Design for Dying – Renee Patrick

25659422 4/5 “Come as you are” Parties

On The Back:

This debut is the first in a series of riveting behind-the-scenes mysteries from Hollywood’s Golden Age.

Los Angeles, 1937. Lillian Frost has traded dreams of stardom for security as a department store salesgirl . . . until she discovers she’s a suspect in the murder of her former roommate, Ruby Carroll. Party girl Ruby died wearing a gown she stole from the wardrobe department at Paramount Pictures, domain of Edith Head.

Edith has yet to win the first of her eight Academy Awards; right now she’s barely hanging on to her job, and a scandal is the last thing she needs. To clear Lillian’s name and save Edith’s career, the two women join forces.

Unraveling the mystery pits them against a Hungarian princess on the lam, a hotshot director on the make, and a private investigator who’s not on the level. All they have going for them are dogged determination, assists from the likes of Bob Hope and Barbara Stanwyck, and a killer sense of style. In show business, that just might be enough.

My Thoughts:

A solid start to a series centered on Hollywood in the 1930s, Design for Dying was worth the read.

The characters were wonderfully different from each other. Lillian faced many of the same struggles all main characters face in books set in this era, however, her indifference to her problems was a wonderful change. Gene, Addison, and Edith, however, were my favorites. I really hope we get more about them in the next book. All three were vivid, yet there could easily be a book examining each of their backstories.

The mystery was good, but it honestly lacked the pizzazz I was expecting. I didn’t expect the killer, but, because the book was set in Hollywood, I expected the reveal to be more glamorous or something. The setting was wonderful, I loved reading the descriptions of the movie sets, and I absolutely loved how the authors injected real former actors into the plot.

Overall a wonderful book, I will definitely be reading the next one. Recommend!

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Cozy Mysteries – Where Should I Start?

When I first entered the cozy mystery world a few years back I was astounded; how could there be this many mystery series in a genre? It was overwhelming, however, once I started researching, and reading I found that the cozy world isactually a small world. It may seem huge to start with, but it doesn’t feel that way once you fall in love with the genre. However, this is still a problem and question many people ask; “Where do I start?”

Starting a new series of any kind may seem daunting, but I encourage you to start at the beginning  of a series. Many cozy series have continuing subplots that continue through multiple books, so starting at the beginning helps the series to flow better.

Next, don’t ready too many books in a row. Many cozy series span ten or more books, and it’s easy to get burnt out. I know some people who read a series through and feel fine about it, but, for me at least, that’s not true. I rarely read more than one book in a row, if it’s a really good series I’ll read two books in a row, but that’s it.

Third, know what you want. Don’t start reading a series focused on pets, if you hate pets! With cozies, there are hundreds of series you can pick on hundreds of different topics, so you can always find a series that suits your needs.

So if you follow those three guidelines, you’re probably already off to a good start, and if we’re being honest, most people do those three things anyway without even thinking about it.

Finally, I have a list of some authors and series for different tastes that I loved and recommend, you can find them over at my recommendations page.

War and Peach – Susan Furlong

30138564 4/5 Peach-shaped Chocolates

On The Back:

The author of Rest in Peach serves up another bite of Southern charm in the latest Georgia Peach mystery.

Nola Mae Harper is too busy restocking the jars of preserves and chutney flying off the shelves of her shop, Peachy Keen, to keep up with all the gossip about the upcoming mayoral election, but she does know the debate is sure to be a real barn burner.
Local farmer Clem Rogers claims he has a bombshell that could take small business owner Margie Price out of the running. But before Clem can reveal his juicy secret at the debate, his actual barn goes up in flames–with him inside of it. The town casts its vote against Margie, but Nola isn’t convinced the hardworking woman is capable of murder. Now to clear Margie’s name Nola will have to work fast under pressure, before Margie gets taken in by the fuzz…
INCLUDES RECIPES!

My Thoughts:

The third in a simply delightful series, War and Peach was a wonderful book full of lovable characters, and a solid mystery.

The characters are wonderful, for the most part. Ms. Furlong does a wonderful job of creating lovable characters that a person becomes emotionally invested in. However, there is one character that I feel is underdeveloped; Cade. Cade is Nola’s love interest, yet I feel as if I barely know him at all. I don’t know if it was just me, but I failed to connect with him, and the thing I look for most in a book is the ability to connect and feel as if you’ve known a fictional character for a lifetime. I don’t get that with Cade.

The setting is wonderful, but I have trouble picturing all of it in my mind. Parts of it, like Nola’s shop, the diner, the peach farm, and the entire downtown I can picture perfectly, but I have trouble picturing the outskirts of the town, the landscape, properly. The mystery is wonderful, I loved the different ways the author chose to go with it, and I did not see the end coming at all!

Overall a wonderful book that I really enjoyed. This book left off as if it were the last in the series, which I hope it isn’t. Highly recommend this series, and recommend this book!

A Good Day to Buy – Sherry Harris

31349508 4.5/5 Base Thrift Stores 

On The Back:

HER BROTHER IS NO BARGAIN
When Sarah Winston’s estranged brother Luke shows up on her doorstep, asking her not to tell anyone he’s in town—especially her ex, the chief of police—the timing is strange, to say the least. Hours earlier, Sarah’s latest garage sale was taped off as a crime scene following the discovery of a murdered Vietnam vet and his gravely injured wife—her clients, the Spencers.

BUT IS HE A KILLER?
All Luke will tell Sarah is that he’s undercover, investigating a story. Before she can learn more, he vanishes as suddenly as he appeared. Rummaging through his things for a clue to his whereabouts, Sarah comes upon a list of veterans and realizes that to find her brother, she’ll have to figure out who killed Mr. Spencer. And all without telling her ex . . .

My Thoughts:

I’m going to be completely honest, I like to yard sale, but when I first saw this series I didn’t think I’d like it. It just didn’t sound like a broad enough pastime to base a series off of. However, I am glad to say that I was completely wrong. The Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mysteries are wonderful books that I always look forward to. Another well-written book in a great series, A Good Day to Buy was excellent.

I read for the characters, and the characters in this book were great. Sarah is the perfect MC. She has her breakdowns, but that makes her realistic. I also love Gennie, Seth, and Stella, though I must say, Gennie is probably my favorite character in the entire book. Luke, Sarah’s brother, was a complex, interesting character I hope reappears later. Another character introduced, Charlie, was an absolute hoot! I hope the next book brings more scenes with Gennie and her, because they are great!

I mentioned that I thought the premise for this series would be limiting, but it’s not. The way Ms. Harris sets up Sarah’s business is creative, and there is so much more than just one or two simple yard sales happening. The mystery, also, was solid, though the murderer reveal was slightly anticlimactic.

Really the only negative in this book was CJ. To put it lightly, he’s a pig. An absolute jerk who Sarah would be better off without. That’s all I’m going to say about him.

Overall a well-written, outstanding book that I thoroughly enjoyed. I can’t wait until another one comes out!

Death in Dark Blue – Julia Buckley

31682759 5/5 Dark Blue Overcoats

On the Back:

An aspiring suspense author finds herself writing mysteries by day and solving them by night in the second Writer’s Apprentice Mystery by the author of A Dark and Stormy Murder and the Undercover Dish Mysteries.

In the quaint town of Blue Lake, Indiana, Lena London is settling into her dream job, but someone is making her life a nightmare…

Things are beginning to go right for Lena. She’s got a new job assisting suspense novelist and friend, Camilla Graham. She lives rent-free in Camilla’s beautiful, Gothic house. She even has a handsome new boyfriend, Sam West.

After being under attack by the media and his neighbors, Sam has recently been cleared of suspicion for murder. Journalists and townsfolk alike are remorseful, and one blogger would even like to apologize to him in person. But when she’s found dead behind Sam’s house, Lena must dodge paparazzi as she unravels the many mysteries that threaten to darken the skies of her little town and her newfound love with Sam.

My Thoughts:

If there were one author that has started being published (traditionally) in the last two years that I would have to call my favorite, it would be Julia Buckley. I am caught up on both of her series, and every book I’ve read of hers has been high-quality, solid mysteries with stand-out characters and engaging plots.

In Death in Dark Blue Lena has once again found herself in the middle of a mystery. Lena is the perfect MC; she isn’t shy about investigating, but she isn’t sneaky or obnoxious about it, either. Sam, Camilla, and Doug were all outstanding once again, though I wish we’d learn more about Camilla. We also met a new semi-major character, Belinda, who I hope will return in the next book in a larger role.

As with the first in this series, A Dark and Stormy Murder, there are two mysteries going on. One is confined to this book, and is wrapped up nicely at the end. The other is a direct continuation from the first book. The second mystery, however, is the most intriguing.

Normally I hate cliffhangers and, like the first book, this one ended on one. However, this book was so enjoyable I didn’t mind it one bit, and I absolutely can not wait for the next one! Highly recommend!

Wedding Day Murder – Leslie Meier

2369844/5 Iced Wedding Cakes

On The Back:

Already juggling four kids’ hectic schedules, a rambunctious dog, an attention-craving husband, and a full-time reporter job, Lucy Stone can’t possibly squeeze in another responsibility…or can she? When Sue Finch asks for help planning her daughter Sidra’s wedding to Internet millionaire Ron Davitz, loyal pal Lucy willingly dives into the world of white lace, roses, and chair rentals. What could be more perfect than a backyard Summer wedding in the Stones’ newly built gazebo?

Yet when the groom’s body is found floating beside his yacht, Lucy isn’t convinced it was an accidental drowning. From the picturesque waterfront to toney Smith Heights Road, Tinker’s Cove is awash with suspects. Now, fresh from planning Sidra’s wedding, Lucy finds herself contemplating her own funeral as she launches the harrowing pursuit of a killer who will do anything to keep from being unveiled…

My Thoughts:

The last book I reviewed on this blog was Turkey Day Murder, so what would be more appropriate than reviewing the next in that series as the first after MoreMysteriesPlease’s reboot? (At least those were the thoughts going through my head when I decided to read this book).

Leslie Meier has been a hit-or-miss author for me. Some of her books are absolutely delightful, but the next book will be terrible. I am extremely happy to say that Wedding Day Murder was one of the delightful books.

I love Lucy and the great cast of characters surrounding her! From her kids, to their friends, to Lucy’s coworkers, to Sue, all are delightful. All except one, that is. The one character who I can not bear is Bill. Bill is most certainly one of the worst individuals I’ve ever read about. He constantly demeans Lucy and her thoughts, and constantly guilt trips her. I know Ms. Meier is probably trying to present a realistic marriage, and I do think too many books portray unrealistic marriages, however, Bill is so unlikable I wish he’d get a job away so Lucy could live her life without his comments.

Besides Bill the mystery was wonderful. The plot wrapped up nicely, the setting was idealistic, and we met new characters that I hope appear in the next book. Leslie Meier has a talent for writing a mystery that you can’t put down!

Update

Hello all. I have recently wrapped up my last round of schooling, and my career as a student is rapidly coming to an end. Because of that, I am going to try to be more active and restart posting on the blog. It’s been almost a year since my last post, but I have new ideas for more posts, and I am excited for what this upcoming summer brings.

Thanks all, and I hope you’ll join me for the ride!

-Jonathan