Oceanside Cozy Mysteries #1 – 5

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Heather and co. have finally made the jump and moved to Key West. While preparing the opening for the new store and settling in, the owner of the neighbouring restaurant is found dead. Tensions are already high as the people on the street don’t like newcomers, but after someone points in their direction, it gets even worse. Looks like Heather and Amy don’t get a slow introduction to key west, instead they are thrown into another murder investigation.

So at the last book of the other series all of Heather’s friends decide to follow her to Key West and leave Hillside. I have never seen a more noped out of making the lead character make brand new friends. I get the resituating the characters of a story can be difficult, but I hope that the characters can be used properly and they don’t just live in their own little bubble.

The storyline in this story does allow the reader to situate themselves in the new surroundings. We didn’t meet a lot of characters in the book, which was a little weird as they are in a new city. Apparently, hey only have 5 neighbours on this street, now I’m assuming that this is a very short block on a street because I’ve never lived somewhere that a street only had 6 shops.

The mystery was a little obvious I felt. I feel like it was more about getting a feel for the city rather than the actual mystery itself. We got to know the police a little more, one that Ryan will be replacing and the other will be his partner.

It was an ok book, I’m hoping the book will get better in the future.

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Amy finally convinces Heather that they should learn how to scuba dive. On Bernadette’s suggestion, they decide on Shelly’s diving school. However, when something goes seriously wrong leaving one of the employees dead, Heather and Amy are pulled back into another murder. They help the police with the case while trying to also hire new staff for the store.

So… where is everyone in this book? We get to see Lilly, Heather, Amy, Digby and a little Ryan. I know in theory the Jamie should be working to set up his own business, I’m just surprised that no one is even mentioning it. I feel like the characters that were brought over from the last book to make things easier, are being left out.

Though the mystery was relatively easy to figure out. I feel like, similar to the last book, Heather is being cut out. This causes a simple investigation to take longer than absolutely necessary. I feel like it has become less about the mystery and more about the tension between Heather, Amy and Detective Smith. This makes the story a little more trying than the previous book.

Given that this book series is set in a new place, I feel like they could use the location a bit more. I felt like there was a little disconnect between the characters and the location. As someone who has never been to Key West, I would be interested in finding out more about the location.

I really want this book series to hit its stride.

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Eva and Lelia have been keeping busy and have met a new friend at the senior centre. However, when her son is found murdered the duo turn to Heather. In the midst of her opening week, Heather delves into the past of the group’s newest acquaintance to track down a killer.

We got to meet a few more standard characters. I enjoyed how we got to get some character development with the new characters. However, due to her being in the middle of the investigation, it is a little bit if a cheat. I feel like Betty will be a good addition to the golden age girls. Yes, I have given them a nickname.

This mystery was a little tricky, but if you notice some clues and have random knowledge about gambling, it’s quite simple to figure out. I do enjoy the trick that was used in this book to add some dimension to the case.  This is the first time that I’ve seen it be used in such a way in a book recently and it was refreshing.

We get to see the family go out and play tourists, however, I really wish that there was more description of their surroundings. Hillside became so vivid in the last series, but now I can’t even imagine the street that they work on.

It was a fun little read.

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Heather is invited to the local bed and breakfast to work out a potential business agreement to supply them with doughnuts. The owner invites them to stay the night to see how breakfast works. Heather and Ryan agree right away if only to get out of the sweltering heat, that is their house. However, their stay is elongated when one of the guests is murdered at breakfast, and Detective Smith asks them to look into it as the guests might open up to them. So much for a nice relaxing evening at the bed and breakfast.

We got to see a little more of Key West in this book, well by a little bit more, I really mean the bed and breakfast. We didn’t get any descriptions of the surroundings. I feel like the area where Heather and the gang moved too is very flat. I don’t mind if writers use a place they’ve never been, which I don’t know if Gillard has or has not been to Key West, however, it just feels like a set rather than part of the story.

The mystery was something that we’ve seen before. Someone at the Inn murdered another guest very publicly, however, no one knows who did it. There are plenty of misleading lines of questioning that Heather and Amy track down. They eventually figure everything out on with some help from the police and the owner of the B&B.

This wasn’t my favourite book in this series by far.

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Halloween is one of Amy’s favourite time of year, so when the local Halloween cruise asks for them to provide the sweets for the cruise, they jump at the chance. Along with providing deserts, they are invited on the cruise for one night. However, when the guest of honour is murdered while out at sea. Heather, Amy and Ryan must figure out who did it before reaching land and losing all of their suspects.

So we got to see Ryan and Heather working together again. This is very similar to their one-day investigation from the last series, however, this time it’s on a boat. The way that the murder was carried out was interesting and used the surroundings and events well. I did like seeing Ryan investigation again.

I enjoyed seeing Jamie being used a little in this book than the other books. I wanted to see some character growth in this book, however, it was sadly not evident in this book.

I really want this series to get better in the future.


Donut Hole Cozy Mystery 58 – 60

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While trying to balance school, work and her family trying to marry her off, Cate’s life is never boring. Now with her roommate in the wind and a mysteries new man in her life, her life is about to become far more interesting.

I love Janet Evanovich, but this wasn’t the best. I loved the characters and I loved the signature comedy in it, but I’m used to her characters taking charge of the situation. Cate isn’t a weak character but she just gets pulled along with everything that is going on. Kellin is awesome, and a very good fit for Care, he’s also a very typical man in most of Evanovich’s books.

There is only one book, so I can’t even say that I hope it gets better as this seems to be a stand-alone book. On the upside, it is a quick read and if you like just a light comedy this would probably be for you.

I think I might just be a little spoiled with Evanovich’s new books as this is an older one. It’s a good book just sadly not one of my favourites.

Chocolate Most Deadly (Sky High Pies Mysteries #2)

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When Kate’s next door neighbour’s brother goes missing, she has no one else to turn to but Kate. Her past as a PI comes in handy as she drives to Denver and tries to find out what happened. However, suddenly he is also a person of interest in a murder that happened in the apartment. Not only does Kate have to find the brother but also the person who is trying to kill them.

Man, I’m so happy that I picked up with series. This book was so good. We get to see Kate working as a PI this time. There isn’t much reacting in this book like the last time, but rather it’s a chase and her actively looking through the case.

The characters were fleshed out a bit more, the town was expanded, and we even got more backstory to Kate. This time she deals with a detective from Denver and he gives Trent a little more backstory. Though Trent didn’t play a big role in this book when he did appear he was depicted being sensitive towards Kate and looking out for her back. Though it is obvious that author wants to get Trent and Kate together, she through another character in.

I am no happy that a second romantic lead has been introduced into the book series. I am over this specific trope in mysteries. That isn’t how people are in real life, so I don’t like how it’s incorporated into the story.

Overall I enjoyed it.

Bekki The Beautician Mystery 9 – 11

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Bekki and Nick have just returned from their honeymoon and are looking forward to settling into their life together. However, when Bekki receives a little bit more than shampoo in her order at the Salon, they get thrown into another mystery. With one of her friends on the hot seat, Bekki is determined to figure out what happened to the owner of the local shampoo company.

This was an interesting book, though the murder mystery was pretty easy to figure out, it was fun to watch Bekki try and prove what she thought at the start. I didn’t look into the science of the essential oils, however, if what was said in this book it’s true, there is some interesting science behind the story.

We did get a little more expansion to the city and surrounding. The factory of the shampoo company is a few towns over, and we get to know a little about the company. We also get to know more about Bekki’s clients as well. I must say though that Minnie is a very interesting character that we got to learn about this book.

I enjoyed finding out more about Bekki in this book and her background. We get to also see how she feels about marriage. As she did have commitment issues before the marriage, so it isn’t a surprise that they continue into the marriage. I would love to see her actually tell Nick how she feels but it will take a while for her character to feel comfortable with that.

I really enjoyed this book.

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When Bekki gets an offer to take a cruise, for free, and cover for a friend from New York’s salon on that cruise ship, she can’t help but say yes. With Sammy at her side, the take off to enjoy themselves, with Nick’s firm warning of not investigate anything while away. However, when a crew member was killed, Bekki can’t help but start putting pieces together, leading to a very dangerous situation.

At this point in the series I should be used to seeing Bekki do some crazy and dangerous things, however, this takes the cake. After how many crimes she solved and dangerous situations she’s been, you would think that she would be more cautious. Thankfully, Sammy was to the rescue and got the investigator on board to help out. The investigating part and the happening of information is pretty normal, but like how she shares with Nick, she should have done that with Todd.

The mystery was fun and interesting, we got to see more about what was going on with the murderer. It turned out to be a lot more complicated than what it appears on the surface. Though this book was essentially a culmination of what was going on on the cruise ship, we got to understand how it all began.

I enjoyed seeing Bekki and Sammy let loose a little bit. We also get to learn more about Sammy and her relationship with Morris. We get to see more about the dynamic between the two women and how Bekki seems to be the most level-headed one, most of the time. It was nice to see their friendship grow throughout this book.

I really enjoyed the book.

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Bekki is looking forward to her father and Nick getting closer to a day out of gold at the country club, however, when they find a body their plans get derailed. Now Bekki’s father’s friend is in the hot seat and he’s angry at Nick. Bekki is not only in the middle of the one-sided feud between her father and husband but also in the middle of Nick’s case even though she promised not to work on any of Nick’s cases.

With such an emphasis on Bekki not investigating and not working on the case, it felt a little off. There was a lot of tension on Bekki’s side about the fact that she was investigating. Nick does confront her, but I feel like there will be a lot more of these conversations in future books. I do feel like Nick and Bekki grew over this book and are settling into their married life nicely. Robert and Nick start to be a little warmer to each other throughout this book.

I enjoyed the mystery, and it was really interesting. This is the first time I’ve seen the conscious attempt at a framing job that nearly worked in this book series, in the previous book they were sloppy attempts. We get to see the background of the victim and the murderer suspect. It also expands on Bekki’s parent’s history and life. As you all know in love my character development and learning more about all the characters in the book. As Bekki’s parents have felt a little like placeholders throughout the series, it’s nice to see them actually being used in this book.

I am still loving this series.


Bekki the Beautician Cozy Mysteries 5 – 8

This Pen for Hire (A Jaine Austen Mystery #1)

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I needed a little break from Joanne Fluke’s books.

As a freelance writer, Jaine has written pretty much everything. When Howard Murdoch comes in looking for a love letter to be penned for a beautiful aerobic instructor who he’s never met. Jaine is reluctant but agrees. After Howard is found over her dead body and assumed the killer due to the letter. Jaine is determined to track down the real killer, even though the cops see the case is closed. Jaine ends up finding that the killer may be a little too close for comfort.

Ugh, I really wanted to like this book, I really did. This book reminds me a lot of murder she wrote only not as compelling. I get the Jaine probably felt a little bad about the fact that her letter was being used against her client. I get trying to point the police in the right direction, however, I just couldn’t connect to the character.

I normally enjoy a good amateur sleuth novel, especially one who is as involved as Jaine, however, I couldn’t get into it. I couldn’t connect with Jaine, not for lack of trying. How quickly she falls for the antique dealer was a stretch, even in these types of books. We got the stereotypical arrogant cop who belittles the amateur and then cozies up to them once the case is solved.

I’ll probably continue reading the series because I want to finish the books that are written together with Joanne Fluke.

 

Murder by the Slice (Sky High Pies Mysteries #1)

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After her boss was murdered in Chicago, and a few other life events. Kate comes back to town to take over her family’s bakery so her parents can retire. However, her old life and as private investigator follows her back to Cresent Creek. After multiple break-ins and threatening letters, she calls in the police. Now with her ex-boyfriend, Trent, on the case, things are bound to get even more hectic.

We have seen bakers turned amateur detective, but I think this is the first book that I’ve read that the main character is a Private Investigator turn baker. I enjoy how this book took a spin on a common trope in this genre.

Though I found it was a little easy to figure out, that was fine because this book was so heavily focused on introducing the characters and their background with Kate. Since the reader is dropped into a town where Everyone knows everyone else. It’s nice to have the back story. We also get to see what Kate’s life was like when she was in Chicago.

I love the simple writing style that was used in this book. It was a very good start to this series.

Peridale Cafe 1-3 (Peridale Cafe Mystery #1-3)

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When Julia finds one of her regulars murdered in her own cottage while visiting, she goes to the top of the suspect list. The new detective in town, Barker Brown, has his eye on her. Julia works to find the killer of the least popular woman in town before she pays the price.

Ugh, I’ve been having a lot of luck not getting books where the cop is a hardass at the beginning. Well, my luck ran out with this one. This is one trope in the cozy mystery genre that I hate. I’m sure as the series goes on he will become a much more likeable character as they all do. Julia was an interesting character, and I must say I do enjoy the 1940s aesthetic that she’s going for. She was developed nicely and allowed us to actually connect with her.

The story was the perfect one to introduce the history of the town, and introduce a large number of characters in one sitting. The English town slowly filled out throughout this book. Even as a Canadian, I was able to envision this little town in England. It also helps that I watch far too many British TV shows.

The mystery was a little interesting, there were a few twists and turns throughout the book. Julia actually took a lot of care while looking into the case, which is nice for a cozy mystery. I will say that though there was a curveball at the beginning, around the time that Julia figured out the crime so had I.

I really enjoyed this book and found it was a good beginning of the series… even if there was a nasty cop turn nice on it.

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Out of the blue Julia is invited to her father’s estate for a big announcement. However, when his wife’s brother is murdered at the garden party things goes from bad to worst. Julia is now in the middle of another investigation even though she promised Barker that she wouldn’t investigate it. How can she not? After all her father’s in the middle of it.

Barker was more likeable in this book like I expected. He’s very human in this book and very cute with Julia on the date that they go on. We get to learn a bit more about Jessie, the homeless girl that Julia took in, however, she is still relatively closed throughout the book. Julia is pretty much the same this book to last. We found out a little about her past, which gave her some depth as a character this time.

The mystery was interesting, I didn’t figure out who the murderer was until the very end. I blame it on me being too focused on one character throughout the book. It was a complex mystery with a large number of people who would want the victim dead. Barker is a little more open with Julia about the investigation though I’m not sure he should be.

Overall I enjoyed the book.

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Julia is faced with Jessie’s reality from before she came to live with her. Together they go to give some food and coffee to appease Jessie’s mind. However, when they find out that some of the homeless are being murdered they start looking into it. Julia and Jessie start looking into it when the police are noticeable ignoring all of the warning signs. It will put them in the middle of a very dangerous situation.

I actually really enjoyed this book. I do like how Julia is not very forward until the end but work on figuring out what is going on. Barker helps as much as he can, however, as it’s not his case, he can’t help out as much as normal. Julia and Jessie are relatively careful when they are looking into everything. Most of the information that they use comes from Jessie’s friends, and from the internet as well.

I did find out that the mystery was a little obvious to me, but I’m going to blame it on already seeing this type of murder style in a previous book. I still enjoyed finding out more information about the murderer, as well as their background. You get to understand why they started their murder spree which makes me view them as more human than most murderers in cozy mystery books.

I really enjoyed learning more about the town that the book is set in, though we all know that Jessie was homeless, as no other homeless people are mentioned it seemed a little odd. It helps build the world more, and we get to find out more about Jessie in this book.

I enjoyed the first 3 books of this series, so I’m excited to continue reading the next books.