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by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I'm discussing different book genres/categories. Each day, I will give a few details about the...

August 10, 2021

A Couple of Crazy Fun Cozy Mysteries

by Donna Huber

A love the hard-hitting, gritty novels as much as the next person, but sometimes you just want something light and fun to read - something that reminds you that there's good in the world. When I need that, I turn to cozy mysteries. The two books I have today are perfect for when you want to escape the world for a bit and maybe have a laugh or two.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. Free books were provided for an honest review.

Death at the Gates by Katie Gayle

Death at the Gates
August 2021; Bookouture; 978-1800196650
ebook, print (248 pages); cozy mystery

Death at the Gates
 is the third book in the Epiphany Bloom mystery series by writing team Katie Gayle. I have read the previous two books, but it can totally be read on its own. 

Pip is a twenty-something that hasn't quite found her place in life. Though she is kind of good at figuring out little mysteries - missing person, missing dress. So when her roommate's younger sister is accused of cheating Tim knows that she can figure out who is behind the exam leak at the elite prep school. However, when the step-father of another student turns up dead (of course, Pip is the one to discover the body) can she stay focused on the exam leak? Or has she gotten in over her head this time when attempts on her own life are made?

I was a little disappointed that Pip didn't keep her job at the museum from the last book, and I still wonder about the staying power of changing jobs with every book. However, the stories are quick reads - I started this on Friday night and then was able to finish it up by Saturday night (I didn't spend the whole day reading either). 

I'm starting to like Pip more but I wish we got to know the other "regular" characters. The only characters that carry over from one book to the next are her roommate Tim, her sister Flis, her boxing coach Jimmy, and her mother. They actually have very small roles, particularly in this book, and have not had much character development over the course of the three books. Seriously, they are pretty flat characters. They could be cardboard stand-ins. 

The story is definitely light-hearted fun. Pip who is probably the least athletic person you know (except she has recently taken up boxing) fills in for the "sports" teacher (for the Americans in the audience it's just a P.E. class she is teaching, she's not coaching any sports). So there are some silly moments where the girls play musical chairs and set up an obstacle course. There's also the school's fun day where Pip is put in charge of Bingo. How hard can that be? Can you really mess it up? Well if Pip is in charge of producing the Bingo cards, then yes there is every chance of it going wrong.  

The mystery is good - I like that the mysteries in this series aren't just about a murdered person. However, I knew exactly who was responsible as soon as the character was introduced. So I was a little annoyed that it took Pip so long to figure it out. But then again, she isn't really a crack detective.

Overall, if you are looking for escapism reading and don't want to read romance, then this book would make a good choice.

Buy Death at the Gates at Amazon
(the ebook is a free read for Kindle Unlimited Subscribers

Still Life and Death by Tracy Gardner

Still Life and Death
August 2021; Hallmark Publishing
audio (8h24m); ebook, print; cozy mystery

Still Life and Death
is the third book in Tracy Gardner's Shepherd Sisters Mysteries. I have not read the first two books in the series but I didn't have any trouble with reading it on its own. This is also the first book I've read from Hallmark Publishing. 

It has all the hallmarks of a good Hallmark show. The town is cute and the characters are friendly (I want to use words like sunny and bubbly when I think of the characters). Everything is a little too happy and shiny to be realistic but when you want to escape the real world this is exactly where you want to be.

I don't know if it is was because I listened to the audiobook or if it is the mystery, but I wasn't really all that invested in figuring out whodunnit. I much preferred just basking in the friendly small-town vibe where Savanna's boyfriend buys her sailboat for her birthday and Sid's boyfriend makes changes to his career so they can be together. There are no big problems and everything's a bit idyllic (save for the fact that a local business owner has been killed in her shop).

The narrator Karissa Vacker does a great job particularly given the number of female characters in the story. I felt like every character had their own voice. 

I'll definitely keep my eye out for more books in the series, especially when I need a little pick-me-up.

Buy Still Life and Death at Amazon

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour

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