Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Book Review - Southern Sass and Killer Cravings

Southern Sass and Killer Cravings
Author:  Kate Young
Publisher:  Kensington Books
Publication Date:  May 28, 2019
4 Stars

Marygene has just gotten out of an abusive marriage and decides to return to her hometown, Peach Cove Island.  While excited to be going home, Marygene is filled with trepidation and guilt at fragmented relationships she abandoned when she left Peach Cove.  The first relationship she tries to repair is with her sister Jena, as the two of them will be running their family business, the Peach Diner.  Eager to make amends, but not step on toes, Marygene helps out at the diner however she can.  On her second day there though, tragedy strikes.  One of the regulars drops dead.  After his death is ruled a homicide by poisoning, Jena is taken into custody as she was the one who made the cake that he ate right before he died.  Marygene knows she can’t sit by and let her sister be tried for a murder she didn’t commit.  So, she goes poking around town trying to figure out who the real killer is.  Her strained relationships with her dad, old friends, high school sweetheart, and even her deceased mother only seem to complicate her investigation.  It isn’t long, however, before she is digging up secrets and putting herself in danger.

Southern Sass and Killer Cravings is the tantalizing first book in the Marygene Brown mystery series.  The author has thought up a marvelous storyline and has told it well.  The author provides us with many possible suspects and motives, and throws us clues and curveballs to keep us guessing.  Even once the murderer becomes apparent, the suspense continues to build as we wait to see how it all unfolds.  I can easily see this book being made into a movie.

This book is filled with many varied and engaging characters.  Marygene has a lot of complicated, intense relationships that could make this story very heavy.  However, the story is counterbalanced by the fun-loving and light-hearted Betsy.

I thought the author did an excellent job of dealing with the issue of domestic abuse in the context of a cozy mystery.  She doesn’t soften the seriousness and tremendous impact of abuse, but she winds up the story with encouragement for survivors.

I can wholeheartedly recommend this book to cozy mystery lovers.  Those that particularly enjoy cooking mysteries will be happy with all the delectable dishes described in the story.  Many of the recipes are included at the end of the book.  Marygene‘s berry crumb bars sounded especially good to me.

I can’t wait for the opportunity to return to Peach Cove.

Thanks to Net Galley and Kensington Books for an ARC of this book.  #NetGalley #SouthernSassAndKillerCravings

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Book Review - The Murder of Patience Brooke

The Murder of Patience Brooke (Charles Dickens and Superintendent Sam Jones #1)
Author:  J C Briggs
Publisher:  Sapere Books
Publication Date:  December 27, 2018
4 Stars

Imagine Charles Dickens not only as a famous writer but also as an amateur detective.  This is the premise of the Murder of Patience Brooke.  Patience Brooke is the matron’s assistant at a home that Charles Dickens established for fallen women.  She is found brutally murdered outside the home.  Dickens is determined to find Patience’s killer to not only bring him to justice, but also to protect the future of the women’s home.  Dickens turns to his friend, Superintendent Sam Jones, to help him unravel this mystery.  Besides insisting that she had never been a prostitute, Patience was very secretive about her past.  This complicates the investigation as Dickens and Jones are not sure who Patience really was, and they have very little to go on in regards to motive.  The only lead seems to be the mysterious presence of a man with a crooked face.

What a great start to the Charles Dickens and Superintendent Sam Jones mystery series.  I truly enjoyed all the aspects of this story:  setting, plot, and characters.  The setting is Victorian England, and the author does such a great job of painting a vivid picture of this time.  The story takes us through the streets of London (many of them notable) and beyond.  We are taken on a ride through the dark, seedy side of London, where we are given a look at the dangerous lifestyles and the desolate situations that many Londoners were in.  This is starkly compared to how the upper class of England lived.  The author does a great job showing the great disparity of the two.  A fact that Dickens himself was really dismayed with.

The plot was intricate and intriguing, and it had many surprising twists and turns, much like the back alleys of London.  Nothing was as simple as it first appeared.  I found myself very much invested in the investigation, and it was hard to put the book down.

The plot is supported by a great variety of interesting and realistic characters.  The historically accurate attributes of Dickens himself are seamlessly woven together with the fictional components of the story.

I loved this story, and I’m looking forward to reading more books in this series.  I think if you enjoy historical mysteries and mysteries set during the Victorian Era that you will enjoy this book.

Thanks to Net Galley and Sapere Books for an ARC of this book.  #NetGalley #TheMurderOfPatienceBrooke

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Book Review - In Peppermint Peril

In Peppermint Peril
Author:  Joy Avon
Publisher:  Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date:  November 13, 2018

Callie Aspen returns home to Hearts Harbor to spend Christmas with her great aunt Iphy.  Iphy runs a tea room called the Book Tea Shop, which also offers catering services.  It is a catering job that brings Callie to Haywood Hall.  Callie had spent a lot of time at Haywood Hall as a child, and she has many fond memories of it.  Some of those memories include Leadenby, Haywood Hall’s gardener, whom she runs into while preparing for the party.  Dorothea Finster, owner of Haywood Hall, has gathered family, friends, and town VIPs for a reading of her new will.  A will that is rumored to contain big changes.  Stephen DuBouvrais, the only living relative of Dorothea, along with his wife, Sheila, and daughter, Amber, are also at the reading.  Sheila has her own agenda for the party.  She waylays the reading by setting up a surprise engagement for her daughter and boyfriend.  The engagement is thwarted too, however, by the disappearance of the ring.  Things deteriorate even more when Leadenby is found murdered.  Callie tries to sort through everyone’s movements and motives to figure out Leadenby’ s killer.

Peppermint Peril is the first book in the Tea and Read mystery series.  I was entertained by the book, and it was an enjoyable start to this new series.

I was a little confused at the beginning of the book about the reference to book clues left in the sweet treats that Iphy made.  I felt like I was missing information as if its purpose had previously been described.  Even at the end when they tie up the book clues, I still felt like I was missing something.  The book theme seemed a little weak.

Although Callie plays a major role in the investigation, Deputy Falk is officially in charge.  I liked the way the author handled their relationship.  Callie is not completely honest with Falk in the beginning, and so he initially distrusts her.  He is also offended that Callie is interfering in the investigation as though he is not competent enough to solve it himself.  The relationship starts off rocky therefore making it completely realistic.  As they get to know each other better, their relationship improves.

The plot is both interesting and moves along at an enjoyable pace.  The author does a good job with Callie ferreting out answers from the players in this book, and thus eliminating suspects along the way.  She continues to do so until there is really only one other person left.

The book wraps up with a feel good Christmas spirit.

I plan on picking up the next book in this series, Sweet Tea and Secrets.

Thanks to Net Galley and Crooked Lane Books for an ARC of this book.  #NetGalley #InPeppermintPeril

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Book Review - Who Moved My Goat Cheese

Who Moved My Goat Cheese (Farm-to-Fork Mystery #1)
Author:  Lynn Cahoon
Publisher:  Kensington Press – Lyrical Underground
Publication Date:  March 06, 2018
3 ½ Stars

Angie Turner returns to her high school hometown, River Vista, Idaho, to open up a new restaurant, the County Seat.  All the menu items will be prepared with food produced by local farms.  One of Angie’s vendors is Gerald Moss, a local goat farmer.  One Sunday morning, before the restaurant’s grand opening, Angie meets with Gerald Moss at his farm to cement a deal for Mr. Moss to supply the restaurant with his goat cheese.  The next day, Moss is found dead, and the coroner’s evidence points to murder.  While many in the small town found Gerald Moss to be ill-tempered, Angie’s grandma had liked him, and that sways Angie’s feelings as well.  Angie does not believe that Gerald deserved to die so she decides she needs to find some answers to questions concerning his death.

Who Moved My Goat Cheese is a good start to the new Farm-to-Fork mystery series.  I think those that enjoy culinary cozies will find this a pleasant book to read.  It has a unique slant to the genre and an interesting plot.  The author does a great job of capturing the small town atmosphere.

The main characters in the store are likable, and I’m looking forward to getting to know them better in future installments.  While the murderer seemed fairly easy to guess, their reason for doing so remained a mystery until the end of the story.  Furry friends feature prominently in this story including Dom, a St. Bernard puppy, and Precious, a baby goat.

Overall, this book was an appetizing read.  I’m looking forward to reading the second book in the series.