Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Dru's Cozy Report: February Reading List



Welcome to Dru's Cozy Report. I will be sharing, on a monthly basis, my views on current cozy mysteries. The first two entries are debut series featuring a librarian with mystical cats and a struggling actress working in the family’s baker; the next four entries are about a specialty shop owner, a newspaper reporter, a hairstylist, and a plumber’s apprentice, all in an on-going series.


Curiosity Thrilled the Cat by Sofie Kelly is the first book in the new "Magical Cats" mystery series. Publisher: Obsidian, February 2011

When librarian Kathleen Paulson leaves her life in Boston and moves to Mayville Heights, Minnesota, she had no idea that two strays would nuzzle their way into her life. Owen is a tabby with a catnip addiction, and Hercules is a stocky tuxedo cat who shares Kathleen's fondness for Barry Manilow. But beyond all the fur and purrs, there seems to be something more to these felines. When murder interrupts Mayville's Wild Rose Summer Music Festival, Kathleen finds herself the prime suspect. More stunning is her realization that Owen and Hercules are truly special—perhaps even magical. Suddenly she's relying on their skills to solve this crime and save her reputation. With a little legwork from her four-legged friends, Kathleen may be able to solve this purr-fect murder.
Kathleen, new to Mayville, was there to help renovate the century-old library and bring it into the 21st century when she encounters the visiting and rude musical conductor. When she finds him dead the next day, she becomes the person of interest. Kathleen decides that the more she knows about the deceased, the better chance of finding the killer. When suspicious incidents strike Kathleen, her furry friends are there to protect and help her bring the killer to justice. The story started out slow and then BAM! I was flipping the pages so fast to see what happens next. The home-town setting, the lively and eclectic characters, the two lovable felines and the dialogue creates a charming atmosphere that you want to revisit again and again. I look forward to more adventures with Kathleen and friends.

Visit Sofie Kelly’s website at www.sofiekelly.com

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of this book


To Have and To Kill by Mary Jane Clark is the first book in the new "Wedding Cake" mystery series. Publisher: William Morrow, December 2010

Piper Donovan never imagined that decorating wedding cakes could be so dangerous! A struggling actress with no immediate prospects and a recently broken engagement, Piper moves back in with her parents to take stock of her life. She steps tentatively into the family bakery business and finds herself agreeing to create a wedding cake for the acclaimed star of a daytime television drama. But soon someone close to the bride-to-be is horribly murdered and it seems that that someone is ruthlessly determined to stop the wedding. With the help of her former neighbor, Jack, a handsome FBI agent with a soft spot for the gorgeous cake-maker, Piper moves closer to the truth. And as she narrows in on a suspect, she realizes that it's hotter in the kitchen than she may be able to handle.
When we first meet Piper, she is moving back home while her acting career has stalled and is working with her mother in the family bakery. As soon as friend Glenna announces her engagement, things goes terribly wrong around her. Piper’s observation, determination and her father’s lessons will help solve this crime. This page-turning mystery kept my attention and I couldn’t put this book down. The cleverly written chapters gave us clues to the identity of the killer and every time I thought I knew who the killer was, the twists and turns through me off and I was surprised at the killer and the motive. Rounding out the story was the delightful cast that included her parents and her former neighbor, Jack who I hope we’ll see more of in Piper’s life. The evenly-pace, action-filled and suspenseful tale was an enjoyable read and I can’t wait to read the next one is this captivating series.

Visit Mary Jane Clark’s website at www.maryjaneclark.com

FTC Full Disclosure - I bought this book


Stitch Me Deadly by Amanda Lee is the second book in the “Embroidery” mystery series. Publisher: Obsidian, February 2011

Marcy is the proud owner of the Seven-Year Stitch, an embroidery specialty shop in the sweet small town of Tallulah Falls, Oregon. Her best friend, Sadie, owns the coffee shop down the street, and her Irish wolfhound, Angus, is practically the shop's mascot. But trouble strikes when an elderly woman brings an antique piece of embroidery to Marcy...and promptly dies of unnatural causes. Marcy is convinced that the antique sampler holds a clue to an even older crime and that somebody may have killed to hide it. Now it's up to Marcy and her pals—two-legged and four-legged—to unravel this mystery.
When a customer comes into Marcy’s shop with a piece of antique embroidery looking for help, she later dies and Marcy being the last one to see her, naturally becomes the prime suspect due to a misunderstanding, again. With her mother back in town championing her innocence, they both will stitch the clues together to solve this murder. What a great read. This was a fast-paced and well-written mystery that kept me glued to the pages. There were many suspects and surprises that caught me off guard and every time I figured out the killer, someone else came to the forefront with a stronger motive. The small town atmosphere, the wonderful characters and comfortable dialogue made this an enjoyable and delightful read. I look forward to more adventures with Marcy and friends.

Visit Gayle Trent writing as Amanda Lee’s website at www.gayletrent.com

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of this book


Shot Through Velvet by Ellen Byerrum is the seventh book in the "Crime of Fashion" mystery series. Obsidian, February 2011

With newspapers folding across the country, fashion reporter Lacey Smithsonian's latest story hits a little too close to home. Touring a failing Virginia velvet factory on its final day of operations, Lacey finds more than fading fabric—she finds a body. Workers nicknamed the hated manager the Blue Devil, and now he's blue, indeed. Rumors spread that the killer is the Velvet Avenger—his calling card, a length of blue velvet ribbon. But when a ribbon appears at Lacey's paper, it could be more than her job at stake—it could be her life.
While touring the upcoming closing of the last velvet factory in Virginia for a story she plans to write, Lacey finds the body of the man responsible, dead wrapped in blue velvet ribbon. Lacey discovers a connection between the town and the paper and when a blue velvet ribbon is sent to Lacey’s work it becomes apparent that danger may be lurking. What a great read. This was an action-filled, non-stop read from beginning to end. The list of suspects was plenty that kept me guessing and as usual, Lacey gets tangled in a couple of situations. All the gang was here from Stella the hairstylist to Damon the conspiracy theorist to the teddy bear that is Turtledove and to the lovable and handsome Vic, showing us parts of Washington DC and Virginia. The storyline on the loss of jobs, particularly factory and newspaper jobs was cleverly written and the dialogue was refreshing. This was an enjoyable read that left a smile on my face and I look forward to more escapades with Lacey and the gang.

Visit Ellen Byerrum's website at www.ellenbyerrum.com

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of this book


Polished Off by Lila Dare is the second book in the "Southern Beauty Shop" mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime, February 2011

It's business as usual at Violetta's salon, until Audrey Faye sashays in looking for stylists for the Miss Magnolia Blossom pageant. Grace jumps at the opportunity, but on her first day she finds a theater full of anti-pageant protestors, angry mothers, frantic contestants and an aloof Audrey. Even Violetta's manicurist, Stella, is acting strangely. Then, during the talent portion, protestors storm the stage—and Audrey Faye is found dead, murdered with a nail file. It turns out Audrey was having an affair with Stella's husband, which makes Stella a prime suspect. Now, Grace and Violetta's beauticians must find the real murderer before Stella is polished off permanently.
Taking on a hairstylist job at the local beauty pageant, Grace didn’t think she’ll have anything to worry about except styling hair until she discovers the dead body of the beauty pageant director. When Stella’s husband, who was having an affair with the deceased, becomes the primary suspect, Grace believing in his innocence, will do anything to bring the killer to justice. This was a good mystery with plenty of action involving Grace’s friends. I loved the tone of the story, so laid-back it made me smile as I continue my reading; the various local setting gave me a view of St. Elizabeth and the crisp dialogue made me feel more than welcomed. With a southern feel, this was an enjoyable read and I look forward to the next adventures with Grace and friends.

Visit Lila Dare's website at www.liladare.com

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of this book


Drip Dead by Christy Evans is the third book in the “Georgiana Neverall” mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime, February 2011

When plumber's apprentice Georgiana Neverall crawls under her mother's house to check the pipes, she's horrified to find her she's not the only body down there. Georgiana always thought her mother's flashy fiancĂ©, real estate mogul Gregory Whitlock, was a real drip—but now he's a dead one. Instead of a wedding ring, Georgiana's mother soon finds herself wearing handcuffs, accused of killing the man she loved. To clear her mother's name, Georgiana's going to have to crawl into a few more dark spaces and uncover secrets Whitlock was hiding...the ones someone want buried with him six feet under.
Cleaning the pipes under her mother’s house, Georgiana find the body of her mother’s fiancĂ©. When her mother is arrested for the murder, Georgie will have to unclog Gregory’s secrets to clear her mother’s name and find the person who wanted him dead. The closer she gets to uncover some truths, her life is threatened and someone is willing to make her their next victim. This story had me quickly turning the pages. It was nice to see the relationship between Georgie and her mother fully explored which was humorous at times. With her trusty friends at her side, Georgie survives scraps after scraps with the determination to unmask the killer. This light-hearted and charming tale full of plumber tips was a wonderful and fun read.

Visit Christy Evan’s website at www.christymystery.com

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of this book