Brownies & Broomsticks by Bailey Cates


Just finished this one, I will start by saying I don’t read too many paranormal/magical cozies.  I prefer the plots to be heavier on the mystery and lighter on the magic/paranormal elements when I do read them.  I loved the Savannah setting.  I visited Savannah last summer and it is a lovely city, so I really did enjoy reading a book set in Savannah.

Mungo the Magnificent as a sidekick was cute and entertaining without being obnoxious.  The protagonist, Katie, is not aware of her powers or history at the beginning of the book.  She moves to Savannah to help her Aunt and Uncle start a bakery business.   Through her Aunt she learns more about her history and her powers.  There is an entire coven of witches waiting to bring Katie into the fold.

At an initial party hosted in the bakery, one of the city’s leading ladies is murdered.  Katie’s uncle is the suspect, so Katie takes it upon herself to attempt to clear his name.  Her investigation involves varied side kicks and sometimes magic.  There are also two competing romantic interests thrown in to the mix.

The red herrings are plentiful, but the resolution was lacking.  Information to solve the crime wasn’t revealed until the reveal. Overall, a cute, quick cozy, that will be good for readers who like paranormal/magical cozies.

Sprinkle with Murder by Jenn McKinlay


Fun first in a series.  Well written with a fun trio of main characters, Melanie, Angie and Tate.  Melanie and Angie are co-owners of  the Fairy Tale Cupcake Bakery.  Tate’s fiance is murdered and that puts both Tate and Melanie directly in the path of the investigation.  Melanie start investigating to save herself and Tate.  There are several probable suspects and Melanie does conduct her own investigation into the murder.

I did figure out the mystery far before the end, so perhaps a one of the clues was a little too obvious, but I still enjoyed reading it to the end.  The only other issue I had was the relationship between Angie’s brother Joe and Melanie.  It seemed to me unrealistic that Melanie was Angie’s best friend and yet had not had contact or interaction with Joe since she was in middle school and so had never gotten over her crush.   This romance was a pretty light element in the book though so this is not that big of a problem.

I will read more in this series and see where it goes.


Tressed to Kill by Lila Dare


Very cute first in a new series.  The southern setting is charming and the author doesn’t overdo it by interjecting too many cutesy southernisms.  The premise is that the protagonist, Grace,  has returned home from a life and marriage in Atlanta to the small town she grew up in and where her mother,Violetta, still lives.  She now works in her mother’s salon and is attempting to start over.

One of the town’s leading ladies is murdered after a public argument with Violetta, which makes Violetta the prime suspect.  There is the prerequisite hunky cop, Dillon, or Marshall as Grace refers to him in their bantering.  Hank, Grace’s ex, is also in town and they often run into each other adding to the drama.

The red herrings were well done and I didn’t solve the main mystery ahead of time which is always fun.  A well done mystery plot tying together multiple, mysteries past and present.

Some of the descriptions could have been a little less wordy but that was a very minor issue.  All in all, a fun quick cozy mystery read and good start to a new series.

Exile by Denise Mina

Just finished Denise Mina’s , Exile, book 2 in the Garnethill Trilogy.  I did enjoy book 1, Garnethill, however this book was much better!  Maureen’s character is in a self-destructive post-traumatic stress downward spiral fueled mainly by alcohol.  She is investigating a murder at the request of her friend Leslie, who is not much less of a mess.  A woman has been brutally tortured and murdered with her body dumped.  She was recently a resident at a battered woman’s shelter, so all fingers point toward the husband, Jimmy, who is the only surviving parent for their 4 small boys.  Only things are not what they seem and Maureen through her alcohol induced haze and her desire to maintain her friendship with Leslie seeks to prove that Jimmy didn’t kill his wife.

The characters are what makes this work stand out.  Denise Mina has crafted incredibly human characters with all the dirt and despair that one could stand to read.   Maureen is a walking train wreck, yet in this book she comes across as more intelligent, not just crafty in the way of many street survivors, but also analytical.  Jimmy is a portrait of despair and a born victim.  Even Winnie, in her own alcohol fueled rages, is a fully developed character.

Liam and Vik are some of the only positive characters in the book.  Liam has made great strides to pull himself out of his past.  Vik is strong enough to insist that he deserves to be treated right by Maureen.  There are still differences between these two:  Liam wants to save or protect Maureen, while Vik wants her to save herself.  After the ending of this book, I will be interested to see what happens here.

The mystery is well done  with great twists and turns and an ending that I did not see coming.  There is a great sense of place in this book, even though most of the places are nowhere the reader would want to be.

Great read!  I can’t wait to read the third one.

The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths

I should begin by saying that I have read all of the books so far in the Ruth Galloway series.  I truly love this series, it is one of my favorites.  I have been eagerly awaiting this, book 6, in the series.  And it was fine, but for some reason, just fine.

The characters of Ruth, Cathbad, and DI Harry Nelson are excellent as usual. The reader can see growth in these characters, within themselves and their relationships with each other and other characters.  The mystery still involves a background of archaeology, but certainly not to the extent of earlier books.  The plot is  a little overly crowded with characters and story lines.  It involves the discovery of an executed Victorian “child killer’s” body, a TV crew anxious for a high profile story, a child’d death and mother’s suicide, and  current child abductions.  Ruth is right in the middle of all of it, from discovering the body, to being involved in the TV program, and investigating the abductions.

This book, The Outcast Dead, was more about relationships, particularly the relationship between parent and child, Mother Hook and her “children”, Ruth, DI Nelson and Kate, Judy, Cathbad, and Michael, among others.  Children are involved in every plot line, in every conceivable way.  This seems to have occurred at the expense of the archaeological aspects, the mystery, and for me very importantly, the setting.  I missed that mood that the setting of these books usually evokes.  It was just not here in the this outing.

I will continue on with this series and see where it goes from here.  I am hoping the next book returns more to the feel and style of the early books.

As a side note, there are several references to early books, so I think this would be best read as part of the series, not a stand-alone.


As the Crow Flies by Damien Boyd & Uncommon Grounds by Sandra Balzo

crow  grounds

Sitting home with a leg in a cast has at least let me do some reading!  Both of these were this month’s selections from book clubs.

As the Crow Flies is the selection for the Kindle English Mystery Club on Goodreads for the month of April.  This is the first book in which we meet DI Dixon.  DI Dixon has relocated from a more prestigious posting to a small outpost, much to the dismay of his family and the confusion of his new colleagues.  DI Dixon is a former rock climber and rock climbing is the back drop for this thriller.

Dixon is called to investigate a death of a former rock climbing partner, Jake, by Jake’s parents. The opening scene of the book is actually Jake’s death in a tremendous fall.   The first few paragraphs worried me a little because of all the climbing jargon.  I wondered if I would be able to read it, but it was pretty easy to catch on to and the pace of the book swept me along.

The mystery takes a few twists and turns and several probable theories of the crime are put forth.  Dixon is an intelligent sleuth, who manages to be smarter than most of those around him but does not come across as arrogant about it.  As a reader, I can understand his family’s dismay at his apparently throwing away his shot at a more promising career for life in “the slow lane”.  On the way to solving the main mystery, Jake’s death, there are other cases that may or may not be connected and that Dixon tackles proving his worth as a sleuth.

Very fast paced mystery making for a quick read. It definitely kept me turning the pages.  My only critique is that the book is too short, I got to the end too quickly.  However, better a little  short than stuffed with unneeded filler.

Uncommon Grounds is the selection for the Cozy Mystery Corner Group on Goodreads.  This is the first in a cozy series based around a coffee shop.  Maggy Thompson, partner in a coffee shop venture to the murder victim Patricia Harper, takes her turn as a sleuth to solve Patricia’s death.

I read another coffee shop based mystery, Cleo Coyle’s Coffee House Mystery series and could not help making comparisons between the two. Unfortunately  Uncommon Grounds comes out the loser in this comparison. Maggy is no Clare Cosi.  In fact, Maggy seems to have entered into a business venture with someone she knows very little about or is just woefully uninformed and didn’t care to investigate.  Wouldn’t the fact that your new business partner was the member of some cult like church be of concern to the average person?

I will just leave it with this book didn’t work for me.

Cold Granite by Stuart MacBride

  Just finished Cold Granite from Stuart MacBride.  I picked it up on offer for my Kindle one month when another Stuart MacBride book, Birthdays for the Dead was the monthly read.

This is book one in the Logan McRae series.  DS McRae has just returned to work after a year off.  He gets swept up into a case(s) involving murdered and assaulted children.  He is just trying to find his footing again, with a new partner of sorts, WPC Watson (as an aside, he is attracted to her but this is not a romance).  This is a police procedural and thriller first and foremost.

Well written and staffed with characters who have depth to them, complex motivations and histories. The reader sees DS McRae’s doubts, his fears that he is not up to the job yet, his insecurity in working with a new DI, and his conflicted feelings about his ex, Isobel, the pathologist.  His ability to deal with all of this and then the gruesome details of the crimes and the criminals makes him a great protagonist. McRae is methodical, a thinking man’s sleuth.  He makes connections between the cases and sees where there are no connections.  It makes for very engaging reading.

There are more than the average number of twists and turns built into the mystery plot here.  Everytime you think you have it solved, another curveball comes out of the blue and McRae leads you charging off in a new direction.  In the end, all the plots are untangled and all the loose ends are tied.

This was my first outing with Stuart MacBride and I am so glad that I was introduced to his writing by the Kindle English Mystery Club.  I will certainly read more by this author!




The Calling by Inger Ash Wolfe


Not even sure why I checked out this one, maybe a Goodreads recommendation?? Anyway, I picked it up from the library.  This is a Canadian based series, similar to Louise Penny’s series that is so popular.

I really wanted to like this.  I had a lot of sympathy for the protagonist, a Detective Inspector with a chronic pain injury, recently divorced and dealing with some issues related to alcohol and to not being able to let of her ex.  Hazel is a well drawn character, however her actions and even attitudes don’t always make a whole lot of sense, especially when you think of her as a law enforcement professional.  Maybe it was all the drugs she takes for her pain?  There is a token gay character, who has a reveal scene that really adds nothing to the plot and seems just meaningless, like a box to be checked.

The whole law enforcement/procedural piece is very unflattering to Canadian law enforcement.  The serial killer piece is confusing, slowly paced and not entirely clear even at the resolution.  For a killer with an interesting, to say the least, method of “work”, it was just not that engaging.

I understand that this is work written by a literary writer under a pseudonym, but it just didn’t really work for me.

A Broth of Betrayal & A Question of Proof

I read these two in between packing for a move, shopping and having my daughter home from college.  A Broth of Betrayal is the second in A Soup Lover’s Mystery series. I am really enjoying this series.  The main character, Lucky, is charming and her grandfather, Jack, seems to have recovered nicely from his issues in the first book.  The mystery plot was very well done, combining murder(s), assault and a kidnapping of the town mayor and Lucky’s good friend, Elizabeth.  I really liked the plot in this outing of the series.  Definitely, a series I will be continuing to follow.

A Question of Proof by Nicholas Blake is the first book in the Nigel Strangeways series.  This involved a very proper British boys school with all the backstabbing and machinations that can evolve in these close knit communities.  A murder occurs and there is a multitude of suspects to consider, many who have good reasons for lying.  I found this a little slow to start and slow reading with all the period slang and references.  There was some humor and the sleuthing follows a logical approach to investigation.  I found the ending flat, almost anti-climatic with everything that had been exposed throughout the story.  I’m not sure that I will read any others in this series.  Perhaps fans of very period specific mysteries will enjoy it.



On the Slam by Honor Hartman & Mayhem at the Orient Express by Kylie Logan

I have read the two other series written by Dean James/Miranda James/Honor Hartman and enjoyed every book.  I have recommended them to my few cozy reading friends, they were so good. I finally got to this series under the name of Honor Hartman, A Bridge Club Mystery series.

On the Slam is another delightful cozy mystery.  I used to play Bridge years ago, along with several other card games, but I don’t know anyone who plays anymore. Reading this quick, fun cozy brought it all back for me.  I actually went on  Meetups to see if there were any local Bridge clubs I could join, alas there were none.  I will have to get my fix vicariously through this series.

The main character, Emma Diamond, is a widow, who recently moved into the neighborhood to be close to an old friend.  There is a neighborhood bridge club and at the first meeting that Emma  attends there is a murder.  Emma and her Bridge playing sidekicks, jump into the investigation.  The character of Emma is likeable and interesting.  She is still grieving her husband, but not in the woe is me self pitying way.  She seems to have too much self respect for that.

There are interesting suspects and twists and turns on the way to a neat resolution.  There are some hints of romance, not necessarily for Emma.  There are also typical neighborhood gossips, cats, and dogs to round out the story.

Highly recommended cozy.  I’m off to order the rest of the series.

Mayhem at the Orient Express, is a relatively new series from author Kylie Logan, who also writes the Button Box mysteries, which are quite good.  In this series, there is a team of sleuths, Bea Cartwright, Chandra Morrisey and Kate Wilder.  They are also neighbors and end up together due to the fact that they cannot get along and the local judge is fed up with it.

Sentenced to a book club and to reading Murder on the Orient Express, the women put aside their differences in the face of a real murder at their much loved local Chinese restaurant, The Orient Express. The story line runs many parallels to Christie’s work, which makes it a wonderful read for Christie fans.  The female leads are very different and there is someone for everyone to relate to.  Bea is the B & B owner with the mysterious past, Kate is the consummate business woman, and Chandra is the holistic healer, earth mother type.

I really enjoyed all the characters, the ties to Christie’s work and the mystery itself.  A fun, quick read for cozy mystery fans.  I am sure I will read more in this series.