Book Review: Cozy Mysteries

Book Review: Christmas Caramel Murder by Joanne Fluke

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If you’ve been following my reviews closely for the last few months, you’re probably thinking… how many baking murder books does this guy read? Or how many did that Joanne Fluke author woman write? Well… the Hannah Swensen series is up to ~25 in 2018. I’ve just finished reading #20 entitled Christmas Caramel Murder. I have the next three on my Kindle to read this fall, but I want to be fully caught up so I can get back to many other series I also enjoy. As for this one, it’s a shorter novella version but still packs quite a little punch around Christmas season. It’s a good one to read as you start thinking about the upcoming holidays, but for now, I’m still thinking about Halloween and fall so I wouldn’t allow myself to totally immerse.

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It’s written as backstory which was a different kind of read. The first and last chapters are appended to the main story, allowing Fluke to use current relationships in Hannah’s life without confusing readers. Essentially, Hannah’s telling the story to her new husband about what happened the prior year’s Christmas. I stopped myself from trying to find any timeline issues in case something happened in this book that was different since the last few, but the story on the whole is fun, so it wouldn’t matter if it had.

Herb, Lisa’s husband, is playing Santa Claus in the town Christmas play. Lisa is Hannah’s best friend and partner at The Cookie Shop. Herb’s ex-girlfriend has returned to town and is cast as Mrs. Claus, but the naughty kind. Serves her right, she ends up dead! Unfortunately, it looks like Lisa is the culprit because she was jealous when the ex kisses Herb in the play. Throw in a some high school memories, old rivalries, and teachers who want to help keep their students focused, and you’ve got a case full of shenanigans.

I enjoyed the read… less than 90 minutes as it was barely 100 pages once you remove the recipes. Someday I will cook a few from them. I do like caramel, but that’s hard to get right. Next up is banana cream pie murder… my favorite kind of…. PIE. Did you think I’d say murder? Obviously you know me well. 🙂

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: The Skeleton Paints a Picture by Leigh Perry

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When there are thousands of cozy mystery series available, it’s often difficult to figure out which one to choose. A little over two years ago, I stumbled across a a brilliant series called the Family Skeleton Mysteries written by Leigh Perry. I’d read the first few and loved them, but had to wait until she wrote her fourth one. I got a bit behind but when I saw she was releasing her fifth one this fall, I ordered a copy of The Skeleton Paints a Picture and read it this week. I think it’s probably my favorite one to date. I’m still reveling its hilarity — 5 stars all the way!
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To start with, the main character is an English professor in New England– two things I adore! the other main character is a ‘dead’ skeleton that can move and talk. Yes, you heard me correctly. The guy who inhabited the body/skeleton in the past was murdered and searched for his killer in an earlier book, but… the gist of the series is that he doesn’t really know much about his former life, and since a majority of the population would not accept him living in society as a skeleton, he hides out with Georgia and her family. As her lovable, witty, and sarcastic sidekick, Sid helps Georgia solve crimes whenever they fall into her lap… which is usually because Sid has stumbled into them.

Think of the humor and imagination in this series. Leaving a skeleton in a room to listen to people and find out clues without anyone knowing you’re doing it. Then again, what if someone catches the skeleton walking around since he CAN move? Creativity without any bounds in Perry’s awesome series. I truly look forward to reading each successive book. In this caper, Georgia’s working out of town and she has no one with her (parents, daughter, friends)… so Sid ships himself in a box to her rental house where he inadvertently finds a dead body in a car during a snowstorm. He was restless and had to go walking in the middle of the night. Who can blame the poor guy?

Georgia interviews colleagues while trying to do whatever she can to win the coveted tenured position that’s up for grabs. Will she do it? Will an ex who still has feelings for her cause a final downfall with Sid’s discovery… or discovery of the talking skeleton himself? So many laughs… great character development and constant page-turning brilliance. A must read for anyone who likes their books a little more unusual than the norm!

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.

Book Review: Wedding Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke

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I’ve been waiting for the Hannah Swensen series by Joanne Fluke to bounce back from a few lackluster books, and Wedding Cake Murdermade it happen. I’d give this fun caper somewhere between 4 and 4.5 stars.

After 18 books debating between Norman and Mike, Hannah finally makes a decision when a third man’s proposal suddenly enters the ring. Ross Barton was a great friend in college, and we saw some hints of romance in one of the earlier books, but nothing came of it. In the last book in the series, Ross came back into her life and proposed… Wedding Cake Murder is all about Hannah’s wedding. But besides that wonderful sub-plot, we also see Hannah as a contestant in the Food Network’s latest dessert show. She’s actually on TV! She’s competing against professional dessert chefs. And she finds another dead body. We must be up to 20 at this point, as a few books had multiple murders, and she didn’t actually discover every single one herself.

When you strip away the recipes, you’re down to about 200 pages, but they are packed full of drama and witty conversations. I love the bonds between Hannah and her sister. I like her romance with Ross, but something seems a little shady. I’m still rooting for Norman even though Hannah’s now married. :O Yes, I said it out loud. Nonetheless, these are Fluke’s best desserts and the description of the Food Network show is spot on. Loved everything about it. The culprit really could have been at least five different killers which helped round out this story more than others. It was like an early book in the series where the balance between fun and mystery was a fair split.

I can’t wait to dive into the next one… already ordered two more from the library so I can hopefully catch up this fall to be current.

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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.

Book Review: Halloween Hijinks by Kathi Daley

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I’ve seen author Kathi Daley showing up in my feed on various social media platforms, but I hadn’t downloaded any of her books in the last few years. I decided to give one a try, and since I was in a fall and Halloween mood, I went with the first book in her Zoe Donovan series, Halloween Hijinks. It was free this week due to an anniversary sale, and when I looked up more on Daley, wow… She’s got a lot of books and this is a lengthy series. How cool to find a very prolific author.

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In this series debut, Zoe rescues various animals with her partners Ellie and Levi. There’s a growing rivalry between two sports teams, but it soon gets personal and more dangerous. When Zoe discovers the dead body of one team member, things look bad for a close friend of hers. Then an ex-enemy (now possible friend?), Zak, shows up to help save the day. Zoe has a few scenes with her complicated family, just enough to set the scene for the series. It’s a light investigation meant to wet our appetites for the characters and the setting… and it works.

I enjoyed the animal rescue background. The writing is easy to follow. It’s less than 200 pages which meant I devoured it in under two hours. It fit the bill for a Halloween-themed book, and I am curious to read more this fall. Kudos to the author for offering it up years later as it’s found her a new fan.

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.

Book Review: Death in the Stacks by Jenn McKinlay

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Who wouldn’t love a book with an autumn theme set in a library? FIVE (5) stars to this hilarious cozy mystery. I truly enjoyed Death in the Stacks, the eighth book in the Library Lover’s mystery series written in 2017 by Jenn McKinlay. I’m a big fan of her other series too, but this one is my favorite. What made it even more exceptional was the character cross-over from her other series, the Hat Shop and The Cupcake Bakery. I haven’t yet read her About a Dog series, so there may have been a cross-over there, I’m just not certain. Nonetheless, wow, what a great caper.
33801790.jpgLindsey throws a giant benefit gala in the library to raise money for Briar Creek’s favorite literary hot spot. Unfortunately, the newest board president, Olive, is a huge thorn in everyone’s side. I’m talking mean-spirited, nasty, and rude… even the lemon can’t stand her! If you’re unfamiliar with the series, the lemon is one of Lindsey’s librarian’s who’s often unhappy with Lindsey over decisions at the library. Olive thankfully turns up dead, but it looks like the newest library employee is responsible. Lindsey promises she won’t investigate but the lemon asks her to do so. It’s an intense finish where three possible suspects face off with Lindsey, Robbie, and Sully stuck in the middle. Whose story do they believe? Emma must come to the rescue to save her boyfriend (what?)!

McKinlay has struck gold in this series for me. I love her characters, and that’s probably my favorite aspect of this book. When my other faves come for a visit from London and Arizona, we get a wonderful side story about how they all now know one another. McKinlay’s quips and banter move the pages along easily… I’m just so sorry it ended this quick. I thought I could stretch it out over the weekend, but I found myself with a few hours on Friday, and well, I couldn’t put it down!

Awesome series… newest one comes out this month. I can’t wait. Thanks for all this fun.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. 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.

Book Review: Double Fudge Brownie Murder by Joanne Fluke

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The 18th cozy mystery in the Hannah Swensen series by Joanne Fluke is called Double Fudge Brownie Murder and was published in 2015. In this caper, Hannah travels to Las Vegas with her sisters for their mother’s surprise wedding. Hannah is also still waffling between Norman and Mike, but everything changes in this book. A special guest shows up and follows Hannah back to Minnesota where Hannah receives not one but three marriage proposals. She also finally makes a decision at the end of the book. Hallelujah!

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The mystery in this novel begins once Hannah returns to Lake Eden for her court date. In the last book, she accidentally hit someone with her car and was charged with vehicular manslaughter. But when the first day of jury selection arrives, it’s the judge whom Hannah finds dead. She and her friends try to solve the crime by investigating the judge’s current and former wife, children, colleagues, and political connections. When the culprit is finally revealed, Hannah’s about to become his/her second victim. Will she survive in order to marry…. oh yeah, right, you didn’t think I’d give away who she said yes to, did you?

This is a typical Joanne Fluke book, but nearly 400 pages this time. There are more recipes than usual, and the story content is largely based around Hannah’s decision to marry and her mother’s wedding. Always good fun, but it leaves less and less room for the mystery. This one started out good, but it petered away…. in the last 20 pages an unfamiliar perp shows up and we’re left going… ‘um, is this two different books?’

That said, I give it a 4 for the overall evolution of Hannah’s and Lake Eden’s inhabitant stories. We learn a lot about existing characters and feel that warm and wonderful cozy appeal.

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. 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.

Book Review: Blackberry Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke

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I’ve been trying to catch up on the Hannah Swensen series this summer, so I picked up the 17th book in the series, Blackberry Pie Murder, written in 2013 by Joanne Fluke. All I can say is I just can’t get enough of this silliness. The murders and mysteries are very light, but the characters are fantastic. I want to live in Lake Eden and be Hannah’s new best friend solving crimes together. No, I don’t want to be killed… just putting that out there!

In this one, Hannah accidentally hits someone with her car. She’s then charged with vehicular manslaughter because of a few interesting traffic laws. Although it’s completely not how it should happen, the laws are actually in place and could be used to convict someone. After 17 books, you have to cut the author some leeway to make the reason for the mystery be something stronger. For that reason alone, I give 5 stars to Fluke for coming up with this one…. but then it gets a bit dull with the actual investigation once we learn the guy was already beaten up and likely to die from a head injury. And he’s really not connected to many people we know, so for those reasons, I dropped it down to a 3.

That said… I still want to read more and it’s fun for 2-3 hours of light reading. Bring on more!

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. 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.