Posted in 2021 Reviews Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies E-Book Challenge New Release Challenge Wisconsin Author Wisconsin Setting

Deadly Delights: A Bookish Baker Mystery by Laura Jensen Walker #Review (Includes Spoilers)


Deadly Delights: A Bookish Baker Mystery
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Setting – Wisconsin
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books (June 8, 2021)
Hardcover: 320 pages
ISBN-10: 1643855921
ISBN-13: 978-1643855929
Kindle ASIN: B08HYFYFC6

In Laura Jensen Walker’s second Bookish Baker mystery, Teddie St. John enters a pie-baking contest. But her chances of winning plummet when she’s suspected of killing one of the judges!

August in Lake Potawatomi, Wisconsin, always means one thing: the annual baking contest. Picture The Great British Baking Show, writ Midwestern. It’s a huge draw for the upper crust of Wisconsin pastry aficionados. And, of course, bon vivant baker-turned-mystery writer Teddie St. John has a pie in the ring. The white vinyl baking tent boasts an array of folding tables housing each entrant’s daily baked good. And at one of those tables sits the corpse of the head judge, his face half-buried in a delectable coconut cream pie.

The body in question belonged to notorious Les Morris. Les may have been getting on in years, but he hadn’t outgrown his well-earned reputation for lechery. Now, Les is no more. But unfortunately, by his side lies Teddie’s distinctive embossed rolling pin…covered with blood.

It’s out of the baking pan, into the oven.

Dollycas’s Thoughts – Note there are SPOILERS below.

It’s time for the annual baking contest in Lake Potawatomi, Wisconsin, and illustrious baker Teddie St. John is one of the contestants. Sadly Lester Morris is one of the judges. He’s a man who can’t keep his hands to himself and he preys on young woman and even pinched Teddy’s butt while judging her baked goods. She gets him back with a whack from her rolling pin but that doesn’t even slow him down. He just makes a crude comment and moves along.

Day 2 means it’s time for pies but it looks like Lester has gotten a head start on his judging with his face buried deep in a coconut cream pie when Teddy arrives. She quickly realizes something is amiss because as she moves closes she sees Lester, “the molester” is dead and her rolling pin appears to be the murder weapon. The man has more than a few enemies and Teddy knows she didn’t kill him, she just needs to find who did.


I have been excited to read this book since I turned the last page of Murder Most Sweet. I love Teddie St. John. She is a confident strong woman who is also a breast cancer survivor. She made a huge decision I am not sure I could have made. I admired her immediately. The characters the author surrounds her with were just icing on the cake.

I also enjoy that the story is set in my home state. The author loves the kringles Wisconsin named the official state pastry in 2013. They are a big thing in Racine near where the story is set. They weren’t a family tradition for me like they are for the author and Teddie but they are delicious and I would never walk away from a slice of apple or strawberry kringle.

So I was reading along, dead guy, Teddy’s long-distance relationship, twists, clues, turns, then SPOILER ALERT – there was a suicide, I paused, took a couple of deep breaths, and kept reading. Then SPOILER ALERT – there was another suicide and this time it was way too similar to the way my son took his life. It stopped me dead in my tracks. I closed my Kindle and had a good cry. After more than six years I still can’t read about a death like that. It was hard to move on.

I wasn’t sure I would be able to go back and finish the book but I had committed myself to review this book. So several days later I went back to the story and skipped ahead a bit and let’s just say there was another twist that changed some things from their original appearance. It was still hard to read but I pressed on and I am glad I did because there is a very special event that takes place on the final page. I loved it and it allowed me to close the book with a smile on my face.

Had I known about the subject matter of the book I would have passed on this book even though I loved the characters because I need to protect my heart and I apologize for the spoilers in my review but I needed to explain myself. I am not sure how to rate the book so I won’t here. A person without my history will love this book and while this book didn’t work for me I am looking forward to the next one which I think will be taking Teddy across the pond.

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

About the Author

Laura Jensen Walker has loved mysteries ever since she read Trixie Belden in the fourth grade in her Danish-founded hometown of Racine, Wisconsin–America’s kringle capital. A former journalist and the author of several novels and humorous non-fiction books, including Thanks for the Mammogram! Laura, like her main character, chose to go flat after her second mastectomy and is grateful to be a longtime breast cancer survivor. She lives in California with her Renaissance-man husband and their canine-daughter Mellie. (from Amazon)

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 2021 Reviews Alphabet Soup - A - Z Reading Challenge Alphabet Soup A -Z Author Edition Challenge Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies E-Book Challenge Literary Escapes New Release Challenge You Read How Many Books Challenge

Hope, Faith, and a Corpse: A Faith Chapel Mystery by Laura Jensen Walker #Review @LauraJensenWal1


Hope, Faith, and a Corpse: A Faith Chapel Mystery
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – California
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books (January 12, 2021)
Hardcover: 298 pages
ISBN-10: 1643855042
ISBN-13: 978-1643855042
Kindle ASIN: B0871KRPKG

In the tradition of M. C. Beaton, Hope Taylor, pastor of a small-town California church, tries to find out who sent a church elder to Heaven.

Hope Taylor arrives in Apple Springs to start her new life as the first female pastor of Faith Chapel Episcopal Church. The northern California town’s quaint cottages, bungalows, and shops promise a fresh start for the 42-year-old widow and Bogie, her scruffy black Labrador. But where is Father Christopher? The kindly old rector who hired Pastor Hope was supposed to meet her upon her arrival, but he’s nowhere to be seen. Hope’s faith springs eternal, so she explores the little white church hoping to find Father Christopher. But when she enters the columbarium, she instead finds church elder Stanley King–his skull crushed by a fallen burial urn.

Hope had made Stanley’s acquaintance before and had struggled to take a charitable view of his character. Stanley was as wicked as he was wealthy, as petty as he was pious. His soul may have been holy, but his behavior was wholly rotten. The last time Hope had seen him, he had shouted drunkenly that she would preach at Faith Chapel over his dead body.

Many of the townsfolk witnessed the altercation, so Hope finds herself as the prime suspect in Stanley’s murder. With Bogie’s four-footed assistance, Hope is determined to find the real killer and clear her name…even if it will require a bit of divine intervention.

Dollycas’s Thoughts

Oh my, Hope Taylor is a woman I would surely be friends with. We share our Wisconsin roots, we hear our mother’s voice in our heads – “a place for everything and everything in its place” all the time, our inner thoughts sometimes roll off our tongues and escape out our mouths, we both love old black and white movies and can quote lines perfectly if necessary. She even has a labrador named Bogie.

Hope in the new associate pastor at Faith Chapel Episcopal Church and her first day doesn’t get off to a good start. While trying to locate the lead pastor, Father Christopher, she finds church elder Stanley Kind instead. He just happens to be dead in the columbarium with a crushed skull and a bloody urn by his side. She had only met the man once and he was drunk and not very supportive. When two parishioners find her and the deceased that quickly jump to the conclusion that she killed the man. Being a murder suspect was not the fresh start she was hoping to have. Now she is going to have to prove herself to her new congregation and clear her name.


Laura Jensen Walker introduces some fantastic characters in this first Faith Chapel Mysteries. Not only do I love Hope but her sister-in-law Virginia too. She drops everything to come to Hope’s aid and she is a whole lot of fun. I also liked the technology-challenged Father Christopher. He reminded me of one of my former pastors.  There are several other characters that remind me of people in my life. Bogie also stole my heart immediately. All the characters are believable and some are very quirky. They were all very fleshed out for the first book in the series.

The life of a small-town church is accurately portrayed. While not a pastor, I worked for our small town church for several years in different capacities and everything from the fundraisers to the services rang true, as did the dealing with the variety of members’ attitudes and feelings.

The victim was truly a despicable man so there was no shortage of suspects. The more I learned about him I was surprised he lived as long as he did. Another mystery involves a skeleton found buried in Hope’s backyard. Both mysteries are well-plotted and interesting. I really enjoyed doing some armchair sleuthing of my own as Hope was trying to uncover all the facts she could. Several twists and a little legwork brought the real culprit to light. The author’s descriptive writing style made everything clear in my mind’s eye each and every step of the way. The final twist was quite a surprise.

Hope, Faith, and a Corpse was a heavenly read. I loved the way humor was woven liberally throughout the entire story. I truly didn’t want to reach the end. I am very excited about this series. I can’t wait for book two! I have hope and faith that this series is going to be a must-read for cozy lovers everywhere. A Perfect Escape!!

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent  

 

 

About the Author

Laura Jensen Walker has loved mysteries ever since she read Trixie Belden in the fourth grade in her Danish-founded hometown of Racine, Wisconsin–America’s kringle capital. A former journalist and the author of several novels and humorous non-fiction books, including Murder Most Sweet and Thanks for the Mammogram! Laura is grateful to be a longtime breast cancer survivor. She lives in California with her Renaissance-man husband and their canine-daughter Mellie. (from Amazon)
Author Links – WebsiteFacebook – TwitterInstagram –  Newsletter – 


Also by Laura Jensen Walker

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 2020 Reviews Craving For Cozies Cruisin Thru Cozies E-Book Challenge New Release Challenge Wisconsin Author Wisconsin Setting

Murder Most Sweet: A Bookish Baker Mystery by Laura Jensen Walker #Review


Murder Most Sweet: A Bookish Baker Mystery
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – Wisconsin
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books (September 8, 2020)
Hardcover: 289 pages
ISBN-10: 1643855026
ISBN-13: 978-1643855028
Kindle ASIN: B08272M182

In this series debut for fans of Jenn McKinlay, baker Teddie St. John spends her time away from the oven writing murder mysteries. But is she herself a murderer?

 

Everyone in Lake Potawatomi, Wisconsin, knows Teddie St. John. Tall, curly-haired Teddie is a superb baker, a bohemian bon vivant, and a mystery writer. Teddie is walking her American Eskimo dog, Gracie, when her four-legged friend finds Teddie’s missing silk scarf. Only problem: the scarf is tied tightly around the neck of a beautiful blond woman, the fiancée of a touring British author.

 

Before you can say “Wisconsin kringle,” Teddie becomes a murder suspect. Everyone in town knows all too well that the distinctive scarf was hers. But there are more layers to this case than there would have been on poor Kristi’s wedding cake. Tavish Bentley should be bereaved after his sweetheart’s strangling. Instead, the dashing Brit takes a shine to Teddie’s witty wisecracks and to-die-for cookies, and soon he’s mooning over her instead of mourning his bride. That is, when he’s not dodging the attentions of Annabelle, an obsessive fan who’s taken to stalking him.

 

And when a second murder shocks the community, the plot thickens to the consistency of fondant as Teddie stands accused of not one, but two, murders. With the help of her friends Sharon and Char, can Teddie clear her name and deliver a killer’s just desserts?

 

 

Dollycas’s Thoughts

I had planned to read and review this book closer to the release date but I was suffering from chemo side effects and preparing for surgery at that time. Now I have just a few radiation treatments left and am in a much better place to read this book that features a breast cancer survivor protagonist.

Teddie St. John loves to bake and she’s good at it. She also loves to write mysteries and she excels at that too.  A breast cancer survivor she has plotted her life around those two things, plus her friends, her mom, and her American Eskimo dog, Gracie.  She is excited to attend a book signing at her BFF Char’s bookstore. The author, Tavish Bentley, is a famous British suspense writer who ended up in Lake Potawatomi when his event in Milwaukee was canceled. Sadly just as the event is getting started Teddie suffers one of those dreaded side effects brought on by cancer treatments and ends up leaving the book signing early.

Later while out walking Gracie she makes a gruesome discovery. Behind her friend’s bookstore, she finds the famous author’s fiance dead with a significant clue that points directly at Teddie as the murderer.  Thankfully she is friends with the sheriff and he knows she didn’t kill anybody. The author does have a fan who is obsessed with him, and Teddie’s money is on her as the killer but then a second body is found and that really twists things up. Teddie enlists the help of her besties to help her find the real killer and serve them up on a silver platter.


I love Teddie St. John! It is always nice when you have something in common with the lead character in a cozy but this time it isn’t just a craft or an occupation, it is something neither would have chosen for ourselves. Surviving cancer is a battle and her road was much tougher than mine. I know the author drew from her own experiences and that makes the story even more special. Ms. Walker also surrounded Teddie with excellent friends, an overbearing mother, and a lovable pup. These characters all drew me in right away.

Setting the story in my home state, also the author’s, grabbed my attention too. The dialogue rang true, the descriptions of the people and places was like looking out my back door, and OMG the food/Kringles mentions brought me actual joy.

The mystery was top-notch, with actually two to solve. Teddie was an interesting sleuth to follow. If you are looking for quirky, somewhat creepy characters look no further than the people that land on Teddie’s suspect list. She takes some risks but none of the “too stupid to live” kind that some amateur sleuths do. I did hone in on a few things before she did but was very entertained by the way things played out.

The story had a great flow with one scene near the beginning of the book that had me laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes. There is also the start of a romance for Teddie. At first, I thought it was happening too quickly but who am I to judge. Teddie has been through a lot and deserves all the happiness she can get.

Murder Most Sweet is a terrific cozy mystery that has set this series off to a fine start. My appetite has been seriously whet, I can hardly wait for Deadly Delights that will be hitting shelves June 8, 2021.

Your Escape Into A Good Book Travel Agent

About the Author

Laura Jensen Walker has loved mysteries ever since she read Trixie Belden in the fourth grade in her Danish-founded hometown of Racine, Wisconsin–America’s kringle capital. A former journalist and the author of several novels and humorous non-fiction books, including Thanks for the Mammogram! Laura, like her main character, chose to go flat after her second mastectomy and is grateful to be a longtime breast cancer survivor. She lives in California with her Renaissance-man husband and their canine-daughter Mellie. (from Amazon)

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.”