Sunday, September 27, 2009

Done with “Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder” by Joanne Fluke

This is a likable, entertaining start to the Hannah Swensen cozy mystery series. We are introduced to her mother Delores, sister Andrea, brother-in-law Bill and little niece Tracey. We also meet Hannah’s partner in The Cookie Jar Lisa, and several other folks from the small town of Lake Eden, Minnesota. Plus her one-eyed tomcat Moishe gets some attention in this book too.

Hannah’s potential love interests, Norman Rhodes and Mike Kingston, are introduced here also. Toward the end of the book, Hannah’s mother Delores (who is pressuring Hannah to get married at the ‘old’ age of 29) happily claims that Hannah will be asked out by both men. Hannah doesn’t think so, but sure enough, she winds up with two dates. And so starts that saga and ten books later, nothing has changed.

Plus we get seven cookie recipes in this book: Chocolate Chip Crunch Cookies, Regency Ginger Crisps, Pecan Chews, Black and Whites, Chocolate-Covered Cherry Delights, Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies and Lovely Lemon Bar Cookies (because the murderer is going to end up behind bars!).


You can buy the book here:

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hannah Wins Big!

Re: “Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder” by Joanne Fluke

As part of her sleuthing activities, Hannah visits the local casino to find out the name of a bouncer that the late Ron LaSalle had an altercation with. Lisa, Hannah’s partner at The Cookie Jar, is with Hannah and convinces her to try her hand at the slot machines. Hannah is wondering what people see in them, when to her amazement a siren screams, lights flash and dozens of coins tumble out of her machine.

She’s a winner! $1,942 to be exact! Wish I had that kind of luck!

What has made this series a winner for me is the relationship Hannah has with her family. Plus she’s one smart cookie - she was close to getting her doctorate degree when her sister asked Hannah to come home and help settle their father’s estate. That’s when Hannah decided to stay in Lake Eden and open her bakery, The Cookie Jar.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

It’s Not as Easy as it Looks

Re: “Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder” by Joanne Fluke

Hannah realizes that trying to solve the murder of Ron LaSalle is not as easy as they make it look in the movies. She is asked by the police detective working on the case (who just happens to be her brother-in-law) to help him do some legwork.

He feels that Hannah would be able to track down the lipstick clue better than he would. She’s not so sure about that as she’s not really the type to wear much makeup. And she’s definitely not the glamour girl type - she thinks she’s more the Katharine Hepburn type.

Kate always made it look easy in the movies, whether she was playing a scatterbrained heiress in "Bringing Up Baby", a champion golfer in "Pat and Mike" or the head of a TV research department in "Desk Set". I think she is great to watch in "Holiday", "Woman of the Year" and "The Philadelphia Story".

Flixster - Share Movies

(Photo from "The Philadelphia Story" courtesy of

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Dumpster Diving

Re: “Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder” by Joanne Fluke

Hannah Swensen discovers the dead body of Ron LaSalle inside his delivery truck. Ron delivered dairy products to Lake Eden residents and was always very prompt on his route. On the day Hannah found him, he was late getting to her bakery. Unfortunately he is holding one of her chocolate chip crunch cookies in his hand. The police tell Hannah her cookies were not the cause of death: Ron was shot.

After the police question Hannah, she can move on to the next item on her agenda: helping serve cookies and lemonade to the local Boy Scout troop. The meeting is held at the high school and Hannah has a chance to ask Edna, the school’s cook, about Ron. Edna says that Ron must have had an assistant since she always set out coffee for him in the morning, and this morning there were two used paper coffee cups. Edna surmises Ron’s new assistant is a woman since one of the cups has lipstick on it.

Hannah asked what Edna did with the coffee cups and she said she threw them out in the trash. Unfortunately the school janitor has emptied all the trash into the dumpster, which is due to be picked up in a couple of hours. Hannah thinks the cups would be good clues, so she tries in vain to reach the police detective assigned to the case so he can come out and retrieve the coffee cups. No luck there, so Hannah does the only thing left to an enterprising female-sleuth: she goes dumpster diving for the coffee cups. Of course she winds up with a mess on her clothes and shoes but feels it is worth it since she finds the cups.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Cookies for Breakfast?

Re: “Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder” by Joanne Fluke

This book is the first in the series and introduces us to female-sleuth Hannah Swensen. She has become one of my favorites. I’ve read this book before but haven’t blogged about it. I didn’t overly enjoy the last book I read in the series, The Carrot Cake Murder. The story seemed forced and the characters have just gone stale. So I thought I’d start at the beginning to see why I liked this series so much.

Hannah is 29 and single, a fact that her mother hates. Hannah lives in the tourist town of Lake Eden, Minnesota. Lake Eden, the town, is on the shores of Eden Lake, the lake. That confuses many of Hannah’s customers. She owns The Cookie Jar which is a small bakery specializing in fresh baked cookies. Many people come in for breakfast. I don’t know about you, but cookies are not part of my breakfast menu.

Hannah has developed all her recipes by trial and error and mixes up all the batches in her bakery by hand. The descriptions of the bakery and the cookies are so good I can almost envision working there! It would be great to come home every day smelling like cookies. And the samples - so delicious.

But I’m reminded of a high school friend of mine who worked at an ice cream place one summer. She said initially it was great, but then she got so sick of ice cream after serving it all the time.

I’m not so sure that would happen to me!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

What does Salvador Dali have to do with Nancy Drew?

Re: “Not a Girl Detective” by Susan Kandel

You’ll have to read this book and find out! Seriously, Dali’s name kept popping up during this book. I wondered why and was confused by that, but author Kandel ties everything up quite nicely at the end of the book.

I don’t know how much was fact and how much was fiction, but Ms. Kandel acknowledges the Stratemeyer Archive at the New York Public Library so we know that some of the Nancy Drew trivia in the book was based on fact.

Yes Cece has a murder to solve - I won’t say whose - and she does so with a lot of moxie. Cece’s girlfriends Lael and Bridget are to her what Bess and George are to Nancy Drew.

One of my favorite quotes from the book is this: “What would a Nancy Drew book be without a happy ending?” Cece replies: “Real life”. That’s why we read books - to take us away from real life!

Here is a really neat interview of Susan Kandel talking about this book at the Nancy Drew Sleuths website:

You can buy the book here: