Rebel Without a Cake by Jacklyn Brady

  I really enjoy this series set in New Orleans with Rita Lucero as the protagonist, bakery owner and reluctant sleuth.  In this outing Halloween is fast approaching, Edie is pregnant and not dealing well, Miss Frankie is volunteering Rita for things without her consent and there is still more discontent in the bakery mainly coming from Ox, who still seems to harbor resentment about Rita’s ownership and management of the Zydeco bakery.

Rita gets drawn into a “field trip” with Miss Frankie and her neighbor Bernice to a small remote town and there she stumbles over a body.  The mystery  plot twists and turns alternating with other story lines involving Edie and Miss Frankie and the not very likable Evangeline Delahunt.  The settings of both New Orleans and the isolated Baie Rebelle are well described and help draw the reader into the story.

Fun, cozy mystery read probably best read in order with the rest of the series.

The Art of Adapting by Cassandra Dunn

I picked this up on impulse at the library last night and once I started it I couldn’t put it down.  The story ostensibly revolves around Lana, a woman whose husband has left her with two teenage children, but the real star is Matt, Lana’s brother who has Asperger’s.  It is through his observations and interactions that the story really comes to life and evolves. Matt, through his own “too fast moving mind”, is able to piece together clues and avert disasters and forge stronger family bonds.

The whole story is charming, but still believable and the characters are well drawn and interesting.  I really enjoyed “meeting” the whole family and watching them overcome their hurdles.  This novel comes across as much more polished and complex than the average debut women’s fiction.  I very much enjoyed it.

Insomniac Reading: To the Grave, Deadly Advice and Don’t Look Back

I suffer from early rising insomnia and usually give up trying to go back to sleep and read instead.  Last night I read two of the above and read enough of the third to realize I had already read it.

Deadly Advice is a cozy mystery series I have wanted to read for a while.  I grew up with a fascination for Dear Abby and advice columns in general.  I read Dear Abby with breakfast almost every morning and always turned to the advice columns in all my mom’s magazines…Can This Marriage be Saved…dun dun dunnnnn.

I really liked the main character here, Rebecca, a psychologist who also writes advice columns.  Her neighbor commits suicide or so it seems and the victim’s mother begs Rebecca for help proving it isn’t so.  The characters are really well done and the take on the mental health issues make for an interesting backdrop for the mystery and the side plots. The mystery has multiple twists and suspects with very probable motives to make it  challenging to solve.

This series is, to my knowledge, discontinued, which is really a shame.  Very well written and really quite fascinating, it is a great addition to the cozy mystery genre.  Deadly Advice has been released on Kindle and that is how I bought and I hope the other couple will be released that way as well.  I think that perhaps this series suffered from that fact that it didn’t quite fit into the cozy mold.  The sleuthing uncovers lots of alternative sexual practices and on top of that the book deals with mental illness and suicide, perhaps it was a little dark for readers looking for the typical cozy?  I really enjoyed it and would highly recommend it.

To the Grave is this month’s read over at the Kindle English Mystery Book Club on Goodreads.  I read this one with some trepidation as it had been put forth as a WWII book and I have to say that is a period that I usually never read.  I am happy that I did decide to participate and read it.  The WWII elements are just one part of a story that flashes back and forward.  The flashes are done well, so the reader doesn’t get lost and can keep the story lines straight.  The protagonist is a family historian/genealogist who is looking for an adoptee’s missing mother, Mena.

We learn what has become of Mena and her Danny, in bits and pieces revealed through letters and flashbacks.  Meanwhile, there are deadly forces at work that do not want Mena’s story and all the secrets exposed.  The murders continue as the search for Mena becomes more desperate.  The ending resolves all the bits and pieces very nicely, albeit sadly.  I enjoyed To The Grave and would be interested to read more by the author.

I have read other books, out of order, by Karin Fossum. I picked up this one, Don’t Look Back, and started to read it and almost from the outset recognized the book as one I had read in the past.  I couldn’t quite remember the resolution so I skimmed through until it came back to me.  Fascinating excellent example of Scandinavian crime fiction, I can’t wait to read more in this series.

The Fat Woman Mystery and One Dead Cookie

  These are my two latest cozy mystery reads.  I got The Fat Woman Mystery on my Kindle for $2.99 after seeing it advertised.  I enjoyed it, especially the realistic discussion of the differences between the casual dieter, 10 to 20 pounds to lose, and the life long dieter with serious issues with food in the obese to morbidly obese category.  The main character, Margaret, is very likable and easy to relate to, at least for me.  She doesn’t want pity or sympathy from her friends, other members of her diet club, as she deals with the death of her husband.  She is in a not so small case of denial about her grief.

The mystery was interesting and tied together lots of pieces very nicely.  My first issue with this is that I found that the book seemed short, either that or it was a very quick read.  The second is that I found the theme really similar to another series that I really, really love by JB Stanley AKA Ellery Adams, the Supper Club Mysteries.  I couldn’t help compare the two, with the Supper Club Mysteries coming out on top as far as character development and richness of setting and story line.

One Dead Cookie is the fourth book in a Cookie Cutter Shop Mystery.  I really enjoy this series.  The main character, Olivia owns the shop and lives above it with her dog.  She is busy dealing with baking for her best friend Maddie’s engagement party.  The party gets wilder when a B list celebrity arrives and the murder occurs.  The murder is connected to people who stayed in the area and to an old unsolved crime.  On top of the murder, there are other smaller crimes occurring muddying the waters.  I really do enjoy this series, but I will say this was not my favorite it it so far.  I am looking forward to reading the next one nonetheless.

A Second Helping of Murder by Christine Wenger

This is the second in the Comfort Food Mystery series.  I read the first one, Do or Diner, as a book of the month for the Cozy Mystery Corner on Goodreads.  I really like this series, almost as much as I love comfort food.  This book ties together an older murder from Trixie’s youth, with a current murder in the guest cottages.  Trixie investigates with her maybe love interest Deputy Ty Brisco.  The diner staff are still on as recurring characters along with some of the townsfolk.

The mystery is an interesting twisting and turning plot although I did guess who did it about two thirds of the way through.  It was more of a hunch though not really based on facts I picked up on.  Having an idea who did it did not hamper my enjoyment of the story.

The characters are friendly and likable.  The love interest is a hunk.  The setting is fully developed with lots of detail about the diner, the cottages and the surrounding area.  The mystery has lots of details and plot lines that are tied together.  Fun cozy mystery read.

The Wolfe Widow & Crime Rib

  These are the latest two cozy mysteries I have read.

The Wolfe Widow is the third in the book collector series by Victoria Abbott. I really enjoy this well written series.  I will say I got a little nervous in the beginning which starts out with our protagonist, Jordan, losing her position with the difficult to please Vera Van Alst. I was afraid that the whole tenor of the series was about to change.   The mystery is an interesting twist on this series that usually revolves around stolen books in that the books take more of a back seat here.  Jordan follows up on clues about the suspected villain with the help of Uncle Kev, but the rest of her side kicks seem to have disappeared.  All is explained in a neatly wrapped up conclusion after many twists and turns.

A very well written series, good mystery plot with excellent pacing and tension building, I would highly recommend this book (but start with the first in the series).

I am happy that I gave Crime RIb a chance.  I really wasn’t going to read it because the first in this series Death Al Dente didn’t really work for me,  but I kept hearing good things about the second book.  The mystery was well done and kept you guessing until close to the end.  I liked the characters much more than I remember liking them.   The food and festival details were fun and certainly kept me interested.

This was definitely a case of the series improving as it progressed or maybe I just wasn’t in the right mood when I read the first one.