A Big Fat Greek Murder (A Goddess of Greene St Mystery Book 2 of 2) by Kate Collins – a #BookReview – #cozymystery

Book Blurb:

A Big Fat Greek Murder by Kate CollinsSingle mom Athena Spencer is back in Michigan working at her family’s garden center, raising a pet racoon, and digging up clues in the smart new mystery series by the New York Times bestselling author of the Flower Shop Mysteries . . .

The entire family has been put to work when a big fat Greek wedding rehearsal is booked at the Parthenon. All hands are needed for rolling grape leaves, layering moussaka, and keeping the bride calm. But then the groom goes MIA and there’s far more to worry about then just whether Yiayia’s lemon rice soup has gone cold.

No matter how tangy the tzatziki, everyone’s appetite is ruined when the groom is found dead, a pair of scissors planted in his back. When the bride accuses Athena’s sister Selene, a hairstylist, of seducing and stabbing her fiancé, it’s all-out war—and it’s up to Athena to dig up the dirt on the suspects and nip these suspicions in the bud . . .

My Review:

The second in the Goddess of Greene St Mysteries and another fast, fun cozy. There is that strong family theme with the Greek families’ enclave in Sequoia, Michigan, and the tie to the nursery family business and the little mascot that comes to get his peanuts. The family also has a restaurant, the Parthenon, which was to be graced by the Athena statue her grandfather found and brought in. Too large, it ended up at the garden center. But it was a way to introduce Case to Book 1 who plays a very prominent part in Book 2.

A Big Fat Greek Murder by Kate CollinsIn this installment, the restaurant is hosting a rehearsal dinner for Mandy Black and Brady Rogers. Protagonists’ Athena’s sister was to be one of the bridesmaids, but when the groom doesn’t show up, he is later found murdered. Uh oh. The police will point to the one obviously set up person who wouldn’t have done it, her sister, so Athena will get involved, along with Case, who helped her solve the mystery in Book 1 to clear her sister.

A little side tongue-in-cheek gig that slides just under the main storyline is Athena’s blog—unknown to her family (mostly)—known as “Goddess Anon.” Fun little snipes regarding what is going on in her family, the joys of a large family with all the drama, relationships, and idiosyncrasies of the individuals—i.e., her mother will feed anyone—including the people at the jail.

She and Case have a direct prosecutorial courtroom style of questioning; double-teaming those on their interview list until the list gets bullied down to three possible perps. Of course, it’s not terribly difficult to figure out who is the culprit and in the meantime I enjoy the steps they take to each new clue. Athena is smart, if not wholly open to a relationship—and you know that’s brewing between she and Case. The bits with the family are always entertaining, and the side trips to the Goddess blog fun.

You might wish to begin this series with Book 1, Statue of Limitations, to get more background. Could be read as a standalone, however, as there are bits of background info snuck in. The conclusion is satisfying and a wrap-up of details, which we’ve pretty much sussed out at this point. Engaging characters, descriptive locale, and entertaining storyline. However, there is a monkey-wrench thrown in at the end which worries me about a possible partner in Book 3? Say it isn’t so…and I’ll be watching for it.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author. These are my honest thoughts.

Rosepoint Rating: Four Point Five of Five 4 1/2 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuths, Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ASIN : B085LTLH4P

Print Length: 258 pages
Publication Date: December 1, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

 Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Kate Collins - authorThe Author: Kate Collins is the author of the best-selling Flower Shop Mystery series. Her books have made the New York Times Bestseller list, the Barnes & Noble mass market mystery best-sellers’ lists, the Independent Booksellers’ best-seller’s lists, as well as booksellers’ lists in the U.K. and Australia. All Flower Shop Mysteries are available in paperback, hardback and large print editions. The first three books in the FSM series are now available on audiobook.

In January of 2016, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel aired the first Flower Shop Mystery series movie, MUM’S THE WORD, followed by SLAY IT WITH FLOWERS and DEARLY DEPOTTED later that year. The movies star Brooke Shields, Brennan Elliott, Beau Bridges and Kate Drummond.

In December of 2017, a Christmas novella featuring the whole cast from the Flower Shop Mystery series was released in e-book format. MISSING UNDER THE MISTLETOE is the first mystery to be released digitally, with plans for many more stories to come.

Kate started her career writing children’s stories for magazines and eventually published historical romantic suspense novels under the pen name Linda Eberhardt and Linda O’brien.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Without a Brew: A Sloan Krause Mystery Book 4) by Ellie Alexander – a #BookReview #cozymystery

“Life is what happens between coffee and beer.”

Book Blurb:

Amateur sleuth Sloan Krause delves into a murderous winter wonderland in another delightful mystery from cozy writer Ellie Alexander, Without a Brew.

It’s winter in the Bavarian village of Leavenworth, Washington, which for local brewmaster Sloan Krause means lots of layers, pine and citrus-flavored craft beers, and getting the new guest rooms at Nitro into pristine condition before visitors flood in for IceFest—a local tradition filled with fireworks, ice carving, and winter games of all varieties. But Sloan and her boss Garrett quickly learn that being brewkeepers turned innkeepers may not be as idyllic as it sounded.

While one couple staying with them seems completely smitten, a flashy group arrives in the evening demanding rooms. Sloan and Garrett are less than impressed, but agree to rent to them anyway. The night takes a turn when brewery patron Liv Paxton finishes her frothy pint and, with no previous plan for an overnight stay in Leavenworth, eagerly takes Sloan up on the offer of sanctuary from the snow—until she has a strange run in with some locals and the other guests. Sloan could be imagining things, but when Liv’s room is found trashed the next morning, a hateful message painted on her car, and Liv herself is nowhere to be found, Sloan is convinced another mystery is brewing. With many of the potential suspects hunkering down under Nitro’s roof, she knows her co-workers and friends won’t be safe until she serves up the killer a hoppy pint of justice.

My Review:

I really enjoying tearing into this series as soon as the next book is available. Not a beer drinker, but this series is written so well I’m almost ready to try–it’s right there with soliloquies about wine. Such an art—I’ll bet you never knew!

“The beer thief, or sample thief, as they were sometimes called, was a long plastic device with a gravity valve on the base.” Hmmm…okay.

Sloan Krause is the product of the foster care system, but has found a strong family and idyllic home in Leavenworth, Washington, where she has joined Garrett in crafting unusual beers made from specialty hops and crops unique to the area and the season. They’ve gradually added more services, light snacks and soups and are now looking forward to opening rooms above Nitro as a limited B&B. Her ex is from a strong German family where she honed the knowledge of her craft and learned to love the family she never had. She also has a teenage son, Alex.

In this episode, they are gearing up for IceFest and testing their B&B quarters which has resulted in an eclectic group of guests—opposites on the social pole with one group downright obnoxious, as well as a couple celebrating an anniversary, and a single woman stranded for the night.

So many strong layers here to enjoy: the description of the delightful Bavarian style town nestled in the high mountains of Washington state and the citizens, the information regarding the art of brewing, the equipment, the nuances, ingredients and recipes, Sloan’s mysterious background coming to the fore and its possible connection to her (soon-to-be ex) in-laws, and the mystery itself expertly woven smoothly together. It’s okay that it’s Book 4, the author easily adds bits of pertinent data (no info dump), although these are fun enough to go back and start with Book 1.

The protagonist herself, Sloan, is not an in-your-face amateur sleuth. She doesn’t generally put herself at risk. She is good with people, quietly putting them at ease, and usually gets the clues she’s looking for without their being any the wiser. Also, she works well with local police Chief Meyers, herself an intelligent woman, effective, exchanging hints.

The mystery rides the tide with Sloan’s personal life growth and that of the service industry and occasionally slips in a quick recipe explanation or two. The mystery is not without twists or red herrings. Not like you won’t get a sense of the perp (although once again, not one I wanted it to be). The author builds her characters so three-dimensionally, the reader becomes engaged and except for the rude and crude one, not easy to assign guilt.

Fully invested and rolling in all the layers, the conclusion comes whether or not you’re ready. The storyline has resolved several issues, set up for the next book, and fully cemented you in the series. The only issue I had was of “the sharp edge of the shovel.” Just not sure that’s one you’d walk away from.

I missed the first, but have read and thoroughly enjoyed Books 2 and 3. You should check out this atmospheric and character-driven series. On pre-order now, this one releases in November.  

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley. These are my unbiased thoughts.

Rosepoint Publishing: Four point Five of Five Stars

4 1/2 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Culinary Mystery, Amateur Sleuths

Publisher: Minotaur Books

ASIN : B084M1SDGK

Print Length: 304 pages

Publication Date: November 10, 2020

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

About The Author:

ELLIE ALEXANDER is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses and breweries nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails of Southern Oregon and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research. She is the author of the Bakeshop Mystery Series and the Sloan Krause Mysteries. Follow her on social media to learn more about her books, see her recipe videos, and participate in fun giveaways!

Find out more about Ellie and her books by visiting her here:
Website: https://www.elliealexander.co/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ellie_alexander
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/elliealexanderauthor
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elliealexanderauthor
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/BakeshopMystery
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/elliealexander

(C) 2020 V Williams

V Williams

Hawthorn Woods by Patrick Canning – a #BookReview – #Mystery #Thriller

Rosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

Hawthorn Woods by Patrick CanningSeeking to rediscover herself after a divorce, a detective-minded woman embarks on solving the small mysteries of a Midwest neighborhood, only to learn the secrets hidden there are more horrifying than she could have ever imagined.

Summer, 1989. Reeling from a catastrophic divorce, Francine Haddix flees San Francisco for a two week stay at her sister’s house in Hawthorn Woods, Illinois. The quaint neighborhood of shady trees and friendly neighbors seems like the perfect place for her to sort through her pain and move on with her life.

But Francine quickly discovers the “idyllic” neighborhood is hiding a number of disturbing mysteries. Behind every door and window there’s marital strife, simmering grudges, and a secret so terrible, someone will kill to keep it quiet.

Francine rewrites her prescription from relaxation to investigation. If she can remember how to trust herself, she might discover what’s hidden in Hawthorn Woods. She might even be able to believe the future can be good again, assuming she stays alive long enough to be in it…

My Review:

Well, here I go again with one of Patrick Canning’s books. This author writes such off-the-wall stuff you know going in it’ll be a ride. The question is just how crazy will this roller-coaster be? Answer: Subtle, confounding, twisty, and who can you trust?

Hawthorn Woods by Patrick CanningFrancine is reeling from a devastating divorce in 1989 in San Francisco when her sister Ellie suggests a child/housesitting stay at her home in Hawthorn Woods, Illinois while they take a European vacation. It certainly looks benign enough, quaint, friendly, and attractive. A nice getaway when she needs one.

A bon voyage-welcome party turns a bit ugly, however, when one of the guests throws a drink in Francine’s face. True, you never know what goes on behind closed doors and there are certainly enough neighbors here to offer a variety of single and married, tempers, secrets, and fears. Her sister’s best friend Laura Jean is a strong ally and there are a number of interesting support characters. When Francine discovers the death of Brownie (a goat), she decides it’s time to start investigating the neighbors more deeply.

And what a smorgasbord of characters there are! You are not meant to like them all. Hers is not the only temporary stay in the hood and it is Bruno that brings a special light to Francine’s eyes as they collaborate together in his own secret research.

Francine is fragile and easy to invest in; Bruno a history teacher smothered in cliché right up to his bow tie and brown corduroy trousers and I really liked them both. Obvious red herrings, teenage boy, nasty HOA lady, ex-Marine. It’s a slow burn but weirdly compelling. What IS going on here? Are you confused yet?

The conclusion brings a shock you never saw coming and a head-shaking surprise you can’t compute. Yes, yes, you knew the one answer, but… I loved the little questionnaire questions her ex left with her at the beginning of each chapter setting your nerves to jangling and the tension rising.

“In most marriages, one or both partners are unhappy. [x] True [ ] False.
“I often think: ‘I wish I were a child again.’ [x]True [ ] False.
“I am so touchy on some subjects that I can’t talk about them. [x] True [ ] False.

The author’s writing style is beguiling, clever, and wily fun. Keep reading and watch his mind twist you in the wind. I’ve read one of his books before, The Colonel and the Bee back in July, 2018 and if I didn’t recognize that signature…um, just wait…of his, I wouldn’t know it was the same author–and I really enjoyed that one. This is a suspense thriller that leaves you shaking your head, just shy of a book hangover. A mystery thriller you shouldn’t miss. Totally recommended.

Rosepoint recommended

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. These are my honest thoughts.

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Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuths, Women Sleuths
ASIN: B08CS2RK9S
Print Length: 283 pages
Publication Date: August 4, 2020
Source: Direct author request

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble

Patrick Canning - authorThe Author: Patrick Canning was born in Wisconsin, grew up in Illinois, and now lives in California with his dog, Hank.

He is primarily focused on turning coffee into words, words into money, money back into coffee.

Find him at patrickcanningbooks.com

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Here Comes the Body (A Catering Hall Mystery) by Maria DiRico – a #BookReview – #Cozy

Book 1 of a Quirky New Series!

Book Blurb:

Here Comes the Body by Maria DiRicoAfter her philandering husband’s boat went down, newly single Mia Carina went back to Astoria, the bustling Queens neighborhood of her youth. Living with her nonna and her oversized cat, Doorstop, she’s got a whole new life—including some amateur sleuthing . . .
 
Mia is starting work at Belle View, her father’s catering hall, a popular spot for weddings, office parties, and more—despite the planes that occasionally roar overhead on their way to LaGuardia and rattle the crystal chandelier. Soon she’s planning a bachelor party for a less-than-gentlemanly groom. But it goes awry when the gigantic cake is wheeled in and a deadly surprise is revealed . . .

Since some of her family’s associates are on the shady side, the NYPD wastes no time in casting suspicion on Mia’s father. Now, Mia’s going to have to use all her street smarts to keep him out of Rikers Island . . .

My Review:

Here Comes the Body by Maria DiRicoI didn’t connect the author’s name right away with Ellen Byron who wrote one of my happy favs last year regarding the Cajun/Bayou mystery Fatal Cajun Festival, but I recognized the author photo. Now here is Book 1 of a new series with another magnetic setting and premise–her father, former mafioso, is trying to go legit with a catering business. She will function as his event planner/sales/manager. The Belle View Banquet Manor is in Astoria (Queens in NYC) near La Guardia Airport. Window-rattling planes coming in for a perfect landing and, thankfully, this building has good bones and in spite of the planes, the land a good location.

The protagonist Messina (Mia) Carina returned from Florida after her no-good husband disappeared in a boating accident leaving her a widow…maybe or maybe not (? She was eventually cleared of being a suspect in his disappearance). Now Mia is sharing a two-family structure in a Queens neighborhood with her grandmother. Nonna lives in one unit with Hero, her dog, while Mia shares her quarters upstairs with the Abyssinian cat she named Doorstop. DOORSTOP?! Knew I was going to love this one right there! A cat named Doorstop. Now that’s funny, y’all. And that is an indication of the subtle shades of humor sprinkled through this delightful romp into the catering business backed by a “GodFather.”

The support characters are wildly unique, full of personality, and utterly engaging. Genuinely Italian, the author develops Nonna beautifully, right down to “hi…are you hungry?” Being a daughter of a (ex?) mob boss has definitely given Mia a persona she’d been happy to discard, but now finding it necessary to reassess. She is close friends with the son of another in the “Family,” and is startled to realize she might have more than friendly feelings for him but then discovers Jamie apparently has a girlfriend. Her brother, Posi, is cooling his heels in the slammer.

While Mia is coordinating her first event, the body found in the cake that was supposed to have been a stripper at the bachelor party wasn’t the stripper but definitely wouldn’t be jumping out of anything anymore. Unfortunately, she’d seen this woman before and there is an apparent connection to her dad, who swears he’s out of the business. His reputation precedes him, however, and the police are quick to jump–in his direction.

Mia, for the most part, seems to have her head on straight. She’s intelligent and handles her clients with a “deal they can’t refuse.” She manages to satisfy even the most outrageous requests. I really liked the characters of Jamie, Nonna, and her dad and the inclusion of the Mafia connections–handled delicately and respectfully. The police in charge of the investigation is not the best and brightest of the force, an old device in cozies and one of my few complaints.

The well-plotted mystery sped up heading into the conclusion and included a rather hair-raising climax although I must admit the final reveal set my head spinning. Still, overall this is a most entertaining debut for this series and I’m keen to continue as I can see there are endless possibilities where these characters might go.

I was given this digital ARC download in exchange for an honest review and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read. This is going to be a fun, engaging series with a compelling setting that I’m looking forward to continuing. Recommended to those who enjoy a good cozy mystery and, by the way, do you know what Cookie Cup Shot Glasses are? There is an amazing recipe for this most unusual cookie/liquor/liqueur/milk dessert at the back of the book.

Book Details:

Genre: Amateur Sleuth Mysteries, Cozy Culinary Mysteries
Publisher: Kensington Books

  • ISBN-10:1496725344
  • ISBN-13:978-1496725349

ASIN: B07R8WYLSC
Print Length: 304 pages
Publication Date: To be released February 25, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Here Comes the Body
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Rosepoint Publishing: Four Point Five of Five Stars 4.5-stars

Maria DiRico - authorThe Author: Maria DiRico (the pen name of award-winning author Ellen Byron) was born in Queens, New York, and raised in Queens and Westchester County. She is first-generation Italian-American on her mother’s side. On her father’s side, her grandfather was a low-level Jewish mobster who disappeared in 1933 under mysterious circumstances.

While growing up in Queens, Maria/Ellen’s cousin’s uncles ran the Astoria Manor and Grand Bay Marina catering halls. MARDI GRAS MURDER, the fourth book in Ellen Byron’s bestselling Cajun Country Mystery series, won the 2018 Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel. The series has also won multiple Best Humorous Mystery Lefty awards from Left Coast Crime. Fun fact: she worked as cater-waiter for Martha Stewart, a credit she never tires of sharing. Maria/Ellen loves to translate what she learned from Martha into recipes for her books.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Prologue to Murder by Lauren Elliott – a #BookReview

Prologue to Murder by Lauren ElliottTitle: Prologue to Murder (Bookstore Mystery) by Lauren Elliott

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Amateur Sleuths

Publisher: Kenginston

  • ISBN-10:1496720202
  • ISBN-13:978-1496720207
  • ASIN: B07G6S6B1Q

 Print Length: 304 pages

Publication Date: April 30, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Prologue to Murder

Book Blurb:

After a career working with rare books at the Boston Public Library, Addie Greyborne is back in her seaside New England hometown—where unfortunately, murder is not so rare . . .
 
Gossip columnists love a bold-faced name—but “Miss Newsy” at Greyborne Harbor’s local paper seems to specialize in bald-faced lies. She’s pointed a finger of suspicion at Addie after librarian June Winslow never makes it home from a book club meeting. And when June’s found at the bottom of a steep flight of stairs, Addie’s not only dealing with a busybody, but a dead body.

It’s a good thing the guy she’s dating is the police chief. But both the case and her love life get more complicated when a lanky blonde reporter from Los Angeles shows up. She’s trying her hardest to drive a wedge between the couple . . . as if Addie doesn’t have enough problems dealing with angry townspeople. Despite all the rumors, Addie doesn’t know a thing about the murder—but she plans to find out. And the key may lie in a book about pirate legends that June published. Now she just has to hunt down the clues before she becomes a buried treasure herself . . .

My Review:

Prologue to Murder by Lauren ElliottAddie Greyborne has returned to her roots in coastal New England. She has inherited the rare book and curio shop and employs Paige. Her BFF is Serena and she has begun a relationship with the town Police Chief, Marc. Great, great, great, Greyborne is a founding father but unfortunately she has not successfully been enfolded back in the loving arms of the townsfolk. She’d cleared her name and solved the last murder and now the librarian is missing, eventually found deceased and Addie has taken it upon herself to clear her name once again after “Miss Newsy” published a nasty rumor about Addie possibly being behind both.

June, the librarian was found in an underground tunnel that history of the town proves an integral part of pirate lore, hidden treasure, and family feuds. The mystery creates an interesting premise and Addie begins sifting the clues, chasing down her aunt’s old books in the attic as well as haunting museums and other bookstores and pirate shops for details on the intricate set of tunnels, closed by the town council for being unsafe. Few are privy to those tunnel plans, but Addie begins to wonder about pirate treasure being a motive for the murder of June, who’d possibly found more in her research than the city fathers were comfortable with.

Well, all that part is fun. The twists are fun. That whole area of the New England coast is rife with pirate lore, rich with pirate enclaves, and many of the most successful hid vast treasures in hurricane safe havens, most never again found. What I had a problem with were the introduction of so many new characters, and Simon–another possible love interest. (Oh, no, not the dreaded love triangle!) The protagonist herself was less than a reliable narrator, caught in contradictions and fabrications, and few of the support characters fared any better. Marc comes off as being wishy-washy, warning her with one breath of leaving the investigating to him while asking for her thoughts and help with the next. Huh? Lacy is just plain nasty. Dialogue runs snarky and at times rather juvenile.

Bottom Line: While the mystery is a good plot device, the pace is too slow for this reader, and I could not find any of the characters worth investing in. The history is engaging but the narrative falls flat. The antagonist as revealed in the conclusion is not wholly unexpected, although I did like that little bit that Addie does with the pirate shop operator at the end.

This is the second in the series and might well be read as a standalone. I received this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review.

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Lauren Elliott - authorThe Author: Lauren Elliott grew up devouring the entire Nancy Drew series and then graduated to Victoria Holt, Agatha Christie, Barbara Erskine, Lynn Kurland, and Michael Crichton to name a few of her favorite authors. When it came time for post-secondary education, journalism seemed like the logical choice as she had written for as long as she could remember. Soon after graduation, while working for a small publication, she discovered that reporting wasn’t what fueled her writing passions. As someone with an additionally strong background in professional theater who had the love of storytelling and captivating and holding an audience, her fiction-writing career began to take center stage.

Lauren Elliott’s new Beyond the Page Bookstore Mystery series promises to keep readers guessing right up until the last chapter. Plot twists and an array of colorful characters make for page turning, whodunit adventures filled with suspense, mystery, murder and just a touch of romance.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Restaurant Weeks Are Murder by Libby Klein – a #BookReview

Restaurant Weeks Are Murder by Libby KleinTitle: Restaurant Weeks Are Murder by Libby Klein

Genre: Cozy Culinary Mystery, Amateur Sleuths, Cozy Animal Mysteries

Publisher: Kensington

  • ISBN-10:1496713079
  • ISBN-13:978-1496713070
  • ASIN: B07DBQBVYJ

 Print Length: 304 pages

Publication Date: February 26, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Restaurant Weeks Are Murder (A Poppy McAllister Mystery Book 3)

Book Blurb:

Cape May, New Jersey, is the site of a big culinary competition—and the knives are out . . .

Poppy McAllister is happy about opening a Jersey Shore B&B—but working in a professional kitchen has always been her real dream. Now it’s coming true, at least briefly, as she teams up with her former fiancée, Tim—and his condescending partner, Gigi—during the high-profile Restaurant Week challenge. Poppy’s specialty is pastries, despite her devotion to a Paleo diet. But if anyone can make glorious gluten-free goodies, it’s Poppy.

Things get heated quickly—especially when some ingredients get switched and Tim’s accused of sabotage. Relatively harmless pranks soon escalate into real hazards, including an exploding deep fryer. And now one of the judges has died after taking a bite of Poppy’s cannoli—making her the chef suspect . . .

Includes Seven Recipes from Poppy’s Kitchen!

My Review:

Restaurant Weeks Are Murder by Libby KleinMs. Klein has ramped up her cooking expertise in Book 3 of her Poppy McAllister series. Poppy and her Aunt Ginny are finishing up the touches on their Butterfly Wings Bed and Breakfast. Tim, Poppy’s one-time fiancé, has asked her to team with him and Gigi in the Restaurant Week Challenge where she will create her specialty desserts and pastries. The competition of seven days comprises three stages that include a “mystery basket” of ingredients and is judged by well-known celebrities, if possibly questionable, local judges and is to be recorded to show on Jersey area daytime TV.

One of the six teams is comprised of Gia, a steamy, mcDreamy Italian for whom Poppy has been supplying some of her pastries for him and his mother’s Italian restaurant. Teams include a head chef, a sous chef, and a pastry chef per each restaurant team. It’s obvious from the beginning that this is a serious competition, each vying for the prize of $10,000 as well as the notoriety, air time, and press. Unfortunately, few of the team members get along with each other and the judges are brutal. So, this being a cozy is not too difficult to guess who will be the victim.

Before the mics are on and the cameras are rolling, there is sabotage (changing labels of food ingredients), bickering, materials are disappearing, and a fight breaking out between two of the competing chefs. You can almost visualize Chef Ramsey delivering a scathing review to one of the dishes as the 10-year-old looks on teary-eyed.

The author’s wicked sense of humor sparks off the characters, including her Aunt Ginny who is up to her usual antics and her naughty kitty Figaro who figures out which judge housed in their B&B is allergic to felines and does his best to make sure she is sneezing and miserable. The dialogue ranges between snarky, hilarious, and believable in an honest conversational tone. The secondary characters work well with the main characters and protagonist providing that tension in a real kitchen competition atmosphere, scrambling to the pantry for their ingredients only to have another chef snatch it out from under them.

The characters have been developed in previous series entries and there is little further fleshing here, although with the plot focus on food could still work as a stand alone. It is a very well paced plot, albeit slow to deliver a victim as the focus is the restaurant challenge and all the outrageous events happening while trying to film each day’s segment concluding with judging scores. Red herrings, twists, and new discoveries every chapter lead to a conclusion you may have guessed, but it’s been fun.

I had two problems, and yes, it is acknowledged that her aunt is an active, saucy octogenarian, but she and her friends were referred to constantly as the “biddies and cronies.” (Ouch) And, the dreaded romantic triangle. (I’m so over it–can we move on now?). Also the judge, “Stormin’ Norman,” weatherman. (Perhaps Ms. Klein is unaware of the scandal that took place in the 80s out west and it did give me icky pause.)

I received this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review. The author has a writing style I enjoy, characters that engage, and I’m looking forward to Book 4.

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars Four point Five of Five Stars

Libby Klein - authorThe Author: Libby Klein graduated Lower Cape May Regional High School sometime in the ’80s. Her classes revolved mostly around the culinary sciences and theater, with the occasional nap in Chemistry. She loves to drink coffee, bake gluten free goodies, and befriend random fluffy cats. She writes from her Northern Virginia office while trying to keep her cat Figaro off her keyboard. Most of her hobbies revolve around eating, and travel, and eating while traveling.

©2019 V Williams Blog author

Final Exam by Carol J Perry – a #BookReview

Final Exam by Carol J PerryTitle: Final Exam (A Witch City Mystery Book 8) by Carol J Perry

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Supernatural, Psychics, Animals, Amateur Sleuth

Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corp.

  • ISBN-10:1496714601
  • ISBN-13:978-1496714602
  • ASIN: B07DBQQRHF

Print Length: 368 pages

Publication Date: February 26, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title and Cover: Final ExamNeat cozy cover

Book Blurb:

A cold case update in Salem, Massachusetts . . .  

Life at the house on Winter Street is abuzz with preparations for Aunt Ibby’s 45th high school reunion, and Lee Barrett is happy to pitch in, tracking down addresses and licking envelopes. But as a field reporter for Salem’s WICH-TV, her priority is to be on top of the town’s latest news before anyone else.
 
When the local police dredge up a vintage sports car containing human remains, Lee is thrilled to be the first reporter on the scene. Once she learns the car is connected to the cold case her boyfriend Pete happens to be working on, her powers of investigation are quickly alerted. But it’s her Aunt Ibby’s emotional reaction to Lee’s TV report that puts her on the case. With the help of O’Ryan, her psychic feline sidekick, she’ll have to unravel a tangled past of secrets and promises to stop a killer from making history again . . .  
Continue reading “Final Exam by Carol J Perry – a #BookReview”