Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Plantation Shudders by Ellen Byron

In Plantation Shudders, Maggie Crozat returns to her family's plantation in Louisiana after breaking up with her boyfriend in New York. The plantation, now a bed and breakfast, is full of guests. When two guests, an elderly couple, die within minutes of each other, everyone at the B&B comes under suspicion. Maggie must work with the town's new detective, Bo Durand, to find the killer and clear her name, while keeping the business going. As she investigates, she uncovers some interesting and mysterious information about her guests.

I really enjoyed this debut cozy mystery. The story is filled with lots of humour, a little romance, a little spookiness, and a whole lot of fun. I wasn't able to guess the culprit ahead of time, but that didn't really bother me. I certainly enjoyed all of the red herrings that kept me guessing until the reveal.

I really liked Maggie. She wasn't as flighty as some of the other cozy mystery characters I've read about. That was a bonus, for sure. When I found out that she was an artist, I was hoping that her art would figure into the story a little more. Perhaps the author could consider that for a future book in the series.

The other characters had a variety of personalities. Some were easy to like; others, not so much. Each of their backgrounds and possible motives were varied enough to make for an interesting read. I especially loved Maggie's grandmother. She was awesome!

I haven't been to Louisiana, but from what I've read and seen on TV, Byron represents the sights and sounds of Louisiana quite well. I'm sure those familiar with the area will get a kick out of reading about the area.

The book also contains a few recipes that might be fun to try. The one for Crawfish Crozat looks amazing, but there's no way I'm going to find crawfish (or a few of the other ingredients) here on the Canadian Prairies. Maybe one day I'll be able to find some suitable substitutes.

Highly recommended. I'd definitely read another book by this author and am really looking forward to the next book in the series.

For more information about this book, please visit the Crooked Lane Books website.

For more information about the author, please visit Ellen Byron's website.

Thanks to Sarah from Kaye Publicity for this review copy.

Plantation Shudders by Ellen Byron, Crooked Lane Books, ©2015. ISBN 9781629532509(Hardcover), 282p.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Kneading to Die by Liz Mugavero

In Kneading to Die, Stan, short for Kristan, is making a new start in a small Connecticut town after losing her high-stress PR job. Her new focus is creating and baking organic treats for pets. Her homeopathic/organic approach doesn't sit well with everyone, though, and when the resident veterinarian, who uses conventional medicine turns up dead, Stan becomes a suspect. Being new in town can be either a blessing or a burden as Stan is about to find out.

This was a fun book! The mystery was a little confusing, but overall it was a good story. Stan was a great main character. I especially loved how she talked to the dogs and cats in the story as though they were people. (That's what I do, too.) I liked reading about the animals, too, especially Nutty, Scuffy and Duncan.

Having said that, there were a number of things that I didn't like or quite get. I found the story a bit muddled, especially near the end. Also, Stan's theme song references were lost on me. A few of them were familiar to me, but many weren't. I don't think they added much to the story.

I thought Stan's relationship with Richard was a bit cool and was so absent from her life that I forgot who he was a number of times. It didn't seem like they had much of a relationship and didn't seem like a good fit. It was all a bit weird.

Another thing that troubled me was Stan's total reliance on homeopathy and organic measures to treat her animals. I don't want to expand too much on that, other than I think it can coexist alongside conventional medicine; not totally replace it. Therefore, alienating the local vet soon after she moved there probably wasn't Stan's best option. Granted the vet was antagonistic, but one day Stan might have needed her services or advice.

While this advanced copy doesn't include any recipes, apparently the finished published one does. Those might be fun to try out for those who have pets.

Recommended for cozy mystery and pet lovers. While I mostly enjoyed the book, I don't think liked it enough to read any other books in the series. It does appear to be quite popular with other readers, though. As I'm writing this, there are three other books in the series.

For more information about this book, please visit the Kensington Books website.

For more information about the author and her other books, please visit Liz Mugavero's website.

Thanks to those nice people from Kensington Books for this review copy.

Kneading to Die by Liz Mugavero, Kensington Books, ©2013. ISBN 9780758284785(Mass Market), 331p.