Me

Book Critique - Candy Canes of Christmas Past (Lucy Stone Series #13.5)

For review of all books in the anthology: Go here.

Stars: 3 / 5

Recommendation: The simple flow of the plot, keeping it true to reality, charming family dynamics, gentle humor and subtle sarcasm at oneself keeps the reader intrigued and interested.

Candy Canes of Christmas Past is the third and final novella in the anthology Candy Cane Murder by Leslie Meier published in October of 2007, as part of her Lucy Stone series. She co-authored this anthology with Joanne Fluke and Laura Levine.

Lucy Stone happily settled in the remote town of Tinker's Cove in Maine with her husband Bill and children. A chance mention of her son about their first Christmas in Tinker's Cove almost 35 years ago, takes Lucy on a trip down the memory lane when she had solved a mysterious candy cane and a murder that had occurred decades ago.

Author Leslie takes the reader into a life set some 35 years ago when this book was written. Some of things jogged a lot of memories in my brain, making it a true trip for the readers as well.

Leslie shows the readers the simple dynamics of a young family settling during hard times, yet finding simple joy in doing daily things. Of course, there are times when both Lucy and Bill find at each other's throats, at times when Lucy almost gives up making effort to pursue Bill's dreams, or times when she gets tired of taking care of an active 2 yr old while being 6 months pregnant. 

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53 Week Journey through the Land of Drapes and Colors: Week #5

For details on all the sarees I have posted so far, go here.

Week 5 again takes me back to one of these drapes that I wore in 2019. 

A client I worked for a few years ago has this huge Diwali celebration at work where everyone in the company comes together to some much enjoyable music, dance, food and celebration of this wonderful festival of lights. This year, courtesy of a very very good friend of mine, I got invited as a guest.  Since my friend was co-chairing it, It was no surprising that the event took on a whole no form and was bigger than what I remember. It was an honor to share her success.

For the event, I wore this cream and black designer saree made of Jute Tussar Silk with soft Zari border with checks, that I borrowed from my mother. Tussar Silk also known as Kosa Silk is a very fine thread from a winged moth, Antheraea Paphia. Although the origin is still unknown, this silk is widely made in various parts of India. For this type of material that my saree was weaved it, the Tussar Silk is weaved in with Jute fibers giving the light golden sheen to the cloth. Also the blend makes the material soft to touch.

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Book Critique - The Dangers Of Candy Canes

For review of all books in the anthology: Go here.

Stars: 2.5 / 5

Recommendation: Way too much cozy and mundane, way less thrill of a mystery or romance for me in this book. Not my cup of tea, but could be for some of you who like this kind. 

The Dangers of Candy Canes is the second novella in the anthology Candy Cane Murder by Laura Levine published in October of 2007, as part of her Jaine Austen Mystery series. She co-authored this anthology with Joanne Fluke and Leslie Meier.

One of Jaine Austen's client Seymour Fiedler is being sued for a wrongful death by Seymour's client. Now Jaine is tasked to investigate the death of his client to clear his name. A freelance writer by profession, Jaine puts her amateur detective skills to use to help her client.

Jaine Austen seemed to be one of those ordinary gumshoes who always gets into trouble, have mis-steps and make wrong turns, yet in the end solve the crime. I could have accepted if that was all Jaine was. But Laura had to go and tie her to a cat from hell, a cat that was more a tyrant than a pet. As if that was not enough, she made Jaine malleable to puppy eyes and pleading tones, making her wide-open for manipulation by even teenagers. 

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Book Critique - Candy Cane Murder (Hannah Swensen Series #9.5)

For review of all books in this series: Go here.

For review of all books in the anthology: Go here.

Stars: 3 / 5

Recommendation: A cozy mystery with a pinch of family dynamics, a twist of love triangle along-side a huge dash of mystery, is a recipe that would not only sweeten your tooth while appeasing your stomach, but also increasing your cravings and keep your grey cells active.

Candy Cane Murder is the third novella in the long-running Hannah Swensen Series by Joanne Fluke published in October of 2007, as part of the anthology Candy Cane Murder, titled the same as Joanne's novella. She co-authored this anthology with Laura Levine and Leslie Meier.

It's close to Christmas and everyone is happy to see the Santa Claus, played by the owner of the Bergstrom Department Store. And a little while after he is found dead by the snow bank outside the inn. And who do you know finds the body. None other than our very own amateur detective and full-time baker, Hannah Swensen. Now, Hannah wears her investigator's hat to find who killed Santa Claus.

I like that Joanne uses a lot of phrases and idioms all through her books, like "when pigs fly", "carrot & stick routine", "a slip of a girl", etc. It is interesting because I end up digging more about those phrases and idioms, origin and meaning, making my time with the book all the more longer, and exciting.  

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Kitchen Fun - Pepper Mint Martini

In my next experiments in my kitchen, I moved to drinks. In the next book that I have of Joanne Fluke in Hannah Swensen's series is the novella Candy Cane Murder which has Joanne's novella titled the same. 

In the mini novella she wrote, she packed a sum of 12 recipes in it. Of all of them mentioned, I picked up this drink as it sounded really interesting. Oh boy, how wrong I was. Who would have thought pepper vodka and crème d'menthe would actually make a delicious drink. 

Either I was really really way off, or I must have not got the right pepper vodka. However, I must say, sorry, Joanne, this drink had not been my cup of tea, err…glass of drink I mean. I should have perhaps tried the Peppermint Martini instead (notice the space between Pepper and Mint in the recipe I tried).

Anyways, here is what the end result looked like. 


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Book Critique - Without Mercy

Stars: 3 / 5

Recommendation: A travel down the minds of evil geniuses causing murders and mayhem certainly is no cake walk, and you will like the bone-chilling scenes page after page in this deadly novel that has no mercy.

Without Mercy is a stand-alone novel by Lisa Jackson first published in April of 2010. The plot revolves around two step-siblings who are accidentally thrown into a situation that makes them to try everything in the book to survive and live.

Shaylee "Shay" Stillman is sent to Blue Rock Academy in Southern Oregon, a school to discipline troubled youth. Knowing that this was the last resort for Shay to mend her ways before she turns an adult, it still made Jules Farentino, her step-sister, apprehensive and cautious. And she takes up a teaching position at the academy. But little does she nor Shay know that their fate had been decided by someone without mercy. The only way they can escape is by outsmarting him so they will not end up like others.

A little different from her To Die or New Orleans Series, she centers this plot around the psychology of a human mind in their teen years, and how they evolve to become more evil or good depending on how their brains are wired. 

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Book Critique - Pretty Girls

Stars: 3 / 5

Recommendation: Karin's plot truly gets under your skin, keeping you breathless all the time, gluing you to the edge of the seats, while each turn of the page gives you new suspense and unexpected turns.

Pretty Girls is a stand-alone thriller by Karin Slaughter, first published in September of 2015. The story revolves around two estranged sisters - Claire Scott and Lydia Delgado - after Claire's husband is killed and she starts uncovering secrets.

Claire Scott had just been reeling with the senseless murder of her husband, Paul Scott, when she uncovers secrets. She reaches out to her estranged sister, Lydia Delgado, to dig through the secrets. Little do they know that their path would lead them to a buried past from their lives, which may put them in mortal danger in the present. 

This is the third book I have by Karin Slaughter. The only reason I had picked this at the used book store, even though it was not part of a series, was because the title reminded me of the young adult novel Pretty Little Liars. I had read partially the first book in Pretty Little Liars series and instantly disliked it. Yet, I picked this book and I have no idea why. :P Anyways, here is what I think about it.

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53 Week Journey through the Land of Drapes and Colors: Week #4

For details on all the sarees I have posted so far, go here.

Week 4 takes me back to one of these drapes that I wore in 2019. 

As I mentioned earlier, Dusshera, is one of the biggest festivals in India and each region celebrates it 9 or 10 days in their unique way. The region I come from, Telangana, begins Dusshera with Bathukamma (= Mother Goddess come alive). Traditionally this is celebrated with decorated towers of flowers and medicinally infused leaves, that are placed in the center of a circle formed by women decked up in colorful attires. They dance around to the tunes of beautiful songs and end it with leaving the flowered towers into a pool of water. 

This is one of the favorite festival for my mom. She loves to make little stacks of flowers, gather them around with what her friends and sisters make, then together dance around to songs. Then they conclude usually with festival food. And the same thing repeats the following day in either one of her friend's or sister's homes. In 2019 my parents were visiting me around the time of this festival and she was missing celebrating it.

Luckily one of the local Indian community that belongs to the same region I come from, had a Bathukamma event one of the weekends during the 10 day festival season. I was super thrilled to take here there. Although we didn’t make the flower stacks, but we got decked up for the event and spent a lot of time meeting friends, dancing, enjoying the delicacies and having pure fun.

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Book Critique - Kiss the Girls and Make Them Cry

Stars: 3 / 5

Recommendation: A strong topic with an approach that lightens the crime, but leans heavily on the investigation and justice - a perfect last novel by the Queen of Suspense.

Kiss the Girls and Make Them Cry is the latest thriller by Mary Higgins Clark published in November of 2019. 

On January 31st 2020, we lost the "Queen of Suspense" who herself became a mysterious star in the unknown sky, a year and a half after he third husband John J. Conheeney passed away. She was one of my favorite authors, in fact the very person who had introduced me to mysteries and thrillers that gave women strength and courage to beat the odds and come out successful. At the age of 92, she was still spinning amazing stories just like this book. It is still surreal about her death, about the fact that there will be no more Mary Higgins Clark novels to look forward to. She has left a huge gap in the world of mystery and suspense for sure. 

In 2016 when Mary had come to Chatham, NJ to promote her book As Time Goes By and I missed going to the event because it was a week day and I couldn’t take off. I will forever regret missing the opportunity to meet her.

I was in fact reading this book when the news came across the waves and broke my heart. I almost put the book down as tears rolled down my cheeks. Then I thought I would read the book in her honor, and dedicate my review to her as a tribute. So here we go. 

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Book Critique - Beyond Reach (Grant County Series #6)

For review of all books in the anthology: Go here.

Stars: 3 / 5

Recommendation: Karin's plot truly gets under your skin, keeping you breathless all the time, gluing you to the edge of the seats, while each turn of the page gives you new suspense and unexpected turns.

Beyond Reach is the final book in the Grant County Series by Karin Slaughter published in July of 2007. This book was titled as Skin Privilege for the European Market.

The series is set in the fictional Grant County in Georgia. The plots revolve around three main characters - Dr. Sara Linton, the town's pediatrician and part-time coroner; Chief of Police Jeffrey Tolliver, Linton's ex-husband; and his subordinate, Detective Lena Adams. 

Dr. Sara Linton, now married to Chief of Police, Jeffrey Tolliver, is hit with a malpractice suit. While she and Jeffrey are facing the daily drama in Grant County around this suit, Jeffrey's subordinate, Detective Lena Adams, is arrested in her home town, Reese. Now it's upto Jeffrey and Sara to find out what happened in Reese three days ago that lead to Lena's arrest; and get her free out of jail.

The narration of the plot goes back and forth between the current events and events that took place three days ago. Along the way we get to meet some really seriously bad people and some who have just accepted the way of life as it is; while others who strive to do the right thing.

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