Hurricane? What hurricane? I’m Reading

Another hurricane season, another near miss. This time it was Dorian, a  powerful storm that seemed intent on maintaining its strength. While the National Hurricane Center had a solid, and amazingly accurate forecast, there were still questions about how much damage, where the impact would be felt the most, who should be most worried?

After much thought and consideration, we decided to stay put, but that was only after looking at lots of forecasts and listening to lots of experts then processing that information with what we already knew about our location and how we had weathered the last two storms.It was a calculated risk; but in the end we prepared, including having everything packed and ready to go, and then waited…and waited…and waited.

This time around waiting it out was the best choice, FOR US. I stress that because it was not the same for everyone. I do believe the best advice we read was the expert who said absolutely prepare for the storm and then, as it got closer, make the best decision for ourselves. We did, although it wasn’t popular with some of our friends, and scared some others. As it turned out, we were right, and there was a bit of wind here, but basically no rain. All in all, we were lucky.

So, are you waiting for the other shoe to drop? That’s coming…we lost power for about ten hours and internet for four days. The loss of internet was the most frustrating, not because of the loss itself, but because of the difficulty in dealing with Comcast, otherwise known as Comcast Customer No Service. Enough said about that. I’m sure most of you have your own war stories about a cable company or, if not, a telephone company that is providing internet service.

That means this became the perfect time to do some major reading. You can’t do work, because you don’t have any electricity for operating the appliances you need. You can cook some, if you have a gas stovetop like me. Other than that, your time is your own, particularly when there has been a mandatory evacuation ordered and everything in town has shut down.

So what do you do, you ask? This is the perfect time for reading a book or two, which is what I did. As it happened, the two books I had downloaded are both cozy mysteries, which was perfect when you consider the weather is unsettled and there is a massive storm bearing down on your area only about seventy miles away. Cozy mysteries are perfect for that setup since you don’t want anything that will create tension, you’ve already got plenty of that. You simply want something that can provide some entertainment while you are waiting for the storm to pass and services to begin again. With that in mind, I’ve included both books in this post. Take your pick, probably based on the area where you want to spend some time mentally. 

If you want some time at the beach in the Outer Banks during an unexpected snow storm, then you might want to pick up Tide and Punishment by Bree Baker. Here’s that review:

Tide and Punishment by Bree Baker is a light, cozy mystery with some interesting characters and a lovely setting of a fictional town on the Outer Banks. This is the third book in the series, and my first read, but I had no trouble becoming acquainted with all the characters and their relationships to Everly Swan, the protagonist.

The book takes place in the week leading up to Christamas with all the accompanying activity that might occur for a baker who specializes in homemade cookies and specially blended tea. Add to that the extremely rare occurence of a snow storm, an aunt who has suddenly, and uncharacteristically started painting countless garden gnomes and giving them away and another aunt who has decided to run for mayor, and you have an interesting backdrop for the murder of the current mayor, who is “done to death” by a gnome just outside Everly’s cafe where everyone has been gathering to hear the official announcement of her aunt’s mayoral candidacy.

Everly is drawn into the investigation because suspicion immediately falls on her aunt, the mayoral candidate. As she pursues the killer, Everly is stalked by someone who keeps threatening her to stay away from the investigation, and uses the other aunt’s gnome’s to make their point. All of this activity is set against a beautiful backdrop of a small seaside town, glistening in newfallen snow with many of the residents still trying to traverse the streets in their golf carts. 

There is a secondary story that is following the growing relationship between Everly and the town’s widowed Detective Hays and at the same time has Everly still recovering from a broken heart courtesy of a cowboy who has returned to the town to run the nature center. Throw in Detective Hays’ son, his high-pressure former mother-in-law who has bought the local mansion and is working to insinuate herself into his life and you have enough multiple threads to keep you satisfied as you try to solve the mystery of the murder’s identity.

Everly’s Aunt Fran falls under suspicion in quick succession, based on little except circumstantial evidence which seem a little contrived, especially in their rapid acceptance as reasons to threaten her arrest. While there are other potential suspects and plenty of clues and red herrings, it seems suspicion falls on her aunt purely as a way to justify Everly’s interest in the case. That doesn’t diminish the enjoyment of the book for what it is, a light cozy read that is easy to pick up for entertainment and is easy to interrupt while going about the day’s other more pressing activities.

My thanks to Poisoned Pen Press and NetGalley for providing me an advanced digital read copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. I look forward to reading additional books in the series.

If Massachusetts in the winter is more appealing, you might want to pick up Murder in the First Edition by Lauren Elliott. Here’s that review: This is the third in the Beyond the Page Bookstore mystery series by Lauren Eliott and follows much the same type of activities as those earlier in the series that  have Addie, protagonist, determined to find the murderer. In this book, Addie has donated a valuable rare book to a charity auction and discovers almost at the beginning that the book is missing and the chairperson and organizations coordinator has been murdered. To add to Addie’s activities, the father of her deceased fiance has shown up in town, triggering old suspicions and resentments on Addie’s part. He has never been fully forthcoming about his activities and his life, and Addie pus all her pieces of information together and determines he is the prime suspect in the murder.

Addie’s lif is further complicated by being torn between two handsome men, both of whom have expressed an interest in her. First there’s Simon, a doctor who was introduced in the last book, and second Marc, the town sheriff. Unfortunately, a slip of the tongue on Addie’s part during an intimate kiss with Marc in the last book has put a strain on their relationship. Meanwhile, Simon is pursuing her in a charming manner.

Addie’s best friend, Serena, who also happens to be Marc’s sister, is helping her try to unravel the mystery and perhaps find the missing book. Meanwhile, Addie keeps receiving threats that if she continues trying to solve the murder, she will be sorry. Add to that the dropping in and out of her almost father-in-law, and his suggestion that she back off from the investigation since it may prove to be too dangerous, and Addie’s resolve is strengthened, not diminished.

This is another fun, light cozy that is a combination of mystery and romance. The book moves at a steady pace and there are sufficient clues and red herrings to make it entertaining. The real murderer isn’t difficult to figure out, nor is the hinted mystery of Addie’s almost father-in-law. It’s an easy book to pick up for a few minutes read, put down, then pick back up again when you have a bit more time. It would be an excellent book for an airplane read or to take to an office where you anticipate a wait because it is easy to read and follow while being entertaining at the same time.

Addie does come across as a bit younger than she is written to be. Having had a serious relationship with a man for over five years as well as being a college graduate, it might be expected that she could juggle romance a bit easier than she does. Her angst and confusion between the two men seems more typical of a teenager or young 20 year old than a more mature woman.

Both books are cozy mysteries that are part of a series. If one sounds more appealing than the other, you might want to start with the first book in the series so you can be a part of the unfolding relationships between the characters. That is totally not necessary, though, and either book can be enjoyed without having read the previous one. Some relationships do grow across books, but the authors do an excellent job of providing the information needed to get up to speed almost immediately.

This is an entertaining series, in part because the secondary characters are well written and are evolving along with Addie. I look forward to learning how she proceeds with her next adventure. My thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced digital read copy in exchange for an unbiased review.

That’s it for now, I’m headed off to do a little hurricane cleanup, or catch up as the case may be. With electricity back I can do the laundry as well as some of the other chores I put off. Enjoy your choice, and as always, Happy Reading.