Tuesday, March 06, 2007

#26 - Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder

"Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder'' is the first Hannah Swenson murder mystery by Joanne Fluke.
I was first drawn to this book by the title. Chocolate Chip Cookies......and murder?? It was a must read for me from the beginning.
This book surprised me. Fluke's writing flows well, and she infuses a great sense of humor into her main character. Hannah Swenson is a down-to-earth character and very likeable. She owns a bakery shop called The Cookie Jar, selling fresh-baked cookies and catering special events.
Chocolate and murder are mixed in this first book of the series when someone decides to kill the local milk man -- while he's eating cookies in his truck, no less! Who kills someone when they're eating chocolate! It's a travesty! :) Swenson's brother in law is with the local police department, so, of course, the cookie baking heroine is drawn into the investigation.
But......Joanne Fluke makes this unlikely plot line work. It's entertaining, and a refreshing read. Nothing intellectual, and the mystery is pretty formula really......but isn't that what reading a cozy mystery is all about?? Where it took me two weeks to plod through "Death By Darjeeling'' by Laura Childs, I crunched through this cookie in 2 days. :)
Not only did I enjoy the book, but there are several yummy recipes scattered throughout the book. Most cozy mysteries have some sort of pull like that --- recipes, craft patterns, tips on tea, cooking, home repairs, etc. And.....most of those "Extras'' are (dare I say it??).....lame. Easy patterns for garter stitch dishcloths, recipes for deviled eggs (who can't make deviled eggs?) and less-than-useful stuff like that. But.....the recipes in this book are for yummy things like chocolate chip crunchy cookies, sugar cookies, and other delectable delights. I'm definitely going to use the recipes. Every cookie recipe that the main character uses during the course of the book is included. I thought that was really a neat touch! :)
This book is just a very cozy, comfort-foody, sweet cozy mystery. :) A great book to curl up on the couch with a hot cup of tea and a cat in your lap and just read for fun. :) I've already started reading the next book in this series! :)
Other books in the series are:
Strawberry Shortcake Murder
Blueberry Muffin Murder
Lemon Meringue Pie Murder
Fudge Cupcake Murder
Sugar Cookie Murder
Peach Cobbler Murder
Cherry Cheesecake Murder
Key Lime Pie Murder (newly published)
50 Book Challenge 2007: 6/50

#25 - Death by Darjeeling by Laura Childs

"Death by Darjeeling'' is the first in a series of Tea Shop cozy mysteries by Laura Childs.

The main character, Theodosia Browning, owns the Indigo Tea Shop in Charleston, SC. In this first book, a land developer dies at Browning's shop during a Lamplighter Tour of Old Charleston. Browning jumps in the middle of the murder investigation to stop gossip about her shop and to clear the name of one of her employees.

The book is a light mystery infused with a smattering of Charleston history and a pinch of tea lore.

I enjoyed this book, although the main character did seem a bit stiff to me. I'm not that enthralled by discussions of old money, society and one's place in it, etc....so it took me a bit longer to "get into'' this story.

The bits of history about tea and information on different types of teas I found interesting. There are several types of tea mentioned in the book that I had never heard of before, like Dragon tea. It makes me want to put in an online order and start sipping! :) (Stashtea.com carries lots of interesting teas....including Dragon tea!)

The book also includes some tips for brewing hot tea, and a couple recipes.

Other books in the series are:

Gunpowder Green (2002)

Shades of Earl Grey (2003)

The English Breakfast Murder (2003)

The Jasmine Moon Murder (2004)

Chamomile Mourning (2005)

Blood Orange Brewing (2006)

Dragonwell Dead (coming later in 2007)

50 Book Challenge 2007: 5/50

#24.5 - The Memory Keepers Daughter by Kim Edwards

I put this book at 24.5 because I only got through half of it. I was disappointed by this book, mainly because I had read good reviews and expected it to be great.
It wasn't.
For me, the story-line seemed contrived, and over the top melodramatic. The main characters were so flawed that I couldn't find any redeeming qualities in them that made me want to continue reading their story.
The basics (without spoiling the plotline) are this: a woman goes into labor during a blizzard. She has twins, one normal boy and a down's syndrome girl. The husband who is a doctor recognizes that the baby girl is DS, and tells the nurse tending his wife to take the baby away to a home that night. He doesn't let his wife see the baby, and tells her that the baby died. That lie destroys his life, his wife's sanity, and forces his little boy to be raised in a home with a neurotic father and a half-crazy mother. And the nurse raises the retarded little girl herself, with the father sneaking her money, etc.
I would have enjoyed a book about the challenges of raising a DS child --- but the basic premise of this book just made me mad. Her father didn't want to raise a damaged child -- so he made her disappear. What a git.
For me, the basic plot line -- father turns back on DS infant and ruins family, nurse raises retarded child in secret -- seemed contrived and unrealistic. It was like watching a bad overly-emotional unrealistic-to-the-point-of-being-fake movie on the Lifetime Channel. The father is just a totally weak, selfish pig. And the mother was a weak, simpering melba toast of a woman. I found nothing redeeming in either of them.
I did peek ahead at the ending before I put the book down in disgust. Can't tell you what the ending is, since I don't want to spoil it for anyone that wants to plod their way through this emotional mess.....but I will say, it was just as contrived as the rest.
I am just in disbelief at all the reviews I read that called this book "astonishing'' and "deeply moving'' Did those reviewers really read this book??? Or do they just stamp "Deeply moving'' on any book that deals with emotional parenting issues???
"My Sister's Keeper'' was a "deeply moving'' book about serious parenting issues. I don't know what to call "Memory Keepers Daughter'' except maybe "When Weak Gits Parent......''
Maybe the entire "astonishing'' part of this novel was in the last half that I couldn't make myself read. I expect to see a movie version of this book on the Lifetime Channel very soon. Ugh.