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


Sunday, April 25, 2021

Double Jeoparday

 Stone Barrington #57 was a bit of a change in the usual formula for Stuart Woods in this series.  This book was more of a thriller and a how will Stone, Dino, and Ed Rawls solve a problem they are facing when old adversaries reappear.  It isn't really a mystery in the sense of whodunit, that is known up front.  This book definitely gets into some moral discussions about revenge and murder vs killing as part of jobs (police/military).  This is a layer that isn't often developed in this series.

I also appreciated that Stone's bedroom life was just glazed over in this installment rather than in huge details.  I read the books for the mystery/thriller and can generally do without the lust portions.  The is the addition of 2 characters who help to add to the humor and mischievousness of the story as well.  They were a nice addition to the crew of characters.

I am glad this book provided a bit of a refresh in the series and made it interesting.  I hope this trend continues in the next few installments.

Double JeopardyDouble Jeopardy by Stuart Woods
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed the redirection of this novel in the series. It is much less of a mystery and more of a thriller. There are still the requisite shoot outs and fight scenes but it is more of a how will they accomplish their goals type book. I also appreciated that there was less details on Stone's bedroom exploits and he was actually monogamous in this book. I thought this was a good refreshing installment in a series that can become predictable at times.

View all my reviews


Challenge Prompts

The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  


  1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #48
  2. Finishing the Series   #FinishingTheSeries2021 Stone Barrington #57
  3. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book # 58
  4. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #68
  5. Calendar of Crime  #CalendarOfCrime2021   
  6. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #51
  7. Medical Examiner Challenge  5 Toe Tags
  8. Beachcomber Challenge  
    • Crime Scenes 
      • Row 1
        • Boat
      • Row 2
        • Lawn
      • Row 3
        • Free square- living room
    • Weapons
      • Row 2 
        • Hand gun
        • Drowning, water, ice
      • Row 5
        • Rifle or shotgun
    • Detectives- Stone/Dino/Ed Rawls
    • Victims- Billy Lee & Grace Jackson, Tim Scott ; Enos & Eben Stone
  9. Six Shooter Challenge  Target #5  Shot #4


Saturday, April 24, 2021

A Tourist's Guide to Murder

 This is the latest installment in the Mystery Bookshop series (#6) by V.M. Burns.  I always enjoy how she has given such a diverse set of personalities to the seniors in her series.  Sam, is the granddaughter of Nana Jo and the two are on a vacation with Nana Jo's friends- Irma, Dorothy and Ruby Mae.  The dynamics among these women is comical and realistic.  It is easy to visualize the ease with which they interact especially when you consider their ages and the frankness with which many older people speak.

The ladies are on a Mystery tour in England when they encounter several real life mysteries of their own.   The book is loaded with geographical and biographical references to many other mystery writers and their series.  These feature is intertwined well into the plot of this story.   

The mystery itself is well written and full of twists and turns.  My favorite part of this series is the inclusion of the 2nd cozy mystery story within the book.  Sam is writing a cozy set in England in the 1930s.  This secondary story adds a unique feature to this series that I really enjoy.  Sometimes that sub mystery is what sticks with me more than the main story.   

I look forward to any future installments in this series.

A Tourist's Guide to MurderA Tourist's Guide to Murder by V.M. Burns
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I always enjoy reading about the ladies from Shady Acres. Nana Jo is a hoot and her relationship with her granddaughter, is a good mix of bantering and respect. This particular installment was based on a mystery tour in England so it had lots of references to other mystery authors and series. The actual mystery was well written and had plenty of twists to keep the reader engaged. The cozy written within the book is always a fun aspect to this series and adds another level of enjoyment and mystery solving. I hope there are more books to come in this series

View all my reviews


Challenge Prompts

The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  


  1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #47
  2. Finishing the Series   #FinishingTheSeries2021 Mystery Bookshop #6 caught up on series
  3. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #57
  4. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #67
  5. Calendar of Crime  #CalendarOfCrime2021   
  6. Cozy Mysteries   #11 author of color
  7. Cruisin thru Cozies  free choice 27
  8. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #50
  9. Craving for Cozies  Book #43
  10. What's in a Name   #4 Possessive noun (ex. The Zookeeper’s Wife)
  11. Medical Examiner Challenge  4 Toe Tags
  12. Beachcomber Challenge  
    • Crime Scenes 
      • Row 4
        • Hotel room
      • Weapons
        • Row 4
          • Animal attack or bite
        • Row 5
          • Medicine or drugs
      • Detectives- Sam/Nana Jo
      • Victims- Horace Peabody/Prudence Haversham
    • Six Shooter Challenge  Target #14  Shot #6

    Thursday, April 22, 2021

    Raspberry Chocolate Murder

     This is another first in a series by Leena Clover.  I read these 2 back to back as they were part of a boxed set to try the first books in her series.  This one is set in northern California on the coastal town of Dolphin Bay.   The setting and it's descriptions definitely make me miss living in CA.  

    Unfortunately, much like the Strawberries and Strangers book (see blog review) included in the box set, the main character was annoying.  I found her to be rude and abrasive at time, although Anna Butler was a little more appealing than Jenny King. 

     Anna can relate to the young man whom she is helping to clear from suspicion of murder.  She herself is under unfair scrutiny for the death of her husband a few years prior.  I do find the degree to which the mayor is pursuing revenge against her a bit much.   

    I also find Anna's daughter, Cassie, to be a bit all over the map.  For a grown woman she still acts very immaturely. The relationship between mother and daughter is probably portrayed fairly given the circumstances of Cassie's lack of motivation and the fact she is living at home again.  The dynamics of this relationship will need to progress in the series to make the story realistic.  

    The actual murder mystery itself is a bit unrealistic.  Small town life is portrayed as everyone in everyone's business when it comes to Anna's relationship with the mayor and how it influences townspeople.  Contrastingly the fact the victim was with another suspect and no one has noted this and reported it to the police seems to be inconsistent with the portrayal of Dolphin Cove.  

    I hope the mysteries and personalities are tightened up as the series progresses or this may be one that I do not pursue past the next book. 


    Raspberry Chocolate MurderRaspberry Chocolate Murder by Leena Clover
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    I liked this story but I am hoping I grow to find the main character less irritating as the series goes on. She was a bit short tempered which is probably realistic given everything she’s going through but I don’t think friends and Associates would behave that way. I did think the mystery had a good storyline even if the ending was a bit abrupt. I will continue with the series

    View all my reviews



    Challenge Prompts

    The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  

    1. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #55
    2. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #65
    3. Calendar of Crime  #CalendarOfCrime2021   
    4. Cruisin thru Cozies  free choice 26
    5. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #49
    6. Craving for Cozies  Book #42
    7. The Unofficial Magnus Archives Challenge  #TMARC21  #36. Basira: MC is a bookworm
    8. Medical Examiner Challenge  1 Toe Tags
    9. Beachcomber Challenge  
      • Crime Scenes 
        • Row 1
          • Pathway or forest
      • Weapons
        • Row 2 
          • Rock, brick, blunt object
      • Detectives- Anna Butler
    10. Six Shooter Challenge  Target #44  Shot #3


    Wednesday, April 21, 2021

    Strawberries and Strangers

    This is the first book in the Pelican Cove series by Leena Clover.  I had previously read one of her Meera Patel books, Gone with the Wings, and enjoyed it.  I didn't find the characters quite as compelling and likeable in this book.  I hope that as the series progresses I will like Jenny more.  In this book she seems far to aggressive and compulsive in her attempts to clear her Aunt from being accused of murder.   I realize she is frustrated but she is downright rude and abrasive to Sheriff Adam.  

    I do think Clover did a wonderful job of portraying the community as one that is fixated on its founding families and the division that can occur when you are an outsider to those groups.  It puts an added spin on being an outsider in a small town.  The history of the families and how they came to be established as patriarchs of the town was interesting and added a good touch of detail.

    The mystery itself was well structured and in looking back you realize the clues were there as to who was the murderer.  It was a bit of an abrupt ending but the explanations did clarify the why and how.  Although I am not certain the guilty party would have been so quick to confess in the real world.  This abruptness and the irritating main character are why I felt this was only a 3 star book. 

    Overall I thought the series has promise and I will try some more in the Pelican Cove novels to see if Jenny becomes a more appealing character.  


    Strawberries and StrangersStrawberries and Strangers by Leena Clover
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    While I enjoyed the story and the mystery, I found Jenny to be a bit annoying and thus didn't enjoy the book quite as much as I would have liked. I thought her character was a bit too forceful and rude. I did enjoy the layers of the mystery and how it had multiple suspects and secrets. The tightness of small town life and its good and bad points were well done. I will continue trying other books in the series to see if Jenny grows on me more

    View all my reviews


      

    Challenge Prompts

    The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  


    1. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #54
    2. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #64
    3. Calendar of Crime  #CalendarOfCrime2021   
    4. Cruisin thru Cozies  free choice 25
    5. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #48
    6. Craving for Cozies  Book #41
    7. Monthly Motif #MonthlyMotifGXO  yes restaurants
    8. Medical Examiner Challenge  1 Toe Tags
    9. Beachcomber Challenge  
      • Crime Scenes 
        • Beach or shoreline
      • Weapons
        • Row 5
          • Hands or fists
      • Detectives- Jenny King/ Adam
      • Victims- John 
    10. Six Shooter Challenge  Target #44  Shot #2


    Audiobook Challenge

     I just realized I had never signed up and created a page for the 2021 audiobook challenge hosted by Kimberly at  Caffeinated Book Reviewer and Jen at That's What I'm Talking About  

    This year I will try for Newbie which is 1-5  only because I haven't been doing as many audiobooks since I don't drive as much anymore nor have I been at the gym as much.  I will try to change the latter but think I will stick to a doable number for now.

    If you are interested in this challenge be sure to go here and sign up


    Total Audiobooks Enjoyed:  5/5

    1. Frontier Follies by Ree Drummond
    2. Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
    3. Better Homes and Corpses by Kathleen Bridge
    4. Hearse and Gardens by Kathleen Bridge
    5. Ghostal Living  by Kathleen Bridge


    I Feel Bad about my Neck

     

    This is a humorous book by Nora Ephron.  I had not previously read any of her work.  I am happy we had picked this for a book club read as I don't know if I would have otherwise selected this.

    The book itself is a series of short chapters organized by topics.  Some of the chapters are Nora's observations on life and some of the daily activities women undertake to stay youthful and stylish.  She definitely pokes fun at her own behaviors in the process.  Other chapters are more specific to episodes in her life and how they can be categorized as different observations/advice.  I enjoyed the fact it is laid out in short chapters so it was easy to start and stop as time permitted.

    The book as a whole felt like a download from a mother/grandmother to a young woman who is going off on her own.  Sort of a playbook on the stages of life and how to not get too trapped in the little things.  There was definitely no diva aspect to her tone and stories.   I especially enjoyed her tales involving New York as I spent 4 years living there.  Anyone who has lived in Manhattan knows about the divide between West Siders and East Siders.  Her reference points about Zabars and H&H bagels were spots I can relate to, they were right by my gym when I lived there.  For the record, I never had an 8 room apartment- more like 4 if you count the bathroom :)

    I found Ephron's stories to be very enjoyable and decided she is someone I wished I had known.  I can only imagine the energy a dinner with her would have.  I really knew nothing about her until I read the book and found her life fascinating when I read more about her.   I will add some of her other works onto my TBR list for sure.  If you are looking for a light enjoyable read be sure to pick this one up. 


    I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a WomanI Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This was the first work by Nora Ephron I have read. I really enjoyed the book and how it felt like an advice book from a mother/grandmother to a young woman. The organization of the different life tales into different categories made for a fun read. It is a humorous book you can read in spurts as each chapter is a unique insight.

    View all my reviews

      

    Challenge Prompts

    The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  

    1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #46
    2. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #56
    3. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #66
    4. Memoir  #15. Written by someone over 40
    5. Non Fiction Reader  #2021ReadNonFic  #4. Essay Collection
    6. Humor  Book #4
    7. 52 Book Club  #the52bookclub2021  #14 Written By An Author Over 65 (When Published)
    8. BooklistQueen   #11. Recommended by a Colleague
    9. A Pretty Mess Challenge # 20. Celebrity memoir
    10. Nerd Daily  #NERDREADING2021 #35. AN EMOTION IN TITLE
    11. Pick your Poison #27-5 A collection of essays
    12. 52 books in 52 weeks  #23 your choice


    Monday, April 19, 2021

    Still Knife Painting

     This first in a series by Cheryl Hollon was not the best start for me.  I almost set it aside as it took a bit long to get rolling in my opinion.   The base of the mystery is well written and the logic behind the guilty party and the red herrings all made sense it was just a bit unorganized at times.  I think the editing missed some inconsistencies in the plot components- there were different attributions of the same he said/she said between the end of one chapter and the recap at the beginning of the next.  And it wasn't a clue to the mystery.

    Additionally, the first chapter did not make any sense to me.  It was a fast forward scene but then was promptly passed in the chronological approach to the book.  It should have been placed in the proper location in the timeline rather than setting up a flashback. 

     The other issue I had was there were too many characters up front in the story that would only make brief appearances but then be referenced in a reflection by the main character, Miranda.  This was very confusing and unfortunately the cast of characters was listed at the end of the book instead of the beginning.

    There were features of the story I enjoyed.  Particularly the idea of the Paint and Shine business that Miranda started.  As well her reclamation to the rural area of Kentucky where she had spent her summers.  Even though she had lots of kin in the area she will always be viewed as an outsider and that will play a role in her life there.  I did enjoy reading about her growing relationships with the locals and how she came to acclimate into the Kentucky lifestyle after being in NYC.  Also the insight into cultural differences made sense at times, particularly the attitude by many of the Baptist church members toward the inclusion of alcohol in Miranda's tours.  

    I will give another try to the series if there is a new book and I will seek out some other books from the author's other series.  


    Still Knife PaintingStill Knife Painting by Cheryl Hollon
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    I had a hard time getting into this cozy. It took a while for the story to get into a groove as far as I was concerned. It felt like there were too many characters at the beginning which made it difficult to follow the story line- the list of characters appeared at the end of the book but would have been better placed at the beginning. As the story got going I enjoyed the book although there were a few unanswered questions about some of the plot points. I never did understand who was on the ATV- it was never addressed again. Additionally, the first chapter being ahead in the timeline but then promptly passed in time really made no sense to me, the first chapter should not have existed in my opinion- or it should have come in the proper chronological location. The major mystery story was wrapped up well and the plot line and motivation for the death made sense. There were several side mysteries/secrets that were good plot lines that helped set red herrings and explain other suspicious behaviors of characters. The jurisdiction battle between Lexington and the county sheriff while making sense seemed a bit too divisive. I found the business Miranda had started to be a unique approach to pursue and found it interesting and creative. Definitely fits in with modern tourist activities such as food crawls. I will give the series another try before giving up but I hope the structure is a bit better.

    View all my reviews


    Challenge Prompts

    The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  


    1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #45
    2. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #53
    3. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #63
    4. Calendar of Crime  #CalendarOfCrime2021   
    5. Cruisin thru Cozies  free choice 24
    6. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #47
    7. Craving for Cozies  Book #40
    8. Nerd Daily  #NERDREADING2021 #49. START A NEW SERIES
    9. Medical Examiner Challenge   1 Toe Tags
    10. Beachcomber Challenge  
      • Crime Scenes 
        • Row 1
          • Kitchen or bakery
      • Weapons
        • Row 2 
          • Knife
      • Detectives- Miranda/Austin
      • Victims- Viola Childers
    11. Six Shooter Challenge  Target #60  Shot #1


    When the Grits Hit the Fan

     This next installment of the Country Store Mysteries by Maddie Day continues to keep my interest.   In this book, Robbie finds herself caught up in another murder investigation when  day of snow shoeing leads to finding the body of a man seemingly disliked by everyone who knows him.  The ensuing investigation casts suspicion on friends and acquaintances and Robbie must decide if solving the crime is justification for breaking confidences.  

    The mystery is well written and the guilty party was a surprise although looking back the full set of clues were there.  Day does a wonderful job of building characters that are emotionally relatable, whether the reader likes or dislikes them the feelings are present.  

    I enjoyed how Robbie's other interest of crossword puzzle and puzzle solving in general is incorporated in the book.  There is also just enough about her relationship with Abe to make it an interesting aspect of the story without Robbie being portrayed as swooning for a man.  Overall I am enjoying the series and plan to continue reading it.


    When the Grits Hit the FanWhen the Grits Hit the Fan by Maddie Day
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    enjoyable read with lots of side mysteries involved in the story. the character development and relationships continue to build in the series. I liked the fact the guilty party was pretty much a surprise. the author does a great job of mixing the culinary aspects of the story with the actual mystery

    View all my reviews



    Challenge Prompts

    The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  


    1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #44
    2. AtoZ   #2021AtoZReadingChallenge  #AlphabetSoupChallenge  "W"
    3. Finishing the Series   #FinishingTheSeries2021 Country Store #3
    4. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #52
    5. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #62
    6. Calendar of Crime  #CalendarOfCrime2021   
    7. Cruisin thru Cozies  free choice 23
    8. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #46
    9. Craving for Cozies  Book #39
    10. Monthly Motif #MonthlyMotifGXO  yes restaurants
    11. Medical Examiner Challenge  2 Toe Tags
    12. Beachcomber Challenge  
      • Crime Scenes 
        • Row 2
          • Lake or ocean
      • Weapons
        • Row 3
          • Drowning, water, ice
      • Detectives- Robbie/Octavia
      • Victims- Charles Stilton/ Lovey
    13. Six Shooter Challenge  Target #  Shot #


    Sunday, April 18, 2021

    Killer Green Tomatoes

     This second Farm to Fork book by Lynn Cahoon was very enjoyable.   I like how the story balances the business of running a restaurant with solving a mystery.  Angie is a character that is easy to like and root for.  Cahoon does a wonderful job of making her a believable character, between her stress of running a business and her reactions to those around her struggling.   She truly feels like a woman you could meet in your own life.   

    They mystery is intriguing because the different leads keep the reader guessing who is the guilty party.  I also enjoy the fact there are some side threads to the story and it isn't just a linear solution to the mystery.  I will say I did pick up on the guilty party before the final reveal based upon a clue that Angie didn't grasp the significance of which was a bit strange since she is a "nosy" person by nature.  The ending was not ruined for me though as the why was explained in more detail at the appropriate reveal time.

    I look forward to reading more in the series.

    Killer Green TomatoesKiller Green Tomatoes by Lynn Cahoon
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Cozy filled with mystery and delicious food

    This is the 2nd in the Farm to Fork series and the small town drama continues to be well represented. Angie’s relationships with her coworkers, neighbors and boyfriend are all well written and developed. The main mystery is complemented by a few side stories that make the story even more enjoyable. I look forward to more in the series

    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. Literary Escapes  #LiteraryEscapes  ID
    2. Finishing the Series   #FinishingTheSeries2021  Farm to Fork #2
    3. Mount TBR   #MountTBR2021  Book #10
    4. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #61
    5. Calendar of Crime  #CalendarOfCrime2021  
    6. Cozy Mysteries  #2 color in the title 
    7. Cruisin thru Cozies  free choice 22
    8. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #45
    9. Craving for Cozies  Book #38
    10. Monthly Motif #MonthlyMotifGXO  yes restaurants
    11. Medical Examiner Challenge 1  Toe Tags
    12. Beachcomber Challenge  
      • Crime Scenes 
        • Row 2
          • Alley or mews
      • Weapons
        • Row 2 
          • Knife
      • Detectives- Angie
      • Victims- Heather
    13. Six Shooter Challenge  Target #39  Shot #2



    Saturday, April 17, 2021

    Scam Chowder

     It had been a while and quite a few cozies since I had last read a 5 ingredient mystery by Maya Corrigan.  I forgot how enjoyable it was to read about Val Deniston and her grandfather.  This is the second in the series and I plan to continue with the series for sure.  Corrigan does a wonderful job of mixing the characters in the story as members of the senior group and twenty somethings.  Her depiction of the interactions between Val and her grandfather are well written. The characters in the story are very engaging and center around these 2 and their individual circles of friends which overlap at times.

    Corrigan shows the struggle between being respectful of one's elder while still trying to help look out for them.  Their living situation is further tested by the fact that Grandad is trying to portray himself as the creator of the recipes and meals that are really Val's doing.   The cooking and food plays a role in the storyline for sure but isn't necessarily as prominent as it is in other cozies such as the Hannah Swensen series.  

    As with many cozies there is the inevitable relationship drama and angst as both Val and Grandad struggle with finding their way in new relationships.  Being caught in a murder investigation and struggling to keep your job doesn't make things any easier.

    I like the characters and the slightly different take on who is at the center of the stories.  I find it refreshing that there are characters from multiple generations represented and given equal attention.  I plan to continue with this series.  


    Scam ChowderScam Chowder by Maya Corrigan
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    An enjoyable cozy centered around Val Deniston and her somewhat cantakerous Grandpa. This time in the attempt to convince everyone that he is the Codger Cook Grandpa finds himself hosting a fatal dinner party. But who poisoned the victim and why? Val gets embroiled in the drama while trying to convince the police her grandfather is innocent. Meanwhile her romantic life seems to be fizzling and her interest's ex fiance is in town trying to win him back- quite deviously. The characters are a fun mix with some crazy moments. I enjoy the mix of young characters and their interactions with the older characters, many of whom are residents at the Village retirement complex. The book develops the relationship between Val and her grandfather and shows the struggles to be supportive while living with members of a different generation. Characters are well written as is the mystery. I found the guilty party to be somewhat surprising.

    View all my reviews


    Challenge Prompts

    The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  


    1. Literary Escapes  #LiteraryEscapes  MD
    2. Finishing the Series   #FinishingTheSeries2021 5 ingredient mystery #2
    3. Mount TBR   #MountTBR2021  Book #9
    4. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #59
    5. Calendar of Crime  #CalendarOfCrime2021   
    6. Cruisin thru Cozies  fc #20
    7. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #43
    8. Craving for Cozies  Book #36
    9. Pick your Poison #5-3 A book written by a college professor
    10. Monthly Motif #MonthlyMotifGXO  yes books on the menu
    11. Medical Examiner Challenge  Toe Tags
    12. Beachcomber Challenge  
      • Weapons
        • Row 1 
          • Poison, poisoned food
        • Row 2 
          • Hand gun
      • Detectives- Val Denison/Grandad
      • Victims- Scott/Mary Lou
    13. Six Shooter Challenge  Target #59  Shot #1




    Friday, April 16, 2021

    The Sanatorium

     This is a very dark thriller by Sarah Pearse.  It is set in a remote area of forest in the Swiss Alps at a new ultra modern hotel built on the footprint of an old Sanatorium.   There are mysterious deaths that play a role in the plot and at times the reader can even question if there is supernatural aspects to the story.  

    The lead detective is Elin, a UK detective on leave for PTSD and at the hotel to celebrate her brother, Isaac's engagement to Laure.  Unfortunately the weekend is far from the pleasant vacation she and her boyfriend, Will, were hoping for when they flew to Switzerland.  

    The story has plenty of plot twists and drama that leads the reader to suspect many of the different characters of being the guilty killer.   The reader is easily talked into suspecting different people and honestly I thought I had figured it out at points and then was shown why I was wrong.  

    The remote setting and snowstorm definitely play a vital role in the story.  I also felt as though the hotel itself was a character with its own history and major role in the story.   It definitely played a key role and the story would have been weaker without the weather and location.  

    Elin is a character rift with self doubt and questions her relationships with her brother and Will.  We slowly learn about her physical and mental stress and how it affects her entire being.  She is portrayed as someone haunted by her past and is obsessed with seeking answers.  I think it was an accurate portrayal of someone who suffered a tragedy at a young age and never had proper treatment to deal with it.   It affects her whole life and relationships.  

    The only real issue I had with the story was the conclusion. I am not sure of the purpose of the epilogue unless it is to provide a setup for a sequel.  Otherwise, it is a very large unanswered question to the story.


    The SanatoriumThe Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    I thought this book was good. I don't agree with the negative reviews but I understand where they were coming from. I think I didn't have as high of expectations as some of those readers so I didn't build myself up. The cover absolutely made me think of the Shining as did the description. There is a creepiness factor with the setting of blizzards and avalanches in a remote location in the Swiss Alps. The body count does rise and makes the story suspense grow.
    Elin as the main character definitely comes across as a damaged character. Her full story is revealed to us as the plot goes along and some of it is more believable than others. Her relationships with her boyfriend and brother are definitely not perfect and the story demonstrates that.
    Pearse provides many different potential villains and each make sense in their own right. As a reader I kept thinking it has to be this person, they don't seem the most obvious. In the end the true culprit is revealed and while the motivation behind their crimes is a bit weak, the explanations make sense and are given but this is why I gave it a 3 instead of a 4 star rating. There is an epilogue that completely confused me though, not sure if it's a set up for a sequel or just meant to leave you wondering.


    View all my reviews



    Challenge Prompts

    The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  


    1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #42
    2. Literary Escapes  #LiteraryEscapes   Switzerland
    3. Beat the Backlist #BTB2021  #39 book where the woods/forest are important
    4. 2021TBR  #2021ReadingChallenge # 18 gothic novel
    5. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #50
    6. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #58
    7. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #42
    8. Around the Year in 52 Books #16. A book with a building in the title
    9. The Unofficial Magnus Archives Challenge  #TMARC21  #2. The Buried: a Bottle Episode (set in a single room/place)
    10. Pick your Poison #12-4 A book from a celebrity favorite list
    11. Medical Examiner Challenge   4 Toe Tags
    12. Beachcomber Challenge  
      • Crime Scenes 
        • Row 4
          • Hotel room
          • Swimming pool, spa, jacuzzi
        • Row 3
          • Drowning, water, ice
      • Detectives- Elin
      • Victims- Dennis/Margot/Laure/Adele
    13. 52 books in 52 weeks  #17 ice or snow bound



    Toasting Up Trouble

    I selected this cozy by Linda Wiken because it was a book set in Vermont and I had noted that one of the main characters was named Connor.  This provided a book for a prompt to select a book with a male family member as a character.   I lucked into finding an enjoyable new cozy series that I plan to read more of in the future.   I liked the event planning business that was the occupation of the main character, JJ and her friend/boss Skye.  There are some wonderful subplots in the book and the mystery itself is well developed and has a surprising ending.  Lots of suspects that seem feasible and the elimination process is realistic and logical.  If you are a foodie you will enjoy reading about the Culinary Capers group that JJ belongs to and the dinner parties they host.  

    All in all an enjoyable book with more in the series to explore


    Toasting Up TroubleToasting Up Trouble by Linda Wiken
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    good solid cozy with a slightly different lean where the MC works with a PI to solve the mystery. Wiken does a good job of slowly revealing clues and character backgrounds to build suspense and help conceal the identity of the guilty party. 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 #43
    2. Literary Escapes  #LiteraryEscapes  VT
    3. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #51
    4. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #60
    5. Calendar of Crime  #CalendarOfCrime2021   
    6. Cruisin thru Cozies  free choice 21
    7. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #44
    8. Craving for Cozies  Book #37
    9. 52 Book Club  #the52bookclub2021  #6 A Character With The Same Name As A Male Family Member
    10. Monthly Motif #MonthlyMotifGXO  yes books on the menu
    11. Medical Examiner Challenge 1 Toe Tag
    12. Beachcomber Challenge  
      • Crime Scenes 
        • Row 2
          • Lawn
      • Weapons
        • Row 2 
          • Knife
      • Detectives- JJ/Ty Devine
      • Victims- Antonio Marcotti


     

    Thursday, April 15, 2021

    Flamenco, Flan and Fatalities

     This is the 2nd book in the Happy Hoofer series by Mary McHugh.  I did not enjoy this one quite as much as the first book, Chorus Lines, Caviar and Corpses.  I think the narrator just didn't appeal to me as much in this book as it did in the first.  

    McHugh has taken a creative approach to her narration that in principle I like, each of the books in the series is narrated by a different member of the dance troupe.  Conceptually a great idea, but I just didn't care for this narrator, Gini.  I guess one aspect could be that different readers might relate better to different characters, and thus make the series as a whole more appealing to a broader range of readers.  McHugh even comments in both books about how each member of the dance troupe has different personalities and traits that they love and dislike about each other.  Which is probably very realistic of most friendship groups.

    Gini is a strong personality, just as Tina, the narrator of book 1 was.  I just found her too abrupt and butting in too much.  She bordered on rude at some points.  She seemed very dismissive of those who didn't share her beliefs on certain topics.  In many ways I just wanted to story to end so I didn't have to "listen" to her anymore. 

    The mystery itself was a well written one although there were a few editing errors, they kept saying they were on a cruise (book 1 setting) when they were aboard a train.  The setting in Spain was very alluring and very descriptive.  I like the balance of landscape and scenery description with the other cultural features that are included in the stories.  I have several more installments in the series and will continue to read them as I enjoy this aspect of the series a lot even if the characters might be a bit annoying.  Hopefully the next narrator's perspective and personality will be more appealing.


    Flamenco, Flan, and FatalitiesFlamenco, Flan, and Fatalities by Mary McHugh
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    While I enjoyed this book it didn’t engage me quite as well as the first book in the series. I think I didn’t really care for the narrator in this book. I like how the author is varying the narrator between different Happy Hoofers in each of her books but I just didn’t care for Gini very much. I did enjoy the descriptions of the Green Spain area of northern Spain. I liked McHugh’s ability to mix descriptions of the scenery and culture in with the storyline. I will continue to read the series to see how I like the next narrator

    View all my reviews


    Challenge Prompts

    The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  


    1. Literary Escapes  #LiteraryEscapes   Spain
    2. Mount TBR   #MountTBR2021  Book #8
    3. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #57
    4. Calendar of Crime  #CalendarOfCrime2021   
    5. Cruisin thru Cozies  free choice 19
    6. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #41
    7. Craving for Cozies  Book #35
    8. Uncorked Reader #UncorkedReading2021  Book Set On A Train
    9. Medical Examiner Challenge  2 Toe Tags
    10. Beachcomber Challenge  
      • Crime Scenes 
        • Row 3
          • Train or subway
      • Weapons
        • Row 1 
          • Poison, poisoned food
      • Detectives- Gini
      • Victims- Shamblees, Steve
    11. Six Shooter Challenge  Target #53  Shot #2


    Wednesday, April 14, 2021

    Death with All the Trimmings

     This 5th Key West Critic mystery is not your typical holiday book although it is centered around Key West and their Christmas traditions.  Lucy Burdette does a wonderful job of capturing the charm and traditions of the island festivities and interweaving them into the life of her protagonist, Hayley Snow.  I have been in Key West at the beginning of the holiday season and it is fun to see those experiences reflected in this book.  They love any excuse to have a parade.


    In this installment we meet some of Hayley's extended family as well as witness more of her interactions with the core group of friends she has made in Key West.  We witness the drama of her workplace and her thrill at meeting the New York Times food critic.  All this is mixed in with a mystery that she finds herself mixed up in unexpectedly.  

    The characters and storylines shine in this series and I appreciate the mysteries are a subplot of the bigger story of Hayley's life in Key West.  The characters have realistic reactions to personal situations and Burdette does a wonderful job of capturing this in this book.  




    Death with All the TrimmingsDeath with All the Trimmings by Lucy Burdette
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I continue to enjoy reading about the exploits of Hayley Snow. I think what I enjoy the most about this series is there is a story being told with character interactions etc and then a mystery is interweaved in the story. The investigation and crime are part of the bigger story but aren't necessarily the entire focus. Much of this book is about Hayley and her job as a food critic. Again this book has many elements of the character and lifestyle of Key West, both those tourist would recognize and much of the charm that attracts the Conch Nation to live there.

    View all my reviews


    Challenge Prompts

    The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  

    1. Library Love  #LibraryLoveChallenge  Book #41
    2. Finishing the Series   #FinishingTheSeries2021 series 13 bk 4
    3. Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2021   Book #49
    4. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #56
    5. Calendar of Crime  #CalendarOfCrime2021   
    6. Cruisin thru Cozies  free choice 18
    7. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #40
    8. Craving for Cozies  Book #34
    9. Monthly Motif #MonthlyMotifGXO  yes restaurants
    10. Medical Examiner Challenge  1 Toe Tags
    11. Beachcomber Challenge  
      • Crime Scenes 
        • Row 3
          • Bar, store, restaurant
      • Weapons
        • Row 1 
          • Fire
      • Detectives- Hayley Snow
      • Victims- Juan Carlos
    12. Six Shooter Challenge  Target # 8  Shot #5

    Tuesday, April 13, 2021

    Murder with Ganache

     This is the 4th book in the Key West Food Critic mysteries by Lucy Burdette.  The mysteries do a wonderful job of mixing Key West flair and a cozy mystery together.  I appreciate how Burdette creates a storyline that introduces extra characters while still fitting within the inner circle of Hayley Snow's life.  The book is full of character interaction, family drama and miscommunication, just like real life.  The charm of Key West is shown during this book as Hayley hosts family from out of town, it gives a glimpse into the major tourist sites while in the context of the eyes of a local.  The books continue to engage my interest and indulge in a foodies desire to read about food and recipes


    Murder with GanacheMurder with Ganache by Lucy Burdette
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Good twist with unexpected villain

    These cozies set in key west are always a joy to read. I enjoyed the take on the crime that mixed some of the treasure hunter lore and Hemingway notoriety into the mystery. Good balance of personal life mixed with crime solving

    View all my reviews



    Challenge Prompts

    The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:  


    1. Finishing the Series   #FinishingTheSeries2021 series 13 bk 3
    2. Mount TBR   #MountTBR2021  Book #7
    3. Back List Reader  #Backlistreader  Book #55
    4. Calendar of Crime  #CalendarOfCrime2021   
    5. Cruisin thru Cozies free choice 17
    6. Cloak & Dagger  #CloakDaggerChal  Book #39
    7. Craving for Cozies  Book #33
    8. Monthly Motif #MonthlyMotifGXO  yes restaurants
    9. Medical Examiner Challenge 1 Toe Tags
    10. Beachcomber Challenge  
      • Crime Scenes 
        • Row 1
          • Boat
      • Weapons
        • Row 4
          • Pillow, smother, asphyxiation

      • Detectives- Hayley Snow
      • Victims- Mariah
    11. Six Shooter Challenge  Target # 8 Shot #4