Review: A Spell for Trouble by Esme Addison

cover178272-medium Alexandra Daniels hasn’t set foot in the quiet seaside town of Bellamy Bay, North Carolina in over twenty years. Ever since her mother’s tragic death, her father has mysteriously forbidden her from visiting her aunt and cousins. But on a whim, Alex accepts an invitation to visit her estranged relatives and to help them in their family business: an herbal apothecary known for its remarkably potent teas, salves, and folk remedies.

Bellamy Bay doesn’t look like trouble, but this is a town that harbors dark secrets. Alex discovers that her own family is at the center of salacious town gossip, and that they are rumored to be magical healers descended from mermaids. She brushes this off as nonsense until a local is poisoned and her aunt Lidia is arrested for the crime. Alex is certain Lidia is being framed, and she resolves to find out why. Continue reading “Review: A Spell for Trouble by Esme Addison”

Review: A Crafter Quilts a Crime by Holly Quinn

cover171432-mediumSnowcapped pines and glittery dusted sidewalks adorn tranquil Heartsford, Wisconsin, while residents cuddle beneath heirloom quilts in front of cozy wood fires. But come the next day, the below-zero temperatures won’t keep the locals away from Heartsford’s annual Fire & Ice event. To boost customer traffic at Community Craft’s one-night-only sale, Samantha “Sammy” Kane persuades a few of the craftspeople who sell their wares at the store to participate in a live mannequin window display contest.

Local quilter Wanda Wadsworth emerges as a favorite to win the contest, as she manages to not move a muscle for an unusual amount of time. Onlookers outside the window try everything to get her to crack–tapping on the glass and making funny faces–but nothing disrupts Wanda’s stillness. When the eagle-eyed spectators realize Wanda isn’t breathing, a blanket of grief and fear descends upon the wintry town. Continue reading “Review: A Crafter Quilts a Crime by Holly Quinn”

Review: In Cold Chamomile by Joy Avon

cover174045-medium Tea party organizer Callie Aspen learns that Cupid’s arrows can be deadly when a Valentine’s Day soiree ends in murder.

Callie Aspen can’t think of a more appropriate place to spend Valentine’s Day than her adopted hometown of Heart’s Harbor, Maine. When she’s not helping out at Book Tea, her great-aunt Iphy’s vintage tearoom, Callie’s adorning Haywood Hall with hearts and roses for the big Valentine’s event, where townspeople will fall in love with sweet treats, heartwarming music, and delightful books. But tension is brewing: The librarian argues with the expert who is on hand to appraise precious volumes. And Iphy is shocked to recognize the baritone who’s slated to sing at the event as an old acquaintance–one she’d hoped she’d never meet again. And then, when a dead body is discovered, the stirring spoon of suspicion points at the many people who had reasons to want the victim dead.

When Iphy’s old acquaintance draws the attention of Deputy Ace Falk, Callie finds herself in a spot. Ace, as usual, doesn’t want Callie involved, but how can she ignore Iphy’s anguish over the fate of a man she cares for more than she will admit? Bringing the killer to justice may endanger Callie’s budding relationship with Ace–and, quite possibly, her own life.

Callie and the Book Tea crew may think they have this case in the bag, but un-kettling truths are yet to be decanted. 

I randomly requested the first book in this series, In Peppermint Peril, from Netgalley back in 2018. I immediately fell in love with the series.  The Book Tea coffee shop is a place I’d frequent if it were in my area and I love the characters with a fierce passion.  So, I was excited to get into this latest installment.

While I really enjoyed the story – there were a few twists I hadn’t seen coming – the characters were all off their games.  Callie, who is usually pretty self-assured is second guessing everything.  Iphy, who is always a solid bastion of dependability and propriety, is nowhere near any of that.  Deputy Falk, too, is avoiding Callie and acting like a stranger.  It made for an awkward story in an otherwise solid series.

That said, I still enjoyed In Cold Chamomile quite a lot.  There were several suspects and I was kept guessing as to who was the actual culprit.  I love the setting of Haywood Hall, too, because it’s like a mini-city all of its own.  I’m hoping that Callie and Ace are able to resolve whatever is going on between them in the next book because I think they’re a great pair.  Even when she’s annoying him by sleuthing when he’s asked her not, they have incredible chemistry.  Despite the issues I had with the characters not being themselves, this was still a highly enjoyable cozy mystery.

4/5

*Thanks to Netgalley, the publisher, and the author for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for a fair review.

Review: A Crafter Hooks a Killer by Holly Quinn

cover155619-mediumCommunity Craft proprietor Sammy Kane suspects that a tantalizing thread links the deaths of her best friend and a bestselling author. But can she weave together the clues?

Samantha “Sammy” Kane is settling into her new life in idyllic Heartsford, Wisconsin, running her late friend Kate Allen’s craft shop, Community Craft when one early June day, bestselling crochet author Jane Johnson visits Heartsford. Captivated by Community Craft, Jane devotes a chapter in her new book, Behind the Seams, to the store. Sammy is honored, though satisfaction quickly turns to shock when she finds Jane strangled to death―her cold hands clutching a copy of her most recently published book, with the words “THE END” raggedly scratched into the cover. Continue reading “Review: A Crafter Hooks a Killer by Holly Quinn”

Review: Sweet Tea and Secrets by Joy Avon

cover155623-mediumLast Christmas, Callie Aspen left her tour guide job and settled in Heart’s Harbor, Maine. Now, she helps out at Book Tea, her great aunt’s vintage tearoom, where each treat has a bookish clue. Though she’s excited to start her new life, Callie worries she may regret having burned her bridges behind her. Fortunately, she finds immediate distraction in the preparations for a spectacular Fourth of July tea party, which will recreate key moments from the town’s rich history.

Intrigued to learn that 1980s TV star Monica Walker was last seen in Heart’s Harbor before she vanished—allegedly to elope—Callie probes the townsfolk for information. She’s stunned when several locals share contradictory stories about the last day before Monica’s disappearance. Did she intend to leave her hit TV series? Was she being stalked by her ex? And why is the newspaper editor who investigated the story at the time so anxious about the cold case heating up?

When one of the talkative townspeople turns up dead, Callie aims to catch the killer. But it’s no picnic: Deputy Falk doesn’t want her meddling, and the locals suddenly know more about the past than they’d been at liberty to admit. If Callie and the Book Tea crew can’t crack the case, they’ll pay a very steep price in Joy Avon’s explosive second Book Tea Shop Mystery.

I was eagerly looking forward to this second installment in Joy Avon’s Book Tea Shop Mystery series as I thoroughly enjoyed the first, In Peppermint Peril.  I was not disappointed.  Sweet Tea and Secrets had everything that I had loved in the first, and more.

First, I really do like Callie Aspen.  She has her unlikable moments, but they don’t show themselves very often.  She’s smart, she’s fun, and she’s an animal lover, always bringing her Boston Terrier, Daisy, along with her.  Also, her Aunt Iphy is a hoot, even if she does tend to be a bit meddlesome.  But, considering her age and the fact she lives in a tiny town, I’ll give her a pass.

Second, I enjoyed the double mystery.  Cold cases fascinate me, likely because I’m a total science fanatic and seeing forensics and the like put into play is exciting for me.  That alone was enough to interest me, but when a murder happens while Callie’s investigating this cold case, I was definitely hooked.  Although I had pretty much figured out what had happened in the cold case early on, the resolution of it wasn’t anything like I had expected, so that was a wonderful surprise for me.

Sweet Tea and Secrets is an exciting and engaging cozy mystery.  It’s a quick read, but enjoyable all the way to the end.  I can’t wait to see what Callie, Iphy, Peggy and the rest get up to in the next installment.  A great cozy series for anyone who loves a good cup of tea and a murder or two.

4/5

*Thanks to Netgalley, the author, and the publisher for a copy of this book.

Review: Foul Play on Words by Becky Clark

cover152980-mediumMystery author Charlee Russo agrees to speak at a Portland writers’ conference organized by her friend Viv Lundquist. When Viv picks her up at the airport, she frantically explains that her daughter Hanna has been kidnapped. Unfortunately, Viv has a history of embellishing the truth and Hanna has a history of disappearing.

Charlee takes over the conference preparation so Viv can search for her daughter, but the situation gets tense when the hotel double-books the event with a dog show. Despite it all, Charlee is compelled to investigate after she learns shocking secrets about both Hanna and Viv. Can she find Hanna in time, or will a plot twist lead her to a ruff ending?

I’ve said this before, but I really do enjoy cozy mysteries.  They’re generally light, fun, and quick reads, something to brush off the heaviness of a procedural or thriller.  Foul Play on Words is no exception.  Combining two of my favorite things – writing and dogs – into a novel is a surefire way to get me to read it.

Charlee Russo, a mystery writer accused of murder herself not too long ago, is excited to join her long-time friend, Viv, at a writer’s convention in Portland.  Minutes after landing, all her plans are trashed when Viv blurts out that her daughter, Hanna, is missing.  While Charlee agrees to take over the prep for the conference, she also decides to do a little investigating of her own.  Although a bit snappish and irritated at times, Charlee is a likeable character.  Her investigative skills aren’t always the best, but she’s a writer, not a detective, so I can let that slide.  She does have quite the imagination and her sense of humor often saves her from screaming.

The addition of the double booking with a dog show added a lot of fun and colorful moments to the story.  It was a great way to break up Charlee’s worrying – about both the conference and the kidnapping – as well as lightening the mood with some humor.  My one complaint is that the supporting characters weren’t fully fleshed out so you’re not sure of their true motives or possible involvement.  Charlee, however, is well-rounded and interesting and I’d happily read more in this series.

Foul Play on Words is a fun and lighthearted cozy mystery.  It makes for a quick read that left me smiling.  There is one character, however, that I’m wondering about.  I’m hoping that maybe he’ll make an appearance in the next novel.  Two chance encounters with him make me hopeful.  Guess I’ll have to pick up the next one and see.

*Thanks to Netgalley, the author, and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Review: A Scandal in Scarlet by Vicki Delany

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Walking her dog Violet late one night, Gemma Doyle, owner of the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop, acts quickly when she smells smoke outside the West London Museum. Fortunately no one is inside, but it’s too late to save the museum’s priceless collection of furniture, and damage to the historic house is extensive. Baker Street’s shop owners come together to hold an afternoon auction tea to raise funds to rebuild, and Great Uncle Arthur Doyle offers a signed first edition of The Valley of Fear. Continue reading “Review: A Scandal in Scarlet by Vicki Delany”

Review: In Peppermint Peril by Joy Avon

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This Christmas, Callie Aspen returns to her childhood hideout Heart’s Harbor, Maine where her great aunt runs Book Tea, a vintage tearoom where every sweet treat contains a bookish clue. Upon arrival in the fairy-tale snowy town, Callie is drawn into the preparations for a special tea party at Haywood Hall, the rambling house of Heart’s Harbor’s oldest resident, rich but lonely widow Dorothea Finster, who invited her estranged relatives, old friends and the elite of the town to make a mysterious announcement about her will.

Believing they can touch a part of her fortune, everybody is determined to come, despite not liking each other or even their hostess. And Callie’s old friend Sheila complicates things by using the tea party to announce her daughter’s engagement, even though her daughter isn’t sure she’s in love with the young lawyer her mother thinks so perfect for her. Continue reading “Review: In Peppermint Peril by Joy Avon”

Review: A Crafter Knits a Clue by Holly Quinn

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I fell in love with mysteries by accident.  A co-worker left a stack of paperbacks on my desk one morning and, among them, were two Alex Cross novels written by James Patterson.  I was hooked after that.

Then I discovered cozies and a whole new love was born.

There’s something about the small-town life you see in a cozy mystery that draws me in.  It fascinates me to think that you can live in this close knit group of people, grow up together and know everything about everyone and still be so in the dark about someone.  That’s probably the biggest draw for me when it comes to cozy mysteries. Continue reading “Review: A Crafter Knits a Clue by Holly Quinn”