Reading Fanatic Reviews

Cozy Mysteries

Un-Familiar Magic by Belinda White

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Available at Amazon only
Free with Kindle Unlimited

Un-Familiar Magic*

Magic Under Wraps

I am so enjoying this paranormal cozy mystery series. It is definitely one that should be read in order. Amie is a very powerful witch even if she doesn’t have control of her powers yet. The power is dependent on the type of witch she is. In fact, her kind of witch is so powerful that if the council found out, they would force her to live in a box, so to speak, that would drain her powers, which they could then use for their own benefit. The choice is either to live in this box or be killed. So Amie and her family do not want the council to find out about her powers. Those who care about her are trying to teach her how to control her magic but on the down low. Murders, unfortunately, keep happening in this small town, and Amie wants to help. But, of course, if she uses her powers, the council will find out. Will she be able to help without bringing harm to herself?

I like that the author has created a delightful deep point of view for this series. Being in Amie’s head is like watching a friend muse about her day. It feels intimate and personal. I don’t think that is easy to achieve, especially in a paranormal cozy mystery. I look forward to the next book in the series.

Farmers Market Fatality by Sarah Hualde

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Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBook, Kobo, Mondadori, Angus & Robertson, and Indigo (Chapters)

Farmers Market Fatality*

Complex World of Intertwined Lives

This story is complicated for a cozy mystery. For one thing, we have four amateur sleuths to follow. Much is going on in their lives and the lives of their family and friends. The book is busy and fast-paced, but the murder isn’t even known to be certain until over the 40% mark—and this is a long book. Maybe the author was hoping to build suspense about the missing man, but when the actual murder in a murder mystery is left for too long, it doesn’t allow for much development of the murder plot. This is a long novel, so there was still some time for development, but I would have liked to have seen more. It is definitely a book where it felt like at the cozy aspect and the mystery aspect were out of balance, with lots of emphasis on the cozy and not quite enough on the mystery. Still, the intertwined lives of the people of Honey Pot were easy to get entangled in.

Pumpkin Patch Mystery by Lucy May

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Available at Amazon only
Free with Kindle Unlimited

Pumpkin Patch Mystery*

Another Excellent Visit to Charm Cove

I don’t know how many books I have read in Lucy May’s Charm Cove series, but I have found every one of them a delight. I love seeing a new book in the series pop up at my favorite book review site. No matter how busy I am, I have to pick it up. One of the things that I appreciated about this story was that the murder happened right at the beginning, before the 10% mark. It is definitely a danger with cozy mysteries, delaying the murderer or the crime and filling much of the first part of the book with a look at the quirky community that cozy mysteries always have. I have seen the murder take place as late as almost to 50% mark, though that is extreme. But having such a crucial moment in a murder mystery take place so late doesn’t allow time for the mystery to develop. But that doesn’t happen here. We’re two months past the Wicked-Good wedding, and the newlyweds are embroiled in the murder because the two girls that they had taken to a pumpkin patch found the dead body. So the whole gang gets involved in this murder, though it is apparently not magical in nature. The book had some good twists and turns, which I love in a mystery. The cozy part was not ignored either, and I enjoy watching the interactions of the Charm Cove residents. I like that the author is able to write description in such a way that she places you there in the scenes, but it doesn’t seem like it is too much. Another enjoyable trip to Charm Cove.

Treble with the Law by Jessa Archer

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Available at Amazon only
Free with Kindle Unlimited

Treble with the Law*

Mystery Fell Flat

I have read quite a few books by this author. She has put out quite a few series, and as I love cozy mysteries, I snap them up as soon as I see them at my favorite book review site. What I have found, unfortunately, is that Ms. Archer’s style is uneven. Some of her books, and some of her series, are spectacular. For instance, I love the series about hand lettering; if you haven’t read any of that series, you should check it out. However, this series isn’t quite doing it for me, and this particular installment of the series fell flat. I felt there was too much emphasis on the cozy and not enough on the mystery. That is definitely a problem with so many cozy mysteries. There does need to be a balance. The mystery in this one seemed underdeveloped and the resolution too obvious.

In general, I do like Ms. Archer’s books. I just don’t like this particular one. Obviously, I am not a reviewer who likes every book an author puts out just because I’ve liked a couple previously. Each book has to stand on its own merit. But I have enjoyed so many of this author’s books, that I am willing to give new ones a try.

Death in Dalkinchie by Carly Reid

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Available at Amazon only
Not with Kindle Unlimited

Death in Dalkinchie*

Tale of Death in Small Scottish Town Delights

Another delightful, but slightly murdery, trip to Dalkinchie, Scotland! I read the first book in the series, Murder In Bloom, and enjoyed it thoroughly. So it was fun to revisit characters that I had enjoyed and have a new mystery to solve! American Jessica is becoming more firmly entrenched in small-town life in Dalkinchie. She’s not only helping her aunt, but she is also doing some reporting for the local paper. One of her first big stories is about a big annual craft show. I actually quite enjoyed visiting this craft show through Jessica’s eyes; I’ve lived in a small town in northern California, and this was definitely reminiscent of what that can be like. Up until one of the judges is murdered, of course. I did receive an ARC copy of this book, and unfortunately, it is full of problems with grammar, punctuation, and usage. I hope this will be cleared up before publication, as it did detract somewhat from my enjoyment of the story. The book is well written in terms of plot and characterization. The author kept me guessing, which I love in a mystery. Even though the murder happened a little later than I like in a mystery, the author supplied such charming details about the show and was still able to develop the mystery well—that I’ll forgive her. 😉  I love this little quirky community that this author has created. Everybody seems to know everything about everyone, which makes it a lot of fun. The author has created the community of unique individuals that are fun to watch. If you love small-town mysteries, you will most likely enjoy this book.

Movies, Moonlight, and Magic by January Bain

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Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, Scribd, 24 Symbols, Thalia, Mondadori, Angus & Robertson, Indigo (Chapters), and Bol.de

Movies, Moonlight, and Magic*

Heavy on the Cozy, Light on the Mystery

This is the second book in the Manitoba Tea and Tarot series, and the second book that I have read in it. I will admit that I love the concept of this series because tea and tarot are two of my favorite things! I would love to frequent that little shop. I thoroughly enjoyed the first book, so I was looking forward to the next. The series revolves around three sisters who have magical powers, each different. Charm, the heroine in this book, is only just coming to understand and work with what she can do. She has an interest in the new Mountie, but a gorgeous friend of his family has shown up, making Charm a little jealous. A film crew comes to town, and their accountant turns up dead. Other issues come up as well, and someone close to Charm is one of the suspects, leading her to want to investigate to clear their name.

As in the first book, the characters and the relationships between them are a delight. The paranormal aspect is fun. Unfortunately, as can happen in cozy mysteries, the mysteries themselves seemed to take a back seat to the quirky characterization and magical worldbuilding. For instance, the dead body wasn’t found until about the 21% mark. As that is the inciting incident for a murder mystery, not a lot of room was left for the mystery to be fully explored. This is already a short book, so not much space is given to the mystery. The other “mystery” shows up quite a bit later. All in all, I like the world and the characters that the author has created; I just wish that the mystery itself was more emphasized.

Magic and Mystery Box Set by Lily Webb

Universal Book Link

Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, Mondadori, and Angus & Robertson

Magic and Mystery Box Set*

The First Books of the Series

I was a latecomer to the Magic and Mystery series, so I was delighted to be able to pick up the first three books in the series as a single box set. Zoe is a witch who has only just coming to realize the extent of her powers, and I liked watching her evolution. It is sure a bumpy ride for her. I enjoyed seeing, too, more of the backstory and interactions between her and the other characters. These books are relatively light and are easy reads. The author does a good job setting up a paranormal world, make it seem completely logical that magic is an everyday happenstance because, in the world of the books, it is. So the author has managed to make the paranormal aspect seem integral and not fantastical, which I don’t think is always an easy thing to do. Well balanced, nice set of books.

Beyond the Gravy by Mandy Morton

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Available at Amazon, iBooks, Google Play, Thalia, and Bol.de

Beyond the Gravy*

Cat Mysteries . . . Who Knew?

I was looking at books to choose to review at a book review site that I sometimes use, and I was in a mood for mysteries. I mostly read romance, but I do love a good cozy mystery now and then. So I just grab anything that looked like a cozy mystery. I didn’t realize that this particular one had cats as the detectives and a psychic cat! I knew that such a thing as cat cozy mysteries existed but had never read one out in the wild. I found the cat aspect to be quite silly but more charming than I would have imagined. It was definitely an unusual and interesting read than I would have imagined. The main detective cats had such personalities. And there was actually a mystery, too! An enjoyable read.

Listen to Your Art by Wendy Meadows

Listen to Your Art*

Enjoyable Characters but Mystery Lacked

I typically enjoy cozy mysteries by Wendy Meadows. This book does have the quirky community that one needs to have in a good cozy, and I do like the characterization for the most part. I felt this book lacked a little in the mystery department, and I found the end somewhat disappointing. For a paranormal cozy, it didn’t feel it was “paranormal” enough. I know that Mimi is grappling with accepting that she has any sort of witchy powers, but I would have loved to see that aspect of the book explored a little more. All in all, I still found it an enjoyable read because Ms. Meadows is a good storyteller and has a way with words.

Murder in Bloom by Carly Reid

Murder in Bloom*

Murder in Small-Town Scotland

Having visited Scotland last September, I could just about the picture what the author and the heroine described. A small town in Scotland just seems to be a perfect place for a cozy mystery. Lots of quirky characters in town, which you have to have for a solid cozy mystery. The heroine’s aunt is moving out of Edinborough to a small town to open up a small flower shop, and Jessica is going to help her out. (She’s been looking forward to a holiday since graduating from college and breaking up with her boyfriend.) But this being a cozy mystery, a dead body is found in the cellar of the flower shop, and who would be the prime suspect? The aunt, of course. So now Jessica has something more challenging to handle than just renovating a small shop and helping her aunt with it; now she wants to make sure that her aunt doesn’t end up imprisoned for murder. I enjoyed this cozy mystery and all of its delightful characters. I sincerely hope the author continues with this series and these characters. There is definitely some potential here. I am sure there is much more than this small town has to offer cozy mystery fans!

Disclosure

The asterisks (*) by the book title denote the source of the book copy.

One star = I received it as a free advance/review copy or directly from the author.

Two stars = I borrowed it through my Kindle Unlimited subscription.

Three stars = I purchased the book outright (sometimes for free).

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