Friday, November 10, 2023

Book Review and Giveaway - Under the Cocoon Moon: An Olivia Penn Mystery by Kathleen Bailey

My Review

Olivia Penn is enjoying her return to the small town of Apple Station, Virginia.  Olivia is working as a writer, living with her father, and she has a new romantic interest.  When a stranger accuses her new boyfriend's parents of a crime, she becomes involved in solving the mystery. Things escalate when there is a murder as well.

I wanted to read Under the Cocoon Moon because the description sounded appealing.  I love small town mysteries and liked the holiday setting.  I have not read the two earlier books in this series, but found this mystery worked fine as a standalone.

I enjoyed this cozy mystery and want to read the earlier books now as well!  Olivia Penn is a likable protagonist.  Her writing work is interesting and I also liked liked her father and friend Sam, who help her detecting.  There is even a cute beagle named Buddy!  (I am a great fan of mysteries that include pets.)

The mystery aspect of the book was interesting and briskly paced.  There were enough little twists to keep me up late reading!

I recommend Under the Cocoon Moon for other fans of cozy mysteries, and especially for anyone who enjoys small town settings and holiday themes.

Book Synopsis

A dead body in the woods … A rare sapphire is missing … The connection changes her life forever.

Olivia Penn is looking forward to spending time with her friends and family over the holidays in her hometown of Apple Station, Virginia. The Christmas season’s spirit has sparked a new romance, and all is looking merry and bright, until she is mistaken for a dead woman.

When a stranger makes a wild accusation involving the parents of the man she’s falling for, Olivia faces a no-win situation. As evidence mounts supporting the claim, a mysterious murder occurs near his father’s cabin that attracts the attention of the FBI. Wedged between mother and son, Olivia investigates to clear his family’s name while matching wits with a legendary thief.

With the clock ticking, Olivia must set a trap using herself as the bait or the killer may disappear without a trace. Her new love hangs in the balance, and her life is on the line. Justice will hinge on sixty minutes and a phone call.

Will the call be answered? Or will the thief recover the sapphire and silence her forever?

If you like Clue, Nancy Drew, and small town, cozy mysteries with heart and humor, a charming cast of characters, and a twisty plot, you’ll love Under the Cocoon Moon, the third book in The Olivia Penn Mystery Series.

Author Bio

Kathleen Bailey is the award-winning author of The Olivia Penn Mystery Series. She writes mysteries with heart and humor that keep to the traditional and cozy sides of crime. Kathleen has degrees in English, psychology, and physical therapy. She previously worked as a pediatric physical therapist for over twenty years with children who have special needs. She now spends her days plotting and sleuthing in Virginia where she lives with her husband and adorable feline fur baby. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and the James River Writers. Visit online at

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Friday, November 3, 2023

Book Review and Giveaway - Bulletproof Barista (A Coffeehouse Mystery) by Cleo Coyle

My Review
Clare Cosi, who runs the Village Blend coffeehouse in New York City, is excited when Only Murders in Gotham, a popular streaming series, is going to be filming some locations in her coffeehouse.  That is - until there are some scary things that happen on the set, and she decides to investigate.

I wanted to read Bulletproof Barista because I always enjoy Cleo Coyle's mysteries. I have read some, but not all, of the Coffeehouse Mystery series, and had no problem enjoying this book as a standalone read.

I think this is my favorite Cleo Coyle book yet!  I am a big fan of Only Murders in the Building, and enjoyed the similarities between that show and Only Murders in Gotham - and the characters who reminded me a lot of Steve Martin and Selena Gomez too.

I loved the coffee and foodie descriptions and the day-to-day working of the coffeehouse.  I also enjoyed the details of the TV set.

The mystery is fast paced with lots of surprises. Clare is a smart detective, whether working on her own or consulting with her fiancé, who is a detective.

I recommend Bulletproof Barista - and this series - for anyone who enjoys cozy mysteries, NYC settings, foodie books, or fiction about TV production.  It was a really fun read!

Book Synopsis

When a film crew’s location shoot delivers an actual shooting, Clare Cosi finds herself at the scene of a true crime in this showstopping entry in the beloved Coffeehouse Mysteries from New York Times bestselling author Cleo Coyle.

Only Murders in Gotham, the smash-hit streaming program, is famous for filming in authentic New York locations and using real New Yorkers as extras. For its second season, they’ve chosen to spotlight the century-old Village Blend and its quirky crew of baristas. Shop manager and master roaster Clare Cosi is beyond thrilled, especially when her superb bulletproof coffee lands her a craft services contract for the production.

Madame, the eccentric octogenarian owner of the landmark shop, reveals an old kinship with the star of the show, comedian Jerry Sullivan. Now a Hollywood legend, Jerry frequented the Blend during his early years performing in Greenwich Village comedy clubs. But the past may hold more than nostalgia for Jerry. Suspicious accidents begin plaguing his shoot. Then a real bullet is fired from a stage gun, and Clare becomes convinced something sinister is afoot.

While Jerry’s production moves to exciting new locations, Clare keeps the coffee flowing—and her investigation going—even as a murderer lurks in the wings. But can she root out the rotten player in this Big Apple production before the lights go out on her?

Includes a stellar menu of surefire recipes!

Author Bio

CLEO COYLE is a pseudonym for Alice Alfonsi, writing in collaboration with her husband, Marc Cerasini. Both are New York Times-bestselling authors of the long-running Coffeehouse Mysteries and Haunted Bookshop Mysteries, both celebrating 20 years in print. With more than one million books sold, their work has been honored with starred reviews and multiple best-of-year list selections by reviewers. Alice and Marc are also bestselling media tie-in writers who have penned properties for Lucasfilm, NBC, Fox, Disney, Imagine, Toho, and MGM. They live and work in New York City, where they write independently and together. Connect with Cleo at

Friday, October 27, 2023

Book Review and Giveaway - Holly, Baubles and Murder: A British Cozy Murder Mystery with a Female Amateur Sleuth (A Dotty Sayers Antique Mystery) by Victoria Tait

My Review
Dotty Sayers travels to Yorkshire to arrange a Christmas display in an old estate house there. As she works, she gets to know the family, and enjoys her time ... until one of the tour guides turns up dead.  She works to solve the mystery.

I wanted to read Holly, Baubles, and Murder because I read a short story by the author in an anthology this year and greatly enjoyed it. I have been wanting to read one of her mystery novels since.

I absolutely loved this book and, although it worked fine as a standalone, I really want to read the rest of this series now.  I loved the estate setting, which reminded me of a modern day Downton Abbey.

I also loved the pets in this mystery.  Dotty has a cat named Earl Grey and the Dowager has a dachshund named Reggie (Sir Reginald). There are other cats and dogs in the family as well.

The details in this book were lovely, including the English food and the Christmas decorations, based on The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (and featuring a wardrobe door and a forest of trees in the house).

The mystery aspect of the story was interesting and well paced. I liked following along as Dotty worked to find a solution.

I enjoyed this mystery so much, and recommend Holly, Baubles and Murder for other cozy mystery fans as well!

Book Synopsis  

A joyful Christmas festival turns deadly when a corpse ends up as the chilling centerpiece. Can an amateur sleuth unwrap the tinsel-tangled mystery before the merry cheer melts away?

Talented antique enthusiast, Dotty Sayers, is thrilled to be organising a Christmas display at a Yorkshire country house. She enjoys decking the halls, but the season is far from jolly when the chief guide is found dead, her body as cold as ice. 

When cops dismiss the death, Dotty turns to her prickly American colleague, only to learn he has his own secrets to solve. But when he disappears, this amateur detective fears the festive charades have become far deadlier. 

Can Dotty string together the clues and bring to light the killer?

Author Bio

Victoria Tait was born and raised in Yorkshire, England. After following her military husband around the world, she drew on her life’s experiences, and a love of Agatha Christie, Father Brown, and Murder She Wrote, to write British-based cozy mysteries. 

Her determined female sleuths are joined by colourful and quirky teams of helpers, and her settings are vivid and realistic. As you’re compelled to keep turning the pages, you’ll be irresistibly drawn into a world where you’ll experience surprises, humour, and sometimes, a tug on your heartstrings. 

Do you like tea, mysteries, and books? Then why not join Victoria’s TeaCozy Club for regular news and updates, and download the free prequel to the Dotty Sayers Antique Mysteries series as a gift by visiting 

Who doesn’t like tea, cake, and a slice of murder?

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Friday, October 20, 2023

Book Review and Giveaway - Murder by the Seashore (A California Bookshop Mystery) by Samara Yew

My Review

Scarlett Gardner is happy in her life as a bookstore owner in a small beach community in Southern California ... that is, until she goes for an early morning walk and finds a body under the pier. The murdered woman turns out to be someone who was bequeathing a great deal of money to Scarlett ... making her the chief suspect.

I wanted to read Murder by the Seashore because I love cozy mysteries. I especially enjoy bookstore settings, and the beach locale was an added bonus.

This is a terrific start to a new series.  I really liked Scarlett as a bookstore owner - and also an amateur detective.  I enjoyed following her sleuthing on this case.  The author does a great job at introducing the new characters, the bookstore, and the feel of this beach community.

I recommend Murder by the Seashore for fans of cozy fiction, and especially for anyone who enjoys bookstore or beach settings.  I look forward to reading more in this new series.

Book Synopsis

Southern California is where dreams come true—or so Scarlett Gardner thought. When she moved there and opened the Palm Trees and Page Turners bookshop, she thought her boyfriend and business partner would be part of the story. When he leaves her for a better job, Scarlett finds herself struggling to keep her new business afloat. That’s not the only thing she has to worry about—she discovers something underneath the pier by her bookshop that she didn’t outline for her life’s story: the dead body of a book-buying customer.

After Scarlett gives a statement to the police, she thinks her life can go back to business as usual. But when a lawyer, representing someone named Lorelai Knight, tells Scarlett that she now stands to inherit a small fortune, she’s left with more questions than answers. Before she can make sense of any of it, the police bring her in for questioning; the body she found was Lorelai Knight. And the evidence they have against Scarlett doesn’t look good. Business is booming as Scarlett returns to Palm Trees and Page Turners, but for all the wrong reasons – curious tourists don’t want books, they want a glimpse of the Bookshop Killer.

Who could really be behind all of this? And why frame Scarlett? To clear her name, she’s going to have get creative—and hope she can remain one page ahead of the killer.

Author Bio

Samara Yew is a cozy mystery author who writes about adorable bookshops and dead bodies. A full-time mom, full-time dog servant, and part-time writer, Samara lives in British Columbia, Canada, where she can often be found watching Psych reruns. Samara loves to travel, especially visiting her husband’s home country of Singapore or donning Mickey ears in Disneyland. She’s a member of Sisters in Crime and International Thriller Writers.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Book Review - On Moonberry Lake by Holly Varni

My Review

Cora Matthews returns to Moonberry Lake when her mother passes away suddenly. She discovers she has inherited her grandparents' lodge, a place she loved as a child but hasn't visited in many years.  The lodge is in great disrepair, and as she sets about restoring it, she discovers a new community in this quirky little Minnesota town.

I wanted to read On Moonberry Lake because the story resonated with me. My mother also recently passed and I am working on a beloved old house restoration. I enjoy small town fiction and found the lakeside lodge setting appealing.

This book was a delight from start to finish.  I love small towns that become almost a character themselves - like Mayberry or Lake Wobegon or Stars Hollow.  There is a rich variety of quirky but lovable neighbors that Cora becomes acquainted with, and I loved meeting every one of them too. 

The story of the lodge restoration held great interest for me, but I also enjoyed reading how Cora restored her soul and sense of place as she settled into this little community.  There are a couple of twists and turns and even a sweet love story.

There is also great humor, as seen in the "Sightings and Satire" column of the local newspaper, with tidbits like:

It’s that time of year again for the fire department to check and flush the fire hydrants. As torrents of water are released, residents are encouraged to use the water wisely by participating in public bathing. Come wash your dogs, cars, and children. Note that nudity is prohibited. Although all creation is to be celebrated, some is better left covered" (eBook location 5202).

It appears that On Moonberry Lake is going to be the first in a series, and I hope it is a long series - as I intend to read every book.  I cannot recommend this charming and uplifting novel highly enough.

Book Synopsis

Cora Matthews's life is a mess. A broken engagement and the unexpected death of her mother have left her wondering if things will ever return to normal. Whatever "normal" is.

It certainly isn't what she finds at Moonberry Lake. After she receives her family's dilapidated lakefront lodge as an inheritance--with a surprising condition attached--Cora finds her life overrun by a parade of eccentric neighbors who all have something to say and something to teach her.

As Cora works to put her life back together, she must decide if she is willing to let go of the past, open her heart to love, and embrace the craziest version of family and home she could ever have imagined. 

Author Bio

Holly Varni is a native Minnesotan of strong Norwegian descent, who was raised in the Lutheran Church that Garrison Keillor made a career depicting. Between the lutefisk, grumpy grandparents, and crazy neighbors who mowed their lawn wearing pajamas, the seed to becoming a storyteller was planted. Though she, her husband, and their three sons live along the Central Coast of California, her beloved Midwest roots continue to haunt everything she writes. She hosts the Moments from Moonberry Lake podcast where she shares more stories of her beloved characters. Learn more at


Friday, October 13, 2023

Book Review and Giveaway - Overdue or Die (A Haunted Library Mystery) by Allison Brook

My Review

Carrie Singleton is working at the small town library she loves in Clover Ridge, Connecticut, planning her wedding to Dylan Avery, and helping her uncle recover from a heart attack. Then she suddenly becomes involved in two cases - counterfeit art, and a murder at the local art gallery. She works to solve them with the help of her ghostly friend, Evelyn.

I wanted to read Overdue or Die because I love the Haunted Library mystery series.  I have enjoyed the other books in this series and always await the next in the series!

This was a wonderful read.  Carrie is always a smart, intuitive detective, and I love the way Evelyn helps her with clues in the cases.  The mystery is well paced with several plausible suspects.  It was fun detecting along with Carrie.

I also enjoy Carrie's relationships with Dylan, her aunt and uncle, her friends - and her kitty Smokey Joe!  I always especially enjoy cozy mysteries with lovable cats or dogs.

I recommend Overdue or Die - and the whole Haunted Library series - to fans of cozy mysteries, and especially to anyone who enjoys a library setting or small town atmosphere.

Book Synopsis  

Carrie Singleton has a wedding to plan, a killer to catch, and a conspiracy to uncover in this charming seventh novel of Agatha Award-nominee Allison Brook’s Haunted Library mysteries.

Carrie Singleton has more than her fair share on her plate: her job at the Clover Ridge Library, preparing for her wedding to Dylan Avery, and hoping that the local art gallery doesn’t steal away one of her part-time employees. Her fiancé Dylan accompanies her to the beautiful home of Victor Zalinka—art collector and successful businessman—to select paintings for an art show at the library. While Carrie muses that Victor’s home would be the perfect wedding venue, Dylan spots a forgery among the paintings in Victor’s collection.

Then Martha Mallory is found murdered in her art gallery. With the assistance of Evelyn, the library ghost; the resident cat, Smoky Joe; and the office manager of Dylan’s private investigation company, Carrie comes up with a suspect list long enough to rival the size of an encyclopedia. During her investigation, Carrie stumbles across a terrible truth: Martha’s murder was part of something far bigger and more dangerous than she could have ever imagined. And it all leads back to the art gallery.

How far will Carrie go to find the killer and uncover the truth? If the killer finds her first—will Carrie finally be taken out of circulation?

Author Bio

A former Spanish teacher, Marilyn Levinson writes mysteries and novels for kids. Her books have received many accolades. As Allison Brook, she writes the Haunted Library series. Death Overdue, the first in the series, was an Agatha nominee for Best Contemporary Novel in 2018. Other mysteries include the Golden Age of Mystery Book Club series and the Twin Lakes series.

Her juvenile novel, Rufus and Magic Run Amok, was an International Reading Association-Children’s Book Council Children’s Choice and has recently come out in a new edition. And Don’t Bring Jeremy was a nominee for six state awards.

Marilyn lives on Long Island, where many of her books take place. She loves traveling, reading, doing crossword puzzles and Sudoku, and chatting on FaceTime with her grandkids.

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Friday, October 6, 2023

Book Review and Giveaway - The Socialite’s Guide to Death and Dating (A Pinnacle Hotel Mystery) by S. K. Golden

My Review

In 1958 Manhattan, Evelyn Murphy is hosting a big fundraiser party at her family's Pinnacle Hotel. When a wealthy guest is found dead in the parking garage, Evelyn decides to find the killer. 

I wanted to read this book because I love historical mysteries.  I was also intrigued by the New York City setting and the time period. I rarely see mysteries set in the 1950's or 1960's, so that was a big draw.

Evelyn is a very interesting character.  She's a spoiled heiress with a sassy personality - and she is an agoraphobic. She's working to conquer this, but it certainly presents challenges to her with her sleuthing. Evelyn is in a romantic relationship with Mac Cooper, but there are complications when her father insists she break the relationship off - and later Mac ends up in jail.

I enjoyed this read very much. The tone was fresh and unique, and the period setting was a delight.  I have not read the first book in the series, but this worked fine as a standalone.  I recommend The Socialite's Guide to Death and Dating for fans of historical mysteries, cozy mysteries, and Mid-Century New York City settings.  You will enjoy this book! 

Book Synopsis

Perfect for fans of Rhys Bowen and Ashley Weaver, the second Pinnacle Hotel mystery finds another murder that strikes too close to home, and hotel heiress Evelyn Murphy knows she’s the only one who can save the hotel before it’s lights out.  

New York, 1958. Even though Evelyn Murphy has made progress conquering her agoraphobia by leaving the Pinnacle, she still feels most comfortable in her father’s hotel. With Malcolm Cooper, her new boyfriend and fellow employee at the hotel, Evelyn feels prepared for whatever happens next. In this case, it’s throwing a big fundraiser with the who’s who of New York City. 

The night is a success, and Evelyn finally takes up Malcolm’s offer to finally visit his apartment in Yonkers. As the party ends, they sneak away to the garage to get Evelyn’s car. But Evelyn’s always been good at finding things, and she discovers the dead body of a guest, Judge Baker, in a car—with a needle in his arm. 

Detective Hodgson and his new partner, Detective McJimsey, arrive on the scene, but before they can begin to question Evelyn, they are startled by another mysterious discovery: there’s a woman in the trunk of the car, and she screams as soon as she sees Evelyn’s face. Tangled up in the police investigation, Evelyn’s got another problem, too—her father insists she break off her relationship with Mac. The next day, her father is found attacked just like the judge, only this time the detectives find a dead woman nearby. 

With Mac accused of the attacks and in police custody, Evelyn will have to find the killer on her own before she’s checked out of the hotel—this time, for good.

Author Bio

S. K. Golden is the author of the Pinnacle Hotel cozy mystery series. Born and raised in the Florida Keys, she married a commercial fisherman. The two of them still live on the islands with their five kids (one boy, four girls — including identical twins!), two cats, and a corgi named Goku. Sarah graduated from Saint Leo University with a bachelor’s degree in Human Services and Administration and has put it to good use approximately zero times. She’s worked as a bank teller, a pharmacy technician, and an executive assistant at her father’s church. Sarah is delighted to be doing none of those things now. Follow her across all platforms @skgoldenwrites.

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Thursday, October 5, 2023

Book Review - Bright Lights, Big Christmas by Mary Kay Andrews

My Review

Kerry Tolliver travels from her family's Christmas tree farm in North Carolina to New York, along with her brother Murphy and his dog Queenie - all to sell trees in a holiday tree lot.  Kerry, Murphy, and Queenie stay in a vintage camper they have nicknamed Spammy.  Murphy, who does this each year, knows many people in the tree lot neighborhood.  Kerry gets to know them too, and is especially drawn to single dad Patrick and his son Austin. She also meets an older man with a mysterious past, an artist, and when he goes missing, the search for him changes lives.

I wanted to read Bright Lights, Big Christmas because I love Mary Kay Andrews' books.  Mentions of Christmas in New York City, a vintage travel trailer, and a dog all sweetened the read!

This is a delightful holiday read, with a heartwarming community in the big city, a sweet love story, and a light mystery as well.  There is even a brief mention of characters from Mary Kay Andrews' The Santa Suit.

I really enjoyed this read, and recommend Bright Lights, Big Christmas for fans of women's fiction, Christmas in New York, and heartwarming holiday stories.  Five enthusiastic stars for this novel!

Book Synopsis

When fall rolls around, it’s time for Kerry Tolliver to leave her family’s Christmas tree farm in the mountains of North Carolina for the wilds of New York City to help her gruff older brother & his dog, Queenie, sell the trees at the family stand on a corner in Greenwich Village. Sharing a tiny vintage camper and experiencing Manhattan for the first time, Kerry’s ready to try to carve out a new corner for herself.

In the weeks leading into Christmas, Kerry quickly becomes close with the charming neighbors who live near their stand. When an elderly neighbor goes missing, Kerry will need to combine her country know-how with her newly acquired New York knowledge to protect the new friends she’s come to think of as family,

And complicating everything is Patrick, a single dad raising his adorable, dragon-loving son Austin on this quirky block. Kerry and Patrick’s chemistry is undeniable, but what chance does this holiday romance really have?

Filled with family ties, both rekindled and new, and sparkling with Christmas magic, Bright Lights, Big Christmas delivers everything Mary Kay Andrews fans adore, all tied up in a hilarious, romantic gem of a novel.

Author Bio

MARY KAY ANDREWS is the New York Times bestselling author of 30 novels (including The Homewreckers, The Santa Suit, The Newcomer; Hello, Summer; Sunset Beach; The High Tide Club; The Weekenders; Beach Town; Save the Date; Ladies’ Night; Christmas Bliss; Spring Fever; Summer Rental; The Fixer Upper; Deep Dish; Blue Christmas; Savannah Breeze; Hissy Fit; Little Bitty Lies; and Savannah Blues), and one cookbook, The Beach House Cookbook.

A native of St. Petersburg, Florida, she earned a B.A. in journalism from The University of Georgia. After a 14-year career working as a reporter at newspapers including The Savannah Morning News, The Marietta Journal, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where she spent the final ten years of her career, she left journalism in 1991 to write fiction.

Her first novel, Every Crooked Nanny, was published in 1992 by HarperCollins. She went on to write ten critically acclaimed mysteries under her real name, Kathy Hogan Trocheck. In 2002, she assumed the pen name Mary Kay Andrews with the publication of Savannah Blues. In 2006, Hissy Fit became her first New York Times bestseller, followed by twelve more New York Times, USA Today and Publisher’s Weekly bestsellers. To date, her novels have been published in German, Italian, Polish, Slovenian, Hungarian, Dutch, Czech and Japanese.

She and her family divide their time between Atlanta and Tybee Island, GA, where they cook up new recipes in two restored beach homes, The Breeze Inn and Ebbtide—both named after fictional places in Mary Kay’s novels, and both available to rent through Tybee Vacation Rentals. In between cooking, spoiling her grandkids, and plotting her next novel, Mary Kay is an intrepid treasure hunter whose favorite pastime is junking and fixing up old houses.

Friday, September 29, 2023

Book Review and Giveaway - Reading, Writing, and Murder (Chocolate Martini Sisters Mystery) by Brenda Whiteside and Joyce Proell

My Review

Emma and Nicole are excited to have a fun getaway for a writers' conference. The conference is full of colorful characters and drama leading up to a murder.  The sisters work together as amateur sleuths to solve the mystery.

I wanted to read Reading, Writing, and Murder because I was intrigued by the writers conference setting. I have attended several writers conferences - although certainly none as action packed as the one in this book!

This is my first read in the Chocolate Martini Sisters mystery series but I had no problem jumping in and enjoying this novel as a standalone.

I really like Nicole and Emma as sleuths. I also enjoyed the array of characters they met at the conference, which made their detecting process fun to read about.

I recommend Reading, Writing and Murder for other cozy mystery readers. It's a fun, lively, well paced mystery - perfect for a weekend read.

Book Synopsis

At the writers’ conference, murder tops the program.

Aspiring mystery author Emma Banefield and travel writer Nicole Earp are excited to attend a writers’ conference during their latest sisters’ getaway. Nic’s birthday should be all about relaxation, writing, and a chocolate martini to toast another trip around the sun, but the climate at the gathering rumbles like a sudden desert thunderstorm.

When sparks fly between the keynote speaker and her timid assistant over a handsome mystery author, the subtitle on this anticipated tranquil weekend spells drama. If a heated love triangle, bruised egos, and betrayal aren’t enough to upset the atmosphere, the conference banquet erupts into a drunken brawl and sends the place spinning. After a body is discovered, Nic and Em do what they do best—snoop—and become embroiled in a mystery that jumps off the pages of a true-crime bestseller.

With more than enough suspects and little time, the amateur sleuths have their hands full finding the killer. But can the competitive Chocolate Martini Sisters solve the crime before the prickly chief detective does, or will a murderer outwit them all?

Author Bios

Joyce Proell is the award-winning author of Amaryllis, Eliza and the Cady Delafield mysteries: A Deadly Truth, A Burning Truth and A Wicked Truth. Along with her husband and little dog, Nellie, she lives in Minnesota in her very own little house on the prairie. She loves to hear from readers.

Website    Facebook    Amazon Author Page   Goodreads Author Page

Brenda Whiteside is the award-winning author of romantic suspense, romance, and cozy mystery. After living in six states and two countries—so far—she and her husband have settled in Central Arizona. They admit to being gypsies at heart and won’t discount the possibility of another move. They share their home with a rescue dog named Amigo. While FDW fishes, Brenda writes.

Visit Brenda’s Website   Facebook    Twitter    Blog    Amazon Author Page    Goodreads Author Page    BookBub     Instagram  

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Friday, September 22, 2023

Book Review and Giveaway - Murder at the Elms (A Gilded Newport Mystery) by Alyssa Maxwell

My Review

During the Gilded Age, Emma Cross and her husband Derrick are part of the social set in Newport, Rhode Island and also own the local newspaper.  They become involved in detecting when a young maid from a neighboring estate is discovered dead in a coal mine at the same time a very valuable necklace is discovered missing.

I wanted to read this mystery because I have enjoyed several of the books in Alyssa Maxwell's A Lady and Lady's Maid series.  I have not (yet!) read the other books in the Gilded Newport series, but Murder at the Elms works well as a stand alone.

I thoroughly enjoyed this mystery.  I love historical fiction and cozy mysteries, and this book is a perfect blend of both.  The Gilded Age setting is perfection!  There are so many great period details and descriptions that make this earlier time come alive.

I really like Emma as an amateur detective.  She's smart and independent.  Her relationship with Derrick, which is more modern than many marriages of this time, was also interesting.

The mystery aspect of Murder at the Elms was well done, with a brisk pace and a storyline that unfolds as Emma sleuths.

I recommend Murder at the Elms for fans of historical fiction, historical mysteries, cozy mysteries - and for anyone who is interested in the Gilded Age.  I want to go back and read the rest of this series!

Book Synopsis

As the nineteenth century comes to a close, the illustrious Vanderbilt family dominates Newport, Rhode Island, high society. But when murder arrives, reporter Emma Cross learns that sometimes the actions of the cream of society can curdle one’s blood in the latest installment of this bestselling cozy historical mystery series . . .

1901: Back from their honeymoon in Italy, Emma and Derrick are adapting to married life as they return to their duties at their jointly owned newspaper, the Newport Messenger. The Elms, coal baron Edward Berwind’s newly completed Bellevue Avenue estate, is newsworthy for two reasons: A modern mansion for the new century, it is one of the first homes in America to be wired for electricity with no backup power system, generated by coal from Berwind’s own mines. And their servants—with a single exception—have all gone on strike to protest their working conditions. Summarily dismissing and replacing his staff with cool and callous efficiency, Berwind throws a grand party to showcase the marvels of his new “cottage.”

Emma and Derrick are invited to the fete, which culminates not only in a fabulous musicale but an unforeseen tragedy—a chambermaid is found dead in the coal tunnel. In short order, it is also discovered that a guest’s diamond necklace is missing and a laborer has disappeared.

Detective Jesse Whyte entreats Emma and Derrick to help with the investigation and determine whether the murdered maid and stolen necklace are connected. As the dark deeds cast a shadow over the blazing mansion, it’s up to Emma to shine a light on the culprit . . .

Author Bio

Alyssa Maxwell is the author of The Gilded Newport Mysteries and A Lady and Lady’s Maid Mysteries. She has worked in publishing as a reference book editor, ghost writer, and fiction editor, but knew from an early age that she wanted to be a fiction author. Growing up in New England and traveling to Great Britain and Ireland fueled a passion for history, while a love of puzzles drew her to the mystery genre. She and her husband have make their home in South Florida. She is a member of the Mystery Writers of America and the South Florida Fiction Writers. Author Links 

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Friday, September 15, 2023

Book Review and Giveaway - Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas (Year-Round Christmas Mystery) by Vicki Delany

My Review

Merry Wilkinson owns a gift shop in the Christmas theme town of Rudolph, New York.  A couple of weeks from Christmas, she is having a normal day in the shop, chatting with friends and family about the upcoming small theater musical version of A Christmas Carol.  She leaves the shop for just a few minutes to check on her Saint Bernard dog, who is resting in her office.  When she returns, she finds that a contentious woman from the show's cast is dead in her shop!  Merry works to solve the mystery.

I wanted to read Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas because I have enjoyed previous books in the series. 

This was a very enjoyable read.  I have not read the entire series, but was able to jump in and enjoy this mystery, so I think it would also work as a standalone.  

I absolutely love the small town setting of Rudolph.  The town's Christmas theme is a fun bonus!  I love the descriptions of the town, the little shops, restaurants, etc.

Merry is a good amateur detective.  She had some strong suspects, and I enjoyed watching her detecting process.

Mattie (a/k/a Matterhorn), her Saint Bernard is a nice addition to the book!  I love cozy mysteries that feature dogs or cats.

I recommend this book (and series!) for fans of cozy mysteries, and especially anyone who enjoys a small town or holiday setting.

Book Synopsis

It’s beginning to look a lot like murder in the sixth installment of this charming cozy mystery series, perfect for fans of Donna Andrews and Jacqueline Frost.

It’s the beginning of December in Rudolph, New York, America’s Christmas Town, and business is brisk at Mrs. Claus’s Treasures, a gift and décor shop owned by Merry Wilkinson. The local amateur dramatic society is intensely preparing a special musical production of A Christmas Carol. But it’s not a happy set, as rivalries between cast and crew threaten the production.

Tensions come to a head when a member of the group is found dead shortly after a shopping excursion to Mrs. Claus’s Treasures. Was someone looking to cut out the competition? Everyone in the cast and crew is a potential suspect, including Aline, Merry’s mother, and Merry’s shop assistant Jackie O’Reilly, who was desperate for a starring role.

It could be curtains for Christmas—and for Merry—unless the killer can be ferreted out of the wings.

Author Bio

Vicki Delany is one of Canada’s most prolific and varied crime writers and a national bestseller in the U.S.  Author of more than fifty books, she is currently writing the Tea by the Sea mysteries, the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop series, the Year-Round Christmas mysteries, and the Lighthouse Library series (as Eva Gates). Vicki is the recipient of the 2019 Derrick Murdoch Award for contributions to Canadian crime writing. She lives in Prince Edward County, Ontario.

Author Links

Website –

Facebook –;

Twitter:  @vickidelany and@evagatesauthor

Instagram: vickidelany

Bookbub: Vicki Delany Books – BookBub

Purchase Links – AmazonB&NKoboBookshop.orgPenguinRandomHouse


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