Day: January 25, 2018

Book Review: Plum Pudding Murder by Joanne Fluke

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The 12th book in the Hannah Swensen cozy mystery series, Plum Pudding Murder, published in 2009 and written by Joanne Fluke, gets 3.5 stars. I’m skipping my normal detailed and formatted review, as you can only say so many new and different things about similar-type books. That said, I enjoyed this edition and would recommend it to existing fans and potentially new ones.

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In this escapade, Hannah continues baking up a storm while preparing for the Christmas holidays. When the owner of a local tree nursery and shop is murdered, she solves the case by enlisting her mother, sisters and friends in all sorts of hi-jinks. She outsmarts her on again / off again cop boyfriend Mike, and continues flirting with her other boy, dentist Norman. Throw in about 25 recipes, and you’ve got a cute and fun cozy book to enjoy. Not to mention the big surprise at the end when the college guy who broke her heart shows up in town!

The murder is good, the story has a strong cast of suspects and the characters provide comic relief. It should have been 15% more story and less recipe, only to give us the necessary substance. The plots also need to start sooner; the murder didn’t happen until 50% through the book! While we got to know the cast in the first half, which gave us potential red herrings and culprits, I wanted to be a bit more invested at that point.

I adore Hannah, want her as my best friend and would love to live in this town. I’d eat cookies all day, but that’s what I do… so there you have it, folks… 🙂

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

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Book Review: Prayer for the Dead by James Oswald

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Why This Book 
About 6 months ago, I won a Goodreads giveaway from the publisher, Crooked Lane. They accidentally shipped this book instead of the one I had won. Rather than pull it back, they let me keep the book, but I hadn’t gotten to read it. On my quest to close out all ARCs, giveaways and books on my shelves before I download or buy anything new, Prayer for the Dead, the fifth book in the Inspector McLean thriller and mystery series, published in 2015, and written by James Oswald, was the oldest in my queue, as I work why way through the TBR I actually have copies of. I rarely read in the middle of a book series, but with 4 books prior to this one, it was too much to go back to the beginning, so I’ll start here…

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Plot, Characters & Setting 
Set in current times in Edinburgh, UK, Inspector Tony McLean battles politics within his local police precinct and journalists with whom he has a very unsteady relationship. He’s also protecting a few local neighbors who are being vandalized and trying to re-build his former tenement after some accident that occurred in the previous novels. One of the journalists approaches McLean to ask for help with a missing colleague. Readers already know the colleague was sadistically killed in the opening chapter by someone with pseudo-religious or Masonic beliefs. A few bodies build up, and the cases all begin to collide. McLean learns he may actually be connected with the killer from many years earlier, and sets off to stop the serial murders with very little information. Includes some graphic violence, medical lingo, and police procedural language. No romance or side-stories, other than what he’s doing with his old tenement. A few minor things that might be good to know from prior books, but it can be read stand-alone.

Approach & Style 
I read the 340-page hardcover over 2 days in about 5 hours. Through ~75 chapters, the novel includes both 1st person and 3rd person POV. The killer appears in several chapters, disguised and talking to readers in 1st person POV, but the rest is mostly from McLean’s 3rd person POV. Perspective follows both around as crimes are committed and investigated.

Given it’s a police procedural, about some very religious and historical beliefs, and set partially in a medical environment, it’s not a run-of-the-mill thriller — there are many levels of technical details to weed through, particularly when it comes to UK police departments. I had no idea which type of investigator was more senior than the others, and they often refer to each other as Sir or Ma’am, so I was a tad lost. Not enough to stop me from reading, but enough that I wouldn’t say it was totally easy to adapt to for an American. Put a little chart in the back, please!

Strengths 
It’s complex, full of mystery and has lots of page-turning moments. There are enough characters to keep you guessing. The interweaving POV and perspective is handled adeptly. I liked the story and the way in which the murders occurred and how the investigations took place. Very detailed-oriented, and this makes me a happy reader! I also like the author’s writing style and feel connected to the development of the chapters and overall way things were described.

Concerns 
For one, the ending was way too quick. You don’t discover who the killer is or what his/her connection is to McLean until the last 15 pages. If that were the only concern, I’d probably have given this 4-stars; however, it was confusing and didn’t wrap up all the plot lines. I still don’t truly understand who was murdered years ago, whether the killer came back from the dead, or why one of the victims even died. Or even how the religious components truly fit in with all the other characters. I unfortunately must say this did not get fleshed out as well as it needed to be. Even if it’s a mystery thriller series, and more will be revealed later, as a whole book, it lacked a cohesive story that clearly set out the who/what/when/where/why of the crime.

Final Thoughts 
If this were the first book in the series, I’d have definitely passed on any future reads. Knowing it’s made it’s way to 5 books, through a traditional publisher, I’m certain I must be missing something, or that perhaps the earlier books were better. I probably won’t pick up another one, given my long TBR list, but I’d be curious to hear from anyone who has read the author before… what did I miss?

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

365 Challenge: Day 314 – Smile

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Smile: (a) pleased, kind, or amused facial expression, typically with the corners of the mouth turned up and the front teeth exposed, or (b) the best word to describe a fellow blogger and her wonderful online store

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As you can see from today’s featured picture, the word is smile and the image contains several types of cards. Today’s post is a bit different, but one that has been a pleasure to pull together. About six months ago, I began chatting with a fellow blogger, Janet, over various posts between both of our sites. Over time, it became clear why her blog name is Janet’s Smiles — she always has one and shares them with others. It’s not often you come across someone with such a wonderful and friendly personality, who not only gives of themselves, but finds ways to go the extra (s)mile! If you’ve never stopped by her blog, please visit @ Blog: Janet’s Smiles. I’m confident you’ll find something you enjoy. But that’s not really the purpose of today’s 365 Daily Challenge post… what is it, you ask?

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As Janet and I interacted more, I kept seeing the link to an Etsy store, but never actually went to it (who knows why, laziness?) for the first few months. At the end of last year, I realized it was time to check it out, and I’m quite glad I did! I discovered that Janet owns an online store at Etsy, which you can shop at via A Smile 4 U from Janet. Janet is a designer, creator, inventor, fabricator and entertainer — that’s the best way to describe it. She makes cards and mini scrapbook albums for all holidays and events, which you can see on her Etsy site. She also loves to design and assemble custom orders, for milestones like birthdays, memories, vacations or any special occasion.

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When I checked out her site earlier this month, I left purchasing 5 new greeting cards, which you see throughout this post. We’re all familiar with these wonderful little gifts or ways of communicating with others. Sometimes it’s for a big holiday, like Christmas or Easter, or maybe it’s someone’s special birthday or anniversary. Perhaps you like sending cards to people for Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving or Arbor Day. Who am I to judge! In truth, cards serve many purposes — perhaps we want someone to know we’re thinking about them, or instead of exchanging gifts, you send a beautiful message in the perfect card. They’re always valuable and have a way of building your relationships and connections with others.

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Let’s chat a bit about the cost and originality of greeting cards… whether you go to a local pharmacy/drug store like CVS or Rite Aid, a higher-end place like Papyrus, or the dollar store for an individual card or a box of your standard greeting cards, it’s likely you’re frequently in need of these little treasures. While you could buy the standard/basic box of twenty and send out those for minor occasions, you’re always in need of something custom, special or unique for the major occasions. When you shop for them, you could spend anywhere from $3 to $8 for each individual card from the big box stores — and they’re always boring. I actually found 3 out 30 useful in a CVS last Christmas. Or you could buy them from an individual / specialty designer like Janet’s shop on Etsy. When I perused her site, I left with 5 unique cards that I can use for a birthday, thank you or thinking of you moment. I can’t explain how easy and fun it was to shop for something so pretty, engaging and different than the norm.

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When the cards arrived, I was quite impressed. Construction was fantastic. Design was beautiful. Presentation was remarkable. It was really fun to open each package and look through each individual card. For me, I’d rather spend my money in a store like Janet’s, where I have custom cards, from a wonderful designer, in a trustworthy sales process… and in the end… it would honestly be less expensive through her than if I had bought these in a Papyrus or another similar store. When you add in all these perks, I think I’ve found a new regular place to shop and buy my specialty greeting cards. It’s even got me thinking about what else I could ask Janet to put together for custom orders around the holidays!

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This is the first time I’ve ever written about another product or service from a fellow blogger, other than books. But in all sincerity, I feel like I found a little goldmine of opportunity to take my card gift-giving up a notch in quality and still spend less money… and I kinda smiled thinking about sharing it with others who may already know Janet, but not about her Etsy shop. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to peruse her blog and her online shop links, then decide for yourself to pick up a few greeting cards for your next holidays or special days.

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon @ http://mybook.to/WGS. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Book Review: Alicia and the Light Bulb People of Star Factory 13 by Barbara Roman

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If you’re looking for an adorable children’s book with a unique and charming set of characters, set within a bit of a fantasy world, and full of wonderful life lessons, look no further than Alicia and the Light Bulb People in Star Factory 13 by B. Roman. I downloaded this book shortly before the holidays, but only just found the time to read it last night as I was going through my Kindle Reader.

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Alicia, a 10-year-old girl, accompanies her mother to the department store to select a new lamp for their home. Alicia is worried that she doesn’t know what kind of personality her lamp should have, then finds herself awestruck by a Christmas tree and gold door at the store. When she presses a button on the door, she is immediately transported to the 13th floor and into a magical world where lamps and light bulbs can speak. Each is different, containing a special personality that matches their name — dim, flood, three-way, flicker… how cozy and cute is that? Alicia must help the light bulbs figure out how to turn into stars; through her relationship with them and Carelia the Light Goddess, she must also find her own way back to the department store before tomorrow arrives.

Roman’s ingenuity in building all the different characters is top notch. I laughed and smiled, then felt a pang of sorrow and hope as they searched for a way to become stars at the end of one stage in their life. The book explores how we are all different, sometimes teasing each other for being too dim or too bright, changing our minds or shooting too far too quickly in life. It also teaches children how to work together to achieve a common goal, or to feel better about who we are. By transporting us into a different world, one where objects we thought were inanimate and had no personality come alive, Roman provides a way to truly engage children in a fun manner with memorable characters.

The illustrations are vibrant. The words flow. The story is simple yet endearing. It’s a perfect bedtime read for all children, but especially any who worry about being different than others. I’m so glad I picked this one up last night, as I needed a boost to feel better. And this did the trick. Kudos to this fine author.

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin.