The Cookie Cutter Shop Mystery Series

Reading***Disclaimer***
I won book three, WHEN THE COOKIE CRUMBLES, from a Twitter (ReTweet) contest that the publisher runs at @penguincozies.
The other books, I bought with my own money.  The first two at my local bookstore and book four from Amazon, when it was released.
BTW, want a chance to win a free book like me?  @penguincozies tends to run a contest every Friday.  Follow them and RT for awesome reads!
Also, I may have won a flame cookie cutter that was used to promote this series from BOOKENDS Literary Agency when they did a Bookmas contest… I think the two are connected.

And now onto more things that “taint” my review.  I read book three first.  I then read book two and followed that up with book one.  After reading a couple of things in between, I then read book four when it was released in July.  In other words, I read them out of order!

I think that covers the extenuating circumstances.

The Series Basics:
The Cookie Cutter Shop Mysteries consist of four books (COOKIE DOUGH OR DIE, A COOKIE BEFORE DYING, WHEN THE COOKIE CRUMBLES, and ONE DEAD COOKIE) and are written by Virginia Lowell.  They are about Olivia (or as she prefers, Livie) Greyson, the owner of a cookie cutter shop.  But, she doesn’t run that shop or solve these mysteries alone, her best friend and business partner, Maddie helps her out.

Through the four books you see relationships develop for these two ladies.  Livie has Del, the local sheriff, and Maddie has Lucas, the owner of the hardware store.  There are also dead bodies.  The first couple of bodies start off having very close ties to Livie, but by book three they start becoming more distant to her.

My thoughts/impressions:
I’m so glad I started with book three, WHEN THE COOKIE CRUMBLES.  Had I started with book one, COOKIE DOUGH OR DIE, I might not have stuck it out.

Book three made me an instant fan of the series, with the artful balance of investigating a murder and dealing with personal life stuff of the characters.  In the earlier books, the murder was very much the focus and the personal life stuff was rushed.  I never really understood how Maddie’s parents’ death tied to her “issue” in book two, A COOKIE BEFORE DYING.  And in Lowell’s latest book, ONE DEAD COOKIE, I dare say she skewed it more personal life than murder.  I read for characters more than mystery, so that suited me fine, though I kept waiting for the body to drop.

Her writing and the stories are well done and far more realistic than MURDER, SHE WROTE (which I love nonetheless and regardless of its blazing 80’s).  When I pick up her books, it isn’t a chore to finish and it is like sinking into a word bubble bath.   Additionally, it isn’t an exercise in frustration.  The characters keep moving forward, aren’t stalled by stupidity, and for the most part don’t clash with me.  The only thing I have to say is there is an editing mistake in A COOKIE BEFORE DYING.  Livie thought/related something to a character by name, even though she didn’t learn the character’s name until the next chapter.

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In the books there’s also a dog named Spunky. He’s on the cover of all four books.  Grumpy Old Lady dog is not impressed, though she might be too blind to see them. 😦

Part of me wants to say, start with book three.  But, if you read that and book four, you’ll keep seeing Clarisse, the victim of book one, brought up over and over again and, if you’re like me, you’ll have to know what happened.  And since you read book one and the others, it would only make sense to read book two.  So, yeah.  Read them all.  Besides, if you do you’ll see how Virginia Lowell’s writing blossoms and grows each book.  I’m betting book five is going to be insanely good.

Think you’ll be picking these up?
Do you like mystery novels?  Why (not)?
What’s your favorite cookie recipe or cutter?
Have you won a contest lately?  What did you get?

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