Welcome to Monday. Did you have a terrific weekend? How is your summer treating you? Is it hectic and crazy? I have the perfect book for those of you who want a nice, cozy, sweet relaxing read with a bit of mystery. I read and reviewed the first book in this series, Meet Your Baker, this past winter, and I was pleased to find that the second was just as delightful. I adore the setting, and I love the bakery with all of its sweet treats. To me, there is something so relaxing when reading about food. I am excited to be hosting a tour stop of the Batter of Life and Death Tour, hosted by Candace's Book Blog and Promotions. Be sure to check out Candace's blog for upcoming tours. For my stop today, I have a review and a chance to enter the tour wide giveaway. So let's get to the good stuff.
Here is my review:
Batter of Life and Death(Bakeshop Mysteries #1) by Ellie Alexander
Welcome to Torte-a small-town family bakeshop where the coffee is hot, the muffins are fresh, and the cakes are definitely to die for…
It's autumn in Ashland, Oregon-'tis the season for a spiced hot apple cider with a serving (or two) of Torte's famous peach cobbler. It's also the perfect time for Jules Capshaw to promote her family's beloved bake shop by competing in The Pastry Channel's reality show, Take the Cake. The prize is $25,000. But as Jules quickly learns, some people would kill for that kind of dough. Literally.
Then, just as Jules dusts off her Bavarian Chocolate Cake recipe and cinches up her apron, the corpse of a fellow contestant is discovered-death by buttercream. What began as a fun, tasteful televised adventure has morphed into something of a true-crime detective show for Jules and everybody else on set. Who could have killed Chef Marco, and why? Can Jules sift out the killer before someone else gets burned?
Paperback, 304 pages
Published: June 30th 2015 by St. Martin's Paperbacks
Four stars: A delightfully sweet and cozy mystery.
Jules is adjusting to life in her hometown, Ashland, Oregon, after years of living on a cruise ship. After an unexpected end to her marriage, Jules has settled into working at her family bakery. She is content with baking and finding a way to heal, but there are bills to pay. When an opportunity to appear on a baking show is presented to Jules, she can't resist as Torte could use the money to update their ovens, plus it would be an added boost to sales during the winter months. What Jules doesn't expect is for one of the contests to be murdered during the first days of shooting. Jules once again finds herself in the middle of another murder investigation. Who would to murder Chef Marco?
What I Liked:
- There is something so relaxing about reading a good cozy mystery, especially one set in the cozy confines of a bakery, and a small town. I adore the town of Ashland, Oregon, and I love reading about all the sweet treats that are served in the Torte bakery. If you enjoy a cozy mystery packed full of decadent food descriptions, this is a read for you. I found it to be a pleasant read, perfect for when you need something light and cozy.
- This book is packed full of all things sweet. I love reading about all the treats that Jules and the gang bake up in Torte. There are cookies, cakes, breads, pies and puddings and even some savory dishes as well. Best of all, many of the treats featured in the book have recipes at the end. I can't wait to try the Amaretto Dream Cookies as well as the Banana Pudding and Pumpkin Latte. If you are a reader who likes recipes and reading about food, this is a wonderful read.
- For all of you who like vegan food, there is even a nod to all things vegan with a vegan baker. The book also includes a recipe for vegan butter.
- Normally in a cozy mystery, the murder mystery is the driving plot of the book, but that wasn't the case with this book. Yes, there is a murder investigation, but I found it to be the story line that I was interested in the least. I was more engaged in the every day ongoings of the bakery. I also liked the baking competition as well as meeting the contestants. There are some interesting story lines that I thought were more engaging than the murder, and I was pleased by all the additional engaging story lines.
- The murder mystery is one of the main plots, and there were plenty of suspects and lots of strange behavior that had me guessing as to who the culprit was. I liked that there were several red herrings before the killer was unmasked.
- Cozy mysteries are also known for romances and lots of times the romance is thick with tension and trouble and there tends to be love triangles. Surprisingly, this series is still without a romance. Jules is currently separated from her husband, and she hasn't resolved her feelings one way or another regarding him. Meanwhile, being back in Ashland, there are still some sparks between Jules and her one time boyfriend, but at this point, there is nothing but hints as far as a romance. I am perfectly happy without a romance, and when one does solidify, I hope that it is without drama and that this series remains love triangle free. One can hope.
- I like the strong cast of characters in this series. They are realistic and flawed. Especially this time out with the added contestants from the bake show. It took awhile to warm up to them, but I did in the end. All of the characters have their secrets and troubles, and I like that I am always guessing when it comes to the characters. The characters who work at Torte are pleasant, and I like the way they all look out for one another. I am also loving the mother daughter relationship in this series. The characters along with the bakery make this series shine.
- I was actually surprised at the turn of events in this one, I won't go into too many details here to avoid spoilers, but I was a little shocked with the way the game show and everything turned out in a good way. That leaves a lot of possibilities still for the gang at Torte. I am interested to see where things are headed from here.
- This is the type of read that I crave. It is relaxing cozy, and there is something so deliciously wonderful when reading on all things food. I love all the detail and description when it comes to the food and the bakery and even the town. Ms. Alexander makes the town of Ashland and the Torte bakery leap off the pages. I can practically smell the treats. This is a book you can grab when you need something soothing to read after a long day.
- I appreciate that all the major story lines are wrapped up at the end of the book. Yes, there are ongoing threads regarding Jules and her future and the bakery, but as far as the story lines involving the murder and the bake show, they are all resolved at the end. No nagging story threads or cliffhanger.
And The Not So Much:
- I felt that the murder mystery in this installment was weak. I actually found that I wasn't invested in the whole murder mystery, which isn't an issue as I was engaged with the bakery and the contestant on the bake show. The killer is unmasked in a typical scene with the heroine in a battle of wits, fighting for her life as the villain does the whole this is why I did it and how I am going to get away with it speech. You know how it goes.
- Once the motives for the killing were revealed, I thought they were a bit ridiculous and not very realistic. Just a personal opinion, but then again, this is a cozy, so you can expect a not so plausible murder mystery.
- I was left wondering what the deal was between Stephanie and Sterling. Not a big part of the story, but it is brought up over and over, and I was never clear as to why they were bickering.
Batter of Life and Death is the second book in the Bakeshop Mysteries. I am already a fan of this delightfully, delicious little series set in a cozy, small town in Southern Oregon. If you like a pleasant cozy mystery with lots of decadent food and some top notch recipes, this is definitely a series to try. It is terrific for when you need a palate cleanser, or something light and easy. This has fast become one of my favorite cozy series. A must for any hard core cozy mystery connoisseur. I am eagerly awaiting book three.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated for this review.
About the author:
Ellie Alexander is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter to learn more.
I am pleased to present an opportunity to enter a tour wide giveaway. Up for grabs isa signed copy of Meet Your Baker and A Batter of Life and Death, 1 pound coffee, Oregon Chai, Gourmet cupcake liners (US only).
Ends July 21st
to enter fill out the Rafflecopter. This giveaway is not hosted by Rainy Day Ramblings. Please see Candace's Book Blog and Promotions for contest details.
Thanks to Candace for hosting the tour. Be sure to visit her blog for future tours.
In the meantime catch the rest of the tour:
Review – Girl of 1000 Wonders
Review – Books-n-Kisses
Review – The Blacksheep Project
Review & Excerpt - I Wish I Lived in a Library
Review & Excerpt – Sunrise Avenue
Review – Bea’s Book Nook
Review – If These Books Could Talk
Review – Melina’s Book Blog
Review – Rainy Day Ramblings
Review – Jane Reads
Review – Tings Mom Books
Review – Booked On a Feeling
Review – Girl With Book Lungs
Review – Author June McCrary Jacobs
Review – Terry’s Book Addiction
Review – Writing Pearls
Review & Author Interview – Chasing My Extraordinary
Review – Whimsical Nature
Review – Candace’s Book Blog
Finally, don't miss the first book in the series: