Monday, November 19, 2018

There are so many great cozy mysteries available from different wonderful publishers. And I love them all. But I have to tell you, I am crazy for

Check out my reviews of these 3 fabulous titles from


Book 3 in the Vintage Toyshop Mysteries
by Barbara Early

It’s all fun and games with toyshop owner Liz McCall until deadly secrets are unwrapped upon the eve of the holidays.

Who knew? Liz McCall is not thrilled when her boyfriend Police Chief Ken Young introduces her to his estranged wife Marya. The model-quality Russian immigrant, back in East Aurora to rekindle their romance, will be working as a hairstylist at the barber shop next door to Well Played, the toyshop Liz manages for her dad. When Marya offers to help with the shop’s doll rehab project, Liz can’t help but offer up only a weak smile, but her secret hesitations are for naught when Marya’s body is discovered in the barber shop with a hair dryer cord wrapped around her neck. 

Liz’s dad, retired from the police force, is asked to investigate since Ken is the prime suspect.The whole town is abuzz with the scandal and Liz has a few questions of her own, wanting nothing more than to forget the loud argument she overheard between Marya and Ken the night before. There could have been other motives… Was Marya going to cut into a competing hairstylist business? Who is the bumbling private investigator hanging around and why won’t he explain himself? 

All eyes are on Liz, including those of an odd matryoshka doll in the shop which seems to move of its own accord, to unravel this entertaining riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma that is Death of a Russian Doll, the third jolly Vintage Toy Shop mystery from Barbara Early.

Author Barbara Early has been one of my favorite authors since I first read her Bridal Bouquet Shop Mysteries written under the pen name of, Beverly Allen (you have got to read them!). But she secured me as a lifelong fan when I read the first of her Vintage Toyshop Mysteries, DEATH OF A TOY SOLDIER.

I was like a kid at Christmas to finally have, DEATH OF A RUSSIAN DOLL in my hands. I opened the book with great anticipation of the story to come and I was not disappointed!

In this clever whodunit, murder hits close to home for protagonist Liz McCall, which makes finding the killer even more important to her. It also makes for a super exciting read for us! From the moment the victim is found, until the killer is outed, DEATH OF A RUSSIAN DOLL held me enthralled. Well, that’s not entirely true. I was enthralled from the very first page!

Barbara Early knows exactly what it takes to entertain her readers and assure they will return to her books time and time again. And this book is written proof of that.  

Who needs toys for Christmas when you can read DEATH OF A RUSSIAN DOLL!


Book 2 in the Christmas Tree Farm Mysteries
by Jaqueline Frost

It’s out of the cupcake tin, into the fire for Holly White’s best friend, Caroline. Can Holly clear Caroline’s name in time to go caroling?

When a body turns up in a larger-than-life candy bowl filled with peppermints on the town square, Holly White is horrified to learn her best friend Caroline is the main suspect. Everyone in town, including Mistletoe, Maine’s sheriff, saw Caroline fighting with the victim on the night of his death. Worse, a custom kitchen knife, engraved with Caroline's initials was found with him.

Now, just ten days before Christmas, Holly’s up to her jingle bells in holiday shenanigans and in desperate need of a miracle. Juggling extra shifts at her family’s Christmas tree farm and making enough gingerbread jewelry to satisfy the crowd is already more than she can handle―and now she has to find time to clear her best friend of murder. Add in her budding relationship with the sheriff, and a personal stalker dressed as Santa Claus, and Holly’s ready to fly south until springtime.

But her Sherpa-lined mittens come off when Caroline is taken into custody. Can Holly wrap up the case in time for Christmas…even after she gains the true killer’s attention? Find out in ‘Twas the Knife Before Christmas, Jacqueline Frost’s second pine-scented Christmas Tree Farm mystery.

Somehow, I missed the first book in this series, TWELVE SLAYS OF CHRISTMAS. Now having read, ‘TWAS THE KNIFE BEFORE CHRISTMAS I’ll never miss another one!

I’m always a little leery to start a series if I haven’t read the first book. I need not have worried with this second installment of the Christmas Tree Farm Mysteries. Author Jacqueline Frost has a fluid writing style that pulled me in immediately. I instantly fell in love with the first three characters I was introduced to, and that was before I had even finished the first chapter. On and on I read about the wonderful town of Mistletoe, Maine, Reindeer Games Christmas Tree Farm, and all the delightful locations in this story. It was like holding a Hallmark Christmas movie in my hands! (if you know how much I love those movies, you’ll get what a compliment this if from me)

Now that I’m done gushing (maybe) about how wonderfully lovely things are in, ‘TWAS THE KNIFE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, let’s get to the mystery of the tale. It starts off early in the book with a body discovery so original, well, all I can say is kudos to author Jaqueline Frost. The story just keeps gaining momentum as the author leads readers on an investigation full of more twists and turns than stripes on a candy cane. Just when I knew I was getting close to an answer something new was thrown in that at me second guessing myself. The reveal took me by surprise.

I will be going back and reading the first book in this series. If you’re new to it as well, you can read, ‘TWAS THE KNIFE BEFORE CHRISTMAS without feeling lost. But I bet, like me, you’ll be grabbing up a copy of the first book as soon as you can!


Book 1 in the Book Tea Shop Mysteries
by Joy Avon

In the run-up to Christmas Eve, organizer of book-themed tea parties Callie Aspen and her lovable Boston terrier will have to conquer threefold trouble―a mysterious will, a missing heirloom and a dead body―to restore the festive spirit to their small town.

This Christmas, Callie Aspen returns to her childhood hideout Heart's Harbor, Maine where her great aunt runs Book Tea, a vintage tearoom where every sweet treat contains a bookish clue. Upon arrival in the fairy-tale snowy town, Callie is drawn into the preparations for a special tea party at Haywood Hall, the rambling house of Heart's Harbor's oldest resident, rich but lonely widow Dorothea Finster, who invited her estranged relatives, old friends and the elite of the town to make a mysterious announcement about her will. 

Believing they can touch a part of her fortune, everybody is determined to come, despite not liking each other or even their hostess. And Callie's old friend Sheila complicates things by using the tea party to announce her daughter's engagement, even though her daughter isn't sure she's in love with the young lawyer her mother thinks so perfect for her. 

Catering to people who each have their own agenda isn't easy for the Book Tea crew, especially once the valuable engagement ring goes missing and a dead body turns up in the conservatory. Can Callie and her great aunt use their love of clues to dig into the crimes and show their unhappy hostess and squabbling guests the true Christmas spirit?

Everything about this book called to me. The premise, the description, the cover. I knew I simply had to read it. With that being said, I a few reviews where readers didn’t care for a some of the characters. I love character driven stories, so this concerned me a bit. But I went with my first instinct and read it. I am so very happy that I did. Not only did I enjoy the characters, the entire book was a wonderful read.

IN PEPPERMINT PERIL, author Joy Avon’s debut novel (as far as I can tell) is a wonderfully sweet treat. I loved being introduced to Heart’s Harbor, Maine, and its residents. I was excited to learn more about them as the tale went on and I look forward to getting to know them even better in the next volume.

This was a very well written mystery. A true page turner with plenty of clues to keep me engaged in the investigation and wanting to get to the bottom of this whodunit. The author’s sense of timing is close to perfection when it comes to throwing in a shock here or there. The story’s reveal caught me by surprise. I really thought I had quest right on this one.  

Once again, I’m so happy I read, IN PEPPERMINT PERIL, and I’m looking forward to my next visit to this series.

Don't these sound wonderful?
You can't go wrong adding these books to your Christmas list. 

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  1. I would love to read all of these. Thank you for the reviews.

  2. Thanks, Lisa. I love all three covers and always look forward to Christmas-themed cozies. Happy Monday!

  3. So happy you enjoyed Death of a Russian Doll! Thanks for the very kind review!

  4. I still have to read In Peppermint Peril. The other two were great. I agree, Crooked Lane Books have some great books.