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
Oceanside Cozy Mystery 6 – 10

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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.

 

Donut Hole Cozy Mystery 58 – 60

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Doughnut Delights crew decides that it would be good to go to and perform some team building activities. Little did they know that a terrible accident would leave a member of one of the other teams dead. However, something doesn’t look right to Heather. So the team od Doughnut delights decide to work together to figure out who murdered the poor victim.

 

Well, that is one way to work on the group’s teamwork, solve a murder. I have never been a fan of one-day mysteries because they always feel unrealistic. This sadly wasn’t any different. I get that this story wouldn’t have worked if it was spread over multiple days, however, it still seemed a bit rushed.

We got to see a lot of the kitchen staff in this book as they all work together to find out who was the killer. Though, Heather was the one who did most of the work. Hell, even Ryan was a little useless this book.

It was a fine book to read but now my favourite of the season.

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After all that they’ve been through, or not been through really, Heather and Ryan finally meet Hoskin’s wife. However, when she is implicated in a murder, Heather and Ryan have to struggle to keep their emotions in check and figure out if she really is the murderer. Something doesn’t quite feel right as they trust her. However, the one good thing that came from this is that Hoskin’s finally that understands the importance of the investigative aspect of the job.

We finally get to see more about Hoskins’ family life. We have known for a while now that he is the son-in-law of the chief. That being said, he has always been lazy. This time Millie, his wife, is the one in the hot seat this time. This forces Hoskins to work hard to figure out who actually killed the old lady as he believes that it was not his wife. We finally get to see him grow as a cop and that is nice. I feel like it was forced as he is going to be the detective left in charge of Hillside while Heather and Ryan are away.

I enjoyed the storyline of the book and how the mystery worked out in the end. It was an interesting plot, that though I have seen something like that before, it was still really interesting.

I really enjoyed this book, it was one of the more enjoyable books in this series.

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Heather and Ryan are about ready to move to Key West just a couple of final things to do before they leave. However, when 2 strange murders happened in town, Heather is pulled into another mystery. While the two murders don’t look like they would be related, the victims actually were business partners. Now they must look into the potential of it being business related.

I’m so glad that I never have to hear about Lyle Clark again after this book. Heather wraps up her last case in Hillside before leaving to Key West. I will now have to start a new series after a bit of a break.

There were 2 murders in this book which was interesting. There were parallels between the two investigations as the victims were partners. Lyle Clark was heavily featured in this book. However, that was to be expected as it is the last book in Hillside. One of the murders was interesting as it was a poisoning, and I found it to be more interesting than the gunshot.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. The next series is also being written right now.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Murder + Vanilla Glazed Murder


 

Peanut Butter and Jelly Murder + Vanilla Glazed Murder

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Leila and Eva’s house is finally complete and to fill the last corner of the house they go shopping at an antique shop. However, when the owner is found dead the next day under suspicious circumstances. Though the police are writing it off as a suicide, Heather knows better and persuades Ryan to take another look at the body.

Hello, Lyle my old Foe, I really didn’t miss that character, but he’s back in his book again. I am not a fan of him, and there aren’t any redeeming qualities like there had bee with Geoff. I guess I can be happy that Kate is still quiet. I don’t know why those characters are in the series, to be honest, but I can deal.

The mystery was a little interesting. I felt like it was a little easy to figure out in the end but that’s ok. Heather and Ryan work well together in this book like always. There really wasn’t much character development in this book but I’m coming to expect it from this series.

It’s not a bad book, I just wish there was a little more meat to these books.

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Amy and Jamie have finally found their new home. They are settling in well together. However, when one of their new neighbours was found murdered, Amy has to meet her neighbours is the most awkward way possible. Can Amy question her neighbours while not getting on any of their bad sides while also trying to find out who killed the man?

This was an interesting little book that foreshadows what is going to happen in the last book in this series. With Amy and Jamie finally moved in together, Jamie is going to have to get used to Amy being pulled away from the house to investigate murders.

This murder was a little random when it comes to motive, and to be honest I don’t fully understand what the reason was in the end. It was just a little weird, to begin with, but then again so was the victim.

We get to see Rodney again in this book, which is nice since he kinda just fell out of the picture after his girlfriend was murdered in an earlier book. We also got to find out more about him and his family in this book. The character development was utilized well for the furthering of the storyline.

Overall, this was a good little book.


Funfetti Murder + Wild Raspberry Murder
Donut Hole Cozy Mystery 58 – 60

Funfetti Murder + Wild Raspberry Murder

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While helping out at a PTA event on Lilly’s request, Heather has a strained encounter with the president of said PTA. When she is found dead in her home, Heather must step back as she is aware she may be a suspect. Now Ryan must figure out whether or not Heather is a suspect and who actually wanted to kill the PTA president, not like it’s a short list.

Well, this was a fun book. Unlike in previous books when Heather is potentially one of the suspects in this book. She actually does volunteer the information to Ryan when she finds out who the victim is. We get to see the relationship between Lilly and Heather grow deeper in this book. We also get to see Heather work through her feelings after being confronted with not being Lilly’s biological mother. For parents who are busy, the worry that they are not taking care of their children the way they should is always a worry.

The murder was fairly simple to solve however, I wonder if the means of murder wasn’t thought through. I work with insulin needles daily and they wouldn’t fit through the cork. Gillard never specifies if she removed the cork or put the poison through the cork but the description of a “big” needle is wrong. My cat’s insulin needles are much bigger than my mother’s and it isn’t long enough to go through a cork.

Other than that inconsistency, it was a fun story.

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Just so that they can relax, heather and the crew when to enjoy a murder mystery show at a local restaurant. However, little did they know that they would find the valet of the night dead. Now Ryan and Heather must look into the past of the valet, as well as look into the past of everyone in the theatre group.

I enjoyed this book more than the last few books. This mystery had an interesting backdrop of a murder mystery play being performed the same night. The characters were a little more eccentric than normal, but we can typically brush it off to them being actors and actresses, so they have the flair for the dramatics. We got to see Heather and Amy untangle the intricate relationship web between the victim and the cast of the play.

I enjoyed the character of the Tracey Trigger, she attempts to work as an amateur sleuth but does more harm than good in the end. This almost plays on the idea that due to her not having any idea of police procedures she can contaminate the scene. This is also a little nod to the genre of cozy mysteries as the main characters typically don’t follow the law.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and it’s one of the better books in the series.


Banana Fudge Murder + Blueberry Stars & Stripes Murder
Peanut Butter and Jelly Murder + Vanilla Glazed Murder

A Donut hole Cozy Mystery 36 – 37

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So I realized while I was doing some back-end work on the blog and I noticed that I missed books 36 – 39 for this series.

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This book saw even more added stress to Heather due to a double homicide as well as the fair. Sadly Kate made multiple appearances in this book, and I still can’t see what she adds to the store. Geoff, though I found him useless, had some comedic relief. Kate just makes me annoyed the entire time she’s mentioned in the book.

The mystery itself was interesting and something new. However, it was also a little convoluted. Though the apparent dual was a nice touch, it was a little circular with everything. What I did really enjoy about the book is that we got a good back story to the victims as well as their families. This gave a little more depth to the characters in this book.

Overall an enjoyable read.

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It’s weird that I’m happy that Heather got a talking to because of her manner of investigating, but that is the reality of life. This was a nice mystery and the murder made sense. It was a little more difficult to follow the logic with what was given as clues, but it was fairly logical. I enjoyed the characters that were brought into this story. I kind of want to know more information about the older woman who lives in the building.

I feel like the relationship between the main characters are not being developed as they should, though that might be because of the focus has shifted to the victims. I really want the character relationships to be expanded on even more. Now that Lilly is officially their child. I want to know more about her, and see her relationship with her parents grow.

Overall I did actually enjoy the book.


Passion Fruit Punch Murder + Pecan Nut Crunch Murder (Donut Hole Mystery #34 + 35)
Raspberry Coulis Murder (Donut Hole Mystery #38) + Creme Brulee Murder (Donut Hole Mystery #39)

Blueberry Spangled Murder + Strawberry Sprinkled Swirl Murder (Donut Hole Mystery #48 + #49)

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After a horrible accident at a 4th of July celebration, Heather, Amy and Ryan get pulled away to look at the scene of the crime. They have to figure out if the death was a result of an accident or if someone had tried to murder the seemingly lovable man. But things only get a little more complicated when they find out that he had wanted to change his will. This isn’t going to be an easy

I enjoyed the book, however, as without a confession this case wouldn’t have been solved. Everything is circumstantial and there is no proof to point the finger at anyone. I really don’t like books like this because without the confession it would have never gone to court. I know there are cases like that in the real world, but it bothers me.

We got to see the other characters more in this book which was nice. Though there wasn’t much character development in this book, I still love seeing the ever-expanding characters in this book.

Overall, it was a fine book. Just could have been a bit better.

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When the speaker at a function at the newly opened hotel is murdered in his room in the middle of the night trouble start brewing. With only 2 keys to the room and both accounted for, they have to figure out how the murderer got in and out without the use of the key. Heather and Ryan have to figure out their own locked room mystery.

I have read many locked door mysteries and this one took an interesting look at the common mystery. I felt like it may have been a little obvious from the get-go, but then again… I read too many mystery books. I enjoyed the simplicity of the story. I have read some very elaborate ways for the mystery to work.

The world in this books has expanded a little more with the addition of the hotel. Though this was very focused on the mystery and we didn’t really get to see anyone except Amy, Heather and Ryan in this story.

This story had a really good base and I really want Gillard to expand her books. It’s ok if she doesn’t put out a book a week and give the books a little more meat.


Vanilla Cream Murder + Chocolate Peanut Brittle Murder (Donut Hole Mystery #44 + #45)
Banana Fudge Murder + Blueberry Stars & Stripes Murder