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More Fun Food Mysteries For Your Summer Reading


FROM THE 2021 Articles,
andCynthia Chow,
andFood Fun,
andMysteryrat's Maze,
andSandra Murphy

by Sandra Murphy
& Cynthia Chow

This week we have another fun group of food mysteries for your summer reading fun-For Batter or Worse: A Cupcake Bakery Mystery by Jenn McKinlay, Death Gone A-Rye: A Bread Shop Mystery by Winnie Archer, Southern Sass and a Battered Bride: A Marygene Brown Mystery by Kate Young, and Peaches and Schemes: A Georgia B&B Mystery by Anna Gerard. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of all 4 books and links to purchase them at the end of each review–you may not be able to see the Amazon links if you have ad blocker on.

For Batter or Worse: A Cupcake Bakery Mystery by Jenn McKinlay
Review by Cynthia Chow

Life has become a real life fairy tale for Fairy Tale Cupcakes owner Melanie Cooper. She is about to marry her lifelong crush Joe DeLaura, while his sister – and Mel’s best friend – Angie is herself 32-weeks pregnant and feeling ready to pop. Mel’s planned wedding reception is even going to be held at the Sun Dial Resort, where her former employee Oz Ruiz now works as their master pastry chef. The first bump in the road comes when Mel witnesses the chaotic abuse of power within the resort’s kitchen, led by the egotistical and near-maniacal Miles Gallway. While Oz considers working in such a hostile work environment to simply be a part of “paying his dues,” Mel sees this as an outdated concept and asks if he is truly happy. While Mindfulness and being Present is something that Mel and Angie value in their own cupcake bakery, Miles prefers taking credit for other’s work, wielding his authority like a weapon, and hoarding attention and praise. An opportunity at the Foodie Channel only amplifies his combativeness, especially when Oz is seen as a more appealing contender. So when Oz is found standing over the head chef’s body, Oz immediately becomes the police’s number one suspect.

Oz’s alibi that he was only in the kitchen to feed his master sourdough starter is believable only to his fellow bakers and chefs, and it only looks worse for Oz when the resort owner’s wife claims to have been having affairs with both Oz and the victim. Having mentored Oz and adoring him as a little brother, Mel doesn’t hesitate to begin investigating the lurid machinations going on within the resort’s kitchens. Angie isn’t about to let her pregnancy keep her on the sidelines either, despite seven protective older brothers, all of whom are insisting on naming rights on the baby.

This thirteenth in the series brings together all of the elements readers have grown to love from this series. DeLaura sibling shenanigans, insane rival baker Olivia Puckett, baked treats, and of course, the delightful friendships between Mel, Angie, and Angie’s now-husband Tate. That baking elements are both clues and weapons is an ingenious twist to this mystery, which revels in the unique aspects of restaurant kitchens, wedding planning, and television cooking shows. Oz’s descriptions of the wedding cupcakes are outstanding and will have readers drooling, but of course, the real draw is seeing these friends not only solve a murder together but deliver Mel’s happily-ever-after. The one thing fans of this series know is that while things may never go as expected, the love and affection the characters have for one another ensure a rewarding and charming conclusion. Angie’s uncharacteristically Mama Zen outlook, Mel’s mentorship of Oz, and the bond between Mel and Angie deliver all of the humor and genuinely emotional moments longtime readers of these books so appreciate in these books of food and friendship.

Death Gone A-Rye: A Bread Shop Mystery by Winnie Archer
Review by Cynthia Chow

Ivy Culpepper is thrilled to see her brother Billy walk down the aisle with her own best friend, Sheriff Emmaline Davis. It’s a perfect wedding, too, right up until they hear the news that the Santa Sofia School Board president Nessa Renchrik has been murdered. Ivy wants nothing more than for Billy and Emmaline to follow through on their honeymoon to Costa Rica, but that also means leaving the investigation in the hands of recent transfer Captain Craig York. Ivy doesn’t trust Captain York, especially when he seems to be focusing his investigation directly on her boyfriend Miguel Baptista. The owner of Baptista’s Cantina and Grill, Miguel also has an unexpected connection to the victim that makes him the easy target for a quick solution to a case. While the rest of Santa Sofia knows Ivy’s history of success at solving murders, Captain York is less amenable to her interference and makes no bones about warning her away under threat of arrest.

There was never a question that Ivy would indeed investigate the murder, which is why Yeast of Eden’s participation in a school’s Spring Fling fundraiser so convenient. Not only will Olaya Solis and Ivy have the opportunity to share their Instagram-hit focaccia creations, their booth will give Ivy a chance to question the School Board president’s many enemies. It seems that Nessa Renchrik favored certain schools over others, especially if they were in a higher economic district and populated by fewer minority children. Indeed, Nessa may have had a little too much influence with recent ICE raids, breaking up families and causing no amount of distrust and trauma. With octogenarian and neighbor Mrs. Penelope Branford serving as a capable, fearless, and usually unasked for sidekick, Ivy is torn between proving Miguel’s innocence and capturing a culprit who may have been justified in their actions.

This sixth in the series delves into very timely topics, especially for the Northern California setting. Immigration, school district divisions, and the struggles for equitable financing all make for triggering subjects if not deftly handled. The author approaches these very thoughtfully and humanely, with the personal connections emphasizing the coldness of bureaucratic rules. Balancing out these weighty themes are the unique and always mouth-watering descriptions of Olaya’s elaborate creations. The origin of Hot Cross Buns may not be a mystery to all, but it’s impossible not to be tantalized by her colorful Vincent Van Dough works of art. Included recipes are aspirational as well as inspirational, designed for both novices and experts. Ivy’s path towards becoming a professional photographer has been natural and relatable, as it has been the time spent working Olaya’s bakery that has allowed her to think, meditate, and be present while finding her purpose in life.

Southern Sass and a Battered Bride: A Marygene Brown Mystery by Kate Young
Review by Cynthia Chow

Marygene Brown may have dreamed of planning a wedding on her beloved Peach Cove Island with her childhood sweetheart Deputy Alex Myers, but she never would have imagined that it would be like this. Instead of walking down the aisle to meet her groom, Marygene is catering the reception for Alex and his bridezilla Lucy Carmichael. Lucy isn’t shy about her demands nor her hatred of Marygene, which makes hiring Marygene and then inviting her to bridal parties inexplicable. Only Alex’s mother seems to approve of the self-involved and dismissive bride-to-be, so when Marygene finds Lucy’s body slathered in wedding cake there should be an abundance of suspects.

As a result of conflicts of interests, though, mainland Detective Thornton is sent in and he isn’t shy about his opinion that either Marygene or coworker Betsy are guilty. That makes relying on Javier Reyes all the more crucial, as while he may have been the Best Man, he is also another deputy who makes sparks fly when with Marygene. A past abusive relationship has Marygene retreating in a much safer relationship with somewhat nerdy Paul Fowler, whose work with the Sunshine Murder Mystery Company has increased business with Marygene’s Peach Diner catering services. Marygene’s “affliction” that allows her to interact with the protective presence of her late mother also gives her a heads up when something is wrong in Peach Cove, although it would be more helpful if Mama could develop her sensitives a little faster.

This third in the series continues to follow Marygene’s recovery from her trauma as she embraces her family’s legacy on Georgia’s charming Peach Cove Island. In a place where everyone seems to be related or have at least grown up together, there are a surprising abundance of secrets being kept among these quirky characters. Marygene’s bonds with her female friends bolster her and provide much needed entertainment and edible treats, especially as she learns to tiptoe back into the dating world. Alex’s wishy-washiness and wounded-ego neediness may have readers occasionally wanting to kick him in the behind, so it’s rewarding to see Marygene handle their relationship with enviable maturity. And then give him a figurative kick in the behind. Mama also shares her opinion, not just on Marygene’s personal life, but on the threats facing Peach Cove and the diner. The island setting is as tantalizing as the Southern cuisine, making it a place one never wishes to leave. A genuinely surprising and very satisfying ending wraps up this fund mystery centered around a heroine who is growing stronger and building a rather unique support base of friends and family.

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).

Peaches and Schemes: A Georgia B&B Mystery by Anna Gerard
Review by Sandra Murphy

Nina Fleet owns a B&B in Georgia, peach country. She’s new at this but is starting to have success. Of course, she can’t rely on summer visitors alone. Each year a bridal expo is held in town to showcase florists, photographers, the latest in bridal gowns, bridesmaid dresses your best friends won’t hate you for, catering, and more. Nina hopes the more means destination weddings and honeymooners to stay at the B&B.

There was a kerfuffle when she first bought the house. It seems the woman who died had promised to leave it to Harry in her will but never got around to actually putting it in writing. Nina and Harry have come to an agreement. He can stay for a month, rent-free in exchange for dropping his claim. As the thirty days are coming to a close, Nina finds she likes having someone else in the house.

At the bridal expo, she’s surprised to find Harry, an actor, has done the voice over for the runway show. Having just found out her ex is getting married again, Nina isn’t much in the mood for wedding dresses but watches most of the show before taking a break. When she comes back, it’s just in time for the big finale – a faux wedding cake with a surprise inside.

When opened, it’s a surprise all right. Instead of the planned floral display, a woman falls out, dead. Although she’s been a friend to Nina, the same can’t be said for everyone else. The list of suspects is long and varied.

Nina goes to her house to pick up her dog and keep him until his new home can be found. And that’s just the beginning—a suspect is arrested but released on bail and disappears, there are attempts on Nina’s life, the victim’s house is trashed in a search, the victim’s ex-husbands might be involved, then it gets worse. Can Nina and Harry work together to find the killer before the killer strikes again?

This is book three in the series, all reviewed here. Nina and her Aussie, Mattie, are fun alone but add in Harry and his money-making schemes, and it’s a whole other level of antics going on. This is a series I look forward to reading. With a B&B setting, there are always new characters to meet and maybe murder.

To enter to win a copy of all 4 books, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “summer food” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen June 19, 2021. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If you are entering via email please include you mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like. BE AWARE THAT IT MAY TAKE MUCH LONGER THAN USUAL FOR WINNERS TO GET THEIR BOOKS DUE TO THE CURRENT CRISIS.

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. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify. A new episode goes up next week.

You can use this link to purchase any of these books from indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy, and KRL gets a portion of the sale:

Sandra Murphy lives in the shadow of the Arch in St. Louis Missouri. She’s editor for Peace, Love, and Crime: Crime Stories Inspired by the Songs of the ’60s, with twenty-two cozy stories. She also edited A Murder of Crows, twenty-one stories featuring animals and crime (no animals were harmed). She also writes for magazines, newsletters, and the occasional guest blog. Both anthologies are available at the usual outlets, print or ebook.

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.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Glen Davis June 12, 2021 at 9:16am

Another great collection of books! Count me in!


2 Dianne Casey June 12, 2021 at 2:00pm

Sounds like four great book for summer reading. Thanks for the chance.


3 Nancy June 12, 2021 at 2:39pm

These books all sound like delightful and delicious summer reads for book lovers.


4 Sue Stoner
Twitter: @Sue
June 12, 2021 at 5:25pm

These 4 books are on my want to read list. Thanks for the opportunity.


5 Brenda Ellis
Twitter: @Brenda
June 13, 2021 at 4:27am

OMG! These are all on my TBR list! Please???


6 Marcia Kennedy June 13, 2021 at 11:41am

Sounds like a fun set of books to read! Thanks for the opportunity,


7 Teresa Warner June 13, 2021 at 12:06pm

I great collection, count me in! tWarner419(at)aol(dot)com


8 Tammy Lee Bradley
Twitter: @Tammyleebradley
June 13, 2021 at 1:40pm

Nice collection. I’d love to add them to the Jensen Free Library


9 Alicia June 13, 2021 at 6:27pm

Foods themed mysteries are my favorites! Love to try the included recipes as well.


10 Nora-Adrienne Deret
Twitter: @NoraAdrienne
June 13, 2021 at 6:49pm

I’ve managed to place a hold on most of them at my local libraries. I hope I get them quickly.
A recent post from Nora-Adrienne Deret: June will be bustin’ out all over and so will a lot of new books for you!My Profile


11 Sherry Brown June 14, 2021 at 7:34am

Thank you for the chance to win this giveaway!!! Would love to win all these wonderful books!!!!


12 Luann Gehlhausen June 14, 2021 at 10:18am

2 on my tbr list and two new to me.


13 Valerie Long
Twitter: @Rainstar76
June 14, 2021 at 10:19am

This sounds great! Count me in!


14 Michele Burke June 14, 2021 at 10:25am

Thanks for the chance to win!


15 Tina Young June 14, 2021 at 10:31am

I love all of these! Thank you!?


16 Brittany Harris June 14, 2021 at 10:54am

This is an amazing collection of books. Thanks for the chance?


17 Cindy Ulrich June 14, 2021 at 11:59am

This would be a great quartet to own!!


18 Kathleen Walsh
Twitter: @quackers50
June 14, 2021 at 12:27pm

I’m in! Need some new books to read!


19 Kelly McCreery June 14, 2021 at 12:34pm

What a fantastic group of books!! Thanks as always for the chance to read more!


20 Vonnie Jeffers
Twitter: @Vonjeffers
June 14, 2021 at 4:54pm

Thank you for the chance!


21 Carrie T June 14, 2021 at 5:10pm

I recently discovered Jenn McKinlay and love her books so far. The others are new to me authors. Thank you for the opportunity!


22 Shannon Davis
Twitter: @Shannon
June 14, 2021 at 6:18pm

Yes! Would love to read these! Thanks for the chance to win!!


23 Tina H June 14, 2021 at 7:34pm

Thanks for the chance.


24 Cindy June 14, 2021 at 8:37pm

These look like such fun.


25 Linda Herold
Twitter: @Linda
June 17, 2021 at 5:51pm

These cozies have such pretty covers! Thanks for the chance to win them!


26 Sherry Brown June 18, 2021 at 4:40pm

These would all be awesome books to win!!!! Thank you for the chance to win!!!!


27 Lorie
Twitter: @mysteryrat
June 28, 2021 at 10:04am

We have a winner!


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