Lethal White – Robert Galbraith

Well, I finished this book over a week ago, and have been avoiding writing a review on it ever since. I liked it well enough, but I certainly did not love it like the previous 3 books in the series. I had no sense of enjoyment every time I picked it up to read it. The first thing I always checked was where my bookmark was, and how much farther I had to go. It is hard to read a book that you just aren’t loving.

Lethal White Cover Image

The things I didn’t like were …. The length of the book. I felt like there was way too much detail to every single thing in the book that was not necessary and did not add to the story. Then there were so many characters, I had a hard time keeping up with all of the different story lines and subplots and interactions with everyone. The last few chapters felt like everything was just tossed out there to tie everything together.

I love the characters of Strike and Robin, and they were both going through personal issues that lent a new dynamic to their working and personal relationship. The blackmailing and possible decades old murder of a child are what was driving the story plot, and it was just too much.

I’m not the only one who took issue with this story. I have seen more reviews with the same complaints I have than reviews that were all positive.

Will I read the next story in the series? Absolutely! I also had huge issues with her novel “The Casual Vacancy”, but it did not stop me from picking up the first book in this series, “The Cuckoo’s Calling”. My review on “The Casual Vacancy” had comments from most that felt the same way I did. And one comment from someone who had a real issue with the fact that I did not like the book, and dared to say so on my own blog that I pay money for to keep up every year 😊 Such is life; you can’t please everyone. You can see my rant over that story, nearly 4 years ago, here: The Casual Vacancy book and TV Show

I got 12 books from my local library yesterday, so I am back to enjoyable reading time! How did you feel about this book?

Some Halloween Reading Ideas!

Yes; I am one of those people that as soon as it is October, it is basically Halloween! This is my absolute favorite time of year, from the cool weather, to the beautiful trees here in West Michigan, to the baking of breads, and casseroles, and of course, boot and sweater weather 😊

I have a few favorite books that I like to read during the Halloween-Thanksgiving seasons, as well as some cozy mysteries that I have read that are perfect for this time of year.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow-Washington Irving

Sleepy Hollow

This is certainly one of my all-time favorites books; a quick read, a classic story, and how can you not cheer for Ichabod Crane? Determined to win the hand of Katrina Van Tassel, Ichabod needs to deal with both the Headless Horseman, and the determined suitor of Katrina, named Brom Van Brunt. This story has been retold in movies and television series alike, and I have been a fan of all of them.

Ghastly Glass: A Renaissance Faire Mystery-Joyce Lavene, Jim Lavene

Ghastly Glass cover image

I read this cozy mystery earlier this year, along with the other books in the Renaissance Faire Cozy series. This is book two, and takes place during Halloween. Jessie is the main character, and in each book, she is apprenticing at a different vendor for her thesis for her PhD. In this story, she is apprenticing with the glass blower. There is the necessary murder victim, and the personal life issues that are standard with cozy stories. I really enjoyed this whole series.

Anything by Stephen King…I have a few favorites, but you definitely need to plan ahead, as most of his books are very, very long.

From a Buick 8 Cover Image 2

My favorite King book is From a Buick 8. I have not heard from too many readers who have actually read this story, and if put on the spot, I could not exactly explain what draws me to this book, but it is fantastic! I am not sure how I ended up owning 3 copies of it; but I do 😊 Other great King stories are the classics, such as Cujo, Carrie, and Misery.

What are your favorite books to read during this time of year?

Double Fudge Brownie Murder: A Hannah Swensen Mystery– Joanne Fluke

It has been quite a while since I have read one of the Hannah Swensen mysteries by Joanne Fluke. They are all titled with fun food references, such as Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder (book 1), Carrot Cake Murder (book 10), and Raspberry Danish Murder (book 22). I am currently reading book 19, The Wedding Cake Murder. The Double Fudge Brownie Murder that I am reviewing here is book 18.

Double Fudge Brownie Cover Image

Although I know I have not read all of the books up to book 19 that I am on now, I would say by looking at all of the covers and titles, I have read about 14 or 15 over the years. Hannah Swensen owns a bakery, and is the classic cozy-mystery heroine whom solves the murder case in each story. These books are significantly longer than most cozy mysteries, and they also contain several wonderful recipes throughout the story.

Hannah has her mother and two sisters in her life, a fluffy orange and white tomcat, as well as her assistant at her bakery; Lisa. She has two men in her life throughout this series, Norman and Mike. Both love her, she loves them, and they are obviously aware of the other being in Hannah’s life. Traditional to a cozy mystery, there is no swearing, graphic murder scenes, or sexual innuendos or unbearable scenes to read through.

I will not go into too many details on this story, in order to avoid spoilers, but Hannah and her sisters are helping their mother get married, and they all enjoy a trip to Las Vegas for the nuptials. What Hannah does not know, is that she is in for her own surprise in Las Vegas. This helps to keep her in positive spirits as she knows when she returns home she has to go to trial for an involuntary manslaughter charge from an accident she had (I am guessing in the book immediately before this, that I have not read). Finding the Judge who is going to try the case bludgeoned to death with his own gavel gives Hannah a lot more to worry about!

You can find all of the book titles here: Hannah Swensen Mysteries by Joanne Fluke

I highly recommend all of the Hannah Swensen mysteries! Have you read any of the Hannah Swensen mysteries?

Charms and Chocolate Chips – Bailey Cates

Having skipped book 2 (because my library didn’t have it) I jumped right into book 3 and loved this one as well. There were obviously some details in the first couple of chapters referencing things that happened in book 2, but it didn’t make the book difficult to read. Which is one of my favorite thing about cozy mysteries!

Charms and Chocolate Chips cover image

Katie Lightfoot is still working with her Aunt and Uncle at Honeybee’s Bakery, dating Declan, and now volunteering at a wildlife foundation. It is this foundation where a friend is found murdered, and the threat now seems to be on Katie. An area of swampland is of interest to a few different individuals, and the foundation is trying to protect it, and the wildlife that lives there.

A surprise visit from Katie’s mother also lets us see that relationship mend, as well as the relationship between her Mom and her Aunt.

We learn a bit more about magic in this story, and Katie is much more comfortable with who she truly is. She is beginning to realize how powerful she really is, and her friends and family are realizing it as well.

And I am on to book 4! Also going to the library today to see what other books I can pick up 😊 What are your favorite cozy mysteries?

Brownies and Broomsticks – Bailey Cates

Another weekly trip to my library to trade in books for new ones, and I found 4 cozy mysteries from the Magical Bakery Mystery by Bailey Cates. I finished this first installment in less than a day, and have already started book 3. They did not have book 2, so I figured I would just wing it anyhow and grab all of them that they had.

Brownies and Broomsticks cover image

I was not sure how I felt about a cozy mystery that included Witches, but I was quickly sucked in by the great characters and descriptive writing.

Katie Lightfoot moves from Ohio to Savannah, Georgia to open a bakery with her Aunt Lucy and Uncle Ben. Little does she know that her Aunt Lucy has much to share with her about the fact that she is a Witch, as well as her parents, who chose to not let her know about that side of her life.

Her first week in Savannah has her reeling from that revelation, confused about the intense anger between two handsome men who are both showing an interest in her, and the woman murdered in her car outside of Honeybee’s Bakery.

Unwilling to let her Uncle Ben take the wrap when he is pegged as a suspect, Katie is quickly on the trail of the murderer, much to the chagrin of Detective Quinn. It’s Katie’s persistence, and Quinn’s finally acceptance of what she is learning before he does, that gets Uncle Ben off the hook.

There were two recipes at the end of the story, one for Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies, and one for Cheddar-Sage Scones. A quick scan let me know I had all the ingredients for the Scones, so I whipped up a quick batch. I only had a couple bites of one as I am sure it’s not approved Weight Watchers food 😊 It was savory, and would definitely be a great addition to any meal or for an afternoon snack. The only thing I substituted was instead of dried sage, I only had ground sage. I should have doubled the ground sage, as it didn’t have quite enough sage flavor for my liking!

Cheddar-Sage Scones

Cheddar-Sage Scones

2 ¼ C all purpose flour

1 Tbs baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 tsp dried sage

6 Tbs butter, cut into 1-inch pieces and chilled in the freezer for 15 minutes

2/3 C grated sharp cheddar cheese

1 egg

½ C milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Set aside ¼ C of flour in a small bowl. In a medium bowl, combine 2 C flour, baking powder, salt, and sage. Add chilled butter and cut into flour by rubbing with your fingers or using a pastry blender until the consistency of rough cornmeal.

Add the grated cheddar to the ¼ C flour and toss to coat. Shake to remove extra flour and add to pastry mixture, tossing with your hands to evenly distribute the cheese.

Whisk together the egg and milk. Add to flour mixture, stirring lightly with a fork until ingredients are moistened and just hold together.

Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead 20 times. Add more flour to the surface if needed. Pat into an 8 inch circle, slightly higher in the center than on the edges. Using a very sharp knife, cut 8 equal wedges. Place scones on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, slightly apart from one another. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until golden brown.

Button Holed – Kylie Logan

Another great first installment in the cozy mystery genre by Kylie Logan! Josie Giancola has just opened her button shop, being a leading expert in the country on buttons. Finding the hottest actress in the industry dead in her shop, along with a couple odd break-ins, and Josie is working the case.

Button Holed cover image

There are any number of suspects, and Detective Nevin Riley needs the help only Josie can provide; tracking down the origin of a rare button found under the body of the deceased. Dodging her ex-husband, as well as the thugs who seem to be following her, has Josie racing against the clock to find the murderer, before they finish her off for good.

Coming up tomorrow, another first installment by a new author, along with the recipe I tested out from the story!

Coming Out of The Writing Closet

It is scary; painful, and putting yourself out there for everyone to judge.

I have been writing stories for 30 years, and have 4 different stories completely written.

Am I ready to share them? Hell NO!

But no one ever wrote the next great book by saving them in their Word file.

I wrote a letter to an author who captured me in 1987; and he encouraged me and helped me.

Yet I keep these stories hidden.

I have over 3000 followers on my blog where I review books. Am I strong enough to let someone review MY book?

How do you authors do it? I have to learn to do this. I have something to share, in many ways. Cozy mysteries, dramas, and fantasy.

I have gotten to a point in my life that I truly believe; it is now or never.

Fingers crossed; I am scouting an agent, and hoping for the best!