Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cozies for holiday de-stressing

The past week has been quite stressful...one of my favorite Aunts died, so we had to make an unplanned trip from Maine to Baltimore for her funeral,  a warm loving affair where we got to see dozens of cousins we only ever seem to see at weddings and/or funerals anymore.  After staying with my mom for the first three nights, we then managed to squeeze in early Christmas visits to children and grandchild, a visit to another sister recovering from surgery, and then tore back to Maine to beat a threatened storm that fizzled out. At least I had done almost all my Christmas baking before I left, so I was able to deliver the cookies in person instead of mailing them. Now we have only to put up the tree, and bake some biscotti and we're ready for Santa.

At least the long drive (11 hours each way) was good for reading time, but after some of the more intense books I'd been reading, I knew that I needed something light and up-lifting. These two were perfect to put me in a warm and fuzzy mood.

Author: Charlaine Harris
Publisher/Format: Berkley Hardcover (2010), Reissue, Hardcover, 304 pages; also audio narrated by Teresa Plummer
Characters: Aurora Teagarden, Robin Crusoe, Arthur Smith
Subject: murder in a small town
Setting: Georgia
Series: Aurora Teagarden Mysteries
Genre: mystery- police procedural
Source: public library

Another mystery in the Aurora Teagarden series...A few weeks ago, I read the 2nd book in this series and was interested enough to want to go look at the beginning of Aurora's amateur career in solving murder mysteries.  In this debut episode, Aurora Teagarden, a librarian by day, belongs to a group of mystery aficionados known as the Real Murder club.  Every month, members meet and take turns analyzing  old mysteries, either real or fictional, looking at victims, murder weapons, who-dunnit, etc.  When actual murders begin occurring in the town, and each murder seems to be a copy-cat of a murder previously happening someplace else, attention turns to the members of the club.  Is one of them purposely acting out murders they've studied?  After an attempt on Aurora (or was her mother the intended victim?) and several other strange 'clues' begin appearing, "Roe" starts to feel she may be the target.

In addition to  the murder aspect, Roe finds herself juggling two different romantic interests in the person of author/professor Robin Crusoe and detective Arthur Smith, who also happens to belong to the Real Murders group.  The surprising climax was one that pre-disposes the reader to look for more.  There are  nine altogether, so I know there are more fun adventures that I can reach for when I want a good mystery, with little violence, some interesting but fairly innocent romance, and a feel-good ending.

I was very pleased to have this one in audio, because there is so little daylight these days, that I didn't lose any reading time after it got dark!

Another great cozy read I indulged in this week is the 2nd of Gail Fraser's terrific Lumby series:

Author: Gail Fraser
Publisher/Format: NAL Trade (2007), Paperback, 329 pages
Characters: Pam and Mark Walker, monks of the St Cross Abbey, Dana Porter, Charlotte Ross
Subject: life in small town USA
Setting: town of Lumby, Northwest US
Series: Lumby
Genre: fiction
Source: personal copy

The saga continues. In this particular volume, the story centers around a stolen painting, a stolen barn (trust me! the barn disappeared overnight), a midnight bovine Iditarod, and a hostile takeover bid for the monk's rum sauce company.  Got your attention yet?
I continue to be enthralled with the characters of this delightful town.  The setting, the people, the quirky characteristics of the inhabitants (human, bovine, equine, feline, plastic, etal), are reminiscent of a combination of the town ofThree Pines in Louise Penny's books (without the murders), the old TV series Northwest Exposure, and the solid feel-good humanity of the Mitford series.  You know a trip to Lumby will be time well spent.  A few hours of life in this town can lower anyone's blood pressure, put a smile on your face, and calm any stress from too much shopping, too many cookies, unmailed cards, and icy roads.  If you haven't tried this series, please give yourself a gift and try them.  I've yet to find anyone who doesn't want to go to Lumby.


  1. I'm very sorry about your aunt, Tina. These two cozies sound delightful and I'm adding them to my list immediately.

  2. Oh that does sound stressful and I am sorry about your aunt, even if it was probably nice to see all the relatives.
    see, you have the right idea, reading something nice and cozy while I was reading...
    well, you will know if you read my last review...lol


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