Thoughts on Christmas Cozies: FRUIT BASKETS AND HOLIDAY CASKETS • AN EGGNOG TO DIE FOR • TWELVE SLAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Fruit Baskets and Holiday Caskets (Down South Café Mystery, #5)FRUIT BASKETS AND HOLIDAY CASKETS by Gayle Leeson
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

It was fun to revisit the Down South Café at Christmastime. I’d read the first couple of books in the series a few years ago, and it’s good to see the gang still as charming and quirky as ever.

This time around, café owner Amy Flowers is trying to clear a friend’s name who’s suspected of murdering an employee. She’s also busy creating an enormous cake float and hundreds of cookies for the town’s Christmas parade.

While I thought Amy was clever with her investigation, I thought the mystery itself was just ok. I think it’s because a lot of it was telling and not showing, and the ending felt abrupt. However, the whole scene at the end of catching the killer was pretty cute!


An Eggnog to Die for (Cape Cod Foodie Mystery #2)AN EGGNOG TO DIE FOR by Amy Pershing
My rating: 4.25 of 5 stars

AN EGGNOG TO DIE FOR is a smart and funny cozy mystery set in the small town of Fair Harbor on Cape Cod. Food writer Samantha Barnes finds the body of the man playing Santa for the town’s Christmas celebration while scoping out a new trendy local restaurant. But who would murder Saint Nick? Turns out the guy in the red suit may have been on the naughty list. With the help of her Harbormaster boyfriend Jason, Sam is determined to catch a killer.

Sam is a delightful character, clever in her investigations and so funny with her snarky comments. The mystery was puzzling with plenty of red herrings to keep me guessing. Each time I decided on a culprit, something changed my mind, and in the end I was completely wrong!

I loved meeting Sam’s parents (the ‘rents) and hearing about the family Christmas traditions. I’m not a big seafood fan, but Sam’s Feast of the Five Fishes sounded delicious!

This is the second book in the Cape Cod Foodie Mystery series, but it can easily be read standalone.


Twelve Slays of Christmas (Christmas Tree Farm Mystery, #1)TWELVE SLAYS OF CHRISTMAS by Jacqueline Frost
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

TWELVE SLAYS OF CHRISTMAS is a wonderful start to Jacqueline Frost’s Christmas Tree Farm Mystery series. When Holly White gets dumped by her fiancé two weeks before their wedding, she packs up her meager belongings and heads home to Mistletoe, Maine. With the holiday season in full swing, Holly offers to help out at her family’s tree farm.

Tragedy strikes when the president of the Mistletoe Historical Society is murdered on their property. Margaret Fenwick was a grump known for pressuring businesses to stick to stringent historical guidelines for the town or else, but did it make someone mad enough to kill?

This was a fast-paced and well written mystery with plenty of holiday cheer and a bit of romance. I loved the cold, snowy, cozy atmosphere of the book. Mistletoe felt like a real place. I enjoyed trying to fit all the pieces of the mystery into place. I was very shocked to discover the culprit, but it made total sense. Looking forward to continuing this series…next Christmas!

YULE BE DEAD by Lorraine Bartlett with Gayle Leeson {Christmas Cozy Mystery Review}


Series: Victoria Square, #5
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: November 27, 2018
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★¾


A Christmas crime shocks the merchants of a quaint shopping district in this latest installment of The New York Times bestselling Victoria Square series.

It’s Christmastime, but not everyone is jolly–especially not Vonne Barnett. Her dead body has been found in Victoria Square. Katie Bonner, the manager of Artisan’s Alley, happens to be at the tea shop Vonne’s mother, Francine, owns when the news is delivered.

Vonne left a trail of men behind her so the suspects are many–but the clues are few. A broken teacup leads Katie to one of the suspects, but before she can investigate, she’s attacked. Katie may be closing in on a murderer, but time is ticking because the murderer is definitely closing in on her.


Yule be dead — is that a great Christmas cozy mystery title, or what? This is the fifth book in the Victoria Square series, with Katie Bonner and her Artisan’s Alley merchants gearing up for the busy holiday season. Things get even more hectic when the tea shop owner’s daughter is murdered, and the questions Katie starts asking put her in hot water.

I’ve read one previous book from this series, so it was a delight to reunite with these characters. YULE BE DEAD is part mystery and part Victoria Square saga. Katie has so much going on in her life. She’s managing her business, entertaining her visiting mother-in-law (mother of her late husband), dealing with two romantic interests, and eyeing the tea shop that’s now for sale. While I enjoyed reading about all of those elements, I felt that the murder mystery got somewhat lost in the shuffle, and Katie’s investigation didn’t actually lead to the killer’s identity.

While I was hoping for a stronger mystery, I still greatly enjoyed this book. The characters and their relationships are real and complex, and I’m also looking forward to seeing where Katie’s new venture takes her.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

SILENCE OF THE JAMS by Gayle Leeson


Series: A Down South Café Mystery, #2
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: April 4, 2017
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★


In the latest Southern cozy from the author of The Calamity Café, small-town chef Amy Flowers can’t take her freedom for granted when she’s served up as a murder suspect…

It’s Independence Day in Winter Garden, Virginia, and the residents are gearing up for their annual celebration. The Down South Café is open and flourishing, and Amy Flowers is busy making pies and cakes for the holiday. The only thorn in her side is Chamber of Commerce director George Lincoln, who is trying to buy the café so he can tear it down and build a B&B on the site.

When George collapses while eating at the Down South, everybody assumes it’s a heart attack—until the autopsy declares it to be poisoning. Now, it’s up to Amy to prove her innocence before her liberty is lost.


One thing about reading this book: it had my stomach growling from cover to cover. All of the Southern comfort food Amy Flowers was cooking up made me so hungry.

Winter Garden, Virginia, is a charming small town, and Amy owns the popular Down South Café there. Once again, Amy is thrown into a murder mystery when another suspicious death occurs in the restaurant, and this time the victim is her adversary George Lincoln, director of the Chamber of Commerce.

This delightful cozy is part mystery, part family drama, and even a little romance, though luckily the investigation never gets lost in the drama — instead, they compliment each other. The mystery was well plotted and introduced several possible anti-George suspects.

SILENCE OF THE JAMS is a fun summer-themed cozy mystery full of yummy food and great characters. Enjoyed!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

THE CALAMITY CAFÉ by Gayle Leeson

The Calamity Café (Down South Café Mystery #1)
THE CALAMITY CAFÉ by Gayle Leeson
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

The Down South Café Mystery series is off to a fantastic start! The author is Gayle Leeson, who also writes cozies under the pen names Gayle Trent and Amanda Lee. It was one of her earlier books that got me hooked on the cozy mystery genre, so I was excited to give THE CALAMITY CAFÉ a read.

Amy Flowers is a budding chef with hopes of opening her own restaurant, but for now she’s stuck waitressing for one of the meanest people in town. When Amy offers to buy the diner, her boss, Lou Lou, flat out refuses. Amy never dreamed that soon after, her ill-tempered boss would become the victim of killer.

This book had all the elements that I love in a cozy. The crime took place early on, and the plot stayed focused on the investigation, while weaving in Amy’s delicious Southern cooking and her pursuit of opening her own café. Lou Lou had many enemies, so figuring out whodunit wasn’t easy. Fun cast of characters, and some nice laughs along the way. A little romance too. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next for Amy and the folks of Winter Garden, Virginia. 4.5 stars!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.