Genre: Cozy Mystery
Overall look and feel: Meh, you know that self-published feel a book has? This book’s got it. Nothing like Times New Roman on stark white paper, am I right? The chunky blurbs on the back didn’t help either. However, if it weren’t for those blurbs, I wouldn’t have had a clue as to the plot of this book.
I picked this recent addition to our library up because it had donuts on the cover. Yum! Then I noticed the Reader’s Favorite stick proudly boast a five-star review. Then I discovered that Take the Donut was a finalist in the Illinois Author Project (a cook contest for self-published authors). So, that means it’s a good book, right?
“I loved the way the color contrasted with his light eyes, making them shimmer with a sexy spark.”
And that was page 2.
I spent the majority of the first chapter confused as to what was going on, where we were, and where we were going. Hansen isn’t a bad writer, but she left out little narration-bridge details that left me hanging in midair, confused when another character was suddenly in the scene, or when we weren’t in the kitchen anymore, or when a character put something down (when had they picked it up?)
We spent the book in both sunny Miami (where Kelly’s parents live in a luxurious condo with a wide group of supportive friends) and pre-Christmas Chicago (where Kelly’s boyfriend lives in a nice condo with security doors, her sister lives in a freaking mansion, and her other sister owns two bakeries). You’d think there would be plenty of setting, but there wasn’t.
The narrative interrupted the scene, and by the time we returned to the scene I had forgotten was was going on.
There seemed to be a lot of “making eye contact” and useless dialog tags that repeated obvious information that had been implied by the dialog. The narration often repeated itself – one character would say something, and then a few pages later another character would repeat the exact same thing.
I had a terrible time getting into the characters. They all seem so uppity and hoity toity. They glaze through the plot with all the melodramatic seriousness of a rich girl with a broken nail.
Even though this book is in first person, I never felt a connection with Kelly. She whined about her past and her mistakes, blaming herself for all this that’s happened, and it got so old. I know almost nothing about her – is she flirtatious? Smart? A bookworm? I don’t know. She’s a writer; she writes mysteries, but other than that, I don’t feel like I know her at all.
I do know that she mentioned her “long, wavy brown hair” too much. Oh, did I mention Hansen revealed Kelly’s appearance by having her look into a mirror?
Kelly also talks about the massive debt she’s in, and yet flies between Miami and Chicago like it’s nothing, and is thinking about flying to California? She’s broke, yet she’s planning this elaborate dinner with a private chef for her boyfriend? She seemed too “poor little rich girl” for my tastes.
Everyone in this book was so black and white – as in they were either goody-goody or laughably mean.
I started skimming about a third of the way in, because the writing slowed the plot down so much. This book was heavy on the ‘cozy’ and very light on the ‘mystery.’ There’s an escaped convict on the loose – oh no! Except, he doesn’t appear to have anything to do with anything. Much like the rest of the scenes – like when Kelly and Nikki go to “Food Truck Tuesday” or when she stopped to imagine a ghost at the Big Rock Library talking to her – there is so much in this book that doesn’t seem to matter. I repeatedly asked myself, “Why are we here? What’s the point? Why are listing qualities of a ghost that isn’t actually in the story?”
Like I said, 90% of this story is cozy – and by that I mean melodramatic, cheesy, and overly unrealistic family drama between the sisters. It’s not even fun to read – their conversations go in circles and it doesn’t accomplish anything toward the plot. It feels meaningless.
The other 10%, which is the mystery part of this book, was sort of interesting. But, the exciting plot of the escaped convict takes a backseat to the family drama, which plays the biggest role in this book, all the while Kelly is worrying about herself, how she’s effecting the people around her, this and that, all about herself – she monologues about herself way too much and comes across as self-adsorbed.
By the time I got to the climatic ending, I didn’t care anymore. I just wanted to finish this book. The ending…I won’t spoil it, but let’s just say I was very disappointed. I excepted more of a twist, not the…ending that I got.
Overall – This book could have been better. From the typical cliches that authors use, like the reflection of the main character, so the roundabout dialog, to pointless, repetitious narration, I know for certain I’ll not be picking up any more of Hansen’s books.
(This book also makes me question the validity of Reader’s Favorite.)