Cozy Christmas Shorts from Gemma Halliday Publishing

Cozy Christmas Shorts from Gemma Halliday Publishing Cozy Christmas Shorts by Gemma Halliday, Leslie Langtry, Kelly Rey, Jennifer L. Hart, Gin Jones, T. Sue VerSteeg, Traci Andrighetti, Anna Snow, Jennifer Fischetto, Janel Gradowski
Series: Tahoe Tessie #1.5, Greatest Hits #8, Amelia Grace #2.5, , Franki Amato #2.5, Southern Pasta Shop #1.5, Working Stiff Mysteries #2.5, Culinary Competition #2.5, Helen Binney Mysteries #3.5, Jamie Winters #1.5, Gianna Mancini Mysteries #1.5
Published by Gemma Halliday Publishing on September 5, 2016
Source: Purchased
Genres: Anthology, Cozy Mystery, Christmas
Pages: 544
Format: eBook
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11 holiday themed cozy mystery short stories by New York Times, USA Today, and National Bestselling authors! Short holiday bites perfect for enjoying while waiting in holiday lines or binge-reading over a cup of hot cocoa.

This LIMITED TIME collection includes the holiday short stories from some of our most popular series:

Baby It's Cold Outside (Tahoe Tessie Mysteries) by Gemma Halliday & Sue VerSteeg

Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas (Greatest Hits Mysteries) by Leslie Langtry

Sleighed at Castle Rock (Amelia Grace Rock 'n' Roll Mysteries) by Anne Marie Stoddard

The Blonde Before Christmas (Barb Jackson Mysteries) by Anna Snow

Rosolio Red (Franki Amato Mysteries) by Traci Andrighetti

Christmas Al Dente (Southern Pasta Shop Mysteries) by Jennifer L. Hart

Ornamental Danger (Working Stiff Mysteries) by Kerri Nelson

Christmas Canapés & Sabotage (Culinary Competition Mysteries) by Janel Gradowski

A (Gingerbread) Diorama of Death (Helen Binney Mysteries) by Gin Jones

Motion for Mistletoe (Jamie Winters Mysteries) by Kelly Rey

Christmas, Spies & Dead Guys (Gianna Mancini Mysteries) by Jennifer Fischetto

This was my last Christmas read for the season. Like most anthologies, it has its ups and downs. Each of these short stories fits into a series, but the only series I had read before is the Southern Pasta Shop mysteries. I will say that each story gave a good feeling for the main character and style of mystery and I’d like to read more of a few of them.

Most of the mysteries were cute and fun, but I did have a few favorites. I didn’t really hate any of them, but there were a couple that I wasn’t fond of.


“Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas” by Leslie Langtry – The Bombay family may be assassins, but they are funny, pragmatic, inventive and really care about each other. And I loved the spin they took with And Then There Were None.

“A (Gingerbread) Diorama of Death” by Gin Jones – Helen, the main character, seems like an interesting lady, even though she’s one of the people who seem to attract murders. I loved some of the descriptions of the gingerbread houses and even though the mystery was wrapped quickly and maybe too easily, it was a short story so that’s forgivable.

“Motion for Mistletoe” by Kelly Rey – I just loved the characters in this one. And the bit of Christmas magic.

Least Favorites:

“Rosario Red” by Tracy Andrighetti – Grandma’s missing and of course her granddaughter the PI comes home to investigate. I just didn’t like where the plot went, it all seemed a bit silly.

“Sleighed at Castle Rock” by Anne Marie Stoddard – This one actually took place in the summer, with a “Christmas in July” theme. I didn’t care for the characters and the mystery was blah.

Overall, this collection was a good Christmas read. The mysteries are light and easy to read and I liked the little sparks of romance in several of them. They are short stories, so the plots are not overly involved and a couple are barely mysteries, but I enjoyed it.


Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Murder al Dente by Jennifer L. Hart

Murder al Dente by Jennifer L. Hart Murder Al Dente by Jennifer L. Hart
Series: Southern Pasta Shop #1
Published by Gemma Halliday Publishing on August 21, 2014
Source: Purchased
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 237
Format: eBook
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Andy Buckland has always dreamed of being a chef. But after a live studio audience is stricken with food poisoning during her debut cooking show, she finds herself blacklisted in the culinary community. The only job open to her is working in her family's southern pasta shop, and, to make matters worse, her first assignment is serving baked ziti to her former lover and his spoiled bride-to-be at their engagement party! But a broken heart and a bruised ego are the least of Andy's troubles when she discovers a dead body at the party with the words "welcome home" written in flour next to it. Is it a warning? A threat? Or a frame-up job? Andy is determined to find out. With the help of her over-the-top Italian family, Andy will prove that she has what it takes to not only cook the best dish in town but also catch a killer, too!

I am amazed at how well Murder al Dente combined two of my favorite things – pasta and mystery. The romance was nice too, kind of like cheesecake for dessert after spaghetti and sauce. And parts are laugh out loud funny – no wonder I liked it.

Looking at Murder al Dente solely as a mystery, it doesn’t fare that well. There aren’t really enough clues and not that much actual sleuthing goes on. The whodunnit was a bit of a surprise, mostly because we don’t have enough background to have even come close to guessing. Thankfully, the killer gives the requisite speech so we know why things happened like they did, while our female amateur sleuth’s life is in danger because she went out on her own without making sure someone knew where she was going and who she was meeting. Why do they all do that?

But, overall I really enjoyed it. The characters are great. Andy is fun and caring. Her family is awesome. Her love interest is sexy and has a few secrets of his own. The town is supportive of her, even if she did poison an entire studio audience. It’s a good start to a series, but it’s just as much a romance as it is a mystery.

And there’s lots of food – and recipes. I actually tried the Chunky Tomato Mushroom Sauce and it was pretty yummy. I’ll probably try a couple more of the recipes – I do love pasta. For the record, though, your husband and daughter will look at you funny if you tell them you got the recipe from a murder mystery book.


Spaghetti with Chunky Tomato Mushroom Sauce

About Jennifer L. Hart

Jennifer L. Hart knows that surviving as military spouse takes persistence, comfort food and a stellar sense of humor. Her books often focus on people who’ve lived the military lifestyle and zany antics of neurotic heroines, who like to eat, drink and have fun. Her works include the Misadventures of the Laundry Hag mystery series, the Damaged Goods mystery series and the Southern Pasta Shop mysteries.

Dead & Buried by Leighann Dobbs

Dead & Buried by Leighann Dobbs Dead & Buried by Leighann Dobbs
Series: Blackmoore Sisters Mysteries #2
Published by Createspace on June 25, 2013
Source: Purchased
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 272
Format: eBook
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Summers in the seaside town of Noquit Maine are quiet and relaxing ... unless you find a mysterious dead body, a hunky ex-boyfriend shows up and you start getting instructions from ghostly relatives.
That’s exactly what happens to Morgan Blackmoore.
Suddenly, she finds herself in a race against time as she’s launched into a dangerous treasure hunt that pits her against modern day pirates who think she has the key to a three hundred year old secret.
To complicate matters even more, one of her sisters keeps talking to the ghost of their dead grandmother, another has crystals with unusually powerful healing properties and her cat has an uncanny habit of showing up in exactly the right place at exactly the right time.
Not to mention that her ex-boyfried, Luke Hunter, suddenly shows up in town after ten years of being overseas and claims to want to help her fight off these deadly pirates, but Morgan finds herself fighting her attraction to him instead.
Will Morgan outwit the treasure hunters and find the real killer before Sheriff Overton puts her in jail?
And what about Luke, is he really a good guy or just after the treasure himself?

Pirates and treasure hunts and cute guys with guns – an enjoyable read. It’s light and short, a perfect in-between book for me.

The Blackmoore sisters are a good group. They have close relationships with each other, but all have their own personalities, interests, and gifts. There’s a touch of paranormal – a cat with way more than nine lives, healing crystals, visits with a dead grandma, but it doesn’t take over the book. You could have the same story without the fantasy elements, but it wouldn’t be as fun.

I like the story, but a couple of things struck me as a bit odd. First of all, who exactly does Luke, Morgan’s ex, work for. It was never explained quite well enough for me. Yes, he’s on the Blackmoores’ side, but I wish I could have been a little clearer on his motives. Second, I don’t get the Sheriff’s grudge against the sisters and why he is so outrageous in some of his behavior. This is the second in the series I’ve read and I just don’t understand how he can get away with clearly biased investigation style.

Those two faults aside, it’s a great mystery with just the right touch of romance. I like how each of the women has her own strength’s and they only solve the problems they face by working together. The men that are on their side are strong and dependable and sexy, too. They don’t find the big treasure, though. Maybe next time?

About Leighann Dobbs

Leighann Dobbs is the pen name of a not so famous author who lives in New Hampshire with her husband, her trusty Chihuahua mix Mojo and her beautiful rescue cat, Kitty. She likes to write romance and cozy mystery short stories and novelettes perfect for the busy person on the go.

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