Apple Strudel Alibi – Oxford Tearoom Mystery series – Book 8 – by H.Y. Hanna (Audiobook)

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – 5- stars

H.Y. Hanna has done it again. Apple Strudel Alibi is another successful installment to the Oxford Tearoom Mystery series. In it we find ourselves on a trip to Vienna, Austria, where we’re introduced to a few new characters that become suspects in a murder investigation that Gemma Rose and the Old Biddies find themselves entangled in.

When Gemma’s planned holiday for a trip to Malta with her beau, Devlin O’Connor, is derailed yet again because of a last-minute work assignment she’s devastated. That is until her mother convinces her that it’s a perfect opportunity for Gemma to attend the rewards ceremony in Vienna. Gemma’s Little Stables Tearoom has won a contest for the best scones in Oxfordshire thanks to her dear senior citizen friends, the “Old Biddies,” who entered her tearoom in the contest without her knowledge. Gemma takes her mother’s advice and heads off to Vienna, availing herself of the invitation to stay in her mother’s friend’s newly-opened, pet-friendly hotel at a reduced rate, if ever she were in Austria. So Gemma finds herself in Vienna, sharing a suite with Muesli and the Old Biddies, and things seem perfect. That is until an art critic is murdered at the hotel, and the suspect could still be amongst them.

I thoroughly enjoyed this cozy mystery. I learned much about Austrian cuisine, culture, architecture and art. Of particular interest to me were facts about the Austrian artist, Gustav Klimt, and the Spanish Riding School where Lippizaner horses are trained to perform. Listening was like receiving a brief history lesson pertaining to these subjects and I loved it. Equally satisfying were the new characters, as well as those that’ve been present from the start of the series. And the mystery kept me in suspense until the jaw-dropping denouement. I appreciate H.Y. Hanna’s subliminal message of love, honor and respect for all humanity, and how everyone’s contributions to the world benefit all of mankind. It has been enlightening and gratifying becoming acquainted with characters from various countries and backgrounds while reading many of the books in this series.

Regarding the audio narrator, Pearl Hewitt, her voice is absolute perfection. Her depictions of the various characters, (including Muesli the tabby cat’s audible expressions), is incredible. Her masterful narration brings this series to life in a way that can only be fully described if you listen for yourself. Extraordinary talent. I always look forward to listening to Ms. Hewitt’s narration. I highly recommended Apple Strudel Alibi.

Thank you, H.Y. Hanna, for a complimentary download of Apple Strudel Alibi. In exchange I have provided an honest review.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!! Thanks for stopping by. 😊

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Death Over Easy by Maddie Day – Audiobook (Tantor Audio)

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – 4 stars

The Bill Monroe Bluegrass Festival in Beanblossom, IN, is underway, and Robbie Jordan, owner of Pans n’ Pancakes, is excited since the venue will provide opportunities for a few musicians and dancers to stay at her newly opened B&B. Her boyfriend, Abe, is one of the performers at the festival, and she feels proud watching him from the audience. But when she and other observers see him arguing with one of the band members, and then that same member is found dead the next day, Robbie gets involved in the investigation since the suspects include her boyfriend, her father and a couple of guests staying at her small B&B.

Death Over Easy is Book five in the Country Store Mystery series. I enjoyed it despite having absolutely no knowledge of bluegrass music, banjos and whatnot. One of my favorite things about this series is revisiting with recurring characters, particularly Lt. Buck Bird, a tall, lanky Detective with a bottomless pit appetite and a deep Hoosier accent.

I liked that several of the characters were potential suspects, and it was interesting how various characters had different opinions of the victim; some thought she was a great person, others thought she was awful. I kept trying to ascertain her true nature. And even though I had an inkling of who the murderer was fairly early on, it didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the story.

I had a niggle with the occasional instances of sexual innuendo in the book. It was unnecessary. And since the audio narrator had a very senior voice those instances sounded a little ridiculous. The flirty exchanges between Robbie and Abe sounded like an overgrown school girl with a dirty old man and it was not appealing.

An issue I had with the audio narrator, Laural Merlington, was that her voice was not that of a person in her twenties or thirties, which I believe was the age of the protagonist. She sounded, at the very least, to be a woman in her sixties, maybe even seventies. It’s not that the narrator wasn’t perfectly capable or articulate, it’s just that she sounded much older than some of the characters, and as a consequence I found it difficult to connect with some of them. I kept thinking to myself that she’d be a lot more convincing as the voice of Jessica Fletcher, or possibly the book (not movie) version of Agatha Raisin—but not Robbie Jordan. I’d wished I had a paperback copy in addition to the audio version so that I could switch up when her voice began to harass me.

All things considered, Death Over Easy was an enjoyable cozy mystery and I will be on the lookout for further additions to the series.

Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a free download of Death Over Easy. In exchange I have provided an honest review.

Thanks for visiting everyone. 🤗

Thread and Gone by Lea Wait

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5-stars

Lea Wait is my go-to author for highly intelligent, well-constructed cozy mysteries. Her intricately woven plots are so impressive that I often forget that I’m reading a cozy. I can always look forward to acquiring new and interesting facts when I read her books. There’s usually some historical facts that factor into the mystery, and I always come away feeling wiser about fascinating subjects I wasn’t previously familiar with. In Thread and Gone, I received a lesson in who Mary, Queen of Scots was, and how needlepoint was a major part of her life. I also learned about Marie Antoinette and several other facts that made me think of how much research went into preparing this mystery for the reader’s enjoyment.

And now a glimpse into the plot…

Angela Curtis and the Mainely Needlepointers are on a quest to find out the details about a unique piece of delicate embroidery that was brought to them for analysis by Mary Clough, a seventeen year-old girl, who found it in the attic eaves of her family’s old house. At least one of the Needlepointers believes it could date back to 16th century Elizabethan times and may even have been stitched by Mary, Queen of Scots. If so, it’s quite valuable, so Angela proposes that the embroidery be secured within an attorney’s office for safe keeping since Mary’s fiancé voices his concerns about it getting lost or even stolen by the Needlepointers. 🙄 But when the safe is broken into and the embroidery is stolen along with some valuable jewellery, and the attorney is found dead, the Needlepointers find themselves with more than a needlepoint mystery on their hands to solve.

Lea Wait is a heavyweight in this genre. If you enjoy a solid mystery, but without the profanity and gratuitous violence present in some traditional mysteries, I highly recommend that you try Lea Wait’s Mainely Needlepoint series. You will NOT be disappointed.

Christina Delaine did an impeccable job narrating this cozy. Her voice fits perfectly with this series and I’m always anticipating my next opportunity to listen when she narrates.

Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a complimentary download of Thread and Gone. In exchange I have provided my honest, unbiased opinion of it.

Thanks for reading. Have a wonderful day! 😊

**TOP PICK** Midnight Snacks Are Murder by Libby Klein – (A Poppy McAllister Mystery – Book 2)

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😂😂😂😂😂 5-laughing faces

Although this is book 2 in the series, it’s not necessary at all to read the first book to enjoy it.

Midnight Snacks Are Murder is HILARIOUS!! There are consistent laugh-out-loud moments throughout the entire book. Think of this: a pair of rival, macho men vying for the protagonist’s affection; an anxious little old lady who keeps popping pills whenever a stressful event occurs; a general contractor named Smitty who keeps breaking things and then declaring, “I can fix that!”; a diva ex-mother-in-law who gets on everyone’s nerves and can’t get the contractor’s name right; a cat named Figaro with a mind of his own; and a host of wacky, secondary characters with their own peculiarities that lend to the humorous tone of this book. A Cozy mystery masterpiece.

Here’s a glimpse into the plot….

Poppy McAllister’s 80-ish great aunt Ginny has been under a lot of stress lately. As a consequence of all of the renovations happening in her Queen Anne Victorian in Cape May, NJ, to transform it into the Butterfly House B&B, aunt Ginny’s nerves have been on edge. Her doctor has prescribed some medication to calm her nerves and help her sleep at night. But when the side-effects from the medication take her on a sleepwalking sojourn into her neighbors’ homes, nibbling on their snacks and pilfering knick-knacks, aunt Ginny finds herself a suspect in a local resident’s murder. The victim’s ransacked kitchen resembles other neighbors’ who’ve had a nightly visit from aunt Ginny. But could she really commit a murder in her sleepwalking state, or is someone looking to frame the little old lady?

I loved this cozy!! I think there must have been at least one comical line or incident on every page!! The mystery was so cleverly crafted that I didn’t come close to guessing the culprit. One teensy issue I had with the book was that in some instances a few of the suspects seemed a little too forthcoming with information when Poppy questioned them. She was just an ordinary person, so if I were them I would be thinking, “who’s this chick to be asking me all of these questions?!!” But this little niggle pales in comparison to the hilarity and overall enjoyment of the book, so I subtracted nothing from my 5-star rating.

Midnight Snacks are Murder was an excellent read. I highly recommend this book for lovers of humorous cozies with villains that keep you guessing to the very end.

Many thanks to the author for a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review which I have given.

If you need a good laugh, read this book y’all. Have a great day, and enjoy your weekend. 😊

Another One Bites the Crust by H.Y. Hanna – (Oxford Tearoom Mysteries – Book 7)

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5-stars

img_6499Another One Bites the Crust is cozy mystery done right. HY Hanna always delivers on a solid mystery with plenty of red herrings, engaging characters, an atmospheric setting (in and around Oxford, England), at least one amusing animal and a totally plausible outcome. There’s so much to love about this book, including the sub-plots which keep the story moving along at a pace that keeps you in anticipation of the next revelation.

When famed celebrity chef and former Oxford student, Josh McDermott, (aka “Posh McDishy”) is special guest at the Oxford University Ball, doing a live cooking show, the college ball committee and Josh’s fans are beside themselves with anticipation and admiration. Gemma’s friend Cassie, who attended the same College as McDermott, isn’t enthused. She’s always thought of him as an obnoxious snob who thinks he’s God’s gift to women. His ex-girlfriend would agree with that assessment since Josh dumped her. And then there’s rival chef, Antonio Casa, who believes Josh tried to sabotage him. Clearly, Josh McDermott had foes as well as fans. But when Gemma finds Josh dead before the cooking show competition even begins, she dons her sleuthing cap to determine who might have despised him enough to do him in.

I loved this book. You don’t get to book 7 of 8 in a series if you don’t enjoy it. The audio narrator, Pearl Hewitt, brings the characters to life. The unique voices she uses to portray each character makes it easy to recognize who’s speaking, and the emotions and actions are always performed in an entertaining, realistic way—even the animals! She’s one of my favorite audio narrators, and her skill and proficiency enhanced my enjoyment of this book.

I received a free download of this book in exchange for my honest review which I have given.

Have a great day everybody, and thank you for visiting. 😊

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Croissants and Corruption by Danielle Collins

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🥐🥐.5 – 2.5 croissants
fullsizeoutput_bbaI don’t typically review books here unless they’re at least three stars, but since I’d already written part of a review for this one, I decided  to just finish it.  ✍🏽
Margo, bakery owner of The Parisian Patisserie, has agreed to look after her sister’s step-daughter for the summer since she’s having difficulties with the nineteen year old, Taylor. Renee would like for Taylor to work in the bakery while she stays with Margo. Aside from the legitimate complaints from Taylor about being at the bakery at 3:00 a.m., things seem to be heading in a positive direction. That is until Margo and Taylor dine at a popular Italian restaurant one evening and one of the servers continues to harass Taylor, both inside and outside of the restaurant, and then later turns up dead with Taylor’s prints on the murder weapon. Turns out Taylor has been keeping secrets from her aunt. But will Margo’s faith in her niece’s innocence be enough to clear her name?
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I was looking for a quick, light, cozy mystery, so I figured this novella-like audiobook of about 3 hrs., 18 mins., would fit the bill. But honestly, I wasn’t really feeling it. I almost abandoned it a few times but decided to stick it out since I was partway through it and had invested too much time in it already. Never should it take over a week to finish a book this short. I think the audio narration is what annoyed me the most about it. The narrator was too dramatic and seemed to over emphasize each and every word. It was painful. The characters’ voices were too exaggerated and I could only listen for brief periods. She was killing me!! But I finally got through it. I think the mystery aspect was mediocre.
I can’t say I recommend this book because I didn’t think it was very good, but since the audio narrator may be responsible for my lack of enjoyment, feel free to try it for yourself if you’re feeling ambitious enough to tackle it. Incidentally, the reviews are very good for this cozy, so maybe the audio version just ruined it entirely for me.
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Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a complimentary download of this book. In exchange I have provided an honest review.
Have a great day!! And thanks for visiting.

Off Kilter by Hannah Reed (Audiobook – Tantor Audio)

🐑🐑🐑🐑.5 – 4.5 bleating sheep

Eden Elliott, 38, is off to the Scottish Highlands to get the proper atmosphere for her first novel, compliments of her best friend and established romance author, Ami Pederson. While traveling to Glenkillen, Eden meets a young woman named Vicki MacBride on the plane who is on her way to Scotland to bury her father. The women quickly bond and Eden learns of Vicki’s harrowing situation regarding her father’s inheritance. Her siblings’ bitter rivalry stems from their resentment of Vicki’s inheriting the entire sheep farming operation when they’ve been the ones overseeing it while Vicki, their half-sister, was living in London. Eden is sympathetic to Vicki’s plight and provides a listening ear and shoulder to cry on. But when the two women stumble across the body of Vicki’s supposed friend, Gavin Mitchell, a sheep shearer, Eden is left with doubts regarding her newfound friend.

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Scottish heather

What an engrossing, atmospheric, cozy mystery! The setting, with its highland cattle, country lanes, lush mountains, low stone walls, rolling green farmland and purple heather was captivating. The kilt-wearing handsome Scot, Leith Cameron, and his dog, Kelly, were prominently featured characters and I adored them. The Scottish idioms and lilt made me chuckle. (The audiobook narrator for Off Kilter, Angela Dawe, gave an outstanding performance. The accents sounded authentic and realistic, which enhanced my enjoyment of the story.) Vicki’s west highland terriers, Cocoa and Pepper, that were constant companions to Eden in parts of the book were always a welcome addition to the storyline.

Off Kilter was an enjoyable cozy mystery with a setting that’s described so distinctly that you will feel as though you’ve been transported to Scotland in your mind’s eye. Definitely recommended.

Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a free download of Off Kilter.

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Highland cattle

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