chocolate

Book Review: Playing with Bonbon Fire by Dorothy St. James

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Why This Book 
I belong to a cozy mystery group that offers a few giveaways to read ARCS each month. I won Playing With Bonbon Fire by Dorothy St. James and picked it up in between my Agatha Christie Readathon books this week. I adore cozy mysteries, have a sweet spot for chocolate, and am growing more interested in living in the southern part of the US. Good combo, eh?
onbon

Approach & Style 
It took me 3 hours to read a hard copy of this ~335 page novel, the second in the Southern Chocolate Shop Mystery series. It is told in 1st person point-of-view with the perspective focused solely on the main character, Charity Penn (see more on her later). It has a typical cozy feel with easy flow from chapter to chapter, dialog, and descriptions. I usually read books in order, but this had a rush due date to deliver a review, so I couldn’t go back to the first one. I think it’s important to read this series in order, as there are details about the character in the first book that would have been helpful, but still, it was a quick and fun read.

Plot, Characters & Setting 
Charity Penn, known simply as Penn because she dislikes her first name, inherited the chocolate shop from her maternal grandmother. She was abandoned my her mother at birth, delivered to her rich but seemingly difficult or abrasive father and his family. She grew up feeling alone and isolated, but is starting to develop a better relationship with her half-sister, Tina. Penn hasn’t quite adapted to cooking and running the bonbon shop, but she has support from her late grandmother’s friends and wants to make the woman proud. In this caper, Tina sends ex-boyfriend, Bixby, to help sing with his band at the town’s festival, as it will help cement Penn in a more admired role. The town hasn’t quite warmed up to her yet, and her grandmother’s other children don’t believe she’s really one of them or should have inherited the shop. All she wants is to find her mother who disappeared years ago. Bixby suddenly fights with another band at the festival over rights to a song, and then the current song owner winds up dead. Penn’s mother’s history is tied up in this mystery and it all comes to a head in a big scene at the end of the book. She now knows who her mother is!

Key Thoughts 
It’s a good example of a typical cozy mystery with a few standout moments, including the connections and mysteries surrounding Penn’s family (both her mother’s and her father’s sides), the bonds she has with a few of her late grandmother’s friends helping to transition the store, and the romances she could potentially have with some of the men in the town. I like Penn’s personality and style and she seems to have a fair balance of when to push and when to back away in terms of investigating any crimes. I like that there’s only one or two recipes so we don’t lose too much page space to non-story items. I also enjoyed the descriptions of how she works in the bakery preparing food and securing the chocolate beans from a remote South American jungle.

The mystery was medium-complex with a few red herrings and several paths to trace before landing at the true culprit. It kept me guessing most of the way through and even had me traveling down a wrong path. One of the issues I had was not knowing a few people’s ages, so I could never be sure if they were a candidate to be Penn’s mother and/or date someone else. Of course people can date someone a generation older or younger, but it’s not that common in a cozy mystery so I was trying to line it all up. That said, when the details came out, it was believable, but a tad rushed. We stumble upon the criminal and learn some secrets, yet we don’t quite get all the details surrounding the why/how from ~35 years ago when a song was created… but it mostly all fits together. I think it just needed a bit more detail and explanation, but that could be coming in the next book in the series. I’m open-minded!

Summary 
I’d give the book 3.5 stars and would recommend it as a solid read. I see a lot of potential in the series with the family drama and the chocolate shop, but the ending came a bit too quickly, so there is some room for growth. All in all, I’m glad I read this one and will definitely read more in the series and from this 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 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.

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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!

one-lovely-blog-award-1.png

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.

TAG: Candy Books

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I stumbled upon this tag when perusing the lovely Eva’s blog @ BrilliantlyBookishSite, where she talks about reading, tea and the smell of books! Go visit her site. And it seems that the tag was created by Jessica @bookishserendipity but I can’t find the site. So if you can, please thank her and let me know!

tags

 

The Tag

apples

I’m still trying to figure out the point of this tag, but the pictures and the commentary were so fun, I had to participate. I don’t like candy apples, but it’s considered healthy as the note above says, so… I’ll pick a book that’s supposed to be good but that I wasn’t totally thrilled with: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. It was a bit too sour for my taste, and I don’t like the mix of something sweet and healthy and sour and sugary all at once. That’s what the book felt like to me. Too many things going on at once to focus.

milk chocolate

Milk chocolate isn’t too rich, so I don’t want this to be a majorly popular one. It’s also a go-to food when you need a quick sweet bite of something, so it should be an author you can visit frequently. I’d go with an Agatha Christie book, but not her most popular or best ones. So… The Mysterious Affair at Styles because it’s a gateway into her entire canon just like milk chocolate is a gateway into the entire world of available chocolates.

black jelly beans

I happen to like licorice, so I’m choosing a book that’s just OK but not really good enough for everyone to read. I might get some flack for this choice, but I’m going with Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. It’s fine. There’s lots of flavors in the jelly bean family just like there are in his plays. This play is near the bottom of his barrel for me. Just like I would leave this jelly bean flavor for last.

chocolate kisses

I don’t read a lot of romance, so this will be hard for me to choose. If I had to pick one with a great romance, I’d probably choose Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. I do love my Estella and Pip. They were nothing extraordinary in the grand scheme of things, but reliable for understanding the basics of love. Just like chocolate kisses. Pair them with peanut butter, you’ve got a winner. Put them in cookies, they are divine. Stick a flavor in the middle, it’s awesome!

Gummy Spiders

Ooh… now we’re talking. I love horror. I am going to pick something I read recently which had some crazy horror in it:  Richard Parker’s Be My Killer. I could have picked some classics, but I want to show something new here. The ways in which the people are murdered by this serial killer are fantastic! I never get scared enough to check under my bed, but this did make me think twice about how much I said on social media!

jumbo lollipop

I struggled with Donna Tartt’s The Secret History the first few times I tried to read it. I put it down for a few months and went back to it, and it still took at least a week, which is long for me. The characters were a bit too full of themselves and quite adrift for awhile. That’s the kind of novel it was, so I had to settle down and go with. Once I did, and the murder plot kicked in, I felt much better. Sort of like how you feel when you take on the jumbo lollipop. I think I can, I think I can, I cannot, I cannot. Put it down. Ok, I have to finish it. Lick Lick Lick. How many licks does it…. wrong candy, Jay. Oh, I’m done. Yay!

Cotton Candy

All the Dr. Seuss books. Just precious. Can read them anytime and still find something new! Cat in the Hat. One Fish, Two Fish. Oh, The Places We’ll Go.

 

Oh no! The tag is over. But I want more candy now…

 

Tag Nominations

  • Since I didn’t officially get tagged, I don’t think I can tag anyone else; however, you can choose to do this one. And if you do, please create a link and pingback to me so I can see your answers. {Except Nel, she’s required to do this one.}

 

About Me

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. Once you hit my site “ThisIsMyTruthNow” at https://thisismytruthnow.com, you can join the fun and see my blog and various site content. You’ll find book reviews, published and in-progress fiction, TV/Film reviews, favorite vacation spots and my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge.” 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… see how you compare!

Review: The Witches

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The Witches
The Witches by Roald Dahl

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Roald Dahl is in my top 3 of favorite children’s authors. I had read a few of his books as a child, but most of my exposure occurred as a young adult and while in college.

The Witches was actually a book I read after the movie with Anjelica Huston was produced. I am a huge fan of her work, and when she appeared in this movie, I was fascinated with the story. I’d definitely recommend reading the book first as the movie takes the story so much further.

For one thing, the book has an unnamed narrator and grandmother, whereas the movie is very detailed on the history of the characters, the various types of relationships, etc. But both were still very good.

It combines so many wonderful things for kids to love — and to be scared of. Witches who can turn little boys into… well, I won’t ruin the surprise. Suffice it to say, this can be a bit of a scary theme.

Dahl’s style is so embracing and captivating. His characters are intense. The creativity and imagination from the works he’s produced over the years is quite astonishing.

The Grand High Witch runs the show here, and she won’t let you forget it. But it’s the grandmother and the boy who may hold all the power. A classic battle of good and evil with some fun thrown in between.

A definite read for kids. And adults. When I was taking a course in college on “Reading in the Elementary School,” I had to read 150 children’s books and produce a portfolio showing a lesson plan for each book. Dahl featured in many of the lessons and books I had chosen, as I tried to incorporate some Newbery and Caldecott winners, but not all. What a joy to re-read these classics as a 21 year old thinking about becoming a teacher. Though I didn’t stay in the teaching field (and possibly regret it to some degree), I will always go back to these books and this time period as one of the favorite parts of life.

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.

View all my reviews

Review: The Help

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The Help
The Help by Kathryn Stockett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this book at least 4 years ago, before I began to more consistently use Goodreads… and now I’m going back to ensure I have some level of a review for everything I read. It’s only fair… if the author took the time to write it, and I found a few hours to read it… I should share my views so others can decide if it’s a good book for them.

That said… did anyone not love or like this book? I’ll have to check out some other people’s reviews… And I wonder how many people just watched the movie… Oh well… I’ll keep this review short and not in my usual format, as probably everyone I’m friends with on here has already read it! 🙂

The only reason I’m not giving it a 5 is because I felt like some of the stories needed a better or stronger ending. I truly think it is a fantastic book, and it makes you really think about what happened in the not-so-distant past… and probably still happening in some parts of the country today. Scary thoughts, but in the end, at least the right people got something back they deserved, even if it wasn’t as much as it should have been.

The characters are very clear and strong. And when there are upwards of 10 to 12 supporting or lead female characters, an author has to spend a tremendous amount of time creating distinct pictures in a readers mind. Stockett did a great job with this task. Each and every one shows you a different personality: leaders and followers, movers and shakers, smart and silly, strong and weak, tolerant and intolerant, thirsty for all the world has to offer and content to stay the same for an entire lifetime.

When a writer can shuffle this many people throughout a story, they have invested themselves into the book, the characters, the setting, the theme, the future.

I haven’t read anything else by this author, but just thinking about this book, and realizing I haven’t looked at her other works makes me want to run to her profile now and pick one. Perhaps that’s what I’ll go do!



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.

View all my reviews

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.

Review: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of the first books I ever read. I wanted to watch the movie, but wasn’t allowed to until I read the book. And so I did. And now, every few years, I want to again. It’s been a long time. But who doesn’t love chocolate and dreams and wishes and gifts? I think I may read this series… only looked at the first one.

View all my reviews