Warning: This book review contains spoilers for the novellas “Gingerbread Cookie Murder” by Joanne Fluke, “The Dangers Of Gingerbread Cookies” by Laura Levine and “Gingerbread Cookies And Gunshots” by Leslie Meier. If you don’t like spoilers, don’t read this book review!
I’m back with another book review, and this time I’m reviewing the novella collection “Gingerbread Cookie Murder!” Despite what the cover implies, this is not a single book written by three authors. Instead, it’s a collection of three novellas: “Gingerbread Cookie Murder” by Joanne Fluke, “The Dangers Of Gingerbread Cookies” by Laura Levine and “Gingerbread Cookies And Gunshots” by Leslie Meier. As one can assume from the titles of these stories, this book contains three novellas with the theme of gingerbread cookies. I figured this would be a fun collection to review, given that the Christmas season is coming up.
Since I’m reviewing three novellas and not a full-length book, I’m just going to give an overall rating for each novella and my thoughts on them, before giving an overall rating for the collection at the end.
“Gingerbread Cookie Murder”by Joanne Fluke:
“When Hannah Swensen finds her neighbour Ernie Kusak with his head bashed in and sprawled on the floor of his condo next to an upended box of Hannah’s Gingerbread Cookies, she discovers a flurry of murder suspects that’s as long as her holiday shopping list.”
For those that have followed me for a while, you’re likelyaware that I’ve written reviews for quite a few books in the Hannah Swensen series, including another Christmas-themed book. You may also remember that I have, previously, complained at length about the unconvincing love triangle between the characters Hannah, Mike and Norman. This love-triangle also continues in this novella as a sideplot. Not much happens with this other than Hannah wondering why Norman and Mike don’t fight over her more often. She’s actually annoyed that they get along as friends, which I found odd as a reader. Does she want them to be jealous and fight over her like it’s the Bachelorette? If so, why? It just doesn’t make sense.
However, the main story itself was entertaining. I loved how Delores, Hannah’s mother, did more than just try to get her together with one love interest or the other. Instead, she had a major role in this story. I also enjoyed reading the reveal for who committed the murder in the end. The ending itself was rather abrupt, as it literally ended just after Delores knocked out the murderer, and the ending could have used more time to actually conclude itself, rather than feel like the last chapter got ripped off its end.
Overall, I’m rating this novella 3 out of 5 stars!
Read the story for its main mystery, and ignore the love triangle for maximum enjoyment.
“The Dangers Of Gingerbread Cookies” by Laura Levine:
“Jaine Austen has been enlisted to help with her parents’ retirement community’s play The Gingerbread Cookie That Saved Christmas. Playboy Dr. Preston McCay is playing the role of the gingerbread cookie when he ‘accidentally’ falls to his death during the final act. Now Jaine must figure out if one of the doctor’s jealous lovers was capable of murder.”
Have you ever read one of those novels that are written so bad, that they’re good? This novella is one of them.
I enjoyed the protagonist’s snappy attitude towards the events going on around her. I felt that the author played into the ridiculousness and soap-opera-like feeling of the entire main story, and that was fun to read. However, the writing did more of a “telling” than “showing” of how people felt and and/or acted in this entire novella. This would be great if this novella was a fictional podcast about the protagonist telling the listener about the mystery, or even an audio book. It doesn’t translate well into actual book form alone.
There also was an inconsistent font style that appeared in Chapter Two. This shows me that there was an obvious lack of editing in this novella. I don’t know if that was an editorial oversight, or if this was intentional. However, it did nothing but detract from enjoying reading the story.
Overall, I’m rating this novella 2 out of 5 stars!
Don’t go into reading this novella thinking it’s a serious mystery. This should be taken more as comedy, for maximum enjoyment.
“Gingerbread Cookies And Gunshots” by Leslie Meier:
“When Lucy Stone discovers the body of Rick Juergens, whose five-year-old son Nemo disappeared, she senses foul play. Crumbs from a gingerbread cookie Lucy gave to Nemo are found in the back seat of Rick’s car. With the hours quickly ticking till Christmas, Lucy races against the clock to find a killer before he strikes again.”
For those uncomfortable with child kidnapping, you may want to skip this novella. I thought that the main story was pretty good, overall. The reveals behind the kidnapping and the eventual murder were interesting to read. However, I felt that the revealed antagonist was too quick to reveal all of his motivations on the spot to the protagonist. Even if he was planning to kill her to silence her afterwards, I do think that it still wasn’t something he should have straight-up confessed to her about.
I also enjoyed the sideplot of Lucy finding out that her children weren’t initially going to come home for Christmas. It made me sympathize with her and get to know her as more than just the detective-protagonist figure in this novella. The wish to be together with your family after all the years of tradition being together, only to be disappointed when things don’t go as you hope is certainly relatable.
Awkwardly enough, there were instances of inconsistent font style in Chapters One, Two, Four, and Five. This took away from the overall reading experience.
Overall, I’m rating this novella 3 out of 5 stars!
If you ignore the inconsistent font styles and the too-quick-to-explain antagonist, this novella is much more enjoyable as a whole.
Overall, I’m rating the whole novella collection 3 out of 5 stars!
Is it perfect? No. But this collection is certainly entertaining enough for a light read, especially if you want something to get into during the Christmas holidays.
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