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Ratings and Book Reviews (5 6 star ratings
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    A Fun Christmas Themed Novella Collection

    Three authors have released Christmas themed novellas for their series that I read. From Ireland to Indiana to Ohio, the Christmas spirit, and murder, are in high gear. What a great little collection to get any cozy reader into the holiday spirit.
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    Three Cocoa Cozy Mysteries

    Christmas Cocoa Murder by Carlene O'Connor, Maddie Day, and Alex Erickson contains three cozy novellas that are a part of the following series: An Irish Village Mystery series, A Country Store Mystery series and A Bookstore Café Mystery series. I thought they were three entertaining Christmas cozies. They are all well-written and full of Christmas spirit. The three mysteries were interesting with various levels of complexity. The escape room mystery was my favorite, and I particularly enjoyed the description of the escape room puzzles. I have read books from all three series, so it was not a problem for me to read each story. I already knew the characters plus the settings. Maddie Day has my favorite writing style. It is like conversing with old friends. I like how hot cocoa played a part in each story with Christmas Cocoa Murder featuring it in a unique way (a dunk tank). We get to enjoy Christmas festivities in three different towns from two countries. I especially appreciated that all three stories featured intelligent female protagonists who are resourceful and do not break down at the sight of a dead body. I am glad that Kensington puts out these holiday novella collections and I hope that they continue to do so. It is a chance to catch up with our favorite series and solve a mystery (a definite bonus in my book). Christmas Cocoa Murder has three cocoa connected conundrums, a swarm of suspects, many missing mutts, sharp sleuths and copious Christmas cheer.
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    Enjoyable Christmas cozy mysteries

    This is an anthology of three novellas, all revolving around hot cocoa. The only author I haven't read is Carlene O'Connor. I really liked her character Siobhan. Siobhan is set to join the police force officially after the New Year, but she finds herself investigating the murder in which the body is found in a drunk tank full of hot cocoa. I've read one novel each of the other two authors and just as I enjoyed those books, I really liked these novellas as well. I really like Robbie (the heroine in Maddie Day's story). She packaged up a hot cocoa inspired by a Mexican recipe to sell in her country store/diner. She has to quit selling it because it figures into a murder investigation. I love Birdy (her cat) and the addition of Cocoa, the black lab, was great. I love Krissy and her friend Rita in Alex Erickson's novella. They have decided to do a Christmas themed escape room. I have read too many books where a murder takes place in an escape room, so I will never do one of those! I also liked that none of the authors made the murderers easy to figure out. Overall, I really enjoyed all three stories and I will definitely be reading more by each author. I highly recommend if you are looking for some short reads during the holiday season. Thank you to Netgalley and Kensington for the copy. All opinions expressed are my own.
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    I loved it!

    This was an absolute delight to read. I rarely like all the books that are part of these type of collections, but all three were first rate! You can never go wrong with Carlene O'Connor or Maddie Day, and I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed the Alex Erikson story, as I do not normally enjoy his protagonist. Three great cozy whodunits! I highly recommend this book. I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book. From the publisher: CHRISTMAS COCOA MURDER by CARLENE O’CONNOR Siobhán O’Sullivan’s hopes for a quiet Irish Christmas are dashed when the local Santa turns up dead in a carnival dunk tank of hot cocoa. Now instead of hunting down holiday gifts, she’s pursuing a heartless killer. Seems the dead Santa was no angel either, stealing neighborhood dogs to guide his sleigh. But was it his holiday antics—or worse—that led to his death by chocolate? CHRISTMAS COCOA AND A CORPSE by MADDIE DAY When local businessman Jed Greenberg is found dead with a Chocolate lab whimpering over his body, the police start sniffing around Robbie Jordan’s country restaurant for answers. Was it something in Robbie’s hot cocoa that killed Jed, or was it Cocoa the dog? As the suspects pile as high as her holiday tree, Robbie attempts to get to the bottom of the sickly-sweet murder . . . DEATH BY HOT COCOA by Alex Erickson A Christmas-themed escape game seems like the perfect pre-holiday treat for bookstore café owner Krissy Hancock and her best friend. But when the host is found dead in a pool of hot cocoa, it’s up to Krissy and her team to catch the killer—or escape before getting killed.
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    Christmas Cocoa Murder

    I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley. I have to admit that the biggest reason I requested this one was because there’s a novella by Maddie Day in this book. I love her Country Store Mysteries series and I was excited to read her Christmas novella set in that series. I also like discovering new to me authors, so I figured this was a great opportunity to check out the other two stories as well which are by new to me authors. Christmas Cocoa Murder by Carlene O’Connor This story is clearly part of an ongoing series, but even so it was quite easy to get a feel for the setting and the characters. There were a few moments that I did notice me being new to this series, like trouble remembering all the character’s names as none of them were familiar it was a bit much to get introduced to so many new to me characters and there was this part where I hadn’t realized some of Siobhán’s siblings were quite a bit younger than her. It also was a bit difficult at first to get the feel for the setting and characters while also following the start of the mystery. But overall I think the author did a good job making this novella accessible for those who don’t know the series. The mystery got off to a quick start when the village Santa gets murdered. Siobhán doesn’t start her job at the Garda yet till next year, but she gets involved anyway and can help solve the mystery. The mystery was quite a good one. There are some clues that are important and some things I knew were part of the answer, but it still takes a while for things to come together. I wrongly guessed who the murderer was and there was quite the nice twist when everything finally falls on it’s place. I think I have the first book in this series and definitely plan to go back and read that at some point. I think if you are already familiar with this series this novella will be even more fun. I had some trouble getting a feel for the characters as I didn’t know them beforehand, but even so it was nice following them around as they solve this mystery. Christmas Cocoa and a Corpse by Maddie Day This was the story I was most excited about and it really was a great one. I love this series and I really enjoyed spending some time with Robbie and in her store this time set around Christmas. The Christmas theme was a fun addition and I always enjoy seeing the familiar characters. The mystery wasn’t as complicated as that in most books in this series. With only two main suspects it was relatively easy to solve it and after a certain clue I was sure I knew who the murder was. Even the motive was clear already. I liked how Robbie again took the effort to be careful and not go alone when talking to possible murder suspect. All in all this was a great short read set in this series. I enjoyed spending time with the characters and have an entertaining read set around Christmas. There also was a cute puppy and some cocoa as well. Death by Hot Chocolate by Alex Erickson This was a fun story. I liked the locked room type of mystery in this book. The main character and one of her friends join a escape room and during the escape room someone gets killed. Now they’re stuck in the escape room and one of them is the killer. I thought this was a fun set-up for a mystery. It added some great suspense knowing one of them was the murderer. I also liked how this set-up lend itself for a shorter read as they have to figure it out before they can escape from the room. Another bonus was that for those new to this series this short story was really easy to get into as it all takes place in the escape room there aren’t many appearances of characters or mentions of things you don’t know. And this story did make me curious about the rest of the series. The mystery was a pretty good one. It was tricky to figure out who had done it, but before I had a solid guess the main character figured it out. It made sense and I liked how things fell on it’s place. It also was interesting how the motive in this one was quite hard to figure out and even when the main character figured out the who she didn’t know the why until the murderer told them. To summarize I really enjoyed this collection with three Christmas themed cozies. Only one of these was in a series I already knew and the other two authors were new to me. I enjoyed all three of the stories, although the one by Maddie Day was my favorite as I already knew that series. The other two have me curious to check out those series too. I also liked how each of the stories had a Christmas theme and hot cocoa played a role in the murder mystery. All in all I would definitely recommend this collection to cozy mystery fans.
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