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!

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 – 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!

REVIEW – Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan

{Available August 18, 2020} How far would you go to protect your child? Or someone else’s child? Little Disasters primarily follows Liz, a pediatrician, and her friend Jess, a stay at home mom of three. When Jess brings her youngest to the ER one night, Liz quickly suspects something sinister at play and takes action. As Jess’ life begins to unravel, we learn that everyone has their dark secrets to hide.

Phew. This book is pretty dark and disturbing. I’m not usually too bothered by books that feature child abuse (wow, that sounds bad. What I mean is that i’m not overly sensitive. Hopefully someone else gets it!) but this one just felt so REAL. Little Disasters is really a book about motherhood, which isn’t something that I have personal experience with. I’d assume that some mothers would really struggle to get through this one, but some might also be able to relate to some of the dark and terrifying thoughts that can occur in the minds of new mothers who are struggling to connect with their babies.

Although the synopsis might make you think this is a thriller, it’s really a domestic drama that examines the struggles and secrets of a handful of people and families. And it’s disturbing just how many adults fail in this book – fail to communicate, fail to care for children, fail to own up to their mistakes.

Little Disasters is an uncomfortable read but it’s good. I would just caution readers before picking this up – be prepared to be sad and angry and disturbed.

Content warning: child abuse/neglect, traumatic birth experience, PPD, OCD, alcoholism, infant death/SIDS

Thank you Atria Books for providing me with a NetGalley ARC of Little Disasters!

REVIEW – The Second Mother by Jenny Milchman

{Available August 18, 2020} Oof. This was a lot. And it was a lot of things that didn’t work for me. I went into this expecting something a bit more thrilling and a bit more heart-racing and it just didn’t deliver. This book is LONG. Given there are a lot of descriptions of the island, a lot of repetitive incidents and a lot of buildup for a plot twist that could have been introduced 200 pages sooner.

The writing isn’t bad – this book just suffers from trying to accomplish too much, and in the end accomplishes very little. I also felt that the ending of the book didn’t uphold the overall vibes of the beginning. For how long the book is, the end wraps up a little too fast and a little too neatly.

Thank you Books Forward PR for the NetGalley ARC!

REVIEW – Behind the Red Door by Megan Collins

{Available August 4, 2020} The opening of Behind the Red Door will grab you immediately (I believe I emitted a “holy sh*t” before I finished the first page). It’s dark. It covers some traumatizing topics, kidnapping being the least horrific, honestly.

Fern Douglas is a social worker with pretty intense anxiety (not the best mix…). Her past is a bit fuzzy, but we know she has a very strange relationship with her parents (i’ll get to that in a second). The story really kicks into gear when we learn that Astrid Sullivan, a woman who was kidnapped as a child but was returned after a brief period of time relatively unharmed, has gone missing again. Did the original kidnapper take Astrid again? Will she be returned this time? Does her disappearance have anything to do with her recently released memoir detailing her kidnapping 20 years ago? And why does Fern think she’s met Astrid?

We do get to read a few chapters of Astrid’s memoir throughout the course of the book, and we slowly learn what really happened to her.

Fern heads back to her hometown to help Ted (her dad, but she calls her parents by their first names) pack and move to Florida. Oh boy. Ted. Ted is an academic psychologist who can’t focus on anything beyond his Experiments (yes, with a capital “E”). We slowly learn that Fern’s parents were incredibly neglectful, and downright horrible people. Fern can’t see that she’s a victim of extreme parental abuse. Ted has often drawn the line between physical (what he considers “real”) abuse and other varieties – and they’re all so blind to it that it’s incredibly frustrating as a reader. But maybe it’s rooted deeply in reality. Victims of abuse often block or downplay their experiences because they refuse to see themselves as just that – victims.

Fern decides to investigate Astrid’s disappearance and uncovers some incredibly horrific truths. I had an idea of where this book was headed right from the jump, and I was (mostly) right, but the experience of uncovering the mystery of Astrid’s disappearance and Fern’s history was more than worth the read. I was SO ANGRY for parts of this book – it takes a great writer to elicit that kind of experience.

Content warning: abusive parent/child relationships (one with a religious undertone), abduction of a child.

Thank you Atria Books for the NetGalley ARC of Behind the Red Door!

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!

REVIEW – Well-Behaved Indian Women by Saumya Dave

{Available July 14, 2020} Well-Behaved Indian Women kicks off with two proposals set approximately 30 years apart. Nandini and Ranjit live in India and are ready to begin their arranged marriage and move to the United States. As we move forward to present-ish day, their daughter Simran becomes engaged to her long-time boyfriend, Kunal.

This is a delightful novel primarily focused on the relationship between mothers and daughters across generations – what’s different and, most importantly, what stays the same. Nandini, Simran and Mimi are complex female characters (yay!) each dealing with their own hopes and dreams (and problems). I found Simran to be incredibly relatable (her inner dialogue had me cracking up and nodding my head more often than not!) and I was in awe of Nandini’s strength and Mimi’s conviction.

Well-Behaved Indian Women provides a glimpse into Indian-American/Hindu culture, customs and family dynamics. The story is endearing and funny, but also touches on topics like racism, sexism and double standards (especially in the context of marriage and the workplace). The complexities of marriage are a central theme here – particularly the sacrifices that many women feel they need to make to contribute to a successful partnership.

Content warning: brief mention of miscarriage and sexual harassment.

Thank you Berkley for providing me with a NetGalley ARC of this title!