Cozy Mystery

Pumpkin Spice Peril (Cupcake Bakery Mystery #12)

Pumpkin Spice Peril (Cupcake Bakery Mystery #12)

By: Jenn McKinlay


In the twelfth Cupcake Bakery Mystery from New York Times bestselling author Jenn McKinlay, the Fairy Tale Cupcake crew follows the clever crumb trail of a killer who’s anything but cookie-cutter.

Life is all sugar and spice for the Fairy Tale Cupcake bakers–Melanie Cooper is engaged to the delectable Joe DeLaura, Angie Harper and her husband Tate are savoring married life, and the bakery is bustling with happy customers. Until one of their most valued cupcake connoisseurs ends up dead.

Local glass artist and cupcake lover Rene Fischer-Klein has always suffered from a wide variety of health issues. In an effort to cheer her up, her doting husband, Peter, brings her a four-pack of her favorite cupcakes every week. But when the police discover that Rene has been poisoned, there’s no sugarcoating the fact that the last things she ate were the bakery’s signature pumpkin spice cupcakes! With their lives and bakery at stake, it’s up to Mel and Angie to find out who poisoned their artist friend and why, before their future is frosted for good.


And we’ve got another DNF. I read over half the book, so I feel comfortable leaving a starred review. This is the twelfth book in the Cupcake Bakery Mystery series, and I’m calling it. I can no longer read this series. I loved the first seven books. They introduced me to cozy mysteries, and for a time, I couldn’t get enough. The last five books, however, have taken a sharp decline. Book ten was okay, but the others have been so disappointing.

The main character Mel has become a giant pushover, except when it comes to murders. Which is a bizarre thing to feel comfortable pushing back on, but it’s a cozy mystery. Her fiancé and almost any male in her life do whatever they want when it comes to her. I’m supposed to think it’s sweet that they’re so protective, but they treat her like a child. It’s infuriating. I swear it didn’t use to be like this, but maybe I’m mistaken.

The side characters, whom I used to love, have also taken a bit of a hit. Mel’s best friend Angie used to be a fiery woman who didn’t put up with most things. She was able to control her brothers as no one else could, and now they walk all over her. Sure they’ve got a reason to be protective, but they bothered me. Of course, she’s barely in the story, so it’s not like I had much to go off of there.

Looking back, I think one of the things that I dislike about the newer books is that the side characters are barely in the series anymore. It’s sad. They were a large part of why I loved the series.

After reading Pumpkin Spice Peril, I’m not sure if I’m going to even bother catching up with McKinlay’s Library Lover’s Mystery series. I seem to be one of the few people who disliked this book, so if you’re a fan of the series, I would probably ignore my review.


Carmel Crush

Carmel Crush (Cupcake Bakery Mystery #9) By: Jenn McKinlay


When a breakup via cupcake threatens to crumble their friend’s life for good, Mel and Angie race to solve the murder as this New York Times bestselling series continues…

Love is in the air at Fairy Tale Cupcakes as Angie prepares for her wedding, but co-owner, Mel, is preparing for a breakup. Her old friend, Diane Earnest, is dumping her fiancé after discovering he’s only marrying her for her money. She wants Mel to personally deliver a batch of caramel breakup cupcakes to the louse and give her a play-by-play of his reaction.

When Mel finally tracks the man down, the look on his face isn’t the reaction she was expecting: he’s dead. After the police arrive and see the incriminating cupcakes, Diane becomes their prime suspect. If she hopes to taste freedom again, Mel and Angie must make sure the real killer gets their just desserts…


This was not one of the more entertaining and fun Cupcake Bakery books. I’ve never been a fan of Mel, it’s always been the side characters that have me enjoying the series, but this time they were just as annoying as her. The constant Mrs. Tate Harper and Mrs. Joe DeLaura, or whatever their last names are, was annoying. I’ve always hated that and I felt like I was beat over the head with it. There was constant “I’m not good enough for my man” to the point where I almost stopped reading. Angie and Mel were both like this so it was just constant. If maybe one of them had been confident with some self-esteem it might not have been so bad, but you’d get finished reading about one’s “failures” and have to start reading another. It was awful.

The mystery at least was fine. There were plenty of suspects to kill the guy, the clues were there to pick out who did it, the dude “deserved” to die. It was the only good part of the book.

Oh, before I forget, Mel’s college friend was awful. She was supposed to be unsympathetic to a point, but because of reasons owing to Mel’s lack of self-worth and messed up view of the world, she felt like she had to help her out. There was even a “cute” little romance between Diane and her IT guy. Of course this is all thrown away in the last part of the book and I just wanted to scream.

The views in this book about women and their relationships were awful. You do not owe someone big if they save you from being rapped and the video of your rape being distributed. They were being the bare minimum of a decent human. When you get married it’s not just about being someone’s wife and what you can offer them. I feel like McKinlay knows this but it was not clearly conveyed in the book and because of everything else that was going on it added to the lack of a positive female message.

I was really disappointed with this book, but I feel like I’ve invested so much time in the series so far that I need to continue it. Hopefully, things are better in the next installment.


Better Homes and Corpses (Hamptons Home & Garden Mysteries #1) By: Kathleen Bridge


Better Homes and Corpses (Hamptons Home & Garden Mysteries #1) By: Kathleen Bridge


After Meg Barrett found her fiancé still had designs on his ex-wife, she decided it was time to refurbish her life. Leaving her glamorous job at a top home and garden magazine, she fled Manhattan for Montauk, only to find decorating can sometimes lead to detecting…

In between scouring estate sales for her new interior design business, Cottages by the Sea, Meg visits the swanky East Hampton home of her old college roommate, Jillian Spenser. But instead of seeing how the other half lives—she learns how the other half dies. Jillian’s mother, known as the Queen Mother of the Hamptons, has been murdered. Someone has staged a coup.

When she helps a friend inventory the Spensers’ estate for the insurance company, Meg finds herself right in the thick of things. Cataloging valuable antiques and art loses its charm when Meg discovers that the Spenser family has been hiding dangerous secrets, which may have furnished a murderer with a motive. As Meg gets closer to the truth, the killer will do anything to paint her out of the picture…

I didn’t read the whole of Better Homes and Corpses, I got to sixty percent and then skipped to the last few chapters. It just was not my preferred cozy mystery. It had everything there, for the most part, I could have done with more character development of the male characters and less antiquing stuff, but it had everything else. I think that’s honestly why I didn’t like it as much, Meg’s career was just not something I have more than a passing interest in so all the little info dumps about antiques and refurbishing stuff was just boring.

Meg was an alright protagonist, she wasn’t too perfect, and she was interesting enough. There were editing issues, though. Too often I had no idea who was talking in the large cast of characters. The men all sounded the same and the other women in the story were all a bit off. One minute Meg was internally complaining about how sheltered and “introverted”(the author used introverted as basically a synonym for shy which bugs me a lot)  Jillian was and the next she was ordering for her like she was a child. Meg would also just randomly show up places with absolutely no indication to the reader except vague suggestions that you were just supposed to understand.

I’m not going to rate this book, even though I read about 75%, maybe someone else with different hobbies would enjoy this more. For me, I’m going to pass on the series.

A Potion to Die For (A Magic Potion Mystery #1) By: Heather Blake

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A Potion to Die For (A Magic Potion Mystery #1) By: Heather Blake



As the owner of Little Shop of Potions, a magic potion shop specializing in love potions, Carly Bell Hartwell finds her product more in demand than ever. A local soothsayer has predicted that a couple in town will soon divorce—and now it seems every married person in Hitching Post, Alabama, wants a little extra matrimonial magic to make sure they stay hitched. But when Carly finds a dead man in her shop, clutching one of her potion bottles, she goes from most popular potion person to public enemy number one. In no time the murder investigation becomes a witch hunt—literally! Now Carly is going to need to brew up some serious sleuthing skills to clear her name and find the real killer—before the whole town becomes convinced her potions really are to die for!


I missed the fact that this was written by the same author that did the Wishcraft Mysteries. I ended up liking this magic system more, but I wish there was more hocus pocus and paranormal elements.

Carly was an alright character and the supporting cast was pretty good. It was kind of sad, though, that the one person murdered wasn’t a bad guy in any way. Normally in a cozy only eh people die.

I do really wish there was more magic in the world and kept hoping more would show up, but it never happened. It was pretty non-magical to be honest. She made potions that were really just herbal remedies with a “special” ingredient. She also had some empathic abilities that she kept under wraps and a little witchy sense to danger.

I thought her relationship with Delia, her “evil” cousin was well developed and I hope there’s more done there in future books. I actually really liked Delia and Dylan, Carly’s love interest.

All in all, it was a really good mystery, but the magic was a bit lacking for my tastes.


Read it and Weep (Library Lover’s Mystery #4) By: Jenn McKinlay


Read it and Weep (Library Lover’s Mystery #4) By: Jenn McKinlay


Answering Shakespeare trivia comes with the job description for library director Lindsey Norris. But when the Briar Creek Community Theater mounts their newest production of the Bard, she has no intention of leaving the stacks for the stage. Unfortunately a villain is waiting in the wings… Former Broadway actress Violet La Rue is holding auditions for A Midsummer Night’s Dream—and everyone from the sour spinster librarian Ms. Cole to Lindsey’s youthful library pages are trying out for parts. Brought in to play the mischievous Puck is the flirtatious professional actor Robbie Vine, who seems to have eyes for Lindsey. Before her blush has faded, the Bard’s dream turns into a nightmare—when one of the cast is poisoned. Now Lindsey and her crafternooners must take center stage to unmask the culprit before the final curtain call…


OMG the tension between Lindsey and Sully was crazy! It was like a romance and I honestly didn’t care about the mystery I just wanted to read scenes with these two. SPOILER There was no satisfying ending with them and it looks like McKinlay will be spreading the relationship issues through another book.

Even with the distraction of Lindsey/Sully I guessed the ending fairly quickly but I still enjoyed it and it’s not something done too frequently. I did find it annoying that a love triangle has been introduced, again. She just got rid of her ex-husband and now another man turns up. He’s not a bad guy either, really tired of love triangles.

The side characters didn’t play as big a part in this book, but that could just be me only remembering the heat between Lindsey and Sully.

I really love this series.

For some reason neither library system I have access to has the next book in this series, so I’ll have to search my used book stores or wait until I have some cash.