"Note in the Nutcracker" & "Celtic Christmas" By Kathi Daley: Reviews/Giveaways

by Kathleen Costa

Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win an ebook copy of both books, and a link to purchase it.

Twice Upon Merry Christmas!
Kathi Daley is a master of holiday cozies, and at Christmas, she always provides ample amounts of tree trimming, cookie decorating, & family gatherings to add to an intriguing murder mystery!

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Note in the Nutcracker earns 5/5 Dear Santas...Endearing & Engaging!
Abby Sullivan may be an innkeeper, but she’s also a well-known writer who at this moment is struggling to pen the thriller due soon to her editor. A well-received distraction comes from BFF Georgia Carter’s culinary test runs; she’s been selected to compete in the Christmas cookie contest for Coastal Maine Living airing on local cable. It’s also the holidays, and the new guests are arriving each with their own story. One guest, Mylie Sanders, was told by a psychic her “soulmate” would be found in Holiday Bay, so the other guests, aptly dubbed bachelor one, two, and three, may just fit the psychic’s prediction. But, it’s the mystery of the life-size, antique nutcracker Abby’s friends sent as a gift that grabs everyone’s attention. Discovered lodged in it’s mouth is a “Dear Santa” letter, not asking for toys, but for an opportunity to spend time with her parents completing a list of holiday activities. As an homage to the little girl’s Christmas wish, completing the list is incorporated into the Inn’s daily festivities. However, the nutcracker’s providence as well as the who and why behind the letter sparks Abby’s interest to uncover the mystery about the young child, and subsequently, a murder for which the wrong man may have been convicted. Colt is out-of-town with his niece and nephew, so his “lawful” participation is more long distance. Oh, and all the “fur” friends are there for any needed support.

The Inn at Holiday Bay series is a marvelous addition to the Kathi Daley world with the first book released in late 2018, and with seven books, readers have experienced the Inn’s remodeling that revealed boxes, letters, a message, and answers along with the Inn in full capacity with a haunting, a pilgrim, and now a note that adds mystery to the lovely Victorian on the cliff. Abby’s personal tragedy is not far from her memory, but her strength and new found friendships have made her life rewarding and maybe a hint of a new romance? In Note in the Nutcracker, the mystery is quite intriguing and everyone gets involved with their best efforts to uncover the mystery of the “Dear Santa” letter, learning the sad history of Abby’s nutcracker, and uncovering the truth of a sad sixty-year-old murder. Christmas is always delightfully in full swing as Daley gives readers a marvelous view into a long list of Christmas activities. Her writing style and first-person narrative is filled with descriptive language and dialogue making this an entertaining page turner. Oops! I always like a bonus at the end of my story, so get a sneak peek at her new Zoe Donovan’s Celtic Christmas, but with a cookie contest and Georgia known for her creative meals, I would have enjoyed a recipe or two from Georgia’s kitchen...just saying.

Alert! Book Eight! Abby and residents of Holiday Bay will return in January 2020 with a new mystery, Blizzard on the Bay. Abby agrees to host a week-long writer’s retreat for seven budding writers. Unfortunately, Abby has a not-so-happy past with the mentor hired to facilitate the retreat. Then there’s a not-so-cozy murder...of course! Preorder HERE.

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Celtic Christmas earns 5/5 Irish Ancestors...Engaging Fun!
“My trip to Ireland four years ago had a profound effect on me.” Profound is right. Zoe was led to fascinating details about her long ago ancestors and a treasure by a...ghost, and after some additional searching, she connected with Adam Donovan, a distant cousin. When invited to his nuptials, it seemed a perfect opportunity to meet all her relatives face-to-face. So the Donovan-Zimmerman family heads off to the Emerald Isle and Dunphy Castle. She’ll have to tread lightly, though, as she discovers that the different families and some family members are holding on to some serious animosity and others just plain dislike; the most infamous seems to be Adam’s brother Tyson Donovan, dubbed the “black sheep.” Hopefully, all the wedding festivities will quiet the conflicts...ok, it’s a cozy mystery, what do you think! Zoe discovers a dark hallway, hears noises and voices, and finds a body! The “black sheep” is dead, and it seems there are more suspects with motives than shamrocks...jealousy, rivals, grudges, and grievances. The night’s rain storm had closed the road, so that means the killer was, and maybe still is, in the castle. “Why was it that no matter where in the world I was, I seemed to find myself smack dab in the middle of a murder investigation?”

Kathi Daley’s Zoe Donovan series was her first cozy mystery released in 2013, and thirty-three books later...I’m still an eager fan! Although Zoe has found dozens of bodies from here to there and back, escaped numerous perils from stalkers to kidnappings to murder attempts, and put dozens in jail, it is family that makes this series a favorite. Written from Zoe’s perspective including descriptive language and dialogue, her world comes to life. In Celtic Christmas, Ireland is beautiful and the ins and outs of the castle depict the perfect romantic venue for a wedding and the darkest scene for a crime. This mystery is engaging, characters well-developed, and the final solution was a delightful surprise. There is a village full of characters to keep track of, but it isn’t daunting, and there is a list of characters to refer to which includes their family affiliation and brief description. It may be a shorter story, but it is definitely not short on entertainment! Yeah! Recipes are my favorite bonus, and Kathi Daley always finds some easy-to-follow treats, perfect for any holiday: Apple Pie Biscuits, Pilgrim Pie, Mini Cherry Cheesecakes...Yum, of course, but Zoe was in Ireland. Some phonetic dialogue to represent the Irish brogue would have added to the ambiance, and including a more traditional Irish Christmas recipe from Dunphy Castle’s kitchen would have been great.

ALERT! It Began here! Zoe and Zak’s first Valentine’s Day as husband and wife was spent on the Emerald Isle, Zoe Donovan’s ancestral home. With some Shamrock Shenanigans, they are invited to a murder mystery weekend in Dunphy Castle, a real haunted castle. During their first night, one of the guests is found murdered, and the investigation reveals things are not as they appear and several guests are not who they claim to be. But, Zoe is in for a shock by the discovery of a family secret.

Be a Big Kathi Daley Fan!
“Come for the Murder, Stay for the Romance!”
Kathi Daley has ten other series offering something for every cozy taste including “fur” friends, small town settings, and close relationships between family and friends. She has a great social media community of fans and can be followed on Amazon, Goodreads, and BookBub. Keep updated on all of her book releases, events, and goings-on by signing up for her newsletter HERE.

Facebook - Kathi Daley Books
Join the Club Kathi Daley Book Club
On the Web Kathi Daley Website
Blog - Random Thoughts and Meaningless Musings

To enter to win an ebook copy of both of these Christmas mysteries by Kathi Daley, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line "kathi,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen December 28, 2019. U.S. residents only and you must be 18 or older to enter. You can read our privacy statement here if you like. We delete all emails after the contest is over.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section in Kings River Life and in our mystery category here on KRL News & Reviews. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. And check out our new mystery podcast which features mystery short stories and first chapters read by local actors! One of our past episodes features another of Kathi's books. You can listen to it here: mysteryratsmaze.podbean.com/e/boxes-in-the-basement-by-kathi-daley We have 2 podcasts episodes that went up this month, both are Christmas mystery short stories!

You can use this link to purchase the book. If you have adblocker on you may not be able to see the Amazon link:

Opens to author website

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.


  1. Kathi Daley is a great author! Count me in!

  2. These sound wonderful. Thank you for the contest.

  3. Zoe and Zak is still one of my favorite among Kathi`s many series but honestly she can not write a bad cozy! There is suspense and friendship and animals who steal your hearts. I would love to win a copy of her latest and their return to Ireland.
    LaurasReadingBlog AT gmail DOT com

  4. Love these series. doward1952(at)yahoo(dot)com

  5. Thank you for the chance to win. My husband and I love Kathi Daley's books. Merry Christmas!

  6. I would love to read these! Thanks for the chance to win! jeaniedannheim (at) ymail (dot) com

  7. Love Kathi Daley's books. Thanks for the chance.

  8. Thanks for the chance to win these books. Kathi is a great writer, love her books.

  9. Count me in I love Kathi's books!

  10. Kathi Daley writes the best books and I’d be thrilled to win one of her books!

  11. I’d love to read these!!



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