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Sunday, February 21, 2016

Reader Reflections: Wedding Cake Murder

Reader Reflections
My take on things that touch me during the reading of a novel

BOOK REFLECTING ON: Wedding Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke

I started reading the Wedding Cake Murder and found myself really angry and triggered by a circumstance that main character, Hannah Swensen was faced with. I was like, "Wow, where did that emotion come from?" Because of that sudden emotion in myself, I decided to journal about it and that led to this new feature on my blog: Reader Reflections. I hope you like it. 

THE SITUATION: Hannah wanted a small wedding but her mother went behind her back and conspired with many other characters to force her to have a large wedding. 

I found myself really angry about how Hannah's mother Delores was trying to manipulate her by getting other people to give her a hard time about the wedding. Hannah wanted a small wedding but Delores wanted to be the center of attention in the town and a small affair just wouldn't do.  Delores even went so fast as to say the townspeople would think she [Hannah] was pregnant since she wanted to get married so quickly and with such a small wedding party. Someone even set up a pool to guess when Hannah's due date would be. I think people have too much time on their hands and think interfering in other people's lives is okay.  I tell you it is not. 

Why can't Hannah have it the way she wants it? I know that once again Hannah is going to cave to her mother's will and that is so sad. I just want Hannah to say no to her mother and let the gossip queen have a reality check for a change. 

Since I didn't read the book in series order, I don't know how Hannah came to fall for Ross instead of one of her other two suiters. I didn't do a very thorough review of the Blackberry Pie Murder and I almost want to re-read it so I can understand the character dynamics a bit better. 

I know this is just a book and I should let it go but I wanted to delve into why this was bothering me so much. 

I think it starts out with the fact that Hannah is being manipulated. Her power is taken away from her to appease the needs of others. And like I said above, that is not okay!

Hannah pretty much accepts her fate in the book and deals with her challenge by letting everyone else have their own way. I could not do that. I spend too much time at work subordinate to others who need to feed their puny egos by trying to put their thumb down on me. I don't need that to bleed over into my personal life. 

I have not finished the book yet so I don't know how it all pans out but I will look forward to Hannah taking back her power at some point, if even in a small way. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Targeted (Deadly Ops #1) by Katie Reus

Targeted (Deadly Ops #1)
by Katie Reus (Goodreads Author
Mass Market Paperback, 329 pages
Published October 1st 2013 by Signet

Goodreads synopsis: 
Hidden in plain sight
Former Marine sniper and current NSA agent Jack Stone has a new face to go with his new identity. But he still has the same tortured memories—which include the woman he let get away years ago, when they were teenagers. Now his new assignment in Miami will put him so close to the woman he’s never been able to forget, he could reach out and touch her—if only she weren’t under suspicion.

When Sophie Moreno uncovers evidence linking the medical supply company she works for with arms smuggling—and worse—she doesn’t know who to turn to. After a shocking betrayal, she realizes the only person she can trust is a mysterious new person in the company—a man with hauntingly familiar eyes.

As Sophie questions her intense attraction to this man and Jack struggles not to blow his cover, the two of them must race against the clock to stop terrorists from killing scores of people—starting with them

5 Stars

This thriller was as intense as a car chase in the middle of noon day traffic. It started out with a bang and it kept revving its wheels the entire book. I couldn't take my eyes off the text because I was so invested in the action. Katie Reus had me when Jack walked into Sophie's office, took her to lunch and went into danger man mode to save her life. It was such a great book.

Jack Stone works for the NSA in a covert capacity and he does all those jobs that no one else wants to do. And he's good at it. His name used to be Sam Kelly but when he took the job with Wesley at the NSA, Sam had to die and he became Jack.

Jack never had a problem with that... until now. Sophie is back in the picture and in the middle of his op. What's a guy to do? How about kick a little butt and save a little ass?

This book has definitely sparked my interest in this series by Reus. I will be checking out other title ASAP!

Dive into this book. You will not regret it.

I paid for this book with my own money.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Cherry Cheesecake Murder (Hannah Swensen #8) by Joanne Fluke

Cherry Cheesecake Murder (Hannah Swensen #8)
by Joanne Fluke (Goodreads Author)

Paperback, 352 pages
Published February 1st 2007 by Kensington (first published January 1st 2006)

Goodreads synopsis: Mystery and murder are afoot in Lake Eden as a Hollywood film crew comes to town and Hannah Swensen finds herself busily catering for the cast and crew--plus juggling two marriage proposals. Between the glamorous cast and crew, her rival suitors and a killer on the loose there's plenty of drama to go around in Joanne Fluke's New York Times bestseller!

4 Stars

The movies have made their way to Lake Eden and the townsfolk are just head over heels to get a part in the production. Hannah has more than one link to the movie: her little sister, Michelle, is working on the crew and two old friends from college have made their appearance.

Having new friendly faces around may be nice for Hannah but Norman and Detective Mike find that Hannah has the eyes of another man on her as her old friend, Ross, who is the producer on the movie, takes an interest in the owner of the Cookie Jar.

The prologue showed us the murder but the actual deed didn't happen until about 61% into the book. I normally hate when that happens. It is one of my cozy mystery pet peeves.

I wish there had been a bit more investigating on Hannah's part in this book. I think that setting up the movie and letting us get to know all the new characters took up a lot more of the book than it does in a normal Hannah Swensen novel.  

I can honestly say that I enjoyed the Peach Cobbler Mystery more than I did this book. But that is not saying that this book was bad. It wasn't. It was good. Decent. And I will definitely keep reading these novels because I totally love the town of Lake Eden and its residents. Needless to say, you should check out this series because it is a keeper!

I paid for this book with my own money.

Monday, February 15, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Peach Cobbler Murder (Hannah Swensen #7) by Joanne Fluke

Peach Cobbler Murder (Hannah Swensen #7)
by Joanne Fluke (Goodreads Author)
Paperback, 384 pages
Published February 1st 2006 by Kensington (first published January 1st 2005)

Goodreads synopsis: As she sits in her nearly empty store on Groundhog Day, Hannah can only hope that spring is just around the corner - "and that the popularity of the new Magnolia Blossom Bakery is just a passing fad. The southern hospitality of Lake Eden's two Georgia transplants, Shawna Lee and Vanessa Quinn, is grating on Hannah's nerves -" and cutting into her profits. At least Hannah has her business partner Lisa's wedding to look forward to. 
   Unfortunately, Shawna Lee has finagled an invitation to the reception - "and is bringing her Southern Peach Cobbler for the dessert table. Things go from bad to worse when Shawna Lee and Hannah's sometime-boyfriend, Detective Mike Kingston, are no-shows to the wedding. When Hannah sees lights on at the Magnolia Blossom Bakery after the reception, she investigates -" and finds Shawna Lee shot to death. 
   With a little help from her friends, Hannah's determined to track down whoever had the right ingredients to whip up a murder.


4 Stars

Coming back to a Joanne Fluke novel is like coming home. I can't tell you what a quick read it was. I felt like I flew through the entire novel. That tells me that Fluke's words just flow like a rushing river. She had me from the word GO when poor Hannah Swensen was in her nearly empty cookie shop watching the competition across the street get all the customers. 

That is so on point for things that happen in small towns these days. People go for the cheaper, yet more extravagant things leaving the mom and pop shops to suffer and in the end close their doors. My heart just went out to Hannah in this book. I knew everything would be okay in the end because this is a series but in the moment, Fluke had me by the heartstrings.Then add in Detective Mike and him spending so much time with the owner of the new bakery and I couldn't read fast enough to find out what the heck was going on.

This is definitely a great book and a fast read. I will always recommend the Hannah Swensen mysteries to anyone who loves to read cozy mysteries. I am so glad to have such a great author in my MUST READ list.

I paid for this book with my own money.

BOOK REVIEW: X (Kinsey Millhone #24) by Sue Grafton

Hardcover, 403 pages
Published August 25th 2015 by Marian Wood Books/Putnam (first published January 1st 2015)

Goodreads synopsis: X:  The number ten. An unknown quantity. A mistake. A cross. A kiss.
   X:  The shortest entry in Webster’s Unabridged. Derived from Greek and Latin and commonly found in science, medicine, and religion. The most graphically dramatic letter. Notoriously tricky to pronounce: think xylophone.
   X:  The twenty-fourth letter in the English alphabet.
   Sue Grafton’s X: Perhaps her darkest and most chilling novel, it features a remorseless serial killer who leaves no trace of his crimes. Once again breaking the rules and establishing new paths, Grafton wastes little time identifying this sociopath. The test is whether Kinsey can prove her case against him before she becomes his next victim.


4 Stars

X marks the spot in this new suspense thriller from Sue Grafton.

Reading about Kinsey Millhone is like coming home and finding a long lost friend waiting at the door. I hadn't read a Sue Grafton book since about M or K. (I know, bad me.) So, it was nice to delve into this world again. Henry was there and helpful as always.

I think this book was set in the late 80's but I am not totally sure. Sometimes the flashbacks confuse me when it comes to time period. And like I said above, I haven't read a Grafton book since M or K which would make it since 1997 or so.

I read a few of the reviews before I dove into the book and many of them said that they thought this was a throwaway book. That nothing really happened. Maybe we weren't reading the same book because this novel was chock-full of action. So many things were going on I think I needed a score card. I had to search my memory for the names of some of the old favorites that are mentioned in this book so the little updates Grafton gave us about them was truly helpful. 

I think the sections concerning Henry and the whole water/drought situation was what captured me most. Oh, that Edna! Just wanted to slap her for most of the book. I was truly rooting for Henry and Kinsey to get her in the end.

I had a feeling the other parts of the storylines would converge at some point because in the beginning I think Grafton had like five different storyline threads going. I had to read this book a bit slower so I could keep all the facts in my head. I didn't want to brush over anything.

This book was, to me, great! It made me want to go back to that M or K book and start reading again. I understand why readers and reviewers might say that novels in a series get a bit of the "same old, same old" in them.  I know that I read a whole string of Stephanie Plum books within a few weeks and I wanted to stay away from them for a year because they seem so much the same from book to book. And that is why you should be reading other books between novels like this. That helps to keep the characters fresh.

If you love PI novels or shows like Magnum PI, then you should definitely check out any of the Sue Grafton novels.  This book is definitely not a throw away novel. It is a keeper for me!

I received this as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) from Net Galley in return for an honest review. I thank Net Galley, the publisher and the author for allowing me to read this novel.