Tobi Tobias is living her lifelong dream of owning her own advertising agency. However, business isn’t going well – she has no clients, is strugglingTobi Tobias is living her lifelong dream of owning her own advertising agency. However, business isn’t going well – she has no clients, is struggling to pay the bills, and working Saturdays at a pet store. Tobi thinks her luck might be changing, however, when Andy and Gary Zander hire her to create an ad campaign for their company Zander Closet Company. Tobi comes up with a brilliant slogan about skeletons in the closet and is thrilled when the local media covers her ad campaign. She is less than thrilled when she stumbles across a body in a closet and her positive media coverage turns negative. Tobi knows she must find the killer before the negative publicity ruins her company.
“Death in Advertising” is the wonderfully done first book in Laura Bradford’s Tobi Tobias cozy mystery series. I love Tobi as a character – she is very good at what she does, attractive (even though she doesn’t know it), a loyal friend, feisty, strong, and very funny. In fact, it is the humor that makes this book so much fun to read – it is laugh out loud funny yet the humor is never forced. Besides Tobi, I also loved the other characters in the book – JoAnna, Carter, Andy, Mary Fran, Sam, Grandpa Stu, even Gary, Mitzi, and Ms. Rapple. Along with the characters, I loved reading about the advertising slogans Tobi comes up with – especially the one for Zander Closet Company. As for the mystery, it is nicely plotted with plenty of twists and turns and a few surprises along the way. One of my favorites parts about reading a cozy mystery is trying to figure out who the killer is – I was totally wrong this time!
“Death in Advertising” is the nicely done first book in what looks to be a fun, enjoyable cozy mystery series. ...more
Nola Mae Harper is finally settled down back home in Cays Mill, Georgia, helping out on her family’s peach farm and running her shop Peachy Keen. SheNola Mae Harper is finally settled down back home in Cays Mill, Georgia, helping out on her family’s peach farm and running her shop Peachy Keen. She is enjoying the return to small-town life - even the contentious upcoming mayoral election. Her quiet life, however, is interrupted when one of the candidates, Clem Rogers, is murdered and someone close to her is under suspicion of having killed him. Nola must hurry to catch the killer before the wrong person goes to jail.
“War and Peach” - I just love that title! - is the wonderfully done third book in Susan Furlong’s Georgia Peach cozy mystery series. This is one of my favorite series - I was hooked from the start of the series on Nola. her family, friends, and even the peach farm. I love Nola Mae as a character who tried to escape her past by leaving Cays Mill but has returned to help out her family. She may be a bit flawed (aren't we all?) but her loyalty to her family is admirable - especially in this book where she has to make some hard decisions about her future. Small-town life is wonderfully portrayed in this book - Nola isn't the only one who can't quite escape the past - and plays an important part in this mystery. As for the mystery itself - it is extremely well plotted - one of the best plotted mysteries I have ever read. While there are plenty of twists and turns in the book, the clues are all - they are little bits thrown out that will nag at the reader just like they nag at Nola. As for events at the end of the book - including when the killer was revealed - they left me both happy and sad. I ended up with what I call a “book hangover” - reluctant to leave these characters that I have come to love.
“War and Peach” is an excellent cozy mystery by Susan Furlong.
“The Ageless Agatha Christie” is a collection of essays focusing on not only Christie's novels and short stories but the movie “Agatha” (which was loo“The Ageless Agatha Christie” is a collection of essays focusing on not only Christie's novels and short stories but the movie “Agatha” (which was loosely based on her eleven day disappearance in 1926), the TV series “Agatha Christie's Poirot” (which was based on her works), and how other writers not only influenced her works but how her works influenced other authors. The end of the book features a chapter dedicated to Christie readers.
Devoted Agatha Christie fans will enjoy “The Ageless Agatha Christie”. I love the fact that the essays are not only about her best-known works but cover some of her lesser known works featuring characters such as Harley Quin, Parker Pyne, and Tommy and Tuppence as well as even lesser-known characters such as Miss Lemon, Mr. Satterwaithe and Vera Rossakoff. The essays cover such a wide variety of subjects that there is something for everyone in this book. I particularly enjoyed the essays “England's Pockets: Objects of Anxiety in Christie's Postwar Novels”, “With Practiced Eyes: Feminine Identity in The Mysterious Mr. Quin”, and “The Sumptuous and the Alluring: Poirot’s Women, Dragged Up and Dressed Down”. Other essays like “The Encyclopedic Palace of the World” (about Miss lemon's filing system in the books compared to the TV series) and “Then There were Many: Agatha Christie in Hungarian Translation”, while quite interesting were not as enjoyable to me having never seen the TV series or read any Christie books translated in Hungarian. One thing to be aware of when reading this book is that these essays contain spoilers - often identifying both the victim(s) and killer(s) – so you many not want to read this book unless you have read most of Christie's works otherwise may find the ending of certain books and short stories spoiled.
“The Ageless Agatha Christie” contains many essays that will be interesting to a wide variety of readers....more
Clare Henry loves working with her grandfather at his shop The Rescued Word where she repairs old typewriters and restores old books among other thingClare Henry loves working with her grandfather at his shop The Rescued Word where she repairs old typewriters and restores old books among other things. When their friend Mirabelle brings in a typewriter to be repaired, Clare thinks it will be a quick and easy job - until a stranger comes into the store and demands she give him the typewriter. The police scare him off but later Clare finds his dead body near the store. Now she is left wondering why the typewriter was so important that someone was willing to commit murder and fearful that the killer may strike again.
“To Helvetica and Back” is the nicely done first book in Paige Shelton's new Dangerous Type cozy mystery series. I really like the setting of the series - a typewriter repair shop that is thriving in a world full of computers. Paige Shelton does such a great job of describing the store and the town of Star City Utah that I felt like I was right there in the middle of the action. I also love the characters - Clare (who can be a tad judgmental at times), her grandfather Chester (how has a habit of telling tall tales), Seth (new in town and a great love interest for Clare), Clare’s best friend Jodi (who is very good at her police job), even Jodie’s cheating brother Creighton. Unfortunately, perhaps because so much time was spent developing the characters, the mystery itself wasn't quite as well-developed. It was certainly interesting enough, but this isn't the type of mystery where I could follow the clues to figure out who the killer is. Having said that, Shelton is a talented and experienced writer and I suspect that now that the characters and setting have been nicely established the mystery in the next book will be a bit more complex.
“To Helvetica and Back” is a nice cozy mystery by the always enjoyable Paige Shelton....more
Abby Knight Salvare and her husband Marco Salvare have finally moved into their dream home. There are a few problems, however, including the fact thatAbby Knight Salvare and her husband Marco Salvare have finally moved into their dream home. There are a few problems, however, including the fact that they need new furniture and Abby's cousin Jillian is more than happy to help them find it and decorate their house. Then there is the dead body found in a pond near their house and the fact that the police think their next-door neighbor is the killer. Abby and Marco aren’t sure the police have the right person and as private detectives they start investigating the case. They need to be careful though as the killer may be desperate enough to kill again.
“Moss Hysteria” is the nicely done eighteenth book in Kate Collins’ Flower Shop cozy mystery series. I like Abby as a heroine – she has grown as a character throughout the series yet she still has a fiery temper and can be a bit impetuous at times. Her relationship with Rosa, a new worker Bloomers, Abby's flower shop, is easily one of the more interesting parts of this book and helps keep the series fresh (even if I did want to shake Abby a few times as she was dealing with Rosa!). Abby and Marco's moving to a new neighborhood is a good plot device - not only does it offer plenty of suspects in this book but no doubt for murders in future books. The murder mystery is indeed well plotted not only with the number of suspects but some red herrings, twists, and turns. There is a real sense of danger towards the end of this book that makes it a real page turner. Oh, and I just love Kitty!
“Moss Hysteria” is another nice cozy mystery by Kate Collins....more
Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen is upset when she finds the body of the Barbara Leader, nurse to former Virginia Governor Samuel Holloway, slumped over tMary Minor “Harry” Haristeen is upset when she finds the body of the Barbara Leader, nurse to former Virginia Governor Samuel Holloway, slumped over the steering wheel of her car. At first it appears that she died of a heart attack, but the evidence soon points to murder. As always, Harry finds herself helping her friend, policewoman Cynthia “Coop” Cooper, solve the case. Little do they realize that the present day murder is deeply tied toa murder in 1784 and the modern-day killer is willing to kill again to protect secrets from the past.
I never quite know what to expect when reading one of Rita Mae Brown's books and “Tall Tail” is no exception. Like “Tail Gait” before it, “Tall Tail” takes place in both the present in the past - in fact “Tall Tail” is basically a sequel to “Tail Gait” with many of the same characters from the past showing up in both books. Brown does an excellent job of writing both stories and does an especially excellent job of tying everything together at the end. Of the two stories, I have to say the events in the past, while not quite a “real” mystery, held my interest the most and made me feel for the characters the most. The modern day mystery is okay and comes to an exciting conclusion but it seems to get lost in the shuffle along the way. What disappointed me the most about this book, and other recent books in the series, is how little we see of the secondary characters who played such big roles in the earlier books in the series – Miranda, Reverend Herbert Jones, Boom Boom, Big Mim and Little Mim have all but disappeared from these books which is a real shame.
Melanie Cooper has been against the idea of franchising her bakery, Fairy Tale Cupcakes, and even more so when she meets the potential new owner HollyMelanie Cooper has been against the idea of franchising her bakery, Fairy Tale Cupcakes, and even more so when she meets the potential new owner Holly Hartzmark, a Las Vegas show girl. But Mel soon learns that there is more to Holly than meets the eye, especially when the first location they look at for the new bakery is blown up in an explosion that looks deliberate. Other events make it obvious that someone is determined to stop the new bakery no matter what the cost - even if it means killing someone.
“Vanilla Beaned” is the nicely done eighth book in Jenn McKinlay's Cupcake Bakery Cozy Mystery Series. Having a book in a cozy mystery series set in a different location than usual can be risky but McKinlay pulls it off perfectly. She does a great job with the Las Vegas location using it wonderfully without going over the top which she sometimes has a habit of doing (I thought she might go over the top once or twice in this book but she didn't – hooray!) I love Holly as a character - this is a great storyline that adds much to the mystery (and presumably future books in the series). The book has a nice mixture of humor (including a subtle shout out to McKinlay's Hat Shop Cozy Mystery Series) and tension (there are some very tense moments in this book). The ending of the book made me want to laugh, cry, and groan at the same time! As for the mystery itself, it is well plotted with plenty of suspects and I was surprised when the killer was revealed.
“Vanilla Beaned” is another nice cozy mystery by Jenn McKinlay. ...more
Ella Mae LeFaye has been thinking about expanding the menu at her pie shop to include recipes for customers with food allergies and dietary restrictioElla Mae LeFaye has been thinking about expanding the menu at her pie shop to include recipes for customers with food allergies and dietary restriction and Beatrice Burbank's invitation to teach members of the Camellia Club how to make pies seems like the perfect opportunity to try out some of those recipes. Unfortunately, before the event happens Ella Mae finds Beatrice's body floating in Lake Havenwood and it wasn't an accident. Ella Mae quickly realizes that there is something very dangerous going on with the Camellia Club but she will have to fight this evil without her magic powers which are gone. In order to fight, she will need the help of friends but at what cost?
“Breach of Crust” is the enchanting fifth book in Ellery Adams’ Charmed Pie Shoppe cozy mystery series. Actually the series is part cozy mystery, part supernatural (many characters in the book have magic powers), and part mythology - it may sound like an odd combination but it works in this series which gets stronger with every book. Adams has done a wonderful job creating the world Ella Mae, her family and friends live in with some of whom having magic powers and others who don't (and don’t know magic exists). This world and the people in it grow and change with every book – especially Ella Mae in this book. Adams takes her time revealing the mystery in this book but by the time she does, I was completely caught up in the storyline. This is really not so much a “who done it” as it is a “why are these things happening” type of book and the answer to that is well done and a bit frightening especially to those living in Havenwood, Georgia. The ending of the book (no spoilers here) grabbed at my heart, made me want to cry, and terrified me all at the same time - well done Ms. Adams!
“Breach of Crust” is another great mystery by Ellery Adams!...more
While Lila Watkins always enjoys her work at the Novel Idea Literary Agency, she is especially thrilled with the agency's latest venture - a wedding tWhile Lila Watkins always enjoys her work at the Novel Idea Literary Agency, she is especially thrilled with the agency's latest venture - a wedding themed week celebrating not only authors represented by the agency but local vendors featuring products like wedding gowns, cakes, flowers, and photography. Not only is she representing one of the authors featured at the event, she is hoping to get ideas for her wedding to Detective Shawn Griffiths. However, Lila's excitement quickly turns to shock and dismay when a man is found murdered and several of the authors represented by the agency may be suspects. Lila and the rest of the agents decide to find out who the killer but their sleuthing puts them in real danger.
I love Lucy Arlington’s Novel Idea cozy mystery series and “Off the Books” is no exception. I love Lila and especially the way she grows in this book as she begins to realize that she has been so wrapped up in her work that she has neglected seeing what is going on with her mother and son - this is very realistically done and made me like Lila even more. I also love the glimpses into the world of book writing - for example how many words a cozy mystery should have, what makes a good query letter, and why some authors succeed while others don't – this was very informative. I like Lila's relationship with her coworkers which continues to grow with each book and I love what Lucy Arlington did with Bentley’s character in this book. Finally, I love the reason why the whole agency pitches in to try in solve the mystery - I think one of the hardest parts of plotting out a cozy mystery must be to find ways to give the amateur sleuth a reason to have to investigate the mystery and Arlington pulls it off brilliantly in this book. Speaking of the mystery, it is very well plotted with some red herrings and some nifty twists and turns. There are plenty of suspects - this is the type of cozy mystery that I love as the author gives the reader enough clues to try to figure out who the killer is (alas I did not figure it out but the clues were there). The identity of the killer left me with mixed feelings as to the motive - this would be a perfect book to discuss during a book club meeting.
“Off the Books” is another nicely done cozy mystery by Lucy Arlington. ...more
Nichole thought she had the perfect life - married to Jake, a job that she loved, volunteer work, and especially her young son Owen. However, that lifNichole thought she had the perfect life - married to Jake, a job that she loved, volunteer work, and especially her young son Owen. However, that life is shattered when she discovers Jake has been unfaithful and his girlfriend is pregnant. Nichole decides to divorce Jake and build a new life for herself and Owen. Her plans didn't include meeting tow truck driver Rocco but when she does sparks fly between the two of them. Can these two seemingly opposite people find love? In the meantime, encouraged by Nichole's actions, her mother-in-law Leanne, who ignored her husband Sean’s infidelity for years, also decides to get a divorce. She too is building a new life when she meets Nikolai, a baker from Ukraine. Nikolai (and his bread) soon find a way to Leanne’s heart but devastating news challenges her feelings for both Sean and Nikolai.
“A Girl's Guide to Moving On” is a heartwarming and at times heartbreaking novel by Debbie Macomber. While this is listed as a standalone novel, and it can indeed be read as such, it is a sequel of sorts to “Last One Home”, and fans of that book will definitely want to read this to find out what is going on with Cassie, Stephen, and Amiee. Nichole is Cassie’s sister and I love her character - reeling after her husband's infidelity, determined to not be like her mother-in-law and suffer for years, instead she builds a new life for herself. Rocco is definitely rough around the edges but I just love his relationship with Nichole. Readers will cheer for the two of them as they have their ups and downs (and no doubt some readers will hiss Jake a few times!). Leanne’s story is equally compelling as she begins a new life for herself, divorcing after many years of marriage. Her romance with Nikolai is especially well done - I just love his character! Their romance will make you laugh and cry - there are truly some heartbreaking moments in store for Leanne.
Usually when I read books like this, I find I prefer one romance over the other - not so with “A Girl's Guide to Moving On”. I thoroughly enjoyed both romances in the book and was sorry when the book was over....more
In “The Lively Place”, author Stephen Kendrick not only looks at the founding of Mount Auburn Cemetery but the changes made there throughout the yearsIn “The Lively Place”, author Stephen Kendrick not only looks at the founding of Mount Auburn Cemetery but the changes made there throughout the years. He takes a look at some of the people that have worked there in the past as well as those that work there now. He also talks about some of the people buried there, both well-known and unknown to the general public.
Full confession - for many years I have worked close to Mount Auburn Cemetery (within walking distance really) but I have never been inside. I have always been curious about it, however, so decided to read “The Lively Place” to get some more information about the cemetery.
“The Lively Place” is an interesting book. Kendrick divides the book into the four seasons and offers glimpses into what the cemetery is like during different times of the year. He has a nice, descriptive way of writing so that I felt like I was walking alongside him as he described the cemetery. I am not sure which fascinated me the most - the cemetery grounds themselves, the wildlife living there, the birds, the history of the cemetery, the future of the cemetery, or the stories of the people buried there. In the end, I think my favorite part of the book was the stories of some of the people buried there - several times I put down the book so I could do more research online about the people Kendrick mentions in the book.
For me, “The Lively Place” was not the type of book that is to be read in one setting - I read a little at a time and savored my visit there. Also, after reading the book I signed up for a tour of Mount Auburn Cemetery so I can see it myself :-)