Month: September 2018

Academic Curveball: Cover Reveal & Pre-Sale Alert

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I’m excited to reveal the cover for the debut novel in my new Braxton Campus Mysteries series. The first book is called Academic Curveball and is available for pre-sale on Amazon as of today. The official publication date when you can download to Kindle is October 15th followed soon after by the physical printed copy. Stay tuned in the coming days for opportunities to get an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) to help with early reviews.  I’ll share quotes, samples, giveaways, and character bios. This is one cast of characters you won’t want to miss. Please share this post and news wherever you’d like… and tell me what you think of the cover and the story description!

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Add to Goodreads                                                  Amazon Pre-Sale

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Description of Book

When Kellan Ayrwick, a thirty-two-year-old single father, is forced to return home for his father’s retirement from Braxton College, he finds the dead body of a professor in Diamond Hall’s stairwell. Unfortunately, Kellan has a connection to the victim, and so do several members of his family. Could one of them be guilty of murder? Then he finds a second body after discovering mysterious donations to the college’s athletic program, a nasty blog denouncing his father, and a criminal attempting to change student grades so the star baseball pitcher isn’t expelled.

Someone is playing games on campus, but none of the facts add up. With the help of his eccentric and trouble-making nana weeding through the clues, Kellan tries to stay out of the sheriff’s way. Fate has other plans. Kellan is close to discovering the killer’s identity just as someone he loves is put in grave danger of becoming victim number three. And if that’s not enough to wreak havoc on his family, everything comes crashing to a halt when his own past comes spiraling back to change his life forever.

In this debut novel in the Braxton Campus Mystery Series, readers discover a cozy, secluded Pennsylvania village full of quirky, sarcastic, and nosy residents. Among the daily workings of Braxton College and the charming Ayrwick family, Kellan weighs his investigative talents against an opportunity to achieve a much sought-after dream. When this first book ends, the drama is set for the next adventure in Kellan’s future… and it’s one you won’t want to miss.

*** Below was also sent last week ***

As a quick teaser… here’s a little snapshot of a scene between the main character, Kellan, and his septuagenarian grandmother, Nana D. There’s a fine line between respect and fun banter in everything they do… but you’ll adore their charming relationship.

The sun disappeared as I pulled up to my parents’ house, parked the Jeep, and walked toward the trunk to get my bags. Given the temperature had slipped to single digits, and the icy snow wildly pelted my body, I tried my best to hurry to the front door. I’d left all my winter clothes in Braxton which didn’t help at the moment since they were inside the house. Unfortunately, fate opted for revenge over some past indiscretion to come back with the vengeance of a thousand plagues. Before long, I skated across a sheet of ice like an awkward ballerina wearing clown shoes and fell flat on my back.

I snapped a selfie while laughing on the frosty ground to let Nana D know I’d arrived. She loved getting pictures and seeing me make a fool of myself. I couldn’t decipher her immediate reply given my glasses had fogged over, and my vision was worse than that of a secret lovechild of Mr. Magoo’s. I searched for a piece of a flannel shirt untouched by the falling sleet or the embarrassing crash to the ground and wiped them dry. A glance at the picture I’d sent caused the loudest and most absurd guffaw to erupt from my throat. My usually clean-cut dark blond hair was littered with leaves, and the four days of stubble on my cheeks and chin was covered in mounds of white snow. I dusted myself off and rushed under the protection of a covered porch to read her text.

Nana D: Is that a dirty wet mop on your head? You’re dressed like a hooligan. Put on a coat, it’s cold out.

Me: Thanks, Captain Obvious. I fell on the walkway. You think I’m normally this much of a disaster?

Nana D: And you’re supposed to be the brilliant one? Have you given up on life, or did it give up on you?

Me: Keep it up, and I won’t visit this weekend. You’re supposed to be a sweet and loving grandma.

Nana D: If that’s what you want, go down to the old folks’ home and rent yourself a little biddy. Maybe you two can share some smashed peas, green Jell-O, and a tasty glass of Ovaltine. I’ll even pay.

Academic Curveball (Braxton Campus Mysteries #1)

Author news coming week of September 24th with the full cover reveal, launch date, and opportunities for joining the early release reading team. Stay tuned!

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

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Book Review: My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman

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I am usually good at knowing my ability to read a book in a genre other than ones I normally read. I’m not much of a fantasy or science-fiction guy. I loved Harry Potter, The Time Machine, Lord of the Rings, and Thursday Next, but when there’s a lot of room for wiggle in the structure, I’m less inclined to like it. It could be an amazing book, but it just doesn’t work for me as I question the boundaries and the influx of species I don’t understand. I never expected to find that in a Fredrik Backman novel… I read four of his others and just went on a splurge to order copies of everything he’d written. When I perused the description for My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, I went “uh oh” but continued on. About ten percent in, I knew I was going to struggle.

It’s not a fantasy book, but at least 50% of the story is based on metaphors and allegories where Backman tells us about the relationships of a kooky cast of characters who share residence in a large building full of apartments. Elsa is the 7-turning-8-year-old main character who’s been given a series of notes from her recently deceased and supposedly crazy grandmother. Through Elsa’s eyes, and her grandmother’s imagination, we learn some history and some current happenings that tie everything together. Her grandmother created a fantasy world of people and places to help teach Elsa a different way of looking at the world both near and afar.

In many aspects, the story is hilarious and adorable. When it sticks to real-life situations, I laugh and cry. When it tries to show the theory of how people relate to one another thru made-up places and monsters, I’m lost. It’s a bit of an immediate thing…. I hear/see the words about another creature or planet, and something sinks inside me. In movies, I love it. But in books, I usually do not. I also struggled at times because of the simplicity in some of the writing. While Elsa’s vocabulary is quite skillful, and her ways of dealing with people are more mature than most adults I know, the short and terse structure at times overwhelmed the plot for me.

So… my lesson is to be careful when going on a binge to read all the works from an author you love. While this hasn’t caused me to drop my opinion of Backman, it made me realize a story needs to work on all levels and elements to truly move or impact me. In this one, the fantasy took me out of the normal love I have for Backman’s style and character development to the point I found myself skimming way too often. I committed to reading it, and I did, but I probably only digested about 2/3 of the content because it just wasn’t keeping my attention.

I’m still gonna read more of his work and recommend him to others. Just not this book unless the reader is unlike me and loves the fantasy components. Given the good parts were a 5 for me, and the bad parts were a 1 for me, I settled on allotting 3 stars which in my world is still a good book. I recognize the skill and talent enough to say it’s a solid read with a select audience. Kudos to anyone who loved it, I wish I could be more open-minded in some of the genres I don’t often find interesting. Maybe one day!

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Banana Cream Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke

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I’m starting to get a little sad… this book, Banana Cream Pie Murder, is the 21st of 24 cozy mystery novels written in the Hannah Swensen series by Joanne Fluke. I’ve only got three more left! I was awarded the next two via NetGalley, and I’ll need to buy the last one when it’s released this fall… then I’ll have to wait months. Oh no! I’ve managed not to read any spoilers on what’s happened in the next three books, nor share anything too big in my reviews to ruin it for others, but based on the way this one ended, with the first major cliffhanger ever, I’m worried! Is it all a sham? Oh no!
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In this caper, Hannah’s newly married after finally choosing one of her three suitors throughout the series. She picked the least likely one, and something tells me that there’s a reason for it in the future books. As she settles into married life, she asks the basic questions: Do I have to cook dinner for him? Should we tell each other everything? Will he put me first always? Interesting ideas… I mean, I get she comes from a town where many of the women look at it as their responsibility to cook their husband’s dinner, so I don’t take any offense to it (nor should others as this is representing something ‘traditional’ from the past — not necessarily correct or something to promote as good, but still… it fits with the series and character type. On the flip side, she also says “I’ll do what I want with my own time, I’m not tied to the hip with him.” At least she stood up for herself there!

That said… the mystery was good up until the finish. Talk about a dark horse coming in to be the killer in the last 2 chapters. The process of elimination for other suspects was clever and good as usual, but I did feel a tad bit gipped in the end. Hmm… why is GR telling me gipped isn’t a word? Oh well… back to the review. I’d have liked to see something a little stronger, but the rest of the book was hilarious and fun to watch all the character development. Delores found the body this time. Michelle is turning out to be the best sister ever. The mayor is the scapegoat for everything. And wow… where is this police force? Always missing until Hannah’s caught the killer. Ha!

Can’t wait for more… it’s my self-indulging silly and entertaining fun! 🙂

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

My Next Readathon – POLL is READY

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Hi. I’m very excited for our November 2018 Readathon. If you’re new to my readathons, read the original post below or check out the main pages on my blog to read all about the past ones: Children’s Books and Agatha Christie. For the November 2018 readathon, we’ll read 4 or 5 books throughout the month based on the votes in this week’s poll. I suggested four categories. You added six new ones rounding out the total to ten options.

I’ve created the poll below. You have until 9/28 to respond. Please pick your two favorites, and based on the responses, we can decide in early October what the focus will be… e.g. cozy mysteries with numbers in the title, supernatural holidays, or fairy tale re-tellings about food. Ha! If you want to add a new categories, let me know and I’ll update the poll. I can’t wait to see what everyone picks.

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With two successful readathons under our belt this year, I’m ready to plan the next one. In April, we held the fantastic Agatha Christie Readathon where we read 4 of her amazing books and shared brilliant reviews. In August, we held the fun Children’s Books Readathon where we read 10 books from a range of authors and shared awesome reviews. What’s next?

I’m targeting November for the readathon so we’re not too busy at the end of the year and right around some of the bigger holidays. I’ve got a few ideas, but I’d love to hear suggestions from everyone before I send out a poll with the topics and books. To kick it off, here’s a few thoughts:

  1. Book Series
    • Choose a book series with 4 books and read them all
  2. Cozy Mysteries
    • Pick a few themes from cooking to ghosts to pets to quilting
  3. Books with Numbers as the Title
    • It could be only a number or just be the main part of the title
  4. Historical Fiction By Year
    1. Pick books taking place in the 1600s, 1700s, 1800s and 1900s

November 2018 - Choose 4 Books to Read & Review

Let’s start thinking through our options… reply here thru 9/15 and then I’ll setup a poll to pick which one. Thanks!

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Christmas Caramel Murder by Joanne Fluke

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If you’ve been following my reviews closely for the last few months, you’re probably thinking… how many baking murder books does this guy read? Or how many did that Joanne Fluke author woman write? Well… the Hannah Swensen series is up to ~25 in 2018. I’ve just finished reading #20 entitled Christmas Caramel Murder. I have the next three on my Kindle to read this fall, but I want to be fully caught up so I can get back to many other series I also enjoy. As for this one, it’s a shorter novella version but still packs quite a little punch around Christmas season. It’s a good one to read as you start thinking about the upcoming holidays, but for now, I’m still thinking about Halloween and fall so I wouldn’t allow myself to totally immerse.

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It’s written as backstory which was a different kind of read. The first and last chapters are appended to the main story, allowing Fluke to use current relationships in Hannah’s life without confusing readers. Essentially, Hannah’s telling the story to her new husband about what happened the prior year’s Christmas. I stopped myself from trying to find any timeline issues in case something happened in this book that was different since the last few, but the story on the whole is fun, so it wouldn’t matter if it had.

Herb, Lisa’s husband, is playing Santa Claus in the town Christmas play. Lisa is Hannah’s best friend and partner at The Cookie Shop. Herb’s ex-girlfriend has returned to town and is cast as Mrs. Claus, but the naughty kind. Serves her right, she ends up dead! Unfortunately, it looks like Lisa is the culprit because she was jealous when the ex kisses Herb in the play. Throw in a some high school memories, old rivalries, and teachers who want to help keep their students focused, and you’ve got a case full of shenanigans.

I enjoyed the read… less than 90 minutes as it was barely 100 pages once you remove the recipes. Someday I will cook a few from them. I do like caramel, but that’s hard to get right. Next up is banana cream pie murder… my favorite kind of…. PIE. Did you think I’d say murder? Obviously you know me well. 🙂

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

My New Book Series: Braxton Campus Mysteries

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I’m excited to share a brief peek at part of the cover for the debut novel in my new Braxton Campus mystery series. The first book is called Academic Curveball and will be available for sale in October 2018. The full cover reveal will occur during the week of September 24th… as we get close to launch date, I’ll share quotes, samples, giveaways, and character bios. This is one cast of characters you won’t want to miss. As a quick teaser… here’s a little snapshot of a scene between the main character, Kellan, and his septuagenarian grandmother, Nana D. There’s a fine line between respect and fun banter in everything they do… but you’ll adore their charming relationship.

Academic Curveball Cover Reveal Promo

***

The sun disappeared as I pulled up to my parents’ house, parked the Jeep, and walked toward the trunk to get my bags. Given the temperature had slipped to single digits, and the icy snow wildly pelted my body, I tried my best to hurry to the front door. I’d left all my winter clothes in Braxton which didn’t help at the moment since they were inside the house. Unfortunately, fate opted for revenge over some past indiscretion to come back with the vengeance of a thousand plagues. Before long, I skated across a sheet of ice like an awkward ballerina wearing clown shoes and fell flat on my back.

I snapped a selfie while laughing on the frosty ground to let Nana D know I’d arrived. She loved getting pictures and seeing me make a fool of myself. I couldn’t decipher her immediate reply given my glasses had fogged over, and my vision was worse than that of a secret lovechild of Mr. Magoo’s. I searched for a piece of a flannel shirt untouched by the falling sleet or the embarrassing crash to the ground and wiped them dry. A glance at the picture I’d sent caused the loudest and most absurd guffaw to erupt from my throat. My usually clean-cut dark blond hair was littered with leaves, and the four days of stubble on my cheeks and chin was covered in mounds of white snow. I dusted myself off and rushed under the protection of a covered porch to read her text.

Nana D: Is that a dirty wet mop on your head? You’re dressed like a hooligan. Put on a coat, it’s cold out.

Me: Thanks, Captain Obvious. I fell on the walkway. You think I’m normally this much of a disaster?

Nana D: And you’re supposed to be the brilliant one? Have you given up on life, or did it give up on you?

Me: Keep it up, and I won’t visit this weekend. You’re supposed to be a sweet and loving grandma.

Nana D: If that’s what you want, go down to the old folks’ home and rent yourself a little biddy. Maybe you two can share some smashed peas, green Jell-O, and a tasty glass of Ovaltine. I’ll even pay.

***

Description of Book

When Kellan Ayrwick, a thirty-two-year-old single father, is forced to return home for his father’s retirement from Braxton College, he finds the dead body of a professor in Diamond Hall’s stairwell. Unfortunately, Kellan has a connection to the victim, and so do several members of his family. Could one of them be guilty of murder? Then he finds a second body after discovering mysterious donations to the college’s athletic program, a nasty blog denouncing his father, and a criminal attempting to change student grades so the star baseball pitcher isn’t expelled.

Someone is playing games on campus, but none of the facts add up. With the help of his eccentric and trouble-making nana weeding through the clues, Kellan tries to stay out of the sheriff’s way. Fate has other plans. Kellan is close to discovering the killer’s identity just as someone he loves is put in grave danger of becoming victim number three. And if that’s not enough to wreak havoc on his family, everything comes crashing to a halt when his own past comes spiraling back to change his life forever.

In this debut novel in the Braxton Campus Mystery Series, readers discover a cozy, secluded Pennsylvania village full of quirky, sarcastic, and nosy residents. Among the daily workings of Braxton College and the charming Ayrwick family, Kellan weighs his investigative talents against an opportunity to achieve a much sought-after dream. When this first book ends, the drama is set for the next adventure in Kellan’s future… and it’s one you won’t want to miss.

Academic Curveball (Braxton Campus Mysteries #1)

Author news coming week of September 24th with the full cover reveal, launch date, and opportunities for joining the early release reading team. Stay tuned!

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

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Author Fredrik Backman is in my TOP 5 writers of all time. I’ve read 4 of his books now, and they always have a profound impact on me. I’m hoping to finish reading them all this year which is why Britt-Marie Was Here made it to my September TBR. If you’re familiar with his work, it’s a combination of ‘A Man Called Ove’ and ‘Beartown’ in terms of the love of sport, the human condition’s intensity, and the desire for a different life. All in all, I gave it 4.25 stars as it was better than a 4 but I couldn’t round up to a 5 on this one.

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Britt-Marie is in her early 60s and has left her husband, Kent, after she caught him cheating on her via the other woman taking him to the hospital as he had a heart attack. Although she’s independent, Britt-Marie has been cared for too long by others to know exactly how to survive on her own. She succeeds on many levels when she moves to a town, Borg, not too far away from home to get her first outside-of-the-home job since she was a waitress right after high school and right before marrying Kent. In Borg, life is basically listless, scarce, and penniless. It’s been hit by a financial crisis and no one has money for anything. Britt-Marie does her best to find a way to make the move to a new job and a new residence something positive, but it doesn’t go very smoothly at first. In time, she evolves into a more open-minded individual, yet her core beliefs remain stalwart. She’s ornery but lovable, kind but too direct, thoughtful but not very worldly. It makes her human like the rest of us.

Backman’s style is usually on-point when it comes to connecting with his readers. This book is no exception; however, there were several sections with either translation issues (it wasn’t originally written in English) or a purposed attempt to write in a different manner from what he’s shown us before. Examples include frequent repetition of words or phrases that it became too obvious. Was it intended or just the translation — I’m not certain, but it caused me to stumble a fair number of times. Another concern was a general casualization (yep, I’m making up words) of some characters where I wasn’t quite sure if I wanted to root for them or ignore them. The end result was some felt too similar while others felt strong but underused given their purpose in the story.

That said, the rest is amazing. I felt the connection between Britt-Marie and everyone she meets who changes her life. I saw the lackluster relationship with Kent but understood why she couldn’t leave him. I felt the pain of what her childhood resulted in when it came to how she viewed herself and let others view her. I adored the way she persistently nagged the unemployment office employee only to become the woman’s bright hope for the future. It’s only when an author is an innate talent can these types of well-embedded structures, depths, and life perceptions be truly integrated into a story. That’s where, how, and why Backman leads the race when it comes to producing truly remarkable stories.

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.