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


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.


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


Writing Style


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.


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 |

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 |

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 |

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 |

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.


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.


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


Writing Style


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.


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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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 |

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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