reindeer

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.

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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

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

About Me

For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

365 Challenge: Day 260 – Underdog (RYDER RANT)

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Underdog: a competitor thought to have little chance of winning a fight or contest

underdgo.png

Happy Monday! It’s Ryder, and I am hopefully on the mend. I am still limping a little bit, but I have started getting up again in the morning when the Dads leave the bed. For about a week, I lounged in bed until after 9 each morning. I think I had a cold that is finally on its way out. Don’t worry, even though I’m getting older, I am a fighting underdog in these kinds of situations. At 10, I’m really around 60 in people years; they say it’s 7 human years for each dog year, but it’s not quite that mechanical. I will overcome and conquer it. I also want to thank the wonderful blogger Misifusa who selected today’s 365 Daily Challenge word for me. Click her name to check out her cool post for a different take on the word ‘underdog.’

For me, besides the obvious cartoon, which I am not old enough to have watched, an underdog is often what people call me. For shiba inus, that’s my dog breed in case you didn’t know, a male is usually around 25 to 30 lbs. I’m about 20 lbs. on a good day (don’t bring up that nasty ‘d’ word from last week), but I’m also a bit smaller than most. They called me the runt of the litter, but that didn’t stop Dad from picking me out on Thanksgiving weekend 10 years ago. That’s right, it was our 10-year anniversary together yesterday. He went to visit his parents in Pennsylvania for the holiday and they stopped at a pet store on Saturday just to have something to do. We connected and he came back the next day and adopted me before driving back to NY. He almost adopted my sister, but she was a bit crazy, biting the glass on the cage and growling like a bear. She was also black-and-tan. Did you know we come in different colors? I like being a red sesame, I think it’s the best one. Anyways… happy 10 years, Dad!

Back to underdog… this week, my battle is with a reindeer named Rudolph. I’ve pasted a picture below; he’s about 5 inches tall and wide, and I guess he’d be considered the underdog in this fight. Grandma brought him over to me on Thanksgiving. He plays that song I’m sure you all know. Dads took a video of me fighting with Rudolph, trying to stop the creature from ‘you-know-where’ from singing. Rudolph keeps hiding behind the potted plants on the window ledge, just far back enough I cannot get to him. I try all day long, jumping, swatting my paw at him and occasionally whine-barking. If you’re not familiar with that term, it’s when an otherwise normal and healthy adult dog acts like a little puppy and whines to get his toy back. At least that’s what Dad says to me: “Stop whine-barking.” I caught Rudolph yesterday and bit him at least a hundred times until I figured out how to turn the music on and off. Now I turn it on just to torture Dad, as he doesn’t want to hear that song all day long.

My little lesson today: when you’re the underdog in one situation, don’t assume you automatically are in all situations. Reversal of fortune is often at play!

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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: The Phantom Carrot Snatcher by Maxine Sylvester

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Overview 
With the holiday season coming up, this is a definite read for children who need a touch of hope and humor. Loosely based on the concepts of reindeer who fly through the sky, with a famous one named Rudolph, this beautiful picture book takes off dashing from there… the lead reindeer character, Ronaldo, is named for a famous soccer player — you can imagine the great amount of other antics incorporated in the rest of the book. The background story that Maxine Sylvester has created is pure imagination woven tightly with a reality we all know.

In this second book in the series, the reindeer crew, in school to learn how to properly fly, meet a young wolf who needs help finding her pack. She’s feisty and protective, loyal and adorable. The book makes you feel part of the story, including the wonderful drawings done by the author herself. Add in a contest, a scary forest and a kooky instructor, there are bunches of warm moments and great arcs to tantalize kids with as you read to them. I highly recommend this 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: Ronaldo – The Reindeer Flying Academy by Maxine Sylvester

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If you’re looking for a new holiday children’s book series, look no further. I read Ronaldo: The Reindeer Flying Academy, the first of three books by Maxine Sylvester, published in 2015. Ronaldo is a hilarious, fun and adorable main character that kids will just love!

ronaldo.jpg

Book Review 
Most of us are familiar with the the story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. But what we never knew was how exactly did those reindeer learn how to fly, how many of them exist and what’s life really like for them at the North Pole. Now you can find out… Ronaldo is a hilarious, fun and adorable main character your kids will just love!

I read this adorable story on my iPad via Kindle Reader in one sitting, enjoying the wonderful illustrations (all done by the author herself) with each chapter. I only wished I had read it with one of my younger cousins, nephews or nieces, but it’s the perfect excuse to read it all over again another time. This is the ideal storybook to share as an electronic read, teaching kids how to use an iPad or Kindle while reading a familiar yet much more detailed holiday tradition.

Ronaldo is not just any young reindeer; he’s bound to be a leader of his future pack. What I loved about this story is how detailed the setting and characters are compared to other children’s books. The language is strong and helps teach in a way that doesn’t feel like teaching. It would be a fun treat to read over a couple of night’s around Christmas to kids, switching back and forth between watching cartoon versions of other famous reindeer… helping create a beautiful world around the holiday time.

I look forward to reading books two and three in the next couple of weeks as a way to usher in this year’s holidays!

Website: https://ronaldotheflyingreindeer.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MaxineSylves…
Twitter: @flyingronaldo
Pinterest: https://id.pinterest.com/flyingronaldo/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/maxinesylve…

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 @ http://mybook.to/WGS. 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 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. 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.

 

Review: Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen

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Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen
Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen by Vicki Delany

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3 1/2 stars (rounded up to a 4) to Vicki Delany‘s Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen, her debut novel in the “A Year-Round Christmas Mystery” series. Some people love Christmas so much that they need an entire book series dedicated to it; and if you’re one of those people, you’ll enjoy this one even if you’re reading it at Halloween!


Story

Rudolph, New York, a small town on the southern shores of Lake Ontario near the Canadian border, was named for someone who turned out to be not-so-name-worthy in the end. The town mayor, Noel Wilkinson, suggests telling everyone it was named after the famous reindeer and thus, Christmastown is born — except, there are a few of these towns across the country and the neighboring towns aren’t always thrilled when their town is suddenly considered second rate. When a semi-famous writer stops in Rudolph to publish a piece in a widely-read magazine about all the wonders of the Christmas village, he quickly sets the town a buzz… but when he turns up dead after eating at a local restaurant, Rudolph gets a bad reputation. Was it a neighboring town hoping to steal the glory? Was it a current resident with a unknown grudge? Or was it a personal vendetta from some outsider that just happened to occur in Rudolph?

Merry Wilkinson and her family and friends of Christmas-loving lore are on the case so they can protect their income and their town from utter disaster. Along the way, we meet her opera-loving mother, Santa Clause double dad, best friend who is accused of the murder, two eligible bachelors for Merry to choose from, a former frenemy police officer, the newly transported Chicago detective, a quirky mayor, a bitter neighboring store owner, a rival-politician and the fun-loving staff of Merry’s high-end Christmas decor shop. With a few side-stories about each of the main character’s personal lives, a new series all about the wonderful world of Christmas is born. In the end, Merry solves the case and makes friends with the police so she’s ready to solve another one in the future.


Strengths

For a debut novel, it gives a really well-rounded summary of the town and characters. For readers new to the cozy mystery genre, it will be the perfect intro. Characters and setting are clear and vivid. Multiple suspects for the whodunit. Several backstories dropped with different angles to continue on in the future. And if you’re a fan of holidays, this one will make you smile. I was slightly worred that the Christmas theme could be annoying (I love Christmas but an entire book series?); however, Delany offers a good balance of story and setting so you can tune out or in as much of the descriptions as you want.


Suggestions

There are a few holes in the story or pieces of the plot that should have been more tightly addressed. Merry doesn’t quite seem like someone who would give up her life in NYC and come back home just because of a situation with her boyfriend and job. I would have expected her to try to find other jobs in NYC but this whole area is covered a bit too quickly. When she does come back home, it seems like everyone just forgets she left Rudolph and everything picks back up again. I understand small town atmosphere, but I think a little more focus could have been added here.


Final Thoughts

There are a lot of mystery fiction books and authors to choose from, and once you settle into the cozy sub-genre, you still have a lot that could spark your interest. This one has a very clear theme that will either hook the audience or it will not. If you are a fan of holidays or Christmas or anything that comes with it, then you’ve got a good series to get started with. The author has just published the second in the series and I will be reading it later this week. Definitely worth continuining on…

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