book club

Review: Cream Puff Murder

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Cream Puff Murder 3 of 5 stars to the eleventh book, Cream Puff Murder, in the “Hannah Swensen” cozy mystery series by Joanne Fluke. And yes, it was hard to read without wanting a cream puff the entire time!

Why This Book
I’ve been reading the Joanne Fluke series for several years and had asked for a few of her books for my birthday last month. One was Cream Puff Murder, and once I finished a rather difficult book just before this one, I needed something light and fluffy to shock me back to normalcy. Lake Eden’s Hannah Swensen fit the bill, and I started it two days ago, reading through a third each night up ’til now – review time.

Overview of Story
Hannah’s mother is throwing a book launch party for her new regency novel, and Hannah needs to fit into a dress despite having put on a few pounds. Her sister Andrea steps in to help, and even though Hannah despises exercising, she agrees to spend an hour every morning before work at the gym, focusing on her body. Shortly afterwards, Ronni Ward, fitness instructor extraordinaire, is found murdered in the jacuzzi. Since she’d been dating several men, and annoyed several women, Hannah suspects it’s someone at the gym or in one Ronni’s fitness classes. But Mike and Bill are put on temporary leave, as they may be too close to the crime, since Ronni was working part-time at the police station to make some extra money, and possibly dating Mike on the side. Hannah steps up her work-out time to a few hours a day to attend all Ronni’s classes with with the new instructor to see if she can find out more details, especially when her family and some-time boyfriend aren’t able to work the case. As she begins to narrow down the clues, and her own waistline, Hannah finds herself smack in the middle of disaster again when she steps right into trouble with the culprit. But along the path, she’s determined that she can no longer keep bouncing back and forth between Mike and Norman, appearing ready to finally make a choice for her suitor and potential future husband.

Approach & Style
The book is told in third-person from an omniscient narrator, but the point of view is consistently with Hannah as the main protagonist. Every few chapters, the author throws in some sweet recipes based on whatever Hannah’s cooking up in The Cookie Jar that day. Cream Puffs are this books’ flavor of the month.

It’s a very lighthearted cozy, casual and simple in both setting, dialogue and tone. An easy breezy read in under 4 hours, given the paperback book’s about 350 pages, inclusive of at least 100 focused on recipes.

Strengths
1. Hannah is consistent. Her sisters, mother, friends and boyfriends are all good people and I really enjoy reading about them. It’s comfortable and makes you feel warm and cozy.

2. The town is quite lovely, as is the history you learn with each successive book. It feels like a place you’d love to call home — when you’re done livin’ on the edge in your younger days.

3. Fluke’s got a solid formula that works time and time again, assuming the story is interesting and the cast of characters rotates just enough.

Open Questions & Concerns
1. I probably didn’t need 20% of the book dedicated to figuring what Moishe (the cat) was doing with his new automatic food dispensing unit. Seriously… we kept reading about “where is Moishe putting all that food? He’s not gaining any weight, so he can’t be eating it.” It actually got a little bit annoying. I love the antics and banter with the cat and Hannah, but this was a little too much!

2. Normally, a cozy reveals the murder about 15% into the book; however, it didn’t happen until almost 30% this time. It was a little too much, and I felt at times like I was reading someone’s journal about daily goings-on. I already do that for myself… don’t need this one, too!

3. Mike takes a darker turn and we get a much-needed push in the “Choose Mike or Norman” story line. He does something unexpected, tho, in my opinion… and while I welcomed the direction change, it didn’t feel natural.

4. The mystery was not very strong. It was pretty clear from about 50% in, it was 1 of 2 people; and I knew very little about them, so it didn’t matter which one it was to me. I think it needed a few extra plot points to make this a stronger book.

Author & Other Similar Books
Diane Mott Davidson’s “Goldy Bear Shultz Culinary” mystery series is a good comparison.

Final Thoughts
This was Book 11 out of a series with about 20 so far. I’ve a little over half-way done, still enjoying Hannah and her family, but if she doesn’t make a choice for sure in the next book… I will probably take a break for a while. I won’t give it up, as I love the townspeople and the background setting; but I’d like a little less of the romance and a tad more of the mystery. Still an enjoyable read tho!

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write 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 also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can 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. Vote in the poll and ratings. 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.

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Review: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Review
4 out of 5 stars to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, one of the “Great American Novels” by Mark Twain published in 1884. I’ve actually read this book twice: once as a 14-year-old and again in college as part of my many American English courses. My interpretations have expanded with the second read, but it’s still at the core, a very profound book worth reading at least once in a lifetime.

Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer appear in a few of Twain’s novels, but it is in this one where Huck truly becomes a character, especially through his relationship with Jim. It’s the type of book to openly challenge the norms and ideals of the mid-19th century, relationships between various races, treatment towards fellow humankind. Over 135 years later, this book is still pertinent to society today. So much needs to evolve and change, and perhaps with literature, it will move a little more each day — at least as one of the necessary driving forces.

At times, I tried to forget that the book was calling out differences between treatment of ethnicity and race in America at the time. I wanted to think about it also from the perspective of two human beings who needed each other for survival, growth, life experience and comfort. Being color-blind and able to connect with someone, even if you don’t see them or no much about them, is an important lesson in life. And one so few of us have an opportunity to experience.

One book can’t change it. One book can’t truly explain it. But knowing what was happening 135 years ago versus what is happening now is important. As is what people thought back then… not just what they did. If you haven’t read this, as an American, it’s your responsibility. Understand the past and history. Know what it was like. Read it from 135-year-old words. And decide what you can do to keep things moving forward at a quicker pace… to help us all figure out how to ditch the differences and embrace the fact that we’re all humans who need the same things to survive.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write 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 also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can 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. Vote in the poll and ratings. 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.

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Review: Black Beauty

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Black Beauty Review
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell is a beautiful story meant for older children or very young adults. It was written in the 19th century by a woman who passed away shortly after its publication. I enjoyed the story and have given it a 3 of 5 stars, which is still very good in my book. A few interesting things:

1. The point of view in the book is from Black Beauty, the horse.
2. It takes place in London nearly 150 years ago.
3. It’s still a cherished story for both pleasure reading and education purposes.

I received it as a gift when I was about 8 or 9, as I had asked for several “classics” for Christmas. When I saw the cover, I thought it looked pretty. But not enough to read it. It sat on my shelf for probably two years until one day, I said “let’s just give it a chance.” I was afraid it would be too boring… I’ve always preferred complex plots and strong characters. I wasn’t sure this would really work for me. I was wrong!

Seeing how people mistreated and misunderstood animals was a big benefit of the book. It opens your eyes to things from another perspective, and if it helps just a little to develop a bond between younger adults / children and animals, then it’s served its purpose.

It’s one of those books everyone should read… but not as a forced school assignment. It should be something parents want to share with their kids around 7 or 8… teaching them about how to be respectful and kind to all creatures. And then take them horseback riding to see what it’s actually like. That’s what I did when I finished it… went with a small group of friends to a riding academy / farm a few towns over and learned about horses for one summer. I kinda miss riding… maybe I should try it again. Off topic again… what is up with me today on these reviews! 🙂

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write 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 also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can 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. Vote in the poll and ratings. 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.

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Review: Cruel & Unusual

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Cruel & UnusualMy rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review
Cruel & Unusual by Patricia Cornwell, the fourth in the “Kay Scarpetta” series was a solid book with a little more edge than some of the others, hence the 4 rating. Two key parts of this one that appealed to me:

1. Scarpetta learns more about the prison system, in particular how a newly killed inmate’s finger prints could show up on a dead body several days after the inmate died. The “gimmick” has been used before, but Cornwell keeps it tightly wound until the end of the book. It’s a page turner, for sure. You think you’ve figured it out, but more details come out. And it gets very scientific, which really helps push you closer to the edge of not wanting to stop reading it. That said, the technology is almost 25+ years old compared to today’s standards, so it’s nothing earth-shattering at this point. It was something to read in the 90s to truly get the best impact. Still a good read today, I’m sure.

2. Kay and her niece, Lucy, continue to play the game of mouse and cat, so to speak. I’m not sure who is the mouse and who is the cat anymore. But what’s fun here is that Lucy ends up helping on the case, despite the risks. And it call comes down to computers, which again, are much more advanced in the last ~30 years. Reading how people thought back then, how they interpreted and stored files, is amusing for someone in the technology field. I read this shortly after it came out but I was still very close to technology way back then.

The series is still solid at this point. And I’d recommend this read for someone who isn’t too particular about tools and techniques in the fields of investigation, criminology, computers and DNA changing significantly over the years. Enjoy this for the puzzle it was at the time, not the slightly slower path it would be today. All in all, as much as she annoys you, Scarpetta is one of those people I wish I knew in real life. A bit too brilliant in some ways tho!

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write 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 also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can 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. Vote in the poll and ratings. 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.

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Review: B is for Burglar

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B is for BurglarReview
3.5 of 5 stars but I’m going to round down (since I sometimes round up for this author, and I suppose this makes it balance out a bit!) for the second book in the “Kinsey Millhone” [cozy] mystery series by Sue Grafton. In B is for Burglar, we get to know Kinsey more, figuring out what she likes and doesn’t like. And apparently she is a bit picky when it comes to client. First, she doesn’t want to take the case as it is too simple and sounds like a waste of her time. But when she digs a bit deeper, something strange is going on with a missing woman. Nothing adds up.

It’ s a good mystery in your head, and I think it might be better than the first book in some ways… but not enough to rate it higher. I liked the investigate and research style in this one. It’s a missing person’s case, so you really know as little as she does. You feel like you’re playing along more on this one. But at the same time, I didn’t have a strong connection until the middle of the book with the “victim.”

I found myself getting a little caught up in it being 1982 in the books, but it was published several years later, and I was reading it in 2000. I kept forgetting the time period, which is important in cases like these, given the available tools.

If you’re going to read the whole series take the time in these first few books to really synchronize with the time period, so you are not out of your element.

But Kinsey is a great main character. She’s got flaws. She’s got spirit. You root for her, get annoyed with her. All signs of good character development. But after 26… it might get a bit old!

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write 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 also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can 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. Vote in the poll and ratings. 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.

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Review: The Cat Who Saw Red

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The Cat Who Saw RedMy rating: 3 of 5 stars

Review
Qwill, KoKo and YumYum are at it again in The Cat Who Saw Red, the 4th book in Lilian Jackson Braun‘s “Cat Who” cozy mystery series. The interesting thing about this novel, besides my 3 star review (ha!), is that this is the first novel she published after taking a 20+ year hiatus from the series. The last ones were written in the 1960s and this was published in 1986. While she was busy writing it, I believe I was watching the NY Mets with the season championship. But I digress…

For a cozy, this one’s a little stronger than usual. A few dead bodies. Interesting ways to dispose of them. Qwill’s on a diet, but he is staying at MausHaus where his meals are included and cooked by a famous chef. The cats are becoming explorers. And Qwill’s hearing odd noises, or is it his lack of food intake? A fun edition in the story… nothing too different from the others, but it’s got the usual charm. The mystery is a little stronger than usual, which helps. Plus I like seeing Qwill try out different places to live. The cats seem to enjoy it, and after all, isn’t that what this one is all about?

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write 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 also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can 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. Vote in the poll and ratings. 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.

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Review: Romeo and Juliet

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Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review
As I looked over my previously read books and searched for one that was missing a review, Romeo and Juliet stood out to me. But then I thought about it… who doesn’t know about this play? Who hasn’t read it in school sometime in the past? Who hasn’t watched a movie version or seen some sort of take on the classic tortured romance story? And why on earth would anyone care to read another review, let alone my review, on it? Exactly. So… don’t look for much here as I’m sure most everyone has read it already. And I’m not that funny to even make reading my opinions worth it. That said… a few shared thoughts about what I’ve learned from this play:

1. Parents exist to torture their children. It’s a simple fact. If your child wants X, it is your responsibility to keep X away from him/her.

2. Love will always end in disaster. Don’t attempt it without proper back-up.

3. Even though someone looks dead, they probably aren’t. Kill them again just to be sure.

4. Your bros or girls don’t always have your back.

5. Magic powders are the cure for everything. Always trust what you don’t understand. And just inhale it like the world is about to end.

In all sincerity, I do like the play a lot. I’ve enjoyed countless interpretations. I think parts of it are brilliant and parts of it are pure illogical nonsense. Every TV show and movie has their own re-appropriation to tell. Not everything can be perfect when it comes to love. But this play certainly teaches a lot of lessons and provides a lot of bumps. And this reader still goes along for the ride…

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write 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 also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can 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. Vote in the poll and ratings. 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.

View all my reviews