COZY MYSTERY REVIEW – Halloween and Christmas Round Up!


A WAFFLE LOT OF MURDER by Lena Gregory
This was my first book in this series and it was a really fun read! Gia and her best friend Savannah are such fun characters to follow – they’re the perfect team when it comes to solving mysteries in Boggy Creek, Florida. Are they qualified to do so? Well…not exactly. But that’s half the fun! The gossipy townspeople are hilarious and delightful and it’s so fun to feel like a sleuth right alongside Gia and Savannah.

DEATH BY FRENCH ROAST by Alex Erickson
I am really enjoying the Bookstore Cafe Mystery series! Anytime I find a cozy mystery set in Ohio, i’m immediately interested. Krissy owns Death by Coffee, the only coffee shop (and bookstore) in the small town of Pine Hills. She’s still relatively new to town, but quickly learns of a decades-old cold case. When asked to look into it, she unwittingly stirs up some long-festering conflicts that result in a fresh murder.

This was a really interesting case to try to solve alongside Krissy, and (of course) I will always be on board with the idea of a bookstore cafe.

MURDER AT AN IRISH CHRISTMAS by Carlene O’Connor
As always, Carlene O’Connor delivers – Murder at an Irish Christmas is a great entry in the Irish Village Mystery series! I loved that this book included more interactions with Siobhan’s siblings and the cozy Christmas vibes (with a touch of murder) are perfect for the upcoming winter months.

I’d highly recommend this series to seasoned or new cozy mystery readers alike.

Thank you to Kensington Books for the NetGalley ARCs!

REVIEW – Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell

I was so excited to get a chance to read the new Lisa Jewell book early! I LOVED The Family Upstairs and had high hopes for this one. Did I love Invisible Girl quite as much? No. But it was still an enjoyable read, and I think a lot of Lisa Jewell fans are going to love it.

We follow Saffyre, a teenage girl with a complicated family history and a dark past; Cate, a mother of two and her husband Roan; and Owen, who is arguably the most interesting character in the book (and i’m sure parts of his story are going to be polarizing for readers!)

Saffyre goes missing and Owen is the last person who saw her. As you can imagine, all of these characters are interconnected in some way, and the answer to Saffyre’s disappearance isn’t as cut and dry as you may think. I’d recommend going into this book as blind as possible! I was really intrigued to find out what happened next, and the turns this book takes really caught me off guard.

That being said, I think it fell just a little flat. Maybe we didn’t get enough time with the characters. Or maybe some themes and ideas just weren’t as fleshed out as I would have liked. But if you’re a Lisa Jewell fan (or a thriller fan in general) you’ll probably want to pick this up!

Content warning: self harm, sexual assault, incel culture

Thank you Atria for the NetGalley ARC!

REVIEW – Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy

Before you read any further, this is important: go into this book as blind as possible! Reading the synopsis is okay, but i’d avoid any thorough reviews until you’re done. I’ll tell you my thoughts without giving anything away:

  1. This book surprised the heck out of me.
  2. I really enjoyed reading it!

That’s kind of it. It’s a solid, classic thriller/suspense novel and a quick, fun read.

Thank you Harper Books for the ARC (and finished copy) of Goodnight Beautiful!

COZY MYSTERY REVIEW – Murder in an Irish Cottage by Carlene O’Connor

Oh, I am really enjoying this series! Murder in an Irish Cottage picks up right where Murder in an Irish Pub left off (but you don’t necessarily need to read the series in order for things to make sense). When Siobhan’s fiance’s aunt is murdered in a tiny Irish village, the residents claim that fairies had something to do with it. Siobhan and Macdara know better…and slowly realize that the villagers each have their own secrets.

What I love about this series is that the mysteries are relatively elaborate and a lot of pieces need to come together before Siobhan (or the reader) can come close to finding a solution. O’Connor’s writing transports you right to Ireland, and I love spending time in the cozy villages and town she writes about (even if there might be a murderer on the loose…)

I’d highly recommend this series for seasoned and new cozy mystery readers alike!

Thank you Kensington Books for sending me a finished copy of this book.

REVIEW – Standalone by Paul Michael Anderson

“What you want and what existence needs are sometimes two different things.”

I had so much fun reading Standalone! I would recommend going into this one as blind as possible – there are some fun little Easter eggs here that will delight horror movie fans. There’s a LOT of plot and action packed into such a short little book, but it makes for a fun, quick read. This is definitely more sci-fi than it is horror (at least in my humble opinion) but there’s definitely some creepy, gory imagery that will shock and delight readers.

It’s worth noting: there’s a bonus story at the end of this book that expands on what the reader learns while reading Standalone. Don’t skip it!

COZY MYSTERY REVIEW – Holiday Round Up!

I recently read a variety of Christmas-themed cozies all releasing at the end of September. Other than fall and Halloween, I think Christmas cozies are my favorite! Nothing is better than a cozy, small town setting draped in fresh snow. Twinkling lights, hot cocoa and a good murder mystery are all I need to settle in for a night of reading.

GINGERDEAD MAN by Maya Corrigan
I had so much fun reading Gingerdead Man! Val and Granddad are delightful characters and their relationship is adorable. Granddad is such a hoot – he’s whipsmart, hilarious and a great sleuth. The mystery was very interesting and the stakes were high. Overall this cozy is well written and the premise of the series is super cute.

HOLLYBERRY HOMICIDE by Sharon Farrow
Hollyberry Homicide is the second book i’ve read in the Berry Basket Mystery series. I love “visiting” Oriole Point, an adorable village on the shores of Lake Michigan.

When an elderly man known for playing Jacob Marley in Oriole Point’s annual production of A Christmas Carol is found dead, our main character steps up to fill the role – and ends up investigating his death. Marlee is convinced he has been murdered, but no one else seems to be convinced. When a second body turns up in town, the town is on high alert to catch a killer (or maybe two!?)

I had so much fun reading this book – it’s cute and funny, and Farrow does a great job of building suspense and crafting an interesting mystery.

CANDY SLAIN MURDER by Maddie Day
This was the first full book i’ve ready in the Country Store Mystery series, and I enjoyed it! I love reading about Robbie’s restaurant/shop, Pans ‘N Pancakes. In these weird quarantine times, this book really made me miss going out to breakfast! Day really captures the bustling atmosphere of a local diner, complete with delicious daily specials.

When a house fire uncovers the skeleton of an unknown victim, the town of South Lick, Indiana, is thrown into full investigative mode. Do the remains belong to a local doctor’s long-missing wife? What happened to her?

Robbie tries to stay out of the investigation, but Pans ‘N Pancakes is South Lick’s gossip hub, and she gets sucked in (and maybe, just maybe, she actually wants to be involved…) Then, another suspicious death occurs that could be tied to the discovery of the skeleton.

Day includes a lot of suspects throughout this book and I changed my mind a handful of times before the final reveal.

THE CORPSE WHO KNEW TOO MUCH by Debra Sennefelder
The Corpse Who Knew Too Much is the fourth book in the Food Blogger Mysteries, and the second one i’ve read. Our main character, Hope, is a relatively successful food blogger. Hope begins teaching her first blogging class at the local library, but is quickly distracted by the arrival of her old friend, Devon. Devon hosts a true-crime podcast about missing persons cases, and she’s back in town for the 20th anniversary of her mother’s disappearance. Knowing Hope’s recent experience with investigating and solving murders in town, Devon enlists Hope’s help. But when Devon dies in a suspicious car accident, Hope starts to suspect something more sinister at play.

I really enjoyed reading this book and trying to solve the disappearance and suspected murder. However, this is a little darker for a cozy which could be a draw for some readers but a deterrent for others. I would add a content warning to this one for portrayal and discussion of suicide. This wasn’t a negative for me, but I think it’s worth noting for other readers.

Thank you Kensington Books for the NetGalley ARCs!

REVIEW – Dear Martin by Nic Stone

“Long story short, I tried to do a good deed and wound up on the ground in handcuffs.”

Dear Martin has been on my want-to-read list for a while, and I was finally compelled to pick it up when I decided to pre-order the sequel, Dear Justyce. I regret not reading this sooner, but i’m so glad I finally gave it a shot.

We meet Justyce, a high school senior navigating his way through the school year. Justyce attends a prestigious private school and has some pretty insanely wealthy friends and classmates, despite being from a “rougher” (see: poorer, blacker) part of town. I had a vague idea of what the plot of this book would be, but I was actually pretty wrong. An event at the very beginning of the book starts to shake what Justyce thought he knew about racism in this country, and what he perceives as the “right” vs “wrong or bad” kind of Black people.

“Yeah, I grew up in a rough area, but I know I’m a good dude, Martin. I thought if I made sure to be an upstanding member of society, I’d be exempt from the stuff THOSE black guys deal with, you know? Really hard to swallow that I was wrong.”

After the incident at the beginning of the book, Justyce starts studying the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and keeps a journal that’s comprised of letters written to Dr. King. We alternate between these letters and chapters that detail what’s going on at school and in Justyce’s life. Stone includes some incredible discussions that take place between Justyce, his classmates and one of their teachers – I think these are some of the most powerful parts of the book because they will likely remind readers of conversations they have had, things they have said or things they have heard other people say.

“Prosecutor actually referred to me as a ‘career criminal’ at the hearing. I think that was prolly the moment I gave up. Why try to do right if people will always look at me and assume wrong?”

We’re also introduced to Quan and get to know him a bit better, which sets us up for the next book. I’m really looking forward to reading more about Quan’s story.

I would love to press this book into the hands of every high schooler and educator in America (at least at first – honestly, everyone should read this book). There are so many layers to this book and so many complex concepts but Stone does a great job of making this book very accessible for readers of all ages.

CONSTANT READER REVIEW – The Stand by Stephen King

“When asked, “How do you write?” I invariably answer, “One word at a time,” and the answer is invariably dismissed. But that is all it is. It sounds too simple to be true, but consider the Great Wall of China, if you will: one stone at a time, man. That’s all. One stone at a time. But I’ve read you can see that motherfucker from space without a telescope.”*

You know what else you can probably see from space? The Stand. Coming in at a whopping 1,153 pages, this is one hulking brick of a book. But it’s SO good. And there are very few things I would remove. Pretty much everything here is purposeful and builds on the story. *So maybe this quote isn’t from the actual book. But it’s from the preface and I loved it so much I went back and read it a few times.

The Stand is split into three books. The general consensus is that Book I is by far the best, and I would have to agree. The most chilling and horrifying parts of the story are packed into the first third(ish).

“He felt his fear twisting and turning inside him beneath his poker face. Sometimes it was big and panicky, trampling everything: the elephant. Sometimes it was small and gnawing, ripping with sharp teeth: the rat. It was always with him.”

The most powerful parts in this book (at least for me) were the chapters in Book I that gave snippets of what was happening across the country during the Captain Trips outbreak. Some of King’s shortest writing is some of his best (stop laughing. Yes, I know this book is more than 1,000 pages. Yes, I know how this probably sounds). He’s able to pack a lot of horror into just a few words. King’s ability to observe and describe some of the most mundane aspects of life and turn them into nightmare fuel will always amaze me. Now, Books II and III definitely fall more on the fantasy/epic side rather than the horror side. There are some scary bits throughout, but if you can handle the horror in Book I, you can for sure make it through the rest of the book.

There are a LOT of characters in this book. Some of them get what they deserve (good or bad). Some don’t (…good or bad). You’ll likely love some and loathe others, but each one is memorable on their own. We meet most of them in Book I and get pretty fleshed out stories from each throughout Books II and III.

Unsurprisingly, Randall Flagg gets some of the best character descriptions i’ve read in King’s writing. Flagg is almost vampiric in his description. He moves at night, he rests during the day. He’s “a tall man of no age” with “no soul but a sense of humor.” I won’t spoil anything beyond that, but Flagg is…interesting. And Constant Readers will know he’s featured in some of King’s other works.

“Love didn’t grow very well in a place where there was only fear, just as plants didn’t grow very well in a place where it was always dark.”

Maybe reading arguably the most well-known book about a global pandemic during an actual global pandemic wasn’t a good idea. But there are a lot of things here that someone pre-2020 could not have appreciated. For better or worse, my experiences this year made The Stand seem that much more real and that much more relatable. I understand there’s been a surge in sales for this title, and that makes total sense. We strive to understand what scares us. And honestly, we’ve been home for six months now, snuggled up safe and sound with our Internet and electricity fully operational. Reading The Stand might make you realize that you really don’t have it so bad, after all.

And lastly, KOJAK IS A GOOD BOY.

REVIEW – Beach Read by Emily Henry

“When the world felt dark and scary, love could whisk you off to go dancing; laughter could take some of the pain away; beauty could punch holes in your fear.”

Beach Read is a much heavier rom-com than you’re probably expecting. After the death of her father reveals some uncomfortable secrets, January heads to the shores of Lake Michigan to stay at her father’s second home and work on writing her latest novel. When she encounters her “rival” Augustus Everett, their feud quickly blooms into friendship (and more).

There’s so much to love about Beach Read. The interactions between January and Gus feel realistic. Their relationship progresses at a steady pace – not so fast that it feels insta-lovey, but quick enough to keep the plot moving. There’s a lot of sadness in this book, and it’s dealt with in an authentic way.

There are also some delightfully funny bits! I loved Pete and her book club. I loved the early donut “non-date.” Ultimately, Beach Read is cute but not TOO cute, you know?

Content warning: breast cancer, death of a parent, infidelity, brief mentions of abuse.

REVIEW – The Eighth Detective by Alex Pavesi

“I don’t approve in happy endings in crime stories. Death should be shown as a tragedy, never anything else.”

The Eighth Detective is a unique murder mystery in which we are given seven “fictional” murder mysteries laced throughout a “real life” narrative. Editor Julia Hart is working with Grant McAllister, writer and mathematician, on republishing his book. You see, Grant wrote a series of murder mysteries using mathematical principles.

As Julia reads the stories, she starts to pick up on inconsistencies. And those inconsistencies slowly turn into clues that point to something far more sinister.

The murder mysteries are mostly interesting, if a bit too long at times. There was one in particular that I really enjoyed, but I thought the conclusion Julia comes to seemed like she was missing a main point of that particular story.

The writing can be a bit clunky at times throughout this book, and the overarching story is difficult to figure out before all of Grant and Julia’s secrets are revealed. But what it lacks in execution, it makes up in premise and it’s a relatively quick read.