Monthly Archives: August 2013

State of the Onion by Julie Hyzy

State of the Onion (A White House Chef Mystery, #1)

White House Assistant Chef Ollie Paras has an unusual day when she stops an intruder to the White House with a frying pan. She’s glad to be of service but not so glad when it makes her the target of an assassin in disguise and the disgruntled Secret Service. Dealing with all that, competition for the Head Chef spot, an unpleasant co-worker and diplomatic entanglements might be too much for even this chef to handle…

Ollie is a likable heroine: curious without being heedlessly reckless, determined without being overbearing and observant. The ways Ollie, wise Henry, pretentious Sargeant, diva Laurel Anne and others combine make State of the Onion an entertaining read. The plot is fun: close calls with an assassin, navigating professional perils and even a dash of romance. The White House world is depicted in a way that makes it set apart but also believable: the reader can imagine being a part of it. Food fans can enjoy the kitchen culture, strategizing about menus and recipes. State of the Onion is a fun read for those wanting entertaining characters, a White House and/or food focused tale and a cozy, fast-paced read.

Want more reads like State of the Onion?

Jacklyn Brady’s A Sheetcake Named Desire also features recipes and a chef who also has to contend with murder while trying to excel. New Orleans pastry chef Rita Lucero has to figure out who murdered her ex-husband or her own career might be cut short…

Elliott Roosevelt’s Murder in the Lincoln Bedroom is another cozy White House mystery in which finding a murderer could prevent an assassination and political fallout. Eleanor Roosevelt has to figure out who murdered one of her husband’s top advisors or her husband could die…

Flowerbed of State by Dorothy St. James is another cozy mystery involving a White House employee. White House gardener Casey Calhoun did not expect getting knocked out, finding a dead body and investigating murder to be a part of her new job…

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Mystic and Rider by Sharon Shinn

Mystic and Rider (Twelve Houses, #1)

Murmurs of unrest and death for those with magic are spreading. A mystic with an unspoken past leads a group seeking the truth. It is a divided group she leads: a mystic noblewoman, her mystic and loyal guard, two King’s Riders who distrust magic and a bar boy with powers remaining to be seen. The group will find it is bonds with each other which will mean the difference between finding the truth and death…

This book is a great series opener. It introduces a group of interesting characters:  determined but scarred Senneth, competent and brave Tayse, skilled but vulnerable Justin, vibrant Kirra, subtly loyal Donnal and wise and curious Cammon. Mystic and Rider develops a strong group dynamic while focusing on the relationship between Senneth and Tayse. Lovers of romance can enjoy seeing their relationship unfold and wondering if they will get a happy ending. The Twelve Houses world is a fascinating one: shifting House loyalties, a mysteriously powerful villainess and her dastardly brother, and a variety of locales. At the end of the book the reader wonders what will happen with the characters and the Twelve Houses world. Mystic and Rider is a great choice for someone wanting the beginning of a journey with interesting characters, romance and a complex world.

Want books like Mystic and Rider?

Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings is another start of a series featuring an interesting group of characters trying to save a fascinating world…

Princess at Sea by Dawn Cook tells the tale of another heroine who encounters danger and romance. Tess has save her rulers from each other while dealing with politics and magic…

Star of the Morning by Lynn Kurland is another fantasy tale with a tough heroine who encounters danger in an interesting world. Like Senneth, Morgan faces danger to her kingdom, issues involving magic and a man who will change her life forever…

 

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The Silent Places by James Patrick Hunt

The Silent Places

Lt. George Hastings takes the heat for one of his men and gets assigned to protecting would-be presidential candidate Senator Preston. It’s not a walk in the park: convicted ex-CIA agent Reese wants Preston dead. Caught between Reese’s vendetta and Preston’s secrets, Hastings has to stand for justice…

Hastings is a good thriller hero: he speaks his mind, is loyal and doesn’t hold back from a fight. Reese is a conflicted character who has a sense of decency but is faced with the “sordid, empty promise of vengeance” (pg. 299). The Silent Places offers riveting plot elements: a look into police politics, debate of the concept of justice and a politician with a dirty past. Hunt’s writing style is sparse without being too concise. (Hunt’s writing style, the moral conflicts and Reese’s contact with a good woman could make this book a good choice for western fans.) The Silent Spaces is a good read for its fast pace, multi-faceted plot and interesting characters.

Want more reads like The Silent Spaces?

Want another political thriller involving a spy out for vengeance? Day of Reckoning by Jack Higgins features an ex-FBI agent determined to punish his ex-wife’s killer…

Interested in another tale involving a potential presidential candidate with secrets? House Secrets by Michael Lawson involves a detective who works for the Speaker of the House investigating if and why a presidential candidate had a reporter murdered…

Potomac Fever by Henry Horrock is another tale of police versus political secrets. A pair of Washington D.C. police detectives’ determination to solve a case causes them to run afoul of various powerful people, including some in the White House…

 

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Murder with Peacocks by Donna Andrews

ImageMeg Langslow thinks her life is crazy enough when she becomes responsible for planning three weddings in one summer. Between peacocks, a ‘tell-me-when-I-can-breathe’ list and sudden changes her only goal is to hold the weddings and keep her sanity. When a disliked guest becomes dead and Meg the target of ‘accidents’ she’s going to have add ‘survive’ to her to-do list…

This book is a must-read for those wanting a humorous mystery. The humor comes from the actions of the eccentric, but likeable, characters. Meg’s father, for instance, leaps into investigating the first murder with gusto. He throws sandbags off a bluff, puts out balloons to see where they float and observes suspects from not too far. Other character highlights include the warlike croquet aunts, the local gossip grapevine and poor Michael who keeps getting interrupted. Meg herself wins the reader’s commiserating amusement by sensibly warding off challenges such as amorous suitors (none of them being the one she wants), horrible ideas from the brides and how to transport a wedding cake unseen. As Meg tries to keep her sanity, and the weddings on track, the reader is drawn into the mystery by herself and her father. Their efforts at detection, some more fruitful than others, get the reader wondering who is behind it all.  Murder with Peacocks is a good choice for its humorous and likeable small town characters and entertaining plot.

Want read-a-likes for Murder with Peacocks?

Dating Dead Men by Harley Jane Kozak also dishes out humor. In this case, a greeting card artist becomes drawn into dating forty men in sixty days as research for a book. Easier said than done, as she runs into disreputable men, various hijinks and murder…

Fatal Fixer-Upper by Jennie Bentley also features a heroine who might complete a challenge and find Mr. Right if she can survive. Avery Baker  decided to renovate the cottage she inherited from her aunt. She didn’t expect to encounter a handsome handyman, a missing professor or to have to match wits with a killer…

The Quick and the Thread by Amanda Lee is another cozy mystery with a hint of romance taking place in a small town. In this case, the owner of a embroidery shop has to prove her innocence, and survive, after a man is found murdered in her new shop…

 

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