Friday 29 August 2014

Book Review: Christmas in Paradise by Kathi Daley

Christmas in Paradise is the fourth book in the Paradise Lake mysteries featuring TJ Jensen, and definitely my favourite to date. Alike to most cozy mystery series each book builds on the previous books. Each book in this series can be read as a standalone, but I'm glad I've read them in order. I've loved watching the relationships and friendships of TJ Jensen and her family and friends grow and develop, and Kathi Daley's skill at great character development is more than evident in Christmas in Paradise.

TJ Jensen has a wonderful and unique family. She's the guardian of her two sisters and has a extended family of "uncles" and "aunts" for her sisters, made up of her delightful friends. It's the holiday season and I loved seeing this big family settle down for a Thanksgiving meal, that included four turkeys!! It would have been picture perfect, except for the dead body...

I really enjoyed the mystery. I don't want to give too much away but I love how deep the mystery went. Kathi Daley clearly plots out her mysteries carefully and they always keep me guessing.

Christmas in Paradise was another great installment in the TJ Jensen mysteries. This is a fun, suspenseful series and I can't wait to see what TJ Jensen gets up to next.

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Book Review: Death of a Dog Whisperer by Laurien Berenson

For dog lovers and mystery fans, there is a new mystery on the shelves and it is one from a long-running and much cherished series, the Melanie Travis mysteries. To those that haven't met Melanie yet she loves dogs. She's also pretty good at solving mysteries, especially given that this is her 17th mystery!!

With any long running mystery series, there has to be something beyond the mystery to continually hold my interest. Laurien Berenson writes engaging mysteries, but it's her characters that have me coming back for more. I love Melanie's sarcastic dialogue, her love of animals and her sense of adventure. Alike to a blood hound once she's on the investigation she doesn't stop until she has her man (or woman!).

I enjoyed the mystery immensely. Melanie meets Nick, a "dog whisperer". At first Nick is suspicious and not believing the hype surrounding Nick, but she soon learns that Nick knows dogs very well and when Nick turns up dead, she gets involved and helps to solve his murder.

For readers that love this series for a interesting mystery, adorable dogs (of all breeds and sizes, like Barney, the basset hound on the cover) and engaging, relatable characters, then you're going to want to pick up this one. It was a really enjoyable read and even my family of cats give it four paws up!!

Check out Death of a Dog Whisperer by Laurien Berenson on Amazon.

Monday 25 August 2014

Book Review: Murder Al Dente by Jennifer L Hart

Andrea “Andy” Buckland has come home. After nearly poisoning a live audience on what was supposed to be her big break as a tv chef, she’s returned to her hometown and to the family restaurant, Bowtie Angel. As she tries to sort out her life and come to terms with her ex-boyfriend now engaged with her mortal enemy, she stumbles upon the dead body of tv chef, Chef Zoltan Farnsworth. Chef Zoltan waa unfortunately one of those that she nearly poisoned in Atlanta and it looks like the police are seeing Andy as a “person of interest”. In order to clear her name Andy starts to investigate with the help of sexy newcomer, Malcolm Jones, half-brother to her enemy, Lizzie.

I’ve read two of Jennifer Hart’s other books (Skeletons in the Closet and Final Notice) and have enjoyed her combination of mystery, humor and romance immensely. In her newest novel, she shows why she is one of the best new cozy mystery authors. She introduces readers to the Buckland family, an Italian family that loves to cook pasta so much that they run a Italian restaurant. This family puts the “fun” in dysfunctional and they are a laugh a minute. I particularly loved Andy’s Great Aunt Cecily, whose answer to everything is “we make the pasta”! Add in a murder to the mix and the result will be a cozy mystery that you will be remembering fondly long after you turn the last page.

As with most cozy mysteries there is a subtle romantic element. In between solving the murder, Andy has her hands full with the sexy Malcolm Jones, a photographer with a interesting history and complete with a sexy New Zealander accent. The only catch is Malcolm is the half-brother of Lizzy, who Andy has been in not-so-friendly competition since their school days together.

Murder Al Dente was a fabulous debut in this new series. It hit all the right notes with me, and the pasta recipes are “to die for”. I can’t wait to get into the kitchen and see if I can “make the pasta just like Great Aunt Cecily and Andy! If you’re looking for a new series to read this summer, I highly recommend this one. Murder Al Dente was a delectable mystery and I can’t wait to return to another adventure with the Bucklands to see what they are up to next.

Saturday 23 August 2014

Book Review: Panty Raid by Lorraine Bartlett

I’m a fan of Lorraine Bartlett’s other mysteries, including the Booktown mysteries she writes as Lorna Barrett, and I’ve been eagerly awaiting a new book to devour. Then along came Panty Raid. Panty Raid was a super fun introduction to Tori and Kathi, our sleuths in the upcoming Lotus Bay Mysteries.

Tori and Kathy are best friends from college that have drifted apart but come back together to help Tori solve the mystery of a panty thief. The outcome was utterly hilarious and I didn’t see it coming. Let’s just say when the final culprit was culprit was caught I’m glad I wasn’t drinking or I may have spit liquid all over my kindle screen!!

I really liked Tori and Kathy and I could relate to them a lot. As life with jobs, children and blogging has gotten in the way my own best friend from school days and I have drifted apart then together again, and the way Lorraine wrote the relationship between Tori and Kathy was just perfect.

I loved Panty Raid and I’m super excited for this new series. I have enjoyed everything Lorraine Bartlett has written so far and I’m sure this new series will be no different.

Saturday 16 August 2014

Book Review: The Colony Cat Caper by Patricia Fry

Here at Cozy Mystery Book Reviews the one thing we all have in common is our love of cats. We have a soft spot for dogs too, but we really LOVE felines! So when a new book crosses our desks we all clamor to be the first one to read it. After all mysteries and cats just go hand in hand. Patricia Fry’s mysteries definitely have a cat as their focus… a klepto cat named Rags. Together with Savannah, Rags provides plenty of enjoyment in this fifth book in the series.

The mystery focuses heavily on the Hammond Cat Alliance and their involvement in helping with the feral cats in the area, which of course brings in the mysterious old building. I really enjoyed the way Patricia Fry has weaved the elements of mystery with the serious side of animal welfare, and the care of the feral cats. The Hammand Cat Alliance warmed my heart with all they do to help cats.

The Colony Cat Caper was my first introduction into the lives of Savannah, Rags and the other folks in town. I was able to quickly pick up the story, and I was glued to each page with intrigue as the mystery unfolded. For me, the Klepto Cat mysteries is a hidden gem, and I’m glad I’ve now got four other books in the series to go back and enjoy. I can’t wait to find out what other adventures Rags has gotten up to!!

Book Review: The Moonglow Cafe by Deborah Garner

Prior to reading The Moonglow Cafe, I read Above the Bridge, Deborah Garner’s first novel in this series. Above the Bridge gave me a insightful look into this series and into the life of Paige MacKenzie as she arrives in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I enjoyed the mystery and I was excited to see what adventure Deborah Garner would take the characters on next.

In The Moonglow Cafe, Paige and cowboy, Jake, are back with another mystery to solve. This time Paige is in Manhattan to write a story on sapphire mining. With Jake nearby in Jackson Hole, she’s not expected murder and mystery, but that is exactly what she finds. Paige finds a hidden diary and with her natural reporter instincts she’s soon on the trail of this mystery.

I really love Deborah Garner’s writing style. She paints a vivid picture of the isolated mining town and the quirky characters in the town. The mystery kept me on the edge of the seat, madly flipping the pages faster, eager to find out how it would end.

I read a lot of indie cozy mysteries and The Moonglow Cafe is definitely one of my favourites this year. I enjoyed letting Deborah Garner whisk me away to Montana for an afternoon of adventure and I can’t wait to see what Paige gets up to next.

Book Review: Pies & Peril by Janel Gradowski

I love delving into new towns and new characters with a new series. In Janel Gradowski’a debut mystery she introduces us to two cook exrtraodinaire’s… Amy Ridley and the reigning pie queen, Mandy Jo. Amy thinks she finally has a pie to beat Mandy Jo but little does she know Mandy Jo is already dead!!

Pies and Peril drew me in like the sweet smell of a fresh apple pie and I didn’t want to stop until the very end.

I was drawn to the charming Amy. Alike to myself, she’s passionate about baking, but not always clear headed. In the opening chapter she illogical thinks her pie has been stolen from her house and the way ahe reacted to the situation would’ve just been like me. Her reaction had me laughing and smiling, and the warm cozy feeling of reading a good mystery never left me.

For readers of the blog will know I’ve been on a bit of a reading slump lately. Well Pies and Peril pulled me right out of it. This delightful debut mystery stole my heart with its charm and wit and not to mention Amy’s dog, Pogo.

Pies and Peril is a beautiful debut and I know I will be eagerly awaiting the second book in the series.

Book Review: Sex, Lies & Snickerdoodles by Wendy Delaney

Mmmm. Snickerdoodles. I want to start this review by saying Wendy Delaney totally sold me with Snickerdoodles. I love Snickerdoodles, and I figured a book that has the word “snickerdoodles” in the title is bound to be a winner! Luckily for me, I was right. Sex, Lies and Snickerdoodles is more than just a yummy title, it’s also a fabulous mystery.

Charmaine Digby is Assistant to the Prosecutor, and had a secret love life with long-time friend, Detective Steve Sixkiller. That ought to be enough to stay out of trouble, however she manages to walk into more trouble with the death of bad boy, Russell Falco. What unfolds is a suspenseful and enjoyable mystery that had me on the edge of my seat, trying to figure it out before Charmaine and Steve.

An essential element of a good cozy mystery is the setting and I loved the seaside setting of Port Merritt. As I was reading I swear I could smell the fresh fish and salt air, or maybe that was my own wishful thinking of wanting to be transported to Port Merritt with these interesting characters.

Sex, Lies and Snickerdoodles was my first mystery by Wendy Delaney, but it sure won’t be my last. It was a thoroughly enjoyable read, and I intend to go back and read the first book in the series, Trudy, Madly, Deeply to find out what else Charmaine and her friends have been up to.