hannah swensen

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: 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)!

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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: Raspberry Danish Murder by Joanne Fluke

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Raspberry Danish Murder (Hannah Swensen, #22)Raspberry Danish Murder by Joanne Fluke

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A little over a year ago, I joined NetGalley and Raspberry Danish Murder, the 22nd book in the Hannah Swensen cozy mystery series by Joanne Fluke, was one of the first books I requested. It had just been published, but I was ten books behind in the series. Throughout the last year, I finally caught up and read this one. From what I’d read, given the strange arc the books took a little while ago, it wasn’t going to be good. Forgetting the love/romance change, the mystery itself in this book was very typical and fit well within the boundary or range we’ve seen from the author.

Overall, I enjoyed the story. I was sad to see who was killed given (s)he seemed nice in prior books. Sometimes the good ones have to die, I completely understand that as an author of a book series myself. Fluke balanced the past and the present, the known and the unknown in this book trying to find a way to explain how/why Hannah’s husband might or might not stick around. That said, it ended with a cliffhanger bombshell that makes us think… are we going back to the way things were four books ago before the proposal? Wow, I can’t wait to see. I have the next book ready to read, but I haven’t bought the last one yet. I wonder how many more there will be!

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: Banana Cream Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke

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I’m starting to get a little sad… this book, Banana Cream Pie Murder, is the 21st of 24 cozy mystery novels written in the Hannah Swensen series by Joanne Fluke. I’ve only got three more left! I was awarded the next two via NetGalley, and I’ll need to buy the last one when it’s released this fall… then I’ll have to wait months. Oh no! I’ve managed not to read any spoilers on what’s happened in the next three books, nor share anything too big in my reviews to ruin it for others, but based on the way this one ended, with the first major cliffhanger ever, I’m worried! Is it all a sham? Oh no!
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In this caper, Hannah’s newly married after finally choosing one of her three suitors throughout the series. She picked the least likely one, and something tells me that there’s a reason for it in the future books. As she settles into married life, she asks the basic questions: Do I have to cook dinner for him? Should we tell each other everything? Will he put me first always? Interesting ideas… I mean, I get she comes from a town where many of the women look at it as their responsibility to cook their husband’s dinner, so I don’t take any offense to it (nor should others as this is representing something ‘traditional’ from the past — not necessarily correct or something to promote as good, but still… it fits with the series and character type. On the flip side, she also says “I’ll do what I want with my own time, I’m not tied to the hip with him.” At least she stood up for herself there!

That said… the mystery was good up until the finish. Talk about a dark horse coming in to be the killer in the last 2 chapters. The process of elimination for other suspects was clever and good as usual, but I did feel a tad bit gipped in the end. Hmm… why is GR telling me gipped isn’t a word? Oh well… back to the review. I’d have liked to see something a little stronger, but the rest of the book was hilarious and fun to watch all the character development. Delores found the body this time. Michelle is turning out to be the best sister ever. The mayor is the scapegoat for everything. And wow… where is this police force? Always missing until Hannah’s caught the killer. Ha!

Can’t wait for more… it’s my self-indulging silly and entertaining fun! 🙂

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.

Book Review: Wedding Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke

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I’ve been waiting for the Hannah Swensen series by Joanne Fluke to bounce back from a few lackluster books, and Wedding Cake Murdermade it happen. I’d give this fun caper somewhere between 4 and 4.5 stars.

After 18 books debating between Norman and Mike, Hannah finally makes a decision when a third man’s proposal suddenly enters the ring. Ross Barton was a great friend in college, and we saw some hints of romance in one of the earlier books, but nothing came of it. In the last book in the series, Ross came back into her life and proposed… Wedding Cake Murder is all about Hannah’s wedding. But besides that wonderful sub-plot, we also see Hannah as a contestant in the Food Network’s latest dessert show. She’s actually on TV! She’s competing against professional dessert chefs. And she finds another dead body. We must be up to 20 at this point, as a few books had multiple murders, and she didn’t actually discover every single one herself.

When you strip away the recipes, you’re down to about 200 pages, but they are packed full of drama and witty conversations. I love the bonds between Hannah and her sister. I like her romance with Ross, but something seems a little shady. I’m still rooting for Norman even though Hannah’s now married. :O Yes, I said it out loud. Nonetheless, these are Fluke’s best desserts and the description of the Food Network show is spot on. Loved everything about it. The culprit really could have been at least five different killers which helped round out this story more than others. It was like an early book in the series where the balance between fun and mystery was a fair split.

I can’t wait to dive into the next one… already ordered two more from the library so I can hopefully catch up this fall to be current.

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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: Double Fudge Brownie Murder by Joanne Fluke

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The 18th cozy mystery in the Hannah Swensen series by Joanne Fluke is called Double Fudge Brownie Murder and was published in 2015. In this caper, Hannah travels to Las Vegas with her sisters for their mother’s surprise wedding. Hannah is also still waffling between Norman and Mike, but everything changes in this book. A special guest shows up and follows Hannah back to Minnesota where Hannah receives not one but three marriage proposals. She also finally makes a decision at the end of the book. Hallelujah!

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The mystery in this novel begins once Hannah returns to Lake Eden for her court date. In the last book, she accidentally hit someone with her car and was charged with vehicular manslaughter. But when the first day of jury selection arrives, it’s the judge whom Hannah finds dead. She and her friends try to solve the crime by investigating the judge’s current and former wife, children, colleagues, and political connections. When the culprit is finally revealed, Hannah’s about to become his/her second victim. Will she survive in order to marry…. oh yeah, right, you didn’t think I’d give away who she said yes to, did you?

This is a typical Joanne Fluke book, but nearly 400 pages this time. There are more recipes than usual, and the story content is largely based around Hannah’s decision to marry and her mother’s wedding. Always good fun, but it leaves less and less room for the mystery. This one started out good, but it petered away…. in the last 20 pages an unfamiliar perp shows up and we’re left going… ‘um, is this two different books?’

That said, I give it a 4 for the overall evolution of Hannah’s and Lake Eden’s inhabitant stories. We learn a lot about existing characters and feel that warm and wonderful cozy appeal.

 

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.