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Pinot Red or Dead–who is messing with the wineries?

Pinot Red or Dead

by J. C. Eaton

Pinot Red or DeadDon’t you love it when a cozy mystery is as fun as you expected? Pinot Red or Dead by the husband/wife author team known as J.C. Eaton maintained my interest, kept me guessing, and put a smile on my face all the way through.

In the third mystery in this series, Norrie, a screenplay writer who is temporarily in charge of the family winery, becomes involved in yet another murder mystery as problems beset the Lake-to-Lake Wine Distributors which distributes wine for Norrie’s winery as well as the other wineries that surround Seneca Lake. Norrie is determined to discover the identity of the murderer. Is it the same person who is trying to drive prices of Pinot Noir sky high? In the process she gets to know Godfrey Klein, an entomologist. She tours a convent with him, ostensibly to observe his methods to eradicate through natural means an infestation of stinkbugs, but she has an ulterior motive. Her friends Don and Theo, owners of the neighboring Grey Egret Winery, play pivotal roles in this mystery. Look for theft, sabotage, and a very surprising ending.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Lyrical Underground (Kensington Press) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #3 in the Wine Trail Mysteries, but works well as a standalone

Publication:   March 26, 2019—Kensington (Lyrical Underground)

Memorable Lines:

And then the tears again. And the sobs. People handled grief differently and they went through all sorts of stages, but watching Lavettia Lawrence was like having a front seat at Wimbledon.

Delving into social media was like falling into a never-ending pit, but what choice did I have? If I could focus on Miller and Lavettia and not get sidetracked by cute kittens or craft projects I’d never make, I’d be okay.

In my mind, I was the epitome of “grace under pressure,” but Theo, who caught sight of me on his way to the restroom, later told me I looked like Hermione Granger after she fought off the troll.

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One Potato, Two Potato, Dead–family of friends

One Potato, Two Potato, Dead

by Lynn Cahoon

One Potato, Two Potato, DeadWith an emphasis on choosing your family from the friends grouped around you, Lynn Cahoon’s One Potato, Two Potato, Dead  is a fun cozy mystery featuring Angie Turner, chef and owner of the County Seat restaurant, her boyfriend Ian, her best friend and business partner Felicia, and a number of other staff members. Set in a little town in Idaho, the book introduces Taylor, who seems like a really nice guy dedicating himself to a homeless mission. In this book there are a number of people who are not what they profess or appear to be. A visiting professor from Canada is found murdered, and one of Angie’s staff is accused of the crime, leading to  Angie’s involvement in the investigation. There are many complications and distractions to add to the enjoyment of solving this mystery.

One Potato, Two Potato, Dead is an entertaining story with plenty of activity, a huge focus on food, and many conflicts of interest as Ian’s uncle is the local sheriff. A little romance is presented for various characters. All-in-all, a highly recommended mystery by one of my favorite cozy writers.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Lyrical Underground (Kensington Press) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: 1. #3 in the Farm-to-Fork Mystery Series

2.  It took me a long time to read this mystery because I was sick, but it was easy to remember the events and pick right up each time I returned to the book.

3.  Recipe included at the end for Idaho Potato Pie which sounds delicious for brunch or with a salad for lunch.

Publication:   March 19, 2019—Kensington (Lyrical Underground)

Memorable Lines:

Dom sat on his bed and watched her. Somehow, the dog knew when she was upset. And unlike people, the dog always knew how to listen.

Man, the woman was toxic. Why anyone would want to be in a social club with her didn’t make any sense to Angie. Popularity at any cost. She’d thought that mind-set had died when they’d left high school. Apparently not.

Food healed. It wasn’t a magic bullet, but cooking and eating and coming together over food was the best way to deal with any problem.

Criminally Cocoa–disappointing

Criminally Cocoa

by Amanda Flowers

Criminally CocoaI have read books in two different series by Amanda Flowers and generally find her plots intriguing, her characters interesting, and her writing style excellent. Criminally Cocoa, except for the kitschy title, was disappointing. Normally I like the rare cozy mystery that doesn’t revolve around a murder. No murder here, but no plot success either. Flowers and her characters kept strolling through the same territory with two themes (Amish girl in the big city and the success or failure of a new cooking show) over and over again. Fortunately this book is a novella. Otherwise, I would have broken my own rule for my book world and not finished the book. I did complete it, but only so I could write a proper review.

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

Rating: 2/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: Novella in the Amish Candy Shop Mystery Series

Recipe for Bailey’s Easy Easter Birds’ Nests included.

Publication:   February 26, 2019—Kensington Press

Restaurant Weeks are Murder–competition in the kitchen

Restaurant Weeks are Murder

by Libby Klein

Restaurant Weeks are MurderOnce again Libby Klein treats her readers to the adventures of Poppy McAllister, creator of wonderful, gluten free pastries and owner of a B&B, and her octogenarian Aunt Ginny, a spunky lady with an attitude. In Restaurant Weeks are Murder, Poppy competes on her ex-boyfriend’s team of three with other restaurant teams on a taped production of a competition. Chefs are provided baskets of mystery ingredients which must be incorporated into the culinary creations. What could go wrong? Plenty!

The characters in this series are always fun, and there are a variety of romantic attractions. Restaurant Week is a full seven days which makes the story perhaps a tad too long, but with different disasters occurring each day, and with complicated backgrounds and motives, attention stays high. A cozy mystery to pique your interest and appetite!

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

Rating: 4/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #3 in the Poppy McAllister Murder Series, but works as a standalone.

Recipes are included.

Publication:  February 26, 2019—Kensington

Memorable Lines:

I plopped down on the floor in the sunroom and ran a brush through Figaro’s black smoke fur. He hummed like a Harley, his copper eyes slitty like two winter crescent moons reflecting on the Atlantic.

When I’m with Gia, I feel like my heart explodes, and my brain goes mush. But when I’m with Tim, I’m home again. He’s all I’ve ever wanted, and the years just melt away.

“Don’t be salty with me. I’ve seen you without makeup.”

I could tell Miss New Jersey was trying to wrap her brain around what Gigi was saying. The strain of it was making a wrinkle in her perfect forehead. I had to intervene before she passed out from the stress.

One Feta in the Grave–murder under the boardwalk

One Feta in the Grave

by Tina Kashian

One Feta in the GraveWelcome to the New Jersey seashore where Ocean Crest is having a beach festival. Lucy has returned to her hometown to take over the family’s Mediterranean restaurant. Her best friend, Katie, is in charge of judging the festival’s sand sculpture contest. That seems like an easy enough job until a contestant insists that one of the judges should be disqualified. Later Lucy finds one of the men involved in the argument dead under the boardwalk.

The subsequent cancellation of the festival could mean financial ruin for many in the town. Lucy steps up to try to solve the crime to help her town and to clear Katie from suspicion. Lucy may have taken on an overwhelming task as there are many suspects and leads to follow. As Lucy manages the restaurant and acts as an unauthorized private eye, she is also trying to balance relationships with two charming men.

I like the characters and enjoy watching their interactions. I think Lucy and Katie, who is a policeman’s wife, did step over a line as some of their investigative “techniques” were clearly illegal. Their actions put Katie’s husband, Bill, in an obvious conflict of interest when he learns what they have done. Lucy’s moral compass needs a little adjustment, but her heart is in the right place. She is later faced with another issue in which doing what is right hurts other people, but she does it anyway, following it up with an attempt to lessen the difficult consequences.

There are references to delicious foods from pita with various flavors of hummus to baklava all through the book. Lucy is an adventurous foodie who enjoys tasting outside her arena of Mediterranean comfort foods. Recipes for date cookies, lentil soup, and Greek salad are included.

One Feta in the Grave is not as fast paced as Tina Kashian’s first two books in the series, but is quite enjoyable anyway. I’m looking forward to the next book in the Kabob Kitchen Mystery Series.

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

Rating: 4/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #3 in the Kabob Kitchen Mystery Series, but works as a standalone. Recipes are included at the end.

Publication:   February 26, 2019—Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

“Butch can look scary.” Butch had a chest the size of a small armoire and hands that looked like meat pounders. With his checked bandana and gold tooth, he was downright intimidating. The funny thing was that Butch was the kindest and most mild-mannered man she knew.

“Double chocolate brownie chunk. Definitely decadent if you are a chocolate lover.” “It’s too chocolatey,” Katie said. Lucy shot Katie an incredulous look. “Is that even possible?”

If there was one thing she’d learned since returning to town and stumbling upon a body…or two…is that not everyone was as innocent or guilty as they appeared.

Dead of Winter–being there for others

Dead of Winter

by Annelise Ryan

Dead of WinterAs snowstorm after snowstorm blows through the U.S., I am reading about similar circumstances in Wisconsin where Mattie Winston, a medico-legal death investigator and former OR and ER nurse, is involved in several cases. The primary focus of Dead of Winter by Annelise Ryan is the brutal death of a teenage girl whose little sister is also missing. In addition, Mattie has to investigate the death of the director of a local theater group which includes Dom who is her friend, the partner of her boss, and also the caregiver for her son.

The investigation of all three crimes moves along at a pace that is frustrating to those involved, especially locating the missing child who is obviously in danger. Interwoven with the professional issues is Mattie’s personal life with her husband, his teenage daughter, and their two-year old son. The little one is a challenge if left alone even briefly. Mattie juggles motherhood with a part-time job that holds full-time intensity.

I originally thought, when I read my first book (#8) in this series that the descriptions at the morgue would be too graphic for me. Because the setting is one of compassion from the coroner, the EMT’s, and the law enforcement officers, that was not the case. I appreciate the author’s ability to show how those who are tasked with solving crimes and helping victims are able to work their cases, maintain their personal relationships, and perform daily necessary tasks. Balancing all of those roles must be very difficult. Clues don’t always pan out. Sometimes even strong people get sick. Kids can misbehave at the most inopportune of times. Lovers quarrel. But the author shows how those we depend on show up and do their best regardless of the chaos in their own lives.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com 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: #10 in the Mattie Winston Mystery Series, but the author encapsulates the series background handily for the new reader.

Publication:   February 26, 2019—Kensington Press

Memorable Lines:

“It seems easy at first because you’re so in love with a person, and you feel like you’d be willing to sacrifice anything, do anything, be anything, just so you can be with them. But eventually the shiny finish on that new relationship wears off, revealing the rust and dull metal beneath. And after a while, you start to question how much of yourself you’re willing to give up to make someone else happy.”

…he’s as nervous as a blind man navigating a floor covered with thumbtacks…”

Amazing that so much beauty can come out of all that meteorological fury.

Corned Beef and Casualties–St. Paddy’s Day novella

Corned Beef and Casualties

by Lynn Cahoon

Corned Beef and CasualtiesHow about a quick and easy read? Corned Beef and Casualties is good for St. Patrick’s Day or any day you want a brief distraction. It is a fun little novella from one of my favorite cozy mystery authors Lynn Cahoon. It is part of the extensive Tourist Trap Mystery Series.

Cahoon does a great job of making the novella into a standalone with necessary information about the characters relayed succinctly. We witness  unusual cooperation between the main character, Jill, who owns a bookstore/coffee shop and Darla, the proprietor of a winery and also a reporter for the local paper. Be ready for a surprise ending!

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Lyrical Underground (Kensington Press) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: 1. A Tourist Trap Novella

2. Cheesecake recipe included

Publication:   February 5, 2019—Kensington Press (Lyrical Underground)

Memorable Lines:

“You need to stop worrying about her and get on with your life.” The look he gave me was filled with such love and sadness I almost teared up. “Miss Gardner, that sounds like a perfectly logical thing to do. Unfortunately, the heart isn’t logical.”

“Some couples just fight…I see couples at their worse. They get a few too many into them, and every slight becomes a big deal.”

Darla was always preaching about the free press and her responsibility to the newspaper-reading public, but deep down, she knew not to release something that might ruin someone’s life. Especially if he was innocent.

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