Christmas Cake Murder

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 28 Sep 2018

Member Reviews

I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This book was fantastic; learning how Hannah started The Cookie Jar was very exciting. Learning more about Delores, Michelle, & Andrea was interesting too. And we all know Hannah can't go anywhere without there being a murder. Very well written and entertaining as all of Joanne Fluke's books are. Enjoy!
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Joanne Fluke writes a fun, short, and easy read about the beginning of Hannah’s knack for solving mysteries. We get to visit Lake Eden before The Cookie Jar was a reality, get an introduction to the many cast of characters we have come to know and love, and see how Hannah solves her first mystery. We even get a mystery within a mystery? But you’d have to read the novel to find out how. It’s a perfect novel for longtime fans of this series to see how it all began, as well as introduce new readers to all the fun.

And, of course, there’s recipes!!
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I absolutely love this series! It’s by far my favorite cozy mystery series ever and I loved reading about how it all started for Hannah and The Cookie Jar! Can’t wait for the next!
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Joanne Fluke and Hannah Swenson provide some of my favorite reading.  Hannah is as familiar as an old family friend but she manages to get into so many adventures, you'll wonder if trouble follows her around.  With her friends and her sister to help, she solves some of the most puzzling mysteries.  This one takes her from reading crime mysteries to solving them.  Joanne Fluke's characters are fun and her stories exciting without giving me nightmares.  I'll keep reading them as long as she keeps writing them.
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This book goes back in time to when Hannah had returned home from dropping out of college and was living with her mother. The best part of the book was that there was no Russ, Norman, or Mike. I know that sounds bad but I think Ms. Fluke might have written herself into a corner and isn't sure how to get back out so instead she time warps. What was a bit grating in this prequel installment was that everyone agreed with everything everyone said, to the point of pretty much repeating it back verbatim, and things moved way too smoothly and quickly with no problems. It was Minnesota Nice on overload. However, I keep reading these books partially because they are very low key and nice. People are generally well intentioned and if they aren't then usually they are the killer or victim. The stories are easy to read and the recipes are tasty.
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I really loved this prequel to the series. It's wonderful how all of the details from everyone's earlier lives are worked into this story - Hannah's father's recent death, Lisa's mother still living, the story of how Delores (and her daughters) were left well off by Lars, etc. - and how The Cookie Jar came to be. I also really enjoyed Essie's story - it added intrigue and excitement and was so interesting! I haven't been a fan of some of the plotline in the last few books in the series, so it was also nice to have a story about all of our friends without having to think about those issues. I would definitely recommend this for Hannah Swensen fans.
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I was a little concerned when I saw that this was actually a prequel to the rest of the series. However, I thought I would give it a try. I will say that I did enjoy this story.  It isn't exactly Hannah finds a body and then Hannah finds a killer.  There is a story within the story.  I enjoyed finding out how Hannah was able to start the Cookie Jar.  It was fun to see Michelle in high school.  This story helped to flesh out more of the characters that I love in the following books. It was also written before Hannah is smitten with not one but two suitors.  This series is always fun and the stories are a quick and enjoyable read. The recipes supplied are and added bonus. I received a copy through Netgalley. I review was not required.
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This book takes us back all the way to the beginning of The Cookie Jar and how Hannah Swenson's shop and sleuthing began. I loved it. We get to know her family and town in an entirely new way. We get really experience the butterflies and beginnings of how The Cookie Jar came to be. We understand who she really was at this time in her life and the heartbreaks that led to her coming home when she did and how her life changed direction. For an author to be able to reel you in and share all the feels with you even though you know what comes in the future isn't easy but Joanne Fluke certainly makes it look like it is. I absolutely loved this book and highly recommend it. 

Thank you to Joanne Fluke, NetGalley, Kensington, and Penguin Random House Publishing Services for the chance to read this book and share my honest thoughts and opinions with others.
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Thanks to NetGalley for an advance copy of this book. This is a prequel to the series - Hannah has come home from college after her disastrous relationship with a professor that she mentions in the later books. Her father has just died, and Dolores is in despair. Her two friends come to visit and give Dolores a task that she cannot refuse to do - organize a Christmas ball for their old friend Essie. Essie has been living in a hotel without heat or electricity (wow!) and fell and broke her hip. Now she's in the hospital. Hannah, Melanie, Lisa and Dolores go to her hotel room and get her favourite clothes and items for the ball, and find a pile of notebooks filled with her handwriting. Essie tells them she was writing a novel and that they can read the notebooks. In it is the story of a young pregnant woman running away from New York and finding a new home in Minnesota. She running from the mob and they have killed her husband.

Dolores talks to Hannah about whether she wants to return to university to get her doctorate, and Hannah says she doesn't, what she wants to do is to open a bakery. Hannah is taken to a bakery that recently closed by her mother who tells her that the money she and her husband had budgeted for her education could now be used to rent the bakery. She also shows her a used truck (now her cookie truck) and shows her a beautiful condo where Hannah still lives. It was fun learning how Hannah came to start her business. I enjoyed this story very much, and am looking forward to reading one that tells us about Ross!
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So happy to get back to the storyline before the last two books.  This is a prequel.  I am a little confused wasn’t Hannah college love Ross not Brad?  

What I liked:

I like that this is a prequel.  
Nice to get back to the old story lines.  
Not tons of romance- no love triangles.  
The recipes look good.
The story inside the story was good.

What I did not like:

This still felt stilted.  Not so sure someone else isn’t actually doing the writing.
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Christmas Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke is the twenty third installment in Hannah Swensen mystery series and I must say even though I loved previous book this one has left me cold.

Hannah's father has just passed away and her mother is having a hard time dealing with it so Hannah gets help from the local ladies to engage Dolores in organizing a ball in honor of Essie, the local lady who is in hospice care, to take her mind of her sorrow.
When Hannah stumbles upon Essie's old notebooks where she had written a story about young woman escaping dangers on New York streets.
Interesting beginning and I like story within the story but I am sorry to say that this didn't deliver. 
Murder doesn't happen almost till the end of the book and I found dialogue somewhat stilted and unnatural.
Also there are a lot of facts being repeated over and over. All in all this book is nothing that I got to expect from the author.
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I've never been so glad to go back in time in a series! Christmas Cake Murder takes us back before Hannah's ill-fated marriage, before Norman and Mike are introduced, and before the true loves of Hannah's life; Moishe and the Cookie Jar. While Christmas Cake Murder is the 23rd book in the series, it is the prequel that sets up Hannah's life in Lake Eden. 

Hannah, along with her mother, find themselves at a crossroad after the death of the family patriarch. While Hannah originally intends to help her family navigate the first holiday season without her father, Hannah begins to embrace her passion for baking and opens up to the idea of leaving her master's program to live in Lake Eden. Along the way, although it's pretty deep into the story, Hannah stumbles upon her first mystery (that we know of). There's a fun story-within-the-story concept and even though the book felt like less of a mystery than other stories in the series, I absolutely loved this glimpse into the past.

I've read all the books in the series and I just haven't loved the recent stories involving Ross nearly as much. There was also a notable dip in the quality of the storytelling. While the mystery is a bit light, the Hannah I know and love has returned in Christmas Cake Murder, along with a better quality of writing, and I couldn't be happier! I'm very thankful to have received this book early in exchange for an honest review.
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Hannah Swanson has dreams of opening her own bakery.  She is helping her mother with the baking for the Christmas Ball, for a beloved neighbor Essie.  Essie has fallen and broken her hip.  She's in the hospital and would her Christmas wish is the reacreation of the Christmas Ball.  When Hannah and her mother go to collect some of Essie's belongings they find old notebooks.  In the notebooks is a story of love, loss, and adventure.   The notebooks turn out to be Essie's life.  When Essie is shot at during the Christmas Ball, Hannah is on the case to figure out why.  I loved this book.  It was a cozy mystery.
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This book actually tells of an event which took place early in Hannah Swensen's cookie-baking career. Hannah and her sisters charge their mom with recreating a Christmas Cake Parade like the one an older lady named Essie discusses. They discover a manuscript written by Essie. Hannah purchases the building which will become the Cookie Jar. We finally reached an "attempted murder" near the end of the book, but most of this is simply back-story. While the descriptions of eating the baked goods is quite good, I'm always frustrated by the "extra comments" in the recipes which make them difficult to use in a real kitchen. As a reader, I wish I'd been alerted in some manner this book, written as the 23rd installment of a series, is chronologically first (or wherever it may actually fall since it's been so long since I read the first installments). I received an advance egalley from the publisher through NetGalley with expectations of an honest review.
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This was the first time I read a Hannah Swensen cozy mystery and I was surprised that I enjoyed the book very much!
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The Hannah Swenson series is a long running favorite of mine . I have read the entire series and loved it over the years so I was thrilled to receive this for review. Thank you to the publisher and to the author for the opportunity. 
This is a fascinating step back in time with Hannah to the beginning of her story.  This is before her bakery opens and begins right after the death of her father. Hannah is helping her Mother navigate being a widow and busy trying new and old recipes for her family while they grieve.  I enjoyed as always the fantastic recipes and the author has gone to great detail. in each and every recipe. 
It is a fun read to step into the  Christmas season and a fun Christmas party that Hannah is baking cakes for.  The party is for a elderly friend in hospice care and Hannah begins to review her notes on previous parties and timeless recipes Hannah discovers more to her friend then she ever imagined. We learn in this book  how her business came to be, how she came to own her condo .  I found these details just fascinating and so integral to the series as a fan. There’s a mystery involving a very old manuscript and  the sleuth is interesting and kept me guessing.  This is a short read but full of fascinating information about the start of the series as well as a great sleuth.   It was very refreshing to step  back in time and as a long time reader of the series  I couldn’t put this book down!  Very well done to the author and thank you for this look back on the beginning of such a successful long running series . The Christmas theme and the party was written to perfection with every detail.
Thank you to the author for your efforts in bringing Hannah and her world alive for us .
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Dreams of opening her own bakery may have to wait, as Hannah Swensen finds herself tangled up in another mystery, this one with ties to an elderly local resident. Another solid outing from Joanne Fluke and as always, I love the addition of the recipes.
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Did you ever wonder how Hannah became the owner of The Cookie Jar? Or what her life was like before she began finding dead bodies? The Christmas Cake Murder has the answers. This is basically a prequel to all the other books. Of course Joanne Fluke has included the recipes that we expect because, truthfully, that's part of the reason her books are so popular. There is a wonderful story within the story too! I did have to adjust somewhat in my expectations because the book does not include Moishe or Andrea's girls or excessive coffee drinking. There is even a scene where tea is offered! (Gasp!) Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the book and recommend the Christmas Cake Murder.
I voluntarily received this book through Netgalley.
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This is a prequel of sorts to a looonnng running series and it's short.  While I was looking forward to an "origin story" for Hannah to get me back into the swing of the series (which I had stopped reading for a while), I was confused by this.  The story is good enough but it is seriously in need of an editor.  The writing doesn't flow and there are some odd bits of dialogue.  It made me wonder whether this was one of those rejected scripts that gets pulled out of the drawer when the author doesn't have something to fulfill the contract.  The pluses include the recipes and the change to see Hannah at the start.  Thanks to net galley for the ARC.
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Hannah Swensen and her sisters Andrea and Michelle are worried about their mother Delores. Delores is grieving after her husband's death and is withdrawing from everything and everyone she loves. Delores is able to put her grief aside to plan a Christmas Ball in honor of an elderly woman who is beloved in the town of Lake Eden. Hannah is put in charge of baking for the Ball which gives her the confidence to pursue her dream of opening her very own bakery.

This short novel is a prequel that takes place before any of the other Hannah Swensen books, shortly after Hannah's father's death. Hannah has left college after a disastrous romance and is considering making her dream of running a bakery and coffee shop come true in Lake Eden. I enjoyed seeing how Hannah makes her dream a reality. Her mother Delores is surprisingly supportive of Hannah in this installment. This was a nice change because Delores was highly critical of Hannah especially in the earliest books in the series. Hannah works closely with Delores and her sister Michelle in this book and neither Mike, Norman, nor Ross is mentioned at all. 

This book is not like others in the series which usually begin with Hannah discovering a dead body and then investigating the murder. The mystery in this book involves Essie Granger, the elderly woman the town is trying to help. Hannah discovers notebooks Essie has written which appears to be an unfinished novel the woman had been writing. Essie writes about an expectant mother who flees New York for Minnesota to protect the life of her unborn baby. The stories give Hannah the information she needs to solve a real mystery that takes place at the Christmas Ball, near the end of the book.

The book is very short and unfortunately the dialog between Hannah and her family is overly stilted and formal. The conversations don't seem natural at all and the awkwardness is hard to read after a while.  I've read all of the prior Hannah Swensen books and this is a weak installment in this series, but is okay for a quick, light read for the holidays. The author has included recipes for many of the dishes Hannah describes throughout the book.

I received this book from NetGalley through the courtesy of Kensington Books. The book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.
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