The Countdown to CeeCee-o-Ween: Beewitched by Hannah Read

untitledMy little busy bee is buzzing with excitement about all the spookalicious books we’re reading this Halloween! We’re covering the gamut in fall-themed mysteries and thrillers. Some are mildly spooky and others are downright terrifying! Heck, we’re even throwing in a few nostalgic family-friendly classics for the kiddos. Stay tuned for more as we count down the days to All Hallows Eve!

18210687In this next installment of our CeeCee-o-Ween countdown, we selected a fun little cozy mystery filled with bees, witchcraft and zany small town antics. Our amateur sleuth is a beekeeper and owner of a kitschy honey-goods store in a cute little Wisconsin village.

Like most cozy mysteries, the town is cut right out of a Norman Rockwell painting—but don’t be fooled! Evil lurks within this idyllic little hamlet. Witches are running amok and nobody is safe at the annual fall festival. Sure enough, a dead body is found in the corn maze and all signs point to the daughters of evil!

It’s up to our intrepid sleuth, Story, to team up with her wacky sidekick and nab the killer before evil strikes again. And as with most cozy mysteries, the podunk cops are asleep at the wheel. The hot crime-fighting boyfriend is constantly lecturing Story about putting herself in danger (an annoying and antiquated trope that needs to go away!). And, of course, there are a bazillion characters thrown into the mix, keeping me in a constant state of confusion. This is my biggest gripe with cozies. Maybe that’s why I never liked those aggravating jigsaw puzzles with ten thousand microscopic pieces. Tedious much?

Gripes aside, this is a quality mystery with well-developed characters and hilarious dialogue. Story is great, but I have a feeling readers keep coming back for more of her sidekick’s zany hijinks.  Though I would’ve like more scenes of the fall festival (seriously, Story, stop and take a break for a moment!), this is a quality read for anyone who enjoys a good, puzzling mystery!

Back to the Bedroom…More Like Back to the Blah

The sugary sweet story of a woman with the “soul of a birthday cake living in a bran muffin house” who falls for a man with the “soul of a bran muffin living in a birthday cake house” has about as much substance as a Krispy Krème doughnut. The story is simple: Girl meets boy, girl and boy fall in love and ridiculous neuroticisms and eccentricities keep boy and girl apart. Female protagonist Katherine Finn is supposed to be endearing with her wild mane of red hair and chronic fear of commitment; however, I grew tired of her insatiable need to complicate a seemingly perfect relationship with the lotto-winning, all around Mr. Perfect David Dodd. Come to think of it, I don’t think I would want much to do with the overly sensitive guy either. The love scenes didn’t steam up my reading glasses because the cute-as-a-button male lead embodied about as much testosterone as the writer herself. I mean really, nothing sparks my fire more than a man who stays at home all day and plays with toys. Evanovich made an attempt to add an element of mystery to spice up the ho-hum storyline by having a piece of an unexplained aircraft crash down on Katherine’s house. The so-called mystery quickly shifts to the backburner as the painstakingly tedious romance unfolds. Now, considering this is one of Evanovich’s earlier works, I would like to believe this contrived, harlequinesque story was just a fluke, so I went on to read two more of her earlier works: “Visions of Sugarplums” and “Thanksgiving.” Sadly, these duds far surpassed my low expectations. As far as Janet Evanovich books are concerned, the three-strikes- rule certainly applies. Never again will I devote precious reading time to Evanovich’s mind-numbing, generic novels. In short, “Back to the Bedroom” is a paint-by-numbers romance that strives too hard for a fairytale ending – triggering a gag reflex along the way.