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Book Review: Muffin to Fear by Victoria Hamilton

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Muffin to Fear (Merry Muffin Mystery, #5)Muffin to Fear by Victoria Hamilton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Muffin to Fear is the 5th book in Victoria Hamilton’s ‘Merry Muffin Mysteries’ series. It takes place in Autumn Vale, New York, an upstate town with its very own Wynter Castle, Merry’s home after her great-uncle left it to her in his will. She’s been renovating it since moving to the small town, and now she just married the former sheriff. As a ~40ish former stylist from NYC, Merry’s enjoying a more relaxed life, except it’s not relaxed… bodies keep showing up!

This time, when she returns from her honeymoon, Pish (her late first husband’s gay best friend) has rented the castle out to a team of paranormal investigators who have a show on TV. They search for ghosts and hold seances. Two of the crew are killed. Who had it in for them? And was there some sort of other worldly interference? Doubtful, murder’s usually achieved (not really a goal I suppose) by someone quite angry or hurt. In this case, both! Merry solves the case with Virgil’s help as she earns the favor of the new sheriff. My favorite character is her friend at the library who always arrives at the last minute with all the answers. Then Lizzie… a somewhat troubled teen wise beyond her years. Will she be okay? It’s getting scary how close she is with a killer sometimes.

This is a great series. I love the supporting characters, but Merry is a true heroine. Sometimes flawed, occasionally a buddinski (sp?), but always on top of her game. Between the extensive cast of crew and paranormal investigators, she has her work cut out for her here. The best part: complexity in how all the team fit together. The not-so-great part: Too many characters to play detective. It got confusing way more than it needed to, and in the end, it was a 20 page explanation of ‘why’ the person was killed. Too much for one book.

But I’m a fan and I will be sticking with this series. I’m even more excited now that I’ve confirmed a 6th book is in the works for late spring. Now my weekend is complete… well okay… it’s a lot better!

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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: Much Ado About Muffin by Victoria Hamilton

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Much Ado About Muffin (Merry Muffin Mystery, #4)Much Ado About Muffin by Victoria Hamilton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Autumn Vale in upstate New York is the place [not] to be. I say that only because it seems you’ll be murdered if you visit too often. In Much Ado About Muffin, the fourth book in the Merry Muffin Mystery series by Victoria Hamilton, Minnie, the post office supervisor, is killed! We surely didn’t like her in the first few books because she was mean to Merry. ‘She deserved to die’ some might say, but there was the briefest moment in the beginning of this book where she was somewhat kind. Rest assured, then she was back at the nastiness, so we don’t feel all that guilty, right?

Hamilton’s created a wonderful town full of lovable characters. I am getting more and more connected to this cast of kooky inhabitants. Some are just plain old weird. Others are insufferable. Many are adorable. But no one will be spared, I suspect, except perhaps Merry. When she’s away visiting her late husband’s brother, the town is running amok. That is, its citizens are. Merry gets a marriage proposal while in Europe. Will she take it? Upon her return, Roma, a diva with a waning voice, is trying to recover in Merry’s castle simply until she can go back onstage in NYC. Unfortunately, Roma’s pissed off a lot of people, including Minnie. Did she then kill Minnie in revenge? Or is it one of her boarders who don’t seem to like Minnie other than she’s agreed to leave them her house if she dies. Then she dies! Ah, who would of guessed?

Hamilton’s writing continues to please. Her style and tone are always great. This is a wonderful series and I will keep reading the books. I’ve held back the full 5 stars because I think she’s capable of more. Merry has lots of connections about town. Build up the families. Add in some additional friends. Give her a stronger job. Make her truly ready to takeover the town. Then I’ll be so enamored with this series, I will re-read it many times!

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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: Death of an English Muffin by Victoria Hamilton

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Death of an English Muffin (Merry Muffin Mystery, #3)Death of an English Muffin by Victoria Hamilton

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

A strong cozy mystery [for me] must contain a complex mystery with a mean victim, a group of solid core characters, a bevy of potential culprits who are tied together in a fascinating manner, and an easily visible and charming locale. The third book in the Merry Muffin Mystery series by Victoria Hamilton, Death of an English Muffin, has all that and more. I give this one 4.5 muffins, I mean stars.

The Villain
A nasty old woman visiting the castle with her friends is killed. Cleta had some of the most offensive (for a cozy) and ruthless dialog I’ve ever seen. She’s a miserable lady who takes her frustrations out on everyone else, and therefore, she deserved to be the one to die in this book. Readers will love seeing her get her just desserts!

The Core Characters
Merry is awesome. She’s a realistic and smart woman who is trying to figure out her path. Sometimes she pushes too hard, others she backs away in appropriate measures. I like her character a lot and she makes me want to find my own castle to renovate. Her friends are growing and she’s building connections among the people in Autumn Vale. In the last book, I worried she didn’t have better ties, but they are growing. I like the budding friendship / relationship with Sheriff Virgil, too.

The Suspects
Cleta’s fellow 80-something gals from New York City came with her. Friends (or frenemies) for more than 50 years, they hold secrets over one another and use them to get whatever they want. Which one is lying? Which one is telling the truth? Why are they all so bitter? Oh, those high society biddies need to be taken down a notch or two, and Merry is just the gal to do it.

The Setting
Autumn Vale is in upstate New York. It’s a gorgeous and inspiring village. I love the landscape, the castle and the small-town feel. To see the rivalries with neighbor cities is also amusing. I feel immediately transported to it.

All-in-all, this series is developing strongly. I recommend it for most cozy readers. I can’t wait to pick up the next one.

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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: 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.

Review: Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen

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Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen
Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen by Vicki Delany

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3 1/2 stars (rounded up to a 4) to Vicki Delany‘s Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen, her debut novel in the “A Year-Round Christmas Mystery” series. Some people love Christmas so much that they need an entire book series dedicated to it; and if you’re one of those people, you’ll enjoy this one even if you’re reading it at Halloween!


Story

Rudolph, New York, a small town on the southern shores of Lake Ontario near the Canadian border, was named for someone who turned out to be not-so-name-worthy in the end. The town mayor, Noel Wilkinson, suggests telling everyone it was named after the famous reindeer and thus, Christmastown is born — except, there are a few of these towns across the country and the neighboring towns aren’t always thrilled when their town is suddenly considered second rate. When a semi-famous writer stops in Rudolph to publish a piece in a widely-read magazine about all the wonders of the Christmas village, he quickly sets the town a buzz… but when he turns up dead after eating at a local restaurant, Rudolph gets a bad reputation. Was it a neighboring town hoping to steal the glory? Was it a current resident with a unknown grudge? Or was it a personal vendetta from some outsider that just happened to occur in Rudolph?

Merry Wilkinson and her family and friends of Christmas-loving lore are on the case so they can protect their income and their town from utter disaster. Along the way, we meet her opera-loving mother, Santa Clause double dad, best friend who is accused of the murder, two eligible bachelors for Merry to choose from, a former frenemy police officer, the newly transported Chicago detective, a quirky mayor, a bitter neighboring store owner, a rival-politician and the fun-loving staff of Merry’s high-end Christmas decor shop. With a few side-stories about each of the main character’s personal lives, a new series all about the wonderful world of Christmas is born. In the end, Merry solves the case and makes friends with the police so she’s ready to solve another one in the future.


Strengths

For a debut novel, it gives a really well-rounded summary of the town and characters. For readers new to the cozy mystery genre, it will be the perfect intro. Characters and setting are clear and vivid. Multiple suspects for the whodunit. Several backstories dropped with different angles to continue on in the future. And if you’re a fan of holidays, this one will make you smile. I was slightly worred that the Christmas theme could be annoying (I love Christmas but an entire book series?); however, Delany offers a good balance of story and setting so you can tune out or in as much of the descriptions as you want.


Suggestions

There are a few holes in the story or pieces of the plot that should have been more tightly addressed. Merry doesn’t quite seem like someone who would give up her life in NYC and come back home just because of a situation with her boyfriend and job. I would have expected her to try to find other jobs in NYC but this whole area is covered a bit too quickly. When she does come back home, it seems like everyone just forgets she left Rudolph and everything picks back up again. I understand small town atmosphere, but I think a little more focus could have been added here.


Final Thoughts

There are a lot of mystery fiction books and authors to choose from, and once you settle into the cozy sub-genre, you still have a lot that could spark your interest. This one has a very clear theme that will either hook the audience or it will not. If you are a fan of holidays or Christmas or anything that comes with it, then you’ve got a good series to get started with. The author has just published the second in the series and I will be reading it later this week. Definitely worth continuining on…

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