Christmas Cake Murder

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 28 Sep 2018

Member Reviews

First off, thanks to Kensington and NetGalley for approving me to read this one. That said, I really hate the fact that this book was just BAD! I was a big fan of the Hannah Swensen books for many years. I have several recipes that are used often at my house that came from these books. The last book in the series that I read was Red Velvet Cupcake Murder. It finally got on my last nerve with the dreaded "triangle". When I saw that this one was a "prequel" I had hopes that it would be like the earlier books. I was wrong. The writing style is not like I remember for this series. And to say the dialogue was "stilted" is a kindness. I suppose you could say there was a murder in this one, but not like you'd think. There are a couple of recipes in this one that I will probably try, which is why I'm rating this 2-stars. I think this one might be an effort on Ms. Fluke's part to make up to her readers for what has apparently been going on in the last few books regarding Ross. Again, I loved this series for the longest time and do so wish it would return to its glory days. If you are a fan, and have stuck with the series past Red Velvet Cupcake, which is where I got off the train, you will most definitely want to read this one and I do hope you like it.
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Christmas Cake Murder is the twenty-third book in Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swensen series and is a prequel that takes readers back to before Hannah opened her bakery, The Cookie Jar.  The writing seemed a little stiff, things were often repeated, and many of the conversations were too formal, with dear, mother, and names used too often.  Some of the lengthy recipe preparation references seemed tedious to me and I found myself skimming over them.  That being said, the storyline is delightful and heartwarming.  There’s a story within the story that contains an intriguing mystery that I enjoyed reading.

Hannah Swensen’s father, Lars, recently passed away and her mother, Delores, is taking long naps, eating very little, and says she’s too tired to do anything.  Michelle, the youngest, is still in high school; Andrea, the middle daughter, is married to Deputy Sheriff Bill Todd and is expecting her first child; and Hannah, the oldest and in college, returned to Lake Eden, Minnesota for the funeral and is helping her mother and sisters cope with their loss.  Hannah and her sisters try to get Delores involved with their lives, but so far, nothing has worked and they’re worried.  Two of Delores’ friends, Grandma Knudson and Annie Winters, come up with a project she won’t want to do but will feel obligated to take on.  Essie Granger, a beloved town resident, has fallen on hard times, not eating properly, and living in squalor in two rooms in the old Albion Hotel building, without electricity or running water.  She’s currently recovering from a broken hip and Doc Knight placed her in the hospital’s hospice ward.  Essie told Grandma Knudson and Annie that she wished she could go back in time and experience the splendor of the hotel’s first Christmas Ball and Christmas Cake Parade again and they ask Delores to spearhead the event.  She agrees, but only if Hannah will help bake the cakes for the parade.  Hannah and Delores go to the hotel to pick up some of Essie’s things and find some old notebooks containing what they believe is a story Essie was writing.  Hannah reads the story to Delores, Michelle, and Michelle’s friend, Lisa Herman, and they all enjoy what turned out to be a real mystery from the past.  Hannah, who thought she wanted to be a college professor, decides not to go back to college to get her doctorate.  She told Michelle and Lisa her dream job would be to own a bakery and coffee shop.  Delores suggests that Hannah take the remainder of her college and rent a recently vacated bakery on Main Street.  Delores does a fantastic job recreating the event and encouraging everyone to help and Michelle and Lisa help Hannah with the baking.  The Christmas Ball begins wonderfully, but mayhem breaks out during the Christmas Cake Parade.

I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed it.
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I was given this book by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book is a little different from previous Hannah Swenson cozy mysteries in that it is set in the past, right at the beginning of the opening of The Cookie Jar. Hannah is mourning her father, helping her mother get past her grief, working with others to plan a Christmas Ball, and making plans for opening her store, all at once! The main mystery comes from a series of handwritten notebooks telling a story. 

I will say that the ending was a bit predictable, but, if you are a fan of this series, you won't want to miss this latest installment!
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This is my all time favorite cozy mystery series and I never want it to end! There is just something about Hannah Swensen that wits well with me. She's such a pure-hearted heroine and she makes the most delicious desserts! I have tried them myself! 

Any fan of cozies needs this book (and frankly, the entire series) in their life! I couldn't recommend it more and this is just another favorite to add to my list!
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This book did not have Hannah finding a dead body! So I think that it was not named properly.

Still it was very well planned out and written! Joanne Fluke does a great job with Hannan, her sisters, her mother and all the people who live and work in Lake Eden, Minnesota.

In this book she is back because her Dad just died and she was at the funeral. She came home from College and has decided she is not going back. 

With some help from her Mother she finds out that her "calling" is baking and the book tells the story of how it all came about!

Great story and since there was no murder, Hannan had her hands along with her Mother to plan a Christmas Ball which involved many Cakes and cookies that need to baked.

Wonderful book and Joanne keeps us glued to the books.
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Thank you NetGalley for my Arc.

I absolutely love this series and have read everyone of the previous books. I love a Hannah Swenson mystery. I would describe this book as a prequel. Gives you a glimpse of how The Cookie Jar started. Loved it!
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I love this series, have loved every book in it from the very beginning.  I can't imagine a year without a book from Hannah.  This was a bit of a surprise in that it was a story from way back at the beginning but still it was loved.  I would recommend this book to anyone who loves cozies but please! start at the beginning.  

Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
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This was an awesome read! It’s one of my favourites of Joanne Fluke. I can’t wait for the next one!
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I have been a fan of the Hannah Swensen series for years. Although there are a lot of culinary cozy series now, this series was one of the first. After 23 books, this series is still one of my favorites, despite some....disappointments....in the last couple of books (not going to say what so I don't spoil things for newer readers but those who have read the entire series know I'm talking about R.) This book is a prequel taking readers back to before Hannah opened her bakery, The Cookie Jar, ....so it circumvents the R debacle. I was so excited when I saw this available for review. A Hannah prequel! Yep -- I'm up for it!

I'm going to delve into what I love about this book first, then get to several problems I see. Always the good first! :)

I love the fact that the plot of this book is a bit different....a bit of a story inside a story. Hannah comes home after college, not sure what to do with the rest of her life. She settles back into life in Lake Eden, helping her mother and sisters after the recent death of her father. An elderly much-loved resident of the little MN town has fallen on hard times and is in the hospital recovering from a fall. Hannah and her mother discover that the woman has been living in squalor in the old theater building in town. They come up with a plan to recreate the annual Christmas Ball, an event that Essie remembers fondly. And, they go to the old building Essie has been living in to pack up some of her belongings to bring to the hospital. While looking for items Essie has requested, they find some old notebooks. Essie was writing a story. Hannah, her sisters and mother all get totally sucked into Essie's story, which turns out might be a real mystery about the past. So...a story within a story. Nice creative touch for a Hannah Swensen Christmas tale!

I liked the fact that this story was completely pre-love triangle. For those new to the series, through most of the series, Hannah was torn between two men in Lake Eden. Things just dragged on too long, and when it finally did resolve, it was disappointing. But, in this prequel tale, Hannah is busy deciding to open her bakery and coffee shop. No love triangle. No male competition. Not even Moishe, Hannah's kitty cat. 

Lots of recipes! From pork roast to breakfast burritoes and peach pie to mint cookies, there is a recipe to tempt almost everybody!

There is some nice character development in this prequel. Dolores has just lost her husband and is having difficulty dealing with the loss. Hannah has just finished college and wants to change her life plan of teaching college to something she will actually enjoy -- baking. The story gives some nice insight into Hannah, her sisters and her mother. I'm invested in these characters after years of reading this series. It was nice to read about what things were like for them before Hannah opened The Cookie Jar. 

Much as I love, love, love getting a Hannah-fix, I do have to give an honest review.... Some problems evident in the past several books in this series are still a problem with this one. 
Clunky, clumsy dialogue. Overuse of characters' names. Over explanation of situations, or characters unnecessarily repeating conversations or situations to other characters. It's just different (and more amateurish) writing than what I'm used to from this series. I went to my library's digital site and downloaded an early book in the series to see if I'm imagining things.....and no, I stand by my analysis. The writing style is completely different, and much less polished than the rest of the series. The last 3 books have been problematic. Ghost writer? Different editor? Something has changed. I'm invested in this series after 23 books and years of reading, but I'm disappointed by the changes in quality of writing and in the characters' behavior. 

But.....all in all....I love this series and the characters. This was a nice Christmas story with some new elements that I enjoyed. But I have to be honest and say that the story should have gone through another round of editing to tighten things up, bringing it up to the standard of the first 20 books or so of this series. 

I can't wait for my next visit to Lake Eden! Luckily I don't have long to wait! Book 24, Chocolate Creme Pie Murder, will be out in February 2019! And all of us die-hard fans will finally find out the ending of the R debacle! I hope Hannah punches him in the mouth multiple times and kicks him in the .....well somewhere rude. We shall see!

**I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from Kensington via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own. No cookies were baked during the reading of this book, although I was sorely tempted to completely sabotage my diet.**
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Hannah is back-but in a blast from the past, the story is set during the summer her father passed away/during Hannah's college days.  she must deal with her mother's status as a new widow and the loss of her father, while helping set up a large party, baking cakes, and solving a mystery or two. Longtime fans may be impatient to go back to the unexplained cliffhanger of the previous book in this series.
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A great read, find out how the series began with Hannah, her mom and her sisters.  Also you get all her great recipes.  Read in one sitting, I just could not put it down., one of my must read authors!
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I have read every book in this series and I love that the author put out a prequel! It was nice to finally be able to see how the characters have landed where they are in the series. Each previous book touched on their past, but not completely and it was nice to have the blanks filled in. This was a really good read, yet some of it did have filler that seemed a bit much. Overall, if you love this series. this is a nice addition.
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I’ve read everyone of the books in Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swensen series and the Christmas Cake Murder is one of my favorites in the series. I loved learning more about Hannah and her family and how the Cookie Jar came to be. 

If you love cozy mysteries then you’ll want to read Christmas Cake Murder. You won’t be disappointed!

Now I just wish it was 2019 and I had my hands on Chocolate Cream Pie Murder!
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I love, love, love this book.  I will admit I didn't read much of the description before I read this book.  I was expecting it to pick up where the last Hannah Swenson book left off.  I was wrong, and I am happy about that.  This is the perfect Christmas story.  The story starts at the beginning of the Hannah Swenson Cookie Jar.  We go back in time to three weeks after the death of Hannah's father.  Her mother is inconsolable, won't eat or sleep or anything.  She just isn''t herself. She needs a project.  That's where her friends come in and talk her into recreating the Christmas Ball complete with the Christmas Cake Parade.  This snaps her out and she is back to the Deloris that we know and love.  We start to see all the things in Hannah's life start to fall into place, the cookie shop, the condo, everything but Norman. It was a perfect little story to give us a lot of the backstory of our favorite character. And what better time than at Christmas?
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This was a perfect read for those of you who have loved Hannah from the beginning but always wondered how The Cookie Jar came to be.  While giving the reader a glimpse of how Hannah created her dream, Joanne Fluke once again delves into a great mystery.  With beautifully written characters and a heartwarming storyline that will keep the reader on the edge of their seat this one should not be missed!!
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I've been fan of this series for a very long time. In each of the books we get a little peek into Hannah's early life, but this story tells it all.
I loved reading about how Hannah got her start at The Cookie Jar.
The story is well written and full of mouthwatering recipes. 
As a fan of this series, I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to read a fast paced holiday cozy mystery.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for approving me to read and review an ARC of this book.
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I received a free copy of Christmas Cake Murder (A Hannah Swensen Holiday Mystery with Recipes!) by Joanne Fluke in exchange for an honest review.  This would be classified as a series prequel.  Back before the Cookie Jar, back before the love triangle, and back before Hannah was knee-deep in bodies, Hannah and her family were suffering heartbreak caused by the death of Hannah’s father.  Hannah, herself, was suffering dual heartbreak because she had also just been betrayed by her first love.  This is the beginning; this is the story of how the Swensen family, with the aid of a little mystery, begins anew.

This was a lovely story.  Though not the usual type of murder mystery, it was a great change of pace.  I think it’s a fantastic addition to the Hannah Swensen Mystery series!

#ChristmasCakeMurder #NetGalley
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Another short and fun read from Joanne Fluke. It is always fun to read about these familiar characters and see all of the recipes. I recommend this series for anyone who enjoys mysteries with a touch of cuteness.
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