Friday, April 15, 2022

Literary Friday: Bakeshop Mysteries

 


Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!  Today is Good Friday, and I hope y'all are having a lovely Holy Week so far.

Today I'm sharing a favorite cozy mystery series: The Bakeshop Mysteries by Ellie Alexander.  I'm dividing the series in half: There are 14 books in the series so far, so today's post will focus on the first eight books.  The latest installment, Donut Disturb, will be out June 28th, so in July I'll share the second half of the series.  

The books will be reviewed in order.




According to Goodreads:

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...


My Review:

What the book blurb doesn't tell you is that Juliet worked as a pastry chef on a cruise ship after graduation and before returning to her hometown,  Ashland, Oregon.  She also married sexy Spaniard (and head chef on the ship) Carlos.  She leaves Carlos because he lied to her about something very important, hence her running away from the ship and returning to the safe haven of Ashland.

I love Juliet (known as Jules to most of her friends).  Jules has a heart of gold, and her passion for creating beautiful and delicious pastries endears her to me even more.  I love passionate characters who enjoy life, and even though Jules is brokenhearted, she is still passionate about her calling.  

Jules's high school sweetheart Thomas wins my heart in the beginning, but at this point, we haven't met Carlos.  Thomas and Jules are thrown together because the murder happens inside Torte Bakery, Jules's family's bakery.  They work together to solve the mystery, and during this installment we're introduced to the other members of the torte team: Jules's mother, Stephanie, Sterling, and Andy.  They are all endearing characters, especially Sterling.  

I also love the setting:  I would love to visit Ashland and the Shakespeare Festival.  (We have a Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery, Alabama, and we've attended several performances there.)  Ashland is a quirky, artsy town, and the setting couldn't be more appealing.

The resolution of the mystery is surprising, and I love this series because Ellie includes recipes in the back of the book, and not all of them are desserts.  Some of the savory recipes are fantastic, too (I've baked and cooked many of them).  Ellie is a wonderful baker and cook, and the recipes truly add to the experience of the book because they are plot points in the  narrative.

I highly recommend this cozy mystery series.  It is one of my top three favorites, and I can't wait until Donut Disturb is released in late June!


I don't want to have a ridiculously long post, so I will give a very brief synopsis and review for the rest.




Jules has the opportunity to promote Torte Bakery on The Pastry Channel's reality show, Take the Cake.  Several high profile pastry chefs will be competing for a $25,000 prize, and Torte could certainly use the money for new ovens.  Unfortunately, Chef Marco, a famous NYC pastry chef, is found dead before the competition even starts.  I really enjoyed this one because the chefs and production staff have over the top personalities, and the competition and recipes are loads of fun.




This installment goes on location at an isolated resort.  Jules has been tasked to cater an off-season retreat for the directors of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which is a super opportunity for Jules to expand her catering business.  Everything has been planned, and the implementation is going well..until a snowstorm takes out the power and Jules finds a dead body (the resort's less than delightful bartender) in the freezer.  This one is a stressful read due to the remote setting, plus Carlos surprises Jules by showing-up.  So far I like his character, and he was helpful during the retreat: He's a truly gifted chef with a passion for delicious food.





Jules Capshaw is still reeling over her husband Carlos’s return to Ashland, Oregon. It's winter, and it's the off season in Ashland as the Shakespeare Festival is closed for the season.  However sleepy Ashland is woken-up when Mindy Nolan, new owner of a chain hamburger joint, is murdered right under Jules's nose.  Many in Ashland are incensed that Mindy would even think to bring in a chain restaurant, especially one that doesn't adhere to downtown Ashland's Elizabethan theme.  Carlos and Jules's relationship will have to be put on the back burner as Jules's proximity to the murder places her in peril.  Can Jules solve the murder before she becomes a victim?  I enjoyed this one a lot, and I still don't know if I'm Team Carlos or Team Thomas, LOL!





It’s almost spring in Ashland, Oregon, and the town is preparing for the Shakespeare and the annual Chocolate Festival.  Ellie had me at Chocolate Festival, y'all...This is my favorite one so far!  In this book,  Jules and Torte Bakery has been asked to participate in the Chocolate Festival, a juried event held at the town's grandest hotel.  Evan Rowe, of Confections Couture, is dead just after sampling one of Torte's decadent four-layer chocolate cakes.  Was it an accident, or is something more sinister afoot?  

I haven't mentioned one of my favorite characters yet: Lance, the Director of the Shakespeare Festival, is one of Jules's best friends.  I love him!  He might be my favorite character in the entire series.  I like that he has a larger role in this one.  




Jules Capshaw is  working hard to expand Torte, and in the midst of the expansion her estranged husband Carlos has convinced her to sub for his cruise ship's pastry chef who's taken a brief leave of absence.  Carlos has also offered Jules's mom and her boyfriend "The Professor" (Ashland's Police Chief) a free cruise to sweeten the deal.  Onboard, Jules discovers a young woman floating dead in a pool.  Her identity is unknown because it appears she's a stowaway.  As Jules and others attempt to discover her identity and why someone would want her dead, she struggles with other aspects of her relationship with Carlos.

I confess that I liked this one much better than I thought because I love the Ashland setting so much that I didn't think I'd like the cruise setting, but I did!




Introducing Sloan Krause—main character of Death on Tap, the first in a new cozy series from Ellie Alexander!  This is a Kindle only book...it isn't available in paperback, and it's a very short novella.  Ashland is hosting a Beer Fest, and Sloan is the brewmaster at the famed der Keller brewing company that operates out of Leavenworth, Washington, and she’s come to the festival to show off the newest spring brew.  Sloane meets Jules in Torte, and Jules wants to try to incorporate beer into a few of her dessert offerings.  The mystery in this one is who stole Sloan's spring brew.  I enjoyed this little jewel because I also like Sloan's series.



You can read my review of the first two books in Sloan's series HERE.





It’s the role of a lifetime for Jules. The Shakespeare Festival has returned to Ashland, Oregon, for the season, and Torte has been cast as the supplier of Elizabethan-era treats for Lance's over the top cast party: everyone will be in Elizabethan costume, too.   But on the eve of opening night, a brawl between Jules’s friend Lance, the artistic director, and this season's star of Antony and Cleopatra,  Anthony, almost brings down the house. . .and the next morning, Anthony is dead.  Rumors are swirling that Lance is on his way out as director, and he's also the number one suspect in Anthony's murder.  Jules is racing against time to prove her friend's innocence, and I love Lance's vulnerability in this one.  Did I say that Fudge and Jury is my favorite?  It's this one.  This one is my favorite!  It's truly hard to pick the one I like best.  This series is so much fun!


Do you have any favorite cozy mystery series you'd like to share with us?  


Until next time...

Happy Reading!
Ricki Jill


8 comments

  1. I have read and enjoyed the first two of the Ellie Alexander's bake shop mysteries, and really enjoyed them, I need to keep going!

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  2. They all have fun and cheesy titles lol! Thanks for the review. Sometimes we need these light reads with fun characters. xoxo Kris

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  3. This sounds like such a fun series! I'll look for it next time I head to the book store!

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  4. Hi Rikki Jill'
    Thank You for reviewing the books.
    HAPPY,BLESSED EASTER
    Joan

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  5. The books sound like good reads.
    Wishing you A HAPPY,BLESSED EASTER
    Marion

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  6. Thank you for the reviews of these books. Wishing you and yours a Blessed and Joyous Easter.
    HAPPY EASTER
    Marilyn

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  7. These books sound like such a fun series that I would enjoy. Thanks for the great reviews, Ricki Jill!

    ReplyDelete

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