Christmas

Book Review: Chocolate Cream Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke

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Chocolate Cream Pie Murder (Hannah Swensen #24)Chocolate Cream Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of the first few cozy mysteries I began reading almost fifteen years ago was the Hannah Swensen series by Joanne Fluke. For years, I adored the series, but then I switched to something else to try and experience a wider variety. About two years ago, I jumped back into its safety and caught up to the latest one… that is, until Chocolate Cream Pie Murder was published (or will be in the coming weeks). I won it via NetGalley and had to devour it today. How exciting to catch up in Hannah’s life especially after the new about Ross! If you haven’t read the last few books, stop reading here. If you have, it’s okay to continue…

I loved Ross in the beginning. I wanted Hannah to choose him. I loved Norman more than Mike, but they’d gotten old after 20 books. I needed something fresh, and it appeared Hannah did too, since she wouldn’t accept either’s marriage proposal for years. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to get married. She did. Just couldn’t decide who. On a whim tho, she said yes to Ross. And her troubles began. For weeks, he was a perfect husband. Then he disappeared. Then it turned out he was already married. LOUSE! Fluke ruined a perfectly good character. I’ll have a hard time forgiving her, but that’s life… and it made for good drama.

I enjoyed this book. We see the aftermath of Ross’s craziness. We see Hannah’s recovery. I love revisiting all the characters in these books because I want to live in Lake Eden, Minnesota, blizzards and all. Can I move there please? Okay… that might be going a tad far, but this book showed signs of getting back to the norm before we took a downward turn in the late teens of the series. That said, it’s not completely good news on all fronts. At the sacrifice of family and friends we adore, the supporting characters in this book are some newer ones and some we hadn’t known too well. I miss the old gang, but they’ll be back soon, I’m sure.

The mystery was okay. It was a weird setup. No one died until 80% into the book. We knew who would die, but along the way, the suspects hadn’t built up. Or so we thought. Ultimately, I didn’t like the structure in this one, but I did like the story itself. Fluke will always have a fan in me. I hope this means Norman gets his chance now… as Mike already had a wife. I suppose Norman did too, but she was murdered. Eh, what am I saying, I can’t decide. I’m the male version of Hannah!

Just wait til the end… I knew the cliffhanger was coming. It had to happen. Fluke’s as bad as me with ending our books in such a manner. But I’m pretty certain it will mean something else when we get to the next one. I HOPE SO AT LEAST!

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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.

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Book Review: ‘Twas the Knife Before Christmas by Jacqueline Frost

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'Twas the Knife Before Christmas (A Christmas Tree Farm Mystery, #2)‘Twas the Knife Before Christmas by Jacqueline Frost

My rating: 4.25 of 5 stars

It’s Christmastime both in my current reality and in Mistletoe, Maine… but a whole year has passed since the debut book in the ‘A Christmas Tree Farm Mystery’ series by Jacqueline Frost. This second book, ‘Twas the Knife Before Christmas, picks up with Holly’s eventual settlement back home, a new friendship with reporter Ray, adventures with best friend Caroline, and romance with sorta boyfriend Evan (the sheriff!). Life’s good until Derek, a guy who was too handsy with Caroline, ends up knifed in a candy display. Did Caroline kill him in revenge? Her high-powered father? A stalker crush who seems to want to protect her? Or some colleague of Derek’s who thought he was a threat? Holly is determined to protect her bestie but she starts getting threatening notes again just like last time. Are the crimes connected?

I won this book through a cozy giveaway, but I went back and ordered the first one on my own so I could be ready and current on the series. I’m thrilled to have stumbled upon it and would definitely recommend the series as a definite holiday read. Holly is a great protagonist who only has a few pushy moments while trying to solve the murder; they’re necessary and make her even more relatable. The town is visibly pictured as a result of Frost’s wonderful descriptions and writing style. The little fun factors (Theodore the goat, Cindy Lou Who the cat, Cookie the rich neighbor… the list goes on) make it even more enjoyable.

The murder is clever. The list of suspects is believable. The investigation is paced well — not too slow, not too fast. The way the criminal is captured is kinda cool. And the resolution to all the stories is a great end to the book. I am thrilled about the character of Libby. She seems like she could really be an asset in the town but also shake it up a little. Only 23 but quite smart and worldly already. I’m very excited about this new series but sad I’ll have to wait a full year to read the next one. I’m also curious if the series will skip a year again or pick up sometime mid-year. Kudos to the author and publisher for providing a copy thru the giveaway contest. 4.25 stars!

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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. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. There are two books: Academic Curveball and Broken Heart Attack. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where 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: Twelve Slays of Christmas by Jacqueline Frost

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Twelve Slays of Christmas: A Christmas Tree Farm MysteryTwelve Slays of Christmas: A Christmas Tree Farm Mystery by Jacqueline Frost

My rating: 4.25 of 5 stars

Until a few weeks ago, I’d never heard of this author or series. I entered a giveaway contest for a cozy mystery group and won the second book late last week. Since I usually try to read in order, and I had some time this week, I got a copy of this first book, Twelve Slays of Christmas, from the ‘A Christmas Tree Farm Mystery’ series by Jacqueline Frost and devoured it throughout the last 24 hours. I needed a little Christmas cheer this week and this book brought it!

Who wouldn’t love a series about Christmas on a tree farm in Maine? I dream of moving to Maine one day, so this was a good alignment for me as a reader. I have a few other Christmas series I enjoy, and now I’ll be adding this one to the list of regulars. Holly White was dumped by her fiance just weeks before her Christmas Eve wedding. She trudges home feeling sad but hopeful for a new life. She’s just in time to help her parents coordinate and run their annual holiday shenanigans. This year they’ve added fun new Reindeer Games for 12 days to help bring spirit to the town. At least until a prominent member of the town’s historical society threatens to shut them down for falling out of ancient building or land code. But then… the poor woman’s found bludgeoned to death by the very wooden tree signs she complained about to Holly’s father. Which citizen was so angry (s)he took matters into their own hands? Holly’s determined to find out all the while fighting her attraction to the sheriff who’s moved to town from Boston to get away from major crimes. I guess life never goes the way you plan, huh?

As a new series, it’s off to a great start. I really like Holly and Evan (the sheriff). It will turn romantic, which will be fine, but I’m hopeful that’s not the center of the stories. There is also a younger guy, a reporter she knew years ago, who might give the sheriff some competition. And Caroline is a charming potential best friend, not to mention the cute and lovable parents and employees at the tree farm. I like the premise and the setting. The writing is good and felt natural for most of the narrative and dialog, only a few forced areas which I believe will disappear as the series matures. There’s a mature subtle humor at times, but it definitely still falls within the cozy realm. I recommend it for all cozy fans and holiday story readers alike.

I’m giving 4.25 stars to this debut and feel really excited to dive into the second one later this month — ‘Twas the Knife Before Christmas. Sounds scary!

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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. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. There are two books: Academic Curveball and Broken Heart Attack. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where 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: A Cajun Christmas Killing by Ellen Byron

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A Cajun Christmas Killing (Cajun Country Mystery #3)A Cajun Christmas Killing by Ellen Byron

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m thrilled to be caught up on the Cajun Country Mystery series by Ellen Byron. I won the 4th book in a contest and will be reading it next month, but beforehand I had to read the first three. I just finished A Cajun Christmas Killing and absolutely loved it. Byron is top-notch when it comes to this genre, and I’ve read hundreds of books to know what I’m talking about!

Maggie’s family’s b&b is in trouble again. Luckily no one’s died on her property, but one of her guests dies on the family plantation that they sold a few years earlier. Will they ever get a break? A ruthless NYC businessman with a penchant for annoying people turns up stabbed to death. Was it his disinterested wife? A loving step-brother? An ex? A nephew? A business partner? Or someone with a different connection who wanted him gone for treachery in the past? It’s convoluted but that’s always the best kind of mystery. Throw in Christmas bonfires, Maggie’s romance with Bo, her ex-bf returning much to her chagrin, and a proposal from someone new, and she’s gonna be grilled herself.

Byron creates superb characters. They leap off the page and demand to be heard. Sometimes you love them, other times you want to strangle them. But you will always feel something for them. The pages turn themselves, it’s so easy and natural. Rarely if ever do I find a dull scene or anything transitory. Everything has a purpose whether it’s about the main mystery or the progression of the core character set. I am so excited to start the next one in the series for my review group. If you’ve never sampled this series, it’s a must read!

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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: 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.

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.

Children’s Readathon – Maxine Sylvester

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In today’s final week, we’re focusing on author who blog. One of the authors I’m highlighting on my children’s book readathon extravaganza is Maxine Sylvester. Check out this wonderful author on Twitter and all the book reviews I’ve completed:

Author Page on My Blog

The Flying Academy

The Phantom Carrot Snatcher

Rudy’s Birthday Extravaganza

ronaldo

If you’ve never read these books, they are a must check out for children around the holidays. I can’t even begin to say how adorable they are…. just a short post today to give you a quick heads up so you can check them out in time for the upcoming holiday season!

 

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.