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Murder by Death

I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.

Charms and Chocolate Chips (Magical Bakery Mystery #3)

Charms and Chocolate Chips - Bailey Cates

Advice:  do not read this book right after baking something.


So I had some bananas that went overripe on me and I whipped up a batch of banana muffins this afternoon.  Afterward, I picked up Charms and Chocolate Chips to dive into the newest release in a series I'd definitely rank in my top 15 (maybe top 10).


4 Banana muffins later (thank god it's a low sugar recipe!!) I finished the book.  I wasn't even that hungry, but the descriptions of decadent cookies, mini-pies, pound cake, muffins that this book is rife with...well, the deck was not stacked in the favour of self-discipline.


Anyway, now that the remaining muffins are in the freezer, from which they can't so easily jump onto my thighs, and the book is finished, I can say this was a very solid effort in a very solid series.  I'd have rated it 4 stars, except that one character just irritated the fool out of me.  If you guessed it to be the busy-body of the book, you'd be right.  The author does get an extra credit point for making the busy body meddler Katie's uncle Ben, and not her aunt as is the stereotypical choice, but he was irritating nonetheless.  Do family members actually meddle in their adult relatives love lives?  If so, I'm going to have to re-evaluate my attitude about my own family.  At least they mind their own business.


The rest of the cast of characters is, thankfully, delightful.  Each one is likeable and knows when to butt out.  Katie's mother makes an appearance in this book, and the results were maybe a little pie-in-the-sky, but I still found it reasonable and believable.  The almost-love-triangle seems to be resolved, but luckily that doesn't mean either man disappears.  I'm glad - I like both Steve and Declan and I look forward to reading more about them both in future books.


This is a book/series steeped deeply in paranormal and witchcraft, albeit a somewhat more cozy flavoured witchcraft.  There's still plenty of evil but it's not as dark and oppressive.  When I first started the series I was a little worried I'd be reading about Disney branded witchcraft, but that's not the case.  There are themes in these books such as: what is light? what is dark?  what can power do? the costs? benefits?  It's not heavy, but it's not sweetness and light either.  I appreciate what the author is trying to accomplish here and I think it works well within the confines of a cozy mystery.


The murder plot itself was very well done.  I was completely led by the nose throughout most of the book and the ending was a thoroughly entertaining showdown.


I'll definitely be looking out for the next book and maybe Uncle Ben will get another hobby.