This charming second novel in Mia Manasala’s standout new series is as delectable as the first. Instead of being set in the main character, Lila’s, aunt’s restaurant, it’s set in the world of a small town beauty pageant. Lila, a former winner turned business owner, is now a reluctant judge. Manansala takes several typically cozy tropes and slightly tweaks them. There’s a bit of a romantic triangle for Lila; there’s a new business she’s setting up with her two best friends, the Brew-Ha café; and then there’s the beauty pageant to provide a rich array of suspects for the eventual murder.
We’ve moved our discussion of Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala to Sunday, March 20 at 2 p.m. via zoom. Our February read will be Death on the Boardwalk by Caleb Wygal. We’ll meet on February 13 at 2 p.m. via zoom. The publisher’s description of Death on the Boardwalk:
The Myrtle Beach Boardwalk is normally an idyllic place. Until death arrives on recently widowed bookstore owner Clark Thomas’ doorstep.
When the body of a local businesswoman and environmentalist gets dumped by the back door of his shop, Clark finds himself in a unique position to investigate the crime. But should he? When it comes to murder, something else drives him he doesn’t want to admit.
Join our book club discussions via zoom in January and February. All are welcome, email us or message us on facebook for a link.
Sunday, January 16 at 2 p.m. we’ll discuss Val McDermid’s Still Life. Publisher’s description:
DCI Karen Pirie, who finds herself investigating the shadowy world of forgery, where things are never what they seem.
When a lobster fisherman discovers a dead body in Scotland’s Firth of Forth, Karen is called into investigate. She quickly discovers that the case will require untangling a complicated web—including a historic disappearance, art forgery, and secret identities—that seems to orbit around a painting copyist who can mimic anyone from Holbein to Hockney. Meanwhile, a traffic crash leads to the discovery of a skeleton in a suburban garage. Needless to say, Karen has her plate full. Meanwhile, the man responsible for the death of the love of her life is being released from prison, reopening old wounds just as she was getting back on her feet.
I read many books in a year, but I still can’t claim an encyclopedic reading of the cozies that were published in 2021. These delicious morsels of storytelling are reason for joy, as the storytellers, even though they include murders, are in general optimistic. You like the characters in these books, and would love to be friends with them. These are my favorites this year. For a really deep dive, check out Dru Ann Love’s blog, Dru’s Book Musings, which tackles everything in the cozy universe. All of these titles are available on our website.