All ratings are on a scale of 1 (bad) to 5 (great).
Caramel Crush by Jenn McKinlay (Cupcake Bakery Mysteries #9) – 5
Mel’s college roommate has finally come to collect on a favor that Mel owes her, and Diane wants Mel to deliver break up cupcakes to her ex-fiance. However, the delivery doesn’t go as planned when Mel finds Mike’s body. With the police looking at Diane as the killer, suddenly Mel finds herself with a new favor – keep Diane out of prison.
Who can you not love a book that starts out with break up cupcakes? The story that follows delivers on the promise with plenty of viable suspects and some good twists. I did feel Mel was foolish at the end of the book, but that was my only complaint. All the usual supporting characters are here, and they are their usual charming selves. I just love them! And there is one scene guaranteed to melt your heart.
NOTE: I received a copy of this book.
Dying on the Vine by Marla Cooper (Kelsey McKenna #2) – 5
Wedding planner Kelsey McKenna takes on some clients planning a Napa County wedding a month before their big day. While Babs, the wedding planner they had been using, is very professional about these clients leaving, her assistant, Stefan, isn’t. Still, Kelsey is shocked to find a dead body in the office when she comes to pick up her new client’s file. With her reputation on the line, Kelsey has to find a way to clear her name.
I loved the first in this series, and this book is just as wonderful. Kelsey, her friend Brody, and her assistant Laurel, make a wonderful trio, and their friendship and banter is a pure delight. The suspects introduced here are just as strong, and make it hard to distinguish clue from red herring until Kelsey figures it all out at the end. This is a wedding you’ll be glad you crashed.
NOTE: I received an eARC of this book.
Called to Justice by Edith Maxwell (Quaker Midwife Mysteries #2) – 4
It’s the fourth of July, and Rose Carroll is taking the day off from her midwife duties to enjoy the holiday when an older teen, Hannah, approaches her and confesses that she is pregnant. Rose doesn’t know what to do to help Hannah, but she promises to try. Unfortunately, while enjoying the fireworks that night, Rose responds to a commotion in the crowd to find that Hannah has been shot. When a fellow Quaker accused of the crime, Rose sets out to figure out what really happened. Can she do it?
I enjoyed the first trip to 1888 with Rose, and this book was a wonderful return visit. The story starts strongly but gets a bit distracted by sub-plots as the book went along. Of course, those sub-plots were also strong, so I wanted to keep reading. The new characters made strong suspects, and it was nice to get to know the returning characters better. The time is really another character, and I felt transported back to the time period.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.
Blown Away by Clover Tate (Kite Shop Mysteries #1) – 4
Emmy Adler is living her dream, opening a kite shop called Strings Attached in Rock Point, Oregon, and living with her best friend Avery right on the beach. However, the morning her shop is due to open, Emmy discovers a dead body, that of Avery’s ex on the beach. With the police certain that Avery is the killer and the evidence mounting against her, Emmy jumps in to find the real killer. Can she do it?
I fell in love with the setting in the first chapter even with the discovery of the dead body by the end of it. The pace was off a couple of times, but everything did come together for the climax, and we got some good twists along the way. Emmy seemed to get angry easily, sometimes I understood and sometimes it seemed over the top. The other characters were a varied bunch and I enjoyed them. Overall, this was a good debut, and I look forward to visiting again soon.
NOTE: I received a copy of this book.
“G” is for Gumshoe by Sue Grafton (Kinsey Millhone #7) – 4
At the beginning of May, PI Kinsey Millhone is hired by a woman named Irene to track down her mother. The two usually talk one a month, but it’s been several months since they last talked. Before Kinsey can head out to the Salton Sea area, she gets words that a dangerous criminal is vowing revenge on the people who put him away, and one of those people is Kinsey. She does take the threat seriously. Should she? Will it complicate her search for the missing woman?
I was hoping with two parallel plots that they would build off each other. That doesn’t happen quite as well as I would have liked. In fact, the book begins to drag in the middle, although it certainly picks up near the end. We get to know another supporting character pretty well here, which in turn lets us get to know Kinsey better, which I love.
Whale of a Crime by Karen MacInerney (Gray Whale Inn #7) – 4
Natalie is hosting a tour group at the Gray Whale Inn led by Captain Bainbridge. But there is tension in the leadership of this group, and one morning Bainbridge can’t be found. When his ship is made ready to sail, his body is found tied to the anchor. The police are quick to zero in on Alex, the naturalist. Only Natalie things Alex’s protestations of innocence are true. If they are, can Natalie find the killer?
It was absolutely wonderful to be back visiting Natalie and the rest of the regulars at the Gray Whale Inn. I absolutely love this cast of characters. The new characters were strong and helped keep me guessing on the mystery. There was a strong sub-plot involving Natalie’s niece Gwen that was prominent near the beginning, but as the book went along, the mystery became stronger, leading up to a perfect climax. Unfortunately, this book has quite a few editing errors that are annoying, but not enough to keep fans from the series from enjoying this return visit.
In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen – 5
World War II hits a small village in England when the body of a soldier if found in a field. His parachute failed to open, resulting in his death, but people begin to question who he is. MI6 assigns Ben Cresswell to the case since he grew up in the area. Will he find a clue among his friends and neighbors to something much bigger?
This is a very simple plot teaser for a book that incorporates Bletchley Park and Paris in 1941 into the story. The multiple viewpoints allow us to easily follow all the action and watch as everything is skillfully woven together for the great climax. The characters are strong, but the real star here is the setting. I felt like I was actually living in 1941 while reading the pages of this book.
Panda-monium by Stuart Gibbs (FunJungle #4) – 5
FunJungle has been granted the right to add a panda to its zoo, and Teddy is on hand for the big day when Li Ping arrives. However, the truck she was traveling in is empty. The FBI quickly swoops in, but Teddy still gets drawn into the case. Can he figure out what happened to the panda?
Fans of this series are in for another fantastic read. A sub-plot involving the dolphins only add to the fun, and the pages fly by all too quickly. There is danger, red herrings, clues, and laughs before we reach the end and see how all the pieces fit perfectly. Plus it’s fun to see a different side to a couple of the characters here.
A Good Day to Buy by Sherry Harris (Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mysteries #4) – 5
Sarah is helping the Spencers downsize their possession before a planned move, but things take a tragic turn when Sarah finds them lying on the garage floor in the middle of the sale. Then, that afternoon, Sarah’s estranged brother Luke shows up asking for help is hiding out for a couple of days. Luke disappears just as the police being looking for him on connection with what happened at the Spencer’s. Can Sarah figure out what Luke is doing and clear his name?
Luke adds an interesting element to this addition to the series. The plot is fast paced and kept me so engaged I had a hard time putting the book down. I did have a couple of niggle with the ending, but they are very minor. I love the characters in this series, and it was fantastic to see all of them again. While the love triangle may be over, we did see both of the men in Sarah’s life in this book. Fans will delight in this book and it will hook new readers on the series.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.
Murder on St. Mark’s Place by Victoria Thompson (Gaslight Mysteries #2) – 5
One of midwife Sarah Brandt’s clients goes into early labor due to the shock of learning her sister was murdered. Knowing that the killer will never be caught, Sarah begins to investigate, enlisting police sergeant Frank Malloy to help her. The victim spent her evenings with a variety of men, so the suspect list is quite long. Are there too many suspects, or can Sarah and Frank find the killer?
This book does a fabulous job of taking us back to the summer of 1896 in New York City and introducing us to girls who would give out favors in exchange for nice things they couldn’t afford on their salaries. That adds a somber note to the book; one that gives it depth. The characters are equally deep, and I loved seeing Sarah and Frank move forward in their personal lives. I did figure out a twist or two early, but the book kept surprising me until the end.