Sunday, May 15, 2011

Dru's Cozy Report: May Reading List

Welcome to Dru's Cozy Report. This month we have two new series featuring a gardener and an aspiring PI-to-be; the other four are returning series featuring a bookbinder, a cheese shop owner, and two crafts shop owners.

Flowerbed of State by Dorothy St. James is the first book in the new "White House Gardener" mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime, May 2011

Casey's passion for organic gardening and eye for detail have carried her into the most important patch of land in America—the President's Park, on which sits the most important home in America: the White House. But while she's readying the final touches on an innovative cultivation program for the First Lady to inspect, she's attacked from behind by an unknown assailant who then disappears. When she comes to, she notices some damaged foliage that leads her and the Secret Service to a dead woman in a trash can. With the biggest opportunity of her life ready to bloom, and all the President's men plowing up her perfect plans, Casey has to dig in and root out a killer before she ends up planted herself.

What a great debut series. Casey is attacked and from that moment on is following leads she collects to find a killer. The closer Casey gets, the nervous she is making the killer who is intent on causing her and those near her harm. This cleverly-written, action-packed story is full of intrigue and suspense. I love the wonderful cast which includes Casey, Jack, Gordon, Alyssa and the ever-friendly Milo. With a great setting, engaging dialogue and a comfortable feeling, this delightful series will keep you bloom-fully entertained.

Visit Dorothy’s website at

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

Murder Under Cover by Kate Carlisle is the fourth book in the “Bibliophile” mystery series. Publisher: Obsidian, May 2011

When she receives an exquisite copy of the Kama Sutra from her best friend, Robin, to appraise and restore, Brooklyn Wainwright anticipates re-creating a beautiful book and spicing up her love life. But before Brooklyn can get started, Robin winds up in big trouble: Her apartment is ransacked, and the great guy she recently met lies murdered in her bed. Now Robin is the number one suspect. Luckily, Brooklyn's boyfriend, British security expert Derek Stone, has moved to San Francisco and is ready to help. And not a moment too soon, because Brooklyn's own apartment is found thoroughly searched. To make matters worse, a bleeding Russian stranger barges in, and the earlier victim is identified as Ukrainian, making it clear to Brooklyn that she's involved in an international conspiracy. Obviously, exploring the Kama Sutra's bliss will have to wait until after Brooklyn finds the killer.

This was a good read. When Robin, Brooklyn’s friend returns with a gift, little did they both know the havoc that follows them as someone is willing to kill to get it back. A body here, a body there will keep Robin, Brooklyn and Derek on their toes as they unbind the clues to find a killer. This evenly-paced, action-filled drama will have you quickly reading through this story in one sitting. With a shocking twist of fate, you’ll never believe what happened next. With interesting characters, inviting locale, exceptional dialogue and great visualization of bookbinding techniques, this is the best one yet in this fantastic and brilliant series.

Visit Kate’ website at

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

Lost and Fondue by Avery Aames is the second book in the “Cheese Shop” mystery series and 2011 Agatha Award Winner For Best New Novel. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime, May 2011

Charlotte Bessette--proprietor of Providence, Ohio's, charming Cheese Shop—is busy catering a fund-raiser for her best friend, Meredith. In addition to gourmet fondues, Charlotte is serving an array of delicious cheeses and delightful wines—the perfect complement to the setting of the wine-tasting party, a once-abandoned winery. But not everyone is happy, for the winery has long been a source of local legends about hidden treasures—and buried bodies. When a fresh body is found in the wine cellar and Meredith's niece, Quinn, becomes the chief suspect, Charlotte trades in her fondue fork for a flashlight to prove the case against Quinn has more holes than a slice of Swiss cheese. But as Charlotte's sleuthing starts to turn up the truth, the killer starts to turn up the heat.

All Meredith wanted to do was turn an old winery into a local college with a fund-raiser. Things don’t turn out that way when a body is discovered and her niece becomes the prime suspect. With prodding from her best friend and her young sleuth-in-training employee, Charlotte starts probing all that she sees and hears to find a killer. This wonderfully-written prose held my attention from the first sentence to the last chapter. The author did a good job of keeping me guessing throughout most of the book. With loving characters and delicious appetizers, this delightful and aromatic mystery will have you salivating for all things cheese.

Visit Avery’s website at

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

Make, Take, Murder by Joanna Campbell Slan is the fourth book in the “Kiki Lowenstein Scrap-N-Craft” mystery series. Publisher: Midnight Ink, May 2011

Dumpster diving for her lost paycheck is definitely the low point of Kiki Lowenstein's day—that is, until she finds a severed leg thrown in with the trash. Who'd toss a body part in the garbage outside the scrapbook crafts store where Kiki works? Accompanying the grisly "gift" is a creepy computerized voice message, a warning to the store's "rich and snotty" female shoppers. Kiki soon discovers that the leg belonged to Cindy Gambrowski, a customer with a tyrannical and violent husband—who's now harassing Kiki. Combing through Cindy's scrapbook projects for hidden clues, Kiki tries to find the killer. Was it a crime of marital malice, or did someone else beat Cindy's husband to the punch?

What an explosive story. Finding a human leg while looking for a missing paycheck is not how Kiki wanted to begin her day, but that is what happened one morning. When later it was discovered to be a missing customer who was abused, Kiki didn’t know this would closely touch her as well. I could not put this book down and this story grabbed my attention as Kiki struggles with so many issues that life kept putting in her path and I enjoyed watching her become stronger from it. The mystery was good but what I liked best was the relationship among the characters from Kiki and Chad and Clancy and Dodie and even Sheila. I can’t wait to read the next book in this character driven series that will touch your heart.

Visit Joanna’s website at

FTC Full Disclosure – I won my copy of this book

The Wedding Shawl by Sally Goldenbaum is the fifth book in the "Seaside Knitting" mystery series. Publisher: Obsidian, May 2011

Izzy Chamber's heart is full but her stomach is in knots. She's about to marry Sam Perry, the love of her life, but much remains to be done before the big day arrives. The Seaside Knitters have pitched in to help, and, as a surprise, they're knitting Izzy a beautiful wedding shawl—an exquisite lace memento born of friendship. As Izzy makes lists, her aunt Nell focuses on her backyard, where the wedding will be held. She has hired a gardener, Claire, and soon the sloping yard is bursting with blooms. It's a necessary distraction for Claire, who has just returned to Cape Ann after a long absence. Fifteen years ago her teenage daughter drowned in a Cape Ann quarry, and though the death was suspicious, the crime was never solved. The wedding plans get complicated when Tiffany, the hairstylist for the wedding party, starts missing appointments. But when she disappears—and is later found dead—things begin to unravel. Rumors start to circulate about Tiffany's past and her connection to the unsolved murder. Did Claire return to exact revenge? Or are there more secrets simmering in the summer heat? All the Seaside Knitters really know is that they must rally to find some answers so Izzy can don her lovely shawl and the whispers about town can be replaced by wedding bells.

I don’t know why I haven’t discovered this author’s work before, but boy am I glad I did. Izzy and Sam are getting married. When their wedding planner is found dead, her death puts a damper on the upcoming festivities and the Seaside Knitters are determined to cast-off those dark clouds and the only way to do that is to find the killer. Once I started reading this book, I could not put it down. I was drawn to the way the mystery flowed and the author did a good job at keeping me guessing until the end. With a wonderful cast, warm-filled dialogue and a great setting, this charming story touched my heart and I look forward to the next book in the delightful and engaging series.

Visit Sally’s website at

FTC Full Disclosure – I bought my copy of this book

Choke by Kaye George is the first book in the new "Imogene Duckworthy" mystery series. Publisher: Mainly Murder Press, May 2011

Twenty-two-year-old Imogene Duckworthy is waiting tables at Huey's Hash to support her toddler daughter in tiny Saltlick, Texas and just itching to become a private eye like the ones she admires on TV. When Huey is found murdered, she gets her chance to solve a real case—but when Immy's mother is hauled in for the crime., the spunky waitress finds herself on the lam from the law.

Imogene's life goal is to be a detective and when her mother is arrested and jailed for her uncle's murder, Imogene decides to start her own investigation to clear their names. This quirky and humorous story will have you cheering for Immy as she inadvertently with her actions figures out who-dun-it. With an adorable cast including Imogene, her mother and her precious daughter and amusing dialogue, this pleasantly read story will have you yearning for more adventures with Imogene Duckworthy.

Visit Kaye’s website at

FTC Full Disclosure - The author sent me this book

Click here to see my other reads.


Sarita said...

Dru, you choose such great books. I wanted to read a number of these before but now that I've read your reviews I'm even more interested in reading them. Sounds like a fabulous group. Thanks for giving us your insight!

signlady217 said...

Can't wait to get my hands on "Make, Take, Murder". I have the first three in this series, and absolutely loved them. Domestic violence hits a bit close to home for my family, as my cousin's daughter was murdered a couple of years ago by her ex-boyfriend and the trial just finished a few weeks ago. (He was found guilty.) Joanna does a great job keeping this issue in our minds without shoving it in our faces.

Looking forward to reading the others, too.

Aurian said...

What a great list you have made for us again. I really want to read them all! But you started with the fifth book in a series, don't you miss a lot of inside information of you do that?

Dru said...

Aurian: The Wedding Shawl is her latest book and I picked it up after I met Sally at Malice. It can be read as a stand-alone and I do plan to read the first four.

Brandy said...

Ooh, glad to know the Wedding Shawl book can be read alone. You have great reviews of good books again. Thank you!

Kaye George said...

Thanks for including me with these awesome books, Dru!

Anonymous said...

Wow, Dorothy St. James, get your own idea! The White House has been covered just fine by Julie Hyzy. This isn't even a cleverly-disguised ripoff!

Tonya Kappes said...

Dru! You are making my list longer and longer!!Flowerbed of the State is first on my list! I love Dorothy St. James! She's such a neat person!

dollycas aka Lori said...

Great reads, I have read all but 2 and am off to check them out!!!

Unknown said...

Signlady, I just read your comment. Please accept my heartfelt condolences. I have been astonished by the number of people who have shared with me that the topic of domestic violence is one that has touched their lives. Last weekend, we raised money for Lydia's House, a shelter for victims of domestic violence. It felt good to do good!