Month: January 2019

Book Review: Off Center in the Attic by Mary Deal

Posted on Updated on

Off Center In The AtticOff Center In The Attic by Mary Deal

I’ve read all of Mary Deal’s novels at this point, except for two non-fiction ones that I’ll eventually dive into. Off Center In The Attic is a collection of ~40 short stories where the theme or characters are slightly askew or peculiar in a way that will entice and excite you. Some are just a few lines; others are ~15 pages. All are well-written and showcase her fantastic talent as a storyteller, author, and creator.

On the shorter side for a collection–ending up around ~125 pages in totality–you can devour these tales all in one sitting or over a few night before going to bed. A few frights, a few laughs, you’ll undoubtedly love some more than others because of a character’s description, the ingenious plot twist, or the clever and witty writing tone.

I recommend reading one of her novels first so you understand how strong of a writer she is, then hop to the short story collection so you can see the immense range of her work. Then hop back to her other books where you can travel the world and visit serial killers through her talented writing skills.

View all my reviews

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. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. There are two books: Academic Curveball and Broken Heart Attack. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where 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.

Advertisements

Book Review: A Most Curious Murder by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli

Posted on Updated on

A Most Curious Murder (Little Library Mystery #1)A Most Curious Murder by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Last year, I won a copy of the second book in the ‘Little Library Mystery’ series by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli. I ordered the first book, A Most Curious Murder, from the library last week and attempted to read it. I like reading books from a series and getting caught up before the latest one is launched. In this series, Jenny moves back home after a bad divorce only to discover things in her hometown are a little strange. A little person has moved next door to her mother and someone’s destroyed the small library Jenny’s father built since there wasn’t a regular public one in town.

Jenny meets the neighbor, Zoe, and they try to decide if they like one another. When Zoe’s dog goes missing, they begin to bond. Another neighbor is murdered, and his family, a well-to-do and well-known one in town, acts quite strange. Someone had it out for them. What was really going? Jenny has to protect Zoe from the cops when it looks like she might have gotten revenge with a garden hoe after the other neighbor took her dog. Did she kill him? From here, the stories unfold like a typical cozy and introduce readers to the world of Bear Falls.

Unfortunately, I struggled to connect with both books in this series. I went back to read the first just in case it was a timing issue, but I had the same concerns. I don’t like the characters as much as I normally do in a cozy series. The author’s intent to make Zoe a bit strange works in some cases, but the conversations she has are almost always over my head or too cryptic. It works on a couple of levels but it’s not a good match for my reading style and preferences. That said, the author is a strong writer and creates a fun town. It’s a good mystery, so there’s bound to be the proper group of readers for it. I wish it much success!

View all my reviews

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: Tear Me Apart by J.T. Ellison

Posted on Updated on

Tear Me ApartTear Me Apart by J.T. Ellison

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve read a few J.T. Ellison books over the last two years. When Tear Me Apart came out, I quickly added it to my TBR and looked forward to getting it scheduled in the queue. After reading lots of light cozy mysteries, I needed a stronger thriller or suspense last week and moved Tear Me Apart up on my list. I enjoyed the book a lot and walked away with tons of mixed emotions, ultimately settling on a solid 4 stars.

Mindy Wright is a 17-year-old competitive skier who is likely about to join the US Olympic Team. An accident on the slopes derails those hopes but also reveals she has leukemia. The rest of the book is an explosion of lies and secrets all culminating in discovering (1) Mindy’s real parents, (2) how she became adopted, (3) what happened to several young girls in a psychological institute, and (4) what is the relationship between parents and children versus sisters. Since I don’t want to give away too much about the plot, what you need to know is that this book will delve into how far a person will go to protect someone they love or something they desperately want.

The book starts in complete discord and chaos — in a good way. Different characters lead the first few chapters. We have perspective and POV from a few primary people in the book. We don’t know how everyone relates to each other until at least fifty percent into the book. It’s a suspenseful tale that draws you in… not immediately, but with each unraveling layer of the onion. It’s a bit sweet, sometimes make you cry, but always leaves you with something more to keep discovering. Who’s telling the truth? Who’s leaving out some info and embellishing other history? It’s confusing and all leads to a rather huge explosion.

Let’s start with the good. Character, plot and writing are all solid. They are well-depicted and keep you interested. Ellison chooses to only show Mindy’s point of view in a handful of not-very-important scenes. The focus is on her biological parents and her adopted parents, as well as other interested parties and one kind aunt. How everyone fits together is intriguing, especially once you discover who’s behind the letters Mindy finds in a locked closet in her house.

Let’s dance around the odd. One character goes from completely in control to completely out of control. I can support her slow unraveling… history coming back from the dead… the powers of psychosis taking over… but it was way too far. If you’re crazy, you’ll do some crazy stuff. But I still don’t understand why 17 years later you go off the rails in a spectacularly insane finish. If the secret comes out, it does. You could have kept a bunch hidden and just said: “here’s who your parents were” and “this is how you came to live with us.” Also, we don’t have nearly enough clarity on what was wrong with the bio mother to do the things she did. I understand depression can make you do things you wouldn’t normally do, or feel things you shouldn’t feel, but… the progression wasn’t enough for me to completely believe it. For those reasons, I couldn’t give this 5 stars.

I thought about dropping it to a 3 or a 3.5, but ultimately, I couldn’t put the book down. I found myself in constant attachment and wanting to know how did it happen. Sometimes I poked holes in the explanations only to find those same holes being explored chapters later. It’s OBVIOUS the author went into extreme planning mode and truly wrote a complex thriller. It just didn’t complete the webbing for me. I respect her talent and think because of my obsession to know what happened, I feel comfortable with 4 stars.

Who else read it? What did you think? I will definitely read more from this author. She’s a wonderful storyteller.

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I 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 – words and humor. 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: Muffin to Fear by Victoria Hamilton

Posted on Updated on

Muffin to Fear (Merry Muffin Mystery, #5)Muffin to Fear by Victoria Hamilton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Muffin to Fear is the 5th book in Victoria Hamilton’s ‘Merry Muffin Mysteries’ series. It takes place in Autumn Vale, New York, an upstate town with its very own Wynter Castle, Merry’s home after her great-uncle left it to her in his will. She’s been renovating it since moving to the small town, and now she just married the former sheriff. As a ~40ish former stylist from NYC, Merry’s enjoying a more relaxed life, except it’s not relaxed… bodies keep showing up!

This time, when she returns from her honeymoon, Pish (her late first husband’s gay best friend) has rented the castle out to a team of paranormal investigators who have a show on TV. They search for ghosts and hold seances. Two of the crew are killed. Who had it in for them? And was there some sort of other worldly interference? Doubtful, murder’s usually achieved (not really a goal I suppose) by someone quite angry or hurt. In this case, both! Merry solves the case with Virgil’s help as she earns the favor of the new sheriff. My favorite character is her friend at the library who always arrives at the last minute with all the answers. Then Lizzie… a somewhat troubled teen wise beyond her years. Will she be okay? It’s getting scary how close she is with a killer sometimes.

This is a great series. I love the supporting characters, but Merry is a true heroine. Sometimes flawed, occasionally a buddinski (sp?), but always on top of her game. Between the extensive cast of crew and paranormal investigators, she has her work cut out for her here. The best part: complexity in how all the team fit together. The not-so-great part: Too many characters to play detective. It got confusing way more than it needed to, and in the end, it was a 20 page explanation of ‘why’ the person was killed. Too much for one book.

But I’m a fan and I will be sticking with this series. I’m even more excited now that I’ve confirmed a 6th book is in the works for late spring. Now my weekend is complete… well okay… it’s a lot better!

View all my reviews
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. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. There are two books: Academic Curveball and Broken Heart Attack. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where 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: Chocolate Cream Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke

Posted on Updated on

Chocolate Cream Pie Murder (Hannah Swensen #24)Chocolate Cream Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of the first few cozy mysteries I began reading almost fifteen years ago was the Hannah Swensen series by Joanne Fluke. For years, I adored the series, but then I switched to something else to try and experience a wider variety. About two years ago, I jumped back into its safety and caught up to the latest one… that is, until Chocolate Cream Pie Murder was published (or will be in the coming weeks). I won it via NetGalley and had to devour it today. How exciting to catch up in Hannah’s life especially after the new about Ross! If you haven’t read the last few books, stop reading here. If you have, it’s okay to continue…

I loved Ross in the beginning. I wanted Hannah to choose him. I loved Norman more than Mike, but they’d gotten old after 20 books. I needed something fresh, and it appeared Hannah did too, since she wouldn’t accept either’s marriage proposal for years. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to get married. She did. Just couldn’t decide who. On a whim tho, she said yes to Ross. And her troubles began. For weeks, he was a perfect husband. Then he disappeared. Then it turned out he was already married. LOUSE! Fluke ruined a perfectly good character. I’ll have a hard time forgiving her, but that’s life… and it made for good drama.

I enjoyed this book. We see the aftermath of Ross’s craziness. We see Hannah’s recovery. I love revisiting all the characters in these books because I want to live in Lake Eden, Minnesota, blizzards and all. Can I move there please? Okay… that might be going a tad far, but this book showed signs of getting back to the norm before we took a downward turn in the late teens of the series. That said, it’s not completely good news on all fronts. At the sacrifice of family and friends we adore, the supporting characters in this book are some newer ones and some we hadn’t known too well. I miss the old gang, but they’ll be back soon, I’m sure.

The mystery was okay. It was a weird setup. No one died until 80% into the book. We knew who would die, but along the way, the suspects hadn’t built up. Or so we thought. Ultimately, I didn’t like the structure in this one, but I did like the story itself. Fluke will always have a fan in me. I hope this means Norman gets his chance now… as Mike already had a wife. I suppose Norman did too, but she was murdered. Eh, what am I saying, I can’t decide. I’m the male version of Hannah!

Just wait til the end… I knew the cliffhanger was coming. It had to happen. Fluke’s as bad as me with ending our books in such a manner. But I’m pretty certain it will mean something else when we get to the next one. I HOPE SO AT LEAST!

View all my reviews

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: The Good, the Bad, and the Guacamole by Rebecca Adler

Posted on Updated on

The Good, the Bad and the Guacamole (A Taste of Texas Mystery #2)The Good, the Bad and the Guacamole by Rebecca Adler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve completed reading all three cozy mysteries in the ‘A Taste of Texas Mystery’ series by Rebecca Adler with this one: The Good, the Bad and the Guacamole. Josie Callahan is a part-time reporter at the local small-town paper and a part-time waitress at her family’s TexMex restaurant. In between, she solves murders despite trying to ignore them.

In this caper, her bestie, Patti, has been accused of killing her ex-boyfriend, mega musician who’s come back to town to play in a local concert hall. Did Patti do it? Doubtful, but the police have arrested her. What jerks, right? So… Josie and her Chihuahua, Lenny, along with the rest of the Martinez family, try to find the real killer. A band-mate? A jealous girlfriend? An agent? Someone from the outside? Who did it?

I’m giving this one 3.5 stars. Of the three in the series, it’s the one I like the most. I have the same concern with this book as I do the whole series. There’s something slightly off in the interaction and dialogue between all the characters. I feel like the author knows what she’s saying in her head, but a line or two is left out. Sometimes I’m not sure who’s speaking; other times, a random narrative appears that I can’t quite figure out the connection to the rest of the happenings. All-in-all, it’s not enough to stop me from reading the series, but I find myself puzzled enough to pause and re-read. When that happens, I know there could be a stronger focus on the overall flow and tone in the book.

That said… there are major positives. It’s full of clear suspects with definite motives. I like the setting and backdrop. Josie is a good sleuth. I like the budding relationship with Lightfoot or maybe Ryan. I enjoy the family restaurant dynamics. And the mysteries are always complex. I look forward to reading the next one.

View all my reviews

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. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. There are two books: Academic Curveball and Broken Heart Attack. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where 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: Dust by Patricia Cornwell

Posted on Updated on

Dust (Kay Scarpetta, #21)Dust by Patricia Cornwell

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Dust by Patricia Cornwell is the twenty-first book in the Kay Scarpetta series consisting of about twenty-five (and still counting) novels in the medical and FBI thriller mystery sub-genre. I began reading the novels nearly two decades ago but stopped for a while when I ventured into other genres. I recently picked them up again and want to get current before the next one releases in late 2019 (from what I can tell thus far). They focus on a medical examiner who’s worked for the states of Virginia and Massachusetts but now runs an even larger firm where she employs security, investigative and technical staff. Her husband, Benton, is an FBI profiler. Her niece, Lucy, is a tech whiz. And her best friend, Marino, is now a cop again. All in all, I don’t particular like any of them as people; however, as characters they’re strong, complex, and challenging… hence why I keep reading these books.

In Dust, the body of a young tech whiz who was suing a company for losing some of her money, is found dead on campus. A weird dust covers parts of her body and she’s wearing underwear that don’t belong to her. Scarpetta realizes the girl has ties to a serial killer several states away, but she shouldn’t know this because Benton let a few things slip about his case. Unfortunately, his boss is out to get him, which makes the case and any next steps quite difficult. Benton comes home for a surprise weekend and helps Kay connect the dots on the cases, which leads to an all-out investigation. What is Benton’s boss hiding? How is a dead person’s DNA still showing up on new murder victims? What does this have to do with a case Kay oversaw years ago where she thought the victim was murdered but her deputy filed it as a suicide? And how connected is Lucy to this new victim since they were both working on the same tech inventions? Phone records show many people were connected in secret.

Overall, the plot is intense and complex. It’s the best part of the book. The story unfolds with a great deal of medical and technical details; some is over the top, but much of it is easy to follow. The conclusion has a nice surprise twist and made the book feel quite strong. That said, I had a few concerns which I can’t help but wonder how they slipped through in the final editing process. The reason the first victim was killed is still unclear. Unless that’s the plot of a future story, that’s a problem for me. The who/what/when/where/how of why the killer is connected to someone else in the story isn’t explored enough. It’s just dropped as a suspenseful cliffhanger mid-book, then shares a one-page explanation near the end where we’re supposed to connect the dots on our own of how it all began. It needed more development in those areas to tie things together more closely.

There were a few other incidents like this which prevent me from giving it a 5-star rating. I end up with 3.5 star rounded higher on the book sites, but I really hope the next one is cleaner. I’m ordering it this week and will buddy read with my friend, Medhat, in the near future.

View all my reviews

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. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. There are two books: Academic Curveball and Broken Heart Attack. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where 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.