Books I Read in Spring 2019 Pt. 1

I read many books this spring. As soon as I discover a good series, I feel compelled to read all volumes. Recently, I have mostly stuck to the same genre, mainly crime novels. But I think this is going to change soon when summer vacation starts and I have much more time for reading.

My Kind of Perfect*: People-pleaser Marie has a lot to contend with:
• Her fiancé Brian is a workaholic who mysteriously snubs his family
• Her best friend Grace is being demanding and unreasonable
• Her wedding plans are non-existent
• She’s accidentally acquired a personal trainer
Despite all this, Marie manages to stay upbeat. Thankfully she has her Fat Club friends to keep her entertained with things like wedding crashing and piggyback races. Can Marie fix her friendship with Grace, solve everyone’s problems and have a perfect wedding? What is the perfect wedding anyway

This is the third part of “Friends like these” and I really liked the first two. It took me quite a while to finish this one because I didn’t understand Marie’s problems as well. Some pieces were still funny like Marie’s mother and her personal trainer starting a dog yoga business. But a lot of times I found Marie rather annoying. A few plot points also weren’t that clear to me like Brian’s family turning suddenly up and him having so many issues with them.

Christmas Cake Murder*: With her dream of opening The Cookie Jar taking shape, Hannah’s life matches the hectic December hustle and bustle in Lake Eden—especially when she agrees to help recreate a spectacular Christmas Ball from the past in honor of Essie Granger, an elderly local in hospice care. But instead of poring over decadent dessert recipes for the merry festivities, she instantly becomes enthralled by Essie’s old notebooks and the tale of a woman escaping danger on the streets of New York. Hannah’s surprised by Essie’s secret talent for penning crime fiction. She’s even more surprised when the story turns real. As Hannah prepares to run a bakery and move out of her mother’s house, it’ll be a true miracle if she can prevent another Yuletide disaster by solving a mystery as dense as a Christmas fruitcake 

It all started with these Hannah Swensen Mystery novels for me. While I enjoy a good thriller every now and then, I much prefer this kind of cozy mystery novels. The main character is sympathetic. There is a corpse. But the reader gets to know much more about the female protagonist searching the murder instead of reading any gory details.

Hannah owns her own bakery and I was a little disappointed that this volume focussed on her past instead of continuing with her actual life, esp. since the previous book ended with a giant cliffhanger. Saying that, it was a nice idea to return to Hannah’s past because it explained much about her and her family.

A Slice of Murder*: Not too much happens in the sleepy little town of Timber Ridge, North Carolina, —which is fine with pizza-purveyor extraordinaire Eleanor Swift. The spunky owner of A Slice of Delight is trying to mend her broken heart and could use a little quiet time. But when a late night delivery customer turns up dead, she’s in for just the opposite in this delicious mystery series debut, featuring pizza as the prima character …

Another one of those mystery novels, only that Eleanor owns a pizzeria. Her husband died about a year before and she struggles to keep her life together. She gets a lot of help from her sister Maddy though. The story itself follows the typical pattern of these books and is an easy read – but still entertaining. Just one piece of advice: Don’t read this when you are hungry. Eleanor’s pizzas and pastas sound so delicious.

Pancakes and Corpses*: Soon to be divorced Julia South never expected to be caught up in solving a murder, until she discovered the body of her cafe’s most awkward customer. With a new smug Detective Inspector in town who underestimates her every move, Julia makes it her mission to discover the real murderer, before her village friends are dragged into the frame, and more bodies are discovered.

Lemonade and Lies*: When the entire village is invited to a garden party for a mysterious ‘special announcement’, nobody expected that party to end with a man being thrown to his death from a window. The murder is committed at Julia South’s estranged father’s manor, so all eyes in Peridale turn to her to solve the case. In a race against the clock, Julia must juggle her blossoming romance with Detective Inspector Brown, and her young lodger, Jessie’s, sudden strange behaviour, to uncover the truth behind the man’s untimely death. With members of her own family in the frame, will Julia like what she discovers?

Doughnuts and Deception*: Julia never expected to be caught up in another murder investigation, but when she discovers that homeless people are dying suspiciously and the police aren’t investigating, she can’t sit back and do nothing. After promising her young lodger, Jessie, that she will do everything she can to help, Julia finds herself diving headfirst into the case, aided by her new Detective Inspector boyfriend, Barker. Sure there is a serial killer preying on the vulnerable residents of an old burnout warehouse, Julia must act quickly to get to the bottom of the mystery, but can she crack the case before more bodies turn up?

Chocolate Cake and Chaos*: A funeral wreath is delivered to Barker’s cottage. Is it a prank, or a grim warning? Julia’s fears that somebody is trying to kill Barker are confirmed when a dead body with a striking resemblance to him is found on his doorstep the very next day, just as their romance is deepening. Barker might be on temporary suspension from his role as Detective Inspector at the village police station, but that doesn’t mean he’s short of enemies in Peridale, especially when a dark face from his past arrives in the small village to stir up painful memories. With an unclear list of suspects and motives, Julia vows to keep Barker safe, but can they figure out the puzzle as they work outside of the law in a race against time to stop Barker paying the ultimate price?

Shortbread and Sorrow*: When Julia’s gran, Dot, wins an all-inclusive spa trip to Scotland, Julia finds it difficult to refuse the offer of a relaxing week away from her café. Along with her sister, Sue, they pack up her tiny vintage car and drive all the way from Peridale to Seirbigh Castle, ready to be pampered. The last thing Julia expected was to be caught up in another murder investigation, but when the cruel owner of the family-run spa, Henry McLaughlin, is shot dead, she can’t resist ditching the facemasks and massages in favour of cracking the case.

All these five novels are part of the “Peridale Café Mystery” series. Julia has her own cafe in the village she grew up in. As with the other books of the same genre, she is a pleasant character and tries to solve murder cases. Her family – that is her sister and her granny – are great people too. And then there is Julia’s hot neighbor Barker whom she doesn’t like at first. As the detective he seems to know everything better than her – although she solves the cases much faster. I really liked all books I read of this series because they are really good. All characters are round and pretty normal. The murder cases are always fascinating. I was also positively surprised at how many murders a village like Peridale can produce 😉

© janavar

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