Tuesday, January 26, 2016

What I Read in July 2015 Part III

What I Read in July 2015 Part III ...

Cookie Dough or Die (Cookie Cutter Shop Mystery #1) by Virginia Lowell  --cozy mystery

Cookie Dough or Die (Cookie Cutter Shop Mystery, #1)Olivia Greyson has returned to her hometown after her divorce to open The Gingerbread House, a quaint boutique shop that sells vintage and modern cookie cutters. Her best friend Maddie is the baker and creative genius behind the shop's scrumptious treats. Olivia owes her success to a local businesswoman, Clarisse Chamberlain. It was Clarisse who encouraged Olivia to start a business and who helped mentor her. Livie is shocked to learn that Clarisse has been found dead in her home. The Sheriff is quick to label the death an accident but Livie is certain the death was not an accident. She's determined to figure out who murdered her mentor and why. The Sherrif is worried about Livie's well-being when a local tabloid all but accuses Livie of being the killer.

I liked the plot of this story well enough. The mystery kept me guessing though once all was revealed, it seemed rather obvious. The death happens right away so the plot moves quickly. The writing style is good but not spectacular. It's a bit funny in parts, especially when Maddie is around. It's the characters who really make this story shine.

Livie is a good character. She's intelligent and I enjoyed her literary comments. She doesn't behave stupidly like most heroines in cozy mysteries. She is determined to be a sleuth but when the Sheriff becomes worried, she's willing to compromise. She doesn't put herself in danger unnecessarily. She stands up to her ex and doesn't pine after him and is a good and devoted friend to her childhood besties, especially Maddie. Her rescue Yorkie, Spunky, is adorable and helps drive the action. I just loved him! Maddie is a fun character but she really drove me crazy. If someone came into my place at 4 am and started banging around the kitchen singing, I would not have been so nice as Livie. Maddie's little romance is sweet but seems so odd! Maddie adds the comic relief to the story. I also really liked Bertha, Clarisse's housekeeper. She seems very sweet and devoted to the Chamberlain family. She also adds a bit of comic relief with her innocent comments. The male characters were OK but not great.

I'll have to see how they develop in the series to really get to know them better, except the Chamberlain sons who are typical spoiled rich kids ugh! I did not like them or Tammy and I failed to see why Livie was still friends with Tammy.

I can't wait to read the next book in the series.

Cloche and Dagger (Hat Shop Mystery, #1)Cloche and Dagger (Hat shop ystery #1) by Jenn McKinlay-- Cozy Mystery

Scarlett Parker has been hiding out in her Florida home for three days. She has gone viral for all the wrong reasons. When she accidentally encountered her supposedly separated boyfriend throwing a lavish party for his wife, she went a little crazy. Scarlett's cousin Viv urges Scarlett to join her in London in the hat shop left to them by their grandmother, Mim. With nothing to do except stuff her face with Moon Pies, Scarlett agrees. When she arrives in London, she is greeted not by her cousin but by a taciturn man, Harrison Wentworth, Viv's business manager. Viv has disappeared and no one seems to be worried except Scarlett. Scarlett is in over her head in the millinery business but she is able to put her hospitality skills to use when the demanding Lady Ellis arrives to pick up her new custom-made hat. When Scarlett next sees Lady Ellis, the woman is lying dead on the floor of her bathroom wearing nothing but the custom hat. This is one problem Scarlett can't solve with words or tea and what's worse - the police suspect Viv! Assisted by Harrison, Scarlett has to deal with nosy reporters, irate customers and a would-be murderer. Will Viv ever come back and if she does, will sanity be restored?

This is a fairy typical cozy mystery. The writing style is rather pedestrian but the plot is unique. I never guessed who the murderer was until Scarlett encountered them at the end. I was surprised at the crime and the lengths that person went through to for a seemingly stupid reason. The ending was rather rushed. I expected more resolution. The story has a hint of romance but not enough for my tastes. I guess it's good since this is a planned series and something has to be developed. The Notting Hill setting and the characters reminded me very much of the novel To Notting Hill, With Love Actually which was a good thing since I loved that book. The very end has a paranormal aspect that came out of nowhere and needed more development.

I really liked Scarlett. I don't usually care for sad sack characters but I felt empathy for Scarlett because of all the attention on her. She's charming and realistic, unlike Viv who sounds like a flake. The secondary characters are stereotypical: there's the disapproving businessman, the gay bffs, the snotty competitive society ladies and the loving (late) grandmother. Even so, I enjoyed them all and they made this book a charming, light read.

Content mild PG: murder scene, Scarlett's past relationship was with a married man.

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