Friday, June 2, 2023

Murder on the Orient Espresso (Apple Orchard Mysteries Book 19)

Author:    Chelsea Thomas
Genre:     Mystery

Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN #:    9798395909923
Independently Published
218 Pages
$12.99; $5.99 Amazon
June 3, 2023


When Chelsea moved back to Pine Grove, she expected relaxing afternoons in the orchard, fresh-baked apple pie, and time with family and friends.  And she got all that.  But what she didn't expect...

...was murder.

This time the dead body turns up at Pine Grove's new coffee shop.  The adorable coffee shop, housed in an old train car, was eagerly anticipated by everyone in town.  But the dead guy has tons of enemies, so there are plenty of suspects.

And Chelsea is one of them.

Chelsea's aunt Miss May is ready to help solve the mystery, just like she always is.  And their bottle-blonde bestie, Tenny, never backs down from an adventure.  But the local chief of police is determined to lock Chelsea up, and the killer sems determined to strike again.

Will Chelsea and the ladies solve the mystery in time?  Or will Chelsea end up in jail...or worse?


Chelsea thinks her old truck has finally died.  So, she heads to the only car dealership in town, Adams Automotive.  But when the owner, Scott Adams, is rude to her and she also observes him being rude to one of his employees, she and her aunt Miss May leave.  When they are having coffee at a new local shop, Scott Adams is there also, and after a nasty conversation with the owner, he retires to a back booth.  But not for long... he keels over from what appears to be a heart attack.  But the ladies -- along with their best friend Teeny -- think he's been murdered, and want to investigate.  

Which is exactly what the police don't want them to do.  Especially Detective Wayne Hudson, Chelsea's fiancé, who wants to plan their wedding instead.  Apparently, someone else doesn't want them to investigate either, when they receive a telephone call that is supposedly from a hospital doctor telling them the death was natural, as Scott had hereditary heart disease.  But did he?  And was the call legitimate?  Of course, the only way they will know is if they investigate, right?...

To make matters worse, Chelsea's ex-fiancé Mike has moved to town with his new girlfriend Priscilla, and the last thing Chelsea wants is to see the dirtbag who left her at the altar.  But she knows she can't avoid him forever, but she can try.  

When the ladies start looking for people who might have had it in for Scott, they find there are plenty of suspects.  But no one wants to seem to talk about him, not even his ex-wife.  With little to go on, they keep plugging away, garnering what information they can from those who knew him.  And when they get closer to the killer, they just might be too late...

I love this series and every time a new book comes out, I know that I must read it.  I love all the characters (well, almost all; Sunny is not my favorite person -- or Chelsea's, if it comes to that).  At any rate, I love the small town of Pine Grove, New York, where people live quiet lives (albeit with a side of murder now and then) and seem happy to do so.  It would be delightful to visit the orchard, and pick out your own Christmas tree.

Chelsea and Miss May are not slouches in the amateur detective department, either.  Teeny has more enthusiasm than actual logic, but she's fun to listen to.  Between Chelsea and Miss May, they always come up with the right solution, even if it does take time to get there.  But without time, what would we have to read?  The plot is excellent, as always, and Chelsea is finally coming into her own, with no stuttering and actually being able to think fast when needed.  She's a complicated woman, but aren't we all?

In the end, when the murderer is discovered, I figured it out a tad bit before Chelsea (but then again, I always say I read a lot of mysteries on top of watching true crime shows on TV), yet the climax is definitely worth it all, and I even read it twice.  This is one of the best in the series, and highly recommended.

I received an advance copy of this book from the author and BookSprout, but this in no way influenced my review.

More on Chelsea Thomas's Books:

Monday, May 22, 2023

Mrs. Morris and The Wolfman (A Salem B&B Mystery Book 7)

Author:    Traci Wilton
Genre:     Mystery/Paranormal

Mass Market Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN #:    9781496741370
Kensington Cozies
336 Pages
$6/99; $7.59 Amazon
August 29, 2023


Saturday night at the movies has some added flair now that Darren and Elise Shultz are reopening one of Salem's classic theaters.  Charlene is delighted to help the couple with their venture, and Darren has lined up a cult classic double-header featuring Lon Chaney in The Wolfman.  But things get hairer than expected when Elise starts to choke on her popcorn mid-movie -- and once the lights go up, she's dead...

When tests reveal Elise's popcorn was poisoned, Detective Sam Holden eyes her husband as the guilty party.  Charlene doesn't believe Darren would hurt his wfe -- even if his company's specialty seasoned salts were sprinkled on the fatal snack.  But who else had a motive to do something so unsavory?  With a little help from Jack, the handsome ghost who haunts her B&B, Charlene delves into the ill-fated couple's past.  And the more she learns, the more Charlene wonders if this time, she’s bitten off more than she can chew...


After her husband's untimely death, Charlene Morris moved to Salem, Massachusetts and opened a B&B.  It's doing well, and between herself and her employees, she has a thriving business.  She also has a resident ghost, Dr. Jack Stratford, who was murdered on the property and is a permanent guest.  Only she and her cat, Silva, can see the handsome man.  But Charlene doesn't mind.  Jack is good company, and he's helped her solve a few murders in the past.

When there's a new theater opening in town, Charlene is one of the guests since she's friends with the owners, Darren and Elise Shults.  Darren, owner of a specialty salt company, is finally realizing his dream of owning a classic movie theater.  On this night, they're showing The Wolfman with Lon Chaney, Jr. as the haunted hero, a true classic.  But halfway through the film, his wife Elise seems to be choking, and is sent to the hospital.  But it's too late, and Elise is dead.  With Detective Sam Holden looking at Darren as the prime suspect, Charlene has a hard time believing it.  The problem is, Sam tells her to stay out of the investigation, while she knows that she can't.  Now it's up to her, Jack, and Charlene's young employee Avery to find a killer...

This is the seventh book in the series and I have read them all.  Probably because I love the fact of a resident ghost, and he and Charlene have what I would call chemistry, even if it's other-worldly.  Jack is definitely taken with Charlene, and while Sam is human, the thing I like most about Jack is he doesn't try to change Charlene, whereas Sam is always nagging her to stop doing things.  Jack accepts her for who she is, even if he doesn't like it.  He seems more suited to her (and I wish there were some way Jack could come back to the earthly plane to be with her).  Ah, well.  Just my thoughts.

While Charlene is trying her best to covertly find out who is a killer, she looks into Darren and Elise's pasts to see if she can garner any clues.  It is one word uttered by one of Darren's employees that sets her off on a new trail that might just lead her to the reasons behind the murder; but finding the person who killed Elise might just be a dead end.

What follows is an intense search for a killer that brings Charlene into trying not only to take care of her B&B guests, but help Darren prove his innocence.  The clues are there if you look for them, but they aren't easy to find.  I recognized some of what was going to occur, but not everything.  The book fascinated me to the point that I read it in one sitting (not even stopping to eat); and the ending was such a surprise and yet at the same time rather sad and bittersweet.  It was probably one of the best books (although I love them all) and I cannot wait to read the next in the series.  This talented writer has me completely hooked.  Highly recommended.

I was given an advance copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley but this in no way influenced my review.

[On a side note, I love the old Universal horror films and own every one of them, which I watch around Halloween.  If you watch them in order, beginning with Dracula and Frankenstein, they tell a story that segues in each ascending film, including The Wolfman and culminating with House of Dracula.  It's a binge watch that has a very good ending.  Each film connects to the next.  Food for thought and I hope that I have given at least a few people a new enjoyment of older films (and I also can quote the movie lines.  Yes, I'm a book nerd and a classic film nerd).]

More on Traci Wilton's Books:

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Halloween Cupcake Murder

Author:    Carlene O'Connor, Liz Ireland, Carol J. Perry
Genre:     Mystery

Hardcover; Digital Book
ISBN #:    9781496740267
Kensington Cozies
320 Pages
$27.00; $13.77 Amazon
August 22, 2023


With Galway's Halloween Mystery Tour only a few days away, Tara Meehan is scouring the town's curiosity shops for spooky decorations to draw tourists into her architectural salvage store.  But when a stranger appears in her shop bearing a cryptic cupcake and an ominous message, Tara suddenly finds herself tangled in a mystery with ancient Gaelic roots, but very modern -- and very deadly -- consequences...

Christmastown is pulling out all the stops for their Halloween celebration, planning a huge carnival with rides, games, and a candy corn-themed bake-off!  But the sweet theme stokes the bitterest of rivalries amongst the elves, until tragedy strikes at Santaland's newest bakery.  The only clue is a cupcake, leaving Mrs. Claus to sort through tricks and treats as she races to unmask a Halloween fiend...

Every October, Salem plunges into a month-long celebration of Halloween and WICH-TV's Lee Barrett can't wait to cover the festivities.  But rumors swirl after a wealthy bakery owner goes missing -- and his beloved cat, Cupcake, is found -- under mysterious circumstances.  Now, amid Salem's wicked revelry, Lee must conjure clues to reveal the missing millionaire...or the truth about his disappearance...


This is an anthology of three short stories by well-known cozy writers.  In the first, Halloween Cupcake Murder by Carlene O'Connor, we join her in Galway, where the American has made a good life for herself.  As the owner of an architectural salvage shop, the ex-interior designer knows what to look for when browsing, and one day comes across a shop with an old man who owns it.  He sells her a few items to decorate for Halloween, and also an unusual painting that has a legend attached to it.  

Later that day, she sees someone in a cloak and Halloween mask enter his store, and when she returns, the man is dead.  While she becomes the main suspect, she knows she needs help to solve the murder.  But it doesn't help when she receives a cupcake with a key in it -- from the same bakery that the elderly man had mentioned to her.  Now she's involved in a secret group, and doesn't want to be.  With Halloween coming up fast, she needs to solve the mystery before her only costume will be a jail jumpsuit...

This is the story that I loved the best.  I do love Ms. O'Connor's writing, and I love this series, so perhaps I am biased, but oh, well.  The tale is written beautifully, and you are almost pulled into the Irish isle yourself.  It is a delightful tale for Halloween, with a bit of suspense thrown in, and a very good ending indeed.

The second story, Mrs. Claus and the Candy Corn Caper by Lis Ireland, has a new bakery opening up directly across from the one everyone goes to.  It is run by the owner's former chef, and he has high hopes for it.  That is, until his employee is found dead with a candy corn cupcake near him.  Mrs. Claus wonders who wanted to kill the elf, since he seemed well-liked by everyone.  But someone didn't want him around, and she's determined to figure out who, before the Halloween Festival is ruined.

I have not read anything by this author before, and I will say that she is very talented, also.  But I am not really interested all that much in fantasy, to be honest.  However, I did enjoy the tale quite a bit.  I would have really liked to have seen more interaction between April (Mrs. Claus) and her husband, Nick.  It seemed to me that they led two separate lives, as he never asked her what she was doing or even seemed involved.  Other than that, the story was cute and would definitely interest those who love this author.  The ending was cute as well.

In the third story, A Triple Layer Halloween Murder by Carol J. Perry, one of the town's most respected citizens disappears, along with his cat, leaving his bakery in chaos and his wife heartbroken.  Lee Barrett, who works for WICH-TV, finds the cat in her front yard, but no one is with him.   Lee has a special talent -- when she looks in a reflective image maker, she can see things that are pertinent to what she needs -- and now she sees a cabin.  But what does it have to do with the missing man?

Informing her detective boyfriend, he knows whatever she tells him will matter, but he deals in facts, and can't act on her impressions.  With Halloween approaching, will she be able to help find the man before it's too late?  Or will something more sinister approach leaving her out in the cold?

I have read Ms. Perry's books upon occasion and enjoyed them.  I enjoyed this one as well; so much so that I think I need to re-read her Witch City series.  It grows on you, and this short story just adds to that.  As a final story, it holds up well, and plays to Halloween nicely.  When the ending comes, it is a very good epilogue, and leaves us wanting more.

All in all, the three stories are highly enjoyable and I would definitely recommend this anthology to those who love reading about Halloween, and even those who don't.

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley but in no way did it influence my review.

More on Carlene O'Connor's Books:
More on Liz Ireland's Books:
More on Carol J. Perry's Books:

Monday, May 15, 2023

Murder at a Cape Bookstore (A Cozy Capers Book Group Mystery #5)

Author:    Maddie Day
Genre:     Mystery

Mass Market Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN #:    9781496740557
Kensington Cozies
288 Pages
$8.99; $6.99 Amazon
August 22, 2023


Everyone loves a festival, though Mac has a few concerns about the Spring equinox event organized by the new Chamber of Commerce director, Wagner Lavoie.  After all, March weather is unpredictable.  Still, there's plenty to enjoy, between flower-shaped candies at Salty Taffy's, spring rolls at the Rusty Anchor, and a parade of decorated bicycles.  But the festivities soon take a stormy turn... 

Mac glimpses conflict between Wagner and other locals during the festival, but it's a shock when he's found dead in the Book Nook, pinned beneath a toppled bookshelf.  It's an irresistible cast for Mac's book group.  She and the rest of the Cozy Capers will have to use all their sleuthing skills to bring the killer's story to an end...


Mackenzie "Mac" Almeida owns a bike shop in town, and her new husband, Tim Brunelle, owns the local bakery.  They're just settling into married life, and all is good.  At least, it was.  The new Chamber of Commerce director, Wagner Lavoie, wants this year's Spring equinox festival to go over well, and he's requesting that all business owners give away "freebies" to locals and tourists.  Not all business owners are happy about this, and Mac does see a couple of them arguing with Wagner.  But the festival goes on as planned, and everything seems to be going well.

At least until Mac visits her friend Norland, ex-police chief in town, at the bookstore he's watching for the owners.  They hear a noise inside, and unfortunately find the body of Wagner under a bookcase that's tipped over.  When they find it's a suspicious death, Norland is one of the suspects, and Mac isn't letting it go.  She's determined to find out who killed the man and why.  What she does discover is that Wagner wasn't well liked by anyone, and the person who killed him just might be someone she knows...

This is the fifth book in the series and I have read all of them.  I have to say that the series has improved with each book, and that's a good thing.  This time out, Mac wonders if one of the other business owners in town is a killer, and if so, how she can prove it.  Or it could be her new employee Sandy, who disappears without notice whenever she wants and seems to have a history with Lavoie.  But Sandy's sister Orlean, another of Mac's employees, isn't giving anything out.  She'll have to figure this one out on her own, since the rest of her book group isn't garnering much themselves.

When the ending comes it isn't as much of a surprise as it should be, but it is definitely worth reading about.  It shows that Mac keeps her wits about her and manages once again to get herself as much out of danger as in it.  It's a good book that will keep you reading in one session.  Recommended.

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley but in no way did this influence my honest review.

More on Maddie Day's Books:

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Overdue or Die (A Haunted Library Mystery Book 7)

Author:    Allison Brook
Genre:     Mystery

Hardcover; Digital Book
ISBN #:    9781639104833
Crooked Lane Books
304 Pages
$29.99; $13.99 Amazon
October 3, 2023


Carrie Singleton has more than her fair share on her plate: her job at the Clover Ridge Library, preparing for her wedding to Dylan Avery, and hoping that the local art gallery doesn't steal away one of her part-time employees.  Her fiancé Dylan accompanies her to the beautiful home of Victor Zalinka -- art collector and successful businessman -- to select paintings for the art show at the library.  While Carrie muses that Victor's home would be the perfect wedding venue, Dylan spots a forgery among the paintings in Victor's collection.

Then Martha Mallory is found murdered in her art gallery.  With the assistance of Evelyn, the library ghost, the resident cat, Smoky Joe, and the office manager of Dylan's private investigation company, Carrie comes up with a suspect list long enough to rival the size of an encyclopedia.  During her investigation, Carrie stumbles across a terrible truth: Martha's murder was part of something far bigger and more dangerous than she could have ever imagined.  And it all leads back to the art gallery.

How far will Carrie go to find the killer and uncover the truth?  If the killer finds her first -- will Carrie finally be taken out of circulation?


Carrie Singleton is trying to find time to plan her wedding to Dylan Avery, the owner of a private investigation firm.  But she's also wondering if her employee Susan is going to be poached by the owner of a local art gallery.  In between this, an art collector, Victor Zalinka, is willing to offer several of his paintings for a show at the library.

But more is happening in Carrie's life: there's a problem with her Uncle Bosco, and she's worried about him; and Dylan has to travel once more to retrieve a painting his late uncle left for him.  So, Carrie is manning everything by herself without trying to feel overwhelmed, even if it's hard to do.  Then, the owner of the art gallery, Martha Mallory, is found dead; bludgeoned with a heavy object, and of course the first suspect is her husband Ron.  But when he turns out to have an alibi, Carrie once again tries to find out who the murderer might be.  Was it a wannabe artist who has a bad past and disliked her?  Was it the son of a noted mob boss?  Or could it have been someone Carrie never even suspected in the first place...

This is the seventh book in the series and I have read them all.  I loved this one even more than the last.  While we watch Carrie's angst at planning her wedding, we also see that she can handle stress and multitask like there's no tomorrow.  Unfortunately, there is no tomorrow for the dead woman, and Carrie only hopes that her employee Susan isn't involved in the murder.  While Evelyn, the library ghost, offers cryptic clues and pushes Carrie to solve Martha's murder, Carrie soon finds that the list grows with every day.  But what surprises her is actually a surprise about Martha, and this revelation brings more doubt and even more suspects.  For Carrie, the truth isn't going to be easy, and no matter what she does, she discovers that she might have her eye on the wrong people.

When the ending comes and the murderer is revealed, it is a cold day indeed; one that brings us to realize just how one of the Seven Deadly Sins can cause murder and distrust.  This story is not only well-written, it is done with aplomb and intrigue, and kept me reading in one sitting.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.

I was given an advance copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley but this in no way influenced my review.

More on Allison Brook's Books:

Friday, April 28, 2023

Hidden Beneath (A Maine Clambake Mystery Book 11)

Author:    Barbara Ross
Genre:     Mystery

Mass Market Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN #:    9781496735713
Kensington Cozies
272 Pages
$8.99; $6.99 Amazon
June 27, 2023


Julia and her mother, Jacqueline have come to the exclusive summer colony of Chipmunk Island to attend a memorial service for Jacqueline's old friend Ginny, who's been officially declared dead half a decade after she went out for her daily swim in the harbor and was never seen again.  But something seems fishy at the service -- especially with the ladies of the Wednesday Club.  As Julia and Jacqueline begin looking into Ginny's cold case, a present-day murder stirs the pot, and mother and daughter must dive into the deep end to get to the bottom of both mysteries...


When Julia Snowden's mother, Jacqueline, asks her to accompany her to the memorial of an old friend, Julia agrees.  The problem is, Julia never heard of Ginny, and wonders why her mother never mentioned her.  But when they arrive on Chipmunk Island, home to generations of people who pass their homes down to their families, she notices the Wednesday Book Club Women -- a group of six women (now five with the passing of Ginny) aren't very welcoming to her, much less to her mother.  But Jacqueline pauses enough to go through Ginny's home, where the memorial is being held, and sees things Julia doesn't.

Julia doesn't know whether questioning her mother will yield results or not, so she keeps quiet.  When they return to the island, they discover the women moving Ginny's furniture about, looking for something.  It's a will, and when it is eventually found, Jacqueline is surprised to find that she's been named executor.  Yet all is not right.  Kitty, Ginny's next-door neighbor, is curious as to if they've discovered anything.  The rest of the women are keeping quiet.  But the more they look, the more they find something isn't right, and Jacqueline wonders if Ginny didn't accidentally die, but was murdered.

Julia's curiosity sets her about looking for the truth.  But it isn't going to be easy, with the women keeping close, and Julia discovering her ex-boyfriend Chris is working on the island.  Have things truly been resolved between them?  Will Julia find what she is looking for, or will a killer manage to not only get away with murder, but kill again?...

This is the eleventh book in the series and I have read them all.  I have watched Julia return home after her father's death to help run the Snowden Family Clambake, and now to see a new chapter in her life begin.  This story is one of the most interesting, with her mother having to make not only decisions for her friend Ginny, but personal ones as well that can change everything.

Julia is mostly centered on solving the mystery; her personal life needs to take a backseat to what is going on otherwise -- or does it?  While we wonder about the truth of Ginny's life and death, and if it was indeed murder, clues are handed to us about a long-ago death and if that was not murder also, or if it was even relevant to Ginny's accidental death.  Then another tragic event occurs, and the state police are brought in (our old friends Binder and Flynn) and will they listen to Julia's theories?  Or will they dismiss it as just that?

When Julia and Jacqueline go to Portland to settle things in Ginny's condo, clues develop as to the woman's life.  With Jacqueline's regrets about not seeing her more, she's been lost in her own thoughts, and Julia must put forth her best efforts to discover what is and is not the truth...

I loved this book, even more than the last.  It was detailed and centered on the people on Chipmunk Island and their secrets.  And secrets abound.  And I do love a mystery-within-a-mystery, as it were.  I love reading how the older mystery is solved as well as the newer one, and this book did not disappoint.  It was absorbing, intelligent, as well as entertaining.  I was sorry to see it end.  But when the ending does come, it is unexpected and enlightening.  And the epilogue left us with something to look forward to.  Highly recommended.

I was given an advance copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley but this in no way influenced my review.

More on Barbara Ross's Books:

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Death a Sketch (A Paint & Shine Mystery Book 3)

Author:    Cheryl Hollon
Genre:     Mystery

Paperback; Digital Book
ISBN #:    9781496725288
Kensington Cozies
288 Pages
$7.16; $6.80 Amazon
July 26, 2022


In eastern Kentucky, Miranda Trent runs a unique tour company called Paint & Shine, but sometimes the peaceful mountains play host to murder...  

Miranda's business -- combining Appalachian adventure tours with art and a bit of moonshine -- is the perfect place for an outdoor sporting goods company to hold an employee retreat.  It'll be a challenge, but the money they're paying will definitely help with building her new distillery.

Miranda has lots of teamwork fostering activities planned, from sketching classes to Southern cooking, but the executive running things prefers a more competitive spirit.  In fact, after the workers are split into teams, they're told that only the winners will keep their jobs, and tensions begin to spike.  Even after a participant is found dead, the contest continues -- while Miranda starts drawing her own conclusions about the ambitious attendees.  Now she just has to find the proof...


Miranda Trent inherited her uncle's farm -- with a stipulation.  She has three months to make her business (formerly his) profitable.  The business?  Making moonshine (legal, of course).  The problem?  She's an artist, and has never done this before.  So, she came up with a unique hook: While making shine and cocktails out of it, she hosts company events -- tours around the Daniel Boone Forest, and so far, it's been working well.

Currently, she's hosting a group from a sportswear company, and thinks things are going well.  That is, until one of the group is killed, and now the man's replacement not only has divided the group into two teams, but the losing team will go home -- without a job.  While she knows it's unfair, she's being paid to do her job, and continue with the plans.

But something goes wrong along the way, and someone in the group is being suspected of murder.  Also, Miranda notices what she suspects is someone not wanting anyone to do well.  But how can she figure this out by herself?  With the sheriff's blessing Miranda works to keep an eye on her people, and hopes to find out the truth and stay alive in the process...

This is the third book in the series and I have read them all.  I have found that I love the premise of this book, that our protagonist isn't exactly broke, and has decided to keep her uncle's legacy going while living in a lovely farmhouse.  Although I'm not all that interested in the shine part (I don't drink), I still find it quite intriguing to read about.  It's a detailed process and Miranda has her hands (and time) full doing both.

The people on the two groups are competing for management positions, and there's in-fighting which isn't pleasant to anyone; but there are also the meals that her two kitchen helpers provide which sound delicious.  But we're here to find a killer, and it's not as easy as it sounds.  There are very few clues, but you have to put together what everyone is saying to get it right.  And our Miranda does just that, with the help of Forest Ranger Austin.

When the murderer is discovered, everyone is surprised, and none more so than the person who trusted them the most.  It's a nice climax, and the epilogue is done well also.  I highly recommend this book and look forward to the next in the series.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley but this in no way influenced my review.

More on Cheryl Hollon's Books:

Murder on the Orient Espresso (Apple Orchard Mysteries Book 19)

Author:     Chelsea Thomas Genre:      Mystery Paperback; Digital Book ISBN #:     9798395909923 Independently Published 218 Pages $12.99; $...