Bayou Book Thief review

This is the first book in a new series, Vintage Cookbook Mysteries by popular cozy mystery author, Ellen Byron. Score! While getting the link for the series page, I ran into the second book for this series due out next year, Wined and Dined in New Orleans. With a little luck, I can get that ARC when it’s out too! It sure sounds like it’ll be another good one!

Speaking of good books, this is one series you have to start if you’re a fan of the Cajun Country series and missing it like I was. Even if you never read that series, you’re still gonna love this one! I know I can rely on this author to provide the sights and smells of NOLA and surrounding areas right from the comfort of my reading chair. I wouldn’t mind visiting NOLA someday, but I’ve never been one much for crowds so that’s why cozies are great armchair vacations for me, lol.

#BerkleyPublishing #EllenByron

My Goodreads review:

Bayou Book Thief (Vintage Cookbook Mystery #1)Bayou Book Thief by Ellen Byron
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh my goodness, this series is just what I was hoping for that helps fill the void left when the author ended her Cajun Country series! I absolutely loved all these regular characters and the whole Louisiana/Cajun food vibe that I used to love in the other series. I gotta admit, it was a little harder warming up to Ricki than it had been Maggie, but she finally worked her way into my heart along with the others.

I just love Madame’s character, and I really liked Eugenia the minute I met her. I could tell she was going to be one of the “proper” locals from a good family but still fair enough to her employees that they were all on a first name basis with her–and the lady knew a good idea when it was presented to her. That Cookie was a great comic relief character, and I loved Zellah as a new bestie for Ricki. The ladies made for a fun work trio, and Lydia wasn’t so bad either, just a little bit harried from being mom to a crazy teen.

The overall camaraderie of the Bon Vee crew was pretty awesome, and I thought it was so cool how they all gathered at their favorite place, Bayou Backyard for just hanging out or going over the case. Maybe I enjoyed it even more because of the comparisons I could make between the two series since I thought about the BB as being a lot like JJ’s place only with an outside part to it.

I sure never saw the whodunit coming but in the explanation at the end, it made a lot of sense. The dinner Eugenia treated them all to was a lot of fun and really cemented these characters for me. The next day was even better, but you’ll have to read the book to find out what fun happened then. I liked that the epilogue added a bit of intrigue to hopefully the next book. I gotta admit I’d toyed with the idea put out there a few times while reading! If you loved Cajun Country Mysteries, you won’t wanna miss this series! I absolutely can’t wait for the next one!

I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of this book provided by Berkley Publishing via NetGalley, and my opinions are my own. This book releases June 7, 2022.

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Halloween Party Murder review

I always enjoy reading the set of three short Halloween stories every year by Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis and Barbara Ross from three of my favorite series. The theme was a murder taking place at three different Halloween parties in three unique ways. My favorite two were the Hayley Powell and Clambake stories. The Lucy Stone series at times really doesn’t interest me as much as the older books did due to the political nature of some of the stories or side issues. I read cozy mysteries to esape that kind of stuff, lol.

My Goodreads review:

Halloween Party MurderHalloween Party Murder by Leslie Meier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The stars are mainly for the second two stories in this collection. I usually like Lucy Stone stories, at least I did before they started having nothing but a bunch of politics and stuff like that. The Halloween portion of the story was great with the haunted house and fundraiser for Lucy’s favorite Hat and Mitten Fund. But it all lost my interest when the political stuff leaked into it and I honestly didn’t even care by then who the killer was or why.

Now I absolutely loved the Hayley Powell Halloween. Halloween with this bunch is always a hoot! And be sure to read those in-between the chapters columns of Hayley’s because they tell about some hilarious past Halloween events with (always) Mona at her funniest. Ha, she was dressed like a shark at the present day party, kinda fitting, no? šŸ˜‰ Gotta love that crazy Mona and her growing-up kids!

I loved the quick trip to Busman’s Harbor and Julia having a mystery that involved her niece and the girl’s friends. It was an interesting case, and I liked how the state detectives figured they might as well just let Julia in on it from the get-go since she always helped anyway. I never would’ve guessed the outcome in either the Hayley or the Clambake murders, and they sure made for some fun Halloween reading!

I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of this book provided by the publisher via NetGalley, and my opinions are my own. The book releases this coming Tuesday, August 31, 2021.

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

NEW YORK, NY ā€“Ā August 2nd, 2021

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

ā€œKensington has long been a leader in the genre, and itā€™s time the roughly 60 contemporary cozy mysteries we publish each year had their own imprint,ā€ said President and CEO Steven Zacharius.Ā 

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 Oā€™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 Kensingtonā€™s e-original imprint, Lyrical Underground.

The Kensington Cozies brand will be overseen by Communications Manager Larissa Ackerman, who has spearheaded many of the companyā€™s major initiatives to expand the visibility of the genre as a whole in recent years.Ā ā€œWeā€™re excited toĀ continue building awareness of everything cozy mysteries have to offer, growing their presence on readersā€™ and retailersā€™ bookshelves, and bringing more diversity to the genre ā€“ both in the authors whose stories we publish and the readers who love them,ā€ 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 ā€œThe Cozy Cornerā€ withĀ Tea Time Magazine,Ā and she will continue to build programs such as Kensingtonā€™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 inĀ 1993,Ā and fully committing to the genre in 1995 with Laurien Berensonā€™s first Melanie Travis Mystery,Ā A Pedigree to Die For. In 2000, the house launchedĀ New York TimesĀ bestselling author Joanne Flukeā€™s long-running and popular Hannah Swensen Mystery Series, which has gone on to land twenty of its twenty-seven (and counting!) installments on theĀ New York TimesĀ hardcover bestseller list and sixĀ Hallmark Movies & MysteriesĀ® original television movies starring Alison Sweeney as Hannah. Now home to many of the genreā€™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, visitĀ


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 500Ā 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 ofĀ New York TimesĀ 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.


#Kensington Publishing #Kensington Cozies

For Whom the Book Tolls review

This is the first book in a new series called Antique Book Shop mysteries by Laura Gail Black, and I think she’s definitely got a hit on her hands with the series. I felt like Jenna and Rita were my old friends by the time the book ended, and I really can’t wait to read the next book. I hope Jenna eventually gets a dog or cat for the bookshop. At least in my opinion, I’ve enjoyed cozies about bookstores that have pets.

My Goodreads review:

For Whom the Book Tolls: An Antique Bookshop MysteryFor Whom the Book Tolls: An Antique Bookshop Mystery by Laura Gail Black
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really loved this new mystery! It’s a great concept for a cozy and pretty much everything I want in a cozy mystery as well. Rita was such a great new friend for Jenna and so was Mason, the young guy she hired for the shop who used to work for her Uncle Paul. I can’t even imagine how awful it would be to come to a new town all hopeful to reconnect with a fun and goofy uncle just to find him dead.

This of course put Jenna in the cross hairs of an ambitious detective who wanted to wrap up the murder in a nice neat package. His partner wasn’t downright mean like this guy was, so that was a definite plus for Jenna. I loved how she and Rita got along together, and once Mason joined them, they made quite the trio of friends. I definitely hope Keith makes the trio a foursome!

I hadn’t completely committed myself to guessing who did it, but it honestly didn’t surprise me much. The showdown was pretty exciting, and if I was Jenna, I’d be thanking my guardian angel for the help that arrived! I really enjoyed how the book went on a little more after the showdown and explanation. At that point, it was important to me because it showed how Jenna had cemented her friendship with new people in this new town. I’m so anxious now to read the next book!

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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Christmas Sweets review

This is a fun Christmasy collection of mysteries, one of which is a murder. The other two were such enjoyable mysteries that the lack of a murder to solve didn’t bother me at all. I found out that I really love the characters of Jaine Austen and her hilarious cat, Prozac. I definitely need to get to that soon, maybe in the new year.

My Goodreads review:

Christmas Sweets (A Lucy Stone Mystery, #18.5)Christmas Sweets by Joanne Fluke

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the first compiled short Christmas stories volume that I’ve read, and I really enjoyed it. It didn’t seem to matter where a person was in the series. Each book just fit in well.

In the Twelve Desserts of Christmas by Joanne Fluke, we met Matt and Julie a couple of love-struck teachers who volunteered to stay with some kids at boarding school over Christmas. There was no murder, but it was a fun little mystery that Hannah got involved in, since she was baking cookies and desserts for the kids and the two teachers. I enjoyed all these short story characters a lot!

After reading Nightmare on Elf Street by Laura Levine, I was laughing so much that I just knew I wanted to start reading the Jaine Austen series soon. Oh my goodness, the descriptions of some of the funny scenes had me laughing out loud, especially when Jaine’s cat Prozac got loose at the mall. This was a good murder mystery. There weren’t a lot of suspects and I was a little suspicious of who ended up being the killer.

The third story, The Christmas Thief by Leslie Meier focused on Elizabeth Stone, Lucy’s daughter that we don’t really read much about in the books that are about their daily lives. I just knew that Lucy would come to her rescue when poor Elizabeth was accused of being in on the theft of a mega-valuable jewel collection at the hotel where she worked. Miss Tilley came along (I just love this lady!) and the 90-something’s computer skills definitely came in handy in sifting out a perp. Elizabeth got a very happy ending out of the little story!

These three stories just showed how very different Christmas celebrations can be, but the main thing with people is being around those they love, or in Jaine’s case, a pet she loves. Despite Prozac being crazy-kitty-from-Elm Street sometimes, she loves the little bugger a lot!

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Christmas Cocoa Murder review

This is a fun compilation of three short Christmas-themed mysteries written by some of my favorite authors. I admit I’m not as familiar with Carlene O’Connor’s works having only read the first of her new series, but I am very familiar with the Country Store series by Maddie Day and the Bookstore Cafe series by Alex Erickson (I do need to read some of the books in between in this one to catch up).

I think someone who had never read the books could read these and still have them make sense as far as the characters go. Obviously in a short story there’s no time to give tons of backstory, but these guys did a good job. See my review below for more details.

My Goodreads review:

Christmas Cocoa MurderChristmas Cocoa Murder by Carlene O’Connor

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed reading these Christmas-themed short mysteries by authors that I knew I already read and liked. I wasn’t familiar with the series that the first story belongs with, but I had read the author’s newest series. Even though I didn’t know anyone, it didn’t take long to warm up to Siobhan’s character and her siblings. That and her possible love interest made me want to read this series. The ending of this story was so sweet and I hadn’t guessed the killer.

In the second story, I loved how Ms. Day tied in the “cocoa” theme by having a Lab puppy by that name. A nasty man was killed, and it almost could have appeared as if the pup caused his accident…or was it an accident? Robbie and her hopefully future mother-in-law Freddy made a good investigative team for this case. I kind of had a feeling I knew who it was, but it was interesting to see how they caught the person. The dinner at Abe’s parents on Christmas Eve was really fun and festive, since it ended in singing Christmas carols.

The last book was a locked room type mystery set in Christmas-themed escape room where the host had been killed, which wasn’t part of the game at all. All eight of the game players were strangers, except for Rita and Krissy. Rita, of course had talked Krissy into doing this. Since she’d helped with a lot of local murders, Krissy naturally took the lead as investigator and questioned everyone. It was pretty cool how they did all work together, but they used their brains not their tech just like in the old days. I was totally surprised by the killer. I guess I had something or someone else in mind for what had happened, but it all worked out, they got out eventually and the killer was taken away.

This book publishes on September 24, and I voluntarily read and reviewed a paperback ARC of the book provided by the publisher. My opinions are my own and do not reflect on having received the book for no charge.

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