The Diva Runs out of Thyme by Krista Davis

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Subject: Cooking professionals
Sertting: Alexandria, VA
Main Characters: Sophie Winston, Mars Winston, Natasha Smith, Wolf Fleishman
Series: yes, #1 Domestic Diva
Dates Read: March 21 - March 29
Number of pages: 304
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?: yes
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Home Ec, Homework

Sophie Winston and Natasha Smith grew up as rivals and little has changed in the present. Not only are these two divas dueling as to advice columns, Natasha is dating Sophie's ex and Sophie is trying to win the Stupendous Stuffing Shakedown. Here starts Sophie's problems. While at the grocery store trying to get her ingredients for the contest as well as Thanksgiving dinner, Sophie stumbles across a corpse. The police think she's involved so haul her down to police headquarters. Released and at home, Sophie prepares for the bakeoff but before they can start their cooking the next day, Sophie does it again and finds a second body.

It's startling how Sophie not only can prepare a marvelous Thanksgiving meal scheduled for 5, ballooned to 14 with no notice, with 4 unexpected houseguests with 4 other relatives visiting and still find time for the Stuffing contest and solve the mystery, but Sophie is terribly organized, so she managed brilliantly.

This book was so much fun! Each chapter started off with a question, alternating between Natasha and Sophie, that seemed to be straight from Heloise and I laughed frequently at the answers. In fact, one of the answers figures prominently in the story. But that isn't all that made this so much fun. The main characters (Sophie, Nina, June, Hannah) are so endearing, they make you just smile. Don't get me wrong, we know in our hearts this can't be real, but I certainly hope that they continue in the same fashion in the future anyway!

The Sheen on the Silk by Anne Perry

Genre: Historical Fiction
Subject: Christian church wars
Main Characters: Anna Zarides
Series: no
Dates Read: March 13 - March 28
Number of pages: 528
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?: no
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Foreign Languages, Extra curricular activites

Anne Perry, renown for her Victorian mysteries, has taken a backwards turn in time and place and landed in Constantinople in the late 13th century. The book centers around Anastasius Zarides (Anna), a Venetian woman who disguises herself as a eunuch, and arrives in Constantinople ready to practice medicine and try to find the truth about a murder that has been blamed on her twin brother. At the same time as Anna is searching for the truth, the Eastern Orthodox (Byzantine) and Western Roman Churches are battling for supremacy.

This was a great plot idea and the background brought multiple possibilities to the table but this book just didn't work for me. With Anna as a eunuch, there really wasn't much of a way for her to interact with the other characters except in her capacity as a doctor and that was very flat and very boring very quickly. There were so many characters that were conspiring against this person and that person it was hard to keep things straight.

The descriptions of the location and surrounding/competing areas was just what was expected from Anne Perry, but the book was a disappointment. I feel that the many subplots detracted from the book. I could have had a much tighter structure which would have made the book easier to read and much more enjoyable, IMO.

Chili Con Corpses by J. B. Stanley

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Subject: inheritances,
Sertting: Quincy Gap, VA
Main Characters: James Henry, Parker Willis, Kinsley
Willis, Murphy Alistiar, Lucy Hanover, Colin Crabtree,
Camilla Fields, Jackson Henry
Series: yes, #3 Supper Club Mysteries
Dates Read: March 26 - March 27
Number of pages: 304, with recipes
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?: Nook Stockpile
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: home ec, ClassSchedule

James Henry, the main librarian in Quincy Gap, VA has
been dating Lucy Hanover but their relationship has met
a stumbling block and they breakup. Enter - town reporter
Murphy Alistair, who has the hots for James. Murphy joins
the Supper Club when the start a new food adventure at the
Fix 'n Freeze with head chef Milla Fields. We also meet
Murphy's college roommate Parker Willis and her twin sister,
As usually the Supper Club members support each other with
more than their diets, so when Lindy needs extra chaperones
for her students field trip to Luray caverns, all the Fix 'n freeze
gang are recruited. Disaster hits when Parker Willis is found
dead in the caves during the field trip.

This story was a little disjointed for me and left me with more
questions than answers.
I really enjoyed the previous two installments of this series,
but this was a little flat for me. Do you think it's because
I don't like Mexican food?

Tempest in the Tea Leaves by Kari Lee Townsend


Genre: Cozy Mystery
Subject: Psychic powers,
Setting: Divinity, NY
Main Characters: Sunshine Meadows, Mitch Stone, Morty
Series: yes, #1 Fortune Teller Mysteries
Dates Read: March 22 - March 23
Number of pages: 304
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?: yes, Nook stockpile
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Study hall, Home Ec
Sylvia Meadows didn't like her name. Her parents didn't
like her choice of occupation. So Sylvia changes her name
to Sunshine Meadows (very hippyish) and moves to
Divinity,a small town in New York state and opens up
shop as a fortune-telling psychic. The funny thing is, she
really is psychic.
Her first customer is the town librarian and Sunny sees the
woman's death. Fleeing in terror, the librarian is found a
hour later, dead in her apartment. Who is the main
suspect, none other then our newest resident Sunshine
I loved this book. The characters were funny and charming,
typical but unique. In most Cozies the main character sets
out to solve the mystery because they don't trust law
enforcement, but in this cozy, Sunny knows that it really
should be investigated by the cops but the Police Chief
makes her work with the detective so that they can keep an
eye on her and if she does have psychic abilities use them.
But Sunny isn't exactly helpful - blurting out info that the
police would prefer to keep quiet, and apparently hurting
rather than helping.
The clues and investigation with a hint of whimsy was LOL
funny at times or downright slapstick at others. There were
instances of the "paranormal" (Morty the cat - white as a
ghost - doesn't seem to need to eat and appears and
disappears quite easily.) and a bit of romance maybe.
Definitely a new series to watch and wait for with
high anticipation.


Affairs of Steak by Julia Hyzy

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Setting: Washington, D.C.
Main Characters: Olivia Paras
Series: yes, #5 White House Chef Series
Dates Read: March 22 - March 23
Number of pages: 322 with recipes
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?: yes, Nook stockpile
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Class Schedule Home Ec

Olivia Paras, the White House Head Chef, is put into
the position of working with her not-so-favorite
Sensitivity Director Peter Sargeant on a project for the
First Lady and their very first efforts yield 2 dead bodies.
Without any preamble they are directly in the frying
pan of a conspiracy that threatens not only their jobs
but their lives as well.
Ollie, while thinking that she and Sargeant are not
involved in anything more than discovery, realizes that
she is being followed on her trip home and while
alluding her stalker, she rescues an elderly man who
is a bit lost. With her instincts on alert and an Secret
Service escort outside of the White House, Ollie
figures out the threats that are hovering over the
President and his family.

The story ,characters, and writing were all so enjoyable.
The story was tight, presenting clues in multiple ways,
Characters that not only pushed the plot but also
improved our knowledge of other characters, and the
writing was clear and crisp.

Love the series, love the characters! Can't wait for
the next one.

Agony of the Leaves by Laura Childs

Challenge Book #48/49/26
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Setting: Charleston, SC
Main Characters: Theodosia Browning, Drayton
Connelley, Hayley, Detective Tidell, Delaine Dish,
Parker Scully
Series: yes, #13 Tea Shoppe Mysteries
Dates Read: March 19 - March 21
Number of pages: 314
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?: author, for review
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Home Ec, Extra Curricular

The Tea Shoppe Mysteries by Laura Childs is one of
my favorite series, so when I received it in the mail
from the author I was excited to read it, but I
wanted to have the right amount time to savor it.
So it was at the top of the pile when I headed off to
my Florida vacation. It barely made it to Florida
before I was finished having entertained me in the
airport and on the plane.

Theodosia Browning and her friends at the Indigo
Tea Shop are front and center trying to solve the
murder of Theo's former boyfriend Parker Scully.
The same background characters allow the reader to
snuggle in and concentrate on the villains du jour
and solve the murder.

Here in lies my problem with this installment. The
mystery lacked a gel that would hold it together.
The murderer isn't even introduced until well into
the book and the clues just weren't there for the
reader to solve the mystery along with the characters.
A disappointment - yes. Bad book - definitely not for
those that love the series. I hope that the future books
are back on track because, no matter what I enjoyed
it and that's all that's necessary IMHO.


Impeached: The Trial of President Andrew Johnson by David O. Stewart

Genre: History
Subject:impeachment of President Johnson
Setting: Washington, D.C.
Main Characters: Pres. Johnson, Ben Butler,
Ben Wade,Thadeus Stevens
Series: no
Dates Read: March 5 - March
Number of pages: 343
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?: no, public library
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: History class
Until President Clinton came along President Andrew
Johnson had the dubious honor of being the only US
President who went through an impeachment trial.
Others may have come close, but these two stand
alone in that aspect.
President Johnson was in a difficult position after
the assassination of Lincoln - he was a Democrat
that had been elected VP on a Republican ticket.
He had been chosen to help solidify the voters in
the election of 1864 for the areas that may have
had southern sympathies but remained in the Union.
Johnson was trying to have the Reconstruction
governments in the South based on Lincoln's plans
per se - generosity of spirit - reduced animosity
between that "conquered" and the victorious.
But the Northerners in the Congress wanted their
"pound of flesh" and wanted to increase their power
over the southern states.
The abolition of slavery removed the 3/5 counting
of slaves for representation purposes and adjusted
the negro counts to full. This would entitle the
southern states to 28 additional representatives
in the Congress plus 28 more electoral votes.
Efforts were made to adjust this "outrage" by
introducing a law that denied the southern states
the right to include the counts of the blacks for
representation if the blacks were denied the right
to vote.
The method of Reconstruction was a point of
dissention between Johnson and the Congress.
During his administration Johnson used his veto
power 29 times and was overridden 15 times.
At this time the Congress was trying various ways
to curtail the Executive power.
There were actually three different attempts at
impeachment. First try at impeachment,
Congressmen tried the facts that Johnson was
wrong when he restored Southern railroads and
when he removed men from office citing usurpation
of Congressional powers. This attempt was
abandoned by the Committee Chairman Wilson
when he said "Political unfitness and incapacity
must be tried at the ballot box, not in the high
court of impeachment." The second attempt
was also deemed to be a political rather than
legal issue and was again abandoned.
However, Thaddeus Stevens, the driving force
behind impeachment, resolved to cut Presidential
powers. For example, Stevens proposed to give
Grant complete control over the Reconstruction
efforts in the South - something Grant didn't want.
He also tried to limit the Supreme Court influence
by introducing a bill requiring 3/4 approval of the
Court before a law could be declared unconstitutional.
In early 1867 the Congress enacted the Tenure
of Office Act which denied the president the power
to remove from office anyone appointed by a past
president, without the approval of the Senate during
the next full session of Congress. This legislation
would be the main blockade for Johnson. This
struggle between Johnson and Stanton gave
Stevens what he needed.
All 11 articles of impeachment were related to
the ongoing struggle between Johnson and
Secretary of War Stanton. Johnson wanted
to remove him from office but the Tenure of
Office act which allowed only the Congress
to remove a high level official from his office
and also that should anyone try to violate this
law, they would be guilty of a "high misdemeanor".
A High Misdemeanor was one of the provisions
of the constitution for removal from office of the
Johnson was defended by Benjamin Curtis, a
former Supreme Court Justice. At the beginning
of Johnson's defense, Curtis dissected the Tenure
of Office Act and analyzed how it could be
interpreted in several different ways explaining
how Johnson acted as he did. A senator from
Maine praised Curtis by saying "Judge Curtis
gave us the law and we followed it."
As the trial progressed, it blatantly appeared more
a political dogfight that a legal battle. At times the
Senate allowed certain types of evidence admitted,
and then would reverse themselves again later.
Because of the handling of the procedures, few
had any idea of what the outcome would be.
When the time came for the vote, Senators
who could barely walk or talk, suffering from
strokes and other illnesses, still managed to
appear in the Senate to cast their vote. By
one vote, Johnson was acquitted. There was
speculation that some of the votes had been
purchased but no clear evidence was ever
brought forward. The senators that voted
for his acquitted were treated badly by their
parties but in the end Johnson survived the trial.
60 years later the Tenure of Office Act was
declared unconstitutional by the Supreme
Court headed by former President William
Howard Taft now Chief Justice. How ironic
that the law that brought Johnson to the brink
of removal from office wasn't even Constitutional.
I thought this book would be very dry and hard
to get through, but it read more like a novel than
historical fact. The writing was clear and concise
and the information was presented so that the
reader could understand the fight between
Johnson and Congress. Now I really understand
what the impeachment proceedings were about.
I'm definitely glad I read this one.


Killer Weekend by Ridley Pearson

Challenge Book #45/46/24 ★★★★
Genre: Mystery
Subject: political assassination, hire killers
Sertting: Sun Valley, Idaho
Main Characters: Elizabeth Shaler, Walt Fleming,
Patrick Cutter, Danny Cutter, Dick O'Brien, Trevalian
Series: yes, #1 Walt Fleming
Dates Read: March 11 - March 15
Number of pages: 314
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?: no, public library
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Geography, Study hall
Sheriff Walt Fleming is responsible for the safety of
the Sun Valley resort and normally things are quiet,
but now Patrick Cutter has brought his International
Corporation's meeting to the resort and along with it
has come danger. Liz Shaler, a frequent Sun Valley
visitor has come to announce her candidacy for
President. She has Secret Service and private security
but none of them want to listen to the hometown sheriff
who knows that something is amiss.
The diligent efforts of Sheriff Fleming not only solve
a murder but much more. The writing in the mystery
was tight and intensive. The tension held throughout
and was terribly interesting. A definite recommend!


Dire Threads by Janet Bolin

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Subject: needlework, relocation
Setting: Threadville
Main Characters: Willow Vanderling,
Series: Yes, #1 Threadville Mysteries
Dates Read: March 5 - March 10
Number of pages: 259
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?: YES, Nook stockpile
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Home Ec, Class Schedule
Tired of the corporate world in the city, Willow
Vanderling leaves her job and heads to Threadville
in Elderberry Bay, PA where she opens her own little
embroidery store called In Stitches. Her best friend
Haylee also has a store in Threadville so they are both
determined to make their businesses work but Willow
has problems with the town bully and things just get
worse when he is found dead in her backyard.
Willow and Haylee work together to find out who
they can trust and who is behind the murder. The
characters are entertaining and full bodied and the
background of the stitching community is heartwarming
and endearing. Threadville is a place I definitely want to
visit again - too bad it can only be done in a book!


Out of the Deep I cry by Julia Spencer-Fleming

Genre: Mystery
Subject: desertion, charitable bequests
Sertting: Millers Kill, NY
Main Characters: Clare Ferguson, Russ Van Alstyne
Series: yes, #3 Clare Ferguson/Russ Van Alstyne
Dates Read: February 29 - March 10
Number of pages: 322
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?: yes, audio stockpile
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Study hall, Home Ec

Reverend Clare Ferguson has a problem at St Albans -
the roof is leaking. Presenting her need for funding to
repair the roof, the vestry members are stunned when
Lacey Marshall offers to end her mother's trust which
supports the local free clinic and give the funds to the
church for the repairs.

Feeling that she needed to be present when the Doctor
at the clinic is told that his funding is being withdrawn,
Clare goes to the clinic with Lacey where they are
confronted by protesters.

After matters settle, Dr. Rouse from the clinic disappears.
His disappearance even seems to resemble the
disappearance of Lacey's father in 1930.

The mystery frequently flashes back to the time when
Lacey's parents were dealing with the death of 4 of their
children from diphtheria which was the driving force
for the endowment to the clinic.

As Clare and Russ delve into the connections between
the two disappearances, we learn more about the past
of Millers Kill during Prohibition and the Depression.

A great installment to the series, looking forward to
the next.


The Princess and the Bear by Mette Ivie Harrison

Genre: Youth Fiction, fantasy
Subject: superstition, magic
Sertting: Elolira
Main Characters: Richon, Chala
Series: yes, #2 The Princess and ….
Dates Read: March 1 - March 4
Number of pages: 322
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?: no, public library
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Foreign Languages
This book is a supplement to the Princess and
the Hound and yet it tells the reason of why that
book started in the first place.
King Richon objected to the animal magic that
spread through his kingdom so he made it a
criminal offense. Because of this a magic man
turned the king into a bear and for two hundred
years the bear wonders alone and never understood
by any of the other animals. Then he meets Chala
a hound who had been the Princess' companion
(of TP&TH) where for a while she had been the
princess. Realizing that the time had come for
efforts to solve the problem, the bear and hound
go back to the magic man.
The story that follows shows how short-sighted
individuals can learn to progress and accept
others for who and what they are.


A Killer Plot by Ellery Adams

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Subject: writers, development
Setting: North Carolina
Main Characters: Olivia Limoges, Captain Haviland, Chief Rawlins
George-Bradley Staunton,
Series: Yes, #1 Books by the Bay Mystery
Dates Read: February 26 - March 6
Number of pages: 311
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?: no, borrowed from Tutu
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Home Ec, LT Rec
Olivia Limoges is as special as her last name suggests.
Living on the Outer Banks, Olivia owns a 5* restaurant
and is working on writing a book. Her constant companion
Captain Haviland, a well-trained Poodle, seems almost
human when the "conversations" between the two come to
the fore front.
This first book in the Books by the Bay Mysteries has
wonderful characters, numerous villains (non terribly bad
except the murderer, of course)and with the small town
feel that the secondary characters exude, it's a place you
want to visit, so make your reservation at the Yellow Lady.
Well, maybe you need to be a bit careful because there's a
murderer running around and he's a cut above the norm
leaving HAIKUs at the scene of the crime. Could the
murderer be part of Olivia's writers group? Well, the Chief
of Police is a writer so maybe you'll be safe there.
There are all different angles in this murder mystery and
Olivia is so multi-dimensional, I was enthralled through
the entire book. Even at the end, there were still areas of
Olivia that were left unexplored, so I am definitely looking
forward to the next one. Too bad I have to give it back, it's
a keeper!