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Brenda H. (booksinvt) - , - Reviews

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Absence of Alice (Sarah Winston Garage Sale, Bk 9)
Absence of Alice (Sarah Winston Garage Sale, Bk 9)
Author: Sherry Harris
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 10/7/2020


Absence of Alice is the ninth installment in the Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mystery series set in Ellington, Massachusetts and featuring garage sale organizer, Sarah Winston. Business is booming and Sarah is looking forward to hosting an antique sale for Alice Krandle and preparing for her own two year anniversary sale to be held on the Town Common.

Sarah receives a phone call from a creepy man who informs her that he's kidnapped her landlady Stella Wild. The man says that Sarah can't call the police, tell her DA boyfriend Seth or clue in her reputed mobster neighbor, Mike "the Big Cheese" Titone. The kidnapper soon has Sarah playing a dangerous game of cat and mouse with an ongoing Alice in Wonderland theme. People are turning up dead and Sarah, knowing she needs to act quickly to find Stella, enlists the help of retired FBI hostage negotiator and her part time employee, Harriet Ballou to track down a killer.

A chilling mystery with a surprise ending will have you holding your breath as y0u turn the pages. The plot is a little darker and heavier than the usual cozy but makes for a terrific rainy afternoon read. This is a great addition to the series and readers will enjoy catching up with the residents of Ellington.


Against the Claw (Lobster Shack, Bk 2)
Against the Claw (Lobster Shack, Bk 2)
Author: Shari Randall
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 10
Review Date: 7/4/2018


Against the Claw is the second installment in the A Lobster Shack Mystery series set in the coastal town of Mystic Bay, Connecticut and featuring Allie Larkin, a ballerina who is recovering from an injury by helping her Aunt Gully serve up delicious lobster rolls in the family's Lazy Mermaid Lobster Shack. Celebrity and modeling agency owner, Stellene Lupo has requested that the Lazy Mermaid caters her fourth of July party at her exclusive estate, Harmony Harbor and she only wants Aunt Gully, Allie and Lorel do serve up the tasty lobster treats.

In an effort to help lobster supplier Bertha Betancourt, Allie sets out for a day of pulling up traps. One of the traps contains not only lobsters but the body of a young woman. With no identification found on the body, Allie finds herself feeling responsible for locating the girl's family but the only clue she has to go by is the distinguished pitchfork tattoo circling the girl's wrist.

The ladies are shocked to learn that among the party's A-listers is the famed singer, Eden. Sneaking into the kitchen during clean up, Eden seems shaken that someone is stalking her and she begs Allie and Lorel to come stay the night with her on Stellene's yacht that is anchored in the harbor away from prying eyes. Delighted to have an opportunity to get to know the singer better the sisters agree. Morning dawns with a dead body in the inflatable boat tied to the yacht, and it's not long before Lorel becomes a prime suspect.

Allie sets out to solve the two mysteries and quickly begins to suspect that the recent deaths in Mystic Bay are connected and somehow also involve the Broadway by the Bay performance of Ondine that Allie has agreed to be a part.

A fast paced page turner from the first paragraph. The author does a fantastic job describing the cozy New England town and the locals who call Mystic Bay home. The lobster rolls and Aunt Gully's secret sauce will have you drooling for a trip to the shore.


All Murders Final! (Sarah Winston Garage Sale, Bk 3)
All Murders Final! (Sarah Winston Garage Sale, Bk 3)
Author: Sherry Harris
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 16
Review Date: 3/12/2016


All Murders Final! is the third installment in the Sarah Winston Garage Sale mystery series. The series centers around main character Sarah Winston who after her divorce has found a niche business organizing garage sales in Ellington, MA.

Winter is in full swing across Ellington bringing outdoor garage sales to a standstill, hoping to supplement her income and gain more clients for her business, Sarah has set up a Virtual Garage Sale site. Although it is a lot of work dealing with site maintenance and the complaints of site members, Sarah is enjoying the challenge. Sarah is also busy helping friend Laura Niklas set up the February Blues Sale on neighboring Fitch Air Force Base.

Sarah is looking forward to picking up her new vintage tablecloth from town maven Margaret More, until she discovers the body of the woman dead in her driveway. Sarah can't imagine who would have a reason to murder the most influential woman in town, until she starts digging into her past and discovers that Margaret had a bit of a "blackmailing" side.

As the murder investigation heats up Sarah finds that she is also dealing with a stalker. Someone is following her, taking her picture and sending threatening text messages. When her apartment is broken into she is somewhat relieved to have reputed Mobster Mike Titone and his brothers hiding out in the apartment across the hall.

This edition to the series brings back past characters including DiNapoli's owners Rosalie and Angelo and landlady, opera singer and good friend Stella Wild. Sarah is still caught in the love triangle between ex husband Chief of Police CJ and dreamy eligible batchelor Seth Anderson.

A great series full of fun characters that will be sure to brighten your day. While not necessary, I do recommend starting the series from the beginning to get the full character developments of Sarah and her friends.


All the Pretty Hearses (Bed-And-Breakfast, Bk 26)
All the Pretty Hearses (Bed-And-Breakfast, Bk 26)
Author: Mary Daheim
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 14
Review Date: 1/8/2012


I was really looking forward to this one - having loved all of the others in the series, but I was a little disappointed.

While the colorful main characters with their quirky personalities remain the same - we were introduced to a host of new "guests" at the B&B all with aliases and subplots that were difficult to follow.

All of the loose ends are tied up at the finale, but I was still left wondering what was the point of all the subterfuge and script type dialog? And more importantly, what does the title have to do with the story - is it just a play on words?

Would definitely recommend that you read some of the earlier books in the series so that you have a grasp of who the main characters are and what their background and relevance to the story is.

While this one was definitely not my favorite of the series - I won't give up just yet and will wait for the next installment.


All You Need is Fudge (Candy-Coated, Bk 4)
All You Need is Fudge (Candy-Coated, Bk 4)
Author: Nancy Coco
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 27
Review Date: 6/26/2016


All You Need is Fudge is the fourth installment in the Candy Coated mystery series. Alice (Allie) McMurphy has inherited the Historic McMurphy Hotel on Mackinac Island from her grandfather Papa Liam, and has successfully added her Fudge Shop to the hotel's lobby.

It's the week of the annual Yacht Race and the island is buzzing with tourists. Allie is out walking through the marina early one morning when her Bichon puppy Mal (short for Marshmallow) tugs her to the edge of the boat basin to point out a body floating in the water. Allie jumps in and pulls out the body of Carin Moore.

Officer Rex Manning determines that Carin had been bludgeoned before she was pushed into the water, and the prime suspect in her murder is Paige Jessop. Paige is the younger sister of Allie's boyfriend Trent, and Allie is determined to find the real killer and protect her friend.

Along with her best friend Jenn Christensen and Jenn's boyfriend, Officer Shane Carpenter, the group soon discovers that Carin was one of the least liked people in the Mackinac social set. In addition to Paige's volatile history with her, even Carin's best friend Eleanor Wadsworth had issues with the young woman.

In the midst of finding a killer and running the fudge shop, Allie and Jenn are asked by McMurphy handyman Mr. Devaney to help him plan a proposal. Mr. Devaney has decided to ask McMurphy front manager Frances to marry him in a special and romantic setting perfect for the two Seniors who have finally found love again.

Nancy Coco and the Candy Coated series will transport you to Mackinac Island. A warm and friendly cast of characters, mouth watering fudge recipes and loveable pets make this a series you won't want to pass up.

I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley via Kensington Publishing. While not required to write a review I am more than happy of offer my honest opinion.


And Death Goes To?
And Death Goes To?
Author: Laura Bradford
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 4
Review Date: 12/9/2017


And Death Goes to is the third installment in the Tobi Tobias Mystery series featuring advertising executive Tobi Tobias. Tobi has been nominated for the Best Overall Campaign at the annual St. Louis advertising awards and she's hoping to win the coveted Golden Storyboard award. Her protégé and best friend Mary Fran's 16 year old son Sam Wazoli is also up for the Best Photograph in a Print ad award.

An evening filled with glitz and glamor suddenly takes a turn for the worse when Deidre Ryan steps up to accept her award and the stage platform gives way sending Deidre plummeting to her death. With plenty of suspects to choose from including the woman's husband and fellow associates in the advertising community, Tobi sets out with the help of Grandpa Stu and boyfriend Andy Zander to catch a killer.

The actual mystery often seems to take backstage to a secondary storyline featuring Grandpa Stu and Tobi's nemesis Martha Rapple. While the story does produce a few laugh out louds moments readers have come to expect from the main cast of characters and pets, the plot was somewhat overshadowed by the ongoing situation involving Grandpa Stu and his annoying use of Tobi's nickname "Sugar Lump". Despite this I will not give up on the series, but this particular addition was not my favorite.


Apple Cider Slaying (Cider Shop, Bk 1)
Apple Cider Slaying (Cider Shop, Bk 1)
Author: Julie Anne Lindsey
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 15
Review Date: 10/23/2019


Apple Cider Slaying is the debut of the A Cider Shop Mystery series set in Blossom Valley, West Virginia and featuring Winona Mae "Winnie" Montgomery. Winnie has grown up on Smythe Orchards, raised by her grandparents when her mother abandoned her as an infant and now she's attending college part time, working as a waitress at the local diner and trying to help her Granny keep the farm above water. Faced with mounting debt Winnie hatches a plan to open a cider shop at the orchard featuring her homemade flavorful ciders, but in order to see her dream come to life she first must convince bank manager, Mr. Sherman to give her a loan.

Unfortunately when Mr. Sherman arrives for a site visit, the two discover dying trees and the body of nosy neighbor, Nadine Cooper bludgeoned in the cider press. Granny and Nadine have a not so pleasant history so it's not a shock when the new Sheriff in town targets Granny as the killer. But, Winnie knows that her sweet grandmother is not a killer and she sets out to clear her name.

A fast paced mystery with twists and turns, a cast of friendly characters, a pair of delightful kittens, a blossoming romance and mouthwatering cider descriptions transport you into the heart of Blossom Valley from page one. A fantastic debut!


Ashes to Ashes, Crust to Crust (Deep Dish Mysteries, Bk 2)
Ashes to Ashes, Crust to Crust (Deep Dish Mysteries, Bk 2)
Author: Mindy Quigley
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 1/29/2023


Ashes to Ashes, Crust to Crust is the second installment in the Deep Dish Mysteries series set in Geneva Bay, Wisconsin and featuring pizza restaurant owner Delilah O'Leary. Together with her best friend Sonya Perlman-Dokter, her great aunt, Elizabeth "Biz" O'Leary and employees Melody Schacht, Rabbit and Daniel, Delilah has established Delilah & Son, a terrific deep dish pizzeria.

The annual Taste of Wisconsin contest is approaching and Delilah is busy perfecting a Bratwurst pizza recipe that she hopes will win and bring in the prize money to keep the restaurant afloat through the winter. What she wasn't expecting was that one of the judges would be celebrity chef Graham Ulrich, Sonya's former boss. While working for the chef, Sonya had an affair with Graham's wife, Renee and when the man found out not only did her fire her, but he'd basically blackballed her out of town.

Delilah is also feeling guilty about Butterball, her furry feline. When Delilah and her boyfriend Sam had broken up she'd insisted on joint custody but now the cat seems to be having weight issues and trouble adjusting to being shuttled back and forth between two homes. During one of the drop offs, Delilah learns that Sam is involved with the owner of the new juice restaurant, Jordan Watts.

When a customer of the Juice Revolution drops dead after consuming a smoothie, and then Graham also turns up dead, Delilah is convinced there is a connection between the two deaths. Despite the warnings of Detective Calvin Capone to stay out of the investigation, Delilah must act quickly to draw suspicion away from herself and Sonya.

A mysterious ex con, cryptic threats and vandalism create a fast paced mystery featuring twists and turns, mouthwatering recipes, a delightful cast of characters, a hint of romance and a furry feline.
This series is a must read.


Asking for Truffle (Southern Chocolate Shop, Bk 1)
Asking for Truffle (Southern Chocolate Shop, Bk 1)
Author: Dorothy St. James
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.1/5 Stars.
 10
Review Date: 4/9/2017


Asking for Truffle is the debut in the A Southern Chocolate Shop Mystery series featuring Charity Penn. Penn, as she prefers to be called, is living in Madison, Wisconsin with Granny Mae, her biological grandmother's one time housekeeper when she receives a note that she's won a trip to Camellia Beach, South Carolina and free cooking lessons in a chocolate shop.

Immediately suspicious of the prize as she didn't enter a contest, Penn asks her best friend Craig "Skinny" McGee to investigate who sent her the note. Skinny leaves an excited yet cryptic message on her cell phone saying that she needs to come to Camellia Beach and that is the last Penn hears from him, as he's discovered dead in a vat of chocolate the next day.

Determined to find out what happened to her friend and discover who sent her the mysterious prize, Penn sets out across country with her Papillon, Stella. Quickly she finds herself caught up in a week long class at The Chocolate Box, owned by Mabel Maybank and her assistant Bertie Bays, and not long after Penn discovers that things around the candy shop aren't as sweet as they seem.

A terrific debut with well rounded and interesting characters that will draw you in from page one. The main murders are solved but several subplots are not by the end of the book and you'll most definitely want to pick up the next installment in the series to follow the adventures of Penn and Stella.


Assault and Beadery (A Cora Crafts Mystery)
Assault and Beadery (A Cora Crafts Mystery)
Author: Mollie Cox Bryan
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 4
Review Date: 10/5/2018


Assault and Beadery is the fourth installment in the Cora Crafts Mystery series set in the small town of Indigo Gap, North Carolina and featuring the residents of the Kildare House, Cora Chevalier, her best friend Jane and inherited resident Ruby. Kildare House is set to host their third crafting retreat geared for Mom's and all types of beading.

Cora and Jane have been roped into helping their friend Zee with the set designs for the community theaters upcoming production of Fiddler on the Roof. Cora isn't too impressed with the overbearing and egotistical director Stan Herald. She's even less thrilled working amidst the petty Stage Moms. Rumored to cast characters in the play not because of their talents but how much money their parents contribute, it's not a surprise when Stan is found stabbed to death center stage.

Unfortunately, Zee is fingered as the killer. Despite her friend's mysterious past which she has kept hidden, Cora knows that there is no way her friend who have committed such a heinous crime. Determined to clear Zee's name Cora sets out against the wishes of her boyfriend Adrian and Detective Thomas Brodsky. Cora quickly discovers that a few of the ladies attending the retreat have ties with Stan and other members of the Indigo Gap community.

A fast paced mystery from page one to the last beading knot tied. A well developed cast of characters with personal histories that many readers can relate, terrific beading descriptions and helpful tips to learning a new craft.


Assaulted Caramel (Amish Candy Shop, Bk 1)
Assaulted Caramel (Amish Candy Shop, Bk 1)
Author: Amanda Flower
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 43
Review Date: 9/3/2017
Helpful Score: 1


Assaulted Caramel is the debut of the Amish Candy Shop Mystery series featuring Bailey King, an assistant chocolatier for the world famous JP Chocolates of New York City. Bailey has her fingers crossed that her life long dream comes true and she will be named head chocolatier for the company when founder Jean Pierre retires. With just a few days until the announcement Bailey receives a call from her Grandmother Clara "Maami" to say that her Grandfather Jebediah "Daadi" is not doing well.

Extremely close to her grandparents, Bailey rushes to Harvest, Ohio to check in on him. Harvest is an Amish community intermingled with the Englisch. Bailey's father had been raised Amish but he elected to leave the faith and marry her mother, but Bailey always loved spending summers and school vacations with her grandfather at his chocolate shop "Swissmen Sweets".

Bailey arrives in Harvest just in time to see Jebediah engaged in an argument on the sidewalk in front of his shop. She's horrified when he suddenly clutches his chest and falls to the ground while the other man turns his back and walks away. Bailey soon learns that the man was Tyson Colton, the county's richest man, and he'd been pressuring Jebediah into selling his shop. Tyson has bought the other shops on Main Street with the intention of turning the town into an Amish Disneyworld, and only Jebediah is standing in his way with his refusal to sell.

Angry that Tyson has been threatening her grandparents, worried about Jebediah's health and annoyed that her NYC boyfriend isn't returning her calls, Bailey can't sleep and gets up to go down to the candy kitchen. She stumbles upon the dead body of Tyson, stabbed with Jebediah's favorite candy knife. Bailey and her grandparents quickly become prime suspects in the man's murder and Bailey sets out to find the real killer.

A terrific debut with characters that will draw you right into their lives. Full of heartwarming, touching and funny moments this book will have you both laughing aloud and sobbing. Just the right hint of romance a very cute kitty and a precocious pig, this is the perfect cozy. Looking forward to Lethal Licorice coming in February 2018.


Ax to Grind (Kenni Lowry, Bk 3)
Ax to Grind (Kenni Lowry, Bk 3)
Author: Tonya Kappes
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 6
Review Date: 9/15/2017


Ax To Grind is the third installment in the Kenni Lowry mystery series set in Cottonwood, Kemtucky featuring Sheriff Kenni Lowry. Kenni is running for re-election against her former Deputy Lonnie Lemar and much to her chagrin her Mama has taken over the position of campaign manager.

Things have been quiet in Cottonwood lately with no sign of Kenni's Poppa, her ghostly grandfather and the town's former Sheriff. When Poppa suddenly appears in her truck's backseat Kenni has a sinking feeling that another murder is on the horizon. It's only a matter of hours before Kenni is called to the Stone estate, home of the town's reclusive and well known romance author Beryle Stone.

Beryle had recently passed away and her assistant Cecily Hoover is in charge of hosting an auction of the author's worldly possessions drawing many fans to Cottonwood. Rumor has it that Beryle has written a tell-tale manuscript detailing many deep dark secrets the townsfolk have worked hard to keep under wraps. The manuscript is missing, Cecily is found dead bludgeoned by an ax and Lonnie's wife Paige is unconscious having also been brutally attacked.

Lonnie vows to solve the murder before Kenni thus capturing the election, but Kenni and her clan is having none of it. With the aid of Poppa, current Deputy Finn Vincent and her trusty sidekick and darling bloodhound Duke, Kenni begins her investigation aided in part by an offhand comment made by Kiwi the green macaw owned by Innkeeper Darby Gray.

A fast paced storyline filled with laugh out loud moments and a delightful cast of characters. Just the right touch of romance, furry and feathered friends, and a feel good look into small town living. A good stand alone mystery but don't miss the chance to catch up on the other two books in the series.


Bad Housekeeping (Agnes and Effie, Bk 1)
Bad Housekeeping (Agnes and Effie, Bk 1)
Author: Maia Chance
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 9
Review Date: 2/10/2017


Bad Housekeeping is the debut of the An Agnes and Effie Mystery series featuring Agnes Blythe, recently dumped by her boyfriend, jobless and now having to move back into her family home in Naneda, New York. With the whole town talking about how she was dumped for the Pilates instructor by boyfriend, Dr. Roger Hollins, Agnes just wants to hide out, but when your dad is Gary Blythe, Town Mayor it's just not that easy.

Agnes' Great Aunt Euphemia "Effie" has drifted into town having inherited Uncle Herman's dilapidated and condemned old home, the Stagecoach Inn. Effie is determined to restore the old home and turn it back into an Inn, problem is that it's scheduled to be demolished within the week. Agnes can't stand Effie, all because the older woman made the mistake of calling her "husky" when she was a child.

In a desperate attempt to prolong her temp job at the library, Agnes encounters Kathleen Todd, Chairman of the Historical Society and not in a good way. Plowing through the libraries swinging door, Agnes knocks a box of relics to the floor and while she thinks it's just a bunch of Pyrex dishes, Kathleen is not amused. Later on Aunt Effie encounters Kathleen at the supermarket and the two exchange words, Kathleen is determined that the Stagecoach be demolished. Unfortunately for both ladies, the next morning Kathleen turns up dead on the back porch of the Inn.

With them both under suspicion for murder, the unlikely duo of Agnes and Effie team up to find the real killer and save the Stagecoach. Agnes is having to go around town riding a bicycle and wearing the too small clothes leftover in her childhood bedroom as Roger sent everything she owned to Goodwill. Effie it seems has stolen the Caddy she's driving, is claiming there are ghosts in the Inn where she's illegally camping out, and is a chain smoking fiend. Add in Cousin Chester who claims to be a handyman extraordinaire and Agnes' high school crush Otis Hatch and the adventures begin.

A fun mystery with plenty of suspects and a misfit cast of characters that will have you laughing out loud from page one to the end. A perfect cozy to cuddle up with on a snowy winter day, I can't wait for the next adventures of Agnes and Effie.


Bad Neighbors (Agnes and Effie, Bk 2)
Bad Neighbors (Agnes and Effie, Bk 2)
Author: Maia Chance
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 7
Review Date: 12/23/2017


Bad Neighbors is the second installment in the An Agnes & Effie Mystery series set in the small town of Naneda, New York featuring Agnes "Aggie" Blythe. Aggie, her Great Aunt Euphemia "Effie" and Cousin Chester are still working on getting the once condemned Stagecoach Inn renovated and it's not as easy as the home improvement shows on TV make it look.

Effie receives a call that a motor coach carrying leaf peppers from Golden Vistas Motor Coach Tours has broken down and a few of the Senior citizens need a place to stay. Thinking that this is a very bad idea, Aggie heads down to Hatch Automotive, the auto repair shop run by her boyfriend Otis Hatch, to retrieve the group. Pulling into the parking lot she's greeted by patrol cars one of which is hauling Otis away, it seems that someone has bludgeoned Mikey Brown one of the mechanics to death and the police think it was Otis.

Determined to clear her boyfriends name, Aggie sets out with the help of Aunt Effie and the group of Seniors to uncover the killer. It soon becomes apparent that although the local townsfolk are quick to make fun of Aggie and Effie, they are harboring quite a few secrets that they'd just as soon stay under wraps. More bodies turn up, money goes missing and somebody's trying to bribe the Peeper Prize judge.

Mayhem and madness follow Agnes and Effie wherever they go and their hijinks will have you laughing out loud from cover to cover. A quirky cast of characters and a shocking twist at the end undoubtedly mean many more adventures for the duo.


Bad to the Bone (Barkery & Biscuits, Bk 3)
Bad to the Bone (Barkery & Biscuits, Bk 3)
Author: Linda O. Johnston
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 12/22/2016


Bad to the Bone is the third installment in the Barkery and Biscuits mystery series featuring Carrie Kennersly, owner of Icing on the Cake, a bakery for humans and the adjacent Barkery and Biscuits serving up organic pet treats in Knobcone Heights. Business is booming in both shops and Carrie is enjoying her new romance with Veterinarian Reed Storme.

Jack Loroco, the VimPets representative is actively trying to get Carrie to sell some of her organic pet recipes to his company. Jack has been spending a lot of time in Knobcone Heights and has become involved with City Councilman Billi Matlock, who also runs Mountaintop Rescue, the no kill animal shelter.

Jack has invited co-worker Wanda Addler on this trip to Knobcone to meet with Carrie and the first impression she makes is not a good one. It is soon apparent that Wanda wants to take all the credit for Jack's work and is trying to push him out of the company and seems to imply that she has a romantic relationship with Jack. It is really no surprise when Wanda is found dead outside of Jack's apartment and both Jack and Billi become the prime suspects in her murder.

Anxious to help her two friends Carrie sets out to find the real killer. With the help of her brother Neal and Detectives Wayne Crunoll and Bridget Morana, Carrie soon discovers there are a few people in town who have had unpleasant dealings with Wanda and that some of the prominent Knobcone citizens are harboring secrets.


Batten Down the Belfry (House-Flipper, Bk 4)
Batten Down the Belfry (House-Flipper, Bk 4)
Author: Diane Kelly
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 6
Review Date: 11/21/2021
Helpful Score: 1


Batten Down the Belfry is the fourth installment in the House-Flipper Mystery series featuring Whitney Whitaker, her cat Sawdust and cousin Buck. Coming off the successful flip of a ramshackle motel into luxurious condos the duo has now purchased a country church and parsonage. Whitney comes up with the idea to turn the church into an arts venue - concerts, plays, etc. and her roommate Collette (who is now dating Buck) will run the parsonage turned restaurant.

But, Nolan Sibley the horse breeder next door is claiming that he owns the land and buildings due to his filing for adverse possession. Neither Whitney or Buck like the man - and they especially don't like the way he uses the cattle prod on his horses.

Whitney hires a woman to create stained glass windows for the church and when the delivery man turns up dead, she and Buck are unwittingly exposed to a jewel smuggling operation. So, they team up with Collin Flynn, Whitney's boyfriend and homicide detective to track down a killer. When Nolan is found dead in his pasture everyone must work quickly to salvage the flip.

The return of series regulars, two adorable cats and an interesting murder plot that weaves in jewels and horse breeding, combined with warm and friendly relationships make for a fun addition to the series.


Batter Off Dead (Country Store, Bk 10)
Batter Off Dead (Country Store, Bk 10)
Author: Maddie Day
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 8
Review Date: 1/6/2022


Batter Off Dead is the tenth installment in the A Country Store Mystery series set in South Lick, Indiana and featuring Robbie Jordan, owner of Pans 'n Pancakes. Newlyweds Robbie and Abe are gathered with friends to watch the weekly Friday night fireworks including Police Lieutenant Buck Bird. Buck invites Robbie to walk over and meet his father Grant and the other residents of the Jupiter Springs Assisted Living Center. Robbie is delighted to meet Grant and quickly realizes the older gentleman has a soft spot for his neighbor Vi Perkell. Sadly, the fireworks come to an end with Vi dead in her lawn chair.

Robbie is drawn into the murder investigation, which seems to be related to the cold case murder of Buck's mother many years ago. As she digs deeper into both murders alongside Detective Oscar Thompson, Robbie discovers that the common thread seems to center around a decades old crafting group - Stitch and Bitch.

An enjoyable afternoon read with the return of series regulars and delicious sounding recipes, that culminates in the resolution of two murders. The only thing questionable thing for me is how after all of these years living in South Lick, has Robbie never met Buck's wife or even knew that his father lived in town since Buck spends what seems like many hours a day seated at "his" table in the restaurant. I also have a slight problem with the way that Buck talks - why is he the only one in town who seems to have a distinct Hoosier way of speaking?


Batter Off Dead (Southern Cake Baker, Bk 2)
Batter Off Dead (Southern Cake Baker, Bk 2)
Author: Maymee Bell
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 6
Review Date: 12/30/2018


Batter off Dead is the second installment of the A Southern Cake Baker Mystery series set in Rumford, KY and featuring bakery owner, Sophia Cummings. Sophie and best friend, Charlotte Harrington are busy at For Goodness Cakes, baking for the Heart of Rumford fundraiser to benefit the library that is being held at the Grape Valley Winery.

Local resident Ray Peeler seems to be attracting the most attention as he's promised to donate a half a million dollars towards the library expansion. But, as the ceremony approaches, Ray tells head librarian Catherine Fraxman that he's not going to donate money after all. To make matters worse he springs on the Winery owners, the Dugan Family, that he's not going to renew their lease and instead sell the winery land out from under them. Icing on the cake is when he offends Sophie's friend and realtor, Madison Ridge by telling her that she doesn't have enough of a reputation to handle the listing.

Sophie hadn't collected payment in advance for her tasty treats and knowing that she needs the hefty sum in order to keep the bakery going, she sets out to find Ray and ends up tripping over his dead body in one of the grape rows. With all of the enemies the man has made it's really no surprise that someone has finally done him in, and Sophie sets out to track down a killer.

Against the advice of her boyfriend Sheriff Carter Kincaid, Sophie teams up with her mother Bitsy, and friends to form Operation Merlot. A fast paced plot featuring series regulars offers just the right blend of mystery and laughs.


Be My Ghost (Haunted Haven, Bk 1)
Be My Ghost (Haunted Haven, Bk 1)
Author: Carol J. Perry
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 10
Review Date: 5/29/2021


Be My Ghost is set in Haven, Florida and features Maureen Doherty, who has unexpectedly a) laid off from her job as a sportswear buyer for a department store and b) inherited an old Inn from a woman that she's never met. Packing up her golden retriever Finn, who has failed at being a guide dog, Maureen leaves Boston and heads for her new home.

Maureen is surprised to learn that the Inn comes with a collection of year round residents, a miserable manager, two cats and GHOSTS! Her first guests are a group of ghost hunters and when of them winds up dead Maureen must rely on her tenants, a few of the locals and her "housemate" Lorna to find a killer.

A fun debut set at Halloween, a likable cast of characters, a furry collection of pets, and friendly ghosts make for an enjoyable afternoon read. I hope that there are more adventures to come for Maureen and Finn. The only question I still have is who was the lady who left the Inn to Maureen?


Be Our Ghost (Merry Ghost Inn, Bk 3)
Be Our Ghost (Merry Ghost Inn, Bk 3)
Author: Kate Kingsbury
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 8
Review Date: 7/3/2018


Be Our Ghost is the third installment of the A Merry Ghost Inn Mystery series set in the seaside community of Sully's Landing, Oregon and featuring Innkeepers Melanie West and her grandmother, Liza Harris. Things at the B&B have been busy but thanks to their new assistant, Cindi Metzger everything is running smoothly and their resident laughing ghost, Orville has been remarkably quiet.

Pushy Portland real estate developer Jason Northwood, has plans to build a huge, noisy arcade and bar in the heart of the charming downtown which will mean the loss of several popular businesses as well as destroy the cozy feel of the town. Tensions are running high among the townsfolk with the locals taking sides both for and against the development.

A late night meeting of the Planning Commission in Northwood's hotel suite, leads to an early morning discovery of the developer stabbed to death. The only real suspects in the man's death are the members of the commission which include Doug Griffith, owner of the hardware store and pub, and Liza's "special" friend.

Determined to clear their friend's name and track down the killer, Melanie and Liza, along with Melanie's furry sidekick, Max set out on a dangerous investigation. Despite the warnings of Melanie's romantic interest Officer Ben Carter not to get involved, the ladies soon discover that more than one of the prominent members of the town council have something in their past that they are desperate to keep hidden.

As in the past, Orville reappears with his haunting laughter and subtle clues that point the ladies in the right direction to solve the crime. The continuing secondary plot of the series, involves Melanie's search to find out what happened to her Mother who disappeared when she was just four years old. Her search via the internet continues across the pond in England and a startling discovery is made.

A fast paced plot that draws you in from the first page, the return of many well loved characters will not disappoint readers of the series.


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