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

Top Ten Characters I Would Crush On If I Were Also A Fictional Character

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 list the characters that we would “crush on” if we were also a fictional character (because of course no real person ever actually crushes on a fictional character – that would just be silly and we are all firmly planted in reality…).  This was actually a really difficult list for me, I don’t tend to crush on fictional characters all that  much – I might like them, think they’re funny, inspiring, intriguing – but the idea of having a “crush” on them was a little weird for me, and I may have ended up with a list of male characters that I like, but don’t “like-like”, but I tried…

  1. Jack Reacher  – The main character in Lee Child’s Reacher series (the way that he is written – NOT Tom Cruise!!!), he is certainly characterized as being smart, tough, good-looking, and good with women.  He’s a tough guy, and you know that he’s going to move on after the current catastrophe is resolved, but hey – not a bad guy to have around if your life needs saving…
  2. Morelli vs Ranger – For fans of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series I will provide my thoughts on the Morelli vs Ranger question.  My vote?  Morelli.  Sure, Ranger is supposed to be crazy hot, but so is Morelli and wouldn’t it be nice to have a guy who was there even when your car wasn’t on fire?
  3. Edward vs Jake – For fans of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight stories – I pick Jake.  Sorry, but vampires are creepy – all that undead, blood-drinking, not sleeping, pale skin – doesn’t do anything for me.  Jake may be a werewolf, but at least they’re living, somehow makes it less weird, I guess?
  4. Atticus Finch – The dad in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is definitely crushable – honest, ethical, a great single dad – and always Gregory Peck in my mind…
  5. Lucas Davenport – The main character in John Sandford’s Prey series is intense, well-dressed, extremely wealthy from his former dork-days (I’ve always been a sucker for a cute dork), and always catches the bad guy – what’s not to like?
  6. Robert Langdon – I have a soft-spot for smart guys, and Langdon from the Dan Brown books is definitely uber-smart, travels all over the world, and has crazy history-changing adventures.  Sounds like fun to me… as long as I don’t get killed…
  7. Cliff Janeway – Cliff Janeway is a former cop turned rare book dealer in John Dunning’s Janeway series.  A tough guy, always saves the day, who knows and loves books – what’s not to love?
  8. Rhett Butler – I’m much more reasonable than Scarlet ever dreamt of being, Rhett wouldn’t have to curse at me…
  9. Inspector Gamache – Inspector Gamache from Louise Penny’s mystery series is probably just a character that I really want to know – not necessarily a crush – I would be happy to have him as a friend, an uncle, a colleague – his constance, his sincerity, his intelligence, his kindness – I have always wished that I could actually meet him!  Plus, he’s married to a librarian… 😉
  10. Rudy – The perfect childhood crush – filled with innocence and adoration – the boy that will do anything for you while begging for a kiss and annoying you – Rudy from Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief is my definition of great childhood love.