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Divide and Concord–filming at the winery

Divide and Concord

by J.C. Eaton

Norrie Ellington is a screenwriter who finds herself in charge of the family winery in the absence of her sister. Norrie’s producer decides that Norrie’s Two Witches Winery in New York is the perfect site for the filming of a small part of her current project. It will be for just a “few” days and “only” involves two crowd attracting stars, a camera crew, a diva director and her perfectionist assistant. Unfortunately this filming is scheduled to take place during the Seneca Lake Wine Trail’s Wine and Cheese Festival and occurs  in the middle of a massive spring snow storm. Norrie has had run-ins before with the local sheriff, thought of by her as Grizzly Gary, so she is not happy to be the first on the scene of what could only be a murder. Norrie has a lot of balls to keep in the air while she tries to discover the identity of a murderer who seems intent on framing Norrie for the crime.

As usual with a J.C. Eaton book, in Divide and Concord I felt like I was in the middle of the dilemma and had to look outside a few times to make sure it wasn’t snowing. This writing duo is that good. Meanwhile, despite the seriousness of the subject, there are humorous moments and the plot moves quickly with the spotlight on various characters who might have wanted to kill the director. Actually, the woman was so unpleasant it was hard to find anyone who didn’t have a motive. Norrie and willing friends work together to trap the criminal in an Agatha Christie type of setup with a surprise ending.

I would like to extend my thanks to NetGalley and to Beyond the Page Publishing 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 Wine Trail Mysteries, but is excellent as a standalone.

  2. The name Two Witches Winery should not put off those who do not like to read works that include the occult. The name is purported to have historical significance. There are two minor characters with mystical practices but our heroine rolls her eyes at them and manages to use them in the setup to discover the murderer.

Publication:   April 30, 2020—Beyond the Page Publishing

Memorable Lines:

“It’s not an impending disaster,” I replied. “An inconvenience perhaps. Or maybe even a nuisance, but it’s not going to be a disaster.” Who the heck am I kidding?

Then, the unspeakable happened. Debora Dabrowski made her entrance into the Two Witches tasting room like Cruella de Vil. The only thing missing was a cigarette holder. She was tall with an angular face and layered black hair with one white streak that framed the left side of her face. Her tortoiseshell wingtip glasses, complete with jeweled rims, completed the look. 

Priscilla’s kind of high strung and one Kleenex away from a full-blown sobfest.

My Fair Latte–coffee, wine, and classic flicks

My Fair Latte

by Vickie Fee

My Fair LatteHere’s an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a new cozy mystery series by an established author, Vickie Fee. In My Fair Latte, Halley Greer inherits an old theater from an uncle she barely knew. Immediately, the reason for this bequest to Halley arises as a background puzzle, but the real mystery centers around vandalism and murder in the theater that  Halley is working hard to resurrect as a business that combines her two passions—old movies and coffee.

The residents of the little tourist town of Utopia Springs, Arkansas, welcome Halley and encourage her in her new business. She has to clean up both the theater and the upstairs apartment, quite an undertaking as her uncle was a hoarder. Favorite characters are George and Trudy, local artists who take her under their wing, and Kendra who owns the escape room business across the street. There are several romantic interests as well.

I enjoyed meeting the residents of Utopia Springs and watching Halley develop her creative ideas on a shoe string budget. It was great to witness her new friends pitching in to help, building community around her. As the police seem to suspect Halley, she and Kendra investigate to try to put the focus on other possibilities. I found myself doing that myself, but missed the mark until the end. Eartha Kitty, another inheritance from Uncle Leon, has an important role in the story. I am looking forward to the next book in the series, but hoping that I won’t gain weight just reading about the huge, fresh cinnamon rolls that are a staple in Halley’s breakfast routine.

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: 4/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #1 in the Café Cinema Mystery Series

Publication:   March 3, 2020—Henery Press

Memorable Lines:

While it may have been a glamorous leading lady in its prime, the Star Movie Palace was now a faded beauty whose slip was showing from beneath its tattered couture.

Their fanny packs and I-heart-Utopia-Springs t-shirts were like tattooing tourist on their foreheads.

“I dearly love George, but this morning he started tap dancing on my last nerve before I’d even had a cup of coffee.”

Chardonnayed to Rest–lots of fun

Chardonnayed to Rest

by J. C. Eaton

Chardonnayed to RestChardonnayed to Rest is a fun, cozy mystery authored by the husband and wife team that goes by the name J.C. Eaton. It features wineries in Penn Yan, New York. The winery owners there support each other and collaborate on various projects such as the Federweisser celebration which is slated this year to be held at the Two Witches Winery. Norrie, a successful screenwriter is maintaining her career while taking over supervision of the family winery for a year for her sister who is hunting an elusive bug in Costa Rica. With an experienced staff, what could possibly go wrong? Unfortunately, a murder occurs at the winery across from Two Witches.

Norrie does some unofficial sleuthing with friends Don and Theo of the Grey Egret winery. Along the way she meets a handsome lawyer and a likable entomologist. There are also some attempts on Norrie’s life. Someone is arrested for the murder, but Norrie is convinced that they have the wrong person, and she is determined to prove it. 

Chardonnayed to Rest moves quickly and has lots of suspects and a resolution I didn’t see coming. Some parts were amusing and some caught me laughing out loud.  I can’t wait to see what adventures await Norrie in the next book in the Wine Trail Mysteries.

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: # 2 in the Wine Trail Mystery Series, but works as a standalone. There may be a few references to characters who are not actually a part of this book, but that will in no way hinder your enjoyment of or understanding of this book.

Publication:   September 25, 2018—Lyrical Underground (Kensington Press)

Memorable Lines:

Rosalee had told me Marilyn was somewhat of a drama queen, but she seemed to have reached full empress status by the time she placed the call to my number.

If my mouth opened any wider, every insect in the county would’ve had a new home.

I was no stranger to good-looking guys, but the minute my eyes landed on Bradley Jamison, it was as if all the other men I’d ever seen were reduced to toads. That was how gorgeous this guy was. Sandy blond hair, cobalt blue eyes that matched his tie, and a physique that could put Chuck Norris to shame.

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.

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