Christmas Cow Bells (A Buttermilk Creek Mystery) by Mollie Cox Bryan – a #BookReview #cozy

Yahoo! I’m starting this series and new author (to me) with Book 1!

Christmas Cow Bells by Mollie Cox BryanBook Blurb:

The first novel in Mollie Cox Bryan’s brand new mystery series, set in the Blue Ridge Mountains, will keep you guessing until the cows come home . . .
Christmas is a time for new beginnings, so after her big breakup, Brynn MacAlister takes the gouda with the bad. With her three Red Devon cows, she settles in bucolic Shenandoah Springs, eager for a new life as an organic micro-dairy farmer and cheese-maker. Then her dear cow Petunia’s bellows set the whole town on edge. But it isn’t until Brynn’s neighbor, Nancy, dies in a mysterious fire that her feelings about small town life begin to curdle . . .

It seems some folks were not happy with Nancy’s plan to renovate the Old Glebe Church. But is a fear of change a motivation for murder? As a newcomer, Brynn can’t ignore the strange events happening just on the other side of her frosty pasture—and soon on her very own farm. Suddenly Christmas doesn’t feel so festive as everyone demands she muzzle sweet Petunia, and Brynn is wondering if someone wants to silence her—for good . .

My Review:

Protagonist Brynn MacAlister has ended up in bucolic Shenandoah Springs on a small micro-dairy farm with emphasis on artisanal cheeses without the fiancé planned with the move. (He turned out to be a two-timing jerk.) Her grandmother had passed away giving her the wherewithal to purchase the property complete with main house (formerly a B&B), guest house, and barn. She has brought with her three Red Devon dairy cows, Petunia, Marigold, and Buttercup. Unfortunately, Petunia gave birth to a stillborn calf and is in severe mourning.

Brynn is getting to know the people of the tiny town in Virginia and as always, some are more friendly than others. She wants to network as she’ll be trying to sell her cheese locally, but it is with her close neighbor, Nancy, with whom she finds the most common interests. Nancy is also a recent transplant and wants to rehab the other side of the field, formerly a church. Unfortunately, there is a fire and Nancy succumbs to smoke inhalation and the injuries suffered. It is part of Nancy’s family that includes two boys who will stay in Brynn’s guest home, helping with chores as they are on Christmas break.

Christmas Cow Bells by Mollie Cox BryanThe two outstanding support characters, Schuyler and Willow, are great and I’d love to see their characters grow within the series. And Wes sounds like he’ll be a great asset, young, smart, enthusiastic, and media capable. The descriptions of the area make it sound so beautiful, although I can imagine the bone-chilling cold during the Christmas season and the thought of going out to milk Petunia, get them fed, muck the barn, and provide some kind of heating system doesn’t get me enthused enough to move.

Also greatly appreciated getting to know more about the cheese-making process and the artisan varieties–who doesn’t love cheese? As always, with any of these crafts, there are definitions of the industry language with cleanliness standards high on the list. I can remember being invited to the home of a couple also in the Jazz Mass Choir during rehearsals for a European choir tour wherein her dessert was a plate of special cheeses, including Brie, crackers, and grapes, and I’ve never been able to find a Brie that could equal. (Believe me, I’ve looked.)

So with only the whispered words from Nancy prior to her death to go on, Brynn begins to investigate. But that seems to start a round of warnings and things get creepy. She does attain a dog, Freckles, although Freckles seems to be just a tad hit and miss on the watchdog thing.

The well-plotted and atmospheric storyline moves at a fairly decent pace, although there is more than sufficient repeats of main points that will not let you forget exactly why she was there trying to do this alone (perhaps it was a mistake), who was trying to get her to move, and why. Brynn waffles, although under the circumstances, probably anyone would. Still, it sounded like the idyllic setting. There are red herrings, yes, but more than ample hints of the who, whether or not we understood the why until the conclusion.

I love it when I get to start a promising new series with Book 1 and this one appears to be off and running with a strong debut. I’m looking forward to more fleshing in Brynn, but love the support characters, human as well as animal. 

I was granted this digital download by the publisher and NetGalley and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for cozy mystery fans, particularly of the culinary sort. I suspect a few of the ingredients will grace your shopping list (as it will mine).

Book Details:

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

  • ISBN-10:1496721322
  • ISBN-13:978-1496721327
  • ASIN: B07MH9XYHY

Print Length: 336 pages
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Christmas Cow Bells
+Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

Mollie Cox Bryan - authorThe Author: Mollie Cox Bryan writes cozy mysteries with edge and romances with slow, sweet burn. The first book in her new mystery series, “Cora Crafts Mysteries.” is DEATH AMONG THE DOILIES, which was selected as “Fresh Fiction Not to Miss” and is a 2017 Finalist for the Daphne du Maurier Award. The second book, NO CHARM INTENDED, was named a Summer 2017 Top 10 Beach Read by Woman’s World. She also wrote the Agatha-award nominated Cumberland Creek Mysteries. Several of the books in that series were short-listed for the Virginia Library People’s Choice Award. She’s also penned a historical fiction: MEMORY OF LIGHT: AN AFTERMATH OF GETTYSBURG and historical romance: TEMPTING WILL MCGLASHEN. She makes her home at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Shenandoah Valley, Va.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

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Assault and Beadery by Mollie Cox Bryan #BookTour #BookReview #Giveaway

Assault and Beadery

I am so delighted today to provide a review for you at my blog stop for Assault and Beadery by Mollie Cox Bryan on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. Scroll down the page to enter this exclusive Giveaway!

Book Details

Assault and Beadery (A Cora Crafts Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
4th in Series
Kensington (September 25, 2018)
Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
ISBN-10: 1496716442
ISBN-13: 978-1496716446
Digital ASIN: B078QM4V66  

Book Blurb

All of Cora Chevalier’s dreams are coming true. Since moving to Indigo Gap, North Carolina, the busy crafting maven has been blessed with a great boyfriend, a lovely home, and a booming craft retreat business. But on the eve of her first Crafty Mom’s Escape Weekend, tragedy strikes again in Indigo Gap. This time, it’s curtains for Stan Herald, the disagreeable director of the local theater group, who’s murdered on the opening night of their new production. Worse, Cora’s friend Zee is accused of the crime.

Cora is determined to prove her friend’s innocence, but Zee’s mysterious past is making that difficult. And with a list of suspects longer than a double spool of satin cording, getting a bead on the real culprit won’t be easy. With her friends Jane and Ruby at her side, Cora must string together the clues and solve Stan’s murder before the killer gives an encore performance.

Includes crafting tips!

My Review

Once again, my first experience with the author and the series. This being the fourth in the series, however, is not a real problem as it could easily function as a standalone, characters and location are well developed.

Indigo Gap is described as a small mountain community and tourist destination offering beautiful scenery, quaint B&B’s, cafes, and streets all named in exotic blue colors. As I viewed Cora, Jane, and Ruby, partners in the Kildare House in Indigo Gap, NC, it seems to me Jane is the stronger and would be prime protagonist, although it appears that Cora is supposed to be primary lead. Cora lives in the attic apartment of the historic Victorian home of Irish immigrants and former forest barons with her cat, Luna. Jane and her young daughter, London, live in the carriage house adjacent, although for this special retreat weekend, their third, the little girl is away visiting grandparents.

They fill their investment by holding specialized retreats, this one with special guest leader, Lena, who will introduce projects in beading (including French beads, clay beads, and rose beads) along with other crafting ideas involving felting and author cards. The home is apparently enormous and in addition to the bedrooms have rooms specifically designed and dedicated for specific crafts. The description of the home had me wishing I could take a tour! That is, until you get to the kitchen, which in their rehab process was put on the back-burner (a serious no-no in rehabbing). The retreat has invited moms to a special after-summer getaway and respite from their children and they’ve ended up with an eclectic group of women, some preferring to knit. (I’d love to know how much they paid and what it included!)

In addition to preparing to receive their guests, they got involved with the local community playhouse and helped to paint backgrounds for the production slated to open. Unfortunately, the director is found deceased on the stage and their B&B neighbor and friend Zee found beside him with a bloody knife. They know Zee couldn’t have done it, but how well do they know her–really?

I had these observations: I appreciated the atmosphere of the little town, the pride of the locals in their community, and even some of the (over) descriptive instructions of the projects. The protagonists had made major changes in their lives and appear to be conquering difficult histories. The projects, many with detailed instructions given at the back of the book, take up a lot of the narrative. However, Cora emerges as a rather weak-kneed protagonist fighting panic attacks, revisiting situations, and conversations once too often. They tended to call their officer friend, Detective Brodsky–a lot–no secrets–nothing held back there! He’s married, but Cora has a boyfriend who is always among the missing except for one sneaky night (huh?). The weekend retreat seemed to last more than a Saturday/Sunday, there was a lot of free time where the girls could go sleuthing, and no one ever fixed a meal. (Lots of restaurant referrals.)

It is cozy paced and well-plotted, just a little slow for me. Red herrings are thrown in, then dissed, and the antagonist was not a surprise. The craft moms are all aware of what is going on and no one seems to slow their attendance in the next class or appear concerned over whether or not the antagonist is someone in their midst.

I was given this download by the publisher and NetGalley for this book tour and greatly appreciated the opportunity to read and review. Recommended for any heavy into crafting, particularly beading, or for someone you know would appreciate those hints and ideas–a little mystery with the craft projects!

Giveaway

Enter here for your chance at winning one of three (3) print copies of Assault and Beadery (U.S. only). Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

Mollie Cox Bryan - authorMollie Cox Bryan is the author of the Cumberland Creek Scrapbooking mystery series and the Cora Crafts mystery series. She is also author of two cookbooks, the regional bestseller Mrs. Rowe’s Little Book of Southern Pies and Mrs. Rowe’s Restaurant Cookbook: A Lifetime of Recipes from the Shenandoah Valley. An award-winning journalist and poet, she currently blogs, cooks, and scrapbooks in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with her husband and two daughters. Scrapbook of Secrets was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Visit her on the web at molliecoxbryan.com.

Author Links:

Website – http://molliecoxbryan.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/molliecoxbryanauthor

Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/molliecoxbryan/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/molliecoxbryan?lang=en

Purchase Links – Amazon   B&N   IndieBound   Kobo   BookBub

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

Tour Participants:

September 25 – The Power of Words = REVIEW

September 25 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – GUEST POST

September 25 – Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers -SPOTLIGHT

September 26 – Read Your Writes Book Reviews – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

September 26 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

September 26 – Devilishly Delicious Book Reviews – REVIEW

September 27 – The Self-Rescue Princess – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

September 27 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW

September 28 – T’s Stuff – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

September 28 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

September 29 – A Holland Reads – REVIEW

September 29 – MJB Reviewers – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

September 30 – cherylbbookblog – REVIEW, RECIPE

September 30 – Mallory Heart’s Cozies – REVIEW

October 1 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

October 1 – Varietats – GUEST POST

October 2 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

October 2 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

October 3 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

October 3 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW  

October 4 – Valerie’s Musings – GUEST POST

October 4 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT  

October 5 – A Blue Million Books – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

October 5 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

October 6 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW

October 6 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

October 7 – The Montana Bookaholic – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

October 7 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

October 8 – Here’s How It Happened – SPOTLIGHT

October 8 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT/RECIPE Great Escapes Book Tours

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

©2018 V Williams V Williams