Cover Image: Meet Isabel Puddles

Meet Isabel Puddles

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Member Reviews

I LOVE Isabel and I am so happy to be starting this cozy series. The mystery was good and the supporting characters were very interesting.  Kentwater County sounds like a beautiful place to visit and I look forward to accompanying Isabel on another adventure. 
Many thanks to Kensington Books and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.
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A sweet story with a lovely main character. It felt a little too 'tell' and not enough 'show' for me personally. Nonetheless, this is a creative take on the familiar and much-loved cosy mystery.
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This series has a lot of potential and I loved the MC.
Unfortunately the first part is really slow and there's a lot of backstory so it took quite a long time before the mystery part started.
As I loved the MC and the style of writing I look forward to reading the next instalment.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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Meet Isabel Puddles by M. V. Byrne

Isabel Puddles, a widowed mother of two grown children, lives in a tiny hamlet along Lake Michigan, her hometown..  She loved reading murder mysteries, but not until she took a job at the funeral  home styling hair did she  get involved in one.

I didn’t care for the title.  I was not going to read this book.  I am so glad I did..  It was excellent.  
Strong characters.  Kept you on the end of your seat until the book was finished.

Thanks to Net Galley for sending me an advanced reader’s copy for my review.
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Meet Isabel Puddles by M.V. Byrne is a new cozy mystery featuring widow Isabel Puddles.  She is active in her community and knows everyone (along with their stories).  We get detailed information on Isabel and what seems like everyone she knows.  It felt like an information dump in the beginning with all the details.  I did not feel we needed a life history on Isabel (not in the first book) and anyone who lived or worked nearby (it was too much).  There are some interesting and quirky characters in the story.  I enjoyed the humorous moments which had me laughing.  The vivid depictions of the town allowed me to visualize it.  It took a bit to get to the mystery (we are busy getting to know Isabel).  There are multiple suspects in the whodunit.  Isabel works her way through each one.  I wish the whodunit had been more of a challenge.  Identifying the guilty party is a piece of cake even with the number of suspects.  The mystery is not at the forefront of the story.  Just when I would start to get into the whodunit, Isabel would launch into one of her tales (she has so many of them).  We follow Isabel and the sheriff as they investigate Carl’s death.  I do like how it all comes together at the end.  The author needs to find a balance between too much information and too little.  I cannot imagine what else there is to learn about Isabel.  It seems that we know everything about her.  I thought the pacing of the story was slow and the story felt like it dragged on forever.  I really struggled to finish Meet Isabel Puddles.  There were some bright moments that I truly enjoyed.   I hope there are more of them in future books.  This is just the first book in A Mitten State Mystery series. We must wait to see how the series develops as well as the author’s writing.  Meet Isabel Puddles has potential with its interesting main character, quirky residents, and charming town.
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So, I was drawn to this book by the cover and had great expectations. I didn't like or dislike this book, it's extremely well written and I think Isabel could grow on me. My problem is there was so much backstory that it took to.long to get to the main story. By then, I was completely bored. I'm interested to read the next book to see if this was just a one time thing.
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I wanted to read this book because the premise sounded interesting, but the book fell a little bit short for me.  First off, we certainly did meet Isabel Puddles.  In fact, we learned everything about her that there is to know.  How many people do you meet where they tell you there life story at the first meeting?  Well, this book is much like that.  In fact, so much information was given that there won't be anything left to know about her in future books (if there are any planned).  It's like everything was thrown at us as fast as it could come.  

I felt as if it detracted from the murder, which should have taken front and center, but didn't.  It took awhile to get there, because we were learning All About Isabel.  Not that this is a bad thing; it just took so long to tell it all, and the book could have been sheared down at least two dozen pages less.  Yes, I get that the author wanted to give us background, which is always appreciated; but there was so much of it that I began to find Isabel the most boring woman on earth.  She was constantly telling us stories that were decades old and weren't needed to tell the current tale.

That being said, I had a hard time getting into the mystery itself because of this.  Every time we were given a bit of it, she started telling us another story.  The murderer became apparent early on, but I was waiting to see how the sheriff and Isabel put everything together.  It wasn't until the end that Isabel had her 'aha' moment, which was fine with me; and the ending brought everything together nicely.  I only wish we had more to learn about Isabel, but I think we've learned it all.
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Meet Isabel Puddles by M.V. Byrne is the 1st in a series, A Mitten State Mystery by Kensington Books due for Nov 24, 2020 publication. It’s a mystery in the cozy style.
Isabel Puddles can give Miss Marple and Jessica Fletcher a run for their money.
To help make ends meet Isabel agrees to help a friend at his funeral parlor. When his normal hair and makeup person is sick, Isabel agrees to help prepare, for visitation the next day, a local man, Earl Jonasson Sr. who died of a stroke. Or did he? 
Isabel finds something during preparation of the body that others had missed and it is something that could put the cause of death in serious doubt. And when the sheriff is called in, he arrests, in Isabel’s opinion, the wrong person. But to find the real killer Isabel must figure out the real motive.
I give it 3 ½ stars. It is a good read with a well-worn plot device. But it is fun!!
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This was extremely well-written, and I think I felt like Izzy was an old friend before the first couple of chapters even ended. There was a lot going on besides the mystery, and the book was lots more detailed than the cozies I'm used to, but if I thought about it, it was just like visiting Jessica in Cabot Cove and all the small town goings-on. Izzy and her friends all tended to go off on a tangent, some of which had a lot of bearing on the mystery itself, and some were just interesting back stories for the characters. But it was all worth paying attention to.

I couldn't believe how exciting it got toward the end when they knew whodunit! It was great and provided an experience Iz and her friends wouldn't soon forget. She'd ended up making friends with a high-profile lawyer in the process and helping someone change their ways. I loved that Iz was all about helping people which made people happy to do nice things for her. No matter what the person had done, she always saw the good in them.

There were so many laugh out loud moments too, and by the end of the book, I felt like I'd made a whole group of new friends that I can't wait to visit again. I loved how the epilogue reflected back, and everything that could possibly have been considered a loose thread was neatly resolved and explained. I'm really anxious now for the next book!

I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of this book provided by the publisher via NetGalley, and my opinions are my own.
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This was a very good beginning to a new series.  My only criticism is that it took forever to get to the main story.  We got lots of background that was interesting but you felt like you were never going to get to the point.  Once you do get to the point it's great!  There is lots of action and plenty of red herrings.  The characters are wonderful!  Isabel is a treasure and all of her friends are very entertaining.  Isabel makes a great sleuth and I'm looking forward to more of this series.
I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley and the publisher and voluntarily chose to review it.
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Meet  Isabel Puddles by M. V. Byrne is the 1st book in the Mitten State Mystery series, and my first book by this author.  I really enjoyed this book, and Isabel is an older protagonist. This book was easy to read and perfect for an escape from cold weather or the pandemic.  I will be reading more books by this author, looking forward to book two in the series.  I highly recommend this book if you enjoy sweet romances. 
I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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Meet Isabel Puddles by M. V. Byrne is the first book in Mitten State Mystery series.

There are several excellent points about this book, 

First of all, Isabel is middle aged which is quite refreshing, She is intelligent, composed, well read and loves reading and watching mysteries. She also is sort of Jack of all trades and that's how she finds herself cutting hair at the funeral parlor when she finds a nail in the deceased's head.  

I also liked the setting, Descriptions regarding Lake Michigan and Isabel's little hometown are breathtaking and so enjoyable to read about. Love for the area just shines through.

Rarely do we have the pleasure of taking such a long time to acquaint ourselves with the protagonist before the murder happens. I quite relished the opportunity of getting familiar with not just the main protagonist, side characters but with the area as well, 

Mystery was well presented in a calm, collected way and was easy to follow.
Story did drag on at times, there was lot of internal dialogue and thoughts and it was not as captivating as it was at the beginning.

All in all this is a very good start to a new series. I will be waiting for the next installment to see how the story progresses.
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I received this ARC via Netgalley and Kensington Books, in return for an honest review. Meet Isabel Puddles (great name and title!) is the first book in a new cozy mystery series.  Fun and unique take on the amateur sleuth.  Isabel Puddles is a widow who loves her small town of Gull Harbor, Michigan.  She’s also a bit tight for cash so she agrees to help a friend who, as the local undertaker, needs a hair and makeup job for a corpse.  Squelching her squeamishness, Isabel starts the job and realizes there’s something unusual about his head.  Contacting the police, it turns out the life-long resident died by a nail gun nail in his skull.  As someone with information about the details of the death and details of all the people in town, Isabel’s in a unique position to help bring justice.  Well, if she doesn’t become a victim herself!
This is a fun cozy and one I recommend.  Isabel’s well-written and interesting, as are the supporting cast of townspeople.  There are several options for villains and the storyline doesn’t disappoint.  I’m looking forward to the next book in this series.

Note:  26 Nov 2020:  I don't know why but Amazon declined to post my review.  Do you find anything in this to be inappropriate to regular standards?  They sent a generic email, notifying me that they won't post it.  I'm happy to try again but unless you can see something I've mistakenly added, I can't leave a review there.  I am sorry!

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 Meet Isabel Puddles (A Mitten State Mystery)	 5-* 
from A Cozy Cup of Murder on November 25, 2020 
Fun, mature sleuth in Michigan small town - well worth a visit...
I received this ARC via Netgalley and Kensington Books, in return for an honest review. Meet Isabel Puddles (great name and title!) is the first book in a new cozy mystery series. Fun and unique take on the amateur sleuth. Isabel Puddles is a widow who loves her... 

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I wanted to love Isabel Puddles but unfortunately for me it was a flop. From the moment I saw the cover I knew I had to give it a go, I love a good cozy mystery but found this one to be off putting. I didn't really care much for Mrs. Puddles, as a huge fan of Jessica Fletcher (which is mentioned in the summary for this book) I thought I was in for a charming small town which characters you love and want more of. Not the case here. The characters are a bit bland and Isabel herself is a frumpy old lady, stuck in her ways lacking any ounce of charm. The summary of this book sums up Isabel's life, pepper in some poor taste and you've got the recipe for this book.
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3.5 Stars

While the book started out a bit slow for me, I found it overall to be a charming start to a new series. My initial impressions of Isabel were a bit put off by her constant flashbacks and internal dialogue (not to mention her ability to do anything and everything famously) but I did come around to her quirky ways. The plot itself kept me engaged and I enjoyed trying to figure out who the killer was. In the end, it made for a nice weekend read and I would welcome a second book.
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Anyone named Isabel Puddles was sure to have a quirky life, quirky friends, and a quirky mystery.

Isabel Puddles quickly lets us into her life with vivid descriptions of the community, her friends, and the little details “for twenty years, she never let on that she didn’t like scrambled eggs.” It’s these conversational tidbits which kept me reading, and then the author introduces us to an unusual murder discovered when Isabel is performing what might seem a scary task to most of us, styling a dead person’s hair and makeup for their viewing and funeral.

Since I actually know people who do this, I was delighted to find this in a mystery because the author perfectly describes the feelings of a person performing this task.

Byrne surrounds the main characters with friends and enemies who move the plot along fast but not too fast, making it easy to follow and giving me the feeling I was there, in the community living it with characters. I found myself holding my breath at times when the final moments were revealed.

This mystery has good characters, an interesting plot, and also some feel-good moments that give a lesson in life to all of us. I give this five stars and I can’t wait for more in this series.
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I love finding a new mystery series to add to my must read list. From the first page I knew Isabel Puddles belonged on the list. Her name alone made me smile and then getting to know her, well, I wish I could join The Land's End Breakfast Club with Isabel (Izzy) and her BFF Frances - breakfast special $6.99. It feels welcoming and comfortable and I like small towns like Gull Harbor, Michigan.
Isabel is a widow of a certain age with grown children. She has a Jack Russell terrier named Jackpot and she lives on a fixed income. At one time she was a hairdresser but didn't enjoy it but times are hard and converting the mother-ion-law apartment into a salon. She also works part time at her cousins hardware store, she knits items for sale and she is a regular visitor to the library. As Isabel sees it, if sh'e physically able to do the job and it's legal, well then go for it. That's how she found herself doing the final hair and makeup for the dearly departed at the Tate Funeral Home - a favor to a friend. Turns out her current "client" didn't die of a stroke, even though he was 88. He had help in the form of a two inch nail rammed into his skull. Now the question becomes did his son bump him off or did someone else do the deed? The son is a friend of Isabel's and she is certain he couldn't have killed his father. So Isabel uses her talents to track down a killer.
Isabel hears all of the gossip, knows just about everybody in town and figures out which dots to connect. It makes for a believable mystery and I am already looking forward to her next case. To be fair, the pace is on the slow side to start but I was fine with it as it takes time to set the stage and get everybody introduced. It was a great de-stressing read.
My thanks to the publisher Kensington and to NetGalley for giving me an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.
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Meet Isabel Puddles was a little bit of a bumpy ride, but I did end up enjoying it. Isabel is a very interesting and well-developed character - it's hard not to love her. Isabel is a widow "of a certain age" who has her hand in pretty much every aspect of her small town in northern-ish Michigan.

This is definitely a cozy mystery, but it does read a bit more like a contemporary mystery - it's a bit more in-depth and lacks that "cutesy" factor that's so common in cozies (not a bad thing, just not a sugary sweet kind of novel).

There's a lot of extra fluff in this book and Isabel will often go off on tangents talking about stories from decades past, or giving more background into the lives of minor characters. These tangents definitely give you a feel of small-town Michigan (if you aren't already familiar with it) but they can be long-winded and tedious at times.

That all being said, I am definitely looking forward to the next book in the series, and I can't wait to see what sort of trouble Isabel gets herself into!

Thank you Kensington Books for the ARC.
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Started off a little slow with a lot of backstory, but ended up being a very enjoyable read. Plot moved at a nice place, killer was a surprise at the end. Very entertaining story!
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Gull Harbor, a small town on the shores of Lake Michigan, is the gorgeous setting for a new series, the Mitten State Mysteries. And Isabel Puddles, described as “Sherlock Holmes with a C cup” makes a perfect amateur detective. 

Isabel, a widow with a limited income, makes do with several different part-time jobs that keep her connected to many of the nosy but endearing town residents. She sells baked goods and pickles, works in the hardware store, sells knitted scarves and has just been offered a most unusual position. She’s the new hair and makeup artist at the Tate Funeral Home. While working on her second “client”, a wealthy local farmer, she discovers that his death from a cerebral hemorrhage was really caused by a nail embedded in his skull. Who would want to kill an 88 year old man? There are suspects. Or who would benefit from an 88 year old man’s death. Even more suspects. When a long time friend of hers is arrested, Isabel wants to prove her friend’s innocence by finding the real killer. Can she solve the case before there are more deaths?

When I read that M.V. Byrne is a veteran television writer, I understood why I thought the story was too long with too much inner thought and unnecessary scenes (the relatives at Ms. DeLong’s funeral, for example. The characters are actors and, through their thoughts, we understand their actions. That strengthens the characters, especially Isabel who I look forward to meeting again, but makes the story drag. I love all the characters and the witty descriptions- her “type was anyone with a job, a pulse, and out-of-state plates”. I’m looking forward to the next in this series. 4 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley, Kensington Books and M.V. Byrne for this ARC.
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