buttoned up bowled over


Last night I read these two cozies, Buttoned up is book 4 in Kylie Logan’s A Button Box Mystery series and Bowled Over is book 2 in Victoria Hamilton’s A Vintage Kitchen Mystery series.

The Button Box Mysteries are a fun series that took a darker turn in this outing, incorporating elements of voodoo and black magic and I quite enjoyed it.  As in many cozy mysteries, you do have to practice some suspension of disbelief in Josie’s involvement in the mystery but it did not hamper my enjoyment.  There were plenty of clues sprinkled throughout and I was able to solve the mystery about half way through but wasn’t 100 percent sure I was correct.  The romantic element of the book has some twists and turns in it as well.  Unlike many other cozies, this series does not have a large cast of  quirky recurring secondary characters, however Nev and Stan are both in this book.  This is definitely a series that I will continue to read.

I just recently started the Vintage Kitchen Mystery series with A Deadly Grind, which I enjoyed so much that I went out and bought this one right away.  I really like the protagonist in this series, Jaymie Leighton.  She is a very active sleuth, following up on leads and investigating connections, not just falling into solving the mystery.  In this book, more of Jaymie’s background is revealed and the setting is developed further, a small town on the Canadian-US border.  Unlike the Button Box series, there are many recurring characters which are handled well, they add color but don’t detract from the plot. The theme, all things vintage and kitchen, is fun and adds a lighthearted element to the mystery without overwhelming it.  Another series that I will continue to read! Freezer I’ll Shoot is the next book.

#24hourreadathon – Working Stiff, Murder Uncorked, Carbs & Cadavers

uncorked carbs murder uncorked

Three more cozy mysteries that I finished last night and early this morning.  I picked up all three of them at my independent local book seller, Booktrader of Hamilton.  I am sort of participating in the 24 hour readathon hosted by Brianna’s Bookish Confessions.  I jumped in last minute and just grabbed a pile off of my TBR stack.


I had read a wine oriented cozy a while ago and I picked this one:  Murder Uncorked up because I thought that it was in the same series, but I don’t think so.  This was one of those OK reads, difficult to write about because everything was okay.  I did enjoy the information about  food and wine pairing, but I didn’t really “get” the protagonist or the romantic lead.  Sometimes I wasn’t sure if their behavior was supposed to be comedic, as in romantic comedy??  This book did read more like a romance than a mystery.  I am not sure if I would read another in the series.

I had wanted to read Working Stiff for a while, it was recommended highly on a couple of cozy mystery boards and blogs.  This was the first in a series and as usual there was time spent drawing the characters, the relationships and the settings in preparation for the rest of the series.  I liked this one enough that I will definitely try another in the series.  You do need to suspend your belief to a certain extent over the whole, “I was an O.R. nurse and I quit with no notice when I caught my surgeon husband with the HEAD nurse and got hired to be an Deputy Coroner with no forensic training just because I know the Coroner”… ok.

My favorite of the three by far was Carbs & Cadavers.  Loved Professor Henry James and his Flab Five crew.  The book was well written and the characters were fun and interesting (no stereotypes here).   The mystery was well crafted and had a nice twist near to the end.  There is a slight hint of  romance, but nothing that overwhelms the mystery.  I do like my mysteries with some romance, but not at the expense of everything else.  The supper club theme was fun and I look forward to seeing how it continues.  I didn’t find out until I was done that J.B. Stanley is another pseudonym for Ellery Adams, whose Charmed Pie Shoppe mysteries I like.


shoe done it by Grace Carroll

Last night I couldn’t sleep so I read shoe done it by Grace Carroll instead.

The writing in itself was fine, but the mystery or at least the villain was obvious (at least to me) and the sense of place seemed off.   My  main issue was that the characters weren’t really that likable.  Grasping, shallow fashionistas, not really anyone I could relate to and I do like clothes and fashion.  I enjoy other fashion based cozies, such as Meg London’s Sweet Nothing’s Lingerie series, Annette Blair’s Vintage Magic Series and the Ellen Byerrum’s Crime of Fashion series, so it was definitely not the theme was the issue.

I was looking forward to this one for a while so it was disappointing that it didn’t work for me.

Liver Let Die & Thyme Out

 I picked up this book today and read it mainly because I had accidentally bought the second book in the series and didn’t realize it until I went to read it.  Luckily my second hand bookstore had this one, so I was able to get it.

Fun, quick read with a food related theme.  The protagonist, Jordan, is covering a food column in a small local paper while the regular writer recovers from an accident.  The story was fun and the mystery had lots of twists and turns.  The included recipes are okay, but not really anything I would make.  The theme was interesting, but I did have one issue with it.  Jordan is a total non-foodie who got roped into the food column, hence the series name A Clueless Cook Mystery.  She starts completing her column by presenting other people’s recipes as her own…hmmm isn’t that a problem??  Maybe it is just me.

Other than that I enjoyed the characters and the mystery.  I will definitely read the second one since I already have it, Beef Stolen-Off.

The second book I read today was Katie Fforde’s Thyme Out .  I will have to say that as far as I am concerned Katie Fforde can do no wrong.  I love her books and read as many as I can find here in the US.

The heroine, Perdita, is a plucky gardener making a living, barely, through her own hard work.  This is a typical Katie Fforde protagonist, women who get on with life, not necessarily glamorous or wealthy but not victims either and that is what I like about them.

Perdita’s ex-husband unexpectedly reappears in her life and that drives the plot along with a family crisis.  I don’t want to say much more.  There is the all important happily ever after at the end.

Anyone who loves romances, not the young adult kind that all seem to revolve around teens, but one with real adults will enjoy this book.


A Deadly Grind by Victoria Hamilton



Yesterday I picked up a few cozies with some of my Christmas money and I read this one last night.

I really liked the writing style of this book!  Well written dialogue and a well crafted mystery plot with red herrings all the way up the end.

The main character is Jaymie Leighton, a complicated woman, who yearns for a simpler time, hence her interest in things vintage, particularly homemaking or kitchen related.  She is a great character, not a stereotype at all and on top of that I was able to relate to her.  The theme of all things vintage kitchen was charming as well.

Highly recommended cozy. I will definitely be continuing this series!


An Appetite for Murder by Lucy Burdette


Spent a lovely afternoon window shopping, then had lunch with a couple generous glasses of sangria, and then finally settled down and read An Appetite for Murder.  This cozy has a food related theme but this time the sleuth is a wanna be food critic, Haley Snow.

Haley becomes embroiled in the murder when the police suspect her in the death of her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend.  Haley investigates as no one else seems inclined to do much investigating now that the fingers are pointed firmly at her.  Along with investigating the murder, Haley is also competing for a coveted food critic job in a new local magazine.  The character was well developed and I love that she was from Jersey, where I live now.  There is a varied cast of supporting characters, who will probably continue to be featured in the series.

The mystery was interesting and although I knew one piece before the reveal, I didn’t figure it all out.  I liked the twists and turns and the local color in the story.  Very good start to a series.  I will definitely read more.

Merry Christmas!!

Hope everyone is having a Merry Christmas and enjoying themselves!  My oldest daughter leaves to stay with family in England tonight (Christmas flights were pretty cheap) and so we are sort of rushing through our Christmas day.

Food today will be all appetizers – to accommodate the flurry of packing and last minute laundry.

  • Drunken Devils on Horseback
  • Quiche Lorraine
  • Chips and Dip
  • Spinach Artichoke Dip 
  • Pate
  • Cheese & Crackers
  • Fruit bowl
  • Endive with Creme Fraiche and Caviar

My daughters each bought me perfect presents, one bought me a Fitbit that I had been coveting and the other bought me a mug from Starbucks that entitles me to free drinks for all of January <3.  Awesome!



Christmas Cooking

Getting ready for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day cooking. One daughter works both days and the other is leaving for Europe Christmas night so all the cooking (and eating) has to fit in around those schedules.

Christmas Eve (sit down dinner)

  • Ginger Ham from Nigella: recipe found here.
  • Mashed potatoes and country gravy
  • Sweet Potato Spoon Custard from Spoonbread and Strawberry Wine cookbook by the Darden Sisters. (My copy is so old and so well used it is actually in pieces and I have to keep it in a ziploc bag)
  • Oven roasted parsnips
  • Brussels and Chestnuts:  recipe from here.  (First time making this at the request of my daughter.  She had it in France and really liked it.)
  • Saveur retake on the green bean casserole: recipe found here. (a family favorite from the Saveur cookbook)
  • Fresh Pineapple
  • Parker Rolls (dough made in the bread machine)
  • Buttermilk Biscuits (trying Alton Brown’s this year)
  • Desserts:  Jack Daniels  Cake – adapted from Maida Heatter’s The Original Kentucky Whiskey Cake; Old-fashioned Coconut Cake from Maida Heatter; Jammy Tarts; Christmas cookies

I hope everyone is enjoying their holidays and time with their friends and family!



Coming Clean by Sue Margolis


I have read other books by Sue Margolis and enjoyed them, so when I saw this one I picked it up.

This was a quick chick lit read for me.  What really stood out was the realistic portrayal of a marital breakup.  In most of these type books the divorce is predicated by some great betrayal, whether it be adultery, theft, or some other deceit, but in real life most people that I know who divorced were just cases like this, people growing apart over time.  The more “apart” people feel, the less inclined they are to forgive their partner’s bad habits or faults (which is basically what happened in the story). I have had more than one friend say that their marriage turned into just a “roommate” type relationship.  I also felt that the financial situation was more realistic than in the average chick lit/women’s fiction divorce story.

I admire the writing and the character development, but that being said there was something missing.  Perhaps the story was so close to real life that it seemed a little mundane?  Not really certain, however overall a good but not great read.


Death Day Party by Paula Carter


I picked this up at my independent bookseller after reading the first in the series, Leading an Elegant Death.

This outing in the series didn’t work as well as the first book for me.  This book used a classic plot device, the isolated house in the country, a storm, a bridge to the house washed out, and from then on it “And Then There Were None” territory.  This book was written in 1999 but it came across as a much earlier time and yet it was obviously supposed to be set currently. Although I have read and enjoyed mysteries with this “isolated country house” plot device, it just didn’t ring quite true in this case.

I still enjoyed the protagonists, although Hillary is becoming progressively sillier.  I think that I would have enjoyed another mystery set in the town so that Hillary and Jane would interact more with recurring characters, rather than introduce an entirely new large cast of characters.

I will read the third and last book in the series if I come across it because I did enjoy the first book quite a bit.