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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: Devil’s Food Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke

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I am just over half way through the Hannah Swensen cozy mystery series with #14, Devil’s Food Cake Murder, written in 2011 by Joanne Fluke. When I flipped through the Acknowledgments section in the paperback, it noted that Hannah was voted as the most liked non-detective crime solver that year… how interesting! I love the series and think she’s quite fun, but each book seems to get a little lighter on plot and heavier on recipes. I preferred the balance in the earlier novels, yet they are still always a great read… even if I’m now down to about an hour to push through them despite being over 300 pages. When I flip 10 pages to skip the recipe, it breezes by quickly.

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In this caper, Hannah finds the dead body of Reverend Bob’s temporary sit-in while he’s on his honeymoon with Claire. Hannah’s mom is watching Claire’s fashion shop all the while trying not to insult the customers when they pick the wrong outfits for their body type. But the biggest change in this Lake Eden puzzle is Hannah’s dating life. She’s waffled between Mike and Norman for 13 books, beginning to see them both wane at her indecision and start seeing other people… well, now there’s a massive decision that will change the events in future books. In one way, I’m glad, as she was stringing them on for far too long. I agree with taking time to play the field, and maybe it’s only been 2 to 3 years in story time, but it feels like a decade!

As for the mystery, nothing extraordinary, and it didn’t really involve many characters we’ve met before except one adorable octogenarian, so it was not my favorite. I still enjoyed all the side interactions in the town, the developing relationships between Hannah and her family, and the set-up for the next book in terms of Hannah’s love life. I’m sticking with it, but I hope there’s more mystery coming soon! 3.5 stars…

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.

AWARD: One Lovely Blog

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I was nominated by 5 wonderful bloggers for the One Lovely Blog Award several months ago, but I’m just coming up for air to address a few missed posts in the past… All of these women are truly inspirational and remarkable… you must visit their sites as there is something new and fun every single day. From book reviews to blog tours, learning to laughing, and all the way to recipes, you’re bound to spend hours getting lost in their amazing forums.

Read Rant Rock and Roll

The Cozy Pages

Valerie’s Musings

Two Gals and a Book

Invisible-no-more

Thank you for the nomination!

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RULES:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you
  2. Share 7 facts about yourself
  3. Nominate 15 bloggers and inform them of the nomination

***

SEVEN FACTS ABOUT  ME:

1. I’m making mini-coconut and chocolate cakes for Easter.

cake

 

2. I rarely go to the movie theater. I prefer to wait for them to come out on one of the digital apps / television subscriptions I have.

movies

 

 

3. I am starting up 3 new segments on the blog in April. I can’t wait to launch each post.

blog

 

4. My favorite season is autumn and I can’t wait for it to come back.

autumn

 

5. I’ve been back to eating healthy after the doctor yelled at me said my cholesterol is too high. I want cheese again!!!

cholestero

 

6. I’m going to England and Italy for 3 weeks in May.

ital

 

7. My second novel, Father Figure, will be released in early May, 2018.

novel

 

 

MY NOMINEES:

  1. Rugby843
  2. Carlalovestoread
  3. Thebookwormdrinketh
  4. Malia @ Princessandpen
  5. mnbernardbooks
  6. writercammieadams
  7. watchingthedaisies
  8. bookloverblogs.com
  9. wakinguponthewrongsideof50
  10. createspaceweb
  11. bvitelli2002
  12. carrierubin
  13. countdownto95
  14. theorangutanlibrarian
  15. bewareofthereader

 

Happy reading and tagging!

Jay

***

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.

Book Review: Ronaldo: Rudi’s Birthday Extravaganza by Maxine Sylvester

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Ronaldo: Rudi’s Birthday Extravaganza, the third in an adorable children’s picture book series, written in 2017 by Maxine Sylvester, is another winner.

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Book Review 
In this edition, Ronaldo’s best friend Rudi hurts his hoof, but won’t go to the doctor to heal it. Rudi’s mother enlists Ronaldo to help trick Rudi into the office visit, which leads to even more hilarity and conflict. Along the way, Ronaldo picks up a side job to help earn some money for a new flying class, but after Rudi’s dad runs into money issues, he’s unable to attend. When it comes time for his birthday party, it’s up to Ronaldo to find a way to cheer up a very sad Rudi. And boy does he find a way!

The creativity in this series is magnificent. Not only do you have a wonderful family and village full of reindeer, but you have tons of great locations, events and themes. Children easily learn how to interpret a range of feelings, from conquering fears of the doctor to not having enough money to go to a special class. It’s a realistic lesson built into a cute set of characters, full of charm and emotion. Adding to the great story are beautiful drawings filled with humor, detail and imagination. I enjoyed the bakery setting in this edition, almost wanting to taste some of the delicious looking and sounding carrot cakes. They can probably be enjoyed by humans, too… right? 🙂

I applaud Maxine Sylvester for creating such a lovable series — a perfect gift for someone’s birthday or the holidays. If you love animals and fun in the snow, this is a must read!

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 25 – Obsessed

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Obsessed: preoccupied with or constantly worrying about something

There are varying degrees to which someone can be obsessed with something or someone, ranging from healthy to serial killer. [No, I’m not one]

I’m in that range somewhere. After 24 days, I suppose you think you know me well enough to pinpoint roughly whereabouts I’d fall in that scale. I’ll make it easy for you… it all depends on what I’m obsessing over. I have been known on occasion to be so obsessive, it is scary. Not scary in “he’s gonna go pyscho,” but scary in “did he seriously just do/say/eat that AGAIN?”

Since this post could go on forever about different types of obsession, I’ll share a few things where I find myself obsessed, but ultimately, I’m going to blog about my obsession with food and drink. Things I’ve noticed obsessions over:

  • Test Results: whether it was in school waiting for a grade, getting blood work or updates from a doctor, or DNA results from Ancestry.com, I would check every hour to see if something was new (if it was online, that is… I’d never actually call and ask someone the same question every hour — I do have some level of self-control).

  • Updates: Checking to see if the dial has changed on something (anything… temperature, stocks, points, votes, etc.), I check way too frequently to see if the number has increased or decreased since the last time I saw it. And if the WiFi or screen freezes for any moment, hell hath no fury like an obsessed Jay!

  • Email: At my last job, I looked at my mobile phone every few seconds to see if a new email came in as I was freakishly paranoid about missing it and not getting back to someone timely. I carried it in my hand (not in my pocket) — with the volume off of course (see post on quiet) — just so I could feel the vibration and know I was needed. It rested under my pillow while I slept too.

But… today I am choosing to focus on foods and drinks. So here is the problem… I’m very self-conscious about looking good and being healthy, so I am often balancing my diet, working out and generally trying to maintain a stress-free life. (Note, for another day I’ll cover stress: my opinion is stress causes all the disease and physical pain to manifest in our bodies. You may already have the gene markers in your DNA for it to happen, but cutting out the stress could help prevent it from developing or getting worse) — not a doctor — just my opinion from research and observation!

What foods and drinks am I obsessed with? And by obsessed, I don’t mean I eat them all the time and can’t stop thinking about them. What I mean is… if it’s on the counter or in the closet, I will eat it ALL. I therefore try really hard not to buy these things… and when my mother brings them over on Sundays, I just hate myself. 😛

  • Desserts (cakes, cookies, anything sweet)
  • Chocolate
  • Champagne
  • Cheese
  • Bread

If I open the bag of cookies, I will eat the entire box in one sitting. But I won’t go to the store to buy it every day. If I open a bottle of champagne for dinner, I have to buy at least two: one for me, and one for the other person. And I hope that (s)he does not finish all of theirs so that I can have more. And if I buy cheese and crackers as a pre-dinner snack, I do not believe in wrapping up the remaining cheese for another day. If it’s been opened, it is meant to be consumed. I’ll shove 3 or 4 pieces in my mouth at once. I’m a freakin’ monster when it comes to foods that I love.

And while it’s happening, I’ll reason with myself while sitting on said couch. Typical conversation with myself:

ME: “You had ten, that’s enough.”

ME AGAIN: “One more won’t hurt.”

ME: “OK, just one.”

… [scramble from the couch… into the kitchen… gone longer than should be… back on the couch]…

ME AGAIN: “You had just one, right?”

ME: [can’t speak because mouth is full]

ME AGAIN: “You didn’t, you pig!”

ME: [head hangs in pseudo fake-shame]

ME AGAIN: “How many did you eat?”

ME: “The better question is how many are left!”

That is obsessed. And it leads to a few moments of “got to go work out NOW” and “I feel sick,” but I still do it every time in the future when the opportunity presents itself. Gluttonous is most appropriate word to use. That said, a few interesting  sidebars I’ve noticed:

  1. It doesn’t show because I am probably almost as obsessed with working out, taking vitamins and eating healthy otherwise. I need to balance it out somewhere.
  2. Alcoholism and diabetes run in my family, which means I’m keenly aware of the effects over indulgent behaviors. As a result, I have always been cautious and aware of the risks… and I’d like to say I would never become dependent on these things. Yes, I obsess over some of them, but I also know enough to stop when I need to. (I only do that crazy cookie eating thing once a month!!!!!!)
  3. It makes me human. Perhaps I’m not so peculiar after all… though we all have some crazy in us.

I’m curious why I do these things… why I allow myself to become obsessed? Since it happens beyond just eating and drinking, it’s not some missing vitamin or mineral or chemical in my internal biology! 😛

Am I needy? Am I bored? Am I wanton of things I don’t have? Nah… I think everyone does things like this from time to time. We let our minds control us for so long on certain topics until we decide to just accept or forget the supposed importance. Obsessions just show how much you love something, right? Assuming you keep it healthy and non-impacting to anyone else, then it’s all cool, right? The other people are wrong.