Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Book Review: To Brew or Not to Brew by Joyce Tremel (Brewing Trouble Mysteries #1)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Great characters, well plotted mystery…
Cons: …That was a little slow to get going
The Bottom Line:
Addicting debut
Filled with well brewed characters
Sure to delight you

Brewing Up a Good Debut

Since I don’t drink beer (actually, I’m boring and usually stick with just water), I was going to pass up To Brew or Not to Brew, the first in a new series set at a brewpub.  At the last minute, I changed my mind, however, and I’m so glad I did.

Maxine “Max” O’Brien has returned from Germany where she studied ways to brew beer.  She’s now looking to open a brewpub in her native Pittsburgh.  After much hard work, she’s only a month away from opening.  If only the strange accidents would stop happening to her new place.

However, her good friend Kurt isn’t so sure that these are truly accidents.  Kurt traveled over from Germany to run the kitchen in the brewpub for Max, and he thinks that someone is trying to sabotage the place.  He calls late one night saying that he’s figured out what is going on, but wants to show Max instead of tell her over the phone.  When she arrives a few minutes later, she finds Kurt dead.  What proof did he find?  Can Max solve his murder and find the saboteur before her new brewpub is tanked?

My plot teaser just covers the first chapter in the book.  Unfortunately, I did feel the plot didn’t leap from that opening as quickly as it could have.  While there was stuff happening some of that is series set up, and I felt it took a while for the momentum of the mystery to build.  But build it did, and by the end, I was turning pages as quickly as I could to see how it would all end.  The ending was logical and suspenseful.

Truthfully, I was hooked the entire way through the book, and that’s due to the characters.  They were well brewed, charming, and fleshed out, and I couldn’t help but love many of them (you know, the ones we are supposed to love).  Max might not be the smartest in how she goes about her investigation, but she is a truly delightful heroine.  Her family is wonderful, and we are introduced to a great network of friends as well.  In fact, these relationships among the characters always made me smile and kept me wanting to dive back into the book.

There are two recipes at the back of the book, and no, they aren’t for beer.  Instead, we get a delicious sounding cake and special type of pierogi.  Both sound absolutely wonderful!

Whether you drink specialty beer or not, the characters will draw you into the mystery of To Brew or Not to Brew and you’ll be hooked before you know it.  Personally, I’m missing Max and the gang so much already, I’m looking forward to seeing what trouble they can brew up in the sequel.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Thanks to the publisher, I have one copy of this book to give away.  Because it is a physical book, the contest is limited to residence of the US.

Just leave me a comment with your e-mail address so I can get in touch with you if you win.  I will pick the winner next Tuesday, December 15th, so please leave your comment before 12:01AM Pacific Time on 12/15.  You will have until midnight on 12/20 to get back to me, or I will choose a new winner on 12/21.


  1. I was intrigued by this one and I love the premise. It's too bad it takes the plot a little while to get going but the strong characters make that forgivable. I'm looking forward to reading this one but I won't expect to be immediately yanked in. Great review!

  2. I don't drink beer and was going to pass on this book until I read your review and saw that you are a water drinker, too and really enjoyed the book. Now I'm looking forward to reading it.

  3. Yeah, I'm curious as well. (Even though I also don't drink beer, but I don't have any objections to it, in moderation of course!) Sounds interesting. I'll expect a slow start.

    You made me curious at any rate!

    readingtoknow (at) gmail (dot) com

  4. Another water drinker! I take it with me wherever I go! :)

  5. This one caught my eye 1. because I grew up in Pittsburgh and 2. My brother brews his own beer, so this definitely has my curiosity up. And now that you mentioned a peroghi recipe, I have got to get this. Peroghi's (homemade that is) are my favorite.

    1. Oops, I got so excited when I saw peroghi that I forgot to give my email, LOL

  6. Story sounds good! I have friends who brew their own beer.

  7. I have heard good things about this from friends on Goodreads. I'm definitely intrigued ... would love to win this copy! catlaw2@comcast.net

  8. We enjoy trying small craft beers when on vacation. There are some gems out there! Thanks for the great review, I definitely want to read it now!

  9. This book is on my TBR list. Think it needs to work it way to the top.
    Foxyj00 at hotmail dot com

  10. Sounds like a great series, Mark!

    OpenId NOT working. I'm Theresa de Valence.

  11. Love this type of book. prentissg@gmail.com

  12. Sounds like an interesting read, thanks for offering to us!

  13. Would like to give this book a read. Count me in.
    judydee22002 at yahoo dot com

  14. Another new-to-me author to try. Thanks for a chance to win a copy.

  15. I would like to read this book. It sounds interesting. I have taken a tour through a brewery near me, The Bruery.