Review: A Berry Deadly Welcome

By A. R. Winters

Available on: Amazon and Barnes and Noble.


Blurb: Kylie Berry moves to Camden Falls, Kentucky to get away from her no-good, dirty, rotten, cheater of an ex-husband. She’s offered a job at her cousin’s cafe and jumps at the chance. Unfortunately for her, she now owns the cafe and a reputation for being a harlot thanks to her ex-husband’s harridan aunt Dorothy. Things don’t get any better when her admittedly terrible cooking apparently kills her new cook! Life in the tiny town of Camden Falls looks to be trying to take Kylie out at the knees before she can even fully stand up.

Trigger Warnings:

Bullying, Death, Drug Use (Non-Consensual), Emotional Abuse, Food, Gun Violence, Infidelity, Murder, Off Screen Infidelity, Poor Coping Mechanisms, Violence

Body Count: 1

The Specs:

  • Series 
    • Series Name: Kylie Berry Mysteries
    • Book Number: 1 of 8
  • Genre
    • Technical Genre: Cozy Culinary Mysteries, Cozy Animal Mystery
    • Theo Genre: Cozy Mystery
  • Page count: 246 pages
  • POV: 1st Person
  • Publication information:
    • Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing/Amazon Digital Services LLC
    • Language:  English
    • ISBN-13: 9781986333641
    • ASIN: B07BBCWDZ4

Other Fun Stuff:

To Read or Not To Read (Again):

Donated, but I’ll read more of the series

Rating out of five: 2.5 out of 5

Representation, Morality, and Sexism Tests:

  • Bechdel–Wallace Test
    • Purpose: to establish actual female characters that act independently of male characters in a story.
      • Do two female characters talk about something other than a male character?
    • Pass or Fail: Pass
  • DuVernay Test:
    • Purpose: to establish characters of color in a story.
      • Are there fully actualized characters of color?
    • Pass or Fail: Pass
  • Ellen Willis Test:
    • Purpose: to show balance in characters regardless of gender.
      • Would two related characters still work to carry the story if their genders were reversed?
    • Pass or Fail: Pass
  • Hays Code Test:
    • Purpose: to ignore outdated and queer-degrading/punishing standards that once were the standard for produced mass media.
    • Part One: outdated moral guidelines
      • Are there any outdated “moral content” rules gloriously kicked in the teeth by this story?
      • Are there people of color allowed a happy ending?
      • Is there an interracial couple?
      • Is there profanity used at all?
      • Is there one or more homicidal acts and/or murder?
    • Part Two: queer representation
      • Are there queer characters that get a happy ending?
      • Is there an illegal or otherwise distasteful age gap between characters, queer or otherwise?
      • Do the queer characters die tragically, violently, or at all?
    • Pass or Fail: Half Pass
  • Mako Mori Test:
    • Purpose: to assure that in the story there is at least one female character independent of a male character’s story.
      • Is there a female character?
      • Does she get her own arc?
      • Does it do anything other than serve to support a man’s story?
    • Pass or Fail: Pass
  • Sexy Lamp Test:
    • Purpose: to assure that a female character in the story serves as an active protagonist, not just a device to be used by the male main character.
      • Would the plot fall apart if the female character was replaced by a sexy looking lamp?
    • Post-It Note Caveat:
      • Would the character be able to be replaced by a Sexy Lamp with a sticky note on it for information conveyance?
    • Pass or Fail: Pass
  • Tauriel Test:
    • Purpose: to help support the existence of competent, independent female characters regardless of a romantic sub-plot.
      • Is there at least one woman in the story?
      • Is this woman competent in her chosen occupation and not immediately shown up by a newcomer male character?
      • If she has or develops a love interest during the story, either implied or explicitly stated, does she suddenly abandon her job and/or chosen path to support or pursue said love interest? 
    • Pass or Fail: Pass
  • Vito Russo Test:
    • Purpose: to establish more characters that are on the SAGA (Sexuality And Gender Acceptance), QTPOC (Queer and Trans People of Color) or LGBTQIAP+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual/Biromantic/Bigender, Transgender, Queer/Genderqueer, Intersex, Asexual/Aromantic/Agender, Pansexual/Panromantic, and others not listed here) spectrum.
      • Is there a character on the queer spectrum?
      • Are they a character beyond their orientation?
      • Do they actually affect the plot?
      • Is the character something beyond a punchline?
    • Pass or Fail: Half Pass

Overall review:


Overall, it’s not a bad book. The pacing is good and Kylie has a decent sense of humor. The character rolls with the punches of being a penniless divorcee, being accused of murder, and having a harridan of an ex-aunt-in-law trying to destroy her reputation in her new home.

I suppose it’s the mark of a good writer that I wanted to punch Aunt Dorothy in her stuck-up nose. And I do like the variety of people the story portrays. It was a decent romp into the world of Camden Falls with steady world-building, but it seemed a touch tepid. I’m going to read the next book in the series to see if I can connect better with the next one.

Was it engaging?


Favorite Character:

Sage, the kitten.

Review format updated 10 June 2019

One thought on “Review: A Berry Deadly Welcome

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