Madam Tulip and the Serpent’s Tree by David Ahern [Book Review]

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I received a free ARC from the author. The decision to review and all opinions are my own.

Title: Madam Tulip and the Serpent’s Tree
Author: David Ahern
Genre: Cozy Mystery, Thriller

Series: Madam Tulip, book 4
Publisher: Malin Press
Publication Date: March 14, 2020

Plot

I was eager to jump back into this series again. It was refreshing to go on another adventure with Derry, also known as Madam Tulip.

While the plot of this was is unique from the others, there is a pattern with the books. Derry gets an acting job and something goes wrong and she finds herself deep inside a murder investigation. This isn’t a complaint. I think the overall structure of each book and therefore the series as a whole is well done.

Madam Tulip and the Serpent’s Tree has a lot of twist and turns within its pages. It keeps you guessing until the very end.

Characters

As always, this book has a great case of characters. Derry is a fun protagonist along with her friend Bruce and her parents popping in from time to time.

I even enjoyed the side characters and the antagonists in this one. They’re all unique from one another and from the books before it. The development is well done.

Writing Style

This book is written in the third person which is how I personally prefer mystery stories to be. The author’s writing is easy to follow along with a good amount of well-done descriptions and funny quips within the dialogue.

Madam Tulip and the Serpent’s Tree by David Ahern

Conclusion

Plot
Characters
Writing Style

Overall

I think this one was my favorite Madam Tulip book so far. The book is well-rounded in every aspect of writing a book, in my opinion. I would highly recommend this one.

5

Favorite Quote

The thing about issues is that as you get older, they become ever more dangerous.

David Ahern, Madam Tulip and the Serpent’s Tree

About The Author

David Ahern, Author | RachelPoli.com

David Ahern grew up in a theatrical family in Ireland. He become a research psychologist in Scotland and the Netherlands, before inevitably his genes kicked in and he absconded to work in television. He became a writer, director and producer, creating international documentary series and winning numerous awards, none of which got him free into nightclubs.

After stints playing in great bands, all doomed to obscurity, and writing equally obscure plays, he took to novel-writing. He now creates the Madam Tulip mysteries, in part as a tribute to the way actors never give up dreaming, but mostly to make himself laugh and scratch his head. David Ahern loves pretending this is actual work.

David lives in the beautiful West of Ireland with his wife, a cat, a tame pheasant, a clan of badgers and a vegetable garden.

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Camp NaNoWriMo: Week Three

We’re already nearing the end of this Camp NaNoWriMo session and the month, believe it or not.

Camp NaNoWriMo: Week Three | Creative Writing | Writing | Mystery | Cozy Mystery | RachelPoli.com

This was another good week for writing. In some ways, I don’t know where this manuscript is going. At the same time, George Florence and the Perfect Alibi is the best it’s ever been.

I’ve noticed a lot of differences between this draft and previous ones, that I decided to talk about in a separate blog post in the future. For now, here’s my word count for the week.

Daily word count

Day 14: 2,018
Day 15: 2,163
Day 16: 2,042
Day 17: 2,069
Day 18: 2,027
Day 19: 2,028
Day 20: 2,514

Are you participating in Camp? If so or if not, what are you currently working on and how’s it going? Let me know in the comments below and let’s chat. If you enjoyed this post, please share it. 

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Camp NaNoWriMo: Week One

Another session of NaNoWriMo is upon us. It feels like just yesterday was November and yet, at the same time, it feels so long ago.

Camp NaNoWriMo: Week One | Creative Writing | Writing | Writing Update | Mystery | Cozy Mystery | Novel Writing | RachelPoli.com

No prepping for me

I normally spend the entire month of March planning and outlining what I’m going to write for Camp NaNo in April. I didn’t do that this time though. One reason being that March through the entire world into a tizzy and things have been weird. Writing wasn’t exactly on my mind, but I thought about it once in a while. Such as, “I should really figure out how to tackle Camp next month.” But that’s all it was – a thought.

It wasn’t until the very end of March (meaning March 30th and 31st) that I really starting thinking about Camp NaNoWriMo. I knew what I wanted to write, but I wasn’t entirely sure how to go about it.

Preparing to write draft number… I’ve lost count

I guess I should say rewrite instead of write. I’ve been working on book one of my cozy mystery series, George Florence and the Perfect Alibi, since 2011. I’ve written and rewritten it so many times, I’ve lost count. Each draft is drastically different from the previous and I think I’ve finally gotten it this time. (Although, I think I might have said that about the last draft.)

I lost count, but I’m pretty sure this is the seventh or eighth “first” draft. So, I guess you can say I’m on draft 1.7 of the book. Sure, let’s go with that.

When it comes to writing a mystery novel you need to have the case solved yourself first and I think I’m going through the motions of investigating with each draft I write. Every time I write I get that “ah-ha” moment of figuring something else further in the case or I connect a character to another or something similar. Which, is a good thing.

With that said, I decided to rewrite the first draft for Camp this month. (I’m hoping this is the final “first” draft.)

During Camp NaNoWriMo

I have the series as a whole outlined for the most part. I’m sure things will change with each book I write and there are still a few things I need to figure out. I also need a solid outline for book one since it’s changed so many times.

With that said, my goals for the month are to complete the first draft, have an outline of the first draft (I’m working on this as I write), and have a clearer outline for the series. We’ll see how it goes. So far, it seems to be going okay.

Daily word count

April 1: 2,509
April 2: 2,340
April 3: 2,241
April 4: 2,055
April 5: 2,180
April 6: 2,049

Overall, I’m keeping my steady pace of writing at least 2,000 words a day, which is about a chapter for me.

It feels good to get back into the swing of writing. I hope it continues beyond Camp.

Are you participating in Camp? If so or if not, what are you currently working on and how’s it going? Let me know in the comments below and let’s chat. If you enjoyed this post, please share it. 

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Death By Eggnog (Bookstore Cafe Mystery, 5) By Alex Erickson [Book Review]

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I bought a paperback copy of this book at my local Barnes & Noble. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Book Review: Death By Eggnog By Alex Erickson

Book Review: Death By Eggnog by Alex Erickson | Bookstore Cafe Mystery 5 | Cozy Mystery | Fiction | Book Blogger | RachelPoli.com

Title: Death By Eggnog
Author: Alex Erickson
Genre: Cozy Mystery, Fiction

Series: Bookstore Cafe Mystery
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
Publication Date: September 26, 2017

Summary – Death By Eggnog

Krissy Hancock is staying in her adopted hometown of Pine Hills, Ohio, for Christmas this year–and she even has a whole week off from her combination bookstore-cafe. But a killer is about to dampen her spirits . . .

Unfortunately, Krissy’s been roped into filling in for a sick elf in the local holiday musical extravaganza. With a demanding director, backstage gossip, and two men in fierce competition for the starring role, it isn’t all sweetness and Christmas lights. Then a murder puts a stop to the production, and Krissy is faced with a pageant of suspects.

Could her ex-boyfriend, a fellow elf, really be the culprit as the police are claiming? Or will the actor playing Santa be trading his red suit for an orange jumpsuit? When her behind-the-scenes investigation starts getting dangerous, the only thing Krissy really wants is to make it to Christmas dinner alive. But first she’ll have to finish wrapping up this case . . .

First Thoughts

I’ve read the first four books in the series and enjoyed them. Besides, who doesn’t want a Christmas murder story in July?

Book Cover

I always enjoy the book covers in this series that slightly hints at the mystery but showcasing the cat.

Plot

Krissy is thrown into helping the local community theatre with their play when one of the elves gets sick. Not too long after she joins, the man who plays Santa in the play is murdered. Her ex, Robert, is the accused and Krissy is sure he’s not the real killer.

I thought this plot was well done with an interesting group of people. I enjoyed the theatre setting as well as the wintery themes. I had my guess of who the real killer was and then it turned out I was wrong. Which has a nice twist, but the twist seemed anticlimactic to me.

We spent so much time with so many different suspects – even having conversations with characters that didn’t really matter – that when the real killer was revealed, it seemed out of left field. Plus, I didn’t care too much for the motive. That also felt out of left field. Other than that, I did enjoy the overall plot.

Characters

There were a lot of characters in this one to the point that we don’t see Paul, Rita, Will, or Vicki that often. In fact, we didn’t see Death By Coffee, their bookstore cafe, much at all. Krissy was on a winter break from work, but still. I missed that setting as well as her co-workers, Lena and Jeff.

The theatre group was cool though. I enjoyed all the new characters that were introduced for the purpose of the plot. However, I still missed the older characters.

Writing Style

This is an easy book to read, quick at 285 pages, and an easy cozy mystery to follow along with. My personal list of suspects changed and the ending was a surprise, even if I didn’t care too much for it.

Death By Eggnog By Alex Erickson

Rating

Plot
Characters
Writing Style

Overall

Death By Eggnog is a good read. I think it’s a great addition to the Bookstore Cafe series and I’m looking forward to the next book.

4

Favorite Quote

“I took back every nice thing I ever said about him, limited as they may be.”

Alex Erickson, Death By Eggnog (Bookstore Cafe Mystery 5)

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Book Review: Death By Eggnog by Alex Erickson | Bookstore Cafe Mystery 5 | Cozy Mystery | Fiction | Book Blogger | RachelPoli.com

Death By Vanilla Latte (Bookstore Cafe Mystery 4) By Alex Erickson [Book Review]

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Death By Vanilla Latte by Alex Erickson | Book Review | Cozy Mystery | Mystery Month | Mystery | Fiction | Book Blogger | RachelPoli.comEver since café owner Krissy Hancock settled into a relationship and—mostly—forgot about old flames, life has become surprisingly serene. Too bad her father, famed mystery writer James Hancock, had to pay an unexpected visit to Death by Coffee and brew up a batch of trouble…

While caught off-guard by her dad’s presence, Krissy never dreamed he’d become the biggest murder suspect in town. But that’s exactly what happens when James’s boorish agent—a man he allegedly fired just hours earlier—is found cold and lifeless, a still-warm vanilla latte resting by his hand…

With Pine Hills divided over her father’s innocence and a fanatical fan keen on locking the author away for safe keeping, Krissy must end the madness and identify the real criminal—even if that means meeting an ex or two along the way. But as her social life becomes increasingly chaotic, Krissy may be caught in a case that’s far too hot to handle…

Author: Alex Erickson
Genre: Cozy Mystery, Fiction
Series: Bookstore Cafe Mystery
Publisher: Kensington
Published Date: May 30, 2017
How I got the book: I got a paperback copy as a gift from my parents for Christmas.

Book Cover | RachelPoli.comAs always, I enjoy the book cover. It sticks with the theme for the rest of the series and I always love seeing a cat on the front.

First Thoughts | RachelPoli.comI’ve read and reviewed the first three books of the series and I’ve wanted to keep going, so here we are with book number four.

Plot | RachelPoli.comKrissy isn’t in so much hot water this time around, but her father is. When her best-selling author dad’s agrent kicks the bucket, Krissy’s dad is a suspect. Now it’s up to Krissy to find the real killer and save her father’s reputation.

I think this plot is my favorite so far of the series. All the characters are well established and familiar. It was nice to see more of Krissy’s dad in this one as well. Plus, the plot was interesting as it was more personal than the rest.

Characters | RachelPoli.comI’ve always liked Krissy’s dad from what we’ve heard of him through phone calls on Krissy’s part. I was glad for him to play a major role in this one. Overall, I still enjoy the characters. Krissy still isn’t my favorite protagonist, but she’s eased up througout the series.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

Like the rest of the books in the series, this is an easy to read. The book is a decent length, the ending is wrapped up nicely, and it’s fun to follow along the characters and figure out the mystery yourself.

Overall | RachelPoli.comAs I said earlier, I think this was my favorite of the series so far. I don’t suggest starting at this particular book so you can get a feel for the characters, but it’s a great one to read nonetheless.

Death By Vanilla Latte (Bookstore Cafe Mystery 4) by Alex Erickson gets…
Book Review Rating System | 5 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com5 out of 5 cups

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Assaulted Caramel (Amish Candy Shop Mystery 1) By Amanda Flower [Book Review]

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Sometimes you need a sweet tooth to take a bite out of crime…

Bailey King is living the sweet life as assistant chocolatier at world-famous JP Chocolates in New York City. But just when Bailey’s up for a life-changing promotion, her grandmother calls with news that her grandfather’s heart condition has worsened. Bailey rushes to Harvest, Ohio, where her grandparents still run Swissmen Sweets, the Amish candy shop where she was first introduced to delicious fudge, truffles, and other assorted delights.

She finds her grandfather is doing better than she feared. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for a local Englisch developer, whom Bailey finds dead in the candy shop kitchen—with Jebediah King’s chocolate knife buried in his chest. Now the police are sweet on her grandfather as the prime suspect. Despite the sincere efforts of a yummy deputy with chocolate-brown eyes, Bailey takes it on herself to clear Jebediah. But as a cunning killer tries to fudge the truth, Bailey may be headed straight into a whole batch of trouble…

Author: Amanda Flower
Genre: Cozy Mystery, Fiction
Series: Amish Candy Shop
Publisher: Kensington
Published Date: August 29, 2017
How I got the book: I bought a paperback copy of this book at Barnes & Noble.

Book Cover | RachelPoli.comThe book cover is nice. It shows the shop where the setting takes place, as well as the murder. However, looking at the cover, it doesn’t tell us too much about the book. It looks nice, though.

First Thoughts | RachelPoli.comI searched the entire wall of cozy mysteries at my local Barnes & Noble. This was the first in a series I haven’t read before, so I decided to give it a try.

Plot | RachelPoli.comThis plot follows Bailey King, a chocolatier who is just about to get a promotion at work when her grandfather becomes ill. She visits her grandparents, possibly messing up her promotion, and ends up staying longer than intended – her grandfather is fine, but a murder occurs in their candy shop.

Thus, begins Bailey attempting to figure out the murder. This book is like more cozies where the protagonist, who is not a detective, plays as one and sticks their nose in other people’s business. Needless to say, the plot is similar to what I’ve seen before. But it was well done nonetheless.

Characters | RachelPoli.comBailey and her grandparents were great. I enjoyed going through the motions of the murder with them. Bailey’s boss wasn’t too bad of a character, though I didn’t care too much for her friend. These characters, overall, weren’t too bad to read from.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

This is an easy book to follow along with. The chapters are on the shorter side and the evidence, setting, and characters are all laid out for the reader. It was a tough case to crack, but it was enjoyable all the same.

Overall | RachelPoli.comThis was a nice introduction to a new series. I think I’ll be getting the next book.

Assaulted Caramel (Amish Candy Shop Mystery 1) by Amanda Flower gets…
Book Review Rating System | 4 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com4 out of 5 cups

Favorite Quote:

I didn’t see anything wrong with hoping for kindness in the world.Amanda Flower, Assaulted Caramel (Amish Candy Shop Mystery 1)

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Death By Pumpkin Spice (Bookstore Cafe Mystery 3) By Alex Erickson [Book Review]

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Book Review: Death By Pumpkin Spice by Alex Erickson | Cozy Mystery | Fiction | Book Blogger | Reading | RachelPoli.com

I bought it at Barnes & Noble.

Summary:

Bookstore café owner Krissy Hancock would rather spend Halloween serving pumpkin goodies than wearing costumes with Pine Hills’ wealthiest at Yarborough mansion, especially when the soiree shapes up to be more trick than treat . . .

As if a run-in with an old flame and a failed marriage proposal weren’t enough to horrify Krissy for one night, a woman is found strangled to death in a room filled with ominous jack-o’-lanterns. All signs suggest a crime of passion—but when the hostess’s jewelry disappears, malevolent intentions seem way more likely . . .

With the estate on lockdown and a killer roaming the halls, Krissy must help Officer Paul Dalton investigate each nook, cranny, and guest for answers—while also confronting a few demons of her own. Someone has lots of skeletons in the closet, and Krissy better tread lightly to expose them . . .

My Review:

Plot | RachelPoli.comKrissy finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation. However, this time, it’s not due to her cafe or the coffee she makes. This book has a Clue feel to it and I enjoyed it. A murder happens at a part and the entire mansion goes into lock-down as they discover who it is. I thought it was a good choice for a setting, even though it’s a bit over-done for a cozy mystery. I enjoyed it nonetheless.

Characters | RachelPoli.comAll the characters are still the same. Krissy is sticking her nose into everyone’s business, though she tries not to. She’s also torn in her love life between Detective Paul and her rich date. I’m still not a fan of Krissy as a character, but I enjoy everyone else in the book, especially her friend and co-owner of the cafe.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

This book, like the rest of the series, is an easy read. It’s not long at about 300 pages and the mystery is easy enough to follow along and try to figure it out yourself.

Overall | RachelPoli.comDeath by Pumpkin Spice was a good read. I would have enjoyed it more if I could get along with Krissy, but she did get a little better in this one. Still, I plan on reading the rest of the series.

Death by Pumpkin Spice (Bookstore Cafe Mystery 3) by Alex Erickson gets…
Book Review Rating System | 4 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com4 out of 5 cups

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Death By Tea (Bookstore Cafe Mystery 2) By Alex Erickson [Book Review]

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Book Review: Death By Tea (Bookstore Cafe Mystery 2) by Alex Erickson | Creative Writing | Cozy Mystery | Fiction | Book Blogger | RachelPoli.com

A bought a paperback copy at Barnes & Noble.

Summary:

Mystery lovers have descended on Pine Hills for this year’s book club competition, to be held at Krissy Hancock’s bookstore cafe. But the killer in their midst seems determined to outwit all the armchair sleuths and send Krissy to the remainder bin forever. Just before two dueling book clubs are set to square off at Death by Coffee, one of the competitors turns up dead bludgeoned with the silver teapot that was to serve as the prize. Suspicion immediately falls on Krissy, who was seen skulking around town in dark clothes on the night of the murder. To clear her name and find the real killer, Krissy turns to an old flame, Officer Paul Dalton. But even Paul can’t ignore the trail of evidence that seems to point in her direction. And with Krissy’s personal nemesis, Officer John Buchannan, working overtime to pin the murder on her, it will take an amazing feat of detective work to close the book for good on an elusive killer. . .

My Review:

Book Cover | RachelPoli.comThe cover is similar to the rest of the series. Trouble, the cat, is present as is the silver teapot, which connects closely to the plot as well as the title.

First Thoughts | RachelPoli.comI enjoyed the first book of the series, so I went out and bought this one.

Plot | RachelPoli.comKrissy’s bookstore cafe, Death By Coffee, has picked up quite a bit to the point where she and her friend/co-owner can hire two new people to work at the store with them. That doesn’t mean their work hours are any shorter though… still, they don’t have to been there all day long.

I enjoyed the plot of this book a lot better than I did the first book. A man is killed with a silver teapot in Death By Coffee. Krissy is the main suspect. The plot itself held a lot of stakes and tensions were high, which made it great.

Characters | RachelPoli.comKrissy, on the other hand, did not make it great. I always enjoy cozy mysteries to have the main character be a suspect in the murder mystery at some point. It’s cliche, but fun to read about nonetheless. Krissy just kind of ruined it though. She was annoying in the first book, but I was able to tolerate her. Despite her being a murder suspect, she was ten times more annoying. She was trying to clear her name, of course, but she stole evidence, lied and told people she worked with the police, made a fool of herself and everyone around her… it just didn’t end with her. She got arrested a couple of times, but I don’t know why they let her out in the first place… she should still be in jail for tampering with a police murder investigation.

Another person who should be in jail is one of the officers, John. He harassed Krissy to no end. He either should have been locked up himself or at least taken off the case. I understand it’s a cozy mystery, it’s fiction. But there were too many unrealistic things going on in this one.

The supporting characters were great, especially the two new hires for Death By Coffee. I only wish we got to know them a little more.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

Death By Tea is an easy and quick read at about 300 pages. Despite the annoyances, it is a page-turner. The mystery was a twister. I was able to guess who the culprit was before it was revealed, but it did take a while to get there.

Overall | RachelPoli.comDeath By Tea was just an okay read to me. If the characters were a little more developed and had more common sense, it would have been more enjoyable.

Death By Tea (Bookstore Cafe Mystery 2) by Alex Erickson gets…
Book Review Rating System | 3 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com3 out of 5 cups

Favorite Quote:

“My vocabulary suddenly took a break and left me sitting there like a dope, mouth opening and closing while I thought of something to say.” – Alex Erickson, Death By Tea (Bookstore Cafe Mystery 2)

Buy the book:

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Death By Coffee (Bookstore Cafe Mystery 1) By Alex Erickson [Book Review]

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Book Review: Death By Coffee (Bookstore Cafe Mystery 1) by Alex Erickson | Cozy Mystery | Book Blog | Fiction | Reading | RachelPoli.com

I bought a paperback copy at Barnes & Noble.

Summary:

When Krissy Hancock and her best friend Vicki decide to open a bookstore café in their new town of Pine Hills, they decide to call it “Death by Coffee,” after Krissy’s father’s most famous mystery novel. Little do they know how well the name fits…

On their very first day of business, Brendon Lawyer huffily takes his coffee…to the grave. It seems he had a severe allergy to peanuts…but how could there have been nuts in his coffee? And who stole his emergency allergy medication?

Fortunately, Krissy’s love of puzzles and mysteries leads her not only to Officer Paul Dalton, but also to many of her new neighbors, who aren’t terribly upset that the book is closed on Brendon. But one of them is a killer, and Krissy needs to read between the lies if she wants to save her new store—and live to see how this story ends…

My Review:

Book Cover | RachelPoli.comI like the book cover. It’s simple and showcases the bookstore, coffee, and the cat, Trouble. It’s nothing too special, but it’s nice to look at anyway.

First Thoughts | RachelPoli.comI love cozy mysteries and I enjoy the ones with food, books, and cats. This has all three so I wanted to give it a try.

Plot | RachelPoli.comKrissy and her friend open their own cafe bookstore called Death By Coffee. Krissy isn’t a fan of the name, but her friend insisted. Unfortunately, on their first open day, a customer comes in, orders a coffee, and then shortly dies. Krissy, for a while, believes she accidentally killed him, and is determined to figure out what happened to him.

This one isn’t too much different from your average cozy. A non-detective sticks her nose into everyone’s business and tries to solve the supposed murder. While the plot isn’t particularly different from what I’ve read before, it still wasn’t bad.

Characters | RachelPoli.comKrissy makes a fun protagonist. I enjoy her voice and tone as she tells the story. Her friend Vicki, Officer Paul, and her father are all great supporting characters as well. Even the witnesses and suspects were great. Each one had a unique voice and personality. The characters, overall, were well done.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

Death By Coffee is an easy read and flows well. The pacing was great and the mystery itself was easy to follow along. The mystery was told in a way that I was able to try to figure it out myself. I was right and then changed my mind and was wrong, and then ended up being right away. So it made me second guess myself and really think to figure it out. There were a lot of characters to keep track of, but it wasn’t difficult to do so.

Overall | RachelPoli.comDeath By Coffee was a fun read. It wasn’t much different than any other cozy mystery I’d read, but I still enjoyed it all the same. The characters and setting was fun and I’m looking forward to reading the next book.

Death By Coffee (Bookstore Cafe Mystery 1) by Alex Erickson gets…
Book Review Rating System | 4 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com4 out of 5 cups

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Wagging Through The Snow (Melanie Travis 21) By Laurien Berenson [Book Review]

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Book Review: Wagging Through The Snow (Melanie Travis 21) by Laurien Berenson | Cozy Mystery | Fiction | Holiday Reading | Book Blogger | Blogging | RachelPoli.com

I got it as a Christmas gift.

Summary:

Melanie Travis needs a little peace from her busy life this Christmas. But the usual holiday hubbub is a joy compared to the killer surprise she finds tucked underneath the tree . . .

With a demanding teaching job at Connecticut’s elite Howard Academy and five poodles scampering around the house, Melanie barely has energy for the upcoming Christmas rush. But she unwraps an unexpected challenge when her brother and ex-husband, elated by the recent success of their country cafe, make a spontaneous bid on a dilapidated pine tree farm. Although the ten-acre lot had been a popular seasonal destination while the original owner was still alive, it’ll take some sprucing up–and a small miracle or two–before the neglected place is in shape for December.

Unfortunately, the impromptu business venture goes cold when the group discovers a purebred Maltese whimpering in the snow-covered grove–right beside a dead body. Pete, a squatter who camped out on the land, apparently met his end after a fallen fir tree branch knocked him on the head. But as Melanie and Aunt Peg investigate Pete’s history and the terrible habit that cost him everything, it’s clear his death was no accident. Now, Melanie must run through a flurry of likely suspects and muzzle a dogged murderer in time–or she’ll be next on someone’s deadly list.

My Review:

Book Cover | RachelPoli.comThe cover is adorable with a Maltese dog stealing the show wearing a Santa hat. While the dog isn’t a huge part of the story, it’s still a piece of it and it matches the title pretty well.

First Thoughts | RachelPoli.comI got this book as a Christmas gift. This is book number 21 in the Melanie Travis series, but it’s book number one for me. Thankfully, the books don’t have to be read in order, but I’m sure the characters are well established by now.

Plot | RachelPoli.comMelanie’s brother and ex-husband own and run a country cafe together and, when her simple-minded brother decides to go to an auction, he ends up with a Christmas tree farm. With Christmas around the corner, they decided to put the new business to the test – only to find a dead body in the woods behind the house.

Overall, this plot was one typical of a cozy mystery. Something good happens to the protagonist, they stumble upon a dead body, and then they investigate. The majority of this book was Melanie running around and talking to people to figure out who this man was, why he was out there, and how/why he died. Once it was revealed, there was a quick, tense scene at the end. That was all. So, this book was “cozy” at its finest.

Characters | RachelPoli.comI enjoyed all the characters. I felt they meshed well together and there was a good amount of personality. I certainly loved Melanie’s Aunt – she stole the scenes for me while reading. She had a fun, boisterous personality. I also loved Melanie’s brother – I love a good risk-taker.

Melanie’s ex-husband and husband were just kind of okay to me. Her husband especially didn’t seem to be in the book as much. I loved the pack of Poodles they own though. That was definitely a nice touch.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

This book is just shy of 200 pages. It’s a quick read and the words flow from one page to another. The pace was even throughout and while I would have liked to see more action, it was a relaxing read. The investigation was easy to follow, though I didn’t know who it was until the ending when it was revealed.

Overall | RachelPoli.comWagging Through the Snow was a pretty good read. I don’t think I know the characters as well enough as I should, but I think I’ll look into getting the first book sometime.

Wagging Through the Snow (Melanie Travis 21) by Laurien Berenson gets…
Book Review Rating System | 3 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com3 out of 5 cups

Favorite Quote:

“Life changes everyone. Some people learn to roll with the punches. Others fall down.” -Laurien Berenson, Wagging Through The Snow

Buy the book:

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Be sure to take a look at the other Book Reviews I’ve done!

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and if you enjoyed this post, please share it around!

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Color Me Murder By Krista Davis [Book Review]

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Book Review: Color Me Murder by Krista Davis | Reading | Cozy Mystery | Book Review | Blogging | Book Blogging | RachelPoli.com

I bought a paperback copy from Barnes & Noble.

Summary:

By day, Florrie Fox manages Color Me Read bookstore in Georgetown, Washington D.C. By night, she creates her own intricately detailed coloring books for adults, filling the pages with objects that catch her eye. There’s plenty of inspiration in her new apartment–a beautiful carriage house belonging to Professor John Maxwell, Florrie’s boss. He offers the property to Florrie rent-free with one condition–she must move in immediately to prevent his covetous sister and nephew from trying to claim it.

When the professor’s nephew, Delbert, arrives, he proves just as sketchy as Florrie feared. But the following morning, Delbert has vanished. It’s not until she visits the third floor of the store that Florrie makes a tragic discovery–there’s a trap door in the landing, and a dead Delbert inside. The esteemed Professor Maxwell is an obvious suspect, but Florrie is certain this case isn’t so black and white. Doodling clues, she begins to consider other colorful characters on the scene, all with a motive for murder. With a killer drawing closer, Florrie will need to think outside the lines . . . before death makes his mark again.

My Review:

Book Cover | RachelPoli.comI was looking in the cozy mystery section at my local Barnes & Noble and the book cover was what caught my attention. It’s black and white, yet completely eye-catching because it’s a color yourself cover. It reminded me of the adult coloring books and it piqued my interest.

First Thoughts | RachelPoli.comI was looking for a new mystery series to get into and, when I saw the cover, I decided to give this one a shot. It sounded good and caught my attention right away.

Plot | RachelPoli.comThis cozy mystery is similar to most cozies. Florrie is the manager of a bookstore called Color Me Read. She’s an artist who creates adult coloring books. When someone is murdered in the shop, Florrie finds herself in the investigative rabbit hole.

As I said, this one has a similar plot to most cozy mysteries – the innocent, unsuspecting protagonist gets caught up in the murder and ends up spending their time trying to figure it out while being guarded by their love interest detective.

I didn’t mind it though. This plot has been worked and reworked so many times and each one is unique from the rest. I really enjoyed the overall atmosphere of this one.

Characters | RachelPoli.comThere are a lot of characters in this one, though it’s not difficult to keep them all straight. There’s a casting list at the beginning of the book which, I’ll admit, I found really useful. I didn’t think I’d need it, but I flipped back to it a couple of times – especially since I had to skip reading for a day. It was a nice refresher.

The characters themselves were fun. They all had their own personalities but they weren’t as unique and different from each other as I felt they could have been. Still, they were interesting and I absolutely loved their names. Florrie especially is a fun name.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

This is a quick, easy to read mystery. It’s about 275 pages long and, with the special color me cover, the paperback is quite tall and bigger than most. The print was on the larger scale which was easy on the eyes and it felt like I was reading the book faster than I actually was.

The mystery overall is easy to enough to follow and it was great to get to attempt to solve the mystery alongside Florrie and her family and friends. It’s not confusing and everything at the end is neatly tied up.

Overall | RachelPoli.comThis wasn’t a bad book. It’s the first in a series and, I’ll admit, it wasn’t my favorite. I felt the characters could have been more their own and more could have happened with the plot. However, it was a still a good read and I’ll look forward to picking up the next book in the series.

Color Me Murder by Krista Davis gets…
Book Review Rating System | 4 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com4 out of 5 cups

Favorite Quote:

“Loyalty is a great trait, Florrie, except where murder is involved. The truth always floats to the top.” -Krista Davis, Color Me Murder

Buy the book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Abe Books

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and if you enjoyed this post, please share it around!

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Bells, Spells, And Murders By Carol J. Perry [Book Review]

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Book Review: Bells, Spells, and Murders by Carol J. Perry | ARC | Reading | Paranormal Mystery | Cozy Mystery | Book Blogger | Blogging | Creative Writing | Witch City Series | RachelPoli.com

I received a paperback ARC of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

Someone’s spreading deadly holiday cheer through Salem, Mass . . . 

Lee Barrett has landed her dream job at Salem’s WICH-TV. As the new field reporter, she’ll be covering events live as they’re unfolding. Next on her holiday checklist is an interview with the beloved chairman of a popular walking tour through Salem’s historic districts. But it may be his ghost walking this snowy Noel season after Lee finds him murdered in his stately offices, bloody Santa hat askew.

With her police detective boyfriend working the case and a witch’s brew of suspects–including some bell-ringing Santas–Lee chases down leads aided and abetted by her wise cat O’Ryan and some unsettling psychic visions of her own. When a revealing clue leads to another dead body, not even a monster blizzard can stop Lee from inching closer to the truth . . . and a scoop that could spell her own demise this killer Christmas.

My Review:

Book Cover | RachelPoli.comAs always, the book cover is always spot on with this series. The covers are eye-catching and it really showcases some events of what happens in the novel.

First Thoughts | RachelPoli.comThis is book number seven in the Witch City series. I spent my summer reading this series starting with the first book leading up to this latest release. I was looking forward to it.

Plot | RachelPoli.comLee starts her new dream job as a field reporter for WICH-TV when she finds the man she’s supposed to interview dead in his office. Between staying up with the case for her job, Pete, her detective boyfriend, and her natural Nancy Drew skills, Lee has a lot on her plate.

This was executed well even if the process is similar in a way to the other books. The author knows how to make it all unique from the other books. I will admit, I missed Lee investigating purely because she’s curious, wants to help, and has connections with her boyfriend. The TV reporter was certainly a nice touch but it was a definitely different. This isn’t a bad thing though. In fact, it was cool her job seemed to come full circle.

Characters | RachelPoli.comThe characters are well established at this point – Lee, Aunt Ibby, Pete, O’Ryan, and River North. They’re a great cast and Lee especially is a fun character lead.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

I love the way Perry writes. She’s spot-on with the cozy mystery aspect and the paranormal side is an awesome touch. The book is easy to read and follow along with, it’s fun, and there’s no scratching your head or hardcore confusion as you try to figure things out alongside the characters. Everything makes sense.

The book is a decent length but it’s a quick read and hard to put down.

Overall | RachelPoli.comThis is another great installment to the Witch City series. I’d certainly recommend it.

Bells, Spells, and Murders by Carol J. Perry gets…
Book Review Rating System | 4 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com4 out of 5 cups

Favorite Quote:

“Mr. Doan characterized the man as ‘dumb as a brick but with great pipes.'” -Carol J. Perry, Bells, Spells, and Murders

Buy the book:

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Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and if you enjoyed this post, please share it around!

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It Takes A Coven (Witch City Mystery 6) By Carol J. Perry [Book Review]

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Book Review: It Takes A Coven (Mystery City Mystery 6) by Carol J. Perry | Reading | Cozy Mystery | Paranormal | Books | Book Blogging | RachelPoli.com

I received a free paperback copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

There’s a new witch-hunt in Salem, Massachusetts . . .

When Lee Barrett joins a former student’s bridal party as maid of honor, she expects cake tastings and dress fittings. But wedding planning becomes more peculiar than Lee’s scrying talents could ever predict. There’s a magical baker, a best man with a checkered past, and a talking crow named Poe as the ring bearer. There’s also a kindly old man dead under his apple tree—one of a series of unexplained deaths hanging over the Wiccan community . . .

With witches dropping dead before they even come out of the proverbial broom closet, Lee’s best friend, River, fears she might have somehow unleashed a terrible curse on the city. Now, aided by Poe and her clairvoyant cat, Lee sets out to investigate. Are lives being claimed by vengeful supernatural forces—or by something more shocking? She soon discovers, casting light on the wicked truth can be one killer commitment . . .

My Review:

Book Cover | RachelPoli.com

I think this cover is my favorite of the series so far. As usual, a lot of key elements from the plot are on the cover and the purple colors really make it stand out.

First Thoughts | RachelPoli.com

I’ve read the first five books, enjoyed them all, and now have moved onto the sixth.

Plot | RachelPoli.com

Some of the witches in town have been dying all within in a short time span between one another. Lee doesn’t believe it’s a coincidence and River is worried she may have had something to do with it unintentionally. As always, Lee gets on the case with the help of Pete, her detective boyfriend, and her Aunt Ibby.

I really enjoyed how this particular plot put a spin on the witches in town. Yes, it’s a paranormal mystery set in Salem, Massachusetts where witches are everywhere, but I thought it was cool that the witches were dying – though not in the sense you would think from your history textbooks.

Characters | RachelPoli.com

As always, it was great to revisit Lee, Pete, Aunt Ibby, and River. River especially since she seemed to have a little bit of a bigger part in this one. Each character is well rounded and they all fit perfectly together within the setting and plot.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

The author has a great writing style where the words are easy to read, the mystery is easy to follow, and you easily get attached to the characters. It’s a fairly chunky book but it’s one you can’t put down.

Overall | RachelPoli.com

While this can be read as a standalone, I’d recommend reading the series in order to get a good sense of the characters. However, if you’re looking to get your feet wet with the series and happen to come across this one, just get it and give it a go.

It Takes a Cover (Witch City Mystery 6) by Carol J. Perry gets…
Book Review Rating System | 5 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com5 out of 5 cups

Favorite Quote:

“Actually they met in a graveyard, but that’s another story.” -Carol J. Perry, It Takes A Coven

Buy the book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Abe Books

Check out my book reviews for book one and book two of this series.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and if you enjoyed this post, please share it around!

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Grave Errors (Witch City Mystery 5) By Carol J. Perry [Book Review]

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Book Review: Grave Errors (Witch City Mystery 5) by Carol J. Perry | Cozy Mystery | Paranormal | Reading | Book Blogger | RachelPoli.com

I received a free paperback copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

Whose funeral will be next?

For residents of Salem, Massachusetts, the day after Halloween brings empty candy wrappers, sagging pumpkins, and a community-wide identity crisis. That is, until Lee Barrett s TV production class suggests extending the spooky season with the traditional Mexican celebration Dia de Los Muertos. But when the students discover not all of Salem s dead are resting in peace, the post-October blues don t seem so bad after all . . .

As if a series of haunting graveyard visits isn t disturbing enough, Lee and her policeman boyfriend connect the crime to an unsolved missing person case. Driven by a series of chilling psychic visions, Lee calls on her cleverest allies including her shrewd cat, O Ryan to go underground and dig up the evidence needed to put a lid on a cold case forever . . . before the latest headstone in town has her name on it!

My Review:

Book Cover | RachelPoli.com

I’m a fan of the cover. It really conveys what happens in the book and showcases some important points of the plot.

First Thoughts | RachelPoli.com

I’ve spent the summer reading through this series and happily picked up this next book right away.

Plot | RachelPoli.com

This plot is certainly unique from the stories in the rest of the series. It’s a paranormal story so having a plot based on Day of the Dead and a cemetery is great. I loved every minute of it. While this kind of setting is a bit cliche, it certainly found a way to twist the cliche upside down.

Characters | RachelPoli.com

I feel like I’ve talked about the characters so much lately since I’m reading and reviewing these books pretty much all at once. So, it’s no surprise that I enjoy the main characters still. It was great to get back to seeing Lee’s students again. They’re a great cast and Dorothy was a great addition.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

This book is easy to read. You think you know the answer but things end up getting turned upside down. Still, it’s easy to follow along with. This is the type of mystery that intrigues you from the very beginning and you don’t want to put the book down until it’s over… yet, you want to savor it. The dialogue and description go hand in hand and is very well done.

Overall | RachelPoli.com

As always, this was another great mystery from Carol Perry. I’m eager to read on with the series.

Grave Errors (Witch City Mystery 5) by Carol J. Perry gets…
Book Review Rating System | 5 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com5 out of 5 cups

Favorite Quote:

“The empty candy wrappers have been swept from the streets, the carved pumpkins have gone soft, their jagged-toothed sagging crookedly.” -Carol J. Perry, Grave Errors

Buy the book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Abe Books

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and if you enjoyed this post, please share it around!

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Murder Go Round (Witch City Mystery 4) By Carol J. Perry [Book Review]

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Book Review: Murder Go Round (Witch City Mystery 4) by Carol J. Perry | Cozy Mystery | Paranormal | Fiction | Reading | RachelPoli.com

I received a free paperback copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

A killer takes a spin through Salem . . .

Lee Barrett has agreed to attend a storage auction with Aunt Ibby–even though she suspects the forgotten rooms will yield more junk than treasure. Her skepticism vanishes once the two win a bid on an overlooked locker and uncover a trove of beautiful curiosities, including a stunning wooden carousel horse with gentle eyes and fading paint. But just before Lee leaves the fairground relic at a local repair shop, the sight of a silver samovar awakens her psychic abilities and conjures visions of murder.

Lee prays the intrusive ESP episode was just a glimpse into the past–until her policeman boyfriend reports a dead man outside the repair shop. Apparently, the unknown victim had been hot on Lee’s trail since the auction. And with the horse found dismantled, it looks like he was up to no good. What’s the story behind the antique equine, and could a strange bubblegum-chewing woman with fiery hair have something to do with the crime? Guided by her gift and O’Ryan, her wise tabby cat, Lee’s set on catching the murderer . . . before she’s sent on the darkest ride of her life.

My Review:

Book Cover | RachelPoli.com

The cover is keeping with similar colors like the previous books. It really matches the series and the plot of the book well.

First Thoughts | RachelPoli.com

This is a great series and I’m really enjoying it so far. I’m happy I’ve had the opportunity to read through it all.

Plot | RachelPoli.com

Lee and her aunt Ibby find themselves in the middle of yet another murder once they buy a storage locker filled with antique goodies at an auction. A key piece is a carnival-like horse.

This is what I love about the plot of this book and the ones before it – they’re all unique and fun. The evidence isn’t exactly what it would seem and you don’t necessarily know what any of it has to do with the rest until more people talk. It’s a great story and mystery to figure out.

Characters | RachelPoli.com

As always, Lee, Aunt Ibby, Pete, and River are wonderful. I still think they’re a great cast of characters. There are always characters who you’re not sure about either which is always a thrill.

Writing Style | RachelPoli.com

The author’s writing is as beautiful as ever. The dialogue is spot-on, each character having their own unique voice, the description of the people, places, and actions are all well done too. This book is almost at 400 pages but it’s a quick read. You can’t put it down.

Overall | RachelPoli.com

This is yet another great mystery for the Witch City series. I’m looking forward to reading book five.

Murder Go Round (Witch City Mystery 4) by Carol J. Perry gets…
Book Review Rating System | 5 Cups of Coffee | RachelPoli.com5 out of 5 cups

Favorite Quote:

“Strangely enough, it makes me think of a carousel, going around and around, with none of the horses ever catching up with the one ahead of him.” -Carol J. Perry, Murder Go Round

Buy the book:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Abe Books

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and if you enjoyed this post, please share it around!

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