Monday, January 9, 2012

Book Reviews: The Gingerbread Bump-Off and Next Christmas in Girouette

The Gingerbread Bump-Off by Livia J. Washburn

My thoughts:
This was basically my very first cozy mystery and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised.  The mystery is set up nicely and amateur sleuth, Phyllis, reminds me of Jessica Fletcher in Murder She Wrote (one of my favorite shows back in the day).  She is known around town as "the woman who solved all those murders," much to the dismay of the police, most likely because it seems she tends to show them up.  I can certainly say that I was kept guessing about who committed the crime...there was no figuring this one out! I will say that no one should read this book on an empty stomach or if you're on a diet.  Phyllis and her roommate, Carolyn, are constantly baking yummy treats and cookies.  I felt like I could reach into the pages and grab one of Phyllis's German Chocolate Cookies and eat one myself.  I wish! I was so pleased when I discovered that there are recipes that Phyllis prepared in the story at the back of the book.  I'll definitely be trying them out.  In all, this book was a wonderful read at Christmas, even if it surrounded solving a murder.  I'm thinking I will definitely be checking out more of Livia's Fresh-Baked Mysteries in the future.

About the book:
A Christmas killer has been icing Phylis Newsom's friends in the sixth Fresh-Baked mystery.

Not only will Phyllis Newsom's house be featured in the annual Christmas Jingle Bell Tour of Homes, she also has a Christmas Eve bridal shower and a New Year's Eve wedding to bake goodies for. But like her tasty treats, she rises to the occasion.

Before the tour gets under way, Phyllis makes a gruesome discovery on her porch: someone has tried to kill her friend. As Santa's naughty list gets longer, Phyllis tries to catch a half-baked killer.

Next Christmas in Girouette by Michael and Dylan Welch

My thoughts:
This book really was a heartwarming Christmas story.  I wasn't sure at first if I liked it, but as I read more and more, it started to grow on me.  It's one of those stories that has a message of appreciating the past, of letting go of all our technology and what we think are necessities, and mainly how to really appreciate people and the loved ones in your life.  Really a wonderful message to read at Christmas time.  The authors have incorporated the past and present of a ghost town in the Rocky Mountains, exposing the reader to what life was like then and now.  The characters are all interesting in their own way.  If I had one pet peeve, it would be the dialect depicted on the page that was supposed to make it sound like a western twang, but really just grated on the nerves a bit.  Otherwise, a good Christmas story with a message and many heartwarming moments.

About the book:
Next Christmas in Girouette… is a full-length novel for people of all ages—nine to ninety-nine—who want to share a classic, heart-warming literary adventure at Christmastime.

Set on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains in Montana, this is the story of a brother and sister—Autry and Oxana Quinn—who find themselves stranded in a Girouette, a virtual ghost town, from Thanksgiving through Christmas when their father is taken seriously ill. Their grandfather, a Marine Captain long retired, plus an eccentric old cafĂ© proprietress, a Blackfeet Indian horse trader who once served as the town’s mayor, a couple who published the local newspaper and an ancient deaf-mute trapper are the only remaining inhabitants of Girouette. These self-styled, “diehards” all seem to have one thing in common. Thanks to a mysterious event 60 years earlier, they still believe in Santa Claus.

Girouette features something for everyone: carefree cowboys who race their horses over snow covered country road, a team of wolves trained to pull a dogsled, a stroll that nearly turns tragic on a buffalo jump, a serialized newspaper story titled “The Adventures of Rocky Mountain Santa,” a desperate attempt to escape from an abandoned copper mine, a night-time journey through the mountains on a frozen river and the miracle that delivers wayfaring strangers to Girouette during a storm on Christmas Eve.

The book revels in the solitary beauty of winter in Big Sky Country, the enduring wisdom of the elderly citizens of Girouette, the excitement of frontier history coming to life, the inspiration of a family healing itself and the magic of an old-fashioned western Christmas. Read Next Christmas in Girouette with your family this year, and you’ll want to revisit it for years to come at holiday time.

Both read for The Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge.

FTC Disclaimer:  I received both books from the authors in exchange for an honest review.  I received no monetary compensation.

1 comment:

  1. "Next Christmas in Girouette" is a story that I will read and share for many, many Christmases to come.


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