Book Review: Cozy Mysteries

Book Review: The Champagne Conspiracy by Ellen Crosby

Posted on Updated on

The Champagne Conspiracy (Wine Country Mysteries, #7)The Champagne Conspiracy by Ellen Crosby
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Champagne Conspiracy by Ellen Crosby is the 7th book in the ‘Wine Country Mysteries’ series that takes place in Virginia. So far, this is my favorite and earns 4.5 star. What a roller coast ride for an avid genealogist, historian, wine-lover, and cozy fan.

Three families, all connected to Lucie Montgomery, the main character in the series. A secret affair with President Harding in the early 20th century. A famous California winery with a potential change in ownership. A death from a century ago, then another one happening in current times. Chock full of mystery and connections, I couldn’t put this one down. At times, the overly complex set of relationships and time period needed some additional attention and re-read, but that’s what happens in a genealogical mystery. I loved it!

Between the explanation for how champagne (or sparkling wine) is created and the extra-marital affairs President Warding had (I hadn’t been familiar), I felt like I learned so much in this book. It pushes the line from cozy mystery into mid-range mystery, but I was totally fine with it. It added a little something extra this time, and that can be a fun change.

The characters evolve in this book, too. Quinn and Lucie’s relationship reaches a new level. Her cousin, Dominique, is presented with an amazing opportunity. Her brother, Eli, grows up. It’s such a fascinating family… I really want the youngest sister to come back for a visit again.

Already ordered the next one… can’t wait to read it.

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are three books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, and Flower Power Trip. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where 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.

Advertisements

Book Review: Deck the Hallways by Kate Carlisle

Posted on Updated on

Deck the Hallways (A Fixer-Upper Mystery, #4)Deck the Hallways by Kate Carlisle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Deck the Hallways is the 4th book in Kate Carlisle’s ‘A Fixer-Upper Mystery’ series. This one has a Christmas theme as Shannon and her construction crew renovate a home for multiple low-income families to move into over the holiday. As a feel-good, cozy story about a small town and the fun inhabitants, I enjoyed this book. As a mystery, it fell short for a few reasons. Let’s dive in.

All the makings of a fine whodunit are in place. Shannon and several people clash with the executive from the bank who’s making their lives miserable as they rush to close on the renovations. A mysterious woman claims a Santa Claus helper inappropriately touched her during a meeting. Jewelry has been stolen. Many people want that banker to leave for good. At about 20% in, we’re prepped for a wonderful mystery full of culprits and side stories. Then things kinda fell apart for me, which is unusual. Rather than kill him off at the normal place in a story, it doesn’t happen until almost 50% into the book, allowing for more people to show potential motives. I would’ve been okay with this except more suspects kept creeping up rather than exploring the 4 or 5 already noted. And then the book quickly jumped through 7 days to get to Christmas Day, giving maybe a page to a few lines of narrative telling us what happened each day. There were lots of those “***” markings noting scene changes which didn’t work well in this style of book.

By the time the villain was revealed, it was a little too much for me. I normally try to find the reasoning and get on board, but in this book, it felt like this was rushed way too quickly. I saw several other methods including starting the book closer to Christmas, fleshing out 1 or 2 stories in more detail rather than add 4 or 5 odd red herrings, and adding more twists to the core action. A few items were also left a little too open, and I was jarred out of reading because of the frequent scene changes. All that said, it’s not bad… just not the normal caliber I’ve seen from the author. It felt sort of average, so I ended up with 3 stars on this one. Worth a read to see character growth, learn all about the remodels, and find some good mystery elements… just not complete enough to say it’s better than others.

On the good side, Shannon’s relationship with Mac changes. I loved the bonding scenes with her father. She and her core group of friends have a solid connection. The town feels real. I like the potential change between Whitney’s and Shannon’s tension, although it could go in either direction based on what happened in this book. I’ve already ordered the next one to read soon. I’m sure it was just a one-off, but I look forward to getting back on track.

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are three books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, and Flower Power Trip. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where 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: Crowned and Moldering by Kate Carlisle

Posted on Updated on

Crowned and Moldering (A Fixer-Upper Mystery, #3)Crowned and Moldering by Kate Carlisle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Crowned and Moldering is the 3rd book in Kate Carlisle’s ‘A Fixer-Upper Mystery’ series, also adapted as a TV show on the Hallmark channel. I haven’t caught the shows yet, but as soon as I catch up on the books, I will check it out. I don’t want it to alter my perspective until I’m current. As a stand-alone book, this one was good and I’d recommend it to all cozy readers.

Shannon Hammer inherited a construction business from her father in California. She’s doing well, but a former high school student returns home and tries to put Shannon out of business. While she’s renovating the lighthouse home for new love-interest, Mac, she finds a dead body jammed into a unique, early twentieth century home feature. It’s actually just a skeleton that’s nearly ten years old. Unfortunately, one of her employees realizes it must be his long-lost sister. Without trying to get in the way, Shannon ultimately falls into the same social circle as the deceased girl when she visits the high school on career day. Was it the guidance counselor? The principal? A rival student? A secret older boyfriend? A teacher? This one is packed full of suspects and had a lot of complex angles to consider.

I enjoy the descriptions of the houses and construction projects. The characters are all good. None are super amazing stand-out, but they work well and make me want to read more of the books. The writing style is simple and clean making it a quick 3-hour read for me. I began and finished this one on two flights and a layover last weekend. Although there is a typical 3-way romance building that will push readers to choose sides, it’s not thrown directly at us, which makes the story-line easier to accept. I do like how genuine and kind Shannon is, allowing me to root for her despite how close she is to the investigation. I plan to get the next book at the library over the weekend.

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are three books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, and Flower Power Trip. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where 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 Once Removed by S. C. Perkins (Blog Tour Stop)

Posted on Updated on

Welcome! I’m a stop today on the blog tour for a new book titled Murder Once Removed by S.C. Perkins. A few key facts about the book before I share my review and other information about the blog tour:

Cozy Mystery

1st in Series – An Ancestor Detective Mystery

Minotaur Books (March 19, 2019)

Hardcover: 336 pages

ISBN-10: 1250189039

ISBN-13: 978-1250189035

Digital ASIN: B07D2BJ2JT

*** Purchase links ***

unnamed (1)

Overview

S.C. Perkins’ Murder Once Removed is the captivating first mystery in the Ancestry Detective series, in which Texas genealogist Lucy Lancaster uses her skills to solve murders in both the past and present.

Except for a good taco, genealogist Lucy Lancaster loves nothing more than tracking down her clients’ long-dead ancestors, and her job has never been so exciting as when she discovers a daguerreotype photograph and a journal proving Austin, Texas, billionaire Gus Halloran’s great-great-grandfather was murdered back in 1849. What’s more, Lucy is able to tell Gus who was responsible for his ancestor’s death.

Partly, at least. Using clues from the journal, Lucy narrows the suspects down to two nineteenth-century Texans, one of whom is the ancestor of present-day U.S. senator Daniel Applewhite. But when Gus publicly outs the senator as the descendant of a murderer—with the accidental help of Lucy herself—and her former co-worker is murdered protecting the daguerreotype, Lucy will find that shaking the branches of some family trees proves them to be more twisted and dangerous than she ever thought possible.

***

My Review

Murder Once RemovedMurder Once Removed by S.C. Perkins
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Sometimes I get so busy that I don’t catch all the books flying at me for giveaways, ARCs, or blog tours. Other times, I’m lucky to have friends who know me incredibly well. Nina (@TheCozyPages) privately messaged me to ensure I saw this book was available for a blog tour. I hadn’t caught it, but then I immediately signed up for a read and review. I have limited time while I’m writing my own books to allow me to take on anything more than a regular read / review, but this was one blog tour I didn’t want to miss. My post isn’t for another 7 days, but I’m writing the review now while it’s fresh in my mind! Then I’ll add in all the graphics and other content to lure the readers in! What a funtastic read… I’m glad and grateful for the opportunity. Where to start?

A genealogical mystery? Hmm… three of my favorite things include genealogy, mysteries, and book series. It’s a setup, I was bound to love it. S.C. Perkins’ debut in the ‘Ancestry Detective’ cozy series, Murder Once Removed, is a strong lead in for the future. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I began reading it. For instance, would the murder occur in history or in something more current? Would it potentially contain murders in both as well as flip between time periods so we know what happened years ago? Possibly… I can’t give away all the secrets, now can I? Ultimately, I was quite happy with the structure, story, and approach.

Lucy Lancaster, a ~30ish genealogist in Texas, is hired to trace the family tree for a wealthy family whose son is running for office. It seems the opponent is someone who has it in for the family, too. When the patriarch also asks the protagonist to prove someone murdered a relative in the mid/late 19th century, Lucy digs up photographic evidence that it wasn’t just an accident. But when she traces a long-lost journal that identifies the initials and a few facial features of the killer, it can only be referring to a handful of people from that period. And one of them is related to the opponent. How deadly will this secret be to keep? Quite deadly if you don’t watch you back. Someone wants Lucy to stop her research, but she’s passionate about solving her cases.

What a different way to tell the story! From reading land records to tracing family trees, the various suspects are revealed along with the usual motive, opportunity, and means thrown in by the pesky police. Yes, if you’re not a fan of genealogy, you might not love the frequent references to “third cousin once removed” versus “great great great this or that…” but for me, it was a thrilling ride. I love this type of stuff and truly connected with the characters and the investigation. A few folks might notice some minor liberties with what documentation or artifacts were available specific to that region or time period, but ultimately, this is fiction… and it will always have some level of exaggeration to fit the plot. I read a book for the story and the beauty in how it comes together, not to find an exact perfect replica of reality. I already have that am trying to escape it! 🙂

I will definitely continue with this series and can’t wait for the next one!

View all my reviews

***

About the Author

S.C. Perkins is a fifth-generation Texan who grew up hearing fascinating stories of her ancestry and eating lots of great Tex-Mex, both of which inspired the plot of her debut mystery novel. Murder Once Removed was the winner of the 2017 Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery competition. She resides in Houston and, when she’s not writing or working at her day job, she’s likely outside in the sun, on the beach, or riding horses.

Author Links 

o   www.scperkins.com

o   www.twitter.com/scperkinswriter

o   www.instagram.com/scperkinswriter

o   www.facebook.com/scperkinswriter

o   www.pinterest.com/scperkinswriter

o   www.goodreads.com/scperkinswriter

unnamed (2).jpg

***

Rafflecopter Code: a Rafflecopter giveaway https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Who Else is on the Blog Tour?

The tour has fourteen (14) days of stops and you can see the blog names listed below. Stop by to check out everyone’s opinions or to enter the giveaway contest and win a free copy…

Main Book Tour Page

March 5 – The Power of Words – REVIEW, INDIVIDUAL GIVEAWAY

March 5 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

March 6 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 6 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! – REVIEW*

March 7 – The Book Diva’s Reads – GUEST POST

March 7 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

March 8 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 8 – Teresa Trent Author Blog – SPOTLIGHT

March 9 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

March 9 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

March 10 – Nadaness In Motion – SPOTLIGHT, INDIVIDUAL GIVEAWAY

March 10 – That’s What She’s Reading – REVIEW*

March 11 – Carole’s Book Corner – SPOTLIGHT

March 11 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – REVIEW

March 11 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – CHARACTER GUEST POST

March 12 – Valerie’s Musings – REVIEW

March 12 – This is my truth now – REVIEW

March 13 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

March 13 – Devilishly Delicious Book Reviews – REVIEW

March 14 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW, RECIPE POST

March 14 – A Holland Reads – REVIEW*

March 15 – Here’s How It Happened – REVIEW *

March 15 – Laura`s Interests – SPOTLIGHT

March 16 – MJB Reviewers – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 16 – Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 17 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW, INDIVIDUAL GIVEAWAY

March 18 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW*

March 18 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW

***

I hope you enjoyed stopping by my blog to be part of this fun tour. Many thanks to Lori Caswell (Dollycas) @ Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours for including me in this opportunity. It’s been a blast… can’t wait until my next tour with them. Tell me what you thought of the blog tour, the review, and whether you’re gonna read this book! 
unnamed (3).jpg

Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours

About Me

For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. There are two books: Academic Curveball and Broken Heart Attack. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where 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: The Sauvignon Secret by Ellen Crosby

Posted on Updated on

The Sauvignon Secret (Wine Country Mysteries, #6)The Sauvignon Secret by Ellen Crosby
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What an interesting turn of events in the ‘Wine Country Mysteries’ book series by Ellen Crosby! The Sauvignon Secret is the sixth book and while it’s just as good as all the rest, it pushed the cozy line more than usual. I kinda liked it… but then again, I’m quickly growing enamored with these characters and the author’s writing style, so it makes sense.

In this one, immediately [as in the first line of the book] is where Lucie finds her dead body! We don’t know who he is, but she does. We learn her grandfather is back (what a cool character) and she hasn’t seen on/off-again boyfriend, Quinn, in months. Wow, a lot changed. As does the setting… while a third of the book takes place in Virginia like it usually does, Lucie visits San Francisco and Napa Valley for the rest. I loved reading about all the places I used to frequent when I lived in California… and nostalgia was definitely in need around here.

The mystery is good, but I wish we started a few weeks earlier. Many of the people in the group she’s investigating were already killed / died under suspicious circumstances, so I felt like a latecomer to the game. I’m not sure it could’ve been done any other way, but it would have made it a 4.5 star instead of a 4 star for me. The focus on wine is high. The relationships between Lucie and her family are stronger. And there is a big surprise for her future at the end of this book.

Already ordered the next one from the library… will read it when I get back from Quebec City next week!

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. There are two books: Academic Curveball and Broken Heart Attack. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where 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: Hitting the Books by Jenn McKinlay

Posted on

Hitting the Books (Library Lover's Mystery, #9)Hitting the Books by Jenn McKinlay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The ‘Library Lover’s Mystery’ series by Jenn McKinlay is one of my favorite cozy mystery series. By reading the 9th book, Hitting the Books, I’m now current and eagerly awaiting the 10th one due to be released later this year. Although I thought this one was too simple from a mystery plot perspective, I enjoyed all the normal library shenanigans and small town community relationships.

When Lindsey notices a friendly library patron–famed tennis player, Theresa Huston–run down by a car, she tries to save the woman. Luckily, she’s only injured and survives the accident. Then Lindsey’s friend, Charlie, is hit by the same driver later that day. A gunman is shooting throughout the town. Is someone attempting to knock off Briar Creek residents? Or is it a misunderstanding? Emma, the Chief of Police, asks Lindsey to look into some library books that were in the car (once it’s found), and it leads them to a young kid we’ve met before in a prior book. Liza, Theresa’s soon-to-be step-daughter, is worried sick, but she’s acting strangely, too. Ultimately, Larry, the soon-to-be husband and Liza’s father, knows more than he’s saying about his ex-wife, Liza’s mother, who supposedly died. It comes together in a crashing finale where we know who and why, but I was left a little disappointed at the minimal amount of suspects and detail surrounding how it all came to pass.

That said, it wasn’t enough to detract or worry me from moving on. I just think it could’ve been stronger to really intrigue me as to what was going on behind the scenes. Instead, I found the normal comings-and-goings around the library as my focal point. From ‘The Lemon’ to Mary’s new baby, we had great moments of sentimentality and thought-provoking questions about Lindsey’s relationship with Sully. Will he wants kids? How are they doing now that they’re living together? What’s Beth’s new marriage like? I enjoy the side stories, so I am still happy with the book and will keep reading the future ones.

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are three books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, and Flower Power Trip. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where 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: White Colander Crime by Victoria Hamilton

Posted on

White Colander Crime (Vintage Kitchen Mystery, #5)White Colander Crime by Victoria Hamilton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

White Colander Crime is the 5th book in the Vintage Kitchen Mystery series written by Victoria Hamilton. This is the second series I’m reading by the author, but it’s taking longer to grow attached to the characters. Jaymie is a solid investigator and lead, but she doesn’t have a lot of anchors in her life which makes her a little distant for me. Each book is helping improve that connection, but I wish she were closer with her family or had a lengthier relationship (or none at all). Over the five books, she’s dated four different guys, but at least the current one is the best one. I only bring it up because it’s hard to build a relationship with her when hers keep changing, and she hardly ever talks about or visits her family to show a strong level of intimacy. That said, it’s really my only concern in the series. The rest is smooth sailing.

The book takes place in a small tourist town on the border of Michigan and Canada. Jaymie writes for the local newspaper, clerks in a market, and works with vintage kitchen tools… sometimes helping a museum authenticate an exhibit, and at others, refurbishing tools and gadgets so they can be resold at an auction. Through her editor, Jaymie meets a group of young twenty-somethings who are involved in complex dating situation. The editor’s son might be abusive, but it’s hard to be certain whether he’s actually hit a girl or she’s faking it for another reason (we do find out the truth). Jaymie’s new boyfriend gives the kid a chance and lets him work on the farm. Soon, the girl is beaten to death. Was it the editor’s son? One of her many other boyfriends (we learn she was dating a few guys all who had a similar experience with her). It’s a confusing plot, as I couldn’t tell what was going on regarding the abuse, i.e. was she unable to stop it, or was she trying to catch bad guys in the act? We find out the whole story, and it’s full of layers that keep us guessing. Physical abuse all happens off-screen, but it does occur a few times in case any reader has triggers.

At the end, I really enjoyed the diversity of the characters in this one. It wasn’t just the normal townspeople, but most of the new folks had solid connections to the place or other characters. The plot was strong, but the culprit was fairly easy to pick out. The setting and descriptions are always enjoyable. I recommend the series for someone who wants neither a funny cozy nor a serious one… something in between more focused on the setting, a quaint town, and some interesting relationships among the citizens. It’s not a typical family-based series, nor is it is a ‘which guy will she choose’ arc.

Next up… the sixth book in the series, probably toward the end of this month.

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. There are two books: Academic Curveball and Broken Heart Attack. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where 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.