"The Malt in Our Stars" By Sarah Fox: Review/Giveaway

Review by Kathleen Costa

Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book and links to purchase it.

Straight Up and Dangerous

Less than a year ago, Sadie Coleman made a bold choice to relocate to Shady Creek, Vermont, since her job in Boston had been downsized away and her ex seemed to prefer gambling. There she bought an old gristmill pub, redecorated, and opened a book lovers’ hangout cozy enough for tourists and locals alike. Christened The Inkwell, patrons can enjoy literature-inspired libations along with the opportunity to participate in a book club or two. It has not been all ‘Rum and Roses,’ though, Sarah unwittingly became embroiled in the murder of her ex-boyfriend during the town’s annual Autumn Festival—Wine and Punishment, then just when she thought life had calmed down enough for a friendship with Grayson Blake, the owner of the Spirit Hill Brewery, a snooty chef ended up with an ice pick in his chest during an ice-sculpture contest—An Ale of Two Cities. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” but serve it with your favorite cocktail!

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Image Source Kensington
The Malt in Our Stars
earns 5/5 Masked Motives...Entertaining Fun!

Sadie arrived at the most luxurious hotel in the area, Shady Creek Manor, the former residence of the town’s most illustrious historic figure Edvin Vallencourt, excited about meeting with Linnea Bliss, her favorite author of romantic suspense. She had been in talks with Bliss’s assistant, Marcie Kent, about adding Shady Creek and The Inkwell to the end of the author’s book tour. A nice presentation, some Q&A, and signing a few books for Sadie, and exploring Vermont to add authenticity to her next novel for Linnea Bliss. Win! Win!

Things, however, are not without conflict in Shady Creek. Sadie witnessed Marcie Kent in a heated discussion with the owner of the hotel when she first arrived. Eleanor Grimes, curator of the local museum, is not a fan of Sadie’s since she lost in her efforts to turn the gristmill into a museum, but she’s been called out by Marcie who was quick to remark that much of the information on Vallencourt in Eleanor’s self-published book was at best incomplete, at worst inaccurate. Karidee, a young fan of Linnea Bliss, has been blocked by Marcie when she tried multiple times to get a private meeting with the author. Of course, there’s eavesdropping and overheard phone calls that have spurred suspicions, too. But, murder? Marcie is found dead, and Sadie with her “irrepressible curiosity,” discovers a hot bed of secrets, a shady past, legends of hidden riches, and so, why not murder!

 Brilliant! Sarah Fox has penned a witty story following the traditional cozy formal of which I am a fan. The crime occurs early in the story, so the investigation is at the center with clever revelations and connections between characters and motives involving the obvious and the hidden challenging any inner Sherlock. Her characters are varied like in any community with realistic actions and reactions and collaborations with law enforcement. There’s a “will they/won’t they” debate. And when all becomes clear, a bit a surprise, peril, and another surprise making this a fun read! There are lots of book references through the pub’s menu or the book lovers mentioning a must read which sent me exploring whether I, too, should check it out. Beyond the clever murder mystery, a busy television crew, curious vandalisms, and the police scrutinizing everyone, readers get a marvelous view of Shady Creek. We meet a variety of residents and visitors, shopkeepers and patrons, readers and writers, and some helpful and others annoying. There is a farmers’ markets, book clubs, lunch at the Inkwell or coffee at the Village Bean, and a delightful masquerade ball. This has created a plethora of literary friends, an interest in their lives, and a desire to spend more time in Shady Creek. Loved it!

What a treat! Sarah brings to readers a few of the recipes for mocktails and cocktails direct from The Inkwell. There’s the Milky Way Gargle Blaster with and without vanilla vodka, the Yellow Brick Road sparkling with limoncello, and The Malt in Our Stars with Scotch whisky (without the “e”). She also includes a lovely salad, The Red Cabbage of Courage, to enjoy.

A Literary Pub Mystery

Wine and Punishment (2018)

An Ale of Two Cities (2019)

The Malt in Our Stars (2020)

Be a Big Sarah Fox Fan!

USA Today bestselling author Sarah Fox pens three entertaining series starring delightfully strong women: the seven-book Pancake House Mystery series with Marley McKinney owner of the Flip Side Pancake House finding herself in too many “sticky” situations; the three-book Music Lover’s Mystery taking us into the world of the music with Midori Bishop living her dream with the Point Grey Philharmonic; and the three-book Literary Pub Mystery about book lover Sadie Coleman who transforms an old Vermont gristmill into a pub, The Inkwell, where one can enjoy literary-themed cocktails, a book, and murder.

Facebook – Author Sarah Fox

Website – Cozy Crime with a Foxy Flair

To enter to win a copy of The Malt in Our Stars, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line "malt,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen February 20, 2021. US residents only and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via email please include your mailing address in case you win. BE AWARE THAT DUE TO THE CURRENT CRISIS THERE MAY BE A DELAY IN SHIPPING THE WINNING BOOK. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

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! A new episode went up this week.

You can use these links to purchase the book. If you have adblocker on you may not be able to see the Amazon 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.


  1. Sounds like a good new (for me) series
    thanks. txmlhl(at)yahoo(dot)com

  2. Sounds so clever, and delicious, I'd love to have a copy. Thanks! crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com

  3. Sounds very interesting. Thanks for the chance to win.

  4. It is so much fun to discover authors and series that are new to me. This looks like an interesting book to read!

  5. Sounds like a great read. Looking forward to reading the book.

  6. Enjoyed the excerpt, sounds good! tWarner419(at)aol(dot)com

  7. I've been wanting to read this series for a long time. It sounds great!

  8. Thanks so much! new series! nani_geplcs(at)yahoo(dot)com


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