Banana Nut & Murder: An Oceanside Cozy Mystery – Book 36 By Susan Gillard

Banana Nut & Murder: An Oceanside Cozy Mystery – Book 36 By Susan Gillard

It was a miracle. Heather Shepherd and her best pal, Amy Givens, actually had a little bit of spare time on their hands. Donut Delights was practically running on it’s own with all of Heather’s assistants rocking and rolling and baking the donuts. Best of all, there weren’t any recent murders in Key West, Florida so when their older friends Eva, Leila, and Vincent asked them to look into some robberies at the Sunny Shores Retirement Home, the two bakers/P.I.’s were glad to help out.

Joy Cromwell, a friend of Eva and Leila, live at the retirement home and she recently discovered that some of her jewelry and money had been stolen. The same thing had also happened to a few other women living at the home so Heather and Amy decided to help out and find the thief.

When the two women got to the home they found Joy and asked her and some other residents some questions and Amy, joking around, said that the gardener was the thief. That joke was far from funny because the Heather and Amy soon found the gardener, Grant Jenkins, dead, hit over the head with a garden hoe.

Mr. Jenkins worked at the retirement home for seven years and was very well liked by the people who lived there. He did his best to plant the types of flowers that had the different colors that the residents liked. Basically, the gardener had no enemies. The only reason Heather could think of as to why he was killed was that he saw the thief and was murdered because of that.

The Sunny Shores Retirement Home was also a hot bed for romance. Lots of the residents would get together for some innocent adult mischief and not all the romance involved just residents. Vincent’s twin brother, Vernon, visited the home multiple times a week to spread some sunshine to the ladies living there. But every time Vernon was visited money or jewelry were reported missing. Was it any wonder that Vernon was now the prime suspect in this case?

Vernon swore he didn’t steal or hurt anyone, except for the hearts of some of the women, and Vernon’s brother, Vincent didn’t see his twin as a murderer or a thief.

So who killed the gardener and who stole the money and jewels? Did just one person do this or were two people involved? Heather and Amy are on the case looking for clues.

“Banana Nut & Murder” is the 36th installment of author Susan Gillard’s Oceanside Cozy Mystery Series. It’s a fun read with all the usual characters around. Heather’s newest donut, Banana Nut, helps her make friends with all the suspects she interrogates. How could anyone lie with a mouth full of a yummy donut treat?

The only problem I have is that he book needs more editing. Not that you can’t read the story but the problems are distracting and slows down the reading pace.

Other than that “Banana Nut & Murder” is a good book for all cozy lovers. Another gem in the Oceanside Series collection.

“I received an ARC of this book prior to publication and I voluntarily review it and my opinions are my own.”

To see other reviews of Susan Gillard’s books please go to Susan’s page on my blog.

Banana nut murded


Charmed Bones (Sarah Booth Delaney #18) By Carolyn Haines

Charmed Bones (Sarah Booth Delaney #18) By Carolyn Haines

All Sarah Booth Delaney wanted to do was sit at home and watch her favorite movie for the upteenth time, “The Wizard of Oz.” We can all dream but dreams rarely come true so when her good friend and partner in the Delaney Detective Agency, Tinkie Richmond, called and told Sarah Booth to meet her at the Sunflower County Board of Education meeting Sarah Booth hightailed it out of the house and left her movie for later.

The Board of Education meeting was in high gear. Three sisters, Faith, Hope, and Charity Harrington, were going to open a new boarding school in Sunflower County, Mississippi. Not a problem really except that the sisters were witches and they and their school were not welcomed in the community. But the school was already approved and no one was going to stop the sisters from opening their new educational institute. Oh, but people were going to try.

Kitten Fontana hired Sarah Booth and Tinkie to investigate the witches. The woman believed that the sisters kidnapped her son, Corey, and she needed Sarah Booth to look into that. But Sarah Booth and Tinkie didn’t put it past Kitten to lie about her son’s abduction just to cause more problems. Kitten and her husband, Bob, also wanted the land where the school was going to be so they could open their own lucrative business. But did they want the land so much that they’d kill for it because suddenly people were being murdered right and left.

The thought of a wiccan school brought in lots of outsiders to Sunflower County including a gossip journalist who also happens to be friends with Kitten. And others from wiccan community were visiting too and both sides are at odds with each other.

And what is happening to Sarah Booth’s cat, Pluto? Is he suddenly King of the Cats with powers of his own? Some strange things are going on in Sunflower County. Even Tinkie and Sarah Booth have hopes that some good magic will help them in their personal lives.

Lots of magic, both good and bad, are at play here and all Sarah Booth and Tinkie can do is to hope that, with their help, good overcomes evil.

Charmed Bones” is author Carolyn Haines’ 18th installment of her fabulous Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery Series. I’ve read every book and this one is the best in the series. I think I might have thought that book 17 was the best in the series too but that only proves that each book gets better and better.

There’s lots of magical things going on here: witches, ghosts, murder, lots of seemingly magical cats, incantations, spells, hidden tunnels, history, books, love, babies, movies, friendship –  you name it it’s here.

Nothing so scary that will keep you up at night unless you have to keep reading to finish a chapter during the early morning hours.

What I like best about author Carolyn Haines is not just all her terrific series but Ms. Haines is very knowledgeable. She knows history, books, music, movies and includes all of these in every novel she writes. You always learn something new when you read something she’s written.

The Sarah Booth Delaney books are on the top of my favorite series. I cannot urge you enough to read them. Even though the 18 novels are considered standalones it would be best to start with the first book and read them in order.

To see other reviews of Carolyn Haines’ books please go to Carolyn’s page on my blog.

charmed bones


Raspberry Danish Murder (Hannah Swensen #22) by Joanne Fluke

Raspberry Danish Murder (Hannah Swensen #22) by Joanne Fluke

Hannah Swensen is very upset. Her husband, Ross, cannot be located. She hopes he was sent to cover a story for his job at KCOW but she’s also afraid that he left her for some reason and might not return. The’ve been married a short time and Hannah was looking forward to spending the upcoming holidays with him, but where is he?

Meanwhile, one of Ross’ coworkers, PK, who was using Ross’s desk at KCOW, has been poisoned by some candy that was sent to Ross’ office. Was the poisoned candy meant for PK or for Ross? Hannah has no idea but she and her sisters and friends plan on investigating and finding out why PK was murdered and to figure out why Ross disappeared.

“Raspberry Danish Murder” is the 22nd installment in author Joanne Fluke’s wildly popular Hannah Swensen Mystery Series. If anything, this book is a little better than the last few. The story is pretty good and was fun to read. There are also some good twists in it and fans learn some new things about the characters. These character changes are a good lead-in for future storylines.

Basically the novel is about the same as the previous 21 books; there’s a murder, Hannah investigates, Hannah is almost killed, her friends and family help her out with her bakery shop, lots of cookies are eaten, and a load of  recipes of the tasty treats mentioned are included in the book just in case you feel up to some baking of your own.

Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swensen novels are fun to read, not violent, and fans are kept up to date on all the familiar characters. It’s a nice book for some lazy weekend reading.

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Mint Chocolate Crunch & Murder: An Oceanside Cozy Mystery – Book 35 (Volume 35) by Susan Gillard

Mint Chocolate Crunch & Murder: An Oceanside Cozy Mystery – Book 35 (Volume 35) by Susan Gillard

There’s a mutiny going on in Key West, Florida. Well, okay, maybe not quite a mutiny but the shop owners on the street where Heather Shepherd owns her donut bakery, Donut Delights, are certainly up at arms. A new store is about to open and it’s a bait shop. All the shop owners, especially Mr. Rankle who who’s the proprietor of Sun and Fun Novelties, are really on the warpath. Him and most of the other store owners are afraid that with the new bait store opening the rest of the street might start of smell of fish. They’re also afraid that some of the creepy crawlers will escape and wander around frightening all their customers away. The bait shop isn’t even close to the shore so whoever buys the bait will walk around and into the other stores on the street. No one wants their book store or bakery smelling like bait.

It seems like none of the store owners, even friendly bookshop owner, Bernadette, doesn’t want this new place to open. But Heather and best friend Amy Givens, although not really too thrilled with a bait shop so close, plan to visit the new place and give the owner a box of Heather’s newest donut creation, mint chocolate crunch donuts.

They arrive at the not yet opened store and find the door ajar. The two go in and get a strange feeling. Uh, oh. Heather calls out to inform the new owner that they want to say hello and share some donuts. No answer. The two women go to the back of the store and find a man lying dead  on the floor covered with a huge piece of wood where a giant fish had been mounted. The wall trophy crushed the man! Was this yet another murder in Key West?

Heather contacts her husband, Detective Ryan Shepherd to start investigating.

What’s really freaking out Heather Amy is that the store where the bait shop will open is the site of a former seafood restaurant. There was a murder at this restaurant when Heather and her friends first moved to Key West. It was the site of Heather and Amy’s first murder investigation where Heather was a suspect. Amy is sure that the site is cursed!

As the investigation proceeds everyone learns that the murdered man is indeed bait shop owner, Barry Banes. He just moved to Florida from Oregon and doesn’t have any family in the area.

Even though the city approved the bait shop his store neighbors filed numerous complaints about him and the shop, and now he’s dead.

At first Ryan, Heather, and Amy thought that the huge fish trophy might have accidentally fallen on him but upon further investigation they noticed that the rope holding the trophy was not ripped or torn but it looked like it was cut. Furthermore, there were blood stains a distance away from where the body was found which leads everyone to believe that the man was killed in one spot and then dragged under the trophy, the trophy rope was then cut making it look like the huge fish killed Barry accidentally. Oh, someone really planned this murder, but who, and why?

Could one of Heather’s neighbor’s been so upset with the bait shop opening to actually kill? Could it have been their good friend, bookstore owner, Bernadette? Barry Banes was not a very nice man. He came to Bernadette’s store, asking her out, and then said some very rune thing to her, like what his plans for her were. Bernadette was disgusted and told him to leave. Then he sent her some equally rude  messages. He also sent her a note asking if she was ready for their second date!

Bernadette didn’t tell the police about this because she was ashamed and thought she had done something wrong. Of course she did not lead the man on but she was embarrassed just the same.

Someone murdered the awful bait shop owner and Heather and her friends will get to the bottom of it.

“Mint Chocolate Crunch & Murder” is the 35th novel in Author Susan Gillard’s  Oceanside Cozy Mystery Series. I particularly liked this one quite a bit because Ms. Gillard gently brought up the recent real world issue of the #MeToo movement. Without preaching, the author let her fans know that her fictional characters face the same problems that real people do. After reading many of Susan Gillard’s cozy series this is the first time that she introduced such a sensitive issue. Not that murder isn’t sensitive but adding yet another issue to her book was fairly brave of her. All of Ms. Gillard’s cozies are acceptable reading for all ages, even this one.

“Mint Chocolate Crunch & Murder” is still a terrific cozy with just a tad of edginess. I hope the author continues to add more real life issues in her books. She does it tastefully and the subject matter does not get in the way of a fun cozy mystery.

“I received an ARC of this book prior to publication and I voluntarily review it and my opinions are my own.”

To see other reviews of Susan Gillard’s books please go to Susan’s page on my blog.

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Last Day For Rose: A Vineyard Winery Culinary Cozy Mystery (Midnight Winery Cozy Mystery Book 2) by Christie Waters

Zara Myers, owner of the Chateau du Midnight Winery in beautiful Mendocino County, California is excited about the County Annual Stompfest, the upcoming event her winery will be holding. Picture the great “I Love Lucy” episode with Lucy stomping on grapes. Zara can hardly wait for the public to join in on the fun and she and her best friend/winery assistant, Shelly Barker, are both going out of their way to collect only the best grapes for people to stomp on.

Shelly is also excited because her brother, Matthew Albright, will be coming in from San Bernardino to do a story on the fest for the magazine he writes for. Matthew moved to San Bernardino a few years earlier after a bad break up he had with his, now ex girlfriend, Emma Hart. He will be staying in Zara’s guest house.

Matthew makes his appearance a bit late but both Shelly and Zara are thrilled to see him. The happy visit soon take a terrible turn when Matthew’s ex, Emma Hart, is found murdered. Soon reports come out that before her death Emma was seen with her former boyfriend, Matthew.

Matthew swears he had nothing to do with the woman’s demise but the police think he’s the perfect suspect. They go Zara’s winery to take him in for questioning but before the police get to him he runs into the guest house and gives Zara a small box. He makes her promise to keep it safe and not to tell anyone about it even his sister, Shelly. Zara doesn’t want to hide information from the police and especially from her best friend Shelly but she feels that she has to hide the box as Matthew requested.

Before too long, Zara, Shelly, and Zara’s boyfriend, Daniel Haddish of Glass Rose Vineyards, discover some information. It seems like Emma was seen with another man just before her death and there is a tape proving it. Then when this man is spotted at the Stompfest Daniel recognizes him as his friend, Jason Hendricks. But Daniel is sure that Jason couldn’t have killed the woman because he was at sea when the murder happened.

Making things a little more complicated is that Emma used to work for the Mayor’s wife’s sister and the Mayor’s wife, Debbie Benz, is suddenly acting very odd.

Shelly also received an email telling her that she could get information that will help her brother if she meets with someone.

Well, the only thing to do is for Zara, Shelly, and Daniel to do their own investigating to find out what is going on. Why was Matthew late in getting to the winey? Was he killing his ex, Emma? Was Jason really at sea during the time of the murder? What is in the box that Matthew begged Zara not to tell anyone about? And is Mayor Benz’s wife and sister-in-law somehow involved with the murder?

Too many questions to be answered but the three friends will help solve the case, somehow.

“Last Day For Rose” is author Christie Water’s second installment of her new Midnight Winery Cozy Mystery Series. This book is better than the first with a good, solid mystery, and twists and turns. Readers once again learn about different wines and grapes and how running a winery works. Ms. Waters has done a good job in finding her writing stride here.

The characters are likeable and learning about all the events the winery has to do to get people to  visit are something I never even considered.

Do not miss this series if you like cozies, wine, and California. It’s easy to read, non violent, and a great book for everyone.

“I received an ARC of this book prior to publication and I voluntarily review it and my opinions are my own.”

To see other reviews of Christie Water’s books please go to Christie’s page on my blog.

last day for rose

Mint Fudge & Murder: An Oceanside Cozy Mystery – Book 34 by Susan Gillard

Residents of Key West, Florida are excited by the upcoming  S.A.N.D. (Sand And Nautical Debris) Sandcastle Competition. There are many categories but the big category this year is to make a sandcastle so large that a person can walk into it. The previous year sandcastle builder/hardware store worker, Mac Dugan, built such a castle. Everyone was so intrigued with it that now this became the newest category in the competition.

But things never went as planned when Mac was found murdered in the sand castle he was making for this years’ competition. He was found under all the sand with just his feet sticking out of the mound.

Police Detective Ryan Shepherd asked his wife, donut maker/private investigator, Heather,  to help him and his partner solve the murder. Heather’s best friend and partner, Amy Givens, was also going to lend a hand.

As the investigation proceeded they found out that Mac was hit over the head with a shovel and then the shovel was used to destroy his sandcastle.

The two P.I. friends started interviewing people to find out why this crime was committed. Mac was a likable man where even kids enjoyed talking with him. He was also a very talented sandcastle builder and won most of the categories his castles were entered in during previous years of the competition. But why was he killed? Maybe it was because there was going to be a $10,000 grand prize for the winner and someone did not want Mac to win all that money. Or there might have been another reason for his demise. Whatever the reason may be, Heather, Amy, with the help of Ryan, will find out who the killer is and the reason.

“Mint Fudge & Murder” is author Susan Gillard’s 34th book in her wildly popular Oceanside Cozy Mystery Series. The series is enticing, filled with friends, murder, donuts, and even some comedy. The author keeps her fans informed on the personal lives of all her recurring characters.

This is another winner of a book. Ms. Gillard should be commended for her dedication to the series and to all the fans that love her characters.

“I received an ARC of this book prior to publication and I voluntarily review it and my opinions are my own.”

To see other reviews of Susan Gillard’s books please go to Susan’s page on my blog.

mint fudge

Murder Before Moscato: A Vineyard Winery Culinary Cozy Mystery (Midnight Winery Cozy Mystery Book 1) by Christie Waters

Murder Before Moscato: A Vineyard Winery Culinary Cozy Mystery (Midnight Winery Cozy Mystery Book 1) by Christie Waters

Ah, the warm Northern California days, the beautiful evenings in Mendocino County, a cool breeze, a little wine, what could possibly go wrong with Zara Myers life? She recently inherited her grandfather’s winery, Chateau de Midnight, her close friend, Shelly Barker, works in the winery, and Zara will be hosting the annual Coastal California Wine Tasting Club Contest during the spring wine festival. Zara and Shelly were having fun trying to find the best wine to submit. Life was good. What could possibly go wrong? Famous last words.

A few months earlier a representative from Clideworth Inc. wanted Zara to turn over her wine business to them, which sh would be paid handsomely for. Some of her wine neighbors had already taken their offer. Zara did not want to lose everything just for the cash. Her grandfather would not have done that and she won’t either.

Now Zara is visited by Daniel Haddish of Glass Rose Vineyards just a few miles down the road. He wanted to know about the contest. Zara had no idea what to say since she thought the Club was handling all the details. Daniel got angry at her and said it was her responsibility not the Club’s and she should have known that before she offered to host the event. But Zara never offered to host it she was basically told that she would have the honor of doing it. What was going on?

Daniel told her to get her act together because the other winery’s would want to know more about the contest too. Before Daniel left her gave her a bottle of his winery’s vintage dark moscato but Zara was not impressed with the rude man and left the wine in the tasting room.

Okay, so far the day wasn’t going too well but nothing really terrible … yet.

An elderly man then came into the winery and was very particular in what wine he wanted. Shelly told Zara that she would help the man make a wine choice. Zara went into the back room. A short time later Shelly came into the room telling Zara that the gentleman was still trying to make a choice. When Shelly went back to the tasting room she found the man lying dead on the floor, like he’d been poisoned by a wine he was sampling!

The day went from being not great to just terrible. A big conglomerate was trying to buy Zara out, she had no idea what she had to do to host the wine tasting event, and now a man died seemling because he drank one of her wines. And now the police were all over the place? Would she become a suspect? Would her winery still host the wine tasting event? WIll her winery be closed because no one would want to drink a wine from her grapes? Would she ultimately have to sell? This is not what she hoped for when she moved back to California.

But things are pretty suspicious to Zara so she and Shelly do a little snooping of their own. First of all, were was that bottle of wine that Daniel Haddish of Glass Rose Vineyards left her? Neither she nor Shelly could find it. Did the older man drink that bottle? Was Clideworth Inc. doing something to her grapes to force her to sign over her winery to them? Was Daniel and his surly sister somehow involved? Were the other wineries sabotaging things because she was chosen to host the wine tasting event? Something very odd and weird was going on in Mendocino County and Zara Meyers and Shelly Barker were somehow going to get to the bottom of it.

Murder Before Moscato” is the first in author Christie Water’s  Vineyard Winery Culinary Cozy Mystery Series. It’s a nice shot at a first novel. There’s a murder, lots of wine talk, some suspicious characters, some good guys, and a perfect cozy protagonist who will not let things stop her from getting to the truth in a murder investigation especially if she‘s doing the investigating.

The book could be a tad longer and maybe more could be given in the plot. There were times I felt like Ms. Waters didn’t put in enough information about what was going on. But the author knows her wines and for a non drinker like me, I did learn quite a bit about grapes, wines, and the business. Maybe if the author focused on the plot like she focused on her knowledge of wine the murder/mystery would have been a little clearer.

Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed Murder Before Moscato” and will continue to read this series. For a first in a new cozy series the novel was terrific and I do believe that all cozy-lovers will adore reading about Zara and her winery.

“I received an ARC of this book and voluntarily reviewed it.”

To see other reviews of Christie Water’s books please go to Christie’s page on my blog.

murder moscoto