Cover Image: Hemlock for the Holidays

Hemlock for the Holidays

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Member Reviews

Amanda,  struggling artist, her family, her dog and her cat prepare to celebrate the holidays. 
At an arts and craft fair the food is poisoned and someone dies.

a typical cozy - I enjoy all things holiday
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Nice cozy mystery about an artist that finds herself finding clues to a death.  The story is more about her new life after a divorce.  The clues seem to just cross her path.  The book was interesting with a nice cast of characters.  I liked it.
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This story was mild to mellow, not much excitement, a low intrigue level, and still entertaining.  I thought Amanda was a bit lukewarm for an amateur sleuth and didn’t impress me at all. Regardless of these minor details, it was interesting.
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Loved reading this book and author. If you haven't read it yet I highly recommend her and her books. Happy reading
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Artist Amanda is loving her new life and is looking forward to her family visiting for the holidays.  She does wish that her art sales would pick up a bit.  Her problems pale in comparison to the people who got severe food poisoning after eating carrot bars at the high school's craft fair.  One person winds up dead after eating the treat.  Was it an accident or intentional?  Amanda is determined to find out although it may have grave consequences.  I had not read any of the previous books in the series, but I had no problem following along.  The mystery kept me guessing until the end.  I will definitely be reading more in the series.
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The perfect Christmas book for cosy nights abd frosty mornings. The ideal mic of. Likeable characters and storyline. Perfect.
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Christmas themed cozy set in Arizona where Amanda Trent, a 50 year old artist, has relocated to reinvent herself after a particularly bad divorce. While concerned with  sales and commissions for her artwork, she has settled in finding friends and a new life for her and her cat and dog. A number of people become ill after eating carrot bars sold at the high school Christmas fair. She becomes involved after finding a new acquaintance dead with a suspect carrot bar on his kitchen counter. Entertaining mystery.
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It's the first book I read in this series and won't surely be the last as I thoroughly enjoyed.
A lovely cozy mystery, engrossing and entertaining.
I loved Amanda and how the author developed the characters and their relationships.
The setting is lovely and realistic, the solid mystery kept me guessing.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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This is the first book I've read in the Fine Art Mystery series, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! Amanda, the main character, is a middle-aged struggling fine artist who does pet portraits to pay the bills. She's very relatable and appealing to me. The way the plot ties in her work, her relationships, and the community feels smooth and balanced. A "random" poisoning at the high school holiday arts & crafts fundraiser kicks off the mystery plot, and an engaging, logical chain of events plays out. The dialog is occasionally kind of wooden, and there are a couple of really poor decisions made, and the gallery hunt ends up being ridiculously easy. But those things aside, I completely enjoyed this book. I'm off to check out books one and two. /4324227048
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This is the first that I've read in this series.  I enjoyed it so much that I will have to add Books 1 and 2 to my to be read pile.

I couldn't help to root for Amanda to get her sales up and also to solve the mystery.  She's a likeable character with enough quirkiness to be a real person.  The book was well written and kept my attention from the very beginning.  I do hope that there are more to come in the series.
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Amanda Trent moved to Lonesome Valley, Arizona after her marriage fell apart.  She's trying to make a new life for herself as an artist, but is struggling to make ends meet.  She's displaying her artwork at the Roadrunner Gallery, where she also works part-time.  While working at the high school's arts and crafts fair, some people fall ill from eating poisoned carrot bars, but luckily, they survive.

When she and her friend Susan visit a widower named Eric because he asked Susan to stop by so he could show her something, they find the house locked up tight.  But looking in the window, they see Eric on the floor and call the police.  When the police enter the house, it's too late for Eric, who also seems to have consumed the bars.  Now Amanda is wondering if it was a deliberate poisoning or just an accident, and who would have wanted the kind widower dead?  Unfortunately, looking into murder can kill you...

This is the third book in the series and I have not read the other two, so I can only review on this book, which gives me several questions.  Why did she leave Kansas City without demanding her husband sell the home and give her half the proceeds?  They were married almost thirty years, she deserves that; or at least give her a decent settlement so she doesn't have to struggle?  This doesn't make any sense.

Another thing that bothered me -- and almost made me put the book aside -- was the fact that when the police entered the crime scene, they allowed five people to enter the house behind them.  No, in reality, this would not be.  The police would insist everyone stay outside, not in the kitchen, as it would be considered part of the crime scene.  Sloppy police work.  The third, and last thing, is why was the mayor interfering in the issue of building permits?  It's not her job, and could be considered an ethics violation, causing her to be removed of her position.  Think, authors...sorry, but I pay attention to details, and notice little things others might not.  That being said...

Amanda is getting ready for the holidays and is excited to celebrate her first Christmas in her new tiny house.  Her son and daughter are coming, and so are her parents, who live in Florida.  But there's a lot to do, and she would really like to sell a painting or two to help cover the costs and keep her warm over the winter months.  Finding the body didn't help any, especially when the lead detective isn't fond of her and won't listen to any clues she hands him.  But Amanda plugs on, and looks for clues where she can.

Much of the book was normal conversation between Amanda and her friends, and perhaps it could have been shortened without these conversations, as they had nothing to do with a murder investigation.  They slowed the book down, and it took me two days to read this, when I can normally finish a book a day.  The mystery wasn't given the time it deserved, so the clues were few and far between, and it seemed the motive came out of the blue, since the murderer didn't appear to have any reason to 'do in'
the victim.  However, it gave a satisfactory ending, with something to look forward to in the next book.

Aside from what I've mentioned above, the writing flowed smoothly eventually and I will more than likely read the others in the series.

I was given a copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley but this in no way influenced my review.
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I never realised how many cosy mystery novels and authors there were until recently and I must say I am glad I discovered them.
This on is no exception as it is yet another example of good easy to read mysteries with a great Christmas theme which I love.  This one follows artist Amanda Trent on a ride though Lonesome Valley (I love the name) trying to find out why people are dying of Hemlock poisoning..

The poison is in the baked goods and but why is this happening and who is doing it.  Well I won't tell but what I will tell you is this is such an easy book to read yet is full of suspense, twists, turns and an ending I didn't really expect.  It kept my interested and kept me reading until I finally got to the last page.  Now I want more!

I loved it, loved the plot, the theme, the characters and the story.  It was fun yet complex enough so that it wasn't wishy, washy.

Highly recommend this one.
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So this is the third book in an on going series. I seriously have to look more closely when asking for a book. Fortunately for me I found it was good as a standalone novel.

Firstly, what exactly is Hemlock? Is it like that purple thistle? I don't know was just wondering.

Another question. What are carrot bars? Just asking because a guy eats one at the local school arts and crafts fair and dies. Was it food poisoning? Accident? Deliberate?

It's fairly fast paced and grabs your interest early. It's fun. Keeps you guessing.

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Newly divorced artist Amanda Trent makes her way to Kansas to, of all places, Lonesome Valley, Arizona. Quite frankly as a newly divorced person, I don't think I would settle in Lonesome Valley. The mystery revolves around a poisoning of several people and the death of another. It was a interesting mystery and Amanda is a likeable character, but there was way too much time spent on the adventures of Amanda's dog and cat and their playmates. I am a huge Agatha Christie fan and I don't remember dogs and cats taking some much of the story.. It is a trend in cozy mysteries I hope ends soon.
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My first in this series although it is the third instalment, Hemlock for the Holidays sees artist Amanda Trent looking forward to the holiday season as Lonesome Valley begins its annual parade. Amanda's family will be in town to spend Christmas with her and she is already dreaming of sugarplums and spending some time with her next-door neighbour, Brian who works on an oil rig. Short of cash, she is helping at the high school Christmas craft fair where there are carrot bars available. When the students start falling ill and someone eats one then drops, the emergency services are called but the man dies so Amanda starts some sleuthing.

I loved Paula Darnell’s fun writing style and I thought the plot was wonderfully engaging. The main character, in her fifties, was warm and someone I could relate to and I liked the contributions of her pets, a calico cat named Mona Lisa and her golden retriever, Laddie. Also worth mentioning is her neighbour Belle, though there is great camaraderie between most of the supporting cast.

The setting of Arizona at Christmastime was lovely to imagine and the author made this easy for me with charming Yuletide descriptions. If you are a fan of cozy mysteries with a Christmas holiday theme, then you need to check out Hemlock for the Holidays. It's comical, and it will definitely keep you guessing. This very happy reader highly recommends it!

I received a complimentary copy of this novel at my request from Campbell and Rogers Press via NetGalley and this review is my unbiased opinion.
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This is the first book I have read from this author. Great and easy story to follow. Loved the characters. Overall, it was quite delightful.
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It’s always a sure thing for me that when there’s a dog on the cover of a cozy mystery that I’ll love it. Hemlock for the Holidays was no exception. I haven’t read the first two books in the series but it seems it wasn’t necessary to have done so in order to thoroughly enjoy this one. Artist Amanda Trent is looking forward to her human family’s arrival in town to celebrate the holidays with Amanda and her beloved fur babies Mona Lisa the cat and Laddie the Golden Retriever. When several people become ill after eating carrot bars laced with hemlock at the high school’s winter craft sale and no one can figure out where the carrot bars came from, Amanda can’t help stepping up to investigate. When Amanda and her friend Susan find the body of Eric Thompson, a local man who angered several of his creditors by filing for bankruptcy. Around his body are the remains of a carrot bar that looks exactly like the ones that were involved the food poisoning incidents at the high school. Of course, Amanda goes into amateur detective mode and launches a murder investigation. There are enough plot twists to keep readers guessing. The characters are well-developed and interesting. I’ll definitely be reading the first two books in the series.
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Amanda Treat is getting ready for the Christmas season in Lonesome Valley. She is a fairly new resident, divorcée, and starving artist. She is expecting both her parents and her children for the holidays and looking forward to a high school arts and crafts fair, in which she participates with her co-op Roadrunner Gallery. A slump in her sales, she is sweating having enough income to get through the next couple of months.

Amanda has a golden retriever named Laddie and a “mercurial” calico cat named Mona Lisa and interaction with her animals, their feeding, playing, and pet sitting is featured in the narrative as well as the struggles for sales of both her landscapes and pet portraits, with the mystery the other third of the novel. I’m thinking that was part of my problem with this one, the third in the series. My first.

Several high school students are poisoned at the art fair and a few days later there is a death, which becomes her focus when not dealing with the other two. I could not relate well to Amanda and felt few of the support characters stood out. Dialogue was awkward at times, but worse (for me) was the excessive description of minutia. 

While the novel was well-plotted, I found the pace slow and had difficulty retaining interest. I just couldn’t get immersed sufficient to care which character was dog-sitting and I’m not a person looking for recipes at the end. Not a cozy for me, but I’m sure there are many who will enjoy. 3.5 stars
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This was a fun read! A Christmas theme that put me right in the holiday mood. Great characters and ask of them are drawn really well.  Thanks to NetGalley for the free ARC.
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With its charming Christmas setting, this cozy puts you in a holiday mood complete with multiple plots, fun characters and of course murder.
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