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.
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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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Do or Diner by Christine Wenger

🥞🥞🥞🥞 – 4 pancake stacks

When Trixie Matkowski’s uncle dies, leaving her aunt Stella alone and uninterested in running their famed Silver Bullet Diner, Trixie finds herself the proud new owner of the Silver Bullet, her aunt’s vacated Victorian home, the bait shop, and twelve vacation cottages along Lake Ontario, in Sandy Harbor, New York. Aunt Stella is moving on with her life in a comfortable retirement home. Trixie’s elated about her new properties, known as the point, but upon sifting through a mass of mail that includes many past due bills and a list of violations by the health inspector involving the Diner, Trixie realizes that the Silver Bullet could be shut down faster than she can assume responsibility for it. Trixie begins to feel as though she’s taken on more than she bargained for. Since aunt Stella is on a cruise around the world and inaccessible, Trixie makes her way over to the Diner to do damage control. But on her way there she learns that the health inspector appears to have died in the Silver Bullet. Who killed Marvin Cogswell III, and can Trixie help solve the mystery before news spreads of the fatality and she’s put out of business for good?

I enjoyed this cozy, especially Trixie’s character. She didn’t have a clue about how to run a Diner, who her employees were, or much of anything else when the book started. But she was tenacious, generous and hardworking, and those qualities served her well. There was a handsome Deputy Sheriff, Ty Brisco, who Trixie kept referring to as Wyatt Earp in the book. 😂 He made all of the ladies swoon when he called them darlin’ and tipped that cowboy hat when departing from their presence. I had many chuckles while reading parts of their dialog. In fact, there were quite a number of LOL moments throughout this book. What I liked most was that it flowed really well, made me laugh, had fun characters, and kept me guessing as to who killed the inspector. The reveal was not earth shattering, but it didn’t change my overall enjoyment of the book. Definitely recommended.

Oh, and I learned something new. Does anyone know what a wacky cake is? Well, if you don’t, the short answer is it’s a cake that you can whip up with a few ingredients, without eggs, milk or butter, in just one pan. Apparently people prepared it during the Depression when food was in short supply. I’ll let you know how it turns out as I’m determined to try it.

Wacky cake

Thank you, Kathy, of Katie’s Cottage Books, for doing a buddy read with me, even though you’re a much faster reader than I am. 😉

Thanks for reading everyone.

Death in the English Countryside by Sara Rosett – (Audiobook – Tantor Audio)

A85657FC-69E1-4623-B1F4-CB3CFE01ED88⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 – 4.5 stars
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When Kevin Dunn, owner of Premiere Locations, a small location scouting firm, goes missing in the quaint village of Nether Woodsmoor in England while scouting out locations for their newest project, a Pride and Prejudice adaptation, Kate Sharp, Kevin’s employee, is sent from their office in California to locate her boss. Kate and the office manager, Marcy, are the only two who are aware of Kevin’s alcohol addiction and the problems it has caused him in his professional life in the past. Not wanting to stir up unnecessary negative publicity for some trivial impropriety and risk losing a project from a top Director, Kate heads off to England to find her boss and bring him back to California. But when she finally locates Kevin he’s not inebriated, he’s dead.
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There was so much to love about this book; all of the references to Pride and Prejudice, the beautiful location with its undulating green fields, golden stone cottages, groves of trees, flowering hedgerows and lush gardens; the snooty characters that made me feel like saying…
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It’s always an added bonus when I learn new things while reading a book. This book taught me a lot about location scouting, which I found quite interesting.  It was a unique profession that I’ve never seen used in a cozy mystery.  I was pleasantly surprised by how well the mystery was developed.  The ending was satisfying, although I did find it slightly difficult to piece together.  The audio narrator, Sarah Mollo-Christensen, has a soothing voice that was exceedingly pleasant to listen to, and aided in my complete enjoyment of this book.
I will be inquiring about book 2 in the series, Death in an English Cottage. That’s how excited I was about this book. Highly recommended.
Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a complimentary download of this book. In exchange I have provided an honest, unbiased review.
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Have a great week everyone, and thanks for visiting Cozynookbks. 😊

Four Puddings and a Funeral

Four Puddings and a Funeral is book 6 in the Oxford Tearoom Mysteries series (but can be read as a stand-alone), and it’s another clever murder mystery with entertaining characters, keenly placed red herrings, relationship troubles, a mischievous little tabby cat named Muesli, an inquisitive little hedgehog, and more Oxford University insight.

Here’s a peek at what happens……

Gemma Rose, owner of the Little Stables Tearoom, is excited to be catering a funeral reception for the late Rex Clifford at the Parish Hall. It will mean greater business opportunities in the future. While setting up for the event, she overhears Rex’s daughter, Rachel, angrily lamenting about being excluded from her father’s will. She accuses his widow, Adele Clifford, nearly twenty years Rex’s junior and married to him for a mere three months prior to his death, of somehow being responsible for her exclusion from the will.  When Adele keels over after sampling a variety of puddings at the reception, and one of Gemma’s dear friends is suspected of murdering her, Gemma takes it upon herself to investigate.  What she finds is that there are secrets within the family, and she’s determined to get answers. But the truth is, she could use a few answers herself about the blond woman who’s been seen on numerous occasions with her boyfriend, Devlin. There’s been trouble in paradise for the couple, mainly because Gemma continually nags Devlin, trying to force him to impress her snobbish, posh mother with precise manners and distinct social etiquette, and it’s becoming rather exasperating for the poor man. Can Gemma solve the murder mystery, save her friend and mend her relationship before it’s too late?

How author, H.Y. Hanna, manages to weave these intricate tales and then churn them out in such quick succession is beyond comprehension. But seriously, if you haven’t tried this series yet, you’re missing out. Four Puddings and a Funeral is an excellent cozy mystery, and Pearl Hewitt, the audio narrator, is exceptional. I’ve enjoyed every book in the series up to this one, and look forward to book 7, Another One Bites the Crust.  Highly recommended.

Thank you, H.Y. Hanna, for a complimentary download of Four Puddings and a Funeral. In exchange, I have provided an honest and unbiased review.

Have you read any books in the Oxford Tearoom Mysteries series?

Have a lovely day!!

Hummus and Homicide by Tina Kashian (Audiobook-Tantor Audio) **Top Pick**

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5-stars   5-stars

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I absolutely loved Hummus and Homicide!! The completely convincing suspect list, sleuthing tactics and loyal family dynamic; including the cultural traditions the Berberian family so tightly clinged to, were all factors that made the book worthwhile. I cracked up many times while listening. The pace never wavered, and the ethnic dishes that Lucy’s mother prepared in Kebab Kitchen made my mouth water!!

And now a little summary of the book…

When Lucy Berberian returns home to Ocean Crest, NJ, after her professional life in Philadelphia as a patent attorney takes a nosedive, her parents welcome her with open arms and a waitress uniform so she can get right to work at their family-owned Mediterranean restaurant, Kebab Kitchen.

Before long Lucy bumps into former classmate and nemesis, Heather Banks. When Heather introduces her boyfriend, famous suspense writer Paul Evans, to Lucy and then exclaims “Lucy’s parents are foreigners who own that Mediterranean restaurant,” Lucy is mortified by Heather’s tactless, erroneous statement (her parents are citizens) and corrects her in front of Paul. The two women exchange words and Lucy later regrets the tiff after learning that Heather is the new health inspector, replacing her father who’d given Kebab Kitchen’s inspection a pass every year for the past 30 years. Heather inspects Kebab Kitchen shortly thereafter and cites the restaurant for several infractions and demands corrective action within 7 days or she will shut Lucy’s parents’ beloved restaurant down. So Lucy is surprised when Heather comes back to Kebab Kitchen to eat the following afternoon, engulfing various varieties of hummus from the very hummus bar she’d verbally assaulted just a day earlier. But when she’s found dead in the restaurant’s parking lot, Lucy comes under suspicion and must act quickly to find out what really happened to Heather before the negative publicity destroys her parents’ health and livelihood, and she gets put away.

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Audiobook narrator, Rachel Dulude, did a fabulous job with the storytelling and numerous accents and dialects in the book. Her performance most definitely added to my enjoyment of it, being that I’m originally from NYC and thus familiar with various cultures, I felt that her imitations were quite realistic and thoroughly entertaining, making the book that much more enjoyable.  I’m looking forward to the next book in the series, Stabbed in the Baklava.

Very highly recommended.

Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a complimentary download of Hummus and Homicide. In exchange I have provided an honest review

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Hummus plate

Have a wonderful weekend!!

Lending a Paw by Laurie Cass (Audiobook-Tantor Audio)

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 3.5 stars

Lending a Paw is Book 1 in the Bookmobile Cat Mystery series. It was an enjoyable cozy with a believable suspect list and a few red herrings to point me in different directions along the way. Eddie, the mischievous cat, is a lovable character. I liked that he’s an ordinary cat with God-given animal instincts and doesn’t possess any magical abilities.

Here’s a little of the plot….

Minerva (Minnie) Hamilton, a Librarian with the Chilson (MI) District Library, drives the Bookmobile with her naughty but decidedly helpful and intuitive cat, Eddie. Eddie followed Minnie home from the cemetery one day, and surreptitiously made his way onto the bookmobile on the day of its maiden voyage, and subsequently lead her to her friend’s dead body. Minnie was fond of Stan Larabee, a major contributor to the library. But further digging uncovers unfavorable accounts of Stan’s character and business dealings. Many people hated the man. Who really was Stan Larabee, and why were so many folks’ attitudes that of good riddance instead of poor Stan?

This is my second book in the Bookmobile series. Admittedly, I had to get well into the book before it truly started to hold my attention. Once it did, I was eagerly anticipating the unveiling of the killer. This was an audiobook and the narrator did a pretty good job as Minnie. Her voice sort of reminded me of Jane Fonda, and it took me a little while in the beginning to equate her to 33-yr. old Minnie. But after listening for a time I got used to her voice and it was fine. Overall, I liked this cozy and I would try another book in the series.

Thank you, Tantor Audio, for a free download of Lending a Paw. In exchange I have provided an honest review.

Have a great week everyone. Thanks for stopping by.