Thursday, 1 December 2022

Steeped in Secrets (A Crystals & CuriosiTEAS Mystery #1) by Lauren Elliott

Flat broke and divorced, intuitive gemologist Shay Myers has changed since leaving her artsy hometown of coastal Bray Harbor sixteen years ago. But when she moves back under strange circumstances, old instincts may be the only key to spilling the tea on a deadly mystery.

Even with her life in ruins in New Mexico, Shay feels uneasy about settling into the small seaside town where she grew up on California’s Monterey Peninsula and taking over an estate bequeathed to her by Bridget Early, a woman she had barely known. Her heightened senses—an empathic gift she’s had since childhood—go into overdrive upon touring Crystals & CuriosiTEAS, Bridget’s eclectic tea and psychic shop brimming with Irish lore and Celtic symbols. They reach a boiling point when Shay looks up to discover a stranger’s body sprawled across the shop’s greenhouse roof . . .

With her new business a crime scene and questions brewing over Bridget’s so-called accidental death, Shay fears she’s also inherited the attention of a killer. The terrifying realization sets her on an impractical investigation for answers aided by her sister, an elusive pure-white German Shepherd, a strikingly handsome pub owner who speaks in a gentle brogue, and a misunderstood young woman with perceptive talents of her own. As Shay struggles to figure out her true purpose in Bray Harbor and the powerful connection she has with the tea shop, she must trust her judgment above all else to identify a ruthless murderer and save herself from becoming victim number three.  (Summary via Goodreads)

WOW  !! WOW !!  WOW !!

Steeped in Secrets by Lauren Elliott will be hard to put down.  This is the firstbook in her new A Crystals & CuriosiTEAS Mystery series and it is an amazing first book !!!  The title perfectly describes the biggest aspect of this series.....SECRETS !!

In Steeped in Secrets readers are introduced to Shayleigh Myers who is moving back to her hometown of Bray Harbor after she finds out her husband has cheated on her in their marriage and their business and left her penniless.  Then she finds out that she has inherited an old tea and psychic business as well as a cottage on the beach.  But she isn't sure that she wants any of it when she is doing the first walk through and they find a dead body on the glass roof of the tea shop.

As Shay digs into why Bridget Early left her the shop and cottage, she cannot help but think there is more to things.  And add the dead body on the roof.  The police identify the dead man as a private investigator from Ireland and he was in Bray Harbor to warn Shay......but Shay has no idea what he could have wanted to warn her from.

As Shay decides what to do with the tea shop she cannot stop thinking about everything !!  And now she has her friend's niece, Tassi, who knew Bridget quite well telling her that she can do the tea readings and everything that Bridget did with research and time.  But does Shay want to go down that path ? Is she even capable of that ??

Steeped in Secrets is a story FULL of SECRETS and readers will LOVE everything about this story.  This is the beginning of a great new series that readers will want more and more of.  There is so much to love within this book and as you read and get to know the people and Bray Harbor you will want to move there and be a part of it all. 

Review by Missi M.

Monday, 28 November 2022

A Doggone Death (Samantha Davies Mystery #2 ) S.A. Kazlo

Samantha Davies and her Southern Belle cousin, Candie, can't wait to join their fellow hookers (rug hookers, that is) for the first annual Wings Falls hook-in, sponsored by her good friend Lucy, who owns The Ewe and Me Woolery. Sam is looking forward to an afternoon with her fellow hookers, the Loopy Ladies, filled with gossip, food, and buying lots of wool for her rug making projects.

But what should be friendly fun turns into a deadly disaster, when Samantha stumbles upon a fellow hooker in distress—who dies in Sam's arms before help can reach her. The dead woman, Hilda Pratt, wasn't exactly beloved by all—least of all Lucy. Hilda had been copying Lucy's designs and selling them on the internet as her own. And when Sam's new boyfriend, a Detective Hank Johnson of the Wings Falls police force, determines that Hilda did not die of natural causes, Lucy and the Loopy Ladies become suspects in the woman's murder.

It's suddenly up to Sam and Candie to ferret out a killer among the tight knit world of rug hooking. With her faithful dachshund, Porkchop, in tow, Sam wades through the suspects and finds Hilda had more than one enemy among those closest to her. But can Sam figure out which one is a murderer... before it's too late?  (Summary via Goodreads)

There is nothing better than curling up with a good book....but what's better is reading books in a series back to back and that is exactly what I did with the first two books in the Samantha Davies Mystery series.  Reading books back to back keeps the reader in the frame of mind on the place and people involved in the series and you will LOVE Wings Fall and the people that reside there.

Reading Kibbles and Death sets the stage nicely for readers to get to know Samantha, her cousin Candie, the new Detective Hank Johnson, his police department, Sam's adorable dog Porkchop, the Loopy Ladies, and everyone else in town....along with the main businesses.  Now in A Doggone Death readers will get to know the Loopy Ladies and their rug hooking hobby better.

When you start reading A Doggone Death Sam, Candie and their Loopy Ladies group are attending the first annual hook-in event at the fire house.  They are excited because it is being sponsored by their close friend and the one who encourages their habits, I mean hobby, Lucy.  Lucy owns The Ewe and Me with her husband Ralph and they also hold their group meetings at the store on Mondays.

After getting settled at their table at the event Sam cannot help herself, she has to check out the vendors and their tables.  But before she can get very far she overhears Lucy and Hilda, another hooker (hooker is the name they give themselves for their hobby and they love the reaction it gets when telling people) and they are arguing.  Lucy is accusing Hilda of copying her rug patterns and selling them online which is like taking money from her business.

Sam pushes the overheard argument out of her mind and begins to enjoy the event until she enters the ladies room and finds Hilda extremely sick.  She tries to help Hilda unfortunately it does no good and Hilda dies.  Sam thinks that it must have been an allergic reaction but when she overhears her new boyfriend, Detective Hank Johnson, mumble a word in his sleep, she realizes someone wanted Hilda dead.

When Lucy's husband Ralph is taken to the police station for questioning, Sam decides that she has to look into Hilda's death to save her good friends.  But once she starts digging, the hole gets very deep when she discovers that there are quite a few people who didn't like Hilda and the reasons could be murder worthy.

Sam has a tough decision to make when someone she loves more than life is injured as a threat to keep her from digging....this just fuels her determination and with Candie's help and Hank's insistence that she stops, she starts checking people off her suspect list.......

Review by Missi M.

Kibbles and Death (Samantha Davies Mysteries #1) S.A. Kazlo

After a nasty divorce, Samantha Davies has finally gotten her life back on track. She enjoys her hobby of hooking—rug hooking, that is—and is fulfilling a lifelong dream by writing her first children’s book, featuring her dachshund, Porkchop. But the pleasant pace of her life in small-town Upstate New York is suddenly shattered when she finds the dead body of the local pet shelter owner—murdered and covered in kibble!

While Calvin Perkins wasn't the most beloved man in town, Samantha's shaken to think there's a killer among them. Even more so when her octogenarian neighbor's boyfriend becomes the police's number one suspect and her neighbor pleads with Sam to help him. While Sam's research skills have been honed in her pursuit of a publishing career, she's not convinced she won't be in over her head. Calvin may have been great with the animals, but he wasn’t well-liked by people, creating a list of suspects almost as long as Porkchop's favorite bone. But with the help of her Southern belle cousin, Candie Parker, Sam vows to find the truth...even if she has to go toe-to-toe with the handsome new detective in town to do it. Old grudges, new secrets, and danger around every corner means Samantha better find the killer's identity quickly...before they set their sights on another victim!  (Summary via Goodreads)

You are going to fall in love with Kibbles and Death, the first book in the Samantha Davies Mystery series by S.A. Kazlo !!  You will want main character Samantha Davies and her cousin Candie as your new best friends !!

In Kibbles and Death Samantha goes to For Pet's Sake, the local pet shelter to drop off a bag of dog food that her dog, Porkchop doesn't like.  She is donating it to the shelter but has to deal with the owner, Calvin Perkins, who is not humans that is.  When Sam and Porkchop get to the shelter and see that the door is open, they never think to be alarmed, not in Wings Falls.  Unfortunately when they go inside, they soon find out why the door is open and Calvin didn't leave it open for Sam. Whoever clobbered Calvin in the head left the door open when they hastily left the shelter.....and Calvin dead on the floor.

After dealing with Sergeant Joe "Sandy" Peters at the scene, Sam thinks it cannot get any worse.  Joe has had it out for Sam ever since she gave him the nickname Sandy in grade school and he still holds it against her.  But Sam soon learns that things can only get worse when she meets the new detective in town.  Detective Hank Johnson is trouble in a different way when Sam meets him and develops an instant crush !!

Sam needs to stay far away from both Joe and Hank but finds herself in the middle of the investigation when her neighbor, Gladys, asks her to look into Calvin's death when her boyfriend Frank is put on the police's radar.  Sam, along with Candie as her sidekick, decides to look into the murder to clear herself and Frank from the suspect list.  Unfortunately as they dig, the list of suspects grows instead and they have no idea how to clear everyone......

Readers will fall in love with this book as soon as they open it up.  You will love the characters and the little town of Wings Falls.  The only dark cloud over the town is Calvin's murder so if they can solve it, there will be sunny, cloudless days for days to come.....sadly the killer wants to stay hidden under that dark cloud and will do whatever it takes to stay there.

Review by Missi M.

Tuesday, 22 November 2022

Fixing to Die (Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper Book 9) by Elaine Viets

Mystery shopper Josie Marcus unlocks a DIY murder case when her new house’s “good bones” takes on multiple meanings…

Josie’s been busy with a personal shopping project—scouring suburban St. Louis for a starter home for her and her newlywed husband, Dr. Ted Scottsmeyer. So she’s thrilled when Ted’s veterinary partner, Dr. Christine Cormac, hooks them up with a beautiful house, which her flaky sister, Rain, inexplicably abandoned months earlier. But before they’ve even picked out the paint, Josie and Ted discover Rain’s body beneath their backyard gazebo and Christine is immediately boxed up for murder.

Now, Josie’s new home is a crime scene and Christine is headed for the big house…unless Josie steps in. Good thing she’s handy around a murder investigation, because she’ll need all her sleuthing skills to unpack the clues, flip the case, and nail the real killer.  (Summary via Goodreads)

There is a lot going on in Fixing to Die by Elaine Viets !!  This is the ninth book in her Josie Marcus, Mystery Shopper series and there are quite a few things going on and a lot of things changing in Josie's life...some good, some bad and some, well, Josie-like I guess is the best words to use.

In Murder is a Piece of Cake, the eighth book in the series Josie married her veterinarian boyfriend, Ted and her and her daughter Amelia moved in with Ted in the house he is renting.  They were living in the downstairs flat below Josie's mom, Jane, so that is a huge change for all of them.  Luckily Jane loves Ted and knows that he will take care of her daughter and grandaughter. 

So now in Fixing to Die Josie and Ted are looking for a new house for their new family which consists of Jane, Ted, Amelia, two cats and one dog.  Unfortunately Jane does not like any of the houses that she looks at.  Luckily Ted's partner at the veterinary clinic Chris has a house that her aunt left her and she is looking to get rid of it.  Her sister Rain was living in it until recently when she stopped paying rent and then up and left and sent her sister an email that she was leaving.   

The house needs some work so Chris offers them a deal that they can't refuse which will allow them to renovate and remodel.  One of the first things they decide to tackle is the gazebo that one of Rain's boyfriends built for her.  Unfortunately when they start to remove it they discover a dead body buried underneath it.  The body is soon identified as Rain, Chris's sister and the detective on the case immediately arrests Chris for the murder.

With Chris being arrested the honeymoon is over for Josie and Ted as now Ted has to work long hours to make up for Chris's absence.  So Josie being Josie decides to find out the real killer so she can have her honeymoon stage with her new husband back !!!  Unfortuantely she is finding it difficult to determine the real killer.....

Another storyline that readers will love is Amelia's dilemma.  Amelia attends the Barrington School for Boys and Girls and is able to attend because she receives a scholarship. The school is a very proper school but Amelia and a few of her friends are soon the center of a bullying scheme.  The bullying goes so far are putting unflattering pictures on a Facebook page and lies are told about the girls.  Instead of crying in her room, Amelia and her friend Emma investigate and find proof of who is behind the bullying and the parents rally behind the girls. Reader will love seeing Amelia taking charge.....just like her mother !!!

Fixing to Die, as with the previous eight books, will have readers loving the characters and the storyline.  As you read these books, the characters become more than just characters in a book, you begin to love them and want to spend as much time with them as you can !!

Review by Missi M.


Sunday, 20 November 2022

Post Mortem at Padua (Oxford Key Mysteries #5) by Lynn Morrison

In Oxford’s newest twin city, a case of mistaken identity puts a woman’s life in jeopardy

The invitation to visit Oxford’s twin city of Padua couldn’t have come at a better time. Natalie, Kate, and Mathilde have spent weeks trying valiantly to expand Oxford’s magic, only to have every attempt end in failure. A trip to the land of pasta, high fashion, gelato, and fine wine sounds almost too good to be true.

They pack their suitcases and jet off for Italy, bringing Harry and H, Nat’s cheeky wyvern, along with them. But within minutes of landing, Harry falls prey to a series of mishaps.

As the danger grows, Nat wonders if perhaps Oxford isn’t the only thing with an Italian twin. Could a case of mistaken identity explain the malevolent force which has Harry in its sights?

Nat and her friends follow the evidence, uncovering a decades’ old cold case with a modern day connection. Friends new and old offer a hand with interpreting the clues as the investigation spans generations.

With the clock ticking, can they identify who killed Harry’s lookalike before Harry joins the ranks of the dead?

If you like cozy mysteries where ghosts walk the halls, paintings come to life, wyverns play around, and magic seems within reach, the Oxford Key Mysteries are sure to delight.  (Summary via Goodreads)

Post Mortem at Padua by Lynn Morrison is the fifth book in her Oxford Key Mystery series and this will be the most magical packed one so far !!!

In Post Mortem at Padua Natalie, who is Head of Ceremonies for Oxford, and Harry, who is Executive Assistant to the Principal of St. Margaret College have been asked to travel to Italy to be on the commitee to plan a formal ceremony for the twin city agreement between Oxford and the Italy city of Padua, also known as Padova.  Upon hearing about the trip they decide to turn it into a girls trip with Mathilde and Kate.  And as luck would have it, they find a way to get Nat's cat Humphrey (who is actually a wyvern) on the plane and along for the trip.  And Kate has a friend, Lavinia who works in the university museum department who might be able to help them open a connection to the magic..... they have been trying to expand the magical field but have not been successful.  But maybe Italy is the location they require in order for that to happen.

The ladies and H arrive in Italy a few days early so that they can sightsee as well as look into obtaining the magical force.  Unfortunately while sightseeing Harry has two accidents that turn out to be deliberal acts.....involving an Eternal.....but no one can figure out who or why.  That is until they are having dinner at Lavinia's house and Nat notices an old picture and one of the woman in the picture could be Harry's twin.  They learn that it is Lavinia's great aunt and that she died in a house fire.  This send the group down a rabbit hole trying to find out who is attacking Harry and are they thinking it is Lavinia's great aunt Angelina ??

If you love magic, some a little scary but always fun, and enjoy reading about it then this is the series for you !!  I've said before but its worth repeating....if you are a fan of Harry Potter then this series is definitely for you !!  Morrison will open your eyes and mind in a way no other author may find yourself late in the night reading under your blankets with a flashlight.....

I cannot stress it enough that this is a series you have to have on your reading list !! I highly recommend inviting Nat and her crew into your will be glad you do !!!

Review by Missi M.


Friday, 18 November 2022

Calypso, Corpses, and Cooking (A Caribbean Kitchen Mystery #2) by Raquel V. Reyes

It’s time for a savory soirée—but something sinister is stewing—in Raquel V. Reyes’s second delightful Caribbean Kitchen mystery, perfectly delicious for fans of Mia P. Manansala.

Fall festivities are underway in Coral Shores, Miami. Cuban-American cooking show star Miriam Quiñones-Smith wakes up to find a corpse in her front yard. The body by the fake tombstone is the woman that was kicked out of the school’s Fall Festival the day before.

Miriam’s luck does not improve. Her passive-aggressive mother-in-law puts her in charge of the Women’s Club annual gala. But this year, it’s not canapes and waltzes. Miriam and her girlfriends-squad opt for fun and flavor. They want to spice it up with Caribbean food trucks and a calypso band. While making plans at the country club, they hear a volatile argument between the new head chef and the club’s manager. Not long after, the chef swan dives to his death at the bottom of the grand staircase.

Was it an accident? Or was it Beverly, the sous chef, who is furious after being passed over for the job? Or maybe it was his ex-girlfriend, Anastasia?

Add two possible poisonings to the mix and Miriam is worried the food truck fun is going to be a major crash. As the clock ticks down and the body count goes up, Miriam’s life is put in jeopardy. Will she connect the dots or die in the deep freeze? Foodies and mystery lovers alike will savor the denouement as the truth is laid bare in this simmering stew of rage, retribution, and murder.  (Summary via Goodreads)

Calypso, Corpses, and Cooking is the second book in the Caribbean Kitchen Mystery series by Raquel V. Reyes.....and it will make you hungry while you read it !!

In Calypso, Corpses, and Cooking Coral Springs, Miami is getting ready for Halloween !!  Main character Miriam and her husband, Robert, have decorated their front lawn for their son, Manny, as well as their neighborhood but what they don't expect is to find Lois Pimpkin knocked out in front of one of their tombstones.  This starts Miriam down a long, twisty and frightening road that has nothing to do with ghosts and goblins !!

It seems like things coudn't get any worse but then Robert's mother, Marjory, puts Miriam in charge of the annual gala for the Women's Club hoping to get the younger crowd interested.  So Miriam gets her friends and family involved so that they can make sure the event is a huge success !!  Unfortunately when another person ends up getting killed, all Miriam can focus on is solving the murder......but she never expects the case to get as close as it does when her neighbor ends up in the hospital and her with his dog.

Calypso, Corpses, and Cooking will have readers turning the pages as quickly as possible to stay on top of things.....if you have already read the first book in this series, Mango, Mambo, and Murder, you will be at an advantage as Reyes talks about the murder, case and people from that book.

I really enjoyed the storyline and the characters of this book.  However, Reyes does include Spanish throughout the book, sometimes translating but most often not.  Luckily (I hope) what doesn't get translated is not important to the story...if it was, it was lost on me.   

Review by Missi M.

Sunday, 13 November 2022

From Ladle to Grave (Book 5 in the Tish Tarragon Mystery series) by Amy Patricia Meade

Could a body found in a graveyard be linked to a tragic murder twenty-five years ago? Tish Tarragon is plunged into a new case when a fundraising dinner in the local church hall leads to a dark discovery.

Literary caterer Tish Tarragon's 'heroines of literature' fundraising dinner at St. Jude's Episcopal Church is a resounding success. But as Tish walks through the graveyard to lock up the church hall, she takes a tumble . . . over a dead body.

Retired Sheriff Gadsden Carney has been murdered. Not only that, he's lying upon the Honeycutt family plot. Six-year-old Daisy Honeycutt was killed twenty-five years ago in a case that rocked Hobson Glen. Sheriff Carney was in charge of the investigation - and his murder looks suspiciously similar to young Daisy's.

Tish and Sheriff Reade discover that Gadsden was looking into the Honeycutt case again. Could his death be linked to Daisy's murder all those years ago? Her killer died behind bars. Or so everyone thought . . .  (Summary via Goodreads)

From Ladle to Grave by Amy Patricia Meade is the fifth book in her Tish Tarragon Mystery series and I have to say I think that this is my favorite in this series....that is until the next book is out.

In From Ladle to Grave readers and fans will be so glad to have Sheriff Clemson Reade back in town and doing his job.  (If you remember main character Tish Tarragon had to solve a case on her own when Reade left because he couldn't handle her relationship with her boyfriend Schuyler)..... any way Reade is back, Tish is recently single, and there is a murder that requires attention.

While Tish is catering the Junior League "Women of Literature" themed fundraising dinner she stumbles across a dead body in the cemetery next to the hall where the fundraiser is being held.  When it is revealed to be retired Sheriff Gadsden Carney and he had been looking into a murder case from twenty-five years ago, there are a lot of questions.  First why would he be looking into a murder case when there was a conviction and the killer went to jail ??  

To Tish's surprise Sheriff Reade hires her as a consultant for the Sheriff's office so that she can get paid while she assists in the investigation.  Now fans know that Tish doesn't need to work for the Sheriff's department as her cafe, Cookin' the Books, is successful but this gives the two of them more time together so she does it.....even though neither of them is willing to admit their real feelings toward the other....yet.

Unfortunately the twenty-five year old case that Carney was re-investigating was that of a murder where six-year old Daisy was murdered in her garage at the end of a Fourth of July barbeque at her family's house.  A few months after her murder, her mother Delilah confessed, was sentenced and died in prison.  There are a few other members that are no longer around and why Carney is re-investigating a solved murder raises more questions than answers.

Readers will LOVE this story and the way that Tish and Reade work together !!  You cannot help but love all the characters and the friendships and relationships.....all but one person, Schuyler, that is !!  But every story, no matter what it is, always has to have a villian or just a nasty person who has to cause some form of drama....but that only makes readers turn the pages faster !!  And when you get to the last page of From Ladle to Grave, Meade will have your blood boiling and longer for the next book to see what is going to happen next !!!

Review by Missi M.