Hi everyone! Jackie here. Today the Mystery Crew (specifically myself and Maggie) are bringing you a joint review of the cozy mystery Meet Your Baker by Ellie Alexander. This will be our first joint review, so we’re pretty excited about it. Watch out in the future because I’m sure there will be plenty more of these to come.

 

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Synopsis

Welcome to Torte-a friendly, small-town family bake shop where the treats are so good that, sometimes, it’s criminal…

After graduating from culinary school, Juliet Capshaw returns to her quaint hometown of Ashland, Oregon, to heal a broken heart and help her mom at the family bakery. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is bringing in lots of tourists looking for some crumpets to go with their heroic couplets. But when one of Torte’s customers turns up dead, there’s much ado about murder…

The victim is Nancy Hudson, the festival’s newest board member. A modern-day Lady Macbeth, Nancy has given more than a few actors and artists enough reasons to kill her…but still. The silver lining? Jules’s high school sweetheart, Thomas, is the investigator on the case. His flirtations are as delicious as ever, and Jules can’t help but want to have her cake and eat it too. But will she have her just desserts? Murder might be bad for business, but love is the sweetest treat of all…

 

 

Jackie’s Review
5 out of 5 stars

I am so, so glad I decided to start this series! I can tell already that this is going to become one of my favorites. I’m grateful that there are already several books out in this series, because that is going to give me plenty to read and binge my way through!

Ashland, Oregon sounds absolutely amazing and I definitely want to go there to visit sometime. Everything is described so well it’s almost like I’m there myself, which is the next best thing to actually being there. I am in love with Torte as well. I was practically drooling while reading this book with all of the delicious things that Jules creates for Torte. I’m definitely going to be trying out some of those recipes in the back of the book.

I really like that there is going to be a probably ongoing storyline in this series between Jules and Carlos. I’m looking forward to seeing where things go with that in the next book.

The mystery was very well written. I was completely stumped about who the killer was. Just when I thought I had narrowed down my suspicion on someone, things would be revealed and I would suspect someone else. I was shocked at the reveal since it wasn’t someone I had suspected at all! I’ll definitely be picking up this series soon!

 

Maggie’s Review

5 out of 5 stars!

How much do I need to say that I LOVED this book! Ellie Alexander is a mystery-writing genius – I blew through this book and adored every word. Like Jackie said, the person who turned out to be the culprit totally surprised me – which I love about a good mystery!

I discovered my love for cozies after reading Meet Your Baker – I never dreamed how much I’d love them!

This book is set in beautiful Ashland, a sleepy seaside town in Oregon, where Jules’ mother owns a bakery I’d love to visit, Torte, which is such a cute name for a sweet shop!

I really like that Jules’ friends are much like her family – very supportive, especially since Jules returned to Ashland after experiencing a major heartbreak. After a while, Jules’ broken heart begins to heal and she reconnects with her love from high school, Thomas, who is a police officer in Ashland…then Carlos returns!
I love how the story sets up scenes to surely be featured in additional books in the series! Also like Jackie, I can’t wait to binge the rest of Alexander’s Bakeshop Mystery series!
I highly recommend Alexander’s mysteries to anyone – not just those who enjoy mysteries in general and/or cozies, but to everyone! This book practically changed my reading ideals and enlightened me to the fact that cozies may just be my kind of tales!

When She Returned

By Lucinda Berry

PUBLICATION DATE: October 15, 2019
PUBLISHER: Thomas & Mercer

Where to Purchase: 
Amazon
/ Barnes and Noble /  Book Depository 

RATING:


3.5 out of 5 Sherlocks

** I received this book in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer. All opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by receiving this book for free. **

Synopsis

(From Goodreads)

One woman’s reappearance throws her family into turmoil, exposing dark secrets and the hidden, often devastating truth of family relationships.

     Kate Bennett vanished from a parking lot eleven years ago, leaving behind her husband and young daughter. When she shows up at a Montana gas station, clutching an infant and screaming for help, investigators believe she may have been abducted by a cult.

      Kate’s return flips her family’s world upside down—her husband is remarried, and her daughter barely remembers her. Kate herself doesn’t look or act like she did before.

     While the family tries to help Kate reintegrate into society, they discover truths they’ve been hiding from each other about their own relationships. But they aren’t the only ones with secrets. As the family unravels what happened to Kate, a series of shocking revelations shows that Kate’s return is more sinister than any of them could have imagined.

Review

     When I read the synopsis for this book on NetGalley I instantly was interested in reading it. As a trauma survivor, I am always interested in stories that involve some type of trauma experience. I was even more intrigued because I read the author’s bio to the book and the author has worked with individuals that have psychological trauma, so I thought she might be able to capture many of the elements that a less experienced author may miss. Berry captures almost too masterfully the experiences of someone returning from a traumatic experience. She holds tight to the realities of these types of experiences that she seems to forget an important element , which is that this is still a work of fiction.

     The book has three points-of-view. Each is a female centered around the main action of the story. One perspective is largely told from the “past” viewpoint, but the other two are squarely in the “now” of the story. The “past” perspective is of the character Kate, who has been missing for over a decade. The other two perspectives are Abbi, Kate’s daughter, and Meredith, Kate’s stepmother. The perspective I felt kept me most captured into the story was Meredith’s viewpoint. Meredith’s viewpoint added a perspective that was needed. The character that you sympathized with in a different way than “my mom has returned. Can we have a relationship” that was largely the perspective of Abbi. Meredith was, to me, by far a more sympathetic character, maybe surprisingly, than the other two. Throughout much of the book she is fairly supportive of her husband and the fact that his first wife is back from what everyone thought was the dead. She continued to be sympathetic throughout the book, in my opinion. Even though a few moments other readers may have thought she wasn’t. The perspective that I felt less engaged with was that of Abbi. This was because the character was predictable, but that can be nice when there were two perspectives that were almost anything but predictable. Abbi provided the necessary grounding to the story that could have been lost without it.  Kate’s perspective I am not going to delve into because touching upon it would unravel plot points that I do not want to do. Yes, telling you almost anything about it would start to give you too much insight to her part of all of this because it heavily focuses on the “past” that I mentioned.

The plot of this book was very on the nose for the story that Berry was writing. Sometimes too on the nose. The beauty of a fiction book is that you can add elements that are not true for everyone facing trauma. You can add in elements that you could not otherwise. Berry holds too tight to the realities of trauma and what happens when someone survives the exact circumstances that Kate has. This clinging to the realities creates an ending that is unsatisfying, but realistic. The ending was probably the biggest issue for me. I saw it coming, but I didn’t want to see that ending coming. I was hoping that Berry would surprise me, but she did not. She kept true to the trauma, which is why I felt that I could not rate the book higher. I will say though, I would read more from Lucinda Berry. I think she is a gifted writer, which will only get better as she finds the balance between reality and fiction to incorporate into a novel. She needs to feel less like a journalist and more of a novelist. When Berry does this, I know she is going to be even stronger than she is here. I am looking forward to this authors future. I think she has a beautiful writing future ahead of her.

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