Day: October 16, 2018

Book Review: Christmas Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke

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Christmas Cake Murder (Hannah Swensen #23)Christmas Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am finally caught up on the Hannah Swensen cozy mystery series by Joanne Fluke. I finished reading Christmas Cake Murder, the 23rd of 24 books, published in the last year. The next one is in ARC form and I’m hoping to get my hands on it soon as I’d rather not wait until early 2019 when it’s formally published. Overall, I’d give it 4 stars as it had a lot of the traditional elements we normally love in these books, but the mystery was very different.

The book takes place before the first one in the series actually took place. It’s the beginning tale of how Hannah got started at The Cookie Jar. The story is a reflection on all the major characters we’ve come to love and shows us what happened when Lars, Hannah’s father, passed away. We also see how Delores reacted, what drove Andrea to become a real estate agent, and how Michelle was in high school. It was lots of fun and helped provide us with some wonderful and tender moments about this beautiful family.

It was also a bit repetitive for regular readers as we knew 25% of this content already. I can overlook that tho, as I like the setting and relationships. The other big piece of the book was a different sorta mystery where a local citizen, Essie, has an accident (truly, an accident) and is in the hospital. Hannah finds her journal and reads the book Essie had been writing. Is it about herself? Someone else in Lake Eden? Completely made up? We find out in the last chapter as the entire time we’re meandering along, we’re clueless, too. Once we find out, it’s nice closure for this book but doesn’t really connect to all the others in the series in terms of the mystery. Part of me was hoping to learn a fun fact about a new connection among the town’s inhabitants. I sadly didn’t.

That said, normal recipes look good. Everything else is spot-on. But it’s just a re-cap book with a little bit of new content… I judge it on that merit rather than give it a poor rating because it didn’t have a mystery. That was never what Fluke intended… and I’m glad I had this chance to read a bit more about Hannah’s younger years. It’s worth a read but not necessary to read in order. It could even be read first. Okay, off to find an ARC of the latest book. Wow… I completed another series (just about, don’t deny me this fact please – LOL)!

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and 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 –and multiple Readathons. 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: Not Like Everyone Else by Jennifer Leigh

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If you aren’t following a blog called Bound To Writing, you should be. Author Jennifer Leigh, better known as Jenn, and I have both had pets named Ryder, so we’re bound to be connected through our writing. I picked up her book over the weekend and finished it in one sitting. Let’s get to the review so you can decide if you want to read it, too!

Not Like Everyone ElseNot Like Everyone Else by Jennifer Leigh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not Like Everyone Else is a suspenseful young adult novel by Jennifer Leigh published in 2018. It is the first novel I’ve read by the author, but she has a few others and is a very prolific blogger on her website @ Bound to Writing. I’d been following her blog for about a year and finally purchased a copy of the book earlier this month. I wanted something on the shorter side but with a thriller feel to it, and it has well-served that purpose.

Ryan has left her abusive boyfriend, Corey, about a year after living together and graduating from high school. She has wavering self-confidence, lost some friends, and shares a typical love/hate relationship with her parents. While they support her, they’re also very pushy in her opinion. As she navigates the dating world and takes on a new job, she re-connects with a former frenemy from high school who now wants to be friends. We see Ryan’s life meander for a few weeks where she begins to show us there are some peculiar things going on around her. Either she’s leaving information out from her story, someone is stalking her, or there’s a middle ground where several interference factors are playing out.

After a boy she went on a date with goes missing, everything begins to fall apart. Ryan is either a killer, the next to be killed, or has information she doesn’t realize she has. Although the novel is mostly told from Ryan’s POV, we are treated to several chapters from the killer’s POV – and we don’t know who it is. We do know (s)he has a passion for torturing victims for specific reasons, but it takes about 90% of the book before we learn the truth. One of the best aspects of this novel which definitely added to the suspense is how the story is told in present tense. We are stepping through the entire plot / action (except for a few memories) as they happen to Ryan and some of her friends. It is here I found myself intrigued by the plot because the cast isn’t very large. There are 4 or 5 supporting characters plus a handful of seemingly innocuous background players. The author is smart, so the killer has to be someone we know. It’s not gonna be some random crazy shocker that makes no sense. And in the end, it does time together well with a believable and scary conclusion.

I played artful detective trying to guess. I enjoyed the twists and turns and the inability to decide who to trust among the characters, including the narrator herself. When it finally comes together, there’s an explosive chase scene and emotional turbulence. A lot of the novel is a psychological thriller with some added physical intensity. Leigh’s writing style is straightforward and clean based more on the action rather than grandiose descriptions. It works in a suspense novel. It was a quick read and I wanted to keep turning the pages to figure it all out.

I will read more from her book list in the next year and look forward to seeing her style and characterization develop to keep drawing us in further. Kudos to the author for keeping me entertained last night and possibly even awake in the middle of the night when my door creaked open for no reason!

About Jennifer Leigh

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and 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 –and multiple Readathons. 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 BloglovinView all my reviews