Cozy

Book Review: Gingerbread Cookies & Gunshots by Leslie Meier

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This novella was included in a three-story book focused on gingerbread that I received as a holiday present. I read Joanne Fluke’s books, which was the reason I got this one, but I’m getting interested in Leslie Meier‘s Lucy Stone series as a result of this book, Gingerbread Cookies and Gunshots. I read the ~100 page story in a paperback before bed last night in about 45 minutes. It’s a very quick read, a teaser to get fans interested in the larger series. Lucy Stone is a fun character and this was a nice break away from a cozy about murder. Instead, it focused on a kidnapping that ended with a murder. What a twist! Apart from the mystery, the really fun aspect is the interaction between Lucy and her family. She has a few older kids, middle/high school age kids and at least one grandchild from what I can tell so far. It takes place in Maine, but they spent time in Louisiana, too, I believe. I’ve so much to learn… It hits the spot as a fun read when you just need to escape from reality.

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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 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.
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Book Review: Gingerbread Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke

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I received Gingerbread Cookie Murder, a short novella in the Hannah Swensen cozy mystery series by Joanne Fluke, as one of my Christmas presents last year. I’ve a big fan of the series and always look forward to the read. It took me 1 hour to read this story, part of a larger paperback focused on murders involving gingerbread cookies. It’s ~150 pages, but 1/3 is filled with recipes, so it’s just under a hundred pages of true text. In this issue, Hannah is having trouble with her new neighbor who plays loud Christmas music all the time. But she soon finds him dead in the refrigerator after trying to store her recent baked goods for a future dessert. Add in an $8M winning lottery ticket, someone’s divorce, a new dentist in town, and a suitor for Hannah’s mother, then you’ve got lots going on in this one. It was a fun afternoon read and I look forward to the next book in the series.

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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 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: Sea, Sky and Skeleton by Carolyn L. Dean

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I started reading Carolyn L. Dean‘s cozy mystery series over two years ago, but I hadn’t been able to get back to it for a long time. After the holidays, I bought the next five books and committed to read one per month in 2018 until I caught up. I’m finally back to reading them and picked up with Sea, Sky & Skeleton, the fourth book, this week. It was like a nice welcome home reminding me what I’d missed. I enjoy Dean’s easy writing style, colorful characters, and clever settings.

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I read the Kindle version in my iPad in about 90 minutes, as it’s only ~150 pages. Amanda runs a B&B, but it’s in need of repairs. She finds cash on the beach, then a dead body. Given she still hasn’t gotten the friendliest of welcomes from all the townspeople, she keeps trying to win them over. She’s almost there. I look forward to the day they name her mayor.

I enjoyed the plot of the story and the development of the characters. It comes together nicely in the end with a cute little bow, too. My only concern is that two scenes were rushed relatively quickly, and while they helped draw out the killer, I would have loved another 30 pages of background and setting to help round it out to a perfect read. Minor item tho… as I still enjoy the dialogue and rapport between Mrs. Granger, Jennifer, and Amanda. I’m also very intrigued by her boyfriend’s family… so many siblings, something has to happen in the future.

 

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: Savannah Sleuth by Alan Chaput

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Why This Book 
I belong to a cozy mystery reader group that offers ARCs of upcoming books through a giveaway contest. I won Alan Chaput‘s book, Savannah Sleuth, the first in his Vigilantes for Justice series from Falcon Press, published in early 2018.

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Approach & Style 
I read the paperback version of this 271-page novel in 4 hours over 3 days. It is told with a third-person point-of-view and via a perspective focused primarily on the main character, Patricia (Patsy); however, ~20% of the chapters focus on other characters so that readers know what’s going on behind the scenes even though Patsy is unaware what has happened.

Plot, Characters & Setting 
The novel takes place in Savannah, Georgia with a trip to Paris, France for a few chapters. It focuses on super-rich Patricia (Patsy) Falcon, her mother, her husband their daughter, friends and enemies. Patsy’s mother dies under mysterious circumstances, prompting Patsy and her friends to search for the killer… but here’s where this story takes a different arc. Her husband is part of a coalition to protect Savannah, so he’s secretly investigating the death as well but she doesn’t know it. As Patsy and her friends begin finding leads, more people keep dying or having accidents. Throw in some family issues with their daughter, side-stories involving the church, a homeless man who is searching for a parent, philanthropic efforts among the different friends in Patsy’s group, affairs, and a very high-tech security detail… and you’ve got a lot of things to try and connect across the chapters.

Key Thoughts 
Savannah as a backdrop is a wonderful setting. I’ve not been to the city but will be going later this year at the end of summer. I can’t wait to see how well reality compares to the descriptions in this novel. It was highly engrossing, completely beautiful, and impressive in terms of how well integrated into the story. I felt like I was there while reading the book.

The vigilante concept is quite intriguing when you consider the vigilantes are the super-rich who run the city. Between the gun-toting society ladies, the friendly welcome and assistance of homeless, and openness about how they need to murder bad people in order to protect the town, I found myself constantly surprised at what people said and did.

A few parts made me turn my head and scratch the back of my scalp… only because it just didn’t seem like a specific action could really happen the way it did, but it felt like maybe that was the point of the story. Once I just let my concerns go, falling into the complexity and depth of the story, I loved it. I felt the same way about the ending in terms of leaving too many things unsolved; however, it’s clear those will be addressed in book two. Had some of these been a bit stronger or more fleshed out, I would have given this a cozy mystery a 5-star rating.

Chaput has a great platform and baseline to tell many stories in this series. The characters are rich with interesting personalities; I often couldn’t tell who to trust and who to fear… it’s a lot of grey and very little black and white. That was one of my favorite parts.

Summary 
I’m very excited about this new mystery series. It’s a solid 4+ star rating and may have been higher if a few loose threads were tied together before the end. It’s a little darker than a typical cozy, but in a good way. I like how there’s a lot going on in the stories, especially the side plots and secondary characters. I will definitely be reading the next one which is coming out very soon.

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: Plum Pudding Murder by Joanne Fluke

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The 12th book in the Hannah Swensen cozy mystery series, Plum Pudding Murder, published in 2009 and written by Joanne Fluke, gets 3.5 stars. I’m skipping my normal detailed and formatted review, as you can only say so many new and different things about similar-type books. That said, I enjoyed this edition and would recommend it to existing fans and potentially new ones.

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In this escapade, Hannah continues baking up a storm while preparing for the Christmas holidays. When the owner of a local tree nursery and shop is murdered, she solves the case by enlisting her mother, sisters and friends in all sorts of hi-jinks. She outsmarts her on again / off again cop boyfriend Mike, and continues flirting with her other boy, dentist Norman. Throw in about 25 recipes, and you’ve got a cute and fun cozy book to enjoy. Not to mention the big surprise at the end when the college guy who broke her heart shows up in town!

The murder is good, the story has a strong cast of suspects and the characters provide comic relief. It should have been 15% more story and less recipe, only to give us the necessary substance. The plots also need to start sooner; the murder didn’t happen until 50% through the book! While we got to know the cast in the first half, which gave us potential red herrings and culprits, I wanted to be a bit more invested at that point.

I adore Hannah, want her as my best friend and would love to live in this town. I’d eat cookies all day, but that’s what I do… so there you have it, folks… 🙂

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 306 – Crime (Author Alert: Agatha Christie)

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Crime: (a) an action or omission that constitutes an offense that may be prosecuted by the state and is punishable by law, or (b) 365 Daily Challenge word for today’s author alert — Agatha Christie

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If you are new to the ThisIsMyTruthNow blog, the 365 Daily Challenge, or the Author Alert segment, check out the About Site section from the main menu. I usually feature a new author who is currently writing: I share an interview with him or her, as well as fresh content about their upcoming work and fun facts. This week, as I wasn’t able to secure a new author in time, I’ve gone retro to cover an ole favorite! Below are some key things to know about this author, but at the end of this post, you’ll see the permanent page I’ve added to my blog. You can return to check out more on who (s)he is, what she’s writing and how to buy her future work. I am pleased to present a few tidbits about the very talented Agatha Christie. 

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First, I apologize for not bringing you a new author this week. I had a few possibilities falling into place, but given their schedule and my reading schedule, we opted for posting about them later this month or in early February. So… rather than rush to read someone else’s book at the last minute (to prepare me for a new author alert), I went with one of my go-to authors for when I want to have an amazing read!

I can’t imagine there is anyone out there who doesn’t know who Agatha Christie is… perhaps they’ve not read one of her books, or seen a TV/Film adaption, but the name must ring a bell. Just in case… huge fiction writer in the early/mid 20th century known as England’s Grand Dame of mysteries. She’s produced ~70 books in her lifetime, many focused on popular characters such as Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, and Tommy & Tuppence; however, there are also non-series books that are as equally compelling.

Miss Christie herself also had a bit of a mystery when she disappeared for months. To this day, many people still wonder whether it was staged or real. It’s an interesting story because she was considered quite famous at the time — no one would believe she’d stage such a thing, but then again… think about all her characters! I’ll leave it at that… let you have a bit of a puzzle to go in search of what really happened.

Mystery fiction is my favorite genre, and it’s because of Agatha Christie. The ingenuity built into the plots is often so clever, you will never be able to guess it; yet when you finally get to the reveal, it makes 100% perfect sense. In “And Then There Were None,” my all-time favorite of her books, ten people are invited to an island where one-by-one, they are murdered according to a poem they found in the remote house. It’s a bit of a controversial book in that the title was changed a few times; it had previously been called ‘Ten Little Indians,’ but far worse, it once held a name using the nasty ‘n’ word. Although it was ~100 years ago, and didn’t necessarily have as bad/awful/shameful a connotation as it’s grown to have, it was still a shock when I learned about it years ago. As it’s clearly WRONG, I won’t go into it anymore, but it did give me some concern when reading the books. Ignoring that for a moment (as the plot is purely about murder and revenge), the story is absolutely top notch.

When I need something brilliant and curious, I will always turn to a Christie. I love the inherent English tradition within them. When they visit the Middle East or India, it’s quite eye-opening to see how people (both the English and the native inhabitants) behaved in foreign lands at that time. Some of the dialogue and words are peculiar, which makes me want to look up more about the culture to get a better sense of reality. It’s engaging and analytical. I can usually push through one of her novels over 3 hours in one sitting, as you don’t want to put them down.

If you’ve never read a Christie, but want to… ask for a recommendation! If you want to buddy-read one with me this year, let me know. I’d love to share this author with others and have a great discussion about their beauty. And we can use our ‘little grey cells’ together.

 

Links To Learn More About Miss Christie

Goodreads

Amazon

Author Site

 

I’ve read about 20 of her books, but you’ll see below that I only have 7 listed with reviews, as I read them too long ago to be sure I could write a proper review. Instead, I challenge myself to read another 7 in 2018 as part of my Goodreads Challenge to read 104 books this year. I wonder which ones I will select…

Books I’ve Read

  1. And Then There Were None (1939) — My favorite Christie & in my top 5 of all books

Book Series – Hercule Poirot Mysteries

  1. The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920)
  2. Murder on the Orient Express (1934)
  3. Death on the Nile (1937)
  4. Evil Under the Sun (1941)

Book Series – Miss Marple Mysteries

  1. The Body in the Library (1942)
  2. A Murder is Announced (1950)

Note: If there is an active link, I’ve completed a review.

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To see more about Agatha Christie on ThisIsMyTruthNow, check out her dedicated author page where future content and reviews will added as I read her books.

Thanks for stopping by this edition of the Author Alert.


 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon @ http://mybook.to/WGS. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where 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.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. 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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Book Review: Mermaid Fins, Winds & Rolling Pins by Erin Johnson

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After I read the first book in this series by Erin Johnson, I had to download the second and third, Mermaid Fins, Winds & Rolling Pins. I read both in the last week so I could stay current on a few series, as there are so many I want to catch up on; however, when it’s about cooking, witches, pirates and set in cozy Europe, who can resist!

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Cozy readers have so many options today… every possible setting, background, character, locations (okay, not everything, but a large breadth of choices). I’ve always enjoyed the ones with a unique setting and something to do with baking. In this release, Imogen visits the mermaid and pirate kingdoms to bake for a wedding. When she arrives, it’s no royal palace! As she gets to know the ins-and-outs of the very young queen, her aging grandmother and the staff supporting them, something is fishy among the fins. By embracing her magic skills, dancing the night away in an underground club, and learning about secret monsters and liquor/drugs, she’s fully embroiled in quite a little mystery and unfamiliar environment.

The tone of the book took a slight turn in this book — it got a little more saucy than usual. I liked it, no complaints here — lighthearted, humorous and tasteful. The story was good, but it wasn’t as strong in the middle as I was expecting (needed more understanding of the mermaid world, how the whole place fits together with each kingdom, how many people lived there, et al); however, by the end, it came full circle, added in a few surprises and balanced out the book well.

I finally learned more about Imogen’s biological family, as well as her connection to witchcraft in the past. For those reasons, I definitely gave this one 4 stars — the drama and intrigue have been set. Most kick-off events in cozy mystery novels occur around the 17% to 20% mark, allowing just enough time to get to know the characters, then BOOM – a murder. In these books, it’s happening around the 40% mark. In some ways, it makes the mystery a tad too light for me, but in others, it builds a world with a bunch of side stories that keep your interest. The author balances the main story with everything else quite adeptly.

I’m looking forward to seeing where this series goes as there is a lot of potential within the world being created. It’s holding my interest and I will download/buy the 4th book this month as it’s just been published. Hope you enjoy the new series if you take it on.

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.