Tag Archives: cozy mystery

Review: Assault and Pepper by Leslie Budewitz

About Assault and Pepperassaultandpepper

Series: A Spice Shop Mystery (#1)
Kindle Edition: 304 pages
Published: March 2015 by Berkley
Source:
 Purchased

Goodreads DescriptionThe Agatha Award-winning author of Crime Rib is proud to introduce Pepper Reece, the owner of the Seattle Spice Shop who thinks she can handle any kind of salty customer—until a murderer ends up in the mix…

After leaving a dicey marriage and losing a beloved job in a corporate crash, Pepper Reece has found a new zest for life running a busy spice and tea shop in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Her aromatic creations are the talk of the town, and everyone stops by for a cup of her refreshing spice tea, even other shopkeepers and Market regulars. But when a panhandler named Doc shows up dead on the store’s doorstep, a Seattle Spice Shop cup in his hand, the local gossip gets too hot for Pepper to handle—especially after the police arrest one of Pepper’s staffers, Tory Finch, for murder.

Tory seems to know why she’s a suspect, but she refuses to do anything to curry favor with the cops. Convinced her reticent employee is innocent, Pepper takes it on herself to sniff out some clues. Only, if she’s not careful, Pepper’s nosy ways might make her next on the killer’s list…

My Review

Assault and Pepper is the first book in Leslie Budewitz’s Spice Shop Mystery series. Pepper has recently lost her job, divorced her detective husband, and purchased the Seattle Spice Shop. She’s just starting to get the hang of being a small business owner in downtown Seattle, when one of the area’s local panhandlers dies outside her store. The police quickly deem it murder, and soon arrest one of Pepper’s employees.

If you’re like me and sometimes skip straight to the rating (it’s fine, we all do it), you’ll see this wasn’t a hit for me. For one thing, I felt like I didn’t know Pepper – or any of the other characters – any better at the end of the story than at the beginning. There just wasn’t enough character development. Because of that, I truly didn’t care what happened.

I also didn’t really care about the mystery, because to me the killer was painstakingly obvious. Part of it was the fact that the person was mentioned and then more or less ignored. If you read enough cozies (which I do), that’s a sure sign that’s whodunit. The other part was the method – poisoning requires certain knowledge, and there’s a small number of likely candidates. If you read Assault and Pepper, come back and tell me how long it took you to guess the murderer.

What I did enjoy, though, were all the descriptions of spices. Which is funny, because a lot of reviewers seem to think there was too much spice talk! For me, the lack of character and plot development made the spices the only interesting part of the book.

I ended up skimming the last third or so of Assault and Pepper, but I don’t regret reading it. Cozies are generally quick and light. If you’re a fan of the genre, this one might be worth keeping for a rainy day.

Review: Asking for Truffle by Dorothy St. James

askingfortruffleAbout Asking for Truffle

Series: A Southern Chocolate Shop Mystery (#1)
Kindle Edition: 304 pages
Published: September 2017 by Crooked Lane Books
Source:
 NetGalley

Goodreads DescriptionWhen Charity Penn receives a letter saying she won a trip to Camellia Beach, South Carolina complete with free cooking lessons at the town’s seaside chocolate shop, The Chocolate Box, she’s immediately skeptical. She never entered any contest. Her former prep school friend offers to look into the phony prize–only to end up drowned in a vat of chocolate.

Struck with guilt, Penn heads to the southern beach town to investigate why he was killed. But as wary as she is of the locals, she finds herself lured into their eccentric vibe, letting her defenses melt away and even learning the art of crafting delicious chocolates. That is, until delight turns bittersweet as she steps straight into the midst of a deadly plot to destroy the seaside town. Now, only Penn’s quick thinking and a mysterious cask of rare chocolate can save the town she’s learning to love.

Rich and decadent, Asking for Truffle, the first in a new cozy series by Dorothy St. James, is sure to be a delectable read for fans of JoAnna Carl and Joanne Fluke.

My Review

I really am a sucker for dogs on covers. But I mean, I love cozy mysteries, and this one promised to talk about chocolate. Can’t go wrong there, right?

I’ll just come right out and say it – you really have to stick with this one. Penn is awful for the majority of the book – she’s self-centered, and has an enormous chip on her shoulder. For much of the novel, the secondary characters are the only thing keeping it alive. I kept reading because I wanted to know more about Mabel and Bertie and the rest of Camellia Beach.

But, by the end of the novel, I was actually rooting for Penn. She grows just a tiny bit, enough to make her tolerable. Same with her dog, Stella – actually, the two are kinda similar. Stella bites, and Penn probably would too if she were a dog. By the end, both are nipping instead of chomping…progress right?

The mystery was actually pretty strong, if a little hard to follow at times. I did think the murderer was obvious, but I don’t fault the author for that. I read a ton of cozy mysteries, so I’m good at spotting the killer, and it’s incredibly rare for me to be surprised.

I loved learning about chocolate though, and the town spirit was rather enjoyable. I can see myself picking up the next book in the series to see how Penn’s decision plays out in the next book.

Bottom line? Asking for Truffle is a sweet start to the Southern Chocolate Shop series.

3 stars

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC! 

Review: Pit Perfect by Renee George

pitperfectAbout Pit Perfect

• Series: Barkside of the Moon (#1)
• Kindle Edition:
 175 pages
• Published: December 2016 by Book Boutiques
• Source:
 Netgalley

Goodreads DescriptionPit Perfect is a tale of mystery and suspense that will have you on the edge of your seat. Fall in love with Lily Mason, the shifter who only wants to live as a human, and her pit bull Smooshie, a rescue dog who in the end may be the one doing the rescuing!

When cougar-shifter Lily Mason moves to Moonrise, Missouri, she wishes for only three things from the town and its human population: 1) to find a job, 2) to find a place to live, and 3) to live as a human, not a therianthrope.

Lily gets more than she bargains for when a rescue pit bull named Smooshie rescues her from an oncoming car, and it’s love at first sight. Thanks to Smooshie, Lily’s first two wishes are granted by Parker Knowles, the owner of the Pit Bull Rescue center, who offers her a job at the shelter and the room over his garage for rent.

Lily’s new life as an integrator is threatened when Smooshie finds Katherine Kapersky, the local church choir leader and head of the town council, dead in the field behind the rescue center. Unfortunately, there are more suspects than mourners for the elderly town leader. Can Lily keep her less-than-human status under wraps? Or will the killer, who has pulled off a nearly Pit Perfect murder, expose her to keep Lily and her dog from digging up the truth?

This paranormal cozy mystery contains cougar-shifters, shifters, lovable pit bulls, and supernatural beings.

My Thoughts on Pit Perfect

Pit Perfect is the first book in Renee George’s Barkside of the Moon series. It features Lily Mason, a werecougar with a bit of witch. Lily has just left home in Paradise Falls, where she’s surrounded by other paranormal creatures, to track down her uncle in Missouri. It’s her first time living among humans, and she’s got some adjusting to do! On her first day in town, Lily adopts – or rather, is adopted by – Smooshie, a loveable pit bull, and the two are quickly inseparable. However, that night, the town’s matriarch and all-around-nasty-lady is murdered in the backyard of the animal rescue shelter. Parker Knowles, the shelter owner and Lily’s new crush, is the prime suspect. What’s a werecougar to do?

I had a blast reading Pit Perfect. I fell in love with Smooshie immediately – she definitely steals the show. I was really intrigued by the paranormal component, but honestly would have liked a little more of it! Perhaps that’s in book 2? I also thought the timeline was a bit unrealistic, since everything (including Lily feeling like she now has friends and family and a home) happens in pretty much 3 days. But, let’s be honest – neither of these things prevented me from thoroughly enjoying the story. I love these little gems – relatively unknown books that are a joy to read.

Pit Perfect is a very quick read at only 175 pages. Book 2, The Money Pit, was released a couple of weeks ago. I’ve already used a Scribd credit on it, so expect that review shortly! Renee George has a ton of books out – both cozy mysteries and romance – all with paranormal characters. Anyone read any of her others?

3 stars

Huge thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the ARC. All opinions are my own.

June Book Reviews (2015) – Part 1

I promised to read more in June….and I did! So much reading, in fact, that if I’d tried to put it all in one post it would have overwhelmed all of us. I also realized I should have been giving you a synopsis for each book, so you’d know what I was talking about. Fixing that from now on!!

Whole Cat and Caboodle3 starsGoodreads Description: Sarah Grayson is the happy proprietor of Second Chance, a charming shop in the oceanfront town of North Harbor, Maine. At the shop, she sells used items that she has lovingly refurbished and repurposed. But her favorite pet project so far has been adopting a stray cat she names Elvis. Elvis has seen nine lives—and then some. The big black cat with a scar across his nose turned up at a local bar when the band was playing the King of Rock and Roll’s music and hopped in Sarah’s truck. Since then, he’s been her constant companion and the furry favorite of everyone who comes into the store. But when Sarah’s elderly friend Maddie is found with the body of a dead man in her garden, the kindly old lady becomes the prime suspect in the murder. Even Sarah’s old high school flame, investigator Nick Elliot, seems convinced that Maddie was up to no good. So it’s up to Sarah and Elvis to clear her friend’s name and make sure the real murderer doesn’t get a second chance.

This actually took me a while to read, comparatively speaking. I usually blow through cozies in a day or two, three tops. This one took me almost two weeks. Not because it was bad, just because I couldn’t focus! When I finally got into it though, I devoured it. First of all, Elvis absolutely makes the story. Second, Sarah is one of the few cozy characters who doesn’t set out to become a sleuth from the beginning. In this story, you get a lot more of the secondary and tertiary characters. It was a team effort, and that team was very….unique. I enjoyed it (and now I want to plant teacup gardens…..).

Buy a Whisker3 starsGoodreads Description: Things have been quiet in the coastal town of North Harbor, Maine, since Sarah Grayson and her rescue cat, Elvis, solved their first murder. Sarah is happy running Second Chance, the shop where she sells lovingly refurbished and repurposed items. But then she gets dragged into a controversy over developing the waterfront. Most of the residents—including Sarah—are for it, but there is one holdout—baker Lily Carter. So when Lily is found murdered in her bakery, it looks like somebody wanted to remove the only obstacle to the development. But Sarah soon discovers that nothing is as simple as it seems. Now, with the help of her cat’s uncanny ability to detect a lie, Sarah is narrowing down the suspects. But can she collar the culprit before the ruthless killer pounces again?

I enjoyed the second book just as much as the first. In addition to the great characters, what I like about this series so far is that I honestly never have a clue who the bad guy is. There aren’t a whole lot of red herrings, and to be honest, the mystery part is fairly secondary to the rest of the story about Sarah and Second Chance and all the goings on in North Harbor. In a way, that makes the mystery and solving the mystery a little “neat” in terms of how quickly they corner the killers, but I’m ok with that because I enjoy the rest of it.

To Die Fur3 starsGoodreads Description: Deirdre has her hands full, as usual. Working as as a Jill-of-all-trades for a zany billionaire like Zelda Zoransky means the daily grind is closer to a juggling act, and this week is no exception—especially when her side job is directing spiritual traffic in Zelda’s pet cemetery. With ZZ hosting a party for some of the world’s wealthiest animal collectors and a rare albino liger named Augustus in residence at the private zoo, Foxtrot is ready for trouble to take a big bite out of her schedule. She doesn’t have to wait long. The half-ton big cat is dead, and there’s a houseful of colorful suspects, each one wackier than the next. But if they were all bidding to buy him, who would want Augustus dead? With the help of Tango’s feline telepathy and Whiskey the canine shapeshifter, Foxtrot learns that there’s much more to Augustus than meets the eye. Now they just have to sniff out a killer before any more fur flies…

I loved the first one in this series, and was super excited to read the second. Sadly, while it was cute, it just wasn’t as great as the first. I didn’t really enjoy the mystery, and I wanted more Augustus time! I also had hoped to revisit some of the characters from the first book a little more than I did. I realize it’s not always easy to include every minor character, but I felt their loss! That said, this is still a fun series and one I’m definitely looking forward to continuing.

men expain things2 starsGoodreads Description: In her comic, scathing essay “Men Explain Things to Me,” Rebecca Solnit took on what often goes wrong in conversations between men and women. She wrote about men who wrongly assume they know things and wrongly assume women don’t, about why this arises, and how this aspect of the gender wars works, airing some of her own hilariously awful encounters. She ends on a serious note— because the ultimate problem is the silencing of women who have something to say, including those saying things like, “He’s trying to kill me!” This book features that now-classic essay with six perfect complements, including an examination of the great feminist writer Virginia Woolf ’s embrace of mystery, of not knowing, of doubt and ambiguity, a highly original inquiry into marriage equality, and a terrifying survey of the scope of contemporary violence against women.

This was our June Book Club book. We had a shorter gap between meetings, so thought it would be an easyish read, plus there’d be stuff to talk about. Boy, did we miss the mark.

To be fair, the description in NO WAY matches the actual book. It’s not funny. It’s not terribly enlightening, though there were a few points that made me stop and think. The Virginia Woolf essay makes no sense, has nothing to do with any of the other essays, and put me to sleep.

To sum it up….I think this was the longest 130 page book I’ve ever read.

room3 starsGoodreads Description: To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits. Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it’s not enough…not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son’s bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work. Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.

Oh, Room. I’ve had this book on my to-read list since I first heard about it in 2010, shortly after it came out. It’s got a fairly high rating (3.96) and has been on tons of must-read lists. I just couldn’t seem to get around to it, so I finally suggested it for Book Club. We ended up picking Men Explain Things, but listed Room as one of two backup books. To be honest, I wasn’t really planning on reading the backup books, but then I ended up getting super sick, and had tons of reading time. So Room it was.

This book is so freakin’ fucked up. Not just the story/subject, but ….ugh. I hated the characters. All of them. I actually liked Jack better when he was in the room than out, though I did think the portrayal was fairly realistic. I hated Ma (whatever her name was), and I wanted to punch her for the way she acted after they escaped. I think the character I most appreciated was Steppa, and he gets very little mention.

And can we just…Just when I thought I’d never have to read about Jack breastfeeding again, therefore finally getting away from the cringe-worthy stuff, he starts sucking on his mother’s rotted tooth. GIVE ME A BREAK.

I didn’t hate Room, but I didn’t love it either. I had a problem with some of it being unrealistic (the whole rescue scene), and I had a problem with the inconsistencies in Jack’s vocabulary and speech patterns. Particular issue was the use of do and did….half the time he got it right and half the time he didn’t. Maybe that’s how 5 year olds are, but I couldn’t help thinking he either knew it or he didn’t.

I wouldn’t put this on a must-read list, but I am glad I read it…if only so I can mark it down as one I never need to read again.

adulting2 starsGoodreads Description: If you graduated from college but still feel like a student . . . if you wear a business suit to job interviews but pajamas to the grocery store . . . if you have your own apartment but no idea how to cook or clean . . . it’s OK. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Just because you don’t feel like an adult doesn’t mean you can’t act like one. And it all begins with this funny, wise, and useful book. Based on Kelly Williams Brown’s popular blog, ADULTING makes the scary, confusing “real world” approachable, manageable-and even conquerable.  

I think my issue with this book is more that I’m not the target audience anymore than the book itself. There were a couple interesting points, but most of it is stuff I’ve figured out by now. This would be a good gift for a high school graduate, or maybe even a college graduate, but anyone past that is going to be bored.

Still Alice5 starsGoodreads Description: Alice Howland is proud of the life she worked so hard to build. At fifty years old, she’s a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and a world-renowned expert in linguistics with a successful husband and three grown children. When she becomes increasingly disoriented and forgetful, a tragic diagnosis changes her life–and her relationship with her family and the world–forever.

This book. OMG this book.

I didn’t have any desire to read it. AT ALL. I thought it sounded mopey and boring and utterly depressing. But it was our second backup book, and I was deathly ill, so it seemed appropriate.

Guys, this book is right up there with The Fault in Our Stars on the tearjerker scale. Talk about total sobfest.

I loved loved loved this book. And I loved it even more because I didn’t expect to. It shook me to the core, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. It’s the most real, honest, tragic, and beautiful depiction of a woman with early-onset Alzheimer’s. I can’t say enough about it – it’s one of those books that doesn’t really need words. Just read it.

To be continued…….

Ratings

I use the Goodreads rating scale of 1-5 stars. I know sometimes it’s hard to stick to only 5 options…lots of times we want half stars!! But, half stars make things messy. My ratings tend to be on the somewhat conservative side, so keep that in mind. Also keep in mind that a 3 star rating doesn’t mean a book is bad. Generally, I choose books that I expect to enjoy (don’t we all?). If I do enjoy them, then they’ve met my expectations…so I give them a 3. Anything lower than 3 didn’t live up to my expectations, and anything above 3 exceeded them. I’m generally not looking for certain writing styles or plot lines or technical aspects. If something stands out (for good or bad), I’ll comment on it, but in general technical aspects won’t be the sole influencer on my rating.

Any questions on my ratings? If so, just ask!

May Book Reviews (2015)


I didn’t get a whole lot read in May. Work was nuts, and to be honest I was a bit brain dead most of the month. I’ll remedy that in June!

Ratings

I use the Goodreads rating scale of 1-5 stars. I know sometimes it’s hard to stick to only 5 options…lots of times we want half stars!! But, half stars make things messy. My ratings tend to be on the somewhat conservative side, so keep that in mind. Also keep in mind that a 3 star rating doesn’t mean a book is bad. Generally, I choose books that I expect to enjoy (don’t we all?). If I do enjoy them, then they’ve met my expectations…so I give them a 3. Anything lower than 3 didn’t live up to my expectations, and anything above 3 exceeded them. I’m generally not looking for certain writing styles or plot lines or technical aspects. If something stands out (for good or bad), I’ll comment on it, but in general technical aspects won’t be the sole influencer on my rating.

Any questions on my ratings? If so, just ask, and I’ll try to clarify!

And now, on to the books!!!

A Taste Fur Murder
4 starsI read this on the flight to Montana. To be honest, I was a little embarrassed…I mean, that’s kind of a silly cover, and an even sillier title.

OMG WHO CARES.

This book is adorable. It’s hands down one of my favorite cozy mysteries. If you like animals, cozies, graveyards, and just fun stories, pick up this book. It’s got magic. It’s got a cat on life #7. It’s got a ghost/ectoplasmic dog. It’s FUN. Seriously, pick it up.  I’ve got the second one already, so expect to see the review in June.

Murder She Barked3 stars

I was really excited about this one, and it took me forever to find. It was cute, and I’ll definitely read the next in the series (have it already too), but it paled in comparison to A Taste Fur Murder. Had I not just read that, I might have enjoyed this more. The premise here is the main character’s grandmother owns a very pet-friendly inn. Cute, but nothing special. I’ll keep reading though…..

Landline2 starsI know several people who loved this book. Sadly, I’m not one of them.

I mean….it wasn’t totally terrible. But the characters…..ugh the characters. Not one of them was likeable. Wait. I take that back. Heather was fun. The best scene in the entire book involved Heather, Pizza Guy, and the pugs.

I thought the whole “magic phone” concept wasn’t done well – it felt like an afterthought and not actually part of the story. I didn’t care whether Georgie and what’s his face got their marriage straightened out. I really didn’t. Linda said this book was realistic and maybe she’s right….which means I don’t enjoy realistic character dramas. Shrug.

Girl on the Train2 starsThis was our book club book. Or well, our primary book club book (more on that below). I was skeptical, because I HATED Gone Girl, and this book is constantly compared to it.

In some ways, I see the comparison. The characters are pretty horrible. Seriously, I wanted to drown Rachel. The rest I didn’t care about one way or the other. And the story was a little messed up. Ok, a bit messed up. Not like Gone Girl messed up, just dark and depressing.

Where it differed though, was the mystery. I guessed Gone Girl about a hundred pages in. Two thirds of the way through Girl on the Train, I still wasn’t sure. Yeah, I eventually guessed it, but much later in the story than usual. For that, I have to give the book (and the author) props. I read a ton, so if a book keeps me guessing that’s a huge plus.

Do I think this is the rave book of the year? Not hardly. Would I recommend it? Maybe? Like Gone Girl though, I am glad I read it, if nothing else to see what all the hype was about.

Blue Jeans and Coffee Beans2 starsOur book club started doing a primary book and a backup book a couple of months ago. When we read Montaigne, none of us could get through it. We realized we needed and wanted a second option so if that happened again, we’d still have something to talk about. We weren’t sure how it’d go, having two books, but we decided to give it a try.

May was our second month of backup books, and Blue Jeans was the choice. We thought it’d be a light beach read. Turns out, it’s neither light nor beachy….though it is set at the beach, so I suppose that’s something.

I struggled with the rating on this. It wasn’t a hard book, and it wasn’t bad. There were times I really enjoyed it. But, the story felt cliched, and the characters felt flat. The dialogue was caustic, and I just didn’t connect with any of them. It wasn’t like other books where I hated them….I just, didn’t feel anything.

That said, there were some really beautifully written passages, and the setting was incredibly vivid. If I gave half stars, this would easily be a 2.5.

Sky12 starsNormally, this would get it’s own review. I found this book on Tomoson, and was lucky enough to snag a free copy for review. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to get through it, and I feel like it fits better as part of a monthly review for that very reason.

Here’s the synopsis: In a post-apocalyptic world, Nick Burke has been allotted 389 square feet of living space by the government. Disease spreads quickly when people are packed together so tightly. Quarantines have been imposed in an effort to contain the spread of infection. When a quarantine is imposed on Nick’s Ground, he and his family are trapped. The only way out is to break laws that carry a penalty of death. Fearing for his life and the safety of his family, Nick joins forces with a local group to move to another Ground. But can he trust his new friends?

From the synopsis, this had a lot of potential. It’s also the first in a series of at least 5 books. I enjoy apocalyptic fiction, so was really looking forward to it. I’ve read many reviews that said you have to give it a while before it grabs you…that may very well be true. I wasn’t able to make it that far. I made it about four chapters in before I completely lost interest. Not just “meh, whatever, I guess I can read this,” but more like, “I’d actually rather go floss my teeth than read this book” lost interest. I don’t abandon books often, but this one made the list.

Because of that, I’m not able to give a fair review, so take what I’m saying with a grain of salt. This book has a 4.61 rating on Goodreads, which is insanely high. Yes, there are only a handful of reviews, so keep that in mind also. It may be a great story, but unfortunately, there just wasn’t anything there to grab me.

Book of the Month

This was kind of tough, because none of these were really “wow” books…but I’ve got to go with…

A Taste Fur Murder

What books did you read this month? Any keepers?

March Book Reviews (2015)

March was not epic books month. March was……let me read brainless stuff month. *Grin*

Ratings

I use the Goodreads rating scale of 1-5 stars. I know sometimes it’s hard to stick to only 5 options…lots of times we want half stars!! But, half stars make things messy. My ratings tend to be on the somewhat conservative side, so keep that in mind. Also keep in mind that a 3 star rating doesn’t mean a book is bad. Generally, I choose books that I expect to enjoy (don’t we all?). If I do enjoy them, then they’ve met my expectations…so I give them a 3. Anything lower than 3 didn’t live up to my expectations, and anything above 3 exceeded them. I’m generally not looking for certain writing styles or plot lines or technical aspects. If something stands out (for good or bad), I’ll comment on it, but in general technical aspects won’t be the sole influencer on my rating.

Any questions on my ratings? If so, just ask, and I’ll try to clarify!

And now, on to the books!!!

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)4 starsThis one had been on my list for a while, and after slogging through Montaigne I needed something brainless. Well, something brainless and action-filled that wasn’t a cozy. I wasn’t quite ready to keep reading Spirit Animals, so Throne of Glass it was.

First of all, I think it’s awesome that the girl on the cover looks a lot like the author.

Sarah J. MaasRight? Anyway. Throne of Glass is about a girl named Celaena who’s an assassin. She’s in jail, and gets chosen by the crown prince to compete in a contest to be the king’s champion. It’s slightly reminiscent of the Hunger Games, only a little less dark and twisted.

Celaena is arrogant, and drove me a little nuts for the first half of the book. In between wanting to choke her and the author for putting in two potential love interests, I really enjoyed this. I won’t tell you much more because it’ll ruin the story for you….but this book surprised me in a really good way. I ended up loving ALL the characters, even the bad guys. Because this is the first book in a series, I kind of knew what the end result would be, but I didn’t expect anything that led up to it. And that’s rare, for a book to keep me guessing.

Bowled Over (A Vintage Kitchen Mystery, #2)3 stars

I debated for a long time on whether to give this a 2 or a 3. I eventually settled on a 3, just because I really didn’t have any trouble getting through it, and the story was interesting enough. This is the second in the Vintage Kitchen cozy mystery series. I enjoyed the first one, and had high hopes for the second. Honestly, though, the main character drove me nuts. She was so….ugh. She simpered. That’s honestly the best description I have for her. She was so.damn.annoying. And none of the rest of the characters did anything for me, like they did in book 1. And I got so tired of reading the same paragraphs over and over and over. I mean, come on….how many times is it necessary to say that the main character was sad she never made up with her friend? Or that she just didn’t understand what had happened? No joke, the same phrases and paragraphs were repeated at least 6 or 7 times. I wanted to scream. These books have been a bit hard to find in my bookstore, so I’ll probably pass on the rest of the series.

The Room
3 stars

This is a Blogging for Books post. Read the review here!

Atlantia2 stars

This book. I wanted to love it. I have a thing for anything even remotely like Atlantis. Granted, this book isn’t, but the title hooked me. Bay and Rio are twin sisters living in Atlantia on the Ocean Floor. (Seriously, Bay and Rio?? Wtf.) Anyway, when they reach a certain age they get to choose whether to stay below or go above. Rio has always wanted to go above, but promises Bay she’ll stay below with her. Well, then Bay decides to go above. Because of the rules, Rio has to stay without Bay. Blargh.

This book is roughly 300 pages long, and the first 200 pages all Rio does is complain about her life and how her sole purpose is now figuring out how to get above because it should have been her but she loves her sister and blah blah blah. I couldn’t stand her. Then, around page….220 or so….she finally GOES ABOVE and the whining stops. For a bit. Sorry, I suppose I should have said spoiler alert.

I initially gave this a 3-star rating. Why on Earth? Because as much as I hated Rio, I wanted to find out how it ended. The world wasn’t spectacularly imagined. The characters weren’t particularly memorable (or likable). The conflict wasn’t very conflicting. In short, it had nothing whatsoever to make me recommend it to anyone. Now, writing this review and thinking about it, I’ve revised that rating to 2-stars, which I still sorta think is generous.

Ally Condie’s Matched series has been on my list for a while, but if the writing is anything like this, I think I’ll pass.

Talon (The Windwalker Archive, #1)

3 starsThis was a Tomoson book. Read the review here!

Paw and Order (K9, #2)3 starsThis is such a fun series. I wouldn’t call it a cozy mystery, though it’s not strictly a detective story either. Maybe somewhere in the middle? Sorta like the Janet Evanovich Stephanie Plum series, whatever you consider that. Megan Luz is a cop, and Brigit is her furry partner. This is book 2, and every bit as enjoyable as book 1. There’s not a whole lot to say about them, other than if you like dogs and you like detective stories, you’ll like this. There’s even a bit of romance thrown in. My favorite thing about this series is you get to read Megan’s perspective, but you also get to hear from Brigit and from the bad guy. It’s a neat way to write, and it works. There isn’t as much trying to figure it out, because you already know who the bad guy is, but it’s fun to watch Megan and Brigit go about it.

The Lost Recipe for Happiness

3 stars

This is about a chef who gets a chance to run her own kitchen. I enjoyed learning a little more about the restaurant business, but the story itself wasn’t that gripping. In fact, two weeks after reading this I have very little to say about it. It was good, but nothing memorable. A quick read, and there was a dog, I remember that much.

 Corpse Pose (Mantra for Murder Mystery #1)Dial Om for Murder (Mantra for Murder, #2)

3 stars

I’m reviewing these two together because they’re part of the same series, and because my thoughts on them are pretty much the same. By now, I’ve read (and reviewed) probably 20 cozy mysteries on this blog….and most of them get a 3-star rating. These are no exception, but the more I think about it the more I think I need to revise my rating to a 4-star. I LOVE these books. First of all, the yoga theme is a nice change. It’s not a huge part of the story, really, but I’m really intrigued by the fate of the Sacred Balance studio. And the characters are so much fun. At first, A.J.’s mother drove me nuts (she’s a melodramatic movie star), but about halfway through the first book I realized she was kind of hilarious. A.J. is your average cozy character, and of course there’s the hot detective love interest, but I also really enjoy Andy’s storyline. The supporting characters are just as interesting as the main characters. Lastly, in both of these I was surprised by the killer….and that’s not usually the case. Definitely pick these up if you’re a cozy fan!

Book of the MonthAnd the title this month goes to….

Throne of Glass

What books did you read this month? Any keepers?

February Book Reviews (2015)

I actually didn’t get much reading done this month! I was trying to read several books at once, mostly nonfiction, and it took me a while. Needless to say, I’m ready for some fun stuff – not that these weren’t fun, but I need a brain break! Plus, I realized that it’s now past time for me to read the next book in the Outlander series…and I still haven’t finished book 3 of Game of Thrones. March may be “epic books month.” We’ll see.

Ratings

I use the Goodreads rating scale of 1-5 stars. I know sometimes it’s hard to stick to only 5 options…lots of times we want half stars!! But, half stars make things messy. My ratings tend to be on the somewhat conservative side, so keep that in mind. Also keep in mind that a 3 star rating doesn’t mean a book is bad. Generally, I choose books that I expect to enjoy (don’t we all?). If I do enjoy them, then they’ve met my expectations…so I give them a 3. Anything lower than 3 didn’t live up to my expectations, and anything above 3 exceeded them. I’m generally not looking for certain writing styles or plot lines or technical aspects. If something stands out (for good or bad), I’ll comment on it, but in general technical aspects won’t be the sole influencer on my rating.

Any questions on my ratings? If so, just ask, and I’ll try to clarify!

And now, on to the books!!!

Groomed For Murder (Pet Boutique #2)3 starsI loved the first one. The second was good….but I didn’t love it quite as much. Izzy kinda got on my nerves this time and the story was a little too predictable. The rest of the characters are great, and I still love the setting. Plus, I can’t wait to try the enchilada recipe in the back. (Don’t worry, I’ll tell you how it goes if I ever get around to it.) The third book should be out sometime this summer, and I’ll definitely pick it up.

One Brave Dog: Journey Beyond the Forbidden River3 starsRead the review here.

How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer3 stars

This was our February book club book. I’d never heard of Montaigne. Turns out he’s considered the father of the modern essay (not school essay, but personal essay). Bakewell’s book is a pseudo-biography that uses examples from his life and his writing (sorta) to answer the question, “How to live?”

Montaigne would have been a blogger, I think. He was all about looking inward and figuring out why he did the things he did. In a way, the book was a mix of philosophy and psychology with a good bit of history thrown in. I was expecting to read Montaigne’s writing – but other than short quotations, there isn’t any of it in here. I’ve got his Essays on my list for next month.

This is the kind of book that I think you really have to be willing to give a shot. It’s not an easy read, but it’s not terribly tough either. But, if you’re not at all interested in philosophical musings it’s probably going to put you to sleep. What I liked was that it made me think, and it made me curious.

That said, there was a lot…and I mean, a LOT….that I think could have been left out. At times, reading the history of the time periods was pretty interesting. Other times, I had no clue why it was being presented, because it made no difference to the “answer” Bakewell was presenting. I thought about half of the chapters made sense, but the other half felt like she was grasping at straws. I also think that I went into it expecting something different, and that probably messed me up a little. I was looking for more of a commentary on Montaigne’s writing, and this book wasn’t that. It was a biography, but that’s a little hard to remember with a title like “How to Live.”

What Are You Hungry For?: The Chopra Solution to Permanent Weight Loss, Well-Being, and Lightness of Soul

2 starsThis was a Blogging for Books book, and by rights, should have its own post. Meh.

I was really excited about this. I read Intuitive Eating last year, and this book seemed like it would be similar. Plus, Deepak Chopra is supposed to be THE GUY.

Honestly, I had to force myself to finish this. There were a few things that were valuable, but mostly, I just felt like I was being lectured. Like Chopra himself was standing over my shoulder berating me. He wants you to give up all the bad stuff (including alcohol and cheese and meat), and he wants you to love doing it. He wants you to pay attention because as soon as you do, you’ll realize you don’t like alcohol and cheese and meat. And he wants you to sit at the table with your family because if you don’t you have an unhealthy home life.

And then there was this line…”Self esteem allows you to look at chocolate cake and think, “I’m not doing that to myself.” EXCUSE ME? Since when is chocolate cake the devil? (In context, I think what he’s attempting to say is that if you feel good about yourself you can make a conscious choice about whether you truly want the cake or not, but the connotation is that chocolate cake is bad.)

I mean…ok. It’s not that I necessarily disagree with him on everything, but the whole thing was so black and white. Like, just do what I’m telling you and you’ll be happy. And thin. Because you can only be thin if you do these things.

I’m sure that’s not what Chopra intended (or maybe it is?) but I got really tired of his self-importance. I did enjoy the medical information – there are a lot of good explanations about how nutrition and your body works. Would I recommend this book to anyone? No. I especially would not recommend it to someone looking for “a solution to permanent weight loss.”

Station Eleven5 starsWait, what?! A five-star??!! Have we even had any of these since I started doing these monthly reviews? (Yes. Two – Ready Player One and A Little Something Different.) They’re rare. Sometimes Jimmie tells me I’m too strict in my ratings. Sometimes I think he’s right, but then I come across a book like this and I think, nope. This is why I’m strict. Because if I gave every book I enjoyed a 5-star rating, then there’d be nothing that told you THIS IS AWESOME. Because they’d all be awesome. Anyway.

This book made its way onto my radar when our book club decided to read a National Book Award finalist (you may remember that book. Ugh.) I’d read a couple reviews of it, and finally got around to reading it. First of all, this book is 10 million times better than All The Light. And. Since it didn’t win, I can’t even imagine how good Phil Klay’s book is, so I’m going to have to read that to find out. Station Eleven is a post-apocalyptic story – it’s a little hard to explain, so I’ll honestly just refer you to the description. I’d make a mess of explaining it.

I think this is the kind of book you either love or you hate. I was about a quarter of the way into it, thinking, meh, this is ok…not bad, but not really grabbing me either. But I was curious, so I kept going. It’s not a hard read, though I wouldn’t call it easy either. A little over halfway through, I was hit with the most visceral reaction. I had to stop reading. All I could think was….when did this book become so real? When did I start to feel like I was in the story, and when did it suck me in? Days after finishing, I still have no idea when it happened, but it did. All of a sudden, it was real and I was both terrified and horrified and knew I was going to have nightmares. Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t a horror story at all. But, it’s intense. If you’ve ever read The Road, it’s the same kind of feeling.

The more I read, the more beautiful the book became. I loved the ending – if you can even call it an ending. Most of the book you’re kinda scratching your head thinking, where is this going, and then you find out, but the story is left open. Not open like there’s going to be a sequel, but open like there’s any number of possibilities and the author wanted to let you choose. It’s one of those books that this ending works…I was so glad she didn’t feel the need to wrap it up nicely with a bow.

I couldn’t stop thinking about this book for days – and I woke up twice in the middle of the night with my heart racing and feeling like I’d been scared to death. Will I read this book again? No. Will I recommend it to everyone I know? No. Do I think it’s an excellent book that fans of this style of fiction should read? Absolutely.

Hunted (Spirit Animals, #2)

4 stars

This is the second book in the Spirit Animals series, about four kids who call “Spirit Animals” and then have to save the world. Basically. Each book is written by a different author, and it shows a little bit…I enjoyed Book 2 more than Book 1. That said, Maggie Stiefvater tends to get a little too “romantic” for my tastes, so I got kind of annoyed by the not-so-subtle flirtations going on between two of the characters. I kept thinking…this is for kids. Get that out of here.

Otherwise, though, I really enjoyed the book. Meilin is still a whiny brat, but she’s growing on me. Rollan is flippant, but we’re starting to see a little more depth. Conor is the classic hero, and Abeke is the underdog. It works.

There was a lot more action in this book, and the battle scenes were fairly well done. I love that the Spirit Animals play such a big role in the story – sometimes I like them more than the main characters.

Blood Ties (Spirit Animals, #3)3 starsStill enjoying this series! I didn’t like this one quite as much as #2, but I’m still definitely hooked on them. So far, it seems that each story sort of features one of the kids a little bit more than the others. This one was Meilin, and she’s just not my favorite. I do love Jhi though, her spirit animal.

One thing that kinda bugged me though – and that I hope doesn’t continue as the series progresses – is that there are characters in Book 2 that I really enjoyed. Some of them you sort of know what happens, why they aren’t in Book 3. But some of them, it’s like they never existed. I want to know what happens to them!!!! I realize the story isn’t about the extra characters, but still…give me a little more closure!!!

Book of the MonthThis shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone after that review….. February’s book of the month is….

 Station Eleven

What books did you read this month? Any keepers?