Friday, May 7, 2021

Aunty Lee's Deadly Specials

 This second book in the cozy series by Ovidia Yu is again set in Singapore.  Aunty Lee and Nina are now partnering with Cherrill to provide catering and dining experiences complemented by Cherrill's drink menu.  Unfortunately their first outing to cater for Mabel Sung did not end with a happy customer.  

After being falsely accused of food poisoning and thus having her restaurant shut down, Aunty Lee sets out to determine what really happened at the party.  Once again she works with Detective Salim and her friend the Chief Inspector Raja to dig into the murder and finds herself mixed up in a much bigger international crime ring.  

I enjoy the character of Rosie Lee and the others in her close group of friends.  I like how Ms. Yu reflects Singaporean life and addresses some of the subtle cultural and governmental differences from the United States.  The country is made up of a diverse group of ethnicities and these books highlight that, both the good and the bad aspects of the culturally rich nation.  I look forward to reading more of Aunty Lee's adventures and hope they continue for a while.

Aunty Lee's Deadly SpecialsAunty Lee's Deadly Specials by Ovidia Yu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Love Aunty Lee and her personality

MS You does a wonderful job of capturing the people and diverse culture of Singapore. Her characters in this mystery represent many of the cultures and DC lasses found in that society. Aunty Lee "s ability to read people while feeding them is a wonderful quality. The mystery itself is quite engage some and has many twists and turns

View all my reviews


Challenge Prompts

The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  


  1. Literary Escapes  #LiteraryEscapes  Singapore
  2. Alphabet Soup Author Edition #AlphabetSoupAuthorChallenge  "Y"
  3. Finishing the Series   #FinishingTheSeries2021
  4. Mount TBR   #MountTBR2021  Book #11
  5. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #70
  6. Calendar of Crime  #CalendarOfCrime2021   
  7. Cruisin thru Cozies  free choice 33
  8. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #57
  9. Craving for Cozies  Book #49
  10. Book Voyage  #bookvoyagechallenge  May: Asia – South
  11. Medical Examiner Challenge 5 Toe Tags
  12. Beachcomber Challenge  
    • Crime Scenes 
      • Row 4
        • Hotel room
        • Swimming pool, spa, jacuzzi

      • Row 5
        • Bedroom
    • Weapons
      • Row 1 
        • Poison, poisoned food
      • Row 3
        • Free square- medical transplants
        • Drowning, water, ice
      • Row 4
        • Push or fall
    • Detectives- Aunty Rosie Lee/Nina/Salim
    • Victims- Mabel & Leonard Sung/ Benjamin Ng
  13. Six Shooter Challenge  Target # 24  Shot # 2


Thursday, May 6, 2021

Ghostal Living

 This next installment in the Hamptons Home and Garden Mysteries centers around literature.  The book is full of references to many American authors and particularly the ones with connections to Long Island.  Kathleen Bridge returns with her main character Meg Barrett and her bff, El.   This installment is full of references to Fitzgerald, the least of which is the costume party that sounds like something straight out of The Great Gatsby.  

There are plenty of vivid descriptions of the decor, the books and the landscaping details.  Bee lovers will enjoy all the reference to honey and the Apiary in the book.   All the wonderful details about the Hamptons and the American authors blend well with the cozy mystery.   The guilty party is well hidden and its revelation a very climactic scene. 

I'm curious to see what the central theme of the next book is since we have now read about antiques, artists and authors.  


Ghostal LivingGhostal Living by Kathleen Bridge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I continue to enjoy this series of books set in the Hamptons. Besides the enjoyable descriptions of the Long Island areas and its residents, the books are full of cultural references. This one centers around Bibliophiles and books. Ms Bridge ties the area into the lives and works of many famous authors all while telling a wonderful cozy mystery. The mystery is multi layered and well thought out. There are several side mysteries that are somewhat intertwined. All in all an enjoyable read. This is the 3rd in the series but can be read as a standalone

View all my reviews


  

Challenge Prompts

The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  

Possible prompts

I will decide as the year goes along which prompts I use it for on several challenges since it meets multiple criteria within the challenge.

  1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #53
  2. Calendar of Crime  #CalendarOfCrime2021   
  3. Cruisin thru Cozies  free choice #32
  4. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #56
  5. Craving for Cozies  Book #48
  6. Pick your Poison #6-4 A book about flappers
  7. Backpacking Bookworm  #bbReadingChallenge2021  personified animal
  8. Medical Examiner Challenge  3 Toe Tags
  9. Beachcomber Challenge  
    • Crime Scenes 
      • Row 1
        • Library or bookstore
      • Row 3
        • Cliff, roof, high place
      • Row 5
        • Beach or shoreline
    • Weapons
      • Row 4
        • Push or fall
      • Row 5
        • Medicine or drugs
    • Detectives- Meg/El
    • Victims-  Franklin & Violet Hollingsworth; Randall
  10. Six Shooter Challenge  Target #62  Shot #3
  11. Audiobook  #2021AudiobookChallenge  #5

 

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Hearse and Gardens

 I returned to Montauk and Sag Harbor in this second installment of the Hamptons Home and Gardens mysteries by Kathleen Bridge.  This time Meg and El are mixed up in the 20 year old death of El's relative Victor Falks.   Uncle Harrison had invited the 2 ladies to go through a bungalow on his property to search for antique finds prior to the bungalows relocation away from the eroding cliffs.  Unfortunately while examining the bungalow they discovered a sealed production studio with a skeleton.   Turns out it was Harrison's missing son, Victor, whom everyone had assumed had run off on his wife with a lover and an Andy Warhol painting.

Much investigation, antique digging and other mysteries ensue in this cozy mystery.  It is an enjoyable read and I came to realize this book focuses on artists who frequented the Hamptons in the past.  The first installment had focused on antiques and this one on artwork.  I enjoy the variety of topics that Ms. Bridge is delving into in her series.  

Hearse and GardensHearse and Gardens by Kathleen Bridge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed this next audiobook in the series. Meg and El get mixed up in a 20 year old murder/missing person case. This time we meet El’s extended family which is quite a cast of characters. The mystery is well written and has lots of side stories which add depth to the story. Meg’s personal life gets a bit interesting in this book as well. Cannot wait to see where the stories go.

View all my reviews  


Challenge Prompts

The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  


  1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #52
  2. Calendar of Crime  #CalendarOfCrime2021   
  3. Cruisin thru Cozies  free choice # 31
  4. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #55
  5. Craving for Cozies  Book #47
  6. Pick your Poison #3-2 A book with the word "house" in the title
  7. Monthly Keyword #MonthlyKeyWordGXO   Garden
  8. Medical Examiner Challenge  2 Toe Tags
  9. Beachcomber Challenge  
    • Crime Scenes 
      • Free square- recording studio
      • Weapons
        • Row 4
          • Pillow, smother, asphyxiation
      • Detectives- Meg/El
      • Victims- Victor Falks/Helen
    • Six Shooter Challenge  Target #62  Shot #2
    • Audiobook  #2021AudiobookChallenge #4


    Tuesday, May 4, 2021

    Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

     

    I selected this book by Barbara Demick from the recommended list for the Book Voyage  #bookvoyagechallenge challenge.  I had the book escape from Camp 14 in my TBR pile and decided to read this one as well for variety on the topic.  

    Demick does an amazing job of capturing the stories and perspectives of several North Koreans who ultimately escaped the country.  Their stories are amazing and the most interesting part for me was the degree to which the people of the country are completely unaware as to what is going on in the world outside North Korea.  For that matter there is minimal information and communication within the country.

    Demick took an interesting approach to the work by focusing on individuals with a connection to the same locale within North Korea.  She identified people from different backgrounds which helped to highlight the caste system that exists in the country.  Many of the individuals were actually supporters of the regime and members of the Working Party.   The stories detail how their transformations and decisions to leave came about.  

    There are some heartbreaking and honest depictions of the suffering that occurred especially during the famine of the 1990s.  Demick does a good job of presenting the stories of the defectors and minimizes adding political opinions to the accounts, unless they were the observations of the individuals featured in the work.  Demick also shared factual observations from her own visits to North Korea.  

    All in all this is an eye opening account of just how 3rd world that nation is and the struggles the people are suffering through even still today.  


    Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North KoreaNothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    Amazingly terrifying account

    This account of the true experiences within N Korea is written in such a way it can be easy to forget it is non-fiction. In fact at times the horrors described made me wish it was fiction. I knew on a high level the atrocious lives much of the residents of N Korea live but this details it in the stories of those who lives it. The defectors came from various walks of life within the same region and their stories are amazing.

    View all my reviews


    Challenge Prompts

    The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  


    1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #51
    2. Literary Escapes  #LiteraryEscapes  North Korea
    3. Non Fiction Reader  #2021ReadNonFic  #8. Indigenous Cultures
    4. PopSugar #popsugarreadingchallenge #15. A book with a black-and-white cover
    5. BooklistQueen   # 5. About a Pressing Social Issue
    6. Spells and Spaceships Post Apocalyptic Badge  post apocalyptic or dystopian setting
    7. Pick your Poison #18-3 A book by a journalist or news photographer
    8. Book Voyage  #bookvoyagechallenge  Asia – North
    9. 52 books in 52 weeks  #36  dystopian


    Thursday, April 29, 2021

    Better Homes and Corpses

     I found this fun cozy mystery while searching the library site for a new audiobook to listen to.  This series by Kathleen Bridge is set in the Hamptons in New York.  It is full of descriptions about the towns of East Hampton, Montauk and other summer playgrounds of the wealthy of NYC.  Anyone who can afford it flees the city in the summer.  Young professionals do house shares where 8-10 or more will split the cost of a rental.  Think giant party all summer long.  I was about to do my first share when we were asked to move to Chicago.   Probably saved me a ton of money and a lot of hangovers.  It was such a contrast when we moved to Chicago and it's a city that people flocked to on the weekends.  Favorite pastimes are summer games at Wrigley field, hanging out on the beaches on Lake Michigan and just generally lounging over brunch or drinks at an outdoor patio.  One of the many contrasts between 2 of the largest cities in the country.  

    This book doesn't focus on the summer shares though.  It is about year round resident Meg and her friend El who find themselves mixed up in an insurance inventory of the estate of the Queen of the Hamptons who just happens to be the mother of Meg's college roommate.

    The book is full of characters that have multiple dimensions to them.  Some of them are very wealthy and others appear to be free loaders of various sorts.  The dynamics of the story are intriguing and the detecting Meg does is aided by her ability to read lips.  Bridge has created a strong protagonist who happens to be hearing impaired.  I love that Meg is portrayed with this being a strength rather than an disability.     This is just one of the characteristics of Meg that makes her such a likeable character.

    The mystery itself is well written with plenty of side stories that keep the reader guessing whodunit until the very end.  It is a surprising ending but very believable and makes sense when you look back on the story.  I look forward to reading more in the series.  


    Better Homes and CorpsesBetter Homes and Corpses by Kathleen Bridge
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    An enjoyable start to a series set in the Hamptons. A well written cozy with lots of actions me twists and turns. Meg and El dig through antiques and a mystery in the luxurious home. Lots of quirky and suspicious characters to keep the story going. Looking forward to reading more in the series

    View all my reviews


    Challenge Prompts

    The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  

    1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #50
    2. Cruisin thru Cozies  free choice 30
    3. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #54
    4. Craving for Cozies  Book #46
    5. Pick your Poison #26-4 A book with the word "better" in the title 
    6. Medical Examiner Challenge  1 Toe Tags
    7. Beachcomber Challenge  
      • Crime Scenes 
        • Row 4
          • Stairs
      • Weapons
        • Row 2 
          • Pointy object
      • Detectives- Meg/El
      • Victims- Mrs Spenser
    8. Six Shooter Challenge  Target #62  Shot #1
    9. Audiobook  #2021AudiobookChallenge #3



    Wednesday, April 28, 2021

    Dough or Die

     This 5th installment in the Bread Shop series by Winnie Archer might be my favorite one.  I liked the balance of great and realistic characters with a detailed and believable plot line.

    The cast of characters ranged from the usual Santa Sofia residents we have met in the previous books to the participants in Olaya's Bread of Life class hosted at Yeast of Eden.  These women are immigrants who are struggling to find sure footing in their new home.  The class helps them develop new friendships as well as hone marketable skills.  The different breads they present to each other from their different backgrounds makes for fascinating cultural details.  

    Another group of characters arises from Ivy's volunteering.  She decides to give back at a women's shelter.  There are several key pieces of the story that center around these women and the shelter.  The intersect with Yeast of Eden in a believable way that merges the 2 subplots well.

    This program is being featured as part of a new reality tv cooking show based on the concept of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, only with bakeries.  Local tv star turned celebrity, Sandra is one of the cohosts and fills all the characteristics of a diva in love with their fame.  Unfortunately the show seems to have be overshadowed with misfortune when one of the crew is involved in a vehicle accident and another an untimely death.  Could it just be coincidence or are they related?  Ivy is determined to figure it out.   

    This story is my favorite of the series and I cannot wait for the next book due out at the end of this month.  It's already on hold at the library.

    Dough or DieDough or Die by Winnie Archer
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    A great mix of stories into a cozy mystery. Archer does a wonderful job of presenting a broad range of characters from the usual group of Ivy, Emmeline and Olaya to celebrity food stars and women struggling to find their identities and some escaping abusive relationships. The plot intertwines these stories in an interesting and believable way. It's hard not to find your mouth watering as you read about the wonderful breads baked at Yeast of Eden and the Mexican delights delivered by Baptista's. The guilty party was well hidden until the reveal at the end. Well done

    View all my reviews

    Challenge Prompts

    The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  

    1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #49
    2. Finishing the Series   #FinishingTheSeries2021 Bread Shop #5  caught up on series
    3. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #59
    4. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #69
    5. Calendar of Crime  #CalendarOfCrime2021   
    6. Cruisin thru Cozies  free choice 29
    7. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #53
    8. Craving for Cozies  Book #45
    9. Bookworm  #32  book by an author with the same first name as one of your grandparents
    10. Pick your Poison #13-1 A book about an interracial romance
    11. Monthly Motif #MonthlyMotifGXO  yes restaurants
    12. Medical Examiner Challenge  1 Toe Tags
    13. Beachcomber Challenge  
      • Crime Scenes 
          • Cliff, roof, high place

      • Weapons
        • Row 4
          • Push or fall
      • Detectives- Ivy/Emmaline
      • Victims- Sandra
    14. Six Shooter Challenge  Target #36  Shot #2

    Monday, April 26, 2021

    Prospect for Murder

     I selected this book by Jeanne Burrows- Johnson from Kindle Unlimited because it was set in Hawaii.  I was intrigued by the description and decided to use it for the Literary Escapes challenge.

    Initially it started out very slowly and I was not really finding it engaging.  I will admit I almost set it aside for good.  It finally caught my attention and held it about a quarter of the way into the book.  I think the beginning was just very descriptive without much action so it was hard to stay engaged.

    I think part of what I liked about the book was all the cultural and geographical refrences to Oahu.  We lived in the islands for 4 years when I was young.  In fact, I started school there.  Additionally, having lived in California for most of high school and college we vacationed there quite a bit.  Hawaii is to the west coast what Florida is to the East and Midwest.   I had never been to Florida until I graduated college.  

    The author talks a lot about parts of the island and the Navy life which resonated with me.  I know many of the locations and terminology she references.  I think this definitely lead to my enjoyment of the book, probably more so than someone who doesn't have that familiarity.   

    An additional feature that I found interesting is the in depth descriptions of Mrs. Wong's memories of China and Hong Kong.  I found this cultural piece interesting as well as how it tied into Natalie's research and work on projects.  I think history buffs will definitely like this series even though it is not a true work of historical fiction.  

    I will be interested to see how the next book in the series goes.  


    Prospect for MurderProspect for Murder by Jeanne Burrows-Johnson
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    Although this cozy started out slowly I am glad I stuck with it. It was a well written story with plenty of Chinese and Hawaiian history and culture presented. If you are looking for a mystery with more depth without much violence this is a great pick . I especially liked it as I spent 4 years of my childhood living in the islands and can relate on a deeper level

    View all my reviews


    Challenge Prompts

    The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  

    1. Literary Escapes  #LiteraryEscapes  Hawaii
    2. Calendar of Crime  #CalendarOfCrime2021   
    3. Cruisin thru Cozies  free choice 28
    4. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #52
    5. Craving for Cozies  Book #44
    6. 52 Book Club  #the52bookclub2021  #30 Watch Out For Dragons!
    7. BooklistQueen   # 32. About an Immigrant
    8. Spells and Spaceships Dragon Badge
    9. Pick your Poison #13-2  A book about the immigrant experience
    10. Medical Examiner Challenge 2 Toe Tags
    11. Beachcomber Challenge  
      • Crime Scenes 
        • Row 2
          • Lawn
        • Row 4
          • Street or sidewalk
      • Weapons
        • Row 1 
          • Falling object
        • Row 4
          • Push or fall
      • Detectives- Natalie Seacrest/Keoni Hewitt
      • Victims- Ariel/Rob Bishop
    12. Six Shooter Challenge  Target #61  Shot #1