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Ratings and Book Reviews (9 12 star ratings
9 reviews
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  • A promising start to a new series!

    3.5 stars Still Knife Painting is the first book in Cheryl Hollon's A Paint and Shine Mystery series. It follows Miranda Trent, who has recently moved from New York to eastern Kentucky after inheriting her uncle's farmhouse. She starts a business called Paint and Shine, where she takes tourists on a hike in the forest to paint, then back to her farmhouse for a home-cooked meal and a moonshine tasting. Many in the area are not fond of moonshine, including her cook, Mrs. Childers. When Mrs. Childers is found dead in Miranda's Kitchen, she immediately becomes the main suspect. With the help of a handsome forest ranger named Austin Morgan, Miranda is determined to clear her name and save her business. I thought this was a promising start to a new series. The premise is intriguing, and I loved the rural countryside setting and the side characters, including Austin and Doris Ann. However, I had mixed feelings about the main character, Miranda. For the most part, I thought she was hardworking, determined, and clearly passionate about her work, but her tendency to snap at people and her rude behavior at times made it hard for me to warm up to her. The mystery was cleverly plotted, with plenty of suspects and red herrings to throw readers off the scent. The killer's identity came as a surprise to me. Overall, this was a fun read. It didn't grab me as much as I would have liked but I'm definitely interested enough to continue on with the series. Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books for the opportunity to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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  • First in a new series

    Miranda Trent has inherited her uncle’s home in Red Rive Gorge, Kentucky where her Mother grew up and her family has a long history. A small town in Kentucky located in the Daniel Boone National Forest, Miranda decides to use her experience as an artist and her time in New York City to build a business that takes tourists on a hike in the forest to paint a still life, then back to her farm house for some local cooking and moonshine tasting. 
On her first outing, the painting goes well and everyone heads to the farmhouse for lunch. But when the cook is found in the kitchen with a knife in the middle of her chest, things look bleak for Miranda and her business as she is a prime suspect. Vowing to save her business, her freedom, and the farm, Miranda sets out to do her own investigation. With the help of her neighbor, Austin Morgan, a forest ranger, they use the local history and older residents to find out what secrets the murdered woman might be harboring that would cause someone to murder her. Will Miranda be able to clear her name or will she lose it all? A cute new series set in rural Eastern Kentucky paired with lots of recipes, including some moonshine cocktails and southern dishes that will make your drool.

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  • Great start to this Kentucky cozy mystery series

    Finding a new cozy mystery series always makes me happy. And to find one that incorporates a new hobby I’ve taken up (painting) and an alcohol (moonshine) I like to sample, well I reckon that makes me as happy as eating a Brown Betty! Who hasn’t dreamt of being left a big inheritance by a relative? And if it means you have to have a moonshine distillery up and running in 90 days, even better. We don’t get much of a feel for the town in Still Knife Painting by Cheryl Hollon, but I’m sure that’ll be coming in future books in the Paint & Shine Mysteries. We do get wonderful descriptions of the house and all it’s out buildings, along with Lover’s Leap and the National Forest. I would enjoy living in her uncle’s house and can imagine all the animals and gardens I would have fun attending. Hollon does a fabulous job with the character descriptions, and the puppy, Sandy, is adorable. There is a potential love interest, although in this book it’s not a main focus at all, which is wonderful. It’s been awhile since I’ve read such animosity in regards to the police force in a cozy mystery. It was pretty heavy handed, but it involves high school rivalry and big city/country cops, so it doesn’t seem unbelievable. There were a few things I wish would have been explored more like the interview Miranda does and her reaction afterwards. It felt like it was just mentioned and then forgotten about. And the fight between the cops was solved, for the moment, with a cute look from Sandy. It’s a lovely thought, but felt like the book needed to be wrapped up, so this was an easy way to do so. But these little quirks will not keep me from visiting Kentucky again, along with Miranda, Sandy, and all of their friends. I highly recommend the Paint & Shine Mystery series, and y’all should go grab yourself a copy!

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  • Good Start to a New Series

    Still Knife Painting is the first book in Cheryl Hollon’s newest cozy mystery series. Prepare to be transported to eastern Kentucky where Miranda is embarking on the course to start her painting tourism business. She has high hopes and high expectations for herself. She needs things to go well so that she can build a moonshine still and keep the homestead she inherited. Things take a bad turn when her cook is found murdered and Miranda becomes the prime suspect. The bad thing about small towns? Everyone knows just about everything and Miranda’s arguments with her cook were something no one ignored and were quick to gossip about. Now, Miranda needs to find out the truth behind the murder and why it happened. Still Knife Painting is an engaging cozy mystery novel and I truly enjoyed the true to life characters and the amount of detail the author blends into this story. She also writes about some truly delicious dishes. There were moments of where I was either drooling or wanting to get into the kitchen to test a couple of them out for myself. Miranda comes off as being a soft character, but she does have a bit of a temper on her and it does flare to life when she’s pushed to the limit. The author creates an air of mystery not just with the murder, but with the mysterious happenings that continue at the house. Miranda is plagued with misfortune in the first one way and then another. You really begin to wonder if she’s going to be able to survive the proverbial storm that is swirling around her. Her business starts off okay, but she’s still worried about breaking even. Miranda is literally fighting an uphill battle. How was she to know how some of the “more important” locals would feel about moonshine? I’ll admit that I get annoyed a couple of times with the characters when they want to take such strong stands behind being against moonshine, but all I’m going to say is that each one has their own story and that they are revealed in the right moment. This story has lighthearted moments and then it has its tragic moments as well. I have to say that I was a bit disappointed with the reveal of the killer. I guess I wanted/expected something a bit more thrilling. I wanted there to be more of a big reveal. For readers who have read books by this author before then, I think that they will enjoy this new series. For readers who are looking for a new cozy mystery author to check out then, I think that this book will be a good fit with its delicious foods (and recipes included), hints of romance, and well-done descriptions of the gorgeous scenery. I am rating this book 4.5 out of 5 stars. I’m looking forward to reading Miranda’s next engagement with mystery and danger.

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  • Fun story, intriguing business model!

    A good start to a new series. Miranda Trent has just moved “back home” – kind of, and she has a lot of adjustment to make and a lot to contend with. Her uncle unexpectedly left her his home in his will and she decides to try and make a going business combining her love of painting and her dream of opening a distillery. She has all the problems of opening a new venture to deal with, and the resentment and resistance of some of the locals to her featuring moonshine along with the painting and dining. But those problems pale to nothing when she stumbles on a murder victim right in her own house. If she is going to make a go of her business – and stay on the good side of her neighbors, not to mention staying out of jail, Miranda needs to prove her innocence and discover who the murderer is. A good book full of bits of history about the Daniel Boone National Forest, moonshine, and painting. What an intriguing business idea! I look forward to following Miranda on her Paint and Shine journey in future books. Thanks to the author for providing an advance copy of the book. No review was required but I am happy to provide my honest opinion.

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