Book Review – Twelve Slays of Christmas (A Christmas Tree Farm Mystery) by Jacqueline Frost.

3 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Crooked Lane Books for providing me with a free electronic ARC of this book, via Netgalley. Any reviews I give are done obligation free, and are unpaid… well, unless you count getting this book for free… but we won’t go there. 😉

This is another one of those books I read last year and have been slack about writing a review for. Sorry… I AM getting better at this, but do still have about half a dozen titles in my “get off your butt and review them now!” pile.

‘Twelve Slays of Christmas’ was a new series and new author for me. Thankfully it was the first book in the series and so I could really settle down and enjoy it rather than try and play mental catch up. And, yes, I am aware that Jacqueline Frost is a pen name (JACK Frost… get it? 😉 ) and the author also goes by Julie Chase and Julie Anne Lindsey and I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve read any of her other works under any of these names. Actually, all the best authors have pen names… Or so I’m told.

Anyhow, now we’re sorted out that nitty gritty let’s get back to the review. I read it just before Christmas and, as with all good Christmas themed books, they truly are best to read around Christmas time. Even if my Christmas time is in summer and snow, frost and maple tree farms could not be recreated here… I feel I can still leave a truthful review. Oh, and no, I didn’t kill anyone with a fence post or freeze a pickle to a tree either. 😉

I want to say I liked this book, as I truly did. But it did have a few moments that made me question why I liked it so much. I mean the characters, setting, all of that was original and a perfect cosy crime world build. But I have to say, I found the constant sugar overloaded foods eaten and discussed (with barely a protein or vegetable in sight) did make me feel a little ill. Maybe a sugar overload for this reader is a normal high sugar diet for another?

Then there was the main character’s speech. She was a grown woman, I get that coming home can make you regress, but even when talking to herself she used very childish terms like “tummy” instead of stomach. It was just a little too childish for me. BUT! These faults could very well just be ME, the reader, and not the fault of the books. I just feel I need to mention them as they did start to chip away at my enjoyment of the book and have me question why I was still reading it.

Oh, and there should have been more detail given to the jewellery making. I love cosy mysteries that include craft, and love it even more when the author knows enough about the craft to go into interesting detail about how it’s done. Just “turning bottles into ear rings” isn’t enough for a craft lover like me. Let’s talk lampworking, mandrels, and kilns for cooling the glass pieces slowly….

All the same I am glad I did read it all. Those few minor flaws aside, it was indeed a good small town America cosy crime. And if read at Christmas time, it fitted perfectly into my daily routine of prepping myself mentally for the holidays.

The formatting and layout, for Kindle, was excellent and can’t be faulted. So many places fail to format their books correctly for all digital platforms so it was good to see ‘Twelve Slays of Christmas’ done right.

Would I recommend this book to others?

You know what? I REALLY would! The issues I’ve mentioned – I freely admit they are probably faults with me the reader and not the book. Others may happen to like the sugar overload, babyish talk, and skimmed over craft work. Who knows?

But, yes, this was a good first book in a new series and one I honestly feel lovers of small town America cosy/ mysteries would enjoy. Especially those of you who, like me, enjoy that magical build up to Christmas in everything you do and read.

Would I buy this book myself?

I think I would have, and have to say here and now that I am KICKING myself for missing getting the next book in the series off Netgalley when I had a chance. The eBook prices on Amazon are a little higher than I’d usually pay… but prices are rising now that people have realised eBooks are just as good as paperbacks so I can’t complain. Plus, at just over $11 Australian, that is a fair price for a fun little cosy like ‘Twelve Slays of Christmas’ or its sequel ‘Twas the Knife Before Christmas’. So yes, I would buy them… in fact I will be buying the second one… closer to Christmas. 😉

In summary: Despite a few hiccups, a good first book in a potentially fantastic cosy/ mystery series.

Until next time,
Janis.

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