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

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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. 😊

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!!

Throwback Thursday – A Man of Some Repute by Elizabeth Edmondson

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Throwback Thursday is hosted by Renee of It’s Book Talk.  This meme was created to share old favorites and/or books published over a year ago.  Today I’m going to be sharing an excellent mystery, A Man of Some Repute by Elizabeth Edmondson.

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Why I chose this book:

I was astounded by it. This was an audiobook and I was impressed by the narration. As far as the book itself, it was the characters, the mystery, the incredible setting (it was set in a castle in rural England, I mean c’mon, awesome!).  The main character, Hugo Hawksworth, was my first audiobook character crush. This book was just such a great listen and I remember feeling like this ….

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See my review of it here.

I googled the author, intent on letting her know how much I enjoyed it. I was DEVASTATED to learn that she had died a few months before I’d read the book.  Seriously, I was so sad when I learned that.

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If Ms. Edmondson was still with us today, I’d tell her that I absolutely loved her book, and that it remains one of my favorites to this day. 💐

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Thank you for visiting. 

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.

Éclair and Present Danger by Laura Bradford (Audiobook)

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫—3.5 Stars

Winnie Johnson has just inherited a vintage ambulance and a brown and white tabby cat, Lovey, from her elderly deceased neighbor, and friend, Gertrude. This is not what Winnie was hoping for, and she realizes that her bakery, Delectable Delights, won’t be salvaged financially after all. The increase in rent on the bakery by her landlord is too much for her to keep it running. When her neighbor, Bridget, unwittingly gives Winnie the idea for her emergency dessert squad service, things begin looking up. Using the ambulance to get delectable desserts with whimsical names like NEVER GIVE UPside Down cake, into the hands of people who are experiencing varying situations in life, can be a real hit. But in the midst of all the excitement with her new business, a dear friend on Winnie’s street is murdered, smothered with a pillow in his home, and Winnie feels an obligation to help find out who killed him so that her elderly friends on Serenity Lane can sleep better at night.

The Emergency Dessert Squad is a fun idea and it made me chuckle thinking about the ambulance coming to the rescue of people going through rough times and needing a sweets fix. There are desserts for celebrations too and that’s how Winnie meets a potential beau, Jay Morgan, a man who is not put off by her choice of friends. Winnie is an interesting character in that she’s a young woman but prefers elderly companionship. Her best friend, Reneé, and the men she usually meets have a difficult time understanding this. But Winnie doesn’t care. She loves the older ones who’ve embraced her and made her feel welcome in Silver Lake. I loved this aspect of Winnie’s personality. She readily defends her senior friends and lets her male acquaintances know that they can take a hike if they can’t understand why she prefers them as friends. Lovey the cat is a hilarious animal character in the book. She’s friendly with most people, but no matter what Winnie does to warm up to her, Lovey responds with an audible hiss. One wonders why Gertrude entrusted the cat’s care to Winnie.

Overall, I liked this cozy. Although at times I felt like the dessert squad and Winnie’s love life overshadowed the murder mystery in the book, it was still pretty good. I personally didn’t think the murderer was too hard to figure out, likely because there weren’t a whole lot of suspects, but it was still entertaining finding out the person’s motivation behind the killing. The audio narrator did a good job with the book. It took me a little time to warm up to her voice for some unknown reason, but once I did I determined she was okay.

Thank you, Tantor Media, for a free audio download of this book. In exchange I have provided an honest review.

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Have you read any books by Laura Bradford? What did you think dear readers? Have a wonderful day!!

Summit Lake by Charlie Donlea

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 – 4.5 stars

On Friday, Feb. 17, 2012, pretty, young law student, Becca Eckersley, died. Why did somebody take her life in such a passionate way? And why are the state police tight-lipped about any details surrounding Becca’s Murder?

Kelsey Castle, True Crime book author and journalist for Events Magazine, has just returned to work prematurely after a six-week leave-of-absence, having survived her own, as yet undisclosed, traumatic life event. Her boss informs her that he’s sending her to Summit Lake, a small town in the foothills of the beautiful blue ridge mountains of NC, to formulate a story about what might have happened to Becca.

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Rewind fourteen months and we are introduced to Becca’s three best friends, and then we’re given a sequential account of Becca’s daily activities which consequently led to her demise. At the same time, Kelsey Castle is tracing Becca’s steps in Summit Lake; questioning her acquaintances, friends and significant others in an attempt to learn more about the girl that she’s becoming psychologically attached to. As she digs deeper into Becca’s life, she unmasks secrets, coverups and deceptions that just might explain what caused Becca’s death.

This book was perfect for me. It had just the right amount of mystery and suspense, and a more subtle thriller factor which I personally prefer. I really appreciate it when an author can create an amazing story without having to resort to needless shock value content in the way of excessive foul language, gratuitous violence or explicit sex scenes. Charlie Donlea accomplished this in a skillful way. There were a couple of unexpected twists that had me like …

Yup, I couldn’t believe it. Totally caught me off guard. I love it when an author can pull that off successfully.

This book was excellent. I was impressed, kept in anxious anticipation of what would happen next, and would jump at the chance to read another mystery/suspense book by Charlie Donlea. Highly recommended.

And finally, below is a trailer for Summit Lake.  Thanks, as always, for stopping by Cozynookbks.  Have a great week.