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Fearless–stalkers in the land of bluebonnets

Fearless

by Fern Michaels

Anna Campbell, who pieced her life together after the unexpected death of her husband, is a busy and successful blogger able to support herself and her teenage daughter. Rich, famous, and kindheartedly generous, she is also a target for stalkers and scammers. Her business manager and best friend Mandy convinces her to go on a singles cruise. What should have been a fun adventure rapidly leads her down paths she will regret.

The main characters in Fern Michaels’ Fearless are well-developed, and the plot is interesting. I liked the Lubbock, Texas, setting and touring Anna’s large suite on the cruise ship and her expansive gated home with vlogging  studio.I enjoyed the mix of romance with mystery. When I had to put the book away, I was always eager to return. Fearless includes criminal activities that require the characters and the reader to puzzle out events, identities, and motivations. The resolution of this story is disappointing. It is too rushed without enough explanation of the characters’ motivations many of which reach way back in time and others that are current. For example, there are two instances of the use of a date-rape drug. The usage is clear, but the motivation of the second attempt is unclear. This hurried ending resulted in less enjoyment for me. I will try another book by this prolific author in the future for comparative analysis.

I would like to extend my thanks to Netgalley and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Women’s Fiction

Notes: 1. Includes a recipe for Anna’s Rib Rub.

  2. Has a sprinkling of mild swearing

Publication:  March 31, 2020—Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

She looked out through the gates at the sweeping fields of bluebonnets that surrounded her house. Nothing made her feel more at home than those bluish purple flowers stretching out for miles. A uniquely Texan sight.

As she was standing eye to eye with him, she saw someone else. A man who was quick to anger, quick to judge. Not the man she thought she knew. Ryan had a temper, she realized. He’d shown it on multiple occasions, so why she was just now realizing it was beyond her comprehension…

“…he seemed cold to me, like his eyes were empty. Does that sound crazy or what?”

One Taste Too Many–deadly rhubarb crisp

One Taste Too Many

by Debra H. Goldstein

One Taste Too ManySarah Blair may be the amateur detective featured in One Taste Too Many, but she shares the spotlight with her twin sister Emily who unfortunately is suspected of murdering Sarah’s wheeling, dealing, skirt chasing ex-husband, Bill. Also claiming top billing is RahRah, her ex-mother-in-law’s Siamese cat. When Mrs. Blair passed away, the cat happily ended up in Sarah’s loving care. Three years later, why would a co-worker claim the cat is legally hers? Who would want to murder Bill, Sarah’s ex? Well, lots of people, but who would actually perform the deed?

Emily is a line cook working in a restaurant and displaying her talents at a Food Expo in Alabama. Sarah is a receptionist for lawyer, Harlan, who comes to the legal rescue for the twins several times.

Things are very complicated with a number of cooks involved in murderous scenarios. Sarah tries to unravel personal, professional, and business interests before her sister is arrested for murder and further crimes occur. The ending was a surprise to me when the murderer was revealed. The complex plot and interesting characters assure that the first book in the new series by Debra H. Goldstein will not be the last!

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery 

Notes: 1.  #1 in the Sarah Blair Mystery Series.

  2.  Two recipes are included that are perfect for Sarah, who has no culinary talents, to make.

Publication:   December 18, 2018—Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

At one time she had added wife to her failure list, but after some reflection and a little counseling, Sarah concluded her problem in the marriage area was in her choosing ability rather than from any deficit in her performance.

“That sounds like Bill. He could take the shirt off your back and make you believe you’d given it to him.”

Hands intrigued her. His were strong and solid. She believed hands reflected the soul of a person.

Died in the Wool–in pursuit of a murderer

Died in the Wool

by Peggy Ehrhart

Died in the WoolDied in the Wool, like the first book in Peggy Ehrhart’s Knit and Nibble Mystery Series, has a calmness that gives me pleasure as I read. Although the main character Pamela sometimes follows inadvisable investigative leads like other cozy mysteries’ main characters, neither her pace of life nor her pursuit of justice is frenetic. I sometimes wonder how some main characters manage to maintain a job while trying to solve the mystery and juggle their many personal issues.

Pamela, like author Ehrhart, enjoys knitting and food, and those passions are evident in Pamela’s life as a member of a knitting club whose meetings  also feature snacks or desserts. Ehrhart includes a knitting pattern and recipes in the back of the book, but more pointedly, her descriptions of various foods are detailed and mouth-watering.

The knitting club Knit and Nibble works for weeks producing stuffed animal aardvarks, the school mascot, to sell in support of the football team at Arborfest. Unfortunately there is a murder and the knitting group’s reputation is damaged. Pamela and her friend Bettina try to find the murderer. This cozy has twists and turns with the criminal’s identity discovered only after many understandable, but wrong assumptions and some exciting scenes. I’m looking forward to the next book in this series, Knit One, Die Two.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #2 in the Knit and Nibble Series, but works well as a standalone

Publication:  August 28, 2018—Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

She tested several ice-breaking comments in her mind, settling on “Your daughter’s tabouli is delicious.” He turned, looking as startled as if she’d announced a taste for human blood. Terribly shy, Pamela said to herself, awkward in social situations.

At that moment, the sandwiches arrived, on cream-colored oval plates with slender pickle spears tucked alongside. Gobbets of tuna salad and golden streaks of melted cheddar were barely contained by bread that had been grilled to buttery and toasty perfection.

Pamela wasn’t a wary person. She woke up every morning expecting the day to unfold predictably, just the way a knitting project moved predictably toward completion with only an occasional dropped stitch that could easily be picked up again.

Of Hats, Pockets, Ears, and Hidden Messages

I read so many fascinating tales and review them in my blog, but probably none outshine the real story of Esther found in the Bible. Here my blogging friend Dolly (KOOLKOSHERKITCHEN) shares the original tale along with traditions that have developed and are part of the celebration of Purim. Don’t miss the funny video and delicious recipe she shares as well.

koolkosherkitchen

These pastries are called Hamantaschen. We can no more imagine the holiday of Purim without them than without the graggers – noisemakers gleefully shaken by children and adults alike to drown the name of the evil villain Haman.

That’s a story of Purim in a nutshell. Once again, the Jewish people, marked for wholesale slaughter, were saved through the good offices of the beautiful and pious Queen Esther and her uncle, the wise and righteous Mordechai. To commemorate this event, we read (or at least listen to) Megillas Esther (the Scroll of Esther) where the entire story is recorded in minute details. Every time when Haman (may his memory be erased forever) is mentioned, we make all kinds of noises, and not necessarily by using traditional graggers that look like this:

purim-gragger

…but also anything that makes loud noises. I play castanets. A friend of mine, a very reserved lady…

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Banana Cream Pie Murder–a little too sweet?

Banana Cream Pie Murder

by Joanne Fluke

banana-cream-pieI went into this book with the assumption that there would be a recipe for Banana Cream Pie and there was–plus 24 more recipes. Folks in the little Minnesota town of Lake Eden like their food! Most of the recipes sound delicious, and they are highly detailed with helpful tips so that even a novice cook could successfully make each dish. Banana Cream Pie Murder has been described as a “culinary cozy.” I agree but have to add that the emphasis is on food with the mystery playing a supporting role.

I am confused about the reputation of the book and the author. Joanne Fluke is the pen name of a New York Times best selling author. Based on this book, I am not sure why. Banana Cream Pie Murder  is the latest in the Hannah Swensen Mystery Series  which has 23 books. Obviously it has appeal for a certain group of readers. I appreciate a book with no sex or profanity, but this was just too sweet, too gentle. The simplistic dialogue was a model for how kindly we wish people would talk to each other and even think of each other. Unfortunately the civility I long for in today’s society was unrealistically portrayed here.

Banana Cream Pie Murder doesn’t work well as a standalone. Several important characters are a part of this story with the assumption that the reader should know who they are. Looking back in the text, I confirmed that they were never introduced; you just had to have read the previous books. If the author feels that by the twenty-fourth book it is just too redundant to remind the reader of the various characters, then I would suggest a simple listing of recurring characters with name, occupation, and relationship with other characters.

I really am not a fan of this book nor would I have considered reading a sequel to it, but then I got caught. At the very end of the book a new unsolved mystery is introduced, a hook to drag me into the next book. All through this book, I felt little impetus to get to the next chapter to see what would happen. Now I really am anxiously anticipating the development of this new mystery.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 3/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: 

1. Joanne Fluke has published additional novels, sometimes under other pseudonyms: 11 suspense, 7 romance novels, and 7 young adult/teen horror.

The reading level of the Hannah Swensen books is low making it a good fit for an adult or teen who struggles with reading.

Four Hallmark movies have been made from the Hannah Swensen Mystery Series.

Publication:  February 28, 2017–Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

You’d do what you had to do. Everyone’s stronger than they think they are.

Mother thinks chocolate is a food group.

If you weren’t in a hurry, and you stood in an aisle long enough and listened to the conversations that were all around you, you might overhear an important clue.  She would call this phenomenon the “unseen shopper trick.” It was almost as good as the invisible waitress trick, when Hannah and Lisa walked around The Cookie Jar, refilling coffee cups, and their customers didn’t seem to notice that they were there and went right on talking about private matters.

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