Glazed Murder

GlazedMurder

Glazed Murder (Donut Shop Mystery #1) by Jessica Beck

This is the first book in the Donut Shop Mystery novels. In this we are introduced to Suzanne Hart. Suzanne lives in the small town of April Springs. She was married to an actor, Max, who was a huge jerk and pretender. He cheated on her, and that was the end for Suzanne. Good-bye Max.

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As soon as the divorce was final, Suzanne bought the old railroad depot and changed it into a donut shop. She doesn’t even know why she picked donuts, but that’s what she wanted to do.

Life is very different as she had to move in with her mom, she has to get up at one in the morning in order to make all the donuts, and is trying to get her business off the ground. It doesn’t leave her much time for socializing, :(.

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She is helped out by a college student, and friend Emily. And she has her best friend Grace, who makes due with Suzanne’s alternate hours.

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One day as Suzanne is heading into work, she finds a dead body.

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Making her donut shop a crime scene and her the main suspect in his murder!!

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The Chief hates Suzanne and won’t look at any other person as the killer but her. This puts Suzanne on the case as she needs to find out who killed her customer and clear her name.

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Luckily the Chief isn’t the only one investigating. Hot, North Carolinian, State, Detective, Jake Bishop has been called in and it looks like he is interested in Suzanne for more than just her alibi. 😉

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Thoughts After Reading:

I didn’t really like this book. I thought it was alright, but the mystery was too easy to solve. It was pretty obvious who the killer was from the moment they were introduced.

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I also thought the characters were two one-dimensional. On a whole I didn’t enjoy it, BUT, BUT it is the first novel and it wasn’t as horrible as Lane Changes. It has the potential to be better, which means that I am going to give the second novel a try.

This book includes lots of recipes for donuts, but I never gave them a try. The main reason because I don’t want to prepare them and see how horrible they are for me. I want to be able to continue to eat and enjoy them.

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For more mystery reviews, go to The Dollhouse Murders

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Italian Flavor Fused Popcorn

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Thoughts prior to cooking:

Now this is my own recipe I created one day when I was trying to add flavor to my air popped popcorn. It isn’t an exact recipe, as it is done more by feel than actually sizing them out.

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Ingredients:

  • Air Popper
  • Popcorn Kernels
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese (fresh not powdered)
  • Butter
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Dried Oregano

The first thing to do is to take as much butter you would wish on your popcorn and  melt it in the microwave. Leave it in so it cools a bit but not too much.

As your butter is in the microwave, prepare the popcorn according to your popper’s instructions.

When the popcorn is finished, toss the butter on top. Add a bit of Italian seasoning, oregano, and cheese. Mix it all up and add more cheese or seasoning, until it is flavored how you like it.

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Thoughts after cooking:

Well I made it so I loved it! I thought it was a nice change from just buttered popcorn. And it tastes better than those flavorers that you buy at the store.

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For more recipes, go to Zucchini-Tomato Soup

The Dollhouse Murders

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The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright

So unlike most people who have read this book, I didn’t read this as a child but as an adult. This book was recommended to me on goodreads quite a few times. The first time I saw it I thought it was a book I had read as a child of a girl playing with dolls, and in essence whatever she makes the dolls do, happens in real life. In that book she continues to play rough with her dolls, making them cruel to each other, and in doing so turns the people she loves into monsters.

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She eventually realizes this and tries to destroy the dollhouse, being stopped by her mom or aunt (I don’t remember which) who gives it away to her cousin.

This was not that book.

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Yes this is a completely different book, as I discovered once I read the synopsis.

So this book was published in the early ’80s and definitely has that nostalgic feel. The girls are out wherever they want and their parents don’t care as long as they are back before dark. They listen to tapes, watch TV from the cable shows and have a sleepover that involves hanging out, telling fortunes, gossiping, etc. No internet, cellphones, snapchat, instagram, etc.

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So our main character is 12-year old Amy. Amy lives in a suburb of Chicago, (and no this is not a John Hughes movie), with her parents and her younger, mentally disabled, sister Louann. Amy is stressed and unhappy about always having to take care of Louann. It has destroyed friendships, as some girls feel uncomfortable around Louann or dislike her differences; either way Amy finds herself losing potential friends and just having to spend more time with Louann.

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She and her new friend Ellen have to take Louann with them to mall, and it doesn’t turn out well. After Louann runs away, destroys a floral arrangement, and gets the girls yelled at; coupled with Amy’s new friend Ellen canceling their plans (presumably because of Louann), Amy’s had it with her sister.

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She needs some freedom from being Louann’s keeper. When she tells her mom this, the two get in a fight and Amy runs away. She runs all the way to the edge of town where her Aunt Clare currently lives.

Aunt Clare is her father’s sister, and was living and working in Chicago. When she was fired from her job, she returned home to clean out her grandparents’ old house to sell it. She listens to Amy’s views and asks her parents if she can stay for a while and keep her company. They agree, but Louann is unhappy to lose Amy.

Amy is estatic to finally have freedom

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But discovers something unsettling about the house. It feels as if it has a dark cloud over it.

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Amy discovers a beautiful dollhouse in the attic. And when she asks Aunt Clare about it, she gets the family backstory.

When Clare was 15 and Amy’s father was 2, their parents died in a car crash. The two were sent to live with their grandparents, as they had money and lots of room. Amy’s father did all right, but Clare was constantly clashing with the grandparents. She wanted to be treated as an adult, but they wanted her to stay a child. Hence, they gave a fifteen year old a dollhouse. An exquisitely carved dollhouse that is a replica of the house, has miniature everything you could ever hope for, and has four dolls that are beautiful copies of the family members. Even still, it is a dollhouse and for Clare it was uncool. Three years later, the grandparents also died in a car accident, and the two kids were sent to live with an uncle. As soon as Clare graduated, she left for Chicago and hasn’t returned to the house since.

Amy is intrigued and wants to know more, but Clare does not want to discuss the house at all, becoming very upset over the whole thing.

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Ellen is soon invited over and loves the dollhouse as much as Amy does. The two play with it for a while, interrupted by Clare’s baking of fudge. They run down to the kitchen, with Amy realizing that she left the house open. Not wanting it to get dusty on the inside, she runs upstairs. When she gets there, she sees something shocking.

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The grandma doll isn’t where she left it, but in a entirely different room!

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She is called by Ellen and Clare, and shakes off that idea. Dolls moving? Must have been seeing things.

The three of them end up planning a pizza-birthday party for the two girls, as they turn 13 within a week of each other.

After Ellen leaves, Amy asks Clare more questions about the grandparents’ death. Clare however, becomes angry and defensive not answering anything.

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This causes Amy to decide to do some digging of her own. She and Ellen head to the library and start looking through old papers to discover what happened to her grandparents. When they are searching they find an article about them being murdered!

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Yes Clare lied! They were murdered!

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One night, Clare returned home from the movies and discovered the dead bodies of her grandfather and grandmother. Both were shot, the grandfather upstairs in his bedroom, and the grandmother in the parlor. Amy’s father was initially not found, and many believed him to have been kidnapped, until they discovered the five-year-old asleep in the closet. Valuables were stolen, so the cops believed it was a burglary gone wrong. They never caught the killer.

Another interesting tidbit Amy finds, is that Clare’s boyfriend of the time, Tom, was killed that night as well in a car accident.

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That night Amy calls Ellen and fills her in. Unfortunately, Clare hears her and becomes very angry, yelling at Amy for her insensitivity. Later Clare yells at Amy again, as she has discovered the dolls in the exact way her family members were on the night of the murder.

Amy is flabbergasted.

What?

She knows she and Ellen put the dolls in the dining room around the table. Besides, she just learned about the murders, there would have been no way she could have made it into the attic and do that. That means…

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THE DOLLS ARE MOVING BY THEMSELVES!

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The only question? Why.

Amy and Clare make up, but Amy is now frightened of the attic and does all she can to stay out.

Amy goes home to get a few things for the party, when it is accidentally is slipped and now Louanne wants to come too. Amy doesn’t want her to come as she wants a day focused on her, and she doesn’t want to worry about anyone. She gets into another fight with her mom.

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At Aunt Clare’s, they start getting things ready for the party. Clare sends Amy upstairs to the attic to get some bedding so Ellen can stay over. The light went out so Clare gives Amy a flashlight.

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Upstairs, Amy goes to get a blanket when she sees a light coming from the attic and hears something!

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And runs downstairs.

The next day is the day of the party. Evey thing seems to be going smoothly, until Amy finds out that her mother had to go out of town and couldn’t find a sitter, so she left Louann at Aunt Clare’s. Amy is furious, as she knows Louann will ruin the party. To her surprise everything turns out perfect. All the girls have fun, they treat Louann like any other normal person; with the party going on for hours. That night the girls go to bed, with Louann and Amy sharing a room.

Amy wakes up at 3 in the morning and discovers Louann missing!

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She runs up the attic, as she knows Louann loves the dollhouse. When she gets there she finds Louann, a weird light coming from the dollhouse, and hears someone crying. So does Louann. Amy gets scared and the two go back to their room.

The next day, all three girls go for a hike with Amy telling Ellen everything that happened. She resolves to go up to the attic this very night and watching the whole event, in the hopes that she might discover why this is happening.

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Thoughts after reading:

This was a very cute and interesting mystery. At first I wasn’t sure as young adult fiction can really be hit or miss.

I loved the character of Amy as I think the author not only accurately portrayed a preteen girl, but a preteen girl having to take care of her disabled sister. It didn’t make Amy seem evil, rude; but just a regular girl trying to figure out her identity and who she is.

The mystery was actually pretty thrilling as the author keeps you guessing until the end. When the true story was revealed about the death of the grandparents, it made me wonder…was Aunt Clare involved with the murder? Was that the real reason she hated the dollhouse? You have to read it to find out.

I highly recommend this book for preteens and even for adults if you are feeling nostalgic.

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For more reviews of mystery novels, go to Lane Changes

Zucchini-Tomato Soup

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Thoughts prior to cooking:

This is another recipe that I discovered, not from a book, but online. As it was mysterious as to whether or not it would taste good I decided to post it. Now this isn’t the exact recipe, as I changed it quite a bit. The main reason why I wanted to try it was that I needed a vegetarian recipe and this seemed like it would be an instant hit.

The original recipe didn’t call for a lot of spices, so I decided to remedy that as I like my food flavored, not bland. I also added cheese to it, as I love cheese. So here it is.

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Ingredients:

  • 4 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • 1 Large Onion, Chopped
  • 8 Medium Zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch rounds
  • 4 Medium Carrots, cut into 1/2 inch rounds
  • 1 Can of peeled chopped tomatoes
  • 1 Can of peeled chopped tomatoes with chiles
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 28-oz cans of vegetable broth
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 2 Teaspoons of dried Oregano
  • 2 Tablespoons of chopped Parsley
  • 2 Large Avocados, cut into cubes
  • Lemon juice
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese

In a pot, heat the oil over medium heat.

Add the onion and cook, until translucent. Then add the zucchini, carrots, and the can of tomatoes and one half of the tomatoes & chile can (If you like your soup spicy add the whole tomato & chile can). Add salt to taste.

Add the vegetable broth, bay leaves, oregano, and parsley. If there isn’t enough juice to suit, add more water.

Bring to a boil and reduce heat, continuing to cook until all vegetables are tender.

Cut up the avocado and place it in a dish, Squeeze a little lemon juice on it and mix it up.

To serve, first remove the bay leaves. Ladle soup in a bowl and place avocado and cheese on top.

Enjoy!

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 Thoughts after cooking:

This was extremely delicious as the chiles really gave the soup an extra kick. The avocados and cheese were just perfect additions to the soup as well. I absolutely loved this and would totally make it again.

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For more recipes, go to Pasta e Fagioli

For more soups, go to Gazpacho

Lane Changes

Lane Changes

Lane Changes (P.I. Cassie Cruise #1)

Lane Changes, by S. L. Ellis, is the first novel in the Cassie Cruise, private investigator series. After a major blow up on reality TV, Cassie Cruise left the city she grew up in Michigan,  for a small town, in a supposedly no crime area, Florida.

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She spends her days trying to run her recently bought tattoo parlor, along with working a few cases on the side; such as finding her neighbor’s biological father.

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As she is settling into this new life, her car is torched. And that’s not all; in the trunk a body is discovered. Cassie is on the case to discover who the body is and why her car was chosen. And that’s not all she is investigating. Cassie’s neighbor suddenly does not want to meet her father, does not want Cassie anywhere near her, and has a complete shift in personality. Cassie decides to do what she does best, and discover the truth behind these questions.

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Thoughts After Reading:

I have to be honest and say that I did not care for this book. I am a huge mystery fan and when I read the synopsis I thought that this would be an instant hit, however, it was the complete opposite. I had many problems with this book, starting with the main character. Cassie, to me, is very unlikeable. Instead of coming off tough and in charge, Cassie’s character is mean, judgmental, abrupt, rude, and selfish.

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As the main character and narrator, one has to have some redeeming qualities to endear them to the reader, none of which were exhibited until the very end when a friend’s illness was revealed.

Another issue I have with this book is that it is the first in the series, yet we are dropped into her life and given very little back story into our character and her friends. As a reader I often felt lost, confused, and a bit angry at the lack of information.

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We are teased with bits of why she moved and snippets of her family’s dynamics, but they are introduced too far into the story for my taste, leaving me very frustrated. Cassie’s fiancé, Vince, is mentioned multiple times throughout the story, but hardly even exhibited in it. We have no clue how long they have been together, when they met, whether he followed her from Michigan to Florida or met her in Florida; essentially there is no substance to their relationship. When he is constantly attending to Cassie’s neighbor’s needs instead of her own, we as a reader have no standard on which to judge him or view him. Is he a cad cheating on her? Or is he a very helpful person and this behavior is typical? Instead Vince feels as if he is just a prop for Cassie and not a real character.

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The same goes for Cassie’s best friend Janice, who is given more involvement, but the same lack of history, personality, and chemistry.

The mystery itself was a bit strange as well. It starts with the burning car and charred body, but has very little to do with it. Cassie is hardly questioned at all about the event and we never hear of the police making any headway into solving it. In fact, Cassie does not even really look into the burning car.

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I know, a cheap exploitation. Instead the mystery is mostly about the neighbor; Cassie’s search for the biological father and her looking into the strange personality changes. I will say that the mystery surrounding her neighbor was interesting and written in a captivating way.

For me this book was not a perfect match and I would personally give it one out of five stars.

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For more mystery book reviews, go to A Dash of Death (Hemlock Falls #2)