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Seeing Red–who’s in the freezer?

Seeing Red

by Dana Dratch

Seeing RedLiving right across the street from a four story Victorian turned into a B&B and run by a handsome, blue-eyed British gent could be a real plus for Alex who is currently single and a freelance writer. In Seeing Red by Dana Dratch, there are an abundance of interesting characters, lots of twists and turns, and an adorable pup named Lucy. Alex ends up with a full house of temporarily upended friends as she tries to discover the identity of a baby as well as several frozen bodies. Throw in some art fraud and a vengeful health inspector and you have an engaging plot with lots of twists and turns. I enjoyed the book but was a little let down at the end as things just got tidied up a little too quickly and easily with few apparent consequences. I do want to read the next in the series to follow the characters and look for improvement in the resolution of the next plot line in Red Hot.

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: #2 in the Red Herring Mystery Series, but could be read as a standalone

Publication:  May 28, 2019—Kensington

Memorable Lines:

“She’s been looking at that poor innkeeper the way a hungry freshman looks at a vending machine.”

Baba, our dads mother, was ninety pounds of Russian dynamite. Not quite five feet tall and who knows how old, she was a strike force of one. Literally. She’d recently saved me from a psycho killer armed with nothing but common sense and a cast-iron frying pan.

“Mom can’t stay here,” Nick said, quietly. “Not with Baba here. Those two are like garlic and chocolate. You can have one or the other, but never both.”

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Murder with Cucumber Sandwiches–secrets in the family

Murder with Cucumber Sandwiches

by Karen Rose Smith

Murder with Cucumber SandwichesAlong comes a fairly gentle cozy mystery in Murder with Cucumber Sandwiches by Karen Rose Smith that is half personal relationships and half murder mystery. Interestingly enough, Smith manages to tie in a lot of the personal issues with the murder. Daisy, a widow, owns Daisy’s Tea Garden with her Aunt Iris. This mystery begins with uncomfortable anticipation for Daisy and her staff caused by the upcoming visit by celebrity food blogger Derek, known for giving unfavorable reviews. He is found dead after his visit. 

There are so many questions about Derek’s death that Daisy must try to answer while juggling personal dilemmas with her college age daughter Vi and with Foster, Vi’s boyfriend, who is also an employee of Daisy. Her other daughter, Jazzi, is undergoing emotional trauma because of possible rejection by her birth mom. Daisy is moving slowly in her relationship with former detective and current local woodworker Jonas. Daisy’s parents live in the same town, and her mother tends to be critical. What a lot of things for Daisy to deal with at one time!

At the teashop, business is off because potential customers are deterred by the possibility of poisoning. Daisy needs to find the murderer to save her shop and her employees’ jobs. Her major method is listening as she informally interviews suspects and watches for their reactions. The characters are interesting, and I enjoy visits to the tea shop where all kinds of teas and goodies are available as well as more substantial fare such as soups. Before the murder, bus loads of tourists frequently stopped for tea, but the murder has squelched enthusiasm for the tea shop.  As the setting is Lancaster County in Pennsylvania, there are some Amish references as Daisy and Jonas interact with Amish friends and employees. Willow Creek is a welcoming little town, and Daisy’s Tea Garden, set in a charming Victorian house, is a comfortable spot to chat with a friend. Come on in! The tea is hot, the hostess is friendly, and the treats are (not literally) “to die for.”

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: 1. #3 in the Daisy’s Tea Garden Mystery Series, but works well as a standalone thanks to the author’s ability to dive right into the plot while simultaneously providing background.

2. Three original recipes are included at the end of the book for items served in the tearoom.

Publication:   May 28, 2019—Kensington

Memorable Lines:

“I know a therapist who’s very good with teenagers. She has a cat who sits in on most sessions. She finds that Lancelot relaxes her clients. He’s very loving, and in that intuitive way cats have, he knows whether to come closer or stay away.”

Daisy felt as if she was living in more than one universe—one filled with the tea garden and friends and customers, tea and sweet goods. And the other with a family dilemma she didn’t know how to handle.

The tea might have been brewed for them, but by their expressions and body language, she could tell tension brewed between them.

Something Borrowed, Something Mewed–canine sidekick

Something Borrowed, Something Mewed

by Bethany Blake

Something Borrowed Something MewedCelebrating the 4th of July in Sylvan Creek, Pennsylvania, means a weeklong pet-centric Wags ’n Flags affair complete with fireworks, patriotic decorations, dogs in costumes, and the canine All Paws on Deck Rowboat Regatta. This year pet-sitter and pet bakery owner Daphne Templeton and her Basset hound sleuthing sidekick Socrates are immersed in solving crimes. Daphne’s sister Piper is engaged to be married. The wedding planner has multiple bookings set up at the same venue and at the same time and has plans to abscond with all the bridal payments. Murder ups the ante on the scam. Who is behind all the nefarious shenanigans? 

On the personal scene in Something Borrowed, Something Mewed, Daphne and her detective boyfriend Jonathan seem to be getting emotionally closer at a time when physical separation is imminent. Daphne’s fun and a little wacky friend Moxie is Daphne’s support throughout it all. Humor is injected as Daphne has interesting, but fairly one sided, “conversations” with Socrates throughout the book as she tries to solve the mysteries swirling around Sylvan Creek’s celebration.

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: #5 in the Lucky Paws Petsitting Mystery Series

Publication:   May 28, 2019—Kensington 

Memorable Lines:

…a black whirlwind flew past our feet and Tinkleston finally launched himself at the world’s meekest, most clueless and most accident-prone cat, who went flying off the icebox with a familiar, plaintive yowl.

I prized allegiance to family and friends. I also admired people who looked out for lost souls, whether they were siblings or Chihuahuas and pugs with oversized personalities. Or very insistent cats.

“I won’t even ask why you rode something you pedal to a biker bar.”

Sconed to Death–another fun writers’ retreat

Sconed to Death

by Lynn Cahoon

Sconed to DeathIt’s hard not to want to be Cat Latimer. Who wouldn’t enjoy living in a small Colorado college town far enough from Denver to avoid the big city traffic but close enough for occasional trips for shopping and dining? Oh, to completely own a large Victorian house where you can write in a third floor turret and host periodic writers’ retreats! What satisfaction in sharing your business with your best friend who manages the household and cooks gourmet foods for you on a daily basis. She also feeds breakfast to the retreat guests while keeping the retreat stocked with drinks and homemade goodies. The only thing better would be to reconnect with your handsome, very nice, high school heartthrob who can landscape, perform handyman jobs, and chauffeur guests to the airport. Cat has it all!

In this engaging mystery, Cat’s guests are a group of cozy mystery writers from Chicago. They thoroughly enjoy their week at the retreat with an additional day devoted to cooking lessons by resident chef Shauna who is also writing a cookbook. I think I gained ten pounds just reading about all the delicious cookies they consumed.

The murder of a famous Denver chef is the central focus of Lynn Cahoon’s Sconed to Death. What is he even doing in little Aspen Hills and who would want to kill him? Despite Uncle Pete’s warning to stay out of the investigation, Cat finds herself asking questions and using her online research skills to assess motives and alibis. Look out for a dramatic surprise ending to this page turner that’s sure to appeal to mystery lovers and especially cozy aficionados.

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:  1. #5 in the Cat Latimer Mystery Series, but works quite well as a standalone as Lynn Cahoon has a talent for bringing the reader up to date without boring.

  2. Includes a recipe for Cranberry Scones.

Publication:  May 28, 2019—Kensington 

Memorable Lines:

“So, cozy mysteries? What are those?” Seth had finished the paper and pushed it into the center of the table as he finished his breakfast. “Low on gore, low on sex, high on fun.”

The trees were just starting to drop leaves and the crunch of dried leaves under her feet made her think about all things autumn. Chilly nights with a bonfire. Hot chocolate in the evening by the fire. More time to read. All these memories made her happy.

She took a big bite of the pasta. This was one of her favorite dishes that Shauna made, and yet, today, it tasted like sawdust. She kept her head down and willed away the tears.

Crêpe Expectations–unauthorized sleuthing

Crêpe Expectations

by Sarah Fox

Crepe ExpectationsGood, but not excellent—that’s how I rate Crêpe Expectations by Sarah Fox. Unlike the other two cozy mysteries I have read by this author, I just didn’t find this to be a page turner. Despite that, I do plan on reading the next book Sarah Fox publishes.

In this book, Marley McKinney, owner of the Flip Side pancake house, spends her spare time trying to solve a cold case after she discovers a skull in the woods near the Wildwood Inn, a B&B that is about to open. Demetria, who disappeared when she was eighteen years old after a party, was assumed to be in New York starting a modeling career. So even the original investigation was delayed. At the same time she is investigating the murder, Marley is trying to discover who sabotaged the local amateur chef competition by making several contestants sick. Could the crimes be related?

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:  4/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #5 in the Pancake House Mystery Series but the author brings the reader up to speed even as she starts the action of the current plot.

Publication:   May 28, 2019— Lyrical Underground (Kensington Press)

Fair Game–fun and danger at the fair

Fair Game

Fair Game

The county fair is the setting for Annette Dashofy’s mystery Fair Game. It is part cozy and part police procedural. Fair Game is a page turner with two murders and several viable suspects. Complications keep arising as EMT and deputy coroner Zoe Chambers has duty at the county fair where she is also showing her quarter horse. Some of the crimes occur in neighboring jurisdictions so her boyfriend Pete Adams, police chief in Vance Township, Pennsylvania, as well as several other law enforcement colleagues are called in.

Threads include 4-Hers, a family with a child in rehab due to a horse accident, Zoe and Pete’s romantic relationship, abusive boyfriends, teenagers attracted to the carnival, and a school bus demolition derby. Zoe tends to see the best in people and her intuition sometimes gets her in trouble. She is smart, fearless, and caring and those characteristics make her a heroine you will root for. Chief Pete Adams, a thorough investigator who loves Zoe and is supportive of her and her passion for horses and her work. He wants the best for her as she struggles to overcome a less than perfect past.

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

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: 1. #8 in the Zoe Chambers Mystery Series, but can be read as a standalone.

  2. There was more bad language in this book than is usual in a cozy or than I prefer, but not enough to preclude me from reading more by this author.

Publication:   May 14, 2019—Henery Press

Memorable Lines:

Before Zoe could ask anything else, he spun and trudged away in the head-down, slouched posture of one used to dodging emotional bullets.

Close enough that Zoe could smell the stale sweat on her clothes, the alcohol on her breath, and the anger radiating from her soul.

Double Agent–hurricane heists

Double Agent

by Gretchen Archer

Double AgentIf you like a cozy mystery with humor weaved throughout, you’ll love Double Agent by Gretchen Archer. Davis Way works in security at Bellissimo Casino in Mississippi. In addition, she acts as a double for the owner’s wife, the entitled and rather clueless Bianca, who also expects Davis to take care of her every need. Bianca always refers to Davis as “David,” and through good writing the use of that misnomer remains funny throughout the book. Davis’ husband Bradley manages the huge casino complex, and the couple lives on site with their twin two-year-old daughters. Another source of humor is the “rules” related by one of the girls to their grandmother who is caring for them during the hurricane emergency. Bex, the dominant twin, convinces Grammy that she only eats chicken nuggets and chocolate ice cream and that Quinn’s bedtime is two hours earlier than hers.

A casino is bound to have security issues because of the cash that flows through it. Double Agent ratchets the plot up several notches as the storyline is what happens in a casino with a hurricane on its way. There are protocols for this scenario, but they don’t account for the greed and mischief that happen when Hurricane Kevin rolls into the Gulf Coast. Throw in FEMA, law enforcement, helicopters, bodies on ice, and people on unlucky floor 13 who are not all what they purport to be, and you have a very complicated murder mystery with some huge surprises. With Gretchen Archer’s writing style, you will also have a smile on your face as you devour this cozy mystery.

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

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #8 in the Davis Way Crime Caper Series, but could be read as a standalone. I have read three books in the series and, although I plan on reading the others at some point, I don’t feel like I have missed anything that has reduced my enjoyment or understanding of the individual books.

Publication:   March 26, 2019—Henery Press

Memorable Lines:

And it wasn’t Danielle because she couldn’t organize the world’s smallest closet. There wasn’t a snowball’s chance she’d organized what we were in the middle of.

We had no way to restrain him except at gunpoint…And given the choice of Scotch tape or guns, I’d take the guns any day, but for all we knew, Jug was packing too. It was Alabama. Everyone was packing. 

Hurricane Kevin, like all severe weather, gave everyone it touched the chance to show their true colors. The best and the worst of humanity rose to the surface when forced to survive an event over which they had no control.

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