More February Mystery Catchup!

Reviews by Cynthia Chow

This week we have reviews and giveaways of 3 more fun mysteries for your tbr-Spirits and Sourdough: A Magical Bakery Mystery by Bailey Cates, A Killer Sundae: An Ice Cream Parlor Mystery by Abby Collette, and Hot and Sour Suspects: A Noodle Shop Mystery by Vivien Chien. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of all 3 books, and Amazon links to purchase them at the end of each review--if you have ad blocker on you may not see them.  

Spirits and Sourdough: A Magical Bakery Mystery by Bailey Cates 
Review by Cynthia Chow

Halloween is the New Year for Wiccans, so hedgewitch Katie Lightfoot and her spellbook club are celebrating the Samhain with a freebie ghost tour through their own historical town of Savannah, Georgia. Katie’s tarot mentor Jaida French was given free tickets from her paramour’s goshdaughter (goddaughter without religion) Teddy LaRue, who is hoping to start off her new ghost tour business after a bumpy start. It seems that Teddy is a little too good at her job, not only fainting during the tour but awaking and blurting out she has just seen a ghost of a murdered woman. While that may seem like an over-the-top act of promotion, Katie recognizes Teddy’s description of the woman as Leigh Markes, a gallery owner last seen wearing a scarf with dragonflies. While Katie knows that her totem of dragonflies indicates that something dire and magical is afoot, Detective Peter Quinn is less accepting despite her success with previous mundane and mystical deaths.

Image Source Penguin

When Leigh is indeed found strangled to death in her car with the dragonfly scarf, Quinn quickly returns with questions concerning Katie’s unprecedented clairvoyance. Evidence quickly clouds the timing issue, though, and Katie begins her own investigation into the alibis of who would have wanted Leigh dead. Her daughter Zoe is in line of an impressive trust fund, which Leigh’s ex-husband would love to get his hands on. Even Leigh’s Calista could use an investment for her designer shower cap start-up. The Markes gallery is another source of murder motives, with an artist hoping to buy his way into a pseudo-Outsider art showcase while another employee resents being pushed out by Leigh’s nepotism. Balancing her practical investigation is Katie’s efforts to bring back her husband’s guardian spirit from the ether, where the leprechaun has languished after a sacrifice to save Declan McCarthy’s life. Katie fears that her firefighter husband is at risk without Connell’s protection, which is why she is determined to bring the leprechaun back on the Samhain Halloween night.

This tenth in the Magical Bakery Mystery series continues to explore an expanding magical world that introduces hedgewitches, leprechauns, and druids. The adorable Cairn Terrier, Honeybee feline, and ferret familiars bring in an ample amount of cuteness, while Katie’s white witch spells within the bakery supply a surfeit of mouth-watering moments. Irish Barmbracks filled with protective cinnamon, travel-assisting nutmeg, and evil-banishing pumpkin all help Katie to create magical and tasty treats. The bond between the spellbook club women has only grown stronger, with the women supporting one another through witch and natural human life changes. Katie’s use of her forceful Voice that provides the final clue to solving the murder, while her coven of spellbook club members, a reporter druid, and her many friends provide the connections and support she needs to bring her magical family together and win. 


A Killer Sundae: An Ice Cream Parlor Mystery by Abby Collette 
Review by Cynthia Chow

Bronwyn “Win” Crewse has big plans for her family’s Crewse Creamery, the ice cream shop she’s taken over from her grandparents who opened it as the first black-owned business in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Win will be taking the Baby Blue Crewse Family Food Truck – NOT an ice cream truck, thank you very much – to the annual Harvest Time Festival to sell their specialty ice cream confections. Returning home with an MBA also brings her back into the circle of old high school friends and rivals, with one of the latter being led by Channel 6 news reporter Kaitlyn Toles. Win remembers enough of their Mean Girl interactions to know that Kaitlyn is deathly allergic to peanuts, which is why Win is careful to ensure a cross-contamination-free sundae order. So when Kaitlyn is later found dead and her boyfriend announces that Win must be responsible, she feels both unjustly accused and yet inexplicably guilty.

Image Source Penguin

After a thorough washing down of the food truck and disposal of her entire food truck creameries, Win rallies back with the intention of moving forward with her innocent ice cream concoctions. Her Best Friends Forever aren’t about to let Win go down quietly, though, and despite a bout with Chicken Pox, Maisie Solomon and Riya Amacarelli enlist Win on an investigation to prove her innocence while tracking down a murderer. Even though it’s quickly proven that Kaitlyn did not suffer from a fatal allergy attack, she was most definitely poisoned with ethylene glycol poisoning. While a common ingredient in anti-freeze it should not be included in a recipe for pie, which is why Win is so shocked to find it included in a hand-written note inside her grandmother’s cookbook. Initially delighted to discover the locally published “Recipes from Chagrin Falls” inscribed to her grandmother, Win now worries that her Grandma Kay may have been involved in something nefarious. 

This third in the series is a fun romp as Win is very reluctantly pulled into an investigation involving her high school classmates. After Cameron Aaron Toffey aggressively blames Win for his fiancĂ©e’s death, the one-half of “KitCat” quickly shifts gears and instead implores her to once again beat the police to the solution. Despite Win’s protestations that she discovered the identities of the previous murderers only after nearly being killed by them, she finds herself dragged along as she spies on her former classmates and the rivals at the Channel 6 News team. Win’s blossoming relationship with Morrison “O” Kaye has the Wyncliffe University law professor visiting the creamery for daily ice cream splurges, but it’s a new doctor who really has the butterflies in her stomach fluttering. Win has the sanest and most practical head among her group of friends, relieving the ample amounts of stress they sometimes cause through the recipe creations she develops in her kitchen. Hilarious banter, tantalizing descriptions of all kinds of frozen confections, and the adorable Crewse family make this the perfect treat to be enjoyed at any time of the year.

Hot and Sour Suspects: A Noodle Shop Mystery by Vivien Chien
Review by Cynthia Chow

Having taken over as manager of her family’s Ho-Lee Noodle Shop in Cleveland, Ohio, Lana Lee is experimenting with new opportunities to promote the restaurant and boost business. It’s why she’s agreed to host a speed-dating event at the noodle shop despite her father’s concerns that online dating had replaced in-person meetups. Lana’s best friend Megan Riley had seen a huge peak in business at the bar where she worked during past events, and by doing a favor for her BFF Lana hopes to earn enough to give her staff a holiday bonus. Things go a little too well during the appetizer-laden event as Lana’s friend Katrina “Rina” Su goes home with a too-smooth charmer. It gets even worse when they learn that the lothario Gavin Oliver has been murdered, apparently while Rina was in his apartment bathroom.   

Image Source St. Martins

Shocked by her friend’s uncharacteristic hookup but certain of Rina’s innocence, Lana and Megan immediately begin their own investigation. They even go so far as to enlist Kimmy Tran, their rather aggressively extroverted friend whose family also owns a business in their Fairview Park Asian Village. Less complacent with the women’s antics is Lana’s boyfriend, Detective Adam Trudeau, who although now rather resigned to his girlfriend’s determined investigations, remains professionally discreet while she becomes more enmeshed with the suspects. Even though Rina is definitely keeping her secrets, a confrontation the late Gavin had with a jilted woman during the speed dating party adds another candidate to the list of possible culprits. When not being lured in by her grandmother’s lu rou fan braised pork over rice traditional Taiwanese dish, Lana, Megan, and Kimmy track down Gavin’s business and personal partners and discover that this Most Eligible Bachelor was also a Most Eligible Liar.

This eighth in the series has Lana comfortably settled in running her family’s noodle shop and very happy in her relationship with the Hot Detective. Their romance is one of the few sailing along smoothly, as the speed-dating tragedy is nearly matched by the questionable love affair of Lana’s formerly Perfect Asian Sister. Anna May is disconcertingly dating a married man, and despite Lana’s concern Anna is determined to trust the man who doesn’t deserve it. 

Amidst all of the dating drama, life in the Asian Village continues, with the Mahjong Matrons gossiping in the noodle shop, Lana’s mother meddling in her daughter’s lives, and their “big old white guy” father lovingly attempts to reign in their chaos. Lana’s adorable black pug Kikkoman is always around to be walked and give comfort, while Adam provides much more grown-up love and affection. What always charms in this series is how realistically the Asian Village builds its own distinct identity within the state of Ohio. Lana has grown to appreciate her mixed-race heritage and accept being a part of two different worlds. The friendship between Lana and Megan is a delight as well, with their banter and affectionate teasing feeling natural for two women who have been friends since childhood. An inspiring author’s note included at the end will have readers further admiring the strong will of the writer, who has succeeded in gifting fans with this fun and witty novel led by a charmingly colorful heroine.


  To enter to win a copy of all 3 books, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line "more,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen February 26, 2022. 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. If entering via comment please include your email address so we can contact you. 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 goes up next week.

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).
 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. These all sound like great reads! Thanks for the chance to win!

  2. These all sound like great reads! Thanks for the chance to win!

  3. These sound so good. Thank you so much for the giveaway. ckmbeg (at) gmail (dot) com

  4. Looks like three books I would really like to read. Thanks for the chance.

  5. I've been looking forward to reading Vivien's
    book - keep up with the series. The other
    titles would be new to me. Love Foodie
    books. thanks

  6. So many great installments this year!

  7. Thanks for the opportunity!

  8. They all sound great and I would love to win them. 3labsmom(at)gmail(dot)com.

  9. Thank you for a chance to win these yummy sounding mysteries! I would like to enter to win them. Claire.denning.11 at gmail dot com


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