Book Review: Cozy Mysteries

Review: Dying for Chocolate

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Dying for Chocolate Book Review
3 of 5 stars to Dying for Chocolate, the second installment in the Goldy Bear Culinary Mystery series, by Diane Mott Davidson, published in 1992. I stumbled on to this series after college and quickly purchased the first five or six books to read as quickly as possible. It’s one of those series you should read the first few in a row, so you are immersed in the cozy world of fun. And with a title all about chocolate, how could you resist? The recipes in the book look fun and simple. But they tend to be a little non-diet friendly, and although I am not usually on a diet, I do watch what I eat. And when it comes to desserts, I can’t make them too often unless I’m giving them away — or I’ll eat the whole thing.

This book continues the intro to Goldy and her pre-teen/teen son, a good example of a parent/child relationship post-divorce. It helps that Arch is a good kid, but Goldy can sometimes be too motherly over some things. Her friendship with Marla is a hoot. And her interesting flirtation (if you can call it that) with the doctor and the policeman are heating up. But when 1 of them is killed, you know we won’t suffer too long with the infamous cozy triangle.

The mystery is a bit of a whodunit and keeps you guessing but it needs to be stronger in future books (and it does get there). Goldy settles into town just outside of Denver. I’ve always wanted to see Denver, and these books give you a little taste of it.

The other thing about this book is that it’s different than the first one in a way where you can tell the writer was reacting to fan feedback; setting changes, characters change… it’s almost like she’s testing out the best combination for readers. And I’m OK with that in the first few… then I like consistency with growth. Not just a complete turnabout.

Fun cozy times… relaxing series. I go back and forth between this one and Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swensen series. Very similar styles.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Review: Cream Puff Murder

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Cream Puff Murder 3 of 5 stars to the eleventh book, Cream Puff Murder, in the “Hannah Swensen” cozy mystery series by Joanne Fluke. And yes, it was hard to read without wanting a cream puff the entire time!

Why This Book
I’ve been reading the Joanne Fluke series for several years and had asked for a few of her books for my birthday last month. One was Cream Puff Murder, and once I finished a rather difficult book just before this one, I needed something light and fluffy to shock me back to normalcy. Lake Eden’s Hannah Swensen fit the bill, and I started it two days ago, reading through a third each night up ’til now – review time.

Overview of Story
Hannah’s mother is throwing a book launch party for her new regency novel, and Hannah needs to fit into a dress despite having put on a few pounds. Her sister Andrea steps in to help, and even though Hannah despises exercising, she agrees to spend an hour every morning before work at the gym, focusing on her body. Shortly afterwards, Ronni Ward, fitness instructor extraordinaire, is found murdered in the jacuzzi. Since she’d been dating several men, and annoyed several women, Hannah suspects it’s someone at the gym or in one Ronni’s fitness classes. But Mike and Bill are put on temporary leave, as they may be too close to the crime, since Ronni was working part-time at the police station to make some extra money, and possibly dating Mike on the side. Hannah steps up her work-out time to a few hours a day to attend all Ronni’s classes with with the new instructor to see if she can find out more details, especially when her family and some-time boyfriend aren’t able to work the case. As she begins to narrow down the clues, and her own waistline, Hannah finds herself smack in the middle of disaster again when she steps right into trouble with the culprit. But along the path, she’s determined that she can no longer keep bouncing back and forth between Mike and Norman, appearing ready to finally make a choice for her suitor and potential future husband.

Approach & Style
The book is told in third-person from an omniscient narrator, but the point of view is consistently with Hannah as the main protagonist. Every few chapters, the author throws in some sweet recipes based on whatever Hannah’s cooking up in The Cookie Jar that day. Cream Puffs are this books’ flavor of the month.

It’s a very lighthearted cozy, casual and simple in both setting, dialogue and tone. An easy breezy read in under 4 hours, given the paperback book’s about 350 pages, inclusive of at least 100 focused on recipes.

Strengths
1. Hannah is consistent. Her sisters, mother, friends and boyfriends are all good people and I really enjoy reading about them. It’s comfortable and makes you feel warm and cozy.

2. The town is quite lovely, as is the history you learn with each successive book. It feels like a place you’d love to call home — when you’re done livin’ on the edge in your younger days.

3. Fluke’s got a solid formula that works time and time again, assuming the story is interesting and the cast of characters rotates just enough.

Open Questions & Concerns
1. I probably didn’t need 20% of the book dedicated to figuring what Moishe (the cat) was doing with his new automatic food dispensing unit. Seriously… we kept reading about “where is Moishe putting all that food? He’s not gaining any weight, so he can’t be eating it.” It actually got a little bit annoying. I love the antics and banter with the cat and Hannah, but this was a little too much!

2. Normally, a cozy reveals the murder about 15% into the book; however, it didn’t happen until almost 30% this time. It was a little too much, and I felt at times like I was reading someone’s journal about daily goings-on. I already do that for myself… don’t need this one, too!

3. Mike takes a darker turn and we get a much-needed push in the “Choose Mike or Norman” story line. He does something unexpected, tho, in my opinion… and while I welcomed the direction change, it didn’t feel natural.

4. The mystery was not very strong. It was pretty clear from about 50% in, it was 1 of 2 people; and I knew very little about them, so it didn’t matter which one it was to me. I think it needed a few extra plot points to make this a stronger book.

Author & Other Similar Books
Diane Mott Davidson’s “Goldy Bear Shultz Culinary” mystery series is a good comparison.

Final Thoughts
This was Book 11 out of a series with about 20 so far. I’ve a little over half-way done, still enjoying Hannah and her family, but if she doesn’t make a choice for sure in the next book… I will probably take a break for a while. I won’t give it up, as I love the townspeople and the background setting; but I’d like a little less of the romance and a tad more of the mystery. Still an enjoyable read tho!

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Review: B is for Burglar

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B is for BurglarReview
3.5 of 5 stars but I’m going to round down (since I sometimes round up for this author, and I suppose this makes it balance out a bit!) for the second book in the “Kinsey Millhone” [cozy] mystery series by Sue Grafton. In B is for Burglar, we get to know Kinsey more, figuring out what she likes and doesn’t like. And apparently she is a bit picky when it comes to client. First, she doesn’t want to take the case as it is too simple and sounds like a waste of her time. But when she digs a bit deeper, something strange is going on with a missing woman. Nothing adds up.

It’ s a good mystery in your head, and I think it might be better than the first book in some ways… but not enough to rate it higher. I liked the investigate and research style in this one. It’s a missing person’s case, so you really know as little as she does. You feel like you’re playing along more on this one. But at the same time, I didn’t have a strong connection until the middle of the book with the “victim.”

I found myself getting a little caught up in it being 1982 in the books, but it was published several years later, and I was reading it in 2000. I kept forgetting the time period, which is important in cases like these, given the available tools.

If you’re going to read the whole series take the time in these first few books to really synchronize with the time period, so you are not out of your element.

But Kinsey is a great main character. She’s got flaws. She’s got spirit. You root for her, get annoyed with her. All signs of good character development. But after 26… it might get a bit old!

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Review: The Cat Who Saw Red

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The Cat Who Saw RedMy rating: 3 of 5 stars

Review
Qwill, KoKo and YumYum are at it again in The Cat Who Saw Red, the 4th book in Lilian Jackson Braun‘s “Cat Who” cozy mystery series. The interesting thing about this novel, besides my 3 star review (ha!), is that this is the first novel she published after taking a 20+ year hiatus from the series. The last ones were written in the 1960s and this was published in 1986. While she was busy writing it, I believe I was watching the NY Mets with the season championship. But I digress…

For a cozy, this one’s a little stronger than usual. A few dead bodies. Interesting ways to dispose of them. Qwill’s on a diet, but he is staying at MausHaus where his meals are included and cooked by a famous chef. The cats are becoming explorers. And Qwill’s hearing odd noises, or is it his lack of food intake? A fun edition in the story… nothing too different from the others, but it’s got the usual charm. The mystery is a little stronger than usual, which helps. Plus I like seeing Qwill try out different places to live. The cats seem to enjoy it, and after all, isn’t that what this one is all about?

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Review: Two for the Dough

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Two for the DoughMy rating: 3 of 5 stars to book #2 in the Stephanie Plum mystery series, Two for the Dough, by Janet Evanovich. Since I’m going back to complete reviews on all the books I’ve read, and there are over 20 in this series, it would be too boring to do a normal review… so I’ll keep it short. A few fun things about this one:

1. We’re still getting to know how crazy Stephanie Plum is compared to everyone else. She’s neurotic in a fun way — sort of like I am.

2. This one is all about her libido with Joe Morelli. What’s more important… getting lucky or catching the criminal? She can’t decide but Evanovich presents many funny romantic situations in this edition.

3. Stephanie’s cousin is hilarious. He’s a creep. And I would not want to meet him in reality. But he provides necessary humor.

4. Not knowing how to properly catch a criminal can really get her in hot water. The situations she finds herself in are just laugh out loud. I don’t know how the writer keeps on coming up with them.

5. We’re learning a bit more about the dangers of Ranger. And I like it! He’s someone you just never know what to expect… it could be good or it could be the good kind of bad.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Review: A is for Alibi

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A is for AlibiMy rating: 4 of 5 stars to A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton, the first book in the Kinsey Millhone private investigator cozy mystery series. It’s the book that started it all for me…

The opening lines of the book grab you when the narrator tells you that she killed a man. You want to know more about this situation. Then you get to know a little bit about Kinsey. Twice-divorced. 32. New to PI work. You already start to root for her as much as you ask questions about her former life.

In this one, it’s all about divorce and a cheating ex-husband. Nikki, not very likable, is released from prison and goes straight to Kinsey for help. She served time for killing her husband, but she claims she didn’t do it. Years later, she wants answers so she can move on with her life. And she gets them. Kinsey finds a second body and actually has to protect herself. Right out of the gate, you know this series won’t be a traditional cozy. But at the same time, it’s a very formulaic story. And that’s OK… I like those, too.

Kinsey is mostly a good character. Her attitude is sometimes a little annoying. She is still learning her job to some degree… not quite as good as VI Warshawski, but not as silly as Stephanie Plum. Lots to like about her too… except no real family to speak of. She eventually has Henry, but not enough for me.

The setting is Santa Teresa, California… a beautiful place among the vineyards and not too far from the ocean. Makes a good backdrop and some pretty scenes.

For an intro book, it’s strong. It was started back in the 1980s… so if you’re looking for something more current, this series isn’t for you.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

View all my reviews

Review: The Last Suppers

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The Last SuppersReview
3 1/2 (rounded up to 4) out 5 stars for The Last Suppers, the fourth in the “Gold Bear Culinary Mystery” series, by Diane Mott Davidson. In this book, Goldy’s about to get married, but unfortunately the wedding might be delayed when Tom calls about a murder. And it’s a priest!

Goldy’s close with other parishioners and the clerical folks in her Colorado church, but she is shocked to discover what’s lurking beneath the surface when she digs a little deeper this time. For a bride-to-be, she’s certainly not having any fun. Drama everywhere, both in her personal life and with the murder. Tom warns her to stay out of it, but she can’t help herself.

The book follows the normal pattern and is another good edition in the series. I enjoy the characters and there is growth… unlike some cozies where the main character tosses back and forth between two suitors forever. In this one, there is actually forward motion and a marriage. I like when love wins out a bit. A nice surprise in the latter portion of the book makes things better.

Smooth sailing with the series at this point… I had no real concerns
at this point
.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

View all my reviews