Cover Image: Death on the Night of Lost Lizards

Death on the Night of Lost Lizards

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Member Reviews

I tried so hard to like this but it was just soooo-o slow and boring. And I'm not even sure if the mystery made any sense. However - to be fair. I did DNF it around the 50% mark. Sorry.
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I kinda loved reading a Christmas book in July.  Lovely winter and holiday imagery made me smile and now i"m already looking forward to the coming cold months.
I like this series, especially all the info on Hungarian folklore, food, and traditions.  The tea house reminds me of the tradition of afternoon tea I have with my own mom and I kinda wish we could visit this place!
A satisfying mystery, holiday magic, a bit of romance, and a charming small town and characters made this a lovely third instalment in this series.
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Death on Night of Lost Lizards:  A Hungarian Tea House Mystery
By Julia Buckley
Berkley
June 2021

Review by Cynthia Chow

Christmas may be one of Hana Keller’s favorite times of the year, and not just because December is the month of her birthday.  Her family-run Maggie’s Tea House has over fourteen holiday events scheduled, ranging from a traditional Hungarian St. Mikulas Day to Girl Scout Brownies’ tea parties.  Still, Hana is thrilled when her beloved Uncle Zoltan Horvath mails her the birthday gift of a Yellow Dynasty tea serving collection, especially since she fell in love with its twin lizard designs as a child.  Following on the heels of that delightful surprise is a more ominous one though, as Hana’s matrilineal talent for prophetic feelings has her on alert upon seeing a young college student by a dumpster.  So when Hana’s boyfriend Detective Erik Wolf, the “wolf who catches wolves” as prophesized by her grandmother, arrives with the news that a Riverwood University has been murdered she knows that she was right to be worried.

Hana soon learns that the victim, Professor Sandor Balog, was a man she frequently saw perusing the antique shop owned by her friend Falken Trisch.  Hana finds herself drawn into the investigation when the tea party planned for the university departments was actually organized by the late Professor Balog, turning the holiday event into a memorial. It quickly becomes apparent that the professor had as many enemies as he did friends, with jealous academics, a contentious ex-wife, numerous girlfriends, and even gambling victims all contending to top Hana’s suspect list. Her to-do list quickly becomes filled with dualities of both the victim and the suspects, making the arrival of the Twin Lizard tea set prophetic and the path towards a solution.

This third in the series completely submerges readers into Riverwood’s chilly Christmas season while highlighting Hungarian traditions.  Recipes and descriptions of seasonal treats such as gingerbread mezeskalacas are mouth-watering, and the author enhances them by providing details of their history and origin.  Romantic and family relationships flourish as well, with Hana’s brother wanting to make a commitment while Erik’s pregnant sister faces a terrifying challenge.  Hana’s and Erik’s families are considerable in number and size, but new readers can easily and quickly sort out connections and enjoy their good-natured banter.  The academic rivalry within Riverwood University adds a fun and intriguing element to this mystery, which still indulges in a number of holiday-themed events and celebrations.  Hungarian traditions, tantalizing treats, and especially the strong women of Hana’s family make this a rewarding holiday reading perfect for those who look forward to Christmas all year round.
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Death on the Night of Lost Lizards is the third book in Julia Buckley’s Hungarian Tea House Mystery series. The story can be read as a standalone, however, I think you would get more enjoyment out of reading the other books first. Julia is definitely my go-to cozy mystery author. I tend to lose myself in her stories and characters. As a result, I didn’t read the blurb and was pleasantly surprised to discover that Death on the Night of Lost Lizards takes place during Christmastime.

It’s the month of December and Hana Keller, her mother Maggie, and her grandmother, Juliana Horvath, are busy running around and putting on Christmas events at Maggie’s Tea House, the family business owned by Hana’s mother. After returning home from running errands, Hana is surprised to discover her uncle sent her a Herend’s Yellow Dynasty tea set for her birthday. Hana is so excited to show off the set that she quickly plans a girls’ night out at her house. She invites her neighbor Paige, her best friend Katie, and her boyfriend Erik’s twin sisters Runa and Thyra. While hanging out together, they discover that a murder has been committed at the local university. This leads Hana to remember something she saw earlier in the day. It turns out Hana knows the murder victim and at least one person of interest.

Hana has inherited her Hungarian family’s “gift” of sight or sixth sense. She uses her ability to help her boyfriend, police detective Erik Wolf track down the killer of Sandor Balog, the professor of Hungarian, and the chair of the World Languages Department at Riverwood University. She just isn’t prepared to find herself as the next victim.

Once again, Julia has written an engrossing mystery. I was as in the dark as Hana was. The reveal definitely came as a surprise but made complete sense. The romantic in me is over the moon at Hana and Erik’s blossoming relationship. In fact, this Christmas is going to be a memorable one for the Horvath/Keller family. I really hope there are more books to come in this wonderful Hungarian Mystery series.

~ Favorite Quote ~

“In its most powerful form, grace gives us the strength to endure any trial.”
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I had never read this author before. This is the 3rd in a series of Hungarian Tea House mysteries, but this novel stands alone reasonably well. Enough background is provided to fill any gaps without becoming tedious.  I doubt people who read the previous books would be overwhelmed by the amount of recap.
The setting of this novel appealed to me. It takes place in what appears to be a college town. The mystery involves the murder of a world languages professor.  The amateur sleuth is dating a police detective and works at a Hungarian tea house which is owned and operated by her family. There is a little bit of paranormal thrown into the story. Some of the women the family have a 6th sense.  Ordinarily I do not read paranormal, but this was so subtle that it did not overwhelm the plot. Thankfully, this is not a story about a psychic solving a mystery.
The book started out with a nice cozy atmosphere. I enjoyed some of the Hungarian holiday traditions. By the way, this is a Christmas themed book which I did not realize when I decided to read it. I usually do not go out of my way to read Christmas themed books. They tend to include too much filler, and this one certainly did. Plenty of food and Christmas shopping occupied a lot of pages.  There are even Hungarian recipes at the end. When I thought the story had ended, a few wrap up chapters followed that added nothing to the plot. The main character had a birthday, her brother got engaged, they had a Christmas celebration.  All of this supposedly contributes to the cozy nature of the story. The reader gets to participate in the idealized life of these people.  Those who are following the series may enjoy the continuity. I skimmed it. 
I found the Hungarian angle interesting and wanted to find out if the author is Hungarian.  She wrote nothing about research in the author's notes. There is no background information on her personal website. I assume she researched Hungarian traditions and Hungarian phrases. The Hungarian theme was charming at the beginning of the novel, then it began to feel forced and overdone. Everything was Hungarian. Hungarian this and Hungarian that.  Okay, I get it. These people are Hungarian. Enough already.
Overall, I thought this was a decent light read with an interesting setting and theme. The mystery was nothing special. I doubt I would seek out another book in the series.
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an advance reading copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.
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Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie

I truly enjoy this series, having been hooked from the beginning. The author brings believable situations to Riverwood, a suburb of Chicago, and to Maggie’s Tea House. Hana, her family, and friends are delightfully engaging. I particularly enjoy reading a bit about Hungarian culture as I have not met people before who have ancestors from there. The mystery is excellent, with plot twists that keep the protagonists on their toes. Characters are defined well through realistic conversation and actions.

Hana’s mother, Maggie, is owner of the tea house. Maggie’s mother, Juliana, and Hana both worked there. Juliana and her husband moved to the US from Hungary when Maggie was much younger. Maggie, her parents, and her siblings are fluent in English and their native language. I enjoyed seeing how the population of those of Hungarian descent is significant enough that the language is taught at the nearby university. Learning some of the folklore and porcelain collectibles was fascinating.

Christmas is just around the corner and the tea house has many special events scheduled. The tea house is much larger than I thought; one of the events served at least eighty people! The three ladies and their pastry chef are experts at expediting service to everyone. On a day when snow was falling, Hana saw a young man coming from an alley without a coat on. He looked cold and anxious, and she knew him but couldn’t remember where from. When she arrived home, an early birthday package awaited her. Uncle Zoltan remembered a costly tea set she had wanted when much younger, and he found several pieces for her. The pattern is “lost lizards”, the handles of the teacups being two entwined lizards, and she is thrilled. That night, her.  boyfriend Eric, a detective, was late coming over as he was called on a new murder case.

The victim, Sandor Balog, was the professor of Hungarian language and chair of the World Languages department. He was loved by many in the community, including a couple women he dated during the time he was separated from his wife. Hana knew him only by his first name from the times she saw him in her favorite antiques shop looking for collectible treasures of their heritage. The coatless young man was one of his students, and his mother a professor who works for Sandor and had a huge fight with him shortly before his death.

Joy is a beautiful ribbon woven throughout this novel. I enjoyed how Henrik was defined, “as though he had found a way to house joy in his tall, thin body.” I enjoyed some of their sayings, my favorite being “as happy as monkey about its tail’. The author brings the beautiful Hungarian culture alive, enhancing the mystery and making it an enjoyable read.

The mystery had several twists and turns, especially as Hana, Erik, and his partner eavesdrop throughout the tea that Sandor was honored in. As they delve into the people in Sandor’s life, Hana is surprised at some of the things she learns about him, things that added people to the suspect list. I was somewhat startled to find who the bad guy really was, as I had missed any solid clues except for one I had a hunch about until the last moments. Overall, the end is satisfactory, and I highly recommend this novel while looking forward to the next one!
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Hana Keller is looking forward to her December birthday and, soon after, Christmas. As she does every year, she revels in the way that her hometown of Riverwood, Illinois transforms into a winter wonderland. But an odd encounter in the falling snow causes her to take note of a college student’s unusual behavior. When she later finds out that a professor was killed in nearby Riverwood University, she feels compelled to tell her boyfriend, police detective Erik Wolf, what she saw. She’s sure there’s a connection somehow between the two events.

Erik is now used to her burgeoning psychic powers, so goes to investigate the dead-end alley Hana had seen the young man emerge from. He quickly finds a dumpster where a gun wrapped in a bloody jacket was stowed. Hana is relieved to be able to help her boyfriend quickly close the case… until she realizes that the young man in question is the son of one of her tea house contractors, and an extremely unlikely murderer.

Hana is further shocked to realize that the murder victim was another acquaintance of hers, a fellow collector of Hungarian art with whom she was on friendly terms whenever they ran into each other while haunting local dealerships. Professor Sandor Balog always seemed so affable to her. His murder, however, exposes a darker side to the mild-mannered academic, with plentiful suspects who might have hated him enough to kill. 

When the student’s confession only leads to greater mysteries, Hana’s art expertise becomes a crucial part of the investigation. Soon, she’s teaming up with Erik to flush out a murderer. But no one likes to be cornered, and Hana might soon find the tables turned and her own life in jeopardy.

This was another winning installment in the Hungarian Tea House Mystery series which, as a paranormal culinary cozy, hit all my genre sweet spots. Julia Buckley is a deft plotter and even better at characterization: I’m a huge fan of the entire core cast here because they’re such loving, generous people. And oh, the food descriptions! I was lucky enough to get to cover the series debut when it came out in 2019 and still think fondly of that chicken paprikas recipe I made from it. I was definitely eager to try out another Hungarian recipe, and chose this one of the two listed:

QUOTE
Magdalena’s Stuffed Peppers
(Tӧltӧtt paprika)

Eight helpings

8 medium sized green or red peppers
½ lb ground beef
½ lb ground pork
1 cup uncooked rice
1 large can tomato juice (46 oz)
1 large onion
3 tbs shortening
1 tbs salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 cup sour cream

Prepare peppers by carefully removing tops and seeds.

In a large pot, mince the onion and sautee in the Crisco.

Mix in the meat, dry rice, and seasonings. (You may wish to drain the grease from the meat before adding the other ingredients.)

Using the meat mixture, stuff the peppers until they are ¾ full.

Place the peppers upright in a baking pan.

Cover with tomato juice, making sure that the peppers do not tip over.

Bake at 350° for an hour.

Your kitchen should now smell divine!

Make sure that rice is soft before removing peppers from oven.

For a truly Hungarian dish, add a cup of sour cream, then shake pan gently until the cream is mixed in to the sauce.
END QUOTE

These stuffed peppers did not disappoint at all! I admit to wondering at the lack of additional spices but the complexity of the meat and peppers and tomato juice were perfect with only salt and pepper for enhancement. And, of course, the excellent addition of sour cream gave it the perfect balance of flavors. I’m so grateful to Ms Buckley for introducing me to authentic Hungarian food, which is just so delicious and undeservedly obscure.

I will note that I easily halved this recipe to feed my own household, as my children are in that obnoxious stage of dramatically refusing to eat peppers. Leftovers keep deliciously for several days however, and I’m absolutely planning on making this dish for myself and my husband again!

Next week, we head south to make one of my favorite picnic foods while investigating a death by stabbing. Do join me!
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Julia Buckley continues her succcesful Hungarian Tea House mysteries with Death on the Night of Lost Lizards.
Hana Keller receives a rare Hungarian tea set with which she holds a tea party with close friends in the holiday season.  A murderer is on the lose and her policeman boyfriend is one the hunt. Sandor, the murdered man, is a man with a mixed past, a lothario and gambler, but well liked.  Suspects are numerous.  Hana uses her growing psychic sense to help narrow the suspects and help her boyfriend.  Fun cozy with cut cats.
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This book series is dangerous in multiple ways!  For one thing I find myself absolutely craving Hungarian food - especially desserts and we don't really have a good Hungarian restaurant in town so I'm pretty much days away from going on a baking binge and then eating all the treats on my own!  The food descriptions are that amazing.  As well, I have a huge weakness for antique porcelain and have quite a collection and there are always mentions of Herend porcelain that make me want to go down that particular rabbit hole which would hit my book budget HARD.  

But those problems aside this book (and the previous one) was just a delight from start to finish.  There are some psychic notes but not so much that the book feels paranormal.  It almost has a magical realism feel but without the magic taking over.  If you're not a fan of paranormal or magical realism it's such a side issue I don't think this would bother you.  The characters are people I'd like to be friends with - especially Hana and her family.   

With all my rambling, you'd think the mystery gets pushed to the side but it never does.  From the beginning the mystery is front and center and really kept me reading.  I loved the dive into the Hungarian community and found the investigation fascinating.  This was a fast read that I was sad to see the end of!  I'm glad that I missed the first book so that I can go back and read that while I wait for the next book in the series.  And I'm going to need to seek out some of the amazing treats Hana talks about.
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Title:  Death on the Night of Lost Lizards
Author:  Julia Buckley
Genre:  Mystery 
Rating:  4.2 out of 5 

Hana Keller and her tea-leaf reading grandmother are used to finding the perfect savory treats to pair with a delicious cuppa at her family’s tea house but when a local professor is killed, she uncovers a serving of suspects instead…

Hana Keller is getting ready for a lovely holiday season. She decides to host a tea at her apartment for her closest friends. During the cozy get-together, one of Hana's friends gets a call that a murderer is on the loose and that the women should be careful. Hana soon learns that Sandor Balog, a professor of Hungarian Studies at the local college, has been viciously killed.

Hana gets one of her visions that she is going to be pulled into the professor's death somehow. When Erik, her handsome detective boyfriend, finds several suspects at the Tea House, Hana knows she must now investigate. And when the wrong man is arrested, things come to a boil and Hana finds herself in the path of the real killer.

I enjoyed this read! The characters and setting—a Hungarian family-owned tea house—is unique, and I kind of want to hang out with these people. Actually, this book almost made winter and lots of snow sound appealing…which is saying something, for a lifelong southerner.

To me, the murderer wasn’t glaringly obvious, which is great, as “mysteries” where the culprit is clear are boring to read. Hana and her circle of people are fun and people I genuinely would like to spend time with. Definitely read this!

Julia Buckley lives in the Chicago area and teaches high school English. Death on the Night of Lost Lizards is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Berkley in exchange for an honest review.)

(Blog link live 6/12.)
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Book three in the Hungarian Tea House Mystery. The characters, mystery and all of the Hungarian facts that the author weaves throughout the story makes this a really intriguing series. It has quickly become one of my very favorite cozies to recommend. 

I was delighted to see this installment takes place at Christmas time. I enjoyed watching Hana prepare for the holidays.  It was fun tagging along on shopping excursions and visiting a few more local businesses. I especially loved Sparkle and her charming store. I hope we see her again!! I loved the children’s program the tea shop hosted. I’m very familiar with the legend of Krampus from my own European relatives. 

There are so many characters in this series, but the author flawlessly distinguishes them all making it easy for the reader to keep track of them as they appear throughout the books and storyline. This particular mystery centered around a murdered professor so all of his colleagues and acquaintances became very viable suspects. I was captivated by this plot from start to finish and once again got caught by a red herring making me select the wrong suspect. 

The book does include a hint of paranormal. The women in Hana’s family have unexplainable insight that makes them in-tuned to other’s actions or emotions and even able to vaguely predict the future at times. This plays perfectly with an investigation. I enjoyed the side story involving this aspect and the high risk pregnancy of Detective Wolf’s sister. 

The food descriptions are numerous and all sound so appetizing. The author did include a few recipes at the end of the book. I also enjoyed learning more about Hana’s porcelain collecting hobby. I once again looked up the style and description of the various pieces mentioned. I highly suggest starting with book one. I can’t wait for more adventures with these charming characters.
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Death on the Night of Lost Lizards is a gem of a story, an absolute gem! Events in Hana’s life have quieted down after her last two harrowing brushes with mysterious deaths. Not only that, things have also started to heat up with her new beau, Erik. While out shopping for the upcoming holidays, Hana thought she saw someone she recognized but she soon pushed off that thought. Though when a mysterious Hungarian artifact finds its way into her family’s tea house, it becomes apparent that Hana’s involvement in investigations is not as over as she had assumed. There is a connection to what she saw and she is determined to follow that thread where ever it may lead and no matter the danger.

I have to be honest, the third book in the Hungarian Tea House Mystery series is just as adorable as the previous two. I love it when an installment in a series keeps on meeting my expectations and Death on the Night of Lost Lizards absolutely does just that and more. Hana and her family continue to delight me with their “possible” supernatural abilities, super cute. Also, this time around, there was an inclusion of friends that helped Hana along the way as she puzzled her way through what she thought she knew and what her feelings were telling her. What a fun chase this story took me on! Overall, Death on the Night of Lost Lizards was filled with a wonderful cozy mystery, steeped with Hungarian folklore, and sweetened with charm.

This review is based on a complimentary book I received. It is an honest and voluntary review. The complimentary receipt of it in no way affected my review or rating.
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Death On The Night Of Lost Lizards is the third book in the A Hungarian Tea House Mystery series by Julia Buckley.

With summer on its way, this is a great time to read this wonderful addition to this series.  The setting of the book is close to Christmas near blustery Chicago, Illinois. 

Hana Keller is finishing up her Christmas shopping, and while waiting for her car to warm, she sees a young man with no coat on throw something into a dumpster behind a store.  When Hana tries to tell Detective Erik Wolf, Erik, her boyfriend, informs her he is investigating the murder of a professor and will talk later.  Later that day, Hana tells Erik what she saw, and he promises to have the dumpster searched.  The next day Erik tells Hana that the police did find a coat with evidence wrapped in it.

When she learns the victim is Professor Balog, and of his valuable collection of Hungarian artifacts, she realizes she knows of him.  She has seen him at her favorite antique store.  Hana starts talking with the other professors in Balog’s department, and to a person, they say Balog was well-liked.  Hana is skilled at asking questions, as well as listening.  She will overhear conversations at the family tea house, which will point her to several suspects, which she will share with Erik.  

Erik’s sister has problems with her pregnancy and has asked Hana to use her psychic abilities to learn if everything will turn out all right.  Hana has only recently discovered her skills and hasn’t them that much and is torn between using them or not.

The book is well-written and plotted.  The characters are well-developed and very interesting, and believable.  I particularly enjoyed learning about Hungarian traditions, folklore, and especially some traditional foods.  The author also included recipes for some of the foods mentioned in the book.

I am eagerly awaiting the next book in this delightful series.
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DEATH ON THE NIGHT OF LOST LIZARDS is the third book in the Hungarian Tea House Mysteries by Julia Buckley. This series just keeps getting better and better and I couldn’t put this book down. The author does an admirable job in setting the scene with plenty of holiday ambiance and Hungarian language, food, and folklore. While this is a mystery, I truly enjoyed getting to learn snippets of Hungarian myths and legends that the protagonist, Hana Keller, introduces throughout the story. Combined with the psychic abilities Hana is discovering and her tea leaf reading Grandmother, the book became magical and I didn’t want to stop reading until I’d devoured the entire story. I also loved the delightful descriptions of the unique tea set gifted to Hana by a beloved uncle, even if I’m not a fan of lizards. 

The author uses the rare tea set, with the twin lizard handles, as a backdrop to the mystery. She showcases how the design evokes the theme of having two choices for every decision a person faces in their life and the duality that lives in each of us. She effectively intertwines this theme with the mystery of who killed a local college professor. I also admired how Hana’s relationship with her detective boyfriend, Erik, is progressing, and how he appreciates her intelligence and insights into the crime. As the clues unfold – it helps that a large group of suspects hold a memorial service for the victim at Hana’s family’s tea house – the sharp reader can follow along with Hana in narrowing in on the killer. But truthfully, this is such a beautifully written book, I wanted to sit back and enjoy it all without distraction, and as the conclusion wrapped up, I longed to be able to read the next book in the series right away!

Running the tea house with her mother and grandmother, there are all sorts of amazing Hungarian dishes mentioned with mouthwatering details! The author provides a few recipes at the back of the book for readers to try at home.
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In the sweltering weather, the cozy, cool wintertime feel of this book was a delight. The two lizards of the title l refer to Hana’s new tea set, sent by her uncle. The theme of two is interwoven throughout the book, having two choices, and thinking of two paths taken, past and present. It also looks at selfish acts versus deliberately bad ones and reminds us that we don’t know what choices we’ll make until we face them. 
Hana observes a young man behaving oddly while out shopping and mentions it to her boyfriend, Detective Erik Wolf, when she learns he’s investigating a murder of a university prof in the vicinity. The two events are connected. 
As it turns out, the professor was someone Hana knew through her antique shopping as they were fond of the same shop and Hungarian porcelain and art. Hana also keeps thinking of things that happened in her extended family in the past that help her piece together what has happened in present day. This is so well balanced in the story, where the pieces are slowly coming together for Hana and the reader at the same time. 
I want to mention that I love that this book acknowledges that Hana and Erik are a couple who spend time together. She thinks of him as her lover. I find this really refreshing from cozies who act like the occasional sleepover should be quickly glossed over. They’re like real adults! More of this, please. 
Great mystery, loved the coziness of the winter setting, and the themes of family in Hana’s personal life. The two choices we face, and the path not taken are so well done in this book. One of my favourite mysteries of the year so far!
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Julia Buckley is a fantastic author, and this installment did not disappoint. Her depiction of winder evenings and psychic visions were wonderful and created the perfect atmosphere for this mystery. I love the characters and the details of Hungarian culture.
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I have never written a book review for a cozy mystery and said that it was hauntingly beautiful at times, but that is exactly how I felt about Death on the Night of Lost Lizards by Julia Buckley. Her imagery of the winter evenings combined with the dreamlike states of her psychic visions created the perfect atmosphere for this cozy taking place during the Christmas season.

I keep coming back to the Hungarian Tea House Mysteries for the detailed and varied characters, the wonderful descriptions of the food, tea sets and parties, and the Hungarian folklore along with the interesting Hungarian facts, all combined with a touch of psychic activity… which keeps increasing a bit with every new book. 

This book also included some suspense with Erik’s sister and some of the events that happened, so for me, that was a great bonus. The mystery was well thought out and kept me guessing, and I’m still enjoying Hana and Erik’s relationship, which is a must for me to continue any series.

I highly recommend the Hungarian Tea House Mysteries. And while you could start with book three and not be confused, do yourself a favor and start with book one instead, Death in a Budapest Butterfly.
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First time reading this series (I've read the author's other series  (A Writer's Apprentice Mystery), which I absolutely love. I rarely read more than 1 series from an author. However, this one is one I would add to my list. I liked the characters and the mystery kept me guessing. I neither figured out who did it or why. I look forward to more in the series and going back and reading the first 2.

Thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for my eARC in exchange for an honest reveiw.
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Welcome to the wonderful world of cozy mysteries. Julia Buckley knows how to set a scene, create a character, make you feel like you’re right there next to them solving crime. Settle in for the day or night and read this fantastic page turner. With the holiday season present it sends warm feelings of nostalgia, tasty treats, the need for more by Julia Buckley.
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I've received this book for an honest review from netgalley #netgalley

I've been on a cozy kick for a while now and this one was just the ticket. Fun engaging light but yet has great character development.
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