twins

Book Review: Devil’s Food Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke

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I am just over half way through the Hannah Swensen cozy mystery series with #14, Devil’s Food Cake Murder, written in 2011 by Joanne Fluke. When I flipped through the Acknowledgments section in the paperback, it noted that Hannah was voted as the most liked non-detective crime solver that year… how interesting! I love the series and think she’s quite fun, but each book seems to get a little lighter on plot and heavier on recipes. I preferred the balance in the earlier novels, yet they are still always a great read… even if I’m now down to about an hour to push through them despite being over 300 pages. When I flip 10 pages to skip the recipe, it breezes by quickly.

cake

In this caper, Hannah finds the dead body of Reverend Bob’s temporary sit-in while he’s on his honeymoon with Claire. Hannah’s mom is watching Claire’s fashion shop all the while trying not to insult the customers when they pick the wrong outfits for their body type. But the biggest change in this Lake Eden puzzle is Hannah’s dating life. She’s waffled between Mike and Norman for 13 books, beginning to see them both wane at her indecision and start seeing other people… well, now there’s a massive decision that will change the events in future books. In one way, I’m glad, as she was stringing them on for far too long. I agree with taking time to play the field, and maybe it’s only been 2 to 3 years in story time, but it feels like a decade!

As for the mystery, nothing extraordinary, and it didn’t really involve many characters we’ve met before except one adorable octogenarian, so it was not my favorite. I still enjoyed all the side interactions in the town, the developing relationships between Hannah and her family, and the set-up for the next book in terms of Hannah’s love life. I’m sticking with it, but I hope there’s more mystery coming soon! 3.5 stars…

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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Book Review: Trapping by Ann Jones

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After reading Missing, the first book in the Lyn Kramer mystery series by Ann Jones, I wanted to read more. When the second book, Trapping, was published earlier this year, I anxiously grabbed a free copy during the initial marketing launch and put it into my reading schedule for May. It was next up this week and as soon as I jumped in, it felt like I’d never left the story… kinda like I was home again. It actually takes place just hours after the first book ended, which for anyone who read it knew clearly there was a lot more to be revealed in the story. Twins separated for ~30 years couldn’t possibly not get together and re-discover themselves, right? Jones doesn’t disappoint, seamlessly transitioning from finding one another in the first book to protecting one another from a lecherous uncle in this second one.

ping

Jones has created a very relatable family in this series. Raised separately by their two grandfathers, the twin girls’ parents died under mysterious circumstances long ago. One was mistreated by her uncle, forced into a life of crime. The other became a cop. Who better than to take down the crime family than the force of their reunited bond? Book two kicks off with a secret plan to lure the uncle out of hiding and hopefully convict him of a number of crimes over the years. But Uncle Lester is very smart, keeping himself at least two degrees separated from his henchmen doing any dirty work. He can’t be connected to any crimes, but he can still hurt both girls. Throw in a story about a hit-and-run driver, a drug ring operating in a small Midwest town, a growing romance re-ignited after a decade, an ex with a grudge, and a difficult family reunion, the book has it all.

Though dubbed “writing clean suspense with a touch of romance,” I feel there’s a lot bigger picture going on in the books. The writing style is clean and direct making it easy to stay connected with and keep turning the pages. The characters are well drawn, full of angst and emotion, history and love. The new criminals are shady but also potentially mere red herrings. Their are budding romances at many generational levels. The cast of culprits leaves you with a dozen or so characters who could be working for Uncle Lester, reporting back any information on Lyn and Melissa, or they could just be normal citizens caught up in their own webs of deceit. Who knows? Only those who read the book, right? So get on it!

What I like most about the book is that although there’s a mystery, and even with the suspense and drama, at its core this is a story about a family torn apart by good and evil. When the twins were separated years ago, a rift the size of Kansas was opened… and it’s not going to heal in 1 or 2 books. There is longevity here in these characters which is always something important I seek in a new series. Jones creates balance, just enough tension on the surface that you know things are gonna blow up, just not when it will happen. It could be this book, it could be the next one… but a family separated for over two decades doesn’t just heal overnight. And since the span of the first two books barely covers a few weeks, there’s a lot of unexplored time. I’m confident Jones will deliver in creating a few explosive moments in the near future.

Can’t wait til she publishes the third one… now if I could only find a way to get the answer of when and where it will happen. Kudos for an excellent follow up in this series. For more info, check our her website @ https://annjonesbooks.com/ where you can find her social media profiles and other sites, too.

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: Missing by Ann Jones

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Why This Book 
I connected with the author a few months ago and liked the summary of her book. While it was free, I downloaded it, knowing I liked mystery series and would want to give it a try. In a quest to close on all open items on my TBR before January 2018 finishes, I read this one on a plane ride home from a Christmas trip to visit family. And I’m glad I did; it’s got lots of potential.

missing

Plot, Characters & Setting 
Detective Lyn Kramer, ~32ish, works in a small town training her newest junior detective, who happens to be a few years older than her. There’s a spark between them, but she’s ignoring it while she’s trying to end another dead-end relationship. When a missing persons case is dropped on her at the last minute, she gets quite a surprise as the woman is her dead ringer. We later learn it’s her twin sister, and they were separated at a young age when their parents died of a drug overdose. There’s a lot more going on in this story, connected to her family’s past in the mob, and her grandfather’s hatred for his in-laws. As Lyn searches for her sister, she confronts a past that tormented her family, slowly learning the truth of what happened all those years ago.

Approach & Style 
This is a novella, on the shorter side of the scale, but it’s a good entry point for a new series. It gives the reader an opportunity over a ~2 hour period to decide if the characters, setting and voice work for their personal style. I read on my iPad through Kindle Reader.

Thoughts 
Besides the author being an absolutely wonderful person from a few chats we’ve had, the book series is quite promising. I was engaged by the plot and the mystery. I liked the family drama aspects of the story. I found the relationships quite curious, especially how Lyn treats her current boyfriend (or he treats her – yikes!) and what could happen with Jud, her new partner. The writing is clean and easy to digest, presents a picture, but lets you add your own imagination to some of the setting. The suspense factor began building in various chapters. For a debut, I think this could turn into something that I look forward to reading as each new book is launched. Kudos to Ann Jones for delivering a strong first book that has all the elements of a fine mystery series.

There were a few areas that were a bit vague or open-ended, and the full background seems to be missing (no pun intended!) a few important details, but I’m not going to question it right now… as sometimes that’s the point in a mystery series. You can’t reveal everything all at once, so those details will pop up when necessary in future books, I suspect. Twins makes things fun. A girl raised by her grandfather will add a different layer to the story. And Lyn has edge… so this was a good read for me.

Summary 
I will definitely continue with this series. For a debut, it has a lot of promise to deliver quality stories with memorable characters. We’ve gotten a small flavor for a handful and I look forward to seeing how it progresses.

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.

Review: The Comedy of Errors

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The Comedy of Errors
The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



Book Review


4 out of 5 stars to The Comedy of Errors, a comedy (seriously, did you think with that title it was one of his tragedies… oh my) published in 1594 by William Shakespeare. So… who knew Shakespeare invented the humor of mistaken identity? Wow! Think of this as a cross between any daytime television soap opera, “Dumb and Dumber” and “Dude, Where’s My Car?”

And if you don’t know what that clip is from, you have no watched the right kinds of movies. So go figure it out and come back to chat. That said… this is definitely one of the funniest plays he’s written, as you’d expect. But it’s not just a single set of twins, there are two pairs. And no one knows who is who. Sometimes you might get lost too. But that’s what I’ve learned to love when reading Shakespeare. If it’s a historical play or a tragedy, make it serious. If it’s a comedy, then do whatever you’d like. I’ll make up my own interpretation.

And that’s what I did with this one. And when finished, I talked about it with some fellow students. We all agreed… I had the most interesting interpretation. And then when we got into class, the professor talked about what he thought it was about. And what do you know… I had the closest version. Woo Hoo! I’m good for something, I remember thinking to myself. On a serious note, this is worth a read if you want to get into more Shakespeare. Don’t make it your first one tho… you’ll regret it.



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.

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Review: Twelfth Night

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Twelfth Night Book Review
4 out of 5 stars to Twelfth Night, a comedy written in 1601 by William Shakespeare. There are more reviews written about Shakespeare than either of us know what to do with, on, over or about. So you’re not getting a review from me. What I will say is the following: Love him or not, the man can create brilliant plots and characters. Twins. Mistaken identities. Tomfoolery. Witchcraft. A chain of “who’s on first” when it comes to which character is in love with which other character. Confusion knows no bounds here. But I love it. It’s hilarious. If you’re not used to Shakespeare’s style and rhythm, this wouldn’t be the first play of his I’d recommend. Or if you really want to read this one, you might want to watch a film version first, just to get the plot down — as it’s more convoluted than any soap opera out there. And I should know, I’ve watched nearly all of them. It’s got a little bit of everything, but if you can see it happen first, then read it… it’ll come across even better as you can concentrate on the words and images that come to mind, rather than trying to comprehend which person is in which disguise when they are talking. I have to imagine he talked to himself a lot when writing this one, adding voices and different character attributes to even be sure he understood what he had going on!

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.

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Review: Cutting for Stone

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Cutting for Stone
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

My rating is 3.5 of 5 stars to Abraham Verghese‘s novel, Cutting for Stone, which was a book club selection about 7 years ago. At first, I wasn’t sure I’d like the book, as I expected it to be quite sad. And back then, I wasn’t interested in reading sad or emotional books; however, this one was quite good and I waffled between a 3 and a 4. I settled on a 3 only because I felt it was a little too formal / stiff for the type of book it felt like it should have been — still above average to me, as far as books go.

The basics: Twin brothers born in Ethiopia, Africa. The mother dies during childbirth and the father will need to raise them, but fate intervenes and they are separated. The book chronicles the separate life of the two boys and the connections between them. It’s about the differences between America and Africa, love and fear, focus and desire. There are many surprises in the book, all leading you to root for certain things to happen in each of the relationships throughout the story.

I had never heard of the author before, and this is the only read I’ve tackled by him, so far. But he’s got several other books and short stories. For me, it was a little too focused on the medical side of their personalities / careers / activities. Not in a bad way, just enough that it didn’t burst at its seams as a superstar book. I also felt like it was a little light in the action at some points, but it certainly makes up for it in some major ways in the last third.

If you are interested in other cultures, different ways of doing things and what happens to twins when they aren’t always near one another… it’s a great read. I’d suggest reading a lot of reviews to decide if it’s for you… as it’s different than most books of its genres or sub-genre.

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. 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.

View all my reviews

Review: Gone with the Twins

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Gone with the TwinsMy rating: 4 of 5 stars to Kylie Logan‘s Gone with the Twins, the fifth book in the “League of Literary Ladies” mystery series about a woman who owns a B&B on an island between Ohio and Canada and helps the local police solve crimes using her skills as a secret famous fiction author. I was excited to read this book as it was recently released and one of the only mystery series I am current on. While it was a good story and follow-up to the previous books, it wasn’t my favorite and felt a little too easy this go-round. But still worth a read.


Story

Bea is still upset after finding out a secret about Levi at the end of the previous book, but her heart still wants him. As the story starts out, a rival B&B has opened, taking all of the normal summer guests that would have gone to Bea’s place had the famous Champion Twins not set up camp on the island. Recently thrust back into the spotlight after having been kidnapped, Riva and Quentin Champion have designed their new B&B like Tara from “Gone With the Wind,” which just happens to be the book that Bea and her friends in the literary league started reading. When the local real estate agent who sold most of the homes to the main island inhabitants passes away, her niece, Vivian, takes over and begins making enough enemies that she’s soon found dead in her basement on the evening she was set to meet several people to sell them antiques from her late aunt’s house. When it looks like Chandra, Bea’s neighbor and New Age friend, is the primary culprit, Bea sets out to prove her friend’s innocence. Along the way, she and Levi re-connect and he watches over her when the murderer gets too close. Somehow, it’s all connected and Bea will stop at nothing to figure out what’ at the core of the shenanigans, especially when rumors about her not-true ex-con or ex-psycho status, as well as fake bed bug stories, start popping up all over town. In true Bea style, she dives in with the Chief of Police, Hank, and soon uncovers more connections to her own past than she realized were possible.


Strengths

Bea’s friends and hijinks are on target. The story incorporates daily life as well as solving the crime, making it a fun and quick read. Her interest in Levi maintains its roller coaster course, providing a good boost of romance, fun and humor. The descriptions of the Twins and their history is something cute to laugh about. And the cast of new characters is vivid and amusing.

The story focuses on Chandra’s relationship with her first husband, who was connected to Vivian, the victim in this book. The Twins figure prominently both in the real estate transactions and the fame of Hollywood being brought to the quiet Lake Bass island. Levi appears frequently while Luella and Kate take a bit of a back seat this time. It’s good to focus on different supporting characters in each book, as we get a more well-rounded opinion of the whole shebang!


Suggestions

The plot was a little too simple in this book. A few red herrings helped create a bit of fun and suspense, but the title gives it away, knowing the Twins have something to do with the mayhem. No spoilers given away here, just mentioning what felt too obvious for a reader. While there were a few potential suspects, the reasons for everyone never felt compelling enough for one of them to want to murder Vivian, but when you find out why, it makes sense. Just a little too loose for me.

The story starts off with the death of the elderly real estate agent who sold Bea the B&B. I would have liked to know that character, Estelle, a little more. Her death and appearance just seemed inserted for plot points. As this is Book 5, I think the author should have dropped more hints about Estelle in Books 1 thru 4 so we as readers felt the loss, too.


Final Thoughts

The charm and suspense felt a little off in this book, too. I expected more, given the great impressions I had from the earlier books. Still worth a read, just sayin’! That said, I love Bea and the whole premise of the book, and her secret identity as F.X. O’Grady. I hope the next book focuses more on her own past… and I definitely look forward to the next one, even is this one was a little disappointing.

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