Friday, January 26, 2024

Book Review and Giveaway - Deadly to the Core (A Cider House Mystery) by Joyce Tremel

My Review

Kate Mulligan has recently lost her husband in an accident that also injured her.  When she unexpectedly inherits her family homeplace from her uncle, she moves to a small town near Gettysburg to open a fruit orchard and cidery.  The move changes her life - she reconnects with her childhood friend, becomes friends with a man who she could become interested in later, and, after there is a murder at her orchard, she becomes involved in solving the mystery.

I wanted to read this book because I love cozy mysteries.  I was intrigued by the fruit orchard setting, and the cidery (since that is something I knew nothing about).

This is the first book in a new series and I have to say it is my favorite start to a cozy series in a long time!  Kate is a likable, smart, independent protagonist.  She has been through a lot but she approaches life with optimism and a resilient attitude.  I also liked her friends, her potential love interest, and the little town itself, which was charming, with all the little shops and businesses.

The cidery business was fascinating!  The author included details through the book that let the reader learn more about the world of cider production.

This mystery has a strong link to the past and to town history, and I loved that aspect of the book as well.  I especially enjoyed when Kate was uncovering local history as part of her sleuthing.

There is even a lovable pet, a sweet cat named Blossom who adopts Kate when they both need companionship.

I enthusiastically recommend Deadly to the Core for fans of cozy mysteries.  I know you will enjoy this book as much as I did!

Book Synopsis

Perfect for fans of Amanda Flower and Julie Anne Lindsey, when Kate Mulligan inherits her great uncle’s fruit orchard, she quickly realizes that apples aren’t the only thing that can have rotten cores.

After losing her husband in a terrible car crash, thirty-five-year-old Kate is left to pick up the pieces of her life alone. Although she has physically recovered, she worries her spirit never will. But when she learns that she has inherited a fruit orchard in a small town just outside Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, from her great uncle Stan, she takes this as an opportunity ripe for the picking. Kate knew immediately what to do with it: open a cider house. Her hopeful plans fall far from the tree when she finds the body of the orchard manager, Carl Randolph, leaving her to figure out who is at the core of this murder.

She had been in correspondence with Carl, who had agreed with her brilliant idea of opening a cider house. But not everyone is so quick to buy what she was selling—Uncle Stan’s lawyer, Robert Larabee, paints a less rosy financial outlook of the orchard’s past, present, and future.

Kate discovers that Carl had large, unexplained deposits to his bank account and it becomes clear that either he was blackmailing someone, or someone was paying him to keep quiet. Meanwhile, Kate and her neighbors receive offers to buy their property from a mysterious buyer. And there’s more than meets the eye with the neighboring orchard owner, Daniel Martinez, although Kate can’t quite put her finger on if it’s sweet or sour.

Will she be able to pick out the bad apple among the bunch before it’s too late?

Author Bio

Joyce Tremel was a police secretary for ten years and more than once envisioned the demise of certain co-workers, but settled on writing as a way to keep herself out of jail. In addition to the Cider House Mysteries, she wrote the Brewing Trouble Mysteries. As Joyce St. Anthony, she writes the Homefront News historical mysteries. She lives in the beautiful Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania with her husband and two cats named Hops and Lager.

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Friday, January 19, 2024

Book Review and Giveaway - A Bean to Die For (A Coffee Lover’s Mystery) by Tara Lush

My Review

Lana Lewis is the co-owner of a coffeehouse named Perkatory in Devil's Beach, Florida.  When a body is found in the community garden and an acquaintance is accused of murder, she decides to work to solve the mystery.

I wanted to read this mystery because I love cozy mysteries and the coffeehouse setting was appealing. This is the fourth book in the series A Coffee Lover's Mystery. I have not read the earlier books but had no problem jumping in and enjoying A Bean to Die For as a standalone mystery.

This was a fun, fast moving read!  Lana is an amateur detective to like and pull for.  I enjoyed her relationships with her family, barista Erica, boyfriend Noah, and adorable Shih Tzu Stanley.

The mystery was well paced, with several solid suspects.  It was interesting investigating the case with Lana as she followed different clues.

I look forward to reading more books in this series.  I recommend A Bean to Die For to other fans of cozy mysteries, and especially for anyone who enjoys a coffeehouse setting.

Book Synopsis

Perfect for fans of Cleo Coyle and Lucy Burdette, reporter-turned-barista 

Lana Lewis is back on the case when a body is dug up in the community garden.

Lana Lewis is brewing up new concoctions at Perkatory, a popular cafĂ© in Devil’s Beach, when she decides she wants to try her hand at growing her own coffee. She secures a gardening plot in the community garden, thanks to her father and the garden’s owner, Darla. Darla’s list of rules is long, but that doesn’t stop someone from leaving Jack Daggett’s body amongst the gardening plots.

Jack, an environmental activist, had been banned from the garden previously, because of his many fights with Darla about organic produce. Lana promises her boyfriend, police chief Noah, that she’s going to stay out of this case, having been too involved in previous cases. But when she learns that Jack died from an accidental overdose, and Darla is the top suspect because of her shady past, Lana can’t help but poke around in an attempt to clear Darla’s name.

As Lana dives deeper into the case, she learns that Jack had more enemies than she realized. When Darla turns up dead, Lana has to turn up the heat on her investigation. With Lana on the case, it won’t be long before someone spills the beans to crack this case wide open. But will she able to find the killer before they strike again?

Author Bio

Tara Lush is a Florida-based author and journalist. She’s an RWA Rita finalist, an Amtrak writing fellow, and the winner of the George C. Polk Award for environmental journalism.

She was a reporter with The Associated Press in Florida, covering crime, alligators, natural disasters, and politics. She also writes contemporary romance set in tropical locations under the name Tamara Lush.

Tara is a fan of vintage pulp fiction book covers, Sinatra-era jazz, 1980s fashion, tropical chill, kombucha, gin, tonic, seashells, iPhones, Art Deco, telenovelas, street art, coconut anything, strong coffee and newspapers. She lives on the Gulf Coast with her husband and two dogs.

Her debut mystery series is published by Crooked Lane Books.

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