Meet Your Baker–review

This is the first book in the long-running Bakeshop series by the talented Ellie Alexander who also writes as Kate Dyer-Seeley. I’ve enjoyed her other series as herself and two as Kate, so I figured it was high time I got started on this one seeing how I’ve been collecting the paperbacks for about a year or more. I was definitely not disappointed, and if this book is any indication, I know I’m going to love the rest of the series!

My Goodreads review:

Meet Your Baker (A Bakeshop Mystery, #1)Meet Your Baker by Ellie Alexander

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I can’t believe it took me this long to start this series! I love the author’s other series, Sloan Krause, and the series she writes under her pen name. Now I know why everyone loves this one!

Jules Capshaw came home to her Shakespeare themed town with a broken heart. She’d left the chef she was married to on a cruise ship where she was a pastry chef. Now she had to adjust to life on solidi ground for one thing, and soon she’d have a murder case she was busy investigating, somewhat with the go-ahead from her former high school boyfriend, now Deputy Thomas Adams. After a heart-stopping showdown with the killer, that person was safely hauled off and everything was solved.

It didn’t take me long to fall in love with the regular characters! Jules was a pretty strong lady for dealing with the complicated personal life she had right now. I really liked her mom a lot and thought the two had a fairly decent relationship, which grew even better as the book went on. I can only hope that she can ditch her former guy sometime and start over with Thomas–I’m probably dreaming, lol. I loved the detective in this book! He was so different from any other that I’ve read about so far. Doug aka the Professor was super nice, but very into Shakespeare, so he’d toss out a Shakespeare quote instead of answering Jules about the investigation or giving the always-heard, “I can’t talk about that.” Shakespeare quotes made it easier to take? Maybe lol.

I didn’t guess the killer and what a cool twist that was! I loved how things worked out with Torte and its employees–they even gained a new worker. After reading a little preview of the next book that came at the end, I’m anxious to read it! The recipes at the end sounded so yummy–I’d love to try that raspberry danish one.

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Gin & Daggers–review

An oldie but a goodie, this is the very first book written in the Murder, She Wrote series by Jessica Fletcher’s real life writer Donald Bain. An interesting bit of trivia I read, was that it was first published in 1989, but there were references to Jessica driving, which didn’t flow with the storyline the TV show established, so in 2000 it was reprinted. I did still find one small reference on the very first page where she was talking about going on a trip to Bangor, “I’d offered to drive, but the station insisted upon flying me in.” I guess they didn’t catch that one. Later, toward the end of the book, she did state to someone that she didn’t drive, not in England or the US. Maybe by “offering to drive” she simply meant she offered to catch a ride to the station. Not that important, but just fun finding it.

Picture disclaimer: I Googled using “labeled for reuse” and the one I used came up, however credit belongs to Dave Bleasdale. Wapping Wall was the area where Jimmy Biggers’ PI office building was located.

My Goodreads review:

Gin & Daggers (Murder, She Wrote, #1)Gin & Daggers by Jessica Fletcher

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I recently read the very latest in this series (mainly because it was a brand new book in my library and I just couldn’t resist lol), but I wanted to start at the very beginning to see how writing styles, times, etc. have changed.

Jessica’s first adventure took her to London, England where a mystery conference was taking place. Her old friend, a world-famous author named Marjorie Ainsworth was killed in her home while Jessica was staying with her, and of course the very inept local inspector immediately pegged Jessica as the suspect, since her necklace was found in the woman’s room. When Scotland Yard stepped in, Jessica was relieved, and chief inspector Sutherland took her on a few small dates as they discussed the case. Jess used a local PI whose reputation was not the shiniest, but Jessica was one to walk to her own drummer and form her own opinion, so she decided to work with the man.

I had guessed one of the twists toward the end, but I hadn’t guessed the killer. This was in true Murder, She Wrote and Agatha Christie fashion, since the suspects were all gathered at the end while Jessica gave her thoughts and accusations. I loved that the once-despised PI got to have a little moment of fame, since without his help, the case may have not been solved as quickly.

I always loved the TV show and wonder why I didn’t get into these books sooner.

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Dead as a Door Knocker–review

Dead as a Door Knocker (House-Flipper Mystery #1)Dead as a Door Knocker by Diane Kelly

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of the cool things about this book is that just as you don’t want it to end, there’s a little sneak preview of the next book at the end! It goes right into the same time of year too. I’m so anxious to find out when that next book is coming out!

Whitney Whitaker was a carpenter and a property manager who was about to become a real estate agent and a house flipper with her cousin Buck as her partner, after her real estate agency’s biggest client offered her a house for a steal of a deal. The house quickly became a huge source of trouble, starting with Sawdust her cat finding a dead body in the flower bed. Since Whitney’s hammer was the weapon, she became the main person of interest, so she knew she had another job cut out for her: prove her own innocence or go down for something she didn’t do. Her good friend Colette and her cousin Buck for always up for adventures!

The suspenseful scene that took place before there was a showdown was pretty cool, and Sawdust got to have a major part in that–way to go, sweet kitty! When Whitney insisted on going with Det. Flynn to the showdown with the killer, she somewhat came in handy. I had another person pegged for this murder, although I’d made a random comment early in the book for no reason whatsoever of “oh, I wonder if s0-and-so did it.” There were good red herrings and secrets along the way. Now that I’ve read the little preview for the next book that comes at the end of this one, I’m probably going to be checking Amazon regularly to see when it comes to presale! Hopefully getting the author’s newsletter will take care of that though.

I just fell in love with these characters! Mr. and Mrs. Hartley were the nicest people, who wouldn’t want to have bosses just like that. Buck was a hoot and I’m wondering if he and Whit’s friend Colette might get together eventually. I loved the camaraderie of the three of them. Whit actually had a great relationship with her parents–I’m always a fan of that! They weren’t in it a lot, but they were super nice people. I’m not really a fan of the neighbor of the house they were flipping though. Patty seems like nothing but a complainer. And of course there’s Det. Flynn who is a cat person like Whitney–I really hope they get together eventually! Last but not least whatsoever, Sawdust the cat was such a sweetheart! I thought it was fun how every so often there was a one or two-page chapter coming from his view-point, third person as written, but still giving the cat’s thoughts–especially about a one-eyed mechanical demon that came to life when Whitney was gone!

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Murder Wears a Little Black Dress–review

This was the first book in the brand new Resale Boutique series by Debra Sennefelder. I’m not much into fashions or clothing, so I wasn’t sure if I’d like this series as much as I like her Food Blogger series, but I really loved this book and I can’t wait for the next one! There were so many fun characters, and I can definitely see why all the people I know on line who love cozy mysteries are crazy about this book.

The picture I found makes me think of what the shop might have looked like when Granny Martha was running it.

I received an ARC of this book from Kensington, the publisher, via NetGalley and voluntarily read and reviewed it. I was happy to find out on release day that long ago I had preordered it as well. (Sometimes I forget what I’ve preordered!) My opinions are my own.

My Goodreads review:

Murder Wears a Little Black Dress (Resale Boutique Mystery #1)Murder Wears a Little Black Dress by Debra Sennefelder

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was another book that I wished didn’t have to end. Although I’m happy that once the showdown happened and the killer was arrested, the book didn’t end there. The actual ending chapter was so heartwarming in many ways! The book was well-written and plotted with a cool twist at the end.

Kelly Quinn had lost her job as an assistant buyer for a NYC store, but her Granny had willed her the consignment shop she owned, which Kelly was going to revamp into a stylish resale boutique. Pepper, her granny’s best friend and employee was skeptical about all these changes Kelly wanted to make and wasn’t shy about giving her opinion. After a local psychic had a vision of a murder while wearing a dress that was consigned, Kelly couldn’t leave it alone and started investigating here and there. When Kelly ended up being a possible suspect in two different murders, she knew she had to step up her snooping game. The killer didn’t like that at all and had Kelly next in their radar.

I really liked the variety of quirky characters in this book. My one favorite character was Pepper, who was more like a mom to Kelly, since she used tough love to show Kelly the error of her ways. Pepper was the mom of Gabe, a local police officer that Kelly’s bestie, Liv, had a crush on. I didn’t care much for Uncle Ralph or his third wife, Summer, but hey every good cozy has to have some sort of ongoing conflict right? We get to root for Kelly that way. Her cousin Frankie was a hoot and so was Gabe–Gabe had been like a brother to Kelly when they were growing up.

I liked the side story of Kelly’s friend Ariel who had been her sister’s bestie in high school, but due to an accident that Kelly feels responsible for, Ariel ended up in a wheelchair. She was absolutely awesome and ranks with Pepper as my other favorite character. I mean, who knew that a friend in a motorized wheelchair could come in handy like she did at one point in the book. You’ll have to read and find out what happened, but I thought the showdown was pretty epic. The last chapter really summed everything up well, had a couple of small tissue moments (good ones though) and Kelly may just have a guy to date!

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Seven Deadly Zins–review

This is the second book in the Wine Country series by Nancy J. Parra otherwise known as Nancy Coco who writes the Candy-Coated series set on Mackinac Island. After the first book, the characters grew on me so much that I was anxious to start this book right away after finishing the first. I was glad I had read the first mainly for backstories and knowing the characters better. I was happy to find out that Taylor had backed off quite a bit from blatantly going against the sheriff when he’d tell her not to investigate. I have to admit, it made me nervous every time she would go somewhere, especially in the first book. This time, she only went against orders once…or twice. I guess that’s just who she is, and I’ll have to stop being nervous for her lol.

After the end of the book, there are some suggested pairings for Zinfandel in the line of cheeses and desserts along with a fudge recipe.

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

My Goodreads review:

Seven Deadly Zins (A Sonoma Wine Country Mystery #2)Seven Deadly Zins by Nancy J. Parra

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There was definitely a lot happening in this second installment from Taylor finding out she’s got wine tour competition to her neighbor who owns a winery being charged with two murders. Lots of secrets were being kept too, and it was a pretty exciting race to the finish towards the end of the book where there was an unexpected twist. The person I thought did it was completely innocent!

I’m really glad that Chelsea, Holly and now Taylor’s investigative reporter friend was back and helping them. We got to meet Sarah, Aunt Jemma’s psychic friend who did contribute a little info about the first murder. Tim Slade was the neighboring winery owner who was charged with murder, not once but twice, and Taylor felt an obligation to him as a friend to investigate and see what she could do, after all, she caught the last killer. At the end of this, everyone was happy doing what they do best.

Gotta admit, I was hoping that Taylor’s rival would end up having to be closed down or be involved with the killings somehow– the woman is just mean and snarky, lol But she’s a go-getter, and just possibly Taylor will learn something about improving her own business by knowing she’s got tough competition. Only the future books can tell for sure! I’m anxious to keep on reading this series!

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A Case of Syrah, Syrah–review

I’ve been wanting to read this now for awhile, because I love another series that Nancy J. Parra writes as Nancy Coco, The Candy-Coated series set on Mackinac Island. This is the first in the Wine Country series set in sunny Sonoma, California. I already know that I’m going to love the next book. These characters are something else! Taylor is one who won’t take no for answer, and her friend Holly is every bit as adventurous. That’s a little bit of a change from what we see a lot. Lots of times, the sidekick is the adventurous one who gets the sleuth into trouble. Taylor did her own share of getting herself into sticky situations. (I was surprised the sheriff didn’t throw her in jail for her own protection lol) I liked the addition of Chelsea, who is a friend of Holly from college and who wouldn’t love Aunt Jemma, the owner of the winery where Taylor lives and is using as home base for her winery tours.

My Goodreads review:

A Case of Syrah, Syrah (A Wine Country Mystery #1)A Case of Syrah, Syrah by Nancy J. Parra

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’d been wanting to read this before I read my ARC of the next book in the series, so I found it on Overdrive to borrow from my library. I just love Nancy’s Candy-Coated series she writes as Nancy Coco, and this series didn’t disappoint either!

Taylor O’Brian ran wine country tours business, but when she came across the dead body of a yoga instructor on her very first tour, that business came to a screeching halt until someone could prove Taylor’s innocence. Her corkscrew was the murder weapon and someone who apparently lied had said they saw her shove the woman off the cliff. Taylor and her bestie, Holly teamed up with a college friend of Holly’s, Chelsea, an investigative free-lance reporter and started snooping around on their own, despite numerous warnings from the sheriff and Taylor’s lawyer. There was a side mystery about identity theft that Taylor was sure had to be connected to what ended up being two murders total. Hopefully she and her friends could solve this before she ended up in jail for something she didn’t do…or became the next murder victim.

Holly is another bestie that you just gotta love! She’s got a ton of enthusiasm and loyalty–but at least she had the sense to stay out of “just one more stake-out.” The showdown was great! Taylor may not have been good at paying attention to people who told her to stop snooping, but she was good at remembering to record things! I loved Aunt Jemma too, what a sweetheart! And the adorable cocker spaniel Millie who came into Taylor’s life was a cute little addition.

I’ll be reading the next book starting a little later today!

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The Body in the Attic–review

This is the first book in a brand new series called Jazzi Zanders just released in November. The author is Judi Lynn, and when went to leave the Amazon review, I noticed she’s normally a romance author, it made a lot more sense to me now why there were so many everyday life details given for Jazzi, Jerod and Ansel. Not super long details, just more of a fleshed-out version of what the characters actually do besides trying to solve a mystery. It was fun seeing them gut and fix up a house. I liked these characters and will be preordering the second book due out in April.

Wow this is the 4th book I’ve read recently that features a cute little pug dog. George was so cool, he was like a little human!

My Goodreads review:

The Body in the Attic (A Jazzi Zanders Mystery #1)The Body in the Attic by Judi Lynn

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a different cozy, but different in a good way meaning it wasn’t the usual formula most people expect in a cozy. Instead of Jazzi bugging the detective for clues, he was very willing to share with her what he found out and almost treated her like a colleague instead of a civilian. And the two murders were technically cold cases…but there was at least one, possibly two killers that were still very much alive.

I loved the house-flipper job that Jazzi had. Working with her cousin was probably a lot of fun. Jerod was like the brother she’d never had. And their contractor Ansel was so handsome that Jazzi couldn’t take her eyes off him. He was in a bad relationship which finally got resolved the way it should. I liked that aside from the threatening phone calls, Jazzi was never really in any danger and she was smart enough to have a security system in place and always lock her doors.

This makes the 4th book I’ve read recently that has a cute and personable little pug in it. This one was named George and he was almost human. He went with Ansel everywhere he went. Everything seemed to work out so well in this book, and for once there wasn’t a bunch of arguing or romantic tension. I’m definitely going to read the next book in the series.

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