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(China Bayles #23)

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  1,271 ratings  ·  210 reviews
New from the author of Death Come Quickly and Widow's Tears
This Thanksgiving, be grateful for China Bayles—who teams up with an old friend to solve a complex case of theft and murder in a South Texas ranching community…

It’s Thanksgiving in Pecan Springs, and China is planning to visit her mother, Leatha, and her mother’s husband, Sam, who are enthusiastically embarking o
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published April 7th 2015 by Berkley
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3.83  · 
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 ·  1,271 ratings  ·  210 reviews

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Shirley Schwartz
Apr 25, 2015 rated it liked it
As anyone who knows me or has followed my reading history would know, I'm a huge China Bayles fan. I've read every book in the series and its always an event for me when a new one comes out. But unfortunately I didn't enjoy this one as much. Maybe it was because a lot of the regular characters weren't in it much - people like Ruby Wilcox or Sheila Dawson. Maybe it was because it wasn't set in Pecan Springs where China Bayles has her shop Thyme and Season and where she lives. Maybe it was because ...more
Chic-lit with a botanical, conservation, murder mystery twist. The ancient tv-series "Heart to Heart" comes to mind.

Excessive information dumping, preachy interruptions, with a touch of lipstick, romance and manicures written all over it.

I might not be in the right mood for this book but it simply bored me to death, although I am personally heavily involved in conservation and botany and love a good murder mystery. But I normally read different books for different purposes.

There was simply no
Lisa Ks Book Reviews
Mar 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Having just read and reviewed DEATH COME QUICKLY, book 22 in this series, I was eager to read BITTERSWEET. But when I read what the subject of BITTERSWEET was, trophy game ranches, places where animals are kept and raised for the purpose of hunting them for thrills and trophies, I almost choose not to read the book. I personally find such places appalling and feel they should be outlawed. But I was sent this book by the publisher to review, so I read it.

This is only the second book I have read i
Lauren Stoolfire
Oct 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
Although this is only my second ever book in the China Bayles series - it's actually the twenty-third in the series overall - I still liked it. I must admit that this time around I felt a bit less out of the loop. I'm actually looking forward to the next book.
Apr 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kayt, jeanie

Brought to you by OBS reviewer Kayt

Bittersweet is the 23rd book in the long running series China Bayles by wonderful author Susan Wittig Albert. It is amazing that this writer is able to keep each book interesting after so many installments. China Bayles runs a wonderful herbal shop in Pecan Springs, Texas. This book however, takes place mainly in Utopia another small town in Texas where her mother and her husband have a ranch. Her mother Leatha and husban
Diane Rapport
Jun 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
If you are looking for a standard, run of the mill murder mystery where the heroine takes over the investigation because she is convinced she is the only person smart enough to find the killer, this book is not for you. This is book #23 in Susan Wittig Albert's "China Bayles" series, and yes - as others have pointed out - it is very different. Yes, there is a murder to be solved. Two in fact. In my opinion however, this story is so much more. This is about China's life. It moves at a slower pace ...more
Teri Stich
Mar 18, 2015 rated it liked it
I can honestly say I was quite disappointed in this book but yet thoroughly enjoyed it. My wish was that is wasn't a China Bayles story. As it was not set in Pecan Springs and had but only a mention of the wonderful characters there I was disappointed. I love those quirky characters and the coziness of Albert's mysteries about them. This was a well written engaging story but it did not have the same feel as her usual. It wasn't a cozy, it was more mystery, more suspense. The premise of the story ...more
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"Bittersweet," by author Susan Wittig Albert, is #23 in the "China Bayles Mystery" series. Each of Ms. Albert's books, especially the latter ones, highlight a particular theme, in this case exotic animals in Texas, especially exotic deer. Her research is excellent in weighing both sides of this very sensitive Texas' problem, looking at animal rights versus hunters' rights versus the economic impact of hunting on the state. The book is an interesting read for these reasons alone and can be a stan ...more
Debbie Maskus
Oct 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Susan Wittig Albert writes several series and I have enjoyed reading two of them. The China Bayles series contains many recipes and interesting tidbits on spices and herbs. This novel dealt with deer hunting in Texas on preserves where the deer are genetically improved for better hunting. I guess I always thought that these preserves were for big game hunting, and that deer did not fall into this realm. After reading this book, my dislike of deer hunting greatly increased and taste for venison d ...more
Debbie Floyd
3.5 stars This is a good cozy mystery.
Apr 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
I really liked BITTERSWEET. This is book #23 in the China Bayles series -- amazing the quality that Susan Wittig Albert maintains in her stories. Thanksgiving is just around the corner. China and her family are looking forward to Thanksgiving at her Mother (Leatha) and Step-dad's (Sam) ranch, Bittersweet. Leatha and Sam are excited about turning the ranch into a retreat for birders. Shortly before leaving for the ranch, China finds out Sam is in the hospital after a heart attack. But Leatha has ...more
Feb 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2015
This series is one of my absolute favorites. The stories are always so well written! Even the few in the series that didn't appeal to me all that much were pretty good reads. This story is told by both China and her friend, Mack, a game warden in the area where China's mother & step-father live. There is interesting info in here about the effect of non-native species, both plant & wildlife, on the environment. Quite scary the damage man has done, and continues to do, in the name of "bigg ...more
Apr 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I've read all the China Bayles mysteries. This book was a leap forward from all the rest. I understood for the first time how computer technology changes mysteries. This book even had a drone in it, which solved the mystery, of course. I don't think any courts have ruled on whether drones could be witnesses or not, and I'm not even sure if anyone has been convicted based on a cellphone video.

In addition to that, new characters and a different location were introduced, who fit well into this ser
Jun 25, 2015 rated it it was ok
I am getting a little more disappointed with China Bayles every year. I know the author wanted to show the point of view of new characters that might have access to information that China does not, but part of the fun of the earlier mysteries was watching China fumble her way to these discoveries by talking to new people. I guess these books with multiple points of view are easier for Susan Wittig Albert to write, and that probably leaves her time to concentrate on her other projects, which I un ...more
Feb 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The only part of Texas I have ever visited is Brownsville on the border with Mexico, so it was very interesting to read more about that state in this novel, Bittersweet. The birding is glorious, but also interesting are other events, such as the craze for game hunting on special ranches that import and breed deer for this sport.

More than invasive species of plants is at stake here. Deer and fawn are being imported from other states, which is illegal. A fascinating story and an equally fascinatin
Apr 11, 2015 rated it it was ok way I can describe it. Maybe I'm getting a little burnt out on murder series? I felt like everything in this one was excruciatingly detailed and left little in the way of plot lines. Also...drones...really? Thinking this series may have done a little shark jumping for me.
Apr 12, 2015 rated it liked it
I loved almost all of the China Bayles books that Albert writes, but this one seemed to finish in a hurry. With only a few pages left, I was wondering how things would be tied up. I was disappointed in the way things were wrapped up.
Mar 06, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: cozies
OK, but I didn't connect with this one as much as previous books in the series. It bogged down in hot-topic discussion of canned hunting and drones and was overly detailed in some other descriptions as well.
Apr 02, 2015 rated it liked it
This was okay. I'm always a little put off when the author's personal agenda gets in the way of an otherwise very good story, and I would give this 4 stars if it hadn't bothered me.
Apr 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Love all her books. There is a distinctly educational aspect, to be sure, but I enjoy it for the most part and skip what I don't. The storylines are always engaging.
I've enjoyed this series. The characters are true~to~life, for the most part. the main character, China, is a 'tough broad', but she seems like someone I could be friends with if I met her.
My librarian suggested this book knowing I wanted to try a 'real' book written by and starring a strong female. Now that I am finished with it I can say I did enjoy much of it. (I had to renew it--six weeks!)

"Oh, but here comes her complaints..." I hear some of you saying. And, yes, I do have some negatives.

The very beginning. I think it is highly unnecessary. When you read the Prologue you're given the answer to the whole mystery. Many call this a cozy mystery. What, I ask you, is cozy about mu
Fredell Boston
Dec 12, 2016 rated it liked it
I liked the book, but not as much as some of the others in this series.
It’s Thanksgiving in Pecan Springs, and China is planning to visit her mother, Leatha, and her mother’s husband, Sam, who are enthusiastically embarking on a new enterprise—turning their former game ranch into a vacation retreat for birders. She’s also looking forward to catching up with her friend, game warden Mackenzie “Mack” Chambers, who was recently transferred to the area. But Leatha calls with bad news: Sam has had a
Kenneth Funk
May 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: challenge2017
The China Bayles used to be a good read. Now they are extremely preachy and full of details that really don't matter to the story. It is almost like Albert is now being paid by the word instead of by the manuscript. The more words, the bigger the check!

For me, this series started to decline when the stories were being told from other characters. I think it was Cat's Claw where 'Smart Cookie' (what a stupid nickname), was the focus. Then the haunted house where Ruby was the focus for most of the
Sep 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Another China Bayles book under my belt. This one dealt with the problems children feel dealing with aging parents, Texas gaming ranches, and deer breeding, as well as two murders. It also brought to light the responsibilities of game wardens and how they are an integral part of law enforcement. There was also a sweet side plot of new romance. The romance was a very, very small part of the story, but it made me smile. Bittersweet was an enjoyable read. The pace was meandering rather than fast.
Julie Fetcho
Nov 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Bittersweet is the least favorite of the series. It was sad and lived up to it's title, Bittersweet.

China is getting ready to go to Sam and Leatha's ranch for Thanksgiving. Where Sam and Leatha have been changing there ranch from hunting game to a birding vacation spot. China learns that Sam is in the hospital and won't be home for Thanksgiving.

You also learn about canned hunts and use of drones and animal rights. I found this book dark compared to the others. The story is well written and kept
Nov 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
China and her family go to her mother’s ranch for Thanksgiving. Her mom and her husband, who has recently had a severe heart attack, plan to turn the ranch into a birders retreat. Whilst there China meets a young woman who has been hired to help her mom with the birder’s retreat. Unfortunately that young woman’s husband is involved with fools up to no good and she is murdered along with the local vet. Canned hunts of big game are big business in Texas and bring out the worst. A good read with an ...more
LInda L
Oct 08, 2017 rated it liked it
I have to say that I was more interested in Mack than in China in this book -- it was OK, but I think I've had enough China Bayles for a while. AND recipes. This also left things with China's mother and stepfather kind of up in the air -- guess to make way for #24 in the series. The business with the drone was interesting -- Albert keeping up with the times! I hated all the stuff about shooting deer which are fenced in and the dove shoot was abominable. I suppose those things are not just in Tex ...more
Pam Walker
Oct 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Not the usual China Bayles mytery as China is sharing the action with her friend Mack who is a Game Warden. A big part of the story centers around illegal deer shipped in to fenced in game parks where hunters pay thousands of dollars to shoot a deer. And these are deer that have been bred to have super "racks" for the hunters which is also illegal. I enjoyed the story but missed Ruby and McQuaid in the story as they were hardly mentioned.
Apr 23, 2019 rated it liked it
If you like a modern day western mystery featuring female law enforcement and just lots of strong women in general, and if you like learning about different types of livestock and plants, you will really like this one. Not having read any of the previous books in this series, it seemed like a stand alone work to me and I thought it was pretty good.
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Madison Mega-Mara...: #189 - Bittersweet 1 3 Nov 03, 2015 09:27AM  

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Other books in the series

China Bayles (1 - 10 of 27 books)
  • Thyme of Death (China Bayles, #1)
  • Witches' Bane (China Bayles, #2)
  • Hangman's Root (China Bayles, #3)
  • Rosemary Remembered (China Bayles, #4)
  • Rueful Death (China Bayles, #5)
  • Love Lies Bleeding (China Bayles, #6)
  • Chile Death (China Bayles, #7)
  • Lavender Lies (China Bayles, #8)
  • Mistletoe Man (China Bayles, #9)
  • Bloodroot (China Bayles, #10)