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Friday, November 29, 2019

Shortbread and Sorrow (Peridale Cafe Mystery #5) by Agatha Frost

Shortbread and Sorrow

Kindle Edition, 130 pages
Published May 23rd 2017

Goodreads synopsis:
When Julia’s gran, Dot, wins an all-inclusive spa trip to Scotland, Julia finds it difficult to refuse the offer of a relaxing week away from her cafĂ©. Along with her sister, Sue, they pack up her tiny vintage car and drive all the way from Peridale to Seirbigh Castle, ready to be pampered. The last thing Julia expected was to be caught up in another murder investigation, but when the cruel owner of the family-run spa, Henry McLaughlin, is shot dead, she can’t resist ditching the facemasks and massages in favour of cracking the case.

Julia quickly befriends the young cook and talented-baker, Blair, and acquires a job in the kitchen so she can observe the strange family in the wake of the murder. Henry’s wife and children are acting suspicious, and with an incompetent young Detective Inspector on the case, Julia makes it her mission to discover the secrets held within the ancient walls before Seirbigh Castle claims another victim.


4.25 Stars

This is the fifth book in the Peridale Cafe mystery series by Agatha Frost.

I purchased a ten book set of this series and starting with this book, I am reading from that collection. If you like the previous books in the series, this would be a economical way to read ten of the first books in the series.

The majority of this book is set in Scotland. Grandma Dot has won a contest and she takes Julia and her sister, Sue to a castle where they will be pampered with sorts of spa-like amenities. If first impressions are anything to base a recommendation on, this one would be bad. The owner of the castle throws his wife out of the castle and they are greeted with busted open suitcases thrown at their feet.

The castle is running with a skeleton crew and Julia feels sorry for the 19 year old trying to keep up with all the strange dinner requests. Julia decides to step in and assist. Then the owner, Henry is found dead and his wife, who had been thrown out the day before is back taking charge again. As the clues and the bodies build up, you begin to question what everyone’s motives could be.

This one can easily work as a standalone since there are very few of the normal main cast are walking around. It was nice to get to know Julia’s sister and grandmother. Dot seems like such a hoot.

I look forward to continuing this series and finishing it in 2020.

Chocolate Cake and Chaos (Peridale Cafe Mystery #4) by Agatha Frost

Chocolate Cake and Chaos

Kindle Edition, 130 pages
Published April 2017

Goodreads synopsis:
A funeral wreath is delivered to Barker’s cottage. Is it a prank, or a grim warning? Julia’s fears that somebody is trying to kill Barker are confirmed when a dead body with a striking resemblance to him is found on his doorstep the very next day, just as their romance is deepening. Barker might be on temporary suspension from his role as Detective Inspector at the village police station, but that doesn’t mean he’s short of enemies in Peridale, especially when a dark face from his past arrives in the small village to stir up painful memories. With an unclear list of suspects and motives, Julia vows to keep Barker safe, but can they figure out the puzzle as they work outside of the law in a race against time to stop Barker paying the ultimate price?


4.25 Stars

This is the fourth book in the Peridale Cafe mystery series by Agatha Frost.

In the last book, Julia’s boyfriend DI Barker Brown gets suspended from his job and is now waiting for the department to finish their investigation into his behavior during the string of homeless deaths where he did not exactly follow protocol.

Then a funeral wreath is delivered to his cottage saying “RIP Barker” leaving him to wonder who had it out for him. Not long later he realized that a man he had put into jail when he first started at the department is out and ready for revenge. That is when the find the body of Barker’s superior officer dead on Barker’s doorstep. Since his superior office has often been mistaken for him, Barker thinks the killer is definitely after him.

I thought this book was great. I was sorry to see Barker’s superior killed because I felt like he would have been an awesome recurring character.

Great story and I look forward to continue on in this series completing it in 2020.

Doughnuts and Deception (Peridale Cafe Mystery #3) by Agatha Frost

Doughnuts and Deception

Kindle Edition, 234 pages
Published March 18th 2017

Goodreads synopsis:
Julia never expected to be caught up in another murder investigation, but when she discovers that homeless people are dying suspiciously and the police aren't investigating, she can't sit back and do nothing. After promising her young lodger, Jessie, that she will do everything she can to help, Julia finds herself diving headfirst into the case, aided by her new Detective Inspector boyfriend, Barker. Sure there is a serial killer preying on the vulnerable residents of an old burnout warehouse, Julia must act quickly to get to the bottom of the mystery, but can she crack the case before more bodies turn up?


4.25 Stars

This is the third book in the Peridale Cafe mystery series by Agatha Frost.

The first book was okay and the second book better, but with book three I can see that this series is here to stay.

Jessie, a former homeless person, asks Julia to look into a number of unusual deaths in the homeless community. And of course, Julia gets way in over her head. I was kind of surprised a cozy mystery tackled such a topic but anything goes in cozy mysteries these days. It isn’t until the fourth death that Julia gets a lead. And where it takes her is quite a surprising ordeal. Every book seems to introduce us to an interesting person who might become a recurring character and in this book, that spot goes to Tommy, practically the king of the homeless community who used to be a developer and is like a grandfather to young Jessie.

This story really sucks  you in so when the killer is revealed, I hope you are as surprised as I was. 

Death in the Village (Sukey Reynolds #11) by Betty Rowlands

Death in the Village

Kindle Edition, 326 pages
Published September 30th 2019 by Bookouture (first published April 1st 2011)

Goodreads synopsis:
This book was previously published as Miss Minchin Dies.

In the sleepy village of Over Hampton lies a small cottage with a picture-perfect garden… but inside the ivy-covered walls a woman is dead on the bathroom floor.

The warm summer weather is giving Sukey Reynolds a chance to enjoy the stunning English countryside around her new home. She has met a handsome local journalist, and there might be a new romance on the cards.

Everything is quiet at work too. So when the village doctor calls, saying he is sure there is something fishy about one of his patients’ deaths, Sukey follows up his claims. Well-liked and kindly Adelaide Minchin was found by her milkman, and appears to have died in a fall. Sukey can find no evidence to the contrary, but promises the doctor she will keep his theory in mind.

Meanwhile, the police force is suddenly very busy after two young girls go missing in the very same village. It’s all hands on deck to bring them home safely, but as Sukey investigates the last place the girls were seen, she realises it was very close to Adelaide’s cottage… Is it possible that the cases are linked?

Sukey’s colleagues are not convinced by her hunch, so she does some sleuthing in her spare time, determined to prove them wrong. In the close-knit village she has no shortage of possible suspects: was it the benevolent builders, the frazzled new father or the muddled milkman…? And can she find the real culprit, and bring the girls back home, before any more innocent lives are lost?


4.5 Stars

This is the eleventh book in the Sukey Reynolds mystery series by Betty Reynolds. The book was previously titled Miss Minchin Dies.

I guess I would call this a police procedural/detective fiction genre type of book. It is in the same vein as Midsomer Murders and features a cast set in England. The main character is a Detective Constable named Sukey Reynolds. She has just met a handsome journalist named Harry who is quite a handy ally in this book and does a lot of the information searches that she should probably doing on her own. But I like having him around so I will tolerate that little niggle.

A lady has died in her home discovered by the milkman. Everyone thinks this is just an average accidental death but the local doctor seems to have other ideas. He calls in the SID to investigate. Sukey is paired with a number of different people during the course of the book which keeps this mystery interesting. It is a long and winding path to find the killer and the details are discovered bit by bit. And what looked like a simple death has turned into a massive undertaking none of them were expecting.

This really kept me guessing and by the end I really had no clue. I loved watching the clues as they were uncovered and particulary liked the new budding relationship between Sukey and Harry. I kind of got the feeling the boss in charge might have been a bit sweet on Sukey but I have not read other books in this series so I look forward to seeing what develops in this world.

If you love a great police procedural, definitely check this one out. You won’t be disappointed!

I received this as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) in return for an honest review. I thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for allowing me to read this title.

Have a Deadly New Year (Farm-to-Fork Mystery #3.5) by Lynn Cahoon

Have a Deadly New Year

Kindle Edition, 88 pages
Expected publication: December 3rd 2019 by Lyrical Underground

Goodreads synopsis:
Chef Angie Turner of The County Seat—Idaho’s finest farm-to-table restaurant—is preparing a private dinner in the mountains during ski season, but the trip’s about to go downhill . . .

It’s a rockin’ New Year for Angie and her crew as they cater a bash for a famous band—and as a bonus, they’ll get to stay at the singer’s Sun Valley house for a whole week once the party’s over. But there are hints of discord, and the event hits a sour note when one of the musicians is found with a drumstick in his chest.

Is this a case of creative differences turned lethal or is there another motive at play? Angie’s jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire as she and her fellow foodies try to solve the case before the killer comes out for an encore . . 


4.5 Stars

This is a novella (#3.5) in the Farm to Fork Mystery series by Lynn Cahoon.

I have to admit that even though Cahoon is one of my favorite cozy mystery authors, I have yet to dig into this series. So I guess reading a novella isn’t going to spoil me for any of the previous books. This felt really contained and more like a standalone.

Angie and her crew have been asked to cater a party for a popular band and once one argument between band-mates occurs, the party just seems to become a series of mishaps. Then the next morning one of the most vocal is found dead with a drumstick in his chest.

I kind of enjoyed getting a taste of the series like this. It was quite an interesting tale, and told pretty quickly so I don’t want to spoil too much. I am curious to see how many of these characters show up in the normal series. I would really like to see an expanded look at who they all are. This book just gives us a great taste of what Farm-To-Fork might be like.

I will definitely be checking this series out in 2020 and get myself up to date. Why don’t you join me.

If you love a good cozy mystery, definitely check out this bakery cozy. It is super fun!

I received this as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) in return for an honest review. I thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for allowing me to read this title.

Accidental Secrets (Accidental Love Book 3) by Dana Mason

Accidental Secrets
(Accidental Love Book 3)

Kindle Edition, 303 pages
Expected publication: December 5th 2019 by Bookouture

Goodreads synopsis:
She’s been hiding something from him. Until now…

He was my childhood sweetheart.
Then it all went wrong and my mom tore us apart.
Ever since then I’ve kept my secret.
I haven’t had a choice.
Fourteen years later, just thinking about him makes my stomach flip.
I still remember his citrus smell, the way he used to gently hold my hand.
And then… It turns out he’s living in the same damn town.
But he’s not the Mike I remember.
He’s dark and dangerous, covered in ink.
He’s completely and utterly mouth-watering.
His whiskey-colored eyes blaze as he catches sight of me.
And it’s just a matter of time before he finds out the truth…
The question is, will he forgive me?

She was my ride or die.
And she left without even saying goodbye.
Left me with nothing but a broken heart.
Since then, I’ve struggled to get close to anyone.
It’s pathetic – who else clings to their high-school love?
And then, all these years later, I see her.
But Rachel’s not how I remember.
Her wavy, raven hair frames her sexy sea-blue eyes.
Her perfect hourglass figure has curves in all the right places.
She’s pin-up girl hot. And I refuse to let her get away this time.
Next thing, we’re in suite 108.
I’m unbuttoning her blouse, tasting every inch of her.
She’s screaming in pleasure.
She’s begging for more.
Everything’s perfect.
Except for one thing…
She’s hiding one hell of a secret.
And when I find out what it is, do I have it in me to forgive her?
Or will I be the one walking away without a goodbye this time?


5 Stars

This is the third book in the Accidental Love series by Dana Mason.

Mason never fails to offer us an unputdownable romance. And this book is no different.

We met Michael Murphy, Kelley’s best friend in the previous book in this series when she went to hide out with him when she had a squabble with Mac. He was definitely my favorite character from that book and I was looking forward to this book because of that.

Mike now has his Cross Fit Box store nearly ready for its opening. Then in waders a young girl named Reagan. She is curious about the gym, he thinks, but she is really curious about him. He’s her dad and he doesn’t even know she exists.

Rachel is Reagan’s mother. She is Mike’s high school sweetheart. The one he never forgot or got over. He runs into Rachel during a wedding consultation standing while he is standing in for Mac and being Kelley’s support. Both are flabbergasted. She just disappeared while in high school and never contacted Mike. He was heart broken. Little did he know all the circumstances behind her disappearance. When they first meet, the book about consumes itself. To say they were hot for each other was an understatement. They were in desperate need for each other.

This book just kills you for both of them and all they had been through due to Rachel’s mother. The woman was a major manipulator and forced Rachel to choose between her baby and Mike while threatening to put the baby up for adoption if she didn’t make the right decision. Needless to say, I hated that woman with a desperation that matched Rachel and Mike’s love for each other.

I gave this five stars because, wow, this story just blows my mind. And the chemistry is off the charts. I really think Mason needs to give classes on how to craft characters, motivations and situations that really push all our buttons in the right way.

If you love a good romance, definitely pick this one up. Every book I have read by her was amazing. High caliber stuff. Unputdownable, for sure!

I received this as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) in return for an honest review. I thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for allowing me to read this title.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Murder for Good (Ellie Quicke Mystery Book 13) by Veronica Heley

Murder for Good
(Ellie Quicke Mystery Book 13)

Hardcover, 224 pages
Expected publication: December 3rd 2019 by Severn House Publishers

Goodreads synopsis:
The kindness of strangers comes under suspicion in the enjoyable new Ellie Quicke mystery.

Ellie's husband Thomas, a retired minister, is suspicious when he receives not one but five letters advising him that he has been bequeathed money by five different people in their wills. He barely knew three of his benefactors, and what could possibly connect him to the other two strangers?

Sensing something isn't right, and with Thomas's reputation at stake, Ellie investigates but is soon distracted, not only by the problem of trying to ease Hetty, a difficult woman who's recently taken refuge with them, out of their house, but also by her daughter, Diana, who's in trouble again. As Ellie finally starts to make progress with her enquiries, she is about to uncover some disturbing truths - and in doing so, find herself in great danger . . .


4.5 Stars

This is the thirteenth book in the Ellie Quicke mystery series by Veronica Heley.

Going into this I had no clue it was part of a bigger series. And I thought this easily could stand alone even if you have not read the previous twelve books in the series.

I both loved and hated this. I love it because it really kept me on my toes and really stirred all these protective emotions in me. I wanted to throttle the housekeeper Hetty and the daughter of Ellie, Diana just for being unnerving schmucks. I don’t think I have disliked so many people in one series before. Heley really knows how to elicit the emotions from us. The murders in this happen off stage, so to speak. And we don’t realize a murder has occurred until later in the story. 

I really felt a major amount of stress while reading this. But like an accident on the highway, you just couldn’t look away and keep your eyes on your own late. You become so curious that you have to know more. This story really sucks you in and you even wonder how it will ever be resolved.

Ellie’s husband has gotten quite a few letters from the estates of deceased people sending him money. He thinks one or two are fine but when the number of gifts keep growing along with the amounts, Thomas and Ellie both get suspicious. What is really going on here?

In some ways Ellie was just too naive for my taste. It seemed everyone and their brother wanted to take advantage of her for her kindness. I even wonder how Diana turned out so self-centered and me, me, me with a parent like Ellie. I wanted to bundle Ellie up and give her shelter from the storm and keep all these nasty people from hurting her.

There were a few times in this I wondered if Ellie was a bit ADHD since she mumbled to herself quite frequently and questioned herself at every turn. I wish she had been a bit more self-assured. Because of this I tended to not like her as much as I should have.

This mystery is quite interesting and you have to just let it unfold to get any enjoyment out of it. 

If you love a good suspense mystery, definitely check this one out for size. I am sure you will come away wanting to read more from this amazing author!

I received this as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) in return for an honest review. I thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for allowing me to read this title.

Death at Eden's End (A DCI Satterthwaite Mystery Book 2) by Jo Allen

Death at Eden's End 
(A DCI Satterthwaite Mystery Book 2)

Kindle Edition, 244 pages
Expected publication: December 12th 2019 by Aria

Goodreads synopsis:
A brand new DCI Jude Satterthwaite crime mystery from the bestselling Jo Allen.

When one-hundred-year-old Violet Ross is found dead at Eden's End, a luxury care home hidden in a secluded nook of the Lake District's Eden Valley it's tragic, of course, but not unexpected. Except for the instantly recognizable look in her lifeless eyes... that of pure terror.

DCI Jude Satterthwaite heads up the investigation, but as the deaths start to mount up it's clear that he, and DS Ashleigh O'Halloran need to uncover a long-buried secret before the killer strikes again...

The second in the unmissable, Lake District-set, DCI Jude Satterthwaite series.


5 Stars

This is the second book in the DVCI Satterwaite mystery series by Jo Allen.

What a great police procedural! I felt like I was watching my new favorite show on tv. Lots of drama in these pages. Midsomer Murders has nothing on this!

Even though there were few suspects, these few sure kept me guessing as to whodunit. It was like a wicked merry go round. Round and round she goes. Just when you think you have a handle on the killer… nope! Not that one. For a hot minute I even suspected Jude’s old flame who called in the initial complaint about the unusual death of 100 yr old Violet Ross. Shame on me! :)

I am so happy to have found this series in its infancy. I am sure this will go on for years with many installments of Jude & Co. I only wish there had been a bit more Jude/Ashleigh romance but I understand why it was so tame. Got to build into these things, right?

If you love police procedural, romantic suspense or detective fiction, definitely check this one out. You will not be disappointed!!

I received this as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) in return for an honest review. I thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for allowing me to read this title.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Brewed Awakening (Coffeehouse Mystery #18) by Cleo Coyle

Brewed Awakening

Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Expected publication: December 3rd 2019 by Berkley

Goodreads synopsis:
From Cleo Coyle, the New York Times bestselling author of Shot in the Dark and Dead Cold Brew, comes a delicious new entry in the "fun and gripping" (Huffington Post) Coffeehouse Mysteries.

When coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi awakens on a bench in Washington Square Park, she has no idea she's been missing for days, or that her friends and family have been frantic with worry. Now that she's back, everyone is overjoyed, including a handsome NYPD detective who claims to be her fiance. But to Mike Quinn's crushing distress, Clare doesn't remember him, or much of anything about the last fifteen years of her life.

Clare's missing memory is tied to a crime she witnessed. An acquaintance of Clare's elegant employer--and fellow member of an exclusive Gotham circle known as "The Ladies Who Brunch"--invited Clare to her posh hotel to sample gourmet wedding cakes. After their indulgent tasting, they headed to the parking garage, where a camera captured a masked figure with a gun confronting the hotel heiress with Clare looking on. Did the kidnapper take Clare, too? The camera went dark, just like Clare's memory. Soon authorities grow suspicious. Is Clare really a victim? Or merely acting like one? Evidence is mounting that she set the woman up.

To clear her name, Clare must find a way to reclaim her memories and rescue the heiress before this high-stakes crime ends in tragedy. Otherwise, instead of walking down the aisle, Clare may find herself perp-walking to prison as an accomplice to kidnapping and murder.


5 Stars

This is book eighteen in the Coffeehouse Mystery series by Cleo Coyle.

This series just rings all the bells for me. Murder by Mocha was my first introduction into the cozy mystery world and I have been hooked ever since. Stepping back into this series is like coming home. So, when Clare Cosi loses her memory we are transported back to a time just after her separation with Matt and her daughter, Joy is still a kid.

It was fascinating to watch the fallout from Clare’s memory loss and how it effected everyone. This was all before Clare ever did her sleuthing thing so she was so out of her element and I couldn’t take my eyes off the page. Matt was at his most annoying and taking advantage of the situation, per usual. Why does this guy never learn? And Mike Quinn, her fiancee, and I loved the whole flashback to the proposal. How inventive!

This reminded me of other Coffeehouse books where Clare and Mike were on the run and it was a good feeling of deja vu. This book makes you appreciate how far the series has come. And it it making me want to revisit the entire series with a marathon re-read starting at book one! Just can’t get enough of this coffeehouse series. It feels like coming home.

To me this is part police procedural and part cozy mystery with all the best parts of each genre featured here. I definitely can’t wait to see what Cleo Coyle comes up with for book nineteen!

If you love cozy mysteries or police procedurals/detective fiction, definitely try out this series for size. I am sure you will not be disappointed.

I received this as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) in return for an honest review. I thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for allowing me to read this title.