Review: Death by Bubble Tea by Jennifer J. Chow

Description (from cover): “Two cousins who start a food stall at their local night market get a serving of murder in this first novel of a delicious new cozy mystery series by Jennifer J. Chow, bestselling author of Mimi Lee Gets a Clue.

When Yale Lee discovers her cousin Celine is visiting from Hong Kong, she is obliged to play tour guide to a relative she hasn’t seen in twenty years. Not only that, but her father thinks it’s a wonderful idea for them to bond by running a food stall together at the Eastwood Village Night Market. Yale hasn’t cooked in years, and she hardly considers Celine’s career as a social media influencer as adequate experience, but because she’s just lost her job at her local bookstore, she feels she has no choice.

Yale and Celine serve small dishes and refreshing drinks, and while business is slow, it eventually picks up thanks to Celine’s surprisingly useful marketing ideas. They’re quite shocked that their bubble tea, in particular, is a hit–literally–when one of their customers turns up dead. Yale and Celine are prime suspects due to the gold flakes that Celine added to the sweet drink as a garnish. Though the two cousins are polar opposites in every way, they must work together to find out what really happened to the victim or the only thing they’ll be serving is time.”

My Thoughts:

Oh this book. I really wanted to love it. The characters are well-developed, the story line is cute, the Chinese-American food culture is intriguing and interesting; however, the mystery fell flat. Yale Lee is a loner. She eschews technology for books and she is just floating through life her way until she is laid off from her job at a local bookshop. Not knowing what to do next, she turns to her father who owns a restaurant for income. Her father has a great idea for Yale to lead the food stall branch of the restaurant and gives her free rein to do as she pleases with this new business venture. She is surprised when her cousin Celine flies in from Hong Kong under mysterious circumstances and her father pushes the two of them to work together. Yale is a little concerned as her cousin is a well-known Instagram influencer and has a completely different outlook on life. Just trying to make the best of it, Yale placates her cousin and just goes along with the flow.

All is well until one of the customers at the food stall is found dead by Yale later that evening after the night market has closed. The murder weapon is suspected to be Yale and Celine’s bubble tea that was served to the victim earlier that evening. When the police begin investigating, they hone in on Yale and her cousin as the prime suspects. Yale is determined to clear her name and that of her father’s restaurant and sets out on her own investigation. Celine is eager to help and Yale and Celine begin their investigation much to the police’s chagrin.

I had problems with this mystery. At times the clues were so obvious and the characters were clueless as to what to do with them. I felt like I was screaming at them in my head to get it together. That was frustrating to say the least. However, I loved the premise of the storyline. This is a quirky new cozy series featuring food and the LA food scene that has a lot of potential. The characters are well-developed, engaging and it is easy to like them. I am not ready to throw in the towel on this series, as it has a lot of promise. I will wait to read the next in the series, Hot Pot Murder, which appears to be coming in June 2023. I am hoping that this is a case of the debut blues and that the series will continue to emerge and engage the reader moving forward. Not the best cozy debut, but this series has so much potential to be a delightful cozy series.

Overall Rating: 3.5 stars

Author: Jennifer J. Chow

Series: LA Night Market Mystery #1

Publisher: Berkley

Publication Date: July 5, 2022

Pages: 300

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Review: Dairy, Dairy, Quite Contrary by Amy Lillard

Description (from cover): “Looking for a fresh start, advice columnist Sissy Yoder heads to small-town Yoder, Kansas, to help in her aunt’s café. But when a milkman is murdered, the newcomer becomes the prime suspect…

After Sissy’s rodeo cowboy boyfriend turns out to be more of a rodeo clown, she packs a bag; picks up her Yorkshire terrier Duke; and leaves Tulsa, Oklahoma, bound for her parents’ former hometown. There are still plenty of Yoders in Yoder, Kansas, including Sissy’s aunt Bethel, who owns the Sunflower Café but recently broke her leg. It’s a homecoming of sorts as Sissy arrives to help in the café and reunite with her pregnant cousin Lizzie. Plus she can continue to secretly write her newspaper advice column as seventy-year-old “Aunt Bess.” But it’s Sissy who could use some advice when she finds the milk deliveryman out behind the café with a knife in his back. As the sheriff’s prime suspect, it’s up to Sissy to catch the backstabber herself–before someone else gets creamed…”

My Thoughts:

Sissy Yoder’s life has fallen apart in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She has broken up with her boyfriend, moved out of her apartment, and her life seems to be up in the air. When her aunt breaks her leg and needs help in Yoder, Kansas with her café, Sissy decides life has just handed her a second chance or at least a break so she can figure out what to do next. When she arrives in Yoder, her aunt is not happy to see her. She doesn’t need help with the café, even if she has a broken leg. Just when things couldn’t get worse, Sissy finds the milk deliveryman dead behind the café, with a knife sticking out of his back. Being the newest member of the community, the police chief is dead set on her as the main suspect. He is constantly watching her and waiting for her to make a mistake. She is determined that she must solve the crime on her own, before she ends up wrongfully accused of murder.

In this fictional small town of Yoder, the Amish are a huge part of the community. They eschew electricity, drive tractors instead of cars and have their own ways of living among the English. Sissy enjoys the quiet life in the small town and it takes some adjustment coming from a big city to such a slower pace of life. She finds it peaceful except for the cloud of suspicion of murder hanging over her head. In a small town where everyone has known each other since birth and the ties are strong, she must clear her name at any costs.

This book is the first in what appears to be a promising cozy mystery series. I love the Amish and how they prefer to live simple lives and the author did a great job of researching and painting the scene for the reader. I really enjoyed Sissy’s character and hope that she decides to end up in Yoder despite the increasing crime rates. This book has a lot of promise and it was a nice quick little cozy read that was perfect to read on a rainy Saturday. A fantastic read that deserves more attention in the future. So glad that I got to read this and cannot wait to see what happens next in the small Amish village of Yoder.

Overall Rating: 4.5 stars

Author: Amy Lillard

Series: Sunflower Café Mystery #1

Publisher: Kensington Books

Publication Date: June 28, 2022

Pages: 306

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Review: The Great Jewel Robbery by Elizabeth McKenna

Description (from cover): “Mystery with a splash of romance…

Chicago Tribune reporters Emma and Grace have been best friends since college despite coming from different worlds. When Grace is assigned to cover an annual charity ball and auction being held at a lakeside mansion and her boyfriend bails on her, she brings Emma as her plus one. The night is going smoothly until Emma finds the host’s brother unconscious in the study. Though at first it is thought he was tipsy and stumbled, it soon becomes clear more is afoot, as the wall safe is empty and a three-million-dollar diamond necklace is missing. With visions of becoming ace investigative journalists, Emma and Grace set out to solve the mystery, much to the chagrin of the handsome local detective.”

My Thoughts:

Emma and Grace are friends who are journalists for the Chicago Tribune who are covering a charity ball for the paper. Emma is tagging along with her friend Grace who is actually covering the story and didn’t want to attend by herself. They are transported to the world of wealth and riches in a mansion outside of Chicago where it seems that they can escape the world for a little bit. When they arrive, their hostess shows them an extremely expensive necklace that will be auctioned off that night for charity and the evening begins without a hitch. When Emma goes to the study looking for her friend, she stumbles across the hostess’ brother-in-law who is unconscious on the floor. He seems to have been hit on the head and they attribute it to his drinking and brush it off. That is until they find the safe open and the rare necklace has vanished.

Emma is automatically suspect number one. She was the one who found the man unconscious and the safe wide open under mysterious circumstances. Emma knows that she is not the one who has committed the crime, but she is struggling to get the handsome police detective to believe her. He sets out on investigating everyone at the party and while there are plenty of other suspects, the detective seems to be honed in on her for the theft. Deciding that no one can clear her name except herself, she is determined to listen behind doors and find a better suspect for the robbery other than herself.

This book was a quick little read. I enjoyed reading it and found that I read it in one day. I will say that at times it was hard to keep up with all of the characters as there seemed to be so many and I got a little confused on who was who. Also, there was many references to a statue that was spelled as “statute” throughout the book. I am hoping that got cleaned up on the final edit, because that was a little distracting for me. All in all, this book was a cute little read and I wouldn’t be opposed to reading more installments in the future.

Overall Rating: 3 stars

Author: Elizabeth McKenna

Series: A Front Page Mystery #1

Publisher: Self Published

Publication Date: May 29, 2019

Pages: 206

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Review: Clause of Death by Lorna Barrett

Description (from cover): “Tricia Miles and her sister, Angelica, are the co-presidents of the Stoneham Chamber of Commerce. Things are changing in the booktown, and some merchants would say not for the better. They grumble that too many non-book-related stores are moving into the village, taking up the most visible storefronts on Main Street, diluting the “Booktown” moniker. Of course, the members with other businesses, like the latest, The Bee’s Knees, are fine with other businesses moving in. No matter what side of the argument they’re on, all the business owners agree on one thing: Tricia and Angelica are to blame.

Still, it’s a pretty typical day in the life of a small-town Chamber of Commerce until one of the disgruntled bookstore owners is killed — Eli Meier from The Inner Light Bookstore, the most vocal of the Chamber complainers. He sold religious and other spiritual books, but also stocked books on wild conspiracy theories and sold incense, crystals, etc. Eli had never been a member of the Chamber until Angelica recently convinced him to join. He hit on her and she, having good taste, turned him down. He hounded (but not stalked) her, and some might think that was a motive for murder.

Stoneham’s new police chief is an old friend of Tricia’s, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to go easy on her sister. One might even say that he’s going to throw the book at her.”

My Thoughts:

Booktown seems like the perfect place to live. Who wouldn’t want to be surrounded by books in a quaint New England town? The only downside to Booktown: all the murders. Tricia has long been a resident of Stoneham, New Hampshire which is known for its love of all things books. Her and her sister, Angelica, have made a name for themselves in the small town with their successful businesses and being co-presidents of the local Chamber of Commerce. That being said, some of the other members of the Chamber have different ideas for what businesses should be allowed to open up in Booktown. The most vocal about his discontent at the Chamber meetings is Eli Meier. Eli owns a shop that is known for selling books that champion conspiracy theories and he is known to be a little off his rocker himself. Not one to promote good working relationships with other Chamber members, it is no surprise when Eli is found dead, by Tricia nonetheless.

Tricia is known in the town for being the village jinx as she has stumbled over many murder victims since she moved to Stoneham. When she comes across Eli’s body, she is determined to sit this one out, but with her curious nature and knack for solving murders, she can’t help but investigate. With a new police chief in town and the help of her family and friends, she is determined to find justice for Eli, despite not liking the man at all. This book is the 16th installment of the Booktown mysteries. I fell in love with this series many years ago and anytime a new book is released, you can guarantee that I will be reading it. The characters are so well-developed and feel like your own family. This book does not disappoint and the ending will leave you on the edge of your seat waiting anxiously for the next installment.

I ended up devouring this book in one day. I couldn’t put the book down as the plot was so suspenseful and engaging throughout each page. Another fantastic delivery from Lorna Barrett that doesn’t disappoint. I have found that readers of this series, continue to come back to this well written and spectacular series and simply cannot get enough. If you haven’t discovered this series yet, what are you waiting for?

Overall Rating: 5+ stars

Author: Lorna Barrett

Series: Booktown Mystery #16

Publisher: Berkley

Publication Date: June 7, 2022

Pages: 334

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Review: Buried in a Good Book by Tamara Berry

Description (from cover): “Bestselling thriller writer Tess Harrow is almost at the end of her rope when she arrives with her teenage daughter at her grandfather’s rustic cabin in the woods. She hopes this will be a time for them to heal and bond after Tess’s recent divorce, but they’ve barely made it through the door when an explosion shakes the cabin. Suddenly it’s raining fish guts and…is that a human arm?

Tess was hardly convincing Gertie that a summer without Wi-Fi and running water would be an adventure. Now she’s thrust into a murder investigation, neighbors are saying they’ve spotted Bigfoot in the woods near her cabin, and the local sheriff is the spitting image of her character Detective Gabriel Gonzales–something he’s less than thrilled about. With so much more than her daughter’s summer plans at stake, it’s up to Tess to solve this case before anyone else gets hurt.

Put your sleuthing hat on–Buried in a Good Book features:

  • A thriller writer who knows way more than anyone should about death and dismemberment
  • Her young daughter who’s more intrigued by dead bodies than she probably should be
  • An isolated cabin in the woods that’s probably–definitely–hiding something
  • The tiny mountain town that seems less than troubled by a sudden abundance of murders”

My Thoughts:

Rarely is there a debut in a cozy mystery series that really grabs my attention from the get go and doesn’t disappoint. This was such a book. I really enjoyed Tess’s character and found her to be very relatable. She is a an author of thrillers, a mom of teenager, and has just been through a divorce. Dealing with a moody teenager and trying to escape life for a little bit, Tess and her daughter arrive at her grandfather’s isolated cabin in the middle of the woods. Little does she know, her peaceful vacation will be anything but serene. When a lady is found murdered in the pond behind the cabin, Tess cannot help but get herself involved in the murder investigation. With the threat of Bigfoot lurking in the woods, a sheriff who is less than forthcoming, a teenager who is less than thrilled to be in the middle of nowhere, Tess must use her own smarts to outwit a killer.

This book made me laugh. There was one part where Tess is complaining that she needs to wash her hair as she looks like Marie Antoinette from all of the dry shampoo she has used. This resonated with my soul. I am a queen of dry shampoo and made me really enjoy Tess’s sense of humor. Tess is quirky and her sense of justice really drives her to find out what exactly is going on in the secluded woods around the cabin. Odd things just keep happening and nothing is adding up. Tamara Berry is a delightful author and I am glad that there are already additional books in this series. I have just picked up the second book in this series, On Spine of Death, for review and I simply cannot wait to read it.

If you are looking for a cute, whimsical, funny, and engaging cozy mystery, this book will not disappoint. I am curious to see how the author plans to develop the characters throughout the series and will definitely keep an eye out for what comes next. I highly recommend this book to all cozy mystery lovers and others who just want to read an engaging mystery. I simply couldn’t put this book down and hope others will enjoy this one as much as I did.

Overall Rating: 5+ stars

Author: Tamara Berry

Series: By the Book Mystery #1

Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press

Publication Date: May 24, 2022

Pages: 291

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Review: An English Garden Murder by Katie Gayle

Description (from cover): “Meet Julia Bird: recently single, reluctantly retired, and… an amateur sleuth?

Julia Bird has left London for a fresh start in a picturesque Cotswold village, and the rustic charm and cosy fireplaces of her little cottage are everything she’d hoped for. But when she tears down the old garden shed to make way for a chicken coop, she unearths much more than she’d bargained for…the body of a young woman, apparently buried for decades, thrusting Julia into a baffling mystery.

With only one copper on the case in Berrywick, Julia decides to solve the who and whodunnit herself, taking her wayward puppy Jake along for the ride. And so begins a whirlwind tour of the village–from the dotty 90-year-old to the delightful doctor and the village gardener, it seems everyone has something to hide.

Soon, Julia is convinced she has discovered the killer’s identity until Jake, a true Labrador, finds a new love of the local lake’s waterfowl and instead ends up catching her chief suspect…drowned. Back at square one, with potential culprits galore, Julia–newly nicknamed the Grim Reaper–despairs at ever solving the murders.

But as Julia ruffles feathers village-wife, the clock is ticking. There is someone in the village who has killed twice already. Will they be prepared to make it third time lucky to keep their secret safe?”

My Thoughts:

This book really reminds me of the Agatha Raisin and Hamish Macbeth series by M.C. Beaton. This book takes place in the Cotswolds just like Agatha Raisin and well the Cotswolds seems to be such a lovely place. I have always wanted to visit there and I love it when I can read a mystery that is set in such an idyllic place. I adore the small English village murder mystery as they seem so relatable for some reason. The small town where everyone knows their neighbors and gossip runs abound seem to always get my attention. In this book, newly single Julia Bird has left London to start a new life in Berrywick after retirement. Not much information is given about Julia’s mysterious past and why she left her job as a social worker, but I am hoping that the author expands a little on this back story in the upcoming books in this series. There seems to be a hint of a story there, but the author decided not to give too much away in this book.

Julia is new to Berrywick and quickly sets about exploring her new village. She meets some new friends and adopts a Labrador puppy. She befriends the local contractor and sets about tearing down an old shed on her property to build a chicken coop. During this process, a body is found and it appears that the body has been there for many years. No one in the town remembers anyone missing and they have no clue who could have been murdered. Julia is determined to find out who the body belongs to and why they were buried under a shed on her own property. When Julia stumbles across two more bodies during her investigation, she becomes concerned that her new idyllic village might not be as peaceful as she hoped.

I really enjoyed reading this book and thought that the author did a great job of setting the scene of a small village and village life. I felt the ending was a little rushed, but overall this was a great quick read and I am glad that I had the opportunity to read it prior to the publication date. If you love Agatha Raisin, Midsomer Murders, Hamish Macbeth, and like series, this is probably a new series you do not want to miss. Julia’s character is hard not to like and I am curious to see what trouble she finds herself in moving forward with the series and how her new life in Berrywick plays out.

Overall Rating: 4.5 stars

Author: Katie Gayle

Series: Julia Bird Mystery #1

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication Date: May 5, 2022

Pages: 262

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Review: Death in Disguise by Emma Davies

Description (from cover): “Francesca Eve thought she was prepared for anything at the events she caters for in her pretty little Shropshire village. Missing canapes? No problem. Burnt brownies? A piece of cake…But a dead body? Now that’s a recipe for disaster.

Francesca is nervous about catering her first ever murder mystery party, but it’s clear from the clink of champagne flutes and piles of empty plates that the evening is a roaring success. The guests look spectacular in their disguises, whispering and giggling as they try to identify who killed beautiful young Becky. But days later the game takes a sinister turn when Becky is found poisoned, and all the signs point to the culprit being a party guest.

From the woman having an affair to the guest hiding her true identity, everyone had a secret–and it turns out that Becky knew them all. As Fran finds herself centre-stage in a real-life murder mystery, the finger of suspicion points at each guest in turn. And Fran starts to wonder, were any of these secrets dangerous enough to kill for?

Then the body of a second guest is found, and it becomes clear a deranged killer is going off-script. It seems anyone who was involved in the game that night is in their sights, even Fran. Can she unmask the murderer before the final curtain falls?

A page-turning cozy mystery packed with twists. If you love Clare Chase, M.C. Beaton and The Thursday Murder Club you’ll absolutely adore this unputdownable whodunnit.”

My Thoughts:

I am always on the hunt for new authors and new mystery series to read. I love reading series for some reason. I enjoy watching the characters evolve throughout series and come to love them as friends. A series that keeps me on my toes is one that I am sure to love and follow through the years. I was able to get an advance readers’ copy of this book from Netgalley and I decided to give it a chance. I was pleasantly not disappointed. Usually the first book in the series is my least favorite, but this one was incredibly engaging and interesting.

Fran is a caterer in a small English village. She has been hired to cater a local woman’s party and the theme is a murder mystery. Everything goes off without a hitch and when the victim from the murder mystery party, Becky, actually turns up dead poisoned by a mushroom days later, Fran cannot help but investigate. It seems everyone at the party had secrets and that Becky was blackmailing everyone. Everyone is a suspect and Fran doesn’t know who to trust. When the party host’s son Adam comes to Fran to tell her that something isn’t quite right with the entire situation, the two of them decide to investigate.

This book had many twists and turns and just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, the other shoe drops and nothing is as it seems. I just love a mystery that is going to keep me guessing until the very end. At the conclusion when the murderer is revealed, I was shocked as I really didn’t see it coming and I was impressed with the author’s ability to keep this reader in the dark until the conclusion. This was a delightful read in what I hope is to become a wonderful cozy mystery series.

Overall Rating: 4.5 stars

Author: Emma Davies

Series: Adam and Eve Mystery #1

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication Date: February 9, 2022

Pages: 357

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.