All Fudged Up by Nancy Coco & A Peach of a Murder by Livia J. Washburn

Woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep last night, so I read these two cozy mysteries.  All Fudged Up was definitely an impulse buy, I saw it in my local bookshop and just added it to the pile.  A Peach of a Murder is book one in a series that has been around a long time and I finally decided to give it a try.

All Fudged Up revolves around a young woman returning to her family owned resort to take over running it upon the death of her grandfather.  She was not unprepared because she had been planning for it for a while but her grandfather died suddenly and she had jump in feet first.  The setting is Mackinac Island and a grand old hotel and fudge shop.  As soon as she starts working to get ready for the tourist season, a dead body turns up in her hotel, putting her in the hot seat as far as local law enforcement and just the locals in general are concerned.

The character, Allie, has a lot to overcome and she handles it all admirably with the help of some loyal staff and a friend that comes to stay  and help.  I did enjoy the setting and the main characters.  The townsfolk need to be fleshed out more but I  am assuming that will occur as the series progresses.  The mystery was interesting with lots of twists and turns, it was wrapped up very quickly in the end.  There seems to be a couple possible romantic leads but nothing too much happened in this book.

This is a promising, fun series with an interesting setting and theme.

A Peach of Murder is book one in Livia J. Washburn’s A Fresh Baked Mystery Series, which now boasts nine books.  The protagonist, Phyllis, is perfecting her peach recipes for competition, when a murder occurs at the peach orchard.  Her son is a local cop and that gives her an in with inside information and leads that she wouldn’t know about otherwise.  Phyllis’s husband has died and she has turned the family home into a boarding house, mainly for retired teachers.   One is an older good friend of hers, Mattie, who is sadly showing the first signs of dementia.

The plus was the resolution of the mystery and the tie up of all the threads, exceptionally well done!   The hints were there, but subtly done.  The theme of baking/cooking contests was fun and entertaining, just seeing the petty rivalries that such events stir up.  The negative was I just didn’t find Phyllis all that exciting or likable.  She is the stereotypical school marm character and comes across as judgmental to me.  Myaybe being a teacher I am just sensitive to that portrayal of us?   I think if you like very, very  clean cozies that exemplify southern Christian values you will enjoy this more than I did.  It is well written and I said the mystery piece was handled very well.

 

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Sinister Sprinkles by Jessica Beck

  This is the third in the Donut Shop Mystery series by Tim Myers writing as Jessica Beck.  Even though I am not a fan of donuts, I do like this series.  The main character Suzanne, her sidekicks Grace and George and the relationship with her mom are all well written and engaging.  The mystery this time involves secrets, mistaken identity, elder fraud,I  internet fraud, and of course murder.  I especially thought the internet fraud was timely, there was  a tragic case in the news locally of an older woman who committed suicide after losing all of her money to internet fraud.

The town is a nice place to visit through Jessica Beck’s writing.  The locals are recurring features and over the course of the series I am sure we will get to know them better.  This is a Christmas book that I read in August so it was a fun change of pace for that reason, I loved all the snow descriptions when it is hot and humid here.  Overall, a well done cozy mystery series that I will continue reading.

 

 

Three Great Cozies…

freezer dial oma fatal slip

I had to take my mom to the hospital (she is fine now)  and ended up spending a lot of time there, so I read these three cozies.  All of them are books in series that I enjoy.

The first is Freezer I’ll Shoot from Victoria Hamilton, the third book in the A Vintage Kitchen Mystery series that I really enjoy.   In this book the mystery is  interesting.  The relationship between Jaymie and Daniel is developed, including their parents.  I’m impressed with the romance portion of this book (and the series).  In many cozies, the male characters are either exs, in which case they are no go rotten cheating bas***** or they are these idealized new men that swoop into the protagonists life.   Daniel is flawed and the relationship is flawed and you truly don’t know at this point whether they will end up together or even whether they should.  It is a very realistic touch.  The setting is intriguing to me because I have visited similar areas, border areas between the US and Canada.  The vintage theme is fun and interesting and has now expanded to a newspaper column as well.  Another fun, quick, good read in this series.

Dial Om for Murder is the second book in the  A Mantra for Murder series.  I just recently read the first in this series, Corpse Pose and ordered this one right afterwards.  The character, AJ, is a very sympathetic character. She is going through a lot including continuing issues with her ex-husband, who we met in the first book.  Her romance with Jake continues to be rocky.  The adversarial relationship with Lily continues in this book, as does her hot and cold relationship with her mother.  In most reviews I read, people love the character of Elysia, Jaymie’s mom, but I find her aggravating and I mean that as a good thing.  I get so caught up in the story that her mother drives me just as crazy as she drives Jaymie.  A good cozy mystery in a series that I will continue to read.

The final book was A Fatal Slip, book 3 in the A Sweet Nothings Lingerie Mystery series. In this book, there is a lot of focus on Arabella, as a former love returns to town at the same time as she is dealing with a health scare.  Emma is still the main sleuth and protagonist, although she enlists the help of Liz to investigate the murder, mainly to clear Arabella’s name.  Emma’s relationship with Brian continues to progress in a well-paced fashion.  I am wondering where the series is going theme-wise because Emma seems to be moving away from the Lingerie shop and into other enterprises. Some new characters have moved to the town and I wonder if they will be recurring, especially Joy, whose name is definitely not well-suited.  Cute cozy mystery!

Scandal in Skibbereen & A Spoonful of Murder

 

I was happy to get Scandal in Skibbereen by Sheila Connolly because I really enjoyed Buried in a Bog, book 1 in the County Cork series.  This second outing did not disappoint.  The mystery was full of twists and turns.  You get hints of what might be the answer but it doesn’t come all out until the reveal. The crime is connected to events in the past, a very Downton Abbey feel for that part of it.  This book,  like the first in the series, has a great sense of place.  I really enjoy books that develop the setting well.  Besides the theme, involving life as an Irish Pub owner, there are also elements of Irish history and Art history explored.  Really makes for an interesting read.

The sleuth, Maura, is also coming more into her own.  She has a personality that is more than just two dimensional.  You get to see her flaws, as well as what she is capable of achieving.  She comes across as intelligent, friendly and just a little cynical at times.  The recurring characters are developing and there were some new “tourist” characters in this book, just enough to give you a variety of suspects and informants.  In this book, there is the introduction of a romantic element, but I don’t want to say more and give anything away.

Great cozy mystery read.  Definitely looking forward to more in this series!

I picked up A Spoonful of Murder on a whim from my local indie bookshop.  I really knew nothing about the series or the author. I usually go in with a list that I am looking for but I didn’t that day.  I went home and checked the reviews on Goodreads and they were a mixed bag, but with some very critical ones.  I decided to give it a shot anyway, even though I have a great teetering tower of books on my nightstand and I’m afraid to even open my Kindle right now.  I am really glad that I did!

I really enjoyed this mystery.  A fun cozy with interesting characters.  I  liked the theme, a soup based restaurant, more of a soup and sandwich shop really.  The small town/touristy area setting worked well with the theme.  I did solve the mystery, but that was about two thirds of the way through and I still enjoyed the rest of the book.  The characters made the book for me; the protagonist, Lucky Jamieson, her grandfather, Jack, Sage, Remy, and Sophie are all engaging.  They pulled me in and I cared about the resolution.

This was an impulse buy that paid off.

Tempest in the Tea Leaves by Kari Lee Townsend.

Finished this tonight.  I was intrigued by the theme, fortune telling, as there are a couple fortune tellers who set up shop relatively near my home and I found the cover really pretty as well.   The mystery was fine.  An interesting intrigue involving  several red herrings.

My issue was that I absolutely could not relate to main character, Sunny.  She just seemed like a stereotypical spoiled rich girl and on top of that she acted very immaturely .  Put her together with a male lead, who didn’t act much more mature than her, and I just couldn’t connect.  The name calling and temper tantrums were just really unattractive.

Maybe I’m just too old to relate??

 

Simon Kirby-Jones Mysteries by Dean James

 

 

I just finished reading the wonderful Simon Kirby-Jones Mystery series by Dean James.  Mr. James is also writes under the pen names of Miranda James, Honor Hartman, and Jimmie Ruth Evans.

I first read Posted to Death which I found at my local library.  I loved the humorous, almost campy take on the cozy mystery series.  Unfortunately, my library didn’t carry the others in the series so I ordered the other three  and just recently received them.

Books 2,3 and 4 do not disappoint.  The character of Simon Kirby-Jones continues to be a wonderful mix of off beat humor, genuinely nice person, and sly sleuth.  The other characters develop nicely along the way, Sir Giles as his sidekick-assistant-love interest, Robin  as the police officer who respects Simon’s intelligence and help,  and Lady Prunella, village Grand Dame who becomes much more human and likable as the series progressed through the reader seeing her vulnerability behind her persona.

In these three books, Simon faces a variety of villains, a Renaissance/Medieval Faire and a classic locked room murder.  Each mystery was well crafted with twists and turns that Simon navigates with his usual cool self assurance, although we do see Simon’s feathers ruffled a little on the personal level.  Simon as a sleuth is logical and smart.  He is not one to run around throwing out accusations at random.  There are many nods to Agatha Christie and John Dickinson-Carr.  I don’t know if the author intends to end the series at Book 4, but it does offer a satisfying conclusion to an ongoing story line.

An excellent, humorous cozy mystery series written by a talented writer.  Definitely worth the read for cozy fans.  I have now read two series by Mr. James and will seek out the others.