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

Murder in an Irish Pub is an absolutely delightful cozy with a locked room murder mystery. Siobhan is a hilarious main character with an amazing family, Macdara sounds super dreamy and the other characters in this novel are interesting and fun.

I had so much fun trying to figure out how the heck the killer was able to lock a storage room from the inside, with no obvious way out. And my favorite part of the entire book? Butler’s Undertaker, Pub and Lounge. That’s my kind of humor – and I can’t wait to read the rest of the books in this series!

Thank you Kensington Books for sending me a copy of Murder in an Irish Pub!

COZY MYSTERY REVIEW – Three Widows and a Corpse by Debra Sennefelder

Food blogger Hope Early is settled back into her hometown of Jefferson, Connecticut, except for the fact that she keeps finding dead bodies…

When a local real estate developer is found dead during the annual scavenger hunt, Hope inserts herself into the investigation (despite the warnings of her sister…and boyfriend…and best friend…and everyone else in town). The best part? Three women claim to be married to the murder victim, and they all had the means, motive and opportunity to take him out.

I really liked the mystery in this one! It kept me guessing and although I had a hunch early on, Sennefelder did a good job of throwing me off the trail. I also loved the secondary characters and the town in general. This book hits all of the quintessential cozy mystery elements, and I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

Thank you Kensington Books for sending me a copy of Three Widows and a Corpse!

COZY MYSTERY REVIEW – Dough or Die by Winnie Archer

{Available August 25, 2020} Dough or Die was my first exposure to the Bread Shop Mystery series. Ivy Culpepper works at Yeast of Eden, a Mexican bakery in her beachy hometown of Santa Sofia.

Yeast of Eden has the opportunity to be on a new TV series showcasing bakeries across the country (think Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, but with pastries…) Except the on-air personalities don’t get along. At all. And when one crew member is hit by a car and another is found dead near the bakery, Ivy decides to help find out if the attempted murder and, uh, actual murder are connected.

This is a well thought out mystery – the clues are there, pointing to the culprit, but my dumb brain didn’t pick up on them until later in the book. As per usual in a cozy mystery, the bakery sounds lovely. Yeast of Eden owner Olaya is a great character, although I wish she would have been featured more prominently in this story.

{SLIGHTLY SPOILERY COMMENTS AHEAD}

I wasn’t sure how I felt about the use of a women’s shelter as a plot point here. It made sense (and made for a great mystery) but some of Ivy’s behavior had me cringing. She violates the privacy of some of the residents and seems to focus more on solving the crimes in the book rather than protecting the women who stay at the shelter. I wish the same conclusion could have been reached in a slightly different manner.

Thank you Kensington Books for sending me a NetGalley ARC of this book!

COZY MYSTERY REVIEW – 15 Minutes of Flame by Christin Brecher

{Available August 25, 2020} Someday i’ll get to visit Nantucket for real. For now, i’ll settle for “visiting” the island via Christin Brecher’s Nantucket Candle Maker Mystery Series!

15 Minutes of Flame is the third book in the series (and my second read – I still need to read the first book…). I was so excited to pick this up because it’s set near Halloween. You see, it’s been incredibly hot here in my state for a few weeks, and i’m aching for a cool fall breeze, pumpkin everything and spooky vibes. This fit the bill – complete with 150-year-old skeletons, ghosts (!?), a spooky old house and a murder to top it off.

There were some laugh out loud moments in this book (just get to the part where our heroine starts doing shots to get information from a suspect…) and the historical aspect of the story was a fun little touch.

Thank you Kensington Books for providing me with a NetGalley ARC of 15 Minutes of Flame!

COZY MYSTERY REVIEW – From Beer to Eternity by Sherry Harris

{Available July 28, 2020} What a great start to a new cozy series! Chloe is working at a beachside bar (that conveniently closes at 9 p.m. – that’s something I can get on board with) in the Florida Panhandle after moving down there from Chicago.

See, Chloe made a promise to her college best friend that she would help his grandmother Vivi if anything happened to him while he was deployed. After his tragic death overseas, Chloe intends to keep that promise.

I loved that Harris offers a realistic, not idealized, version of the panhandle. Her character descriptions felt spot-on for Florida tourists and natives. The Sea Glass Saloon is a little less western, and a lot more tiki hut and is typically a hangout for the locals. When Chloe finds the body of a bar regular behind a dumpster, she takes it upon herself to investigate. I have some theories about where the rest of the series could go, and i’m excited to see where Harris takes us next!

Thank you Kensington Books for the NetGalley ARC!

COZY MYSTERY REVIEW – Survival of the Fritters by Ginger Bolton

The Deputy Donut mysteries are quickly becoming one of my favorite cozy series! I read the third book in the series last summer and loved it. Our main character Emily runs a donut shop with her father-in-law. Their relationship is adorable and I am so sad that Deputy Donut isn’t a real place!

The mystery in this book is interesting and fun to solve – one of Emily’s regulars is found dead in her home, surrounded by donuts. Emily works with the victim’s friend to track down the murderer before anyone else can be harmed.

If you’re looking for a perfectly balanced cozy, I would recommend this series – the books are just funny enough and just mysterious enough to strike that balance between too dark and too light.

COZY MYSTERY REVIEW – Death by Auction by Alexis Morgan

This was a really enjoyable cozy that focuses almost primarily on the murder mystery at hand (the town takes a backseat in this one). When a dead body is found in the parking lot at a military fundraiser, Abby finds herself in the middle of yet another murder investigation.

The worst part? She ends up playing host to the prime suspect (who also happens to be her tenant’s ex-wife). This is a classic whodunit style story – with a fun cast of suspects and a “you’re the investigator!” feel.

Thank you Kensington Books for the NetGalley copy of this book!

COZY MYSTERY REVIEW – Hot Fudge Murder by Cynthia Baxter

Looking for a quick, mindless read? This fits the bill. Hot Fudge Murder is frothy fun – focusing a bit more on the ice cream shop than the actual murder mystery, these books don’t offer a lot of substance but they will leave you craving a scoop or two of your favorite flavor.

Other than the delectable descriptions of a wide variety of ice cream flavors, the real star in this series is the relationships between the characters. Kate’s relationship with her grandmother and niece is heartwarming and fun. There are definitely cozier mysteries out there and more mysterious cozies, but this is a great option for something to read while spending a lazy day at the pool or beach.

Thank you Kensington Books for sending me a copy of Hot Fudge Murder!

COZY MYSTERY REVIEW – Botched Butterscotch and Marshmallow Malice by Amanda Flower

I recently read two cozies from the same series – Botched Butterscotch (a novella) is Amish Candy Shop Mystery #4.5, and Marshmallow Malice is #5.

Botched Butterscotch is a novella tucked in the middle of a cozy mystery series – Bailey runs a candy shop with her grandmother. She donates some treats to a local fundraiser, but things quickly turn sour when the box of donated cash and checks is emptied.

This was such a sweet (I couldn’t help myself…) little story! My first experience with the Amish Candy Shop Mysteries certainly won’t be my last. This is pretty short – I read it in one sitting. It was nice to have a short glimpse into a series I haven’t read, and a lot of ground was covered in a short amount of time! I highly recommend this either for fans of the series, or for anyone interested in checking the series out (it’s a nice way to get a feel for the writing and the characters without dedicating time to an entire book).

Marshmallow Malice picks up right where Botched Butterscotch leaves off. Bailey is the maid of honor (and cake expert!) for her boyfriend’s mom’s wedding. There’s some drama at the ceremony when an uninvited guest crashes the wedding and tries to put a stop to things. When the wedding crasher ends up dead the next morning, Bailey works to solve the murder. This has just the right balance of fun and seriousness – I love learning about the Amish community and the writing feels purposeful throughout the entire story.

Thank you Kensington Books for the NetGalley ARCs!

COZY MYSTERY REVIEW – Proof of Murder by Lauren Elliott

Bookshop owner Addie finds herself helping appraise rare and old books for a local estate sale, in a rumored-to-be-haunted house. When a dead body turns up in a seemingly locked room, Addie has to clear her name and try to track down the killer.

This was such a fun read! Addie’s a great character and I loved how well the murder mystery was tied in with books and literature. There’s a little bit of a ghost element here too, which made it extra fun (and chilling at times!)

Feeling a little like Sherlock Holmes himself, I figured out who the culprit was a bit before the reveal – which, to me, can be the mark of a good mystery. The author gives enough clues that you might be able to solve the mystery along with the main character, but nothing was so obvious that I felt like it was a “no duh.” I had my suspicions, but I wasn’t totally sure until the end.

Thank you Kensington Books for the NetGalley ARC!