CeeCee’s Roundup of Murder, Mayhem and Four-Legged Sleuths

UntitledLast night we had the mother of all thunderstorms—the perfect setting for a riveting whodunit! While the shingles were blowing off the roof and my poor doggie was shivering in the closet, I was busy wrapping up the last final chapters of my Chet and Bernie mystery. If you’re in the mood for a good mystery that’s light on the mind-numbing procedural stuff and heavy on cute animals and sassy amateur sleuths, this reading roundup is for you!

Real Murders by Charlaine Harris

teagarden_book_a_pAfter watching the Hallmark channel movie—starring none other than Candace Cameron as Aurora (aka Ro) Teagarden—I had to check out this series to see how it compares to the made-for-TV train wreck. I mean, how can the mastermind behind the True Blood series have anything to do with such a snore fest filled with cardboard cutout characters and inane dialogue? Sadly, the literary version is just as disappointing. It has all the annoying tropes that run rampant in the cozy genre: the overbearing, meddling mother, the bossy best friend, the fashionably-challenged leading lady. Seriously, why do so many cozy mystery characters have to dress like lunch ladies? Is this a way to make them more likeable and relatable to the readers? What does that say about cozy mystery fans? What really bothered me about Candace Cameron’s role is that she looked like she stepped right out of the pages of an Anthropologie catalogue, yet people kept nagging her to dress better. And what’s up with those crazy long hair extensions? In the book, the drab librarian has a head of frizzy brown hair. It made no sense that the TV version looks like a freakin Pantene commercial. Although I do have to hand it to Candace, that girl sure has come a long way since Full House. I would love to get her beauty secrets!

The Sound and the Furry by Spencer Quinn

16130393Oh my gawsh! How can I even articulate my complete and total adoration for this detective series? It’s told through the eyes of a big, goofy dog named Chet (aka “Chet the Jet”) who chases down perps and solves crimes with his human partner. I know what you’re thinking. A dog narrating the whole book? That’s got to get old real quick. Well think again! The story moves along at a rapid pace through Chet’s narrative. You see, dogs pick up on a lot of things that human can’t see, smell or hear. With his acute senses, Chet can give the readers some clues that Bernie won’t pick up on until the bad guys start closing in on them. This time, they’re solving a mystery in the Louisiana swamplands—my favorite kind of setting! What starts out as a simple missing persons case soon leads to a tangled web of drug dealers, biker gangs, Big Oil, and one mean-ass alligator named Iko. I love this series for two reasons: the top-notch mystery, and Chet’s unwavering love for Bernie. He is 100 percent devoted to his disheveled Hawaiian shirt-wearing human. In Chet’s eyes, Bernie is pure perfection…well except for when a woman crosses his path. I’d like to think this is how dogs really perceive their humans. The way they look up at us with those adoring eyes, how could they not?

A Nip of Murder by Carol Miller

20575402As with the first book in this new series, the story begins with a most peculiar catastrophe. A gang of masked bandits raid a bakery and make off with 90 pounds of cream cheese. What in the world?! The plot thickens when Daisy’s emotionally fragile employee stabs one of the robbers to death in self-defense. Turns out, he’s just some random dude with no connection to the town whatsoever. In a rural Virginia hamlet devoid of useful law enforcement, Daisy has no other choice but to solve the mystery of the stolen cream cheese on her own. When she’s not piecing together clues, she’s busy at the bakery attending to a big crowd of strangers who’re in town for a geocacher hunt. With so many strangers thrown into the mix, how will she ever narrow down the suspects list? What would a bunch of nerdy geocacher’s want with a mountain of cream cheese? With some help from a rather handsome geocacher, who’s also a hot history professor, she hunts down some leads that all seem to point to an underground moonshine ring. And as the romance heats up between her and the professor, she also starts to feel a gravitational pull toward Rick Balsam, the local moonshine-brewing bad boy. Uh oh, I smell trouble!

As I expected, this mystery series just keep getting better and better. If you’re a sucker for an atmospheric whodunit with feisty female sleuths and steamy romantic tension, this one’s for you! Oh and did I mention that there’s also a crime-solving kitty named Blot? Now that’s the cream cheese icing on the cake!

Friday Finds (Oct. 18)

fridayfinds_bringontheinkFriday Finds is a weekly meme hosted by Should be Reading that showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your To Be Read list… whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).

Happy Friday everybody!!! Don’t you just love this day of the week? It’s almost as awesome as Saturday, a day I reserve for running ungodly amounts of miles and then crashing into my reading nook for endless hours of book-nerdage.

Here’s all the lovely reads that I can’t wait to devour!

 Picked this one up at the airport
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 Scored this audiobook from the author! Post a comment to win a free download of this audiobook!
Dance-On-His-Grave-by-Sylvia-Dickey-Smith

 Bought this for only five bucks on Audible
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 Downloaded this on my Nook to retain my sanity
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I really have no business buying any more books, but what can I say? I’m a total book junkie! What are y’all reading this weekend? Post a comment and tell me all about it!  To enter the audiobook giveaway, post your answer to this question in a comment below: Who is your favorite strong female protagonist?  The winner’s name will be drawn at random.  Good Luck!

“Wolfsbane and Mistletoe” edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner

Once again Christmas has roared to a screeching halt. Time to pluck off the ornaments and rake up the mountainous rubble of shredded paper underneath the tree. Although we must say goodbye to the decorations, fat-riddled goodies and yes, even the falalala Lifetime movies, there’s no reason to stop reading Christmassy stories! If you, like me, need something to stave off those post-holiday blues, you should pick up “Wolfsbane and Mistletoe,” a holiday feast of 15 short stories filled with werewolves, shapeshifters, vampires and oodles of romance! I’d like to give you mini-reviews for all 15, but that could take all day and I have some after-Christmas shopping to do! Here’s a taste of three of my favorites. 

For the funny bone
“S.A.” by JA Konrath 

When Robert Westin Smith attends his first Shapeshifters Anonymous meeting, he discovers Santa has a dark side – close ties with Satan to be exact. The not-so-jolly old elf teamed up with none other than Lucifer himself to rid the world of therianathropes, a special breed of shapeshifters with an appetite for evildoers. With his “salvation army” of demonic bell-ringing elves, Santa leaves toys as consolation prizes for children after devouring their parents. Wow – and I thought Billy Bob Thornton was a bad Santa!  Things really get ridiculous when Santa and his band of minions swoop in on the goofy group of shifters to systematically wipe them off his naughty list. I’m not sure what’s funnier about this story, the were-tortoise shouting “man your battle stations” or a wannabe shapeshifter who likes to dance in a hypo costume. Either way, this twisted-beyond-belief holiday tale is sure to tickle your funny bone!

 For Sookie Stackhouse fans
“Gift Wrap” by Charlaine Harris

For many happy couples, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. But for Sookie Stackhouse, it’s downright depressing. Sad, single and alone on Christmas Eve, she can’t stop brooding over her string of fanged and furry ex-boyfriends. Like a gift from the paranormal gods – or perhaps a well-meaning relative – a wounded, naked were-man is left for dead in the winter-bare forest surrounding Sookie’s house. Never one to turn away from a stray were-man (who just so happens to be smoking hot), Sookie wraps him in a blanket and nurses him back to health – and boy does she have good bedside manner! If you aren’t up to date on the series, you may want to catch up before reading this little story because it contains some major spoilers.

 For the naughty list
“Christmas Past” by Keri Arthur

 
This Christmas isn’t so merry for Hannah. Rather than cozying up by the fire with a tall glass of eggnog, she must brave a snowstorm dressed in a skimpy elf costume – jingle bell shoes and all –to hunt down a vampire serial killer with a penchant for Christmas charity collectors. But the humiliating costume and the unrelenting snowstorm isn’t the worst of it. She’s forced to partner up with hunky Brodie James, werewolf expert and chief investigator for Para-Investigations Squad. Owner of a killer smile and smoldering eyes. And the man who broke her heart precisely one year ago. Frostbite and bloodthirsty vampires are the least of Hannah’s worries when Brodie attempts to lure her out of her elf costume and into his bed. Out of all the stories in this collection, this one’s the hottest! I recommend reading this with a hot toddy and a decadent slice of chocolate cake.