To start, my favorite of Shakespeare's plays is Hamlet. It's so beautiful, and from page to page are quotations used even today. After his father is murdered, Hamlet uses a play to call out his mother, insinuating that the Queen was waiting for the King's death so she could remarry. When Hamlet asks his mother what she thinks of the play, she says, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks."
People who don't really know the play usually say, "Methinks the lady doth protest too much." People who are ignorant about Shakespeare may think it comes from another play. And people who are ignorant know-it-alls correct people about it coming from a different play.
Page 187, Peach Cobbler Murder:
"But Vanessa did say she hadn't spent the night with Mike."
"I know. Several times. Methinks the lady doth protest too much."
"That's Shakespeare," Andrea announced...
Andrea is correct. As I've pointed out in previous reviews, Andrea is intelligent and observant, in spite of the author's laziness and her insistence in overusing trite, simple statements. With Andrea, that tends to be, "I'm a real estate professional" to brush off any recognition of her talents.
"I know. It's from MacBeth."
Hannah is incorrect. She's correcting Andrea for not being precise enough, and she's incorrect in that correction. There are only a couple of options here. Either the author, everyone who read the book for the author before it got sent to the publisher, and her editor are completely incompetent... (You know what? If you Google Methinks the lady doth protest too much, the response is NOT MacBeth.)
Or the author wanted to make a fool of Hannah. And damn! It's about freaking time that someone did that. But in order for that to be effective, someone has to call her out.
"Do you really think Vanessa reads Shakespeare? Andrea asked, missing the point entirely.
Really? Missing the point? God, Hannah is a b*tch.
"Not without moving her lips," Hannah said.
Yep, a stone cold one.
So, Lisa and her fiancé Herb get married, and Hannah not only provides the wedding cakes and a bunch of other items for the dessert bar, she drives the limo from the church to the reception. Whatta gal. Not bad for a person thinking that she's going to close down the business (and put Lisa out of a job) in a couple of weeks, because of the new competition from the Magnolia Bakery across the street.
After part of the competition is murdered, Hannah decides that she has to investigate (surprise!) because she's a suspect. Most of the fracking town is a suspect because of the timing of the wedding and reception. Really - Hannah got out of the church that was filled with wedding goers - got into the limo with the bride, groom and parents - drove to the Lake Eden Inn, and served wedding cake and other desserts. HOW is she a suspect that happened between the time of the wedding and the reception? HOW lazy is this author, that she has to make her characters THIS stupid?
This book, like Sugar Cookie right before, has fewer Hannah-lies than most of the previous books. As in the opening of this review, Hannah the know it all continues to correct people - verbally and in her thoughts.
Most of the book shows strongly that Norman is a fantastic, dependable person, and Mike is a creep. At the end of the book, someone tries to blow the Hannah-Mike-Norman triangle apart.
Reviewed from a Nook (Barnes and Noble) e-book.
As with the previous books in this series, Sugar Cookie includes several recipes sprinkled between chapters. Some enjoy them, some test them, and others (like me) page through them.
They are still working on the Lake Eden Cook Book, so all the entries are assigned to members of the town to bring to the Christmas Pot Luck, so that they can decide what will be included and what will be left out.
The book opens with another of the author's old-standby's - a stupid dream. Hannah is being chased by a meatball, because she forgot to include Edna Ferguson's meatball recipe. (Of course, she fixes that by assigning the meatballs to herself.)
Most of the story takes place at that Pot Luck and the time right around it. One of the attendees is murdered, found by (WHO ELSE??) Hannah McNosey, who then tells Mike, the detective in attendance. He goes into an office and interviews people sent in to talk to him, while Hannah actually investigates.
Hannah's lying is limited - less than normal, because there's less interaction between Hannah and Mike than in most of the other stories. Her spoken and thought-only corrections of others are in about the normal range for the series.
Hannah is still stringing along both Mike and Norman - not consciously, but just not making a decision and telling one of them to back off. I am still agog that someone who could select a business partner in a couple of weeks and give her 1/3 of the business cannot commit to a single man after more than a year. Especially when one of those men is chauvinistic, demanding, and seems to be dating someone else and not being honest about it, while the other is... Norman.
After Hannah saves the day by discovering the killer, she figures out the PERFECT name for her sister Andrea's newest child. She's a wonder.
Reviewed from a Nook (Barnes and Noble) e-book.
As with the previous books in this series, Fudge Cupcake includes several recipes sprinkled between chapters. Some enjoy them, some test them, and others (like me) page through them.
While working with a group of women from Lake Eden to test recipes planned for the Lake Eden Cookbook, Hannah is also trying to solve the mystery of a mystery ingredient for Fudge Cupcakes.
Hannah's brother in law (Andrea's husband Bill) is running for Sheriff, and the current Sheriff is murdered just so Hannah can find the body. (Surprise!) Bill is suspended because he has no alibi. Hannah works with Andrea and the rest of her crew to prove Bill's innocence, and then (even though they are told that now they should leave the investigation to the professionals) they continue to work on solving the murder.
Typically, this puts Hannah in mortal danger, since she decides to snoop around rather than making certain she was safe. This forces her to depend on others to save her. The book is filled with Hannah's typical lies and corrections of others - some spoken aloud, others just thought to herself.
Reviewed from a Nook (Barnes and Noble) e-book.
As with the previous books in this series, Lemon Meringue Pie includes several recipes sprinkled between chapters. Some enjoy them, some test them, and others (like me) page through them.
Norman (of the Hannah-Mike-Norman triangle) has decided to build the dream home that he and Hannah designed for a newspaper contest. This is the first that the house has been mentioned since they were designing the house. We learn that they won the contest and that Hannah used her winnings to purchase an air conditioner for the kitchen and ceiling fans in the store portion of The Cookie Jar.
Norman has decided to buy some land, have the old house on it torn down and build their 4 bedroom, 3 bath dream house - so everyone (and I do mean EVERYONE) assumes that Norman has asked Hannah to marry him, and when she says that she's not marrying Norman, everyone (and I do mean EVERYONE) asks why not and tells her he's a wonderful guy.
This author loves to beat dead horses.
The Cookie Jar is now selling pies on Fridays - they pick one flavor and make that one flavor for the week. On the day that Norman is closing on the land/tear down house he's buying, the flavor is Lemon Meringue. He allows the current owner the weekend to remove whatever she'd like from the house.
The following Monday, Hannah, Norman and Delores (Hannah's mother) go out to the house to allow Delores to pull items for Granny's Attic Antiques, the store that Delores and Carrie (Norman's mother) own. While searching the basement, Delores finds the body of the previous owner of the house. Rhonda has been hit on the back of the head, and left in what appears to be a shallow grave back by the furnace.
Later, brand new looking bills from 1974 start to show up around town, and it's quickly learned that the bills were from a bank robbery in 1974. Do they connect to the murder?
Hannah continues to use her strengths - lying and failure to act intelligently to track down the killer. In between, she judges people and what they say and winces when they end sentences with prepositions. But, thanks to Sally (one of the owners of the Lake Eden Inn), Hannah chose to be honest with Mike this time. "He always finds out. He's mad at you for a day or so, then he gets over it. Why don't you just tell him now and get it over with? That way he can't say you weren't up-front with him." Hannah does actually inform Mike that she's going to investigate, and is *pissed* off when he mentions that she's lied about that in the past. Because in Hannah-land, Hannah cannot lie.
In a cute moment of hypocrisy, Hannah tells Claire that she was a cheater (but that it's ok) for buying Lemon Meringue pies and re-packaging them & donating them to a bake sale - that is not saying she baked them, but letting people think she had. This "cheating" is no way different than Hannah's "non-lies".
The author also shows us that everything that Hannah hates and belittles in her mother is part of Hannah. Typically, Hannah answers her phone by addressing whoever she assumes is on the line. Since Norman phoned twice before, once asking Hannah to check her bedside table for a specific pen, because she'd told him she kept a notepad and pen on the table, the phone rings once more. She answers, "Hi, Norman. Your pen was in my bedroom, right where you said it would be."
The caller is Delores, who then demands to know why Norman's pen is in her 30 year old daughter's bedroom, followed by, "Stop that laughing and tell me! I'm your mother! I have a right to know!" Hannah loses it a few times with her younger sister - once when she gets off the bus, still dressed as she'd been for a play, once when she gets some work done by Norman the dentist, and once when Michelle dresses in a way that Hannah feels is inappropriate.
There are several new characters in this book. As mentioned previously Michelle, Hannah's and Andrea's youngest sister, is in Lake Eden for the first time since the series started. And there's Freddy & Jed, cousins. Freddy is mentally challenged, and the author creates him using the same mold she used to create Tracey, her pre-school aged character.
The follow up to Delores finding the body is a thing of beauty. Hannah tells Norman that she's certain that Delores is not correct about the body... "'You don't think your mother saw a body?' 'I doubt it...I'm sure he saw something, but she's a drama queen.'"
When Norman asks whether Hanna brought the flashlights, Hannah seems snappy, "Of course I did." Hannah has shown that she does not like to be questioned.
When Norman starts down the stairway, "It was clear he was exercising his manly prerogative, and that was fine with her." Well, how about the HOMEOWNER'S prerogative? He could have told her to just get the hell off his property, but he didn't. Drama queen much, Hannah?
Then, after Hannah finds the body before him, she drags Norman out of the basement, not allowing him to see it. She's a pushy broad, huh?
One more classic line: two clues had been found in the kitchen of the house - take out dinners for 2 of osso bucco, and a Cookie Jar Lemon Meringue pie that had 1 piece eaten out. Hannah's response? "I really want to know who bought a whole pie and only ate one piece. It's practically an insult."
Yes, these books are hilarious. Especially when you really read for Hannah's (hidden and blatant) meanings.
Reviewed from a Nook (Barnes and Noble) e-book.
As with the previous books in this series, Blueberry Muffin includes several recipes sprinkled between chapters. Some enjoy them, some test them, and others (like me) page through them.
Blueberry Muffin Murder takes place during Lake Eden's Winter Carnival - a way to bring in tourists and generate revenue during the bleak months of winter. Hannah and Lisa, partners of The Cookie Jar are making and delivering the cookies (to be sold with coffee or hot chocolate) to be sold at all the venues. Hannah's mother, Delores and her friend Carrie Rhodes (Norman's mother) set up a historical reconstruction - the home of one of the town's founders' - next door to the Cookie Jar.
Besides cookies, coffee, hot cocoa, dog races, snowman building contests and ice skating races, the big draw for the Winter Carnival is "Connie Mac", a woman who hosts cooking shows and runs a housewares/entertainment empire. Mrs. Mac is rude, demanding and throws things when she gets mad. She doesn't have a lot of friends.
Mrs. Mac was to supply the cake for the Winter Carnival celebration dinner, but the truck transporting the cake drives off the road to avoid a huge accident. After firing the driver, Connie Mac takes over the kitchen of The Cookie Jar to bake a new cake. While Connie is there, she is murdered for Hannah to find in the pantry the next morning.
This allows mother Delores to once again drop into the "no one will ever marry you if you keep finding dead bodies" routine. I'd say that Delores is a one note character, but actually, the author is the issue, not the character. It was funny once. It was ok the second time (though would have been funnier if it had come up much later, instead of immediately). But it is sad that a writer decides to weaken a character, just because her main character is even more weak.
Yes, Hannah does continue to be judgmental and pre-judges situations and other characters (though not as badly as in the first of the series, Chocolate Chip Cookie). And she does continue to lie and to interfere in the investigation. She's a lousy human being, she'd be a crap friend, and she's a weak main character - supported by a few really excellent secondary characters.
Now, if the author played into those weaknesses and recognized them, this series would take a different turn, and the weaknesses would become strengths in the stories. But this is story number three, and the author has decided that this loser is her heroine.
Oh yes, Mike (of the strengthening Mike/Norman/Hannah triangle) continues to be chauvinistic and pushy and apparently the male equal of Hannah. Maybe that's why Hannah can't decide between Mike and Norman. Mike is too stupid to see through Hannah's lies, and too wishy-washy to threaten her with jail time for destroying evidence, etc. Norman, on the other hand, is better than Hannah and can see through her lies. Hannah doesn't deserve Norman (though he'd say differently - he's a cool person.)
Reviewed from a Nook (Barnes and Noble) e-book.
I reviewed the first of this series (Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder) without mentioning the recipes once. That probably shows how important they are to me. :) But I have read posts from readers who enjoy - and even try the recipes.
In every book in the series, at the end of every couple of chapters, the author shares a recipe - frequently a cookie from Hannah Swenson's shop (The Cookie Jar), sometimes an entrée or dessert. Basically I page quickly through these, though sometimes at the end there's a cutesy note about how one character or another likes this recipe.
Ok, the title here - referencing Strawberry Shortcake - does relate to a dessert that is important to the story. But it also made me wonder - you have a heroine who owns a Cookie Store, creating her own types of cookies... and in the SECOND book in the series, you name the book after something other than a cookie? So, will the third book be the Pot Roast mystery?
The story is fairly straight forward. Hannah is the chief judge for a baking contest sponsored by a flour company. The final bake offs are being televised out of the High School auditorium. There are 12 contestants, with 4 baking and competing the first three nights. The winners of those 3 contests will compete in the final night of the competition. To promote the contest, Hannah is creating a dessert every day during the on-site newscast, and serving it to the news crew. One of the judges drops out after needing some dentistry, and is replaced by the High School Basketball Coach, Boyd Watkins.
Boyd was introduced in Chocolate Chip - a pushy, demanding and successful coach, he's also a pushy, demanding and abusive husband to Danielle. After judging the first night's offering, he accepts the rest of the Strawberry Shortcake that Hannah had made for the news crew to bring home to Danielle.
Later that evening, Danielle phones Hannah and asks her to come out. When Hannah arrives, Danielle takes her to the garage, where Boyd and the Strawberry Shortcake are on the floor. Neither is doing very well. Hannah stays with Danielle while she is questioned by the police, and then Danielle is sent to the hospital - because she has a cold.
People with colds go to the hospital. Lake Eden must be a special kind of place, huh?
Hannah "has" to solve the murder because the chief of police wants it solved quickly, and doesn't want his detectives to - you know - detect... which means that Danielle is obviously going to be held responsible for the death of Boyd the wife beater.
Hannah is much more likeable in this story than in Chocolate Chip. Yeah, she's still judgmental and a know it all, but there's less of that crap poisoning the story. Maybe I read this book before Chocolate Chip, originally... that would have explained why I kept reading.
Lisa, Hannah's assistant, is made a partner in The Cookie Jar in this book. This seems to be a fantastic deal for Hannah - Lisa is a strong person and fills in for every task that Hannah leaves open. She even takes over all the tasks of running the shop while Hannah investigates the murder. Now notices - in book 1, Hannah considered making Lisa a partner, and in book 2, Lisa is made a partner. So, clearly, Hannah can make a decision quickly. And apparently can make the right decision when she decides quickly. Let's see how long it takes to break the Mike-Norman-Hannah triangle.
Mike is more of a know it all, though. He's chauvinistic and obnoxious. You have to wonder why the hell Hannah feels anything positive around him. If it's only physical, what the hell? She's supposed to be smart - why is she letting the attraction override the fact that he's a creep?
Mike doesn't want Hannah investigating Boyd's murder. And, given that Hannah breaks into a residence and tampers with evidence, I completely understand why Mike wants Hannah to stick to baking cookies. But he expresses that in a very chauvinistic, high handed, creepy way. I wish he'd just say, "Look Hannah, we get it. You think you're smart. You trip across murderers and almost get yourself killed, and somehow you think that makes you bright, instead of a complete moron. What. Ever. But, every time you hold up the investigation, every time your finger prints end up where they should not be, you will be placed in jail. Just try running The Cookie Jar from behind bars."
Unfortunately, he doesn't say that, and she fumbles through the clues once more, goes looking specifically for a basketball player on steroids, but doesn't find it odd at all that a kid went from sitting on the bench, to basketball camp, and came back a playing phenomenon. Anyone missing that chain of clues, just so that she can (again!) be held at gun point by the killer is an IDIOT.
Besides being an idiot, Hannah is a liar. One of the times that Mike is nagging her about not getting involved in the investigation (instead of - you know - being a man and telling her how long she'll be in jail, if she does get involved)... "You should know better than that, Mike. I'd never ignore your advice." Hannah answered him truthfully, not voicing the other half of her thoughts. I considered your advice for a long time last night, and I came to the conclusion that you were wrong and I was right.
If the author considers Hannah honest, this is NOT a person I would ever want to have to depend on. Not any more than I'd want to depend on Hannah.
The author is very focused on detail in her writing. Sometimes this is fun, others it comes back to bite her. For the second book in a row, she has Hannah use a card to be released from the condo parking lot. "When she rolled down her window to use her electronic gate card to raise the wooden bar at the exit of the complex, the frigid air whistled into her truck."
How many times have you been required to use a gate card on the way *out* of a parking lot that isn't a lot where you pay to park? (And even there, you don't use a gate card on the way out - you pay.) You DON'T use a card on the way out, because why hold up people leaving? You DO use a card on the way in, for security's sake.
There are shortcuts the author uses - kind of like catch phrases from Saturday Night Live. Any time that Andrea does something intelligent or clever or especially something that Hannah couldn't do, someone says, "Of course she did that. She's a Real Estate Agent." That happens for the first time in this book, and it almost makes sense in the context. Every time after this, it's just a lazy author using an insipid joke.
In Chocolate Chip, the author specifically mentioned a time when Hannah swore. She didn't express the swear words, but she did mention the swearing. Now the author turns to "words she wouldn't say in front of her niece." You know, if the niece is standing there, that's fine. Otherwise, WHO CARES?
There's also the Hannah-always-right-correcting-the-idiot-(usually-Andrea) game. That starts out in Strawberry Shortcake, when Andrea mentions blackmail, which Hannah corrects, extortion. According to Thesaurus.com, extortion is a synonym of blackmail.
Way to go, author... But yeah, I kept reading. This series Definitely Qualifies for "turn off your brain and read."
Reviewed from a Nook (Barnes and Noble) e-book.
Note: I started this series when there were well over a dozen titles available. The stories are very easy reads and they vary enough to be interesting. I'm explaining this up front because after my most recent re-read, I'm not 100% certain I can explain why I kept reading the series! :)
Note 2 - the series is made up of cozy mysteries. The heroine/mystery solver owns a shop called the Cookie Jar, and she makes and sells cookies. She owns a cat; she does interact with him a bit, but he is not central to the stories. (I prefer cozy mysteries where the hero or heroine has a focus besides mysteries, and owns a pet - preferably a dog - that is central to much of the story.) So, this is far from my favorite type of book, much less favorite cozy mystery.
Throughout Chocolate Chip, we learn that Hannah Swenson is the owner of the Cookie Jar, a store where cookies are made and sold. She has 2 sisters. The younger, Michelle, is away at college and is occasionally mentioned in Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder. The middle sister is Andrea.
Andrea asked Hannah to return home from college to help out their mother (Delores) after their father passed away. Hannah had just had some personal difficulties at school and felt it was a good time to return home. She never returned to school, instead opening The Cookie Jar. She is very intelligent and knows it. She questions the intelligence of others.
Hannah is single and lives in a condo with her cat (a one-eyed rescue) named Moishe. Andrea is a real estate agent and is married to Bill, a police officer working at becoming a detective. They have a daughter, Tracey, in pre-school.
Hannah's assistant at The Cookie Jar is Lisa. Lisa is young - she decided to take a pass on a scholarship to college to stay home and care for her dad, who has Alzheimer Disease. Lisa hasn't been at the Cookie Jar long, but has moved from being a waitress to a baker, and basically fills in at any task Hannah needs performed. Hannah is considering making Lisa a partner.
The story is told in the third person, but focuses on Hannah's point of view, including her thoughts. While I like Hannah's intelligence and drive, and her loyalty and respect for those to whom she gives those, she is quick to judge and judges harshly, even when she should know better. Her intelligence is highly questionable, therefore.
This harsh judgmental nature is introduced in the first chapter - after feeding her cat, Hannah answers her phone and speaks to her mother. Her thoughts make it clear she has little respect for Delores, and then when her mother brings up the gentleman she'd introduced to Hannah the night before, "What on earth had convinced Delores that her eldest daughter would be interested in a balding dentist, several years her senior, whose favorite topic of conversation was gum disease?"
Now, nothing in the subsequent chapters (or in later books) indicates that Norman's favorite topic of conversation is gum disease. So, in the meeting that was not important enough to include in the book, we're to assume that Norman was completely out of character? No, it just seems to be one more example of Hannah pre-judging, or pushing her view instead of the truth.
Later it strikes her she can't remember the last time when anyone asked her out on a date. Given her negativity, I'm surprised she'd ever been on a date.
This leaning toward prejudice doesn't apply only to people she's just met. After considering that Tracey was "only" six months old when Andrea decided to take a job, placing Tracey in pre-school & with a maid and nanny at home, after learning what a hobby farm is, Hannah decides, "By her own definition, Andrea was a hobby wife and a hobby mother."
While interacting one on one with Tracey, Hannah decides, "Perhaps it was time to have a talk with her sister about the responsibilities of motherhood."
So, in the first chapter, Hannah has all ready proven that she's a judgmental know-it-all. In subsequent chapters she adds in lying for convenience (which leads to mortal danger for her. When you promise the police officer that you won't delve into the mystery without letting him know what you're planning to do first, you probably shouldn't interrogate someone without talking to him first.)
Andrea (Hannah's sister) quickly proves to be a VERY intelligent and observant person. She is very in-tune to people. She didn't go to college, and doesn't have the 'book intelligence' that Hannah displays (or attempts to display.) Hannah definitely looks down on Andrea.
Hannah isn't ignorant, but she's stupid about people, and not very observant. She is out of tune with people. She attended college (until she withdrew). When people question her - and frequently, just when people ask her a question - she takes offense
Many important characters are introduced late in the book, which keeps things fresh and interesting. One of these is Mike Kingston - apparently the physical opposite of Norman, since he gets Hannah's motor running. The "Mike or Norman" question is clearly set up for the upcoming books. And honestly, it doesn't seem like it's ever going to end. Maybe the author has nothing else to share.
So, why did I continue with the series? I came away from Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder with an enjoyment of the story, a fondness for that balding dentist, Norman, a curiosity about how long the author would force Andrea to put up with Hannah's high-handed b.s. So I guess that means, I don't know. But I did. Soon to follow: Review of Strawberry Shortcake Murder.
This is a hilarious review of Chocolate chip: http://stewartry.booklikes.com/post/901732/even-cookies-can-t-save-this - the reviewer liked Hannah even less than I do. :)
I will be reviewing the books in series order; when completed, I will return to this page to create a series overview.
(List from cozy-mystery.com)
HANNAH SWENSEN MYSTERY Series:
Main Character: Hannah Swensen, Manager of The Cookie Jar
01. Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder '00
02. Strawberry Shortcake Murder '01
03. Blueberry Muffin Murder '02
04. Lemon Meringue Pie Murder '03
05. Fudge Cupcake Murder '04
06. Sugar Cookie Murder '04
07. Peach Cobbler Murder '05
08. Cherry Cheesecake Murder '06
09. Key Lime Pie Murder '07
10. Carrot Cake Murder '08
11. Cream Puff Murder '09
12. Plum Pudding Murder '09
13. Apple Turnover Murder '10
14. Devil's Food Cake Murder '11
15. Cinnamon Roll Murder '12
16. Red Velvet Cupcake Murder '13
17. Blackberry Pie Murder '14
18. Double Fudge Brownie '15
Also available: Joanne Fluke's Lake Eden Cookbook: Hannah Swensen's Recipes from the Cookie Jar (I don't consider this part of the cozy mystery series, though readers interested in the recipes do love it.)
I am reading Murder Strikes a Pose for the second time, but am doing a quick review now because the title is currently on SUPER SALE at Amazon - The Kindle edition, normally around $8.40 is being sold for $1.99. The sale started yesterday (8/8/14), but is continuing today. It may end any time, so check it out.
Link to Murder Strikes a Pose
I enjoyed Murder Strikes a Pose a lot. The author, Tracy Weber, is clever enough to follow the Susan Conant style of dog writing... Her heroine is Kate, who owns a Yoga Studio. Kate adopts Bella, a reactive German Shepherd. And then Kate doesn't just throw Bella in the back yard. She works with a dog trainer to get exercises to address her reactivity.
And that reactivity doesn't instantly get cured. She also works with a veterinarian to address physical issues - issues that take time (and expensive medication) to address.
Before the characters even start thinking about solving the murder of Bella's previous owner, they and their stories are real, believable and interesting.
The book is a deal at its normal Kindle price, but the $1.99 sale is fantastic!
(Longer Review will follow... I'm going to get through a couple of other series first!)
Since this is my first blog post, I want to explain that I read and enjoy a lot of cozy mysteries. I prefer series that have a hero (heroine) who has a fun or interesting job or hobby (something other than solving murders), plus has a pet or two. My favorite series have dogs as pets - and my very favorite include activities with that dog (besides playing fetch or putting the dog in the back yard.)
A terrific example my very favorite series are the "Dog Lover Mysteries" by Susan Conant, featuring Holly Winter and her Malamutes Rowdy and Kimi. Holly writes about dogs (she's a dog writer) and the stories include information about showing the dogs in conformation, obedience, obedience training, backpacking with the dogs, and more. They are wonderful.
Mysteries with no animal in them, or where the animal is not featured regularly, do not rate as high with me. My least favorite mysteries have technical errors in them that seem obvious to me. Those make me question the entire series. (Plus the intelligence of the author and the competence of their editor(s). I could give a couple example of those, but to be honest, I don't remember the specific titles where the errors occurred.
Second to that are books where the hero(ine) seems constantly ready to take offense to anything that people say to him or her; or where over a series of books the same person is accused over and over again of murder and shunned by their community to the point where they might go out of business. How stupid do you have to be to allow that to happen over and over again, before you pack up your donut maker and move to another town?
My plan is to blog about each of the books I've read, as I re-read them. I'll go through them series by series. I will mention the technical errors in an overall review of the series, with specifics in a review of the title(s) where the error occurred.
I'm going to put off the Susan Conant books until later in the review process - I am going to start with a new author whose first book I really enjoyed a lot, and then return to the series that got me caught up in cozies - The Cookie Mysteries.