Tuesday 25 October 2022

A Doomful of Sugar (Book 1 in the Maple Syrup Mystery series) by Catherine Bruns

First in a new cozy mystery series!

There's nothing sweet about murder…

Leila Khoury has always believed that everyone loved her father as much as they loved his artisanal maple syrup. But when he's killed, and she returns to Sugar Ridge, Vermont to take over his business, she starts to realize how much of his life she's left untapped.

With her brother under suspicion, her mother just barely holding it together, and police not producing any leads, Leila will have to investigate herself if she wants answers about her father's sticky end. But the more she learns, the more she worries that there won't be a sappy ending to the story.

A cozy mystery perfect for fans of Joanne Fluke, this edition includes 5 delicious maple recipes for mystery readers with a sweet tooth!  (Summary via Goodreads)

A Doomful of Sugar is the first book in a new series by Catherine Bruns and readers will fall in love instantly !!  

The Maple Syrup Mystery series is set in Sugar Ridge Vermont on a maple syrup farm called Sappy Endings.  It is a family owned business and when the owner is found murdered, the farm is left to his daughter Leila to run for at least a year before she decides its future.

In A Doomful of Sugar Leila returns to Vermont from her teaching job in Florida to be there for her mother and younger brother, Simon, and to attend her father's funeral.  Unfortunately her trip is extended indefinitely when she learns that her father left her Sappy Endings and insists that she runs it for one year before deciding whether to keep it or sell it.  She also decides that while she is back, she will find out who killed her father and why.

While trying to learn the ropes of the farm, she is looking into her father's death and she is very suspicious of everyone....including her two employees.  Jessica has been with the farm for years and runs the cafe and oversees the gift shop and Noah, who Leila is just meeting, has been Victor's right hand man for a while.  While she is suspicious of everyone, they do not make it easy as they both seem to have secrets.  Unfortunately Leila soon learns that a lot of people that she thought she knew are not who she thinks they are ....

But when another death occurs and Simon is arrested for their father's murder, the clock is ticking for Leila to do something.....but what ??  It is hard to know who to trust and who to be leary of.

Readers will want more of this series and Bruns has set the stage beautifully for future books.  I cannot wait to see where she takes the stories and what will happen next.......

Review by Missi M.

Wednesday 19 October 2022

Mrs. Claus and the Evil Elves (Mrs. Claus #3) by Liz Ireland

April Claus is getting an early gift for her second Christmas in Santaland. Her dear friend, Claire, is visiting from Oregon, and April hopes to show off her adoptive country at its cozy, glittering best. But when the annual ice sculpture contest is derailed by a kamikaze drone-deer, it’s just the first in a series of un-festive events…

Drone-deer, created by inventor elf Blinky Brightlow, are none too popular with the genuine, flesh-and-hoof kind, who are currently on strike. With no reindeer games to keep them in shape, Nick worries they may get too chunky to pull his sleigh come Christmas. Now Blinky is missing, his girlfriend, Juniper, is under suspicion, and between rogue reindeer and conniving elves, all of Santaland seems to have gone sugarplum-crazy. Add a dash of murder to the mix, and suddenly April is battling not just to clear Juniper’s name, but to save herself from being put on ice—permanently…
 (Summary via Goodreads)

I did not want it to end....I loved hanging out with April Claus in Santaland in the third book in the Mrs. Claus Mystery series by Liz Ireland....and you won't want to either !!!

In Mrs. Claus and the Evil Elves April's best friend from her hometown of Cloudberry Bay, Oregon, Claire is visiting April and her husband Nick for the Christmas holiday and Claire cannot believe her eyes and ears !!  She is visiting SANTA CLAUS and MRS. CLAUS and Mrs. Claus is her best friend !!!  Hard to wrap your mind around that.  

Unfortunately while April wants everything to go smoothly for Claire's visit, it is everything but smooth.  The reindeer are on strike and ....wait, let me say that again.....The reindeer are on strike and with Christmas right around the corner, this could be a huge problem come Christmas Eve.  Also another of April's good friends, Juniper Greenleaf, who is an elf claims her new boyfriend, Blinky, is missing when he doesn't show up to a concert they are playing.  Blinky insisted that he would be there and when he doesn't show, they go to his place of business, Brightlow Brothers Enterprises.  Brightlow Brothers Enterprises is a electronics business that he runs with his brother Dabbs.  But Dabbs insists that Blinky is fine and is off sight in one of his creative moods.

Because Juniper insists that something is wrong April decides to try to find out what is going on.....unfortunately before they can locate Blinky, Virgil, an elf working for the brothers is found murdered in his house and the murder weapon belongs to Juniper.  So while Juniper is arrested and held in the constabulary and Constable Crinkles is focused on Juniper as the killer, April calls her friend private investigator Jake Frost to assist her in looking for the real murderer !!

Even though there is a missing elf, a murdered elf, and an elf arrested, you will still love Santaland and everything else there.  No place is perfect but if you have to have murder and unpleasant things, this is where you want to be.....a dessert buffet party, snowmen that talk, elves everywhere in full on elf-wear, streets like Wonderland Lane and Wishful Lane to businesses like We Three Bean coffeehouse and Tinkertown Arena and lastly elves named Butterbean, Velvet and Nippy...plus all the reindeer.

Readers will fall in love with this story and the previous two books in this magical series.  You will get lost in the story and may even find yourself believing in Santa Claus ....or at least wishing for him.  I cannot stress it enough to grab your copy and head to Castle Kringle and Santaland......

Review by Missi M.

Thursday 13 October 2022

Murder, Sweet Murder (Will Rees Mysteries #11) by Eleanor Kuhns

Will Rees accompanies his wife to Boston to help clear her estranged father's name in this gripping mystery set in the early nineteenth century.

January, 1801. When Lydia's estranged father is accused of murder, Will Rees escorts her to Boston to uncover the truth. Marcus Farrell is believed to have murdered one of his workers, a boy from Jamaica where he owns a plantation. Marcus swears he's innocent. However, a scandal has been aroused by his refusal to answer questions and accusations he bribed officials.

As Will and Lydia investigate, Marcus's brother, Julian, is shot and killed. This time, all fingers point towards James Morris, Lydia's brother. Is someone targeting the family? Were the family quarreling over the family businesses and someone lashed out? What's Marcus hiding and why won't he accept help?

With the Farrell family falling apart and their reputation in tatters, Will and Lydia must solve the murders soon. But will they succeed before the murderer strikes again?  (Summary via Goodreads)

Readers of the Will Rees Mystery series by Eleanor Kuhns are going to go crazy, in a good way, when they start reading the eleventh book, Murder, Sweet Murder......Rees and his wife Lydia along with two of their children are heading to Boston to visit Lydia's family.

In Murder, Sweet Murder Lydia, who left home many years ago when her father had tried to marry her off to a gentlemen that she did not love, is returning after receiving a letter from her younger sister asking for help.  It seems that their father Marcus was accused of murder and Cordelia, Cordy, knows that Will and Lydia have helped solve crimes in their hometown in Maine so they are the obvious choice to clear Marcus's name.  Unfortunately when they arrive at Lydia's old home, they are not as welcomed as they had hoped.  First no one other than Cordy wants an investigation, it seems the case has somehow been swept under the rug, and second the family is not so warm to accepting Will into the family.  When Lydia left she didn't keep in touch with anyone other than Cordy so they are not aware of Will as her husband and of her children.

Will and Lydia are not deterred and begin their investigation into the young man's death.  It is known that he is from Jamaica, a plantation that Marcus owns, but not much more is known. He was killed in the middle of the night outside a tavern that was closed, no witnesses that they are aware of and not much to go on...so Will decides to start at the place of death and go from there......

Every time that they think they have a clue or a fact to the murder, something happens that changes their minds.  Once they start investigating they learn of more people that could possibly have committed the murder and when they find out that the person killed isn't who everyone thinks, they are lead down another disturbing road.  And when someone else is murdered in exactly the same way as the first person, Will and Lydia are more determined to find the killer !!

Readers will be drawn into the story immediately !!  Readers will love that Will and Lydia are traveling to Boston allowing us to get to know Lydia's family and the secrets that have kept her away for all those years.  There will be members of the family you will fall in love with instantly and there will be some you will hate as soon as you meet them....but you will enjoy the time that you spend in Boston and will be just as glad as Will is when they leave.

Review by Missi M.

Tuesday 11 October 2022

A Christmas Candy Killing (Killer Chocolate #1) by Christina Romeril

Their chocolates are to die for—but things aren’t so sweet when a real killer comes to town, in this debut mystery perfect for fans of Joanne Fluke and Laura Childs.

Identical twin sisters Alex and Hannah are the owners of Murder and Mayhem, a mystery bookshop that sells their famous poison-themed Killer Chocolates. But now, there’s a real killer in their midst. Shortly before Christmas, their septuagenarian neighbor, Jane, confides to Alex that a murderer from a true-crime show has taken up residence in the village. Unfortunately, she’s also shared her suspicions with town gossip Netta. The next morning, Alex shows up at Jane’s house to watch the show, but instead discovers Jane's body, with a box of Killer Chocolates nearby.

The sheriff quickly zeroes in on two suspects: Alex, a beneficiary in Jane’s will, and Zack, a handyman who was seen leaving the crime scene. But Alex maintains her innocence and sets out to draft a list of other potential suspects—townsfolk who’d recently been seen arguing with Jane.

When Alex gets hold of Jane’s journal, she begins to understand the truth. But a bearer of ill tidings is arriving early this year—and Alex just might not make it to Christmas.  (Summary via Goodreads)

After reading A  Christmas Candy Killing, the first book in the Killer Chocolate Mystery series, by Christina Romeril readers may look at chocolate in a totally different way.

In A Christmas Candy Killing identical twin sisters Alex and Hannah are getting ready for the holiday rush in their store Murder and Mayhem.  Murder and Mayhem is a bookstore and chocolate shop focusing on mysteries and the chocolates are made to be poison related although there is no poison in them.  However after hosting book club at the store Jane confronts Alex asking her to come over the next morning because she thinks there is a murderer living amongst them.   Alex doesn't completely believe Jane as she is known to watch true crime stories on TV and has said this before after viewing an episode.  But seeing as Jane is a close friend of hers, Alex agrees to meet the following morning.

Unfortunately when Alex gets to Janes house, she does not answer the door.  Alex enters the house only to find Jane dead next to the bed and witnesses someone in a dark hoodie leaving the back yard.  It isn't long before everyone in this little town of Harriston, Montana knows about Jane's murder, Alex's involvement in finding the body and Jane's insistance that she recognized someone in the town as being on the true crime show.

Shortly after Jane's murder her handyman Zach is arrested for the crime....but it doesn't feel right to Alex.  She, along with her sister Hannah and a few neighbors begin their own investigation.  And when it is mentioned that Alex is the second on the list of the police's suspects when most of Jane's belongings and house are willed to Alex, the group kicks it into top speed.

But when a second person is found, again by Alex, from an apparent fall down a flight of stairs, Alex has to re-evaluate everything they thought they knew and no one can be placed on the innocent side.

Romeril knows how to put the words on the page to keep readers going.  Romeril has a knack of putting the right amount of mystery into the story as well as the hint of romances to keep readers entertained.  And her last paragraph is worded so that readers are left wondering where the story will go in the next book in the Killer Chocolate series ensuring that they will definitely be grabbing their copy as soon as it is released.

Review by Missi M.


Wednesday 5 October 2022

Hula Homicide (Aloha Lagoon Mysteries #19) by B.A. Trimmer

Kristy Piper finally achieved her lifelong dream of moving to paradise when she took a job in Hawaii as the Aloha Lagoon resort wedding planner on the gorgeous island of Kauai. Sun, surf, sandy beaches, and glowing brides...what could possibly go wrong?

Turns out, everything.

What starts out as a dream destination wedding, with a happy couple and their wedding party enjoying all that Aloha Lagoon has to offer, turns into a nightmare when one of the groomsmen is found dead just days before the ceremony. What's worse, Kristy's hot new photographer, Jake Hunter, was found next to the victim, along with the murder weapon, a souvenir tiki statue.

While Kristy is convinced Jake had nothing to do with the killing, the police are not as sure. Suddenly it's up to Kristy to clear the heartthrob's name and figure out which of the wedding party had it in for the dead guest. Is it the groomsman with a past? The twin bridesmaids with designs on deception? Or the anonymous thief who stole the bride's wealthy aunt's jewelry just before the murder? With the help of her bold middle-aged office manager Dorothy and her beautiful best friend Leilani, Kristy attempts to wade through the wedding party of suspects, all with complicated histories with the dead man. Can they find the real killer before the police close in on an innocent man...or will they die trying?  (Summary via Goodreads)

The Aloha Lagoon Mystery Series books in order....

Ukulele Murder (book #1) by Leslie Langtry
Murder on the Aloha Express (book #2) by Sally J. Smith & Jean Steffens 
Deadly Wipeout (book #3) by Beth Prentice

Deadly Bubbles in the Wine (book #4) by Mary Jo Burke

Mele Kalikimaka Murder (book #5) by Aimee Gilchrist

Death of the Big Kahuna (book #6) by Catherine Bruns

Ukulele Deadly (book #7) by Leslie Langtry

Bikinis & Bloodshed (book #8) by Anne Marie Stoddard

Death of the Kona Man (book #9) by Catherine Bruns

Lethal Tide (book #10) by Beth Prentice

Beachboy Murder (book #11) by Sally J. Smith & Jean Steffens

Handbags & Homicide (book #12) by Anne Marie Stoddard

Tiaras & Terror (book #13) by Anne Marie Stoddard

Photo Finished (book #14) by Dane McCaslin & Kimberly Griggs

Fatal Break (book #15) by Beth Prentice

Death Under the Sea (book #16) by Rosalie Spielman

Tidal Wave (book #17) by Beth Prentice

Death on a Cliff  (book #18) by Rosalie Spielman

Hula Homicide (book #19) by B.A. Trimmer 

I know I say it every time I read a book in the Aloha Lagoon Mystery series published by Gemma Halliday Pulishing but it bears repeating....I LOVE this series and anytime I can open one of these books and escape to the coast of Kauai in Hawaii and hang out at the Aloha Lagoon Resort I am going to do it !!!  And what fun is it going to be with this NINETEENTH book in the series.....Hula Homicide by a new author to this series B.A. Trimmer !!!

In Hula Homicide we are introduced to Kristy Piper who has been living in Kauai for about six months and has the awesome job of wedding planner for the Aloha Lagoon Resort.  She works with Dorothy who handles everything in the office and Leilani who happens to be her best friend since coming to Kauai.  They are gearing up for a week-long wedding event.  The ten members of the wedding party along with the bride's aunt are on the island to celebrate and enjoy the area.  Carly and Justin who met in college are there with friends from college who are all part of the wedding party.  Kristy has also just hired Jake, a friend of Leilani's, to be the photographer.  

The first thing to go wrong is a very expensive necklace of Aunt Audrey's is stolen and Carly is suppose to wear it during the wedding.  Then when the party is suppose to meet to go on a scheduled outing Kristy goes looking for one of the groomsmen only to find him dead in a conference room and Jake unconscious.  Things get worse when Detective Ray has Jake in his sights as the murderer.....but Kristy knows that Jake didn't do it and decides to find out who the murderer is to save her photographer as well as prevent the bride and groom from having their wedding.

Kristy is a very determined woman and wants nothing more than to solve the murder, prove Jake's innocence, get the bride and groom down the aisle to say "I do" and then watch the sunset with Jake.  Unfortunately a lot is going to happen that might prevent all that from happening.  The wedding party has a lot of old drama and secrets that resurface during this week-long event and Kristy has more than she can handle.

Readers will LOVE this new book in this series and hopefully you are already a fan of the Aloha Lagoon Mystery series.  If not, I highly recommend getting on board with all these amazing books and authors !!!

Review by Missi M.

Saturday 1 October 2022

Last But Not Leashed (Dr. Kate Vet Mysteries #2) by Eileen Brady

As the only veterinarian at Oak Falls Animal Hospital, Dr. Kate's life is complicated. Winter storms hit the Hudson Valley, she's swamped with hospital patients and house calls, and her long-distance relationship with law student Luke Gianetti is precarious.

And then Sookie Overman, a professional organizer, is found dead - and when another body is found, it's clear there's a murderer on the loose. Rumors swirl and suspicion falls on Sookie's husband. But Kate isn't convinced he's a killer, not after getting to know him while treating the family cat. Realizing she'll need more than old-fashioned hunches and sleuthing to crack the case, Kate teams up with Rainbow, a quirky hacker. But can the tech genius be trusted? Kate will have to trust her own instincts-and those of her beloved animals-to stop a killer in their tracks.  (Summary via Goodreads)

Readers will fall in love with the Dr. Kate Vet Mystery series by Eileen Brady.  Dr. Kate has taken a one year job position at the Oak Falls Animal Hospital while the owner takes a year long traveling vacation.  Oak Falls Animal Hospital is in a small town in the Hudson Valley and Dr. Kate is fitting in quite well....except for solving murders.

Last But Not Leashed is the second book in this series and Dr. Kate, her staff and the town are getting ready for the New Year.  Dr. Kate is also waiting for her boyfriend Luke to return from college so that they can ring in the New Year together.  She is also hoping they can get their relationship back on track thinking the distance has put a strain on things.

Unfortunately when Dr. Kate is invited to an organizing seminar at the community center by her assistant, Mari, the organizing presenter, Sookie Overmann, ends up dead outside after the seminar and Dr. Kate is the one to find her.  Lucky for Dr. Kate her receptionist Cindy is the sister-in-law to the Chief of Police and gets insider intel on things and she likes to share the information with others.  

Sadly when Dr. Kate and Luke get together to attend a New Year's Eve party things do not go well for them.  Luke's focus is with worrying about family members drinking and Dr. Kate meets a handsome artist that whisks her away on the dance floor.  Dr. Kate feels conflicted as she wants things to work with Luke but feels the relationship has come to its end and she is very flattered to be receiving attention from Colin the artist.  But before she can figure things out and just as they are about to ring in the New Year, a body falls from the catwalk....and its the cashier that Dr. Kate was just recently talking to at the Circle K.

Now with two people dead Dr. Kate is on high alert.  When the second body, Posey, is ruled a suicide Dr. Kate doesn't agree.  She also feels like the two murders are connected but cannot figure out how.  As she talks to people she finds out other things of interest to add to her suspicions but making it all make sense is going to be difficult for her.  And when she is getting close to figuring it all out, she is looking down the barrel of a gun and cannot believe who is holding it !!!

There is a lot to love in this series.  Readers will love the small town feel and that the people all know each other.  You will love the job that Dr. Kate has and that she lives in a small apartment attached to the animal hospital.  You will love the animals and their owners and the businesses. You will love the relationships that she has acquired is the short time that she has been working there.  I highly recommend getting our copy of Last But Not Leashed and getting lost in this amazing story.....

Review by Missi M.