Bayou Book Thief (A Vintage Cookbook Mystery 1) by Ellen Byron – #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway

Bayou Book Thief by Ellen Byron

Bayou Book Thief by Ellen Bryon

I am delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for Bayou Book Thief by Ellen Byron on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour.

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Book Details

Bayou Book Thief (A Vintage Cookbook Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – New Orleans Louisianna
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Berkley (June 7, 2022)
Mass Market Paperback ‏ : ‎ 304 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0593437616
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0593437612
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09FPJHVGK

Book Blurb

A fantastic new cozy mystery series with a vintage flair from USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award–winning author Ellen Byron.

 Twenty-eight-year-old widow Ricki James leaves Los Angeles to start a new life in New Orleans after her showboating actor husband perishes doing a stupid internet stunt. The Big Easy is where she was born and adopted by the NICU nurse who cared for her after Ricki’s teen mother disappeared from the hospital.

 Ricki’s dream comes true when she joins the quirky staff of Bon Vee Culinary House Museum, the spectacular former Garden District home of late bon vivant Genevieve “Vee” Charbonnet, the city’s legendary restauranteur. Ricki is excited about turning her avocation – collecting vintage cookbooks – into a vocation by launching the museum’s gift shop, Miss Vee’s Vintage Cookbooks and Kitchenware. Then she discovers that a box of donated vintage cookbooks contains the body of a cantankerous Bon Vee employee who was fired after being exposed as a book thief.

 The skills Ricki has developed ferreting out hidden vintage treasures come in handy for investigations. But both her business and Bon Vee could wind up as deadstock when Ricki’s past as curator of a billionaire’s first edition collection comes back to haunt her.

 Will Miss Vee’s Vintage Cookbooks and Kitchenware be a success … or a recipe for disaster?

 

My Thoughts

It’s difficult to leave an old favorite like the Cajun Country Mystery series behind when the author pulls the plug and begins a new series.

But if we must, at least we get to enjoy her new series set in Louisiana, as the author favors us with the sounds, scents, and majesty that is the local mystic of New Orleans.

Bayou Book Thief by Ellen ByronRicki (Miracle Fleur di Lis James-Diaz) has returned to New Orleans where she was born after suffering the loss of her husband and a scandalous end to a job n LA in which she was a naïve and innocent pawn.

She has landed a position with the Bon Vee Culinary House Museum where she creates a gift shop containing vintage cookbooks and kitchenware. Unfortunately, a trunk containing a donation of vintage cookbooks turns out to contain a body instead. The body is that of a former Bon Vee employee fired for being a book thief and all-round scoundrel.

Becoming a little put off by the local detective, Ricki begins using her tracking skills to investigate on her own.

“NOPD stands for ‘Not Our Problem, Dude.’”

Ricki is a smart woman, although deemed less than confident after her recent losses, and treads lightly. There are some wonderfully diverse support characters, from Madame to Lyla and Cookie, the latter “a recovering children’s librarian.”

Little sub-plots or threads take the story in different directions and introduce the reader to some interesting practices in the book world. Lyla becomes a suspect, but then there are several lesser characters also vying for the position and it’s difficult to nail down who among them has the greater reason for offing not one, but a second, victim. Ricki’s imagination tends to go wild with motives most of which are tossed immediately.

The red herrings were narrowed and fed into the conclusion, which settled most of any loose threads remaining, and I must admit I was surprised by the culprit. As in most cozy mysteries, there is a fostering romance and one big thread strongly hinted that will be carried forward. It’s a douzy.

Also, as in many cozy mysteries, appropriate recipes, in this case vintage southern recipes are shared after the epilogue with this note that gave me a chuckle:

“Onions, celery, and peppers are affectionately known as the “holy trinity” in Cajun and Creole cooking.”

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Giveaway

Sign up for your chance to win (1) PRINT COPY – Bayou Book Thief (A Vintage Cookbook Mystery) by Ellen Byron (U.S. Only) Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Ellen Byron - author
Ellen Byron – author

About The Author: Ellen’s Cajun Country Mysteries have won the Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel and multiple Lefty Awards for Best Humorous Mystery. Bayou Book Thief will be the first book in her new Vintage Cookbook Mysteries. She also writes the Catering Hall Mystery series under the name Maria DiRico.

Ellen is an award-winning playwright, and non-award-winning TV writer of comedies like WingsJust Shoot Me, and Fairly Odd Parents. She has written over two hundred articles for national magazines but considers her most impressive credit working as a cater-waiter for Martha Stewart. An alum of New Orleans’ Tulane University, she blogs with Chicks on the Case, is a lifetime member of the Writers Guild of America and will be the 2023 Left Coast Crime Toastmaster. Please visit her at https://www.ellenbyron.com/

Author Links

Newsletter: https://www.ellenbyron.com/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/ellenbyronauthor/

https://www.facebook.com/CateringHallMysteries/

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/ellenbyronmariadirico/

Bookbub:

https://www.bookbub.com/profile/ellen-byron

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/maria-dirico

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/23234.Ellen_Byron

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19130966.Maria_DiRico

Purchase Links

Amazon – B&N – Kobo – Google Books – Alibris – IndieBound – PenguinRandomHouse

Thank you for visiting my stop on the tour! Great Escapes Book Tours

Thanks to Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review this cozy mystery!

©2022 V Williams V Williams

Gambling with Murder: A Southern California Mystery by Lida Sideris – #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

Book Blurb:

Gambling with Murder by Lida SiderisA late-night call is all it takes for rookie lawyer Corrie Locke to kiss her day job at the movie studio goodbye, and do what she does best: flex her sweet P.I. skills and go undercover to find a senior who’s missing from a posh retirement community. One small stumbling block: skirting past security to gain inside access to the exclusive Villa Sunset. Time to call in the heavy artillery. Besides former security guard turned legal assistant—now wannabe P.I.—Veera, Corrie relies on a secret weapon: her mother, a surprisingly eager addition to Corrie’s team. Armed with enough pepper spray to take down a band of Navy Seals, Mom impersonates a senior to infiltrate the Villa, Corrie and Veera in tow. Turns out the job’s not as easy as they’d thought. These seniors have tricks tucked up their sleeves and aren’t afraid of using them.

The action gets dicey when the missing senior case turns into attempted murder by a criminal mind who’s always one step ahead. Corrie’s hot on the trail, but finds more than she bargained for…when her mother becomes a target.

My Review:

Oops! The fifth in the series and my first. I think I may have missed something. Wannabe PI Corrie Locke (also a newly minted lawyer) is trying her chops at finding a missing person. Villa Sunset is an exclusive retirement home in Santa Barbara and, yes, that is a gorgeous, very expensive area of southern California. The author sets the reader up for beautiful views, ocean-scented air, and palms swaying in the gentle breeze.

Gambling with Murder by Lida SiderisThe novel is a cozy mystery and moves at a laid-back pace. Corrie is joined by her best bud, Veera, a former security guard, and apparently this entry to the series, Corrie’s mother, who proves to be the interesting character (for me). Because it’s a senior community, they need her mother to be their “in.” It appears to work as she is readily accepted and they “temporarily” tag along.

It is supposed to be a senior community, but these seniors are apparently not only “active” but bored and tend to come off more as “geriatric delinquents” than seniors. But nothing is simple, even in a cozy mystery, and things begin, slowly, to become more complex adding characters to the plot, threads, and twists.

The author writes with wit, coining some interesting and funny phrases:

“…he regarded me with the disdain reserved for a virgin eggnog.”

“I can spot a liar like a hawk can spot a grasshopper.”

“I’m not doing it. I’d stick out like a raisin in a jar of mayonnaise.”

At about seventy percent, the narrative begins to heat up and the pacing finds the gas pedal. At this point, there are a lot of issues to clarify which do get ironed out in conclusion following a fairly low-key climax.

I’m not sure whether it was because I started well into the series or there was just too much minutia that didn’t help keep the plot on track, but I found it too slow for me. The dialogue could be humorous at times, however, there were occasions when action got a bit over the top and the residents too juvenile. I am a senior but these characters didn’t ring true for me.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through @NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are my honest thoughts.

Rosepoint Rating: Three-point Five Stars 3 1/2 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Women Sleuths
Publisher: Level Best Books
ASIN: B09QYW2VYG
Print Length: 318 pages
Publication Date: March 29, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo

 

Lida Sideris - authorThe Author: Lida Sideris first stint after law school was a newbie lawyer’s dream: working as an entertainment attorney for a movie studio…kind of like her heroine, Corrie Locke, except without the homicides. Lida was one of two national winners of the Helen McCloy Mystery Writers of America Scholarship Award for her first book and a Killer Nashville, Silver Falchion Award Finalist for her fourth book – Slightly Murderous Intent. Lida lives in the northern tip of Southern California with her family, rescue dogs and a flock of uppity chickens.

“A smart caper with a heroine to match.” – Kirkus Recommended Review

“…An excellent read. It has everything needed for a cozy afternoon curled up on the sofa – murder, mystery, humor, and plenty of action. The plot is extremely detailed and so well written that I found myself hooked on page one.” – Readers’ Favorite

Bio for The Cookie Eating Fire Dog:

Lida Sideris loves baking and eating all kinds of cookies. Never, ever leave her alone with a batch of fresh baked cookies…if you want any left for yourself. She is the author of a Southern California Mystery series. This is her first book for children. When she’s not writing, she’s running a legal non-profit in Southern California. Lida is a lawyer and mother of two human and two canine kids. She is an avid supporter of the three R’s: reading, writing and rescue dogs.

“The story is charming and readers will love Dan.” – Readers’ Favorite

“If you have any little aspiring firefighters at home, Lida Sideris has penned an adorable and motivating tale that is just perfect for them…the lesson is solid, and as Dan learns the value of selfless acts, so will many young readers” – IndiesToday

©2022 – V Williams V Williams

#TuesdayBookBlog

Murder on Honky-Tonk Row: A Ghost & Camper Kooky Mystery by Rita Moreau #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway

I am so delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for Murder on Honky-Tonk Row by Rita Moreau on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour.

Murder on Honky-Tonk Row

Scroll down to enter your chance to win the Giveaway!

Book Details:

Murder on Honky-Tonk Row: A Ghost & Camper Kooky Mystery
Paranormal Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Independently Published (August 1, 2021)
Number of Pages 244
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B08YP6Z2DP

Book Blurb:

Will camping in the country music capital have Mabel kicking up some saw dust… or line-dancing to her doom?

Murder on Honky-Tonk RowDespite their good deed in Savannah, Mabel Gold’s ghostly friend Irma remains stuck in Purgatory. So when the plucky sixty-something divorcée pulls her haunted vintage camper into a Nashville campground, she’s expecting Irma to accompany her on the tour of the Grand Ole Opry. But as they two-step into a honky-tonk for some live tunes, they’re shocked to encounter two lost spirits stranded there for the past twenty years after their double homicide.

Though St. Peter hints that solving the long-closed case could get Irma through the Pearly Gates, Mabel has little time to uncover the culprit before she’s due to boot-scoot off to the Badlands. But when shady financials surface and threaten to ruin the honky-tonk owner’s run for governor, trying to help the poor souls pass on could land the fearless sleuth in a whole heap o’ trouble.

Can Mabel collar the killer before she’s singing country-western with choirs of angels?

Murder on Honky-Tonk Row is the second book in the lighthearted Ghost & the Camper kooky mystery series. If you like wacky characters, quick-witted banter, and crooners with a twang, then you’ll love Rita Moreau’s clever caper.

My Review:

While I didn’t catch Book 1 in this series, I found Book 2 no problem to jump right into. Mabel Gold is pulling her own Airstream and traveling with fellow Airstreamers Bob and his wife Lili, retired schoolteachers. and an aspiring country singer named Joe.

There is enough backstory to bring you up to date along with the skinny on the resident ghost, Irma, and how she came to be haunting the travel trailer. She is busy earning her way into heaven and has a few good deeds yet to do, but her specialty seems to be that of seeing other ghosts in limbo, trapped between worlds, and helping them to cross over. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Mabel has the ability to see not only her, but other ghosts as well and Lili is all in on the situation.

Mabel and her buddies have camped in Nashville for some sightseeing on their summer journey west and Irma quickly notes two specters. They set to work to discover what happened and must do it quickly before they are due to move on.

The writer’s style has a delightfully mischievous twist, both in developing her characters as well as designing the dialogue, making for a very entertaining narrative. The mystery is a good one, progresses well, and pulls the reader back into another time with a common crime then, one possibly forgotten but easily remembered.

There is dirty politics, dirty cops, secrets well hidden and slowly exposed. I enjoyed the friendship between Mabel and Lili, Bob with his Harley, and the scenes conjured in the campground with early morning coffee smells and cinnamon buns. (Fun to relive those camping memories.)

Well-paced, great characters, and a good mystery make this a quick and fun cozy. I’m looking forward to Book 3.

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Giveaway

Sign up for your chance to win one Prize Package that includes a set of ebooks: Book 1, 2, and 3 … PLUS a coffee mug & plush kitty on the
 Rafflecopter giveaway.

Rita Moreau - authorAbout The Author: Rita Moreau is the author of the Mary Catherine Mahoney Mystery series and the Ghost & Camper Kooky Mystery series.

A workaholic by nature, upon retirement, Rita Moreau began work on her bucket list, writing a book. Traveling the national parks with her husband George in a vintage Bluebird motor home, (on George’s list), Rita completed her first novel Bribing Saint Anthony. Back home she completed Nuns! Psychics! & Gypsies! OH! NO, Feisty Nuns and The Russian & Aunt Sophia and The House on Xenia. Last year when we entered the Twilight Zone Rita wrote the first two new novels in the Ghost & the Camper series. Rita and her husband live in a postcard called Florida where he has fun telling everyone he is the author’s husband. When not writing she joins PatZi Gil on the Joy on Paper radio program with Book Buzz Mysteries, or you can find her teaching SilverSneakers fitness classes and doing her best to keep busy. She loves connecting with readers. Visit her at http://www.RitaMoreau.com or find her on Facebook at facebook.com/RitaMoreauAuthor. She would love to hear from you.

Author Links

Website – Facebook – Twitter – Instagram – Radio – GoodReads –

Purchase Link – Amazon

Thank you for visiting my stop on the tour and please visit the other stops listed below!

Tour Participants:

August 2 – Literary Gold – CHARACTER GUEST POST

August 3 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST

August 3 – Cassidy’s Bookshelves – SPOTLIGHT

August 4 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – CHARACTER GUEST POST

August 4 – Thoughts in Progress – SPOTLIGHT

August 5 – Mysteries with Character – GUEST POST

August 5 – Angel’s Guilty Pleasures – SPOTLIGHT

August 5 – Novels Alive – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

August 6 – Books to the Ceiling – REVIEW

August 6 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

August 7 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – SPOTLIGHT

August 7 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

August 8 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

August 8 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

August 9 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW

August 10 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

August 11 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

August 12 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW

August 13 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

August 14 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

August 15 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

August 15 – BookishKelly2020 – SPOTLIGHT Great Escapes Book Tours

Thanks to Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review this cozy mystery!

©2021 V Williams V Williams

Bending the Paw (A Paw Enforcement Novel Book 9) by Diane Kelly – A #BookReview – #cozymystery – #TuesdayBookBlog

Happy Publication Day!

Book Blurb:

A MURDER WITHOUT A BODY IS LIKE A DOG WITHOUT A BONE
Bending the Paw by Diane KellyA bloodbath is a shocking new challenge for Megan and Brigit when Detective Audrey Jackson calls them to the scene of what could only be a brutal murder. But the one thing the nightmarish scene is missing is a victim. The frantic homeowner’s husband is gone, seemingly without a trace—and so is the money he was holding. Has a vicious killer committed what might just be the perfect crime?

Meanwhile, it’s hailing cats and dogs all over Fort Worth, and roofing contractors have descended on the city in droves. With plenty of damage and continuing storms, work delays are building up like so much runoff, but Megan is suspicious that one roofer may be a scam artist. Determined to leash every lawbreaker she and her K-9 partner find, Megan is building a case for prosecution, all while Brigit has her nose to the ground for a murderer…

His Review:

Can a person live with a loss of over 2 quarts of blood? Diane Kelly has written a very interesting novel around this question. Medical science explains that a person will expire with this amount of blood loss. Megan Luz and her K-9 partner are called to a grizzly scene where there is blood everywhere but no body present! The K-9 partners’ name is Bridgit and she begins to examine the scene to see if she can identify where the victim could possibly be.

Bending the Paw by Diane KellyDiane Kelly has presented this tale from three and sometimes 4 perspectives, the perpetrator, the detective, the dog and the aspiring detective, Megan Luz. The trail ends near the garage where the body was supposedly loaded into the back of a car for disposal. Switch to the perpetrator and his attempts to hide the body and evidence and the plot thickens.

Very little evidence is available as to what type of weapon was used to slash the victim and cause all of the blood loss. With very little evidence to go on the case stands on the brink of being put into an unsolved cubbyhole. Meanwhile other crimes in the Fort Worth area are happening which keep our beat K-9 duo occupied. Weather related storm damage and the need for repair acts as a magnet for all unscrupulous individuals to harvest money from other peoples misfortune.

Megan responds quickly to the needs of the lead detective, Ms. Jackson, whenever called. Most crimes can be solved with the assistance of a highly trained police dog. Diane Kelly writes from the perspective of the dog and at times it is very enlightening. Working on one case confuses the animal who recognizes a possible scent of the criminal in the other crime. Yes, the answer can be as plain as the nose on your face, particularly if you are a dog!

CE WilliamsThe conclusion is very entertaining and I did not expect it. Dogged police work (pun intended) helped to solve the case. Again, the actual ending was totally unexpected. I highly recommend this book to those who would like to learn some interesting police procedures while being totally entertained. 5 stars – CE Williams

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Sara Beth Haring of St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley. These are my honest thoughts.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Animal Mysteries, Police Procedurals
Publisher: St Martin’s Paperbacks

    • ISBN-10 : 1250197392
    • ISBN-13 : 978-1250197399
    • ASIN : B084M1NGYF

Print Length: 320 pages
Publication Date: Happy Release Day! October 27, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: Bending the Paw [Amazon]
Also find the book at these locations:

Barnes and Noble | Kobo

Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing:  Five of Five Stars 5 stars

Diane Kelly - authorThe Author: A former tax advisor, Diane Kelly inadvertently worked with white-collar criminals. Not surprisingly, Diane decided self-employment would be a good idea. Her fingers hit the keyboard and thus began her Death and Taxes romantic mystery series. A graduate of her hometown’s Citizen Police Academy, Diane Kelly also writes the hilarious K-9 cop Paw Enforcement series and the new House Flipper cozy mystery series. Look for her moonshine series debut in June 2021!

Be the first to receive book news by signing up for Diane’s newsletter at http://www.dianekelly.com/ “Like” Diane on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/dianekellybooks. Follow her on Instagram at dianekellybooks and on Twitter @dianekellybooks.

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Murder at an Irish Christmas (An Irish Village Mystery Book 6) by Carlene O’Connor

“She only speaks music.”

Book Blurb:

Murder at an Irish Christmas by Carlene O'Connor

Garda Siobhán O’Sullivan’s holiday plans hit a sour note when murder rearranges the yuletide carols into unexpected eulogies . . .
 
This December in Kilbane, if you’re planning to warm up with a cuppa tea at Naomi’s Bistro, you may have a bit of a wait—the entire O’Sullivan brood has gone off to West Cork to spend the holidays with brother James’s fiancée Elise’s family, including her grandfather, the famous orchestral conductor Enda Elliot. Siobhán is so happy for James and Elise but also quietly disappointed that she must put her own wedding to fellow garda Macdara Flannery on hold. Mac will have to join them later, so he can spend part of the holidays with his mam.
 
When the O’Sullivans learn everyone will choose a name from a hat to buy a music-related Christmas gift for someone else at the gathering, it seems like their greatest concern—until the cantankerous conductor is discovered crushed under a ninety-pound harp in a local concert hall.
 
With the extended family—including Enda’s much-younger new wife Leah, a virtuoso violinist—suspected in his murder, it’s up to Siobhán to ensure the guilty party faces the music. But as a snowstorm strands both families in a lavish farmhouse on a cliff, Siobhán had better pick up the tempo—before the killer orchestrates another untimely demise . . .

Book Review:

Oh my stars is this novel packed with characters! Normally, that overwhelms me, but not this time—these are large families—but not like we’ll get to know them all.

In this entry to the series, protagonist and Guarda Siobhán O’Sullivan is out of her element as well as district when she puts her own wedding aside to join brother James and his fiancé Elise at her family’s estate in West Cork for the Christmas holiday celebration.It’s not just a full house, but the cottages as well as they begin the task of creating their own Christmas decorations while they join with Elise in her family’s Christmas traditions, which includes a “secret Santa” style of gift-giving. Her extended family includes her grandfather, a famous orchestral conductor as well as his much young wife. His orchestra is poised to present an outstanding concert and all the members are present. Unfortunately, it is he who is picked off shortly after the O’Sullivans get settled.

Murder at an Irish Christmas by Carlene 'Connor

I enjoy this series, the female Guarda O’Sullivan, even if she is tall, red-haired, and pretty. Her own fiancé, Macdara Flannery, is no slouch. Despite trying to stay out of the murder investigation, you know that won’t happen and sooner or later Dara joins her. Then it’s a long list of suspects between the family drama, the mystery, and the orchestra members.

I always enjoy the immersion into Irish culture, lore, food, unpronounceable names…and descriptions of the countryside. (If you missed my review of Book 4, read it here, Book 5 here.) The well-plotted narrative is an easy pace and often punctuated with that great Irish sense of humor I’ve come to expect from the author and the enlivening and perceptive dialogue. There are an abundance of red herrings and twists, and the conclusion may surprise the reader. It’s been fun and I’m looking forward to Book 7.

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

Rosepoint Publishing: Four point Five of Five Stars

4 1/2 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: International Mystery and Crime, Cozy Mystery

Publisher: Kensington Books

ASIN : B085LT73HG

Print Length: 252 pages

Publication Date: to be released October 27, 2020

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Links:

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Carlene O'Connor - author

The Author: Carlene O’Connor comes from a long line of Irish storytellers. Her great-grandmother emigrated from Ireland to America during the Troubles, and the stories have been flowing ever since. Of all the places across the pond she’s wandered, she fell most in love with a walled town in County Limerick and was inspired to create the town of Kilbane, County Cork. Carlene currently divides her time between New York and the Emerald Isle.

http://www.carleneoconnor.com

©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

Mistletoe, Moussaka, and Murder (A Kebab Kitchen Mystery Book 5) by Tina Kashian – a #BookReview – #cozymystery

Book Blurb:

Not even her impending nuptials can keep Lucy Berberian, manager of her family-owned Kebab Kitchen, from the Jersey Shore’s annual Polar Bear Plunge. But her dive into the icy ocean is especially chilling when she finds a fellow swimmer doing the dead man’s float—for real . . .
 
Who would kill a man in cold blood during Ocean Crest, New Jersey’s most popular winter event? When Lucy learns the victim is Deacon Spooner, the reception hall owner who turned up his nose—and his price—at her wedding plans, she can’t help wondering who 
wouldn’t kill the pompous caterer . . .

Perhaps the culprit is the wedding cake baker whose career Deacon nearly destroyed? Or the angry bride whose reception he ruined? With her maid of honor, Katie, busily planning Lucy’s wedding without her, Lucy will have to get to the bottom of this cold-hearted business in time for Kebab Kitchen’s mouthwatering Christmas celebration—and before her hometown’s holiday spirit washes out to sea . . .

My Review:

Not my first go-round with this author and series, and while it would function just fine as a standalone, I started remembering Lucy the protagonist and her support characters. My favorite is always Katie, her BFF, and in this entry to the series pushing Lucy to proceed with her engagement and wedding plans. Lucy has obstinately dug in and refused to budge.

Visiting a possible venue, the owner is seriously rude (to potential clients??!) that she crosses that one off immediately. However, as she’s embroiled in the Polar Bear Plunge, she and Katie brave their way in and leaving the water discover said nasty venue owner on the sand and not moving. She’s not been the only person he was rude to and universally disliked. (Beyond me how he could stay in business.)

One of the universally abused is her friend Susan, owner of the bakery Susie’s Cuties. Having had a run-in or two with the deceased and also in the same frigid water at the same time, the local detective has decided she’s numero uno suspect. You know the drill.

While the quest to clear her friend becomes a driving force, Katie is still busy pushing the wedding bell blues; venue, cake, dress, food, music, photographer…although I must hand it to Katie, she is up front with helping Lucy in her pursuit of the real killer (yes, shh! he was held underwater).

It is a well-plotted book but I had a difficult time getting into the mystery when it slogged along just under the wedding plans and her reticence of making the engagement announcement or wrestling with her qualms of marriage to Azad. He seems like a nice enough guy, hard worker, successful chef in her parents restaurant. Personally, I think that’s a done deal.

The parents and their loving bickering is par for the course. The kitty is a personality as well as her rather nosy landlady. There is naturally a lot of foodie talk—most of it sounded yummy. I was sorry to see revealed in the conclusion the one I suspected but hoped it wasn’t. Also chagrined to see the reason behind the mayhem. Really? I also read One Feta in the Grave but think I actually enjoyed it more.

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

Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing: Three point Five of Five Stars 3 1/2 stars

Book Details:

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

  • ASIN : B082WR6DMT

Print Length: 293 pages
Publication Date: To be released September 29, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Kobo

Tina Kashian - authorThe Author: Tina Kashian, previously published as Tina Gabrielle, is an Amazon bestselling author, an attorney, and a former mechanical engineer whose love of reading for pleasure helped her get through years of academia. Tina spent her childhood summers at the Jersey shore building sandcastles, boogie boarding, and riding the boardwalk Ferris wheel. She also grew up in the restaurant business, as her Armenian parents owned a restaurant for thirty years. Tina’s books have been Barnes & Noble top picks and on the B&N bestseller’s list. Please visit her website at http://www.tinakashian.com to join her newsletter, receive delicious recipes, enter free contests, and more!

You can also find Tina at:
Facebook: facebook.com/TinaKashianAuthor
Instagram: instagram.com/tinakashian
Twitter: @TinaKashian1
Website: http://www.tinakashian.com

©2020 V Williams V Williams

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