If Bread Could Rise to the Occasion (Gram’s Cooking School #3)

A fun series, and this book was a fun read.  With each book bringing a new ghost with it’s own mystery, along with current day murder mysteries, the story lines stay fresh and interesting.

 

Taking place in an old wild-west town-turned-tourist destination known for being overly haunted by ghosts, it’s a fun setting. I like Bettes but will admit to having a hard time warming up to Grams – she doesn’t feel quite three dimensional to me. Or maybe I just don’t care for her personality. Jake is a great bff/sidekick and the romance with her old high school sweetheart is sweet. But the author has done something interesting; she’s managed to introduce a love triangle that really isn’t.

 

Now, I HATE love triangles, but this one, I get a kick out of it and the author has possibly created a sexual tension that can be kept going indefinitely throughout the series, without getting stale. Time will tell.

 

The murder mysteries were cleverly done (both of them) and well plotted. I didn’t have any idea until the end and it was a fairly good ending as well.

 

I look forward to more from this series. A genuine enjoyment to read.

Pall in the Family (A Family Fortune Mystery #1)

A very good, well-written first in what could be an excellent new series.

 

This is not a quick, light read. It’s not dark or depressing, but there’s a maturity to the writing that you don’t find in a lot of cozies, especially the paranormal ones. That’s not a criticism of cozies – I’m a huge fan – but this book feels like it’s a step above. The writing, the character building, the plot, all felt more on the level with Barbara Michaels, or Earlene Fowler (maybe?).  I felt like this book took longer to read than most of equal length, even though the story kept me invested.

 

The characters in this book are well-written, solid and real. There are no caricatures here. I’ll admit I really don’t like Vi, but she’s real – she reminds me in many ways of some of my own relatives. Clyde’s mom is a nag and Clyde is trying to power through a very traumatic event. The most humorous element of the book are the dogs, Baxter and Tuffy, with a few scenes that had me giggling a bit. Oh, and the deputy, Tom and his unfortunate lack of grace definitely lent itself to moments of levity. Mac is a love interest you can get behind and I love the background to their story. If the author continues to have Clyde fight against her ‘gifts’ I’ll not continue reading the series, but her qualms are justified in the short term.

 

Having talked the book up, I’ll now admit I guessed the killer pretty early on in the book but I’ll still argue the plot was very well done. Old crimes and new, plenty of suspects and a little bit of misdirection. While I knew who the killer was, I didn’t begin to guess at the motivation until the end – I totally had that part wrong, so no enjoyment was lost to my early guess.

 

I’m really looking forward to the next book; I hope it will come sooner rather than later.

A Custom-Fit Crime: A Magical Dressmaking Mystery #4

First of all, I love this series. It ticks all the boxes for me: good mysteries, great characters, great setting, humour, quirkiness, ghosts and charms. I love the ever evolving backstory of Bliss.

 

What to say about this book in particular? I’m not sure. It was a good story, with really clever plot-lines (although the primary plot line murderer was the one I suspected). I love where Harlow and Will are heading and I really get a kick out of his daughter. But for some reason, this book just felt flatter than the others and I can’t really say why.

 

Did I enjoy reading it? Yes, though not as much as the previous ones. Would I recommend this series? Have done and will continue to rave about it. But I wouldn’t recommend that anyone read this book as an introduction to the series (although if they do, they can look forward to all the rest of the books being even better!

 

On the plus side, the next one comes out 9 months from now, instead of a year. Woot!

Tarnished and Torn: A Witchcraft Mystery #5

An excellent read I didn’t want to put down until it was over. The characters feel like friends at this point and it’s nice to ‘visit’ with them at Aunt Cora’s Closet.

 

The plot line is a big one – maybe a teensy bit too big even for the suspension of disbelief – but a fun one. Even though the ‘bad guys’ are clear from the beginning, the villain of the murder wasn’t at all and surprised me a bit.

 

I’d have liked to see a bit more of Sailor but at least he puts in his appearance eventually.  Some explanations of behaviour would be nice too. But I can’t wait until I get to visit the gang again. I’m only sorry I’ll have to wait another year to do it.

Murder and Mischief in the Hamptons (Hamptons #2)

This is a fun, fast, entertaining SPA read. 3.5 stars, but only because the murder mystery plot wasn’t truly central to the story, with 99% of it occurring in the last half of the book.

 

Still, the characters are a lot of fun; likeable, funny, with great dialogue. The ghosts are a hoot and they often steal the scenes with the best lines. I’ll be looking for the release of a third book in this series.

Living and Dying in the Hamptons (Hamptons #1)

Well, a GR friend had only good things to say about this SPA book and recommended it to me and so I picked it up.

 

A fun fast read with a great cast of characters you wish existed in real life. The ghosts all crack me up – each very unique and very much still the person they once were. I love the snark and the humour, and the dialogue is fast and easy to follow with a minimum of editing errors.

 

The plot was well developed, a very solid effort. The villain wasn’t obvious (to me) and though the ending was a bit anti-climatic, I was ok with that as I get tired of the predictability of cozies and their endings at times.

 

This book is an absolute steal, as the author is giving it away free of charge on Smashwords. I’d have happily paid 2-3 bucks for this book and another 2-3 for the sequel. If you’re looking for an entertaining story that’s lighthearted and fun, and you like free, this might be the book for you.

Smarty Bones (Sarah Booth Delaney Series #13)

Wow, this book was busy! It’s like the author had three different novella-length stories she wanted to tell and compressed them all into the same plot line/book. But I don’t mean that as a bad thing. It was just a very busy storyline – which I can see a lot of people not enjoying, but it kept me on the edge of my seat for the last half of the book. I love how Ms. Haines brought Sweetie and Pluto into the storyline and made them active characters – a true animal lover will appreciate it.  I really enjoyed the Lady in Red storyline. I was really intrigued by the role she played in the Civil War and the possible solution to the troubles that she hoped to forward. The modern day storyline revolving around The Lady in Red, however, I have to admit to finding hard to swallow – it felt a tiny bit over-the-top. But I still enjoyed the hell out of this book!  Ms. Haines hints throughout the story that she might be shaking things up again in Sarah Booth’s life. As I’ve always been a fan of Coleman’s, I sort of hope that’s true. I’m looking forward to the next book to find out what happens.

Hex on the Ex (A Mind for Murder Mystery #3)

Ok, I really enjoyed this book, but I have to say the killer was screamingly obvious towards the end – like it could have ended several chapters sooner, but it seemed like the author had more to say so she kept her characters in a state of temporary stupidity until she was ready.

 

Beyond that, a great story – not quite as much woo woo, although the murder has a very occult spin to it. But it was restricted to the murder itself, so we don’t have to read about Liz’s refusal to have an open mind, which was an irritant to me in the last two books. I like Nick and the rest of the cast; they’re all fun to read. I especially love that Ms. Staab doesn’t feel the need for a nemesis, or a love triangle – thank you.

 

I was a little bit on the fence about this series after the second book, but this one has me eagerly awaiting the next book.

Aunt Dimity and the Lost Prince (Paranormal Detective #18)

The books in this series are truly fairy tales for adults. No murder mystery, but always a mystery of some kind, meant to provide an opportunity for growth for the protagonist, right down to a ‘moral of the story’ of sorts at the end.

 

Because, or in spite of, this, these stories are always entertaining with fantastic, colourful, characters and really no villains to speak of. My only complaint about the books – well, two really: I wish the author could figure out a way for Aunt Dimity to pass on her wisdom without making Lori impulsive to the point of childish and make Aunt Dimity less condescending while passing on her wisdom. Secondly, if Lori could not jump to so many ridiculous conclusions, that would be great. Although I will say, she was much more rational in this book.

 

Aunt Dimity and the Lost Price centers around the fantastical tales told by a child, and the reality that lies at the heart of them. The child herself makes exactly one appearance in the story, but she makes quite an impression with everyone she meets and Lori and her neighbor Bree follow a string of clues to find the ‘Lost Price’. With an ending not quite what you’d expect, but a happy one, this was a fast, entertaining read. If you don’t try to make these books something they are not (murder mysteries with suspects, etc.), and enjoy them for what they are, they’ll never let you down.