Tag Archives: Cozy Mystery

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!

Midnight In Death (In Death #7.5) – JD Robb

Midnight In Death (In Death #7.5) – JD RobbTitle: Midnight In Death (In Death #7.5) by J.D. Robb
Publishing Info: September 27, 2005 by Penguin
Genres: Adult, Cozy Mystery, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: June 20, 2012
Related Posts: Vengeance in Death (In Death #6), Holiday in Death (In Death #7), Conspiracy In Death (In Death #8), Loyalty In Death (In Death #9)

    The number-one New York Times bestselling In Death series explodes with intrigue, passion, and suspense.  Now, Nora Roberts, writing as J.D. Robb, propels you into the darkest night of Lieutenant Eve Dallas's life—when a killer comes to call...
Eve's name has made a Christmas list, but it's not for being naughty or nice.  It's for putting a serial killer behind bars.  Now the escaped madman has her in his sights.  With her husband, Roarke, at her side, Eve must stop the man from exacting his bloody vengeance—or die trying...
 

Breaking It Down Further: Right after the grisly Christmas-related murders (See HOLIDAY IN DEATH, book #7), Eve Dallas is brought right back onto the scene when a notorious NYC judge appears dead in the heart of the city. Attached to his mangled body is a note from David Palmer, a nemesis Dallas and a team put away for life three years ago. Having escaped from prison, Dallas must round up Palmer and put a stop to his final plan – to pick off and eliminate everyone involved in his sentence, with Eve being the prize at the end of his series of killings.

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This was a super quick read since it’s a novella in between the full books. It obviously left me wanting more because I can never have enough of this series!

It was a very interesting twist that this time Dallas and her team knew who the killer was, knew him personally having studied him to get him behind bars the first time around, and now they just need to find a way to catch him. Eve soon realizes it’s not that easy, and Palmer starts picking off her friends and former allies one by one until he gets to her as the grand finale.

It surely was a thrilling little story! We jumped right into the action and clearly not having to figure out who the suspect was seemed to be a way to really cut down on time. Regardless of length, it was still very interesting to read and I always love learning more about the characters and observing more of their interactions. Anyone who hasn’t read the series can still probably read this since they really try not to put too much back story in there (I’m guessing since some readers tend to skip these “in-betweeners”).

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4/5 stars
Quite interesting, but of course I felt like it was a bit lacking since it was so short!

Death in a Wine Dark Sea – Lisa King

Death in a Wine Dark Sea – Lisa KingTitle: Death in a Wine Dark Sea by Lisa King
Publishing Info: June 20, 2012 by The Permanent Press
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: June 16, 2012

    Though she despises the groom, Jean Applequist boards an elegant yacht in San Francisco Bay for the wedding of her good friend Diane and wealthy real estate developer Martin Wingo. But things go terribly wrong: the evening ends in tragedy, not celebration when, after exchanging vows, Wingo disappears into the bay.
Diane asks Jean to investigate Martin's murder out of fear that the police will uncover too many of his secrets. Jean agrees, but discovers it's not easy to find out who killed a blackmailer and womanizer. The list of potential suspects is long. When Jean joins forces with the young and geeky Zeppo, Martin's former assistant who is armed with the details of MArtin's victims elicits strong reactions - from fear to rage to attempted murder - that endanger them both, and force Jean to fight for her life - twice.

Breaking It Down Further: When Martin Wingo is murdered on his wedding day, amateur sleuth Jean Applequist takes on the case along with Wingo’s former right hand man, geeky red-head Jay Zeppetello (“Zeppo”). As the best friend of the newly widowed Diane Wingo, Jean is determined to solve the case of Martin’s murder and protect the names of her friends before they all become suspects. Along the way, Jean gets in a little too over her head and soon she has to watch her back at all times for fear that Martin’s former enemies know that she’s the one digging up their secrets.

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Well, it was a good mystery — There was a plethora of suspects, all with good motives, and I never was able to tack down who the real culprit was until the reveal. It all came together in the end, but I’m still not sure I like the way it was solved because it seemed a bit out of character, in my opinion. I guess that is one way to keep us guessing though!

I’m not sure what it was — maybe not enough action in the first half of the book? — but it wasn’t until about halfway in that I really got interested and started flipping the pages quickly. I can tell when I’m finally getting excited about what’s happening because I start skipping over details to find out what happened, and that didn’t really happen until closer to the end of the book.

The big thing for me was that I didn’t really like the characters. Jean is a very independent woman in the sense that she doesn’t need any man to be her support. She’s got great self-esteem and a killer curvy body, so she’s used to advances from men and she knows how to get what she wants out of them. What I didn’t like is that Jean sort of seemed like the stereotypical sexed-up male role. I didn’t like that if Jean’s character were a male, I think most people would really dislike him. She’s not into dating or marriage, doesn’t want to have children, blows off her boyfriend, cheats on her boyfriend, sleeps with whoever she wants to (frequently without consequences), and since she’s a woman, it’s “empowering”. There was a reference to how she’s cheated on Peter multiple times and he forgave her for that but still wanted to be with her. Just my personal opinion, but I can’t stand a habitual cheater and it really lowered my opinion of Jean. I liked her confidence and that she was empowered by her sexuality, but overall, just didn’t agree with a lot of her choices.

Then we got thrown into the weirdest romance I could have pulled out of this book – Jean and Zeppo start hooking up and somehow fit together great. I just didn’t see any kind of chemistry between them — With Jean being a prematurely gray-haired, curvy and full bodied 32-year-old and Zeppo being a six foot five, red-headed geek with thick glasses and braces… What!? It just totally threw me off and I was weirded out by it. If anyone’s a Survivor fan (which I happen to be), even though the height and body type was off, I kept picturing Cochran (this guy). So yeah. That didn’t work out well in my mind. Also, too many of the main characters seemed like “characters” — Too many attributes to make them stand out when their personalities should come through. I saw another review out there that said there were too many stereotypical characters and I kind of have to agree.

With the exception of a slow start for me, the mystery really started to pick and and I started to change my mind about the book a little bit. I had a rating in mind when I first started but then I started to get more interested in the book and it really changed my opinion. The only thing about the writing that really bothered me was a bit of repetition. The thing that I remember most is although it’s mentioned a couple times throughout the novel, it was overkill in the first couple of chapters that Jean knows about crimes and detective work because she reads mysteries. That was her answer to a lot of her knowledge and I just felt like it was one mention right after the other and it really stuck in my mind.

I just realized the review sounds pretty harsh and I’m not trying to beat up this book… There were a lot of things that really stuck out that kind of put a frown on my face. I’m really glad it picked up in the end and that the mystery really was a mystery until the reveal.

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3.5/5 stars
It started off as a 3 and plateaued for a while, but then the mystery brought it back up to 3.5 for me

30 Days of Books: Day 8

Day number 8 of the “30 Days of Books” challenge… You know the drill, now it’s time to spill! Okay, that was lame. I won’t say things like that anymore!!

30 Days of Books: Day #8

Least favorite plot device employed by way too many books you actually enjoyed otherwise…

Okay, I guess it’s not really a “plot device” so to speak, but I hate it when I read books where it seems like the author is (what I believe is) trying too hard. There are many ways that I’ve seen this happen in books and it’s just such a shame because it ruins a perfectly good story for me.

The one that comes to mind the most is Shatter Me by Taherh Mafi – I know there are a TON of people out there who really loved this book and thought Mafi’s prose was beautiful, expressive, and creative. I, however, felt like I was reading one long poem with metaphors and similes that didn’t quite make sense and the excessive use of strikethrough was really distracting for me. I actually chose not to keep reading the book because it was so distracting and took away from a plot I was actually really interested in reading.

Another book that comes to mind is Murder is Binding by Lorna Barrett – I felt like the ending was overly dramatic and it kind of came out of nowhere. Along with a weird twin story, an overly eccentric sister, and complete personality change in a male lead, it was all just too much for me. It didn’t completely ruin the story for me, but it was enough to leave me with a bad taste in my mouth.
Sometimes cozy mysteries get really carried away with some of the characters or situations because they’re supposed to be a little silly – But taking it to the extreme really ruins a good book for me! I’m expecting it to get a little goofy, but I still like stories to be believable.

I really don’t want to slander books, especially when I know other people are out there enjoying them, but those are just two examples that come to mind immediately. Oh well. Happy Friday, all!

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.

Top Ten Tuesday – June 5, 2012: Top Ten Most Unfortunate Character Names

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the wonderful blog at The Broke and the Bookish, is a TTT rewind. Yessss!! Since I’m a newcomer to TTT I am very excited about being able to pick any category from the past to revisit (or in my case, free for all for a new list – What is it about making lists that is so cathartic?) sooo…

This one is back from Tuesday November 9, 2010:
Top Ten Most Unfortunate Character Names

1. The Cast of Town in a Blueberry Jam by B.B. Haywood: I think cozy mysteries are the worst offenders (maybe neck and neck with dystopia/sci-fi) of abusing silly names. I mean, come on. Candy Holliday (she was born on Halloween *eye roll*), her father “Doc” Holliday, Sapphire Vine, and “Jock” Larson. Really? Really guys?

2. Renesme Cullen from the Twilight Saga: Okay, so we were all on board with the whole vampire pregnancy up until a certain pointand Bella’s stubbornness about it, but then she wants to name her kid Renesme? I think she’s lost it. Vampire babies make you crazy. It was a nice tribute to the moms by combining Renee and Esme, but Renesme just does not work. Even the characters in the book made fun of it! That’s gotta count for something.

3. Various characters from the Hannah Swensen series by Joanne Fluke: So Hannah’s first love interest in this book is the dentist Norman Rhodes. Norman Rhodes? Granted he’s supposed to be on the “uncool” side, but for some reason I keep thinking “Norman Bates” or just a pudgy middle-aged man with a bad come over. Then there’s other randomly odd names like Rhonda Scharf, Shawna Lee Quinn, Lynne Larchmont, and Willa Sunquist. Not terrible, but I think overdoing it a little.

4. Various characters from series by V.C. Andrews: Yes, I definitely read V.C. Andrews as a kid/teen. As as kid? Aren’t these romance novels for the most part? Yep, and my mom didn’t like that one bit, but everyone in my class was reading them and so did I. But what’s up with these names? Butterfly? Cinnamon? Rain? Ice? Honey? I don’t get it.

5. The cast of The Hunger Games series: I guess this is set in a dystopian future world where real names are out of style. It’s creative, and I actually do like a lot of the names, but they’re just off the wall: Katniss, Peeta (why not just Peter or something?), Primrose, Gale (Gail/Gayle is a girl’s name?), Cinna, Venia, Cato, Thresh, Rue, Clove, Finnick, Marvel, Glimmer… Glimmer!? Even Katniss makes fun of that one… So why use it?

6. Characters from Murder of a Small Town Honey by Denise Swanson: Three of the main characters are Skye Denison (my cousin’s dog’s name is Skye so that didn’t help), Honey Adair (why do people like the name Honey so much? It bothers me), and Mrs. Gumtree. I think I found the book less favorable because I didn’t like the names. In all honesty, it does matter!

7. Bubbles Yablonsky: There was a series featuring main character Bubbles Yablonsky (the first of which is Bubbles Unbound). I actually heard it was rather enjoyable, but I didn’t like her name so I didn’t even try to read it.

8. Zaphod Beebleprox from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Okay, I know this one is supposed to be silly, but still!

9. Dickie Orr from the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich: He’s a weasel and his name sounds like it too!

10. Jack Daniels from the Jack Daniels series by J.A. Konrath: Cute, but kind of annoying. Lots of liquor jokes and always confusion that Jack is a lady – short for Jacqueline.

30 Days of Books: Intro + Days 1 & 2

So I was checking out the updates from my fellow bloggers this morning and I came across a really cool idea that Vyki @ On The Shelf is participating with (which she got from For Those Who Live to Read), which is 30 Days of Books. Each day there is a different book-related topic or question to post about (ie. best/worst/favorite-type deals), the list of which I’m linking back to On The Shelf since she’s got them posted all nice and neat like! I know I already posted today for my Freaky Friday edition #2, but I was so excited that I wanted to start today! And since I’m going to be gone this weekend, I’ll start with days 1 & 2 and resume on Sunday.

30 Days of Books: Day #1

A book series you wish had gone on longer OR a book series you wish would just end already
I know it says “OR” but I’m going to respond to both 🙂

A series I wish had gone on longer:

Harry Potter of course! We all wish this never had to end. I know there are a few fan-written stories that take on the adventure’s of Harry’s son James AND you can read them for free on GoodReads: James Potter and the Hall of Elders’ Crossing. Has anyone read these? I’ve peeked around the reviews on GoodReads and most of them look pretty decent. Maybe it’s a way to keep the magic alive even after J.K. stops with Harry.

I was going to say the Heather Wells series by Meg Cabot – Those books were so much fun! I picked them up from my sister and they kind of brought me out of my “reading slump” in which I hadn’t been reading for a while. I had always wished there were more books to this series, but to my pleasant surprise, I found out that Size 12 and Ready to Rock is due out this July! Can’t wait!!

A series I wish would just end already: The Hannah Swensen series by Joanne Fluke.

Okay, let me explain. This is actually one of my favorite cozy mystery series… In the beginning. I loved Hannah’s little town in Minnesota where it’s always cold but the citizens are always warm. I loved Hannah always corrected her sister’s grammar (because I’m a grammar stickler as well!), and sometimes the mysteries were easy, but mostly they were real puzzlers! The reason I couldn’t take the series any more is because of the “love story” (yes, in quotes) that runs througout the novel. In the first book Hannah meets two men: Norman the dentist and Mike the dreamy cop. Hannah’s in her 30s and still single so when she starts getting the attention of these two guys, her whole family goes ga-ga for her to settle down. But in the first book (and every book thereafter), she’s constantly being pushed to pick one of those guys and marry him – But she just met both of these guys! And througout the series (I’ve finished through book 8), she continues to date both of them. And by date, I mean gets a quick kiss and occasionally hangs out. We’ve been through 8 books, both of these suckers are still hanging around for a 6th grader’s relationship, and the topic of marriage is still constantly pushed and pushed and pushed. I really liked the mysteries in these books and it all started out really fun so I do continue to recommend them. Maybe other people aren’t bothered by this like I am – Who knows. But all I know is, I’ve had enough! Until Hannah makes a commitment, I’m taking a break from the series. And as a last clarification, I guess I shouldn’t say I wish it would end – I just wish the “love triangle” aspect would end already and give the readers something to cheer about (or gripe about) as she chooses a guy!

30 Days of Books: Day #2
A book or series you wish more people were reading and talking about

Okay, I’m gonna go old school on this. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech was – no wait, IS – my all-time favorite children’s/middle grade book. I guess it’s kind of a toss up between that and The Giver by Lois Lowry, but I know I read Walk Two Moons several times as a kid and maybe I should get my hands on a copy because I’m pretty sure I’d still really enjoy it! It follows the story of Salamanca Tree Hiddle (Sal for short) as she embarks upon a road trip with her family to reunite with her mother in Idaho. Along the way, she tells the her account of Phoebe Winterbottom to entertain her grandmother. It’s a heartwarming, enlightening, and bittersweet story and it’s stuck with me ever since I was a kid. Man, I need to read this again… Here’s the link to GoodReads if you want to know more: Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech and don’t read the spoilers if you going to read the book!! Which I highly recommend that you do read it, regardless of age 🙂

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.

A Cold Day For Murder (Kate Shugak #1) – Dana Stabenow

A Cold Day For Murder (Kate Shugak #1) – Dana StabenowTitle: A Cold Day for Murder (Kate Shugak #1) by Dana Stabenow
Publishing Info: June 1, 1992 by Penguin
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: May 21, 2012

Kate Shugak returns to her roots in the far Alaskan north, after leaving the Anchorage D.A.'s office. Her deductive powers are definitely needed when a ranger disappears. Looking for clues among the Aleutian pipeliners, she begins to realize the fine line between lies and loyalties--between justice served and cold murder.

Breaking It Down Further: After leaving the DA’s office due to a near-death attack, Kate Shugak returns to the Alaskan bush in search of two missing persons: a Park ranger and Outsider Mark Miller, and the investigator they sent in after him Ken Dahl. When her old boss and former flame Jack shows up and also persuades her to help investigate, Kate must return home to Niniltna and reunite with her family in order to solve the mystery of the two missing gentlemen. Painting a vivid picture of Alaska along the way, the readers get an introduction to Kate’s world as she is forced back into the investigative world.

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I really wanted to like this book. I really did. I’ve actually been dying to go to Alaska (and hopefully realistically will next year!) so I was extremely interested in reading a mystery that took place there. I had also been introduced to this series when I won the 18th book in this series on a GoodReads giveaway (whoops, didn’t know it was the 18th when I entered…), so I came back to the first. Sadly, I will not even come close to reading the 18th.

For the first half of the book if not more, I mostly found myself confused on what was happening and who characters were. I figured out Mark Miller mostly right off, but there Jack and Ken (even still I keep forgetting his name was Ken) were introduced at the same time and although obviously Ken was the missing one, I had trouble sorting out Kate’s relationship with each man. I think I’ve got it right when I say that she brought Ken around the family a couple times and was casually seeing him before he went missing and Jack was her former boss and more serious flame from further back. I didn’t feel like a lot of that was explained well.

I almost felt for a lot of the explanations and character descriptions, I was expected to know what the picture was in the author’s head and somehow I just really got mixed up on most things. Like, we introduce you to this guy and he and Kate talk for a while, but oh wait, he’s in a wheelchair (yes, I went back and read to make sure I didn’t miss it in the first description and there was a hint at it, but how was I to know “chair” implied “wheelchair”?) . There were other characters this happened with too just with physical descriptions. Whenever I read, somehow my mind comes up with a specific picture for how each character looks and I see the book in my head as I read. If there’s a notable physical characteristic, whether it be eye color, skin color, stance, hair, height — I need to know it so I can picture the character right! I just felt so off with most of the characters that it really distracted me. I actually felt like I was left to infer a lot of things just before they were revealed. Sure, that gives me more to think about, maybe add more depth to the book, but again, that was just something that threw me off.

Also, I felt like there were a ton of descriptions not only of a picturesque view of Alaska, but also a lot of history behind it. Seeing as how I am not a fan of history (I actually actively dislike it), the lengthy descriptions of history thew me off a lot. I’ve never been a history buff because I could never connect with dates and times and names. I connect with descriptions and geography.

Overall, maybe this book just wasn’t for me! It was certainly a different type of mystery novel, and I really wasn’t keen on the mystery at all until it was all revealed until the end. Then it kind of wrapped up the book and it was really interesting in the end. It was not a place I thought they were going to go. I felt like all of the options for a suspect had been cleared until you realize what Kate had discovered and when she puts her clues together, it’s quite a shock for the reader! The end of the book I feel really redeemed the beginning for me, but still not enough to continue the series.

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Before I was done, I was going to rate it 2 stars, but the resolved mystery added a bit of “whoa” to the story that helped me enjoy it more. I think this novel was just a different style of writing that was not meant for me. I didn’t pick up on it well and found myself lost a lot of the time.