Sunday, February 2, 2014

Monthly Reading Summary - January 2014

Here's my summary of what I read this month.  Links take you to the full review.

All ratings are on a scale of 1 (bad) to 5 (great).

YOU CANNOLI DIE ONCE by Shelley Costa (Miracolo Mysteries #1) - 4
After an injury leaves Eve unable to dance, she becomes the head chef at her family's Italian restaurant.  One more, she arrives to find a dead man in the kitchen.  She's even more shocked to learn the dead man is her grandmother's current boyfriend.  Why was he there?  And can Eve keep her grandmother out of prison?

The cast of characters was a little too large, and I had a hard time keeping them all straight at first.  They came into focus as things went along, and the plot was always moving forward.  An absolutely fun debut.

NEW LANDS by Geoff Rodkey (Chronicles of Egg #2) - 5
Egg and Guts are headed to the New Lands to try to find the treasure map they've found.  But their journey will be dangerous with hostile Natives and a settlement that has an edict against foreigners.  Will they survive long enough to explore the wilderness?

A great middle grade novel, this one picks up where the first one ended (so read it first).  The characters are fun, charming, and feel real.  The plot takes some great twists and I was shocked a time or two by what Egg learns along the way.  Can not wait for the third and final book to come out.

NOTE: I won an ARC of this book in a contest.

MURDER WITH GANACHE by Lucy Burdette (Key West Food Critic Mystery #4) - 5
Hayley's family is coming to town for her best friend's wedding, but things get off to a rocky start with her teenage step-brother.  When he goes off to explore on his own and disappears, the family begins to panic.  Will they find him?  What might he have gotten into?

This was my introduction to the series, and I'm regretting that.  I really enjoyed this book.  The plot was great and completely pulled me in.  While the characters could have been a little better introduced to those of us who don't know the series, I didn't have too much of a hard time getting them all figured out.  The ending could have been a little smoother, but everything was explained by the end.  I'm going to have to go back and read the earlier books in the series.

NOTE: I was sent an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

MR. MONK GETS ON BOARD by Hy Conrad (Monk #17) - 5
When Natalie decides to attend a business conference on a cruise ship, she is surprised when Monk tags along.  She's almost talked him into leaving when she over hears a murder plot.  Can they stop it?  Can they prove who the killer is?

A couple of times, this book got a little lost in the fun of Monk on the cruise ship, just like the series.  And just like in the series, I enjoyed those moments.  The mystery was still strong and the characters were great as always.

This memoir was written by Nitro from the original American Gladiators.  It's the story of his life and his struggle with steroids.  Yes, we get some time talking about the show that made him famous, but the majority of the time was actually spent on the price of that fame.  You can tell Dan is trying to issue a warning to others about the dangers of steroids.

At times the book is a tough read just because Dan never holds back on the effects of the drugs.  However, I enjoyed the book overall and I'm definitely glad I read it.

LOST AND FONDUE by Avery Aames (Cheese Shop Mysteries #2) - 4
Charlotte is catering a fundraiser at the old winery on the outskirts of town.  During the scavenger hunt, she finds the body of one of the guests in the basement.  With the police looking at someone Charlotte cares about, she must spring into detective mode to find the real killer.

I'm not sure why I waited so long to read this second book in the series.  The characters were a tad overwhelming at first by their number, but I quickly had them all figured out.  The plot slow down a tad in the middle, but the end result was great.  I'll definitely be back for the next slice.

CLOCHE AND DAGGER by Jenn McKinlay (Hat Shop Mysteries #1) - 4
Scarlett Parker's life is falling apart between loosing her job and a breakup gone viral, so she moves to London to help run the hat shop she and her cousin inherited from their grandmother.  However, when she arrives, her cousin is missing.  Her bad feeling about everything only grows with one of their customers is murdered.

The book is very engaging with delightful characters who feel fully formed from the moment they step on to the page.  In fact, it took me a little while to realize the plot was moving rather slowly.  That's my only complaint with the book, however, and I'm certainly looking forward to the next book when it comes out in May.

NYPD PUZZLE by Parnell Hall (Puzzle Lady Mysteries #15) - 4
When lawyer Becky Baldwin gets a new client in NYC she doesn't feel comfortable with, she asks famed Puzzle Lady Cora Felton to act as her body guard.  But when they arrive for the meeting, the client is dead with a crossword puzzle on his body.  Then Cora is arrested for the murder.  What is going on?

This books are always fun and quick witted, and this is no exception.  The plot is a little weak, but the characters get frustrated by my frustrations, too, so it was on purpose.  Still, fun overall and definitely one fans of the series will enjoy.


  1. I read a couple of the series that you read as well. The Key West Food Critic series and the Cheese Shop series. I read rather quickly but I will say that the Cheese Shop Mysteries take me a little longer because of the number of characters and they seem a little denser than the average cozy.

    I've looked at the hat shop mystery series but haven't picked it up many series so little time. Just started a new one and really like it, A Black Cat Bookshop Mystery series by Ali Brandon. It is very well written and really pulled me in to the story.

    1. The second Cheese Shop Mystery took me a little longer, too. I'm glad to see it wasn't just me.

      I absolutely agree so many series so little time. I've heard of the Black Cat Bookshop series, but haven't read it. I'll keep your recommendation in mind. Thanks.

  2. Great month for reading! Happy February reading!

    1. It really was. Wish I could duplicate it more often.

      Happy Friday reading to you, too.

  3. Sounds like you had a great month, reading-wise! Nice to see so many cozies on your list. I missed your review of Jenn McKinlay's Hat Shop mystery series debut. I love her Library Lovers series, so I will go check that one out.

    1. I keep hearing about her Library Lover's series, so obviously I need to go check it out. (Pun intended) I've now the read first in two of her series, so reading the first in the third only makes sense.