REVIEW – The Bakeshop at Pumpkin and Spice by Donna Kauffman, Kate Angell and Allyson Charles

What a lovely little fall book! This was right book, right time for me. I was looking for something cozy and lovely to read in the midst of horrific and thrilling October books, and this fit the bill.

The Bakeshop at Pumpkin and Spice includes three shorter stories: Sweet Magic, Love Spells Disaster and Sweet On You. These all tie in together in some way – they all take place during the same relative time span, leading up to the town’s annual Halloween parade. And in each story, we get to visit Bellaluna’s Bakeshop – a cozy spot in Moonlight, Maine, that has a reputation for helping people fall in love.

There’s a touch of magic at work here (magic cookies? Sign me up!) and, honestly, a bit more steam than I anticipated (this was a pleasant surprise). If you’re more interested in closed-door/fade-to-black romance reads, worry not – this is steamy but relatively tame.

Thank you Kensington Books and Goodreads for the giveaway win!

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!

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.

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!

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!