Kidnapped!

Kidnapped! (Sweet Valley High #13) by Francine Pascal

Ah, Sweet Valley. Nothing takes me back to be preteen years faster than looking at this book series I was completely obsessed with. When I first became interested in them, they were out of print which just made me want them more!

I’m going to find them and read them!

As I kid I really liked the series and wanted to even live in their idyllic Californian world, and I thought the stories were fun and interesting. But as an adult I know they weren’t the best written book. Most of them are cheesy, silly, or sometimes don’t make sense; but these were the ’80s-’90s versions of Gossip Girl or One Tree Hill except with a different type of drama.

Wow…

So the story follows twin sisters, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. Both are juniors, blonde, 5’6, and size sixes. Elizabeth is the smart, responsible one who dreams of being a journalist or writer. Jessica is the fashionable, social butterfly, cheerleader that dreams of parties and popularity.

They live in Sweet Valley, near Los Angeles, and attend school with their friends. The first book focused on the two girls, but the later ones were divided into two stories: one about a friend or relative while the other is about the girls. The later series got a bit darker and was done in short series, two or three books that went together. The topics ranged from drugs, sex, school dances, serial killers, sports, werewolves, princes, vampires, kidnapping, stalkers, etc. You know normal teenage girl stuff. 😉

Yes as the series progressed the writers changed, and while I didn’t like some of the alterations I still continued to read and collect (still do so today) the novels. What can I say? They are such a big part of my childhood they bring on a tsunami of nostalgia.

So what does that have to do with us? Well quite a few of the books in the series were mysteries, supernatural, had psycho characters, or other themes that fall in line with this blog.

So the novel series is similar to the Nancy Drew Files were you have a little teaser at the end like a preview, and the book picks up from there. In the last review I didn’t think I’d be reviewing another Sweet Valley High until book #13, but I forgot book #11.

Ooops…

So there is only one book between the last review and this one, and it turns out that Steven’s girlfriend has cancer and she dies. It is very sad, but it won’t be the end of it…unfortunately. But that a book for another day.

Not looking forward to that…

KIDNAPPED!

Elizabeth unfastened the chain lock as Carl became aware of what was happening.

“No!” he cried as he rose to prevent her escape. “Elizabeth, no!”

She unlocked the bolt and pulled on the door handle. It wouldn’t be long before she was free. But something was wrong. The door wouldn’t open! Elizabeth gasped as Carl seized her. He grabbed her under the arms and threw her onto the sofa with the force of a man possessed. His eyes now bright with anger, he came toward her.

This is it, though Elizabeth as she squeezed her eyes shut. This is the end.

WHAT! I’m HOOKED!!!

Jessica and Elizabeth are candy stripers. Jessica only to meet Jeremy Frank, well-known handsome TV personality who had been laid up with a broken leg. While Elizabeth, of course, loves it. Tonight there is a party and Jessica is getting ready, while Elizabeth is still at the hospital and then going to tutor Max Dellon. Jessica has moved on to a new guy of her dreams, Nicholas Morrow who is everything she wants. Rich, handsome, etc.

Jessica waits, but at 8 she can’t do it no more-someone else might grab Nicolas-and has her friend Cara Walker pick her up-leaving a note for Elizabeth when she gets home. At the party Jessica meets the dreamboat, and Regina, his sister (who is deaf).

Meanwhile, in chapter 3, we see what happened to Elizabeth. Elizabeth stayed late at the hospital, and is hurrying to her car-hoping to hurry and get to Max’s. Next to her car is a junky creepy pedophile van, but Elizabeth doesn’t even notice. Really girl? As an adult it makes you wonder why something didn’t happen to her earlier.

She was grabbed, chloroformed, and kidnapped. And she is in a junky old place. Who took her?

Max is waiting for Elizabeth, but she is an hour late. That’s not Elizabeth at all. By 9:40, he knows something is up and decides to head to the hospital.

Todd is worried about Elizabeth, but Jessica makes up a lie as to where she is as she wants to focus on Nicholas.

Low Jessica, very low.

Elizabeth wakes up and finds herself alone, but then her kidnapper comes home. It is Carl, the janitor. Carl who asked her for help, Carl who she pitied, and now is a victim of his interests.

Help me! For God’s sake someone help me!”

Todd has had enough and calls Mr. Collins, who Jessica said Elizabeth was babysitting for. He finds out the truth and guns after Jessica. Jessica realizes the time and that Todd is right-

The Wakefields come home and see the note that Jessica left-growing worried about where Elizabeth is.

Where is she? How will they save her?

They discover her car and figure out something happened to Elizabeth at the hospital, or shortly after. When the police come into it, they start looking at Max.

Its up to the gang to track her down and clear his name.

On the case!

Thoughts After Reading:

Rereading…yes it is campy, and predictable but I still really enjoyed it. I think that the suspense and drama was right on point. As a teen and an adult, it got me wanting to get to the conclusion to find out what happens next. And that opening scene, fantastic!

Like the Nancy Drew Files, one of the best things I love in this series are the clothes, the author always gives great detail to what they wear. I’ve decided to add a special section for this in these reviews too.

Outfits-

For the party when Jessica is trying to impress Nicholas Morrow

The Next Book in the Series:

Another thing I loved about these mysteries is that they were designed like radio shows and TV episodes. They always made sure to leave you with a little preview of what will come next:

There was no way Elizabeth could mistake the look she saw in his eyes, a look that said, “You’re the one I want.” It made her feel awkward and uncomfortable. She had a strong suspicion that Nicholas hadn’t reacted this way with Jessica. And she dreaded what would happen when Jessica found out.

Will Elizabeth leave Todd for Nicholas? Find out in Sweet Valley #14, DECEPTIONS

For more Sweet Valley High, go to Too Good to Be True

For more mysteries on a kidnapping, go to Deadly Intent

For more mysteries about a sister disappearing, go to Death Wears a Beauty Mask

For more mysteries about a disappearance, go to He’s Gone

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Too Good to Be True

Too Good to Be True (Sweet Valley High #11) by Francine Pascal

Ah, Sweet Valley. Nothing takes me back to be preteen years faster than looking at this book series I was completely obsessed with. When I first became interested in them, they were out of print which just made me want them more!

As a kid I really liked the series and wanted to even live in their idyllic Californian world, and I thought the stories were fun and interesting. But as an adult I know they weren’t the best written books. Most of them are cheesy, silly, or sometimes don’t make sense; but these were the ’80s-’90s versions of Gossip Girl or One Tree Hill except with a different type of drama.

So the story follows twin sisters, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. Both are juniors, blonde, 5’6, and size sixes. Elizabeth is the smart, responsible one who dreams of being a journalist or writer. Jessica is the fashionable, social butterfly, cheerleader that dreams of parties and popularity.

They live in Sweet Valley, near Los Angeles, and attend school with their friends. The first book focused on the two girls, but the later ones were divided into two stories: one about a friend or relative while the other is about the girls. The later series got a bit darker and was done in short series, two or three books that went together. The topics ranged from drugs, sex, school dances, serial killers, sports, werewolves, princes, vampires, kidnapping, stalkers, etc. You know normal teenage girl stuff. 😉

Yes as the series progressed the writers changed, and while I didn’t like some of the alterations I still continued to read and collect (still do so today) the novels. What can I say? They are such a big part of my childhood they bring on a tsunami of nostalgia.

So what does that have to do with us? Well quite a few of the books in the series were mysteries, supernatural, had psycho characters, or other themes that fall in line with this blog.

So the novel series is similar to the Nancy Drew Files where you have a little teaser at the end like a preview, and the book picks up from there. In the last review I didn’t think I’d be reviewing another Sweet Valley High until book #13, but I forgot book #11

So let’s see since Secrets, we had Jessica being controlled and abused by her dream guy, Bruce Patman, discovering he is nothing but a nightmare; had the sisters compete to have a girl join or not join their sorority; Jessica went out with a much older man; Todd got a motorcycle; Elizabeth cracked her head riding the motorcycle and went into a coma, along with having a personality change; Roger Barret becomes a sport star and tries to go after Lila Fowler; and Jessica tried to keep the school “slut” from joining the cheerleading squad. Wow.

What?!

So that leaves us with number 11:

TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE

Suzanne rose from the couch and wound her arms about Mr. Collins’ neck. She could feel his muscles tensing as she pressed up against him

Suzanne, stop it,” Mr. Collins warned. She parted her lips and tilted her head back, willing him to embrace her. He was so close. His heart was beating much too quickly…

Trembling with the effort, Mr. Collins pulled free from her. “Get your things,” he ordered. “I’ll wait for you in the car.

She stared at him for a long, incredulous moment. How dare he reject her? Her eyes narrowed to razor-thin slits. “You wanted to kiss me. I know you did.”

Mr. Collins shook his head. “Believe me, I’m doing you a favor.”

But Suzanne scarcely heard what he was saying. Rage was boiling inside her. Oh, he’d pay for this. She’d make him pay. “You’re the one who’s going to be sorry Roger Collins!” she hissed.

Mr. Wakefield’s old college roommate, Tom Devlin, and him got back into contact. Devlin is a diplomat and has been all over the world, but has returned to New York City. His daughter, Suzanne, proposed  an idea of having her and one of the twins exchange home’s for a week during their spring break as Suzanne has always longed togo to California. (Although they are rich why not take a family vacation? Whatever).

Whatever…

But only one Wakefield daughter can go, and of course resident drama queen, Jessica pitches a fit when she loses the coin toss to Elizabeth. But Jessica can’t be out-tricked for long, and makes Elizabeth feel insecure in her relationship with Todd, getting her to switch places.

Suzanne, or Suzy as she asks everyone to call her, arrives looking glamourous as ever. She even has a dazzling English accent from her time abroad.

Even though Suzy is wealthy, lived all over, and had everything-she is kind, caring, and doesn’t mind lending a helping hand in everything-cleaning, cooking, etc.

She’s almost too good to be true,” Enid said…

Is she?

At the school picnic things go a little strange. Suzanne who is an amazing swimmer, medal-winning, starts drowning-causing Mr. Collins to have to swim out and save her. Suzy is so grateful, but Mr. Collins acts weird.

Meanwhile, in New York Jessica is having a less than thrilling time until Suzanne’s gorgeous boyfriend agrees to take her out-using his and Suzanne’s tickets.

Back in Sweet Valley, Elizabeth, Todd, and Suzanne drive by Mr. Collins’ house as Elizabeth needs to drop off some stuff for the school paper, The Oracle. Why she needs to go to his house, or even knows where he lives, I don’t know. Weird things you didn’t question as a preteen.

Suzanne delivers the papers for Elizabeth, getting a “drink of water” from the  garden hose and splashing her body, showing off her body.

Really, an “accident”.

One day Elizabeth is supposed to babysit Teddy, Mr. Collins’ son, but Todd scores some awesome tickets to the Lakers’ game. Suzy agrees to fill in for Elizabeth, promising to notify Mr. Collins but doesn’t, surprising him instead.

Yes, Suzanne is too good to be true. Underneath that beautiful exterior she is rotten to the core. She tries to seduce him, trying to add another conquest in her life, but Mr. Collins won’t take the bait. And he rejects her.

She walks back to the Wakefields and tears her blouse, messes up her hair, etc. When she gets there she accuses Mr. Collins of attacking her. Will Suzanne’s evil plan work? Or will everyone see through her careful facade?

Hmm…

Like the Nancy Drew Files, one of the best things I love in this series are the clothes, the author always gives great detail to what she wears. I’ve decided to add a special section for this in these reviews too.

Outfits-

When Jessica wears the black crepe from Suzanne’s closet.

Thoughts After Reading:

Rereading it I realize there are some things that are just not quite kosher here-in the relation to each other. Elizabeth going to Mr. Collins house multiple times, the Devlins not caring about underage drinking, Suzanne’s boyfriend trying to rape Jessica but they don’t tell her parents it charge him, and more. But anyways in the end they reveal that Suzy is evil and all works out, Mr. Collins is reinstated (although wouldn’t there be a bigger investigation into what was said), and Suzy goes back to NYC (she doesn’t face ay charges either). Jessica returns lying about the great time she had, when it was awful (how come we never see how this affects her? It’s like the writers don’t think about what would happen logically). Then we have poor Steven…

The Next Book in the Series:

Another thing I loved about these mysteries is that they were designed like radio shows and TV episodes. They always made sure to leave you with a little preview of what will come next:

On the other hand, her recent experience with Suzanne had taught her that appearances could be deceiving. It was best not to form judgements based on superficial evidence.

“You can’t be sure of anything until you talk to Tricia,” Elizabeth said gently

Steven was close to tears. “I’ve tried. But-but she says nothing is wrong. Liz, I know she’s hiding something. I can see it in her eyes. And it’s driving me crazy!”

What terrible secret is Tricia keeping from Steven? Find out in Sweet Valley #12, WHEN LOVE DIES

***SPOILER ALERT***

We will not be reviewing that book and since they say it in the title, I will reveal the end. She dies. It is very sad.

The next Sweet Valley High book we will review will be Kidnapped. 

For more Sweet Valley High, go to Secrets

For more book reviews, go to The Demon of River Heights

Secrets

Secrets (Sweet Valley High #2) by Francine Pascal

Ah, Sweet Valley. Nothing takes me back to be preteen years faster than looking at this book series I was completely obsessed with. When I first became interested in them, they were out of print which just made me want them more!

As a kid I really liked the series and wanted to even live in their idyllic Californian world, and I thought the stories were fun and interesting. But as an adult I know these weren’t the best written books. Most of them are cheesy, silly, and sometimes don’t make sense; but these were the ’80s-’90s versions of Gossip Girl or One Tree Hill.

So the story follows twin sisters, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. Both are juniors, blonde, 5’6, and size sixes. Elizabeth is the smart, responsible one who dreams of being a journalist or writer. Jessica is the fashionable, social butterfly, cheerleader that dreams of parties and popularity.

They live in Sweet Valley, near Los Angeles, and attend school with their friends. The first book focused on the two girls, but the later ones were divided into two stories: one about a friend or relative while the other is about the girls. The later series got a bit darker and was done in miniseries, two or three books that went together. The topics ranged from drugs, sex, school dances, serial killers, sports, werewolves, princes, vampires, kidnapping, stalkers, etc. You know normal teenage girl stuff. 😉

Yes, as the series progressed the writers changed, and while I didn’t like some of the alterations I still continued to read and collect (still do so today) the novels. What can I say? They are such a big part of my childhood they bring on a tsunami of nostalgia.

So what does that have to do with us? Well quite a few of the books in the series were mysteries, had supernatural elements, psycho characters, or other themes that fall in line with this blog. So we get to review them!

So the novel series is similar to the Nancy Drew Files where you have a little teaser at the end like a preview, and the book picks up from there. In the last book Double Love, the sisters competed for the same guy, Todd Wilkins. Todd really liked Elizabeth, but Jessica did all she could to stop the romance. A bunch of other stuff also happens with the football field being involved in a big tug-of-war between companies, Elizabeth and Jessica afraid their dad is having an affair, Elizabeth and Jessica’s brother dating a girl from the wrong side of town, Jessica pretending to be Elizabeth and damaging her reputation, dances/parties, etc.

This book picks up after Elizabeth played a trick on Jessica, getting her dunked fully clothed. So here is where our story begins…

SECRETS

It wasn’t fair, Jessica raged, tears streaming down her face. Enid was going to the fall dance with Ronnie, and she was sure to be named queen. Ronnie was so blind with love that he’d swing a million votes her way.

Jessica sighed. She just had to win. If she were queen, Bruce Patman would finally notice her. She’d never wanted anything so badly in her entire life. She’d do anything to make it happen.

Out of the corner of one wet eye, Jessica glimpsed a piece of paper sticking out from under the bed. It looked like a letter.

Dear Enid,” she read with a sudden voracious interest. A smile crept slowly across her features as a plan shaped itself in her mind.

Time to put my evil plan in motion…

Jessica is mad that her sister got one over on her and had her dunked in front of everyone. But she doesn’t think on it too long as she has something more weighty on her mind. She has been in love with Bruce Patman for years but he never paid attention to her. She has watched him go through every A-list girl except herself! Her latest attempt to snag him is to win Fall Queen, as Bruce is nominated Fall King. If the two are crowned, they will have to go to the following dances and school activities together-and he will fall madly in love with her.

The dance is two weeks away and Jessica can’t wait!

I’m so excited!

Elizabeth has noticed that her best friend Enid Rollins has been so down lately. The decide to do a marathon baking session to cheer her up-but no dice. Finally Elizabeth just asks her and Enid unloads. Enid has a secret-a big secret. She has a police record.

When her parents divorced two years ago, she got involved in drinking and drugs. She and her boyfriend, George Warren, hit a boy while driving. The kid turned out to be okay-but the two were arrested, given 6 months probation, and put through drug counseling. Enid was changed by it and George was sent away to a private boarding school.

Enid is worried about her boyfriend Ronnie Edwards finding out. He said a lot of stuff in the last book that makes Enid certain that if he discovered her secret he’d dump her right away.

In my open she would be much better without him. He’s a rude, jerky, jealous, control freak, and abusive.

Enid has been writing to her friend George these past years and is afraid that Ronnie will see it as cheating on him. She shows the letters to Elizabeth, but it is nothing more than average friend encouragement and support. Elizabeth promises to keep the letters a complete secret.

Meanwhile, Jessica and her friends are talking about Ms. Dalton the French teacher. Jessica’s best friend Lila Fowler hates Ms. Dalton as not only is her father dating the 25-year-old teacher (really? 25), but her boyfriend, Ken Matthews, has a giant crush on her. She starts a rumor that Ms. Dalton and him are having an affair.

Jessica returns home later in a bad mood. She tried to charm Bruce Patman-but received nothing. She wants to hang out with her sister-but she’s gone again off with Enid. Enid who hates Jessica. She starts thinking of everything that is wrong and goes in her sister’s room-as her’s is painted an ugly brown (bad idea by Jessica) and too messy (she hates cleaning). As she sits there she spots a letter, and a terrible, awful idea is born.

Later Enid, Ronnie, Elizabeth, and Todd are double dating when Elizabeth and Todd notice something is off with Ronnie. The couples split ways with Enid and Ronnie heading to the classic make-out spot. Ronnie acts totally different and all over Enid-and then breaks their date to the dance.

When he tries to go farther than Enid wants, she manages to get loose-but then it all comes out. Ronnie knows all about George and her past.

“The letters. Liz must have told him about the letters.”

Jessica leaves for a party at Lila’s hoping to snag Bruce Patman there. Elizabeth calls up Enid, but she won’t have anything to do with her. Elizabeth stays home wallowing in confusion, while Jessica heads out.

Jessica is super disappointed to find out Bruce already has a date to the dance and puts her eyes on now dateless Ronnie.

Elizabeth confronts the question of how this could have happened, discussing it with her favorite teacher-Mr. Collins. Mr. Collins tells her to look for the key thing-motivation. Why would anyone want to do this? Break up Enid and Ronnie?

Hmmm…

Like the Nancy Drew Files, one of the best things I love in this series are the clothes, the author always gives great detail to what the twins wear. I’ve decided to add a special section for this in these reviews too.

Outfits-

When Jessica goes to Lila’s party-but imagine in burgundy:

The dance: I see Jessica in this…

And Elizabeth in this:

Thoughts After Reading:

As a teen I loved it! From beginning to end. As an adult, I still enjoyed it-good pacing and the better writing than later books in the series.

The Next Book in the Series:

Another thing I loved about these mysteries is that they were designed like radio shows and TV episodes. They always made sure to leave you with a little preview of what will come next:

Just then Bruce sailed past, nearly colliding with her as she stumbled backward in an attempt to escape Winston’s murderous feet. He swept her with a long look that sent an electric shock tingling up her spine. There was a hint of invitation in his smile, and more than a spark of interest in his sexy blue eyes. Some of her misery faded. Could it be?…

Can Jessica play Bruce Patman’s game and win? Find out in SWEET VALLEY HIGH #3, Playing With Fire.

Of course we won’t because that isn’t a mystery. I don’t think I will be reviewing anything until book #13, Kidnapped. When I get there I’ll do a quick recap-and then continue.

For more young adult fiction, go to Christina’s Ghost

For more books were letters play a key role, go to This Pen for Hire

The Hitchhiker

“The Hitchhiker” from Suspense by Lucille Fletcher

You’ve probably heard this story before. It has been told many times and was even a Twilight Zone episode. No matter how many times one hears it, it still remains creepy.

Ronal Adams is traveling from Brooklyn, New York to California for a job. He decides to drive that way, instead of flying. His mother worries about him, but he assures her he will be just fine.

As he travels all is normal, but then he sees a hitchhiker. No matter how slow, or fast, or where he drives, the hitchhiker is always there.

He picks up a female hitchhiker, hoping that having her there will help but she doesn’t see the hitchhiker, leaves, and he still is chased by the hitchhiker.

Finally he stops and calls his mom-reaching out for something anything to prove he is sane. But he can’t reach her. It turns out she went into shock and had to go to the hospital when her son died in a car crash on his first day of leaving for California.

Ronald realizes and stops for the hitchhiker finally.

For more short stories, go to The Boscombe Valley Mystery

For more book reviews, go to Weak Flesh

Too Easy Hotdish

 

Appleturnovermurderjoannflukehannahswenson

Thoughts Prior to Cooking:

This recipe comes from the Hannah Swenson Mystery Apple Turnover Murder.

Hannah makes this dish for her boyfriend and sheriff deputy, Mike. Now before reading this book I had never heard of a hotdish, other than a hot dish, as in a dish that is hot. Apparently they are big in the Midwest and Northwest, but me being from California we don’t eat “hotdishes”, we eat casseroles. But I was willing to give it a try as to how they described it in the book made it sound extremely tasty.

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Ingredients:

  • Non-stick Cooking Spray or Butter
  • 1 and 1/2 lbs of Lean Ground Meat (such as hamburger, pork, chicken, turkey, sausage, etc. Make sure it is lean as the fat does not drain out of this dish)
  • 2 -12oz Cans of Cream of anything
  • 1 lb Package of Tater Tots
  • 1 Cup of Shredded Cheese (Be sure to use only one cup as too much can become an insulator and keep the bottom layers from cooking.)
  • Worcestershire Sauce (Optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400° fahrenheit.
  2. Use the cooking spray or butter to coat a 9 by 13-inch pan.
  3. Put the ground meat in the bottom of the pan, spreading it as evenly as you can. Press it down with your hands or the back of a spatula.
  4. Spoon the two cans of cream-of-something on top of the meat. Make sure to spread it out as evenly as possible.
  5. Put the tater tots on top of the soup in a single layer. Spread them out as evenly as possible.
  6. Sprinkle on the shredded cheese.
  7. Do not cover your hotdish with anything. Slip the pan into the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the tater tots are browned and crispy.

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Thoughts After Cooking:

In a way this particular hotdish is like the poor man’s Shepherd’s pie. Instead of mashed potatoes, tater tots, and instead of gravy, cream of something. I am not a fan of Shepherd pie at all, I can hardly eat it, but I did enjoy this Hotdish.

flabergastedshockedwowwhatreally

The only thing that I thought was wrong with this dish was that it was rather plain in seasoning. I recommend using the Cream of Chicken and Herb, as the herbs really helped along with adding a bit of Worcestershire sauce.

It was very easy to prepare and I recommend it for those of you who’s hours are crunched (working moms and college students) and need a fast dish to make and make quickly.

Lordoftherings LifeisGood

I didn’t include a picture as it doesn’t photograph well, but do not let it’s looks deter you. It does taste great.

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For more Hannah Swenson recipes, go to Christmas Cheese Rounds

For more cassaroles, go to Ratatouille

Decked

decked

Decked (Regan Reilly Mystery #1) by Carol Higgins Clark

Thoughts Before Reading:

So the first book I read in this series, Laced, I had picked up for free and thought I would try it out. I loved the characters and the buildup, but was a bit disappointed with the ending wrap up. It was just too neat for me.

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As I enjoyed Laced, I picked up another free book from the series, Iced. As I read this I felt the same way. The character and build up were good, but the end was just too neatly tied up. And the end conclusion…wait I’ll stop there. After all I am saving it for my countdown to Christmas.

to be continued

So when I checked out the book Decked from the library, I have to admit I was blown away.

wow

First I loved the cover with it’s Art Deco style, just beautiful; loved the characters, the build up, conclusion…I could go on, but let’s get back on track.

Read it today!

Read it today!

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Plot Synopsis:

Regan Reilly is the only daughter of Luke Reilly, wealthy mortician, and Nora Reilly, famous mystery novelist. Regan decided to embark on a career path unlike her parents, private investigating, and choosing to live on the west coast in California, rather than her home state of New Jersey.

Private Investigating!

Private Investigating!

As Carol Higgins Clark’s mother, Mary Higgins Clark, is also a writer, I have always wondered how much of the characteristics of the characters are autobiographical and how much is fiction?

suspicious Hmm

Anyways, Regan is returning to Oxford for the 10th reunion of her Junior year abroad. As she goes back to the campus it reminds her of her old roommate Athena, from Greece. Before the year ended, she came into her trust fund and ran off without saying good-bye or even writing them a note.

How rude

At the reunion Regan asks after her, but it is not just Regan who has lost contact; apparently Athena had run away from home and never contacted anyone else again.

Very suspicious

Very suspicious

Other shocking news is that Professor Phillip Whitcomb is to be married.

What?

Often sought after by the female students; Professor Whitcomb always seemed more interested in his flora and fauna, rather than females. However, to celebrate, Lady Veronica Exner, Phillip’s wealthy aunt, has invited the whole reunion over to her home, like she used to, to celebrate.

1920sparty

Regan and her best friend Kit agree, as the two have always liked the eccentric woman. Now she is even more so, as she has ditched her bun for permed locks, and neutral colors for bright ones; and taking all kinds of trips. It appears she had a heart attack not long ago and has a whole new lease on life.

While the party is in full swing, they are interrupted with the news that a body was found. Athena’s.

Murder

As Regan and Kit head to bed they discover a note by Phillip Whitcomb for Regan. It urgently requests her to call.

whatsthatsupposedtomean

When she does she discovers that Lady Veronica’s traveling companion has had food poisoning. They tried to dissuade Lady Veronica from going on her cruise to New York from England, but she won’t listen saying she will be perfectly safe. Phillip’s fiancé came up with a solution of asking Regan to join her and take care of her.

Its-Not-Going-to-Happen-Mean-Girls

At first Regan is not willing, but then Phillip offers to pay her double. Double pay and five nights on a luxury cruise ship?

thiswillbeeasy

Unfortunately, it just so happens that this cruise ship is the same one that her parents are taking a trip on. And they are trying their hardest to avoid Lady Veronica as she insists Nora is the perfect person to write her autobiography.

Blog-Child-Support-Oh-No

As the two set off on their journey they sail right in the middle of a murder plot. The person who killed Athena wants Lady Veronica dead as well, and doesn’t care if Regan gets caught in the wake.

thenannygasp

As Regan is busy with Lady Veronica and all her activities she wants to try out, she always keeps a fraction of her mind on Athena’s case. Who killed her and why? Regan won’t stop until she discovers the truth.

calledcuriosity

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Thoughts After Reading:

As always, the Clark books are filled to the brim with a multitude of characters, changing narration throughout. While with some books this can be messy or too extravagant; I enjoyed every single one in this novel.

loveitSupernatural

I thought the book was very well written, and the mystery, while not a brain numbing mind bender, had quite a few well done twists.

You_know_thats_right

I enjoyed the character of Regan a lot and eagerly await to read the next book in the series.

ReadTimeandPlaceforBooksMyhandnow

In fact, this is one book I wouldn’t mind adding to my collection.

wantyouyes

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For more mysteries with a female private investigator, go to A is for Alibi

For more mysteries with private investigators, go to Grave Peril

For more mysteries involving a person who has gone missing, go to Where Are You Now?

For more reviews, go to The Book of Madness and Cures

Key Lime Pie Murder

Key lime pie murder

Key Lime Pie Murder (Hannah Swensen Mystery #9)

It’s summertime in Lake Eden, and that means that it is time for the Tri-County Fair!

Double double yay

As always there are loads of events, games, rides, and food booths. Hannah was planning on only suppling cookies to a booth, The Cookie Nook, but when a friend becomes sick, Hannah steps in to take her place.

gotthis

Yep, this year Hannah will be judging the bake-off; sampling all kinds of bread, cookies, pies, and more. She’s not in this alone, as the other two judges are home economics teacher, Pam, and instructional aide, Willa.

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In fact the whole Swensen family is taking part in the fair this year: Hannah’s mother Delores is running a dunk tank for the Lake Eden Historical Society;  Andrea, entering the mother-daughter beauty pageant with her daughter Tracey; and Hannah’s youngest sister Michelle is trying for the Tri-County Queen.

fair

What starts out as good eats, fun times, rodeo ramblings, and a quest to eat a deep-fried chocolate bar turns sour when Willa is murdered.

Murder

Now Hannah is on the case, trying to discover who is behind this killing.

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Did it have something to do with the robbery of the Rodeo entry fees? Was it someone who was upset with Willa disqualifying them from the Tri-County Queen contest? Could it have been someone who was upset that Willa gave them poor reviews on their baked good, causing them to win nothing and destroy their reputation as best cook? Was it a student flunked by Willa? Or was it someone unknown?

Sad but true.

Hannah soon realizes that she knows very little about who Willa is and her past. Why did she travel all over the United States, working in Washington, California, and Florida? Why did she break up with her fiancé two months ago? Why did she have her hair done and purchase a new outfit, when she had very little money?

don'tneedsleepneedanswers

As Hannah starts looking into this crime, she discovers that she needs to watch her step, or else she might meet the same fate as Willa did.

Sabrina the teenage witch salem dum di dum dum dum

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Thoughts After Reading:

Now I thought the title, Key Lime Pie Murder, was a stretch. There is hardly any Key Lime pie in the book, just the one case when they sample it for the fair.

seriously

And to add to it, Hannah never even made a Key Lime pie, nor does she add it to her shop’s menu, like in Lemon Meringue Murderwhich would tie the book together. Instead, I felt that since the book failed to revolve around any dessert, a rarity, they just picked one they thought sounded good (which didn’t).

I don't think so.

I don’t think so.

The story itself was good, and the mystery interesting as we have to figure out why someone would have killed Willa. I think that it was easily solved, but in a good way, rather than feeling lazy or stupid.

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The only qualm I have with Hannah in this book is that she really seems to use Norman a lot, and he takes it like a doormat.

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I think that out of all the books, this one shows how right her boyfriend Norman is for her, than her other boyfriend Mike. Mike is too controlling, in the sense that he is a cop and cannot allow vigilanteism, not to mention the ego-burst of having your girlfriend be better at solving these crimes. The opposite of this is Norman, who doesn’t care about her investigating as he enjoys jumping in with her. He also is amazingly sweet in how he takes care of her cat, treating it as if it was Hannah’s sick baby. In fact, in this book more than any other, I could see Norman and Hannah happily married, a Tommy and Tuppence of the midwest.

Tommy-and-Tuppence-1923

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For more Hannah Swensen Mysteries, go to Cherry Cheesecake Murder

For more book reviews, go to A Change of Fortune

No Limits

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No Limits (Ultimate #1) by Lori Foster

No Limits (Ultimate #1) by Lori Foster is a sexy, suspense story. Cannon “the Saint” Colter: Mixed Martial Artist, hunk, and all around good guy; is returning to his hometown in Ohio.

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An old family friend, Tipton Sweeney, has passed away and left him an inheritance. Cannon doesn’t need the money, but has just finished a gruesome fight and eager for a break.

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There he discovers that Sweeney left him half of his house and pawnshop, the other half given to his granddaughter Yvette.

fantastic

Yvette Sweeney was a sweet beautiful girl that Cannon rescued from kidnappers back when she was a teenager. She always had a crush on him, but Cannon wouldn’t allow anything to happen, as she was far too young. Now charged by her grandfather to convince Yvette to stay in Ohio, he also decides that it is the perfect time to let her know how much he cares for her.

perfectplan

Yvette Sweeney has just returned home to face the loss of her grandfather and all the bad memories she longs to forget. When she discovers that she will be sharing half the inheritance with Cannon; she decides to prove to him and everybody that she is calm, collected, and not a victim anymore.

gotthis

Cannon surprises her as he is intent at not only helping her overcome her past, but also face her issues of the day. While these two steam up their relationship, it appears that someone isn’t happy with Yvette’s return.

Uh-oh

Uh-oh

Somebody wants her gone, but who could it be? A crazy female fan of Cannon? Her obsessed ex-boyfriend? Or somebody else altogether?

urkelgif interesting hmm

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Thoughts After Reading:

This was a really suspenseful book, as Foster knows how to craft a spellbinding story. She really keeps one on the edge of their seat as you try to determine who is after Yvette and why they want to scare her off.

WhoDoneIt?

Foster’s characters are also amazing, Cannon is the perfect guy as he is not only physically impressive with his MMA build, but also really emotionally there for Yvette. He cares about all her hang-ups, wounds, and insecurities and works with her to empower her and help her overcome those issues.

swoon

Yvette is adorable and one that anyone can relate to, as who hasn’t had something in their life scar them and find it hard to find others, especially a romantic partner, who understand what they need to overcome that.

here for you

The secondary characters are just as lovable, as all of Cannon’s MMA fighter friends are really endearing. Most of all Arnie Jacobson, who is like Cannon’s brother and just as protective of Yvette as if she were his own sister.

you'recute

Another great character is Vanity, Yvette’s friend from California and a stereotypical California girl. This brash and bold girl is definitely going to add some color in the books to come.

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The only issue I had was that this book was way too extreme in the “sexy” part. I got it for free and thought the synopsis was interesting, but the graphic ways Foster describes the relationship between Cannon and Yvette was too much for me.

creepyew

Other than that I thought the story and characters were great, leaving me wondering what’s next to come in the Ultimate Series. Although I’m not sure I could handle another one.

thisistoomuch

Too much for me

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For more reviews, go to Cherry Cheesecake Murder

Sinister Sprinkles

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With Christmas coming, I decided that I would review Christmas mysteries and Christmas recipes! I know I am behind, and am sorry. December has barely started, and I’m already tied up. Happens every year.

Well to kick-off this Christmas-polooza, here we go with:

sinistersprinkles

Sinister Sprinkles (A Donut Shop Mystery #3) by Jessica Beck

It’s Christmas time in April Springs, North Carolina. Suzanne is getting ready for the 19th Annual Winter Carnival, an even that occurs right before Christmas.

salem sabrina the teenage witch donuts sprinkles

However, this year’s event falls flat as her ex-husband’s ex-mistress, Darlene is found dead.

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What makes it even stranger, is that Darlene, a woman who inspires to be a Marilyn Monroe type girl, is found in another woman’s clothes; along with a wig to make her appear older.

Very suspicious

Now Max is suspected of the murder, and Suzanne finds her life all mixed around.

HMMM

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Thoughts After Reading:

I did not like this book at all.

IDon'tlikeit

I was very disappointed as I enjoyed the last book, Fatally Frosted

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I thought the storyline was not that good, and once again the cop thinks Suzanne did it, until evidence shows she couldn’t. In every book he suspects her, but is wrong. You think he would realize his stupid mistakes and move on.

seriously

The mystery was lame and easily solvable.

horrible

And this mystery has a weird feeling to it. Almost as if it is the final episode in a series. Suzanne’s boyfriend dumps her in the most horrible and stupid way. They’ve been dating for like a year and he pops out of the blue telling her he’s not over his wife. Why didn’t he mention something earlier?

How rude

Grace, Suzanne’s best friend, gets offered a job in California, one too good to turn down;

wow

And Suzanne starts to think that having a Donut Shop was a bad idea and she should do something different.

I never get to do anything fun.

Weird to do on the third book, especially since I know there is more books coming after. But maybe the author was thinking of stopping this series and doing something else?

suspicious Hmm

But of course in the end all is wrapped up with a shiny bow like a new present.

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Lots of customers come which convinces Suzanne she is right with having the donut shop; Grace gets a promotion but gets to stay; and Jake comes back and begs forgiveness.

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For me it is the end for a while. I was extremely disappointed with it and am taking a break from the series.

IDon'tlikeit

I will say there is something good about this book, there were a lot of recipes I’m thinking of trying.

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For more Donut Shop Mysteries, go to Fatally Frosted

For more Christmas mysteries, go to Candy for Christmas

For more Winter Carnivals, go to Blueberry Muffin Murder

For more mysteries, go to Fudge Cupcake Murder