cozy mystery

Book Review: Muffin But Murder by Victoria Hamilton

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Muffin But Murder (Merry Muffin Mystery, #2)Muffin But Murder by Victoria Hamilton

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I read the first book in the Merry Muffin series by Victoria Hamilton almost two years ago, then moved on to sample as many other cozy mysteries as I could. I’d also read another one of Hamilton’s series, Vintage Kitchen Mysteries, and am catching up on those now, too. I’m finally back to reading a few of the earlier ones from this series in publication order, which made Muffin But Murder (#2 of 5) next on my list. I’d forgotten enough about the characters and setting, but by about twenty percent into this book, it all came back… and it’s gotten even better in this edition.

Merry used to be a NYC fashion and style consultant. After a model falsely accused her of stealing something, and Merry’s great uncle passed away, she hightailed it to Autumn Vale in upstate New York to find out what she inherited and re-group. Surprise, he owned a castle! Merry decided to sell the estate and in this second book, she’s battling a supposed cousin for ownership, townspeople who think she’ll sell them out, and a killer with a vendetta. With her best friend’s help, Merry holds a costume ball to help showcase the estate to wealthy folks in the hopes they’ll buy the place, but when one uninvited attendee ends up dead at the end of the party, she’s back to sleuthing. What’s even scarier: the victim was the unknown twin brother of the guy who caused problems in the first book of the series!

Character – Good; they’re developing but we need a few more supporting ones
Writing – Strong; I enjoy the witty dialog and narrative / descriptions
Setting – Good; reminds me of my trips to Hudson, NY and its surrounding towns
Voice – Good; I like the tone of the books and the perspective changes on the action

The mystery was medium-complex. There were several red herrings, lots of potential culprits, a few side stories, a secondary mystery to keep us distracted, and a strong, clear finish. When the various side stories began to weave together, I figured out what was going on, but it was still fun to watch it finish. I will definitely continue reading the series and already ordered the next one to begin in late January.

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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.

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Book Review: Grimoires, Spas & Chocolate Straws by Erin Johnson (Blog Tour Stop)

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Welcome! I’m the next stop today on the blog tour for a new book titled Grimoires, Spas & Chocolate Straws, the 8th book in the Spells & Caramels cozy witch series by Erin Johnson. A few key facts about the book before I share my review and other information about the blog tour:

Self Published (December 29, 2018)
Paperback: 332 pages
ISBN-10: 1792728727
ISBN-13: 978-1792728723
Digital ASIN: B07LB49VBR

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grimoires spas and chocolate straws

DESCRIPTION OF BOOK

Sandy slaughter. An enchanting suspect. Can a magical baker protect her friends from a dangerous paradise?

Stranded on Badlands Island, Imogen Banks is driving herself crazy looking for her brother. So when the spell-casting baker’s friends suggest they escape for a luxurious dragon spa treatment, she doesn’t need a second invitation. But her hopes for coastal romance with Hank fall flat when a resort guest turns up roasted in the sand.

Suspecting murder, Imogen zeroes in on the town’s rumored “black widow” as a possible culprit. But when her friend falls for the beautiful woman despite the deadly track record, Imogen fears he’ll be the next victim to stay buried.

Can Imogen sift through the clues before the killer gives her one final treatment?

Grimoires, Spas and Chocolate Straws is the eighth book in the Spells and Caramels delightful paranormal cozy mystery series. If you like endearing heroines, a touch of romance, and unexpected twists, then you’ll love Erin Johnson’s magical whodunit.

Buy Grimoires, Spas & Chocolate Straws to massage a new mystery today!

READ ALL MY PAST REVIEWS OF THE FIRST SEVEN BOOKS HERE

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My Review

Grimoires, Spas & Chocolate Straws (Spells & Caramels, #8)Grimoires, Spas & Chocolate Straws by Erin Johnson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Erin Johnson is quite a prolific author. In about a year, she’s launched eight books in the Spells & Caramels cozy witch series. Part paranormal adventure, part mystery, these books whisk you away to a world like no other. In the latest book, Grimoires, Spas & Chocolate Straws, baker Imogen Banks is stranded on an island after a war began in her non-Earth world. Her boyfriend, Hank’s, royal family was up to no good, and several magical creatures escaped thru a mirror from the scary visiting monsters. Imogen and the gang put their trust in her possibly ne’er-do-well brother, Horace, only to learn, the truth is not what they thought.

Since the last book ended, the crew’s been working and living on this island with their new friends. When they go on a spa / beach trip, they meet The Black Widow, who supposedly kills her husbands and finds a new one on a regular basis. The journey introduces us to fun new characters who run the spa and are romantically linked to the woman whose husbands mysteriously die. What’s really going on? Imogen is determined to find out as the secret has a few layers to it. She’s also searching for Horace but he’s nowhere to be found. Both mysteries come to a head and change the course of the future for these traveling magical friends.

Johnson has created a truly intense and vivid world. From being buried under the sand for a massage and exfoliation treatment to walking through mirrors to reach the past or other worlds, these books have excellent escapes. The characters are all distinct and fun, even when they’re evil or make bad decisions. The ending of this one is romantic and special, and I look forward to what could happen in the next book. I miss the baking contests and fun around the royal castle, but I’m confident it will return one day. I also love meeting different kinds of creatures from vampires to snakes who transform into humans. You never really know what lurks beneath the surface.

I’m excited about the 9th book which I hear might be coming out relatively soon! Thanks for this great series.

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About the Author

Erin Johnson is a native of Tempe, Arizona, Erin spends her time crafting mysterious, magical, romance-filled stories that’ll hopefully make you laugh. In between, she’s traveling, napping with her dogs, eating with her friends and family, and teaching Pilates (to allow her to eat more).

erin johnson

Websitewww.erinjohnsonwrites.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/EJohnsonWrites

Twitter: @EJohnsonWrites

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Who Else is on the Blog Tour?

The tour has ten 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…

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Link to Dollycas / Great Escapes Tour Page

January 8 – Valerie’s Musings – REVIEW

January 8 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

January 9 – Laura`s Interests – REVIEW

January 9 – Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

January 10 – Sapphyria’s Books – REVIEW

January 10 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT

January 11 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW

January 11 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT

January 12 – This Is My Truth Now – REVIEW

January 12 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW

January 13 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

January 14 – Carla Loves To Read – REVIEW

January 14 – Cozy Up With Kathy – SPOTLIGHT

January 15 – The Montana Bookaholic – REVIEW

January 15 – Devilishly Delicious Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

January 16 – A Chick Who Reads – REVIEW

January 16 – Celticlady’s Reviews  – SPOTLIGHT

January 17 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT  

January 17 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

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I hope you enjoyed stopping by my blog to be part of this fun tour. Many thanks to Erin Johnson and Lori Caswell @ Great Escapes Virtual Tours for including me in this opportunity. Tell me what you thought of the blog tour, the review, and whether you’re gonna read this book! Only time will tell, I suppose… right?
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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: Killing Thyme by Leslie Budewitz

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Killing Thyme (A Spice Shop Mystery, #3)Killing Thyme by Leslie Budewitz

My rating: 4.25 of 5 stars

Spices are essential to making our food and drinks taste better. Leslie Budewitz’s ‘A Spice Shop Mystery’ series is essential to making our cozy mystery reading schedules even better. I want to kick myself for waiting several years before picking up this series, but at the same time the next book doesn’t release until June 2019, so I might have been frustrated waiting that long if I had finished them sooner. With all 3 published ones under my belt, I can say two things: (1) I’m a definite fan and (2) It’s time to move on to her next series which takes place in the NW USA too.

In Killing Thyme, Pepper’s finally got everything under control. Her shop is doing well, Pepper has two great employees to replace the ones she lost in the last book, her mom is coming for a visit from South America, and she’s dating a cute and kind reporter. But with her mom comes a secret from the past hurling quickly like a typhoon at Seattle’s Pike Place Market where you’d never expect one to appear. A fellow store artisan is not who she appears to be… and when she’s found dead early one morning, Pepper’s forced into protecting her mother from being punished for a crime she didn’t commit (at least we think so). Throw in a few cute ‘dates’ with the reporter, a couple of accidents with her friends, and a very curious bracelet that appears from nowhere and you’ve got quite a mystery to solve.

I think the series’ setting has fully fallen into place. We have a wonderful group of supporting characters and stores that make each book connective and fun. My favorite parts besides the murder mystery occur when Pepper goes for her daily walk around the market and catches up with friends we’ve come to adore. Having Arf, her awesome dog, makes it all the more enticing, too. Sometimes she learns a clue, others it’s just more confusion. Budewitz knows how to drop just enough to make us squint and scratch our chin over what’s the truth and what’s a lie. I enjoy this series and was glad to get to know some of Pepper’s family. Her mom’s a hoot and I can only imagine what she was like as a psuedo-hippie nearly 40 years earlier. The best part… we finally learn Pepper’s REAL NAME! Another great installment in the lives of the curious and ‘glamorous’ life in Seattle’s finest market… can’t wait to visit again in June. Thanks for an amazing and strong beginning to my 2019 reads, LB!

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: The Bordeaux Betrayal by Ellen Crosby

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The Bordeaux Betrayal (Wine Country Mysteries #3)The Bordeaux Betrayal by Ellen Crosby

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love to read, learn about history, and drink wine. In the Wine Country Mysteries series by Ellen Crosby, I get all three at once… even better when I have a glass in one hand and the book in another. I found this series a few years ago, even though the debut book is approaching two decades in age, and read only the first two books. I enjoyed them but was searching to read a variety of cozies which meant I stopped… but now that I’ve picked a few series to finish out, catching up with The Bordeaux Betrayal happened this week. There are ~10 books in the series with a new one published just this year. I was glad to jump back into this lovely rural world in Virginia (not too far from Washington DC) where Lucie Montgomery is attempting to run a winery after her parents have passed away.

Lucie had a car accident years ago leaving her walking with a cane. Without it, she can barely move. With it, she feels at a disadvantage and works on her emotional and mental side to try to overcome the pain and loss. Her two siblings are distant, and a family friend turned out to be someone she shouldn’t trust. Even Quinn, the winemaker her father hired before his death, is trouble, but Lucie has a crush on him and enjoys the banter. Sometimes it’s a little too much reality in my opinion. In this book, Quinn’s ex-wife shows up in town on the arms of a local winery owner. The owner’s partner has donated a bottle of wine from the late 18th century intended for Thomas Jefferson from France. Is is authentic? It must be if someone wants to kill for it. New in town, Valerie, a woman flirting with Lucie’s on-again / off-again love interest from England, tells Lucie the bottle is possibly a problem for someone. What does she mean? Unfortunately, a car accident takes her life before she can meet Lucie to explain. Who killed her to keep quiet?

The book is great. It’s more of a slow-burner with a lot of focus on the winery business and comings and goings of the people around Lucie. The mystery is strong, but it’s never the primary driver in the story (in a good way). And before anyone asks, I didn’t have a Bordeaux, so I drank a Pinot Noir instead (my favorite red). Lucie’s relationship with the Englishman and an attraction to Quinn heat up… who will win and keep her heart? Or who will save her if she needs help (tho she’s usually good at protecting herself)? Just as she puts everything together, she encounters the killer(s) while visiting a nearby house with her elderly grandfather who’s on a visit from France. (He’s a great character, btw!).

Add in some WW2 drama over the German occupation of France, the spoils of war, the truth about how far people can be pushed, and some drama with fox-hunting, this book has lots of wonderful stories. I recommend the series and this book for anyone who likes a slower mystery with some drama and classic American rural history experiences. Lucie’s plain and simple, but direct and smart. I like her a lot. I already ordered the 4th book for later 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.

Book Review: Guilty as Cinnamon by Leslie Budewitz

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Guilty as Cinnamon (A Spice Shop Mystery, #2)Guilty as Cinnamon by Leslie Budewitz

My rating: 4.25 of 5 stars

Guilty as Cinnamon is the second book in Leslie Budewitz’s ‘A Spice Shop Mysteries’ cozy series. The books take place in Seattle’s Pike Place Market revolving around Pepper’s spice shop. I’ve wanted to read some of Budewitz’s books for a few years and decided last December to pick up this series. It’s a fun one and I see great improvement between the first two books. I’m thrilled I selected this one and already ordered the third to read next week.

In this caper, Pepper’s having a few staffing and infrastructure issues at her shop. She’s ended the tentative relationship with Alex from the last book and is also hoping to stay away from her ex-husband who has clearly sent signals he wants to get back together. Alex’s key chef, Tamara, reveals she’s opening her own restaurant and wants to work with Pepper to order her spices. Pepper must keep the secret but also knows Alex can be vengeful. A few days later, Tamara’s found dead in her new building from an apparent overdose of hot peppers she likely bought from Pepper. Alex is arrested and begs Pepper to help him despite being angry she kept Tamara’s secret. Tons of other past relationships come to light with another store owner, one of Pepper’s employees, and ghosts throughout the market. How’s it all connected? Pepper is determined to figure it out without dying herself.

The mystery is very strong. Besides the primary focus on who killed Tamara, we have some side stories with Pepper’s employees causing mischief, electrical problems in the market, and secret identities. When we finally learn who smothered Tamara, it was fitting and made sense. I think the overall final chapter ending was a little too rushed / open-ended but not enough to worry me. Once we learned the killer’s identity and how some stories collided, I had open questions about how it tied together. Some readers like a little bit of vague explanation, others want the detail… this will be right in the middle. I love how Budewitz weaves everything together and readers are suddenly going “ah… now I understand why X did such and such a thing…”

As a series, I’m starting to really enjoy all the characters and setting in the market. It’s becoming well cemented in terms of “I hope character Y comes back again” and “They better visit store Z again.” That’s the sign of a great author… one who lures you in not only with the main mystery but the comings and goings of the main character’s personal life. Pepper is fun and cool, yet she has a few flaws. She feels real, so I enjoy reading about her daily actions. I look forward to the next book which focuses on Pepper’s mother, best friend, and family secrets hidden in the past.

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: No Mallets Intended by Victoria Hamilton

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No Mallets IntendedNo Mallets Intended by Victoria Hamilton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

No Mallets Intended is the fourth book in the ‘Vintage Kitchen’ cozy mystery series written by Victoria Hamilton. I began reading it a few years ago and later got sidetracked, but after being approved for the latest 2019 book on NetGalley, I’m catching up this month. The series follows Jaymie Leighton in a small town in Michigan on the border with Canada where she has various odd jobs involving cooking, hospitality, writing, and vintage kitchen items. She ended a relationship with a cheater the year before and began dating someone not quite right for her way too soon. In No Mallets Intended, Jaymie’s cataloging items at the historic Dumpe Manor where she’s knocked over the head with a kitchen mallet and later finds a dead body killed by a different one. Who’s after something hidden in the estate?

Along the path, we meet different members of the historical society and learn of a feud between past owners who claim a missing will caused an inheritance to be improperly carried out. Since the Dumpe Manor was then sold a few times to different people, there is lots of confusion and frustration over who really owns it, but the historical society is the one taking care of it. Eventually, the will is found, but it might be fake. As Jaymie uncovers all the clues, she finds herself directly in the line of fire with the killer who chases her in a very long scene into the arms of single father who ends up becoming important to the story. Jaymie also spends time with her sister and parents finding a bond that had been missing for years. She makes a decision about her current relationship and helps her ex-bf fix his new relationship, too. What a kind woman to do all that knowing it will backfire and hurt her in the short-term!

I enjoy the series. Often is the side characters which carry a plot or books series, but after 4 in this one, I’m more comfortable with the main character and think she has the potential to make the series stronger. The side stories aren’t huge and haven’t offered any truly strong sidekicks for Jaymie. Good thing I like her! Writing quality is good. The vintage kitchen items are fun to hear about. It’s a typical cozy with a clever US and Canada style depending on where the action takes place. I look forward to seeing more about the writing column in the newspaper that Jaymie’s taking on as well as the new potential romance that begins to stir up at the end of this book.

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.

Broken Heart Attack: FREE Kindle Download 12/28 thru 1/1

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Broken Heart Attack, book 2 of the Braxton Campus Mysteries, is available for FREE from 12/28 thru 1/1. It is a cross between a cozy mystery and a family drama mystery centering around murders and small-town shenanigans on a secluded and charming Pennsylvania college campus. In this caper, a missing will might explain why a prominent member of the Paddington family dies during a King Lear performance at Braxton. Whodunit? What’s going on in Kellan’s personal life with Francesca, Nana D, Sheriff Montague, and his boss Myriam? Someone’s keeping him on his toes again…
 
I’d love to share the news over the next few days so everyone can get the copy now. It’s available @ http://mybook.to/BrokenHA and then it’s going on a blog tour in January. See details below on where to catch all the fun!
Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour - BrokenHeartAttack