Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder

Title: Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder (A Hannah Swensen Mystery #1)

Author: Joanne Fluke

Summary from Goodreads: 

Hannah Swenson already has her hands full trying to dodge her mother s attempts to marry her off while running The Cookie Jar, Lake Eden, Minnesota s most popular bakery. But once Ron LaSalle, the beloved delivery man from the Cozy Cow Dairy, is found murdered behind her bakery with Hannah s famous Chocolate Chip Crunchies scattered around him, her life just can t get any worse. Determined not to let her cookies get a bad reputation, she sets out to track down a killer.
Who would have the sheer audacity and the motive to kill the most punctual delivery man Hannah ever had? Topping the list is the high school football coach. What exactly was his wife doing, making the rounds with the milkman? Could Max Turner, owner of Cozy Cow Dairy, have had a secret he didn t want to share with his top employee? The more Hannah snoops, the more suspects turn up. Why has Lake Eden s most prominent prodigal son, Benton Woodley, just resurfaced? And what about the mysterious Mr. Harris who seemed interested in buying the property next to the dairy, but then disappeared? This is one murder that s starting to leave a very bad taste in Hannah s mouth. And if she doesn t watch her back, Hannah s sweet life may get burned to a crisp.

Personal Review: Oh, how much I wanted to like this book… I really did. I like to read a good mystery on a nice winters day when I don’t have anything better to do than lay in bed. And perhaps I would enjoy have enjoyed it if there was any other female lead than Hannah Swensen.

Hannah Swensen was one of the most annoying female leads I have ever read. She was like a crazy mix of that friend you have that always thinks that she sucks and is too fat and nobody likes her, etc, and an extremely self-assured (but in the annoying way). Hannah acts like she is the only one that can possibly solve a mystery and that she is God’s gift to earth in practically all things except looks. In addition, her love for her cat is… sickening. One review I read described it as she thought they would start making out at any moment and that is truly disturbingly accurate. The other thing that was annoying about Hannah is the way she treated her mother. I have a really good relationship with my mother and I cannot imagine being that rude to her or about her.

In addition, Hannah is extremely mean about other people in her head, and since we are in her head all the time, we are privy to it. She was making fun of one “fat woman” who was around 300 pounds. She treated and “thought” about her brother-in-law (the police officer) as though he was stupid and incapable of solving the mystery. And in many moments in the book, Hannah is just a plain bully. One character told Hannah that she couldn’t talk to her at that moment, and Hannah proceeded to wedge her foot in the door and then force her way into the house. She then strong armed other characters into telling her their secrets in badly hidden threats. I found it really hard to route for her.

Other than Hannah, though, the book was okay. I didn’t not see the “murderer” coming and so when we found out who it was, it was unexpected. The other characters were pleasant, though not fully developed. I will try the next book in this series, but if I do not come to care about Hannah a little bit more, than I will be abandoning this series.

Rating: 2.5

Sprinkle With Murder

Title: Sprinkle With Murder (A Cupcake Bakery Mystery #1)

Author: Jenn McKinlay

Summary 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. The police believe that a secret ingredient in the cupcakes caused her death. To save Mel and their business, the ladies need to find the real murderer — before the cupcake killer ices someone else…

Personal Review: This was like many cozy mystery novels… interesting mystery that you figure out almost immediately, but the journey sure is interesting. I really like to read cozy mysteries, especially in winter… it is just so gosh darn cozy. hehehe. Okay, that was way lame.

In this series, we are introduced to Melanie Cooper, a marketing guru turned cupcake maker. After five years in the fast lane of competitive marketing, Mel realized that she wasn’t happy and decided to help make the world a happier place through cupcakes. I wish that she had her shop in my town because I could really use some yummy cupcakes!

Fast foward to her mid-thirties and Mel is finally about to realize her dream. With the financial help of her best friend, Tate Harper, and the shop help of Angie DeLaura, Mel opens up Faery Tale Cupcakes. So when Tate Harper plans to marry local celebrity, Christie, and asks that Mel do their wedding cupcakes, she eagerly accepts so that she can get some much needed publicity.

But when Christie dies, clutching one of Mel’s cupcakes, and Tate and Mel become the main suspects, Mel knows that she has to find out who really murdered Christie before she lost everything important to her. And thus ensues an entertaining story with an  amusing cast of characters.

Angie DeLaura is the only girl with seven older brothers. They are constantly interferring in her life, chasing away any potential suitors. Then there is Angie’s brother, Joe, who is an assistant DA and Mel has been crushing on him for about 20 years. And Alma, one of Christie’s assistants who dresses all in black and is rather depressing for a fashion designer. And finally, in the list of amusing cast members, there is Olivia, the local competition that just might be mental. She stalks the shop and constantly tries to steal Mel’s business.

Melanie Cooper is perhaps the only annoying character in the book. She is extremely self-conceited and doesn’t like to let other people into her schemes. She is the quintessential “strong female lead” and many times I find these leading ladies to be a turn off. Luckily for this series, there are enough other interesting characters that makes reading this book a pleasure instead of a punishment.

The mystery itself was rather easily solved and I was fairly certain who the murderer was right away, although that might be because I have read a few too many mysteries and I usually know who to rule out and who to keep on the suspect list. Perhaps one of the best things about this series is the cupcake recipes in them. Last night I made Tinkerbells (lemon cupcakes with raspberry frosting). They were delicious. This book was worth it if for nothing else than the recipe to these delicious cupcakes!

All that said, the next book in this series is waiting for me at the library and I am eagerly looking forward to reading it. Hopefully there will be more delicious recipes in this book!

Rating: 3