Tuesday, December 21, 2021


 WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here

1. What are you currently reading? Sugar Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke. This seasonal mystery is the sixth book in a series that's new to me. So far, I'm not lost.
Hannah lives in a small town in Minnesota. The task that's consuming her at the beginning of the story -- and the vehicle for introducing us to the characters -- is collecting and preparing recipes that will be tested, tasted and included in the town's Christmas cookbook. If you think a little too much attention is paid to serving utensils, you'll soon see why. A jeweled knife is used to kill one of the town's newer and more mysterious residents. 
In addition to the murder, there's romantic intrigue, an expectant mother and snow. Formulaic? Yes. But we wouldn't have it any other way in cozy Christmas mystery, would we?

2. What did you recently finish reading?
The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer. Rachel Rubinstein-Goldblatt writes Christmas romance novels under a pseudonym, and without the knowledge of her rabbinical family. Her publisher is looking for diversity and wants Rachel's next book to be a Hanukkah romance. This puts her square in the path of her adolescent crush/summer camp nemesis, Jacob Greenberg, now a prominent event planner, throwing New York's premier Hanukkah event. 

Will they find love? OF COURSE THEY WILL! It's a holiday romance! I demand that they find love!
I really liked Rachel. She was a unique heroine, smart but flawed, highly relatable. Her world is filled with similarly imperfect people who love her. So I really wanted to like this book. Alas, the last third pissed me off. 
It took sooooooo long to wind up, to deliver that happy ending we have long seen coming. Jacob keeps reminding us that this is the same Rachel he fell in love with at Camp Ahuvah. Those eyes! That hair! OK, that's just weird. They spent three weeks together when they were 12. They didn't even speak for 18 years. Now at 30, he's in love with that little girl again? Plays a prank on her as though they were still in junior high? Proposes to her right away? Creepy. His backstory tells us that the summer at Camp Ahuvah was the last happy one of his childhood. OK, but still. He's a 30-year-old, gorgeous (and dimpled) multi-millionaire. His stunted approach to women is oooky. Run, Rachel, run!
Some of the humor is golden, but other bits fall flat. I didn't enjoy Rachel, who suffers from a chronic illness, bouncing around in a matzah ball suit and climbing through windows while wearing a ball gown and fuzzy slippers. If this stuff happened to Lucy Ricardo it might be funny. Making Rachel the butt of this physical humor felt cruel.
Here's the thing, though: If I didn't like Rachel so much, if she hadn't been so neatly and completely drawn, I wouldn't have been so annoyed. So obviously it's a well-written book. If you can overlook what I couldn't (and perhaps I overthink), you may enjoy this romance.
3. What will you read next? I don't know. Am I ready to move on from Christmas? We'll see.