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Matchmaking Can Be Murder–Amish and Englisch worlds collide

Matchmaking Can Be Murder

by Amanda Flower

Matchmaking Can Be MurderAlready familiar with the little town of Harvest through Amanda Flower’s Amish Candy Shop Mystery Series, I was a a little confused when I found myself in a familiar town, but with a new main character, Millie. Then I remembered that Matchmaking Can Be Murder is the first in a new series. Many of the characters in the first series, which focuses on Bailey, an Englisch candy maker are back in this series. The new series features a sixty-seven year old Amish woman with a knack for knowing if two people are compatible. She returns home after years of caring for Amish kin in various communities.

Harvest is a mixed community with its Amish and Englisch citizens getting along fairly well. It is interesting to learn more about the Amish while watching their interactions with their non-Amish friends and neighbors. Especially fun is the reunion of Millie with her childhood friend Lois, a gregarious lady who has had a lot of husbands and is quite outspoken. Her clothing and jewelry are as eye-catching as Millie’s style of dress is plain. Lois makes many references to contemporary technologies and cultural icons that go right past Millie. More humor is found in the trained goat duo of Phillip and Peter who are Millie’s pets, guard goats, and lawn keepers.

Although Millie is the main character, the mystery centers around her niece Edy, a young widow with three children, whose fiancée is discovered dead in her greenhouse shortly after she breaks off the engagement. Millie and Lois attempt to discover who murdered Zeke, but they uncover more crime and convoluted personal relationships than they could ever have predicted.

It is interesting watching Millie in action as she tries to find out the truth while staying within the limits of what is right. She and Lois have to work at keeping each other in check and out of trouble. A nice touch is the author’s inclusion of Amish proverbs as they come to Millie throughout her day. I enjoy the Amish Candy Shop Mysteries, but this spinoff series is even better!

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: The first book in the Amish Matchmaking Mystery Series, it is a spinoff but it is not necessary to read the series it came from.

Publication:   December 31, 2019—Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

Sometimes it worked to a person’s advantage to be friends with the biggest gossip in the district. I just had to feed Raellen the right information, and she would take care of the rest.

…”they can only fully commit to the Amish life when they know what the Englisch one is like. If they see the way the rest of the world lives and then commit to our ways, they are more likely to stay here.”

There was no way to rebuild what was shattered, but what we could make was something brand-new, something that was different but stronger than before. That’s what I hoped for the very most.

Picked Off–vegan running a goat dairy

Picked Off

by Linda Lovely

Picked OffI enjoyed Picked Off, a cozy mystery by Linda Lovely, but I didn’t love it and I didn’t think it was as good as the first book in the series.

On the positive side, it has an interesting plot, likable characters and appropriate injections of humor. In fact, there is an exciting escape scene that is as funny as all get out! It’s worth reading the book just to experience that piece of writing. There are lots of fun, folksy figures of speech to roll off the tongue and stir the imagination. 

On the negative side, Brie, who is helping her Aunt Eva with Udderly Kidding Dairy, is as enmeshed as ever in her attractions to Paint and Andy who are best friends to each other. The irony of a vegan who runs a dairy farm and engages in cheese and meat curses is lost on no one and remains amusing in the second book. The romantic triangle, however, is losing its appeal. Brie, along with the author, appears stuck on the fence. My other criticism is that there were a few loose ends that did not get tied up. I am especially interested in the missing backpack containing evidential video footage. It seems to have dropped off the radar.

The basic plot is interesting: Carol Strong is campaigning for South Carolina governor and her son, football star Zack, is attacked during a Halloween themed rally for her benefit. There is more mayhem, lots of entanglements, and plenty of folks to accuse. Imagine trying to identify suspects when most guests are wearing masks.  Brie, her friend Mollye, and Aunt Eva find themselves overly and dangerously involved, but the reader benefits by enjoying the plot’s development.

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

Rating: 4/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #2 in the Brie Hooker Mystery Series

Publication:  June 5, 2018—Henery Press

Memorable Lines:

My nerves jangled. Who could blame me? Yesterday’s assault would have scared the beans out of a bowl of chili.

Eva returned around lunch time, exhausted. Airlines could assess a surcharge for the size of the bags under her eyes.

…we were more out of our depth than a vegan at a wienie roast.

A Riesling to Die–the body in the vineyard

A Riesling to Die

by J. C. Eaton

A Riesling to DieCan a New York City based screenwriter run the family winery for a year? Norrie Ellington puts that question to the test in J. C. Eaton’s cozy mystery A Riesling to Die. Norrie’s sister, who needs to leave Two Witches Winery to accompany her husband on an insect searching sabbatical in Costa Rica, convinces Norrie to upgrade her silent partner status to overseer of the winery.

Upon her arrival, Norrie realizes that the winery will not run itself—especially after the death of a local owner of a Bed and Breakfast. The mystery has lots of interesting characters, from the owners of other small wineries at Seneca Lakes, to rich developers, to her own well-chosen staff. Since the body was discovered in one of her vineyards, Norrie feels obligated to try to discover the murderer, despite the sheriff’s warnings to stay out of the investigations. A Riesling to Die is a good basic cozy that I think you will enjoy.

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

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #1 in the Wine Trail Mysteries

Publication:  March 27, 2018 — Kensington Books (Lyrical Press)

Memorable Lines:

She brushed some wisps of hair from the side of her face and I noticed something interesting—small pierced holes for earrings. At least three. Why was she trying to look like Little Miss Sunshine when her real persona was more Madonna? Maybe our mousey little girl is a rat in disguise.

Francine’s kitchen table wasn’t a bad place to work. The only sounds were birds and the occasional motorboat on the lake, unlike the ongoing cacophony outside my apartment. Endless honking of horns, the rumbling of traffic, and oh yes, expletives that came out of nowhere, usually accompanied by doors slamming.

It was one of those warm summer nights that made people forget about the last time they had to shovel three feet of snow or scrape the ice off their windshields.

Bones to Pick–vegan delight

Bones to Pick

by Linda Lovely

Bones to PickBased on the cover of Bones to Pick, I expected a light-hearted mystery featuring a pig. Instead, I found Linda Lovely’s first book in her new Brie Hooker Mystery Series to be a humorous cozy mystery with a tangled plot. The pig has only a very minor role, and the focus is on Brie Hooker, an MBA carrying former banker turned vegan chef. A lot of the humor in the book is derived either from her food preferences or her relationships to two “hunky” guys who are also best friends, Paint and Andy.

The death of a beloved aunt segues into a story of spousal abuse, murder, corrupt cops, mysterious investments, death threats, and a very old feud. Brie has to sort her way through small town South Carolina politics and relationships with the help of her family and friends to solve this mystery. Helping out with a large goat farm and producing award-winning cheese that only a non-vegan could love may not be part of Brie’s original dream, but she now has lots of reasons to make Ardon County her new home.

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

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery, General Fiction (Adult)

Notes: #1 in the Brie Hooker Mystery Series

Publication:   October 24, 2017—Henery Press

Memorable Lines: 

Even minus an introduction, I figured this tall glass of sweet tea had to be Paint, the legendary owner of Magic Moonshine. Sunlight glinted off hair the blue-black of expensive velvet. Deep dimples. Rakish smile.

As usual, Dad had sole custody of the TV remote. Did Mom even know how to use it?

Pools of water camouflaged the potholes that occupied half the graveled roadbed. My bouncing headlamps lit up the rutted drive like a reverse Rorschach ink blot test. The water appeared as blobs of shimmering yellow splattered across a black canvas.

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