Friday, June 28, 2013

Two reviews in one...


HEARSE AND BUGGY and ASSAULTED PRETZEL by Laura Bradford. Books #1 & #2 in An Amish Mystery series.


Fleeing a high-stress lifestyle, Claire Weatherly goes to Heavenly, Pennsylvania in the heart of Amish country for a slower pace of life. She had only planned a short visit, but found herself opening Heavenly Treasures, an Amish specialty gift shop. Claire is settling in to her new life and making friends with the locals. Among them, a young Amish woman Esther, who assists in Claire's store. But Claire soon finds herself involved in helping with a murder investigation when the former owner of her store, Walter Snow is found dead behind the shop and Eli, the young Amish man Esther is sweet on, becomes the prime suspect.

 Detective Jakob Fisher has come home to Heavenly years after leaving his Amish family behind. But investigating Snow's murder will be difficult when no one from the Amish community will speak to him. So Claire offers to be his go between.

 Will everything Claire has come to cherish be at risk when she learns more than she should about her neighbors?


 Living in Heavenly, Pennsylvania and running her Amish specialty gift store Heavenly Treasures, Claire Weatherly has found the simple life she always wanted. But life in Amish country is disrupted when murder comes to town.

 Excitement over the guests staying at Sleep Heavenly, the Inn owned by Claire's Aunt Diane, has the town talking. Rob Karble has come to town to meet with the Amish community about crafting new toys for his company. Karble ends up dead after it's revealed he isn't planning to employ the Amish, but will build the new line of toys that they designed in his own factory.

 Suspicion falls on the Amish community. Claire and Detective Jakob Fisher begin to investigate. Will they find the killer among the quiet people?

I loved both of these books. Ms. Bradford makes Heavenly, PA a place anyone would want to live. Well, with the exception of a couple of murders that is. A wonderful job was done blending of the Amish and "English" communities. And I learned more about the Amish in these two books then in my decades of living near my local Amish community. Her characters are multi-layered, yet come across as very believable.

Claire is both strong and kind. She is a modern woman, yet embraces the plain and simple lives of the Amish. The way she investigates the murders is just right for a non-professional. Much more realistic than other characters in some books I have read.

Jakob Fisher, who comes back to be among the people who have shunned him, is tormented by the choice he made when he left. yet hope filled that he can find a connection with his family.

Aunt Diane is a good solid presence for Claire to have in her life. She is both wise and calming.

Esther is sweet and enjoyable. An interesting friend for Claire.

You will also enjoy learning about Esther's mother. Eli Miller, the young man Esther's love interest and his sister Ruth and older brother, widower Benjamin, who plays a large role in both books.

I've only been reading cozy mysteries for just over six months, but this series it at the top of my favorites list. I can't wait for the book number 3!

Friday, June 21, 2013

KNEADING TO DIE by Liz Mugavero #1 in A Pawsitively Organic Mystery

Kristan "Stan" Connor lost her high stress public relations job. It turned out to be a good thing. Now she can spend her time baking healthy, organic pet treats in her new Victorian home in Frog Ledge, Connecticut, the quiet little town she just moved to with her Maine Coon cat, Nutty.

Stan's new neighbors, there's a lot of pet lovers in Frog Ledge, are excited with the organic treat option that Stan bakes. Though not as thrilled as their pets are. But not everyone is into Stan and her organic ways.

Town vet Carole Morganwick is from the old fashioned school of pet care. She insist Stan brings Nutty in for a checkup. Not wanting to rattle any cages, Stan does. But she didn't expect to find Carol's dead kibble covered body in one of the exam rooms. As the prime suspect in the murder, Stan wants to find the real killer and clear her name.

From the entertaining animals, to some of Frog Ledge's more colorful residents, this was a good story. Stan is a enjoyable protagonist. I liked her from page one. We also get to meet Char and Ray Mackey who own the B&B and Alpaca farm "down the way", Isabella "Izzy" Sweet owner of the local coffee and sweet shop, and Jake, the owner of McSwiggs Irish Pub. I fell in love with Jake's big, energetic dog Duncan. And for cat lovers, Stan's Maine Coon Nutty rings true to the kitty world in his I'll-love-you-when-I-choose-to ways.

I was kept guessing as to who the murderer was as suspicions grew from on person to the next. It seems a lot of people had a reason to want Carol dead. I guessed wrong, never seeing the ending that was coming.

As is popular with so many cozies, Ms. Mugavero includes some of her organic pet food recipes, which I was very happy about.

All in all, a good introduction to a promising new series. I look forward to the next.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

My first review.....

A DEADLY GRIND by Victoria Hamilton #1 in A Vintage Kitchen Mystery series.

Jaymie Leighton lives in Queensville, Michigan in a nineteenth-century yellow brick house she shares with her sister Rebecca. Jaymie collects vintage cookware and cookbooks. At a local estate auction, ignoring the protests of her sister, Jaymie bids on and wins a 1920s Hoosier-brand kitchen cabinet.

Leaving the Hoosier on her summer porch until she can make room for it in her already over crowded kitchen, the last thing Jaymie expects is to be awaken in the middle of the night only to find a strange man lying dead on the porch floor apparently struck on the head with the steel meat grinder that was a part of the cabinet.

As the police try to find out the identity of the corpse Jaymie can't resist doing a little sleuthing of her own. Who was the dead man? Why was he on her back porch? Who killed him and why? The search for answers turns deadly as Jaymie uncovers hidden secrets of the Hoosier.

In this debut book in the series, Victoria Hamilton weaves mystery and history that will entertain readers from begging to end. Jaymie is a delightful heroine, keeping the reader in her corner. You get a real feel for her life in her little Michigan town in the house she shares with her sister Rebecca, Hoopalong her three-legged Yorkie-Poo and her green eyed tabby, Denver.

There are also great characters in the local towns people. Jaymie's sister Rebecca who buys and sells expensive china. Anna and Clive, owners of the b&b next door, Daniel Collins, the owner of Stowe House, Joel, Jaymie's ex-boyfriend and his girlfriend Heidi, DeeDee Stubbs, who sells 50s - 70s kitsch and TV tie-in merchandise online and many more.

Though there were times in this book that I felt the story was moving a bit slow, overall I enjoyed it. I was surprised by the killer, which is fun. And I learned much about a variety of subjects. I will read second book in this series.
 So, that was my first review. I hope it was helpful.