Monday 30 April 2018

Class Reunions Are Murder (A Poppy McAllister Mystery #1) by Libby Klein

Class Reunions Are Murder (A Poppy McAllister Mystery #1)For fortysomething Poppy McAllister, taking a stroll down memory lane in Cape May, New Jersey, isn’t just awkward—it’s deadly.

Newly widowed and stuck in a middle-aged funk, Poppy has been running on cookies, infomercials, and one-sided chats with her cat for months. There’s no way on earth she’s attending her twenty-five-year class reunion—especially after receiving a very bizarre letter from Barbie, the popular cheerleader who taunted her all through high school. At least, not until Poppy’s best friend practically drags her to the event . . .

Using the dreaded homecoming as an excuse to visit her eccentric Aunt Ginny, Poppy vows to leave Cape May with pride and Spanx intact. Too bad Barbie is still the queen of mean at the reunion. And worse, that her dead body is lying right in front of Poppy’s old locker. Singled out as the killer, it’s up to Poppy to confront her past and clear her name. But between protecting her aunt from disaster and tackling a gluten-free diet, can Poppy crack the case before she’s voted “Most Likely to Die” by the murderer?

Includes Seven Recipes from Poppy’s Kitchen!
(Summary via Goodreads)  

If you graduated from high school in the late 80's like me, you will really appreciate a lot of things that Class Reunions are Murder has to offer.  Libby Klein takes the reader on a nice journey down memory lane.....and there are TWO mysteries !!

Class Reunions are Murder starts with you getting to know Poppy who is dealing with the death of her husband.  All she wants to do is stay in her pj's, eat, sleep, and hang with her cat Figaro.  Unfortunately her best friend Sawyer persuades her to go back home to attend their 25th year class reunion.  As much as she doesn't want to go, she also doesn't want to let her friend down.  Plus she will be going back to her childhood home and seeing her Aunt Ginny.

As in a lot of schools, Poppy and Sawyer and their friends dealt with "bullying" and the head of the "bullying club" was Barbie and Barbie hasn't changed at all.  So when Barbie is found dead with a pompom stuffed in her mouth at the reunion people aren't overly shocked.  Unfortunately she was found in front of Poppy's locker by Poppy !!

Even though the list of suspects is long, their old classmate, Amber, who is on the police force now only has eyes for Poppy.

While Poppy tries to stay out of jail for a murder she did not commit, Aunt Ginny has a huge problem also.  Aunt Ginny is trying to stay out of the nursing home !!  An employee from the Department of Youth & Family Services has been coming around saying that they have received numerous complaints that Aunt Ginny is unfit to live alone.  Aunt Ginny make be a number of things, but unfit is not one of them.

Even though there is a lot going on in Class Reunions are Murder, Klein has the ability to keep the reader completely focused and so engrossed in the story that you feel like you are right there in New Jersey.  You will instantly fall in love with Poppy and appreciate her strength and determination.

I had an extremely hard time putting the book down and when I got to the end and both mysteries were solved, it was mind blowing..... But nothing could have prepared me for the way Klein ended the ending with a HUGE opening....  I cannot wait until I get my hands on the next book in this series, Midnight Snacks are Murder, to see where things are heading for Poppy and Aunt Ginny..

Review by Missi S.

Friday 27 April 2018

Capable of Murder (Belinda Lawrence Murder Mystery #1) by Brian Kavanagh


The old lady's body lay at the foot of the stairs. The police believe it was an accidental fall that killed great-aunt Jane. Young Australian Belinda Lawrence is convinced it was murder and when she inherits her great-aunt's ancient cottage and garden on the outskirts of Bath, England, she finds herself deep in a taut mystery surrounding her legacy.

A second vicious murder by a ruthless killer intensifies the tension and Belinda, now under threat herself, is befriended by two charming men: her neighbour Jacob and real estate agent Mark Sallinger. But can she trust them? And what interest has befuddled antique dealer Hazel Whitby in the cottage?  (Summary via Goodreads)

When you read the brief description of Capable of Murder by Brian Kavanagh on the back of the book, you know that Great-aunt Jane is going to die.  There is hardly a surprise there and you may even know that after Belinda, her great-niece and main character, receives the letter asking her to visit that she will be dead upon Belinda's arrival.

And if you read the entire description on the back of the book, you see that Belinda does not agree that her aunt's death was an accident and you will be so engrossed in the story and her interest in finding the killer that when someone else ends up dead, which we were forewarned of, it will totally blow your mind and make you STOP reading while you TRY to grasp this person's death !!

Kavanagh grabs the reader from page one and continues that hold until you read the last words.  And not one to ruin anything for the reader but the last paragraph will have you extremely overjoyed that Capable of Murder is the first installment in the Belinda Lawrence Mystery series and there are more great books following it.  

Now that Belinda is finally settled into her new home in this quaint English village and she has TWO murders solved, she can sit back, relax in her new home and garden, and get to know the area.  I'm sure nothing else could possibly go wrong..... But if you are a huge fan of Capable of Murder like me, we can only hope something goes bad....

Review by Missi S.

Friday 20 April 2018

Bad Neighbors (An Agnes and Effie Mystery #2) by Maia Chance

Bad Neighbors (An Agnes & Effie Mystery #2)
Agnes Blythe and her glamorous Aunt Effie must take a break from restoring their inn to rake in the clues when a local mechanic is murdered in national bestselling author Maia Chance’s charming second Agnes & Effie mystery.

It’s leaf-peeping season in Naneda, New York, and Agnes Blythe has settled into helping her eccentric Great Aunt Effie restore the Stagecoach Inn. It seems nothing can shatter the golden idyll―or the ka-ching of cash registers―until a mechanic at Hatch Automotive is found bludgeoned to death with a wrench. 

Sweeping into action, Agnes and Aunt Effie are on the scene, when a tourist-laden motor coach breaks down outside of town. The Stagecoach Inn isn’t exactly ready for guests, but Agnes and Effie agree to take in a group of seniors while they wait for repairs. But then, Agnes finds herself pulled into the investigation when she learns her new boyfriend, gorgeous Otis Hatch, is the Naneda Police Department’s prime suspect. 

With bodies falling faster than the foliage, Agnes must leaf through the more viable suspects and clear Otis’s name of murder in Bad Neighbors, the charming second Agnes and Effie mystery from national bestselling author Maia Chance.  (Summary via Goodreads)

Following Agnes and Aunt Effie around is exhaustingly fun !!!  I love the Agnes and Effie Mystery series by Maia Chance.  There is NEVER a dull moment when reading these books !!  And Bad Neighbors does not disappoint !!!

If you are a fan of cozy mysteries you know that the premise of these books is that they are usually set around a small town where everyone knows everyone.  Yes there is a murder and yes the main character who knows next to nothing about solving the crime jumps full force into solving the case.  This is not because the law enforcement in the town can't do it but because either the murdered victim is someone close to the main character or the main suspect is someone close to the main character.  And in Bad Neighbors the main suspect is Agnes' boyfriend, naturally Agnes and Aunt Effie are on the case !!!

But with it being the height of the fall foliage season in Naneda and the whole town is involved in the  
annual Harvest Festival a murder is not something the town wants people focusing on.....especially with a judge in town judging all of the festivities.

While Agnes and Aunt Effie are hosting a few stranded tourists who are having vehicle trouble, they venture around town asking innocent questions trying to prove Otis is innocent but then when another member of the community is found murdered as well, it makes things more difficult.....

I am always amazed at the talent that authors have with their story telling and the way they circle around things and have the reader believing one thing but then as quick as you turn the page, you are being taken down yet another believable path...... And Maia Chance has you turning pages faster than the leaves are changing color and convinced that you know who the real killer is until Aunt Effie lights up another cigarette and with that the tables turn yet again......

So go to your comfy place with your beverage and snack of choice and hunker down for a while.  Once you open Bad Neighbors you will be in for a while......

Review by Missi S.

Thursday 12 April 2018

The Shadow of Death (Sister Agatha and Father Selwyn Mystery #1) by Jane Willan

The Shadow of Death (Sister Agatha and Father Selwyn Mystery #1)
A charming and clever traditional mystery debut set at a bucolic Welsh convent, The Shadow of Death introduces Sister Agatha, a mystery-loving nun who finds herself in the midst of a real-life murder case.

The sisters of Gwenafwy Abbey have cherished their contemplative life—days spent in prayer, reflection, tending the Convent’s vegetable gardens and making their award-winning organic cheese, Heavenly Gouda. Life seems perfect, except for Sister Agatha, a die-hard mystery fan who despairs of ever finding any real life inspiration for her own novel. That is, until the Abbey’s sexton is found dead under an avalanche of gouda. Despite the reservations of the local constable, Sister Agatha is convinced it’s murder and the game is afoot.

Armed only with the notes she’s scribbled during her favorite podcast, How to Write a Mystery Novel, as well as a lessons learned from crime heroes ranging from Hercule Poirot to Stephanie Plum, Sister Agatha leads the nuns of Gwenafwy Abbey (and her unwitting sidekick, Father Selwyn) as they begin a race against time to resolve the death of Jacob, save the Abbey, exonerate a beloved postulant, and restore the good name of their cheese. Perfect for fans of G. M. Malliet and M. C. Beaton, The Shadow of Death is divine entertainment from a talented debut writer.  (Summary via Goodreads)

The Shadow of Death by Jane Willan is a refreshing change in the cozy mystery book category.  The story is centered around a convent and the main character, Sister Agatha, sets out to solve a murder that occured at the Abbey.  Of course, Sister Agatha seems the most likely candidate to investigate seeing as she is writing a mystery novel .....

I, for one, when I think about convents and nuns and the life within will admit that I have an "old-fashioned" outlook on what goes on.  I have this image of dark and dreary living quarters, limited color, a lot of silent prayer, everyone being very serious and even boring but that is not the case at all with the residents of Gwenafwy Abbey !!!  They have cell phones, they make their own cheese, Heavenly Gouda, to sell, Sister Agatha is writing a mystery novel, the Reverend Mother has a basketball on her desk and is known to shoot hoops outside the kitchen late at night, another nun is writing comic books, Sister Agatha and Father Selwyn visit a pub called Saints and Sinners, Father Selwyn drives very fast and the nuns drink wine  !!!

I loved so much about The Shadow of Death ..... it really is unlike other cozy mysteries.....and Jane Willan has taken her life and love as a pastor and combined it with her imagination and talent and have provided the reading world with a masterpiece !!  I could not put the book down..... I was drawn to every aspect of the story and really, really want a cup of Welsh Brew and a scone......

I highly recommend changing it up a bit and picking up your copy of The Shadow of Death and letting Willan take you on an eye-opening and pleasant journey.....

Review by Missi S.


Wednesday 11 April 2018

Lord of the Pies (A Kensington Palace Chef Mystery #2) by Nell Hampton

Lord of the Pies (A Kensington Palace Chef Mystery #2)

When Carrie Ann Cole bakes a lemon meringue pie to die for that actually kills someone, she must find out who the real killer is before her time at the Kensington Palace expires.

The elegant Orangery at Kensington Palace is the perfect setting for the bridal shower of Carrie Ann Cole’s best friend’s sister. Personal chef to the royal family, Carrie Ann’s pie theme is naturally winning. But a waiter later keels over dead into the lemon meringue pie she leaves as a thank-you to the staff and Carrie Ann realizes that somebody slipped a mickey into that meringue. 

Her floury fingerprints are all over that pie and the authorities suspect her distress is a cover-up for murder. Carrie Ann must set out to clear her name if she wants to stay at her dream job any longer. But all too soon, another body drops in the Orangery. This time, it’s the Orangery chef. 

Murder won’t crimp her style, and as bodies pile up, Carrie Ann uncovers palace intrigue, London nightlife, and British pies scouring for the killer in Lord of the Pies, the witty follow-up to Nell Hampton’s Kale to the Queen.  (Summary via Goodreads)

I fell in love with Carrie Ann in the first Kensington Palace Chef Mystery book, Kale to the Queen.  And now with Lord of the Pies, the second book in this series, I am even deeper in love with her.  Not only do I love Carrie Ann but I love everything from her friend Penny to her sexy gardener, Jasper, to Carrie Ann's kitchen and her cute living quarters, to the dishes that she creates for the Royal family......and the storyline !!!  Whoa !!!

Living and working in Kensington Palace has got to be the BEST job and life you could want.  Yeah I know there is a lot of pressure to do your job and keep your nose clean but how hard can it be ?  Well Carrie Ann seems to have NO problem getting in the middle of things even when she's just hanging in the kitchen cooking......

Nell Hampton introduces you to more employees of the Palace as well as some friends of Penny's.  And with the introduction of these people, you see some "off the clock" relationships and love triangles that will have your grandmother blushing.  And even though Carrie Ann wants nothing to do with married chef's and all-night clubbing, she does want to make more friends.  So against her better judgement, she finds herself in the middle of lies, dead bodies and the need to again clear her name and do her best to honor the employee handbook regarding staying out of the tabloids........

I love when a book is based in London and when it's based around Kensington Palace, that's even better !!!  And I know you will also !!  If you haven't picked up one of Hampton's books yet, I highly recommend doing so.  And grab a pint or a cup of tea and a scone and settle in...... You will want to stay for a spell......

Review by Missi S.

Tuesday 10 April 2018

Margaritas, Mayhem & Murder by Mary Cunningham

Margaritas, Mayhem & Murder
Andi’s step-mother is a real piece of work! But is Ruby a murderer?

Andi Anna Jones, so-so travel agent/amateur sleuth, puts aside her resentment of her father’s widow and books a 60th birthday cruise to Cancun for Ruby and three friends. Never does Andi imagine the cruise will lead to the murder of a has-been lounge singer—or that Ruby will be the main suspect.

Flirting with more than danger after arriving in Mexico, Andi connects with the charming local sheriff, Manuel Rodriquez. After an embarrassing night involving the sheriff, too many margaritas, and a Mariachi band, a chance to check out an eyewitness to the murder leads her to Las Vegas. 

In Vegas, a mysterious meeting in the Bodies Exhibition, a body preserving in the prep-room, and an evasive owner of a dance studio, give Andi clues to help Ruby. But when Andi is mercilessly drugged and locked in a storage room, she realizes dear old step-mom isn’t the only one in jeopardy.  (Summary via Goodreads)

This is a great start to a new series. We get to know some very interesting characters that I fell in love with immediately. Who would think a step-mom, three of her friends, and a travel agent named Andi Anna Jones would get into so much trouble. LOL.

Andi Anna is trying to get her job as a travel agent in check and satisfy a promise she made to her father. In comes Ruby, her step-mom who is the promise to her father to make sure she stays safe. Let’s just say they don’t have the best relationship due to resentment Andi holds against Ruby. Even through all of this Andi plans a 60th birthday cruise for Ruby. As you will read Ruby is a “bit” of a handful. 

The cruise doesn’t quite go as planned and ends up with a lounge singer dead and you guessed it, Ruby right in the middle. Uuuugggghhhhh!

At least Andi Anna gets to meet a handsome man Manuel Rodriquez. Crazy as it may seem they end up in Las Vegas of all places following a lead but ends up realizing Ruby isn’t the only one in trouble. 

This book was jam packed with excitement and adventure to keep you guessing till the very end. It is a quick read full of twists and turns you won’t be able to put down. Heck, you may even grab a Margarita or two while reading.

Review by Penny M.

Thursday 5 April 2018

French Vanilla & Felonies: a funny romantic mystery (Cambria Clyne Mysteries #1) by Erin Huss

French Vanilla & Felonies: a funny romantic mystery (Cambria Clyne Mysteries Book 1)
From author Erin Huss comes an "uproariously funny" (InD'Tale Magazine) new mystery...

When Cambria Clyne—klutzy, twenty-something single mom—takes the job of an apartment manager at an LA complex, she hopes her run of bad luck is finally coming to an end. She's got a nice home for her daughter, a steady source of income, and the cute maintenance guy is certainly a nice perk! But her luck takes a bad turn again when a dead body turns up, a crime spree takes over the community, and Cambria finds her complex squarely at the center of it all!

With her dream job suddenly on the line, Cambria dons her detective hat to get to the truth—after all, she's watched enough crime shows on TV to know how to catch a perp! Or so she hopes as she wades through a streaker in apartment 40, an ex-con with a shady agenda, an overly frisky retired couple, and the suspiciously sneaky dealings of the dentist in apartment 36. But will Cambria be able to catch a killer... or will she get caught up in his game and lose it all?   (Summary via Goodreads)

Note: A previous edition of this book was released under the title "For Rent."

Cambria Clyne Mysteries:
Strawberry Swirl & Suspicion (prequel short story)
French Vanilla & Felonies (book #1)
Rocky Road & Revenge (book #2) 

In French Vanilla and Felonies by Erin Huss, everything takes place in one spot.....and that is awesome !!  

You have Cambria Clyne getting a new job as apartment manager for a 39 unit , no make that 40, unit apartment complex and on her first day, she stubbles across a dead body.  And the dead body just happens to be a tenant !!

So before Cambria is even unpacked and settled in her new apartment that came with the job, everyone in the apartment complex is already leary of her and wondering if she had anything to do with the dead tenant.

You cannot help but fall in love with Cambria and feel sorry for her.  All she wants to do is have a good job, safe place to live and be able to take care of herself and her three year old that too much to ask for ?  

Well no is not in her vocabulary and neither is keeping quiet and to

As she tries to learn her new job, unpack her belongings and try to seetle in, she finds herself caught up in a lot more than collecting rent and trying to keep the tenants happy.  Even though everyone did tell her to stay out of it, she cannot.  After all , this is where she is going to live and raise her daughter...she has to make sure its safe !!!

You will love how Cambria runs to ice cream to help with every situation.   You will love the colorful and assorted tenants that live in the apartment complex.  You will love her best friend, Amy, and her "baby daddy" Tom.  And you cannot help but like Chase the maintenance guy even if he sucks at the job.  But I think the best thing you will like is that the majority of the story keeps you front and center at the apartment complex.  You don't have to travel very far for a good story.  So grab a drink, a snack and hang out with Cambria.....just don't go into courtyard three......

Review by Missi S.

Monday 2 April 2018

Sunny Side Up (Li Johnson Murder Mysteries) by Daniel Stallings

Sunny Side Up (Li Johnson Murder Mysteries) by [Stallings, Daniel]
For twenty-year-old Li Johnson, a job as a cruise ship waiter was supposed to be a way to get over his father's death and earn enough money to go back to college. Instead, Li is struggling to maintain his sanity while coping with the demands of a sadistic maitre d' and a boatload of entitled rich jerk passengers. Li just wants to keep his head down and survive his job from hell, but when he finds a passenger sunburned to a crisp on the Sunbathing Deck, something about the scene just doesn't add up. Before he knows it, Li is on the track of a murderer and if Li doesn't find the real killer soon, he might just get framed for the crime -- or worse, lose his crappy job.

A brand-new classic in the amateur detective genre, Sunny Side Up is a traditional murder mystery for the 21st century, with a glamorous setting, a gallery of suspects, clues that will keep readers guessing to the last page, and a delightful new hero in Li Johnson, the millennial minimum wage manhunter, who brings sleuthing to the service economy.  (Summary via Amazon)

LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE Sunny Side Up by Daniel Stallings !!

First it is a cozy mystery written by a MALE.....not something you see very often.  Second the storyline takes place on a cruise ship.  Thirdly the person who dies is famous.  Fourthly the main character is someone you can totally relate to....his name is Liam and he's mourning the loss of his dad while trying to just keep himself afloat financially even though no matter what he does it seems that he is sinking.....(see what I did there ?  hee hee)  Not to mention that no matter what Liam does, he cannot catch a break, everyone hates him.

I also have to say that when reading a mystery book, whether it is a cozy or not, the reader is always trying to figure out who did it.  Sometimes the reader will just enjoy the story and let the author take them away which is what I would suggest when reading Sunny Side Up.  No matter how hard you try to figure out who did it, you are going to be BLOWN away when it is finally revealed !!!  

Sometimes you don't realize how close the main character actually is to the killer and with Sunny Side Up, even though they are all pretty close seeing as it is on a cruise ship, no matter how big the boat is, Liam cannot get any closer to the killer  !!

I love how Stallings links some of the people together on the have a tightknit group of fashion world people.....from Charlegne, Queen of Fashion, who ends up dead from sunstroke, to her two very loyal assistants, to the sister of her deceased fiance, Rosemary.......and there are a few other guests on the ship that you have to pay attention too.

I thoroughly loved Sunny Side Up and reading the story through the eyes of a male main character for a change.  It was nice to see that men actually think just as hard as women do .... especially when it comes to murder and clearing their name......  

Review by Missi S.