All Fudged Up by Nancy Coco & A Peach of a Murder by Livia J. Washburn

Woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep last night, so I read these two cozy mysteries.  All Fudged Up was definitely an impulse buy, I saw it in my local bookshop and just added it to the pile.  A Peach of a Murder is book one in a series that has been around a long time and I finally decided to give it a try.

All Fudged Up revolves around a young woman returning to her family owned resort to take over running it upon the death of her grandfather.  She was not unprepared because she had been planning for it for a while but her grandfather died suddenly and she had jump in feet first.  The setting is Mackinac Island and a grand old hotel and fudge shop.  As soon as she starts working to get ready for the tourist season, a dead body turns up in her hotel, putting her in the hot seat as far as local law enforcement and just the locals in general are concerned.

The character, Allie, has a lot to overcome and she handles it all admirably with the help of some loyal staff and a friend that comes to stay  and help.  I did enjoy the setting and the main characters.  The townsfolk need to be fleshed out more but I  am assuming that will occur as the series progresses.  The mystery was interesting with lots of twists and turns, it was wrapped up very quickly in the end.  There seems to be a couple possible romantic leads but nothing too much happened in this book.

This is a promising, fun series with an interesting setting and theme.

A Peach of Murder is book one in Livia J. Washburn’s A Fresh Baked Mystery Series, which now boasts nine books.  The protagonist, Phyllis, is perfecting her peach recipes for competition, when a murder occurs at the peach orchard.  Her son is a local cop and that gives her an in with inside information and leads that she wouldn’t know about otherwise.  Phyllis’s husband has died and she has turned the family home into a boarding house, mainly for retired teachers.   One is an older good friend of hers, Mattie, who is sadly showing the first signs of dementia.

The plus was the resolution of the mystery and the tie up of all the threads, exceptionally well done!   The hints were there, but subtly done.  The theme of baking/cooking contests was fun and entertaining, just seeing the petty rivalries that such events stir up.  The negative was I just didn’t find Phyllis all that exciting or likable.  She is the stereotypical school marm character and comes across as judgmental to me.  Myaybe being a teacher I am just sensitive to that portrayal of us?   I think if you like very, very  clean cozies that exemplify southern Christian values you will enjoy this more than I did.  It is well written and I said the mystery piece was handled very well.

 

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Nightmares Can Be Murder by Mary Kennedy

This is the first in a new series that has somewhat of a double theme, first the dream club but then also a vintage candy store.  The protagonist’s sister, has moved to Savannah and opened a vintage candy store after a long history of beginning enterprises and discarding them relatively quickly as failures.   Taylor comes to Savannah on a temporary basis as an attempt to save the business, thus providing some long term security for her sister.

love that this series is set in Savannah, a city where ghost stories abound.  I don’t think the premise would have worked as well in many other locations, except maybe New Orleans.  The setting is well done having recently visited Savannah myself I can picture the street where the shops are and the attempts at gentrification and expanding tourist areas.

There are interesting characters as well.  Taylor is the steady, practical business oriented sister, whilst Ali is flighty and tends to flitter from one idea to the next with no apparent plan.  The Dream Club members add some local color, particularly the elderly sisters who own the flower shop.  The “friends” from Taylor’s past add some action to the story since many of the Dream Club seem to be older women.  I do think that the characters, if they are going to be recurring will need to be fleshed out more, however this is only book one in the series.

The mystery was well done.  There were plenty of suspects and twists and turns.  I figured out the villain about the same time as Taylor so that was good.

The Dream Club theme was really intriguing and I wanted to like. it.  I just couldn’t get a sense whether the author was taking a paranormal turn and we were really to believe that one character was hopping around in others dreams or whether we were supposed to gather that it was really part manipulation and part people’s subconscious minds revealing things they had observed but maybe not consciously remembered.  I, like Taylor, go along with the second idea, however Ali is firmly in the first court.

Overall, a cute, fun cozy set in Savannah with an original theme and a well done mystery. I will read a second one when it comes out to see where the author takes the characters and the theme.

Do or Diner & Fat Cat at Large

  I finished these two cozies in the last couple days.

Do or Diner was this month’s group read at the Cozy Mystery Corner on Goodreads.  I had seen this before but hadn’t picked it up to read or even put it on my TBR list.  I am really glad it was a book club read because I enjoyed reading it, so much so that I already purchased the second book in the series.

The protagonist has purchased a family business that includes a diner as it’s mainstay.  The rest of the business is focused on summer holiday cottages.  The diner specializes in old fashioned type comfort food that sounds delicious.  The protagonist, Trixie becomes embroiled in the murder because it happens in the kitchen of her diner and threatens the reputation of the diner.  Trixie is not convinced that the local police, who include a possible love interest cowboy cop, are investigating quickly enough to save her business or with enough zeal to clear her name.  An interesting selection of supporting characters, including diner kitchen and wait staff and a mayor who comes across as a sleazeball.

Well done cozy mystery with a very comforting feel, it reminded me of Connie Archer’s Soup Shop mystery series which I also love.

Fat Cat at Large was a book I read about online and was waiting to be released.  My local indie bookshop just got it in and let me know so I picked it up on my last trip over there.  There is a lot to like about this book, Quincy, the fat cat, is an obvious plus, the theme, a bar cookie bakery, and even the setting of Minneapolis, with the cozy bakeshop and Chase’s apartment above it.

I also liked the realism shown through the tension between the business partners, Chase and Anna.  Often cozies feature best friends, or relatives as business partners in small businesses and show none of the tension or issues that can and usually do arise in those circumstances.  As a former accountant, I can tell you that as much as you love someone, going into business with them can often sound the death knell on the relationship.

I did enjoy reading this but I feel that it needed to be tightened up a little editing wise and some of the dialogue needs tweaking.  It seemed a little off at times.  This is the first in the series so I will look forward to the next one to see how it develops.

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

I just finished this classic hard boiled mystery by Dashiell Hammett.  It was fantastic and made me question why I don’t read more of the classics.   I loved the writing style, simple and direct.  The vernacular is realistic from the time period.  This book really is a definitive example of crime noir from the late 1920s and 1930s.  In addition, the North Point Press edition that I read included photographs from San Francisco of places mentioned in the book.

Sam Spade is well drawn character, the private detective of olden days, a real man’s man.  He is not to be messed with even by the gorgeous “Miss Wonderly”.  Sam’s line,

“Listen.  This isn’t a dammed bit of good.  You’ll never understand me, but I’ll try once more and then we’ll give up.  Listen.  When a man’s partner is killed he’s supposed to do something about it.  It doesn’t make any difference what you thought of him.  He was your partner and you’re supposed to do something about it.”

gives a great picture of Sam Spade and his moral code.

The events are realistic events, even though truthfully the may occur over the life of one private detective rather than in the course of one week.  The pacing keeps the story moving right along as the intrigues and machinations of the various characters are exposed.

I thoroughly enjoyed this and highly recommend it for lover’s of mystery or crime fiction.

Four Cozies – Abbott, Beck and Two McKinlays

  Haven’t had much of chance to read lately.  Back to work after a long recovery from ankle surgery and still in physical therapy, so by the time I get home and go to PT or exercise and take care of everything else I’m exhausted.  Still, I did squeeze in these four so far and it’s getting better so there should be more to come!

Murder with a Twist is the second in the A Mack’s Bar Mystery series.  The protagonist, Mackenzie “Mack” Dalton has a medical condition known as synesthia (a real medical condition, not scifi) that causes her senses to be cross-wired.  For instance, she might taste or see a smell.  She can also sense subtle changes in temperature, for instance the refrigerator was opened or closed before she came into the room.  The condition is fascinating and this outing in the series spends a lot of time on it because her boyfriend, Duncan, is convinced she can be a mighty crime fighting tool, observing things at crime scenes that others would not.

The story mainly follows Mack and Duncan and her “training” to help him, some of it on-the-job.  The cases involve a suspicious suicide first and then a missing child.  This book doesn’t really follow the traditional cozy mystery plot as such although there are some red herrings.  It is more an exploration of using her “talent” and then some traditional clue uncovering.   There is a lot to like here, from the interesting protagonist, to the collection of regular patrons at her bar, and the writing and mystery itself.  I did enjoy the book quite a bit.

There is a bit of cliffhanger type ending for one of the character’s storylines, not the mysteries, they are resolved.  My only critique would be the storyline that the cliffhanger involves so I can’t really discuss it, but that little bit didn’t really work for me.  Overall, a good read and a break from a traditional cozy.

Fatally Frosted by Jessica Beck is another book in the Donut Shop series that I can’t even believe I am reading because I really do not like donuts 🙂 but the series is great.  Maybe that actually says how good it is, you don’t even have to enjoy the theme to read it.

In this outing in the series, Suzanne is cooking donuts at one of the houses being exhibited for a home tour and of course a dead body, of the local busybody, turns up right where Suzanne is cooking.  The murder weapon appears to be one of Suzanne’s donuts which immediately puts her on the police radar.  Desperate to clear her name and none to sure that the police will do that, Suzanne elicits the help of her sidekicks, Grace and George to investigate.

Grace is a good character but George really shines as the sidekick The plot line sends Suzanne off investigating all kinds of angles and secrets.  Her boyfriend, Jake, makes some appearances, more to chastise her for investigating than to be helpful.  In the end, nothing was really as it seemed, about the victim, or  the killer.  The last chapter in the book is quite exciting when Suzanne finds herself fighting for her life.

Fun series with a strong independent female protagonist and a sidekick that stands well on his own.

Death of a Mad Hatter is the second in the Hat Shop Mystery series from Jenn McKinlay.  I love the setting of this series, an inherited hat shop in London.  I found the mystery interesting and most of the suspect characters were well drawn.  Scarlett is drawn into the mystery when it appears on of the hat shop’s hats may have been tainted and killed the heir to wealthy estate.  Scarlett wants to clear her name and the reputation of the shop.

Harrison, their business manager, is dragged along for the ride and more information is revealed about him in this book. Scarlett does do a significant amount of investigation, which is always nice to see. She doesn’t just stumble on clues, she actively investigates.  The mystery comes to a neatly tied up resolution, although slightly sad.  Enjoyable second book in this series.

Death by the Dozen, also by Jenn McKinlay was very good.  I have been trying to read my way through this series.  about a cupcake bakery.  In this book, number three in the series, the protagonists, Melanie and Angie are involved in a reality TV style cooking competition.  This was really a fun read in the series and the plot line had a very modern feel, as Food Network is constantly hosting these type of shows.

One of the judges, who happens to also have been Melanie’s mentor, is killed at the show and it seems like it is being written off as suicide.  Melanie can’t believe it and begins to investigate on her own.  The pace of the book is very good, giving you the feel of the frantic nature of the action.  Melanie and Angie are juggling the shop, their personal lives, the competition and now the murder investigation.  A new character, Oz, is introduced and I just loved him and hope he continues in the series.

The method of murder is really interesting and what actually happened, how Vic ended up in the freezer, was very original and well done. This is one of my favorite cozy mystery series.  The writing is well done, the mysteries are well plotted and the characters are fully fleshed out.  Great cozy in a great series.

I Have Been Nominated Liebster Awards

I want to thank Book Junkiez at http://bookjunkiez.com/ for nominating me for the Liebster Award. This is a great honor and would like to thank everyone who read my blog. You are the reason I am here.

A Liebster Award is a blog award presented to bloggers, by other bloggers. It is just a nice way to give your fellow blogger a pat on the back, and hopefully increase their site traffic too!

So here are the rules I was given:

  1. Each nominee must link back the person who nominated them.
  2. Answer the 11 questions which are given to you by the nominator.
  3. Nominate 11 other bloggers for this award who have less than 200 followers.
  4. Create 11 questions for your nominees to answer.
  5. Let the nominees know that they have been nominated by going to their blog and notifying them.

Here are the eleven questions I have to answer:

  1. What is your least favorite aspect of blogging? – I always come away wishing I was more creative with my blogging.  I tend to be pretty formulaic….title of book, picture of book, brief review (minus the synopsis)
  2. What was your favorite book as a child?…I loved Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.  
  3. What was the last book that you bought?…The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett.  It is one of the October selections for my One  Drink Minimum book club.
  4. If you were on a deserted island, what fictional character would you like to be stuck with? …Maybe Robinson Crusoe because he could do the whole deserted island survival thing 🙂
  5. What is your favorite T.V. show?  Currently Midsomer Murders, love it!
  6. Who is your favorite author?  For mysteries, I would have to say M.C. Beaton. I love so many of her books.
  7. Who is your favorite fictional character?  So many, it is hard to choose.  Miss Zukas is pretty close to the top.  Also, Bernie Rhodenbarr, from Lawrence Block’s Burglar series.  Qwilleran from Lilian Jackson Braun is awesome as well.
  8. What is your favorite genre to read?  Mystery…without a doubt.  I’ve been a mystery reader since I was a child reading, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, & The Famous Five. 
  9. Where is your favorite place to read?  I have a big comfy red chair and ottoman in my living room where I love to read, although bed is a close second.
  10. If you could have lunch with your favorite author, who would it be?  Probably MC Beaton, she writes so many of the books that I love.
  11. What is your favorite book series?  Again, too many to choose!  I love the Cat who….series, Agatha Raisin, Hamish Macbeth, so many good writers!

I nominate:

  1. http://midnightbookgirl.com/
  2. http://greenmushroom1up.blogspot.com/
  3. http://www.lovelybookshelf.com/
  4. http://athomewithbooks.net/
  5. http://bewitchedbookworms.com/
  6. http://www.bookinginheels.com/
  7. http://bookdout.wordpress.com/
  8. http://carstairsconsiders.blogspot.com/
  9. http://jerseygirlbookreviews.blogspot.com/
  10. http://novelmeals.wordpress.com/
  11. http://www.capriciousreader.com/

My questions:

  1. What series would you most like to see made into a TV show?
  2. What is your favorite genre to read?
  3. Have you ever thought about writing?
  4. Do you read across genres?
  5. Have you ever found a book that was made into a movie, which you liked the movie more than the book?
  6. Do you ever change your mind about a book?  In other words, maybe you really liked a book at one point in your life but when you went to reread you don’t understand why you liked it in the first place.
  7. Have you been a reader since childhood or is it something you came into later in life?
  8. Can you truly say that reading any one book was a life changing event or at least made you reexamine your life?
  9. Do you attend any book events, (conventions, author signings, etc.)
  10. Do you have real life friends who are readers?
  11. If you are married or have a partner, are they a reader?  Is/was that a non-negotiable for you?