The Azalea Assault – Alyse Carlson

This is the first of three cozy mysteries in the Garden Society Mystery series. As the 3rd one was written in 2014, I do not expect there to be others. Truly a shame ☹

the azalea assault cover image

Cam Harris is the PR person for the Roanoke Garden Society, and gardening has never been more dangerous. When the nationally celebrated Garden Delights magazine agrees to come to Roanoke to feature Roanoke’s best gardens, Cam is tasked with making sure everything goes off without a hitch.

With the help of her best friend Annie, and her boyfriend Rob, she soon finds herself in the middle of a bunch of suspects who had motive to kill the star photographer. Now she not only needs to find another photographer, she also needs to keep her sister Petunia and brother-in-law Nick on the right side of the law, as they soon become the main suspects.

There are a lot of characters wrapped up in this book, but they all have their place in the story, and it flows smoothly from one chapter to the next. If you have read many cozies (such as I have), you sometimes can see what is coming next. This story keeps you guessing to the end.

There are descriptions of many different plants, but not much on the side of actual gardening tips (which I wasn’t expecting).

Here in Michigan right now we are wrapped in the middle of a polar vortex, and literally the whole state is shut down. Which means I took tomorrow off from work, so I have plenty of time to finish book three, write review number two, and do some writing for my own cozy mystery book number 1!

You can learn more about Alyse here: Alyse Carlson – Penguin Random House

Are you trapped inside too? What are you reading to get you by?

What I’m Reading…

… I had to order 3 books from a library two hours away, since my library got rid of all of these books😔 How did I miss that sale?

These books are what got me started on my book obsession. And Encyclopedia Brown, of course.

This book is stamped 1974; I was two years old.

There are not too many books I will read over and again; but it has been so long since I read this story that everything is brand new and like I am reading it for the first time.

Please tell me you have read these stories!

Lethal White – Robert Galbraith

Well, I finished this book over a week ago, and have been avoiding writing a review on it ever since. I liked it well enough, but I certainly did not love it like the previous 3 books in the series. I had no sense of enjoyment every time I picked it up to read it. The first thing I always checked was where my bookmark was, and how much farther I had to go. It is hard to read a book that you just aren’t loving.

Lethal White Cover Image

The things I didn’t like were …. The length of the book. I felt like there was way too much detail to every single thing in the book that was not necessary and did not add to the story. Then there were so many characters, I had a hard time keeping up with all of the different story lines and subplots and interactions with everyone. The last few chapters felt like everything was just tossed out there to tie everything together.

I love the characters of Strike and Robin, and they were both going through personal issues that lent a new dynamic to their working and personal relationship. The blackmailing and possible decades old murder of a child are what was driving the story plot, and it was just too much.

I’m not the only one who took issue with this story. I have seen more reviews with the same complaints I have than reviews that were all positive.

Will I read the next story in the series? Absolutely! I also had huge issues with her novel “The Casual Vacancy”, but it did not stop me from picking up the first book in this series, “The Cuckoo’s Calling”. My review on “The Casual Vacancy” had comments from most that felt the same way I did. And one comment from someone who had a real issue with the fact that I did not like the book, and dared to say so on my own blog that I pay money for to keep up every year 😊 Such is life; you can’t please everyone. You can see my rant over that story, nearly 4 years ago, here: The Casual Vacancy book and TV Show

I got 12 books from my local library yesterday, so I am back to enjoyable reading time! How did you feel about this book?

Judas 3…

…do NOT miss this!

I cannot speak highly enough about author Roy Bright; and I apologize, but I am going to blow up my blog for a bit about him.

You can check him out here: Roy Bright Author

I randomly found the first Judas book from a search, and it is one of the best things I ever did!

Judas Book 1 cover image Roy Bright

I have let several friends borrow this book, and they have bought it as well as the second book!.

Tomorrow, I will have the links to get these books ASAP, and it is not often I get on here and rave about a series, but you will NOT be disappointed!

Charms and Chocolate Chips – Bailey Cates

Having skipped book 2 (because my library didn’t have it) I jumped right into book 3 and loved this one as well. There were obviously some details in the first couple of chapters referencing things that happened in book 2, but it didn’t make the book difficult to read. Which is one of my favorite thing about cozy mysteries!

Charms and Chocolate Chips cover image

Katie Lightfoot is still working with her Aunt and Uncle at Honeybee’s Bakery, dating Declan, and now volunteering at a wildlife foundation. It is this foundation where a friend is found murdered, and the threat now seems to be on Katie. An area of swampland is of interest to a few different individuals, and the foundation is trying to protect it, and the wildlife that lives there.

A surprise visit from Katie’s mother also lets us see that relationship mend, as well as the relationship between her Mom and her Aunt.

We learn a bit more about magic in this story, and Katie is much more comfortable with who she truly is. She is beginning to realize how powerful she really is, and her friends and family are realizing it as well.

And I am on to book 4! Also going to the library today to see what other books I can pick up 😊 What are your favorite cozy mysteries?

Brownies and Broomsticks – Bailey Cates

Another weekly trip to my library to trade in books for new ones, and I found 4 cozy mysteries from the Magical Bakery Mystery by Bailey Cates. I finished this first installment in less than a day, and have already started book 3. They did not have book 2, so I figured I would just wing it anyhow and grab all of them that they had.

Brownies and Broomsticks cover image

I was not sure how I felt about a cozy mystery that included Witches, but I was quickly sucked in by the great characters and descriptive writing.

Katie Lightfoot moves from Ohio to Savannah, Georgia to open a bakery with her Aunt Lucy and Uncle Ben. Little does she know that her Aunt Lucy has much to share with her about the fact that she is a Witch, as well as her parents, who chose to not let her know about that side of her life.

Her first week in Savannah has her reeling from that revelation, confused about the intense anger between two handsome men who are both showing an interest in her, and the woman murdered in her car outside of Honeybee’s Bakery.

Unwilling to let her Uncle Ben take the wrap when he is pegged as a suspect, Katie is quickly on the trail of the murderer, much to the chagrin of Detective Quinn. It’s Katie’s persistence, and Quinn’s finally acceptance of what she is learning before he does, that gets Uncle Ben off the hook.

There were two recipes at the end of the story, one for Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies, and one for Cheddar-Sage Scones. A quick scan let me know I had all the ingredients for the Scones, so I whipped up a quick batch. I only had a couple bites of one as I am sure it’s not approved Weight Watchers food 😊 It was savory, and would definitely be a great addition to any meal or for an afternoon snack. The only thing I substituted was instead of dried sage, I only had ground sage. I should have doubled the ground sage, as it didn’t have quite enough sage flavor for my liking!

Cheddar-Sage Scones

Cheddar-Sage Scones

2 ¼ C all purpose flour

1 Tbs baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 tsp dried sage

6 Tbs butter, cut into 1-inch pieces and chilled in the freezer for 15 minutes

2/3 C grated sharp cheddar cheese

1 egg

½ C milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Set aside ¼ C of flour in a small bowl. In a medium bowl, combine 2 C flour, baking powder, salt, and sage. Add chilled butter and cut into flour by rubbing with your fingers or using a pastry blender until the consistency of rough cornmeal.

Add the grated cheddar to the ¼ C flour and toss to coat. Shake to remove extra flour and add to pastry mixture, tossing with your hands to evenly distribute the cheese.

Whisk together the egg and milk. Add to flour mixture, stirring lightly with a fork until ingredients are moistened and just hold together.

Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead 20 times. Add more flour to the surface if needed. Pat into an 8 inch circle, slightly higher in the center than on the edges. Using a very sharp knife, cut 8 equal wedges. Place scones on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, slightly apart from one another. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until golden brown.