Devil’s Food Cake Murder

Devil’s Food Cake Murder (Hannah Swensen Mystery #14) by Joanne Fluke

So it has been a while since we reviewed a Hannah Swensen Mystery. Let’s do a quick review. Hannah is an annoying baker and cookie shop owner who “investigates” murders as she is the only one in town who is “able” to.

She doesn’t work but manages to keep her shop afloat and solve crimes better than the cops. She has two boyfriends-Mike, a cop with a roving eye, who uses her for food and such; and Norman a dentist who actually cares for Hannah and wants to marry her because he loves her.

Hannah doesn’t really love either one but strings them both on as one is her picture of “manliness” and the other “sensitivity”.

Ugh!

What happened most recently is that the professor who dated Hannah when she was a student of his (but he turned out to be married) moved to Lake Eden and was murdered-Hannah having to solve the crime. Norman was also away at a conference, but when he returned, acted so weird, cold and avoiding Hannah.

He brought back his ex-fiancé, Doctor Beverly Thorndike, who Hannah hates as she wants Norman only interested in her-even though SHE can date another man. Really Hannah? As if that’s fair!

Anyways, Reverend Bob Knudson and Claire have finally been married. They went on a short two day honeymoon, as Rev. Bob couldn’t find anyone to fill in for him. However, he happens to run into childhood friend Matthew Walters, now the same denomination minister, and Rev. Matthew has volunteered to fill in for Rev. Bob so he and Claire can go on a real trip.

Everyone is excited except for Rev. Bob’s mother, Grandma Knudson. She starts to grow suspicious of Matthew and questioning if he really is who he says he is.

Why you may ask? Matthew remembers the sofa being green, when at the time he was staying with them it was red.

Gasp

Matthew as a kid had a chocolate allergy, while this Matthew has been eating Grandma Knuson’s Devil’s Food Cake nonstop.

Hmm…

Matthew says he is on a four month sabbatical, but Grandma Knudson knows that they don’t let them go for more than six weeks.

And to top it off, Matthew can sing! Ministers can’t sing well according to Grandma Knudson.

Seriously, Grandma Knudson, really? Really, Fluke?? I’m a minister’s daughter and I know tons who can sing. But whatever…

Hannah and Andrea investigate, along with trying to figure out what to do about Doctor Bev. They discover that Matthew is color blind-that explains seeing red as green. Matthew’s major is music and he was given a four month sabbatical. And yes, Matthew outgrew his allergy.

Oh well

Everyone feels great about it until Matthew’s dead body is once again found by Hannah. All are sad.

The next day Grandma Knudson and Hannah get the surprise of their lives. Rev. Matthew arrives and says the dead body is that of his almost twin-like, resembling cousin Paul.

Yes for some reason Paul pretended to be Matthew. But why? What was he after? Will Hannah find out or die trying?

Meanwhile, we end on a real cliffhanger. Apparently when Norman and Doc Bev broke up the engagement-she was pregnant. She never told him until now, and they are going to move in together so that Norman can get to know his daughter Dinah. This means that the Hannah, Mike, and Norman triangle is over.

Boom

Thoughts After Reading:

***Spoiler Alert***

Besides Grandma Knudson saving the day (priceless) I thought this book was horrible.

These characters make zero sense and just act completely unrealistic.

That ending though, Fluke shocked me with the Norman having a secret baby. I immediately went out and checked the next book out from my local library.

For more Hannah Swensen Mysteries, go to Gingerbread Cookie Murder

For more from Joanne Fluke, go to Vanilla Crackle

For more reviews, go to The President’s Daughter

Cookie Dough or Die

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Cookie Dough or Die (Cookie Cutter Shop Mystery #1) by Virginia Lowell

After Olivia Greyson’s divorce to a renowned surgeon, she moved home to Chatterley Heights, Maryland. While she was trying to figure out what to do next with her life Olivia was befriended by Clarisse Chamberlain, entrepreneur and businesswoman, who encourages her to buy the historic Gingerbread House and follow her dream to open a cookie shop.

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Since then she and her best friend Maddie have been running the shop together. Olivia runs the numbers and planning; while Maddie is the creative one who is in charge of the baking and making fantastical creations.

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Olivia is catching up on her beauty rest when she hears something downstairs. It’s not a robber, but Maddie coming over to create something fun and wonderful for Spring. After her, the hunky Sheriff Del comes with a a sad message for Olivia; Clarisse was found dead, and it looks like suicide.

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Olivia knows that Clarisse would never kill herself and sets off to discover who murdered her.

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The suspect list is long and complicated. There are her two dueling sons; Hugh and Edward; that have always wanted to inherit the full power of the business. Could they have killed her for the inheritance? Before one was written out of the will?

HMMM

Tammy, Olivia’s old best friend from elementary school, also has a strong motive. She has been in love with Hugh for as long as she can remember. They dated at one time, but Hugh was distracted by another, Jasmine, and Clarisse was set against Tammy from that day on. Even when Jasmine left the picture, Clarisse hated any girl that wanted Hugh. Could Tammy have killed Clarisse in order to marry Hugh?

Very fishy

Hmmmmmm?

And what of Jasmine who just mysteriously disappeared? Is she somehow involved with this?

I wonder...

I wonder…

When a local postman hints that he knew Clarisse received some information from a private detective; he ends up on the hit list.

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It turns out he was poisoned by one of Olivia and Maddie’s cookies.

You know what that means...something is about to happen

Now it is clear that they are the next target. Can Olivia solve the murder before she is killed too?

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Thoughts After Reading:

I didn’t really care for this book. I was a bit disappointed too, as I waited three months for the book to come in from a sister library to read but it wasn’t as good.

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The mystery itself was good, but the way it was carried out was seriously lacking.

Not-Good

The story was okay except there is a lot of information about the characters that we aren’t given which make it a bit confusing. For a first book, it is best to not confuse the reader.

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I didn’t like the mom character as  felt she was far too cliché and boring.

A character like this again?!

A character like this again?!

The end wasn’t all that good either. The mystery was intriguing, but the resolution was too quickly wrapped up. It was very murky mysterious, and then all of a sudden crystal clear. I felt they need more leeway time, steps leading it up to the resolution.

seriously

It was also weird to have a mystery book that features dogs instead of cats. I’m not against dogs or anything, I like them too. But cats and mysteries just seem to go hand in hand. Having a mystery book without one and a dog instead is just so unusual. After all, cats are just so amazing.

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For more mysteries involving a cookie shop, go to Cream Puff Murder

For more Southern mysteries, go to Bloom and Doom

For more suicides as a cover for murder, go to Murder and Other Unnatural Disasters

For more death by poison food, go to A Pinch of Poison 

For more Charles Dickens quotes, go to Gorgonzola Cream Cheese Log

For more mystery reviews, go to Sleeping Beauty

Cream Puff Murder

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Cream Puff Murder (Hannah Swensen Mysteries #11)

So Hannah’s mother, Delores, is planing a huge party to celebrate the release of her newest Regency themed book. She has ordered special gowns for her daughters to wear to the event. The only problem? Hannah’s dress is much, much too small.

well that's just great anchorman

Only one thing left for her to do: Diet.

Diet

While she hates working out, she decides to join her sister, Andrea, in her new exercise regime at the newest gym, Heavenly Bodies. Now why is Andrea working out? Well even though she looks great, with Ronni Ward, three time bikini queen and always after men married or single, Andrea has been feeling insecure.

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And she isn’t the only one Ronni is upsetting. Almost every female in Lake Eden is upset with Ronni’s return and her putting the moves on their men.

Hate her that's so raven

But Hannah has other things to focus on: such as creating the perfect dessert for her mother’s party, and getting in shape to fit the dress.

gotthis

As everyone involved has agreed that Hannah’s cream puffs are the perfect choice for the party; Hannah does a few trial runs on flavors. Mike sees them and buys them for Ronni’s party as he thinks they will be just perfect.

Really Mike?

Really Mike? Really? Buy something from one girlfriend for another?

The next day Andrea and Hannah head to the gym, using their member key to get in really early. After they have worked hard, they decide to head to the jacuzzi for a reward.

fantastic

Andrea continues her workout a bit longer as Hannah goes first. There she finds a huge mess from Ronni’s party. Food and drink stuff, both of which are not supposed to be in the pool/jacuzzi area.

Come on, guys. You didn't even clean up?

Come on, guys. You didn’t even clean up?

But then as Hannah looks further, she finds a dead body. Ronni.

StarTrekTheOriginalSeriesHesDeadJim

She’s been Murdered.

Murder

Almost the entire sheriff’s department is suspended as they either had a relationship with her, like Mike, or was a friend, like Bill. With only two newbies left and having to bring in outside assistance; Hannah decides it is up to her group to solve the crime. She, Norman, Andrea, Michelle, Delores, and even Carrie set out on the case.

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Thoughts After Reading:

This is one of the few Hannah Swensen Mysteries I actually enjoy.

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I know, a real shocker. I liked this because the end wasn’t predictable. Fluke leads down a path that causes you to think is the end is totally obvious. It has to be this person, it just has to. They are the only one who makes sense.

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Fake information is  even given by another character to steer you away from who you think it is, but it makes you think even more that the person you are thinking of is the killer.

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But then at the end when you have the reveal, you are completely amazed as you discover you were looking in the wrong direction the whole time.

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And it isn’t one of those weird, completely out of left field endings either. This one made total sense.

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So that was the good. Now let’s look at the bad.

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Hannah and Mike’s Relationship

Really Mike?

Really Mike?

So there is this love triangle between Mike, Hannah, and Norman. And I really don’t know why it is there. Norman loves Hannah and Mike loves having a good time. Mike is a horrible boyfriend as he doesn’t want to commit himself, but have fun with other ladies as well. Norman on the other hand is perfect. Why can’t Hannah see that already. I mean, argh, it just makes me so upset to have to read about how she can’t decide when the answer is clearly in front of her face.

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So let’s begin out Mike is a loser countdown:

A) Hannah: “[Mike’s] not mine. I’m not even sure he is partially mine, not when Ronni’s living in the apartment across the hall from him.” (pg. 6-7)

If he “isn’t” yours, and so eager to bounce to the new babe in town; why are you even with him? Just dump the chump already. He’ll move on quickly.

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B) Mike: “Sometimes I wish you’d taken me up on my marriage proposal. Then I could eat like this every night.” pg. 66

  1. First of all, Mike only proposed after he heard Norman was going to. Norman built Hannah her dream house. Mike ran out and bought a ring just because he didn’t want Norman to “win”.
  2. Second, Mike hardly ever takes Hannah out; instead making her always cook for him, and usually late even though he knows she gets up early in the morning to bake.
  3. Third, he states the only reason he is sad that Hannah turned him down is because she can’t cook for him every night. Really? Why is there a contest again?

yuck_pirates_of_the_caribbean

C) Norman: “I love you too. And I know telling you what to do is a lost cause. You never listen anyway. I’ll see you in about forty-five minutes with steak and salad and two types of cookies.” pg. 76

When Mike hears that Hannah is going on a diet, he tells her that will be good she needs to lose weight. Norman asks why she needs to change when she is already beautiful. Mike tells Hannah read this book, investigate like that, blah, blah, blah; Norman shares his advice and then lets Hannah choose whatever she wants. When Mike calls to take Hannah “out” she always ends up cooking for him, with Norman he takes her to the restaurant or brings the restaurant to her.

He's perfect.

He’s perfect.

D) At Midnight Mike Calls and Wakes Hannah Up Having Her Meet Him in The Freezing Parking Garage and Having Her Bring Him Coffee.

Mike doesn’t want a girlfriend he wants a maid and assistant. And he knows she wakes up at like four in the morning and works all day. He’s suspended, he can wake up at four talk to her then and then go back to bed. He’s a jerk. Let her get her beauty sleep!

ohnoyoudidn't

E) Mike: “I just wanted you to know that there was nothing between Ronni and me. I know it looks bad, but there wasn’t…She needed a friend, a shoulder to cry on. I guess she was using me, but I didn’t mind being helpful…She was always calling me to come over for something and I went because…well…we had a lot in common since we both worked for the Sheriff’s department…I know it is going to come out that I slept at her place a few nights. We’d be watching a movie or something, I’d fall asleep on her couch. She never woke me. She’d go to bed and let me wake up on my own the next morning.” pg. 169-170

Really Mike? Really. So Ronni was your “friend”, the same way Shawna was your “friend”. In fact if Shawna hadn’t also been murdered; he would be messing around with her too.

And all these “she invited me over” crap? In every book 90% of the time Mike invites himself over or shows up on Hannah’s doorstep, like he’d be any different with Ronni.

He’s a jerk so cut him loose!

duh

F) Norman Makes Her a Low-Calorie Breakfast After Spoiling Her with the Incredible House, A Roaring Fire, Soft Bed, Plush Towels, and Two Cats.

Hannah stays the night at the master suite while Norman takes the guest room. It is an incredible and ritzy place. Then to top it off, he makes her an absolutely scrumptious breakfast, carefully measuring everything out so that he doesn’t ruin her diet.

likeit

G) Mike: “Hannah…Where have you been? I’ve been calling you every hour since midnight!

Hannah: He’d called her at midnight. Again. Mike wasn’t concerned that she hadn’t had a full night’s sleep since Ronni was murdered. He’d probably wanted her to meet him in the garage again with a thermos of coffee and cookies so that he could give her more instructions on investigative procedure.” pg. 282

Hannah you said it. That is all he wants.

How rude

H) Mike: “I should have known someone would tell you, but I didn’t think you’s run to Norman on the rebound…It didn’t mean anything, Hannah. It was just…convenient, you know? She was right across the hall from me and…these things happen. You’re an adult. You know that.” pg. 283

ohnoyoudidn't

So first you lie, lie  about your relationship with Ronni? And then you try to excuse that behavior by saying it “just happened” and “that’s what adults do”?

stupidestthingever

NO! NO! And NO! Good-bye.

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I) Nancy: “Keep your eyes open Hannah. If you find a man who doesn’t think he is the hero, grab him and give him a hug because he’s the only realist in the room.”

Hannah: “[To Norman] Do you think she modeled the Duke of Oakwood after you?

Norman: “After me?…What are you talking about, Hannah?…The Duke of Oakwood is about as far from my character as you can get.” pg. 333

Norman is fantastic. Pick him. Then the two could be the Tommy and Tuppence of the midwest. Besides that, he really loves her.

Tommy-and-Tuppence-1923

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For more Hannah Swensen Mysteries, go to Carrot Cake Murder

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

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.

yuck_pirates_of_the_caribbean

This was extremely lackluster and boring.

im_bored_himym

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.

eatingcake

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

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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

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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

 

Candy Cane Murder

CandyCaneMurder

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?

WhoDoneIt?

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

likeit

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.

neverlovesomeonewhotreatsyouordinary

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

Cherry Cheesecake Murder

Cherry Cheesecake Murder

Cherry Cheesecake Murder (Hannah Swenson #8) by Joanne Fluke

So Lake Eden is up for quite a few interesting weeks. It’s headed for stardom as it will be the set for an independent film.

serv_filming-v2

So this book starts out a bit different from the others. We have a flash forward told by a different narrator than Hannah; cruel, rude, and hated by everyone: Director Dean Lawrence. As he acts out a scene for the actors; taking the unloaded prop gun to his head; he shoots it. And himself.

gunshooting

So we flashback to before that all happened,

flashback

Hannah’s double proposal from Mike and Norman have torn the town apart. People are split between which they believe Hannah should marry; and are not above using any pull they have to try and sway Hannah’s opinion.

what have i gotten myself into star trek next gen

Hannah on the other hand will not be swayed. Instead she determines that she will propose to her choice when she is ready to marry, and when she knows who she wants to marry.

That time is a long way off...

That time is a long way off…

But the town is not focused on her for long, as the film coming to town has set up an epidemic of movie mania. Hannah is hired to cater dessert for the crew, along with a cheesecake every morning to the director, Dean Lawrence.

cookingfood

To make things even more complicated, an old friend and crush, Ross Barton, has come to town to produce the film. He starts wanting to revitalize the relationship, but Hannah’s not sure whether or not to start one.

Who done it?

Should I?

Dean Lawrence turns out to be one of the most difficult people to work with. He is cruel, rude, antagonistic, and constantly groping and harassing all the women in town.

jerk-gif

When Dean acts out a part to show an actor what he desires, winding up dead; Hannah and her crew have a lot of suspects to choose from. Lead actress, and old friend, Lynne Larchmont has the temperament to kill and could have chosen to remove him in order to be more in charge of the film or because of a possible romantic relationship.

laurenbacallsuspiciousfemefataleevilbad

Tom Larchmont, Lynne’s husband, is smitten enough to be deadly jealous.

jealousdon'ttouchmythingsobsessedboyfriendhusband

Then there is Ross who has constantly been burdened with having to keep Dean in check, did he have enough?

Icannotstandmorons_Laura

Or on of the locals, Winnie Henderson, who publicly threatened to kill Dean?

arghfliptablesangry

Or how about star Burke Aston who argued with Dean the morning of the murder?

Hannah finds herself in a time crunch as she and her friends must solve the crime before the movie production wraps up and leaves town.

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Thoughts After Reading:

**Contains Spoilers**

I didn’t really care for this novel. I thought it was too easily solved and silly at times.

IDon'tlikeit

First of all, I hated the whole Mike-Norman aftermath. I found it stupid and unnecessary to include all these scenes of people trying to convince her to marry in order to save the dentist or save the deputy. I have never lived in a town the size of Lake Eden so I don’t know of they react that way; but really? Like they can’t get new people to fulfill those positions. Shouldn’t these people who are her “friends” care more about her happiness than what will inconvenience them?

seriously

Plus I am sooooo sick of the love triangle in this. It is so clear that Norman should be the one she is with.

Ijustwantittostop

I didn’t like the entrance of Ross and the switch to a confusion rhombus instead of a love triangle. I thought that was also unnecessary. His “pining” for Hannah over four years (overlapping the time he was in a serious relationship, engaged, with Lynne) was over the top. I mean it just sounds like a whole pack of lines, seriously Hannah I thought you were smarter than that.

really?

I also hate how extremely advanced they make Tracey. She taught herself to read at 3 and a half years old? And now can read at a 5th grade level? What’s next? She has magic powers like Matilda and is righting wrongs?

Norman is clearly the guy Hannah should choose. Unlike Mike who has all kinds of bluster and such; Norman cares deeply about Hannah and her happiness alone. He asks her if he has anything to worry about; and just accepts the answer that Hannah will let him know if he does. Norman takes it like a man, and just tells her he loves her. Awesome. Amazing.

And the constant corrections Hannah does. It is so annoying! If Hannah was my friend I would say see ya. Who wants to be around someone who is always correcting you. Rude. And irritating.

jerk_alert32

I can’t believe how rude and annoying Mike is. When someone arrives home tired and has to get up at five the next morning, who decides to stay while they sleep eating their food and drinking their coffee? Rude. He should have just left. That would have been the gentlemanly thing to do.

How rude

The Bill cheating subplot os dumb as well. Really? She thinks him leaving behind a pink shirt from his conference is proof of cheating? Why do they make characters so dumb? Would any intelligent and rational being act that way? And why does she talk so poorly? She is a real estate agent, intelligent, logical, always having to talk to others; she would know how to talk eloquently.

doesn'tmakesense

The worst thing about this mystery was how easily it was solved. Yes, everyone knows that Dean would act out the scene in how he thinks it should be. But Only one person could make that happen. Only one person could control him taking the gun, and that would be Burke. Burke is the only one who could have gotten the gun in Dean’s hand; the big clue being when he suddenly sucks and asks for assistance.

duh

And why do Hannah and Co. think that giving a tip to the police to solve a murder, the thing they are supposed to do, as a bad thing. That is incredibly dumb. Come on guys, you aren’t real detectives and you can’t arrest anyone. While your playacting as detectives is alright, it isn’t real.

seriously

And why is Hannah such an expert on random facts? Their input never makes any sense. She is like Encyclopedia Brown except not as fun or useful.

movingOnsherlocknotinterested

I hate how in this book they have to explain soooo much about acting. I feel like if Hannah knows all these famous plays from her one literature class on plays, she would have learned about stage directions and what they mean, after all they are written in the plays. I know they do it in case of readers who know nothing, but it still is boring.

im_bored_himym

To summarize, I did not like it.

IDon'tlikeit

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For more Hannah Swenson mysteriesgo to Peach Cobbler Murder

For more love triangles, go to Murder and Other Unnatural Disasters

Peach Cobbler Murder

PeachCobblerMurder

Peach Cobbler Murder (Hannah Swenson #7) by Joanne Fluke

So we haven’t reviewed a Hannah Swenson Mystery in  while. Let me do a quick review. Hannah is still in a love triangle with Mike and Norman; although it is clear that Mike is not the right guy. Just dump him already!

movingOnsherlocknotinterested

Hannah’s brother-in-law has been elected Sheriff, although I don’t think he is smart enough to have that job.

I don't think so.

And Hannah’s mom is dating some English Earl. An English Earl visiting small town Minnesota in the winter? Come on now, that’s super suspicious! Why would a rich Englishman choose smallsville snow capital of the States to visit? Sounds like a conman to me. A real Earl would want to visit Miami, L.A., or something.

BacktothefutureThinkMcFlyStupid

Just an FYI for all you readers: I HATE PEACH COBBLER!

IDon'tlikeit

I think it is gross, liquidly, and pretty much like eating wet bread. That being said, I will not be making any, whether the recipe is from this book or something else. Just so you know.

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The Review:

Shawna Lee Quinn, (Hannah’s nemesis as she is cute, blonde, thin, and extremely interested in Mike)

Hate her that's so raven

Has just opened up a bakery, the Magnolia Blossom Bakery, across the street from The Cookie Jar, with her sister; the wealthy, widowed, and just as beautiful, Vanessa.

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Everyone in town has been visiting the Magnolia Blossom Bakery, except Norman because he’s awesome, and business has been slow.

im_bored_himym

So Lisa and Hannah come up with the bright idea of sending Hannah’s sister Andrea over to spy and find out whether or not their desserts are really all that good Andrea also has a real knack for manipulating information, so they know she will get the skinny on everything.

gotthis

When Andrea returns with the desserts, it turns out that this “true Southern bakery” is nothing but average, their only “Southern dish” being peach cobbler. Andrea also discovered that nearly everyone in town is at the bakery “helping Hannah” by spying to see of the bakery is really that good.

I can’t believe that Andrea feel for that.

Icannotstandmorons_Laura

Hannah is worried about the bakery putting hers out of business, and with baited breath they test the desserts.

Sabrina the teenage witch salem dum di dum dum dum

It turns out that the desserts are okay, with the peach cobbler tasting vaguely familiar.

Deja Vu

Looks like the Bakery might continue to cause issues for them.

Aw+man+i+missed+the+porn+raid+again+i+am+_9614058b2062adb4c677dd212977b011

They also introduce a side story about Hannah and her cat mousing (but not really) but we’ll skip that as it is boring, dumb, and useless padding.

movingOnsherlocknotinterested

So the next day Hannah’s mother, Delores, call her to propose a way for Hannah to beat the Magnolia Blossom Bakery. She tells Hannah to create her own peach cobbler and the afternoon meeting of the Lake Eden Quilting Society will do a blind test taste to see who’s is better. And Hannah agrees as it may be her only chance.

dearlordhelpme

She makes a testing batch and it gets warm applause by all.

gotthis

Herb and Lisa love the Minnesota Peach Cobbler that they ask for her to make it, in addition to her cookies and cake. Hannah agrees, and all this talk about cobbler reminds Lisa’s father, Jack, of something he did. He invited Shawna Lee to Lisa and Herb’s wedding.

luke-noooo-o

Valentines’ Day has arrived,

cupcake_kisses-valentine's_day_cards_for_kids-nancy_kubo-daiquiri-pink

Also the day of Herb and Lisa’s wedding. The Cookie Jar is closed for business as it will be busy with the preparations for the wedding.

Wedding

While she is working, a knock at the door shows that Mike has sent her flowers for Valentine’s Day! Hannah is thrilled! That is, until she discovers from her chatty delivery man that the flowers he is sending Shawna are her favorite and twice as expensive.

ohnoyoudidn't

I’ve said it a million times and I’ll say it again. Stop this love triangle!

Ijustwantittostop

It is crystal clear who she should be with: NORMAN!!! Just marry him already. Jeez!

seriously

Angrily Hannah reads the card from Mike:

Happy Valentine’s Day! I volunteered to work during the wedding, but I can make the reception. Save the first and last dance for me? I’ve got something special for you and I’ll follow you home.

To Hannah all is forgiven, but I’m like dump the chump!

polls_dump_him_card_p1373883252529100202v3xi_328_5633_248654_answer_1_xlarge

So back to business, except Hannah gets a call from Lisa telling her that Shawna is going to bring a peach cobbler. As hers is a gift, Hannah’s will have to stay unmade.

Aw+man+i+missed+the+porn+raid+again+i+am+_9614058b2062adb4c677dd212977b011

Hannah is upset, but quickly gets over it as Norman gives her a ruby pendent for Valentine’s Day.

Aw, how cute.

Aw, how cute.

That afternoon, during the wedding, Hannah notices that Winthrop, her mother’s boyfriend, has disappeared.

That'sOdd

He comes back with her mother’s rice, but he seemed gone for such a long time.

HMMM

However, Hannah can’t think on this too long as the limo driver broke a bone and can’t drive, leaving Hannah the only one to do it.

As Hannah is helping hand out desserts, she and Sally are upset that Shawna has yet to arrive with her dessert. Where is she and where is her cobbler? To Hannah’s dismay Mike has also failed to show up and her mind starts going to only one conclusion.

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

Hannah makes plans with Norman for after the wedding as with Mike, you snooze you loose.

See ya!

See ya!

After the wedding, Hannah makes a quick pit stop to unload the leftovers. While in her shop she notices that the Magnolia Blossom Bakery’s lights are still on. She calls to warn them, but all she gets os the answering machine.

Hannah grows uneasy and starts to wonder if maybe there was a robbery. And in true Baby-Sitters Club fashion, she heads over there by herself with no weapon  to investigate. The thought that she should probably phone the police doesn’t even cross her mind.

Seriously?

doyouwanttodie

She goes in and finds Shawna’s dead body, shot.

gunshooting

Mike and Norman come on the scene and Hannah let’s Mike take over. It turns out that he was headed to Shawna’s place as they had an “appointment” before his date with Hannah. And Shawna had missed it.

Hannah is furious with Mike, even more that he repeatedly called Shawna, but the simple courtesy call to let Hannah know that he was running late neveer even occured to him to place.

jerk-gif

Hannah goes home after answering a few questions and she and Norman discuss strategy to figure out who the murder is. Hannah is eager to solve this as she looks like the #1 suspect. 1) Everyone knew the Cookie Jar was going down. 2) Shawna was also dating Mike. 3) Hannah Hates Shawna.

thisisbad

On a happy note, they discover that the Magnolia Blossom Bakery wasn’t making a real “Southern peach cobbler” but using a frozen one and passing it off as their own.

fake2

The next day Mike comes over and tries to pass off his “thing” with Shawna as just pure, platonic friendship. Yeah Right! And he does some bogus flatterly to get Hannah to forgive him. Forgive? More like forget!

good-byeNeverwantyouinmylifeHomeAlone

Hannah goes out that night with Norman to talk strategy further. They are going to be joined by Andrea and while they wait to be seated, Hannah looks at the stiffed and mounted bear and gives a paragraph lecture in her head why the story of shooting it is false. All I can think is why? Why, Joanne? Why is this in here? It doesn’t further the plot. It doesn’t bring depth to the characters. All it is, is a extremely strange tangent.

nobodycares

Later, Hannah and Andrea resume their investigations at the mall. They stop at the Logo store. She finds shirts on sale for a $1, Lake Eden Gulps, and buys them all for her softball team. She also recruits the girl working there. Now isn’t that cheating? This woman has nothing to do with The Cookie Jar, it’s not really fair.

How rude

And this softball team, we never see it again.

See ya!

Andrea talks to Kyle at the flower shop, while Hannah gets distracted by Mike. Mike takes Hannah out to eat, but the real reason why he does this is because he wants an Orange Julius recipe for Vanessa.

seriously

Ugh! Dump this CHUMP

He’s going to the house to get it ready for Vanessa as he has a key.

holdupwaitamin

Yes a KEY!!! And what to you think he was going to use that key for, really? Dump HIM!!!!

See ya!

See ya!

Hannah returns the usage, by asking him about the investigation. Mike tells her that he is at a halt, he can’t find  suspect who doesn’t have an alibi, and there are hardly anyone really who has a motive to murder her.

Hannah and Mike go back to her place where she makes the Orange Julius and gives it to Mike. He gives her an extremely passionate kiss, and then tells her:

“Thanks Hannah. I really don’t know what I’d do without you. You’re the best friend I ever had.”

FRIEND!!???

FRIEND!!???

Best friend!!!??? Best Friend????!!!! DUMP HIM NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

good-byeNeverwantyouinmylifeHomeAlone

The next day Hannah gets to work at five in the morning, and spends the whole drive worried about seeing Vanessa and Mike together. When she gets there she discovers an awake Mike, and passed out Vanessa.

suspicious Hmm

Andrea comes in mad at Minnesota snow, and complains, but Hannah refutes it saying there is no place like it. Actually this is wrong. Most of the Midwest resembles itself. The only real unique place, truth be told, in the United States is California. It has everything.

anyway-moving-on-gif

As they are talking, Andrea sees Shawna Lee across the street.

What?

It actually turns out to be Vanessa. From far away the sisters look exactly alike.

paris-whenitsizzlesaudreyhmmHepburn

So yes, the reason why she was killed was because someone thought she was Vanessa. Now who would want to kill Vanessa? I don’t know but it definitely opens up a can of worms.

HMMM

So Hannah calls up Norman to help her out, and is it just me or in every book does it look like he and Hannah do less of their “real work” and more of their hobby of “detective work”.

paris-whenitsizzlesaudreyhmmHepburn

They want more information on Vanessa, but no one knows her married name. After her husband croaked, she changed it back to her maiden name of Quinn.

That afternoon, Hannah heads over with Andrea to check out the bakery supplies and fixtures Vanessa is selling, along with trying to pump out any information they can out of her.

It turns out that Vanessa is from Macon, Georgia the same place that is headquarters of Pretty Girl Cosmetics. And guess who just happened to choose Lake Eden as the site for the big Pretty Girl Cosmetics corporate retreat at the same time Vanessa came to town, the VP Gloria Travis.

coincidenceithinknot

It turns out that last year Gloria was engaged to Neil Roper, head of Pretty Girl, and then miss thang came along and Gloria was thrown over for her.

jerk_alert32

They question Gloria and she tells all. Neil broke his leg and wasn’t completely healing right. His house keeper quit after she had a heart attack, so he hired a physical therapist, Vanessa Quinn. Gloria tried calling him, but he was asleep, out, on drugs, etc. Three weeks later, he was married to Vanessa. He died and she got everything. Gloria is positive that Vanessa drugged him, forced him to marry her, and them killed him.

Gold Digger and Grave Digger

Gold Digger and Grave Digger

Now Gloria, I’m with ya on murder, but I don’t think she forced him to marry her. A hot 2o year old with the perfect body can easily beat out a pretty, but middle-aged woman.

Sad but true.

Sad but true.

Gloria found out that Vanessa was there, made the retreat there, and went to talk to her to try to get her to confess. When she got to the bakery she found Vanessa dead, but then got closer and saw it wasn’t Vanessa but Shawna.

Before Hannah and Andrea can process all that, they get called by their mom to come over as she has something important to share.

Uh-oh

Uh-oh

They get over there and it turns out that when their mom was snooping in her boyfriend, Winthrop’s, house, she found a picture of Shawna Quinn. She sends her girls over to investigate whether or not he is a cad.

At his place, they discover that Winthrop has no real pictures but fakes to look “homey”. Only one type of person would do such a thing. A CONMAN.

Charles Ponzi

Charles Ponzi

The next morning Hannah thinks about everything, and starts to wonder is it Shawna or Vanessa in the picture? And what is the connection?

IndianaJonesHmmMaybe

They come up with the idea to check the photo to see who took/printed it. When they find out they call, pretending they want a copy of the photo. It turns out a Bobby Joe Peters paid for it. Who is Bobby Joe?

What?

Norman does his usual vague, but perfectly problem solving computer research, and finds out that Bobby Joe and Winthrop are the same person. He is a con artist and usually has a female accomplice.

Uh-oh

Uh-oh

Hannah sneaks into Winthrop’s house to return the photo to his apartment. While there, who should come in but Winthrop? It turns out that he and Vanessa planned together to kill Neil. Vanessa was supposed to cut him in on the inheritance and insurance money, but turned on him and he ended up in jail. He was trying a new scam on Delores, but when Vanessa came to town, he was ready all about payback.

paybacktime

Only problem, he accidentally killed Shawna.

oopsmybad

Delores comes in and saves the day. They then get Vanessa, and Hannah trades the best lawyer for buying everything in the bakery for the cheap sum of $1000.

YayHappy-Success-GIF

At the end of the book both guys ask Hannah to marry them. And she tells them to wait for her to decide.

thenannygasp

Guess one wedding wasn’t enough.

Wedding

But who will it be?

Sad but true.

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Thoughts After Reading:

I thought it was a pretty good mystery. I mean it had a few problems: like that whole mousing subplot

im_bored_himym

And the fact that no one was suspicious of Winthrop?

seriously

And the fact that Hannah still wants to see Mike?

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

But the actual mystery was good. And the rest was an enjoyable read.

likeit

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For more Hannah Swenson Mysteries, go to Sugar Cookie Murder

For more mysteries featuring the murder of the wrong person, go to A Dark and Stormy Knit

For more mystery reviews, go to The Saint Valentine’s Day Cookie Massacre

 

Sugar Cookie Murder

Ready for our next Christmas mystery in our Christmas countdown?!

christmas-bells

I give you:

Sugar Cookie Murder

Sugar Cookie Murder (Hannah Swensen Mystery #6) by Joanne Fluke

So like that other Hannah Swensen holiday mystery, Candy for Christmas, I didn’t like this one. This book cemented my dislike for the Hannah Swensen Holiday Mysteries.

IDon'tlikeit

Why you may ask? Well I’ll tell you.

So this book has an interesting premise. In Lake Eden it is the annual Christmas buffet.

christmastree

This year things are a bit different as they are running the final test of the Lake Eden recipes for the Lake Eden Holiday Buffet Cookbook.

joker-yum

Recently divorced Martin Dubinski just got married in Las Vegas and to a Vegas showgirl type woman, Brandi; all about the fur, glitter, and lack of manners.

showgirls

Many people dislike her; including the former Mrs. Shirley Dubinski who wants Martin back and Martin’s mother Babs.

Not-Good

In other news, Hannah main rival for Mike’s affections, Shawna Lee Quinn is on her way out of town. Great news for Hannah, but also sad as Mike is taking her to the airport and will be missing out on most of the great party.

poutsad

Meanwhile, Hannah is not very happy about the romance between her mother Delores, and some Englishman, Winthrop the III.

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

Part of her doesn’t like her mom moving on, while the other half doesn’t trust him.

Things seem to be going great at the Christmas buffet. Music, dancing, Mike and Norman; but then Delores’ donated antique knife is stolen.

What?

Hannah searches everywhere, and finds it. In Brandi’s dead body.

StarTrekTheOriginalSeriesHesDeadJim

Whoever killed her returned to the community center; and with the storm ranging outside it is up to them to find the killer before they strike again!

theGamesAfoot-680x383

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Thoughts After Reading:

While the premise sounds good; killer in a locked building and they have to figure it out before they strike again, but it just falls flat.

horrible

The mystery’s resolution was seriously lacking.

And I seriously believe this book was just an avenue to promote her holiday recipes, a trap every one of her “holiday tales” seems to fall into. I give it zero stars.

thumbsdown

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For more Hannah Swensen mysteries, go to Fudge Cupcake Murder

For more Christmas mysteries, go to Sinister Sprinkles

For more reviews, go to Fudge Cupcake Murder

Fudge Cupcake Murder

Fudge Cupcake Murder

Fudge Cupcake Murder (Hannah Swenson #5)

So I know you guy think I just like to hate on Joanne Fluke.

Hate her that's so raven

But that’s not true.

Thats-a-Lie-how-i-met-your-mother-barney-gif

I just don’t like subpar writing. When it’s bad, I’m going to call you out on it. When it’s good, I will also point that out. And while I haven’t liked the first four mysteries, I actually enjoyed this.

likeit

So back in Blueberry Muffin Murder, Hannah Swensen discussed having a Lake Eden cookbook full of recipes only known to them. Well in this book, the Lake Eden Cookbook is in the middle of becoming a reality.

Besides The Cookie Jar, Hannah has taken on a temporary side job teaching cooking at the community college. As Lake Eden is getting ready to create a cookbook of family recipes, Hannah feels that there is no better opportunity than to have the class prepare the submitted recipes.

cookingfood

And there is no time like the present. It is days from Halloween, but all recipes must be typed, tested, photographed, etc.; in time for the cookbook to be completed and ready to be sold at Christmas.

lets-do-this-ucas-gif

Hannah is enjoying her new jobs as cooking teacher and head of the cookbook, when she is approached by her friend Beatrice. Beatrice asks her to include the Fudge Cupcakes that her mother-in-law was famous for. Only one problem, there is a secret ingredient, and with the mother-in-law dead, no one knows what it could possibly be.

what have i gotten myself into star trek next gen

Well, Hannah likes solving mysteries, and at least this one doesn’t have a dead body in it, so she begins working on trying to find the missing piece to the puzzle.

resized_all-the-things-meme-generator-i-will-conquer-all-tomorrow-ab53d3

In other news, Hannah’s sister Andrea is pregnant and her husband Bill is running for Sheriff. Sheriff Grant has been running the town for years, and when polls come out with him in the low numbers, he starts to pick up his game to get more support.  He approaches Hannah outside the center, and she gives him a cupcake, along with a promise that Bill will win.

Smirkity smirk smirk

Smirkity smirk smirk

Hannah then goes on to a productive day in class. The group cooks up a whole mess of recipes and solve some elusive handwriting. Hannah still doesn’t know the ingredient for the cupcakes, but hasn’t given up yet.

gotthis

That night, Mike picks her up for dinner, helping her clean up the kitchen first. She goes out to the dumpster to throw away the garbage and discovers a body. And not just any body, but Sheriff Grant.

AAAAHHHHH

Now Bill is suspended as he is the prime suspect and Hannah finds herself on the case.

veronicamarsinvestigatesleuth

This proves to be difficult, as Sheriff Grant was a hated man, hated almost by EVERYONE. Could he have been killed by a deputy for having stolen their “prime cases” in election years? Could he have been killed by someone he wrote up for absolutely nothing? Could it have been connected to the death of his son? Or could be for some other reason? And most importantly, what is the secret ingredient in the fudge cupcakes?!

urkelgif interesting hmm

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Thought After Reading:

So let’s start with the cupcake mystery. I first thought it was going to be annoying and distracting. Not to mention cruel to have Fluke make us wait so long to find out the answer, but it actually added to the story. It made you read more as you wanted to know what the ingredient is. And the cupcake sounds so good, I will be making them in the future.

chocolate-cupcake

Now I do hate the Mike storyline. Mike is the worst detective ever. He actually thinks that Bill, Bill who couldn’t plan his way out of a paper bag could murder Sheriff Grant? Bill is stupid, but honest. The only way he would murder anyone was on accident, turning himself in. Come on Mike, get your head out of your butt.

seriously

I mean they act like Mike is such a great detective, but he’s as dumb as rocks.

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And it is clear that Hannah and Mike would not work long term as in every book she gets incredibly angry at him. Just break up already and get with Norman.

seriously

Shawna Lee Quinn comes to town, a recent plant and old friend of Mike. She is eager to be a new friend and is further proof that Mike is not right for Hannah. Dump that chump!

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Once again they also make Tracey act way too old.  And there is not enough Norman in here.

But on a whole I enjoyed the book. The mystery was easily solvable, once you were given all the clues, but it was a pretty good story.

likeit

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For more Hannah Swensen mysteries, go to Lemon Meringue Pie Murder

For more mysteries, go to The Princess Plot

Lemon Meringue Pie Murder

Lemon Meringue Pie Murder

Lemon Meringue Murder (Hannah Swenson #4) by Joanne Fluke

So before I even start reviewing this piece, I thought I would point out something I noticed on the back cover:

In her third top-of-the line culinary cozy…” –Publishers Weekly

Third? Third? I guess Publishers Weekly doesn’t know how to count. This is the fourth book. It goes 1)Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder

1.5) Candy for Christmas

2) Strawberry Shortcake Murder

3) Blueberry Muffin Murder

4) Lemon Meringue Murder

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So now to the review!

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So the winter blues have been kissed good-bye, as we now enter the summer months with the upcoming 4th of July.

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Hannah is getting ready to wear her summer slacks, when she finds out that she cannot fit in them.

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That means only one thing, a DIET

Diet

In happier news, Norman calls to let Hannah know that he bought a house! Or rather he bought the perfect land from Rhonda Scharf to build their dream house.

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While Norman is building the house they designed together, he doesn’t ask her to marry him. This tiny nugget becomes a huge part of the plot as Hannah wonders why Norman hasn’t asked her, but yet at the same time doesn’t want to be asked as she doesn’t want to get married. You know what I have to say on that?

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Come on Hannah, Norman knows you better than you know yourself and can tell you would say no. Hearing you go on and on about it is completely boring.

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In fact I find the whole Norman-Hannah-Mike love triangle completely dumb and am over it. Please end it. I mean it is clear that Hannah and Mike are only physical and won’t work long term; just choose Norman and put us readers out of their misery.

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Later Jed and Freddy stop by Hannah’s shop. Freddy is a developmentally disabled adult and Jed is his cousin. Freddy’s parents died and Jed has been helping take care of him ever since. The two form a handyman service, one of their regular customers being The Cookie Jar. Along with being paid, Hannah always gives them some treats.

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Hannah notices that Jed seems to be spending quite a bit lately. Wonder where he is getting all the dough?

HMMM

The next day Mike returns from a trip and is mad that Norman is building a house for Hannah and that Norman proposed. All I can say Mike, if you weren’t such a rover maybe you would have the sense to ask Hannah yourself.

But the problem is, you just can’t give up other girls. But Hannah still likes this dude, and assures him she is engagement free. Mike is pleased and tells her “I don’t want to change anything. Everything’s great just the way it is.” Great for who? You. And with that attitude you can’t blame Norman for being a man and trying to move the relationship forward. But enough on that stupid drama.

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Oh yeah, so in this mystery Hannah says that her pies are something she changes up every week. Pie? Funny that was never mentioned in the previous books. And it won’t be mentioned again, until Key Lime Murder.

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So Norman, Delores Swenson (Hannah’s mom), and Hannah head out to the Rhonda’s house so Delores can pick over any pieces she wants for her antique shop before the wrecking balls destroy it.

When they get into the house they discover one of Hannah’s pies covered in ants. She also notices two takeout containers with osso buco. And inside the house are two wineglasses and a Chianti bottle. Sounds like someone had a party.

While Hannah and Norman are clearing things upstairs, Delores heads down to the basement and discovers a dead body, Rhonda’s.

AAAAHHHHH

So Hannah reassures everyone that she will not be investigating.

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Whatever Hannah, you know you can’t help but put your nose into everything.

So while Hannah is “determined” to stay out of it, Delores wants to investigate, and urges Hannah to join her team.

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Hannah tracks down who purchased her pies, three going to Claire who owns the boutique next to The Cookie Jar. There she discovers that Claire gave Rhonda one of her pies, and that Claire is dating the Reverend.

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Later, after catering and other duties, Hannah returns to The Cookie Jar where she runs into Jed and Freddy, looking to get paid for their hard work. Through some very clunky, (and bad), exposition, we find out that Jed used to be in prison. He was supposedly only an outside contractor, and received a huge check which allows him to buy all these things he has been purchasing lately.

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Hannah and Mike meet up that evening for dinner. They talk about the case which then leads into a discussion on Freddy and Jed. Hannah doesn’t like Jed as he introduces “ideas Freddy can’t handle.” Like buying a new truck or getting interested in girls.

Oh no Hannah, the horror! Freddy likes a new truck and will be riding around in it. Next thing you know he will be getting involved in drugs and end up in jail.

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 And girls? Developmentally disabled people can get married and do regularly. Obviously Fluke doesn’t know anyone developmentally disabled. Although we really know why this is introduced, Fluke wants to establish Jed as the villian and killer.

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SPOILER, you say? As soon as they announced Jed used to be in jail it is clear that he is being set up as the murderer. Totally obvious.

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Hannah then goes on the trail of the osso buco, trying to find out who Rhonda’s boyfriend was. One person who ordered take out was the Reverend, Hannah goes over to talk to Claire and finds out that he brought dinner for their night out. She also is told by Claire that Claire wants to be the Reverend’s wife. The only thing stopping her? She doesn’t know how to read sheet music or play the organ.

really?

Now it is things like this that really makes me question whether Fluke is living in the present time. This book is published in 2003, not 1962. Most churches do not have an organ anymore, they have switched to pianos or keyboards. And if they do have an organist, they hire someone. It is not a requirement for a minister’s wife. And how should I know such things? From experience, I’m a minister’s daughter.

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Hannah does manage to track down Rhonda’s boyfriend, figuring out that it is the high school principal. He apparently went there to break it off, not staying very long and Rhonda very much alive when he left. So it it wasn’t the boyfriend? Then who is the murderer.

Freddy comes by The Cookie Jar the next day. He drops off a surprise for Jed, that he “lost” in the trash. Hannah agrees to hold it, once again being clunky thrown in.

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As Hannah is investigating, another mystery crops up. Old bills from a bank robbery about 30 years ago have resurfaced. Who could be behind it? Is it connected to Rhonda’s death?

Hannah returns to Rhonda’s old house and takes some photographs in the basement. When they look at them again they discover that there is something wrong with the jam jars. They are not organized as they should be, with the jam on the wrong shelves. That means someone was over there and there must be something important there.

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There is also this moment when Andrea is planning on making red, white, & blue jello; but in the end can’t as they don’t make blue jello. I distinctly remember eating it when I was a child, and when I looked it up blue jello was invented in 1992. Andrea totally should have been able to buy it.

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Hannah gets caught up in a storm and finds herself at Beatrice’s and Ted’s apartment complex, the place that Rhonda rented from. Hannah comes in to call and let her family know she is safe. Beatrice offers to give her Rhonda’s clothes. Hannah uses that time to snoop and discovers a letter to Rhonda’s great-aunt.

The letter is from a prison inmate, Speedy. He talks about a treasure hunt they would go on and her peach jam.

suspicious Hmm

The 4th of July comes and everything seems great. That is until they find a bludgeoned Freddy. Luckily they get him to the hospital in time. There Freddy is in a coma, but will be brought out. Jed is disheartened, and Hannah tries to cheer him up telling him about Freddy’s surprise.

Hannah heads to the bakery the next morning to work on some dough. As she does she starts thinking about the note, Rhonda, etc and puts it all together. Speedy hid the money in Rhonda’s house, the one that used to belong to her aunt. Rhonda found it when she was cleaning things out. From there Jed found it and is the murderer as he he is spending a ton of money.

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To me that seems like an awfully big leap.

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Jed comes to get the “surprise”, but Hannah manages to beat him to it. He then locks her in her cooler. He admits it all, just as Hannah figured it out. Hannah tries to get out, becoming some super electrician and figuring the right wire to cut that will make someone investigate. How does she know such complex things?

What?

At least when Nancy Drew did it, she always explained where she got such knowledge from, and how she has done it before. Not just a casual conversation with her father 20 years ago.

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In the end Lisa and Herb get engaged and Hannah discovers she switched pants with Andrea. She never had to diet after all.

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Thoughts After Reading:

As you can tell I didn’t really care for this mystery. There were a lot of plot pieces left out, such as how Jed figured out about the money. And some things didn’t make any sense. To be completely honest, to me it seemed like a slapped together, overly complicated mystery.

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For more Hannah Swenson mysteries, go to Blueberry Muffin Murder

For more midwestern mysteries, go to Thorns of Rosewood

For more reviews, go to The Princess Plot

 

Blueberry Muffin Murder

BlueberryMuffinMurder

Blueberry Muffin Murder (Hannah Swenson Mystery #3) by Joanne Fluke

This is the third book in the series following Hannah Swenson, ex-English Literature major and now owner of cookie shop, The Cookie Jar, in Lake Eden, Minnesota. She accidentally runs into dead bodies, or people ask her to investigate, causing her to solve crimes before the police even have a smidgen of a clue.

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It’s late February and things are pretty slow. Christmas and News Years? Parties galore and business is booming. With Valentine’s Day, another flurry of activity. But once that’s over it’s dead. Snow, cold, and nothing until Easter.

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So this year, the city decided to do something different to bring in tourist and boost the economy. This year marked the first annual Lake Eden Winter Carnival.

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The Jordan High School shop class redid old sleighs to give sleigh rides. Hannah’s mother Delores helped the Historical Society create a full-scale replica of the first mayor’s house, Ezekiel Jordan. And of course Hannah, is one of the many people who has a booth for her business.

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As she is heading out to her shop, a guy attacks her from behind warning her to get against the wall or else she will be killed!!!!

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It turns out to be an old friend, Greg Canfield. Greg had moved back a few years ago and opened an import store at the Tri-County Mall. His store closed down recently, and after he sold his house he moved in with his grandmother (who lives in the same condo building as Hannah). He was out that morning and thought he’d pull a prank on his old pal. Greg leaves to get back to his stock trading, he’s making a bundle on the company Redlines and Hannah heads over to her shop.

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Hannah’s friend Lisa, has recently become her partner, and has been busy at work baking and dressing the window for the Winter Carnival.

It turns out that the Winter Carnival is going to bring much more to town. Connie MacIntyre, the star of the hit cooking show Cooking With Connie Mac, has come to town. She has numerous books, a string of kitchen boutique stores, a monthly magazine, etc.

With Connie Mac, comes Janie Burkholtz, Connie’s personal assistant, and Hannah’s sister Andrea’s very best friend. Looks like the Winter Carnival is going to be loads of fun.

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The Mayor asks Hannah to drive Connie Mac around town and Hannah agrees as she figures it will be fun.

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Andrea comes over to speak to Hannah and when she hears all about Hannah giving the tour, and of course invites herself along. Hannah agrees as she thinks it will make a boring situation more interesting.

The girls reach the inn where Connie Mac is staying and meet a grade-A jerk.

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She is rude, cruel and picky about how everything has to be. From her salad to pressing of her clothes, nothing is ever quite right and must have a thousand details done to it.

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The first stop is the library, where Connie will be signing her cookbooks, along with raising awareness for the library and the programs offered there. However, Connie doesn’t care about the library, all she wants is the money and publicity and she sure doesn’t want to be at the back of the building, but in the lobby.

Then she decides the best sleigh shouldn’t be used for the Winter Royalty, but what she should ride in on.

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I guess that is correct, as she is a royal pain.

Sorry, had to do it.

Sorry, had to do it.

After they iron out that detail they go on to the school kitchen to talk about the big banquet they are going to have. Connie manipulates people to get what she wants, and succeeds every time. She wants her cake to be on the pedestals reserved for the crown of the Winter Prince & Princess. Edna, the school cook, is very against it, until Connie promises to gift them a dinner set for 200, including glassware, silver, and tablecloths.

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Hannah can see right through everything and thinks Connie is just plan rude. She also thinks that her show is nothing special, as it seems presentation heavy over tasty.

Hannah leaves Andrea with Connie and heads back to the The Cookie Jar. There she makes some blueberry muffins, using frozen berries instead of real ones as Minnesota in February, there is no way she is getting fresh. That’s one great thing about living on the West Coast, fresh fruit all year long.

That afternoon Hannah receives a frantic call from Janie. It turns out that the van carrying Connie Mac’s Winter Carnival Cake was ruined when the car went into a ditch. And she needs a place to to cook a replacement. They want to use The Cookie Jar.

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Hannah does not want Connie Mac in her kitchen, and suggests other places; but it turns out none are available, the only place it can happen in is Hannah’s.

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Against her better judgement, Hannah agrees.

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Besides cooking there, Norman will be taking Connie Mac’s picture as well. So it can be immortalized forever that Connie Mac cooked at the Cookie Jar.

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That night as everyone is bringing stuff in for Connie Mac, Hannah tells Lisa to take the morning off. Before Hannah leaves, she lets Janie know that there are blueberry muffins in the pantry. Janie wants some, but Connie Mac has forbidden her to have sweets as she “needs to lose 20 pounds”. She doesn’t really need to, but Connie is rude and a jerk.

Norman and Hannah both leave and Norman is just as angry at Connie as Hannah. Connie is clearly super at making enemies. You all know what that means.

Murder

Norman invites Hannah to dinner, but she refuses, wanting to rest. Unfortunately, Bill is working late, and since Janie can no longer meet her and with Andrea all alone; Hannah is convinced to go out. It turns out Bill does come and brings Mike. The perfect set-up.

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The next day Hannah goes to her shop and finds it a huge mess.

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The door is open. Flour is everywhere! Mixing bowls are filled with dry batter. Sticky spoons, beaters, and other utensils spatter the kitchen. Burning cake in the oven!

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Her shop is a total mess and could have burnt to the ground!!!! What is Connie Mac’s deal? How could she have done this?!!!

As Hannah begins cleaning, she spots Connie’s handbag. Along with her coat. Janie was gone, her car, coat, etc. So….

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Connie must never have left. As Hannah looks in the store she finds her. Dead by a blow to the head, mid muffin bite.

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And a blow on the back of a head means only one thing:

Murder

Mike and Bill come and close off Hannah’s shop. Indefinitely, until the murderer is caught. This becomes a huge part of the storyline as Hannah is angry with Mike for being so stubborn and not letting her come back. Now this really bothers me, as can the police really do that? It seems in shows that they don’t keep a place of business or residence forever.

So I looked it up, and it turns out that the police can keep a place as long as they want, however they choose to revert it back to the owner as soon as possible. So there you go, Mike is just a big ol’ jerk and I hate him.

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Moving on. Not only is Hannah locked out from her own kitchen, but she is forbidden to speak to any Connie Mac employee as Mike doesn’t want her meddling. They suspect Janie as being the murderer, but Mike knows that Hannah will refuse to accept that and try to find who she believes the “real murderer is.”

And of course Hannah does not listen.

See ya Mike

See ya Mike

She goes to the Inn and talks to Sally. There she finds out that EVERYONE hated Connie and all have reasons to kill her. All the maids at the Inn hate her; Connie fired the delivery truck driver;  she threatened to fire her long-time lawyer, Alan Carpenter; Paul, her husband, was cheating on her; he keeps postponing her book, and Kurt Howe, her publisher, is looking at getting fired if he can get her to commit; etc. Plus there is always money, the Connie Mac empire is enormous, and whoever inherits will be getting a lot of moolah.

WhoDoneIt?

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Thoughts after reading:

This was an okay book. I thought the mystery was so-so and the investigation kind of blah.

eh

At one point Mike is convinced Norman killed Connie because she made a difficult photo shoot. Really? Really?

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This was dumb. Come on, Mike. Get your head out of your butt. Dumb. Why are the two cops so stupid in this series? I mean really. Come on son.

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And they spend a long time talking about ice fishing. Really? Really?

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And it turns out the reason Paul, Connie’s husband, was trying to get close to Janie is that he is secretly her biological father. It was pretty obvious and overdramatic.

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So not horrible, but not fantastic. Just okay.

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For more Hannah Swenson Mysteries, go to Strawberry Shortcake Murder

For more Midwestern Mysteries, go to Thorns of Rosewood

For more reviews, go to The Barter

Strawberry Shortcake Murder

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Strawberry Shortcake Murder (Hannah Swenson Mystery #2) by Joanne Fluke

So as I have mentioned before, I didn’t read this series from book one, but came in the middle and am backtracking my way to the beginning. I’m glad I didn’t start at the beginning as these early books are bad.

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Like really bad. If I started at the very beginning I would have passed this series on by.

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So the first clue that this book would stink was the dedication.

For my kids.

You asked for your favorite recipes.

Here they are in novel form.

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NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO

You never, ever, ever, write a book based around recipes. That’s extremely stupid.

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So Lake Eden has been chosen for the first ever Hartland Flour Bake-Off. Hannah isn’t competing, but in between deliberations creating concoctions for the judges and how to do it for the viewers.

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One of the judges is Coach Boyd Watson, the wife beater from Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, is especially cruel and harsh in his criticisms, upsetting many promising cooks.

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One night Hannah comes upon Coach Boyd Watson’s dead body, and facedown in her Strawberry Shortcake!

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The police think his wife is the killer, but Hannah believes in her innocence. She then sets out to discover the real murderer.

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Thoughts After reading:

I did not like this. I know I said before, but it bears repeating.

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So let’s start off with the first problem of the novel. It begins with Hannah hearing a crash  in her condo and “going after that person.”

really?

She decides that she isn’t a “Miss Priss” and would rather go after them with a bat instead of being a “sissy girl” calling the sheriff.

really?

Of course it turns out to her cat, (saw that one a mile away), but what if it wasn’t her cat? What if that was really a burgler or murderer. They could have a gun! It’s nice to think you can handle things, but much better to actually call the cops to have them do their job.

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And then we have the same old same old complaining about mom.

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I guess as the second book it is for the “new readers”, but it still bothers me. It’s like when The Baby-sitters Club would always review the same thing in the second chapter. It gets old, fast.

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And then there is Hannah’s niece Tracey. Once again Joanne Fluke has never been around small children, or at least doesn’t remember what it’s like. I know precocious children, but none of them speak as well as Tracey. Fluke just made her waaaay too advanced for a four-year old.

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So Boyd’s a jerk, but honest in his review of the bake off. So what? We are already hate him for being a wife beater, isn’t that a little overkill?

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Then we get the Hannah’s commentary. Ugh I hate this as it is always BORING!

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She wishes that they still made Big Chief notebooks. But they can’t because they aren’t P.C. to have Indian notebooks. Well Hannah now you will get my commentary.

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They aren’t Indians Hannah. I know you want to be ignorant and call them that, but they aren’t from India. And while you are right, most don’t wish to be called Native American, it’s not because their “family walked over the land bridge from somewhere else,” which by the way:

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But because they prefer to be called by their tribe name.

Okay, so this book was published in 2001 and is supposed to be set in modern times, but a lot of times she acts like she is from the past. A girl kicked out of college for being too “wild” [sexually]. They don’t kick you out for being “wild”, they kick you out for not doing your work, paying rent, or causes issues because of alcohol, drugs, etc.

seriously

Plus Hannah is really rude and judgmental. She realizes that having a good relationship with her sister Andrea is fun and that she shouldn’t have said all those horrible things when she was younger, “even though she deserved it.” She called Andrea an idiot for flunking her math test, when she should have helped her study. Uh, no! No one deserves that. Just because she isn’t that good in math you shouldn’t call her stupid. Rude Hannah, rude.

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Then there is when Hannah is all high and mighty about her crime solving skills. She’s all ” yeah Mike and Bill are good cops and would have eventually figured everything out, but what I did actually helped.” Well, let’s see why your way helped? Hmm? YOU BROKE INTO AN APARTMENT. The police can’t just do that stuff. They have to follow certain rules because of the rights our forefathers wanted to protect. What you are doing is EXTREMELY WRONG!

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The book was horrible, and Hannah was horrible.

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For more Hannah Swenson mysteries, go to Candy for Christmas

For more Midwestern mysteries, go to Fatally Frosted

For more book reviews, go to The Black Echo

Candy for Christmas

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Candy for Christmas (Hannah Swenson Mystery #1.5) by Joanne Fluke

This is a short story mystery that takes place sometime after the first novel. I didn’t enjoy it, but like show biz, the review must go on.

It’s wintertime and almost Christmas in Lake Eden. One day Hannah heads out to her bakery when she discovers the lights on in the building.

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Her business partner, Lisa, wasn’t scheduled to come in today, but maybe she decided to anyway. It is far too cold to hang outside so Hannah heads in.

When she gets inside she finds that her bakery has been cleaned, and whoever did it left behind candy.

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Hannah is pleased with this modern Elves and the Shoemakers, but at the same time is not happy with it. Who could have done this? Why would they?

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That night Hannah and Norman head to the bakery to check out who could be in there. When they arrive at the bakery they spot a young girl. Apparently “Candy” has run away from home. She’s been hiding out in different places, such as Hannah’s bakery.

They don’t get much out of the girl, but Hannah decides to give her a room in her condo and a job in her bakery. Unknowning to Candy; Hannah, Norman, and Andrea all band toogether to figure out who she really is.

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I didn’t enjoy this story at all.

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I can see why the author wanted to right something different, and something that didn’t have murder but this was too scmaltzy and boring.

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It really seemed just a conduit to include more Christmas recipes than create an interesting story.

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I also thought their involvement in finding her parents was wrong. They shouldn’t have told them about Candy and bring them without letting Candy know. What if she had a valid reason for running away? What is she was being abused, molested, or worse?

seriously

This story is a dud. A complete waste.

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For more Hannah Swenson Mysteries, go to Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder

For more midwestern mysteries, go to Fatally Frosted

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder (Hannah Swenson Mystery #1)

So this is the first book in the series but not the first I read. I was introduced to the Hannah Swenson Mysteries by Apple Turnover Murder (Hannah Swenson Mystery #13)And I am glad I did because if I read this book first, I probably would have quit the series.

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Yeah this book was a clunker. I thought it was messy, the characters unrealistic, and the mystery too easy. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

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So the book starts off by introducing us to Hannah Swenson. Hannah is in her 30s and was studying English Lit at school. While she was in the midst of going for her masters, she has a bad experience at school and her father dies.

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She heads back to her small town, (Lake Eden, Minnesota) , to help her family out, starts a coffee and cookie shop, buys a condo, and adopts a huge orange cat. Things seem to be going good as she is building her business and life.

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Her only thorn? Her mother’s constant drive to marry her off. She is constantly setting her up with men, the latest being the son of her best friend, Norman Rhodes D.D.S. Hannah has barely met him but is rude and judgmental toward him. She thinks he is a loser because he is a dentist and therefore must be obsessed with teeth. And he is horribly ugly because he is balding. How rude Hannah. Like you’re such a prize with your constant judging and criticizing people.

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Besides just because he is a dentist doesn’t mean that’s all he thinks about. For real girl you need to give him credit that he is a person with actual thoughts and feelings rather than thinking he is the dentist from Little Shop of Horrors.

And it’s not like he wants to be balding or can control it. Jeez, girl! I’m sure he wishes he has a full head of hair too.

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Anyways, it’s an average day for Hannah. She’s heading over to open her store and passes Ron LaSalle, a deliverer for the local dairy farm. Ron LaSalle is a loyal customer buying a box of cookies every morning.

Hannah also runs into her friend Claire, the owner of the fancy boutique shop and Hannah’s next-door business neighbor. Claire convinces Hannah to come over and shop for a dress, but Hannah doesn’t want to wear one. She is one of those cliché characters that hates dressing up/doesn’t realize how pretty they are/don’t understand why women act they way they do/etc. I’m really tired of that character and wish authors would stop writing it and do something new.

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Andrea, Hannah’s sister, comes by and drops her daughter off with Hannah while she gets her hair done. Now this is where I have a huuuuuuuuuuge problem. Andrea’s daughter Tracey is great in the later books but in this one she is only four but conversing like a twelve year old! Now I’ve known a lot of four-year olds, and even the precocious ones DO NOT speak that well. I don’t think this author has been around real children if she writes her that focused and well-behaved.

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Anyways, so Tracey saw Ron outside in his car and thinks it is weird. Hannah assumes that Ron is having car trouble and goes out to check when she discovers that he is dead!

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And not just dead but:

Murder

Ron was shot in the head.

Hannah’s brother-in-law, Andrea’s husband, is a deputy with the Sheriff’s department and is heading up the investigation. He gets Hannah’s statement, and while they are discussing what happened, Hannah realizes something important. Ron was behind schedule. This is really odd as Ron was a stickler for being on time.

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Bill then asks Hannah to help with the investigation, as he wants to solve the case and get promoted to detective.

Now here is where I have a huge problem again. There’s no way as a law enforcement he would ask for help in his investigation from a civilian! Come on!

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And to be honest, if he can’t solve it than he doesn’t deserve the promotion.

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He should be telling her not to investigate as she is a civilian.

Now I’m not saying that I do not want her to investigate, I love stories with amateurs, it’s just that there is no way a cop would ask a civilian for help. No way!

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Anyways, at a catering event at the school she discovers that when Ron dropped off the milk, he had a women with him. Apparently the school leaves coffee for him every morning, and when the secretary came to clean it up she found two cups, one of which had lipstick on it.

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Hannah and Bill set out to track it down, with Hannah finding it being sold by an Avon-like woman. There she discovers that the lipstick belongs to Danielle Watson.

Hannah meets up with Danielle later and discovers that she is a gambler going to Gambler’s Anonymous and that Ron was her sponsor. She received a check from her stocks and headed over the casino, running into Ron who was passing out GA flyers. He got her out of there, following her home to make sure she was safe, and the two went to his apartment to talk and make sure she didn’t give in again. He got up late and took Danielle with him on his deliveries.

Hannah also finds out that Ron had a toothache and was going to the dentist that day. She calls around seeing who worked on him, ending up with Norman Rhodes. She tries to ask him questions, but he refuses as he wants to see her in person to discuss everything.

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That afternoon Hannah finds herself being manipulated again, giving into Claire and purchasing the gown picked, planning on wearing it to the Woodley’s annual party.

So Hannah and Andrea head over to have lunch with Norman, Hannah planning on keeping his attention while Andrea snoops. Hannah discovers that Ron got his tooth taken care of , but even more interesting is that Norman is a funny, sweet, nice guy. She agrees to go with him to the Woodley party.

Hannah continues her investigations and discovers that Danielle’s husband Boyd has been dropping a lot of cash on glitzy gifts, too much for his job as a high school football coach. She also discovers that he was gone for the window of the murder. Could he be the killer?

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Hannah and Lisa decide to go investigate the casino where Ron was passing out GA flyers as he got into a fight with a bouncer. While there we get this long rant on how stupid gambling is and how Hannah doesn’t understand the drive for it. Or the superstitions that people have. Another cliché as guess who wins the grand prize, her of course. I understand not liking gambling or believing that one should do it, but not understanding the draw? Come on, everyone knows what draws people in, is the hope for winning!

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Then we get a flashback as Hannah reminisces about her and her sister’s lives growing up and how things changed when she went to college. Here is where we get the whole story of why Hannah left. She had a fling with her professor, only to discover that he didn’t love her but was actually engaged to be married, his fiancee walking in on them.

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Hannah goes to the Woodley party and has a lot of fun with Norman. Unfortunately, Benton Woodley, son, heir, Andrea’s ex-boyfriend, and the bane of Hannah’s existence is back in town. He says he missed the small town experience and loves Lake Eden, but something is fishy to Hannah. He always hated being here before and swore never to come back.

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At the party, Hannah talks to the dairy secretary, Betty, to get more info on Ron and finds out that Max, the supervisor is missing. He was supposed to go to a convention and give a speech, but he never checked in and no one has seen or heard from him. Could Max have killed Ron for some reason and gone on the run?

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Hannah mentions Max to Norman and discovers he can’t stand the guy. It turns out that Norman’s father, who was also a dentist, needed money to get improvements for his practice but all the banks turned him down. Max lent him the money, if the Rhodes put their house up for collateral. The Rhodes took the deal and when they were only one payment away from owning their house, Max called in the full loan. Luckily, Norman was able to get a loan from a bank, which he gave his parents, who paid Max. But clearly Max was a shark up to no good. But, is he a killer?

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Hannah decides that of they can’t get the answers they need from Max, as no one can find him, that she is going to break into his house. Andrea comes with her and the two break into the garage first. There they find Max’s car, with everything needed for his trip to the convention. Odd, as that must mean he didn’t leave. They check his house but there is no sign of him. Hannah steals his keys and decides the two need to set out to check the dairy.

When they get to the dairy, they find nothing. Hannah has not given up yet and decides to check out the remains of the old dairy. The building was burned and rebuilt with only one section of the original left. They head over there and find Max…Dead

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They also find his stash of loans. This means someone killed him over it, but who? And how is Ron connected? Did he see something? Did he walk in on them?

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Thoughts After Reading:

I really didn’t enjoy this book at all. The characters were all bland and generic Midwestern clichés. The main character was annoying, judgmental, cocky, and rude.

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The police were incompetent, but what made it really sad was that they knew they were incompetent. I mean it is funny to see them match wits when the police officer is arogant and totally missing something, or, as in Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, and Miss Marple; over time and succesful stream of solved mysteries they realize that this is someone much smarter and one they should work with. But when someone is incompetent and knows it, asking for help to get PROMOTED when they clearly stated before that they were not ready as THEY CAN’T DO IT ON THEIR OWN BUT NEED HELP FROM AN ENGLISH LIT AND COOKIE BAKER (that’s right, she doesn’t even read mystery novels, or teach psychology, or do something slightly relevant) it is just sad, just sad indeed.

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The mystery was extremely obvious as to what they answer is. Now it is one thing if you have a mystery where it is easily solved, but the characters are fun and adorable so you don’t care. This was neither, it was just a disappointment. And the recipes weren’t all that intriguing either.

This one was a stinker, but some of the later ones are actually really good. I guess you just have to decide how invested do you want to get.

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For the previous book review, go to The Emperor’s Edge

For more Midwestern mysteries, go to Fatally Frosted