Wednesday, June 1, 2022

May 2022's Reading Summary

Welcome to June!  I'm starting out the month by looking back at May 2022 and what I read last month.  The index has also been updated.

All ratings are on a scale of 1 (bad) to 5 (great).  The links will take you to my full review.


Claws for Suspicion by Deborah Blake (Catskills Pet Rescue Mysteries #3) – 4

The shelter that Kari Stuart bought when she won the lottery is finally in great shape.  However, all that is threatened when Kari’s ex-husband shows up in town.  Charlie Smith arrives baring the news that there was a mistake with their divorce, and they are technically still married.  As a result, he is entitled to half Kari’s winnings.  Or, he will settle for the land the pet shelter is on.  Kari has no interest in giving Charlie anything, so she starts trying to figure out how to get him to go away.  Then he dies, and his death looks like murder.  The police view Kari as their prime suspect since she is the only one in town with a motive.  Can Kari convince them that someone else killed Charlie?

While the ex coming back to town isn’t a new plot element in a cozy mystery, Charlie’s motives and the complications are definitely fresh here.  I did feel the plot stalled a bit before Charlie actually died, although it was setting up motives and suspects before it happened.  Once it did, Kari followed a logical set of clues to the climax.  I always appreciate how well things are laid out when I reach the end of the books in this series.  I love Kari’s circle of friends, and it was wonderful to spend time with them again.  The suspects fit wonderfully into the world.  Naturally, there’s plenty of animal cuteness here as well.  Fans of the series will be happy with this book, and if you haven’t started it yet, you’ll be happy you picked up one of the books.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.


Strawberried Alive by Jenn McKinlay (Cupcake Bakery Mysteries #14) – 4

Mel DeLaura is spending a late night at Fairy Tale Cupcakes in Old Town Scottsdale thanks to a bridezilla who needs a last-minute change to her cupcake order.  That’s why she finds herself alone behind the bakery well after dark.  She’s just locked up when someone starts shooting at her.  Fortunately, they missed, but a neighboring business owner isn’t so lucky the next night.  As Mel’s family and friends go into protection mode, another incident happens.  What is going on in Old Town?

This book starts right out with the action.  The plot is a little different, which I mostly enjoyed.  Unfortunately, the execution didn’t quite work out, leaving us with a climax that felt a little rushed.  Don’t worry, everything makes sense.  The characters we love are all here, which is wonderful since I love spending time with them, and their interactions provide some great laughs.  Much of the action takes place around Old Town Scottsdale, so we get to meet more of Mel’s business neighbors, which is fun.  Of course, they also serve as suspects, and they do a great job of it.  This book will leave you craving cupcakes, so watch for four delicious sounding recipes at the end.  Long time fans will be happy to visit these friends again.  If you are new to the series, you’ll soon find herself devouring all of them almost as quickly as you would a cupcake.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.


The Shadow of Memory by Connie Berry (Kate Hamilton Mysteries #4) – 5

Kate Hamilton and her fiancé, Tom Mallory, are trying to plan their wedding, but having difficulty making decisions.  Meanwhile, Kate and her colleague, Ivor, are asked to sell a painting that might be several centuries old.  Something about it seems off to Kate, however.  Then there’s the murder in Kate’s village with ties to a friend of hers.  Kate begins to think these events are connected, but can she prove it?

There is a lot going on here, but I never had trouble following the story at all.  I’m impressed with how everything comes together at the end without dropping any of the plot points along the way.  The characters we already know are wonderful, and it is great to see their relationships growing.  The new characters feel real, even though they don’t get that much page time.  This book is on the more serious side of the cozy spectrum, but that’s just an observation, not a warning.  I was actually frustrated that life kept getting in the way of my reading because I wanted to know what was going to happen next.  Fans will be pleased.  If that isn’t you yet, start this series today.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.


Murder at Blackwater Bend by Clara McKenna (Stella and Lyndy Mysteries #2) – 5

August 1905 finds American heiress Stella Kendrick and Viscount “Lyndy” Lyndhurst planning their wedding as they get to know each other better.  Things hit a snag when they find a dead body in a nearby river one morning while fly fishing.  The victim was their neighbor, Lord Fairbrother.  He wasn’t a nice man and seemed to have multiple enemies.  However, suspicion falls on the local snake catcher, someone that Stella has befriended.  Can she and Lyndy figure out what really happened?

I enjoyed the first in the series, but I found this one even better.  The story is tight with lots to keep us hooked.  I was impressed with how it all came together at the end.  I do find Stella’s father horrible at times, which is my only negative.  Lyndy’s mother, while still annoying, is more on the amusing side.  The rest of the cast is charming, and Lyndy and Stella are wonderful leads.  You can’t help but root for them.  We get the story from multiple viewpoints, but it is always clear when we are switching things up.  I’m already looking forward to finding out what happens to these characters next.


Killer on the Court by Jessica Fletcher and Terrie Farley Moran (Murder, She Wrote #55) – 3

Jessica Fletcher has just sent her latest manuscript to her publisher, so she is happy she gets to spend some time with her nephew, Grady, his wife, Donna, and their son.  They are staying in a cottage right on the beach for a month thanks to Donna’s job.  However, Jessica’s first morning there, Donna finds the body of her boss on a private tennis court.  Jessica doesn’t want to get involved, but she can’t stop asking questions.  Will she figure out what happened?

Grady and Donna (after Grady met her) were some of my favorite supporting characters on Murder, She Wrote, so I was pleased with how they were captured here.  I could easily hear the actors in my head, and I loved spending time with them.  Sadly, the rest of the characters were a little weak with only one or two defining characteristics.  Meanwhile, the plot wandered some with a slow start and a bit too much vacation time.  That’s not to say it didn’t have a couple of good twists and a nice resolution.  Ultimately, fans of the series will enjoy getting to spend time with favorite characters again.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.


Blood Red by Sherri Leigh James (Cissy Huntington #1) – 3

When her husband disappears and their assets are frozen, Cissy has to return to her career as an interior designer to the rich and famous in Los Angeles to pay the bills.  Fortunately, it’s a job she loves.  Her current client is renowned plastic surgeon Dr. Martin, but when she appears at his mansion for a meeting, she finds him shot to death in the library.  Turns out, he wasn’t as rich as he pretended, and now Cissy might not get paid.  In order to free up his estate, she starts looking into his murder.  Can she solve it?

I picked up this book thinking it was a cozy, but the language in it kept that from being the case.  Fortunately, it did lessen (although not go away completely) as the book went along.  The plot was decent and came to a logical conclusion, but it needed another edit and a bit more focus.  The story really wanders and takes it’s time getting to the solution.  It’s a shame because I enjoyed the characters quite a bit.  I am curious where a few threads introduced here go, but I doubt I will be back for Cissy’s next adventure.


The Lessons We Learn by Liz Milliron (Homefront Mysteries #3) – 5

As winter reluctantly gives way to spring in March of 1943, Lee Tillotson’s father goes missing.  Betty Ahern is surprised that her friend isn’t more concerned, but Lee keeps pointing out how much better his family’s life is without Mr. Tillotson around since the man had become a drunk.  That comes back to haunt Lee when his father’s body turns up in the Buffalo River.  The police are looking at Lee as a suspect, and Lee is clearly hiding something, even from Betty.  Can Betty figure out what is going on?

Since Lee’s family situation has been a subplot in the first two books in this series, this book is able to jump right into the action.  The result is a story that never waned.  I was hooked from the first page and never wanted to put the book down.  I enjoyed getting to see more of the supporting characters in this book, and the development that came with their expanded page time.  Likewise, I enjoyed seeing some of the relationship growth from the previous book stick around.  I hope it continues in future books.  The writing helps pull us into the story, and the historical details are fantastic, as well.  This is the strongest book in the series to date, and I can’t wait to visit Betty again.


Buried in a Good Book by Tamara Berry (By the Book Mysteries #1) – 4

In an attempt to bond with her teenage daughter after a divorce, bestselling thriller authors Tess Harrow decides to spend some time at the rustic cabin she’s recently inherited.  But it turns out the lack of running water, electricity, and Wi-Fi aren’t the worst things there.  Tess and her daughter haven’t even gotten in the door before there is a horrible boom followed by a rain of fish parts and a human arm.  When the sheriff shows up, he is the spitting image of Tess’s main character.  What has Tess stumbled into?

If that description sounds a little wacky, that’s because it is.  But this book fully embraces it, and is better as a result.  I was laughing the entire way through the book at the banter between the characters.  The characters are strong and relatable if a bit broad to make the comedy work.  I did feel the plot got a little convoluted as we neared the end, but that was my only complaint.  Everything made sense in the end, and I was drawn in the entire time I was reading.  If you are looking for laughs with your mystery, you’ll be happy you picked up this series debut.


Smile Beach Murder by Alicia Bessette (Outer Banks Bookshop Mysteries #1) – 4

After being laid off from her job as a reporter, Callie Padget has returned home to Cattail Island in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and landed a job at the local bookstore.  She is forced to face a tragedy from her past when a friend falls from the island’s lighthouse almost on the anniversary of her own mother’s tragic death at the lighthouse.  Callie doesn’t buy the official police ruling of suicide, especially since the victim had just found the first clue to a treasure hunt.  Can Callie figure out what really happened?  Is the treasure hunt related to the death?

Despite the vacation island setting, this book does have a bit of a more serious tone thanks to Callie’s own past and how the current death impacts some of the characters.  It’s a delicate balance that this book handles well.  I quickly came to love the characters, and I can only see that love growing as the series progresses.  The plot has a bit of a relaxed pace, but it does get us to a logical conclusion.  I loved the setting; I can see myself spending a week on the island on vacation.  I also appreciated how this book used all the senses to bring the setting to life.  This book would be fun on a vacation, but if you are looking for a virtual vacation, you’ll be extra glad you picked this one up.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.


A Sprinkle in Time by Dana Mentink (Shake Shop Mysteries #2) – 5

Trinidad Jones is focused on the Alpenfest that is in town for the new two weekends, hoping that the tourists will provide a nice bump to her Shimmy and Shake Shop before business slows for the winter.  Her life gets complicated, however, when her grandfather finds a corpse in the trunk of his classic car.  When the police show up, the body is gone, only to turn up floating in the lake.  What is going on?

I enjoyed the first in the series, but this one was even better.  I was pulled in right away, and the plot never lagged.  Because of how it impacted some of the characters we got to know in the first book, I found it compelling.  I had part of the solution figured out, but there was a lot I hadn’t pieced together.  The characters are strong again.  I laughed at parts, but because of how things were impacting everyone, I also got chocked up a time or two.  There are two recipes at the end to help with your cravings for ice cream and sweets in general.  I’m already looking forward to visiting the gang again soon.


Clouds in My Coffee by Julie Mulhern (Country Club Mysteries #3) – 4

The benefit that Ellison Russell’s mother has been working on for months is about to happen, and Ellison finds herself as a last-minute host for her aunt and sister, both of whom are in town to show their support.  However, it is Ellison who might in danger when someone tries to drop a statue on her.  Then they firebomb her house.  Ellison doesn’t think anyone is after her, but can she figure out what is going on before she is killed?

It has been far too long since I read the first two books in the series, but that wasn’t an issue when I picked this book up.  I was quickly back in Ellison’s world and enjoying every second of it.  Between the conversations between the characters and a few incidents, I laughed quite a few times.  The plot was a bit more focused on the family drama, which made the mystery weaker than I would normally like, but I was still hooked the entire time, so I didn’t really mind.  The characters are strong, and I enjoyed reuniting with them and watching their relationships develop, although I did get annoyed with Ellison’s insistence that she didn’t need protection when she clearly did.  The story wanders into some more mature topics – I’d rate this book as PG-13 as a result.  The 70’s setting comes to life and adds to the fun.  If you are looking for a pleasant trip back to the 70’s, this is the book and series for you.


  1. Looks like you had a great reading month

  2. It is great when they are all 3 or above!! Happy June!

  3. Thanks for reading and reviewing, Mark! I'm so glad you liked the book.

  4. Thanks again for the review, Mark!

  5. You had a great reading month! I love the title "Buried in a Good Book!"

  6. You read some great books in May! Hope June is just as good!

  7. I really liked the new Connie Berry book too!

  8. I do adore the titles of the cozy mysteries. Hope you are having a good June!
    Lisa Loves Literature


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