Mystery Mayhem

steeped in evilThe Tea Shop Mysteries follow Theodesia Browning, the young and beautiful owner of a tea shop in Charleston who seems to have a knack for stumbling on dead bodies and getting embroiled in solving the mysteries of their deaths.  She is aided by the stodgy and proper Drayton (her tea master), the young and quirky Haley (her chef/baker), while running up against the gruff Detective Tidwell.

In Steeped in Evil, Theodesia leaves behind her normal beverage to attend a wine-tasting at the Knighthall Winery, but the party quickly comes to an end when a dead body is found in a wine barrel.  The dead body belongs to the son of the vineyard’s owner, Jordan Knight.  Dissatisfied with the police investigation, Jordan turns to Theodesia for her help.  With everyone lying, someone has to be hiding something, and Theodesia will inevitably solve the puzzle!

The setting is beautifully described, as is the food prepared each day for the tea shop, and both make me want to head to Charleston simply for tea.  I want to put on a fancy dress and a big hat, wander through the quaint shops in Charleston, and have some afternoon tea.

Title: Steeped in Evil
Author: Laura Childs
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 320
Publication: Berkley Hardcover, March 2014

blackberry pieThe Hannah Swensen Mysteries follow Hannah, the owner of The Cookie Jar, a cookie shop in Minnesota.  As she stumbles on dead bodies, and gets caught up in solving the mysteries, she is joined by a cast of supporting characters – her mother, sister, co-worker, and of course – the two men she can’t seem to choose between.

In Blackberry Pie Murder, Hannah actually causes the death when she happens to hit someone on the road during a storm.  Worried about whether she will be arrested, and trying to plan her mother’s wedding, Hannah dives into discovering the identity of the dead man and what he was doing there.

Unfortunately, this series is getting a little dull.  The recipes were the best part of the book.  Hannah’s indecision about Norman and Mike is tired, and the ending was not an ending or a cliffhanger – just a pause in the story.  Probably it’s supposed to inspire people to run out and buy the next book when it comes out, but I’m not sure it worked.

Title: Blackberry Pie Murder
Author: Joanne Fluke
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 368
Publication: Kensington, February 2014

killer physiqueThe Savannah Reid Mysteries follow plus-size California PI Savannah Reid, a former police officer and owner of Moonlight Magnolia Detective Agency.  With assistance from a great supporting cast which includes her new husband Dirk, her employee Tammy, and her friends John and Ryan, along with her seemingly endless Southern family members.

In Killer Physique, newlyweds Savannah and Dirk attend a movie premier with John and Ryan.  When the leading man, and John & Ryan’s friend, is found dead in his hotel room the initial evidence points to death due to doping.  Unbelieving, Savannah and Dirk promise John & Ryan that they’ll get to the bottom of things.  Meanwhile, Savannah desperately tries to get ready for the first meeting with Dirk’s birth parents.

Another fun installment in this series, the mystery was engaging and it’s interesting to watch Dirk & Savannah trying to settle into their new married life.  I did miss Granny, maybe she’ll be around next time…

Title: Killer Physique
Author: G.A. McKevett
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 320
Publication: Kensington, March 2014

by its coverThe Commissario Guido Brunetti novels follow the Venetian Commissario as he delves into crimes in a city full of corruption.  With an idiotic and useless boss, an inventive and talented secretary, and several steadfast and talented officers, Brunetti always finds the answers, even when they are difficult to accept or understand.  More than a simple mystery, these novels are about human nature and the intricacies and contradictions that lie in all of us.

In By Its Cover, Brunetti is called to a private Venetian research library.  Someone has been stealing rare books and cutting illustrations out of valuable texts.  The suspect is an American researcher who disappeared shortly before the thefts were discovered.  But when a patron of the library who was a former priest and a theologian is found murdered, Brunetti must delve deeper to find the answers.

The Brunetti novels are among my favorite mystery series, and this one took place in a library, so I have little to complain about!  It did seem short on character interaction which I have loved in the previous books.  The interactions and discussions between Brunetti, his wife, his children, his in-laws, and his co-workers have always been central in contemplating, and struggling to understand, life, crime and human nature.  Hopefully they will be back in Brunetti’s next installment.

Title: By Its Cover
Author: Donna Leone
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 288
Publication: Atlantic Monthly Press, April 2014

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Looking Forward to April

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Tuesday Top Ten

spring tbr

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Book bloggers create their own lists based on the chosen topics and post links to our lists. It’s a way of all sharing our thoughts and our love of books.  And who doesn’t love lists??

So this week’s challenge was to list the top ten books on our TBR list for this spring.  I stuck to books that are being released this spring.  What are you looking forward to reading this spring?

  1. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin – A novel about bookstores – how can I resist?!  And it sounds like an interesting story, too.
  2. Chestnut Street by Maeve Binchy – One last book from a master storyteller…
  3. One Hundred Names by Cecelia Ahern –Ahern’s books always have a unique perspective on life.
  4. The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt – The next book in my Indiespensables subscription which rarely disappoints!
  5. The Ninja Librarians by Jen Swann Downey – Sorry, I can’t help it!  When I told my husband I wanted this book, he told me I already have too many books.  My argument?  None of them are about Ninja Librarians!

And a bunch of books in series that I read are coming out this spring!

  1. Field of Prey by John Sandford – I didn’t love his last book, but I have always liked the Lucas Davenport books in the past, so I’m giving him another chance!
  2. Robert B. Parker’s Cheap Shot by Ace Atkins – Ahh… the chance to hang with Spencer and Hawk again!
  3. By Its Cover by Donna Leone – I’m looking forward to the opportunity to travel the streets of Venice again with Commissario Guido Brunetti
  4. In the Morning I’ll Be Gone by Adrian McKinty – The last book in The Trouble Trilogy, it will be interesting to see where Sean Duffy, a Catholic cop in the Protestant police force in Northern Ireland in the early 1980s, will end up.
  5. The Hollow Girl by Reed Farrel Coleman – I am so excited to read this book, but so sad to see the end of the Moe Prager series, one of the best detective series ever written.

Tuesday Top Ten

top ten anticipated sequels

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Book bloggers create their own lists based on the chosen topics and post links to our lists. It’s a way of all sharing our thoughts and our love of books.  And who doesn’t love lists??

So this week’s challenge was to list the top ten upcoming sequels that I’m anticipating.  Since I have tried to give up on reading series until all of the books are coming out, this was a tricky list for me, but there are a couple of series that I still have not finished…

Next-in-Series YA Novels:

  1. Allegiant by Veronica Roth – The final book is out!  And as soon as my daughter is done with it, I will take my turn!
  2. Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater – A fun series – – I’m not “dying” to read the next book, but it should be entertaining.
  3. Fall of Five by Pittacus Lore – See #2.
  4. Just One More Year by Gayle Forman – I read the first book in the series, Just One Day, without realizing it was part of a series, so now I want to know the end of the story!

Next-in-Series Adult Fiction – Coming Soon!

  1. Takedown Twenty by Janet Evanovich – Always hilarious and books that I always am excited for each November.
  2. Sycamore Row by John Grisham – John Grisham returns to the setting of A Time to Kill, one of my favorite Grisham novels.

I’m Going to Have to Wait a Long Time…

  1. Eden in Winter by Richard North Patterson – I’m really reaching now, since this book doesn’t come out until July 2014, but I really enjoyed the different directions he took with the first two novels, Fall from Grace and Loss of Innocence, and am looking forward to seeing where he goes now.
  2. By Its Cover by Donna Leone – The next book in the Commissario Guido Brunetti series isn’t due out until April 2014, but I am ready for another dose of Venice!
  3. The Hollow Girl by Reed Farrel Coleman – The Moe Prager novels are some of my favorites, truly some of the best detective writing out there today, coming out in May 2014 this will be the last in the series!  😦
  4. Others that have not yet been announced and that I will have to wait far too long for – the next Inspector Gamache book by Louise Penny, the next Odd Thomas book by Dean Koontz, and probably many more that I can’t think of right now…