A California Magazine with Local Focus and Global Appeal:
Community - Entertainment - Human Interest

Weekly issues every Saturday morning and other special articles throughout the week — there's something for everyone. Check out our sister site KRL News & Reviews for even more articles every week.

Previous post:

Next post:

Trowel and Error: English Cottage Garden Mystery By H.Y. Hanna: Review/Giveaway


FROM THE 2020 Articles,
andKathleen Costa,
andMysteryrat's Maze

by Kathleen Costa

Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win either an ebook or print copy of Trowel and Error, and a link to purchase it from Amazon. We also have a fun guest post by Kathleen about gardening.

Trowel and Error: English Cottage Garden Mystery By H.Y. Hanna

Green Thumb in Training!
Poppy Lancaster has not looked back after leaving London and moving to Bunnington, a small village in the Oxfordshire countryside, to take possession of her inheritance, Hollyhock Cottage and a cottage garden nursery, but since her grandmother’s illness and passing, it has fallen into disrepair. She’s got to have the Lancaster green thumb somewhere in her, so she’s cleaning, weeding, and working hard to reenergize the garden and greenhouse into something of which her grandmother would have been proud. Joining Poppy is friend and surrogate mother Nell Hopkins, cleaning woman by trade, who had been made redundant in London and now is a housemate. There is also handyman Joe Fabbri, an invaluable mentor on all things gardening, neighbor Nick Forrester, a handsome crime-thriller author, another neighbor Dr. Bertram “Bertie” Noble, Nick’s estranged father, former Oxford professor, and eccentric inventor, DI Suzanne Whittaker, friend and confidant, and Oren, a demanding ginger tom, who despite being adopted by Nick, is often found at Hollyhock Cottage receiving special “treat”ment. But, it’s not all perennials, seedlings, and floral displays, Poppy has happened upon too many suspicious deaths running afoul of DS Amory Lee. Life in the English countryside can be unpredictably entertaining!

English Cottage Garden Mystery
Deadhead and Buried (2019)
Silent Bud Deadly (2019)
Doom and Bloom (2019)
Trowel and Error (2020)

Trowel and Error earns 5+/5 Swarms of Mystery…Engaging Entertainment!
Poppy’s “slimy” cousin Hubert Leach, a property agent, has been a bittersweet part in her life, but she thought the “quid pro quo” agreement she’d made would turn out to be simple and easy to fulfill. He had given Nell a lucrative cleaning contract, and Poppy promised a return “favor,” and being his date at an invitation-only cocktail party seemed a small price to pay. Until the “quo” was more than her “quid” could handle. I’m your who? My name is what? The only good side is Poppy gets an introduction to billionaire David Nowak who owns the Ró?a Garden Centres chain and is a candidate for Parliament. David and his wife Lena are hosting a “vintage attire” cocktail party to show off his renovated orangery and maybe a bit of fundraising on the side. But, the evening doesn’t go as planned. Rick Zova, a party crasher from David’s past, is found dead…covered in wasp stings!

David, Geoff Healey, and Rick Zova were mates who had been in a band thirty years ago, but like most bands, egos, creative differences, and greed caused many a break-up. Rick’s uninvited appearance, in true flamboyant fashion, seems just a friendly surprise, but Poppy overhears a conversation, talks to another party crashes, and witnesses a disturbing outburst. When Rick is later found by an old tree housing a vicious swarm of wasps. Poppy is shocked to learn Oxfordshire CID uses circumstantial evidence implicating Joe Fabini in the crime as a reason to hold him. To everyone’s dismay, Poppy is adamant that Joe is innocent and she’s going to prove it!

“Orange you glad you…” H.Y. Hanna is an all-time favorite author for her clever mystery, descriptive language, and an entertaining banter, and this fourth book in her English Cottage Garden Mystery is another excellent adventure. I may not be an active gardener, but I greatly enjoy the idea of a nursery, gardening, and all the flowers talk. The murder mystery was well-developed from the victim selection and a plethora of folks connected to the victim to reasonable motives and interesting secrets exposed, and all ending with a final reveal excited by a bit of personal peril. I had the killer on my radar, but cleverly Hanna’s story had me dismiss that idea when something better came along…and Joe? He had reason; I wondered if Poppy just had it wrong. I love it when I get stumped. Readers also get a little more about Poppy’s late mother and the father she never knew…fascinating side story! Hanna’s English Cottage Garden main characters are delightful, realistic, and varied in age to meet any cozy fan’s preferences, and the additional characters do well to support their personalities, class, and education. Several suspects had the opportunity and slowly several motives are exposed as Poppy uses her informal queries, Bertie’s newest invention CLARA, and an “in” at the police station; my inner Sherlock was on overdrive. I loved it all.

Bonus! The idea of an orangery brought to mind one of my favorite compliments to scones and muffins…marmalade. Here is an excellent resource for some unique homemade marmalades from Kimberly, a designer at Evermine: evermine: Blog—5 Unique Marmalade Recipes.

Be a Big H.Y. Hanna Fan!
USA Today bestselling author H.Y. Hanna is the author of my all-time favorite series; the now ten-book Oxford Tearoom Mystery always added a little treat for me to bring a proper English tearoom into my home. Another top favorite is the six-book Bewitched by Chocolate series, which sprinkles a bit of magic to the delectable descriptions of all kinds of chocolate. I am thrilled that she has given me another favorite with the entertaining four-book English Cottage Garden Mystery planting wonderful characters and a clever mystery along with a bit of humor. All of her series are in print and eBook, but several are also in audio format giving readers a little extra with the delightful voice artistry of narrator Pearl Hewitt who enriches the already engaging story with varied accents, dialects, emotions, and tone. I always say “Murder is better with an English accent.”

Facebook – H.Y. Hanna Books
Website – H.Y. Hanna
Twitter At @_HYHanna

Gardening for the Family
By Kathleen Costa

H.Y. Hanna’s story sure does spark an interest in gardening, and whether you have an allotment plot, backyard, patio, or kitchen window, you can grow your favorite flowers, herbs, fruits, and vegetables. It’s also a great family activity and learning experience during this “stay at home” time. Hey, kids! Let’s build a garden!

There are several resources to produce or improve your “green thumb.” Start by deciding what kind of garden you’d like to create: a retreat filled with flowers, a garden of veggies you can ensure are grown without pesticides, or your favorite herbs to support your inner chef.

Website Garden Therapy: Better Living Through Plants—This is a great site by Stephanie Rose that includes a Blog, Shop, and Events including tips on growing, feeding, and managing a garden along with recipes for an herb salad, instructions for a relaxing foot scrub, and a way to sooth summer skin. Sign up for her newsletter.

Garden Therapy—Tomatoes: How to Grow Tomatoes: Top Tomato Growing Tips From an Expert—This May 15 blog is an excellent resource with expert advice from Joe Lamp’l’s (aka joe gardener®) in preparation of growing tomatoes with additional information on Edible Gardens, Heirloom Tomatoes, Tomatoes, and Vegetables Gardening.

HGTV—Family Gardening—Home & Garden TV has some great ways to foster an interest in gardening along with an understanding of how things grow, efforts needed to maintain a garden, and the fun in eating the results. Make gardening fun for the whole family with these easy projects: Gardening Fun for the Whole Family, Kid-friendly Gardening Videos, All Kids Love Fairy Gardens, Kid-friendly Gardening Projects, Easy Plants for Kids to Grow, Create an Outdoor Gardening Studio for Kids, and many more fascinating projects and articles.

How to: Culinary Indoor Herb Garden: This website offer “10 Tips For A Successful Indoor Herb Garden” with additional resources on Kitchen Herb Gardens, Herb Garden Ideas, and Growing Herbs. There is an opportunity through Botanical Interests to download a Free Garden Journal. Check this out if interested: Botanical Interests—Garden Journal.

Evermine Blog: DIY Painted Garden Rocks—Once you get your garden growing, the family may have fun decorating with these painted garden rocks by Lindsay, writer/blogger.

To enter to win an ebook or print copy of Trowel and Error, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “trowel,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 30, 2020. U.S. residents only and you must be 18 or older to enter. You can read our privacy statement here if you like. MAKE SURE TO STATE IF YOU WANT PRINT OR EBOOK.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Be sure to check out our new mystery podcast too with mystery short stories, and first chapters read by local actors. A new episode goes up next week.

You can use this link to purchase the book from Amazon. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link:

Kathleen Costa is a long-time resident of the Central Valley, and although born in Idaho, she considers herself a “California Girl.” Graduating from CSU-Sacramento, she is a 35+ year veteran teacher having taught in grades 1-8 in schools from Sacramento to Los Angeles to Stockton to Lodi. Currently Kathleen is enjoying her retirement revitalizing hobbies along with exploring writing, reading for pleasure, and spending 24/7 with her husband.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Glen Davis May 23, 2020 at 11:02am

Sounds interesting! Count me in!


2 Anne
Twitter: @anne
May 23, 2020 at 2:26pm

What a wonderful feature and giveaway. So interesting and special. Many thanks.


3 Alicia May 23, 2020 at 6:10pm

A great author! Would love a print copy of this.


4 Kara Marks May 23, 2020 at 7:28pm

I’d love to read this! legallyblonde1961@yahoo.com


5 Jeanie Dannheim
Twitter: @JeanieDannheim
May 23, 2020 at 10:45pm

This sounds interesting! I haven’t read any of the series yet. Thanks for the chance to win!


6 Paula Adams
Twitter: @qnofdnile
May 24, 2020 at 4:29am

Love the cover. A great cover does make me want to read a book. I have read some of H.Y. Hanna’s books and have enjoyed them. I would like a print copy if I am chosen. Thank you so much for this chance!!


7 Carol Knudtson May 24, 2020 at 6:27am

This series sounds wonderful! Thanks for the giveaway. I prefer print books, please.


8 Nora-Adrienne
Twitter: @Nora-Adrienne
May 24, 2020 at 6:45am

This sounds like a fun series. While I personally have a black thumb, my younger son’s backyard is doing quite well this year. My younger daughter just expanded her yard back out by almost 10 yards onto the adjacent county section to clear and restore.

I’d love to win a paper version of the book. I’ve found that “e” anything doesn’t mean it will last forever..
A recent post from Nora-Adrienne: June is here, where are my open restaurants? At Least I Have a Big Batch of New Books For You!My Profile


9 Rifat
Twitter: @tbd
May 24, 2020 at 9:58am

This is really a great article and a great read for me. It’s my first visit to your blog and I have found it so useful and informative. Thank you


10 Dianne Casey May 24, 2020 at 11:48am

Sounds like another great book. I would like a print book.


11 wendy May 24, 2020 at 2:52pm

sounds good. print please.


12 Teresa Warner May 24, 2020 at 3:47pm

Cute covers, would love to get a print copy! tWarner419(at)aol(dot)com


13 Karen Santiago May 25, 2020 at 11:40am

Yes! She is also one of my favorites too! I love all of her series and always wait for the audible version because Pearl Hewitt does such an awesome job with the characters! I’d love to have a print version though…


14 Annette N May 25, 2020 at 12:11pm

I am a gardener and a fan of gardening books. Makes me wish I had a big place to grow all the things that look so terrific in the catalogues.

I liked the book covers. Thanks for the all the wonderful gardening information.

Would love a copy and either kind would be lovely.


15 Robin Leslie Coxon May 26, 2020 at 7:25am

I have been a fan of H.Y. Hanna’s books from the beginning. It would be wonderful to claim her latest book as mine. Thanks for this opportunity.


16 Cortni Edwards May 26, 2020 at 7:43am

Love my garden this year and this author! Great combo 🙂


17 Mary Holshouser May 26, 2020 at 8:58pm

Love books set in England.
Have a different flavor to them
and it’s fun to “live” in a different
country. Want to try this one.


18 Betsy Pauzauskie
Twitter: @betsypauzauskie
May 27, 2020 at 9:27am

I’m preparing to walk out the door to garden after sending this. Thanks for the giveaway! Print copy please!


19 Cherisse May 27, 2020 at 9:46am

Love the cover and premise! Email is booksnpugs (at) gmail (dot) com


20 Kathleen C Kendler
Twitter: @Kathleen
May 27, 2020 at 2:01pm

What a wonderful giveaway. I haven’t read this series. I like this author. Print copy if I should win, please. kckendler at gmail dot com. Thaks for the review.


21 Kelly Braun
Twitter: @69steelers2
May 27, 2020 at 4:02pm

What a great article… so much to see! Thanks for a really well written and enjoyable post, HY Hanna’s books are a pleasure to read!

Kelly Braun


22 Lorie
Twitter: @mysteryrat
June 2, 2020 at 3:08pm

We have a winner!


Leave a Comment

Twitter ID
(ID only; No links or "@" symbols)

CommentLuv badge

Previous post:

Next post:

  • Arts & Entertainment

  • Books & Tales

  • Community

  • Education

  • Food Fun

  • Helping Hands

  • Hometown History

  • Pets

  • Teens

  • Terrific Tales