I was out of town for Thanksgiving last week, but I was still able to get the index updated!
The links will take you to my full review. All ratings are on a scale of 1 (bad) to 5 (great).
A Book Club to Die For by Dorothy St. James (Beloved Bookroom Mysteries #3) – 4
Tru Becket has been invited to speak at the exclusive Arete Society, a book club that has waiting lists to join. In fact, her friend Flossie is one of those waiting to get in, and she has come with Tru in order to plead her case. The meeting winds up being canceled, however, when Tru finds the group’s president dead in the kitchen. The police think that Hazel, this month’s hostess, snapped and killed the victim, but Tru doesn’t think so. Can she come up with an alternative suspect?
This book is a variation on the locked room mystery, and I have come to realize how much I enjoyed those added twists to the story. A couple of things were obvious early on, but overall, this was still a compelling mystery with suspects strong enough to keep you engaged. The series regulars are all here and are fantastic as well. There are some regulars who can get annoying, but they were kept in the background and added to the fun. And this book is fun. I laughed more than I had at the first two. One sub-plot in particular made me laugh every time it popped up. If you are looking for a light mystery, this is one you’ll enjoy.
Note: I received an ARC of this book.
Secrets in the Stacks by Lynn Cahoon (Survivors’ Book Club Mysteries #2) – 3
The newest member of the Survivors’ Book Club is Darcy, who has survived breast cancer as a young adult. While she is finishing up her college degree, she is living with her grandmother and working part time for Rarity Cole at Rarity’s bookstore. Returning home from work one day, Darcy finds her grandmother murdered in their home, and she turns to the book club for help in figuring out what happened. Can they do it?
I was a bit surprised that the characters weren’t reintroduced. Since it had been several months since I read the first in the series, it took me a bit to remember who everyone was. Once I did, I fell under their spell again. I really do like the cast. The story was entertaining, although the ending was weak. While it did answer the big questions, it raised a few more that aren’t addressed. There were some timeline glitches and other editing errors that should have been caught. Hopefully they were addressed between the ARC I read and the finished version. While the characters draw you in, the story should have been better.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.
The Pigeon Will Ride the Roller Coaster! by Mo Willems – 4
Pigeon is ready to ride a roller coaster. He knows he will need a ticket. He knows he will need to wait in line. And he knows it will be scary as it twists and turns at high speed. But he is ready. Is he really ready for what will happen next?
This is a mostly fun entry for fans of Pigeon. It’s told in typical style with illustrations and dialogue only. There isn’t quite as much interaction for us, but Pigeon still carries the book by himself. The story didn’t go quite the way I thought it would, but once I adjusted my expectations, I had to laugh at the outcome, especially the final page. And it provides a good lesson for all that sometimes things you are looking forward to turn into disappointments. I think the biggest issue with the book will be some of the vocabulary choices, which will be a bit beyond the target audience. Yes, I get the concept of stretching a vocabulary, but I think a couple of the words are a bit too abstract for the age group. Still, fans of Pigeon will be glad they picked it up.
The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly (Mickey Haller #4) – 5
Mickey has had to start taking on foreclosure cases to keep his firm going, but when his first foreclosure client is accused of murder, Mickey finds himself once again practicing criminal law. His client is the easy suspect, and the case seems pretty circumstantial. But will he be able to get her off?
Naturally, the book is filled with twists and turns, and the outcome is never really that certain. The characters are great as well, especially Mickey who is so complex. Honestly, it’s so easy to root for him, flaws and all. I did feel the courtroom finagling slowed things down a little at times, especially when it was rehashing things we already knew, but overall, this is another strong book. A relisten on audio (originally listened in 2014), and I think I enjoyed it more this time around.
Peril in Paris by Rhys Bowen (Royal Spyness #16) – 5
Spring of 1936 finds a pregnant Lady Georgiana Rannoch feeling a bit restless. When her husband, Darcy, suggests they go to Paris to visit Georgie’s friend, Belinda, Georgie is delighted. Belinda is there interning with Coco Chanel, and it isn’t long before Georgie finds herself roped into helping with an upcoming fashion show. Darcy, meanwhile, has a small assignment to accomplish, and asks for Georgie’s help. That request winds up putting Georgie in a very uncomfortable spot when someone winds up dead at the fashion show. Can she get out of it without sparking an international incident?
The further along this series gets, the finer the line is between the seriousness of Europe during the era and the fun tone of the series. This book walks that tension perfectly. It also starts more quickly than some of the books in the series do. Some foundation for the plot is laid before it truly takes off, and once it did, I was fully invested until we reached the logical climax. Several of the series regulars are involved, and I enjoyed getting to spend more time with them. We even see a different side of a supporting player. Fans of the series will enjoy this latest outing. If you haven’t met Georgie yet, I definitely recommend you fix that soon.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.
Lover Come Hack by Diane Vallere (Madison Night #6) – 4
Madison Night thought she and her new friend, Jane Strong, were going to enter the Very Important Projects (VIP) design contest together until she gets a nasty email from Jane. Madison’s attempt to talk to Jane about it doesn’t go well, and a few hours later Jane is dead. The police are looking at Madison as their primary suspect, so she has to balance the contest with figuring out what really happened to Jane. All of this is made harder by a hacker targeting her and others involved in the contest. What really happened?
This book starts out strongly and never really lets up. I held on through the twists and turns and was rewarded with a good climax. It was a little rushed, but that was minor. Another minor complaint was the timeline issues that should have been caught with a good edit. I love Madison and the rest of the supporting cast, so I was happy to visit them again. I’m curious to see what the results of some of the sub-plots here means for the next book in the series. I do wish Madison would trust people in her life more, but again, this is minor. Overall, this was a fun book that kept me entertained from start to finish.
Cry Wolf by Annette Dashofy (Zoe Chambers Mysteries #7) – 5
When Zoe goes with her boyfriend, Pete, to visit Pete’s father in the care facility where he is living, they discover that Pete’s old training officer, John, has moved in. Pete’s happy since his father keeps insisting that something strange is going on in the place. When John is murdered a few hours later, it looks like that might be the case. Can Zoe and Pete figure out what happened?
This book started out quickly and never let up. With several sub-plots to keep us engaged, I was racing to find out what was going on, and I was left in awe when I reached the end. Zoe and Pete make a great detecting duo, and we get the story equally from their third person points of view. I do still feel like Pete is too overbearing, and I hope that softens soon. Not all of the regulars get much page time, but those who do show up are critical to the story. And the new characters are strong enough that this is really isn’t an issue. Since this isn’t one of my cozies, there is more content than in the books I typically read, so know that going in. Now, I need to make time to visit Zoe again soon.
The Counterfeit Wife by Mally Becker (Revolutionary War Mysteries #2) – 5
Becca Parcell and Daniel Alloway have been sent by General Washington to Philadelphia. Someone is flooding the colonies with counterfeit money, and they believe this is where it is originating. It is critical to shut down the supply in order to keep the economy from crashing, thereby destroying the war effort. Just as the two of them get a suspect, a murder takes place, and someone surprisingly close to Becca becomes the prime suspect. Can they figure out what is going on?
I was thrilled with this second trip back to 1780. Once again, I felt like I was in that era while I was reading, including what life was like during that time. The mystery was strong with several twists that kept me reading. There is a strong romance between Becca and Daniel, and it strays a little beyond the cozies I typically read, but not too far. Both of them are strong lead characters, and the story is told from both of their points of view. Meanwhile, the rest of the cast, both real and fictional people, are just as strong. The ending of the book is extremely satisfying, but I’m ready to jump into the next in the series.
Blind Side by Penny Warner (Connor Westphal #5) – 4
It’s time for the annual frog jumping contest in nearby Angel’s Camp, and this year it seems to be a hotbed of controversy. A group is protesting the mistreatment of animals, and the reigning champ’s top entry turns up dead. He accuses Miah Mercer of the sabotage, but Connor Westphal is certain that her part time employee is innocent. However, the stakes are raised when Connor finds a bunch of dead frogs and a dead body in the creek near the contest grounds. Can she figure out what is going on?
I enjoyed being back in Connor’s presence again. I felt the plot went a bit away from the initial premise, and I’m not sure I felt it earned it. Meanwhile, the ending is a bit abrupt while still answering our questions. These are minor since I was pulled into the story and kept turning pages to see what Connor would uncover next. As usual for the series, the characters are wonderful. Unfortunately, the language continues to be a bit extreme for a cozy series as well. I read the paperback that was originally published in 2001, so keep in mind that some technology references are going to be outdated. I enjoyed the humor at the beginning of the book – I think we got every frog pun imaginable. Connor is deaf, and she makes a new friend who is blind in this book. I appreciate how both characters are portrayed and this look at how they are able to handle the things I take for granted. All told, I enjoyed this book in the series.
Knot My Sister’s Keeper by Mary Marks (Quilting Mysteries #6) – 5
Quilter Martha Rose never knew her father, and she has never known enough about him to even try to find him. All that changes when she takes a DNA test and learns she has a half-sister who also lives in the Los Angeles area. Giselle is very different from Martha, but she actually knew their father, that is until he disappeared when Giselle was twelve. Together, the two women try to find out what happened to him, but it’s been over thirty years. Will they be able to piece together any clues?
Naturally, this book needed a bit of time to set up the mystery, but it doesn’t take a word longer than it needs. Since I already knew Martha, I was quickly invested and enjoyed watching her work to figure out what happened all those years ago. The ending was satisfying. While quilting is mostly a back drop, it does come into play at one point in the story, which I appreciated. The characters are wonderful. I don’t know that I had appreciated how complex the characters in this series are before, but watching Giselle, who has no filter, made me appreciate how complex they really can be. Fans will enjoy this book. If you’ve been thinking about starting the series, I definitely recommend you jump in.
Bake Offed by Maya Corrigan (Five-Ingredient Mysteries #8) – 5
Val Deniston and her granddad are going to the Maryland Mystery Fan Fest to help her friend Bethany with it. And Granddad, aka the Codger Cook, is participating in the mystery themed baking competition the first night. One of his fellow contestants is Cynthia Sweet, the woman that Granddad feels stole his shot at turning his Codger Cook recipe column into a book. But when Val finds Cynthia dead in the middle of the night, the two of them start to discover that other people didn’t like Cynthia either. Can they figure out who killed her?
Since the fest is out of town, we don’t see much of the other series regulars, but the series usually focuses on Val and Granddad, so it’s not too big of a loss. This also gives us plenty of time to get to know the new characters, who rise to the occasion. And there is a return appearance by a character from early in the series that is fun. The plot is wonderful. It is intricately plotted, yet it holds together at the end. As someone who complains about the timelines in books when they don’t work, I have to praise this one for holding together perfectly. I got a kick out of the mystery fest setting. The recipes at the end are great fun as well, but I’ll leave that for you to explore on your own. Fans of the series will be happy with this book. If you are looking for a fun culinary cozy series, I definitely recommend you check this one out.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.