Category Archives: Cozy Mystery

Plum Lucky (Stephanie Plum #13.5) – Janet Evanovich

Plum Lucky (Stephanie Plum #13.5) – Janet EvanovichTitle: Plum Lucky (Stephanie Plum #13.5) by Janet Evanovich
Publishing Info: January 8, 2008 by Macmillan
Genres: Adult, Cozy Mystery, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: November 25, 2012
Related Posts: Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum #13), Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum #14), , Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum #15), Mini-Reviews: The Audition, Plum Spooky | DNF Report: Tether, Plum Spooky (Stephanie Plum #14.5), Mini-Reviews: Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16) & Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum #18), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Mini-Reviews: Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top-Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), , Tricky Twenty-Two (Stephanie Plum #22), Curious Minds (Knight & Moon #1), Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Dangerous Minds (Knight & Moon #2), Wicked Appetite (Lizzy & Diesel #1), Hardcore Twenty-Four (Stephanie Plum #24), The Heist (Fox & O'Hare #1), Look Alive Twenty-Five (Stephanie Plum #25), Twisted Twenty-Six (Stephanie Plum #26)

    Looking to get lucky? 
Stephanie Plum is back between-the-numbers and she’s looking to get lucky in an Atlantic City hotel room, in a Winnebago, and with a brown-eyed stud who has stolen her heart.
    Stephanie Plum has a way of attracting danger, lunatics, oddballs, bad luck . . . and mystery men. And no one is more mysterious than the unmentionable Diesel. He’s back and hot on the trail of a little man in green pants who’s lost a giant bag of money. Problem is, the money isn’t exactly lost. Stephanie’s Grandma Mazur has found it, and like any good Jersey senior citizen, she’s hightailed it in a Winnebago to Atlantic City and hit the slots. With Lula and Connie in tow, Stephanie attempts to bring Grandma home, but the luck of the Irish is rubbing off on everyone: Lula’s found a job modeling plus-size lingerie. Connie’s found a guy. Diesel’s found Stephanie. And Stephanie has found herself in over her head with a caper involving thrice-stolen money, a racehorse, a car chase, and a bad case of hives.
    Plum Lucky is an all-you-can-eat buffet of thrills, chills, shrimp cocktail, plus-size underwear, and scorching hot men. It’s a between-the-numbers treat no Evanovich fan will want to miss! 

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I do have to say that I enjoyed PLUM LUCKY a lot more than the previous “Between the Numbers” books. I always enjoy the Stephanie Plum books regardless of how silly they get, but reading the first two BtN books (PLUM LOVIN’, VISIONS OF SUGAR PLUSM) had more of a paranormal element to them that took it a little outside of the normal fun-loving but (moderately) realistic Stephanie sagas. In each BtN book, we get a glimpse of Diesel, who’s kind of like Ranger only he deals with the fantasy/paranormal worlds and sometimes appears and disappears at will. I think the magical aspect takes away from the normal Stephanie story lines that I always love. PLUM LUCKY dealt with leprechaun luck, but it was much more enjoyable because we just see another zany criminal who thinks he’s a leprechaun and keeps trying to act like one, but really he’s just an average Joe like everyone else.

I’m never a fan of the Stephanie/Diesel interactions — no, scratch that. They’re always decently enjoyable but I always find myself pining for the real stories. Even though it’s been going on for 14 books, I still love the Stephanie/Joe/Ranger love triangle. I still can’t make up my mind how I want that to end (I think I’m on Joe’s side! But Ranger… Oh, Ranger) and I find that to be one of the more enjoyable parts of the Plum books.

Realistically, I like to take these books for what they are: fun fillers. I can’t take them too seriously because clearly they aren’t intended that way! They’re even labeled as “Between the Numbers” and aren’t the meat and potatoes of the series, so I like to take them in their proper context.

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Grandma Mazur: I wanted to see more of Grandma in this story! She was a big part of the plot yet somehow absent all at the same time. I love how the grandmother is one of the most unpredictable characters of this series.
Diesel: Eh, Diesel still really doesn’t do much for me. I find his character a little dull and I think of him as the poor man’s Ranger!

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Library read

The “between the numbers” books aren’t really my favorites but I do always love this series so I’ve committed to reading them all!

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The Deja Vu Review [13]

The Deja Vu Review is a new Sunday feature with mini-reviews from books I’ve read before I began my blog at The Book Addict’s Guide! Since I’ve been reading my whole life and only started my blog back in April of 2012, this is my opportunity to revisit some older books and share some mini-reviews of those that didn’t quite make it into the blog spotlight after the initial read.

This week’s topic is: Your Favorite Mystery


Curse of the Spellmans (The Spellmans, #2)
Curse of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
My Original Goodreads Review
: Another great installment of the Spellman books. I loved the first one and couldn’t put it down, so I picked up this one and read every chance I got. The Spellmans are a delightfully off-beat family as they constantly use their PI skills to not only solve mysteries, but spy on each other. Very funny and good mysteries that keep you wondering throughout the book.
Comments: This is still one of my favorites series, even after five books. This was book two, but I think it’s still my favorite of the series!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder (Hannah Swensen, #1)Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Comments: When I first read this one, it was a super enjoyable cozy mystery. I liked how it involved baking (the MC owns a cookie shop) and each mystery in the series ties in the murder with a different baked good. I really enjoyed this series up until a certain point where the love triangle starting driving me nuts because it wasn’t going anywhere. I’m still debating whether or not to continue it at some point in time because the mysteries really were a lot of fun!



Beauty to Die For – Kim Alexis, Mindy Starns Clark

Completed: DNF – gave up on 10/1/12
Source: ARC from Netgalley

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Book Synopsis:  Juliette Taylor walked away from her career as a supermodel twenty-five years ago. Now approaching fifty – an emotionally complex milestone — she co-owns a beauty supply company that makes skincare products for salons and spas. Her niche is pampering Christian women who usually spend more time caring for others than for themselves under the slogan:Isn’t it time someone took care of YOU for a change? When Juliette arrives at the Palm Grotto Spa to host a spiritual retreat, she runs into an old modeling colleague, Raven, who had always been disliked in the industry for many reasons. She isn’t there for the retreat; in fact, her presence at the spa is somewhat mysterious.Not long after Raven makes a cryptic threat to Juliette, the unsympathetic back-then beauty is found dead, poisoned by something in the green clay of a chai soy wrap. The following morning, a banner for the retreat has been unceremoniously altered:It’s your turn to be nurtured, to be restored . . . to be murdered.Suspicion is directed at Juliette who has history with Raven and certainly knows how to use beauty products. But for murder?! Now she must find the real killer before the police really take care of her. (Courtesy of GoodReads.com)

Breaking It Down Further: Juliette walked away from the supermodel life years ago, and she thought with no regrets. When her former nemesis Raven shows up at the Palm Grotto Spa the same weekend Juliette is holding a seminar and winds up supposedly murdered, Juliette feels obligated to look into her untimely death. Even though no one was a fan of Raven’s personality, why would someone murder her? And was she even the intended target?

First off, there had been any mention of this being a somewhat Christian fiction book in the description when I first requested it, I wouldn’t have bothered. No offense whatsoever to Christian fiction – I’m just not religious at all and I hate any form of preaching – no matter the religion it’s regarding – seeping into my books. It’s totally not my style and I just don’t enjoy religious undertones in the books that I read. And this book was WAY too preachy for me. I can appreciate a religious or spiritual character, but it was too prominent in the book and it really, really turned me off from reading what should have been a fun and light mystery.

Now let’s talk about the mystery: I wasn’t interested at all. Hell, Raven was a mean old diva! No one liked her. I don’t know if it was the set up or how the story was unfolding, but I wasn’t interested in the mystery at all. I kept forcing myself to read on but truthfully, I found myself realizing that I didn’t care who the murderer was or how it ended. I was just bored and the book had no draw for me.

As far as the love story goes, I was a little less than halfway through the book and the two main characters hadn’t even met up yet. They had met once long ago (in a cheesy, cheesy backstory) and it was love at first sight. Then we wait for them to finally see each other again…. But halfway through the book we hadn’t even gotten there.

I just got tired of waiting for anything interesting to happen and I really had no desire to pick this one back up again. After four months of reading and three months of no progress, I just decided to finally give up and move on to something I could enjoy.

Juliette: Somewhat drab, clearly religious, and a little boring for a supermodel. She was too nice. Lady detectives have to have some mean in them and some kill instinct (so to speak) to hunt down these killers! Being nice will never catch your bad guy and that’s no fun to read either.

To be frank, it’s been so long that I hardly remember any of the other characters’ names. *shrugs*

AdditionRatingDNF1

Size 12 and Ready to Rock (Heather Wells #4) – Meg Cabot

Size 12 and Ready to Rock (Heather Wells #4) – Meg CabotTitle: Size 12 and Ready to Rock (Heather Wells #4) by Meg Cabot
Publishing Info: July 10, 2012 by HarperCollins
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Cozy Mystery, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: July 30, 2012
Related Posts: The Bride Wore Size 12 (Heather Wells #5), The Princess Diaries (The Princess Diaries #1)

    Summer break . . . and the livin' ain't easy!
   Just because the students at New York College have flown the coop doesn't mean assistant residence hall director Heather Wells can relax. Fischer Hall is busier than ever, filled with squealing thirteen- and fourteen-year-old girls attending the first ever Tania Trace Teen Rock Camp, hosted by pop sensation Tania Trace herself—who just happens to be newly married to Heather's ex-boyfriend, heartthrob Jordan Cartwright. But the real headache begins when the producer of a reality TV show starring Tania winds up dead . . . and it's clear that the star was the intended victim.
Grant Cartwright, head of Cartwright Records, wants to keep his daughter-in-law (and his highest-earning performer) alive. So he hires his oldest son, black sheep of the family and private investigator Cooper Cartwright—who just happens to be Heather's new fiancé. Heather should leave the detecting to Cooper. But with a dorm full of hysterical mini-divas-in-training, she can't help but get involved. And after Tania shares a really shocking secret with her, this reality suddenly becomes more dangerously real than anyone ever anticipated.

Breaking It Down Further: After the last incident in the “death dorm” (oops, not supposed to use that name) resident director Heather Wells is keeping an eye on a few students spending the summer break at New York College as well. Things start to get dangerous again when her ex-boyfriend Jordan’s new and pregnant wife is shaken up after a random shooting that hits her bodyguard. Heather and new (but secret) fiancé Cooper are on the case, suspecting this was no random shooting, but an attempt on the Tania’s life. When Tania no longer feels safe holding her Tania Trace Teen Rock Camp at a resort in the Catskills, the events move over to the conveniently empty Fisher hall. Now Heather has to catch the crazed fan before he gets Tania or one of her many teen fans!

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Oh, Meg. How I’ve missed you! That stint with INSATIABLE was just so sub-par after my love for Heather Wells, and I’m so thankful you brought her back! Anyone who’s been reading this blog the past few months knows my love for the Heather Wells series and I’m SO GLAD I was not disappointed with the newest addition!

Right off the bat, we get into the playful banter back and forth between Heather and Cooper, which is one of the things I loved to much about the series to start with. Sarcasm, silly jokes, teasing – It sounds silly, but those are my favorite parts of a relationship sometimes! Gotta have some playfulness. Heather and Cooper just make such a great couple and I love that they’re getting married now! And thank goodness we don’t have any cold feet in this book because frankly, I’m a little annoyed with the cold feet storyline! Please don’t take it there in the next one!

I felt like this one wasn’t so much of a mystery as the other books were. We weren’t really taken deep into an investigations until closer to the end of the book, but we did get little secret reveals along the way. I really liked that we got to know more about Tania and Jordan, specifically Tania’s background since this book primarily focuses on her (well, after Heather & Cooper, of course). It was nice to get to know her more as a person instead of the girl with whom Jordan cheated and ended up marrying.

I just really enjoyed it all around. I always enjoy a good Heather Wells book and I’m so glad this one kept it going for me. No complaints here!

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 5/5 stars
Aw hell, it deserves 5 stars. It’s just so dang enjoyable!

QUOTES

  • p 7: “‘It’s Pabst Blue Ribbon,’ Gavin says, looking confused. ‘I thought cool girl singer-songwriters were supposed to love the PBR.'”
  • p 271: “I’ve come to the conclusion that aside from the Nazis, the Taliban, and possibly the honey badger, there’s no one on the planet more merciless than a teenage girl once she’s decided she dislikes you.”
  • p 320: “‘He’s a grown man, Heather,’ Cooper says. ‘Even if he doesn’t look like one in that bathrobe.’    ‘It’s a genuine samurai warrior –‘ Jordan begins to explain…”

Think Meg watches New Girl?? 🙂

Book Haul Update [2]

Book Haul update the second! I got a few nice free Kindle books that seem exciting plus a whole lot more library goodies!

From the Library:
Currently Reading:
Graceling by Kristin Chashore
To-Read:
The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Grave Mercy by R.L. LaFevers

  • Super excited for all of these! This is going to be a busy three weeks!

New Kindle Purchases:
These were all free ones!
Human by Robert Berke
If You Can’t Stand the Heat by Robin Allen
The Fallen Star by Jessica Sorensen
One Deadly Sister by Rod Hoisington
Design on a Crime by Ginny Aiken

Book Mooch:
The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
State of the Onion by Julie Hyzy
Indemnity Only by Sara Paretsky

Hooray! So excited for new books 🙂 But I get way too many…

Murder Uncorked (Wine Lover’s Mystery #1) – Michele Scott

Murder Uncorked (Wine Lover’s Mystery #1) – Michele ScottTitle: Murder Uncorked (A Wine Lover's Mystery #1) by Michele Scott
Publishing Info: October 4, 2005 by Penguin
Genres: Adult, Cozy Mystery, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: June 24, 2012

    Nikki Sands was like every other aspiring actress -- waiting tables between jobs. But Nikki had taken serving wines to heart. She knew enough to impress Napa Valley's golden boy, Derek Malveaux, who offered her a job at his vineyard. And though Nikki may have left her dreams of stardom behind, the world of wine is ripe with intrigue -- and the seeds of sleuthing are planted ...
Nikki has just set foot on Napa Valleys' rich soil when she realizes her new job may not be as safe as she thought. First off, Derek Malveaux is disconcertingly sexy. Second, his top winemaker is dead in the bushes outside Nikki's cottage. It doesn't take a connoisseur of foul play to know something's taken a terrible turn ...

Breaking It Down Further: Aspiring actress Nikki Sands meets a charming Casanova while working her regular gig as a waitress in a restaurant in LA. Even though his date was a total dud, Nikki impressed him with her wine knowledge and hunky Derek Malveaux offers her an open position at his vineyard in Napa Valley. When Nikki agrees, she somehow ends up with more than she bargained for. She discovers not one, but two bodies in her brief stay at the vineyard, but with foul play suspected, she stays on, taking on her own Nancy Drew role to help solve the murders. Plus it doesn’t hurt that her gracious host Derek is easy on the eyes as well as polite. Now Nikki just has to try to solve the murders without getting herself hurt – or worse – becoming the final victim of the killer on the loose.

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Just a warning! This book was read and reviewed while drinking wine. Please take this into account and… Sorry for any spelling errors! 🙂

A quick and cute little cozy mystery. I finished within a matter of hours and (maybe it’s the wine talking), it was quite enjoyable and entertaining.

Nikki was an easily relatable character. Granted, I don’t know much about LA or California, but as a Tennessee transplant, she comes from much less glamorous roots (to sum up her words (and more harsh words of the Napa Valley residents)), she keeps it real and is far from snooty.

The mystery was nice. I was actually surprised at the way things all turned out in the end. Throughout the book I kind of realized that the guy who was set up for the fall was set up (no spoiler — that one’s obvious), so I was right there along with Nikki trying to figure out who was really behind the killings. With a greedy family, we see that all of Derek’s relatives may have a motive or two, so it’s down to Nikki’s amateur detective work to figure it out. It was actually quite interesting to see how it all came together in the end, and sometimes I really get impressed with these cozies to see the creativity behind it and how they put these mysteries together. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Even with cozy mysteries which I find to be a lot less serious, I could never come up with the twisting plots involved to make a real puzzler out of things!

I liked the growing relationship between Nikki and Derek. Derek seems like a real stand-up guy and there are times I really questioned if he was the killer (is he?) which was a nice set up by the author. I think it’s always good when the author really makes you question who the good guys are when you think it should be so black and white. Anyway, it was really fun and a super quick read. Looking forward to more, which is always good!

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4/5 stars
Maybe 3.75? I felt it was just lacking a little something — Maybe more romance? Maybe more intrigue? But I like to do only in half points, so I’ll round up to 4!

Top Ten Tuesday – June 19, 2012: Top Ten Books on my Summer TBR list

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the wonderful blog at The Broke and the Bookish, is Top Ten Books on my Summer TBR list.

Let me tell you, my TBR list is HUGE. But since we’re all pretty much obsessed with books here as bloggers, I’m sure the same goes for almost everyone! I’m really excited about this list though because I get to narrow it down and almost kind of make a goal list for myself. I’m sticking to ONLY books that I have in my possession right now. If I made up a list of books I want to read but don’t have yet, it would literally be hundreds of books! So here we go:

1. Struck by Jennifer Bosworth: I guess this one is cheating since I’m already two thirds done, but to be fair, it was already summer when I started it so I’m still counting it! She was one of the ladies I was fortunate enough to meet on the Fierce Reads tour and it made me all the more excited to read her book. Always extremely interested to hear what the author has to say about the book as well as the creative process behind the writing!

2. Midnight In Death (In Death #7.5) by JD Robb: The “In Death” series quickly became one of my favorites. This is an “in between the books” short story, but I’m determined to read them all in order! Should be a very quick read since it’s not a full novel, but I bet it’ll still be jam packed full of action.

3. Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne: Emmy was another one of the awesome ladies on the Fierce Reads tour and she was so much fun to hear from! I had seen some reviews around before I actually picked up her book and when I read about the Fierce Reads tour and I had an opportunity to meet her, I couldn’t pass it up! Very excited to read it.

4. Scorch Trials (Maze Runner #2) by James Dashner: When I read the Maze Trials last year (last year? I think… Regardless…) I wasn’t too sure about it when I started. Then there came a certain point where I was racing through to see how this book ended! Somehow I got hooked. I’ve been anticipating picking up the sequel to continue on in this story, but so far haven’t actually made it along to starting it, so hoping to do that this summer!

5. Shades of Grey (Shades of Grey #1) by Jasper Fforde: NO, this is not Fifty Shades of Grey (I refuse to read it). This Shades of Grey is a fantasy/dystopia/post-apocalyptic novel where the ability to see different spectrums of color determines your social standing. I came across this in my suggestions from GoodReads and thought it sounded really interesting! I just got the book from Book Mooch the other day and I’m pretty excited about reading it.

6. Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews: First off, summer is the in the title. So it only makes sense. It’s about three best friends who all went to Catholic grade school together and now find themselves at a crossroads in their 30s. Since I happen to have spent 10 years in Catholic grade school and I happen to have two best friends who I still talk to from that school, this book seemed like it was screaming at me to read it!

7. Glitch by Heather Anastasiu:  I have also seen reviews for this one around the blogisphere and when I saw I could request a copy for review on NetGalley, I was excited that they approved my request! Hoping to read this one within the next month or two, depending on how my book schedule goes.

8. Beauty to Die For by Kim Alexis: Another request from NetGalley – Should be a cute little cozy mystery written by former Supermodel Kim Alexis, and it looks like she uses a lot of her knowledge of the modeling world to create her characters. I always get nervous when celebrities write books, but so far so good. I just started a couple pages and haven’t had time to get much further yet.

9. Size 12 and Ready to Rock by Meg Cabot: This is coming out in July!!! This is book #4 in the Heather Wells series which has always been one of my favorite, so this is probably one of the rare times I’ll actually buy the book brand new.

10. A Killing in Antiques by Mary Moody: Another nice little cozy mystery that I think I’ll pick up soon. I got a whole bunch of cozies at the same time and I’m selecting this one as the next one to read.

On What Grounds (Coffeehouse Mystery #1) – Cleo Coyle

On What Grounds (Coffeehouse Mystery #1) – Cleo CoyleTitle: On What Grounds (Coffeehouse Mystery #1) by Cleo Coyle
Publishing Info: September 2, 2003 by Penguin
Genres: Adult, Cozy Mystery, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: June 7, 2012

    Introducing a delightful new series featuring Clare Cosi, manager of the historic Village Blend coffeehouse...
Clare arrives at work to discover the assistant manager dead in the back of the store, coffee grounds strewn everywhere. Two detectives investigate. But when they find no sign of forced entry or foul play, they deem it an accident. Still, Clare is not convinced. And after the police leave, Clare can't help wondering...If this was an act of murder, is she in danger?

Breaking It Down Further: Clare Cosi, having just moved back to New York from the suburbs in New Jersey, has a rough start resuming co-ownership of the historical coffeehouse Village Blend when her assistant manager is found near dead after a spill down the service stairs in the shop. Although the police have no suspicion of foul play, Clare can’t help but stick to her gut feeling that Annabelle was pushed and didn’t just fall. Along with dealing from complications of her ex-husband back in town and her scheming mother-in-law to get them back together, Clare sets off to solve the mystery of Annabelle’s “accident” and set things right.

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This was a pretty enjoyable read. Once I got a good block of time, I really breezed through it. I was extremely interested in how the mystery was going to play out and what the real cause of her fall down the stairs was. I really liked Clare’s character a lot — She seemed really down-to-earth and completely normal. Of course she has some skeletons in her closet like her ex-husband Matteo (Matt), who becomes a big part of the story. I loved the relationship with her mother-in-law known as “Madame”. They still have a great friendship and Madame still sees Clare as a daughter-in-law, and a very trustworthy one at that when she has Clare start running the Village Blend again.

I liked the love triangle (or set up for one) between Clare, Matt, and Lt Quinn — Madame is still trying to get Clare and Matt back together, even after they’ve been officially divorced for years — and Clare starts to formulate a little crush on Lt Quinn when he starts on the case. I’m really glad these relationships weren’t developed in this story… There’s a lot of opportunity now to develop the relationship (whichever one they choose to go with) in the future books.

What I didn’t like was the over-explanation of coffee. I know that this takes place in a coffeehouse and that’s Clare job, life, and passion, but I felt like it interfered with the story quite a bit at times. I know a lot of books include recipes in the back; for example, in the case of the Hannah Swensen books I’ve read, they’re interspersed, but blocked off as specifically recipes in between chapters. In ON WHAT GROUNDS, Clare was narrating how to make a latte, what a real espresso is, etc right in the middle of the action and the dialogue. It was pretty distracting to me… I either wasn’t interested half the time because I won’t need to use these coffee recipes or I already know the difference between coffee/espresso/latte/cappuccino, etc are, but mostly because it just cut right in the middle of everything I was interesting in reading. Maybe for some people it’s interesting information to make the book richer, but I just didn’t want it to be in the meat of the action, that’s all!

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4/5 stars
Hmm 3.5 or 4 stars? I can’t decide. I think closer to 4, but I don’t want to go so far as 3.75! I am really interested in future stories though, so I’ll go on the higher side.

Delicious and Suspicious (Memphis BBQ #1) – Riley Adams

Delicious and Suspicious (Memphis BBQ #1) – Riley AdamsTitle: Delicious and Suspicious (A Memphis BBQ Mystery #1) by Riley Adams
Publishing Info: July 6, 2010 by Penguin
Genres: Adult, Cozy Mystery, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: May 27th, 2012

    Welcome to Aunt Pat's barbecue restaurant, which serves up Memphis fun with a side order of murder.
Named in honor of Lulu Taylor's great aunt, Aunt Pat's family-run Memphis restaurant is known for its ribs and spicy cornbread. But now the Taylor family will be known for murder...
Rebecca Adrian came to Memphis to suss out the best local BBQ for a prominent Cooking Channel Show. Trouble is, a mystery ingredient has killed her-and now all fingers are pointing to Aunt Pat's restaurant. Horrified that her family is being accused of murder, Lulu fires up her investigative skills to solve the crime before someone else gets skewered.

Breaking It Down Further: Lulu Tayor and her family run the BBQ joint Aunt Pat’s, and the whole family is pitching in when food critic Rebecca Adrian comes to visit to assess whether Aunt Pat’s is good enough for a TV show on the Cooking Channel. Despite her rudeness, Lulu and the gang try to treat Rebecca with some southern hospitality until it seems karma got the best of her when Rebecca winds up poisoned back at her hotel. Lulu steps up to the plate to solve the mystery of the murder to keep her family’s and friends’ names out of trouble and to save the good name of Aunt Pat’s restaurant.

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This was a pretty quick read and mostly enjoyable. It didn’t knock me off my feet or leave me pleasantly surprised like a few cozies that I’ve read recently. I think I go into most of these expecting it to be average and I think this one came out just above my expectations. I guess what it really came down to was that I didn’t really relate to many of the characters. I didn’t connect with Lulu because once they made the comparison of her competing with Paula Deen, that was how I pictured her for the rest of the novel, despite her accurate description. I think on some level, as much as I don’t like to say that age is a factor to how I relate to characters, it still is and I think that affected me a little bit. But there was also the factor that I didn’t really connect with anyone else in the book either. I never really felt like her children played a role as far as a personality presense goes (although a few fingers were pointed at them, bringing them in the spotlight a bit more). I actually really enjoyed the presense of the Graces who are a group of docents at Graceland. I liked the mix of ladies that ended up in their group, and it was nice to see the different personalities all pulled together just because they were Elvis fanatics. It brought a lot of color and a lot of comedy into the book. And weirdly enough, I really liked the prominence of the granddaughters Ella Beth and Coco. Ella Beth is quite a sharp little girl and it kind of reminded me how I was when I was a kid in a way.

As for the mystery, I was kept guessing until the end. A lot of fingers were pointed here and there and just when I thought it was one person, a new twist was revealed. It wasn’t a super complicated plot, but I still had a lot of fun with it and I must have liked it well enough to finish it so quickly!

There are also recipes for some of the BBQ items in the back — Even though we didn’t follow the recipe, we did get inspired to make some ribs last night. Yum!!

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Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Close to 4 stars, but I think just below it. It surpassed average by just a bit, but still to the point where I’d recommend it to others to read. I think it’s a fun one.

Town in a Blueberry Jam (Candy Holliday #1) – B.B. Haywood

Town in a Blueberry Jam (Candy Holliday #1) – B.B. HaywoodTitle: Town in a Blueberry Jam (A Candy Holliday Mystery #1) by B.B. Haywood
Publishing Info: February 2, 2010 by Penguin
Genres: Adult, Cozy Mystery, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: May 19, 2012

In the seaside village of Cape Willington, Maine, Candy Holliday has an idyllic life tending to the Blueberry Acres farm she runs with her father. But, when an aging playboy and the newly crowned Blueberry Queen are killed, Candy investigates to clear the name of a local handyman. And as she sorts through the town's juicy secrets, things start to get sticky indeed...

Breaking It Down Further: Small town Cape Willington, Maine is famous for its blueberries… And is starting to get famous for its murders. Starting with the suspicious death of town legend (professional swimmer) and playboy Jock Larson and following up with town gossip columnist and overall nuisance Sapphire Vine, rumors and accusations begin to fly. When local handyman Ray is accused and arrested of Sapphire’s murder, our girl Candy Holliday just knows he’s innocent – One thing leads to another and she’s on an unplanned but unstoppable mission to prove Ray’s innocence and free him from police captivity. When Candy starts unearthing all of the secrets that Sapphire had been holding, she begins to put the puzzle together about the killer… and put her life in jeopardy.

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You know, I really enjoyed this little story. It’s the first book I’ve read that’s set in Maine (a place I so desperately want to visit — Heard it’s just gorgeous there!) and despite some super cheesy names like Candy Holliday (nicknamed ‘pumpkin’ by her dad – both names because she was born on Halloween), Sapphire Vine, and Jonathan “Jock” Larson (why do they always have cheesy names in these cozy mysteries? If I weren’t so sucked in to these kinds of books, I might actually be really annoyed!), I thought this book was a lot of fun! I really liked Candy’s character a lot. We didn’t really get too into her past, but we do know that she gave up her old life after many hardships and came to live with her dad “Doc” Holliday (another name… sheesh, guys) on the blueberry farm in SE Maine. I really liked her switch from business exec to blueberry farmer. Unlike a couple other cozies who have tried to make this transition, Candy has already fully come over to the rural side of life and we weren’t bothered by the awkwardness of having her feel like an outsider or someone who hasn’t found her place. Instead, it was quite natural to be in the rural Maine setting and I found the town and other characters in the town quite pleasant!
That being said, I will say that I’m getting a little tired of so many cozies using a “slow” character (mentally) as a common scapegoat for a crime. It’s happened in quite a few cozies that I’ve read recently (maybe it’s just the order I’ve happened to choose to read them in), but the reoccurrence among authors is getting a little old! Ray the handyman is the “slow” character in this book and of course gets blamed for a murder he didn’t commit, and this spurs on Candy’s investigation. I just found that story line a bit tiresome.

Other than that, I really did enjoy the mystery. I had guessed a couple of smaller puzzles that had come up throughout the book, but as for who the killer was, I was actually pretty surprised in the end. Glad they didn’t go for something too easy!

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4/5 stars
I liked it! It was a cute story, I really enjoyed Candy as the protagonist, and I certainly find myself looking forward to reading the next adventure.