COZY MYSTERY REVIEW – The Malt in Our Stars by Sarah Fox

“Ever since moving to Shady Creek, I’d developed a habit of getting wrapped up in murder investigations.”

Oh, how I love this series! We meet back up with Sadie, owner of The Inkwell, who is getting ready to host one of her favorite authors for a book event. Shockingly (or not…) the author’s assistant ends up dead at Shady Creek Manor (a local inn with a storied past), and Sadie can’t help but get involved in trying to solve the murder.

Shady Creek is also welcoming a TV crew to town, who will be doing a feature on the local brewery (and including The Inkwell briefly as well!) AND they’re trying to get ready for their annual May Day festivities, which culminate in an elegant masquerade ball that’s set to take place at, you guessed it, the scene of the murder.

This book has it all – a hidden treasure that may or may not exist, precocious townspeople who can’t help but stick their nose in other people’s business, a dreamy love interest (swoon!) and, of course, drinks and food items that have bookish pun names.

Thank you Sarah Fox for sending me an ARC of this book!

COZY MYSTERY REVIEW – Meet Isabel Puddles by M.V. Byrne

Meet Isabel Puddles was a little bit of a bumpy ride, but I did end up enjoying it. Isabel is a very interesting and well-developed character – it’s hard not to love her. Isabel is a widow “of a certain age” who has her hand in pretty much every aspect of her small town in northern-ish Michigan.

This is definitely a cozy mystery, but it does read a bit more like a contemporary mystery – it’s a bit more in-depth and lacks that “cutesy” factor that’s so common in cozies (not a bad thing, just not a sugary sweet kind of novel).

There’s a lot of extra fluff in this book and Isabel will often go off on tangents talking about stories from decades past, or giving more background into the lives of minor characters. These tangents definitely give you a feel of small-town Michigan (if you aren’t already familiar with it) but they can be long-winded and tedious at times.

That all being said, I am definitely looking forward to the next book in the series, and I can’t wait to see what sort of trouble Isabel gets herself into!

Thank you Kensington Books for the ARC.

REVIEW – Do Not Disturb by Claire Douglas

It’s been a little while since I read a good whodunit kind of mystery/thriller, and this was a great way to get back into the genre! Do Not Disturb is set in the Welsh mountains and the guesthouse (and town) are equal parts charming and sinister.

Kirsty moves her family out of London after a traumatic event. They decide to start fresh by purchasing a guesthouse (in America we’d call this a “bed and breakfast”) and going into business with Kirsty’s somewhat overbearing (but well-meaning) mother.

When Kirsty’s estranged cousin Selena shows up, some interesting things start happening (dead flowers left at the doorstep? No thank you). Kirsty is skeptical of Serena’s arrival, and the cousins haven’t spoken in years ever since they had a falling out when they were 18.

I was basically suspicious of EVERYONE at some point or another in this book, which made for a fun reading experience. Do Not Disturb is a twisty, spooky read, ideal for thriller lovers looking to get something just a tad bit different.

Content warning: sexual abuse/rape, attempted suicide, child abuse

Thank you Harper Perennial for the ARC!

REVIEW – We Keep the Dead Close by Becky Cooper

We Keep the Dead Close is a very well-researched true crime book with an incredibly elaborate “plot.” Yes, Cooper discusses Jane Britton’s murder and the subsequent investigation, but she also covers the gender politics and discrimination that are rooted deep in Harvard’s history.

This held my interest for maybe the first third, and then slowed down a bit towards the middle. Cooper takes a few detours that are somewhat connected to Jane’s story, but feel somewhat meandering at times. You’ll definitely learn more about archaeology than you ever thought possible in a true crime book. This does have some shades of I’ll Be Gone in the Dark – in that Cooper reminded me of Michelle McNamara. Cooper’s obsession with Jane’s case mirrors that of McNamara’s when she was researching the GSK.

Overall, Cooper’s dedication to researching and telling Jane’s story is admirable, and I have to give her major props for the work it took to make this book happen.

Thank you Novel Suspects and Grand Central Publishing for the ARC!

REVIEW – They’re Gone by E.A. Barres

Deb and Cessy come from different backgrounds, different marriages and have different experiences. And yet when the unthinkable happens, it causes them to connect in an effort to save their lives.

They’re Gone focuses on two very different women who have one thing in common – both of their husbands were murdered on the same night. As you can probably imagine, these murders uncover long-buried secrets that lead to some very dangerous people.

Overall, this is a solid thriller. It’s twisty and exciting. The “big” twist is relatively easy to guess, but I found myself just wondering when and how the reveal would happen, which made it fun to read.

Thank you Books Forward PR for the digital ARC!

COZY MYSTERY REVIEW – Last Licks by Cynthia Baxter

Last Licks is the third entry in the Lickety Splits Ice Cream Shoppe Mystery series, and it’s my favorite so far! Each book in the series is better than the last.

Kate’s ice cream shop, Lickety Splits, sounds like the perfect place to stop for dessert (or a midday treat!) Cynthia Baxter strikes a great balance between gushing about delicious flavors of ice cream and having Kate work to solve the most recent murder in town.

This murder mystery caught me completely off guard! I thought I had it figured out, but Baxter threw in a really great twist. If you’re seeking a good, cozy Halloween murder mystery, make sure you add Last Licks to your list!

Thank you Kensington Books for the ARC.

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 – 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!