Candy Canes of Christmas Past

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Ready for the next Christmas mystery? Here you go!

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Candy Canes of Christmas Past (Lucy Stone #0.5) by Leslie Meier

So a couple of years back I was at a library sale and they were doing a whole brown bag full of whatever for $1.00. I picked up all kinds of book, one of which was Lucy Stone #3 Trick or Treat Murder. 

I read it and hated it, vowing to never read another one of the books again.

Then I picked up this book at the library

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I didn’t have anything to read and was waiting for some people so I started reading it. I loved this mystery as it was the perfect blend of Christmas story, a family trying to get things together, and a mystery. It was perfect and I absolutely adored it.

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The story was compelling as the reader is caught up in trying to find out how the Stone family will make it through Christmas in a dilapidated house, with barely any money, and no oven for Christmas dinner!

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As Lucy is trying to settle in the new town and meet people, she befriends the town librarian and is told of her mother’s mysterious death.

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Lucy is on the case to investigate a mystery in retrospect, find her place in the town, and figure out what to do about Christmas and Christmas dinner.

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Thoughts After Reading:

So many authors try to blend a story of a small town community with a murder mystery and fail. This one gets it right.

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If I could buy a copy of this book on its own I would as I just loved it. It may become a new tradition for me to read every year around the holidays. You should check it out!

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For more Christmas Mysteries, go to Sugar Cookie Murder

For more stay at home moms who try a hand at investigating, go to The Barter

For more reviews, go to Sinister Sprinkles

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Grime and Punishment

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Grime and Punishment (Jane Jeffry #1) by Jill Churchill

Thoughts Before Reading:

So the first book I read in this series was From Here to Paternity. I got it for free from the library and hated it (more on that later). For some strange reason I thought I would give the first book a go to see if it was good, and when I read it, I loved it!

As you might have guessed, all the books in the series are reworking of famous films/literature. This one is of Crime and Punishment.

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The story is that widowed Jane Jeffry is doing a great job raising her kids. She has hidden from them the real reason dad was out that night when a car crashed into him, is there for her kids in carpooling, cooking, cleaning, supporting; but even supermoms need a little help.

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She’s supported by her husbands life insurance and interests, letting her be a stay at home mom, and she can even afford a cleaning lady to come in. When her usual person retires, she and her best friend Shelley, the next-door-neighbor, manage to score the best cleaning lady in the neighborhood.

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On the day of the new cleaning lady’s fist day, it is also one of Shelley’s legendary PTA parties. Fed up with people always bringing the same thing, no main courses, and at least one poorly done meal, she now assigns each mother a specific dish, one they can drop off early in the day so everything is ready to go at meeting time. Everyone is used to this and Shelley just leaves her door open as she trusts her neighbors and the cleaning lady will be there.

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That day Jane stops by early to see Shelley, and finds out that their new cleaning lady called in sick. Replaced this morning by another cleaner, who from far away and behind, looks just like her.

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Jane and Shelley visit, when Jane realizes she forgot to make her dish. She helps some other ladies drop off food, cleans up from the morning, runs around doing errands and finding ingredients. When she has everything completed, she goes to drop off the salad, happy to have made it under the wire. When she gets home she gets a call from Shelley. It turns out the cleaning lady is dead

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The police come and start the investigation, one sexy detective paying Jane a lot of attention. In fact they all pay her a lot of attention, thinking she is highly suspect in the cleaning lady’s murder.

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It soon is figured out that the murder meant to kill the original cleaning lady, Edith, rather than the replacement. It turns out Edith is very nosy, and her urge to snoop has netted her something big, and a death wish.

Jane is on the case to figure out who the killer is and clean up her neighborhood. Hopefully she can sweep up the answers before she is the next victim.

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Thoughts After Reading:

In some ways it was very similar to Mrs. McGinty’s Dead, the cleaning woman is nosy and discovers a real tidbit, being murdered for it; but in other ways it is very enjoyable. I loved it so much I had a hard time putting it down, eager to discover which suburbanite is the murderer and what really happened the night Jane’s husband died.

I encourage you to read it as it was fantastic. Yes:

cluelesstravistwothumbsup!

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For more mystery reviews, go to A Stitch Before Dying