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Expert muffin baker Merry Wynter is finally ready to turn her passion into a career. But when a dead body is found on her property, she’s more worried about cooking up an alibi… Merry is making a fresh start in small-town Autumn Vale, New York, in the mansion she’s inherited from her late uncle, Melvin. The house is run-down and someone has been digging giant holes on the Expert muffin baker Merry Wynter is finally ready to turn her passion into a career. But when a dead body is found on her property, she’s more worried about cooking up an alibi… Merry is making a fresh start in small-town Autumn Vale, New York, in the mansion she’s inherited from her late uncle, Melvin. The house is run-down and someone has been digging giant holes on the grounds, but with its restaurant-quality kitchen, the place has potential for her new baking business. She even has her first client—the local retirement home. Unfortunately, Merry soon finds that quite a few townsfolk didn’t like Uncle Mel, and she has inherited their enmity as well as his home. Local baker Binny Turner and her crazy brother, Tom, blame Melvin for their father’s death, and Tom may be the one vandalizing her land. But when Tom turns up dead in one of the holes in her yard, Merry needs to prove she had nothing to do with his death—or her new muffin-making career may crumble before it starts...


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Expert muffin baker Merry Wynter is finally ready to turn her passion into a career. But when a dead body is found on her property, she’s more worried about cooking up an alibi… Merry is making a fresh start in small-town Autumn Vale, New York, in the mansion she’s inherited from her late uncle, Melvin. The house is run-down and someone has been digging giant holes on the Expert muffin baker Merry Wynter is finally ready to turn her passion into a career. But when a dead body is found on her property, she’s more worried about cooking up an alibi… Merry is making a fresh start in small-town Autumn Vale, New York, in the mansion she’s inherited from her late uncle, Melvin. The house is run-down and someone has been digging giant holes on the grounds, but with its restaurant-quality kitchen, the place has potential for her new baking business. She even has her first client—the local retirement home. Unfortunately, Merry soon finds that quite a few townsfolk didn’t like Uncle Mel, and she has inherited their enmity as well as his home. Local baker Binny Turner and her crazy brother, Tom, blame Melvin for their father’s death, and Tom may be the one vandalizing her land. But when Tom turns up dead in one of the holes in her yard, Merry needs to prove she had nothing to do with his death—or her new muffin-making career may crumble before it starts...

30 review for Bran New Death

  1. 5 out of 5

    James

    Chose another series by the same author. Decent. Not a top of list tho. There are a lot of the foodie mysteries out there and this one didn't keep my attention as much as the others, but I will read another one to see if it was timing or it's just an average series. The main character is OK. The plot is good. You get to know a few characters, but I didn't feel like the background setting caught my attention. About Me For those new to me or my reviews... here's the scoop: I read A LOT. Chose another series by the same author. Decent. Not a top of list tho. There are a lot of the foodie mysteries out there and this one didn't keep my attention as much as the others, but I will read another one to see if it was timing or it's just an average series. The main character is OK. The plot is good. You get to know a few characters, but I didn't feel like the background setting caught my attention. About Me For those new to me or my reviews... here's the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you'll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I've visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    4 star I really enjoyed this first book in the series probably because it reminded me so much of the Lilian Jackson Braun’s Cat Who series (view spoiler)[both are set north of the large city where the main character resides, both inherit a large stone building from a distant relative. Both have former friends accompany the MC to their new home. Both have cats that help to solve the crime. Becket is more physical then Koko in that Becket actually attacks Merry’s enemies, but he also led Merry to a 4 star I really enjoyed this first book in the series probably because it reminded me so much of the Lilian Jackson Braun’s Cat Who series (view spoiler)[both are set north of the large city where the main character resides, both inherit a large stone building from a distant relative. Both have former friends accompany the MC to their new home. Both have cats that help to solve the crime. Becket is more physical then Koko in that Becket actually attacks Merry’s enemies, but he also led Merry to a crime scene. (hide spoiler)] I can’t wait to read book two to see if I can find more similarities to The Cat Who.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Katreader

    Bran New Death Pub. Date: September 3rd, 2013 Book 1 – Merry Muffin Mysteries Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime Author: Victoria Hamilton Review After dealing with the devastating loss of her husband and the backlash of a nasty fashion world incident Merry Wynter decides to flee New York City and head to Upstate New York to finally see the castle she has inherited. Her plan is to make the castle ready for sale, but there are problems. Autumn Vale is an odd town with odd residents. After a cool reception Bran New Death Pub. Date: September 3rd, 2013 Book 1 – Merry Muffin Mysteries Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime Author: Victoria Hamilton Review After dealing with the devastating loss of her husband and the backlash of a nasty fashion world incident Merry Wynter decides to flee New York City and head to Upstate New York to finally see the castle she has inherited. Her plan is to make the castle ready for sale, but there are problems. Autumn Vale is an odd town with odd residents. After a cool reception Merry discovers one of the reasons the castle hasn't sold-gaping holes have been dug around the property. Who would be doing this and why? Merry finds out the who soon enough, and after a confrontation the digger is found dead in one of the holes! I found this book captivating, charming, and I want to read more! Filled with unique characters Bran New Death opens a world of possibilities. Things aren't what they seem, from Uncle Melvyn's death, the missing business partner, even the residents of Autumn Vale and the town itself. Along with Merry we learn we have to question everything and see the possibilities that exist. Author Victoria Hamilton manages to create many layers to this book. It starts as a simple escape, then mystery and evolves into many mysteries with an excellent promise of more to come at the end. The characters have many layers as well, and not just our protagonist. We see glimpses of the complex man that is Sheriff Virgil Grace. Shilo is not just a model with a mysterious past, but a true friends who picks up and leaves her life to help her friend. She also brings the loveable Magic. And don't forget the muffins!!! Sweet and savory, Merry makes them and I want to eat them. I'd love to spend an afternoon in that wonderful castle kitchen, sitting by the fireplace, and munching on muffins with these characters, my new friends. Bran New Death * * * * * Merry Muffin Mystery Series Too early to rate

  4. 4 out of 5

    Fred

    Bran New Death is the first in the A Merry Muffin Mystery series. I think this is a very wonderful series, as is Hamilton's Vintage Kitchen series. Merry Wynter's uncle has left her his castle in upstate New York in the pretty little village of Autumn Vale. With losing her job with a NYC supermodel, Merry decides to visit the castle to see what needs to be done to finally get it sold and get some much needed cash. Upon arriving Merry finds that someone has been digging holes in the back yard, whic Bran New Death is the first in the A Merry Muffin Mystery series. I think this is a very wonderful series, as is Hamilton's Vintage Kitchen series. Merry Wynter's uncle has left her his castle in upstate New York in the pretty little village of Autumn Vale. With losing her job with a NYC supermodel, Merry decides to visit the castle to see what needs to be done to finally get it sold and get some much needed cash. Upon arriving Merry finds that someone has been digging holes in the back yard, which no can explain why. Soon, she starts hearing rumors that her uncle killed his business partner. When the son of the man that has rumored to have been killed is found dead in the backyard in one of the holes that he had been digging, Merry is determined to get some answers. To help with here inquiries are her BFF from NYC, Shilo, her real estate agent Jack McGill, Gogi Grace who is also the mother of the sheriff and runs as assisted living home. Also, she has been able to overcome bad feeling from Binn the owner of Binny's Bakery. Gogi has a feeling that Merry's uncle wasn't a victim of auto accident, but was forced off the road. Binny is the surprise, it is her father that the uncle is accused of killing and it was her brother that was found dead by Merry on her property. Binny is seeking closure on her father disappearance or possible murder and she is willing to work with Merry. Wonderful believable characters and set in beautiful little town. Perfect for a great cozy. Looking forward to the next book to see how Shilo and Jack might be doing and to find out if Merry has let her male guard down any and also to see how plans for Wynter Castle are progressing. Recipes are included with the book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    A ton of characters to keep straight, and a "resolution" that seems to come out of left field in the last 20 pages....a bit disappointing because I really enjoyed most of the book. There was great character develepment even though it was a bit challenging to keep them all straight. I will definitely read the next one.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Former plus sized model Merry Wynter has lost her place in the New York fashion scene after being blackballed by a former employer. After consideration she decides to visit a castle left to her by her Uncle Melvin in Autumn Vale, New York. The castle is run down, and someone has been digging holes on the property. Then one night someone dies in one of those holes, and Merry is drawn into a mystery that was taking place long before she came to town. Will she be able to make it out alive, and figur Former plus sized model Merry Wynter has lost her place in the New York fashion scene after being blackballed by a former employer. After consideration she decides to visit a castle left to her by her Uncle Melvin in Autumn Vale, New York. The castle is run down, and someone has been digging holes on the property. Then one night someone dies in one of those holes, and Merry is drawn into a mystery that was taking place long before she came to town. Will she be able to make it out alive, and figure out what's been going on? Or will one of those holes be the end of her? I had a great time with this book. Merry is comfortable with herself, growing back into her life after losing her husband, and suffering a professional disaster. She finds a job making muffins in Autumn Vale, which brings her into contact with Gogi Grace, the mother of the sheriff (a potential love interest in future books) who runs the local retirement home. The town is full of great characters, which make it come to life. Those include Binny the baker, Hannah the librarian and Lizzie, the high schooler who wants out of town as soon as she turns 18. And there is, of course, a feline, Becket, who belonged to Merry's Uncle Mel. The castle is a character unto itself. I saw Merry's vision for it in the descriptions, and wanted her to have all the money in the world to fix it up to her heart's delight. Adding to the flavor are Merry's best friend, Shilo and her bunny, Magic, and their friend Pish, who comes to Merry's aid in figuring out what happened. The mystery is this story was perfectly drawn, and featured many twists and turns that kept me guessing until the reveal. I enjoyed it so much that I immediately downloaded the second book to my Kindle. I can't wait to see what happens with Merry and her band of castle dwellers in the next book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Moondance

    As a metaphor for my life, the crossroads rocked. Merry Wynter has inherited a castle in small town Autumn Vale, New York, She leaves behind a troublesome career in New York City to prepare the estate for sale. Upon her arrival, Merry finds the grounds riddled with large holes that can't be explained. She also learns that her uncle is suspected of killing his partner and that his own death is suspicious. Many of the townspeople are not willing to welcome Merry with open arms. Merry's arrival in A As a metaphor for my life, the crossroads rocked. Merry Wynter has inherited a castle in small town Autumn Vale, New York, She leaves behind a troublesome career in New York City to prepare the estate for sale. Upon her arrival, Merry finds the grounds riddled with large holes that can't be explained. She also learns that her uncle is suspected of killing his partner and that his own death is suspicious. Many of the townspeople are not willing to welcome Merry with open arms. Merry's arrival in Autumn Vale causes old grudges to resurface. She discovers that the bakery owner is the daughter of the missing man that everyone thinks her uncle killed. Merry offers to make muffins for a local retirement home when she learns that Binny, the baker, refuses to make "common" treats like muffins and cookies. Merry's friend, Shilo, along with her bunny, Magic add a few I LOVE LUCY moments to the story. Shilo is a steadfast friend and stand by Merry when a body is found in one of the many holes on the property. I was a bit hesitant to start this series as I had struggled with another series by this author. I was quite pleased that the storyline and the characters were engaging. The mystery was good. The cliffhanger ending should have irritated me but it actually makes me want to read the next book to see what Merry and her friends discover.

  8. 5 out of 5

    leslye

    3.5*.... I was a little hesitant with this series. Honestly, I was thinking... how much can you do with Muffins?? But it worked, and the muffins really are just a minor part of the story. The series features Merry Wynter, a woman who has inherited a castle in upstate New York. She gradually comes to know the unusual characters in the village of Autumn Vale, a delightful village that's full of quirky, oddball characters. Merry describes it as, "Shirley Jackson odd. Stephen King odd!"... *thumbs up 3.5*.... I was a little hesitant with this series. Honestly, I was thinking... how much can you do with Muffins?? But it worked, and the muffins really are just a minor part of the story. The series features Merry Wynter, a woman who has inherited a castle in upstate New York. She gradually comes to know the unusual characters in the village of Autumn Vale, a delightful village that's full of quirky, oddball characters. Merry describes it as, "Shirley Jackson odd. Stephen King odd!"... *thumbs up* Merry is a character that doesn't quite follow the cozy-mystery "formula". She's a plus-size, 40 yr old widow.... and that was quite different. I also enjoyed "Becket", the strange ginger cat who is a bit of a mystery at first but gradually becomes more important. =^..^= As with most in this genre, the mystery is not all that mysterious and most readers will be able to pretty well figure out the "whodunit". I don't read these for the mystery though, so that's fine with me. They are just entertainment, and a nice way to relax. Having said that, there was still a big reveal at the end that left me wanting book 2. (.... the hint of a treasure hunt!)

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Really 4.5 stars, but I rounded up. Wow, two great first-in-a-series books in a row! I confess, I didn't know what to think when I picked up this book; I've read mixed reviews on it, but I am glad to say that I really enjoyed this book! Merry was a fun main character, and she had a very different past. However, she was hard to warm up to, especially at the very beginning. Shilo, Pish, and the other characters were also fun to read about. Autumn Vale had an absolutely hilarious quirky group of char Really 4.5 stars, but I rounded up. Wow, two great first-in-a-series books in a row! I confess, I didn't know what to think when I picked up this book; I've read mixed reviews on it, but I am glad to say that I really enjoyed this book! Merry was a fun main character, and she had a very different past. However, she was hard to warm up to, especially at the very beginning. Shilo, Pish, and the other characters were also fun to read about. Autumn Vale had an absolutely hilarious quirky group of characters that I'd love to learn more about. The mystery was solid, and I didn't put together the clues until Merry did. It was solid, yet simple and I really enjoyed it. The setting was also wonderful, I loved the quirky town with it's unfriendly inhabitants. Overall a solid, very good book. I will certainly be reading the next one. Highly recommend!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Katelyn Jayne

    A cute little story that was quick and light. Which is what I needed as a change. I didn't like that certain things kept getting repeated. Like random facts, repeated multiple times. I got it the first time, I don't need to know again. But will continue with the series just because it was so carefree!

  11. 5 out of 5

    OjoAusana

    Cute cozy murder, is somewhat centred around baking but not like really like other cooking cozy murders, had interesting characters lol

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ronna

    Merry Wynter has lost the love of her life to a car accident, and her fabulous job in the New York fashion industry to false theft charges, but her Uncle Mel has left her a huge family castle in the small quirky town of Autumn Vale, New York. Merry stores most of her belongings and travels to Autumn Vale to try and sell the castle. Actually, she can vision this beautiful place as a venue for events or maybe a bed and breakfast. With it's grand commercial kitchen, she could definitely start somet Merry Wynter has lost the love of her life to a car accident, and her fabulous job in the New York fashion industry to false theft charges, but her Uncle Mel has left her a huge family castle in the small quirky town of Autumn Vale, New York. Merry stores most of her belongings and travels to Autumn Vale to try and sell the castle. Actually, she can vision this beautiful place as a venue for events or maybe a bed and breakfast. With it's grand commercial kitchen, she could definitely start something with all her wonderful muffin receipts, but someone has been digging holes all over her grounds. Who and why? As small towns go, Autumn Vale has lots of potential, but numerous stores seem to be closed and the towns people aren't being very friendly. Merry's Uncle Mel seems to have made a few enemies. When the man that Merry hires to fill in the holes in her yard, winds up dead in one of the holes, Merry finds herself on a mission to find out what is going on. Fortunately, her best friend, Shilo, comes from the city to help her investigate. This multilayered mystery is full of charming and dangerous characters. There is murder and a few other illegal schemes confounding our heroine. Friendships and trusts are explored in very interesting ways. I especially loved the strange orange cat's involvement also. Great muffin recipes, and the potential for interesting possibilities for the Wynter Castle's involvement in future mysteries.

  13. 5 out of 5

    KarenF

    3.5*s. I enjoyed this series starter. When Merry Wynter inherits a castle in update NY it also comes with some unexpected mysteries. I liked Merry and her friends, both the ones that come from NYC and the ones she makes in town. I liked that all the characters were characters and not just stereotypes of "big city people" and "small town people" that too often lazy writers use as shorthand. In fact, there are a lot of surprises with the characters, I don't want to get into spoilers but many thing 3.5*s. I enjoyed this series starter. When Merry Wynter inherits a castle in update NY it also comes with some unexpected mysteries. I liked Merry and her friends, both the ones that come from NYC and the ones she makes in town. I liked that all the characters were characters and not just stereotypes of "big city people" and "small town people" that too often lazy writers use as shorthand. In fact, there are a lot of surprises with the characters, I don't want to get into spoilers but many things didn't turn out the way I thought they would. And that's always good - I like it when a writer surprises me in a way that makes sense. I didn't figure out the mystery ahead of time but once it started to unravel, it made sense. That's my favorite kind of mystery ending. The only reason this didn't quite rate 4*s from me was sometimes it felt like there were a lot of new characters introduced in a short time and I found myself losing track of who was who. It all worked out for me by the end but there were a couple of times in the middle when I had to read back a couple of pages to remind myself who Merry was talking to. This was my first Victoria Hamilton book. Now I'm looking forward to both more in this series and to try her other series as well.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Melina

    I Need more than five stars!!! This was one of those books that once started, I couldn't hardly put down. This book was great, one of the best I have read in a while. Merry was an awesome character. And the small town of Autumn Vale was really charming. This book left me guessing the whole way through. Victoria Hamilton gave teasers all the way through the book, but I didn't see the ending coming at all. I was really sad to see the end of this book, I just wanted to keep reading about this charm I Need more than five stars!!! This was one of those books that once started, I couldn't hardly put down. This book was great, one of the best I have read in a while. Merry was an awesome character. And the small town of Autumn Vale was really charming. This book left me guessing the whole way through. Victoria Hamilton gave teasers all the way through the book, but I didn't see the ending coming at all. I was really sad to see the end of this book, I just wanted to keep reading about this charming town and it's quirky characters. The ending definitely left me wanting more and I absolutely cannot wait for the next book in this series. If you are looking for a great cozy, then this is the story for you. It has everything you expect in a great cozy, food, pets, quirky characters, and a small town. Excellent job Victoria. I received a complimentary copy of this book for my honest review.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mark Baker

    Merry heads to upstate New York to claim her inheritance, a castle. However, someone has been digging holes in the yard. After a public fight with Tom Turner, the hole digger, Tom winds up dead at the bottom of a new hole. Can Merry figure out why? The book got off to a slow start with a bit too much of a back story dump. However, once the book got going, it was great with eccentric but believable characters and twists to the plot. I'm looking forward to reading more. Read my full review at Carsta Merry heads to upstate New York to claim her inheritance, a castle. However, someone has been digging holes in the yard. After a public fight with Tom Turner, the hole digger, Tom winds up dead at the bottom of a new hole. Can Merry figure out why? The book got off to a slow start with a bit too much of a back story dump. However, once the book got going, it was great with eccentric but believable characters and twists to the plot. I'm looking forward to reading more. Read my full review at Carstairs Considers.

  16. 4 out of 5

    ShadowFrost14

    2.5/5. Could have used more muffins.

  17. 5 out of 5

    jiji

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I actually listened to/read the entire five-book Merry Muffin Mystery series. Compulsively. I even bought the last book when it wasn't available through the library. I spent $10 on it. It must have been winter. That's when I'm most vulnerable to bad cozies. I think I also read an Amish romance series around that time. I gave the books in this series one star because intellectually, I know they are terrible. But that doesn't mean I wouldn't do it again. I see the "Teapot Collector" mystery series I actually listened to/read the entire five-book Merry Muffin Mystery series. Compulsively. I even bought the last book when it wasn't available through the library. I spent $10 on it. It must have been winter. That's when I'm most vulnerable to bad cozies. I think I also read an Amish romance series around that time. I gave the books in this series one star because intellectually, I know they are terrible. But that doesn't mean I wouldn't do it again. I see the "Teapot Collector" mystery series in my future. This author has dozens (hundreds?) of books with baking-themed titles. The basic premise of this particular series is: Lonely woman who loves baking moves to inherited old mansion, fixes it up, solves murder mysteries, falls in love with town hunk who she initially dislikes, and lives happily ever after, at least until the next local murder. I'm guessing the other series have similar premises. Strangely, though she is only 39-years old and spent most of her adult life as a NYC stylist/makeup artist/model, Merry, the main character, has a personality and hobbies which appear more in line with those of a 70-year-old small town grandma. I find her cosmopolitan, big-city background difficult to believe. Then again, I don't think realism is the point of romance/cozies.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nerea

    2.5* The main characters were pretty ok, the plot was also interesting ... until the final part! Sorry this totally makes me down the rate of the book! (view spoiler)[ First, in the scene she is hiding from the lady with the gun in the forest... COME ON she's saying in the book all the time that she´s a big irl, the other is a hunter and you told me that she doesnt spot her?? When she is talking to the hunter all the time??? And then the brilliant scene when the police appears because Shiloh has 2.5* The main characters were pretty ok, the plot was also interesting ... until the final part! Sorry this totally makes me down the rate of the book! (view spoiler)[ First, in the scene she is hiding from the lady with the gun in the forest... COME ON she's saying in the book all the time that she´s a big irl, the other is a hunter and you told me that she doesnt spot her?? When she is talking to the hunter all the time??? And then the brilliant scene when the police appears because Shiloh has a premonition... please this is the cheapest way to resolve something! (hide spoiler)]

  19. 4 out of 5

    Linda Smatzny

    Interesting cozy mystery set in the small town of Autumn Vale, New York. Both the town and its residents are strange and unfriendly. The main character is Merry Wynter who inherits a castle in the town and finally shows up to claim her castle. Merry asks questions about her great uncle but gets few answers. After she finds a body of a man she threatened she decides to find the answers to her questions. The ending seems to lead to more mysteries and questions. The book was a quick easy read.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

    Cozy mystery, well solved and a pleasant read. Well Narrated by Margaret Strom.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    What a fun little mystery! This was a light hearted read, and I even liked the gentle cliffhanger at the end. I’m excited to read more Merry Wynter adventures.

  22. 4 out of 5

    LORI (Dollycas) CASWELL

    When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. Or in Merry Wynter’s case if life gives you questions you make muffins while you try to find the answers. She has not recovered from her husband’s death, she has lost her job, and she has inherited A CASTLE!! A castle that needs a lot of work before it will be ready for sale. Plus Autumn Vale is not your normal small town. Just a couple of people welcome Merry, she gets an icy reception from most of the residents. Then she find one of them dead on he When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. Or in Merry Wynter’s case if life gives you questions you make muffins while you try to find the answers. She has not recovered from her husband’s death, she has lost her job, and she has inherited A CASTLE!! A castle that needs a lot of work before it will be ready for sale. Plus Autumn Vale is not your normal small town. Just a couple of people welcome Merry, she gets an icy reception from most of the residents. Then she find one of them dead on her property. Victoria Hamilton has written an extraordinary story featuring some very eccentric characters in some unique situations. This story twists more than Chubby Checker. These characters all have so much depth and we learn so much about them in this series debut but I feel like we are just starting to scratch the surface to their stories. Plus in addition main mystery there are many subplots intertwined and the story flows effortlessly. The reader is drawn right into Autumn Vale and into this wonderful castle and into all the drama that ensues. I want to visit this castle. It sounds like a place I would love. If Merry is baking I will probably never want to leave. Plus is sounds like in Autumn Vale you never what is going to happen next. ~There are yummy recipes included too! Merged review: When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. Or in Merry Wynter 19s case if life gives you questions you make muffins while you try to find the answers. She has not recovered from her husband 19s death, she has lost her job, and she has inherited A CASTLE!! A castle that needs a lot of work before it will be ready for sale. Plus Autumn Vale is not your normal small town. Just a couple of people welcome Merry, she gets an icy reception from most of the residents. Then she find one of them dead on her property. Victoria Hamilton has written an extraordinary story featuring some very eccentric characters in some unique situations. This story twists more than Chubby Checker. These characters all have so much depth and we learn so much about them in this series debut but I feel like we are just starting to scratch the surface to their stories. Plus in addition main mystery there are many subplots intertwined and the story flows effortlessly. The reader is drawn right into Autumn Vale and into this wonderful castle and into all the drama that ensues. I want to visit this castle. It sounds like a place I would love. If Merry is baking I will probably never want to leave. Plus is sounds like in Autumn Vale you never what is going to happen next. ~There are yummy recipes included too!

  23. 5 out of 5

    DelAnne Frazee

    Title: Bran New Death - Merry Muffin Mystery 1 Author: Victoria Hamilton Published: 9-3-13 Publisher: Penguin Group Berkley Pages: 305 Genre: Mystery, Thrillers and Suspense Sub Genre: Women's Fiction ISBN: 9780425258835 ASIN: B00DQ39E4 Reviewer: DelAnne Reviewed For: NetGalley My Rating: 5 Stars . . Merry Wynter came to Autumn Vale to start over after she inherits her Uncle Mel's castle. Strangely though someone is vandalizing the property by digging large holes in the yard. Using the home as a base she beg Title: Bran New Death - Merry Muffin Mystery 1 Author: Victoria Hamilton Published: 9-3-13 Publisher: Penguin Group Berkley Pages: 305 Genre: Mystery, Thrillers and Suspense Sub Genre: Women's Fiction ISBN: 9780425258835 ASIN: B00DQ39E4 Reviewer: DelAnne Reviewed For: NetGalley My Rating: 5 Stars . . Merry Wynter came to Autumn Vale to start over after she inherits her Uncle Mel's castle. Strangely though someone is vandalizing the property by digging large holes in the yard. Using the home as a base she begins a new bakery business which is off to a good start with her new customer, the retirement home. As she looks into who is digging the holes she finds her uncle was not a well liked member of the community. As his heir that dislike has passed onto Merry. Topping the list of likely suspects is Tom Turner and his sister Binny who blames Merry's uncle for the death of their father. After confronting Tom, he turns up dead in one of the holes. Merry comes under suspicion. Merry sets out to prove her innocence. This is a great start for establishing a new series. Merry and her fellow characters, both from New York City and Autumn Vale are well developed and very believable. They interact with one another easily. The story line is planned out and flows smoothly scene to scene. I look forward to reading the other books in the series, Book 2 Muffin but Murder and book 3 Death of an English Muffin are available now and Much ado About Muffin which comes out August 2016. Thank you for such an enjoyable reading experience. My rating is 5 out of 5 Stars. Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00... Barnes and Noble link: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/bran-... GoodReads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1... The Reading Room link: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.ph...

  24. 4 out of 5

    Penny McGill

    So great. I knew it would be. Victoria Hamilton is so fabulous that she shouldn't be wasting her time doing mundane things like laundry and frying onions - she should be thinking up new stories and characters for us to love. This one IS lovable. In addition to being a maker of muffins (this is the first in a muffin maker series, thank goodness) Merry is a New York city girl who comes to a small town to decide what she will do with a castle (yup!) she has inherited from a cranky uncle she really So great. I knew it would be. Victoria Hamilton is so fabulous that she shouldn't be wasting her time doing mundane things like laundry and frying onions - she should be thinking up new stories and characters for us to love. This one IS lovable. In addition to being a maker of muffins (this is the first in a muffin maker series, thank goodness) Merry is a New York city girl who comes to a small town to decide what she will do with a castle (yup!) she has inherited from a cranky uncle she really didn't know at all. To say that the town is unwelcoming is an understatement and I felt for the poor woman as I was reading the first few chapters - I wanted to reach into the book and advise her to go straight back to the friendly streets of New York. There were almost too many layers for my brain to sort out at first but one I got them all settled in I found myself enjoying the new people she met in her town (although I did feel that several of them could have been possible murder suspects) and warmed to the cozy part of the story. You know, that part that makes you think this town is a real place, that you want to visit it, and that you think you should start adapting some of the main character's habits as your own. Go into town and regularly buy pastries from the local bakery? I want to do that! Slowly fall in love with the handsome police investigator with dark hair? I want to do that! The world that Victoria Hamilton creates becomes so real that it seems like a place you want to stay and then, it ends. Sad. A few delicious recipes at the end - one for a very interesting Harvest Vegetable soup with cheese - and the promise that the next book will be here for us soon. Yahoo. The next one is called... Muffin But Murder. Oh my goodness. I can't wait.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mystereity Reviews

    Bran New Death I started this a year or 2 ago and at the time, just didn't get into it.  There's a fair amount of back story that's dumped into the first chapter or 2 of the book and I think it turned me off.  Fast forward to now when I decided to clean out my Kindle of all the books I've started and not finished.  A sink-or-swim clean out, if you will.  Either I could get into it or I wasn't ever going to.   Merry Wynters at a crossroads in her life when her job falls apart in New York City, head Bran New Death I started this a year or 2 ago and at the time, just didn't get into it.  There's a fair amount of back story that's dumped into the first chapter or 2 of the book and I think it turned me off.  Fast forward to now when I decided to clean out my Kindle of all the books I've started and not finished.  A sink-or-swim clean out, if you will.  Either I could get into it or I wasn't ever going to.   Merry Wynters at a crossroads in her life when her job falls apart in New York City, heads upstate (to my former neck of the woods, actualy) to figure out what it will take to sell the castle she inherited from her great uncle.  She finds a small village inhabited by eccentric townspeople harboring many secrets.  When a man is found dead on her property, Merry sets out to solve his murder and the mystery behind her great uncle's death.   Overall, I really enjoyed the book. The main character, Merry, is likeable and easy to relate to and a good plot that lagged in a spot or 2, but was well paced and enjoyable.  I had it figured out pretty early, but there were a few aspects that surprised me. But the one thing that made me stick with this book is that it didn't fall into the usual trap of the MC finding a body and the local hick cop hauls her in, despite no evidence..  Because that's not how it works, folks.   Although, I had to take off a half a star for a small, but significant error:  the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) doesn't give a shit how much you deposit in a bank account.  But the IRS and the Treasury Department sure do.     A great read, and can't wait to start the next one.

  26. 4 out of 5

    ❂ Jennifer

    3.5 stars. This is a very well written book with an excellent story and plot. It misses that last half star because I just didn't connect well with the main character. Her two friends, yes. Her hinted at future love interest - not even a little bit. So I was left feeling that while I really enjoyed the story, I didn't empathise with the main character at all. The setting was really well done - Autumn Vale is full of quirky, eccentric folks and I found that the setting was written with realism - t 3.5 stars. This is a very well written book with an excellent story and plot. It misses that last half star because I just didn't connect well with the main character. Her two friends, yes. Her hinted at future love interest - not even a little bit. So I was left feeling that while I really enjoyed the story, I didn't empathise with the main character at all. The setting was really well done - Autumn Vale is full of quirky, eccentric folks and I found that the setting was written with realism - this isn't the idyllic quaint town that hums along; this is a quaint little town that is dying, with more storefronts closed up than open. There's a lot potential here for future development in subsequent books. The central murder plot was very well crafted; this is a meaty story and not one I think you're likely to read in one sitting. Ms. Hamilton writes another series and in comparison, there is a much more mature quality to the plotting and writing in this first-in-a-new-series. The action moved along, there was well crafted dialogue, and not a lot of filler in the form of internal dialogue - there was a bit 'let's sum up the suspects' but it was minimal and didn't really take me out of the flow of the story. A convoluted plot with suspects known and unknown. Well done to the end. I'll definitely pick up the next book - there's a bit of a cliff hanger in the form of a puzzle yet to be solved; that could prove to be fun. I'll hope that in the next book I'll find more to connect with regarding the main character, Merry.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Linda Beech

    I had read a book from another series by this author, so I thought I would give this one a try. Unfortunately I had to force myself to finish it. The main character describes the setting as “a weird town full of odd characters.” And that’s definitely true! The plodding pace of the book goes into lots of detail identifying all of these characters who end up being incidental to the main plot. And a medieval castle in present day upstate New York near this oddly-populated weird town? Unbelievable a I had read a book from another series by this author, so I thought I would give this one a try. Unfortunately I had to force myself to finish it. The main character describes the setting as “a weird town full of odd characters.” And that’s definitely true! The plodding pace of the book goes into lots of detail identifying all of these characters who end up being incidental to the main plot. And a medieval castle in present day upstate New York near this oddly-populated weird town? Unbelievable and borderline ridiculous. The resolution to the plot in the very last few pages is equally unbelievable. Skip this one— there are many more interesting cozy mysteries out there.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Patty Rodda

    I only found this book to be ok. My perspective was probably influenced by the fact that I had to pick it up and put it down several times due to school nonsense. But even when I was able to really get into the book it just never really came together for me. It often felt as though the author was injecting random facts along the way because she realized without them nothing at the end would make sense. Sometimes this strategy works, but it didn't really seem to here. Not an awful book by any mea I only found this book to be ok. My perspective was probably influenced by the fact that I had to pick it up and put it down several times due to school nonsense. But even when I was able to really get into the book it just never really came together for me. It often felt as though the author was injecting random facts along the way because she realized without them nothing at the end would make sense. Sometimes this strategy works, but it didn't really seem to here. Not an awful book by any means and maybe others will like it more - just not my cup of tea.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sue Ross

    This book grabbed me from the first page because the main character Merry Wynter is, just like me, directionally challenged. Merry inherits a castle from her uncle in upstate New York. There she is met by an odd collection of people, but one or more of them is hiding a big secret. If you like odd citizens of a strange little town, a treasure hunt, and of course a murder, then you will enjoy this book. I can't wait for the next one to come out.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

    I know that small towns have their share of quirky people but the setting for this book, Autumn Vale - never Wynter (community joke) - is over the top in "quirkiness". I think I could only describe 3 of the townspeople as normal. I am not a fan of books that really never end so that you will buy the next in the series and this is one of those. At least the mystery was resolved and believable.

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