State of the Onion by Julie Hyzy – Book Review

State of the Onion by Julie Hyzy
Published by Berkeley Prime Crime, an imprint of Penguin

As a White House Assistant Chef, Olivia Paras – Ollie, to her friends – has plenty of stress in her life, particularly as her boss and mentor is retiring and she is up against cooking school rival cum television personality for his job. The last thing she needs is anything distracting her right now, but unfortunately nobody told that to the man who broke into the White House grounds as she returned from a break with a commemorative frying pan for her mentor. Suddenly, Ollie finds herself in hot water, embroiled in a course of events. (sorry, I couldn’t resist)

Although I don’t read them very often, I love a good cozy mystery for a change of pace and, as such, I’m so excited to have found Julie Hyzy’s White House Chef series. In my opinion, a cozy is good if it is engaging, the reveal is not overly obvious, and the plot does not become completely ridiculous. “State of the Onion” was absolutely engaging, I found myself reading a hundred pages at a time easily, and even yelling at Ollie when she was about to do something stupid and dangerous. As to the reveal, I had a definite idea as to who the bad guy might be, but Hyzy kept me vacillating between two possibilities right up until the very end. As for the plot, I’m sure there were things that were not completely accurate, but it was nothing for which I could not suspend disbelief, particularly with Hyzy’s engaging storytelling.

I’m very much looking forward to continuing this series, which is now up to four books, with the publishing of “Buffalo West Wing” on January 4th. Recommended.

Buy this book from:
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound.*

The newest book in this series, “Buffalo West Wing,” was just released. Buy it from Powells*|Indiebound*|Amazon* – or check out my giveaway tomorrow

Source: Publisher, via author’s publicist.
* 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.

Some Cozy Mysteries I Have Been Enjoying

While stuff has been crazy this fall I’ve been reading quite a few cozy mysteries. They are fun and light and often quite delightful. Also I tend to have the WORLD’S MOST DIFFICULT TIME reviewing them, particularly once I’m past the first book in the series. So, instead of three or four reviews, here’s a roundup.

The Christie Curse and The Sawyers Swindle by Victoria Abbott – Jordan Kelly needs a job and by some miracle, she seems to have found the perfect one, curating the library of Vera Van Alst, a rare book collector. Tracking down rare mysteries is a more dangerous job than it seems, however. Luckily for Jordan, she has great resources in her uncles who aren’t always on the right side of the law, but who love Jordan dearly.

A Chorus Lineup by Joelle Charbonneau – the third in the Glee Club Mystery series. Paige’s glee club has the opportunity to perform in a huge Nashville competition, but when most of the teams’ costumes are destroyed and Paige is blamed, she gets sucked back an investigation that could put her and those she loves in serious danger. Charbonneau writes two other great series and she is really getting on a roll with this cozy series. I particularly liked the revelations about Paige’s personal life.

Home of the Braised by Julie Hyzy – the White House Chef Mystery series is one of my very favorite cozy series, I look forward to them every January. In Home of the Braised Olivia is back in the White House and is all ready to focus on her upcoming marriage to her secret service beau Gav when the two of them inadvertently walk in on a mass murder just before the secret service gets there. Now Olivia is back in the middle of things and it may be up to her to save the President.

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July 2013 – Reading Wrap-Up

This was a busy month. We had a birthday party for all three kids and headed down to Indianapolis twice. The busy-ness, combined with my blog being hacked on the 4th of July sent me into a big blogging malaise, hence the 11 posts this month. I finally semi-recovered after I re-did the design of my blog, but I have 20 or so unwritten reviews plus a whole bunch of other posts and I’ve been busy with work, so things might pick up right away.

I got a decent amount of reading in though, somehow. I finished a total of 12 books, 8 print and 4 audio for a total of 2700 pages and 43 hours.

What I Reviewed:

Revolutionary Summer by Joseph Ellis by Stefan Rudnicki
Farewell, Dorothy Parker by Ellen Meister, narrated by Angela Brazil
Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant, narrated by Edoardo Ballerini

Tampa by Alissa Nutting
If the Shoe Fits by Megan Mulry
The Water Witch by Juliet Dark (mini review)

The End of the Wasp Season by Denise Mina
Grace Takes Off by Julie Hyzy

Historical Fiction
The White Princess by Philippa Gregory (mini review)

Other Posts:
BOOK CLUB – The End of the Wasp Season by Denise Mina
D.E.A.R. – July 2013

Pick of the Month:

Other Books Read, Watch for Reviews:

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, narrated by Neil Gaiman
The Humansby Matt Haig, narrated by Mark Meadows
Her by Crista Parravani, narrated by Crista Parravani

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
The Fairest of Them All by Carolyn Turgeon

The Christie Curse by Victoria Abbott

Historical Fiction
A Questions of Honor by Charles Todd
A Fatal Likeness by Lynn Shepherd

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Every Trick in the Book by Lucy Arlington – Book Review

Every Trick in the Book by Lucy Arlington
Published by Berkley, an imprint of Penguin

Lila is really happy with her new life. She’s moving into a cute new cottage in Inspiration Valley, North Carolina, and being a literary agent seems as if it is her perfect job. Even the men in her life are falling into line. Sure, she hasn’t gotten much time yet with her handsome police officer beau, but there is definite potential there, and her son’s time at the commune up the road seems to be maturing him – which is a relief after how concerned Lila was about him deferring college. Everything seems pretty close to perfect, until the Inspiration Valley Book and Author Festival. First Lila has a run-in with a strange and menacing man, then she finds the body of a dead editor who could be her twin. Now Lila needs to figure out what happened and why, or it could be The End for her.

Every Trick in the Book is the second in the A Novel Idea Mystery series, but I did not feel that I was missing anything significant by not reading the first book, although it seemed as if Lila’s personal life is starting to pick up and it will become progressively more difficult to pick up the series without reading the earlier books as it goes on, so it is a good thing I’m getting in now. Honestly, though, I think the best cozies are the ones where it does matter, at least a little bit, what order you read them in. Like Julie Hyzy’s White House Chef series, where the main character and her relationships with those around her grow and change over time. Every Trick in the Book is very much in that vein, with a very engaging main character and a fun style.

As fun as it is, there is a bit here that seems anachronistic. One is the fact that Lila’s agency still accepts queries by mail, which is not terribly common any longer – although they do seem to communicate mostly by email, which mitigates that a bit. The other is a reference made to the Twilight series, saying that Bella would ‘become a vampire’ by the time something happened. Considering the last Twilight book (in which, spoiler alert, Bella does become a vampire) came out about 5 years ago, and even the last movie came out about 6 months before the book was released, this seems an odd reference. However, I noticed both of these issues towards the beginning of the book and there either were no more after that, or I was having too much fun with the story to notice and care because this is a very engrossing cozy.

This is a very enjoyable read and, seemingly, a very promising series. Recommended.

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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January 2013 Reading Wrap-Up

So, I finished 13 books this month. That is down quite a bit from my averages over the past year or two, but I am guessing that this is probably my new normal with agenting (although the fact that I watched  all 7 seasons of The West Wing this month probably didn’t help either). This is why I am transitioning to only two print/ebook reviews per week, plus an audio review. I will occasionally have other content as well, but those of you who do not use RSS to read my blog should count on posts Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday (review, review, audiobook review, Sunday Salon).

This month’s breakdown includes 8 print or ebooks for a total of about 2900 pages and 4 audiobooks for a total of about 38 hours. Below you can see the books I reviewed this month, followed by the other books I read this month.

What I Reviewed:

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis, narrated by Adenrele Ojo, Bahni Turpin, and Adam Lazarre-White
The Confidant by Helene Gremillion, narrated by Ellen Archer
The Bro Code for Parents by Barney Stinson and Matt Kuhn, narrated by Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris)
Habits of the House by Fay Weldon, narrated by Katherine Kellgren

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
The Start of Everything by Emily Winslow
Fonduing Fathers by Julie Hyzy
A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True by Brigid Pasulka

Speculative Fiction
The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
Blackout by Mira Grant
Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans

Historical Fiction
The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin
The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan
The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier
The Italian Woman by Jean Plaidy

The Tiger by John Vaillant
History in an Hour: Henry VIII’s Wives by Julie Wheeler and 1066 by Kaye Jones

Other Posts:
2012 Wrap-Up, Ahead to 2013
Interview with Bernard Cornwell, author of 1356

Pick of the Month:

Other Books Read, Watch for Reviews:

The Ice Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson, narrated by
Parlor Games by Maryka Biaggio, narrated by
The Good House by Ann Leary, narrated by

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
All This Talk of Love by Christopher Castellani

Historical Fiction
Shadow on the Crown by Patricia Bracewell
Leaving Everything Most Loved by Jacqueline Winspear
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Young Adult Fiction
The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

Note: Some of these books were provided to me for review.

2012 Wrap-Up, Ahead to 2013

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