Can you believe it’s been a whole month since we last talked about the Cozy Mystery books that we thought were so good we just had to recommend them? I can’t!
I’ve tried a few new-to-me Cozy authors this past month who I’m still deciding whether or not to add to my favorite authors list. I have so many favorite Cozy authors already, I’m just not sure I can handle any more! (That’s a good problem to have!)
Anyway, if you have one or two Cozy Mysteries that you read during July that you think the rest of us should certainly know about, please drop us a comment telling us why you liked the book(s) >>> so we can take a look at it/them. If you have a few more than two, go for it! Please list the ones you liked the most at the very top of the list, that way we’ll know those are super-duper good Cozies!
As usual, please do not tell us about the Cozy Mysteries you did not like.
What really good Cozy Mystery book did you read during July 2015 that you want the rest of us to know about, and why did you enjoy it?
Here are the current recommended authors who some of you have read and recommended this past month:
Ellery Adams (aka Jennifer Stanley & J.B. Stanley): Charmed Pie Shoppe Mystery Series
Gretchen Archer: Davis Way Crime Caper Mystery Series
Donald Bain & “Jessica Fletcher”: Murder, She Wrote Mystery Series
Jenna Bennett (aka Jennie Bentley & Bente Gallagher): Savannah Martin Mystery Series
Heather Blake (aka Heather Webber): Magic Potion Mystery Series
Leslie Budewitz: Food Lovers’ Village Mystery Series
Lucy Burdette (aka Roberta Isleib): Key West Food Critic Mystery Series
Lynn Cahoon: Tourist Trap Mystery Series
Kate Carlisle: Fixer-Upper Mystery Series
Sammi Carter: Candy Shop Mystery Series
Elizabeth Lynn Casey (aka Laura Bradford): Southern Sewing Circle Mystery Series
Bailey Cates (aka Cricket McRae & Bailey Cattrell): Magical Bakery Mystery Series
Kerry J Charles: Dulcie Chambers Mystery Series
Nancy Coco (aka Nancy J. Parra): Candy Coated Mystery Series
Isis Crawford (aka Barbara Block): Mystery with Recipes Mystery Series
Mary Daheim: Emma Lord Alpine Mystery Series
Krista Davis: Domestic Diva Mystery Series
Carola Dunn: Daisy Dalrymple Mystery Series
Monica Ferris: Needlecraft Mystery Series
Shelley Freydont: Celebration Bay Mystery Series
Susan Furlong (aka Lucy Arlington): Georgia Peach Mystery Series
Anne George: Southern Sisters Mystery Series
Kerry Greenwood: Corinna Chapman Mystery Series
Betty Hechtman: Yarn Retreat Mystery Series
Mary Ellen Hughes: Pickled and Preserved Mystery Series
Julie Hyzy: Manor of Murder Mystery Series
Sue Ann Jaffarian: Ghost of Granny Apples Mystery Series
Tonya Kappes: Ghostly Southern Mystery Series
Kylie Logan (aka Miranda Bliss & Casey Daniels): League of Literary Ladies Mystery Series
Susan Elia MacNeal: Maggie Hope Mystery Series
Leslie Meier: Lucy Stone Mystery Series
Nancy J. Parra (aka Nancy Coco): Baker’s Treat Mystery Series
Penny Pike (aka Penny Warner): Food Festival Mystery Series
Hannah Reed (aka Deb Baker): Scottish Highlands Mystery Series
Stanton Samenow: Inside the Criminal Mind (Forensic Psychology)
Paige Shelton: Farmers’ Market Mystery Series
Alexander McCall Smith: No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Mystery Series
Diana Xarissa: Isle of Man Mystery Series
I will list the authors and series that have been recommended, but I urge you to read the comments below so you can see the reasons other Cozy Mystery readers thought these were their best reads of the month.
♦To access more Cozy Mystery Books Recommendations, click on this link♦
P.S. I won’t be commenting on your recommendations since your comments speak for themselves!
I LOVE a new-to-me series by Sammi Carter; the first book is Candy Apple Dead (A Candy Shop Mystery), and I’ve just started the second book. Thanks to Danna, I heard about the series here and it sounded fun. I just love the writing and everything about the first book and first three chapters of the second. Published in 2005.
That was the very Cozy series I read (many years ago LOL). Candy Shop Mystery got me into Cozies 😀
Kathleen C says
Sounds great! I’m going to check it out, and add to my extensive “must read” list. Thanks.
I read the Sammi Carter Candy Shop Mysteries years ago and they are still on my list of favorites. Sad there were only 3.
Danna - cozy mystery list says
Donna, the good news is that you have two more of Sammi Carter’s Candy Shop mysteries to read! (Sammi Carter has written five of them.)
Ceelee Sunshine says
I don’t know if Kate White’s books would be considered cozies but I really enjoyed EYES ON YOU. It is a mystery set in a TV network news show where one of the on air talent is being stalked. It was picked as the Big Library Read for June by Overdrive which is why i read it. I think it is a great summer read!
Also I loved THE BEEKEEPER’S BALL by Susan Wiggs! It is a perfect summer read and I would say “cozy”. It was my favorite book to take outside in the morning for my “Summer Reading Outdoors” tradition. It does have a bit of mystery in some of its characters which is uncovered in a secondary story of WWII Denmark. There is information about bees and it has recipes that all contain honey! The Hummingbird Cake recipe looks FANTASTIC!
Julie Hyzy’s Grace Cries Uncle was great. A new character you’ll love to hate, and a terrific main plot. The sub plots were interesting too. One of the best books I’ve read this year.
First a rant of sorts……………..
I read a few books this month that I can’t recommend. The next book in a series by an author I always read, enjoy, and recommend made absolutely NO sense, but I kept reading. It was WA-A-A-Y over my head, and I really should have given it up at 50 pages. But I thought, “surely there’s a point to all this.” I plowed on because I like the characters. I then thought ‘certainly, there will be a redeeming value at the end.” NOPE. NADA. NOTHING. So disappointed! It took me a week to read it because I kept putting it down. (Shows you how ‘dumb’ I am!)
I rarely read reviews on Amazon, but thought I’d check to see if anyone thought the same as me. Sure enough, there were several comments that expressed my thoughts exactly. To be fair, there also were favorable comments (obviously from people with a lot more intellect than me).
I always maintain, however, that many good authors will occasionally have a ‘miss’. AND, I’ll still read the next book in this series.
After reading this book, I REALLY WANTED to read something I was sure I’d enjoy. So I grabbed ‘Butter Off Dead’ as my next read. WOW! What a difference……………
Butter Off Dead — Leslie Budewitz
This is set in Jewel Bay, Montana in February with a Valentine tie-in with plenty of snow and ice (take note, Danna). Erin Murray is the protagonist and manager of the Merc – her family’s store for several generations.
Several townsfolk are planning a mid-winter food related film festival. A friend is murdered and Erin’s brother is on the suspect list.
There are a LOT of characters to keep track of. Luckily the author lists 20 of them at the beginning of the book. There are several others she doesn’t list, which gets confusing. BUT, this is a very talented author, quickly becoming a favorite of mine. She is a descriptive scenic writer and usually has one advocacy issue, which I enjoy because I learn something interesting. In this book it happens to be about wolves. Nick, her brother, is a Wolf Biologist.
This book moves along quickly and is written with a lot of intelligence and some humor. The pacing is excellent, with well-developed characters. All in all, a very enjoyable read!
Peaches and Scream — Susan Furlong
Another wow! Two good books in a row – my reward for the suffering through a book I didn’t like. After I finished the book by L. Budewitz, I thought I’d read something new. This is a new series by Susan Furlong. She’s not exactly a new author to me, since I read the last book (4th) in the Novel Idea series she wrote under the pen name of Lucy Arlington. There are some ‘typical cozy aspects’ to this story/series, but all-in-all it’s a great read.
I loved the characters from the get-go. They are well developed, varied, and enjoyable. I was amazed at how comfortable I felt with the characters from the beginning. Oftentimes that will take a book or two. For those that like southern settings, you’ll love this one. It’s set in Georgia peach country and really is ‘very southern’ in tone! AND, for those that don’t like southern settings, you’ll STILL LIKE this one!
Nola (main character) arrives in her hometown to help her parents run their peach farm while they take a 3 week 50th anniversary cruise. She is conflicted about her job – a humanitarian who has helped people around the world. However because of a company down-sizing, she will be relegated to a desk job. Thus the reason to ‘go home’ for a few weeks to decide direction for her life.
During a send-off 50th anniversary party for her parents a local businessman is murdered. Nola’s brother-in-law is the prime suspect. Some of the mystery is predicable, but there are several twists and turns to the stories. It is very fast paced and I literally couldn’t put the book down. I’m REALLY looking forward to the next book, ‘Rest in Peach’ (release date 4/5/16). Too long of a wait!
(Hmmmm…………………my mouth is watering for some summer ‘peachy’ desserts!)
Hooked on Ewe — Hannah Reed
This is the second book in Reed’s new Scottish Highland mystery series. First, I want to mention the outstanding job this author has done in the descriptive writing of this beautiful country. This isn’t evident in her bee series, so she has really exceled in exhibiting this aspect of her talents.
Eden Elliot is a romance writer who has temporarily relocated to Scotland to do some writing, following a divorce and her mother’s death in Chicago. She is a strong and dynamic character with innate smarts. Several other characters are also engaging as this series begins to create personal relationships. The romance angle is just evolving (fairly non-existent). It’s interesting, but the reader will have to wait for future books to see what develops.
At a fundraiser for a local hospice, the committee head has been murdered. This is a very convoluted and twisty story following many threads. Since it involves so many new characters one might think it would be difficult to keep straight. However, the author makes it manageable. I only got two of the characters mixed up! By the end, through the process of elimination, one can figure out “who dun’ it”.
BTW, this author also uses a lot of Scottish dialect in the dialogue…………..and then explains it, which is amusing and somewhat comical.
This author weaves a VERY good story………..I personally find it the best of her writings (at least from what I’ve read so far – haven’t read her books written as Deb Baker). This copyright for this book is to Deb Baker (Hannah Reed is the pen name).
I do have a criticism (one I often state)…………….. I enjoy reading the acknowledgements. Oftentimes it will give some insight/tidbits into how a story is developed. And, of course, I think it’s considerate when the author takes an opportunity to publicly thank those that helped. MOST authors do this. But in Baker’s (Reed’s) case there is NOTHING! Either she felt she had no one to thank because she did it ALL without any help, OR the publisher (Berkley) chose not to include it. There’s also NOTHING about the author on the inside of the back cover (where most publishers place such info.).
Guidebook To Murder – Lynn Cahoon
This book sat on my bookshelf for a while before I picked it up to read. It is the first in a new series and by a ‘new-to-me’ author. It is a very quick read – only 220 pages. I read it in one sitting (well……..with a few interruptions!). Lawyer Jill Gardner has given up her family law practice in San Francisco to open a book and coffee shop in a small CA community near the ocean. She is a smart and entertaining protagonist.
The character list is relatively small, so easily followed. Because it’s small, one can figure out the culprit. However, that doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of the book. Of course, there is the hunky detective – love the interaction. The second book in the series is already out (with the 3rd being released in August), so I don’t have to ‘wait’ for the next installment.
Fatal Reservations — Lucy Burdette
I enjoy this series and always recommend its latest release. It is intellectually written with a bright/clever protagonist (Hayley), a food critic for a local publication. It is set in Key West. There are very diverse main characters that keep the story ‘lively’ – so enjoyable.
In this story, Hayley’s friend is accused of murder. ( I took note that in all the stories of this series, either Hayley, or one of her friends, is always the ‘accused’.) In this case it’s a tarot card reader. It’s somewhat of an oxymoron that the author (a clinical psychologist in her real life) adds in a ‘tarot card reader’ to the stories. But it’s not overdone and generally a very small part of the story.
Of course, Hayley is certain her friend is innocent, so she and her 80 something roommate embark on a mission to prove he didn’t commit the crime(s).
I didn’t like the direction of the ‘romantic story line’ the author embarked upon a few books ago. So glad she ‘read my mind’ (probably by ‘telepathic message’), and put this angle on the right track again.
I always make this comment when I recommend this series. KUDOS to the author for her bio at the end of the book. She acknowledges this pseudonym (Lucy Burdette) and tells the reader of her accomplishments under her real name as Roberta Isleib. She’s proud of her work, so has no qualms in releasing her real name! Thank you, Ms. Isleib.
Bushel Full of Murder — Paige Shelton
Protagonist Becca Robbins’ cousin (Peyton) from AZ arrives at Bailey’s Farmers’ Market with her new food truck (a new venue for the market). Peyton is perhaps ‘running/hiding’ because she is accused of several crimes. A murder occurs and Peyton is the prime suspect. Becca and her sister (Allison) set out to prove their cousin’s innocence.
A detective (Harry), who Becca befriended on a recent visit to AZ, is in the area seeking Peyton on possible criminal charges. There are several ‘suspects’ put forth, so figuring out the ‘culprit’ is not easy. Peyton makes an intriguing, perhaps appealing, addition to this cast of characters. Hopefully she stays.
Great character relationships and a well written story with interesting twists to the plot make this latest book to the series an entertaining read. It’s another book with skillful pacing!
Wound Up In Murder — Betty Hechtman
This is a light read with a lot going on in the story, but not necessarily a quick read. The sleuth puts on knitting retreats in this California by the ocean (Cadbury) community. This year another retreat celebrating ‘1963’ is also scheduled at the same resort. The story detail is kind of fun. Of course, a murder takes place and the sleuth’s former boyfriend is accused.
One thing I will point out about this author is, in both of her series the former boyfriend(s) did NOT cheat, steal money from joint accounts, lazy/no job, etc., etc. In fact, in both of Hechtman’s series the ‘exes’ still want to get back with the main character. This is a departure from many other cozy writers approach. Usually the ‘formula’ is for the ‘ex’ to be found in bed with another woman. I find it refreshing when an author will write a different scenario and go against the ‘norm’.
There are also humorous aspects to the writing. Several twists keep the reader guessing with a surprising ending. The ‘whys’ and ‘wherefores’ would be impossible to figure out.
Wedding Duress – Elizabeth Lynn Casey
There were three cozy ‘wedding’ titles recently released (at least among the authors I read). This, I thought, was the best of the three. This is a fun series, somewhat light and easy – many aspects dealt with humor.
Tori is the protagonist and is the head librarian in a small southern town, Sweet Briar. Her fiancé (Milo) is an elementary school teacher. Yay! NOT a detective, FBI agent, Secret Agent, etc. The characters are really diverse and so enjoyable with their idiosyncrasies. Casey does a marvelous job of developing each and every one of them.
As she is planning her wedding with the help of her sewing circle friends, a nanny brought to the community from Britain, at the suggestion of one of its members, is found dead. The ‘group’ needs to solve this murder before the wedding. The pacing is well done.
It is obvious that friendship is SO-O-O central/crucial to this series, that the reader develops warm feelings as she/he turns the pages.
Comment: BTW, in the various series I read, there were THREE proposals in books released this past spring. I won’t tell you which ones – but, I guess, “June is bustin’ out all over”!
Danna - cozy mystery list says
MJ, been there, done that!!! I give my favorite authors about two more tries before I take them off my list and post a big, fat “*****YUCK” by their names. I then, invariably go through a guilty phase, where I keep telling myself that I should just try one more book by them. I feel like I’m being disloyal to them when I finally strike them off my fave list. So, I know what you’re going through!
Hi MJ, I enjoy your comments and we seem to read many of the same series. I just wanted to let you know that there are already 4 books out in Lynn Cahoon’s series and the fifth one is being released in August. I like this series a lot and have the new book pre-ordered.
I stumbled upon Diana Xarissa’s Aunt Bessie, Isle of Man series and am enjoying it. It’s definitely a cozy and very enjoyable.
I’ve read a lot this month – my library has a summer reading program and I set a high goal for myself that I’m determined to meet. One of my favorite books this month was A Mind Within by Kerry J. Charles. Museum director Dulcie meets a teenager who has autism and the ability to paint anything that he sees. Wanting to include his work in an exhibit of outsider art, Dulcie gets involved with his family and manages to solve a murder. I generally can figure out the solution in most of the books that I read but this one really surprised me. The other book that I would recommend is Hooked on Ewe by Hannah Reed, the second in her Scottish series. This book has engaging characters and a real sense of place.
I did a lot of reading this month. A few of the books were tough to get through (Ugh! I won’t be looking for the next books in those series!) but most were very enjoyable. I’d like to share my three favorites.
Double Mint by Gretchen Archer
Double Mint is Book 4 in the Davis Way Series, and it is such a fun read! I really enjoyed it. Davis is the lead investigator for the undercover team at the Bellissimo Casino. This time around she is dealing with being forced to live in what she believes is a haunted Casino apartment, is ordered to take over for the special events coordinator who quit and is now missing, and is doing her best to figure out who stole millions of dollars in platinum coins from the Bellissimo vault. Since the theft is an inside job, and her new husband who just happens to be the general manager is the only one with a key to the vault, Davis is working nonstop to find the real thief. Davis is convinced these three situations are connected (although no one will believe her) and she sets out to prove it.
What an enjoyable book! The author has filled this book with lots of humor and a great cast of characters. Davis is a great lead character. She does whatever it takes to get the job done, which makes for a really entertaining read. I’m looking forward to the next book.
Fatal Reservations by Lucy Burdette
Fatal Reservations is a great addition to a series that started out strong and just keeps getting better. Lead character Hayley Snow (food reporter for Key Zest Magazine) has a lot to worry about. Her romance with Wally isn’t moving forward, Miss Gloria, her 80 year-old roommate, is training to be a cemetery tour guide (which totally creeps Hayley out), and Hayley’s new boss doesn’t seem all that impressed with her work. Although she has her hands full, when her good friend Lorenzo is arrested for murder, she gets involved and does whatever is necessary to prove his innocence.
This is an entertaining series. Hayley is so sweet and kind and has such an upbeat personality the reader can’t help but cheer her on. She is very genuine and is extremely loyal to her friends. The ending of this book definitely put a smile on my face. Can’t wait for Hayley’s next adventure.
One Potion in the Grave by Heather Blake
One Potion in the Grave is the second book in the Magic Potion Mystery series. It contains murder, mystery, humor, interesting (and quirky!) characters and just the right amount of romance. Carly Bell Hartwell, our lead character, is a potion-making witch. When an old friend shows up for a visit, Carly can’t shake the sense of danger that surrounds this woman. When the woman is found dead, Carly sets out to find her killer.
I’m not a major fan of paranormal books, but there are a few authors out there that have the ability to make certain paranormal elements seem perfectly….well, I guess the word I’m looking for is ‘normal’. Ms. Blake (Webber) is one of these writers. Her stories are always well written, and she writes engaging dialogue, but she excels at developing characters that just seem so wonderfully ordinary. I’m a fan of her writing. All of her books are character based, and she makes the people who populate her imaginary worlds seem very real.
Hope everyone has a fun-filled August!
Margaret M. says
DIVA STEALS A CHOCOLATE KISS by Krista Davis (A Domestic Diva Mystery.) I have loved this series from the beginning. Like all of the others it is a very well crafted mystery, with lots of twists and turns. Along with the murders there is always mulitple mysteries tied in. Everyone has secrets and scandles and every one is a suspect. It is also a very “smart” and well written series.
A TALE OF TWO BIDDIES by Kylie Logan, this is my new favorite series. “Funny as **ll.” The island setting is almost made for a mystery and the characters are so diverse. I love this group of ladies! And, it amazes me Kylie Logan can create a mystery to mirror the classic they are named after. When I start reading these books I can not put them down.
Murder She Wrote KILLER IN THE KITCHEN by Donald Bain. All I can say is I love the T.V. series and the books are even better.
DEATH OF A CRABBY COOK by Penny Pike. This is a cute series based around the food truck craze and set in San Francisco. I don’t know if I will continue with this series, but I enjoyed it and one character, Dillon was hysterical.
Paula Catherine says
I started reading the “Ann George” series. Patricia Anne and her sister, Sister are hilarious. I so enjoy her writing and I just received the entire series so I will enjoying reading about the sister’ antics.
I also just dinished a true crime novel, the Good Nurse. Not a cozy, difficult to read even for me, a nurse. Charlie is a Serial killer, the book is very good, but not for everyone.
I recently discovered Jenna Bennett’s Savannah Martin series. Loved every one of the books in this series. Think I read all 10 in less than 2 weeks. Can’t wait for the next one.
I’m currently re-reading (For the umpteenth time) the Corinna Chapman mysteries by Kerry Greenwood. I don’t know what it is about these books, but they don’t seem to get old. Each re-read is just as good as the first time, despite that I know exactly whodunnit, and what’s going to happen.
Highly recommended, anyway.
I just read Nancy J Parra’s 1st book” Gluten for punishment”. It was a bit slow in the beginning as my reading was started at various appointments and I would read a couple of pages, have to stop and then a few more pages but then when I really got started I stayed up last night till 2 am and finished it. Good recipes I plan to try even if I am not gluten intolerant. Now on to book 2.
This is crazy, but I have been off the whole month of July (school is not in session) and I have done lots of things around the house including cataloging books for my personal library. Unfortunately I have not read much. I have just gotten, but not read the third title in Maggie Pill’s Sleuth Sisters series. I enjoyed THE SLEUTH SISTERS and 3 SLEUTHS, 2 DOGS, 1 MURDER. Now that I have to get back to work I look forward to reading MURDER IN THE BOONIES.
Danna - cozy mystery list says
drcmg, it sounds like you put your off-from-school time to great use! Your reading schedule is the exact opposite of mine: when I was off from school is when I did most of my fun reading.
Danna, I am the library director at a small college and because there are only two of us fulltime I work two or three nights each week. These provide some good times for reading. I am also a night person so when I get off at 10pm I can’t go to sleep for at least a couple of hours. So I get to read for a couple more hours while my wife sleeps. When school is out for the summer I take my accumulated vacation which ends up being most of July. During this time I catch up on the projects that require daytime work and then spend a lot of the evenings with my wife sort of making up for the nights away during the rest of the year. It works for me, but it limits my reading during the summer. I get to read, but I don’t get the same uninterrupted periods that I get when school is in session.
Danna - cozy mystery list says
drcmg, it sounds like you have a great set-up for both your working and off-work time! Your job sounds like something I would have loved doing!
Margaret StashEmpress says
Oh wow this month did get away from me! But I did a fair bit of reading. Sorry I couldn’t put them
in order of “goodness” but I just can’t figure out the order!
What I did do this month though, was to go through my massive TBR pile (at least the ones checked out from the library) and separate into two piles — new to me series and books in series I’ve already read. The new to me series I pulled out all the ones that didn’t really “grab” me that much, for whatever reason — and the remaining ones I looked up & read reviews on Amazon — if they weren’t amazing, I pulled them out too. Then went through the “old faithful” pile with a similarly discriminating eye & pulled the ones that I didn’t totally love –and returned all those to the library (about 15 total) — and came home with about 12 new books…. oh well — but its a start LOL!
Baily Cates — Some Enchanted Eclair (Magical Bakery series) — While I’m generally not “into” paranormals, this series is one example that I enjoy because the characters are just so…well…
*normal* LOL! Katie and her aunt & uncle running a successful bakery (ok, using just a bit of magic in the baking) and having to solve murders on the side. While Katie and her aunt are witches (her uncle and boyfriend are not), she’s using good old legwork & power of deduction in her sleuthing — that’s (for me) what makes the difference between the kind of paranormal I like and the kind I don’t.
Alexander McCall Smith — The Handsome Man’s De Luxe Cafe (No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series) — Another enjoyable installment in this series, which is heavier on location and characterization than on actual mystery. If you’re looking for a good puzzle — this is not it. If you’re looking for a good read about interesting characters in an interesting location — oh and they solve a few mysteries while they’re at it — then you’ll love it.
Monica Ferris — Darned if You Do (A Needlecraft Mystery) — Yet another good installment in old favorite series. In this case, though, I did figure out “whodunnit” immediately — even *before* they “dunnit” — based on the situation, it was pretty much the ONLY answer. Nevertheless, a thoroughly enjoyable read. I love the needlework shop & the “regulars” that gather there, so this is one of those books that you read to enjoy a visit with old friends.
Leslie Meier — French Pastry Murder (Lucy Stone series) — This is an “away” story. Lucy and her husband & friends have left Tinkers Cove & gone to Paris for a vacation — where they immediately trip over a dead body.. of course they do 😉 I know there had been some discussions on the blog about sleuths leaving their home towns & I seem to recall that the majority prefer the sleuth to stay home. I guess I’m one of the odd ones, as I generally enjoy “away” books better — because the sleuths are in new locations, particularly vacation ones, we get to see a whole new place (in this case Paris) — as seen through the eyes of our sleuth. Win/win all around for me! I do recall that one of the reasons many people gave for not liking “away” stories is that the sleuth was without her “backup crew” of regular characters. But in this story Lucy is traveling with her husband — and two other couples (their friends for the series) *and* their oldest daughter is already in Paris at the time — so you’ve got most of the regular characters already there.
Joyce and Jim Lavene — Fatal Fairies (Ren Faire series) — What can I say— I just ADORE this series! Set in a Ren Faire village, amazing location where anything can (and usually DOES) happen, full of quirky characters — its always a rollicking good read! In this one Jessie wishes her husband wasn’t the bailiff when a murder causes the cancellation of a much awaited honeymoon trip. Only problem is, being a semi-magical place, she wakes up the next morning and discovers that Chase is no longer the bailiff… and no longer her husband! (And many other changes in her beloved village) — In order to set her world right, Jessie has to solve the murder — AND make Chase fall in love with her again!
Lynn Cahoon — If the Shoe Kills (Tourist Trap series) Another good installment in this series. I actually didn’t guess at all who the murderer was. (OK, true confession, as I was writing this up, I couldn’t even REMEMBER who the murderer ended up being LOL — so I had to go & google a “spoiler” to find it 😉 )
Elisabeth Grace Foley — The Silver Shawl and The Parting Glass (Mrs. Meade series) Series of novellas set in turn of the (20th!) century Colorado. The sleuth is Mrs. Meade, very much like Miss Marple. Good puzzles, lovely light reading.
Ann B. Ross — Miss Julia Lays Down the Law and Etta Mae’s Worst Bad-Luck Day (Miss Julia series) I love Miss Julia & I love this series! In Miss Julia Lays Down the Law its once again up to Miss Julia to save her town, both from ignorant incomer upstarts who have no appreciation for tradition and want to spoil everything — and also from a murderer.. maybe… The plot has many twists and turns & you could probably never guess what really happened (though I had a hunch, but only because I once read a book with a similar plot twist). Thoroughly enjoyable read with a charming cast of characters.
Etta Mae’s Worst Bad Luck Day Ever is a bit of departure from the series, in that the main character is Etta Mae Wiggins (while Miss Julia only appears peripherally). But a wild & wonderful plot, wacky characters, crazy happenings –and a mystery. Long time fans of Miss Julia did not all care for this book because it was such a departure from the regular series, but I absolutely LOVED it just for that reason.
Tasha Alexander — Tears of Pearl (Lady Emily series) I really enjoy this series which is set in Victorian England. Love well dressed aristocrats fighting crime & being spies LOL! (And the clothing — lets not forget the sumptuous clothing LOL!) In this installment they are traveling in Turkey & have to solve a murder in a harem!
Laura Levine — Death by Tiara (Jaine Austen series) — Another fun installment in the wild and wacky (and tongue in cheek) series. Murder at a (chintzy second rate) beauty pageant — what could be more fun??? 😉 Loved it!
Marty Wingate — The Rhyme of the Magpie (Birds of a Feather series) First in a new series. Sleuth is Julia Lanchester who has left her job as assistant to her father (celebrity with a bird/nature television show) and gone to work promoting tourism in small English village. Except her father goes missing, a murder occurs… and… well.. a sleuth is born! I have to say, what grabbed my attention & made me pick up this book was the blurb that begins, “For readers of Laura Childs, Ellery Adams, and Jenn McKinlay, the high-flying new Birds of a Feather mystery series from Marty Wingate begins as a British woman gets caught up in a dangerous plot when her celebrity father disappears.” — well you know if you’re gonna invoke the names of some of my favorite authors, I’m gonna HAVE TO read it LOL! (And I have to wonder how they’re allowed to do that in the blurb? Did they get permission to use those author’s names?) But yes, a very good read and I did pick up the first two in the author’s other series & we’ll see how good those are as well.
Victoria Hamilton — Bran New Death (Merry Muffin series) — I loved her other series (Vintage Kitchen) & actually wanted to read her newest release — but when I saw that there were only two previous titles in this series, figured I’d do it “the right way” –by starting with the first. And glad I am that I did, because I probably would have missed some stuff in the next book without the background. Very good book, like it even better than Vintage Kitchen series. Merry inherits a decrepit old castle in a secluded area near a very small town. She wants to sell it, but will have to do some serious work on it, so she moves in and sets to it — but someone is digging holes on her property and a murder occurs…. and to make ends meet (since this castle will take some doing to make salable) she decides to open a muffin baking business. Great start to a series! And you
know what folks? There’s only 3 books in the series so far, but I have a sneaky suspicion that Merry never will end up selling that castle! 😉
Alyssa Maxwell — Murder at Beechwood (Gilded Newport Mystery series) — LOVE this series — Wonderful historical series taking place in the lat 1800’s in Newport among the “400”. Poor cousin to the famous Vanderbilt family, Emma Cross is a feisty independent woman, trying to break into journalism (which was a totally male-dominated world in those days). In this story she finds a baby abandoned on her doorstep & follows a trail of clues (and murders) to uncover the baby’s parentage (a member of the upper crust).
Lee Hollis — Death of a Cupcake Queen and Death of a Christmas Caterer (Hayley Powell Mystery series) — Another 2 fun installments in this food/mystery series. Hayley is food columnist who finds dead bodies… Though I have to say that I had some problem with the Caterer title — the way the murder was explained to have happened didn’t make sense to me logistically. I did try to email one of the authors for an explanation, but got no answer. Wish they would, cuz its nagging at me… 😉
Krista Davis — The Diva Steals a Chocolate Kiss (Domestic Diva series) — Another great read in the Domestic Diva series! You got to love Sophie — and we all love to hate Natasha! And this installment involves chocolate… lots & lots of chocolate.. LOVE!
Elizabeth Perona — Murder on the Bucket List (Bucket List mystery series) — A new series featuring a group of elderly friends intent on finishing off their “bucket lists”. One of the friends has “go skinny dipping” on her bucket list so the friends humor her and *attempt* to go skinny dipping — but a dead body interrupts their plans… Luckily *another* one of the group has “solve murder” on *her* list LOL! I have to say that it got off to a slow start & was considering giving it up at 50 pages — but on page 51 something exciting happened that grabbed me — and I’m glad I finished it because it was a very good read.
Sue Ann Jaffarian — Ghost in the Guacamole (Ghost of Granny Apples series) — Ok, I admit it — I left the best for last LOL! I simply ADORE Granny Apples, the feisty ghost who aids her great great great (great?) granddaughter Emma Whitecastle (a “ghost whisperer” with her own television show) in solving murders and mysteries. In this installment they are called on to help restaurant owner sisters Lucinda and Ricarda Ricardo (aka Lucy and Rikki… seriously folks??? LOLOL) — and the ghost of their father Felix.
I have to say, I did have a few duds this month, which I am not listing. But I did learn one thing — now, before beginning a new (or new to me) series — I check out the reviews on Amazon first!
There was one book that I read this month that seemed to have all the right “ingredients” for a cozy — but was a first book in a series, and also first book by this author — so no track record. Well, all I can say is, I hope he didn’t quit his day job!!! (And I also have to wonder — WHY did any publisher publish this book? Did anyone even read it???? There are sooooo many good books out there — and so many mediocre ones — and this one wasn’t even *that* good!) The sleuth is running around asking questions of strangers, with no reasonable excuse at all –she’s not a suspect, nobody even really thinks it’s a murder — but she decides she wants to solve a mystery — so she proceeds to do every stupid thing in the book! Including accosting a total stranger and actually saying, “Who were you having an affair with? I have to know!” (ugh!) — But beyond that — the author gives no description AT ALL of the main character — we can only assume her age based on the description of her best friend, and I wasn’t even sure she was a SHE (gender neutral first name) till about halfway through when she buys a dress for a date! Totally unbelievable characters doing totally unbelievable things — a female police chief who interviews her about the death, then says, here is my son’s phone
number, call him & ask him on a date. (seriously???) There was just nothing remotely believable in the book. The (male) author has no clue how to speak in a “female voice”, which is probably why I wasn’t even sure at first that the sleuth *was* female. And all I can say is, I couldn’t even put it down — it was like watching a train wreck — you can’t look away! I had to see it through to the end — which was beyond unbelievable — the murderer’s motive was just beyond… beyond! All I can say is — NO part of that book could have ever happened! (And then I did read the reviews — which I should have done before — and discovered that the only reviews were from ppl who had been given ARCs — and THEY were giving reviews that basically said “meh”!
Danna - cozy mystery list says
Margaret, that’s a whole lot of reading! That last Cozy you described sounds like one I might not have even been able to hold on to ’til page 50! Yikes!
Your description of that really awful book you read made me nod my head and laugh because I read a few like that this month. The THREE I read (that’s right–3 of them!!) were unbelievably bad. Two I ended up skimming, but the last one…I couldn’t even skim it! After the first 75 pages, I just wanted everyone to be ‘killed off’. Didn’t even go to the end of the book to see who the killer was–just didn’t care. Thanks for the chuckle!
Danna - cozy mystery list says
LindaMH, yikes! When you don’t even go check out the end of the book to find out the culprit >>> that’s a pretty bad book!
Linda & Margaret Stash, it seems like several of us are on the same page this month about reading some ‘bad’ books. Ironically, we read some of the same series.
Maybe, this summer (or last winter when the books were written), some of the authors we normally read took a ‘brain break’. OR, maybe they were ‘burned out’. If that’s the case, perhaps they should ask the publisher for an extension so they can take the time to write some quality work.
IF (and that’s a HUGE IF), Linda and I were talking about the same book, it’s lucky she didn’t go to the end, because when you got there there wasn’t a culprit anyway! The whole story was for naught.
MJ, I like those words: ‘brain break’. That certainly makes sense. Lately, it seems like some of my favorite authors are taking a ‘brain break’. At times, I finish a book and ask myself, “Did _____ really write this?” Thanks for the comments. Hope you are having a great day!
I read the first book in the Baker’s Treat mysteries by Nancy Parra called Gluten for Punishment. Could not put it down. The story and characters kept me reading. Very entertaining. I have also read her other series Candy Coated under the name Nancy Coco and could not put them down. Her writing just keeps you reading. You think at the end of the chapter you will stop but then you can’t. Love books like that.
I read and would absolutely recommend the following books:
A High-End Finish by Kate Carlisle – The setting for this series takes place in a small coastal town in California. This setting was perfect for the story and I was immediately drawn into this book. I really enjoyed all of the characters and the dialogue that takes place between them. This book has just the right amount of everything to give me my needed cozy fix. There were some laugh out loud moments and the developing love interest(s). I have the 2nd book downloaded and the 3rd pre-ordered.
Pies and Prejudice by Ellery Adams – I really enjoyed this book, and I do have the 2nd book already downloaded……and will be purchasing the others in the series. I really enjoy cozy series that take place in small southern locations. This story takes place in a small town in Georgia. The author’s writing, the setting, the characters and a hint of supernatural happenings made this a perfect book to read while lounging lazily on the porch. I really liked the main character: She is just a down to earth, simple and intelligent young woman just beginning to discover who she really is…….I am eager to see what happens next for her.
Hi, I just finished the Z book of the Alpine series by Mary Daheim. I have enjoyed all of them and am sad that there isn’t another letter to continue on with them. I also just read Superflous (sp) Ladies by Carolla Dunn. I recommend both series.
Danna - cozy mystery list says
Billie, good news! Mary Daheim said she will continue the series after “the Z book”.
Glad to hear! I love this series. It’s a bit more serious than the Bed and Breakfast one which I also read when I want something a bit more frivolous.
I’m so glad. And if you have stopped the series after N, go on to O. It’s quite a readable series.
Of Daheim’s two series I liked the Alpine one the best. However, after what happened in ‘N’, I couldn’t read it any further. I was very disappointed. I don’t want to be ‘cryptic’, but I’m sure Billie knows what I mean.
Susan Elia MacNeal’s Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante
It has recipes and a cat so it has to be a cozy. It is also a World War II mystery featuring Churchill and the Roosevelts and the fifth in the series. Maggie Hope started as a typist for Churchill and ended up in black ops. Her family members are on both sides of the war, or maybe not. Maybe her mother, Clara, is just out for herself. Great read with lots of plot lines, handled deftly.
Since it’s July I read three books with Independence Day themes: “Oh Say Can You Fudge” by Nancy Coco (Candy Coated Mysteries), “A Catered Fourth of July” by Isis Crawford (Mystery with Recipes), and “Independence Slay” by Shelly Freydont (Celebration Bay Mysteries). I enjoy the Candy Coated Mysteries and Celebration Bay series and these books didn’t disappoint. The pair were my favorite books for the month. Isis Crawford is a new-to-me author and I enjoyed this title, so I’ll have to check out the other books in her series.
I also read:
“A Ghostly Undertaking” by Tonya Kappes, book one of the Ghostly Southern series. I’m from the northeast and get a kick out of reading quirky Southern mysteries and this was a fun quirky story. Emma Lee Raines runs the family funeral home with her sister Charlotte in Sleepy Hollow, Alabama. After a freak accident, Emma gains the ability to see the ghosts of several people whose funerals were arranged by their business. Ruthie Sue Payne’s death was ruled an accident, but Ruthie Sue’s ghost is telling a different story- she was pushed down the stairs by an unknown assailant. The sheriff doesn’t believe Ruthie’s death was an accident either and he realizes Emma’s ghost-seeing ability is genuine, so he and Emma Lee, with a little help from Ruthie’s ghost, set out to figure out whodunit.
“Silence of the Lamb’s Wool” by Betty Hechtman (Yarn Retreat Mysteries). Casey Feldstein is running her second weekend knitting retreat since taking over her recently-deceased Aunt’s business. When the teacher she hires to run the retreat is poisoned, Casey not only manages to salvage the weekend retreat, she solves the murder to boot.
“The Pickled Piper” by Mary Ellen Hughes, book one of the Pickled and Preserved Mysteries. Piper Lamb owns the Piper’s Picklings shop in Cloverdale, NY. Her specialties are selling pickled and preserved fruits and vegetables made with her own custom spice blends, and she also sells those blends in the shop along with home preserving supplies. She sets up a booth at the town summer fair, but a local antiques dealer/blowhard member of the town council with plenty of enemies is found dead one morning in Piper’s booth and the boyfriend of Piper’s employee Amy becomes a prime suspect. Piper has to investigate the prove his innocence.
For those of you who enjoy reading forensic psychology books written for the lay person, I highly recommend “Inside the Criminal Mind (expanded and updated edition, published in 2014) by Stanton Samenow, Ph. D.
Just discovered Michael Robertson and his “Baker Street Letters” series. They are in print and available from my library (first two books only ) as audio books. Wonderful premise, English barrister leases office space in modern building on Baker Street in London. Terms of lease says he must answer all mail coming to Sherlock Holmes with a form letter and never read the mail or contact any of the people involved. Of course you know what will happen, and the mystery begins! Great read, little “gore” (explained with the just the right touch of British reserve) and the writer is very knowledgeable about his setting, characters occupations and Holmes. Second book is set in the world of the famous London black cabs. Not a children’s series as some may think from the titles. Well written, plot twists, good localities and descriptions . Recommend this series to everyone. If only my library had them all!
Danna - cozy mystery list says
Maureen, thanks for telling us about Michael Robertson‘s Baker Street Letters.