Book Review: Cozy Mysteries

Book Review: Fruit, Flower & Flames by Carolyn Dean

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Fruit, Flower & Flames, the 8th book in the Ravenwood Cozy Mystery series written by Carolyn L. Dean, was published just last year. I had purchased all the remaining books in her series around Christmas but just got around to finishing them this week. Now she’s published books 9 and 10… which I’ll be reading at some point. Kudos to her for growing a fine series of short, light and easy-to-digest mystery and small-town-happenings books where it’s more about the characters than the plots.

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In this caper, Lisa announces she’s dating the son of a wealthy family who’s returned to Ravenwood Cove after abandoning the town years ago when their business went bust. It all seems to fast and shady for most of the friendly inhabitants, but Amanda wants to support her bestie. With more free time on her hands, as James, her new husband, is out of town, Amanda befriends the family only to watch a tragic fire impact them. But when someone turns up dead and it’s definitely arson, what’s the real scoop? Throw in some friendly flower competition, renovations from a new contractor, and some lingering doubts about who to trust, and you’ve got a fun little read.

I’m enjoying the development in the series. I wish they were about 20% longer just to give us a bit more meat to pull apart when trying to decide the culprit, but I always enjoy the banter and camaraderie of the various families and friends. While not the best in the series, it’s got a good story and brings new people to the town. Dean is successful in moving the plot along while continuing to build a town we’d all like to visit — minus the rather large amount of murders that happen in a single place, of course.

 

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

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Book Review: Rocks, Roses & Riptides by Carolyn Dean

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After reading a few books in the Ravenwood Cozy Mystery series last year, I purchased the rest from Amazon last fall. I’m closing out all books on my TBR that I currently own so on July 1st, I have nothing in my owned queue and can begin picking out new reads for the second half of the year. Don’t worry, I have plenty in line… 1200+ on my TBR and about 20 I’ve agreed to read at some point this year! This week I’m focusing on Carolyn L. Dean and the 7th book in her series, Rocks, Roses, & Riptides.

rocks.jpgI find Dean’s style charming and easy-to-read — usually in less than 90 minutes. Her books are light and fluffy with a bit of fun sentiment, romance, and small-town investigation. While I thought the last book I read in the series was a little too simple, this one stepped it back up… I was very happy with the mystery, investigation and outsiders coming to town for a TV reporting segment. Add in a few TV on-air reporters, camera guys, assistants and other staff, you’ve got tons of suspects when the not-so-nice female reporter suddenly falls face first into a cake she’s sampling as part of the segment. Poor Ruby, Amanda’s friend, who’s trying to win the competition — did she suddenly turn bad? Was it someone in town with connections to the TV reporting crew? Or was it someone in the crew backstabbing their leader?

Amanda tries to stay out of it, but she’s smack in the middle, especially when she’s almost kidnapped to help cover up the crime. She’s too good for that, but she has to find a way to escape. Her wedding is about to happen in the next few days… she can’t be a corpse bride, right? Of course she makes it, but the story keeps you guessing until the end. Kudos to Dean for making this one of the shiners in the series so far. Although it covers more outsiders than insiders of Ravenwood, there are lots of other side stories to keep our favorite townies in the mix. I can’t wait to start the the next one and see if married life will agree with Amanda.

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Sun, Sand & Secrets by Carolyn Dean

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In the 6th book, Sun, Sand, & Secrets, of the Ravenwood Cozy Mystery series published in 2017 by Carolyn L. Dean, Amanda ponders the question of what it will mean to marry her sweetheart, James, a local police detective. In the course of her analysis, Madeline Wu, a local shopkeeper we’ve met before, goes missing, then someone turns up dead. Along the path, a neighboring town’s mayor gets involved, and some new romances might be brewing around the lovely little Oregon town.

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I enjoy reading about the comings and goings of Amanda’s renovated bed and breakfast / inn. This book felt more like a mini-edition, prepping us for Amanda’s upcoming nuptials, rather than a full-on mystery. While it was fun, cute, and cozy, the mystery was very light – much more than usual. I enjoy light mysteries, but the crime didn’t happen until about 50% into the book, and there wasn’t a lot of investigating in the second half. It was a good read, but not a standout in the series. Still worth taking on, as it’s under 2 hours… and I really do love the interactions Meg, Truman, Gram, and all the other wonderful characters.

I like inserting these types of books into bigger thrillers so I get a break from major analytical thinking, but I still have some puzzles to solve and the comfort of a fun, warm and interesting setting. It’s not a complete week unless I’ve sneaked in a cozy of some sort. Two more reviews to write, then I officially shut down and begin vacation mode!

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Full Moons, Dunes & Macaroons by Erin Johnson

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All I can say is wow. The fifth book, Full Moons, Dunes & Macaroons: A Cozy Witch Mystery, in the Cozy With Spells & Caramels Mystery series, by Erin Johnson, is my favorite one so far. In this fun tale, Imogen spends a lot of time with her newly found brother learning all about what happened to her as a child… including facts about her birth parents, why she and her brother grew up separately, and how she fits into the world of Monsters Rise. When the concept of the ‘mirror’ came into play, I totally found myself enamored again with the series. What intense and wicked imagination Johnson has!Full
But it doesn’t stop there. MAJOR changes in the relationships among all the bakers and royal family members suddenly blast through the pages of this adorable story. Imogen is at the center of everything, including the murder of someone from the Fire Kingdom followed by a re-visit from the great fire monster of the past. The plot is truly immersive and cohesive in this latest edition in the series. I feel like we’re done with the initial world-building of this gem and finally figuring out what all the rules are in terms of how Imogen became a witch. There’s still a ton of room for more background to unfold, but we’ve got the basics now and I look forward to seeing how this one will continue.

For those new to the series, you’ve got magic, fantasy, family drama, mystery, royalty, baking, and quirky humor that has a few cute double entendres. The mysteries have been on the lighter side as the full world and cast is dazzled before us, but they’re growing stronger. Books are on the shorter side, easy to devour in one afternoon for a couple of hours. You should start from the beginning to catch up, maybe even read 2 in a row to get the full picture. Happy reading!

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Trapping by Ann Jones

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After reading Missing, the first book in the Lyn Kramer mystery series by Ann Jones, I wanted to read more. When the second book, Trapping, was published earlier this year, I anxiously grabbed a free copy during the initial marketing launch and put it into my reading schedule for May. It was next up this week and as soon as I jumped in, it felt like I’d never left the story… kinda like I was home again. It actually takes place just hours after the first book ended, which for anyone who read it knew clearly there was a lot more to be revealed in the story. Twins separated for ~30 years couldn’t possibly not get together and re-discover themselves, right? Jones doesn’t disappoint, seamlessly transitioning from finding one another in the first book to protecting one another from a lecherous uncle in this second one.

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Jones has created a very relatable family in this series. Raised separately by their two grandfathers, the twin girls’ parents died under mysterious circumstances long ago. One was mistreated by her uncle, forced into a life of crime. The other became a cop. Who better than to take down the crime family than the force of their reunited bond? Book two kicks off with a secret plan to lure the uncle out of hiding and hopefully convict him of a number of crimes over the years. But Uncle Lester is very smart, keeping himself at least two degrees separated from his henchmen doing any dirty work. He can’t be connected to any crimes, but he can still hurt both girls. Throw in a story about a hit-and-run driver, a drug ring operating in a small Midwest town, a growing romance re-ignited after a decade, an ex with a grudge, and a difficult family reunion, the book has it all.

Though dubbed “writing clean suspense with a touch of romance,” I feel there’s a lot bigger picture going on in the books. The writing style is clean and direct making it easy to stay connected with and keep turning the pages. The characters are well drawn, full of angst and emotion, history and love. The new criminals are shady but also potentially mere red herrings. Their are budding romances at many generational levels. The cast of culprits leaves you with a dozen or so characters who could be working for Uncle Lester, reporting back any information on Lyn and Melissa, or they could just be normal citizens caught up in their own webs of deceit. Who knows? Only those who read the book, right? So get on it!

What I like most about the book is that although there’s a mystery, and even with the suspense and drama, at its core this is a story about a family torn apart by good and evil. When the twins were separated years ago, a rift the size of Kansas was opened… and it’s not going to heal in 1 or 2 books. There is longevity here in these characters which is always something important I seek in a new series. Jones creates balance, just enough tension on the surface that you know things are gonna blow up, just not when it will happen. It could be this book, it could be the next one… but a family separated for over two decades doesn’t just heal overnight. And since the span of the first two books barely covers a few weeks, there’s a lot of unexplored time. I’m confident Jones will deliver in creating a few explosive moments in the near future.

Can’t wait til she publishes the third one… now if I could only find a way to get the answer of when and where it will happen. Kudos for an excellent follow up in this series. For more info, check our her website @ https://annjonesbooks.com/ where you can find her social media profiles and other sites, too.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Cinco de Murder by Rebecca Adler

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Many thanks to the Cozy Mystery Group, Berkley Books, and the author for providing me a ARC of Cinco De Murder, the third book in the Taste of Texas cozy mystery series, written by Rebecca Adler, and published in May 2018. I normally read a series in order, but I won this one in a contest and didn’t have time to go back to the beginning.

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This is your basic, good cozy mystery with several strengths and a few areas that needed some attention. The setting, characters and mystery were all interesting and built a world that has lots of potential. There were many suspects. The clues were dropped throughout the story. And the main character, Josie, really doesn’t investigate anything on her own. She mentions some things to the cops, then falls into a trap near the end when she unintentionally discovers the killer. I like the introduction of the chili cook off, the restaurant backdrop, and her potential love interests. For those reasons, it’s a good book.

Perhaps I was at a disadvantage by not having read the earlier two books, but I didn’t feel a strong connection to any of the characters as much as I would have liked to. I also felt the ending left us with some confusion on if the killer was caught or let go. All in all, I think this may have needed one more review / edit round to make it pop a bit more, then it would be a solid 4 rating. I would give the series a chance and read more, but I would also not rush to grab it when it first came out.

The highlights for me were a non-traditional main character / family in a setting I haven’t seen before in a cozy, as well as a fun flavor and spice in the language, description, and voice given the characters run a restaurant that isn’t your typical cozy setting. But I am hungry for some chili now, too!

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie

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I am hosting an Agatha Christie Readathon on my blog in April 2018 where we are reading one of her books each week. The fourth book up, Murder at the Vicarage, is the first book in the Miss Marple cozy mystery series she’s written. I’ve read many in this series, but you can read them out of order. It’s more about books using the same characters but not really connected other than a few fun memories and mentions. This was selected as my book to re-read as part of this challenge.

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A solid 4.5 stars for Murder at the Vicarage, the first novel in the Miss Marple cozy mystery series, written by Agatha Christie in 1930. I’ve read ~ten novels by Christie and this one is near the top of the list for me. From the characters to the setting and the plot to the tone, it’s an intriguing and immersive read. It started out a bit slow for me as the scene was being set, but once the murder happened, it took off in quick force. I can happily say that I had 2 potential guesses as the culprit(s), and I was correct (which doesn’t always happen). I also knew there was way too much reference to ‘time on clocks’ for it not to be important; someone messed with the spinning needles to change the appearance of when the murder happened. But only by minutes… and you’ll never guess how important it was!

For many, this will be too on-the-nose or over-simplified when it comes to the layout at approach of Miss Marple’s investigation. Though she’s responsible for solving it, she’s not the main character. The vicar tells us the story of what happened to the deceased, and he interacts with the detectives investigating the crime. Another priest is murdered, but he’s not very well liked, so it’s okay, right? Some think so… but not all the ‘little old biddies’ (how the book refers to them) are in agreement. The gossip is out of control in this book, but I adored it for what it was — a clever plot technique to reveal clues and keep us guessing. Add in the very peculiar marriages between the different priests and their wives, and it’s baffling what life was like a century ago. But I’d give nearly anything to be part of it.

What appeals to me most in these Marple novels is how she drops a few thoughts, then scatters around. She leaves mysterious notes for someone to come see her, then won’t reveal everything she’s thinking. She teases us. But it’s as much fun as it is frustrating. She knows, but she’s not 100% certain how… so she won’t say it all at once until she’s got every nasty little detail ferreted out.

The poor vicar suffers in this one as the murder happens in his house — everyone is up in his business. We know it can’t be him or his wife, but wow do they look suspicious. Add in the side-stories and you’ve got one easy read. It just makes me smile to absorb these quaint settings and stories. I think even though this is the last in my April Agatha Christie Readathon, I am going to keep reading one a month this year.

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Background on the Agatha Christie Readathon

I’m an avid mystery reader and one of my favorite authors is Agatha Christie. I shared a post on this wonderful writer several months ago and have a dedicated page to her on my blog. Click on both links to see what I’ve read or said in the past. I’m holding an Agatha Christie Readathon in April. For more information, click the link and see the background and guidelines below. Essentially, we will read 1 book for each week in April 2018, then post our reviews.  You can join in and read with us — either 1, 2, 3 or all 4 weeks! The goal is to revisit an old favorite, connect with new bloggers, and share the love we have for this fantastic author. Voting in the pools was held from 3/1 thru 3/14, and the results are in for which books we will read in April:

  • The Secret Adversary (Other) – Read By 4/6, Post Review on 4/7 (Week 1)
  • Peril at End House (Poirot) – Read By 4/13, Post Review on 4/14 (Week 2)
  • The Body in the Library (Re-Read) – Read By 4/20, Post Review on 4/21 (Week 3)
  • Murder at the Vicarage (Marple) – Read By 4/27, Post Review on 4/28 (Week 4)

If you’re interested, please respond below in the comments with which weeks or books you want to read. I will create a separate page for each one and list all the sites where you can find the reviews. You will post the review on your site, and I’ll link it from that page so everyone can see them!

Please share with your followers so we have even more participation. Thanks!

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Below is the structure and guidelines of the April Agatha Christie Readathon:

  • In April 2018, we will read 4 books written by Agatha Christie.
  • We will follow a schedule (6 days to read, 1 day to post review):
    • We read the first book from Sun 4/1 thru Fri 4/6, then post reviews on Sat 4/7. It will be from a non-series book I haven’t read.
    • We read the second book from Sun 4/8 thru Fri 4/13, then post reviews on Sat 4/14. It will be a book from the Hercule Poirot series.
    • We read the third book from Sun 4/15 thru Fri 4/20, then post reviews on Sat 4/21. It will be a book I’ve already read but I will re-read another time.
    • We read the fourth book from Sun 4/22 thru Fri 4/27, then post reviews on Sat 4/28. It will be a book from the Miss Marple series.
  • You can read only one week, a few weeks, or all four weeks — your choice.
  • Reviews/Posts can be any format, but you will link back to my main page where I will then list all the blogs or websites who are participating so that everyone can find your reviews.

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About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon @ http://mybook.to/WGS. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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