The Buffalo West Wing by Julie Hyzy

Posted by on May 12, 2017 in 2017, 3.5 stars, Book Review, Julie Hyzy | 0 comments

Buffalo West Wing by Julie HyzyBuffalo West Wing by Julie Hyzy

Genre:Cozy Mystery
Format: Mass Market Paperback and Ebook
Series: #4 in the White House Chef series
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 275
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

With a new First Family, White House executive chef Olivia Paras can’t afford to make any mistakes. But when a box of take-out chicken mysteriously shows up for the First Kids, she soon finds herself in a “no-wing” situation. After Olivia refuses to serve the chicken, the First Lady gives her the cold shoulder. But when it turns out to be poisoned poultry, Olivia realizes the kids are true targets.

My Thoughts:
This is a fun cozy mystery series in which the main character, Olivia Paras, is the executive chef at the White House. The added political elements and the insider view of the White House makes it interesting blend of culinary cozy mystery and the unique setting.

It has been a while since I read the previous book in the series there’s really not that much ongonig story so the time lapse wasn’t a problem.

This time around there’s a new President and family in the White House. The book opens on Inauguration Day. After having a good relationship with the previous President and First Lady, Ollie wants to make a good impression but soon feels like her job might be on the line because the new First Lady doesn’t seem to like her much.

Often in cozy mysteries I get annoyed when the protagonist ends up in a dangerous situation merely because of their own stupid choices. In this book I appreciated the fact that Ollie’s involvement in the mystery and the ensuing chaos rather organically. She just happened to be in the right/wrong places for logical reasons.

I enjoyed this one. I’ll probably continue with the series.

3.5 starsRating 3.5/5

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Touring my TBR – 2013 Series to Target

Posted by on Jan 28, 2013 in Blogging/Reading, Chelsea Cain, David Rosenfelt, Julie Hyzy, Mark Billingham, Michael Koryta, P.J. Tracy, Tana French, TBR Tour | 3 comments

Touring my TBR Spreadsheet and Shelves

This month I’m talking about the series I want to target for 2013.

I did this last year with moderate results and I want to do the same for 2013

I targeted five series for 2012

First, the ones with which I succeeded:

Tonight I Said Goodbye by Michael Koryta Michael Koryta’s Lincoln Perry Series
I only had one of this series to read but I’d been distracted by Koryta’s excellent standalone thrillers. I did read the most recent but I hesitate to call it the last in the series because Koryta has left the door open and I hope brings Lincoln Perry back someday.
Heartsick by Chelsea Cain Chelsea Cain’s Archie and Gretchen series
I didn’t make it in 2012 but I just finished the most recent book in this series over the weekend. So I’m caught up in this one. Chelsea Cain writes some seriously disturbing stuff but it’s so good
Open and Shut by David Rosenfelt David Rosenfelt’s Andy Carpenter series
I switched to audio partway through this series because I love the narration by Grover Gardner. I’ve listened to the most current release and I’m looking forward to the next one due out in July

And now for the ones with which I didn’t do so well:

Sleepyhead by Mark Billingham Mark Billingham’s Inspector Tom Thorne series
I pretty much failed when it comes to this series. I think it has something to do with the fact that I read the first six over a period ot six months in 2011. Now that it’s been a year or more I’m ready to get back to this series and see if I can get caught up I have three to read before Miulholland Books releases the newest US edition with Damages in July. I like Tom Thorne despite his flaws and I’m looking forward to getting back to this British Detective series.
State of the Onion by Julie Hyzy Julie Hyzy’s White House Chef series
I had only read one of this series before 2012 and I managed to read two more. I have three to read to catch up with the current release. It’s a fun cozy series and I’m happy to keep it on my target list for 2013

Now for the new series I’m targeting for 2013 in addition to the two discussed above:

In the Woods by Tana French The Dublin Murder Squad series by Tana French
I read and loved the first one. I already own the second but haven’t read it yet. I have three to read to catch up so maybe I can do that by the end of 2013.
Monkeewrench by P.J. Tracy The Monkeewrench series by P.J. Tracy
I had only read one of this series before 2012 and I managed to read two more. I have three to read to catch up with the current release. It’s a fun cozy series and I’m happy to keep it on my target list for 2013

What about you? Are there any series that you’re going to try to catch up with in 2013?

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Eggsecutive Orders by Julie Hyzy

Posted by on Dec 3, 2012 in 2012, 3.5 stars, Book Review, Julie Hyzy | 3 comments

Eggsecutive Orders by Julie Hyzy

Eggsecutive Orders by Julie Hyzy

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: #3 in the White House Chef series
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 310
Source: Library

The Short Version:
White House Executive Chef Olivia Paras finds herself and her staff under suspicion when a White House guest dies at dinner.

Why I Read It:
I’ve enjoyed the first couple of books in this series and I hear from friends that the subsequent books continue to be fun and entertaining reads.

The Book:
Olivia (Ollie) Paras is the Executive Chef at the White House. When a dinner guest of the President dies at dinner she and her staff are under suspicion and banned from the White House kitchens. Ollie knows she didn’t do anything wrong and can’t believe that any of her trusted staff did either. She’s out to clear her name and it’s not going to be easy.

The media are all over the story and rumors, Ollie’s mother and grandmother are on their way for a visit, and it’s only a few days until the annual Easter Egg Roll at the White House.

My Thoughts:
As with the previous books I enjoyed this cozy mystery. There are some minor ongoing background stories so although these books can easily be read as standalones, some of the events make more sense when the series is read in order.

Ollie is a hard worker and proud of her role at the White House. She’s a fun character and the White House setting of this series makes for some unique storylines. This time around her history of getting involved with investigations and incidents at the White House has the Secret Service going to extra lengths to keep her from becoming involved in the investigation of the death.

Of course it doesn’t work and Ollie manages to do her own investigating while at the same time fretting about managing the preparations for the Easter Egg Roll while being locked out of the White House kitchens.

Ollie’s mother and grandmother make an appearance in this one and I hope it’s not their last. Her grandmother is a fun character.

This series is a good blend of culinary cozy mystery with a unique setting that allows for a touch of political intrigue to be added. I’m looking forward to continuing the series.

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5

This post is for Cozy Mystery Week hosted by Jenn at Jenn’s Bookshelves.

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Hail to the Chef by Julie Hyzy

Posted by on Mar 8, 2012 in 2012, 4 stars, Book Review, Julie Hyzy | 10 comments

Hail to the Chef by Julie Hyzy

Hail to the Chef by Julie Hyzy

Genre: Cozy and Culinary Mystery
Series: #2 in the White House Chef series
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 306
Source: Library

The Short Version:
White House Executive Olivia (Ollie) Paras has enough to do with the holiday season at the White House, but when she adds looking into a suspicious death and keeping herself and the rest of the staff alive it gets pretty complicated.

Why I Read It:
I read and enjoyed the first book in this series after Jenn at Jenn’s Bookshelves convinced me to try it. When I was planning vacation books I quickly added this one to the stack to kick off my vacation reading.

The Book:
Ollie Paras and the staff of the White House begin the Holiday season with preparing a small Thanksgiving dinner gathering for The President, First Lady and a small group of guests. A suspicious device triggers an evacuation of the Executive Mansion and an investigation by the Secret Service. The dinner goes on, but not quite as planned. The First Lady is being pressured by her business partners to sell and her nephew has advised her against it. When the nephew is found dead of an apparent suicide the Thanksgiving Dinner is definitely not a happy celebration.

The Holiday season at the White House is a tremendous amount of work for the entire staff. Both public and private events require extensive planning, preparation and coordination. When the Secret Service reacts to the bomb scare with a round of required safety training for all staff members Ollie is less than pleased because it throws a wrench in her carefully planned schedule of preparations.

When a staff electrician dies in what is thought to be a horrible accident Ollie is not convinced that the circumstances have been fully and accurately investigated. She starts asking questions and soon finds herself in danger.

My Thoughts:
I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in this series and I think I liked this one even more. The set up from the first book is certainly not necessary to read this one and it can stand on its own quite well.

The setting makes this a fun series. The inner workings of the White House from the kitchen to the other parts of the non-political staff are a unique and interesting background. Although the politics are not at the forefront of the White House activities in these books, there is plenty of high level security intrigue and the crucial protocol and publicity issues. What I enjoyed about this installment of the series was the addition of the staff’s concern for the First Family as a family separate from their political world.

Ollie has some of the typical cozy mystery protagonist characteristics. She’s smart but tends to get in over her head a little too easily but she’s likeable and I enjoy her character. Some of the returning characters from the first book are nice to see. There’s a good mix of supporting characters and although some of the kitchen staff have less of a role in this book because of the expansion of the story to more of the staff and residents of the White House than in the first book.

It’s a cozy series but the setting is unique and interesting and allows for some stories that move beyond some of the typical cozy or culinary mystery books I’ve read in the past.

The recipes included in the back look great and I’m going to make a few notes about them before I return this one to the library.

4 stars Rating 4/5

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State of the Onion by Julie Hyzy

Posted by on Feb 10, 2011 in 2011, 4 stars, Book Review, Julie Hyzy | 4 comments


State of the Onion by Julie Hyzy

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series:  #1 in the White House Chef series
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 301
Source: Library

The Short Version:
While vying a rival to be the first female White House Executive Chef, Olivia (Ollie) Paras also ends up the target of both an international assassin and a slimy new Sensitivity Director.

Why I Read It:
There was a lot of talk among my favorite book bloggers recently when the latest in this series was released, but it was Jenn at Jenn’s Bookshelves who convinced me to try this series because we like so many of the same authors and books.

The Book
Ollie Paras has been working as an assistant chef at the White House for a couple of years. With her boss and mentor getting ready to retire, she is one of the final candidates to take over his job. Her rival for the position is a wonderfully evil and overbearing former co-worker turned television cooking show hostess.

One morning as she arrives for work, Ollie ends up in the middle of a chase as the secret service rounds up an intruder on the White House grounds. While she manages to stop the guy in time for the agents to grab him he tells her before he’s hauled off that he has a message for the President about imminent danger. Despite the objections of her Secret Service agent boyfriend Tom (and his bosses) Ollie can’t help doing some amateur sleuthing.

Ollie has to deal with a despicable new Sensitivity Director making things difficult for the kitchen staff, her awful rival for the promotion, preparations for a state dinner that change constantly, and an international assassin that may be after Ollie herself.

My Thoughts:
What a fun new series for me. I knew I could trust Jenn’s recommendation. This is an enjoyable first in a cozy mystery series. The heroine is likeable despite her tendency to keep getting involved. I enjoyed the unique setting with the complications of political intrigue as well as the protocol and tradition of the workings of the White House staff.

The multiple story lines were all entertaining and kept the story moving. Ollie’s rival for the promotion is hilariously over the top. The Sensitivity Director who shakes up the normal routines of the staff by insinuating himself into things that are working just fine before he ever came along is a great character to dislike. I have to admit that when his new position is first described my mind went straight to C3PO from Star Wars and he became ‘the protocol droid’ in my brain for the rest of the book.

Outside the inner workings of the White House, the stories involving the potential peace between two long antagonistic Middle East countries and the hunt for the assassin were enough of a tension filled plot to balance out the cozy parts of this cozy mystery.

All in all thoroughly enjoyed this and am looking forward to continuing with the series.

Rating 4/5

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