Dying for Strawberries–review

This is the first book in the Berry Basket series written by Sharon Farrow. It’s set in a small lake shore town in Michigan with quaint little shops and awesome older houses. All the shopkeepers enjoy the summer tourist trade, but that trade will be threatened in this story. I think you’ll enjoy reading this and finding out why.

I never knew I could loathe a couple of characters as much as I did the guy that ended up dead and a woman who came to town that Marlee, the main character had to deal with in her former career. I think it takes a skilled author to create characters that seem so real when they’re bad, that we really hope someone will do them in. 🙂

My Goodreads review:

Dying for Strawberries (A Berry Basket Mystery)Dying for Strawberries by Sharon Farrow

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed my visit to the small lakeside town of Oriole Point, MI and could just picture the little shops and lakefront Victorian homes like Marlee lived in. It was very well-written and plotted and at times, kept me on the edge of my seat wanting to find out what would happen next.

Marlee Jacob (her family was a Dickens fan–I loved the play on Jacob Marley’s name) ran the Berry Basket shop in town along and like a lot of her neighboring shops, depending on tourist trade. When a local man, who wasn’t very well liked to begin with, announced at a town council meeting that he now owned 30 acres that the zoning commission had voted to zone as commercial–and that he was going to allow big box stores to come and build, someone in town took matters into their own hands. He was found dead in his home by Marlee and her friend Tess. Since the mayor’s wife had gone ballistic and punched him at the meeting, she was arrested for the murder.

Marlee was curious as to how the entire zoning commission, all of which were longtime residents of Oriole Point and supposedly shared the same belief that tourist trade was their sole income, could have possibly decided to allow a zoning change for something that would no doubt bankrupt many of the merchants. Could blackmail or bribery have been going on? After a brush with death herself, Marlee was still determined to find out the truth, and to complicate matters, someone from her past was in town trying to make Marlee’s life a living nightmare.

I wasn’t sure at all who the killer was in this and I loved the showdown because it was exciting with a great twist to it. The killer got hauled to prison and Marlee was somewhat of a hero to a very unlikely person, who, because of who they were, turned the tables to look like they were the big hero. Marlee didn’t care, she was alive and she’d helped prevent someone else’s death. The mayor’s wife was cleared of all charges and announced that her helper for the next event in town would be Marlee! I’m guessing this will be the story of the next book, which I definitely plan to read.

I really enjoyed the characters for the most part. Marlee and her fiance’ have an odd relationship. She’d found out something about him that he hadn’t seemed to think was important to tell her, he’s awfully jealous of a local guy who was Marlee’s boyfriend in high school and was really just a nice and goofy friend to her now. It’ll be interesting if they pick back up where they were or if he realizes he should have come clean with her about his past. I’m not a fan of birds as pets at all, but I have to admit I really enjoyed Minnie the parrot that Marlee adopted at her Aunt Vicki’s insistence. There were a lot of different characters, so I hope in the next book we can get to know the main characters just a little bit better. I do like the main characters, but I don’t feel like I know them quite as well as I thought I should by the end of the book. I did still enjoy it and want to read the next one!

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If the Coffin Fits–review

This is the second book in the Funeral Parlor Mysteries by Lillian Bell. It was just released yesterday, which is when I was finishing up the first book so I could lead into this one. I think I really appreciated this book more by reading the first book first. I am so not going to be able to wait until the next book comes out, they just get better! Oh and I encourage you to read the acknowledgements at the end of the book. It was really interesting to hear about the author’s research on funeral parlors and how Orion is someone to her in real life!

Note on the dog picture: This is as close as I could find in the free-use pictures Google showed me of what Orion, a Malamute-Shepherd cross might look like when he’s a little older.

My Goodreads review:

If the Coffin Fits (A Funeral Parlor Mystery #2)If the Coffin Fits by Lillian Bell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This. Was. So. Good. I am so glad that I requested this from NetGalley to voluntarily read and review. I’m also glad I read the first book, not that this book gives any spoilers because it definitely doesn’t. But I still had the fun of getting to know the characters from the beginning, and even though jumping in at book 2 wouldn’t be bad, I really enjoyed reading them in order so much!

When Desiree suspected one of the funeral home’s clients of murder, she was pretty much on her own to figure out why and how she’d done it. She did have her sorta-boyfriend Nate’s help since he was county ME, but Luke at the police station was used to looking at her like she was just crazy. Desiree found evidence that one of their deceased clients had been blackmailing quite a few of the community members, which just had to tie in with that client’s own death, she hesitated bringing that evidence to Luke for fear he’d just laugh at her. Being shot at made Desiree realize she was getting close…could she solve this without causing her sister to go into premature labor or get killed herself?

I never thought a series set in a funeral parlor would be this good and so interesting! It’s really not much about the place itself but the clients they serve and how some of the deaths can end up being murder. I loved that in this book Desiree found a dog to adopt, Uncle Joey found a lady friend and more about Desiree’s dad was revealed. Now I really can’t wait till the next book!

I actually did figure this one out! There was a tiny clue very early on that I picked up on and remembered. It was fun to see how this played out and the perp got caught. The showdown wasn’t physically exciting, but it was more calm excitement worthy of any that I’ve seen on TV crime/cop shows.

I’d like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to read and review this book which was released this week.

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A Grave Issue–review

This is the first book in the Funeral Parlor Mysteries series by Lillian Bell which is a pen name for author Kristi Abbott of the Popcorn Shop Mystery series. This is one of the most unusual jobs I’ve run across for a cozy mystery sleuth, but it’s pretty cool! I think you’ll really enjoy it.

My Goodreads review:

A Grave Issue (A Funeral Parlor Mystery #1)A Grave Issue by Lillian Bell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m getting ready to read the second book of this series, so I thought since I had the first book on my Kindle that I might want to read it first. This book does well as a stand alone, but I think it might be a little more enjoyable to read this book first. I love that there’s a side mystery concerning Desiree and Donna’s father that will go on into the next book.

Kyle, the man that Desiree had relied on as a second father, had been arrested for his neighbor’s murder simply because his gun had been used. Setting out to clear her good friend’s name, Desiree found that the dead banker might not be the pillar of society that he was made out to be. There were a lot of secrets that people had which made for plenty of suspects. I know that I didn’t guess who it was.

The side mystery was that someone was leaving little gifts for Desiree and Donna, only gifts that their dad, who had been presumed dead and lost while surfing, would know. Desiree even bought a little security camera to attempt to catch the person on video while they brought their gifts. Was their dad really still alive? If so, why had he hidden from them for the last sixteen months–and why did he have a storage locker that was prepaid for two years? I can’t wait to dig into the next book, no funeral pun intended there at all!

I do like the main characters a lot. Uncle Joey is the funeral director, and Desiree is the assistant. We really didn’t get to have Joey “on screen” much, but could still learn a lot about him from context and what people said. Desiree also has not two but three guys interested in her, although Officer Luke Butler didn’t really pursue her as much as Nate and Rafe did. I’m anxious to spend some more time with these characters and this slightly unusual profession for a cozy amateur sleuth!

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Read and Gone–review

This is the second book in the Haunted Library series that is quickly becoming one of my favorite series. I love how the author combines different holidays with Carrie’s family and fun things they do, not simply going through the motions. These people know how to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas, and birthdays too! I love books that are set around Christmas anyway, and this one includes a big gem hunt as well.

My Goodreads review:

Read and Gone (The Haunted Library Mysteries, #2)Read and Gone by Allison Brook

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was just as good and maybe even a little more exciting than the first one since there were different people going after some stolen gems since a huge reward was being offered by the owners.

Carrie Singleton’s dad Jim was back in town, and Carrie was worried that he was still up to no good since his line of worked happened to be stealing things. He was actually back for his half of the gems he helped a friend steal. Only when his friend turned up dead and he happened to be at the scene, Jim was taken in for questioning. He was let go into Carrie’s custody, but with another rough thug in town and a couple more murders, it seemed like no one was safe. Even Carrie herself was whacked on the head while looking for the gems–had she found them, she was going to turn them over to Dylan, her insurance investigator boyfriend who would take them to the rightful owner. In the meantime, Christmas is in full swing at the library with parties, programs and finally the staff party. Smokey Joe, who belonged to Carrie but was the library cat, was having a feast racing through the library since a family of mice had been born.

Everything wrapped up nice and clean at the end with an awesome Christmas Eve feast at Harriet and Bosco’s house. I hadn’t quite guessed the killer this time. This was a really well-plotted and at times seemed like a little bit of a confusing mystery, but it was all explained eventually. I love books that take place at Christmas and I could just picture the library tree and decorations as well as Carrie’s Christmas tree. I can’t wait for the next book since Carrie is in a really good place with Dylan and even in her relationship with her dad.

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A Knit Before Dying–review

I had read this second book in the Tangled Web series in August 2017 as an advance reader’s copy and can’t believe it took me over a year to get to the first one which I posted just before this. Here’s my original Goodreads review below. I’m not sure if re-reads count towards Goodreads’ challenge, but I do want to read this one again. There’s just something endearing about the town and its characters, yep even the “cantankerous old coot” Uncle Eb, as Josie lovingly calls him.

My Goodreads review: (from August 13, 2017)

A Knit before Dying  (Tangled Web Mystery, #2)A Knit before Dying by Sadie Hartwell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Josie Blair who owns Miss Marple Knits as well as the store and apartment next to it, is excited when her new business neighbor and tenant starts moving in. Lyndon and his business partner, Harry (still out on a buying trip), are going to run Nutmeg Antiques and Curiosities. Lyndon also rented the apartment upstairs for himself. But there’s a huge problem when Lyndon ends up dead, stabbed with an antique sheep shears and Josie comes into the shop to find Harry standing over the body. So of course poor Harry gets hauled off to jail but hasn’t been charged yet. Josie feels compelled to investigate and she’s lucky that Sharla, the lead officer on the case, is also a good friend so there isn’t any butting of heads. Lyndon’s niece Taylor and a whole cast of extras show up to toss in all the appropriate twists and fun turns that make this a really well-written mystery.

This was a very fun mystery to read because I felt like all the characters, even though I have not yet read the first book, seemed like family. The author does a good job of explaining who is who so that this could be read as a stand-alone. But I do want to read the first one and see a little of the history of Josie coming to Dorset Falls. I always enjoy cozies that have a crafting element. I don’t knit (like Josie) but I wouldn’t be opposed to learning.

All the twists, turns and back stories along with a fun side mention that talks about Josie’s best friend Lorna and her dream of having her own cafe, add to the intrigue. One hint, if you think the story is done, well think again! Oh and the epilogue is epic–very cute and trying to make you think one thing when it’s really something else. I caught on to the something else fairly quickly but I didn’t guess the perp of the story, oh well. I’ll definitely be reading the first one in this series and any others that come out. I want to visit Dorset Falls again!

I volunteered to read and review an ARC of this book. Thanks to NetGalley and Kensington Publishing.

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Yarned and Dangerous–review

This is the first book in the Tangled Web series written by Sadie Hartwell who is also known as Susannah Hardy of the three-book series, Greek to Me Mysteries. I had read the second book as an ARC, but I will go ahead and post my Goodreads review as a blog post after this one, since I’m planning to re-read it. I have no idea if there’s a third Tangled Web book in the works, but I sure hope there is!

My Goodreads review:

Yarned and Dangerous (Tangled Web Mystery, #1)Yarned and Dangerous by Sadie Hartwell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh this was so good! This was a series I’d read out of order since I read the second book sometime last year as an advance copy. It wasn’t really necessary to read this one first, but I had been wanting to go visit with Josie and Uncle Eb to see how things got started. I am sooo hoping there’s going to be a third book to this series!

Josie Blair was called to her uncle Eb’s side to help him out while her mom went on a much-needed cruise. His wife Cora had been killed in a car accident a couple of weeks ago, and Josie’s job was to inventory in her yarn shop and get it sold. Eb had broken his leg in the accident and needed help around the house as well. When Josie got to Dorset Falls, CT, she remembered what a nice little town it was, even though a certain few people seemed to have it in for her. The next door neighbor Mitch was easy on the eyes as well as being a huge help with her uncle and give Josie herself some morale support. Josie made a couple of new friends in Evelyn and Helen who were part of a charity knitting group that Cora had started. Some people were keeping secrets and Josie was hoping she could at least find a notebook that Cora had which could point to the killer.

I actually did guess the killer but not right away. Since I’d read the second book, I knew a few people that it couldn’t have been though. 😉 I just love grouchy Uncle Eb, he’s like a grumpy old bear, but I know down deep he loves Josie, and the same way with her. They just needle each other like they did when she was a kid and visited him. I love how the friendship with Josie and Mitch is starting slowly and just developing so sweet. I really do need to reread the second book to find out what characters might have been added. I vaguely remember the case but I think it’s just an excuse for me to go back to visit in Dorset Falls for awhile.

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Death Overdue–review

I absolutely loved this book! Any element you could possibly want in a cozy mystery is right inside this book! Since I have an advance copy of the next book, I will be reading and reviewing it very soon. I can’t wait!

My Goodreads review:

Death Overdue (The Haunted Library Mysteries, #1)Death Overdue by Allison Brook

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book so much that I didn’t want it to come to an end! It had everything I love in a cozy: an awesome small town, loving relatives, a smart and brave protagonist and lots of great supporting characters. The fact that Carrie works in a library and it has a resident (friendly) ghost and a cat, well those were just icing on the cake!

Carrie Singleton had come back to Clover Ridge CT with the intentions of visiting, but when she was offered an amazing job at the library where she worked as a temp, she decided to finally put down roots. She had it awfully good living with a sweet and devoted aunt and uncle, plus she’d met a nice guy since they happened to be investigating a murder together. A retired police detective was investigating a cold case he’d worked on 15 years ago when he was murdered during a presentation at the library. Carrie’s new friend Jared had been friends with the detective since the man was investigating Jared’s mom’s murder and had discovered who it was. Hopefully Jared and Carrie won’t anger the killer into doing away with them!

I just loved Evelyn, the library ghost! What a sweet old lady! She and Carrie made quite the team in looking into the case–and Evelyn was even able to tell her a thing or two about a report she needed to do for her new job. It was awesome how Evelyn helped Carrie take care of an issue between her grumpy niece Dorothy who had a huge grudge against Carrie for getting the job she wanted (never mind that Dorothy wasn’t even qualified for the position). You’ll love it when you read that part! And Smokey Joe, the kitten that adopted Carrie and became the library cat was a huge hit with most of the patrons. Surprisingly even boss Sally liked him and didn’t object.

A lot of cozies have relationship triangles, but I didn’t mind this one at all because it didn’t drag on. It became very clear as to which of the two handsome guys Carrie had in her life that she would decide to date and which one would be a friend. I also liked how there wasn’t an actual showdown with just Carrie and the killer, it was more of a car chase scene. I had only started to suspect who the killer was when the carefully placed clues started adding up.

I can’t wait to visit Clover Ridge again and see what my new friends’ next adventure will be!

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