Crunch Time ★★★½ by Diane Mott Davidson

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Subject: Puppy Mills, domestic violence, stalkers, recipes
Setting: Aspen Meadow, Colorado
Main Characters: Goldy Shulz, Tom Shulz, Yolanda Garcia, Ferninanda Garcia, Ernest McLeod, Humberto Captain, Kris Nielsen
Series: Goldy Bear 16th
Dates Read: January 18 - January 25
Number of pages: 471
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?: yes, audio stockpile
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Home Ec,
I have been looking forward to this book since the middle of last year. I love Goldy and the adventures that she gets herself into without thinking about it, as well as the delectable food that she describes and provides recipes for. I especially love it when I get an audio version that is narrated by the great Barbara Rosenblatt. (I honestly believe Barbara Rosenblatt could make the construction of a cement truck sound fascinating.)
In this latest installment of Goldy's adventures, Goldy is trying to help a friend who has lost her job and her home. Yolanda starts as an assistant to several of Goldy's catering jobs. As we start we are told of the death of Ernest McLeod, a retired cop turned PI, who was a friend of both the ladies. The story of the investigation into Ernest's murder is mixed with the cases that he was working on at the time of his death - puppy mills, stalkers, missing family jewels. Goldy manages to gather all the info and finally figure out where the evidence is and nearly gets killed in the process.

Goldy as she always is...enjoyable and delicious!


The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Genre: Fiction
Subject: Civil Rights, segregation, racism
Setting: Jackson Mississippi
Main Characters: Celia Forte, Johnny Forte, Skeeter Phelan, Minny, Aibileen, Hilly Holbrook, Elizabeth Leefolt
Series: none
Dates Read: January 8 - January 18
Number of pages: 721
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?: yes, MCL
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Geography, Extra curricular activites
This book had me swaying back and forth - did I like it or not? I purposely delayed reading to wait for the hubbub die down so that it wouldn't influence my impression. Then my book club decided to read it and I agreed to go for it. I was disappointed. I'd heard that it was an extremely well-written book and I saw flashes of that but, the beginning had me extremely confused about what characters went with other characters, and the middle dragged and was very repetitive. The ending left me with too many questions.

The story had numerous moments of excellence, i.e. toilets on the lawn, Celia in the pink dress, the chocolate cake, but they were few and far between. The characters were stereotypes - few were more than two dimensional or were used only for a particular aspect of the story.

And yet, the story held me, having me wish that somehow it was going to turn out differently and each of the characters would be redeemed in some manner so that their lives would be better. Maybe this aspect of the book is why I rated it a 3 star, otherwise, I probably would have gone lower. Just proves, all books are not for all people.


The Orchid Affair by Lauren Willig

Challenge Book #3
Genre: Cozy Mystery, Romance
Subject: French revolution, espionage, escapes
Setting: Paris, France
Main Characters: Laura Grey, André Jaouen, Gaston, Delaroche, Eloise Kelly, Colin Selwick
Series: Pink Carnation(8)
Dates Read: December 22 - January 7
Number of pages: 405
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?: yes, MCL
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Speech Class, Homework
Laura Grey joins the forces of the Pink Carnation because she feels that as spinster/governess she may be able to gather the information from households that others can't infiltrate. She also meets an old friend of her parents,Antoine Daubier, who was a friend of her employer, André Jaouen.
Her mission gets changed and Laura helps to aid the escape of the Jaouen family as well as Antoine Daubler and the story of their adventures and the developing romance carries this book throughout.
The current time romance is proceeding as well and the reader finally meets other members of Colin's family.
One of my favorites in the series.


Dead Cat Bounce by Sarah Graves

Challenge Book #2
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Subject: outsiders, revenge, protection of loved ones
Setting: Eastport, ME
Main Characters: Jacobia Tiptree, Sam Tiptree, Ellioe White, George Valentine, Wade Sorensen, Hedda White
Series: Home Repair is Homicide(1)
Dates Read: January 1 - January 4
Number of pages: 308
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?: yes, Barnes & Noble
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Math (#1), Home Economics

Jacobia Tiptree has gone through a nasty divorce from her neurosurgeon husband and "retired" from her high-paced job on Wall Street to the peaceful town of Eastport ME. Then one morning she discovers a body in her basement and it turns out to be a high-profile multi-millionaire and her world starts spinning again.

Her first Eastport friend confesses to the murder but Jake knows that Ellie couldn't have done it and must be trying to protect someone. Is it father, her ex-boyfriend, her mother? As the story unfolds we see Jacobia trying to acclimatize herself to her new environment and neighbors as well as be a good mother and a good friend.

I really liked this story and the characters that involved. I'm definitely going to be looking for another in this series.


A Death in Vienna by Frank Tallis

Genre: Mystery
Subject: psychoanalysis, psychology
Setting: Vienna, Austria
Main Characters: Rheinhardt, Liebermann
Series: The Liebermann Papers (1)
Dates Read: December 21 - January 1
Number of pages: 459
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?: yes, Barnes & Noble
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Lunchtime, foreign languages

The beginning of this book is somewhat disjointed trying to introduce characters, their relationships at the same time as identify the murder of a well-known physic. If the book had continued to progress in the same manner, I probably would have abandoned it, but once all the factors were in place, the story definitely improved. However, as interesting as the story was, the characters still lacked some dimension.

The setting in Vienna around the turn of the century 1900 with Sigmund Freud as a background character was just a part of the draw of this book. This locked door mystery is worth the time even if there was room for improvement.