Don’t be fooled by the umbrella, the cover art doesn’t have much to do with the actual story.

The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll takes a cheesy reality show that you’re barely interested in and fills it with secrets that twist and distort what you think you know and suddenly, you find yourself drawn into the drama.

The reality show is Goal Diggers, a production focused on young entrepreneurial women that are now millionaires without the help of a man. There is the stunningly beautiful author, Stephanie, the vegan hippie juice bar CEO, Jen, dating app founder, Lauren Bunn (aka Lauren Fun!), and the lesbian founder of a spin studio with a charitable mission, Brett.

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It’s amazing how one dollar and a paper bag could bring me so much delight. And not just me, but everyone else scrambling in the small room. People squeezed through the aisles and hands fluttered over the tables. It was the Friends of San Dimas Library Buck-a-Bag Day book sale.

For $1, readers were provided with a paper bag to fill with as many books as they could fit or wanted. Joey and I got a total of 12 books: seven that I was interested in and five more that Joey picked out for himself.

One bag of books was about our limit since I had to haul all the books back home in my bike basket.

One bag of books was about our limit since I had to haul all the books back home in my bike basket.

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Two weeks ago, Joey and I walked in the rain down to the annual Friends of the Library book sale, an event going on at every library within the county. I am a big fan of getting books for cheap. I have found some of my favorite books at thrift stores for less than a dollar, so I was excited to see what awesome finds would be waiting for me at the library sale. At the top of my list were any old mysteries I might enjoy.

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Let’s travel to the English countryside for a weekend away, spent in a private, isolated glass cottage in the woods. The floor to ceiling windows capture the natural enclosure of the backwoods. No cell reception means no interruptions. Sounds lovely, right?

Now let’s add the burden of attending a bachelorette party with a bunch of strangers for your estranged high school best friend. The one you haven’t spoken to in nearly 10 years — after an awkward falling out. You’ve been invited to the party, but you’re not quite sure why, since you haven’t even been invited to the wedding. And why would you be? You two haven’t been friends for a long time. She has a new best friend now. Not so lovely anymore.

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Did a black cat ever cross your path? If it did, it’s probably just looking for some petting or food, and most certainly is not interested in causing you misfortune.

With the superstition that a black cat crossing your path will bring bad luck still prominent, I try to educate people that fur is just a color and that black cats can be some of the sweetest feline companions. This is a subject close to my heart, so it was with great enthusiasm that I purchased my latest read, Black Cat Crossing, A Bad Luck Cat Mystery by Kay Finch. I would like to highlight this story because I feel it is an important one to tell. It isn’t just another cozy mystery with a kitty sleuth pal. There is a message of loving and adopting black cats.

This time of the year, when the sun sets earlier, is when I like to keep the fur babies inside. I also like to keep my cats indoors on every Friday the 13th, just for safe keeping. People can get some crazy ideas and may even try to harm the cats out of fear. This is something the main character, Sabrina, experiences first hand when she finds the neighbors in Lavender, Texas referring to a feral black cat as El Gato Diablo. 

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Grab yourself a nice hot drink, a blanket, and make yourself cozy because you’re going to want to read this mystery in one sitting.

Bless Her Dead Little Heart by Miranda James is the story of two prominent, elderly sisters in the small town of Athena, Mississippi. The sisters are cat-sitting a Maine Coon, affectionately named Diesel, for their librarian friend, Charlie Harris, when they receive an unexpected visitor. Their afternoon turns to chaos when old acquaintance, Rosabelle Sultan, barges in, hysterical that someone is trying to kill her, and not just anyone, but a member of her own family.

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I spent my youth reading V.C. Andrews novels – family saga gothic fiction with dark secrets and twisted mysteries. Last November I was looking for a change in novels, something more my age. I was having difficulty trying to focus in on the exact genre I was yearning to read. I browsed the “Mystery” section at bn.com, but everything seemed way too violent, sexy or supernatural. My husband suggested Stuart Woods, but he didn’t sound that appealing, I wanted something more Nancy Drew.  I wanted a mystery that I could solve, something fun, that would make me laugh, but still keep me engaged until the unveiling at the end. Then I discovered that there is a name for such a genre: Cozy Mystery.

What is a cozy mystery? I think of it as a light-hearted mystery with a happy ending, nothing too obscene or grotesque. There is most likely a murder, an unknown killer, and maybe even an innocent person accused. These novels are more Hallmark Channel than Investigation Discovery or Cloo. Like a PG movie for those of us not interested in the details of a predictable sex scene or a violent, gory murder.

Goodreads describes a cozy mystery as, “Cozies very rarely focus on sex, profanity or violence. The murders take place off stage, and are often relatively bloodless (e.g. poisoning, while sexual activity (if any) between characters is only ever gently implied and never directly addressed.” And that’s exactly what I wanted.

I plan on reviewing some cozy mysteries soon. Grab a blanket and make yourself some hot tea, because you’ll want to snuggle right up with these page-turners.

Drink of choice: Earl Grey tea