now it’s up to Monica to find out who really put the mayor on ice.


My Thoughts:

The sophomore book to a series set in an idyllic location, Berry the Hatchet dropped the ball.

First of all, Monica compared herself to Sherlock Holmes and Watson during one portion, and her boyfriend was always comparing her to other literary detectives! Stop, please. That alone annoys me to no end. Sure in a longstanding series I can believe that a character would be compared to a famous detective, but not in the second book! She was also way to forward in her sleuthing. It was annoying.

However, there were some very redeeming characters in this book. I absolutely love Detective Stevens, and I hope she gets a bigger part in the next book. Jeff, Nancy, and Gina are also redeeming characters. I really hope Jeff is also featured more in the next book because his backstory is so unique and real. The VanVelsen sisters also are awesome characters.

The mystery was okay. There were a lot of intricate parts to it, but I guessed the killer about a hundred pages from the reveal. The real star of the book was the setting. I absolutely love it! A cranberry farm is so fresh for a cozy setting, and I love learning a little bit more about the processes that happen on the farm.

Overall an okay book. Monica and the mystery fell short, but, besides that, it wasn’t too bad. I’ll read the next one.

Donating Unwanted Books: Locally!

Continuation of this post.

Now that I’ve weeded through my shelves and picked out the books I no longer want, what do I do with them?

Well, there’s many ways you can get rid of books that allow others to read and love the books that you no longer want!

Local Outlets


Though this one may seem obvious, give them to a friend or family! If you went through an adventure phase a few years back and you know your Uncle Bill loves adventure books, then give them to Uncle Bill! You can also give the books you no longer want to read as gifts. (Though you may not want to give them that book you spilled a drink on!) I love it when a family member gives me a book and says I read this and love it, so I wanted to give you a copy. It makes you feel special, and it’s cheap!


Many schools and churches have low budgets, especially for (what they consider) unimportant things  like books, so you donating a box of books you no longer want would be a huge gift to these places.

Always call the school/church first and make sure they have a library or use for the books. Also, make sure the books are appropriate for the setting, you don’t want smut going to a church or grade school. My church has a small library and they accept donations. I’m actually in charge of the library, and any donations I get I pick through and make sure we can use. If the library can’t use them we place them in our annual yard sale, so the donation still goes to help the church.

Thrift/Secondhand Stores

My town has a thrift store that I absolutely love! I’ve literally gotten hauls of 60+ cozy mysteries there! Like almost every thrift story (also places like Goodwill and Salvation Army) they accept donations. Many of these places have boxes where you can simply drop off a bag of items, so this is a simple, easy way to donate to give back to your community! A lot of these types of stores also go to help local people, my local thrift store is healthcare oriented, so every penny it makes goes to scholarships for students going into healthcare fields, the local hospitals, and other places like that. Because of that I never feel sorry when I donate or buy from them!


Most American communities have a library, and if you’re not looking to get money out of the books you no longer want, I’d highly suggest donating them to your local library.

Most libraries accept donations; I know at my local library you can simply drop books in their book drop and they’ll do whatever they want with them. Check your library’s website or ask your local librarian before just throwing the books in the book drop, though, because your library may have special rules for donations.

At my local library, and at many libraries surrounding my library, they go through the donated books, and if there are books in great condition that they don’t already have they’re add them to their collection, however the rest they’ll sell in their book sales.

My town’s library also does not keep mass market paperbacks. It’s a small library and space is vital to them, so they’ve decided mass market paperbacks don’t have a big enough market in my town and they take up a lot of space, so they automatically sell them. So, make sure you know what your library does with the books. Especially if you will get your feelings hurt if all of your books go into a book sale.

Used Bookstore

Though not every community has a used bookstore (my closest one is 30 miles away!), they are a wonderful place to donate and sell used books. Many used bookstores will buy books from you with either cash or store credit (so, more books!), so it’s a great option if you want to get paid for donating your books. Most used bookstores will also accept donations, however they do not accept all used books, so check with them before dropping anything off!

No matter how small your town is you can do one of these things with your old books. However, always remember to check a place’s website or call them to be sure they accept donations! Also, don’t get your feelings hurt if you see a place decided not to keep a book you donated, just like us, libraries, churches, schools, even used bookstores have limited space, and they can’t keep everything. So, whatever you do do not throw away books you no longer want! There are ways you can give back to your community with those books,

Kale to the Queen – Nell Hampton

31213510 4/5 Healthy Palace Meals

On the Back:

Chef Carrie Ann Cole is about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime–an assignment as the new Personal Chef to the Royal Family at Kensington Palace. But no sooner has Carrie Ann touched down across the pond and donned her apron than a dead body crops up beneath the royal kale beds.

With one assistant dead and the other soon under suspicion for his murder, Carrie Ann is scrambling to keep her kitchen up and running. Not to mention she gets off to an immediate bad start with the tempestuous Royal Chef Butterbottom, who has a bitter taste in his mouth since the prestigious position in the Royal Family’s kitchen was given to an “over-privileged, under-educated American chef.”

But the Royal Family’s appetites wait for no one, and Carrie Ann must solve the murder and still get supper on the table on time–even with the annoyingly handsome Head of Security Ian Gordon tracking her every move like an MI6 agent. Suspects abound as an American chef adds a bit of spice to the traditional royal household in the first in Nell Hampton’s charming and tasty Kensington Palace Chef Mystery series, Kale to the Queen.

My Thoughts:

A new series faintly reminiscent of Julia Hyzy’s White House Chef series, this book was a winner!

Carrie Ann is a wonderful main character. She is strong, thoughtful and kind, and, for the most part, she didn’t force her way into the investigation. Though Carrie Ann was a great character, to me, it was the secondary characters that stood out. Mrs. Worth, Jasper, Michael, Ian, Penny, and Phoebe were all fun characters that I hope we see a lot more of in the next book!

The mystery was well plotted and solid. I din’t really suspect the killer, but it fit together nicely and made sense. However, the ending seemed a little bit rushed to me. I think too much action was fit into the few pages of the reveal. Really, though, that’s typical for most first in a series books, so I’m not worried about it. The setting was a dream; Kensington Palace!

Overall a wonderful book that will leave you wanting more. I absolutely can’t wait for the next one to come out! Highly recommend!