Book Review of A Crime of a Different Stripe by Sally Goldenbaum

It took me a while to finish this tale. Intricate details of a network of friends living on the enchanting peninsula of Cape Ann, Massachusetts are featured in A Crime of a Different Stripe.

I’ve read a mystery in this cozy series previously, featuring the friends and pets residing in the neighborhood of “The Seaside Knitters Society”. The stories are charming. They feature pets, quaint shops and cafes, coastal settings, the perfect combination for a pleasant adventure.

Sally Goldenbaum even included a custom designed baby hat pattern for knitting lovers, inside the back cover of the book.

I’m not much of a knitter, but I did pretty much unravel the plot to this story on my own, about three-fourths of the way through. Nevertheless it gave me a great excuse to mingle in my mind with those in the fictional town of Sea Harbor – what a lovely name. An award-winning photographer and a professional yoga teacher play prominently but that’s all I’m saying about the plot. You’ll want to spend a few gray winter days reading it yourself.

I’ve been to Cape Ann, and also set a story there myself – it was published! A unique place. The real setting and the ones crafted with artistic lincense.

Book Review of Something Borrowed, Something Mewed by Bethany Blake

Perhaps it was only because I’ve been lacking sufficient sleep recently, but I had a difficult time keeping track of human and animal characters in this topsy turvy tale, entitled Something Borrowed, Something Mewed. I enjoyed an earlier Bethany Blake “Lucky paws pet sitting mystery”. Loved the cute cast of people and pets and their interesting antics.

This one opens into a scene of preparations for Daphne Templeton’s sister Piper’s wedding. The well-laid plans are knocked off kilter when the wedding planner ends up dead in a fountain. Snowdrop, the murder victim’s poodle, and Socrates, Daphne’s Basset, tag along with pet sitter Daphne through the days following the incident, riding in her old VW Van as the murder plot is unraveled.

A lover of pets and old hippie vans, that’s one of my favorite features of these stories. Tinkleston, Daphne’s “catastrophe prone cat” in her own words, plays a role in the tale too.

A surprise romantic event awaits at the close of the story. (No peeking). One thing is certain; you’ll never suffer boredom as you venture through this book’s pages, but you’d better stay on your toes to keep track of the happenings.

There are bonus recipes for tasty treats at the back of the book that will tempt your pets. (There’s one for people too.)       

Check it out if you’re seeking a fun and quite eventful read, or a gift for a pet lover on your list.    

Book Review of Hitting the Books by Jenn McKinlay

Just finished Hitting the Books – Jenn McKinlay’s great title. Yes the title is great – reminding us this book is an installment in the library lover’s mystery series – but so is the story. . .

My emotions are still roller-coastering following the nail-biting drama of several scenes where main character, librarian Lindsey Norris, her significant other, and law enforcement friends, not to mention her beloved canine, Heathcliff, are threatened with death at the hands of . . . well I won’t give away the suspects’ identities . . .

If you enjoy romance, sleuthing, libraries, threats of danger, happy endings – not for everyone, but for the main characters. This could be your next enjoyable read.

And the bonus is – there is inspiration at the end, for planning your own “crafternoon” – a book discussion get together featuring a light gourmet meal and a fun, easy craft project. – Plus even a snipped of Jenn’s latest contemporary romance tale.

Jenn McKinlay is a fluent author with four great series’ under her belt. Wow, that’s impressive. I’m still working on my first . . . along with reading everyone else’s stories and other responsibilities. . .

Book Review of A Fatal Fiction by Kaitlyn Dunnett

Mikki Lincoln, seventy year old retired junior high school teacher turned freelance editor is making her life exciting by investigating a murder again. The scariest part of A Fatal Fiction for me was when she jumps from a seven foot high roof in order to “escape” her nephew’s detection.

(You have to read the story to find out why.)

Lenape Hollow, in the Catskill area of New York state is the setting. It’s Mikki’s hometown, where she’s spending her later years, after moving back from Maine. A dispute over a long-closed resort is the focus of much of the story, the setting for some of the scenes relating to the murder mystery.

Mikki is editing the memoirs of the elderly daughter of the proprietor of the resort back in its heydey, when an array of famous people stayed there. I’m not sure the previous sentence is grammatically correct, but I’m sure Mikki – or Kaitlyn Dunnett . . . could tell me.

The trivia regarding grammar at the end of the book was a treat. This is the third mystery in the “Deadly Edits” series.

I enjoyed reading the detaiils of Mikki’s mundane but satisfying lifestyle, as well as the complex plot structure and the dramatic conclusion.

The cover of this copy is lovely too – books in prettily bound covers on a shelf, with an inset featuring Calpurnia, Mikki’s calico cat eying birds outside, against a background of purple Catskill Mountains and the lovely hues of the sky above them. In the foreground, manuscript pages flutter onto a table.

Looks like a perfect setting to me. I must get back to my “in process” cozy mystery manuscript. So many writing projects, so little time. . .

Book Review of A Deadly Inside Scoop by Abby Colette

This cozy mystery is from an author new to me. Abby Colette is a Cleveland, Ohio native and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of other mystery series’ but it was the title A Deadly Inside Scoop which intrigued me as it features a Chagrin Falls, Ohio ice cream shop.

A fictional shop, that is, but the town is a real place in the Northeastern Ohio snow-belt. Hailing from Ohio, that’s an area where I’ve always thought I’d like to live, for six months of the year, or if I was retired and didn’t have to go anywhere during the remainder.

But I digress. The book follows the classic process of a typical cozy. It begins with a day featuring details of the heroine, Bronwyn Crewse’s takeover of the historic family ice cream shop; her attempt to modernize the enterprise, which means taking in back to its roots of specializing in the title product, featuring flavors never imagined by its original proprietors.

Bronwyn is an unmarried, childless business major who left a successful career to be near her grandfather, parents and brothers and to save the heritage business.

The first day morphs into a stressful night as Bronwyn stays at the shop brainstorming ways to successfully launch a frozen treat business during a premature October blizzard. The discovery of a murder victim makes the night even more ominous.

A complex mix of suspects keeps readers on their toes through the body of the story featuring dramas involved in running a food business and solving the murder mystery in order to exonerate one of Bronwyn’s family members.   

The story closes with a nail-biting close call for Bronwyn and a friend who assists her in the final act of the murder investigation.

Grandma Kay’s Snow Ice Cream and several other recipes for frozen treats are included as a bonus at the book’s closing.

Oh, and I can’t forget – who could turn down a cozy featuring a cute white cat who is the ice cream shop mascot? Don’t tell the health department.

Book Review of Whiskers in the Dark – By Rita Mae Brown

I’m ready to head to Roseland, Georgia to hit the garage sales with Emma Madison. Emma debuts as a jewelry designer and amateur sleuth in this first book of what I hope will be a long-running cozy mystery series by Angela McRae.

Emeralds and Envy is a story of a jewelry artist who comes up with unique creations by combining vintage jewelry components with modern craft store beads and baubles and original accents.

Roseland is an interesting town featuring an eclectic mix of shops and eateries.

Other than her friend Jen, who is still employed in the newspaper business (Emma was formerly a reporter), Emma’s friends are other artists and vintage merchants who appreciate modern takes on classic style – a concept I wholeheartedly support in my own life and writing projects. (I actually dabbled in discovering and reselling mid-twentieth-century jewelry for a time, so appreciate many of the authentic details.)

Love the fact that Emma’s cat is named after a famous jewelry designer.

The plot follows the proper form for a cozy mystery. I was hooked from the first page and the writing flowed consistent throughout. The red herrings had me stumped. I was completely unsure of the identity of the murderer until the reveal, during a scene which had me on the edge of my seat.

There’s a hint of a possible budding romance, or at least a fond friendship, for Emma, with an attractive male artist. Perhaps that background plot might continue in a next edition of the “Junkin’ Jewelry Mysteries” along with more details about the feline Miriam Haskell?

Andrea McRae is a skilled writer whose voice is perfect for this lighthearted, entertaining, classic cozy.

Emeralds and Envy is great read for any season. I much enjoyed my stolen moments in the springtime sunshine with this one.