BOOK REVIEW – Potions & Pastries

4.0 out of 5 stars

Potions & Pastries is the 7th book in the Magical Bakery Mystery series by Bailey Cates. I enjoyed this book a lot. This series just gets better and better.

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Purchase Links: AmazonB&NKobo

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Synopsis

It’s been exactly two years since Katie and her aunt and uncle opened the Honeybee Bakery, where they serve delicious—and bespelled—treats to the good people of Savannah. After a dinner celebrating the bakery’s anniversary, they all take a stroll along the waterfront and meet Aunt Lucy’s friend Orla, a colorful character who has been telling the fortunes of locals and tourists alike for years.

The next day, Orla meets with what seems like a terrible accident, but Katie’s witchy intuition tells her it was something more sinister. Together with her trustworthy coven and her firefighter boyfriend, she’ll race to find out what happened to the unfortunate fortune-teller before the piping hot trail goes cold…

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Review

When I first started reading the series, I thought the stories were entertaining, but none of them seemed like anything to really “write home about”. But I kept reading the series because I liked the characters. These latest two books though have really been great and I’ve really enjoyed them.

In this particular book, Katie and her friends are trying to solve the mystery of Orla, Aunt Lucy’s friend’s death. It seems like a tragic accident, but Katie knows that something just isn’t right about it. But delving into this mystery almost makes Katie a victim!

The plot was well-written and well thought out. I wasn’t positive about the villain until it was revealed. I knew it was one of about 3-4 people but I just couldn’t settle on a particular person before it was revealed. This book definitely kept me on my toes with guessing!

The characters in this series are wonderful. They’re well-rounded, complex, developed characters who have their own sense of weirdness and fun. I find it very entertaining to read about them!  I recommend this series to any paranormal cozy mystery fan! Make sure you start at the beginning of the series with Brownies and Broomsticks in order to understand all the dynamics between the characters!

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About the Author

BaileyCates-CricketMcRaeBailey Cates is a pen name for Cricket McRae who enjoys home crafts like food preservation, cheese making, candle making, and fiber arts. She writes the Sophie Mae Reynolds Homecrafting Mystery Series. As Bailey Cates, she also writes the Magical Bakery Mysteries.

For two years Cricket managed her own soap making business, including all product design, manufacturing and marketing. The recipes included in her first book, Lye in Wait, are all Cricket’s original formulations. She has also worked in a variety of other fields ranging from drivers license examiner to program manager for a major software firm. This fulfills her mothers warning that shed never have a regular job if she insisted on studying philosophy in college.

BLOG TOUR – Craks in a Marriage – SPOTLIGHT & Review

Hello!  Welcome! Today I’m hosting a stop on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Craks in a Marriage by Barbara Barrett.

Update: My review is up now! Thanks for your patience while I finished the book!

 

About the Book

Craks in a Marriage (Mah Jongg Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – Florida
Self Published (February 6, 2018)
Print Length: 204 pages
ASIN: B079DCX8WQ

Purchase Links : AmazonB&NKobo

When Sydney Bonner overhears a fellow mah jongg player arguing on the phone with her husband, she realizes the couple’s “perfect marriage” isn’t all it appears to be. A few days later, the husband is found dead, his head bashed in. Fearing she’ll be considered the most likely suspect, the widow prevails upon Sydney and her three friends—Marianne, Kat and Micki—to find out who really killed him.

Though none of these four fun-loving, take-charge retirees has any training as detectives, the women agree to launch a secret investigation. As they dig under the happy veneer of their community’s social life, they find more than enough suspects, from shady ladies to resentful golf buddies, to keep them looking over their shoulders.

Could the murderer be lurking among the talent in a chaotic production put on by Sydney’s husband, who will do anything to keep busy in retirement? Could the sheriff, who may have more than a professional interest in chanteuse Kat, end up pinning the crime on the women instead? Each discovery during their investigations and their weekly mah jongg game keeps them running as they close in on the killer—but the killer may also be closing in on them.

Review – 4.0 out of 5 stars

I very much enjoyed this first book in the Mah Jongg series!

The characters are great, quirky and likeable. They’re well-developed and complex. I really enjoyed them.

The setting descriptions were mostly good. I’m a little tired of reading that someplace is “the jewel of…” but other than that, they were well done and not too wordy.

I enjoyed the plot quite a bit and did NOT know who the villain was this time before it was revealed.

All in all, I will definitely be reading more in this series!

About the Author

Barbara Barrett started reading mysteries when she was pregnant with her first child to keep her mind off things like her changing body and food cravings. When she’d devoured as many Agatha Christies as she could find, she branched out to English village cozies and Ellery Queen.

Later, to avoid a midlife crisis, she began writing fiction at night when she wasn’t at her day job as a human resources analyst for Iowa State Government. After releasing eleven full-length romance novels and one novella, she has returned to the cozy mystery genre, using one of her retirement pastimes, the game of mah jongg, as her inspiration. Not only has it been a great social outlet, it has also helped keep her mind active when not writing.

Craks in a Marriage, the first book in her “Mah Jongg Mystery” series, features four friends who seek the murderer of another mah jongg player’s husband before she is charged. None of the four is based on an actual person. Each is an amalgamation of several mah jongg friends with a lot of Barbara’s imagination thrown in for good measure. The four will continue to appear in future books in the series.

Anticipating the day when she would write her first mystery, she has been a member of the Mystery/Romantic Suspense chapter of Romance Writers of America for over a decade. She credits them with helping her hone her craft.

Barbara is married to a man she met her senior year of college. They have two grown children and eight grandchildren.

Now retired, she is a resident of Florida, although she spends her summers in Iowa, her home state. She earned her B.A. degree in History from the University of Iowa and her Master’s Degree in History from Drake University.

When not in front of her laptop creating her next story, she plays Mah Jongg, knits, and enjoys lunches with friends.

Author Links

Website – http://www.barbarabarrettbooks.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Barbara-Barrett-Author-1678443865812386/

Twitter – www.twitter.com/bbarrettbooks

Pinterest – pinterest.com/barbarabarrett7

GoodReads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8181756.Barbara_Barrett

Subscribe to my newsletter: barbarabarrett747@gmail.com

 

Thanks for joining me today! Come back in the next day or so to read my review of the book! I’m enjoying it so far!  If you wish to visit other sites on the tour, please click on the banner below. It’ll take you to the main tour page with a list of tour participants!

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BLOG TOUR – Plum Tea Crazy – GUEST POST, REVIEW

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Welcome! Today I’m hosting a stop on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Plum Tea Crazy, a Tea Shop Mystery by Laura Childs. I love this series so I was excited to be able to read and review this newest installment.

Before we get to my review, I’m happy to say that we have a guest post from Laura Childs herself to enjoy! Thank you to Ms. Childs for being willing to write a guest post for my blog!

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Guest Post from Laura Childs

A Q&A with Laura Childs, New York Times Bestselling Author of Plum Tea Crazy.

When you write, Laura, do you normally have an idea several months ahead of time or do stories just come to you as you’re writing?

The answer to both those questions is yes. I usually have three or four plot ideas pin-balling around in my head, so I start to work them up and then pick the one I like best. The other ideas are always kept in reserve so I can circle back to them at a later date and flesh them out for the next few books. Since I spent 20 years heading my own advertising agency, I’m lucky that I developed a knack for being “creative on demand,” with ideas coming fairly easy to me.


As you decide on characters, is there something that calls out to you?

Characters in my mysteries are either protagonists or antagonists. That is, they are either the hero or a suspected villain. That means my stories need to include a roster of suspicious characters that keep my readers guessing and turning the pages fairly quickly. I also strive to create suspects that are flamboyant and fairly dysfunctional. In Plum Tea Crazy, for example, I’ve got a snarky banker, goofball handyman, shopaholic ex-wife, and a slicko stalker attorney. There are a few other crazies tossed in for good measure, too.


Are your mysteries based on real life surroundings?

Since the Tea Shop Mysteries all take place in Charleston, SC, I try to create a very careful sense of place right down to the last cobblestone. Do you feel that damp fog as it rolls in off the Atlantic? Can you hear the mournful toot from the lighthouse over on Patriot’s Point? Is someone sneaking up behind you in Dueler’s Alley? Charleston is one of those cities that is eccentric and highly atmospheric – old mansions, live oaks dripping with Spanish moss, fog-shrouded bayous. Those are all very real elements and I try my best to sprinkle them throughout my mysteries.


For Plum Tea Crazy was there something you really wanted readers to come away with . . . as in a different outlook on life?

I always try to make the point that my main character, Theodosia, is extremely independent and entrepreneurial. When I was in marketing, I ran into dozens of women who longed for more focus and control in their work lives. These were smart women – ad managers, product managers, administrators, etc. – who wanted to flee corporate life to open a tea shop, needle craft store, or antique shop. I think most women are natural born entrepreneurs. They don’t always want to build a Fortune 500 company but they do want an environment that is nourishing and rewarding.


Tell us a little bit about Plum Tea Crazy.

 As tea shop owner Theodosia views Charleston Harbor’s Gaslights and Galleons Parade from the widow’s walk of a nearby mansion, a local banker tumbles over the narrow railing and plunges to his death. But when Theodosia discovers that the victim was actually shot with a crossbow, this tragic accident turns sinister. With pacing that moves like a thriller, and any number of quirky suspects, it’s one of the reasons Book Riot named my Tea Shop Mysteries to their list of “25 of the All Time Best Cozy Mystery Series.”


Thanks for spending time with us.

Thank you and hugs to everyone!

Laura Childs

Thank you again to Ms. Childs for writing a guest post for today!

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About the Book

Plum Tea Crazy (A Tea Shop Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
19th in Series
Berkley (March 6, 2018)
Hardcover: 336 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0451489609
Digital ASIN: B071K4DPRH
Purchase Links: AmazonB&NKobo

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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Synopsis

While viewing the harbor’s Gaslights and Galleons Parade from the widow’s walk of Timothy Neville’s Charleston mansion, local banker Carson Lanier seemingly tumbles over a narrow railing, then plunges three stories to his death. But a tragic accident becomes something much more sinister when it’s discovered that the victim was first shot with a bolt from a crossbow.

At the request of the mansion owner, Theodosia investigates the tragedy and is soon neck deep in suspects. An almost ex-wife, a coworker, a real estate partner–all had motives for killing the luckless banker, but one resorted to murder to settle accounts.

INCLUDES DELICIOUS RECIPES AND TEA TIME TIPS!

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Review – 4 out of 5 stars

This newest installment in the Tea Shop Mystery series from Laura Childs is just as wonderful as the others have been!

I love the cast of characters in this series. Honestly, if I didn’t, I wouldn’t still be reading the series. Characters are far more important to me than the plot line. I can put up with pretty abysmal plot lines (which this is NOT one of those books – this plot line was excellent) if the characters are awesome. I’ve always enjoyed Theodosia, Drayton, Haley, Detective Tidwell and the rest. It’s fun to come back each spring to another visit into their world! These are well-rounded, complex, developed characters and they’re delightful.

The plot line in this one was excellent. There were enough suspects that it was hard to know who was the true villain. I did guess correctly, but it would have been very easy for me to be side-tracked by one of the other options. There was just something about the villain character that seemed “off” about them. That’s all I’m going to say so I don’t give anything away though!

If you haven’t read the series before, you could certainly start with this one as each mystery is its own story, but I would recommend starting at the beginning of the series with Death by Darjeeling. There are backstory things that will make more sense if you start the series at the beginning.

Either way, pick up Plum Tea Crazy and enjoy the newest installment in this great series!

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BLOG TOUR – Cookie Dough, Snow, and Wands – REVIEW

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Greetings! Welcome to another Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour. Today I’m thrilled to be hosting a stop for Cookie Dough, Snow, and Wands Aglow, the fourth book in the Spells & Caramels series by Erin Johnson! This is one of my favorite cozy mystery series and as my quote on the banner says, I’m absolutely enamored with this series!

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About the Book

Cookie Dough, Snow & Wands Aglow: A Cozy Witch Mystery (Spells & Caramels)
Cozy Mystery
4th in Series
Self Published
Paperback: 264 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1983404115
Digital ASIN: B078MNJZFM
Purchase Links: Amazon

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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Synopsis

Murder in a magical, merry town just brimming with secrets.

On the snowy road to the Earth Kingdom for the holidays, Imogen and the bakers are ambushed by Horace, villainous leader of the Badlands Army. They’re forced to detour to an idyllic, rural village, bedecked in lights, garlands and winter cheer…all a little too perfect to believe. At least that’s so for Imogen, who’s seeing burned out buildings and mysterious memorials that no one else seems to notice.

Hank’s royal presence gets them invited to the big bash at the governor’s mansion. The night is filled with dancing, stolen kisses under the mistletoe and fun, until a guest is found dead in the cauldron of punch.

As bodies and mysteries pile up, all the evidence points to the vampire Francis as the culprit. The gang must come together to clear their friend’s name and save themselves from the angry villagers. Even worse, Imogen struggles with having to keep her relationship with Hank hidden, while working with him to find the real killer.

As Imogen unearths more than a few town secrets, she finally solves the riddles of her past and discovers the truth of Horace’s pursuit of her. But will all the secrets be unraveled in time to stop the killer, or will Imogen and her friends suffer a monstrous fate?

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Review – 4.5 out of 5 stars

I love this series so much! This latest installment in the series does not disappoint at all.

We find our characters on a special trip for Bruma, a holiday to celebrate the Winter Solstice. They get detoured to this little town and as usual, a murder occurs and the investigative spirits of the team are needed to help solve the mystery!

These characters are very well-rounded and complex. They’re realistic (aside from the magic part 😉 ), wonderful, and just a joy to read. I enjoy learning more and more about them as we get further into the series. The characters just draw you in and make you believe that you’re friends with them all. And let me tell you, I don’t normally do vampires, but I love Francis, so that’s really saying something!

This particular book found us learning something important truths. I did NOT see the plot twist coming at all. It makes things make a lot of sense, but I still wasn’t expecting it. The way that we find these things out is perfect.

I did figure out the villain before the reveal, though I hadn’t figured out how she had done it exactly, so that part was still a surprise when it was revealed.

All in all this is an excellent 4th installment in the series and I’m looking forward to the 5th book! If you wish to read the series, I highly, HIGHLY recommend you start at the beginning with Seashells, Spells, & Caramels. While each mystery in the series is it’s own separate story, you need the backstory on the personal relationships and other things that are happening throughout the whole series in order to understand why the plot twist was so astounding.

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©Cute Colors

 

About the Author

 

Erin Johnson is a native of Tempe, Arizona, Erin spends her time crafting mysterious, magical, romance-filled stories that’ll hopefully make you laugh. In between, she’s traveling, napping with her dogs, eating with her friends and family, and teaching Pilates (to allow her to eat more).

Website: www.erinjohnsonwrites.com. Facebook: www.facebook.com/EJohnsonWrites. Twitter: @EJohnsonWrites

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BLOG TOUR – Vangie Vale & the Strangled Strudel – REVIEW, GUEST POST

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Welcome to another day and another tour! I love doing these Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours! They expose me to great authors and new series. Today’s tour is for Vangie Vale and the Strangled Strudel, the third book in the The Matchbaker Mysteries by R.L. Syme. I had mixed feelings about this book, which I’ll share below the guest post that R. L. Syme generously provided me! Enjoy!

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R.L. Syme’s Guest Post

On Facebook, I have a wonderful group of Vangie’s friends who all congregate with me to talk about the books and our lives. We occasionally talk about Vangie, and as I was preparing for this book tour, I asked them if they had any topics for me to talk about in my guest posts. I borrowed some of their questions to write about. Here are some of the ones they posted.

* Why can’t Vangie and the sheriff get along…?

I wondered if this would be a popular question, among the fans of the books. Vangie and Malcolm have sort of a love/hate relationship in the first three books, but there are definitely a swath of fans who are rooting for them to get past their differences and start a romantic relationship.

And I don’t blame them one bit. Malcolm is a hottie.

But of course, so is Derek. Her current boyfriend.

But let me take a serious stab at answering this question. I want to be honest in that Malcolm’s issues are just as much at play here as Vangie’s. In fact, maybe even more so. I think Vangie is curious about her neighbor, the Sheriff, and she finds him interesting. She finally feels like they are friends. But Malcolm is not a church guy, and he specifically has issues with pastors. You’ll find out more about those issues later. For Vangie’s part, though, she’s dating Derek.

* Where did she get her quirky charm?

That is a great question. I feel like it’s a combination of using sarcasm to deal with the difficult things in her life, and her personality making her different. She has a quick mind, too, so she does find herself speaking quickly, because she’s thinking quickly. That’s probably what I would attribute it to.

* What was her relationship with her mother like?

This is a great question. She lost her mother when she was a teenager, so she did have several years with her. But she had a solid relationship with her mom. She and Priscilla were both close with their mother, and it was part of what made the girls so close as they got older. She’s not very close with Laura—the woman her father married a few years after her mother died—and she doesn’t consider Laura to really be her stepmother, since Laura didn’t really raise her. But she’s glad her dad is happy.

These were great questions. It was a lot of fun seeing what Vangie’s fans wanted to know about her.

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© Cute Colors

Thank you to R.L. Syme for providing me with the guest post for today! Here’s information about the book followed by my review!


Vangie Vale & the Strangled Strudel (The Matchbaker Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Setting – Montana
Hummingbird Books (January 4, 2018)
Print Length: 330 pages
E-Book ASIN: B077GK124B

Purchase Links: AmazonB&NKobo

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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You could call it the straw that broke the camel’s back but it was more like a Montana forest timber.

Just when Vangie Vale’s life was getting back to normal after a murder that rocked her little Rocky Mountain tourist town, she found herself in the middle of another murder… as the chief suspect.

Vangie stood shocked on the side of the curb as the sheriff stretched yellow crime scene tape around the front of her new bakery. Wouldn’t this make a lovely headline in next week’s paper: Local Baker Kills Parishioner With Pudding. Vangie’s road back to good graces as a part-time pastor was bumpy enough already. This would be a roadblock. Can’t have that.

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Review

4.0 out of 5 stars.

As I said above, I had mixed feelings about this book. I like Vangie as a character. I like Derek and I really love Malcolm. But Vangie’s tendency to be impulsive and not THINK when she goes to investigate drives me batty. I’ve read through all three books in this series hoping that over time she’d learn to at least stop to THINK before she rushes headfirst into danger, but so far she hasn’t.

The book is well-written and the plot line was great. I had no real ideas about who had done the crime until it was revealed at the end. Ms. Syme did a really great job with the villain. I don’t want to give anything away, but it’s not easy to write the type of villain that she had in this story and Ms. Syme did a fantastic job with it.

I haven’t decided if I’m going to continue with the series at this point. But I don’t want to dissuade my readers from it because it IS well-written and the characters are great. I just hate heroines who don’t think before rushing into danger. That’s my personal preference and has no bearing on my rating of the writing. If that type of heroine doesn’t bother you, then I recommend this series highly!

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