Christmas Cake Murder
September 30th, 2018 by diane92345

The Christmas Cake Murder turns the clock back to before Hannah opened her bakery, The Cookie Jar.

In a short prequel set before the rest of the books in the series, Hannah returns home from college to attend her father’s funeral. Her mother, Delores, is understandably depressed so she is given a task to take her mind off her troubles. She is asked to help a local older woman, Essie, who has broken her hip. Essie wants to return to her youth by recreating the old-fashioned Christmas Cake Ball. Delores, Hannah and her sisters work together on the project by renovating an old ballroom and baking lots of cakes. Most of the cake and frosting recipes are shared with the reader.

Meanwhile, Hannah decides to drop out of college and forego her dream of becoming a college professor. Why quit college? Over a man (foreshadowing the issues many had with the previous book in the series). Also, the family reads a unfinished crime novel by Essie they find in her room.

The mystery in the Christmas Cake Murder is painfully obvious from the beginning. However, Essie’s crime story is good and drives readers to finish the book. It was also nice to hear why and how Hannah started her business. In addition, there is a heartwarming Christmas story ending. However, the lack of any mystery in a cozy mystery is a serious plot problem. For completists out there (like me) who have read the entire series, this is an interesting read. For others, I wouldn’t recommend it. Do not start the series here—start at the delightful series beginning. 2 1/2 stars.

Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: ,

Premeditated Peppermint
September 29th, 2018 by diane92345

Another murder for Bailey to solve in the excellent cozy mystery, Premeditated Peppermint, the third entry in the Amish Candy Shop series.

Bailey works with her Amish grandmother and cousin in her deceased grandfather’s candy shop, Swissmen Sweets in rural Ohio. When Bailey’s NYC ex-boyfriend hits town, he asks her for help in filming the local Harvest Christmas Market for his reality series. Bailey has a table at the Market featuring peppermint candy.

When the series’ producer ends up dead with Eric as the prime suspect, Bailey investigates. Meanwhile, the mother of Bailey’s boyfriend, Deputy Aiden, asks Bailey for help making her pet pig, Jethro, a movie star.

I loved this series from the beginning. However, this entry is the best yet. It is a perfect blend of kooky locals, light romance, a pleasant setting, a tasty sounding recipe for Peppermint Bark and humor within an intriguing mystery.

Because the story moves forward in each entry in the series, it is best to read them in order. However, there is enough back story quickly presented in this book to allow Premeditated Peppermint to be read as a stand-alone too.

I can’t wait to read Toxic Toffee, the next series entry in the series, previewed in this book! Premeditated Peppermint does not disappoint. It is highly recommended to cozy mystery fans. 4 1/2 stars!

Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for an advance copy.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: ,

Silver Anniversary Murder
September 28th, 2018 by diane92345

There are two mysteries in the Silver Anniversary Murder.

The first is the death of Lucy’s old friend Beth. Beth’s jump from her penthouse’s balcony is ruled a suicide. But Lucy, a reporter in small town Maine, doesn’t believe it. After all, Beth has three ex-husbands and one almost ex who all had motive to kill her.

The second is why Warren and Sylvia Bickford are having a town-wide celebration of their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. Sylvia is constantly putting Warren down in public. Could it just be a publicity stunt for her wedding shop and his limo service?

The Silver Anniversary Murder is the 25th book in the Lucy Stone series. I disliked the last entry, the Turkey Trot Murder, intensely. My 1 star review is here. I’m glad to report this entry has returned to form. It is recommended to cozy readers who want a nice simple evening’s entertainment. 3 stars!

Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: ,

Think Yourself Thin
September 27th, 2018 by diane92345

“The vast majority of dieters who lose weight will gain it all back within three to five years.” To permanently lose the weight, the author suggests that dieters must Think Yourself Thin.

Beginning with the five stages of weight loss: Fed Up, Honeymoon, Stall (weight-loss plateau), Ideal Weight and Maintaining, the author reviews what could go wrong. Her solution is:

Slay resistence

Use visualization

Commit

Control emotions

Establish habits

Support system

Spiritual life

Finally, the author includes a 30-day mental mastery plan and quite a few success stories. The plan includes journaling thoughts, meditating, mindfulness, prayer, and visualizing success.

I’m disappointed that there isn’t much new in Think Yourself Thin. For the author of the 10-day Green Smoothie Challenge, I expected more originality. However, if you haven’t already read a diet book addressing the mental aspects of dieting, this would be a good choice. Think Yourself Thin motivates the reader with its Can Do attitude. The success stories at the end encourage by the variety of ways these people overcome various challenges and finally lost the weight. 3.5 stars.

Thanks to Atria Books and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in Non-fiction Tagged with: ,

Damage Vol 1: Out of Control
September 26th, 2018 by diane92345

Private First Class Ethan Avery is enlisted to become a one-man army in Damage Vol 1: Out of Control, part of the New Age of Heroes series.

Ethan is genetically modified by the army to have super strength and defense along with being the size of a three-story building. When transformed, he is called Damage. He can only transform for one hour each day before he must rest. On his first mission to destroy the Vlatvian facists threatening the US with nuclear war, he is a great success. When he goes rogue, the Suicide Squad volunteers to help defuse him with unplanned results. Eventually, Wonder Woman is also called in to help.

The plot reminds me of a famous comic movie franchise only their man-into-monster has retractible claws. Even though the plot wasn’t too original, the artwork was. It’s awesome! It uses real shadowing—not the usual cross-hatching—and accurate light sources. The feeling is almost photorealistic except for the extraordinary images being portrayed. The coloring is also true to life rather than the usual bright or dusky color palette.

Damage Vol 1: Out of Control is perfect for comic art fans. The art gets 5 stars but the plot only 3 for a net score of 4 stars! (Sorry my accounting alter ego might be showing a bit here.)

Thanks to DC Comics and NetGalley for an advance copy.

Posted in Graphic Novel Tagged with: , ,

Justice League: No Justice
September 25th, 2018 by diane92345

Justice League: No Justice shows the impact of the dark multiverse is continuing.

After the wall was opened up between the multiverse and the dark multiverse in Dark Nights: Metal, a new evil is unleashed upon the galaxy. The four Omega Titans each represent one of the fundamental energies of sentient life: entropy, wisdom, wonder and mystery. When Wisdom attacks Brainiac’s home planet, Brainiac brings together all the galaxy’s heroes, villains and monsters to fight together using his sophisticated plan. Brainiac is unable to explain his plan fully when tragedy strikes him—leaving the new team forced to fight the Omega Titans on their own.

It’s great to see all the gang working together against a common enemy. Also, the plot forces entities that usually rely on their brawn to start using their brain. The art is beautiful as usual but the plot is the star here. Since I love a good plot, 5 stars! Highly recommended for all superhero comic fans. I can’t wait for the next episode.

Thanks to the publisher, DC Comics, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in Graphic Novel Tagged with: , ,

Ghost and the Bogus Bestseller
September 24th, 2018 by diane92345

“Your eyes are bigger than a hooch hound at a hop joint” says Jack in the Ghost and the Bogus Bestseller. That perfectly describes my feelings when I saw this delightful series return after a ten year long Big Sleep.

Penelope runs a bookstore with her aunt Sadie in Quindicott, Rhode Island. A widow, after her husband’s suicide, Penelope returns to her hometown with her eleven year old son. While renovating the bookstore, she disturbs Jack, the ghost of a 1940s hard-boiled detective. Jack offers Penelope much unsolicited advice in the patois of his time.

At the bookstore, new customer, Emma, sees an author photo on a steamy novel that disturbs her. While the author’s name is not familiar, the author’s photo is. It’s Emma herself! Without paying, Emma races out with the book in hand.

Penelope uncovers Emma’s address and goes there after work to recover the book. She finds the door unlocked, rare books everywhere and Emma dead of an apparent suicide. When incompetent Chief Ciders refuses to look into the case as a suspicious death, Penelope and Jack investigate.

I read most of this series as they were published in the 2000s. I always enjoyed the gentle joshing of Sam Spade type detectives. The Ghost and the Bogus Bestseller carries on seamlessly in this tradition. Despite his language and tough guy attitude, Jack seems like a real and caring person. Emma is an excellent amateur detective who rarely makes a wrong move—mostly because of Jack’s help.

The Ghost and the Bogus Bestseller is highly recommended for cozy mystery readers looking for something a bit different. There are plenty of suspects and deaths to keep armchair detectives busy. 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Berkeley Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, Paranormal Tagged with: ,