Christmas Cake Murder (Hannah Swensen Series #23)

Christmas Cake Murder (Hannah Swensen Series #23)

by Joanne Fluke


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Christmas Cake Murder (Hannah Swensen Series #23) 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Disappointed This is not the story I thought would follow the previous book. I was looking forward to reading what happened next with Hannah.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story.; Kept me interested, could not put it down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ok mystery about Essie. Prequel to Hannah Swenson mystery,
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was great. Really kept my interest
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just love the plots as much as the recipes of Hannah Swensen. Thank you for the wonderful prequel, Joanne Fluke!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful and fast read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I might give this a 2.5, because the mystery about Essie was very intriguing, and I really wanted to know what was happening. However, even that mystery was left wanting. For example: Where did Tony get the jewels? Just exactly WHY did the mob want to kill Essie, even before she turned in the books? Beyond that, it felt like the publisher pushed the author to crank out what would have been a potentially great book by padding it with redundant pages of nothing just to get it in the Christmas Catalogue. I didn't need to read that Hannah turned on the oven, or went to the pantry to retrieve the bag of ingredients she'd bought at the Red Owl and brought them back to the work station...etc. I had been looking forward to this book, to see how Hannah came back to Lake Eden and set up her business, and I really liked the idea of an historical mystery, but this book had only about 100 pages of interesting material. Also, the bundt cake recipes are basically the same, with flavor variations, and each one took up to 6 pages in the book. Seriously??? Joanna Fluke is a better writer than this, so I lay this travesty at the feet of the publisher. Joanna, please take your time, and do what you do best. Hannah and all the other Lake Eden characters deserve better.
Carstairs38 More than 1 year ago
This book is set at the first Christmas since Hannah's father has died. Hannah has dropped out of her graduate program and is home trying to help her mother, Delores, deal with life after her loss, and Hannah is beginning to worry. Fortunately, Grandma Knudson and Annie come up with the perfect project to get Delores's mind off her loss. It seems Essie, a beloved member of the community, has fallen and broken her hip. In an effort to cheer her up, Delores is asked to organize a Christmas ball, with Hannah recruited to bake the cakes for the events. While all this is going on, Hannah begins to share her dreams of opening her own cookie and coffee shop. And a novel that Essie was working on captivates Hannah, Delores, Michelle, and Lisa. You'll note my teaser doesn't mention the mystery. That's because it isn't until late in the book that it comes into clear focus, although enough bread crumbs have been laid out earlier that we do get a satisfying wrap up. Meanwhile, we get lots of planning for the ball and Hannah getting the things that will become staples of her life as we know it from the rest of the series. It's fun for series fans, although even then I thought the book could have been shorter. Those new to the series definitely shouldn't jump in here since it is so atypical.
Readah0lic More than 1 year ago
Christmas Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s Christmas many years ago, and at the top of young Hannah Swensen’s wish list is to be the go to baker in Lake Eden, Minnesota. With her dream of opening The Cookie Jar taking shape, Hannah’s life matches the hectic Christmas hustle and bustle in Lake Eden especially when she agrees to help recreate a spectacular Christmas Ball from the past in honor of Essie Granger, an elderly local in hospice care. Instead of poring over decadent dessert recipes for the merry festivities, Hannah and her family become enthralled by Essie’s old notebooks that tell the tale of a young woman escaping danger in New York. Hannah is surprised by Essie’s hidden talent for penning crime fiction, she’s even more surprised when she finds out that the story is true. As Hannah prepares to run a bakery and move out of her mother’s house, it’ll be a true miracle if she can prevent another yuletide disaster by solving a mystery as dense as a Christmas fruitcake.

I've been a fan of the Hannah Swensen series since I first read book #1 back in 2013.Even though there are many culinary cozy mystery series on the market today, this series is still one of my favorites. Even though despite some disappointments in the last 2 or 3 books I won't go into a lot of detail so I don't spoil things for any newer readers who haven't gotten very far in the series of for those who haven't read the last 3 books. This is a prequel that takes place shortly after the death of Hannah's father, and before Hannah has opened her bakery The Cookie Jar.

First I'm going to list what I like about this book first, then get to what I didn't like about the book. I like that the plot of is a bit different a story inside a story that contains a mystery where Hannah doesn't discover the body as she usually does. I like the fact that this story was completely pre-love triangle, while Hannah is busy deciding what to do with her life. I like that the book gives us some insight into the lives of Hannah, her sisters and her mother. Since I've invested so much time with these characters it was nice to read about what things were like for them before Hannah opened The Cookie Jar.

Now it's time for the things that I didn't like about this book. I didn't like that the dialogue seemed to be clumsy, clunky, and overuses the names of the characters throughout the conversations. I also didn't like that the characters would unnecessarily be repeating conversations or situations to other characters. The last thing that I didn't like was that the author's writing style seemed to be different, and less polished than the books in the rest of the series.

All in all this was a nice Christmas story and mystery with some new elements that I did enjoy. I do have to be honest and say the story should've gone through another round or two of editing to tighten things up, and bring it up to the standard of the first 22 books of this series.
PamMcC More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed finding out about Hannah’s Cookie Jar beginnings. Joanne Fluke makes this particular mystery very touching when she brings the story of Essie to life. She teases us with it throughout the book and ends with the answers. There is one little mystery connected that I would like to know the answer to, though, although I will see if any other readers catch on. Delores, Hannah’s mother, plays a key role in everything that happens to the futures of all her girls and even a friend. She comes through in the midst of her own grief. Delores turns out to be much more likeable now that I know her better. It was fun to read about beginnings and strangely enough, this was the perfect time for it. Ms. Fluke presents this book in the series just when we need it (after the Raspberry Danish Murder book).
Cozyfan75 More than 1 year ago
We get to go back in time a little to when Hannah was first opening her Cookie Jar bakery. This book was quite a bit different from the rest of the mysteries in this series that I've read. There wasn't a lot of action until closer to the end. But it was still interesting to read about Hannah, her mom and her sisters' lives when they were younger. I really liked their friend Essie that they were putting a Christmas Ball together for. She was the most loved community member because of everything she did for the kids, and now it was time to do something special for her. An interesting side story was the story that Essie had started but never finished. Hannah wondered if this story was about Essie herself, or someone she knew. A heart-warming story for the Christmas season with a very happy ending!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SewWrite More than 1 year ago
Hannah Swensen fans will be happy to take a step back in time to see Hannah in a time before she opened the Cookie Jar and started solving murder mysteries. This book in a fun story that follows Hannah just after her fathers death while she was trying to decide what to do with her life. Hannah and Deloris step up to help their friend Ellie recover from injuries to a fall. They happen to discover several notebooks written by Ellie that tell a story about a woman fleeing mobsters in New York. The story within a story is a unique twist in this series and I enjoyed it very much, as I think most fan of the series will.
bookaholique More than 1 year ago
3.5 I think the author has upped the ante with this book. taking us back to when Hannah was just starting out as a cookie baker was pretty ingenious. This gave a fresh spin on a series that is twenty-three books in. I have always enjoyed the Hannah Swensen cozy mystery series. I find them to be a fun and easy read. But I must admit that some of the stories were getting a little redundant. The last few really started to mix things up and make the story line more interesting. This one was a game changer. My thanks to Kensington Books and Netgalley.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A wonderful holiday cozy mystery as a prequel. Great backstory to the series. You’ll love the mystery & fabulous recipes! #NetGalley
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very disappointed, wanted finally find out what happened with Ross. Not buying this book.
KrisAnderson_TAR More than 1 year ago
Christmas Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke is the twenty-third novel in A Hannah Swensen Mystery series. It has been three weeks since Hannah’s father, Lars passed away. The three Swensen girls (Hannah, Andrea and Michelle) are worried about their mother, Delores who is spending her days in her room. When the girls run out of ideas, Grandma Knudson and Annie Winters stop by with the perfect project for Delores. Essie Granger who owns the Albion Hotel fell down the steps and broke her hip. Essie used to entertain the children of Lake Eden on Saturday’s at the hotel with her stories. Essie wishes she could go back and revisit the splendor of the first Christmas Ball she attended at the Albion Hotel where she met her deceased husband, Alton. There was also a Christmas Cake Parade at the event. Grandma Knudson and Annie want Delores to recreate the ball for Essie. Delores has the organizational skills plus the needed charm (to coerce donations from local business owners) to pull off the project in two weeks. Delores agrees if Hannah will bake the cakes and desserts. In Essie’s rooms at the hotel, Hannah finds a stack of notebooks that contain an intriguing story. With Essie’s permission, Hannah reads the stories to Delores, Michelle and Lisa about a woman, who is pregnant and on the run, who finds a safe haven in Minnesota. They discover that the story is unfinished. Hannah is on a break from college, but she does not wish to return in January. When the family asks what she would like to do for a living, she tells them about her idea for a cookie and coffee shop. Soon, with the help of her family, Hannah’s dreams are coming true. Come along for a Christmas adventure in Lake Eden with the Swensen family in Christmas Cake Murder. I found it delightful to go back and see how The Cookie Jar came to fruition. I found the Christmas Cake Murder to be well-written and engaging. It has a steady pace and a conversational writing style that makes for an easy to read story. All our favorite characters are in the book (Delores, Hannah, Michelle, Andrea, and Lisa). It was nice to get to know our main characters a little better. Delores has suffered a devastating loss and must find a way to move forward with her life with her husband, Lars. Hannah is at a crossroads in her life. She is given an opportunity to make her dream come true. We also get to know more about Lisa, Michelle’s friend. There is plenty of cooking and baking (as usual). The recipes for the delectable desserts and meals that Hannah creates for her family are included. I wish the publisher would put them at the end of the book instead of between chapters (it messes with the flow of the story). I liked the story from Essie’s journals. It captured my attention and intrigued me. We get a story inside of a story. It is easy to keep track of the two storylines. The mystery is one that plays out instead of one that readers can solve (just go with the flow). The dialogue is off. I find it awkward at times, but I was enjoying the story and just let it go (it was the middle of the night and I was wide awake). I am giving Christmas Cake Murder 4 out of 5 stars. Christmas Cake Murder is a charming book that reminds me of the earlier novels in A Hannah Swensen Mystery series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
PattySmith87 More than 1 year ago
Thanks to Netgalley, Kensington Books and Joanne Fluke for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are 100% my own and independent of receiving an advanced copy. So you know when it is a Saturday afternoon, it’s quiet outside and you’re in one of those moods when you just want to curl up in front of the TV. A Hallmark movie or some such comes on and for the next two hours you surrender yourself to pure saccharine. Ahhh bliss… First let me say - you have to be in the mood for this type of novel or don’t bother. It is formulaic, the writing accessible, the characters stock. Usually set in a small town where everyone knows your name. They are always super happy, not a serious care in the world, supportive - a real community. There will be a mystery to solve, but nothing violent and sans any twisty turns. Don’t look for high literature, descriptive flowy scenes, deep and thoughtful statements on life. You know what you are getting. But in the mood I was, and Fluke delivered, yet again. Pure escapism and I loved every bit of it. If you are familiar with the Hannah Swensen series, you will feel right at home. We go back in time to when Hannah has left school and returned to Lake Eden to help console her mother, after her father recently passed. Hannah is baking up a storm and realizes that this might be her path after all. You get to witness the opening of “The Cookie Jar”. If you can’t tell from the titles of these novels, baking is very much a part of each and every one. Hannah has a passion for baking and as a bonus, each chapter has her amazing recipes that you make yourself, at home. The premise this time is that they are trying to recreate the Christmas Cake Parade. Essie, an elderly woman beloved by all, has had an accident and is laid up. She has also fallen on hard times but has been too proud to say anything. She remembers the Christmas Ball fondly and would love to see it one more time. This will be a great project for Hannah’s mother to get involved in to get her back in the swing of things. Hannah has been tasked with baking all the cakes for the parade. The whole community will need to pitch in to get the old Hotel ready for the ball. While getting some things from home for Essie, Hannah comes across these boxes full of pages of what looks like a manuscript. It turns out Essie was writing a book! This is where the mystery comes in. I don’t think I’m spoiling anything when I tell you everything works out amazing for everyone. All the ends are neatly tied up and I wouldn’t have it any other way. In fact, I’m counting on it. I don’t think there is anything wrong with a little fluff in my life. It is what I love about reading. There are so many different types of books out there, each like a different dessert that Hannah makes, and if it tastes good - don’t we all enjoy it? Who cares if it is a cookie, cake, meringue, brownie - bring it on. The best things about reading is - no calories! Fluke has done great job, yet again, with this latest instalment. I enjoy spending time with daughters who love mothers, mothers who are nothing but supportive, friends that care for each other and a community that reaches out to help those in need. It’s a world I like to live in, even if it is just for an afternoon. So if that is what you are in the mood for - this one takes the cake! (I know, I know, I couldn’t resist)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!
diane92345 More than 1 year ago
The Christmas Cake Murder turns the clock back to before Hannah opened her bakery, The Cookie Jar. In a short prequel set before the rest of the books in the series, Hannah returns home from college to attend her father’s funeral. Her mother, Delores, is understandably depressed so she is given a task to take her mind off her troubles. She is asked to help a local older woman, Essie, who has broken her hip. Essie wants to return to her youth by recreating the old-fashioned Christmas Cake Ball. Delores, Hannah and her sisters work together on the project by renovating an old ballroom and baking lots of cakes. Most of the cake and frosting recipes are shared with the reader. Meanwhile, Hannah decides to drop out of college and forego her dream of becoming a college professor. Why quit college? Over a man (foreshadowing the issues many had with the previous book in the series). Also, the family reads a unfinished crime novel by Essie they find in her room. The mystery in the Christmas Cake Murder is painfully obvious from the beginning. However, Essie’s crime story is good and drives readers to finish the book. It was also nice to hear why and how Hannah started her business. In addition, there is a heartwarming Christmas story ending. However, the lack of any mystery in a cozy mystery is a serious plot problem. For completists out there (like me) who have read the entire series, this is an interesting read. For others, I wouldn’t recommend it. Do not start the series here—start at the delightful series beginning. 2 1/2 stars rounded up to 3 stars. Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for an advance copy.
yomicat More than 1 year ago
Thank you, NetGalley for allowing me to review "Christmas Cake Murder.". I am a huge fan of Joanne Fluke and I have read almost every book in the Hannah Swenson series. In "Christmas Cake Murder" is a prequel to the series of books. We finally find out how the Cookie Jar came to be and when she moved into her condo. This wasn't the typical mystery where Hannah went sleuthing for answers it came together on its own with a little bit of help from her. My only complaint about this book and the others in the series are the recipes at the end of the chapters. I feel that it breaks up the continuity of the story and it is used to lengthen a short book. Some of the recipes are also variations of the same recipe such as the Coolwhip frosting, these could have been all grouped together and given a list of variations.
3593918 More than 1 year ago
Not interested in story of when Hannah was younger, wanted a continuation of the series, hate when I am tricked into buying a book.