Mystery Mayhem

Here’s a quick look what’s new in some of my favorite mystery series!

billionaire blendThe Coffeehouse Mystery novels follow Claire Cosi, the owner of The Village Blend, a coffeehouse in New York City which she owns with her wealthy world-traveler ex-husband Matteo, having formerly been owned and run by her mother-in-law.  Claire is constantly stumbling into dangerous situations or finding dead bodies.  Much to the chagrin of her cop boyfriend Mike she sticks her nose into the authority’s business, trying to solve the latest murder.

In this latest installment, Billionaire Blend, a car bomb goes off outside of The Village Blend, killing the driver while the owner is in the coffeehouse talking to Claire.  The car happens to belong to a young tech-billionaire who wants Claire to create an exclusive coffee, affordable only by the ultra-rich.  Claire is soon drawn into the world of the wealthy, being flown around the world and taken to the most exclusive clubs.  More interestingly, she finds herself in the middle of corporate intrigue, cut-throat rivalries, and sibling jealousies.  Of course, in the end, it will all work out!

This is a fun series with little surprises but enjoyable characters.  Claire’s relationship with her ex-husband is interesting, old emotions wrapped up in a new type of partnership.  Madame, Claire’s mother-in-law, is a classy lady with a colorful history.  Mike and Claire struggle in their relationship at times, adding a dose of reality.  And Claire also struggles with motherhood to her adult child, Jill, balancing being there with learning to let go.  To top it all off there are recipes!  And I love recipes, even if I never actually make them!

Title: Billionaire Blend
Author: Cleo Coyle
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 400
Publication: Berkley, December 2013

books can be deceivingThe Library Lover’s Mystery novels is a cozy mystery series that I discovered recently.  It’s a fun mystery series, and it’s for library lovers, so how can it be bad?  🙂  The series follows Lindsey, the new director of the public library on the coast of Connecticut in Briar Creek, and of course the mysteries that seem to pop-up on a regular basis there!

In the first book in the series, Books Can Be Deceiving, Lindsey’s best friend and the children’s librarian, Beth, becomes the chief suspect in a murder.  When Beth tries to talk to a New York publisher about the children’s book she’s been working on she discovers that her boyfriend and Caldecott award winner, has stolen her ideas.  When she and Lindsey go to confront him what they find is his dead body.  Will Lindsey be able to figure out who did it before Beth is thrown behind bars?

Being the director of a small public library I enjoyed the way that the story revolved around this small library and its staff.  The characters are delightful, from the stern and cranky Ms. Cole who hates anything new and is constantly disapproving of Lindsey, to the supportive group at the Crafternoon Club at the library – a group of lively characters that share books, food, and crafts.  I am definitely looking forward to spending more time with the group from Briar Creek and seeing how this series matures.

Title: Books Can Be Deceiving
Author: Jenn McKinlay
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 304
Publication: Berkley, July 2011

murder as a second languageThe Claire Malloy Mystery novels follow Claire Malloy, a bookstore owner in a small college town, where she lives with her teenage daughter Caron.  Constantly stumbling into trouble, Claire also always seems to stumble upon the answer, much to the annoyance of her beau, Deputy Chief Peter Rosen.

In the latest installment, Murder as a Second Language, Claire has recently married Peter and moved to a beautiful house outside of town.  With the bookstore being run by hired help, and Caron busy being a teenager, Claire suddenly finds herself with time on her hands.  When she agrees to help out at an ESL tutoring center, she is pushed into being on the board which faces budgetary issues and accusations of embezzlement.  When an elderly Russian student, who is strongly disliked by most people at the literacy center, is found dead by the copier, Claire is back in the thick of it again.  Only this time Peter may actually want her help.

I found this book in the series to simply be ok, not great.  Claire’s overly bratty teenage daughter is starting to get on my nerves, and Claire actually started to in this book.  Maybe it’s because I have to work and there are a million things I would do with my days if I didn’t, but I found her “Woe is me, I have nothing to keep my occupied” attitude to be grating.  I liked her better when she was living in her crappy apartment, trying to make ends meet, and running her bookstore.  It will be interesting to see where her character goes from here…  And Caron?  Hopefully she goes far away to college…

Title: Murder as a Second Language
Author: Joan Hess
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 304
Publication: Minotaur, December 2013

takedown twentyThe Stephanie Plum novels follow the bumbling bounty hunter through the streets of Trenton, New Jersey as she unsuccessfully tries to catch the latest skip.  With ex-prostitute Lulu and the wild and unpredictable Grandma Mazur helping her out, it’s a wonder she has trouble!  And of course there is a love triangle with both the hunky and secretive security guru Ranger and the gorgeous police detective Morelli both on the scene to get her out of trouble.

In this latest installment, Takedown Twenty, Stephanie is on the trail of a mob boss that was arrested for running someone over (several times) but no one will tell her where he is.  To make matters worse, he’s Morelli’s actual godfather, causing his grandmother Bella to give Stephanie the evil-eye for trying to catch him.  And Ranger’s around too – asking Stephanie to help him track down the killer of a client’s elderly mother – which will require spending some time with Grandma Mazur at the bingo halls.  Oh, and did I mention that there’s a giraffe named Kevin running around loose throughout the streets of Trenton?

I have always loved this series, it is the only set of books that consistently makes me laugh out loud while reading.  Unfortunately, they don’t make me laugh quite as much as they used to…  The stories have become too formulaic, there are no surprises, just different versions of the same antics.  And honestly I’m getting really tired of the whole Ranger vs Morelli thing.  Grow up and make a decision and move on already!  Or at least have something interesting happen between them all!  Having shared my frustrations with the recent books in the series, I still need to be fair and say that I did laugh out loud, and it was still a fun and fast read.  I just know it could be (and should be) better…

Title: Takedown Twenty
Author: Janet Evanovich Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 320
Publication: Bantam, November 2013

Tuesday Top Ten

top ten winter 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??

This week’s challenge is to list the top ten books on my winter To-Be-Read list.  My TBR list never gets shorter, it’s much longer than 10 books, and there are probably many that I am not even thinking about yet, but here are ten books that I am looking forward to reading this winter…

top ten tbr post

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…

Tuesday Top Ten

top ten fall 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 list of books that I want to read this fall.  There are WAY more than ten, there are always way more than ten books on my TBR list, and I am probably forgetting some or there are some that will hop to the top of the list later this year when I realize they are coming out, but here’s what I’m looking forward to right now…

  1. Allegiant by Veronica Roth – This is a series that I have been reading along with my daughter this summer and I am eager to read the final book!
  2. Sycamore Row by John Grisham – Grisham’s legal thrillers are always a fast and fun read and I am looking forward to a return to the setting of A Time to Kill.
  3. The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom – I’ve been a fan of Albom’s work in the past but found The Time Keeper to be a disappointment.  I’m hopeful for better things with his next book.
  4. Just One Year by Gayle Forman – I read Just One Day earlier this year, not realizing that it was part of a series, and now I want to finish the story!
  5. Takedown Twenty by Janet Evanovich – The one series that always makes me laugh out loud!
  6. Loss of Innocence by Richard North Patterson – This novel is a prequel to Fall from Grace which I devoured in a day!
  7. Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon by Alexander McCall Smith – This series always entertains me, yet always leaves me feeling relaxed and peaceful – must be something to do with the main character’s personality.
  8. Death of Santini by Pat Conroy – An author I have always enjoyed, with much of his work based on his life – this autobiographical story is sure to be worthwhile.
  9. Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin by Jill Lepore – I am interested in learning about Ben’s little sister who apparently had quite an active part in history as well.
  10. Edison and the Rise of Innovation by Leonard DeGraaf – The dork in me is always interested in the great scientific and engineering minds throughout history.

Tuesday Top Ten


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 the challenge is to create a list of the books that you read when you need to read something light and fun.  My list consists mostly of series and genres that I enjoy in between reading more serious fare, they are always a quick read, enjoyable, leaving me ready to tackle something else.

  1. Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich – My husband always knows when I am reading one of these novels, since this is the one series, without a doubt, that always makes me laugh out loud.
  2. Cozy Mysteries – I am a huge fan of mysteries of all types, series, standalones, fluffy mysteries, and more serious fare.  In the cozy genre some of the authors I go to for a quick and fun read include Alexander McCall Smith, G.A. McKevett, Laura Childs, Kate Carlise, Sue Grafton, Carolyn Hart, Joan Hess, etc.
  3. Not-So-Cozy Mysteries – There are some mystery series that I read that I definitely do not consider light & fun, but that provoke greater thought (Louise Penny, Reed Farrel Coleman, Donna Leon) and require greater commitment from me as a reader.  There are however, a number of darker mystery series that I still consider light & fun reads from the pens of such authors as Lee Child, John Sandford, Jonathan Kellerman, etc.
  4. Picture Books – OK, so if I really need something light and fun, I spend some time with my kids and some picture books.  While there are picture books out there that address very serious and difficult issues, there are many more that are just plain fun (especially Dr. Seuss!).  Let’s face it, even ecological disaster seems lighter when told in rhyme with great illustrations…
  5. SOME YA series – I want to be careful here, because while there is plenty of light and fun reading in the young adult genre, there are also stark, dark, and difficult novels as well.  But I have had fun breezing through a number of YA series including The Hunger Games, Immortal Devices, The Iron Fey, Artemis Fowl, Harry Potter, Pendragon, etc.
  6. Beach Books –  You know the books I’m talking about, those great covers showing beautiful beaches and picnic baskets – a chance to get lost in some seaside town where you know the ending is always going to be happy and true love will always prevail.
  7. SOME Juvenile fiction – Like the YA category, this is another category where there is plenty to be found that is serious, but there is also a ton of fun stuff out there with great humor about growing up, families, relationships in school, and friendship.  My Fun Stories to Share post has some of the recent favorites that I read with my kids.
  8. Odd Thomas series by Dean Koontz – While this series can be dark and disturbing at times, I always love the quirkiness of Odd which lends levity to otherwise dire situations.
  9. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – A childhood favorite, one that I try to re-read every now and then, it is always comfortable and brings me back to my teenage days when I wished to be Jo.
  10. The Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum – OK, the flying monkeys aren’t really all that bad in the book, and the witch doesn’t even appear until towards the end, but there’s actually greater violence in the book than there is in the movie!  I just finished reading it out loud to my kids for the first time and the world of Oz is always good for escape.  Oh, and by the way, the slippers were silver…