Happy New Year!

HAPPY NEW YEAR SOUTHERNISTAS! I hope that 2022 was a good year for you. If 2022 was a tough year for you I am sorry but by God’s grace you made it to 2023 and that means saying good bye to 2022 and looking forward to a do over with 2023. If you lost a loved one I am so sorry for your loss and that you are starting this year without that love one in your life.

When a new year comes I always experience a sense of excitement and look forward to all the things a new year brings. It is like hitting the reset button and getting to start over or tackle that thing you didn’t get to last year. To heal, get healthy, drop toxic people, learn something new, change careers or whatever it may be January 1 is the reset. Or like me just be even more fabulous and fashionable.

This year I have decided to have a word for 2023 and that word for me is HOPE! I’ve entered 2023 with hope in my heart and my outlook on life. I know what it is to live with no hope and as 2022 winded down this word was whispered ever so softly to me last week while I was enjoying my Christmas break. I know that it the Holy Spirit whispering the word hope to me and I do have hope for this year.

I know what is going on in this world and in my country but I have an abundance of hope and expectation regardless of what life hands me ultimately all of my hope is in Jesus. I take comfort and joy in knowing that He is with me and He is my hope.

So Happy New Year and here is to 2023 being the year of HOPE!

Dress (this color sold out) is from Eloquii

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Wednesday Reads — January TBR

HAPPY NEW YEAR book lovers! I hope you had a great holiday I certainly did! It helps that my department was closed for the entire week so yesterday was my first day back at work and it wasn’t easy to get back in the grove of things LOL.

I have to say 2022 was a great reading year for me I exceeded my Goodreads goal by 48 books!

Well it’s a new year and with a new year comes new reading goals! My reading goals for 2023 is to read books that have been on my TBR for over a year. Since it is the first month of the new year I decided that I would kick off January reading the first book in series that are on my TBR. While I know I want be able to read ALL the books on my reading pile I have set an ambitious goal of 10.

What are your reading goals this year? Are you planning to binge a series you’ve been wanting to read forever?

Whatever your goals are I hope all your reads this year are 5 star reads!

Currently Reading:

There are five books in this series and I am really enjoying this first book in Debra Sennefelder’s Food Blogger mystery series.

My January TBR (these are all the first book of the series):

Wednesday Reads — Books in Review

Happy Wednesday and Happy Hanukah book lovers! Well Christmas is almost here and 2023 is coming fast I mean where did 2022 go?! For me it has been a really good reading year all around. I’ve been seeing a lot of my favorite books of the year list and I don’t want to be left out (smile).

First I met my Goodreads reading goal this year and exceeded it by 30+ books so yeah me. Second I joined two additional online book clubs which has really expanded my TBR and at the same time help me try and make a dent in my TBR. The two book clubs I joined are on Facebook and I feel like I’ve discovered even more cozy mystery lovers while still a part of the Cozy Mystery Book Club that is on YouTube I look so forward to the end of every month. Third this is in no way a conclusive list because I read so many great books this year!

This will be my last post of 2022 so I want to wish y’all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I hope your books were all 5 star reads and your adventures were exciting, magical, and wonderful.

What are some of your favorite books you read this year please share.

With that being said here are some my favorites of 2022

The Beacon Bakeshop Mystery Series by Darci Hannah: Murder at the Beacon Bakeshop, Murder at the Christmas Cookie Bake-Off, and Murder at the Blueberry Festival

I discovered this series and it is definitely takes the #1 spot of my favorite books of 2022. I literally read all three books in the month of July and each one was better than the last. Darci Hannah knows how to write a mystery that will keep your attention and cause you to loose sleep. I’ve been stalking her website to see when the next book in this delightful series will be out.

Peg and Rose Solve a Murder by Laurien Berenson this is a spinoff from the very popular Melanie Travis series and it doesn’t disappoint. I love a book that features seniors who are active and living life and Melanie’s aunts Peg and Rose are that and so much more. This was a great first book and I ‘ve already pre-ordered the next book

Meet Your Baker (A Bakeshop Mystery #1) by Ellie Alexander I now have to binge this series!

Trouble in Paradise Series by Carrie Doyle: It Takes to Mango (Book 1), Something’s Guava Give (Book 2). Book 3 will be out in 2023

Bayou Book Thief (Vintage Cookbook Mystery #1) by Ellen Byron this was such a great debut series and it will make you want to immediately get on a plane or in your car and head to NOLA

A Christmas Candy Killing (A Killer Chocolate Mystery #1) by Christina Romeril

Mountain Town Murder (Jackson Holes Moose’s Bakery Mystery #1) by Sue Pepper

Crime & Punctuation (A Deadly Edits Mystery #1) by Kaitlyn Dunnett

Fresh Brewed Murder (A Ground Rules Mystery #1) by Emmeline Duncan

Twelve Slays of Christmas (Christmas Tree Farmy Mystery #1) by Jacqueline Frost

Apple Cider Slaying (A Cider House Mystery #1) Julie Anne Lindsey

Arsenic and Adobo (A Tita Rosie Kitchen Mystery #1) by Mia P. Manansala

A Deadly Inside Scoop (Ice Cream Parlor Mystery #1) & Body and Soul Food (A Books & Biscuits Mystery #1) by Abby Collette

Wednesday Reads

Happy Wednesday book lovers! Wow Christmas is getting closer and closer and for those of you who celebrate Hanukkah it’s even closer than Christmas!

My December kicked off with a bang with Cozy Mystery Club’s 12 Days of Cozy which is always fun. It’s a time to interact with my favorite authors, get the chance to win a book or two, and discover new authors and I absolutely love it! It’s also a chance to get in a lot of reading during the reading sprints and I’ve gotten in a lot of great reads.

I hope you are taking the time amongst all the shopping, holiday gatherings, and busyness of the Christmas seasons to kick back with a cozy hot beverage of your choice and a good book to unwind, relax, and lose yourself in a another world.

Since it is the holiday season I’m sure it will come as no surprise that the majority of the books I’ve read, am currently reading, and will be read are Christmas themed.

Until next time Happy Holiday and Happy Reading!

Read:

A Christmas Candy Killing (Killer Chocolate Mystery) by Christina Romeril was a huge 4 stars for me! I really enjoyed this debut cozy mystery. Alex and Hannah are identical twins (thank you for name that don’t rhyme) and own Murder and Mayhem a mystery bookstore that sells poison themed chocolates (um yes please). When Alex finds her friend and fellow book club member Jane murdered and the weapon of choice is the chocolates from Murder and Mayhem which put her in the eye sight of the sheriff she is determined to clear her name, save her business, and find justice for her friend all before Christmas. This is my first cozy set in Montana and as I read the book I absolutely felt like I was there in Harriston. I couldn’t put this book down which lead to a lot of late nights because I just had to know what was happening. There were heaps of suspects and plenty of red herrings and I felt at time there were too many but I did get the killer right and I loved the reveal. I can’t wait to the second book in this series.

Mistletoe Murder (Lucy Stone Mystery #1) by Leslie Meier is a cozy mystery series that has been on my to buy list forever so I was super excited when this book was selected as the December buddy read for Cozy Mystery Book Club’s 12 Days of Cozies. This is a very popular series there are 20 plus books in the Lucy Stone series. As I read I had to remind myself that this first book came out in 1991 before cell phones were owned by everyone and the internet was a thing. Lucy discovers the body of the owner of Country Cousins (think Cracker Barrell) when she was taking a break she works as a customer service representative in the call center. She finds herself investigating his death mostly out of a sense of justice and she just can’t let it go. Overall I enjoyed reading the mystery and I liked that Lucy carried out her investigation around her life as a working mother and wife. I didn’t realize who the killer was until almost the end of the book and I was completely surprised. Now there were some not cozy elements in this book: there cat was killed by someone (never solved) and there was suicide so be warned which is why I gave this book 3 stars.

The Twelve Slays of Christmas by Jacqueline Frost (aka Julie Anne Lindsey) is the first book in Christmas Tree Farm series and it is so good. I gave it 4 BIG stars. Holly White is back home in Mistletoe, Maine after her fiancé calls off their Christmas Eve wedding with less than two weeks to go helping out her parents on their Christmas tree farm during the busiest time of the year for them and the whole town. When Holly comes across the body of Margaret Fenwick head of the Historical Preservation Society on the farm and the handsome Sheriff Gray closes the farm down Holly springs into action and decides to do her own investigation. As I read this book I couldn’t help but think of this author’s other series The Sea Side Café series she writes as Bree Baker. Holly reminded me so much of Everly Swan and I found myself smiling a lot as I read. This is another book I couldn’t put down and found myself reading way, way past my bedtime. At times I felt there were too many suspects since Margaret Fenwick seems to have upset just about everybody in Mistletoe and when the killer was revealed I was blindsided by the revelation because they were such a minor character. Having said that I can’t wait to read Twas the Knife Before Christmas.

Currently Reading: An Eggnog to Die For (A Cape Cod Foodie Mystery #2) by Amy Pershing

I really love this series! I really enjoyed the first book A Side of Murder and the third book Murder is No Picnic (which I thought was the second book). I highly recommend reading these books in order as this book is referenced though out Murder is No Picnic.

I’ve just started reading but Samantha Barnes is just as funny as ever and I can’t wait to join her and her friends on her sleuthing journey and she if she survives her parent’s visit for the holidays.

Next:

I am excited to read books 2 and 3 of Jacqueline Frost’s Christmas Tree Farm mysteries:

Tide and Punishment (Sea Side Cafe Mystery #3) by Bree Baker I really love this series and I confess I’ve taken my time reading this series because there are seven books in this series and no more.

Blackmail and Bibingka (Tita Rosie’s Kitchen Mystery #3) by Mia P. Manasala

Wednesday Reads

Happy Wednesday book lovers! Well we are seven days into December and I hope you are getting lots of reading holiday or other wise accomplished. I am off to a slow start but I’m hoping to ramp up my reading as the month goes along.

I am having nothing but fun participating in the Cozy Mystery Club’s 12 Days of Cozies and all the fun Instagram and Twitter challenges and engaging with the cozy mystery community on a different level. Discovering new authors and love all the interaction with the authors who are participating.

Until Next Time! Happy Reading, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

Finished Reading:

I started reading On Skein of Death at the end of November but didn’t really finish it until December so I didn’t include it in my November wrap up since I had just started reading this first book in Allie Pleiter’s Riverside Knitting Mystery series. Libby Beckett is excited to host her first event at Y.A.R.N the main attraction is Perle Langager a celebrity knitter and everything is going great until Libby discovers Perle’s body. Perle has been strangled to death with a skein of read yarn. Libby didn’t know the young Perle very well but she feels obligated to find out who murdered Perle at her event. Overall I enjoyed this it was a well written mystery with great character development and just enough information about Libby but (you knew there was one) I knew who the killer was as soon as the body was discovered. The author tried to give red herrings but there were really only three suspects but it was obvious who the murderer of Perle was. There were really no tension as I read the book and since I already knew who the killer was it was hard for me to continue to read this book and I almost DNF’d (did not finish) it all.

Currently Reading:

A Christmas Candy Killing by Christina Romeril came out in October and I am so glad it is finally December so I could start reading this debut series and I have not been disappointed as I read this book. The amateur sleuths are Alex and Hannah identical twin sisters who own a mystery bookstore called Murder and Mayhem (love) and they sell poison themed chocolates (double love)! When Jane there elderly neighbor, member of their book club Sleuth (triple love) and friend of Alex is murdered and the murder weapon is the Veronal Chocolate from Murder and Mayhem. Alex and Hannah along with a few friends start sleuthing to clear Alex and handy man Zach from suspicion and find the actual killer. Jane had a habit of accusing various members of Harriston, MT of being a fugitive from justice after she watches a true crime show that she loves. I can’t wait for the killer to be revealed but I hope I can figure it out before then.

Future Read:

Mistletoe Murder by Leslie Meier is next on my Christmas cozy TBR and it is the buddy read for my book club. This is a long running cozy mystery series and one I’ve been wanting to read forever so I am really excited to read this first book.

Book blurb:

MAIL-ORDER MURDER As if baking holiday cookies, knitting a sweater for her husband’s gift, and making her daughter’s angel costume for the church pageant weren’t enough things for Lucy Stone’s busy Christmas schedule, she’s also working nights at the famous mail-order company Country Cousins. But when she discovers Sam Miller, its very wealthy founder, dead in his car from an apparent suicide, the sleuth in her knows something just doesn’t smell right.

Taking time out from her hectic holiday life to find out what really happened, her investigation leads to a backlog of secrets as long as Santa’s Christmas Eve route. Lucy is convinced that someone murdered Sam Miller. But who and why? With each harrowing twist she uncovers in this bizarre case, another shocking revelation is exposed. Now, as Christmas draws near and Lucy gets dangerously closer to the truth, she’s about to receive a present from Santa she didn’t ask for — a killer who won’t be satisfied until everyone on his shopping list is dead, including Lucy herself

An Eggnog to Die For (Cape Cod Foodie Mystery #2) by Amy Pershing

Book Blurb:

Christmas has come to Fair Harbor, but when the town’s Santa is murdered, it will be up to Sam Barnes to find a killer in this newest installment of the Cape Cod Foodie Mysteries.

It’s Santa Claus, she says tonelessly. Santa Claus is dead.

Food writer Sam Barnes wants a lot of things: a quiet Christmas at home with her dog and the town’s handsome harbormaster, to never be in a viral video again, and to stop finding dead bodies. Unfortunately for Sam, her parents are coming to visit, she’s often around cameras for work, and she just found the town Santa dead in the storage room of the cocktail bar she was profiling.

Although she was only interviewing the owners of the Ginger Jar in hopes of getting the recipe for their Coquito Eggnog cocktail for the friends and family Christmas Eve dinner she’s hosting, Sam quickly finds herself taking on the role of investigator once again. She needs to find out who slayed this Santa — but with holiday stress already building, will Sam be able to pull off a perfect feast and nab a killer?

Hello December!

Happy 1st day of December Southernistas! Let the festivities begin! It is time to sparkle and shine! Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Kwanzaa! Bring on all the Christmas music, holiday specials, Holiday baking shows on the Food Network, The Great Christmas Light Fight, baked goods, eggnog, parties, Hallmark /Lifetime/UP and other channels that will be showing a ton of Christmas movies and Christmas cozy mysteries because murder never sleeps! Of course….SHOPPING! SHOPPING! SHOPPING!

I am here for everything the month of December brings and so much more particularly the shopping. This is the month where everything is just over the top in every way and I love it! I also love the fact that I get to celebrate the birth of Jesus who brought light into this world. While there is much debate about weather Jesus was born in December or not doesn’t matter to me but what does matter is that “unto a child is born.” Because He lives I live and more abundantly!

This is a time unfortunately where there is a rise in suicides while the holiday season is full of joy it’s not so joyful for those who are suffering from loneliness due to separation from family, death of a loved one, mental illness. It can be hard to see all the joy and laughter and feel so left out so make sure you reach out especially to college students if you live in a city with a college or university. Not every student is able to go home for the holidays. Visit a nursing home or your elderly neighbor and stay connected with them even after the holidays have come and gone. In fact check on all your neighbors and think about sponsoring a child, a family, or a senior citizen if your finances will allow. Spread joy!

So here’s to December and all the joy and blessings of the season to y’all!

Until Next Time!

Wednesday Reads — Mid Month Reads

Hello Book Lovers! I hope you had a very Happy Thanksgiving! If you were traveling I pray you had safe travels and that none of your flights were cancelled and were on time! Please forgive the lateness of this post!

I set up for myself a very ambitious November TBR and I am really happy that I am making progress but there were some books I read that were not on my reading radar but I was introduced to via KU (Amazon Kindle Unlimited) hey I’m easily lead astray when it comes to books…what can I say. Overall though I’ve tried to stick to my reading pile:) and with that being said I thought it would be great to share with you what I’ve read so far.

Happy Reading!

I’m going to kick it off with my favorite (so far) A Sprinkle in Time (Shake Shop Mystery #2) by Dana Mentink I really enjoyed this second book in what will hopefully be a series with a long life. I found myself connecting even more with Trinidad and was so glad her grandfather, Papa Luis, was in this book also and hopefully he has arrived in Upper Sprocket, OR to stay and her ex’s first wife and daughter Bonnie & Felice and in this second book too. The mystery which not only included a murder but a cold case too and the author did a great job of connecting everything together so it didn’t feel like there were two completely separate plot happening.

Next The Pint of No Return (A Sloan Krause Mystery #2) by Ellie Alexander was so much better than the first book in this series and there are currently six books in this series. I wasn’t sure I wanted to read the second book in this series but then I had to take my own advice. I always tell other bookworms don’t dismiss this first book in the series and I am glad I took my won advice! This second book was so much better than I thought it would be Sloan is finding her groove as she is adjusting to life as an almost devoiced woman and deal with her soon to be ex as best she can while working alongside Garrett at Nitro. When a murder happens Sloan finds herself investigating and the ending was much more satisifying this time around.

The first book in Sue Pepper’s Jackson Hole’s Moose’s Bakery Not So Cozy Mystery Mountain Town Murder gets a huge thumbs up! Although I must admit I found the book very cozy it had all the cozy troupes: cozy companion (dog name Tyrone), murder but not gory, small town, and in this case culinary but I think the author classified it as not so cozy because there is profanity and one slightly steamy love scene (I guess). I love Sadie Moose and the employees of her bakery and some other characters. I read this mystery pretty quickly it was just that good. There were several suspects and I definitely had no clue who the killer was but I was glued to the story and just had to find out!

Musseled Out (A Maine Clambake Mystery #3by Barbara Ross finds Julia Snowden trying to keep her BIL, Sonny, out of prison when he is suspected of murdering David Thwing “the Mussel King” who was planning to open up his own clambake business in direct competition to the Snowden Family Clambake. The problem is Sonny is not being completely truthful with the police or Julia’s sister regarding his alibi. Plus Julia has to decide if she’s going back to her old job in New York or staying put in Busman’s Harbor. This was very entertaining and can’t wait to read book 4!

Other books I’ve read this month:

A Corpse in Coldlake Creek (Elsie Cromwell Mystery #1) by Kristen Skeet (KU)

Live, Local, and Dead (A Vermont Radio Mystery #1) by Nikki Knight

Sticker Sheet Murder (A Sticker Shop Mystery #1) by Courtney Flagg (KU)

Mother’s Day Murder (A Holiday Cozy Mystery #2) by Tonya Kappes (audiobook)

Pumpkin Spice & Deadly Heist (A Nosey Paralegal Mystery #1) by Tanya R. Taylor

Holiday Glam — Part 1

Happy Thursday Southernistas! Well the holiday season is upon us and brands are rolling out their holiday collections and believe me after the past three years of no holiday get togethers or socially distanced ones I am ready for the holiday celebrations to begin! Which means it is time to FINALLY get glammed up or as I like to say sparkle and shine.

So over the next few posts I will be sharing with y’all some outfits for every get together weather it be a formal party where you will need to get glammed up which this first post will be about or a more laid back celebration there is something for everybody and at every price level.

I myself am very much a sparkle and shine girl so you know I am all about the sequins and everything that goes with an all out formal look and it makes me so happy that more and more brands are offering glam looks for different body types.

Here are some glam looks that I am loving and I hope will help you find your next glam party look and I promise there are looks for every budget.

Until Next Time Southernistas!

Plus Sequin Off the Shoulder Wrap Mini Dress — Boohoo

Sequin Contrast Midi Dress — Boohoo

Ashley Stewart Sequin Jacket and Wide Leg Pants

Comes In Black Too!

Ashley Stewart Stiped Sequin Bodycon Dress

Eloquii Dolman Sleeve Sequin Dress

Comes in Gold too

Eloquii Sequin Halter Dress

Amazon Sequin Dress — Plus

Rebdolls V-Neck Long Sleeve Sequin Jumpsuit

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November Reading Goals

Happy Friday fellow book lovers! I was going to wait until next week but I really wanted to share with ya’ll my very ambitious November reading goals and they are very ambitious. I look at November at the kick off to the Christmas/holiday season when I believe we have more time off from work than any other time of the year. As mush as I love to shop I do not get up at a ridiculous hour of the morning to go shopping the day after Thanksgiving I sleep.

So this month I have set for myself the goal of 18 books since I have a four day weekend and will not be traveling for the holiday. These books are also on my Fall TBR list with some new additions. Having said all this here are the cozy mysteries I am endeavoring to read this month.

So fellow book lover’s do you have a November reading list? What’s on your TBR? What are you reading now?

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Until Next Time…Happy Reading!

The Pint of No Return (A Sloan Krause Mystery #2) by Ellie Alexander (currently reading)

Moose Town Murder (Jackson Hole Moose’s Bakery #1) by Sue Pepper (currently reading)

Fresh Brewed Murder (A Ground Rules Mystery #1) by Emmeline Duncan (Cozy Mystery Book Club November Pick)

Crime & Punctuation (A Deadly Edits Mystery #1) by Kaitlyn Dunnett (Cozy Mystery Reading Challenge Book Club Pick)

Isn’t this the cutest cover!

On Skein of Death (A Riverbank Knitting Mystery #1) by Allie Pleiter (Instagram Group November Buddy Read)

A Sprinkle in Time (A Shake Shop Mystery #2) by Dana Mentink

A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder (A Countess of Harleigh Mystery #2) by Dianne Freeman

Mint Chocolate Murder (Ice Cream Shoppe Mystery #2) by Meri Allen

Pumpkin Spice & Deadly Heist (A Noisy Paralegal Mystery #1) by Tanya R. Taylor

Deserts, Driving, & Derelicts (A Campers & Criminal Mystery #2) by Tonya Kappes

Musseled Out (A Maine Clambake Mystery #3) by Barbara Ross

Because I Could Not Stop For Death (An Emily Dickinson Mystery #1) by Amanda Flower

Live, Local and Dead (A Vermont Radio Mystery #1) by Nikki Knight

A Case of Syrah, Syrah (A Wine Country Mystery #1) by Nancy J. Parra

Murder at Blackburn Hall (A High Society Lady Detective Mystery #2) by Sara Rossett

Wine and Punishment (A Literary Pub Mystery #1) by Sarah Fox

Artifact (Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery #1) by Gigi Pandian

The Accidental Alchemist (An Accidental Alchemist Myster #1) by Gigi Pandian

Wednesday Reads-Mrs. Santa and the Evil Elves by Liz Ireland Review

Happy Wednesday Book Lovers! I just finished reading the third book in Liz Ireland’s delightful Mrs. Claus mystery series and all I can say is every book keeps getting better. I give this book a huge 5 STARS!

In this third book April Claus is excited to have her best friend Claire visiting her in Santaland which is also her way of revealing that she is actually married to Santa Claus and her whole new life during Christmas Week but all it is not well in Santaland. The reindeer have gone on strike because of the drone reindeer that have started popping up everywhere and her husband Nick aka Santa Claus is trying to do all he can to end the strike before Christmas gets cancelled. Then a drone reindeer takes out the ice sculpture of Blitzen the First with an ominous message attached to it THIS IS JUST THE BEGINNING!

April was hoping to show Claire how wonderful Santaland is but it looks like someone has other plans. Then there is the murder or should I say elficide of Virgil which happen halfway through the book and her best elf friend Juniper is arrested for his murder. Now April has putting on her sleuthing cap to find out who framed her best friend for murder.

I found this book so much fun to read and found it so hard to put it down which made for plenty of late night reading. From the first sentence “Note to self: Elf clogging should never be the main event” to the very last sentence. Because the murder or elficide happened so late in the book I didn’t think there was going to be one and that it would be all about the chaos and havoc that is being created. At times there were way too many subplots going on with the reindeer strike, snowmen on souped up boards called snowmanuvers, a missing elf, a budding romance between Claire and Jake Frost, and a few more subplots that at times distracted me from the actual murder.

Due to all the subplots there were plenty (plenty) of red herrings and even with this I was able to guess who the killer was at least I was 1/2 right. The one thing I did miss from this book were the text messages from April’s nemesis back in Cloudberry Bay.

This series is worth your time especially if you’re looking for something fun and light hearted to read then the Mrs. Claus series is the perfect series for you!