Friday, February 27, 2015

The Girl on the Train


Author: Paula Hawkins
Genre: Suspense
Type: Trade Paperback
Source: Local Public Library
Pages: 316
Publisher:  Doubleday Canada
First Published: January 2015
First Line: "Rachel - Friday, 5 July 2013 Morning -- There is a pile of clothing on the side of the train tracks."

Book Description from GoodReads:  A debut psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people's lives.

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

A compulsively readable, emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller that draws comparisons to Gone GirlThe Silent Wife, or Before I Go to Sleep, this is an electrifying debut embraced by readers across markets and categories.
 



My Review:  Normally I'm a little hesitant to jump wholeheartedly into a book that has so much acclaim so quickly.  I'm always afraid that the book won't live up to my heightened expectations - which sadly is often the case.  

As an avid reader I've read a lot of suspense and I can't help that my mind is constantly trying to find little clues throughout the text so I can solve the crime sooner than the author wants it revealed.  I'm a Sherlock Holmes wannabe.  I had a hard time being the amateur sleuth this time because the author has written such complex characters, each with their own baggage and plausible motives that I kept changing my mind as to who was the culprit.

Hawkins also kept my interest throughout (no small feat) with all of the red herrings that she threw at me.  I admit that I guessed 'who dunnit' about three quarters of the way through but, that said, I also guessed a handful of people before that so I suppose my 'guess' wasn't 'right' per se as it was eventual.

This book has been compared to Gone Girl and Before I Go To Sleep but I think that The Girl on the Train was a much better read than both of those books and that has a lot to do with the characters.  The story is told from three points of view - Rachel, Megan and Anna.  Each of these women have certain likable traits and many traits that were quite repellent and offensive.  Normally if the main characters are totally unlikable (ie Gone Girl) I have a hard time getting behind them.  I don't want to read about someone who has no redeeming qualities.  That wasn't the case with this book.  Hawkin's characters were very layered and defined even if some of their choices (namely Rachel's decision to keep her nose in things) were a little questionable/naive.  But as you see what these women have lived through the reason for their choices becomes clearer.

This book is a very impressive debut thriller with complex characters all with their own secrets to hide.  It goes to show that you should never assume you know a person and also gives you the eerie feeling that you can't trust anyone.  This was quite an addicting read.  Hats off to Ms Hawkins for keeping my wandering mind solidly on her plot and interesting character choices. 

My Rating: 4/5 stars

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Carrabba's 'Knock-Off' Bread Dipper

The Bookworm Family is in full prep mode for our quick vacation next week in Florida to visit my parents. When my Dad asked what I wanted to do (besides warm up from this cold weather, read poolside and dip my feet in the ocean) my first response was ... eat at Carrabba's!

Carrabba's has quickly become one of my necessary stops when we annually visit my 'Snowbird' parents at their Florida condo.  It's a small chain restaurant that serves up amazing Italian food and has impeccable service t'boot. It's so good that after 11 months I'm still thinking of the Mahi Wulfe fish dish that I adored and decadent desserts that we enjoyed -- they even had safe desserts for Boy 1 and his peanut allergy.  Such a great experience all around.

Another thing that Carrabba's is known for is their bread and oil dipper.  'Tis truly delish and a great way of starting off any meal for this carb loving family.   I adore soaking up said bread in oil infused with all manner of spices and herbs.

My love of bread dippers knows no country boundaries so off I went into the internet to find a copy cat recipe so I can enjoy my dipper even when I'm not in Florida.  Really easy to whip up and very impressive.

You can bet that I'll be sitting in a booth at Carrabba's early next week with the biggest decision being whether to order their amazing Mahi Wulfe again or try another one of their amazing dishes.  Decisions, decisions, decisions. 



1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped finely
1 tbsp fresh garlic, minced
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

juice from 1/2 of a small lemon
olive oil (or grapeseed oil)
French bread slices

Just before you're ready to serve.  Combine all of the spices and garlic into a small bowl.  Mix well.  Add lemon juice.  

Put a couple teaspoons of the spice mixture onto a small plate.  Drizzle a couple of tablespoons of oil over the spice mixture.   Serve with fresh French bread slices and dip away!



Tip: You could try making this with all dried herbs if you wanted to make this mixture ahead of time or to keep in your cupboard for bread dipping emergencies.  Personally, I adore the flavour of the fresh herbs.  If you do go for all dried herbs, obviously make sure you decrease the basil amount and leave out the fresh garlic, lemon juice and oil until you're ready to serve.

Source: Inspired by www.food.com (http://www.food.com/recipe/tsr-version-of-carrabbas-bread-dipping-spice-by-todd-wilbur-53876)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Artemis Fowl


Author: Eoin Colfer
Genre: Fantasy, Children's (Tweens)
Type: e-audiobook
Source: Local Public Library
First Published: May 2001 (Hardcover)
First Line: "Ho Chi Minh City in the summer."

Book Description from GoodReads:  From a strikingly original voice in fiction comes the story of Artemis Fowl, a very unusual hero. Artemis combines the astuteness of Sherlock Holmes with the sangfroid of James Bond and the attitude of Attila the Hun. But even Artemis doesn't know what he's taken on when he kidnaps a fairy, Captain Holly Short of LEPrecon Unit. These aren't the fairies of bedtime stories. These fairies are armed and they're dangerous. Artemis thinks he's got them just where he wants them, but then they stop playing by the rules . . . Full of unexpected twists and turns, Artemis Fowl opens up a riveting world of magic, mystery, and humor.

My Review:  Being a Library Assistant I regularly get asked to suggest books for kids so I thought I'd better read more books that tweens tend to read to put more books in my tween book arsenal.  The Artemis Fowl series was a favourite of Boy 1's many years ago and has been on my 'TBR' (to be read) list for a long, long time so I thought that it would be a great way to delve into books for smallish humans.

I obviously knew about the Artemis Fowl series but I had no idea what the book as about. Based on the front cover I assumed it was about an ultra smart tween who had a lot of money, power, gadgets ... and had a bad streak in him.  Kind of like a sinister 'James Bond - The Early Years'.  Needless to say my interest was piqued.

What I wasn't expecting was that this book was firmly set in the fantasy genre.  When fairies and other magical creatures were introduced I was more than a little surprised but I kept with it.  Then the story veers from fantasy to a more sci-fi feel with the fairies and their brethren being more technically savvy than I ever expected and I wasn't sure I liked this idea.  In fact, by the end of the book I couldn't decide how I felt about this book in general.

I did enjoy the actions scenes but there were many times, outside of these scenes, when the energy waned and I started to lose interest.  I will say though that the narrator did a great job with the various characters and accents (I do so loves me an Irish accent!).

While this was an interesting 'listen', I do wish there was more time devoted to getting inside Artemis' head.  It felt, to me anyway, like so much of the book was told from the point of view of the fairies and their law enforcement than from Artemis' quirky take on things.  

Artemis was, by far, my favourite character in the book.  He was brilliant, rich, liked to get his way on all things and had a devious/evil streak in him that I found very unique in a children's character.  I'm hoping that future books will let the reader get to know him better.  

Unfortunately, I found the plot and secondary characters not to be as compelling as I was hoping.  I guess I was assuming that if the book was fantasy-based it would be on par with Harry Potter (which I realize isn't a fair comparision - nothing is on par with HP in my world).  I suppose I also expected to get lost in the book and it just didn't happen for me.  
In the end, this was an enjoyable e-audiobook to listen to while I was working out on the treadmill.  Was it gripping?  Not really.  Was it memorable?  Perhaps.  It did have some interesting ideas and plot but overall this was just an okay read for me.  I'm going to chalk this book up to just not being my cuppa tea but I can also see why tweens enjoy this series so much.

My Rating: 3/5 stars

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Scarlet and the Keepers of Light



Author: Brandon Charles West
Genre: Fantasy, Children's
Type: Kindle e-book
Source: NetGalley
Publisher: Manor Minor Press
First Published: October 22, 2014
First Line: "Unfolding his glimmering wings, the little man flew cautiously toward the cave, the faint luminescence that clung to his body dimly lighting the dirt and roots around the entrance."

Book Description from GoodReads:  Perhaps it's the fact that her puppy has grown to be twice the size of a normal German Shepherd and has started talking. Perhaps it's that mysterious evil figures are searching everywhere for her and her family, intent on ending her life. Or perhaps it's the fact that Scarlet Hopewell has just learned that she is one half of a prophecy that will decide the fate of two worlds-one that she didn't even know existed. Whatever the reason, Scarlet Hopewell is having a very interesting year. The barrier that separates the magical and non-magical worlds is breached and Scarlet is caught right in the middle. With an ancient wolf who she thought was her family dog, a wizened old Tounder (the elder of the Keepers of the Light), and her family, Scarlet will embark on a great adventure to learn how to wield magical power beyond her wildest imagination. But time is running out. An evil is rising in the south, and he too will amass powers equal or greater to her own-and he has a head start. Before the end, her world will be destroyed, and the only hope for those that remain is Scarlet Hopewell.

Disclaimer:  My sincere thanks to NetGalley and Manor Minor Press for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

My Review:  I went into this book not knowing too much about it other than it was a fantasy read for younger readers and the fact that the book description piqued my interest.  While I'm not an avid reader of the fantasy genre I really enjoy books that blend a magical world living in tandem with our own.

I feel that this book would be great for tweens (and possibly even early teens).  The story line isn't overly simplistic and yet not hard to follow either and even though this book has its share of dark forces and action scenes later on in the book, they didn't feel too graphic for a younger audience.  That said, this book didn't feel like it had as many deep layers to it as other books, such as Harry Potter.  

What Scarlet and the Keepers of Light does have is an engaging gaggle of fantasy creatures including winged creatures, talking animals, dwarves and even an evil prince t'boot.  I have to say that the secondary story involving this evil prince was the highlight of the book for me.

This book has a strong family feel to it and a moral tone which I liked.  Scarlet is very family oriented and not the cliched teen who is only interested in finding a love interest.  Instead she's portrayed as a girl who learns just how strong she truly is as she focuses on on saving her family and the new world that she's only recently found out about.  With the inclusion of Scarlet's bond with her father, this book had a wonderful family feel to it.

My only issue with this book is that the first part of the book could have used more energy.  I realize that it was focusing on introducing the reader to this new world and it was cool learning about these winged creatures and talking animals but it felt a little flat until the action takes off in the second half of the book and the energy of the book revs up big time.

Overall, this was an enjoyable book that takes the reader into a new fantasy realm and would be great for tweens who enjoyed the Narnia series.

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Ultimate Stove-Top Creamy Rice Pudding

Ever feel like no one in your house shares your love of certain foods?  Do you feel all alone when you enjoy these delicious treats.  

I do. *sigh*

There are so many foods that I crave that Brad and the three kids just don't ever want to cross their lips.  Like evah.  I'm talking about roasted brussel sprouts (divine!), cottage cheese with mandarin orange slices on top (yum!), acorn squash (roasted with brown sugar, um ya!) and yes even rice pudding -- the best way to eat rice in my humble opinion.  

These family members of mine hate the thought of rice pudding.  When I mention even its name their noses crinkle, their lips get this puckered look to them and they start shaking their heads in disgust.  Granted two of my small humans hate rice in all it's forms but still.  C'mon!  It's a creamy pudding with vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg that can be eaten cold or warm.  A delight in my mind and palate.  Just not their palates so I will eat all the rice pudding and 'take one for the team'.  I'm a giver, what can I say.

There's just something so awesome about the creaminess of a great rice pudding.  Plus it's a great way to use up leftover rice because I have an uncanny ability to make enough rice to feed a football team instead of the five members of my family.  It's one of my super powers.

I honestly rarely make rice pudding and I'm not sure why because it's quite easy.  I've satisfied my craving by occasionally eating store bought 'Kozy Shack' rice puddings and while that is a nice substitute this recipe beats that brand hands down.  After tasting this pudding I was muttering 'Oh ya.  Now that's good' to myself and had to force myself to stop eating it.  So ... incredibly ... good.

I know that there is one ingredient in this recipe that isn't normally in a typical rice pudding.  Lemon zest.  Sounds a little wonky but do not skip this step.  Trust me on this one!  I'm a huge lemon lover but honestly you can't taste the lemon - it just brings out the other flavours and adds to the overall taste big time.  And don't worry about seeing the lemon zest in your pudding.  You can't see it if you use a micro planer to zest it nice and fine.

I'm not going to push rice pudding on my family because I'm still in hoard mode (my Precious!) and don't particularly want to share the creamy goodness that is rice pudding. I'll just wait until my Mother-in-Law, Mom and Dad get back from Florida and make another batch.  Perhaps by then I'll be ready to share. 




Servings: 4-6 (or one Baking Bookworm over several days)

3 cups cooked rice
2 cups milk (I used 1%)
1 cup creamer (I used 10%)
2 tbsp butter
2/3 cup white sugar
1/3-1/2 cup raisins
1 tsp vanilla
zest of one lemon
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 pinches of nutmeg

Garnish: cinnamon

Combine the first five ingredients into a large saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring regularly, for 30 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed.  You still want it to be a little runny so your pudding doesn't dry out too much as it cools.

Remove pudding from heat and add vanilla, lemon zest, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Sprinkle with more cinnamon, if desired.  Serve warm or cold.  Store leftover pudding in refrigerator for up to a few days.

Inspired by: 'Rockin' Rice Pudding' on Food.com (http://www.food.com/recipe/rockin-rice-pudding-53081)

Note: (recipe originally from - Tyler Florence  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/rockin-rice-pudding-recipe.html)


Monday, February 16, 2015

Mortal Heart


Author: Robin LaFevers
Genre: Supernatural, Historical Fiction
Type: Hardcover
Pages: 464
Source: Local Public Library
Series: #3 in the His Fair Assassins series
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
First Published: November 4, 2014
First Line: "For most, the bleak dark months when the black storms come howling out of the north is a time of grimness and sorrow as people await the arrival of winter, which brings death, hunger and bitter cold in its wake."

Book Description from GoodReads:  Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own.

She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind doesn't mean she has.


My Review:  Like the first two books in the His Fair Assassins trilogy, Mortal Heart has a lot going on.  It's a very unique trilogy because it is a blend of historical fiction (which was well researched), supernatural, action and even some romance thrown in for good measure.  I love how the characters and plots within the three books are woven together within the same time frame so seamlessly. 

I have enjoyed all three books but after reading Sybella's story in Dark Triumph I have to admit that Mortal Heart didn't impress me quite as much.  Quite frankly, Sybella and Beast are a hard act to follow.  There were two things that took this book down just a notch for me.  The book started off strong with the plot but I think Annith's escape dragged on far too long.  I wanted her to find her friends and jump into the fray much earlier.

Also, I think Annith's romance, while intriguing and surprising, felt rushed and paled in comparison to Sybella's romance (which I adored) in the previous book.  I know that Annith and her man spent a lot of time together but I still didn't get the feeling that they knew each other well enough to proclaim their undying love for each other. 

I did enjoy how Mortal Heart gives the reader a healthy dose of mystery surrounding Annith's past and why she hasn't been chosen to serve Mortain as so many other of the novitiates have done.  Annith has a very broken spirit even though she is the most skilled at what Mortain requires of his handmaidens so it was interesting to learn why her talents weren't put to use.

Overall, this was a very strong trilogy that I quite enjoyed and Mortal Heart gave a satisfying ending to the series.  I enjoyed how LaFevers uses strong young women at the core of her stories and that even though each of them has their own insecurities and issues, ultimately they find the confidence and ability within themselves.

Note: Ensure that you read these books in order.

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Undertaker's Daughter


Author: Kate Mayfield
Genre: Memoir
Type: e-book ARC
Source: NetGalley
Publisher: Gallery Books
First Published: January 13, 2015
First Line: "Mayfield and Son funeral home."

Book Description from GoodReads:  What if the place you called “home” happened to be a funeral home? Kate Mayfield explores what it meant to be the daughter of a small-town undertaker in this fascinating memoir evocative of Six Feet Under and The Help, with a hint of Mary Roach’s Stiff.

The first time I touched a dead person, I was too short to reach into the casket, so my father picked me up and I leaned in for that first, empty, cold touch. It was thrilling, because it was an unthinkable act.

After Kate Mayfield was born, she was taken directly to a funeral home. Her father was an undertaker, and for thirteen years the family resided in a place nearly synonymous with death. A place where the living and the dead entered their house like a vapor. The place where Kate would spend the entirety of her childhood. In a memoir that reads like a Harper Lee novel, Mayfield draws the reader into a world of Southern mystique and ghosts.

Kate’s father set up shop in a small town where he was one of two white morticians during the turbulent 1960s. Jubilee, Kentucky, was a segregated, god-fearing community where no one kept secrets—except the ones they were buried with. By opening a funeral home, Kate’s father also opened the door to family feuds, fetishes, and victims of accidents, murder, and suicide. The family saw it all. They also saw the quiet ruin of Kate’s father, who hid alcoholism and infidelity behind a cool, charismatic exterior. As Mayfield grows from trusting child to rebellious teen, she begins to find the enforced hush of the funeral home oppressive, and longs for the day she can escape the confines of her small town.

In The Undertaker’s Daughter, Kate has written a triumph of a memoir. This vivid and stranger-than-fiction true story ultimately teaches us how living in a house of death can prepare one for life.



Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to NetGalley and Gallery Books for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

My Review:  In this memoir, Kate Mayfield writes honestly about her life growing up in an unusual setting: a funeral home.  Her family life is definitely not ordinary and you feel for her as she tries to navigate within her familial dysfunction, her unique living situation and life in small town (sometimes small minded) Kentucky.

This book had some great moments and some 'just okay' moments for me.  I enjoyed the author's voice and had to keep reminding myself that this was a memoir because it read much more like a fictional read and definitely had a 'stranger than fiction' feel to it.  And although it did tend to drag a bit in the beginning for me, the pace picked up towards the end climaxing with a very distressing scene between two of the characters.

There's a lot going on in this book besides life in a funeral home (which if I'm being honest took a back seat to other story lines the older Kate got).  It dealt with segregation, alcoholism, mental illness, death and even a lawsuit.  The reader also gets a peek at some of the unique services that the undertakers of the time offered.

The book blurb describes this book as a cross between The Help and Six Feet Under but to me the association with The Help was a little weak. I had expected a lot more on that topic but got much more about the inner workings of a funeral home and the antics of the townspeople which were interesting but not what I had expected to read.

In the end this book focused on a tumultuous and dysfunctional family with many secrets. The characters were unique and I liked getting a unique look at what life was like for Mayfield as she struggled to come to terms with her changing view of her father, her town's restrictive view of race and her very tumultuous relationship with her older sister.  While this is not a light-hearted read it did ooze Southern charm and I enjoyed getting a view into Mayfield's unique life and struggles.

My Rating: 3/5 stars


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Loaded Skillet Potatoes

Posting this recipe onto my blog feels like I'm cheating because the recipe is just so easy.  The only reason that I'm sharing this 'recipe' is because it's one of my go-to dishes that I love to eat for a weekday lunch when I'm at home alone.  With 
no one to judge me and my eating habits. It sounds like it's a wicked, bad for your waist line and cholesterol treat ... and it is.  

As I've stated in the past I'm a HUGE potato lover.  I heart potatoes big time, y'all!!  My family?  Not so much.  So I feel like I have to use lunches when I'm on my own to satisfy the potato lover that dwells within me.  This is one of the recipes that I do so luurve.  It has fried potatoes, onions (times two!), mushrooms, cheese and bacon!  Topped with the delight that is full fat sour cream and I'm in heaven.  

I whole-heartedly admit that this isn't a heart healthy recipe but for me it sure is a soul healthy one!  This would make a great side dish for grilled sausages or other meats or, if you're like me, a main course for lunch.  Don't judge until you've tasted it. ;)



Yield: 2 servings

2-3 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly
1 1/2 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced
3 tbsp real bacon bits (or bacon cooked and crumbled)
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
to taste -- salt and pepper or Club House's 'La Grille Vegetable seasoning' 

Garnish
1/2 cup shredded marble cheese
2 green onions, sliced
sour cream

Heat a medium-sized skillet to medium-high heat.  Add butter and potatoes.  Place a cover (I use the lid of my large soup pot) over the skillet which will allow the potatoes to steam a bit.  Cook for 10 minutes.

Flip potatoes to help other pieces to brown.  Add sliced onions, bacon bits and mushrooms to the potatoes and cover.  Cook for another 10 minutes or until potatoes are soft.  Sprinkle shredded cheese over the potato mixture and cover until cheese has melted - a minute or two.

Remove from heat and serve onto plates.  Garnish with green onions and sour cream. Devour.

Source: The Baking Bookworm

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Secrets of Midwives


Author: Sally Hepworth
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Type: e-book ARC
Source: NetGalley
Publisher: St Martin's Press
First Published: February 10, 2015
First Line: "I suppose you could say I was born to be a midwife."

Book Description from GoodReads:  A novel about three generations of midwives (a woman, her mother, and her grandmother) and the secrets they keep that push them apart and ultimately bind them together

THE SECRETS OF MIDWIVES tells the story of three generations of women devoted to delivering new life into the world—and the secrets they keep that threaten to change their own lives forever. Neva Bradley, a third-generation midwife, is determined to keep the details surrounding her own pregnancy—including the identity of the baby’s father— hidden from her family and co-workers for as long as possible. Her mother, Grace, finds it impossible to let this secret rest. For Floss, Neva’s grandmother and a retired midwife, Neva’s situation thrusts her back 60 years in time to a secret that eerily mirrors her granddaughter’s—a secret which, if revealed, will have life-changing consequences for them all. Will these women reveal their secrets and deal with the inevitable consequences? Or are some secrets best kept hidden?


Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to NetGalley and St Martin's Press for providing me with a complimentary e-book Advanced Reading Copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

My Review:  I have to admit that I have a soft spot for stories depicting midwives ever since immersing myself in the joy that is the BBC series Call the Midwife.  I do so love Chummy and her clan.  As soon as I read the title and saw the cover of this book as well as the promise of familial secrets of three generations of women I was quite eager to start this book.

The Secrets of Midwives tells the stories of the three women as it jumps back and forth from past to present.  There's a good dose of tension regarding the mysteries of the three women at the beginning although as the story progressed I was able to guess their secrets which was a little disheartening.  I liked the fact that Floss' secret was revealed slowly (and liked her story line the best by far) but when Neva's secret was finally divulged it was a little lackluster and I didn't quite understand why she felt it was such a need to keep it from her family.

The main characters - Neva, Grace and Floss - were likable and I enjoyed that the mother-daughter bond was at the heart of this book.  The relationships between the three women which incorporated the good, the bad and the not so nice, felt realistic.  I only wish that some of the relationships with other characters didn't feel so shallow (almost to the point of cliche) especially the contemptuous feelings between doctors and midwives.

Overall, I liked this book.  It was an easy read but I didn't feel that it went deep enough into the relationships of the characters in order for me to love it.  I enjoyed the fact that it gives the reader insight into midwifery and I think this would make a great 'light read', perfect for the beach or curled up watching the snow fly.

My Rating: 3/5 stars

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Sprinkle with Murder


Author: Jenn McKinlay
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: #1 in the Cupcake Bakery Mystery series
Type: Mass Market Paperback
Pages: 240
Publisher: Berkley
First Published: March 2010
First Line: "Does she really think we don't see her?", Angie DeLaura asked her best friend and business partner Melanie Cooper."

Book Description from GoodReads:  Melanie Cooper and Angie DeLaura are finally living out their dream as the proud owners of the Fairy Tale Cupcakes bakery. But their first big client is a nightmare. She's a bridezilla who wants 500 custom cupcakes for her wedding.

When Mel stumbles upon the bride-to-be dead-by-cupcake, she becomes the prime suspect. To save themselves and their business, the ladies need to find the real murderer, before the cupcake killer ices someone else.


My Review:  It's been awhile since I sat down with a nice cozy mystery.  Cozy mysteries should have a nice balance of light mystery, quirky characters and typically happen in quaint settings like a bookshop, antiques shop or, in this case, a cupcake bakery.

Yes, cupcakes, murder and mayhem ensure in this new series.  The main characters, Mel and Angie balance each other out with their strong personalities and the secondary characters added to the story line but weren't quite as quirky or as memorable as I was hoping.  There was a mystery to be solved, albeit the details regarding the recipes sometimes were more pronounced than the murder itself.   And while the bakery was a unique (and delicious) setting I did find the mystery a little predictable and I question how these cupcake bakers will be able to get themselves into the centre of many (believable) murders in the future.  

Overall, this was a decent start to a new series and I plan to pick up the second book in the series to see how the characters and plot lines proceed and see if more focus is put on the mystery the second time around.

My Rating: 3/5 stars

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