Fonduing Fathers by Julie Hyzy – Mini Book Review

Fonduing Fathers by Julie Hyzy
Published by Berkley, an imprint of Penguin

This is the fifth book in the White House Chef series. I have previously reviewed the first four books: State of the Onion, Hail to the Chef,Eggsecutive Orders, Buffalo West Wing, and Affairs of Steak.

From the publisher:

Olivia has always believed that her father was an honorable man—until a trip to visit her mother reveals that he was dishonorably discharged from the army. Olivia is even more shocked to learn that he was brutally murdered because someone at his company suspected him of selling corporate secrets. Refusing to believe that her father was a scoundrel, Olivia won’t rest until she proves his innocence.

Enlisting the help of her boyfriend, Gav, Olivia must reach out to her father’s colleagues to discover the truth behind his murder. What she’s about to discover may not only put her at risk, but threaten national security as well…

One thing that continues to impress me about Hyzy’s White House Chef series is her ability to keep things fresh. In Fonduing Fathers she does it by taking Ollie, as Olivia prefers to be called, mostly out of the White House. At this point we have enough background built up on Ollie and her family among Hyzy’s five previous books that she can change the setting up drastically like this without compromising the integrity of the whole premise. And it works, it really does. In fact, it works better than if another White House-based situation had been conjured up, because it keeps Ollie from becoming a flat, lifeless character by giving her something in her family life to be passionate about.

Because it relies on some background built up in the previous books, Fonduing Fathers is not the best place to start if you are new to the series, but you can know that if you start now, you will have six great books ahead of you.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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The Start of Everything by Emily Winslow – Book Review

The Start of Everything by Emily Winslow
Published by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House

Outside of Cambridge, the body of a young woman is found in the sluice gates after the spring thaw. There is little left to go on besides the clothes she is wearing and some hairs found stuck to them; her body is so badly decomposed there is no hope of DNA, nor are there any hairs even left on her head. This does not allow much in the ways of leads for detectives Chloe Frohmann and Morris Keene, but they are determined that they will solve this case. At the very least they must identify the victim and notify her family so they are not always wondering.

At the same time, Mathilde Oliver is scouring Cambridge for a girl named Katja. Mathilde works in Cambridge’s post office and is one of the people tasked with following up on incomplete addresses. Katja has been receiving increasingly desperate letters from a young man named Stephen, addressed with only her first name and the college, but there doesn’t seem to be anyone by the name of Katja at Cambridge, at least not anyone who matches the description in the letters.

Before long, it begins to seem that there is some connection between the mysterious Katja and the unidentified – and certainly murdered – body. To discover the true story, however, Frohmann and Keene must sort through secrets, mistaken identities, and their own personal weaknesses.

Like Winslow’s The Whole World, The Start of Everything would likely best be described as a literary mystery. Although there are detectives and a heinous crime that must be solved, the reader’s focus falls primarily on the individual characters and the ways they are developed. And Winslow is certainly talented at creating unique and believable voices for her characters. I initially misread Mathilde’s name as Matthew and was slightly confused as I read her first section, because I thought I had seen a masculine name, but I was certain that this character must be female, just by the way Winslow wrote her. Similarly, I was able to discern between Frohmann and Keene’s sections almost immediately even without reading their names, because they both have such distinctive voices that they are impossible to confuse.

At its heart, The Start of Everything is comprised of a series of misunderstandings – many things must go wrong to create the situations Winslow’s characters find themselves in – but Winslow weaves them together such as that they seem much more plausible than perhaps they should. This results in a mystery with just enough twists to keep the reader on her toes, but not so many that it all seems unlikely, aka the perfect mystery.

Whether you’re a fan of mysteries, literary fiction, or both you’ll find something to love in The Start of Everything. Very highly recommended.

Buy this book from:
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Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Published by Harper Paperbacks, an imprint of HarperCollins

From the publisher:

Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Edward Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. One of his fellow passengers must be the murderer.

Isolated by the storm, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer among a dozen of the dead man’s enemies, before the murderer decides to strike again.

Murder on the Orient Express is one of Christie’s most famous books, and for good reason. By placing the murder on a train stuck in a snow bank miles away from anything, Christie freshened up her manor house murder scenario, while still maintaining the ‘it must have been someone here!’ vibe for which she is so famous.

In the midst of a number of Agatha Christie books were I easily solved the murders, Murder on the Orient Express was a refreshing change of pace. This is on par with And Then There Were None for pure brilliance as far as suspect and method of murder, and I’m not sure if I could have ever guessed the culprit, as I have in so many of her books recently.

Poirot isn’t typically my favorite Christie protagonist, but Murder on the Orient Express is well worth reading.

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Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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Strong Poison by Dorothy L Sayers – Mini Book Review

Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers
Published by Bourbon Street Books, an imprint of HarperCollins

From the publisher:

Mystery novelist Harriet Vane knew all about poisons, and when her fiancE died in the manner prescribed in one of her books, a jury of her peers had a hangman’s noose in mind. But Lord Peter Wimsey was determined to prove her innocent–as determined as he was to make her his wife.

For years I have been hearing praise of Dorothy L. Sayers’s Lord Peter Wimsey books from book bloggers whose taste I trust, and the four Harriet Vane books seem to be particularly well regarded. Personally, though, I just totally failed to connect with and care about Lord Peter, he simply didn’t appeal to me at all. Perhaps because Strong Poison comes in several books into the overarching Lord Peter Wimsey series, but there didn’t seem to be much character development and I more or less lost interest in him.

I do suspect that I might have enjoyed Strong Poison were Harriet Vane actually in it more. Because she is on trial for murder and has only just been introduced to Lord Peter, Harriet only directly appears in Strong Poison a few times, the story consists mostly of Lord Peter trying to prove her innocence without her. I’m going to give this series one more try with Have His Carcase to see if my hunch about enjoying Harriet more than Lord Peter is correct, but that will be do or die for me.

Have you read any of Dorothy L. Sayers’s mysteries? What did you think?

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Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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Skating on the Edge by Joelle Charbonneau – Book Review

Skating on the Edge by Joelle Charbonneau
Published by Minotaur Books, an imprint of Macmillan

This is the third book in the Rebecca Robbins series. I have previously reviewed the first two books, Skating Around the Law and Skating Over the Line.

Somehow, Rebecca Robbins has found herself roped into sitting in the dunk tank at Indian Falls’s Native American Days celebration. Or, at least she got roped into agreeing to it. When her grandfather’s Elvis act goes awry, Rebecca gets one of the local roller derby gals, Sherlene-n-Mean, to substitute for her. It all seems innocent enough, until Sherlene dies in the dunk tank from an electric shock; one that may just have been meant for Rebecca.

In Skating on the Edge, Charbonneau keeps the Rebecca Robbins series fresh with the addition of the rink’s new roller derby girls as fairly major characters. These additions keep Charbonneau from having to bump off the entire town of Indian Falls, and because the girls are a cohesive unit, there is an increased feeling of urgency to figure out what is going on once Rebecca gets involved with them.

As is typical with Charbonneau’s books, Skating on the Edge is a smart, funny mystery. It could certainly be read on its own, but if you haven’t read the first two books in this series yet you should do yourself a favor and pick them up.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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