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Monthly Archives: February 2019

Pruning the Dead–cozy mystery with a gardening theme

Pruning the Dead

by Julia Henry

Pruning the DeadA new cozy mystery series. A different sort of mystery. In what way different? Don’t they all follow a general formula? Yes and no. There are common expectations for cozies such as the absence of graphic violence, sex, or language, and the presence of a likable main character who finds herself (or occasionally himself) drawn into solving a mystery, often in a small town. Pruning the Dead fits the bill. The manner of deviation is the amount of time the author spends setting up the backdrop, the small town of Goosebush, on the south shore of Massachusetts, the gardening theme, and the characters, some of whom take on the role of Garden Squad with the goal of replacing “weeds with plants” and restoring “order from chaos.”

Lilly Jayne is starting to emerge from a cloud of grieving and depression following her husband’s death. She is rich and considered somewhat of a matriarch in Goosebush. Having neglected her civic duties for years during her husband’s illness, she suddenly begins seeing the negative changes that have crept into her hometown.

Although the murder doesn’t occur until a quarter of the way into the book, don’t be lulled into thinking it is less than an interesting mystery. The time the author, Julia Henry, spends developing the characters and setting is time well-spent. Although I deduced the murderer as I approached the end of the book, I enjoyed reading how it played out, and there were many detours and suspects along the way that kept the journey interesting.

Even though the second book in the series has not been published yet, I anticipate that readers will benefit by starting the series by reading Pruning the Dead, the first book. I look forward to reading the next book to see how the Garden Squad develops and what happens next in Goosebush, Massachusetts. 

I would like to extend my thanks to and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #1 in the Garden Club Mystery Series

Gardening tips are included at the end of the book.

Publication:   January 29, 2019—Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

“Facts are facts, but the truth depends on the teller.”

“Choosing a kinder path is important. It makes the journey easier.”

“I made a decision a long time ago that hate is more exhausting for me than it is for the object on which I would bestow that energy.”

FREE Download: Academic Curveball (1st in Braxton Campus Mystery Series)

Free Cozy Mystery! Jump right into this series with this opportunity to get #1 FREE. I’m excited that the third book in the series will be published soon. #1 is a delight!

Death by Chocolate Malted Milkshake–delicious cozy mystery

Death by Chocolate Malted Milkshake

by Sarah Graves

Death by Chocolate Malted MilkshakeJake (Jacobia) relates this tale from the first person point of view as she and her friend Ellie struggle to survive the low tourist season in Maine. In this delightful cozy mystery, Jake and Ellie own their dream shop, The Chocolate Moose. Having recently purchased a vintage, mint green milkshake maker, they have added chocolate milkshakes to the treats featured in their chocolate themed bakery. Unfortunately, an abusive local drunk is found dead with one of their milkshake cups beside him.

In Death by Chocolate Malted Milkshake by Sarah Graves, questions swirl like a milkshake in a blender. Was the victim poisoned by the milkshake? Will the tampered milkshake rumors prove deadly to their struggling business? The ladies are counting on a whoopie-pie wedding cake to keep their business afloat; but with the groom suspected of murder, will the wedding even take place?

There are other suspects, interesting extended family members, a competent, sympathetic sheriff, lots of action, and more than a little danger as Jake and Ellie try to save their shop, keep Ellie and her family from having to move, discover the murderer and stay alive. I was surprised by the ending and the revelation of the murderer.

I would like to extend my thanks to and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #2 in the Death by Chocolate Mystery Series, but will work as a standalone.

It features a recipe for Ginger Chocolate Biscotti.

Publication:   January 29, 2019—Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

The landlady’s glare was so cold, you could’ve used it to freeze fish.

An old railroad trestle crossed the gap between two high bluffs over a grassy salt marsh. In the moonlight, the cattails in the marsh stood motionless as if at attention.

Basically, I thought, frogs lived in a puddle, ate flies, and never got warm; still they yelled out their happiness in doing it and I found that encouraging.

The Gun Also Rises–books galore!

The Gun Also Rises

by Sherry Harris

The Gun Also RisesAnother fun cozy mystery is now available in the Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mystery Series. I always like Sherry Harris’ books better than I like garage sales, which are just a vehicle for her delivery of a great story. The Gun Also Rises will particularly appeal to book lovers. Sarah Winston’s presence is requested by wealthy Mrs. Belle Winthrop Granville, III who asks her prepare a huge collection of mystery paperbacks for sale with the proceeds to benefit the local library. In the same house is a huge collection of old and rare books.

Sarah discovers a suitcase containing what appears to be manuscripts by Hemingway, and she finds herself thrust into a real mystery with murderers, thieves, impostors, literary treasure hunters, mobsters, law enforcement, and reporters. There are a dizzying number of possibilities and suspects that Sarah must negotiate to try to keep herself alive. As she tries to find the missing manuscript, she must also dodge reporters and the bad guys, but first she has to figure out just who they are. She also needs to coordinate a fund-raiser on the town common to raise money to bring back from Afghanistan the street dog adopted by Eric, a sergeant injured by a suicide bomber and now suffering from PTSD. In addition, she needs to complete her work for Miss Belle.

Despite many personal interruptions in my reading of this book, I enjoyed it very much. There are some relationship issues surrounding Sarah with her brother Luke and her D.A. friend Seth, but the mystery is certainly the focus. The story takes you down many pathways with various suspects and motives. The question of whodunit was complex, intriguing, and surprising. This is a great read for cozy mystery lovers.

I would like to extend my thanks to and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #6 in the Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mystery Series, but works as a standalone.

Publication:   January 29, 2019—Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

Weariness crept over me like an incoming sea fog.

Part of the problem with our relationship had been blurred lines. Even though we’d divorced, the lines between our old life and our new one kept blurring, like watercolors that spread across thick paper.

The war was behind them, the stock market crash ahead, and the next world war off in an unsuspecting future. No wonder the twenties were roaring for the rich.

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