COZY MYSTERY REVIEW – A Matter of Hive and Death by Nancy Coco

A Matter of Hive and Death is the second book in the Oregon Honeycomb Mystery series, and I liked it even more than the first! Wren is a great main character and her Aunt Eloise, best friend Porsche and charismatic kitty Everett are absolutely delightful. (And, of course the tall, blue-eyed Officer Jim Hampton…)

The mystery in A Matter of Hive and Death was fantastically written and really fun to solve, with a lot of twists and turns that kept me guessing.

Thank you Kensington Books for the ARC!

REVIEW – The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

Okay, I officially want to dive into Kate Quinn’s backlist. The Rose Code was an incredibly immersive, emotional, charming piece of historical fiction. Focusing on the codebreakers of Bletchley Park, The Rose Code features three main characters – Osla, Mab and Beth – who have incredibly different personalities but become fast friends.

Throughout the course of the war, we follow the three women as they endure long shifts, battle sexist attitudes, fall in (and out) of love, and experience unimaginable loss.

The book bounces between two timelines – WWII (beginning in 1940 and moving along at an even pace) and post-war 1947, mere days before the wedding of Princess (now Queen!) Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

Quinn is an incredible storyteller – I felt like I was transported into 1940s England, sitting in the room watching these amazing women work on breaking codes that ultimately could save the lives of hundreds (or thousands). The way Quinn weaves together fiction with real-life “characters” and events is remarkable, and you can tell she has done her research. The Rose Code will entertain you but it will also educate you.

Thank you to Bibliolifestyle and William Morrow for the finished copy!

COZY MYSTERY REVIEW – Death by Chocolate Snickerdoodle by Sarah Graves

Best friends Jake and Ellie, owners of the Chocolate Moose, are wrapping up their busy summer season. In an effort to prepare for the winter and make some extra money, Ellie takes on a big catering order. At the same time, they’ve decided to enter Eastport’s annual cookie baking contest. When the local curmudgeon ends up dead, Jake and Ellie take it upon themselves to investigate (they have a reputation for doing so…)

This is the second book i’ve read in this series, and it definitely won’t be the last. There are so many laugh-out-loud moments – Jake is an absolute HOOT. Ellie is a bit more levelheaded and the “brains” of the pair, but their friendship is adorable and their proclivity for snooping where they shouldn’t is always entertaining.

Thank you Kensington Books for the ARC!

REVIEW – Win by Harlan Coben

Win was easily one of my most anticipated reads of the year. I’ve only read a handful of Harlan Coben’s books so far, but he quickly became one of my favorite writers.

If you’ve read any of his Myron Bolitar series, you know (and probably love) Win. I was excited for the opportunity to read a book that had Win at its center, and this didn’t disappoint. For those who don’t know, Windsor Horne Lockwood III, better known as just Win, is rich. No, not like…rich like someone you know in real life. Not rich like a celebrity. But RICH. Seriously, disgustingly, unimaginably so. He’s also handsome, cunning, manipulative and…lethal. Win is a little bit like Bruce Wayne, minus the bat costume.

Win’s suitcase and a priceless family painting (lost some 20 years ago) are found in the home of a recluse who has been murdered. Win has no idea how it got there but he has an inkling that it might be related to the kidnapping (and eventual escape) of his cousin Patricia.

As always, Coben manages to write a twisty, fun thriller that keeps readers on their toes. I’d recommend giving one or two of my Myron Bolitar books a try first, so you’re already acquainted with Win before reading his story.

Thank you Novel Suspects for the ARC!

COZY MYSTERY REVIEW – Murder in G Major by Alexia Gordon

“Murder’s messy. Attracts attention. Not the good kind. The kind that shines light into corners best left dark.”

In Murder in G Major we meet Gethsemane Brown, an accomplished classical musician who abandoned her life in the states for a job in Ireland. Unfortunately, that job has been pulled out from under her, and she finds herself stranded with no luggage and no money (and her ticket to Ireland was one way…)

“Definitely a ghost. Hallucinations would’ve had better manners.”

Luckily, she’s offered a stay at a cottage in a tiny village in the Irish countryside, and soon finds herself teaching at St. Brennan’s School for Boys. The orchestra has a big competition coming up and…they need help. A LOT of help. In the midst of all of these life changes, Gethsemane also comes to realize the cottage is inhabited by the ghost of a suspect in a long-ago murder-suicide case. He claims he’s innocent and wants Gethsemane’s help in clearing his name.

Murder in G Major is cleverly written, with a healthy dash of humor and a good amount of tense moments. Gethsemane is an incredibly likable character, and her interactions with the ghost in the book were some of my favorite passages to read. I’m definitely interested in continuing on with this series!

COZY MYSTERY REVIEW – A Game of Cones by Abby Collette

After A Deadly Inside Scoop was one of my favorite cozy mysteries of 2020 (trust me, I read a lot of cozies!) I was so excited to be back in Chagrin Falls with Win and her family. A Game of Cones did NOT disappoint. When a developer comes to town with news of a potential mall being built, someone in the community takes quick action and the developer ends up dead that night.

One of Win’s friends (visiting from NYC) stumbles across the body and becomes suspect number one. Even though she tries to keep her distance, Win can’t help but get tangled up in the murder investigation and comes face to face with a cold-blooded killer. And we still get the family dynamic and charming ice cream shop setting that we grew to love in book one.

Any cozy mystery set in Ohio is automatically of interest to me, and I can’t wait to see what book three has in store!

Thank you Berkley for the NetGalley ARC!

REVIEW – The Duke Heist by Erica Ridley

Let’s cut to the chase – i’m already excited for book two of this series! I’m a new romance reader and I never thought historical romance would be a genre that I enjoyed, but here we are. If you watched or read Bridgerton and found yourself looking for something to fill the gap before season two, this is the book you need in your life.

We’re introduced to the Wild Wynchesters – a ragtag group of former orphans who were taken in by a kind, wealthy man with no family of his own. Each sibling has a particular skill or ability, and as a group, they’re unstoppable (and whip-smart, and hilarious and endearing…I could go on).

The Duke Heist focuses primarily on Chloe, who is really fantastic at…being forgettable. Truly. She’s been introduced to the same people multiple times, without a hint of recognition on their part. She blends seamlessly into “polite” society and uses this ability to try to steal back a painting that was wrongfully taken from her family months prior.

When Chloe accidentally abducts (seriously!) the Duke of Faircliffe, it throws a wrench in her plans…and in his.

Thank you Forever Publishing for sending me a copy of this book!

REVIEW – Dear Justyce by Nic Stone

“And that’s what it comes down to. We find the families we were desperate for and learn different ways of going about things. Ways that sometimes land us in places/positions we don’t really wanna be in.”

Dear Justyce is the follow-up to Dear Martin and WOW does it pack a punch. I read Dear Justyce in pretty much one sitting – Stone’s writing is compelling and accessible and she makes some stylistic choices throughout that really push the story along and keep you wanting (needing) to know what’s going to happen next.

Quan (who we met in Dear Martin) is an incarcerated teen awaiting trial for the shooting death of a police officer. Quan is smart and caring and…misguided. He faced some tough times as a child and eventually fell in with a group who gave him the care and love he was missing, but not without consequences.

This book really examines what leads Quan (and kids like him) into making some not-so-great choices, and how they can still move forward into a positive future. If you’re not familiar with the school to prison pipeline, i’d recommend doing a little bit of research before diving in to this book. Stone also addresses some of the events in the book in a note at the end, and that’s very much worth reading (especially if these topics are new to you).

REVIEW – The Babysitter: My Summers with a Serial Killer by Liza Rodman and Jennifer Jordan

Attention true crime fans: you’re going to want to pick this one up. I hadn’t heard of Tony Costa (the Cape Cod Vampire) before, but WOW was he a piece of work.

Costa was active in the mid to late 1960s and, honestly, got away with a lot of his crimes due to the time period but also some really inadequate law enforcement procedures and protocols. There were moments in this book where I wanted to scream about the missed connections and lack of shared information between departments. Lives might have been saved, but isn’t that the case with a lot of serial killers?

The Babysitter is part true crime book and part memoir – Liza Rodman grew up in Provincetown and Tony Costa was her “babysitter” at times (our idea of a babysitter now is not really what Tony was back then. He would take Liza and her sister on errands with him to get them out of their mom’s hair while she worked or went out on the town with her friends). Liza’s sections alone could have been their own book – she was a child who didn’t really stand a chance with her own mother. Liza’s mother was neglectful and mean and hurtful and irresponsible. Definitely proceed with caution if child abuse (mostly neglect and verbal abuse) is a touchy topic for you.

The book moves at a relatively slow pace but it stands up against the heavy hitters in true crime literature like In Cold Blood, Helter Skelter, The Stranger Beside Me, etc. Tony Costa might not be as well known as Ted Bundy, but he was just as horrible (and probably would have been much worse if they hadn’t caught him in time).

Thank you Atria Books for the ARC!

COZY MYSTERY REVIEW – Fatal Fried Rice by Vivien Chien

I recommend the Noodle Shop Mystery series to pretty much anyone looking to start reading cozy mysteries. The funny part? Fatal Fried Rice is only the second book i’ve read in this series (I know, I KNOW! I’m working on it!)

Vivien Chien writes such delightful, fun stories. Her characters feel realistic and Lana is a main character you love to root for (and want to be best friends with!)

The mystery in Fatal Fried Rice kept me guessing and, as always, the cover gave me an intense craving for some good Chinese food. If you’re a cozy mystery fan, or if you want to try the genre, you can’t go wrong with these books.

Thank you St. Martin’s Press for the ARC!