Showing posts with label cozy mysteries. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cozy mysteries. Show all posts

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Review of the Death On Demand Series by Carolyn Hart

The “Death on Demand” series acquired it's name from the Mystery Book Store [Death on Demand] owned and operated by the series' central character, Anne (Lawrence) Darling. The stories take place on a fictional South Carolina island (Broward's Rock) located off the coast of the mainland and reached only by ferry boat. 

I only recently discovered this mystery series and am currently reading my way through the entire series of 27 (to date) books.  I had seen Carolyn Hart's name in the library mystery section several times, but had never read any of her books until about 2 months ago. After reading the first book, I became 'hooked'. The characters are charming, the plots interesting, the reading 'light' with humor and good taste and downright fun throughout. 

Although there is usually a murder (or two), it is secondary to the stories of the characters who solve the mystery of the crime. By that I mean there are no heavy details (like blood & gore) to wade through about the actual murder. The descriptions center more on the characters, their backgrounds and the uniqueness of life lived on an island. 


South Carolina Low Country


South Carolina Low Country (Source: Pixabay)

The main reason I love the setting is the author frequently mentions island residents going into Beaufort or Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA, all quite easily reached after taking the ferry from Broward's Rock to the mainland. After having spent years camping at Hunting Island State Park just past Beaufort, having visited Charleston several times and having lived in the Savannah, GA area for nearly 20 years, the author's descriptions of these places is so familiar and such fun to re-visit through the pages of the books. If you have never been to any of these places in the 'Low Country' (a geographic and cultural region along South Carolina's coast, including the Sea Islands) you will find the descriptions of the area delightful).  


Death on Demand



Book One in the "Death on Demand" Series
In Book 1, simply titled “Death on Demand”, Anne Lawrence has returned to the South Carolina island of Broward's Rock where she spent many summer vacations as a child to take over her uncle's mystery book store she inherits after his death. The plot begins with a weekly meeting of island mystery writers at her book store during which one of the writers (the most irritating one) is murdered. Anne becomes the primary police suspect, but she and her boyfriend, Max Darling, investigate and solve what appeared to be a classic 'locked-room' mystery. 

As the Death on Demand series continues, Anne Lawrence marries Max Darling and together they seem to become involved in one mystery after another, often solving them with the help of several friends who are regulars at both the bookstore and in their lives. One of them is Max's mother Laurel. Laurel is often joined by two other older ladies, Henny, a former WWII pilot and former teacher and Emma, a mystery book writer who also  lives on Broward's Rock Island. Max and Anne also become good friends with the island's Chief of Police, Billy Cameron, who is a regular character in the series, along with his wife, Mavis and other members of this small island police force. As I read my way through the series, the characters become as familiar as my own family. 


(Source: Pixabay)
By using a mystery bookstore for her background, Hart has given her characters the opportunity to talk freely about other mystery authors and books. If you are a mystery story fan (as I am) you will recognize many of the book titles and authors mentioned throughout the series. 

Cats play a regular role in the stories too, with a black cat named Agatha (after Agatha Christi, Anne's favorite mystery writer) who lives at the Death on Demand bookstore and a white cat named Dorothy L (primarily Max's cat) who lives at Max & Anne's home.



Carolyn Hart



Author Carolyn Hart
Carolyn Hart, a former newspaper reporter born in Oklahoma in 1936, has been writing books since she left journalism upon the birth of her first child. Early on, women writers were not much recognized for writing mysteries, but with the advent of authors such as Sue Grafton and Sara Parentsky, publishers began to recognize American female authors in the field of mystery.

Carolyn Hart also has written two other regular series, the Henrie O mysteries which features a 70-something retired newswoman, Henrie O'Dwyer Collins, as she travels the country and the world, solving crimes that seem to follow her as she travels, and the very humorous Bailey Ruth Raeburn Ghost series about the ghost of a woman killed at sea who returns to earth via the "Rescue Express" to help her fictional hometown of Adelaide, Oklahoma while trying not to violate the Precepts for Earthly Visitation and adjusting to her powers on earth. 

In 2015, Hart decided that keeping up with all her series and characters was becoming too much, and decided to end the Anne & Max Darling series to give her more time for her Bailey Ruth series.  Instead, as Hart wrote "Anne and Max looked me in the eye and said, “Don’t even think about it!”, so (thankfully) Anne and Max returned. 

Today Carolyn Hart, author of more than 60 novels and one non-fiction book about Oklahoma,  today resides in Oklahoma. She is a delightful author who specializes in traditional mysteries, also known as cozy* mysteries.


*Wikipedia defines 'cozy' also known as "cozies", as a subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community.  

I would definitely classify Broward's Rock Island, South Carolina as such a small intimate community and Death on Demand as a very delightful series. 



Source: Pixabay



For more Book Reviews on this site, check out.



Quick Links:





Book Review written by (c) Wednesday Elf (2019)




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


FOLLOW US ON:

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Probable Paws Mystic Notch Series Reviewed

Revisiting A Favored Cozy Mystery Series

A guardian of magic, perhaps?
A few years ago, I reviewed the Mystic Notch series of cozy mysteries here on Review This. At the time of that article there were only four books in this delightful series. While looking for something new to read, I discovered that more books have been written since then. 

I had forgotten just how delightful the humans and cats were in this entertaining series of mysteries! Willa and her cat Pandora are still as fun to read about as in the other books of this Cozy Mystery Series. 

If you recall, Willa has inherited a bookstore from her Grandmother in the quaint and magical little town of Mystic Notch. Along with the shop, she also inherited her grandmother's Victorian house and of course the very intelligent cat, Pandora. In the 5th book, Willa is beginning to realize that there just might be something very special about her cat. Of course, Pandora is trying to be patient with this human of hers while trying to teach her the ways of communication. 

Willa still sees ghosts which is an ability that she acquired after a terrible accident a few years ago. The ghosts aren't anything to fear, they are actually pretty friendly. Willa would say they are more annoying than frightening. In Probable Paws, the visiting spirit is Adelaide Hamilton who doesn't ask Willa to find the person who took her life as most of the ghosts do. Adelaide is more concerned that Willa find a certain recipe book and make sure that it gets to Elspeth. Willa remembers that her Grandmother had mentioned this same book in her will and also wanted to make sure that Elspeth got it. What could be so special about a cookbook? Well, perhaps the recipes contained it might be a clue but I won't spoil it for you.

I will tell you that Willa is not the only person in town who is searching for that book. If you remember there has been a struggle in the little town for generations between the people who know good magic and the dark ones who want to exert their evil magic into the town. So, obviously some bad people are also looking for the book known as Betty's Recipes. There is another searcher for the book that Willa is unaware of. Are they one of the good ones or a bad one? Well, you will have to read the book to find out. Will the cats of Mystic Notch be able to help the humans?

If you read the other books in this series, I think you will want to read the fifth book. I enjoyed it immensely. If you have not read any of these books, I highly recommend that you get started. You will not be disappointed if you are a cozy mystery fan, a lover of cats and don't mind a friendly ghost or two.





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


FOLLOW US ON:

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Cree Blue Psychic Eye Mystery Series Reviewed

Cozy Mystery Series With A Paranormal Flair

Psychic Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
Recently I began a mystery series: the Cree Blue Psychic Eye Mystery books. I would like to give you a little review this morning. Most of our regular readers are aware that I love a good mystery book and that I am partial to the Cozy Mystery genre. I began writing my own cozy series last year so I am a bit partial to the genre.

This series caught my eye as I scrolled through my choices of options for a new series to read. First of all it is a set of cozy mysteries so, it won't be too graphic on the murder details and then the touch of paranormal intrigued my brain. The thought of a sleuth that had psychic abilities seemed interesting and just a tad different. I like different!

Well, I am here to tell you that I am not disappointed in clicking the buy it button for the first book! Kate Allenton, the author, has not made me regret my choice. Her premise for the setting and characters are fun to read. Cree Blue is witty, smart and a little bit on the sassy side. She is a modern southern belle who just happens to have the ability to "see things" whether she wants to or not. She would also just as soon that people not know about her gifts. She uses her unusual ability to see beyond the veil to help solve cold case crimes, not for money or fame but because she wants to help the victims and to get the justice their lives deserved.

Cree Blue has made me laugh several times with her witty comebacks and her descriptions of people and events. There were also times I found myself thinking, "You go, girl!". She is quite an enjoyable little sleuth to get to know as I turn the pages.

Because these are cozies there are not things within the plot that are super gory, no frightening spirits or explicit sex scenes. The couple of ghosts that show up in the first book are friendly and helpful sorts. They won't make you scream and throw down your book! There is a bit of a romantic attraction but not in a way that will make your cheeks turn scarlet.

If you like a well written mystery, the kind that keeps you guessing; then I think you will enjoy the Cree Blue Psychic Eye series as much as I am. They are not tomes so they don't take an extremely long time to read. I think that if you give the first book a chance, you too will become a fan of this female sleuth who has psychic abilities.



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


FOLLOW US ON:

Saturday, November 4, 2017

The Coffeehouse Mysteries - A Series Review

The Coffeehouse Mysteries - a cozy book series review
Buy the Coffeehouse Mysteries by clicking here!
If you love reading murder mysteries in coffee shops then Cleo Coyle's Coffeehouse books are ideal for you. Well maybe not the one where the caramel chocolate latte is poisoned, but.....

I do like murder mysteries - both the easy to read cozy mysteries (which Cleo Coyle's ones are) and the grittier ones by the likes of Ruth Rendell or Kathy Reichs.

The Coffeehouse books are a little different in that they involve coffee - yes a whole series of books that unite both coffee and murder, want to know more?

Let's review the series of The Coffeehouse Mysteries, be warned this could become almost as addictive as your morning cup of Joe!

Clare Cosi is the Star of the Coffeehouse Mysteries

A Coffee Lover & Sleuth Too!

Clare Cosi is the heroine of these murder mysteries and she works as manager (soon to be partner) of The Village Blend a coffee shop that has been in Greenwich Village, New York for decades as it was started by her ex-mother-in-law, referred to simply as Madame!

As well as being the manager Clare seems to somehow have a connection to murder on a regular basis and then wants to solve the case - her ex-husband (and soon to be partner in The Village Blend) claims she has a Nancy Drew fixation ........and he might not be wrong.

Throughout the book Clare shares little tidbits about coffee - making it, the differences between beans, coffee folklore and more. To give you some background Clare moved away from New York with her daughter Joy when her marriage ended and only recently returned to New York for the first book in the series - On What Grounds. During the time she was away she worked as a food and coffee writer so has all of this knowledge which gets sprinkled through the books.

Clare has a good relationship with her ex, but the man she'd like in her life is a Police Detective called Mike Quinn which is pretty handy when you're after details of a case as well. Clare also has a good relationship with her ex-mother-in-law who is also a little nosy and loves to help Clare out when she's trying to solve a case.

Reviewing the Coffeehouse Mysteries
Image from Pixabay, adapted by Lou of Lou's Designs

Why I Like The Coffeehouse Mysteries Book Series

The murder mysteries always seem to have a connection to The Village Blend Coffeehouse which could give you pause before drinking there ....... unless you like puffer fish that is. For those of you who don't 'get' that sentance then you need to read book #3 - Latte Trouble!

What sets these books apart from other whodunnits is the coffee. As I mentioned before sprinkled throughout the books are little bits of coffee trivia which I found really interesting. The trivia didn't detract from the story line, but it did add another layer to the story which I enjoyed.

To further seal the coffee influence with these books you'll find recipes from the stories at the end of the book. If you're in a book club you could recreate a Caramel Chocolate Latte to drink while you discuss the ins and outs of Latte Trouble to really get in the mood.

Who is Cleo Coyle?

The Author of the Coffeehouse Mysteries

Cleo Coyle is actually two people, husband and wife writing team - Alice Alfonsi and Marc Cerasini. They released the first book - On What Grounds - in September 2003 and now they even have their own website with recipes and a forum for fans - The Virtual Village Blend.

Cleo Coyle Books in Order

I'm linking to books here for you, but I should mention that I've been reading the kindle editions of these books and am thoroughly enjoying reading them that way.

On What Grounds (Coffeehouse Mysteries, No. 1) is the first of these books and it's where Clare Cosi returns to take over as the manager of The Village Blend.

I actually haven't read this book yet as I started off reading book 2, then book 3 and I haven't looked back! I will read it once I've finished the rest of the series though.


 Through the Grinder (Coffeehouse Mysteries, No. 2)
Through The Grinder is cool because you get to see inside the murderer's mind without it revealing who the person is.

In this book we also see Mike Quinn's jealous side as Clare gets herself a love interest who (rather predictably) turns out to be a main suspect in a rash of murders made to look like suicides and all customers of the Village Blend.


 Latte Trouble (Coffeehouse Mysteries, No. 3)
Latte Trouble is the third book in the coffeehouse mysteries and this time the murder hits even closer to home with the murder weapon being a poisoned latte poured by the lovable Tucker - can Clare's chief barista be a murderer?

This book could be the end for Clare as she's taken into the seedy underworld of the fashion industry and drugged, but wait I know I have more of these books so it'll turn out okay!


 Murder Most Frothy (Coffeehouse Mysteries, No. 4)
Murder Most Frothy doesn't actually take place in Greenwich, but at the Hamptons.

In Latte Trouble we were introduced to David Mintzer, celebrity restaurant owner, who was impressed by Clare's coffee knowledge.

In this the fourth book in the series, David has brought Clare, Joy and Madame to stay at his Hamptons' home to help train his staff up as baristas and of course this means that someone is going to be murdered while they're partying their way through a Hamptons' summer.


 Decaffeinated Corpse (A Coffeehouse Mystery Book 5)
Decaffeinated Corpse is the fifth book in this series and is the one I'm currently reading.

One of the interesting things I've found with this book is about how decaffeinated coffee is made because this book is all about a new coffee bean that is grown as a decaffeinated bean.

I was surprised by the first body that we 'meet' in this book (although it's the second murder in chronological order and the first wasn't a surprise to me), when the body fell onto the sidewalk I thought I knew who it was going to be and I was wrong which is always a good start to solving a whodunnit!


The following books are the rest of the series in order. I haven't read these yet, but will add a short description to them as I do.


  • French Pressed 
  • Espresso Shot 
  • Holiday Grind 
  • Roast Mortem 
  • Murder by Mocha 
  • A Brew to a Kill 
  • Holiday Buzz 
  • Billionaire Blend 
  • Once Upon a Grind 
  • Dead to the Last Drop 
  • Dead Cold Brew 
 Due to be released in April 2018 - Shot in the Dark

Do You Love Cozy Mysteries? We Do!

The contributors here at Review This often review books for you and I've found that a lot of us really enjoy a cozy mystery or two, in fact one of our contributors, Bev Owens, has actually published a couple of her own cozy mysteries which are awesome. 

So, if you want a break from the fast pace of New York (where the Coffeehouse Mysteries are set) then why not take a trip to Beaver Falls with Beverly Owen's Up cycling mysteries.

Here are a few of the other cozy mysteries we've reviewed for you..


Cozy Mystery Series ReviewMystery Series Review: Cats, Cupcakes and Killers
Author Sylvia Selfman has done just that with her Izzy Greene series in Cats, Cupcakes and Killers. All seven mysteries are published together ...

Cozy Mysteries and women sleuthsReviewing Cozy Mysteries and Favorite Women Sleuths
Like cozy mysteries starring smart, female sleuths? ... My favorite genre is mystery and right now I'm particularly attracted to easy-to-read cozy mystery stories

Mrs fix it mystery seriesMrs Fix-it Mystery Series Reviewed
A very enjoyable series of mystery books with Mrs Fix It as the female sleuth. ... I was a little sad when I came to the last page of the 15th book.

Reviewing The Mystic Notch Cozy Mystery SeriesReviewing The Mystic Notch Cozy Mystery Series
I recently read the Mystic Notch Cozy Mystery Series by Leighan Dobbs and enjoyed it immensely. It was pretty easy to get attached to the ...

Chef at the Water's Edge by Kee Patterbee - A Mystery ReviewChef at the Water's Edge by Kee Patterbee - A Mystery Review
A celebrity chef is found dead in a lake. Was it an accident as the police reported? Or was it suicide or murder? Can you solve the mystery ...


We're not all a 'murderous bunch' and we review plenty of other books too, but at the moment I just can't get enough of the cozy mysteries that are out there and I'm sure that you'll love them too.

 If you're not into the more grisly murder mysteries then the cozy mysteries are for you. I once heard them described as the Mills and Boon of mystery books and that made me smile because they are light reading and in general they don't contain descriptive violence (although obviously there is murder involved). I think of them as 'genteel murder mysteries' similar to Agatha Christie's books, but without the nostalgic feel of a different era.

Grab a coffee and let me know what you think of this series of books and don't forget to check out some of the other cozy mysteries too.


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


FOLLOW US ON:

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Reviewing Cozy Mysteries and Favorite Women Sleuths

Like cozy mysteries starring smart, female sleuths? You'll find ten series' starters in this compilation for just 99 cents!
This summer, I've found myself with a good bit of reading time on my hands. My favorite genre is mystery and right now I'm particularly attracted to easy-to-read cozy mystery stories (defined here by ReviewThisReviews' own BuckHawk) especially when the main character is a smart, likable, female.

Fortunately there are plenty of books in the Kindle store that meet the definition, so I never need to worry about running out of material to read.

Recently, I came across a package deal of 10 full-length novels called Sleuthing Women. Each book is a first-in-series cozy murder mystery featuring an amateur, female crime-solver, and written by a best-selling author. What a great way for cozy mystery-lovers to get to know a new author's style and try a series without spending a fortune on books they may or may not like.

Oh, did I fail to mention the price? You can buy the set of 10 cozy mystery Kindle books for a total of just 99 cents!

Last night I finished reading the third book in the Sleuthing Women set and, Bingo!, I found a winner! While the first two novels were okay, the third one was particularly appealing to me. I really enjoyed the story as well as the characters and can't wait to start the next book in the series.

The book that won me over is Skeleton in a Dead Space by Judy Alter, the first book in her Kelly O'Connell mystery series. The author has been writing for years, has multiple mystery series as well as historical novels and a few other gems in print, and is definitely worth checking out. I've already started book two in the series and I'm typing as fast as I can to finish this so I can get back to that.

While eventually I'll probably return to and read more of the 10 Sleuthing Women mysteries, for now my plan is to plow through Judy Alter's Kelly O'Connell series (I peeked ahead to some of the book descriptions and I like what I saw). You, on the other hand, might prefer to read all 10 Sleuthing Women books and then choose one of the authors (or several) to further explore. Because surely, if you like cozy mysteries starring smart, female, amateur sleuths, you'll find a few series' starters among these 10 that you'll want to read.

For less than a buck.

~Susan Deppner
Read more of my reviews.

Read More Book Reviews at


(Note: Prices are subject to change without notice.)



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


FOLLOW US ON:

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Mystery Series Review: Cats, Cupcakes and Killers

Cats, Cupcakes and Killers
Mystery series are always fun to read, especially when you can get them in a nice boxed set. Author Sylvia Selfman has done just that with her Izzy Greene series in Cats, Cupcakes and Killers. All seven mysteries are published together for Kindle and e-readers. What could be more enticing for a mystery story lover such as myself?



Cats, Cupcakes and Killers Starring Izzy Greene


This fun series is considered a cozy mystery series. (More about that coming up.) It's also an enjoyable romp through life with Izzy Greene, our amateur sleuth. The setting is a modern day Palm Springs retirement community. Yep, our Izzy (short for Isadora, of course) is a widow living happily in retirement. Happily that is, until murder comes knocking at her door. Well, the murderer comes knocking, followed by the police detective who wants her to just find a hobby. And one that doesn't involve murders, please.

In the first book, Izzy ends up with a companion cat named Sherlock. Really, that's his name. This ushers in pets as integral parts of the various murder investigations. Which allows the author to weave some extra humor in.

Cats, Cupcakes and Killers
Not that she needs extra humor. There is plenty around the cupcake and dessert loving duo of Izzy and her best friend and sleuthing partner, Flo. Of course, we are treated to decadent descriptions of these rich sweets. Enough to make a chocoholic like me go rushing to the nearest bakery. With chocolate cupcake in hand, or mouth as the case may be, I'm off reading the next in the series. 

Author Sylvia Selfman has put together a humorous premise for this mystery series. Every one is just plain fun reading. None of these books will ever win a Nobel prize for literature, but they don't have to. In my opinion, fun reading is worth it's weight in gold. (Not sure what that weight is, but it sure sounds good, doesn't it?)

Cozy Mysteries - The History and Progression


In the days of Agatha Christie, the term cozy mystery got it's start. It was meant to describe a mystery setting where a very limited number of people could be the murderer. A family gathering at the locked estate of the victim, a weekend getaway on an island resort, even a formal birthday party where all the guests stay overnight.  The victim and the suspects are all in a "cozy" situation.

Since that original description, the term cozy has come to include a broader use. It's not just about the suspects anymore. It's now applied to mysteries that allow you read them curled up on the couch for an afternoon. Instead of the suspects, we the readers are cozy.

Sylvia Selfman decided to include both definitions in her Cats, Cupcakes and Killers series. I have been curled up in my favorite reading chair enjoying the stories of Izzy's limited setting for suspects. Cozy mysteries from any angle.

My Word of Caution for this Mystery Series Review


It's rare for me to care much about a typo or two in a book that I'm reading. Proofing isn't all it's cracked up to be. And we know that we're all only human, we make mistukes. But, with this series, along with many others I have read recently, typos seem to be popular. Maybe it's the software that put these into Kindle format, maybe it's the authors themselves. Whatever it is, be aware that there are enough typos to cause you some reading stoppage. My advice - try to ignore them and enjoy the story. Typos included, the cozy mysteries are worth it.

Besides, the price is completely right. Ninety-nine cents for the complete series of 7 mystery novels. For that price, I'll forgive the typos. It's even better if you belong to Kindle Unlimited. So take a risk - not much of one anyway - and enjoy Cats, Cupcakes and Killers.





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.


FOLLOW US ON: