Monday, August 31, 2020

What to Read While Social Distancing? : A Special Post

 What to Read While Social Distancing? : A Special Post

Are you still stuck at home? Here's another book recommendation for you.

Dough or Die (A Bread Shop Mystery, #5)Dough or Die by Winnie Archer--Cozy Mystery

Thank you Kensington Books for the free ARC. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and not affected by the giveaway. #KensingtonCozies #CozyClubCard

Ivy Culpepper is excited when Olaya Solis agrees to feature her bread shop, Yeast of Eden, on a cable food network's new show about the best bread bakeries in America. Olaya wants the program to feature her new Bread for Life program she started to lift up and empower low income and immigrant women in the community to help them develop hirable skills and develop self-confidence. The women will learn to bake and share recipes from their cultures. When the show starts filming, Ivy is starstruck by the co-host, Sandra Mays, a local celebrity but soon learns filming a reality show with two hosts is not the smoothest procress. Egos are at work and the production takes twice as long as necessary. The cameraman, Ben Nader, is a local man who grew up escaping the drama of his teen years by climbing up to the roof of what is now Olaya's shop. While everyone is on a filing break, Ben is struck by a car and nearly killed. Ivy witnessed the incident and knows this was no accident. Who would want to harm Ben and why? Then someone else turns up dead on the roof of Yeast of Eden and Ivy worries Olaya and the shop could be implicated. Was there a connection between the two events and if so, was one of the people connected to the program involved? If not, then it must have been a member of the Bread for Life program and that could be a disaster for Olaya. Ivy sets out to figure out whodunit to help Olaya. She also seems to have a stalker. Ivy isn't certain the stalker has something to do with the murder. She thinks she can handle it herself. Can she figure out the clues before it's too late?

This wasn't the best book of the series. It's long, repetitive in spots and Ivy goes way overboard in her investigation. She does something unconsociable and I can't believe she would stoop that low as to investigate in a private room at a battered women's shelter. That's just wrong! The initial hit and run accident happens early in the book but the murder doesn't happen until halfway through. I didn't really know or care who the murderer was. I was able to put the book down and go to sleep. The story didn't pick up until 2/3 into it and then it rushed along until I put the clues together just ahead of Ivy. I was a little more interested in the Ivy stalker plot but not much. I was mostly into the Bread for Life program which is an incredible, amazing idea. This story will not age well. Ivy makes numerous pop culture references to reality TV food programs and celebrities Paul Hollywood, Mary Berry, Guy Fieri; named shows like Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. I like it better when the network and shows are fictionalized. Readers can use their own references to make the connection. How does Ivy even have the time to watch that much TV?

Ivy, Ivy, Ivy. She's a nosy baking apprentice with no good reason to investigate the murder. I really don't like how she kept asked pointed, personal questions and digging into people's private business. I don't understand how Emmeline didn't do that in the first place. Suddenly deciding to volunteer at a women's shelter and then using that opportunity to investigate and even snoop is just plain bad investigative technique. Let Emmaline do that if necessary. Ivy lied and snooped. I think she went too far this time. Her heart is in the right place but her methods need work. When she came across the big clue she didn't even put it together. At least she figured it out before she got into trouble. The stalker subplot is lame and just padding. It wasn't necessary at all and not entirely resolved. It was unrealistic at best. Miguel is a sweetheart and totally amazing. I think he's read for a longterm commitment but she's not ready yet. Maybe in the next book?

Emmaline is hardly in the story in the capacity of sheriff. She's busy trying to solve the hit-and-run with no clues to go on then the murder. She's normally awesome at her job and I think Ivy should just trust her. Emmaline wouldn't purposefully make Olaya look bad. Emmaline is in the story in the capacity of friend and soon-to-be sister-in-law. She's a great friend and will be a wonderful, lively, official addition to the Culpepper clan. I noted in the uncorrected proof her hairstyle is more natural in z waves, a change from her usual black braids. At the very end of the book there's another mention of her hair and this time it's in braids. The passage as written is slightly in error and repetitive. That's the time to discuss her hair and how she's going to wear it for the wedding.

Olaya is an amazing woman! Her heart is giant and she truly loves helping people with her "magical" bread. The Bread for Life program is inspiring and amazing! I really liked learning about the different breads. I thought Ivy's first blog post should have been exactly what Olaya said about baking bread and why she started the shop. I'm sure if one of the women proves to be a murderer, Olaya will have compassion for her and try to help in any way she can. Penelope is hardly in the story but she comes through for Olaya even though they have a past history. I like seeing their friendship grow. I miss Penny's zany investigations though. Without them the story is heavy.

Olaya has a new apprentice baker, Felix. He seems fun and eager to learn as much as Ivy. I think he will be successful one day. Ivy's brother Billy gets in on the investigation, bouncing ideas around with Ivy and Emmaline. It's nice to see him doing so well. Even Ivy's dad is doing well. He makes some brief appearances and is there for Ivy when she needs her dad. Agatha isn't in the story enough. She's cute but she doesn't have anything to do this time. Too bad!

The women of Bread for Life all have some kind of baggage they're trying to leave behind. Baking becomes group therapy. Zula from Eritrea is a lot of fun. She takes to baking and sharing her culture wholeheartedly. She's open about her past and her personality is bubbly. I can't see her being a murderer. What would the motive be? Amelie from Germany is also fun. She's alone in the world but she doesn't let it stop her from enjoying her new life in Santa Sofia. I can't see her as a murderer either. Claire's background is a mystery. She's quiet, mysterious and doesn't think she has any culture to share. There could be some reason for her to want Ben out of the way but the murder motive is a mystery. Then there's Esmeralda, Esme to her friends, from Mexico. Ivy uncovers secrets from Esme's past that could lead to a motive for hurting Ben and possibly murder.

Sandra Mays and Mack Hebron are both awful people, especially Sandra. Sandra is a big fish in a small pond. She enjoys being recognized and fawned over as a local celebrity. She has bigger dreams of being a big fish in a big pond. What would she do to get there? It sounds like she'd step on anyone who got in her way. She doesn't like hearing no and she fights a lot with Mack. He's deliberately rude and disrepectful to her. He antagonizes her just to watch her get angry. Yes she has a giant ego that needs deflating but that's not a nice way to do it. Mack claims he's not heartless but he is rather callous and cruel at times.

Ben Nader is a nice guy. Everyone loves him and he doesn't have a rap sheet or any skeletons in his closet. He and his wife Tammy are grieving the loss of their son in a car accident 10 years earlier and raising their grandson. Ben is a family man, a handy man, a camera man and there's no good reason someone would want to run him over. His wife, Tammy, is barely keeping it together. I think she needs professional mental health care help because she seems to be just about unglued. She owes to her to grandson to be the best she can be. I feel sorry for the kid. So much has happened in his short life.

Vivian Cantrell operates a shelter for abused women. Ivy had no idea it existed but it's searchable so anyone can find it. Vivian is tough vetting Ivy yet the home is on Google, she doesn't require a background check on anyone and just trusts word-of-mouth. Some of the rules are strict and some of the policies seem strange like moving people around to different rooms without their knowledge. I can't decide if I like her or not. I like what she's doing but not her personality.

Ivy meets a number of women who need help escaping their pasts. Angie is quiet and indifferent towards Ivy's gardening plan but then her personality changes as the garden starts to grow. It must be healing for her. Meg becomes Ivy's friend on the inside and helps with the investigation. A petite, blond, Irish woman, Meg seems to know everything that's going on. She helps Ivy with her snooping but has enough sense to feel guilty about it. I sense Meg is rather mischievous. She introduces Ivy to Mickey, a woman sadly co-dependent on her abuser who seems to be getting away with it! Mickey is a hoarder but able to disengage to help Ivy. One more person is a surrpise to Ivy but it makes sense. Ivy is completely disrespectful towards this woman, even chasing the woman down in order to interrogate her about Ben. I really liked that woman and even though the clues were there, I think Ivy should have left her alone.

This isn't my favorite series to read. The bread sounds amazing but it's not enough to make up for the somber plots. At least a good person didn't die this time!