Sleeping Beauty

sleepingbeauty

I’m not talking about that Sleeping Beauty. I’m talking about this one:

sleepingbeauty

Sleeping Beauty by Phillip Margolin

Lawyer Miles Van Meter is on a book tour to promote his bestseller, Sleeping Beauty, a true crime account of the attack on his twin sister Casey that left her in a coma.

Aw...

Aw…

As Miles begins discussing the case, talking about everything that happened, little does he know that afterwards; something extremely important to the case will be revealed.

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We travel to six years earlier and to an event that would change the course of someone’s life forever.

suspense

Ashley is seventeen years old, soccer star, and just your average girl next door. After winning the state championship, her best friend decides to stay the night. But what should have been a fun time with friends turns out to be night filled with horror.

Sabrina the teenage witch salem dum di dum dum dum

But somebody else decides to crash the party.

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A serial killer kills Ashley’s father, along with raping and murdering Tanya. After taking care of Tanya the serial killer does something completely unusual, takes a break and eats some cake left out downstairs.

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How weird is that? Does killing activate his sweet tooth? Is he so confident in his success he can just break to celebrate?

HMMM

While he is occupied, Ashley is able to escape.

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After the ordeal, Ashley is ready to give up on everything. That is, until she and her mother receive an invitation and scholarship for the prestigious private school, Oregon Academy. They decide the best thing for everyone is a new start, and accept. There they meet Casey Van Meter who shows them the school and introduces the pair to their onsite writer, Joshua Maxfield. Ashley’s mother, Terri, decides to stay on for the summer to attend Joshua’s writing class while Ashley helps out in the summer soccer camp.

Lordoftherings LifeisGood

Terri attends the writing class and becomes horrified when she hears Maxfield read a story that is full of details of her daughter’s case, including the part about eating sweets which was never publicized.

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Terri notifies the police and starts researching into Maxfield. When Terri discusses it with Casey, Casey rebuffs her; only to call Terri later and stranglely, ask to meet up at the boathouse to reveal some information.

Very fishy

Very fishy

Later that same night, Ashley is walking around when she has the misfortune to hear screams and discover her mother’s and Casey’s stabbed bodies.

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She also sees Maxfield with a knife.

AAAAHHHHH

While a huge manhunt after Maxfield commences, once again Ashley flees for her life.

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Within this story are a lot of twists and turns, secret adoptions, revealed identities, psychotic killers, and more.

urkelgif interesting hmm

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Thoughts After Reading:

I HATED this book.

Hate him.

The plot wasn’t bad but the way it was told was horrible.

IDon'tlikeit

It keeps going back and forth in time which is so confusing and makes it so hard to focus on what was happening and when it happened.

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At times I thought it was boring and a bit too unbelievable. Really stretching it there.

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I thought that the end twist was good, but the path wasn’t done well. It was just too confusing and made the book horrible to me.

thumbsdown

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For more stand alone mysteries, go to Ticker

For more serial killers, go to The Alchemy of Murder

For more mysteries, go to A Murder in Mohair

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Where Are You Now?

Mothers-Day

Happy Mother’s Day!

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

whynot

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

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Where Are You Now? by Mary Higgins Clark

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

Lordoftherings LifeisGood

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

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

phonecall

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

Not-Good

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

Come on, Mack

Come on, Mack

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

Stop this stupid love triangle!

She is going to search for Mack.

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

Interesting

Interesting

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

Smirkity smirk smirk

Hmmm. Maybe she is on to something.

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

gotthis

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

suspicious Hmm

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

I've got my eye on you

I’ve got my eye on you

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

coincidenceithinknot

The only items stolen being Mack’s tapes.

Very fishy

Very fishy

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

urkelgif interesting hmm

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

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Thoughts After Reading:

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

loveitSupernatural

Or a miss:

stupidestthingever

No in-between.

You_know_thats_right

This book was definitely a miss for me.

IDon'tlikeit

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

don'tneedsleepneedanswers

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

fantastic

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

blahblah

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

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

movingOnsherlocknotinterested

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

bigmistake

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

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

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

For more holiday posts, go to Wookie Cookies

Murder and Other Unnatural Disasters

murderanotherunnaturaldisaters

Murder and Other Unnatural Disasters by Lida Sideris

After Corrie Locke’s father died, she decided to give up the private investigating business and get into something that is safe and secure; becoming a lawyer.

Everything will be fine.

Everything will be fine.

In fact, Corrie has just landed the job of her dreams, an associate lawyer at a big entertainment production house. Only problem is, this is far from what she dreamed as safe and secure.

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Instead Corrie has a crazy supervisor who changes his mind every second, her ex-boyfriend that was a huge mistake works there too, a gossipy Human Resources executive, a Vice President that doesn’t understand the word “no”, and much more.

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

To make things even more complicated, Corrie finds herself donning her gumshoes when someone begs her to investigate a suicide, he believes is a cover for murder.

veronicamarsinvestigatesleuth

Once word is out that Corrie is back in business, she gets two more cases: finding a famous basketball player’s lost lucky charm, his Siamese cat; and figuring out who is making a famous rapper believe he has been abducted by aliens.

what have i gotten myself into star trek next gen

In between lawyering and investigating; Corrie has an old friend she’d always crushed on come back in her life; and a man she can’t stand but is attracted to. What’s a girl to do?

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Thoughts After Reading:

            Fans of Veronica Mars will enjoy reading about this teenage private investigator trying to leave the life, only to discover it is something in her blood.

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Corrie was a fun and likable character as you relate to her normalcy in an office full of strange temperamental people. Her partner in investigating, best friend, and secret crush; Michael, is not only adorable in his nerdy everyday personality, but just as lovable in his attempts to be like Colombo or other TV detective.

gotthis

This novel was very engaging and the three mysteries were fun, interesting and great to challenge any reader. The lost cat and rapper tales are minor, but still engaging, and the overall investigating arc of the suicide as murder; is intriguing as it takes a series of twists and turns in trying to find out is it really a murder? And if so who could be the killer?

FRIEND!!???

Who??

The only issues I had with the book was at times it seems to be a little bit disorganized, waiting until halfway in to give us the back-story the author is constantly hinting at.  I would have preferred if we were introduced to it earlier as it helps one understand the characters better. The other problem I had with the novel was the love triangle between Corrie, Michael, and the assistant district attorney. A lot of mysteries have been doing this lately, and I for one am tired of reading it.

Ijustwantittostop

But as those are such minute issues, and on a whole the story was almost impossible to put

down,

don'tneedsleepneedanswers

I would give this four and a half stars out of five.

loveitSupernatural

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For more books on private investigators, go to Fool Moon

For more female private investigators, go to One for the Money

For more suspicious suicides, go to Knit, Purl, Die

For more not in a series mysteries, go to The Italian Wife

The Unsolvable Mystery: The Mystery of Edwin Drood

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Ready for our last Christmas mystery review? Here you go.

EdwinDrood

The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens

*Contains Spoilers*

Background:

This book is known as the unsolvable mystery due to one reason, it is unfinished. Charles Dickens began writing this in the summer of 1869, when he was sick and ailing, dying a year later and leaving his last mystery unsolved.

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It has stumped and angered people for over a hundred years as no one knows what happened. Did something bad happen to Edwin? Did he leave of his own free will? Was he murdered? Kidnapped? If murdered who is the killer? It can be very frustrating.

arghfliptablesangry

In fact many people have tried a hand at solving the “unsolvable crime”.

  • In 1870, Robert Henry Newell published his version of the story, transporting the tale to America and more a parody than anything else.
  • 1871-1872, John Jasper’s Secret: The Sequel to Charles Dicken’s Mystery of Edwin Drood, was published by Henry Morford. In this version John Jasper tries to kill Edwin, but he escapes.
  • In 1873, Thomas Jane wrote his version of the ending and was praised as the “true version” for a long period of time as many believed him when he said that he had channeled Dickins’ actual spirit in writing.

Very suspicious

  • In 1935, Universal came out with the film Mystery of Edwin Drood, starring Claude Rains as John Jasper and David Manners as Edwin Drood.
  • In 1980, The Mystery of Edwin Drood was published by Leon Garfield. In his book every loose end is wrapped up by his introduction of several new characters.
  • In 1985 the musical Drood, aka The Mystery of Edwin Drood, came out. In this the audience is able to vote on who they think the killer should be. It was revived in 2012.
  • In 1992, Peter Rowland wrote The Disappearance of Edwin Drood, in which years after the incident a very old John Jasper asks Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson to solve the case.

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  • In 1993 The D. Case or the Truth About the Mystery of Edwin Drood by Carlo Fruttero and Franco Lucentini was published with the most famous literary detectives attempting to solve the mystery. It features Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown, and more.
  • In 1993, A&E distributed the film The Mystery of Edwin Drood, starring Robert Powell as John Jasper and Jonathan Phillips as Edwin Drood.
  • In 2005, the Doctor Who episode, The Unquiet Dead, has Dickens and the Doctor fighting aliens, causing him to end the novel with the Gelth being the murderer.
  • In 2012, The Mystery of Edwin Drood: Part II, The Solution, by David Saunders was published. He believes that not only is John Jasper a red herring, but that there is another murder that has been overlooked.
  • In 2012, BBC produced a two episode mini-series that took a lot of liberties with the book in it’s portrayal. It made Ned and Helen Indian, John Jasper secretly Edwin’s brother not uncle, and Ned & Helen the half siblings of both Edwin and John Jasper.

So as you can see there is a lot of what other people wanted the book to be like, but what is the actual story? Let’s take a look.

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Now let me say before we begin, I HATED this book.

thenannygasp

I know!!!! I can’t believe it either. I LOVE Charles Dickens. I LOVE everything he has written. It pains to to even think about writing these words, but this book sucked. Really sucked. So what went wrong? Let’s review what made this Dickens’ fan upset.

Hate this.

Hate this.

Synopsis:

So the first problem I have with this particular edition, not with Dickens’ actual book, is the introduction by , who tells the reader that the killer is John Jasper.

What?

Hello this is A MYSTERY!!! You just don’t tell someone the end unless you say spoilers ahead. I mean HOW COULD YOU!!!

That be like if in Bones, they decided that instead of you trying to use the hour to figure out which of the people is the killer, they just told you in the beginning. Heck no. You do not do that. That is beyond horrible. How could you!!!!

arghfliptablesangry

Screw you Peter Ackroyd! And may all your writings be filled with typos for the pain you have caused!!!!!!!!!!!!

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So from now on, anything in the review will be on Dickens work. Let’s get started.

So any of you who have read a Dickens’ book, you know the basic formula. We are given a group of characters, and as they develop we end up discovering that they are somehow all more closely related than we could ever think. Lots of great scenes, memorable lines, and extremely lovable characters.

This book is not like that at all.

Not-Good

So we start of with John Jasper, choirmaster in a small Cathedral town (based on Rochester), who is at the moment residing in an opium den.

What?

Yeah, that’s some serious commentary for an opening. I didn’t see that coming, that’s for sure.

wow

Anyways, he had this vision of murdering his nephew, Edwin Drood. Edwin and Jasper are very close in age, only about five years apart. When his parents died, Edwin was sent to live with his grandparents. After their deaths, he was sent to his uncle Jasper’s. As the two were close in age, they became more of a relationship of brothers rather than uncle and nephew. Edwin is the only one to call Jasper “Jack”, and Jasper the only one to call Edwin “Ned”. And why would Jasper wish to kill his nephew/almost a brother; keep reading to find out.

suspicious Hmm

So Jasper is a huge opium addict, but no one notices. They all see his shortness of breath, sallowness of skin, tired eyes; but they all accept his explanation of not sleeping well. I think part of it is the fact they would never consider a gentleman, especially one who is employed in a church, could be on drugs.

impossible

Anyways, Edwin is now residing in London, learning the engineering trade as he inherits his father’s business at the age of 21. He will also be getting wed to his father’s best friend’s daughter, Rosa “Pussy” Bud (I know what a stupid name to give a child). He is currently visiting the town to see Jack, and visit with Rosa as it her  birthday.

Now Rosa is not only the fiancé of Edwin, but is also being given music lessons by Jasper. He keeps a sketch Edwin made of her over the mantle, leaving me to guess that there is more than singing that Jasper wants from Rosa.

Smirkity smirk smirk

Smirkity smirk smirk

I know in Emma, Mr. Elton took the picture of Harriet Smith because he liked Emma, and she painted it; but in this case I don’t think the reason he hangs Rosa in a place of honor has anything to do with Edwin being the artist.

Edwin is being kind of sarcastic about his upcoming nuptials with Rosa as he doesn’t want to marry her and he doesn’t really want to become an engineer. When his father wrote the will, he put in it about the business and getting married to Rosa, of which Rosa’s father did the same in his will. Edwin doesn’t hate Rosa or engineering, he just hates the fact that his life has been written out for him.

Hate this.

Hate this.

Jasper gets very angry at him treating Rosa that way, that she is too good for him. Edwin apologizes and agrees.

We then meet Rosa.

Hate her that's so raven

I have disliked a few literary characters in my time but none as much as Rosa Bud. Ugh. She is just so horrible and infuriating. I dislike her more than words can describe.

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So Rosa lives in a school for young ladies, residing there ever since the death of her parents. She very much does not want to get married to Edwin, and because she’s not adult enough to talk to him about her feelings, she just whines the whole time and tries to hurt Edwin in every way she can. Instead of acting like the 18 years she is, she acts like a five-year old having a tantrum.

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She goes on about how absurd the whole engagement is, calls Edwin ugly, that she never wants to dance with him, and tells him that she’s tired of him. Now what about this character is so charming that everyone would fall in love with her.

heath

She’s just jerk to me.

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Now this character would work if she was innocent and naive in not knowing how this hurts or affects him, in a sense having no filter but just saying anything she thinks of feels. But that is not how the character is written. In this she is upset and unhappy and is purposely striking out against him. She knows what she is doing. I mean think of Brave. Merida was someone you loved because she was just being herself. She didn’t understand, until the end of the film, that being an adult means you have responsibilities and that every choice you make will have an outcome that you have to be ready for. When she shoots the arrow at the bullseye, “winning her own hand in marriage”, she’s not doing it on purpose to snub her family, culture, and say that her suitors are unworthy; she just is thinking as a child. A type of ” I want this so I’m going to do this”. Rosa knows she is purposely being cruel to Edwin, and instead of being an adult and either accepting the marriage, making the best out of it: or choosing to say no to her fortune an not marry Edwin; she decides to make his life Hell.

you're evil

So they go for a walk and Rosa tells Edwin they are going to play a game. In this game Edwin is engaged to someone else and she is engaged to no one. Edwin doesn’t really want to play, but she constantly pushes him, until he gives in. He starts describing his “fake fiancé” making her appearance the opposite of Rosa. The “girl” is nice, charming, has a big nose, likes engineering, and is happy to have to move to Egypt with Edwin when he inherits the company. And Rosa gets Jealous.

really?

I can’t be- I mean seriously, seriously. She gets SUPER JEALOUS of a IMAGINARY FIANCE of a guy SHE DOESN’T EVEN LIKE. Like what is wrong with her? She is incredibly crazy. As Edwin goes on to describe “the fake girl” Rosa says the most horrible things. That his “dream girl” is gawky, with gigantic nose that is incredibly red, so ugly skinned she has to use powder, that is supremely stupid, etc. She then goes on to make fun of engineering and Egypt.

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Like what is her deal? Why does everyone fall in love with her? I mean this is a common character in Dickens’ work, there is always a female that every guy is crazy about. But in his other books, they actually have an appeal about them. In Great Expectations, Estella was cruel and cold, yes, but not all the time. As she was trained to be a heartbreaker, her adoptive mother’s weapon upon men, she at first made the men fall for her, only to after crush every bit of them afterwards. In A Tale of Two Cities, Lucy was loved by all, as her father was the only male character not interested in marrying her, but she was sweet, kind, and caring. Rose Maylie in Oliver Twist; sweet, kind, gentle, and pure. I could go on, but I think you get the point that Rose sucks.

Hate her that's so raven

So I was kind of done with this novel at this point. The plot was extremely boring thus far. Jasper is a jerk trying to scam on his nephew’s fiancé and a tad deranged by opium. Rosie is obnoxious, cruel, and extremely annoying. The only character I care  for is Edwin, but even he can’t carry the whole book.

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But I didn’t give up. I continued on, and you want to know why? Why I bothered to continue reading something I knew I would not love no matter what? All because I purchased the book The Disappearance of Edwin Drood by Peter Rowland at a library book sale, and knew I could not read it until I had finished the original. So I pushed on.

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So Edwin and Rosa argue some more, Rosa stupidly with Edwin not winning no matter what he says. However, this whole time Jasper is spying on them (further proof he is in love with Rosa) and Rosa tells Edwin to take her back to the house.

Durdles, the stonemason for the crypts & graveyards, is talking with the Mayor about his late wife’s tombstone. Jasper runs into to them, and goes off with the mayor. He returns that night to speak to Durdles about the “mysteries of the crypts”.

creepy

Reverend Septimus, the minor canon, is taking in twin orphans, Neville and Helena Landless. Neville will stay with the Reverand, while Helena will move into the school that Rosa resides. The twins’ ages are not stated but they are around the ages of Rosa and Edwin (18-21).

The two are from Ceylon (modern day Sri Lanka, island off the coast of India) but it is not stated whether they are of that descent of if their family was British. It describes them as dark, but do they mean tanned “dark”, dark coloring as in hair, or dark as in Indian? I guess it doesn’t matter that much.

movingOnsherlocknotinterested

Their mother remarried when they were young, and died when they were still children. They had been living with a cruel stepfather who used to starve them, not give them any clothes, beat them, etc. He’s lucky he died before Neville decided to kill him.

Because of this upbringing, Neville has a quick temper, sees faults and injustice in almost everything, and can be sullen and rude.

Hate this.

Hate this.

So the Landlesses join the Reverend and his mother for their Wednesday get togethers; with Edwin, Rose, and Jasper joining them like always. Ned sees Rosa and falls for her instantly, ( I can’t imagine why). Jasper sets out to play while Rosa sings like usual. This time, Rosa can’t be in Jasper’s presence and completely freaks out, throwing another tantrum. Helena recognizes that Rose is five-year-old in a woman’s body and carries her away to lie down on the sofa.

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Edwin tells everyone that Rosa was nervous in such a large crowd (two extra people). He kids with Jasper about him scaring her, and Jasper leaves. The Rev. decides that the night is late and the party ends. Rosa and Helena go home in which Helena asks about her and Edwin. Rosa complains about it to Helena. And all I can think is Helena is a saint. If I had been through all she had been through (plus if she is Indian, then she has not only experienced emotional and physical abuse but also prejudice), and then heard the sob story of rich Rosa being so upset because she has to get married to a nice guy; I’d be like girl please. Shut up and come back to me when you have a real problem.

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But Helena says nothing of the sort, just asks Rosa to be her friend.

Helena then shares her observation that Jasper is in love with Rosa. Rosa is utterly disgusted by Jasper as he scares her, haunting her thoughts; proclaiming his words of love not in words but in the melody he plays, etc. Now this part confused me. I mean WE the reader know Jasper is bad. He is an opium addict and contemplating killing his nephew; but why does Rosa think so? We aren’t presented with anything he has done to scare her. It just doesn’t make sense. Why is he so villainous?

What?

Anyways, the boys have done their duty of escorting the girls home. Edwin finds himself attracted to Helena, and I have to admit for a moment I thought “maybe he and Helena will get together instead of him and Rose”. Then I realized that was a stupid thought as the book is called The Mystery of Edwin Drood. He must die or disappear.

duh

Neville tries to congratulate Edwin on his upcoming marriage, but Edwin is not that excited. This makes Neville angry as he doesn’t know the way Rosa treats Edwin. The two get into a fight with Jasper coming along and breaking it up. He brings them in for a drink to smooth things over, but unfortunately, it doesn’t help. Neville is jealous of all he thinks Edwin has and remarks that he would be better of he had experienced hardships in his life instead of having things “easy”. Now I know Edwin has money and his life mapped out, but things haven’t been exactly easy. He’s had to go through the death of his parents and grandparents; both being people who have raised him. That’s a hard loss. He also has a shrew of a fiancé. It may not be the same as Neville’s experiences, but it is far from “easy”.

Neville and Edwin get into another fight. Neville calls Edwin common, and Edwin retorts that he “may know a black common fellow…but you are no judge of white men.” Ah, so they are most likely Indian.

Uh-oh

Oh

Sorry, back to fight. Neville is offended and flings his drink at Edwin. He is about to send the glass, but Jasper stops him and he sends him home.

The next day, Jasper comes to see the Rev. and tells him he must send Neville away, as he is crazy and fears that he might hurt Edwin. The Rev. defends Neville and says that he will stay.

Rumors start flying about the attack, each time painting Neville as eviler and eviler. It does not look good.

Not-Good

So now we switch to my least favorite character, Rosa, who is having a meeting with her lawyer Mr. Grewgious. Let me say, I love this man. Favorite character of the book. He is so awesome and adorable. Awerable. Adorsome.

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He gives Rosa a copy of her father’s will, and is planning on giving one to Jasper, as he is Edwin’s guardian. Rosa pleads to give it to Edwin instead, and Mr. Grewgious agrees to. Rosa asks him about the will and what would happen if she and Edwin were not to get married. Mr. Grewgious says, absolutely nothing.

What?

It seems as if everyone has misunderstood. Whether or not they will marry, both were inherit all of their family’s wealth. There was never any setup betrothal by the parents, they just hoped and wished the two would fall in love and marry.

wow

The Rev. speaks to Neville, telling him he must leave Rosa alone as she is engaged and not free to be anything to him. You may not like Edwin or approve of how he treats her, which to me I saw no big tuzzle, but he is her fiancé and will be her husband. So back off and back very far away.

seriously

Jasper comes to see the Rev. and speaks more of his fears that Neville will do something. He shows him the journal entries he wrote about how scared he is and how he feels evil coming out of Neville. The Rev. convinces him to give the boys another chance to be friends. A couple days later he comes back with a note from Edwin, who agrees with the Rev. He asks Jasper to invite Neville to Christmas Eve dinner.

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Back in London, Mr. Grewgious has asked Edwin to come by so that they may clear up a few particulars. We are introduced to his paralegal, a Mr. Bazzard who does not wish to be a lawyer and is mopey and rude.

How rude

Anyways, Mr. Grewgious pulls out Rosa’s mother’s ring. Her father gave it to Mr. Grewgious for safekeeping, to be given to the man who was to be Rosa’s husband. He tells Edwin that when he places the ring on Rosa’s finger it will it an unbreakable seal that they are to be married. If Edwin has any doubts at all about the marriage, the two should break their “pre-engagement” and Edwin should return the ring to Mr. Grewgious.

Jaspar and Durdles meet up for Jasper’s tour among the tombs. They see quick-lime along the way, something used to decompose the body quickly. While they are doing that, Jasper sees the Rev. and Neville walking and spies on them. He can only hear his name, Christmas, and that this is all in confidence. It doesn’t take a genius that the Rev. is discussing the dinner, and Jasper’s fears; trying to convince Neville to be calm.

Jasper gives Durdles a bottle of liquor, which quickly knocks him out. When Durdles wakes up, his key is next to him, not in his pocket. You know what that means, Jasper purposely brought the alcohol because he knew Durdles would drink to excess, and then he could still the key and unlock a door to a crypt.

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Edwin comes to see Rosa, who is enjoying her last Christmas party at school as her and Edwin are supposed to be married soon. Edwin isn’t happy as the conversation with Mr. Grewgious has really pickled his conscience and leaves him unsure as to whether or not he should marry her. The ring hangs heavy in his pocket. The two go off together and Rosa says she doesn’t want to marry him, she wants them to be like brother and sister. Edwin is a little hurt at her words, but agrees that he doesn’t love her in any other way.

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Both are happier with the decision, but Edwin is worried about Jasper. He knows how much Jasper cares for him and how heartbroken he will hear that they won’t be getting married, as he will be hurting for Edwin.

Rosa is also worried that with her and Edwin no longer engaged, Jasper might voice his attraction. She decides the best person to tell him will be Mr. Grewgious, and Edwin agrees.

It turns out that Jasper had been spying on them. Unfortunately, he was much too far away to hear anything and assumes that by their happy faces they are eager for the wedding day.

Uh-oh

Uh-oh

Neville Landless is preparing to take a walking tour (hike) of his new country, not only to look at it but to separate him from his infatuation of Rosa. Before he leaves that night for Christmas Eve dinner, he packs his clothes and his brand new walking stick, which is iron shod. He is ready. The Rev doesn’t like it, thinking it is extremely heavy, but Neville says it will be good for his practice as he has never hiked before. He promises to write Helena every other day.

Edwin goes to do some errands, stopping at the jewelers to get his watch fixed. The jeweler hardly ever sees Edwin as all he wears is his watch and chain and a shirt pin. As he is heading out he runs into a women who looks tired and torn up. It is Princess Puffer, the women who runs the opium den that Jasper was visiting at the beginning of the novel. She has followed Jasper to warn the Ned Jasper was trying to kill in his opium dream, but has lost him. She is begging for money to return home, and Edwin takes pity on her giving her some. She asks what her benefactor’s name is. When he says Edwin, she asks him if he is ever called Ned, warning him that that is a dangerous name to have.

Sabrina the teenage witch salem dum di dum dum dum

The next day Jasper goes charging to the Rev’s house demanding to know where Edwin is. The Rev has no idea what he is talking about. He tells them that Neville came over, the boys hung out, and then Edwin and Neville went off to look at the storm and never came back.

Sabrina the teenage witch salem dum di dum dum dum

Neville had started early that morning, and its not long after that he is accosted by eight men. They fight with Neville, him using his walking stick to brain a few. They eventually overpower him, and it turns out they set out to get him after Jasper raised the alarm.

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Jasper sees the blood on Neville and his stick and starts pointing fingers. Neville retorts that when attacked by eight people he quickly defended himself, pointing to the men in the group that he smacked.

A group of people start checking the banks for Edwin, while Jasper spreads about town his suspicions surrounding Neville.

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Mr. Grewgious comes to see Jasper and tells him that Edwin and Rosa broke off the engagement. They were worried in how Jasper would take it, so Mr. Grewgious was elected to bring the news. Jasper faints.

When he awakes he is joyful, as he now hopes that Edwin took off for fear of upsetting Jasper, and wasn’t murdered. Mr. Grewgious is a little shocked by how quick his demeanor changed and very suspicious.

HMMM

The Rev. walks about the river weir, upon which he pots something shiny. It turns out to be Edwin’s watch, chain, and shirt pin. No doubt about it. Something bad happened to Edwin Drood.

Uh-oh

Uh-oh

Six months have passed, and because of the mistrust the people had against Neville, he has moved from the town to London. He has an apartment next to Lietenant Tartar, who recently inherited a massive fortune and land. As he has always lived at sea, he is slowly working his way up to bigger and bigger living places, in hopes of one day being fully comfortable in his inherited home. Tartar is the best character on this whole entire book. I just love him.

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A stranger appears in Cloisterham, who has a huge shock of white hair and goes by the name Datchery. We never find out who he is, but I always thought it was one of the characters in disguise, but which one?

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Meanwhile, after waiting six months Jasper decides now is the time to make his move. He tells Rosa that he is madly in love with her. How he has hidden his affections for the love of his nephew.  When that doesn’t work he tries to blackmail her by saying he has evidence that will prove Neville a killer, marry him or else.

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Rosa is confused as why does that affect her. Neville doesn’t like her, and never said anything. Jasper tells her that if Neville suffers, so will his sister and she doesn’t wish to hurt her best friend, does she?

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Rosa takes off. She is so worried, but manages to get down to London to see Mr. Grewgious. She tells him everything along with how Jasper frightens her so.

The Rev. comes to see Mr. Grewgious, as the headmaster was worried as to what happened to Rosa. He is told the while story and also sees Lt. Tartar, who turns out to be an old buddy of his from school. Rosa stays at Lt. Tartar’s house until they can find her other arrangements. As Helena is visiting her brother, she hears Rosa and the two girls are reunited.

They find Rosa a place, of which Miss Twinkleton, one of the Headmistresses, has promised to come and chaperone her. Rosa enjoys Lt. Tartar’s company and in my reading of it, if the book had been finished the two would have married.

Wedding

Jasper returns to the opium den. When he leaves, Princess Puffer follows him. Jasper conducts his usual singing, with Princess Puffer watching from behind a column. Datchery speaks to her, and finds out who she is. He then goes home and marks the cupboard door.

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Thoughts after reading:

I didn’t care for this mystery at all. I thought most of the characters were boring or annoying. The mystery seems to point to one conclusion, that Jasper did it, which is no real mystery at all. It just was not what I expected from Charles Dickins.

And I don’t completely blame him as he was ill, and in that state he was having a hard time making things the way he usually did. But yeah, this book was just not that good.

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For more Christmas mysteries, go to Candy Canes of Christmas Past

For more not in a series mysteries, go to The Barter

For more reviews, go to Sugar Cookie Murder

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.

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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

The Barter

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Thoughts Before Reading:

The Barter, by Siobhan Babcock, is a paranormal story, with a spirit bridging the distance between the early twentieth century and modern times. In 1902, Rebecca has grown up without a mother, as she died in childbirth. She has lived well as the daughter of a doctor, and while cared for still hasn’t matured emotionally to being a grown woman. When she agrees to marry her childhood friend, she does not quite understand what will be expected of her as a farmer, wife, and mother.

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In modern times, Bridget is under a lot of stress trying to figure out who she is. Once an ambitious lawyer working up the success ladder, when she became pregnant, she traded in briefs and long working hours for motherhood.

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She loves her daughter and spending time with her, but finds it hard trying to settle in her new dynamic as no longer bringing in money but relying on husband for financial support. She also has trouble befriending the other moms in her neighborhood, as she feels inadequate in their experience of child-rearing, crafting, and other mom-ly traits. To make matters worse, her home seems to be the resting place of a ghost that only she and her baby can see.

Girl on a Train, The

AAAAAAAAAAHHHHH! I’M GETTING OUT OF THIS HOUSE!!!!

As Bridget tries to find her place in her new role, she also attempting to discover what the ghost is after.

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Thoughts After Reading:

While this book packages itself as a supernatural mystery, it actually is more of social commentary, discussing the duality women feel who find fulfillment in working outside and inside the home; and the issues they face from moving from one plane to another. What is interesting about this novel is that it doesn’t show one better than the other, but is instead trying to bring to light the difficulties women have.

Except my baby

And EVERYTHING!!!!! Except my baby

Rebecca’s storyline was harder to become involved in than Bridget’s. Rebecca, unlike Bridget, has no idea as to what she wants. While Bridget wants to stay at home caring for her baby she loves, but finds herself unfulfilled as she misses factions of her old life but doesn’t want to give up her new life. Rebecca on the other hand is immature and while initially excited at the idea of “love” and a “relationship”, finds herself not ready for the commitments asked by her husband. While she insists she doesn’t love him, she still desires him and goes back and forth between “only loving him like a brother” and using his body to fulfill her sexual needs. This split of spirit makes Rebecca hard to connect to and very unenjoyable.

I doesn't work

It doesn’t work

I would give this book three out of five stars as I enjoyed the way they presented Bridget’s character and issues in discovering who she is and wants to be, amid what culture, society, her friends, and her family are pressuring her to be. However, the Rebecca storyline was lacking and there was no real mystery in the text.

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For more supernatural mysteries, go to Pride & Prescience (Or a Truth Universally Acknowledged) 

For more mysteries featuring a stay at home mom, go to Grime and Punishment

For more not in a series mysteries, go to The Missing Mah Jong Player

For more mystery reviews, go to Thorns of Rosewood