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#FlashbackFriday – The Rocky Road to Ruin: An Ice Cream Shop Mystery by Meri Allen #Review / #Giveaway @StMartinsPress

On Flashback Fridays I will share with you
the books I was not able to review
when they were first released that have been screaming at me
from my To-Be-Read bookshelf.


The Rocky Road to Ruin: An Ice Cream Shop Mystery
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – Connecticut
St. Martin’s Paperbacks (July 27, 2021)
Mass Market Paperback ‏ : ‎ 352 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1250267064
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1250267061
Kindle ASIN ‏ : ‎ B08FZ8M8X3

Justice will be swirled by amateur sleuth Riley Rhodes in the first in Meri Allen’s brand-new mystery series, The Rocky Road to Ruin!

Riley Rhodes, travel food blogger, and librarian at the CIA, makes a bittersweet return to her childhood home of Penniman, Connecticut – land of dairy farms and covered bridges – for a funeral. Despite the circumstances, Riley’s trip home is sprinkled with reunions with old friends, visits to her father’s cozy bookshop on the town green, and joyful hours behind the counter at the beloved Udderly Delicious Ice Cream Shop. It feels like a time to help her friend Caroline rebuild after her mother’s death, and for Riley to do a bit of her own reflecting after a botched undercover mission in Italy. After all, it’s always good to be home.

But Caroline and her brother Mike have to decide what to do with the assets they’ve inherited – the ice cream shop as well as the farm they grew up on – and they’ve never seen eye to eye. Trouble begins to swirl as Riley is spooked by reports of a stranger camping behind the farm and by the odd behavior of the shop’s mascot, Caroline’s snooty Persian, Sprinkles. When Mike turns up dead in the barn the morning after the funeral, the peace and quiet of Penniman seems upended for good. Can Riley find the killer before another body gets scooped?

Dollycas’s Thoughts 

In this first book from Meri Allen’s Ice Cream Shop Mystery Series, we meet Riley Rhodes. Riley has a cool job working as a CIA librarian using being a travel food blogger as her cover. Her last undercover mission was in Italy and it ended badly. She now has two reasons to return home to Penniman, Connecticut. She needs to regroup after what happened in Italy but also her friend Caroline’s mother has passed away. She has so many great memories of spending time with Caroline on her family’s farm and working at the Udderly Delicious Ice Cream Shop. She always ate her share of ice cream too.

Now she wants to help Caroline in any way she can as she and her brother Mike make plans regarding the farm’s and ice cream shop’s future. Those two rarely agree on anything so Riley is not surprised they have totally different ideas about what to do with their newly inherited assets. After a bit of a blow-up Mike takes off to a cabin on the property with his girlfriend vowing the hash things out with his sister another day.

But that day doesn’t come. Instead, the next day, Riley finds Mike’s dead body in the barn and his girlfriend is missing. Knowing the argument between the siblings is going to have Caroline on the hot seat with the police Riley delves into her own investigation. She hopes to get the scoop on the killer before someone else gets creamed.


Riley is a very likable protagonist. I love that she has a CIA connection and that she is a librarian. Librarians are so knowledgeable and know how to ask the right questions. I am sure her CIA training has built upon those skills. Skills a great amateur sleuth needs. I admire her dedication to her friend Caroline who has to deal with so much. First her mother’s passing and then her brother’s. She also has a regular job she just can’t drop to handle the farm and ice cream shop. Riley doesn’t think twice, she jumps right in and volunteers to help with no time limits.

Caroline’s mother was beloved by so many and revered for all she had accomplished. We learn this from a variety of supporting characters who work and volunteer on the farm and at Udderly Delicious. Riley’s dad and stepmom are also introduced. Her dad owns a bookstore. That is just so perfect. It is a large group but the characters are clearly defined and easy to keep straight. That being said the author has left plenty of room for growth. There are also a couple of feline characters. One who thinks her royal highness rules the roost and everything around her. The other is a little ragged but cute and is given a great name.

Ms. Allen has done a fine job of world-building. It’s almost time for the Sunflower Festival and all the fields around the farm are filled with sunflowers setting up some great photo ops. The ice cream shop even has sunflower ice cream. As the characters travel up and down Farm Lane there are two farmhouses face to face across the lane. One is the family home behind the ice cream shop where Caroline’s mother lived. The other is teamed up with a large barn where the farm manager and his family live.  Down the road, there is a cabin that was sometimes rented out called the Love Nest. Keep going and there are more sunflower fields, apple orchards, other neighbors’ homes, a cemetery, and a winery. I could picture everything so easily. I could almost taste the ice cream too.

The author has crafted a very intriguing mystery. I had a grand time following along with Riley as she split her time making ice cream and trying to put a killer on ice. She found herself in some heated and scary situations but she kept pressing on. With some marvelous twists, I was drawn deeper and deeper into the story. The final twist was perfect. I was so absorbed in the story I know I missed a clue or two but at least I was in the ballpark with my guess.

The Rock Road to Ruin is a twisty mystery with a leading character that I want to know better and follow wherever she goes. The ice cream theme is just plain sweet and the sunflower backdrop at the farm has me longing for all the sunflower fields close around me that will be blooming and picture-perfect soon.

I am looking forward to reading Mint Chocolate Murder next month! Mint Chocolate Chip! YES!

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

https://us.macmillan.com/author/sharirandall/

About the Author

MERI ALLEN/ SHARI RANDALL lives in a quiet corner of Connecticut, where she haunts libraries, used book stores, and vintage shops.


Coming July 26, 2022


I am giving away 1 Kindle Copy of Rocky Road to Ruin!
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Posted in 2022 Reviews Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies Giveaways Great Escapes Book Tours Literary Escapes New Release Challenge What An Animal Reading Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

Bayou Book Thief (A Vintage Cookbook Mystery) by Ellen Byron #Review / #Giveaway – Great Escapes Book Tour @BerkleyMystery


Bayou Book Thief (A Vintage Cookbook Mystery)
by Ellen Byron

About Bayou Book Thief 


Bayou Book Thief (A Vintage Cookbook Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – New Orleans Louisiana
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Berkley (June 7, 2022)
Mass Market Paperback ‏ : ‎ 304 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0593437616
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0593437612
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09FPJHVGK

A fantastic new cozy mystery series with a vintage flair from USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award-winning author Ellen Byron.

Twenty-eight-year-old widow Ricki James leaves Los Angeles to start a new life in New Orleans after her showboating actor husband perishes doing a stupid internet stunt. The Big Easy is where she was born and adopted by the NICU nurse who cared for her after Ricki’s teen mother disappeared from the hospital.

Ricki’s dream comes true when she joins the quirky staff of Bon Vee Culinary House Museum, the spectacular former Garden District home of late bon vivant Genevieve “Vee” Charbonnet, the city’s legendary restauranteur. Ricki is excited about turning her avocation – collecting vintage cookbooks – into a vocation by launching the museum’s gift shop, Miss Vee’s Vintage Cookbooks, and Kitchenware. Then she discovers that a box of donated vintage cookbooks contains the body of a cantankerous Bon Vee employee who was fired after being exposed as a book thief.

The skills Ricki has developed ferreting out hidden vintage treasures come in handy for investigations. But both her business and Bon Vee could wind up as deadstock when Ricki’s past as curator of a billionaire’s first edition collection comes back to haunt her.

Will Miss Vee’s Vintage Cookbooks and Kitchenware be a success … or a recipe for disaster?

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Born in New Orleans and abandoned immediately by her teenage mother Miracle “Ricki” Fleur di Lis James was adopted by the NICU nurse who took care of her. She now packs up her life in Los Angeles after her husband dies while trying to do an internet challenge and returns to New Orleans to start over.

That new start happens in a big way when she can combine her love for vintage cookbooks with her new job at the Bon Vee Culinary House Museum, the home of the city’s legendary restaurateur, Genevieve “Vee” Charbonnet. Ricki will be opening the museum’s new gift shop, Miss Vee’s Vintage Cookbooks, and Kitchenware.

After being open just a few days she discovers an employee of the museum is stealing books and they are fired for the crime.

Trying to put the matter behind her she is excited to learn she has received a steamer trunk and two oversize boxes of donated books. Worried about keeping the shop fully stocked the donation arrives at the perfect time. Ricki along with a couple of employees set out to sort through the donations before the museum opens but the trunk didn’t contain any books. Inside was the very dead body of Franklin Finbloch . . . the recently fired . . . book thief.


Being a fan of Ellen Byron’s Cajun County Mysteries I was sad to see that series end so I was ecstatic to learn of this new series again set in Louisiana.

Readers are introduced to a wonderful quirky cast of characters led by Miracle “Ricki” Fleur di Lis James who has a very interesting backstory that just starts to unfold within the pages of this story. She comes across already as a very strong protagonist with some great sleuthing skills.

We also meet several members of the staff at the Bon Vee Culinary House Museum including Eugenia Charbonnet Felice who is the president of the Bon Vee Foundation Board. She oversees everything at the museum. She works hand in hand with the Executive Director, Lyla Brandt. We also meet Cookie Yanover, the Education Program Director. She and Ricki become fast friends. In fact, all of the employees for the most part get along very well and welcomed Ricki with open arms.

Away from the museum we meet Ricki’s landlord, Kitty Kat Rousseau and she is a hoot. Ricki’s AC has been out for days in the steamy New Orleans heat and Kitty is trying to get it fixed but Ricki believes something shady is going on.

Speaking of the heat, Ms. Byron’s detailed descriptions will have you sticky and sweating, wait, this takes place in the south, perspiring and glistening, and turning on your own air conditioners. She also paints a clear picture of Miss Vee’s Vintage Cookbooks, and Kitchenware and places in and around the museum including the staff’s favorite hangout, the Bayou Backyard. It was easy to visualize every scene and this author does it without getting overly wordy.

The mystery that Ms. Byron put forth was plotted with intricate precision. It flitted in and out with varied subplots perfectly. Filled with clever twists and a red herring or two it wasn’t hard to get completely engaged by everything happening in the story. I did find it hard to truly pin down the killer. I was astonished when the guilty party started to be revealed. The ending was exciting and a bit comical as Ricki gets some awesome assistance from an unlikely duo.

Bayou Book Thief has set this series off to an excellent start. Diverse characters, a fun location, and a puzzling mystery have me declaring this book A Perfect Escape. And the cliffhanger introduced in the Epilogue has me excited and intrigued about Ricki’s future. Wined and Died in New Orleans is set to be released on February 7, 2023.

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

About Ellen Byron

Ellen’s Cajun Country Mysteries have won the Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel and multiple Lefty Awards for Best Humorous Mystery. Bayou Book Thief will be the first book in her new Vintage Cookbook Mysteries. She also writes the Catering Hall Mystery series under the name Maria DiRico.

Ellen is an award-winning playwright, and non-award-winning TV writer of comedies like Wings, Just Shoot Me, and Fairly Odd Parents. She has written over two hundred articles for national magazines but considers her most impressive credit working as a cater-waiter for Martha Stewart. An alum of New Orleans’ Tulane University, she blogs with Chicks on the Case, is a lifetime member of the Writers Guild of America and will be the 2023 Left Coast Crime Toastmaster. Please visit her at https://www.ellenbyron.com/

 

Author Links – Webpage – Facebook – Twitter – GoodReads – Instagram – BookBubNewsletter

Purchase Links

AmazonB&NKoboGoogle BooksAlibrisIndieBoundPenguinRandomHouse
Coming February 7, 2023

Also by Ellen Byron

 

Great Escapes Praise for Bayou Book Thief (A Vintage Cookbook Mystery)
by Ellen Byron

Bayou Book Thief is finer than a frog hair split four ways with a man who is as useless as a screen door on a submarine, a bounty of books, a vile victim, a diligent detective, an artful air conditioning repairman, warm weather, and a riled Ricki.
~The Avid Reader

Ellen’s Cajun Country Mysteries are always a delight.
~Island Confidentials

Bayou Book Thief’s mystery is well-plotted, and you will really enjoy trying to figure out whodunit. I am so excited to find out what’s next for Rikki and her new friends.
~Christy’s Cozy Corners

I really liked this story and definitely recommend it to cozy mystery lovers, those who enjoy culinary stories, and those who want to do some armchair travel to New Orleans.
~Carla Loves To Read

Bottom Line: Bayou Book Thief by Ellen Byron is a highly engaging read, with interesting characters and intriguing plot threads.
~Reading is my Superpower

BAYOU BOOK THIEF brings together quirky characters and an engaging mystery in a wonderful setting. Vintage cookbooks, memorable characters, and the intoxicating setting that is New Orleans make this a fantastic start to a new series. Just remember, looks can be deceiving.
~Cozy Up With Kathy

It’s difficult to leave an old favorite like the Cajun Country Mystery series behind when the author pulls the plug and begins a new series. But if we must, at least we get to enjoy her new series set in Louisiana, as the author favors us with the sounds, scents, and majesty that is the local mystic of New Orleans.
~Rosepoint Publishing

This is an exciting new cozy mystery series that is quite entertaining. It has humor, mystery and a touch of romance all blended together for a fun-filled adventure. Bayou Book Thief is on my “best of 2022” list.
~Socrates’ Book Reviews

This makes for a fabulous story as it all plays out. Sure to be enjoyed by cozy fans especially if you want some Southern flair along with it. I really liked it so I give it 4/5 stars.
~Books a Plenty Book Reviews

TOUR PARTICIPANTS – Please visit all the stops. 
June 8 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW
June 8 – Ascroft, eh? – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
June 8 – Island Confidential – REVIEW
June 9 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – REVIEW
June 9 – I Read What You Write – CHARACTER GUEST POST
June 10 – Books to the Ceiling – SPOTLIGHT
June 10 – Carla Loves To Read – REVIEW
June 11 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW
June 11 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT
June 12 – The Mystery of Writing – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
June 12 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW
June 13 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT
June 13 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog – SPOTLIGHT
June 14 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW
June 14 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW
June 15 – Socrates Book Reviews – REVIEW
June 15 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW
June 16 – The Mystery Section – RECIPE
June 16 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW
June 17 – View from the Birdhouse – REVIEW
June 17 – Moonlight Rendezvous – REVIEW
June 18 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT
June 19 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – GUEST POST
June 19 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW
June 20 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW
June 20 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
June 21 – Novels Alive – REVIEW – SPOTLIGHT
June 21 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Posted in 2022 Reviews Cozy Wednesday Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies Giveaways Great Escapes Book Tours New Release Challenge What An Animal Reading Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

Cozy Wednesday featuring Murder Is No Picnic (A Cape Cod Foodie Mystery) by Amy Pershing #Review / #Giveaway – @BerkleyMystery – Great Escapes Book Tour

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday! 

It is my pleasure to feature
Murder Is No Picnic by Amy Pershing today!


Murder Is No Picnic (A Cape Cod Foodie Mystery)
by Amy Pershing

About Murder is No Picnic 

Murder Is No Picnic (A Cape Cod Foodie Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Setting – Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Berkley (June 7, 2022)
Mass Market Paperback ‏ : ‎ 336 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0593199189
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0593199183
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09K66BGZF

The Fourth of July is coming, and for professional food lover Samantha Barnes, it’s all about the picnic. Okay, and the fireworks. And the parade. But mostly the picnic. What could be better than a DIY clambake followed by the best blueberry buckle in the world? Sam has finally found the perfect recipe in the kitchen of Clara Foster, famed cookbook author, and retired restaurateur, and she’s thrilled when Clara agrees to a buckle baking lesson.

But when Clara dies in a house fire blamed on carelessness in the kitchen, Sam doesn’t believe it. Unfortunately, her doubts set in motion an investigation pointing to the new owner of Clara’s legendary restaurant—and a cousin of Sam’s harbormaster boyfriend. So, in between researching the Cape’s best lobster rolls and planning her clambake, Sam needs to find Clara’s killer before the fireworks really start…

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Foodie Samantha Barnes has big plans for the 4th of July. A clambake on the beach outside the home she inherited from her Aunt Ida. She just needs the perfect dessert to serve and she finds it while out for dinner at the legendary Clara’s Place. The “Best Blueberry Buckle in the World!” and the famous cookbook author Clara Foster has agreed to give a buckle baking lesson. Sam is thrilled especially when she learns the recipe’s secret ingredient.

Sam is shocked when she learns Clara has died when her house caught fire shortly after she left. She is even more appalled when the fire is blamed on Clara’s carelessness. Sam saw the way Clara worked in her well-designed kitchen. There is no way Clara caused that fire. Thankfully Sam’s doubts get the police to open an investigation but they are focused on her boyfriend Jason’s cousin who just happens to be the new owner of Clara’s Place as their prime suspect.

So while Sam is firming up plans for her clambake she needs to come up with the perfect recipe to find Clara’s killer. She knows her friends are going to help her even though Detective Vivian Peters may not like it.


I have to start with the setting for this series. Every time I open a Cape Cod Foodie Mystery I am excited to arrive at Aunt Ida’s, now Sam’s home with the spectacular views. Ida had added a little ell to the house when she could no longer keep up with the huge place. That ell is the perfect place for Sam and her dog Dioge (D-O-G) and Jason’s visiting cat as she and Jason work to renovate the big house as time and money allow. Ms. Pershing describes everything so well readers can take a literary vacay to the Cape.

She has also created a wonderful cast of characters. A group of long-time friends that come together so naturally for fun and sleuthing all while usually devouring something that made my mouth water. Their dialogues are fresh and true to life including the inner dialogues of Sam as she tries to solve the mystery. This time Jillian took the lead but everyone stepped up to do whatever they could to catch the killer. What I really enjoyed was that the tricky relationship between Sam and Detective Vivian Peters, Vivvie to her friends, is starting to blossom into a real friendship. Vivien took time to listen to Sam’s theories and her “evidence” no matter how crazy they were.  Again that big scene-stealer Dioge stole my heart. I do wish Jason hadn’t been out of town for most of the story but it added a little romantic drama to the story.

The author has blended a terrific mystery with the characters’ everyday lives that draws readers right into the story. She dishes up some well-placed twists and some nice red herrings that sure kept me guessing. My attention was glued to the pages as the killer was taken down and a favorite character was rescued. I was surprised by the way the capture played out but quickly realized it was a very satisfying way to wrap up the case. What happened after that was so nice.  When I turned the final page I had a great big smile on my face.

I am so glad one of the recipes included in the book is for the Darn Fine Blueberry Buckle. People of my generation may remember feeding their infants Gerber’s, Blueberry Buckle. I am not a blueberry fan but when my husband would feed the kids it was 1 spoonful for him then one spoonful for the child until the jar was empty. I think he is going to enjoy this adult version a lot.

Murder Is No Picnic was a grand read with characters I love to visit, delectable food, and a fun mystery to solve. This is a perfect book for the upcoming holiday when you need to escape the heat of the day or come up with a dish for your own family picnic.

I can’t wait for the next installment of this entertaining cozy culinary mystery series!

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

About Amy Pershing

Amy Pershing, who spent every summer of her childhood on Cape Cod, was an editor, a restaurant reviewer and a journalist before writing the Cape Cod Foodie mysteries, including A Side of Murder — which Elizabeth Gilbert called “the freshest, funniest mystery I have ever read” — and An Eggnog to Die For  — which Kirkus Reviews gave a starred review, saying, “A delightful sleuth, a complex mystery, and lovingly described cuisine: a winner for both foodies and mystery mavens.” The third book in the series, Murder Is No Picnic, also received a starred review from Kirkus, which wrote: “A clever, empathetic and totally believable heroine sets this fine cozy above the competition.”

Author Links

Website: AmyPershingAuthor.com

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Purchase Links

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Great Escapes Praise for Murder Is No Picnic (A Cape Cod Foodie Mystery)
by Amy Pershing

Murder Is No Picnic is a great addition to the Cape Cod Foodie series. I was entertained from page one with wonderful characters and a solid mystery. I can’t wait to continue this series and highly recommend it to cozy mystery fans—especially those who enjoy recipes and cooking tips thrown into the mix.
~Novels Alive

The author truly has some skill at describing the area allowing you to really feel like you are there. It sounds like a great place to be. Add in a murder and the story gets really good. Full of fun, intrigue, yummy food, and amazing characters we get a cozy mystery that will keep your attention to the very end. Makes for a great read. I really liked it so I give it 4/5 stars.
~Books A Plenty Book Reviews

TOUR PARTICIPANTS – Please visit all the stops. 
June 7 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT
June 8 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT
June 8 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – CHARACTER GUEST POST
June 9 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
June 9 – Novels Alive – REVIEW – SPOTLIGHT
June 10 – Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic – SPOTLIGHT
June 10 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW
June 11 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog – SPOTLIGHT
June 11 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT
June 12 – Lisa Ks Book Review – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
June 13 – Diane Reviews Books – GUEST POST
June 13 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
June 14 – The Mystery Section – GUEST POST
June 14 –  My Reading Journeys – REVIEW   
June 15 – Just Another Teen Reading Books – CHARACTER GUEST POST
June 15 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW
June 16 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW
June 16 – I Read What You Write – SPOTLIGHT
June 17 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
June 17 – Books to the Ceiling – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
June 18 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
June 19 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW
June 20 – My Journey Back – RECIPE POST  

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Posted in 2022 Reviews Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies Flashback Friday Giveaways Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge What An Animal Reading Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

#FlashbackFriday – Deadly Sweet Tooth (Vintage Sweets Mysteries) by Kaye George #Review / #Giveaway @lyricalpress

On Flashback Fridays I will share with you
the books I was not able to review
when they were first released that have been screaming at me
from my To-Be-Read bookshelf.


Deadly Sweet Tooth (Vintage Sweets Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Setting – Texas
Lyrical Underground (June 2, 2020)
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 180 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1516105443
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1516105441
Kindle ASIN ‏ : ‎ B07W8X9C3H

Vintage sweets, a deadly surprise, and a mischievous Maine Coon cat—Deadly Sweet Tooth is the delightful cozy mystery you’ve been waiting for!
 
In a darling tourist town like Fredericksburg, Texas, a vintage sweet shop offering delicious old-fashioned favorites is a perfect fit—until someone decides to debut a recipe that’s lusciously lethal…

With Tally’s Old Tyme Sweets finally—well, almost—turning a profit, Tally Holt is taking one busy Saturday off to host a grand party for her parents, traveling performers who spend most of their time on the road. Tally’s counting on the publicity and free treats to attract new customers. And the event is a sweet success—at least until Fran Abraham, the town’s foul-tempered theater director drops dead after a bitter confrontation with Tally’s mother.

Murder was definitely not on Tally’s menu, but it’s clear that Fran’s death wasn’t natural. The list of possible culprits includes not just Tally’s mom, but her protective dad too. Relying on Yolanda Bella, her best friend and the proprietor of Bella’s Baskets next door, for help, Tally will need to unwrap the sticky pasts and unsavory presents of everyone from her own parents to her new hires before Fran’s death sours everybody on her fledgling shop….

Recipe included! And this one promises not to kill…

Dollycas’s Thoughts

In the second installment of this series Tally Holt is throwing a party to welcome her parents home from their worldly travels for a short time. She has even put an invitation in the local paper so all their friends can stop by to see them. She also hopes to draw in some new customers to her vintage candy shop.

The guests of honor arrive along with a big crush of people. Tally sure is happy she hired extra help for the event. If the new hires work out she hopes to make them permanent employees, something she desperately needs.

A little later Tally’s mother isn’t feeling well so the party starts to wrap up but as the guests are leaving Fran Abraham keels over dead. She had been arguing with Tally’s mom about something just a few minutes before she died. To be safe her dad takes her mom to the hospital to be sure she doesn’t meet the same fate as the town’s cantankerous theater director.

The police put their main focus on the treats Tally served and who had access to them as they await the actual cause of Fran’s death. But if it was the candy, wouldn’t more people be sick or dead?

With Tally and her parents as prime suspects and the fate of her shop hanging in the balance Tally asks her best friend, Yolanda to help her find the real killer. But will their snooping put them right in the killer’s path? Things could get sticky in their quest to get the killer behind bars, and I am not talking chocolate ones!


After reading the first book in this series I felt I needed to know the main characters better to get invested in their lives and I was happy to see Tally’s parents in this story so we could more insight into Tally. Turned out Bob and Nancy had some pretty juicy secrets of their own and quite a backstory to tell. Tally learned a lot and so did I. I still want Tally to have more depth. We did get to know Yolanda a bit better. She and Tally do have a strong friendship. There is a lot of room for development for both characters. Again, Maine Coon Cat, Nigel stole my heart. I will say I was not a fan though of the point-of-view switching back and forth between the two BFFs. It really messed with the flow of the story.

Tally does hire three new employees. I am amazed she hadn’t hired someone sooner. One is a great hire, another is okay, and the third I would have shown the door within 5 minutes. Tally came across as a really wishy-washy boss and really put a lot of trust in someone she just met. I do worry about her business sense and the future of her shop. She just doesn’t come across as someone who ran another successful business prior to opening this shop in Fredricksburg.

It was very apparent that Tally’s actions had to be iffy to move the story in the intended direction of the author. Ms. George wrote a mystery that really wasn’t a mystery for the reader. The guilty party was evident to me immediately. I also didn’t like the fact that Tally really didn’t do much investigating. She was nosy and found out things she should have already known. To be a successful amateur sleuth her observation skills really need work. I found the ending frustrating as well because it was so abrupt. I thought there must have been pages missing from the book, but sadly that was not the case.

I did enjoy many parts of this story. I love the theme of a vintage candy shop. I love that Tally’s parents are world-traveling performers. I love Nigel the cat. That being said, Deadly Sweet Tooth is a light cozy mystery that needs a stronger protagonist. I also really wish the mystery was more complex. The author has given the series a nice foundation to build upon but I am on the fence about reading book three in the series, Into the Sweet Hereafter



Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

About the Author

Kaye George is a novelist and a short story writer whose story, HANDBASKETS, DRAWERS, AND A KILLER COLD, was nominated for a 2010 Agatha Best Short Story award. It can be found in the collection, A PATCHWORK OF STORIES, available on Amazon and Smashwords as an ebook, and Amazon and Createspace in trade paperback.  She is agented by Dawn Dowdle of Blue Ridge Literary Agency LLC.

The first mystery novel in the Imogene Duckworthy series, CHOKE, received a nomination for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel of 2011. It was followed by SMOKE and BROKE. EINE KLEINE MURDER, the first in the Cressa Carraway Musical Mysteries was published by Barking Rain Press in the spring of 2013. It was a Silver Falchion Finalist and was followed by REQUIEM IN RED. DEATH IN THE TIME OF ICE, the first in the People of the Wind Neanderthal Mysteries, is published by Untreed Reads. It received an Agatha nomination for Best Historical. The sequel is DEATH ON THE TREK. The Fat Cat cozy series, set in Minneapolis and featuring a pudgy but adorable cat named Quincy, achieved Barnes & Noble’s best-seller status with all three books. Her new Vintage Sweets cozy series is set in Fredericksburg, TX.

She reviews for “Suspense Magazine” and writes a column for “Mysterical-E Magazine.” Other articles occasionally appear in newsletters and online. Her short stories appear in several anthologies and around and about. She is a member of Sisters in Crime (including the Guppies Chapter and the Smoking Guns chapter), Short Mystery Fiction Society, Authors Guild of Tennessee, and Knoxville Writers Group.

She lives in Knoxville, TN.

Visit her webpage, KayeGeorge.com for more information.

Or catch her at TravelsWithKaye.blogspot.com, her solo blog.

She also joins other writers at http://makeminemystery.blogspot.com/ and https://writerswhokill.blogspot.com/.

 


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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Posted in 2022 Reviews Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies Finish The Series Challenge Flashback Friday Giveaways Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge TBR Pile Challenge What An Animal Reading Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

#FlashbackFriday featuring Here Comes the Fudge (A Candy-Coated Mystery) by Nancy Coco @KensingtonBooks @nancyjcoco

On Flashback Fridays I will share with you
the books I was not able to review
when they were first released that have been screaming at me
from my To-Be-Read bookshelf.

here comes the fudge
Here Comes the Fudge (A Candy-Coated Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
9th in Series
Setting – Mackinac Island, Michigan
Kensington Cozies (September 28, 2021)
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 272 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1496727606
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1496727602
Kindle ASIN ‏ : ‎ B08RWFKD68

Fudge shop owner Allie McMurphy never expected her maid of honor duties to include clearing the groom of murder . . .

THE BODY OF A CRIME

It’s late spring on picturesque Mackinac Island, Michigan.  Allie is prepping her Historic McMurphy Hotel and Fudge Shop for the start of the tourist season and her best friend Jenn’s wedding. But when Jenn’s fiancé Shane, a crime scene investigator on the island, misses a dinner date, the two friends go looking for him. Led by Allie’s bichonpoo Mal into an alley, they come upon Shane standing over a body with a bloody knife in his hand. Shane won’t say what’s happened, just tells them to call 911. As the CSI is taken into custody by his colleagues, including Allie’s beau Rex Manning, the fudge maker vows to prove her friend’s fiancé is not a killer—before the ceremony turns into a jailhouse wedding . . .

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Tourist season is just starting on Mackinac Island and the McMurphy Hotel and Fudge Shop is going to be very busy. Allie’s best friend Jenn is back in town and she has two weddings lined up with the guests filling the hotel. One of those weddings is her own and she has ticked off everything on her to-do list. The one thing not on her list was MURDER and having her fiancé Shane named the police’s prime suspect has really fudged up her plans. Everyone that knows Shane knows he would never kill anyone but he’s not talking and neither is Allie’s tentative boyfriend Rex. They want Jenn and Allie to leave the investigation to them but the entire town knows there is no way that is going to happen.


I was so happy to return to Mackinac Island. It really is an idyllic setting that I have always wanted to visit. For now, I have to settle for Ms. Coco’s delightful descriptions for a virtual vacation.

The characters in this series have really worked their way into my heart. Allie is happy all the renovations are complete and soon the outside will have a fresh coat of paint and guests will be filling all the rooms and tourists will be popping in to buy her fudge. She is also excited about Jenn’s wedding and wants to be sure everything is perfect for her. True best friends, they stick together through thick and thin. Their guys are being pretty shady in this installment but think they have a good reason. Newlyweds Frances and  Douglas, they are so cute together. They are truly rocks that Allie can always lean on. They really seem to be unflappable no matter the crisis.

With Jenn’s wedding taking place soon Shane’s family is staying off the island, but her family and Allie’s parents all check in to the McMurphy. I loved that Allie’s mom and dad came for the wedding. They are so supportive of everything Allie is doing with the hotel and fudge shop. Plus they were needed when the scheduled plans went awry. They too remained calm under pressure and allowed Allie the time to do a bit of sleuthing along with her maid of honor duties which are vast when the groom is accused of murder.

Ms. Coco has created such a genuine group of core characters for this series. Truthfully most of the people we meet have good hearts and are willing to help anyone in any way they can. It wouldn’t be a murder mystery without a bad apple or two but she hides them very well until all the clues are mixed together and fall into the right place.

The mystery she has penned in Here Comes the Fudge really tugs on the heartstrings because you want Jenn and Shane’s wedding to go off without a hitch. Allie does turn to a group she knows hears all the gossip on the island to try to get to the bottom of the crime. These ladies are a hoot but they are a fantastic source.  The author does an excellent job of twisting things up which means Allie needs more than the seniors can tell her to find the real killer. With plenty of misdirection, I had eliminated the true culprit and was surprised by the very exciting ending.

Romance in this story has an interesting twist too. Allie has a new admirer. . . yup and Rex is not happy.

I can’t forget the fudge recipes. I think I gained 5 pounds just reading them. Peanut Butter and Chocolate Fudge, oh, dear, so easy to make, I am in big trouble.

Here Comes the Fudge is a strong example of a perfect cozy mystery and a Perfect Escape. A strong family element, true friendships, and lovable pets, all brought together with a captivating mystery, plenty of humor, and a smidgen of romance.  I loved it!

The next book in this fun series, A Midsummer Night’s Fudge is being released on May 24. I will be reading and reviewing it soon!

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

About the Author

Nancy Coco is the byline chosen by popular author Nancy J. Parra for use exclusively with the Candy-Coated Mysteries series. With degrees in engineering, journalism, and a MA in Writing Popular Fiction, Nancy has published in cozy mystery, romantic suspense, and sweet western historical romances.

An Air Force veteran who rose to the rank of sergeant, Nancy is a member of an online group of female veterans who are authors—“Military Women Who Have Turned Sword to Pen.” The group’s website is www.romvets.com.

Nancy is also a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. She has given workshops on a number of writing topics and enjoys doing author panels at fan conferences such as Malice Domestic and Bouchercon. She lives in California with her dog—a bichonpoo affectionately known as Little Dog on Nancy’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.

WebsiteTwitterFacebook 

Coming May 24, 2022

Written as Nancy J. Parra

I am giving away 1 Kindle Copy sent from Amazon.

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something you like here and become a follower.

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Click Here For Entry Form

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Posted in 2022 Reviews Alphabet Soup A -Z Author Edition Challenge Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies Giveaways New Release Challenge Read The Printed Word Challenge What An Animal Reading Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

Devil’s Chew Toy: A Hayden & Friends Mystery by Rob Osler #Review / #Giveaway @crookedlanebks @RobOsler


Devil’s Chew Toy: A Novel
A Hayden & Friends Mystery
Contemporary Mystery/Humorous/LBBTQ+
1st in Series
Setting – Washigton State
Crooked Lane Books (February 8, 2022)
Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 320 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1643859439
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1643859439
Kindle ASIN ‏ : ‎ B094GP6P7M

Perfect for fans of Carl Hiaasen and Armistead Maupin, this light, LGBT mystery follows an unlucky in love—and life—teacher who unwittingly ends up the prime suspect in a disappearance.

Seattle teacher and part-time blogger Hayden McCall wakes sporting one hell of a shiner, with the police knocking at his door. It seems that his new crush, dancer Camilo Rodriguez, has gone missing and they suspect foul play. What happened the night before? And where is Camilo?

Determined to find answers, pint-sized, good-hearted Hayden seeks out two of Camilo’s friends—Hollister and Burley—both lesbians and both fiercely devoted to their friend. From them, Hayden learns that Camilo is a “Dreamer” whose parents had been deported years earlier, and whose sister, Daniela, is presumed to have returned to Venezuela with them. Convinced that the cops won’t take a brown boy’s disappearance seriously, the girls join Hayden’s hunt for Camilo.

The first clues turn up at Barkingham Palace, a pet store where Camilo had taken a part-time job. The store’s owner, Della Rupert, claims ignorance, but Hayden knows something is up. And then there’s Camilo’s ex-boyfriend, Ryan, who’s suddenly grown inexplicably wealthy. When Hayden and Hollister follow Ryan to a secure airport warehouse, they make a shocking connection between him and Della—and uncover the twisted scheme that’s made both of them rich.

The trail of clues leads them to the grounds of a magnificent estate on an island in Puget Sound, where they’ll finally learn the truth about Camilo’s disappearance—and the fate of his family.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

A night out for Seattle teacher and part-time blogger Hayden McCall nets him a black eye and a date with a hot dancer. The next morning Camilo, the dancer, is gone when Hayden wakes up. Soon the police are knocking on the door saying Camilo’s truck was found running and empty. Camilo is missing and foul play is suspected. So, unsure what to do and worried about Camilo, Hayden takes temporary custody of Camilo’s bull terrier, Commander, and tries to find out what happened to his new “friend”. He connects with Hollister and Burley, two of Camilo’s friends, who are shocked to find out he is missing. They dive into Camilo’s life but it seems even his best friends are not sure what he has been getting himself involved in. They know his ex-boyfriend Ryan knows more than he is saying but never imagined where their little investigation would lead or how much danger they getting themselves in. Can they find Camilo and live to tell the tale? Only time will tell.


Mr. Osler has created some unique characters for his “Quozy” mystery. Hayden is 5’4″ “rounding up” weighing in at 125 “again rounding up” freckled with “a shock of red-orange hair”. Camilo is about 5 feet tall and “superhot and genuinely nice” according to Hayden. Hollister is a tall, curvy, broad-shouldered African American woman, and sports a 6-inch mohawk. She has a take-charge attitude and knows how to use it. She also drives a Porche. Her girlfriend Mysti is a petite Korean American with perfectly applied make-up and long hair with Auburn highlights. According to Hayden “they went together like a tiara and sweatpants”. Burley fits her name, She is six and a half feet tall and weighs in at 300 pounds. She wears her hair in waist-length gray pigtails. Hayden also has a crazy neighbor that is always up in his business. A real eclectic group that all develop nicely throughout the book. They come across as genuine and true to life.

The quest to find Camilo was a bit absurd but so much fun to read. Hayden and Hollister get themselves into some bizarre situations. Some had me laughing out loud. Others had me fearing for their safety. Sometimes I had both experiences on the same page, even in one paragraph.

The author does weave some hot-topic themes, immigration, deportation, and bullying into the text in interesting ways. The underlying crime was totally unexpected and I am not sure how they were even able to pull off what they were doing but I was fully engaged to see them brought down.

The author has coined the term “Quozy Mystery” as a subgenre of mystery blending LGBTQ+ with cozy mystery and he has done that very well in Devil’s Chew Toy. I was captivated by his characters and the situations they were involved in. I love that Hayden shared his thoughts on his blog MATES ON DATES with good messages and a little humor. The chapter titles were clever too.

Mr. Osler has found the perfect balance between humor and mystery. This book was entertaining, over the top in places, and absolutely delightful from beginning to end. I am crazy about this diverse set of characters. When I started reading this book I thought it was a stand-alone novel. I am so happy to learn it is the 1st book in a series because these are characters I want to visit again and again. If you enjoy a mystery filled with humor Devil’s Chew Toy is the book for you!

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

About the Author

Rob Osler writes the Hayden & Friends contemporary mystery series featuring a rainbow of kick-ass characters. With Devil’s Chew Toy, Rob coined the term, “Quozy Mystery,” firmly establishing a new sub-sub-genre of mystery. Rob is proud to have created the literary love child of LGBTQ+ fiction and cozy mystery.

His short story “Analogue,” published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, won the 2022 ROBERT L. FISH MEMORIAL AWARD for best short story by a debut author as part of the Annual Edgar Awards presented by Mystery Writers of America.

Born and raised in Boise, Idaho, Rob attended college at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, where he graduated with a degree in Philosophy. Years later, he earned a master’s degree in business from the University of Washington. Rob was a copywriter and brand strategist before turning to fiction writing. After many years of living in Chicago, Seattle (the setting for the Hayden & Friends series), and San Francisco (where he still spends time), Rob resides in southern California with his long-time partner and a tall, gray cat.

WebsiteFacebookTwitter – 

I am giving away my review copy!

The contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US or Canadian mailing address.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.

Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
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Add this book to your WANT TO READ shelf on GoodReads
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Contest Will End April 7, 2022, at 11:59 PM CST
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and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Click Here For Entry Form

 Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Posted in 2022 Reviews Cozy Wednesday Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies Giveaways New Release Challenge Read The Printed Word Challenge What An Animal Reading Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

Cozy Wednesday featuring Death by the Finish Line (An Abby McCree Mystery) by Alexis Morgan #Review / #Giveaway @Alexis_Morgan @KensingtonBooks

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday! 

I am pleased to feature Death by the Finish Line by Alexis Morgan today!


Death by the Finish Line (An Abby McCree Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
5th in Series
Setting – Washington State
Kensington Cozies (December 28, 2021)
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 336 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1496731271
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1496731272
Kindle ASIN ‏ : ‎ B091M8HQ62

When a dead body turns up on a race route, Abby McCree hits the ground running to catch a killer . . .

Overcommitted Abby has once again been drafted to use her organizing superpowers—this time for a 5k charity run that’s part of the Founder’s Day Celebration in Snowberry Creek, Washington. At least she has help, albeit from an unlikely source: Gil Pratt, a member of her handsome tenant Tripp Blackston’s veterans group and co-owner of a motorcycle repair shop with his brother. Abby and Gil may seem like an odd couple, but they work great together.

The event seems to be running smoothly—until city council member James DiSalvo is found murdered in a ravine along the race route. Unfortunately, Gil’s brother Gary had a very public argument with DiSalvo minutes before the race, making him the prime suspect. Now the two race organizers must again team up to prove Gary’s innocence—before the real killer makes a run for it. But one wrong step and Abby may be the next one to come in dead last . . .

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Abby McCree’s special organizational skills have been called on again for an event in Snowberry Creek. The Founder’s Day Celebration will include a Salmon Scoot 5k charity run and Abby is happy to plan it as long as she gets help. She is surprised when Gil Pratt, co-owner of the local motorcycle repair shop volunteers. He is also a vet and a member of her hunky tenant Tripp Blackston’s veteran’s group. After a quick chat, they agree to work together and make a fine team.

The big day arrives and everything is in place for the run to be a huge success. They have plenty of volunteers along the route including a medical team in case of any injuries. The runners are soon off and running and crossing the finish line with Tripp as one of those coming in with the first group. Soon is it time to account for a few stragglers so Abby starts to make her way along the route. She comes across a couple of teenagers that tell her a man has fallen down a ravine just off the race path. By the time help arrives they find city councilman James DiSalvo dead and his death was no accident.

Shortly before the race, Gil’s brother Gary was seen having a very heated argument with the councilman so he immediately becomes the police’s main suspect.  Gil believes in his brother’s innocence so asks Abby to help him prove it. It’s a race to find the killer before they can run off and kill again.


I really enjoy the characters in this series. Abby is a wonderful protagonist who has settled nicely into the home she inherited from her aunt. She has made friends of all ages and is a trusted member of the community. She is developing a very comfortable relationship with her tenant Tripp Blackston. The handsome gentleman also has several admirers including one that loves delivering her “famous tuna casseroles” so the poor man will never go hungry. They both are in love with Abby’s mastiff Zeke, a big gentle giant that immediately stole my heart.

Ms. Morgan introduces us to a great new character in Gil Pratt. Abby wasn’t sure about him when they first met. In fact, he scared her a bit, but over the course of this story, they became good friends. His brother was a key suspect in this book but we didn’t really get to know too much about him. I hope both these characters appear in future books in this series. I do have a fear of an Abby, Tripp, Gil, romantic triangle and I am not sure how I feel about that when Abby and Tripp’s relationship is just starting to take off.

We also meet James DiSalvo and learn a lot about him after his death. He was an awful man and had plenty of enemies. Enemies equal suspects and he had a nice wide pool. The mystery really has that small-town twist. The police chief is friends with Gil and Gary and he really tried to give Gary the benefit of the doubt and didn’t just stop investigating when all the evidence was pointing right at him. The author really twisted the case up with plenty of red herrings to keep her readers guessing. I could say my guess was half right but it was not firmed up by any good theory until all the clues were spelled out for me. I had a lot of fun following along with Abby as she dished out baked goods and played a little pool while trying to root out a killer.

While this author can write one heck of a mystery it is the wonderful characters that bring me back for book after book in this series. They are believable and genuine. I love the veteran tie-in and all the good works Abby gets involved in. I would love to jump into the pages just so I could be her friend.

Death by the Finish Line is a winning addition to this series. I can’t wait to return to Snowberry Creek!

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

 

About the Author

Alexis Morgan is the USA Today bestselling author of over forty-five novels, novellas, and short stories that span a variety of genres: American West historicals (as Pat Pritchard); paranormal and fantasy romances; contemporary romances; and cozy mysteries. A RITA® Award-finalist, Alexis Morgan is a member of RWA and Sisters in Crime. She lives in Washington State and can be found online at AlexisMorgan.com.

Author Links –Website –  Facebook – Twitter –   Blog

You can read my review of Death by Committee here
and Death by Jack-o-Lantern here, Death by Auction here
and Death by Intermission here.


Thanks to the publisher I have 1 copy to give away!

I am giving away my review copy!
The contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US or Canadian mailing address.

Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.

Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Following My Facebook Fan Page.

Add this book to your WANT TO READ shelf on GoodReads
for 3 Bonus Entries.

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If you share the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive 5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End April 6, 2022, at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
The Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Click Here For Entry Form

 Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

                                  

Posted in 2022 Reviews Cozy Wednesday Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies E-Book Challenge Giveaways Great Escapes Book Tours Literary Escapes New Release Challenge What An Animal Reading Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

Cozy Wednesday featuring Hippie Wagon Homicide (Twister Sisters Mysteries) by Mildred Abbott #Review / #Giveaway – Great Escapes Book Tour


Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!

I am happy to share my thoughts today about Hippie Wagon Homicide (Twister Sisters Mysteries)
by Mildred Abbott!

About Hippie Wagon Homicide


Hippie Wagon Homicide (Twister Sisters Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – Small farming/tourist town in the Missouri Ozarks
Wings of Ink Publications, LLC (February 1, 2022)
Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 474 pages
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 979-8408091980
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 626 pages
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 979-8795278049
Digital Print length ‏ : ‎ 476 pages
ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09K4ZPZ93

Cordelia Davis lives with no regrets, despite her life-changing drastically a half-century ago when a tornado altered the destiny of the little Ozark town of Willow Lane. The town grew back stronger and more beautiful, and Cordelia, her sister, Pamela, and her best friend, Wanda, built a life to treasure.

As Willow Lane honors the memory of those lost and celebrates all that has been achieved, tragedy refuses to remain in the past. News of murder rocks the pastoral countryside when Cordelia discovers a body on her farm, beneath her beloved willow tree. And while the police make an immediate arrest, Cordelia finds herself untangling a web of lies and long-ago secrets.

With suspects in every nook of her cozy town—and an old flame knocking on her door—it will take all Cordelia’s tenacity to face the past and to weather the mysteries of Willow Lane.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Willow Lane has handled a lot of drama in its past. A tornado 50 years ago not only changed the town but its residents as well. They rebuilt the town and tried to leave the past in the past but now the mayor wants to celebrate and memorialize the event that took 22 lives. Cordelia Davis allows her wonderful farm to be the site to kick off the event.

The party seemed to have gone off without a hitch but the next morning Cordelia finds a dead body against her very special willow tree. The police quickly wrap up their case with an arrest but Cordelia feels they have made a huge mistake. She decides to investigate the murder herself and she opens up a huge can of worms that opens up new wounds and old before everything is revealed.


I was a little leary about reading a cozy mystery that was almost 500 pages long but I have wanted to read books by this author for quite a while and this new series was my opportunity.  After I started reading I quickly understood the length of the story. The author introduces a huge cast of characters, including 2 dogs and a goat named Breakfast. Every chapter brings a new face or two and the greatest thing is that each chapter starts with a picture of the character featured in the chapter. No imagination is necessary the characters are there in living color or black and white depending on which device or format you are reading.

Cordelia Davis is the main character and together with her sister Pamela and their friend Wanda, they are the TWISTER SISTERS. They cater events and deliver meals to the elderly and shut-ins of Willow Lane in their tricked-out Hippie Wagons. Each old Volkswagen van is personalized especially for its owner. Cordelia’s has flowers, Pamela’s has hearts, and Wanda’s has stars. Each woman is as unique as their van.

I think we meet almost every other resident of Willow Lane. Keeping all their connections and their histories straight was a little tough at first but I broke out my little notebook until I made my way further into the story. It is a diverse cast that comes alive within these pages. They are each unique, realistic, and well-developed for the first book in the series, hence the extra pages.

The mystery flowed at a slower pace than I am used to but that pace soon felt very comfortable amidst everything else taking place within these pages. There was the perfect balance between mystery and everyday life. The story is very well-plotted with some terrific twists. I loved the tie-in to the Wizard of Oz. I was also happy to see that the town really learned from its past when rebuilding. I wonder if more towns are doing the same thing.

Hippie Wagon Homicide was a great start for this series and a very entertaining read and I am looking forward to returning to Willow Lane again soon!

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

About Mildred Abbott

Preoccupied with everything found in cozy mysteries: Puppies, Books, Cozy Mountain Towns, and Baked Goods.  Although not obsessed with murder, however. At least not in real life (No contract killing here). But since childhood, starting with Nancy Drew, trying to figure out who-dun-it has played a formative role in everyday life.  Author of the Cozy Corgi series and the Twister Sister series.

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Coming May 15, 2022

Coming July 15, 2022

Also by Mildred Abbott

TOUR PARTICIPANTS – Please visit all the stops. 
March 1 – Brooke Blogs – GUEST POST
March 1 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
March 2 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT
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March 3 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW
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March 7 – I Read What You Write – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
March 8 – Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting – REVIEW
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March 9 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Posted in 2022 Reviews Cozy Wednesday Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies E-Book Challenge Giveaways Literary Escapes New Release Challenge What An Animal Reading Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

Cozy Wednesday featuring Live, Local, and Dead (A Vermont Radio Mystery) by Nikki Knight #Review / #Giveaway @NikkiKnightVT

Welcome to Cozy Wednesday! 

Today I am pleased to share my thought about Live, Local, and Dead by Nikki Knight!


Live, Local, and Dead (A Vermont Radio Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – Vermont
Crooked Lane Books (February 8, 2022)
Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 304 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1643859455
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1643859453
Kindle ASIN ‏ : ‎ B094GMSQ17

Death waits for snowman in Nikki Knight’s new Vermont-based cozy series, perfect for fans of Connie Archer and Mary Kennedy.

In a fit of anger, radio DJ Jaye Jordan blows a snowman’s head off with a Revolutionary War-style musket. But the corpse that tumbles out is all too human. Jaye thought life would be quieter when she left New York City and bought a tiny Vermont radio station. But now, Edwin Anger—the ranting and raving radio talk show host who Jaye recently fired—lies dead in the snow. And the Edwin Anger fans who protested his dismissal are sure she killed him.

To clear her name, Jaye must find the real killer, as if she doesn’t have her hands full running the radio station, DJing her all-request love song show, and shuttling tween daughter Ryan to and from school. It doesn’t make matters easier that the governor—Jaye’s old crush—arrived on the scene before the musket smoke cleared. Fortunately, Jaye has allies…if you count the flatulent moose that lives in the transmitter shack, and Neptune, the giant gray cat that lives at the station.

If Jaye can turn the tables on the devious killer, she and the governor may get to make some sweet, sweet music together. But if she can’t, she’ll be off the air…permanently.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Jaye Jordan has come home to take over the radio station where she got her start after a very tumultuous time. She and her husband have divorced following the survival of his cancer treatments. Their daughter Ryan spends the weekdays with Jaye and weekends with her dad, David.

Jaye has taken the station away from its talk format back to music and some of her listeners are not having it. In fact, they are staging a protest at the station. At the end of her rope, Jaye heads outside, grabs a Revolutionary style musket from one of the protesters, and turns and fires blowing the head off a 10-foot high snowman left over from the winter festival. As the rest of the snowman falls apart a body is discovered. Edwin Anger was a right-wing talk show host that had been fired by Jaye due to the new format and now people think she killed him and hid his body inside the snowman. She wants to clear her name but people convince her to leave the matter to the police.

As the police investigate someone turns up the dial and threatens Jaye and her daughter with everything from horrific graffiti to a pipe bomb. To bide her time Jaye spends more time rekindling a relationship with a man she had a huge crush on years ago. But the killer is not giving up and Jaye may find herself and her station down the tubes forever.


First, I am so thankful my cancer diagnosis and treatment did not destroy my marriage. My family was my rock. I was sad to see how easily Jaye and David’s marriage fell apart and how easily they just got on with their lives. I think this is the reason I had a hard time connecting with these characters. I wish we would have had more of a backstory with them because I hope there was more drama and feelings that led up to what to me would be a major event but came off as a minor one in this story, especially because she converted to Judaism for this man.

Next, the writing style/dialogues gave me some issues. Jaye just seemed all over the place. Her station is her focus along with her daughter. Then you throw in her budding relationship with the governor, and spending time with her friends next door and sometimes this all seems to happen within one page of the story. In a normal cozy mystery, finding a killer would be in the mix too but Jaye seems to have a real lackadaisical attitude about the murder even when trouble comes knocking right at her door.

What I did like about the book was the strong relationship Jaye and David have with their daughter. They come together each Friday evening for the ritual of Shabbat. They have moved to be far enough apart to have their own lives but close enough to be available to her for anything that comes up. And they have good honest conversations with her about anything she asks. Jaye and David have a great co-parenting system and they are going to need it as this series continues and the murder drama ensues.

I do wish Jaye would have had a more active part in the murder investigation and the mystery would have been harder to solve. A complex mystery is always hard in the first book of a series because it takes pages to introduce the characters and the setting leaving less room to develop a complicated plotline. Vermont is a fabulous place for a cozy mystery to take place. And we do meet some unique characters in this story including a wonderful wild moose with a sweet tooth but I feel the characters could have been more fleshed out in this book to start the series. It is clear the author knows the radio business and it has been an important part of her life but I need her protagonist to be a more well-rounded character with a more serious nature when called for.

I do love the radio station theme and Live, Local, and Dead has good bones. I think it just needs a little tweaking going forward with the series. Ms. Knight has the humor and small-town setting right for a cozy mystery series. I do think the romantic scenes played too big of a part in the story taking over where the mystery should have played the leading role. I hope to see more character development and a more complicated mystery with the main character more involved as the series continues. This story does have a political slant due to the victim and the governor being involved and that may be off-putting to some readers as would the explicit language used. All in all, I am holding out hope that the second book in the series will fall more into the cozy realm I am used to because I do want to give these characters another chance. I am rounding up to 4 stars.

 

 

About the Author 
Author. Anchor. Mom…not in that order.

Nikki Knight aka Kathleen Marple Kalb grew up in front of a microphone, and a keyboard.  She started her radio career as a teenage DJ at a small station in her hometown of Brookville, Pennsylvania, and despite a brief flirtation with advanced study in history before taking her B.A. at the University of Pittsburgh (her mother will never forgive her for turning down an assistantship at William and Mary), worked her way up through newsrooms in Pittsburgh, Vermont, and Connecticut, to New York. But she never wore her Phi Beta Kappa key again after her first day at KDKA, when she accidentally hung up on a U.S. Senator. Her broadcast career went significantly better after that, including a number of regional Edward R. Murrow awards in Vermont, and her current post as a weekend morning anchor at 1010 WINS, New York’s top all-news station.

At age sixteen, she wrote her first historical novel, which thankfully did not find a publisher, though a couple of editors did actually read it. Her Vermont story, “Bad Apples” was recently named an Honorable Mention in the 2021 Black Orchid Novella Award contest. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and son in a house owned by their cat.

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Written as Kathleen Marple Kalb

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

                                  

 

Posted in 2022 Reviews Alphabet Soup - A - Z Reading Challenge Alphabet Soup A -Z Author Edition Challenge Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies E-Book Challenge Flashback Friday Giveaways Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge TBR Pile Challenge What An Animal Reading Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

#FlashbackFriday – Pup Fiction (A Melanie Travis Mystery) by Laurien Berenson #Review / #Giveaway #KensingtonCozies @KensingtonBooks

On Flashback Fridays I will share with you
the books I was not able to review
when they were first released that have been screaming at me
from my To-Be-Read bookshelf.

pup fiction
Pup Fiction (A Melanie Travis Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
27th in Series
Setting – Connecticut
Kensington Cozies (June 29, 2021)
Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 304 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1496718380
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1496718389
Kindle ASIN ‏ : ‎ B08KKYX1W6

With a new litter of Standard Poodles on the way, it’s shaping up to be a vibrant July in Greenwich, Connecticut, for Melanie Travis. Too bad there’s a killer in town who would love to drain the life out of her summer . . .
 
While usually protective, Melanie feels comfortable sending her sons to the Graceland School’s summer camp for two reasons: The institution is well-regarded and proprietor Emily Grace is a trusted friend. But Emily has been acting strange since three rambunctious Dalmatian puppies suddenly appeared on her doorstep. The unusual arrival marks the first of several mysterious happenings at camp, each more intense than the last. Emily’s rough streak takes a frightening turn with a discovery in the nearby woods—the body of her estranged ex-husband.

As suspicions rush in, proving that Emily didn’t murder her biggest mistake will be about as easy as raising prize-winning show dogs. Realizing she’s the only one who can prove her friend’s innocence and keep the Graceland School from shutting down, Melanie dives into an investigation on the victim’s whereabouts leading up to his demise. With a few spotty clues and Aunt Peg’s growing curiosity about the Dalmatian pups’ origins, Melanie must name the culprit before good intentions come back to bite!

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Summer in Greenwich, Connecticut means summer camp at the Graceland School. This year Kevin will be a camper and Davey will be a counselor. Emily Grace, the owner of the school is a good friend of Melanie’s but she didn’t know her friend had been gifted 3 Dalmatian puppies. Puppies who somehow escaped from their outdoor enclosure and were running free. It is clear to Melanie that Emily doesn’t understand the training and care needed for the pups but Melanie is willing to help her learn.

As the first week of camp continues some strange things happen. Things that could have been quite dangerous. Then a neighbor makes a ghastly discovery in the woods near the school. A dead body that is quickly identified at Emily’s ex-husband. Could he have been responsible for the strange series of events? Of course, the police immediately cast Emily as the killer much to Melanie’s dismay. She knows she needs to help her friend and Aunt Peg feels she can help especially where the pups are concerned. They all just need to be careful not to become the killer’s next targets.


I love checking in with the Travis family. There is always a lot going on in their lives well before the dead body makes an appearance. I was so pleased to see that the poodle that Davey has been showing continues to do well and that his confidence has grown enough for him to stand up for his abilities to Aunt Peg and do it in a respectable way. I would expect no less from this young man that has grown up before our eyes. Melanie and Sam have done an excellent job raising their boys and the passel of loveable dogs in their care. Melanie has to juggle a lot as she tries to help Emily and Sam is a wonderful husband ready to pick up whatever slack that arises. The author has created a fantastic family unit. I always enjoy dropping by to see what they are up to.

Ms. Berenson has also penned an excellent mystery. Melanie’s life gets very entangled in her investigation even reaching into the dog show world. I loved all the twists and turns so much especially as we got closer to the big reveal. There were several viable suspects to work through. I had a little inkling toward the real guilty party but was still taken aback when everything was all spelled out.

Of course, again the settings were beautiful even though some were a little damp due to rain. The school grounds sounded idyllic and a great place for summer camp. It rained during a dog show and it was fun to see how much exhibitors went through to keep the dogs show-ready under those conditions. There was a funny moment when one dog wanted nothing to do with that rain at all. There were many other humorous passages as well.

One part that I love about every book in this series is Melanie’s relationship with her poodle Faith. She talks to her dog and Faith seems to understand. The dog’s feelings are portrayed so beautifully when she is left behind at home or when Melanie takes her along or on a walk. It sets each story in a delightfully believable way. Any true animal lover talks to their pets and is able to read their pet’s thoughts and wishes. The pure joy emitted by Faith when Melanie enters the house matches the joy all our dogs feel when they welcome us home. She is so lucky to be able to take Faith to so many places with her. She truly is a special pup.

Pup Fiction is a marvelous addition to this series. I just can’t get enough of Melanie and her family. I am now all caught up on the series and ready for Show Me the Bunny releasing later this month.

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent  

 

About This Author

Laurien Berenson is an Agatha and Macavity Nominee, winner of the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, and four-time winner of the Maxwell Award, presented by the Dog Writers Association of America. She and her husband live on a farm in Kentucky surrounded by dogs and horses.

Find out more about her and her books on her webpage here. Find her on Facebook here and on Twitter here.

I am giving away 1 Kindle copy!
The contest is open to anyone over 18 years old.
Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.

You do not have to be a follower to enter but I hope you will find
something you like here and become a follower.

Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
Plus 2 Bonus Entries For Following My Facebook Fan Page.

Add this book to your WANT TO READ shelf on GoodReads
for 3 Bonus Entries.

Follow Kensington Books on Twitter for 2 Bonus Entries!

Follow Kensington Publishing on Facebook for 2 Bonus Entries!

Pin this giveaway to Pinterest for 3 Bonus Entries.

If you share the giveaway on Twitter or Facebook or anywhere you will receive 5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.

Contest Will End February 4, 2022, at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
The Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.

Click Here For Entry Form

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”