Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books Everyone Who Wants to Read a Cozy Mystery Should Try

Today's Top Ten Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is Top Ten Books Every x Should Read.  With all the concern about the future of cozy mysteries (for more info go here or check out the Save Our Cozies Facebook Group) right now they've been on my mind a lot and apparently have started jumping to my Amazon cart of their own free will.  I'm quite convinced that pre-orders don't count.

A cozy mystery is one with very low levels of gore and violence actually taking place on the page.  The main character is usually female and generally an amateur though not always.  Not only is there a murder or three but generally there's also another interest that runs through the whole series.  There's cozy mysteries set in bakeries, libraries, bookstores, quilt shops, hotels, farmer's markets, orchards, museums, and anything else you can think of.  Seriously, if you have an interest in anything there's a cozy mystery series to go with it.  There's also different levels of supernatural - from none to ghosts that follow the main character around and help out - and romantic subplots.  Not to mention that there's almost always a good dash of humor to help the murder stay cozy.  But with all the cozy mysteries out there sometimes it's hard to figure out where to start so hopefully these suggestions will be helpful!

1.  The Family Fortune Mysteries by Dawn Eastman
First Book: Pall in the Family (2013)
Most Recent Book: An Unhappy Medium (2016) - Book #4
The What: Clyde (short for Clytemnestra) is a former police officer who has returned to her hometown of Crystal Haven, Michigan and come back to her unusual and psychic family.  Murder and mayhem ensue as Clyde wrestles with figuring out what she wants to do and how to deal with her rather quirky and opinionated family.  Fun and funny but not over the top into slapstick.

2.  The Potting Shed Mysteries by Marty Wingate
First Book: The Garden Plot (2014)
Most Recent Book: The Skeleton Garden (2016) - Book #4 with Book #5 coming out in August
The What: Pru is living her dream of becoming a gardener in England after spending the first 50 or so years in her home state of Texas.  Along the way she uncovers family secrets, new friends and family, a new love interest and of course lots of dead bodies.  I really like the bits of history that are mixed in with each book and the beautifully described English gardens.  It makes me want to get planting!

3. The Country Club Murders by Julie Mulhern
First Book: The Deep End (2015)
Most Recent Book: Guaranteed to Bleed (2015) - Book #2 with Book 3 coming out in May
The What: This series is set in the 1970s.  Ellison Russell is a strong, relatable, interesting character who does have a gift for stumbling over dead bodies.  I love her voice and her relationships with her friends, her daughter, and everyone else around her.  This is a good "gateway" cozy if you're new to the genre.

4.  Liz Talbot Mystery by Susan M. Boyer
First Book: Lowcountry Boil (2012)
Most Recent Book: Lowcountry  Bordello (2015)
The What: This is quickly becoming one of my go-to mystery series.  The South Carolina setting is fantastic and the mysteries are fast paced page turners.  While these are definitely cozies they feel like they have a little bit more grit in them than a lot of others.  I like Liz a lot and her job as a PI gets her in all kinds of trouble.  There is a ghost but only in small doses.

5. A Bakeshop Mystery by Ellie Alexander
First Book:  Meet Your Baker (2014)
Most Recent Book: On Thin Icing (2015) - Book #3 with #4 out this summer
The What: Do not under any circumstances read this book on an empty stomach.  The food and coffees at Torte will have your mouth watering and your stomach grumbling.  The main character, Jules, is a professionally trained pastry chef and her creations sound amazing.  Adding to the fun is a giant Shakespeare festival which brings lots of tourists and theater people to Ashland, Oregon.

6.   Mainely Needlepointers by Lea Waite
First Book: Twisted Threads (2014)
Most Recent Book: Thread and Gone (2015) - Book #3 with Book #4 due out in October
The What: One of my very favorite things in a mystery is a bit of history mixed in.  If the characters are having to do research for any reason I'm completely on board.  So far all 3 in the Mainely Needlepointers series have done just that.  They also have lots of interesting mysteries that are taking place in the present day too as well as a intelligent and intense main character who used to work as a PI.  There is lots of talk about needlepointing but as someone who can even thread a needle it doesn't get overwhelming or to detailed.

7.  Read 'Em and Eat Mysteries by Terrie Farley Moran 
First Book: Well Read Then Dead (2014)
Most Recent Book: Caught Read Handed (2015) Book #2 with #3 coming out this summer
The What: If I could make one fictional place real it would be the bookstore cafe in this series.  Read 'Em and Eat is a combination cafe and bookstore that hosts all kinds of book clubs and has not only a book themed menu but book and author themed tables.  If this was a real place I'd be heading to the beach and you could find me at the Agatha Christie table ordering Swiss Family Robinson Cheeseburgers.  The detectives themselves are people I'd want to hang out with and the mysteries are fun and well-paced.

8.  Library Lovers Mysteries by Jenn McKinlay
First Book: Books Can Be Deceiving (2011)
Most Recent Book: A Likely Story (2015) - Book #6
The What: Lindsay Norris is the director of the Briar Creek Public Library which comes with a host of teenage volunteers, a fabulous children's librarian, and a cranky assistant.  There's also a whole host of townspeople and lots of talk about what kind of books they read.  If you're feeling hungry you can jump over to her Cupcake Bakery series (complete with cupcake recipes and lots and lots of cupcake descriptions) or you want something a little different you can go make hats in London with the Hat Shop Mysteries.  Whichever way you go McKinlay is always entertaining.

9.  The Orchard Series by Sheila Connolly
First Book: One Bad Apple (2008)
Most Recent Book: A Gala Event (2015) - Book #9
The What:  Meg loses her job in Boston just as she and her mother inherit an old house in a little town in Massachusetts which includes an apple orchard.  From then on there's lots of murders, new friends, new love interest, and lots and lots of apples.  I find myself craving all things apple when reading this and there are usually some delicious recipes at the back of the book.  There's also a bit of home restoration and history related mysteries.  Connolly also writes The Museum and County Cork series.  Both are good but I'm always drawn to an Irish setting so the County Cork series may be my favorite of the 2.

10.  Haunted Home Renovations by Juliet Blackwell 
First Book: If Walls Could Talk (2010)
Most Recent Book: Give Up the Ghost (2015) - Book #6
The What: This series leans way towards the paranormal with main character, Melanie Turner, who is not only running a construction company but also fights ghosts who are interfering with her renovation work.  She's a smart and sarcastic character who is a bit softer than she's like to let on and doesn't let steel toed boots interfere with her love of vintage clothes.  Blackwell also writes the Witchcraft Mystery series that centers around Lily Ivory, a witch who runs a vintage clothing store.

So that's a few of my favorites but it's by no means even close to a complete list.  There's so many wonderful authors whose books I love - Lynn Cahoon, Paige Shelton, Ellery Adams, Diane Vallere, Kate Carlisle, Victoria Abbott, Paige Shelton, Kathy Aarons, Susan Furlong, Elizabeth Lynn Casey, Lorna Barrett, Laura Bradford and so many more.

Are you a cozy mystery reader?  If so who are your favorite authors?


  1. So happy you did this because I love having a list like this to help me pick some cozies. I have seen The Deep End and Meet Your Baker around and might give them a try. I nee to read more cozies!! Great list!

  2. Great list! Just found Well Read Then Dead is only $1.99 at amazon...of course I hit the buy with 1-click button :)

  3. I really do love a cozy mystery, even though I haven't read one in awhile. I read a Victoria Laurie cozy mystery last year I think. It was about a psychic. So much fun!

    When I was in college I read a ton of these Angie Amalfi cozy mysteries. I loved those!

  4. You know I like some cozies and am upset about the sudden demise of some cozy series and laying-off of cozy authors. Too bad!

    I have the first Country Club Murders book-- why haven't I read it yet? Can't answer that, but I do want to soon. Most of these titles I already have on my wishlist courtesy of your blog, lol. Good picks! I read Well Read, Then Dead-- a great setting, a bit of silliness, but overall a good book. Pall in the Family and Meet Your Baker really appeal to me.

    I'm glad you'll have people talking about cozies after reading this.

  5. The very first cozy I ever read was Murder on a Girl's Night Out, the first of the Southern Sisters mysteries, by Anne George. They got me hooked 18 years ago and I have reread them many times. The sisters seem like family. I also really like the Apple Orchard series by Connolly.

    1. I love the Southern Sisters mysteries by Anne George -- I re-read them also. I really miss her!

  6. Would you believe that I've only read one of the books you listed above? Shows just how many great cozy series there are out there. I will confess that I have the first book in a couple of those series in my TBR pile, and I have read plenty of Jenn McKinlay, just not the library series.

    I need to branch out to some of these obviously.

  7. I love mystery novels and sometimes you need a cozy one to keep you going! Great list! I haven't read any of these but I will need to check them out.

  8. Thanks for the post. I found 2 'new to me ' series. Just what I needed-more books for my to be read list!

  9. Love this list. Now I have even more books on my TBR list. Love my cozies.

  10. Cool topic idea! I never think of mysteries as cozy, but some are. I would add the Aurora Teagarden series.

    My TTT: http://www.anovelglimpse.com/2016/04/12/top-ten-tuesday-twenty-books-every-reader-new-to-the-new-adult-genre-should-read/

  11. The country club murders is the one that screams the loudest at me. I didn't know cozy mysteries were in danger (and rages as I'm just getting in to them!) so I will check out that link.

  12. LOL, you are my main source of new books to try out as I have most of these on my TBR. I added the apple orchard series.

  13. Pall in the family (love that title) looks fun and is set in Michigan, which I like! Seems like I've seen a few cozies set in Michigan lately... of course I'm a fan of The Country Club Murders, that's no surprise, but I also enjoyed Well Read Then Dead. I haven't read the next one yet...

  14. I love your list of cozy recommendations, Katherine! I recently purchased a copy of The Deep End. I can't wait to give the series a try. Moran's series also appeals to me. All of them do really. :-)

  15. Great list, Katherine, and way to go for using today's TTT to highlight cozies - very timely! I've read at least some books in four of these series (Library Lovers, Family Fortune, Mainely Needlepoint, Read 'Em and Eat) and want to try the Potting Shed, Orchard, and Haunted Home Renovations series as well. If I were making a similar list, I would include the Soup Lovers series and the Cait Morgan series. Happy reading!

  16. There was several on your list that I have been wanting to try! :)

  17. I still have to read that article you have been linking. My mother has read all of the Cat Who Mysteries, which I just Googled to find out if they are considered cozies. She had them all in paperback and just recently sent them to the library for their used book sales. My sister reads those and some based in a bakery. I have no clue what ones they are. As you know I just got my first cozy ebook. I hope that this ending business gets sorted out in a positive way. The Family Fortune series sounds good. :)

  18. "Gateway" is the perfect way to describe the Country Club Murders. And the author has a new one Clouds in My Coffee to be released next month. Yay!

  19. Oh my goodness! I love the idea of a bookstore/cafe. Could someone please make one of these? Until then, I must check out this series.

  20. In my head, I always think I don't like cozy mysteries. And then I read one and it turns out I do like quite a lot of them (except the foodie ones, for some reason those seem to rub wrong). I'll have to check some of these out!

  21. Love this,sort of like getting to read my competition, which is always a good thing to do!

  22. I loved the Country Club Murder series...hope to get Book 3 when it comes out. Thanks for sharing.

  23. I had no idea what was going on with cozies. Thanks for sharing the link. I haven't read any of the series that you listed and will need to check a few out. I am definitely neglecting this category of books.

    Carole @ Carole's Random Life

  24. bookmarking this list!! Thanks for the recommendations :) My TTT

  25. Thanks for the recommendations. I am currently reading a coffee house cozy :)

  26. So glad I found this list. I love cozy mysteries. Thanks for sharing this.

  27. Well you know I don't read cozies. But I do consider you The Queen. So I would of course turn to you when I wanted a recommendation. But this list is great. I fully trust you to tell me where to start. Based on gut feeling, I'd have to go with the on set in the bakery for obvious reasons.

  28. I don't read a lot of this genre, but I'm definitely adding the Library Lovers Mysteries to my tbr. :)
    Check out my TTT.

  29. I may or may not have just squealed in delight after stumbling across your top ten list featuring cozy mysteries (okay, okay, I did just squeal in delight). I discovered to joy of cozy mysteries last year after finally becoming a member of the local library. I never expected to enjoy the genre so much, but it bring me so much happiness! That being said, I still feel like a total newbie, so I never know what books to check out.

    I definitely plan to keep an eye out for The Family Fortune Mysteries (because I'm a Michigander myself), Library Lovers Mystery (because I love libraries, obviously), and Haunted Home Renovations (because I'm a sucker for a little paranormal in my cozies)!

  30. Great lineup and sorry I missed this Top Ten Tuesday! I am an avid fan of cozies so I may do a post even though it's late... Thanks for posting your choices!

  31. I *love* cozies. I hope they never go away. I haven't read any of these yet, but a few were already on my radar. Will be adding more books to my TBR for sure!

  32. Such a great post! I added a few to my TBR list :)

  33. Really enjoy the covers and the books seem great to read in front of a toasty fireplace. Hugs...

  34. Gotta try Knit One, Kill Two, it was a pretty good cozy.

  35. One of my faves was Knit One, Kill Two. And Joanne Fluke's Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder!!