Two Down, Bun to Go by H.Y. Hanna My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Professor Quentin Barrow is found dead, stabbed to death with an Egyptian Dagger. Gemma’s former Oxford chum and still good friend, Seth Browning, is charged with the murder. Seth was seen arguing with professor Barrow before the body was discovered. A staunch advocate for the homeless and other such causes, Seth was getting pushback from the professor regarding a piece of college donated property that would have benefited the homeless. Barrow’s pompous, elitist attitude disgusted Seth, and his repulsion for the man was evident. Gemma knows her friend could not have committed the murder, although she must admit his current odd, uncharacteristic and mysterious behavior is quite alarming. But how can she prove his innocence when there is so much circumstantial evidence pointing to Seth? With the help of handsome CID Detective and former boyfriend, Devlin O’Connor, contending beau, Lincoln Green, and the meddlesome but lovable Old Biddies, Gemma uncovers a slew of others who might have killed the unpopular professor. The question is, which one of them actually did?
I don’t know how H.Y. Hanna manages it, but each successive book in her Oxford Tearoom Mystery series is better than the last. Don’t let the whimsical, cute little cover fool you. They rival other renowned and beloved writers of British mysteries hands down. Her characters’ magnetic personalities captivate; from the endearing to the villainous, they’re all equally entertaining. The way in which she describes her mother’s witty charms and hapless adventures, the antics of the Old Biddies, and little Muesli the cat, never fails to elicit chuckles. The plot moves along effortlessly as the reader is immersed in English life and subtly educated about the peculiarities and uniqueness of the University of Oxford—a real treat and added bonus.
Read it, you’ll LOVE it. And if you want an even greater experience, do yourself a favor and listen to the audio version. The narrator does a stupendous job of bringing the characters to life. Very, very highly recommended.
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Drape Expectations by Karen Rose Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 Drape Expectations is more than a cozy mystery. The family dynamic factors strongly in this book. Our sleuth, Caprice De Luca, is determined to find the killer who murdered her rock star friend Ace Richland’s girlfriend, Alanna Goodwin. Since Ace finds the body it’s only natural that suspicion surrounds him, but Caprice feels in her heart that her friend could never commit murder. He may have a bad temper and all, but murder? Nah. Besides, it’s beginning to look like others in Alanna Goodwin’s life had a motive for murder. There’s a mysterious child, an alleged affair and even sabotage involved in this murder case. As Caprice skillfully goes about piecing together clues that will ultimately lead her to the culprit, she also makes an addition to her pet family, helps her nana through a health crisis, mends broken family ties involving an estranged family member, and finally chooses which of her two suitors is the right man to spend her life with. There was a very evocative moment where the author did a superb job of conveying the feelings of the characters when Caprice makes a choice between her two men. I loved that scene. All the while we contentedly meet up with Caprice’s friends and family members from prior books in the series, watch as her dog Lady and cat Sophia adjust to the new member of their family, Mirabelle, the shy kitty who was left behind when her neglectful owner Alanna was murdered, and wince as Caprice’s life is threatened as she unselfishly puts herself in one precarious situation after another to help clear her friend Ace’s name.
In conclusion, this cozy mystery is cozy in more ways than one. You will enjoy going along for the ride to find out who killed Alanna Goodwin, but you will also find pleasure in peering into the daily events of an amateur sleuth who loves life, love, her profession, her family and her pets. It’s for this reason that Drape Expectations was a major hit with me and I recommend it highly.
Thank you Karen Rose Smith for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review which I have given.
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Tempest in a Teapot by Amanda Cooper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Sophie Taylor’s Manhattan restaurant, In Fashion, has failed, so she returns to Gracious Grove in upstate NY where her grandmother runs Auntie Rose’s Victorian Tea House to get a little respite and rethink her future goals. Sophie’s nana is getting up in age and can use her help running the much beloved teahouse. Sophie’s glad to be of help even as one of the upcoming venues includes a wedding shower tea for her longtime friend Cissy Peterson. The problem is Cissy’s own grandmother, Thelma Mae Earnshaw, owns a competing tearoom nearby, La Belle Époque, and Thelma Mae, former friend of Rose Freemont, has been holding a grudge against her for over 60 years for supposedly stealing Thelma Mae’s beau when they were just teenagers. How can Cissy do that to her own grandmother? Well, only the best for Cissy Peterson, and that means Auntie Rose’s wins out over the vastly inferior La Belle Époque. Even so, to appease Thelma Mae and assuage her own guilty conscience, Cissy commissions her grandmother to host an engagement tea for her at La Belle Époque. Who knew that Vivienne Whittaker, Cissy’s soon to be mother-in-law, would meet her demise at the engagement tea to the horror of everyone present. Who could possibly want Vivienne Whitakker dead? Perhaps a lot of people? Or was the intended victim someone other than Vivienne and did she just happen to get in the way?
I enjoyed this cozy….particularly the setting and cast of characters which ranged from crooked politicians to sweet old grandmothers to embittered relatives to jilted lovers. I had a fun time watching Sophie as amateur sleuth snooping around and asking markedly pointed questions to find out once and for all who killed Vivienne Whittaker. This was a first in the series, and although I found that in order to keep the list of characters straight in my head I had to read this one at a slightly slower pace, that was just fine since it was worth the extra time spent on it. I found that I really liked Thelma Mae Earnshaw’s character, Cissy’s crotchety old grandmother who I found hilarious. One of my favorite lines from her when being questioned by the detective regarding the murder went like this….
DETECTIVE: “Mrs. Earnshaw, can you tell me in your own words what happened?”
THELMA MAE: “Well, now, who else’s’ words would I use? Stupidest thing I ever heard.”
LOL!! I thought that was too funny and it gave me a glimpse as to what I could expect from the likes of Thelma Mae Earnshaw.
In conclusion, I thought this cozy could be classified along with the best of them and I recommend it to those who love to savor a good cozy mystery.
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State of the Onion by Julie Hyzy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Olivia “Ollie” Paras is Assistant chef in the White House kitchen. She aspires to become Executive Chef following the approaching retirement of highly esteemed Executive Chef and colleague, Henry. While on her way back from purchasing a retirement gift for Henry, Ollie witnesses an intruder running on White House grounds. Although Secret Service is unable to detain him, Ollie, hidden from sight, manages to clobber the intruder with the skillet she just bought for Henry. But there’s something odd about this man. Instead of wanting to harm the President, he seems to want to warn him of something. Stranger still he addresses one of the Secret Service by name and inquires about his family. Something’s fishier than the trout in the White House kitchen. Who is this man? Later, while watching the scene of the incident at home on t.v., Ollie notices that the footage has been altered. The man on t.v. is not the same man that she whacked with the skillet. When she tries to convince her Secret Service boyfriend Tom of this discrepancy, he’s incredulous and tries to convince her that she doesn’t know what she saw. Is he right? Are her eyes playing tricks on her? Can she trust Tom after all?
I loved this White House Chef Mystery!! I actually listened to it on Audible and it was a great experience. The narrator really brought the characters to life and I was enthralled by the story and thoroughly engrossed to the very end. It was so much fun hearing the voices of several of the characters that were from other countries; an added bonus to my listening experience. The descriptions of food being prepared in the kitchen made me hungry!! I’d read wonderful reviews about Julie Hyzy’s White House Chef Mystery series so I decided to check it out. I’m sure glad I did. If you’re a fan of cozy mysteries, I am rather certain you will love State of the Onion. I did!!
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Tailing a Tabby by Laurie Cass
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 I enjoyed this cozy mystery about a Librarian, Minnie Hamilton, who drives a Bookmobile with her cat Eddie and teenaged volunteer Thessie, and lives on a houseboat. One day Minnie helps to rescue a male stroke victim while driving the bookmobile and they become fast friends. When the man, who happens to be an accomplished artist, is arrested for a murder he presumably did not commit, Minnie springs into action to help find the real killer. This was a fun read, and although I didn’t read the first book in the series it didn’t seem to make a difference. I loved reading about Eddie the cat because I’m a cat owner myself and could identify with the cuteness of Eddie’s kitty antics. I didn’t feel that Eddie was a major contributor to the solving of the murder, but he was a constant feature of the book. I also really liked some of the quirky characters, especially Trock Farrand, star of the cooking show Trock’s Troubles. He came across as charming and a bit eccentric. I found myself chuckling whenever his character was present. At times I had a little trouble keeping all of the characters straight, and I didn’t see how the side story of Minnie’s Aunt Frances and her matchmaking attempts fit with the story, but nevertheless it was a good cozy. I’ve heard some reviewers say they really liked the first book in the series so I might have to go back and read that one. If you are a fan of cozy mysteries you’ll probably like this one too. I received this book free from Dru’s Book Musings, and in exchange have provided an honest review.
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⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I thoroughly enjoyed Staged to Death by Karen Rose Smith. This is book 1 in the Caprice De Luca Mystery series. Caprice is a professional home stager who has been hired by her old High School friend Roz Winslow to stage her castle-like mansion that she shares with her husband Ted, so that they can sell it. Little does Caprice know that she and Roz will find Ted dead in the couple’s home, stabbed by one of his own prized weapons. Caprice goes into action to protect her friend while trying to find the killer. This cozy really resonated with me for several reasons. The story flowed effortlessly…no lulls, and I was easily able to acquaint myself with the main characters. I was immersed in the book to the very end. I really liked the protagonist, Caprice. Her eclectic, retro style presented a vivid picture of her personality, as well as her surroundings, whether it was her staging projects or times when she was entertaining in her home. Also, the book mentions so many of my favorite things: loving family members, great food, recipes, cute pets, flowers, and an intriguing murder mystery. I really liked that the murderer wasn’t far fetched because it actually gave me the opportunity to figure out who might have done it. Although there were quite a few names mentioned in the book, I was able to keep up with who was who. Additionally, I’m actually happy that book 2, Deadly Decor, is available because I am convinced I would enjoy another cozy featuring Caprice De Luca. In summary, this was one of my favorite cozies. I enjoyed it so much that in the end I think I would have been happy with whoever the murderer was because the story was good nevertheless. I received this book free from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review which I have given.