A First Date With Death – Diana Orgain

22668758 4.5/5 Mansion Stars

On The Back:

Reality TV meets murder in the first in a new mystery series from the author of the Maternal Instincts Mysteries and co-author the New York Times bestselling Scrapbooking Mysteries.

When brokenhearted Georgia Thornton goes looking for romance on reality TV, she has nothing to lose—apart from a good man, a cash prize, and maybe her life… 

What was Georgia thinking? Sure, some cad ditched her at the altar, but can she really find love on TV? Her best friend—and producer of the reality show Love or Money—thinks so. Ten men. Ten adventure-filled dates. What can go wrong? For starters, a faulty bungee cord that hurls Georgia’s first date into a tragic spiral off the Golden Gate Bridge.

He’s replaced by Paul Sanders, Georgia’s former fiancé. But the cop isn’t looking for a TV gig. Suspecting that the lover’s leap was no accident, Paul’s going undercover. When another bachelor gets a fatal kiss-off, the reality is that someone has killer new plans for the show—and for Georgia herself. Now, under the threat of permanent cancellation, Georgia fears that the only man on the set she can trust is the one man she just can’t count on…

My Thoughts:

Wow. I opened this book because I thought it was an interesting premise for a cozy series. To be honest, I set my standards low; I’ve never read anything by this author and the book’s theme seemed slightly superficial. Wow, again. This book was anything but superficial. I absolutely loved it!

Georgia was an absolute gem. She basically played a bachelorette, but she was anything but ditzy. She was smart, strong , and a former police detective, all of which blended together to create a fantastic MC. Scott was also a great character, he had tons of layers and was definitely a well-rounded character.

The mystery was excellent. I absolutely had no clue who the killer was until the reveal, and the entire plot was wonderfully plotted. I wasn’t sure about the premise; a Bachelor-type reality TV show? I didn’t know what to think, but it was amazing! I loved it, and I especially loved the way the author incorporated it into the entire plot. I was genuinely interested to see who would win the show!

To be honest, I wasn’t sure how this book would be, but I am extremely glad I picked it up. I highly recommend it, and can’t wait until the next one! A perfect summer beach read!

Dead in the Water – Annelise Ryan

30324949 5/5 Waterlogged Stars

On The Back:

Deputy coroner Mattie Winston is starting to feel like she’s in way over her head . . .

As the single mom of an energetic toddler and an investigator working for the medical examiner’s office in small-town Sorenson, Wisconsin, Mattie is used to her life being a juggling act. But now that she’s moved in with Detective Steve Hurley and his teenaged daughter Emily, and has started planning their wedding, her home life is looking more like a three-ring circus. And with her boss and friend, Izzy, suddenly having a health crisis, she could not be more grateful for the newest staff member in the ME’s office, Hal Dawson.

All too quickly her gratitude turns to shock when a floating body found trapped against a dam turns out to be Hal, but the cause of death isn’t drowning—his throat’s been slashed. Hal was supposed to be fishing on his day off with his girlfriend. And when their empty boat is found in a nearby lake, the whereabouts of the woman becomes an even more urgent question.

To find out what really happened to her coworker, Mattie may need to rock the boat. But a killer is just as determined to keep the truth from ever surfacing, even if that means making Mattie the next one to go under.

My Thoughts:

I’ve waited for a long time for this book, then I decided to wait longer. Now, I wish I had waited even longer because the next one doesn’t come out until next year! Dead in the Water was an absolutely electrifying book. Filled with spine-chilling moments and relatable characters, it was a winner!

I love Mattie. Absolutely love her. She’s funny, honest, and, most importantly, real. Mattie is the type of character you’d expect to see in life, there is absolutely no stiffness when it comes to her. Hurley has definitely matured and evolved since his introduction into the series, and I really like him. I also love Emily and Matthew, both of which add another dimension to the plotline that wasn’t there before.

The mystery was excellent. It was really something I’d expect to find in a more thriller-ish book, but it was superb. It finished off with a cliffhanger, though, so we’ll have to see how it ends up when Dead Calm comes out next year.

Overall superb. One of my absolute favorite series, and a series I can’t recommend enough. Please, do yourself a favor and read these books. Highly recommend!

Death of a Lobster Lover – Lee Hollis

32451963 4/5 Lobster Stars

On The Back:

Food and cocktails columnist Hayley Powell is off on a girls’ getaway with her two best friends. But soon they’ll have to get away from a killer

The quaint fishing village of Salmon Cove, Maine, seems like the ideal location for a girls’ weekend with Hayley’s gal pals, Liddy and Mona. Liddy’s on the rebound from a breakup, but when she meets a handsome tourist, it looks like a little romance might liven things up.

Unfortunately, Liddy’s new sweetheart is found dead on the beach the next morning at the town’s Lobster Bake, next to an overturned cooking pot. The liberated lobsters may be scrambling back to the sea, but Hayley’s not about to let a murderer escape so easily. To crack the case, she’ll need to blow the lid off some serious undercover activity–or risk becoming ensnared in a killer’s trap…

Includes seven delectable recipes from Hayley’s kitchen!

My Thoughts:

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from Kensington and Netgalley*

A delightful new book that picks up where the series left off, Death of a Lobster Lover was an exciting book that I enjoyed!

Hayley Powell is one of the few MCs that makes me laugh out loud. Her shenanigans and crazy wit, make her a joy to read about. I also love how she unapologetically investigates any happenings in her town (or in this book’s case, her vacation town). I really love Mona, though I wish we’d get to see her husband! He’s always talked about, but I can’t remember ever meeting him (though with eight previous books, I could’ve forgotten!).

The mystery was solid, and it deviated from the cozy norm–which is a good thing! I didn’t guess the different components until the end, and I loved how the authors pieced it together! Really the only part I didn’t like in the book was the setting. Though it was beautiful, I feel like Bar Harbor adds a certain charm to the books, that this book was lacking.

Overall an excellent book in a series that I love. Highly recommend!

Identity – Ingrid Thoft

18693737 5/5 Unidentified Stars

On The Back:

“Thoft’s gripping sequel…A quirky and empathetic heroine, a fast-moving plot, and a surprise ending make this a winner.”
Publishers Weekly

Firecracker P.I. Fina Ludlow returns in the next hard-driving entry in the acclaimed series by Ingrid Thoft.

It’s been a couple months since Fina’s last big case—the one that exposed dark family secrets and called Fina’s family loyalty into question—but there’s no rest for the weary, especially when your boss is Carl Ludlow.

Renata Sanchez, a single mother by choice, wants to learn the identity of her daughter Rosie’s sperm donor. A confidentiality agreement and Rosie’s reticence might deter other mothers, but not Renata, nor Carl, who’s convinced that lawsuits involving cryobanks and sperm donors will be “the next big thing.” Fina uncovers the donor’s identity, but the solution to that mystery is just the beginning: within hours of the case going public, Rosie’s donor turns up dead.

Fina didn’t sign on for a murder investigation, but she can’t walk away from a death she may have set in motion. She digs deeper and discovers that DNA doesn’t tell the whole story and sometimes, cracking that code can have deadly consequences.

My Thoughts:

Fast paced, engrossing and entirely readable, Identity was a simply amazing book that I devoured.

I absolutely love Fina. She is one of the strongest characters I have ever read, and I love her interactions with her family (especially her father.) Some changes happened in her relationship with Christian, and I hope that plot line continues with the next book. The rest of the cast is all excellently written,

The mystery was plotted wonderfully. I didn’t really expect the killer until the end, even though there was a limited pool of suspects. I love the dedication Fina has for her job, and I love that the author shows that being a PI is a viable business.

Overall a superb book. I can’t wait to read the next one! Highly recommend.

Death Crashes the Party – Vickie Fee

25575547 4/5 Magnolia Stars

On The Back:

In the quirky, close-knit town of Dixie, Tennessee, party planner Liv McKay has a knack for throwing Southern-style soirées, from diamonds-and-denim to black tie affairs, and her best friend Di Souther mixes a mean daiquiri. While planning a Moonshine and Magnolias bash for high maintenance clients, Liv inconveniently discovers a corpse in the freezer and turns her attention from fabulous fêtes to finding a murderer. Together, Liv and Di follow a trail of sinister secrets in their sweet little town that leads them from drug smugglers to a Civil War battlefield, and just when they think they’re whistling Dixie, Liv and Di will find themselves squarely in the crosshairs of the least likely killer of all. . .

My Thoughts:

Party planning would be tough on a great day, but if you mix murder with it, the plans suddenly have the potential to go down the drain. The first in a series, Death Crashes the Party, was an great read set in an enchanting southern town.

Liv was a great main character who stood out as a leader throughout the book. Ms. Fee boldly took on a relationship many modern cozy authors are afraid to do; a marriage, and she did a wonderful job. The marriage didn’t feel overbearing, like in some books, but it felt natural. Di was also a lovable character, though I don;t know how she had so much time off as a postal carrier. Though, admittedly, I don’t know much about that profession.

The mystery was solid. For a first mystery, the author did a wonderful job creating a complex plot that wrapped up nicely in the end. The setting was also picturesque, I could picture the small town of Dixie with absolutely no problem.

Overall a solid book. I only deducted a star because it took me so long to get through, though that was probably due to my personal schedule. Recommend, and I will be reading the next one!

Review Shot: Deadly Desires at Honeychurch Hall – Hannah Dennison

23014574 5/5 Thatched Roof Stars

On The Back:

When the body of a transport minister is discovered in the grounds on the Honeychurch Hall estate, suspicion as to his unusual demise naturally falls on the residents. After all, who could possibly want a high-speed train line and rolling stock depot built in their front yard?

News of the murder soon reaches our heroine Kat Stanford’s nemesis Trudy Wynne. A ruthless tabloid journalist and the ex-wife of Kat’s discarded lover, Trudy is out for revenge. She is also interested in exposing—and humiliating—Kat’s mother Iris, who is secretly the international bestselling romance writer Krystalle Storm.

As the body count begins to build, Kat becomes inextricably embroiled in the ensuing scandal. Is the minister’s death the result of a local vendetta, or could it be connected to her mother’s unusual past?

My Thoughts:

Sorry for the lack of reviews, life’s been crazy!

Deadly Desires at Honeychurch Hall is a perfect British cozy mystery. Filled with intrigue, amazing characters, and a picturesque setting, this book was a winner.

I love Kat, she’s a strong, independent MC, but I feel like she’s not the star. Iris, her mother is the true star, and it works! Iris is hilarious and fun, and her interactions with Kat are wonderful. The Honeychurch family is also wonderful, though I wish they would be more heavily featured. The mystery was superb. Overall an absolutely wonderfull read, that I greatly enjoyed. Highly recommend!

Fudge and Jury – Ellie Alexander

29875936.jpg 5/5 Chocolate Pasta Stars

On The Back:

Welcome to Torte—a friendly, small-town family bakery where the pastries are delicious…and, now, suspicious.

It’s almost spring in Ashland, Oregon, and the town is preparing for the Shakespeare and the annual Chocolate Festival. Business is cookin’ at Torte, and the store is expanding as Jules’ team whips up crèpes filled with mascarpone cheese and dark chocolate. Torte stands a chance of being this year’s confectionery belle of the ball! Life couldn’t be sweeter—unless murder taints the batter.

Evan Rowe, of Confections Couture, makes a chocolate fountain that would put Willy Wonka to shame, and his truffles are to die for—literally? Yes, the world-renowned chocolatier has just turned up dead…right after sampling a slice of Jules’ decadent four-layer chocolate cake. Now all eyes are on Jules as she tries to find the mysterious ingredient in her own recipe. Can she sift out the truth before another contestant bites the buttercream?

My Thoughts:

It’s been a while since I read the previous book in this series, and I have to say that I forgot how readable these books are! The Bakeshop mysteries are truly a joy to read and I will be sticking with this series for many books to come!

Jules is great, I think my main problem with her in the last books was how she acted with Carlos around, and, though she thought about him often in this book, she was much more likable without him around making her act foolish. Her mother is always a delight, and I’m curious to see how Ms. Alexander incorporates a new feature we learn abour her mom into the next books.

The mystery was excellent. There weren’t an overabundance of clues, but it was simple and neat (which often are the best types of mysteries). Jules didn’t have any “I have to investigate or I might die” moments, and it all wrapped up nicely. The setting was–as always–amazing, and I’m excited to see new features of Torte in the upcoming books.

Overall a wonderful book that left me wanting more. I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of A Crime of Passionfruit. (Plus there was an awesome looking recipe for chocolate pasta in the back!)

All The Little Liars – Charlaine Harris

28220808.jpg 4/5 Missing Stars

On The Back:

#1 New York Times bestseller Charlaine Harris returns to her Aurora Teagarden mystery series with a fabulous new book featuring the small-town Southern librarian.

Aurora Teagarden is basking in the news of her pregnancy when disaster strikes her small Georgia town: four kids vanish from the school soccer field in an afternoon. Aurora’s 15-year-old brother Phillip is one of them. Also gone are two of his friends, and an 11-year-old girl who was just hoping to get a ride home from soccer practice. And then there’s an even worse discovery—at the kids’ last known destination, a dead body.

While the local police and sheriff’s department comb the county for the missing kids and interview everyone even remotely involved, Aurora and her new husband, true crime writer Robin Crusoe, begin their own investigation. Could the death and kidnappings have anything to do with a group of bullies at the middle school? Is Phillip’s disappearance related to Aurora’s father’s gambling debts? Or is Phillip himself, new to town and an unknown quantity, responsible for taking the other children? But regardless of the reason, as the days go by, the most important questions remain. Are the kids still alive? Who could be concealing them? Where could they be?

With Christmas approaching, Aurora is determined to find her brother…if he’s still alive.

After more than a decade, #1 New York Times bestseller Charlaine Harris finally returns to her fan-favorite Aurora Teagarden series with All the Little Liars, a fabulously fun new mystery.

My Thoughts:

I am so glad that Charlaine Harris decided to continue the Aurora Teagarden mystery series, and I’m even more glad that she picked up right where she left off. All The Little Liars was an excellent book in a series I highly recommend.

Roe was obviously back, but she didn’t seem quite as sassy as she normally is. Robin is really growing on me, and I can honestly say that Phillip is one of my favorites. I hope he continues to have a part in the series for books to come. Roe’s mother is the only character I wish would appear more. She’s great!

The mystery was good, but it fell short when compared to previous books. The reveal was honestly disappointing, but Ms. Harris did a wonderful job of creating tension throughout the book.

Overall an excellent book, and, if I didn’t have the earlier books in the series to compare it to, it would be easily a five-star read. Highly recommend!

Booked 4 Murder – J.C. Eaton

32451965 4/5 Mystery Book Clubs

On The Back:

Never judge a book by its cover… 

Sophie Phee Kimball is not a cop. She s a divorced, middle-aged mom who works as an account clerk for the police department in a small city in Minnesota. But her retired mother, Harriet Plunkett, is convinced Phee is the only one who can solve the mystery of a cursed book. According to Harriet, four members of her book club have already succumbed to the deadly curse. Harriet insists Phee catch the next plane to her retirement community in Sun City West, Arizona, to investigate.

Is her mother just bored and lonely? She does have a new pet a long-haired chiweenie (half Chihuahua, half Dachshund) for company and a host of pals (although that number is admittedly dwindling). Phee is certain that their book club selection isn t cursed, but is somebody really knocking off the ladies? As Phee starts to uncover dark secrets hidden in plain sight under the blazing Arizona sun, she ll need to read between the lines before it s someone else s final chapter….

My Thoughts:

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from Kensington and Netgalley*

A winning first book in a series, Booked 4 Murder is the start to a series that i am sure to continue reading!

Sophie was an absolutely wonderful character. She wasn’t young, there was no love interest at all (which was amazing!), and she blatantly investigated. Three things that are atypical, but that–combined together–worked! Sophie’s mother wasn’t sassy or crotchety, another deviation from the typical cozy mold.

The mystery was good, but the reveal felt rushed and just a bit over the top. I loved the setting, and I am so excited for the ending an what the next book will bring. Overall a wonderful mystery, and a great start to a new series. This series will be a breath of fresh air in the cozy market. Highly recommend!

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!