Affairs of Steak by Julie Hyzy

Affairs of Steak 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, and Buffalo West Wing.

Having to scope out party locations with White House Sensitivity Director Peter Everett Sargeant doesn’t rank particularly high on Olivia’s list of best ways to spend a day. Actually, it is more likely to fit in as one of her personal circles of hell. Sargeant has, after all, had it in for Olivia ever since he began work at the White House. Olivia’s bad day only gets worse when she and Sargeant arrive at the First Lady’s preferred location for the party and find two fellow White House staffers already there – dead. Not only is Olivia back in the middle of another White House mystery, this time she’s stuck investigating with Peter Everett Sargeant.

Another fun book from Julie Hyzy! I didn’t enjoy this one quite as much as Eggsecutive Orders and Buffalo West Wing, but that seems to have more to do with the fact that I read those three in quick succession and just needed to space them out a bit more. I love that Hyzy is continuing to keep this series fresh by changing up how and where Olivia investigates the various crimes that come across her path. Teaming up with Sargeant is certainly not a plot point I ever imagined seeing.

Okay, everyone, I’ve spent the last year recommending Julie Hyzy, and this series in particular, to you. If you haven’t read it yet, why not?

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Source: Personal copy.
* 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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Grace Interrupted by Julie Hyzy – Book Review

Grace Interrupted by Julie Hyzy
Published by Berkley, an imprint of Penguin

The first book in the Manor House Mystery series, please see my review of the first book in the series, Grace Under Pressure.

Things are finally settling down for Grace Wheaton and Marshfield Manor after the death of the head curator. The quiet only lasts until two women are caught trespassing near a group of Civil War re-enactors on the premises, wishing to do harm to one of the men, Zachary Kincade. Surprisingly, though, when Zachary turns up dead, these women aren’t the main suspects; Grace’s potential beau Jack Embers, previously accused of killing Zachary’s brother, is the one under suspicion.

Grace continues to be a compelling character. In Grace Interrupted she is dealing not only with another murder, but with accusations against the man she loves – okay, the man she has sort of a crush on and would like to finally get out on a date with.

As always, Hyzy does a great job crafting her mystery. Her murderer makes perfect sense and she does scatter clues, but the culprit is not so obvious that the reader isn’t kept guessing.

Grace Interrupted is just as lovely and fun as I expect of Hyzy. Recommended.

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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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Grace Under Pressure by Julie Hyzy – Book Review

Grace Under Pressure by Julie Hyzy
Published by Berkley, an imprint of Penguin

The first book in the Manor of Murder Mystery series

All Grace’s life, she has dreamed of working at Marshfield Manor. She is finally the assistant curator and at this point, it is really the only thing she has going for her, after losing her mother to cancer and her fiance to someone else in quick succession. She loves her job and her roommates, even if money is still a bit tight and the roof needs replacing. All things considered, things are going well over all. Until, that is, the head curator of Marshfield Manor is killed in the private quarters during a disturbance downstairs. Now Grace must step into two new roles: running the manor as head curator, and trying to solve a murder, before anyone else is targeted.

Grace is a fabulous character, tough, yet vulnerable. Great at her job, but a little bit hopeless in her personal life. She is so engaging that I fell immediately under her spell, completely identifying her and rapt by the things that were challenging her. The mystery itself was well-constructed, with sufficient clues that I did not feel the answer came out of nowhere, but enough intrigue and suspense that I did not guess the perpetrator before Grace did.

I very much enjoyed the first two books I read in Hyzy’s White House Chef series, but good as they were, I think that Grace Under Pressure is that much better. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series, Grace Interrupted which is out in June of 2011.

Highly recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Personal copy.
* 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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Hail to the Chef by Julie Hyzy – Book Review

Hail to the Chef by Julie Hyzy
Published by Berkeley Prime Crime, an imprint of Penguin

My review of the first book in the series: State of the Onion

After a grueling encounter with an old rival and a dangerous encounter with someone who was not who he seemed, Ollie Paras has finally realized her dream of being Executive Chef of the White House. However, if Ollie thought that things – out of the kitchen at least – would calm down once she was in her new role, she was dead wrong. Just in time for the busy holiday season there are mysterious and deadly occurrences everywhere Ollie turns: from mysterious deaths to fake bombs being planted in the White House. Now Ollie has to worry not only about the menus and staffing for some of her biggest events of the year, but she also has to find time to squeeze in mandatory explosives-recognition classes as well as some highly unofficial sleuthing.

I cannot think of much that is more fun than spending time with Ollie and her kitchen. She is smart and relatively confident and not afraid to stick her nose where it doesn’t belong. Hyzy did a good job beginning to grown Ollie into her new role. She is noticeably more comfortable with it than in State of the Onion, but not so much that it seems unreasonable for her given the amount of time in the new position. My only slight problem was with the resolution of the mystery. It was perhaps a bit more complex than I would have guessed and I thought it was perhaps a little much. Other than that, though, Hail to the Chef was a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Recommended

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Powells | Indiebound |Amazon*

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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Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear – Book Review

Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear
Published by Penguin
Book 2 in the Maisie Dobbs series

My review of the first book in the series: Maisie Dobbs

At the opening of Birds of a Feather, Maisie is becoming pretty well established in her business. She has even been contacted by Joseph Waite, one of the richest men in England and a one-time client of her mentor, Maurice. Waite’s daughter has gone missing – again – and as Maisie begins to investigate, she discovers that there may be a connection to a series of dead women.

Birds of a Feather is precisely the book I was hoping for after Maisie Dobbs. In this second book in the series, Maisie truly comes into her own, and the reader is finally able to address her on her own terms, instead of dwelling extensively on her past through the copious backstory that comprised Maisie Dobbs. Here the reader gets to follow Maisie through a full and well-developed case. She has a great process and watching her work a case is fascinating.

I also appreciated that Maisie continued to develop as a character in Birds of a Feather. Since the action rested primarily in the present, Maisie was able to indulge in some introspection without losing the reader.

Based on my experience with the first two books, I think I would classify the Maisie Dobbs series as smart cozies. Not that other cozies aren’t smart, but there is an extra intelligence and class to Maisie Dobbs that makes the series particularly enjoyable. The great development of story and character, along with the somewhat more genteel inter-war time period make this a series that is suitable for and could appeal to a wide range of readers.

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Powells | Indiebound | Amazon*

Source: Library.
* 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.