Carrot Cake Murder

carrotcakemurder

Carrot Cake Murder (Hannah Swenson Mystery #10) by Joanne Fluke

I did not like this book.

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I thought the story wasn’t that good and very under developed. And that the author went for an easy ending, instead of creating something that made sense and was actually mysterious.

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This was extremely lackluster and boring.

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But review I must.

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Plot Synopsis:

So it is summertime and Lisa and Herb are having a big family reunion, inviting every single relation. It is a huge affair and Hannah, her family, and two boyfriends are also joining the crew.

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One person that Herb’s mom Marge’s long-lost brother Gus who took off years ago never to be found, ends up showing up to the party.

coincidencegi

He  said he was just in the area and happened among some flyers and thought he would join the group. He has a a lot of money and fancy suits.

wow

However, at the reunion a lot of old hurts come up. Gus was a master manipulator, a borrower and not returner, and a blackmailer. He has a lot of people that he has upset over the years.

Not-Good

He asks Hannah for her special carrot cake as he just loves it, and Hannah gives him a whole one.

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The next day no one can find Gus for the group picture, so they of course send Hannah and she finds the dead body.

StarTrekTheOriginalSeriesHesDeadJim

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So let’s start with what was wrong in this book.

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A) If It Is Such a Big Party With So Many to Feed, Why Are Hannah & Family & Boyfriends Included?

suspicious Hmm

I know that Hannah and such are great friends of Lisa and Herb, but it seems weird to invite so many non-family members to a family event. I mean it is not just a few people but Hannah, her sister Andrea, her husband Bill, their two children, Bill’s mother, Hannah’s mother Dolores, Hannah’s sister Michelle, Michelle’s boyfriend Lonnie, Hannah’s boyfriend Mike, Hannah’s boyfriend Norman, and Norman’s mom.

What?

Do they really need a dozen more people, at a family only event? No. And Hannah is helping to cook means she should come, yeah her but why are there 11 extra with her? It is just another plot by the author to have Hannah a part of everything that goes on in her town.

seriously

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B) Gus Just Happened To See the Reunion On A Flyer

Come on, Mack

Why do they have flyers to a family only event that they sent marked mailers to? You are not expecting the whole town to come, why paper the streets?

doesn'tmakesense

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C) Hannah Goes On A Huge Derail On the Size And Weight Of Hockey Pucks

What?

Sometimes I feel as if Fluke is paid by the word or something. She is constantly derail on the weirdest subjects, weird as in THEY HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THE PLOT! I’m tired of it, please STOP!!!!

Stop this stupid love triangle!

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D) Don’t Eat Hannah’s Food, You Will Die

StarTrekTheOriginalSeriesHesDeadJim

I’m pretty sure in every, single book the person dies eating Hannah’s food. All I can think is why hasn’t anyone made the correlation and Hannah have gone out of business already. Eat her signature dish and you might be signing your death warrant.

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E) Hannah Finds Another Dead Body

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In almost every book Hannah finds the dead body. It is boring! Come on Fluke, change it up.

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F) Mike & Hannah Drama Continues

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In every book Hannah complains about Mike not being a great boyfriend because he won’t let her investigate with him. What do you think Hannah, that any cop would love to have an amateur bungling things and getting evidence illegally. Listen up Hannah, why don’t you become a real cop or private investigator, and then Mike will leave you alone.

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G) Rocky Road S’Mores?

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Lisa makes a bar cookie she calls Rocky Road Bar Cookies, after the Rocky Road Ice-Cream.  She puts nuts, marshmallows, chocolate, etc.; the same ingredients in the ice-cream. Hannah tries it and says that it tastes like S’mores

What?

What kinda S’mores are you making Hannah? They don’t have nuts. And they have graham crackers in it instead.

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H) I Have Never Had A S’More Before

What'sHappening?BigBangTheory

Lisa tells Hannah she has never had a S’more before which makes no sense. Every store that sells food sells the fixing for s’mores. Hershey’s advertises it on TV as soon as we hit May, so does Honey Maid, etc. I cannot believe she has never tried a S’more “because she didn’t learn in girl scouts”. Get real.

seriously

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I) Red Velvet Cookies Cure Alzheimer’s

Come on, Mack

As someone who has multiple family members who suffer from the disease, words cannot describe how deeply hurt and offended I am at you even suggesting that, whether it is in jest or not.

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J) Randomness That DOES NOT ADD TO THE STORY!

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We spend too much time on random acronyms to remember Native American tribes, the Great Lakes, colors of the rainbow. Just stop!

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K) Mexican Hotdish Mexican Not Dish

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Your Mexican Hotdish isn’t even Mexican. Jack cheese? White rice? Fritos corn chips? Offensive to the Max! If anything it is Tex-Mex. Get it right.

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L) Don’t These People Have Jobs?

idon'tknowwhatI'mdoing

Man Hannah and Norman spend so much time NOT working I wonder how they can provide for themselves.  I mean Norman just decides to fly to Atlantic City, doesn’t he need to work? Doesn’t Hannah? I mean it is one thing to work investigating around work, but these guys just totally disregard it.

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M) Exposition, Exposition, Exposition to Make the End Work

In the last 42 pages we get this big exposition rush about one of Lisa’s relations who is bad at the stock market and wasted away the money, mean to his wife, mad that Gus won’t give the money he borrowed from his wife back, blah, blah, blah. Listen Fluke, you do this a lot and it is horrible. I don’t know if you can’t decide on a killer or feel you need a “twist” for the reader but it is really bad, really bad.

Not-Good

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N) If He is So Horrible Why Are You Still Married?

What?

So Peggy is the wife of the murderer and the deliverer of the exposition about how Mac is totally the murderer. You go on about how horrible and threatening he is, why are you still married? Why don;t you leave.

And if you love him as much as you say and act, why are you so willing to give him up to the police. It just didn’t make any sense and felt like Fluke was rushed and just did the ending the night before it was due to print.

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O) Ross is Back

2013-11-27-bradpitt friends ugh slap face stupid

This bland saltine of a man is back? Seriously? Come on, just stop. Isn’t it enough you have two guys fighting over Hannah, do we have to include another guy who is blander than a heart patient’s diet?

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Thoughts After Reading:

Hated it. Two out of Five stars.

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For more Hannah Swenson Mysteries, go to Candy Cane Murder

For more reviews, go to Grave Peril

 

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Brussels Sprouts, Turkey Sausage, & Pesto Pizza Casserole

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Thoughts Before Baking:

I found this in a Real Simple magazine:

RealSimple

It looked and sounded delicious, so I thought I would give it a try. I mean you all know how much I love anything pesto and pizza.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • 1.5 lbs of Pizza Dough
  • 1/3 Cup of Prepared Pesto
  • 1.5 Cups of Shredded Mozzarella or Provolone Cheese
  • 1/2 lb of Uncooked Turkey Sausage, Crumbled
  • 1/2 lb of Brussels Sprouts, thinly sliced

Pesto:

  • 2 cups of basil leaves, packed
  • 3 to 4 Garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 Cup of Olive Oil
  • 4 Tablespoons of toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Prepare the basil first. Remove basil leaves from stems.
  2. In a blender or food processor; mix 1/3 cup of olive oil, basil leaves, chopped garlic, and blend.
  3. Add nuts and cheese, mix again, adding another 1/3 cup of oil. Sauce should be smooth.
  4. Refrigerate until needed.
  5. Heat oven to 425 degrees F.
  6. Coat a 9 x 13 inch pan with 1 tbsp of oil.
  7. Press the dough into the pan, covering the bottom and sides of the pan.
  8. Top the dough with pesto, cheese, sausage, and Brussels sprouts.
  9. Cook for 25-30 minutes
  10. Wait 5 minutes and then serve.

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Thoughts After Reading:

I forgot to take the picture or else I would have included one. Well this pizza was delicious.

fantastic

I can’t wait to make it again!

joker-yum

The pesto was a perfect compliment and it was just so easy to make. Took no time at all.

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For more pizza recipes, go to Pizza Siciliana

For more casseroles, go to Breakfast Omelet

For more pesto recipes, go to Cheesy Pesto Pull Apart Bread

For more recipes, go to Caraway Rye Bread

 

Grave Peril

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Grave Peril (The Dresden Files #3) by Jim Butcher

So Harry Dresden has had a tough year. First a crazy wizard blowing people up from the inside out,

AAhhorrorified

To werewolves of all types ravaging the city:

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And now we have the spirit world going crazy!

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Yep, he’s had to team up with old pal, Michael Carpenter, Catholic and a Knight of the Cross.

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Spirits have been riled up all over, are acting out and no longer tethered to special spots, etc.

Not-Good

As Harry goes back to the office the next day, he is approached by a young woman, Lydia, a practitioner who begs for protection. Harry offers to give her some help, as he knows she is hiding something from him. This seems to happen a lot Harry what with with Monica and the werewolf guy.

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That night Harry and Michael decide the only way to stop some of these things from happening, is for Harry to risk heading over the border from our world to the supernatural one. A very scary thing to do when most of them hate you or are after you.

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In fact he is trying to stay away from his fairy godmother (actual fairy) Lea who wants him as her slave. As she starts to spin her fairy magic, he just manages to overcome her spell and Michael luckily saves him before she takes his blood.

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However, the work they do doesn’t always fly with the police as they get arrested. Michael’s wife, Charity, comes for Michael and reads Harry the riot act. Susan also comes for Harry, in a slightly better mood as with her man she has another story for the newspaper she works for, The Arcane.

As the two head back to Harry’s place they encounter something they weren’t expecting, Vampires.

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But these vampires promise no attacks. They were sent by Madame Bianca to invite Harry to the Vampire Court, as Bianca is elevated to the rank of Margravine of the Vampire Court.

Not-Good

Susan wants to go to the Vampire Ball, but Harry is not interested. Bianca is still angry about what happened in Storm Front, and has threatened to kill him. While the invitation protects him from any vampire harm such as sucking of blood or direct killing, they could use a loophole and find a way to destroy him. Better watch out Harry, non-magical people don’t always understand everything and Susan is tenacious. She’ll find a way to get into that party, even if it becomes the death of her.

badfeeling

The two spend the night together, but are awoken early by Michael. Michael has heard from the priest of the church Harry placed Lydia. Something tried to attack her last night, but was kept out. She started freaking out going through withdrawal (from either a mortal or magical substance) and tried to go out to the creature. The priest was able to protect her during the night by reading the scriptures. But in the morning she disappeared.

oopsmybad

Harry decides the only thing to do next os to go to a psychic in Oldtown, Mortimer Lindquist. When Harry comes upon him packing, he knows Mortimer must know something he’s not telling. When Harry questions him further, Mortimer brings up an old book of his, They Shall Rise. He’s convinced the border between our world and the magical Nevernever is constantly eroding, new ghosts are coming over, and that there is something even eviler, a Nightmare.

Things go from bad to worse as he is called in by the Chicago Police Department for an old friend, Mickey Malone. Before Harry can enter a true “home, he has to be invited in by a family member. Mrs. Malone complies, he comes in to see Mickey chained up as he is a madman.

What'sHappening?BigBangTheory

When he uses his Sight, he sees that Mickey’s soul and mind have been torn apart as if he was attacked by a wild animal. To top it off he has “spiritual” barbed wire curled around him, just like he saw in the other ghosts he’d been fighting. Who is trying to control these ghosts and people? Why?

what have i gotten myself into star trek next gen

Harry is able to destroy it, but through great pain. What is this Nightmare? And can Harry stop it?

There is only one thing left for Harry to do in order to get his answers. He must go to the Vampire ball, but will he manage to survive it?

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*Spoliers*

As always Butcher presents a powerful, thrilling, and suspenseful story.

fantastic

Burt let me worn you, this one is full of pain, angst, and was pretty harsh. I’m on a Jim Butcher break after reading this as it was heart wrenching.

thisistoomuch

The hardest thing was what happened to Susan. Now I may never have been a fan of her and Harry together, but I never wanted her turned into a vampire. Super intense ending, totally heart crushing, yet powerful.

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For more Dresden Files, go to Fool Moon

For more private investigators, go to A is for Alibi

For more supernatural mysteries, go to Just Because You’re Paranoid, Doesn’t Mean a Demon’s Not After You: Storm Front

For more mystery reviews, go to The Midwife’s Tale

Caraway Rye Bread

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Thoughts Before Baking:

I got this recipe from an old cookbook by Time Life called American Cooking: The Melting Pot. In it there are recipes from all nationalities that make up the USA.

This recipe is from the Czech Republic, and I wanted to try it out as I love Rye Bread. It’s my favorite.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Cup of Lukewarm Water
  • 1 Package of Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 Teaspoon of Sugar
  • 2-2.5 Cups of White All-Purpose Flour
  • 2-2,5 Cups of Rye Flour
  • 1 Tbsp of Salt
  • 1 Cup of Lukewarm Milk
  • 1/4 Cup of Distilled White Vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp of Softened Unsalted Butter
  • 1/2 Cup of White or Yellow Cornmeal
  • 1 Egg White, Beaten to a Froth
  • 3 Tbsp of Caraway Seeds

Directions:

  1. Pour 1/4 of water into a small bowl.
  2. Sprinkle in the yeast and sugar. Let it rest for 2-3 mins., then stir.
  3. Set the bowl in a warm, draft-free place (such as an unlighted oven) for about 10 mins or until the yeast bubbles and the mixture doubles in volume.
  4. Place 2 cups of white flour, 2 cups of rye flour, and the salt in a deep mixing bowl; and make a well in the center.
  5. Pour in the yeast mixture, 1/4 cup of water, milk and vinegar.
  6. With a wooden spoon, gradually incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet.
  7. Stir until mixture is smooth, then beat until the dough can be gathered into a ball.
  8. Place the ball on a lightly floured surface and knead; pushing the dough with the heels of your hands and then pressing it forward to fold back in on itself.
  9. As you knead, sprinkle equal amounts of rye and white flour over the ball by the tablespoonful until the dough is medium firm.
  10. Knead until dough is smooth and elastic.
  11. With a pastry brush, spread the softened butter evenly over the inside of a large bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and turn it about to butter the entire surface.
  12. Drape the bowl with a kitchen towel and set aside in a draft-free place for about 1.5 hours, or until the dough doubles in volume.
  13. Punch the dough down with your fist and set aside in a draft-free place for about 45 mins.
  14. Scatter the cornmeal on a large baking sheet and set aside.
  15. Cut the dough in half and shape each half into a tapering loaf about 12 inches long and 2.5 inches wide in the center.
  16. Place the loaves 2 inches apart on the baking sheet and with a large knife make half an inch deep diagonal cuts on the top of each loaf.
  17. Set the loaves in a draft free place to rise for 30 mins.
  18. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  19. Brush the egg white over the tops of the bread loaves.
  20. Sprinkle with the caraway seeds and place in the center of the oven for 15 mins.
  21. Reduce the temperature to 375 degrees F and bake for 30-35 mins, or until the loaves are golden brown.
  22. Transfer to wire racks and cool before serving.

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ryebread

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Thoughts After Baking:

This was a lot of work but tasted way different from anything I ever bought on a store. It was thick, hearty, and delicious.

joker-yum

I ate pretty much the whole thing by myself.

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You can also pair it with a feta cheese, Brie cheese, or anything you want. A delicious recipe I will make again.

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For more bread recipes, go to Irish Soda Bread

For more recipes from Time Life’s American Cooking: The Melting Pot, go to Pizza Siciliana

For more recipes, go to Grilled Zucchini Roll-Ups

The Midwife’s Tale

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The Midwife’s Tale (A Midwife Mystery #1) by Sam Thomas

Thoughts Before Reading:

I actually read this for a history class…

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I know, sweet right! It was a history of the novel class so we read novels and historical fiction novels throughout time.

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It was a fantastic class. Anyways, the professor knew the author of this book, so not only did we get to read a mystery, my favorite, but we were able to skype him and ask him questions about the book and make suggestions. Such as two characters getting together.

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Book Synopsis:

Lady Bridget Hodgson, lives in 17th century. She married her true love, but when he died; she remarried a wealthy man, got a title, and also an okay marriage as her husband believed himself to be smarter than he is.

Icannotstandmorons_Laura

She has had a lot of tragedy in her life as her son was a stillborn baby, her daughter became ill and died; and her husband followed them.

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When she lost her daughter, her mother-in-law taught her midwifery; something she continues to do as a widow; earning additional money, respect, and power in her city of York.

Lordoftherings LifeisGood

So currently in time the country is facing a Civil War between Parliament and the King. York is in the middle of it all, with Parliament laying siege to the city.

Stop this stupid love triangle!

However, a young maid, Martha, has managed to slip through the lines. She has come from Lady Bridget’s deceased cousin to see about a job. Lady Bridget hires her and finds her to be extremely gifted in dealing with purchases from stalls to assisting her clients giving birth.

fantastic

However, Lady Bridget’s life changes when two mysteries are thrust upon her. The first being the killing of a young baby. Lady Bridget setting out to discover which mother or father did the dead.

justice

And the more shocking crime, her friend Esther Cooper has been arrested for the murder of her husband.

thenannygasp

Lady Bridget is shocked that they would ever think the demure Esther capable of killing. She sets off to prove her innocence, aided by Martha who contain skills needed in this service that go beyond simple maidly duties.

suspicious Hmm

As they set out for the truth they find themselves setting out on a path riddled with danger: from soldiers, the Parliament’s artillery, a villain from Martha’s past, Lady Bridget’s nemesis, etc.

urkelgif interesting hmm

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Thoughts After Reading:

Lately there has been an increase in historical fiction mysteries, especially those in which the main character accidentally finds themselves involved a case and uses their amateur sleuthing skills to solve the puzzle that was presented to them. Unlike many authors who’s reasoning’s for how their character manages to maneuver through all parts of society, Sam Thomas is able to realistically portray his character as a successful private investigator through the combination of her station and employment.

gotthis

As Lady Bridget Hodgson is a member of nobility, it gives her certain protections that others would not have; namely it is harder to kill her, she has to be treated with respect by those below her (and on the same plane), she cannot be as easily ignored or thrust aside, etc. These benefits enable her to not only approach those in the upper class regarding her investigation, but also protect her when she ventures into the lower regions.

You_know_thats_right

Her midwifery duties also give her credibility as an investigator as she is able to question and gossip with women of all classes; which all her to be privy to all types of scandalous (and helpful) information that would not be shared with just anyone. Information gathered this way creates a realistic pathway for the author to express key clues without having his main character appear too all knowing or unbelievable. This occupation also grants Lady Hodgson the talent to read people; therefore being a more effective detective as her midwifery enables her to distinguish a lie from the truth.

“Esther was telling the truth.’

‘How do you know?’

‘Unmarried mothers will often lie to me about the father of their bastards, so I know a lie when I hear one.” pg. 96

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Being a midwife does not only grant her many friends, but also give her the leverage she needs to blackmail people into granting her requests. Her knowledge of extra-marital affairs, allows her to get her way.

don'tmesswithme

However, even though these qualities allow Lady Hodgson to be able to be an extremely effective detective; Thomas does not gloss over the fact that being a woman in 17th Century England, even a noblewoman, does have limitations. As most women were not educated the same way as men; Thomas uses Lady Hodgson’s first marriage as way that she could be able to live on her own and take care of her accounts. Her first husband had taught her how to run the land and how to treat the tenants; allowing her to be able to understand and know how to take care of his and her second’s husband’s land after they both pass on. However, she is still treated with disdain by many because she is a woman trying to do more than her sex allows. This opinion is expressed by many characters throughout the novel; all seeing her as weak, fragile, simple, or meddlesome.

Sorry but I don't think so.

Sorry but I don’t think so.

The mystery was also extremely well written as it has quite a few twists and turns, leading you on onto you come to the conclusion.

fantastic

The characters were all written extremely well that are all enjoyable; whether you love them or love to hate them.

this is going to be good

I loved it and give it five out of five stars!

Read it today!

Read it today!

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For more historical fiction, go to A Change of Fortune

For more murdered husbands, go to A is for Alibi

 

Grilled Zucchini Roll-Ups

So I know what today is…

fridaythe13th

That’s okay stay strong. I have a recipe to try out that will be the perfect pairing to whatever your Friday the 13th plans are.

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zucchini

So I got the recipe from Health.com and it sounded tasty and healthy (of course) so I thought I would try it out.

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Ingredients:

  • 3 small zucchini (about 1/2 pound each), cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/16 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1.5 ounces fresh goat cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 ounces bagged baby spinach (2 cups lightly packed)
  • 1/3 cup basil leaves

Directions:

  1. Preheat grill or grill pan to medium.
  2. Discard the outermost slices of zucchini; brush the rest with oil on both sides.
  3. Sprinkle the zucchini slices with salt and pepper.
  4. Grill until tender, about 4 minutes per side. (You can prepare the zucchini a day ahead and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)
  5. In a small bowl, combine the goat cheese, parsley, and lemon juice, mashing together with a fork.
  6. Put 1/2 teaspoon of the cheese mixture about 1/2 inch from the end of a zucchini slice.
  7. Top with a few spinach leaves and a small (or half of a large) basil leaf.
  8. Roll up and place seam side down on a platter. Repeat with remaining zucchini slices.

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Grilled Zucchini Roll-Ups

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Thoughts After Cooking:

I thought this were pretty good. They were tasty, healthy, and fun to make.

joker-yum

I will be making these again.

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For more pinterest recipes, go to Sour Cream Lemon Pie

For more low calorie meals, go to Mozzarella Tomato Toast

For more recipes, go to Wookie Cookies

 

Jenna’s Journey

jennajourney

Jenna’s Journey (A Greek Island Mystery #1), by Julie Ryan

Jenna is a middle-aged woman who has just realized that after all her years of marriage she and her husband the two want very different things, that she hates her job, and that she wants to live her dreams.

thisistoomuch

She decides to flee from foggy England, to sunny Greece, taking the ultimate vacation.

goodtogetout

As she enjoys her vacation tour, she is accidentally mistaken as a mule for an antiquity smuggling ring, and finds herself at the top of the ruthless leader’s hit list.

Uh-oh

Uh-oh

As Jenna unknowingly walks down a path of danger she becomes the object of two men’s attention: the handsome, Greek, Nikos and the attractive, British Tom. While both men seem nice and interesting, Jenna is not sure whom she can trust; is Nikos really as nice as he seems or just looking for another tourist to add to his accomplishments? Tom seems to have picked Jenna out from the beginning of the tour, but while seeming like a great guy there is definitely something he is hiding. But what? Is anything in Greece really as it seems?

Very fishy

Twenty years later, Jenna’s daughter Allie visits Greece to put to rest the ghosts of her mother’s past, but is she prepared for what she will find out?

Interesting

Pair that with a cold case crime, and a detective that is intent of solving the murder.

plotthickens

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Thoughts After Reading:

Unfortunately, this book was not quite all it promised to be.

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While it does involve a mystery and international smuggling scheme, that is actually a rather small plot point in the scheme of the novel. The smuggling is brought in, and deeply captures the reader’s attention as they wonder about what will happen next; but it is quickly stalled, forgotten, and sewn up with a bow in the end.

Come on, Mack

Come on.

What the novel really turns out to be is a story of a women going to a foreign place, finding a foreign lover, and learning “about herself and what she what she wants to do with her life”, ending up with said lover and living in that foreign country. Now that type of story isn’t bad, but I was sorely disappointed as from the summary I expected something quite different.

It's not what was promised.

It’s not what was promised.

The character of Jenna was interesting and enjoyable as I thought the author presented a realistic character in a woman disappointed with life and making a change, yet still doubting herself and leaving the familiar. I also thought the way the she fought with herself over whether to leave her husband or return to work things out was also done well.

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Jenna has serious problems with her husband, and his emotional abuse, but at the same time still remembers the good they had together and wonders if she may be reacting too quickly.

Interesting

The only thing that I could not stand was the way the author wrote the Jenna and Nikos’ romance. In the book, Tom is a sweet, nice, handsome guy from England with a great job in antiquities. It seems as if he isn’t being one hundred percent honest about his job, but maybe he is just trying to sound more interesting.

you'recute

However, Jenna finds him so questionable and wants to avoid him as he is “too interested” in her, meaning there must be something wrong with him. But the equally enigmatic Nikos is viewed “more honest” by Jenna and the man she decides to go away with.

Come on, Mack

Author if you want your heroine with the sexy, Greek guy; just be honest and say that is why. Don’t try and convince your reader it is about his “personality” or something, when we can see right through that, you want the “exciting” one.

seriously

The Allie part of the story doesn’t have that much of an impact on the novel, being more of a footnote than anything else.

im_bored_himym

The same goes for the detective, who is given a great build up of character, but the author lacked in the follow through, having hardly doing any detecting but having the answer just given to him.

horrible

I didn’t really enjoy this story and would give it two out of five stars.

IDon'tlikeit

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For more book reviews, go to Where Are You Now?

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In other news, this is my 100th post! Yay!

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Where Are You Now?

Mothers-Day

Happy Mother’s Day!

So I wasn’t originally planning on posting anything today, but then I came across a book that just fit the theme and decided:

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So first thank you to all the moms out there. It is hard job and you are not honored enough.

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Where Are You Now? by Mary Higgins Clark

Charles “Mack” MacKenzie Jr. was your average college student. He came from a rich family, had a loving mother and father; a great little sister, good friends, a nice apartment; everyone who meet him liked him, he was studying to be a lawyer–i.e he has it all.

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Then one day he walks out of his apartment and is never seen again.

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For the past ten years he hasn’t come back, the only contact the family has had is Mother’s Day. Between 12:00 a.m and 11:59 p.m. every Mother’s Day he calls, says a few words, and then hangs up.

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His parents have tried going to the police (they weren’t very helpful); have hired private investigators (who netted nothing); and questioned friends (they had nothing to add); but it all ends up with a big zero-nothing.

Not-Good

Even when his father is killed during 9/11, Mack refuses to change his procedure.

Come on, Mack

Come on, Mack

But now his younger sister, Carolyn, has decided she has had enough of this. She is tired of feeling hurt and betrayed. She is tired of always wondering why he left. And she is tired of seeing how destroyed her mother looks.

Stop this stupid love triangle!

She is going to search for Mack.

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When Carolyn tells Mack that she is on the case and is determined to find him; she is surprised to find a note from Mack placed in the collection plate of her uncle’s church.

Interesting

Interesting

This note tells her not to look for him, but besides the warning Caroline is intrigued with its delivery. Is Mack still in New York? Had he never left?

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Hmmm. Maybe she is on to something.

Carolyn decides to devote the next three weeks to searching; if she doesn’t find Mack then she will finally move on with her life, but if she does then she will finally have the mystery solved.

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She begins requestioning people from her brother’s past and happens upon some strange things. His old landlords are cagey, their statements contradictory, and they are all around reluctant to talk about that time. Could they possibly be involved with Mack’s disappearance?

suspicious Hmm

One of Mack’s old roommates, who is married to Mack’s old girlfriend; also doesn’t want to speak to Carolyn at all. And when he heard that Carolyn was asking questions he whisked his wife and kids out of the city. Very suspicious.

I've got my eye on you

I’ve got my eye on you

As Carolyn continues to investigate, she discovers that Mack was taking drama lessons and would record himself. When she tries to reach out to his former teacher she is told that the woman was killed while being mugged and that her house was broken into.

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The only items stolen being Mack’s tapes.

Very fishy

Very fishy

Meanwhile, the police are swamped with a disappearance of a girl, Leesey, who lives right next door to Carolyn. She is the third in a series of such disappearances, the girls or their bodies never being found. As the cops are racing against the clock to find her, one detective looks through older evidence and discovers that Mack was at the same club the first girl disappeared from. Could he be involved with this vanishing? Or did he know who was and then disappeared because he was afraid.

urkelgif interesting hmm

With the press and police out to hang her brother for the crimes; and Carolyn starting to doubt his innocence as well; she knows more now than ever she must find him. But where is he?

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Thoughts After Reading:

I’ve only read a few Mary Higgins Clark: this book, Daddy’s Gone A Hunting, and Let Me Call You Sweetheart. For me I’ve noticed that her books are either a hit;

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Or a miss:

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No in-between.

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This book was definitely a miss for me.

IDon'tlikeit

At first I loved the book, it had a very strong premise; the characters were interesting, and was written so well I had a hard time keeping my hands and mind off of it.

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Mary Higgins Clark likes doing multiple narrations, and I really liked how she incorporated the killers mind. It was only a few times it really added to the book.

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However, the ending to this book just fell flat. The person they choose and the reasons behind it were kind of boring. You know same old same old.

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In fact the villain was so much something you have seen countless times I had no  trouble figuring out who he was.

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The end was a bit of a letdown after all the action.

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I also didn’t like the way she portrayed the police officers. They were mean and a bit stupid. They concentrated more on making the facts suit their theories rather than the facts speak for themselves.

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All in all I thought it was only okay. Good for maybe one read, but not worthy to add to your permanent collection.

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For more mysteries revolving around a disappearance, go to The Unsolvable Mystery: The Mystery of Edwin Drood

For more mysteries not in a series, go to Murder and Other Unnatural Disasters

For more holiday posts, go to Wookie Cookies

Wookie Cookies

May4th

So as you can tell I am a big fan of Star Wars. I decided what better way to celebrate than to make some Star Warsian delicacy. So I borrowed my big sister janeaustenrunsmylife.wordpress.com‘s Star Wars cookbook and decided to make this recipe for you all.

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This recipe comes from The Star Wars Cookbook:Wookie Cookies and Other Galactic Recipes by Robin Davis.

My nephew spotted the cookbook I had borrowed from janeaustenrunsmylife and really wanted to make a recipe out of it; so we looked around and discovered we had just the things to create some Wookie Cookies.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 Cup of Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon of Baking Soda
  • 1 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 Cup of Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
  • 1 Cup of packed Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup of Granulated Sugar (White Sugar)
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1.5 Teaspoons of Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Cup of Milk Chocolate Chips
  • 1 Cup of Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Put the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a mixing bowl.
  3. Stir with a wooden spoon until well mixed. Set aside.
  4. Put the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in another bowl.
  5. Using an electric mixer set in high speed, beat together the sugar mixture until blended and creamy (~3 mins).
  6. Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract.
  7. Add the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until well blended.
  8. Stir in chocolate chips.
  9. Scoop up a rounded tablespoonful of the dough and drop onto a baking sheet. Repeat until you have used all the dough. (Be sure to leave an inch between them as they expand as they bake)
  10. Bake the cookies until golden brown (~10 mins).

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Here I have my stuffed Chewbacca posing with his Wookie Cookies

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This recipe was great. The cookie was tasty and delicious. Thanks Davis for creating it.

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I only had one problem though. I bought the chocolate chips on sale and when I got home realized one was regular size while the other jumbo. This made it hard to scoop out dough with multiple chocolate chips, as the jumbo ones made most have only one. Next time I will have to make sure my chips are the same size.

A great addition to any fan’s Star Warsian celebrations. Just be sure to share.

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Happy Star Wars Day everyone, and:

forcestarwars

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For more chocolate chip cookie recipes, go to Special Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookies

For more cookie recipes, go to Chocolate Covered Cherry Delights

For more desserts, go to A is for Applesauce Cake

For more holiday posts, go to Irish Soda Bread

For more recipes, go to Pizza Siciliana

Candy Cane Murder

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Candy Cane Murder (Hannah Swenson Mystery #9.5) by Joanne Fluke

So Candy Cane Murder is actually a collection of three stories: Candy Cane Murder (Hannah Swenson Mystery) by Joanne Fluke, The Dangers of Candy Canes (Jaine Austen Mystery) by Laura Levine, and Candy Canes of Christmas Past by Leslie Meir. I already reviewed Candy Canes of Christmas Past last December, as part of my countdown to Christmas. Today I will be looking at Fluke’s work.

It is Christmas time in Lake Eden, and Hannah is not very excited about it.

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You see, Hannah has agreed to be the Christmas elf for the County Children’s Home Christmas party. She will help Wayne Bergstrom, owner of Bergstom Department Store, hand out toys and candy canes to all the kids.

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The only problem? Her suit does not match the color of her hair and reveals more of her size than she would like it to. It appears that she has been snacking too many Christmas goodies.

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But when her niece tells her she looks great, she decides to move forward and get ready to make those kids happy.

Unfortunately, there are a few more curves in the road. Wayne has come down with a sore throat that is incredibly raspy, making him almost unrecognizable. They are afraid that the kids might become frightened, so Hannah makes up the dumbest story imaginable as to why Santa is hoarse. I don’t know what the author was thinking.

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That evening is the big Christmas party, and Hannah has a great time. She tastes some tantalizing tidbits and dances the night away with both her guys.

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Hannah grows tired from her partying, earlier work, and even earlier bakery hours. She decides to call it a night and is joined by both of her sisters. They head out to the car when they come across a candy cane. A candy cane like the ones they handed out earlier to the kids.

Very suspicious

On closer inspection, it turns out that there is a whole path of candy canes. Hannah had given them all to Wayne after they finished with the kids earlier. Hannah decides to follow the path and climb the snow bank to see what caused Wayne, a skinflint, to drop so many and not go back to pick them up?

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At the end of the candy cane path is Wayne, still in his Santa suit and dead.

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Soon they discover it is murder and set out to find the killer. Could it be his ex-wife, angry at him for divorcing her and giving her no alimony? Or maybe his current wife is tired of being married but doesn’t want a huge legal ordeal? One of his mangers or staff that he was always cruel to? Or one of the countless others who dislike him?

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Thoughts After Reading:

*Spoiler Alert*

I never would have read this if I had known it was an “in-between” novel. Let’s just say her in-between novels tend to, for lack of a better word, suck.

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I thought the plot was terrible, the potential suspects two-dimensional, and I had it all figured out immediately.

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I mean it was obvious that Melinda and Cory weren’t brother and sister, even more obvious than Bo Derek and Rob Lowe being lovers rather than mother and son in Tommy Boy.

And once again the love triangle continues to be in play even though it is more obvious than ever that Hannah and Norman are perfect for each other.

Stop this stupid love triangle!

Stop this stupid love triangle!

I also didn’t care for the recipes in this book. None were really interesting, except for the Regency Seed Cakes, of which I will be making in the future.

I really just felt that this book was a way for the author to capitalize on the holidays rather than develop the storyline. You may think me a Scrooge, but I really feel like she was just trying to get those Christmas dollars with this one.

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For more on Hannah Swenson mysteries, go to Key Lime Murder

For more Christmas mysteries, go to The Unsolvable Mystery: The Mystery of Edwin Drood

For more in-between novels, go to Candy for Christmas

For more reviews, go to Cape May Court House: A Death in the Night