The Secret Staircase review

This is the third and final book in the Victorian Village by Sheila Connolly. It was finished out by her daughter Julie Williams and is being published posthumously on August 24, 2021. I was so sad when Sheila passed last April after having read numerous blog posts by and about her. I’d just been getting started reading her other cozies once I’d read the first two Victorian Village and became a fan of her writing. Since she wrote quite a few books, I know I’ll have lots of happy reading for a long time.

Edith Maxwell, another of my favorite writers was gracious enough to let me use her quote from the Jungle Red Writers’ blog on June 10: “Sheila Connolly’s daughter, Julie Williams, did extensive edits on her mom’s last book (The Secret Staircase is out in August!), and wrote the Author’s Note. I think Sheila might have completed the first draft but it was pretty rough. I don’t think Julie expected to have to do that work, but I got to read an ARC and she did a fabulous job.”

Thanks so much for letting me use your quote, Edith! I’ve included the link for the blog post so anyone who wants to read the whole thing and other comments can do so.

My Goodreads review:

The Secret Staircase (Victorian Village Mysteries Book 3)The Secret Staircase by Sheila Connolly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this final book in the series as well as the final book that author Sheila Connolly ever worked on before her death last year. I’d read that her daughter finished the book for her, but it was very seamless to me and was just as if Sheila herself was writing every word. In other words, I think her daughter did an excellent job with however much or little she found she needed to do. I would never have known had I not seen a comment on a blog about this.

I was glad to see that Kate and the town were making some good headway with the Barton mansion. The body that was found was an unexpected small delay, but later some other findings would hopefully lead to who this was and why the person was hidden there. I hadn’t guessed the killer of the present day murder, and I loved the flash forward to Christmastime for the end of the book.

I have no idea if this was truly supposed to be the last book, but Sheila and her daughter did a great job of wrapping things up and giving the characters and storyline a good closure. I’ll miss seeing anything new from Sheila Connolly, but since I’d only recently started reading her work (meaning this series is the first of her writing I ever read before I read the first Orchard and first County Cork), I have tons of great reading ahead of me!

I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of this book provided by the publisher via NetGalley, and my opinions are my own. This book releases August 24, 2021.

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Hemlock for the Holidays review

This is the third book in the Fine Arts Mysteries by Paula Darnell. I really love the camaraderie that the town, neighbors and gallery vendors all have for each other. Someone apparently didn’t believe in that kind of friendship when they convolutedly poisoned a man via goodies sold at a craft fair. I’ve enjoyed watching Amanda adapt to her new town and make friends since the first book, and now I’m looking forward to the next adventure for her, Laddie and Mona Lisa!

My Goodreads review:

Hemlock for the Holidays (A Fine Art Mystery, #3)Hemlock for the Holidays by Paula Darnell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this Christmas mystery with Amanda having settled in her new town. Belle and Dennis are such awesome neighbors and gave her the most amazing Christmas gift-she had just as nice of a gift for them too. There’s always a good mystery with this series and plenty of small town camaraderie as well.

The killer came as a complete surprise to me, and the showdown was awesome thanks to Mona Lisa kitty. She got to dig into the killer just in time! Once the murder was solved, Amanda and Emma could finally settle into a good winter break, and Amanda managed to finally get a good sale once she branched out a bit. I always enjoy catching up with Amanda and her gallery friends as well as her sweet neighbors.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of this book provided by the publisher via NetGalley, and my opinions are my own.

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Danger at the Cove review

This is the second book in the Island Sisters series by Hannah Dennison who also wrote the Honeychurch Hall mysteries. I’m enjoying getting to know the variety of characters from the Scilly Islands and Tregarrick Rock Hotel. I think Patty, the detective inspector is one of my favorites along with Dennis who’s in charge of the main desk. Patty cracks me up when she shows up for an investigation and stages it like a tea party. She’s tough but fair and has an off-the-wall but effective method of getting info from people. I love that Mister Tig, the hotel’s cat is a big part of the promotion of the place. Now that the hotel’s in business, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of mystery and mayhem happen in the next book!

My Goodreads review:

Danger at the Cove: A Mystery (The Island Sisters)Danger at the Cove: A Mystery by Hannah Dennison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a real rollercoaster ride of a murder mystery with lots of twists and unexpected happenings. I was never sure who to trust, but there was one person from the start that I definitely didn’t trust. I didn’t guess whodunit, but I enjoyed finding the path to finding out.

I’m liking Margot a little bit better toward the end than I did to start with. Kim was a fun new character with her mad hashtag skills, and once again I got a big kick out of Patty the detective inspector and how she was able to worm information out of people. You just can’t not like this lady, lol. After all the murder and madness, the Tregarrick Rock hotel was able to do its grand opening, and I know if I was in Evie’s shoes, I’d have been breathing a huge sigh of relief!

I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of this book provided by the publisher via NetGalley, and my opinions are my own.

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Cajun Kiss of Death review

This is the seventh and sadly the final book in the Cajun Country series by Ellen Byron that’s been a real favorite of mine since the very beginning. But I think the author did a really amazing job of giving all my favorite friends aka characters the sendoff most fitting. I kinda like to compare it to reading the epilogue in Harry Potter. I got some leaky eyes but found myself smiling at everything as I read. It was perfect, and I just need to say, thank you Ellen Byron for doing such an awesome job with all the books and giving the characters the best closure possible!

When a favorite TV show goes off the air, I’m always the one who thinks, “Oooo reunion movie!” or “Spin off!” Who knows, maybe Ms. Byron will do something like that! I do like her Catering Hall series, but it’d never surprise me if she has some good surprises up her sleeve along the way that might include friends from Pelican, Louisiana.

My Goodreads review:

Cajun Kiss of Death: A Cajun Country MysteryCajun Kiss of Death: A Cajun Country Mystery by Ellen Byron
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Weddings, murder and beyond that, oh my! This book was really bittersweet especially when it came to the ending. I loved the three weddings we got to celebrate in the beginning with more things being celebrated at the end. Everything was just wrapped up really well.

I had no idea who the killer was and thought Maggie’s idea for the reveal was pretty clever. Bo must have too, because it worked out. I have to say I guessed one of the little secrets that came out at the end! 😉

Since some of the other reviews have mentioned the epilogue, I guess it’s fair game to say the series is ending with this book. I was really sad to read that last chapter and see that there’s an epilogue. But I honestly loved the epilogue as much as I did the one in Harry Potter. The author did a great job of showing us our favorites from this series and what they’d be up to twenty years down the road. Again, very bittersweet, but I’m still smiling despite having leaky eyes from reading!

I read and reviewed an ARC of this book provided by the publisher via NetGalley, and my opinions are my own.

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One for the Hooks review

This is the fourteenth book in the Crochet Mysteries series by Betty Hechtman who also writes the Yarn Retreat Mysteries. I’ve read probably the last four of the Crochet Mysteries as ARCs, but I did eventually go back and read the first book to find out how all the friends got together and what Molly’s history was with Barry the police detective. Adele continues to crack me up. It seems like she’s come a long way from being jealous over Molly getting a job she thought she should have. I can’t quite think of them as actual friends, but they do at least get along. Dinah’s an awesome bestie for Molly. I love their Sherlock Holmes game when they’re talking about a case.

My Goodreads review:

One for the Hooks: A Crochet MysteryOne for the Hooks: A Crochet Mystery by Betty Hechtman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

From the cover of this book to the very end, I enjoyed it all. This book cover just cracks me up with the crazy expression on the sweet little dog’s face! That’s one thing I jadmire about Molly, the love she has for dogs (and for her kids as you’ll see in this installment). It looks like another dog joined the family eventually in this book.

Since this series only comes out once a year, it’s kinda hard to remember just when Molly started seeing Mason instead of Barry, but it’s pretty clear that Barry never got over her. I’m sure I was Team Barry when that happened, but Mason was so darn nice to her.

This was a real puzzler having a death by drone situation and trying to figure out if the person killed was really the target, and if they were, what was the reason and which of the cul-de-sac neighbors did it? Molly was again working with Barry, so sometimes she made me crazy how she’d beat around the bush to give her info to him, but I guess that’s just part of her charm. She’s got lots of other more endearing qualities though, so that’s not a make or break, lol.

The showdown was pretty creepy, but luckily Molly got things under control right before backup arrived. I gotta admit, I was happy with the way things turned out at the end.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of this book provided by the publisher via NetGalley, and my opinions are my own.

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Breaking News: KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP. ANNOUNCES NEW IMPRINT FOR COZY MYSTERY GENRE

Here’s the very cool announcement I just got in email: (You can go to the KensingtonCozies.com portion of their site and download a 2021 catalog):

NEW YORK, NY – August 2nd, 2021

Kensington Publishing Corp. announces the creation of Kensington Cozies, a new imprint dedicated to the cozy mystery genre.

“Kensington has long been a leader in the genre, and it’s time the roughly 60 contemporary cozy mysteries we publish each year had their own imprint,” said President and CEO Steven Zacharius. 

Beginning with titles going on sale December 28, 2021, contemporary mysteries fitting the cozy criteria across all print formats will be published under the Kensington Cozies imprint, and backlist titles with the same criteria will also be folded into the imprint over time so that series titles are all within the same imprint. Features of the genre include having little-to-no violence, profanity, or sex; likeable amateur sleuths; tight-knit communities; and series arcs that allow the protagonists to grow in their professions and relationships.

All Kensington editors will acquire for the imprint, which includes hardcover, trade paperback, and mass market max releases from established authors like Joanne Fluke, Carlene O’Connor, Ellery Adams, Leslie Meier, and Lee Hollis, as well as new voices such as Emmeline Duncan, Frank Anthony Polito, Gabby Allan, and Christin Brecher. Digital first cozies will remain in Kensington’s e-original imprint, Lyrical Underground.

The Kensington Cozies brand will be overseen by Communications Manager Larissa Ackerman, who has spearheaded many of the company’s major initiatives to expand the visibility of the genre as a whole in recent years. “We’re excited to continue building awareness of everything cozy mysteries have to offer, growing their presence on readers’ and retailers’ bookshelves, and bringing more diversity to the genre – both in the authors whose stories we publish and the readers who love them,” she commented. Ackerman is responsible for conceiving and developing the Cozy Club Card, a loyalty card program available through participating libraries and bookstores that allows readers to earn free cozy mystery ARCs. She oversees partnerships such as “The Cozy Corner” with Tea Time Magazine, and she will continue to build programs such as Kensington’s Cozy Cons, a series of annual, multi-author reader parties taking place across the United States since 2018 in rotating bookstores and cities within the Northeast, South, West and Midwest.

Kensington Publishing has had a strong presence in the genre since publishing its first cozy mystery in 1993, and fully committing to the genre in 1995 with Laurien Berenson’s first Melanie Travis Mystery, A Pedigree to Die For. In 2000, the house launched New York Times bestselling author Joanne Fluke’s long-running and popular Hannah Swensen Mystery Series, which has gone on to land twenty of its twenty-seven (and counting!) installments on the New York Times hardcover bestseller list and six Hallmark Movies & Mysteries® original television movies starring Alison Sweeney as Hannah. Now home to many of the genre’s most beloved authors and rising stars alike, Kensington Publishing sells an average of approximately 2.5 million cozy mysteries per year.

For upcoming cozy mystery releases, authors, events, and more, visit www.KensingtonCozies.com.

ABOUT KENSINGTON PUBLISHING:

Founded in 1974, Kensington Publishing Corp. is an independent, family-owned book publisher known for the diversity of the authors and books it publishes. The company releases over 500 fiction and non-fiction titles each year, providing readers with a range of popular genres such as thrillers, romance, historical fiction, cozy mysteries and non-fiction, as well as true crime, western, and commercial fiction titles. The house of New York Times bestselling authors including Fern Michaels, Lisa Jackson, William W. Johnstone, Joanne Fluke, Mary Monroe, John Gilstrap, and many others, Kensington is based in New York City and its imprints include Kensington Books, Dafina, Zebra, Pinnacle, Kensington Cozies, Citadel Press and Lyrical Press.

Visit KensingtonBooks.com.”

#Kensington Publishing #Kensington Cozies

A Scone of Contention review

This is the eleventh book in the long-running Key West Food Critic series by Lucy Burdette. You can always count on lots and lots of food and great recipes in these books, and Hayley was like a kid in a candy store with being able to go and eat Scottish food in this book.

I found myself really fascinated reading about the Falkirk Wheel in the book. Even though a death in the book occurred here, the author graciously pointed out in her Acknowledgments that this was just something from her own imagination. But I got curious about the Wheel and watched a couple of videos because my brain needed a demo of it, lol. Nothing like armchair travel and learning something new this way! Thanks to the author, I found something cool to research and was able to picture it even better as I read.

My Goodreads review:

A Scone of Contention: A Key West Food Critic MysteryA Scone of Contention: A Key West Food Critic Mystery by Lucy Burdette
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Scotland was the perfect chance for a foodie and food writer like Hayley to eat her way through a few towns and still do her job while on her supposed-honeymoon. That part was sort of a laugh, and they all joked about it since Miss Gloria was along, and Nathan’s mom informed that she was coming. I did actually start to like Nathan’s mom Helen a little better from reading the last book when she and Hayley had their grand adventure.

From a poisoning to a guy falling from the Falkirk Wheel, this mystery unfolded and seemed like it didn’t make a lot of sense at first. Eventually, Hayley and Miss G put the clues together. Miss G always loved armchair sleuthing with Hayley and had her chance to do this firsthand now as well as see some of the places her ancestors would have fought at or been buried in, some of which were pretty troubling to her.

At first, I wasn’t sure if I’d like Vera and William, but they grew on me especially toward the end when William was so kind to Miss Gloria. I had to giggle at Nathan’s last line in the book, but it’s so true!

I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of this book provided by the publisher via NetGalley, and my opinions are my own.

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Murder, She Edited review

This is the fourth book in the Deadly Edits series by Kaitlyn Dunnett who also writes the Liss MacCrimmon series. I haven’t read any of that series, but I’ve been following this one from the beginning reading the ARCs. I really like Mikki Lincoln’s character. She can be a tough softie, lol. At one point in this book she said she didn’t know if she should be flattered or insulted by the Jessica Fletcher comment Luke made. But I always tend to think of her in the persona of Jess who was a real fave with how tough but sweet she could be, kinda like Mikki! 😉 I’m always eager for the next book to see what Mikki gets herself into.

My Goodreads review:

Murder, She Edited (Deadly Edits, #4)Murder, She Edited by Kaitlyn Dunnett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mikki’s always getting into the most interesting predicaments or jobs. When she was told she’d have to find and publish some diaries as specified, it did look like she wasn’t going to have any luck finding them. Fortunately, Mikki has never been anyone’s victim or patsy if she has anything to say about it. I love how her relationship with her cousin Luke has grown, and Luke’s own relationship with Officer Ellen has really been coming along.

The murder in the book was an old one that was unsolved, but leave it to Mikki to dig around until she found out the truth. I was a little surprised to even get that killer fingered after all this time. There was also the problem with her new property being used to store stolen goods and recently burned down. She sniffed out the arsonist as well then celebrated with Luke and Ellen. There’d been a side story of a very annoying woman who kept bugging Mikki after she admitted she was friends with the woman’s favorite author who in reality was Mikki’s friend Lenora. Her crazy stalker problem was taken care of at the end as well. Life with Mikki Lincoln is, well definitely never dull!

I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of this book provided by the publisher via NetGalley, and my opinions are my own.

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A Time to Swill review

This is the second book in the Chloe Jackson, Sea Glass Saloon series by Sherry Harris who also writes the well-established series Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mysteries. I enjoyed getting to know the characters even a little better this time around and watching as Rhett and Chloe started what I hope will be the proverbial beautiful friendship 😉 There are a lot of quirky and fun locals, but you never know where a killer might be lurking. Are they a local everyone knows and thought they loved? Or is it some stranger to the island? These people have families that go way back, and some have tons of secrets. I’m really looking forward now to reading the next book!

My Goodreads review:

A Time to Swill (A Chloe Jackson, Sea Glass Saloon Myster Book 2)A Time to Swill by Sherry Harris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a great follow up to the first book in the series! Chloe was officially back and adjusting to life on the Panhandle when things turned kind of upside down. From escaping a boat fire to smugglers and possibly someone having a claim on Sea Glass, it was a real rollercoaster adventure mystery. I think Joaquin remains my favorite character. He’s just awesome and always really upbeat. I think Chloe and Rhett (you’ve gotta read how he gets a new nickname, it’s pretty hilarious but I’m not gonna spill!) make a great couple although they’re smart for taking it slow. I think she’s still beating herself up that she never realized her late bestie Boone had loved her romantically as she’d found he did.

Vivi was well, Vivi. But she seemed to be coming around and being kinder to Chloe along with even dare I say, having a little fun doing a drink contest with Joaquin? The disappearance of an old boat that reappeared was really mysterious to read about. And speaking of mysterious, Ann Wilson (I also really like her character) was right in the center of this doing her investigating/fixing type of thing. The adventure Chloe went on with her was pretty nail biting!

In the end, all baddies were taken care of though, and I absolutely loved the very end! That Ann is such a stinker! I’m super eager for the next book to come out now!

I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of this book provided by the publisher Kensington via NetGalley, and my opinions are my own.

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The Chocolate Raccoon Rigmarole review

This is the eighteenth book in the Chocoholic Mysteries series by JoAnna Carl, and I was honored to be asked by a rep from Berkley Publishing to read and hopefully review. I’d recently read the first book, so even though I haven’t read the others, I was still able to follow along, and everything made sense, so it’s possible to read it as a standalone. I didn’t mind learning that a couple marriages had happened in the span between the first book and this, in fact, I’m pretty sure I knew (and had hoped) they would from when I peeked at all the blurbs for the books, lol.

I love that reading the first book and now reading this didn’t seem much different. I know some series change voice over the years or read differently, but to me this one still has the awesome running theme of family and good friends. I’m definitely planning to start catching up with this series though!

My Goodreads review:

The Chocolate Raccoon Rigmarole (Chocoholic Mystery Book 18)The Chocolate Raccoon Rigmarole by JoAnna Carl
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The whole theme in this book was centered around an elusive mama raccoon and her six babies that Lee and Nettie wanted removed from in back of the chocolate shop. It spiraled into a lot more after that including seemingly meaningless burglaries that led to attacks and eventually a murder as well as an attempted murder.

I just love Aunt Nettie’s character! She’s one lady you really want on your side and can be sweet as a granny or well, vicious as a raccoon. Let’s just say if you’re having a showdown with a killer, it’d be a really good idea to invite Aunt Nettie along! The showdown was pretty epic, and I never really guessed the killer. I did have a basic idea of what the burglaries were all about though.

Another character I liked in the very first book, and I’m glad he’s not changed is Hogan Jones. (Admittedly, I’d only read the first book of the series so far when I was asked to read this, but with a little working knowledge of the characters from book 1, I had no trouble keeping up.) I love that Hogan’s not like the typical cozy mystery cop who’s always warning the sleuths off the case. His main interest is always catching the bad guy which means he listens to Lee (or now Nettie seeing how he’s married to her lol), and what could come off as a hair-brained scheme to other officers is at least given some thought by Hogan. He’s one of my favorite fictional lawmen.

I voluntarily read and reviewed this book provided by Berkley Publishing via NetGalley, and my opinions are my own. Look for it at your favorite book seller on August 3!

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