Admittedly, I’ve had negative amounts of “free time” this fall, it seems, what with student teaching, kids in various afterschool and weekend activities, and just life in general. I still need some time to escape, though, so I try to fit in at least a few minutes of reading for fun every night before bed. It helps that the kids all have nightly reading minutes to get in, so we can all lounge around the family room reading.
Last summer, I discovered a great mystery series, set in Oregon, and written by Ellie Alexander, a Northwest author. The heroine of those books owns a bakery in Ashland, and the books are filled with wonderful descriptions of the town, the Shakespearean festival there, and recipes from the bakery. I quickly read the books in that series, and while waiting for the next one to be released, found out that the author writes another series as Kate Dyer-Seeley. These books follow Meg, a young writer in Portland, as she embarks on a new job writing for an extreme sports magazine. A lover of pink, Meg is game for anything (and a little clumsy) and often finds herself in dicey predicament in the outdoors, from an Amazing Race-style adventure in the Columbia Gorge to rescue training at Mt. Hood to windsurfing in the Columbia River Gorge. .
I recently won a drawing for the latest in this series, First Degree Mudder, and received the book in return for an unbiased review…so that’s what this is! The book jacket reads:
Back home in Portland, Oregon, Meg is ready to take her career as an outdoor writer for Extreme magazine to the next level. Lesser journalists sling mud—Meg plans to run through it. To train hard for Mud, Sweat & Beers, an extreme 5K mud run, she’s signed on with the Mind Over Mudder team, run by ten-time mud marathon champ—and former drill sergeant—Billy the Tank. But when Meg finds her tenacious trainer dead in the locker room, she has a sinking feeling someone may have been pushed too far. Digging through the hidden secrets at Mind Over Mudder is a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it. Meg will have to tread carefully, though—or she may soon be running for her life . . .
I believe this is my favorite of the four books in the series (so far). Meg’s adventures are always entertaining, and I can see a bit of my younger self in her as she lets her self-confidence in her athletic abilities occasionally overload what her body can deliver. The characters are well-written, such as the friendship between Meg and her college buddies. Her grandmother is a fun character, as well, as owner of a New Age shop and Reiki practitioner. First Degree Mudder differs from the previous books, however, with much less interaction with Meg’s boss and more time spent inside Meg’s head. I also appreciated that the subplot of Meg’s father’s mysterious death was further developed in this book than in the first three. The mysteries are well-crafted and keep me guessing until the end. As in any good mystery, red herrings abound and I enjoy seeing Meg unravel the clues.
While I’m not sure the term “cozy” accurately describes these, they are a great diversion for a rainy weekend (or a sunny beach day!). As always, the book left me longing for a weekend escape to Oregon and outdoor adventure, even if it’s not of the extreme variety!
Check out the other books in the series, or the Bakeshop Series, if you’re in the market for a quick, entertaining read!