Month: April 2019

Book Review: Who Killed Vivien Morse? by Diana J. Febry

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Who Killed Vivien Morse? (DCI Peter Hatheral Mystery #4)Who Killed Vivien Morse? by Diana J. Febry
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Who Killed Vivien Morse? is the 4th book in the ‘DCI Peter Hatheral Mystery’ series written by Diana J. Febry. I enjoyed the book a lot, but I’m kicking myself now for breaking one of my normally cardinal rules — Don’t read a series out of order! Truthfully, you can read this as a standalone novel; I just prefer to read them in order, and I don’t know what possessed me not to do it here. That said, I can confidently say I will go back and pick up the others later this year, so I’m current and caught up on author Febry’s clever and fun series before a new one (hopefully) comes out.

Written in third-person POV, our perspective shifts from not only the main detectives on the case but to the criminal and a few other people involved in the case; it’s done by chapter, so you won’t be confused at all. A police-procedural of sorts, we follow Hatheral and his team while they try to find who killed a young social worker in a small English town. While I wouldn’t exactly call this a cozy, it’s within such a range but also has a nice foray into a bit darker and more visceral (all in a good way). I liked the puns and balance between light and heavy; it clearly shows the author’s vast range.

As for plot… we’ve got a prison escape, a missing fortune, a young girl who was run down by a car, a mysterious social worker’s client visits, an odd family hiding secrets, and a stranger who is snooping in people’s cottage windows. What could they all have to do with one another? At first, I thought I’d figured it out, but by 2/3 of the way, I was thrown for a nice loop and rethought my guesswork. The characters are vivid. Some are flighty, a few are mean, and another group are purposefully misleading. It keeps you on your toes as a reader trying to decide what they know that we don’t know. I like these kinds of tales because we can play detective or sit back and watch it unfold ourselves. I did a little of both!

Febry’s first few chapters are extremely well-written. I’m only focusing on those because that’s what often makes or a breaks a book for me. It’s not necessarily about whether the plot is good, but how well the author paints the picture for a reader. It flowed quite well, and I found myself immediately immersed in the detective’s life, the victim’s tragedy, and the various clues being dropped about. I connected with the writing style as a fellow author and felt we had a similarity in sentence structure and flow… hence why I probably found this such an easy read. Kudos to the author for nailing the first few chapters, so that readers know right away they’ve found a solid one!

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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. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. 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.

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Book Review: The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye by David Lagercrantz

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The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye (Millennium, #5)The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye by David Lagercrantz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My reading style is eclectic, and I’d probably use the same term to describe this series and book. I first picked up the ‘Millennium’ series when I saw all the hype and read the description of the published novels. I particularly love genealogical mysteries, and when you toss in some thrills and suspense, it’s likely a good fit for my reading preferences. I absolutely adored and rated The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo in my top books of all time. I read the next two in the series and was saddened over the author’s death but excited to see another writer’s take on the characters and setting.

Lagercrantz is a worthy successor, and someday, I will read one of his prior books too. I’m troubled when reviewers complain about the choice of a new author to to continue writing a series because all they do is compare the two and start out with a pessimistic attitude. I prefer to have some sense of an open mind and look for the positive in a new take on an old favorite. I’m also an optimist and respect an author’s efforts and talent and find it difficult to give something a poor rating unless it was absolutely ridden with errors and issues. Hence… for Lagercrantz’s versions, I enjoy the style, writing quality, different views, and continuation of a fantastic concept. The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye is the second of his in this series that I’ve read, and while it was a good read, there were a few items that didn’t work in totality for me. I ended up at a 3.5 rating, comfortably rounding upward to account for all the effort that goes into a series and taking over another author’s work.

One of my favorite aspects was the revisit to Lisbeth’s childhood when abuse formulated her outlook on life. In an earlier book, when we learned the extent to which she’d been attacked and damaged, I felt horrific sorrow for her. Seeing what else happened, via this book, I’m even more devastated. Initially, I thought… wait, is this a history rewrite? I didn’t go back to compare the timelines and actions, as I’m sure the editors and author’s did their justice… but I did find myself wondering how this aligned with Zala’s influence on his daughter, Lisbeth. I’m kinda hoping to get a book dedicated to Agneta, Lisbeth’s mother, as there is a bigger story there – I’m certain! For me, these characters are so flawed, yet so lovable (not in a cozy way, but in an ‘I want to help you’ way). Learning what they went through and what forced them to become the people they are today… that is excellent character development. Possibly over-the-top in a few places (not unlike the whole series… just a bit more in this book), I put aside my ‘hmmm…’ attitude and focused on what bond must exist between Mikael and Lisbeth to support each other through these tragedies. These are two friends we should all have. I particularly enjoyed the Muslim-focused story-line, and I was irate over the way these men treated their sister (and in general how certain attitudes still prevail).

The translation (actually, was it translated? The originals were, but I’m honestly not sure about these ones. Did the author write originally in his own language? I checked and the Swedish and English versions came out on the same day.) was good and offered new vocabulary for me to learn. I found some of the individual scenes a bit repetitive, but they moved the story forward. The end was satisfying in terms of catching the bad guys (sort of), but I wanted it to be more of a showdown. The sixth book in the series comes out later this year, and I’m going to try to read it relatively quickly close to this one, as I suspect some of the ending components will continue into it. What did everyone else think of this book?

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 but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. 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: Out of Circulation by Miranda James

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Out of Circulation (Cat in the Stacks, #4)Out of Circulation by Miranda James
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Out of Circulation is the 4th book in the ‘Cat in the Stacks’ cozy mystery series written by Miranda James, a pseudonym for Dean James (and he has other ones too). I began reading the author’s work a few years ago and completed one of the other series (Southern Ladies) before finding my way back to this one. I am determined to catch up to the current book (#11) before the summer starts since I was recently awarded the latest on NetGalley. I’ve grown very fond of the author’s writing style, plots, and characters, and I look forward to each new one when it’s next in my queue.

Charlie Harris is ~52 and works at a library in the small town of Athena, Mississippi. He has two grown children and lost his wife years ago. He inherited a large home from an aunt who passed and continues to use it as a boarding house. Charlie also has a few pets, most prominently, Diesel, a ~35 lb. Maine Coon cat. I’ve been around the breed before as a friend of my father’s had one years ago — they do get huge! In this caper, we meet Dickce and An’gel, the two spinster sisters who become the focal point of the ‘Southern Sisters’ cozy series that Miranda James also writes. I really hope he publishes another one there, but… I was pleasantly surprised to see them as the main characters in Out of Circulation. Had I read the books properly in order, I would’ve been introduced to them before I read their separate series. Oops! You can do it this way, but I recommend reading in order.

This was my favorite book in this series so far. I love genealogical mysteries, and when I learned we’d be exploring the background of the Ducote sisters, I was psyched. A woman in their social circle is annoying everyone around her when it comes to various volunteer efforts in Athena. Of course, she winds up dead. I really didn’t like the woman, but there was a lovely call/letter with Charlie that made her seem a bit nicer. Did the sisters kill her? Doubtful, but Charlie must investigate. Unfortunately, it’s his housekeeper Azalea who looks most guilty. We learn what happened between the two women in the past, and since the normal deputy solving these crimes is Kanesha, Azalea’s daughter, she’s been removed from the investigation. Charlie and Kanesha had some run-ins in the previous books, so this was a great change of pace.

Author James is truly gifted at transporting readers to Mississippi and the southern lifestyle. Coming from the north, it’s a completely different way of life for me (although my other half is from Louisiana, so I do have some exposure). James has created vivid characters who leap off the pages either as friends or enemies right away. While I adore Diesel the cat, I’m possibly more fond of the various house guests at Charlie’s place. They provide a great deal of balance and color to the intensity of the crimes, but we also experience a variety of personalities to bring in some laughter.

The secret we learned in this book was fantastic. The hidden relationships were even better. I actually think there could be a sequel to understand more about the woman who died… what happened to her growing up to make her the way she was. We get some details, but it was so fascinating, I wanted more. I’m excited to find out what happens to Charlie’s kids in the next adventure given how this book ended – a nice small cliffhanger without rustling the boat too much. I’ll be reading the fifth one early next month. Kudos for a wonderful series that insists I finish it ASAP!

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 but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. 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 Blitz: Bacon Pie by Candace Robinson & Gerardo Delgadillo

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I’m sharing a limited-time opportunity for fans of young adult literature. Bacon Pie, a wonderfully acclaimed novel by Candace Robinson and Gerardo Delgadillo, is available for only .99 cents on 4/27.

Book Overview

Lia Abbie has the easy life—kicking it back with old school video games, hanging out with her best friend Barnabas, and alternating her living schedule between the apartments of her two dads and her mom. Kiev Jimenez is a theater geek who loves him some Shakespeare and taking care of his pet armadillo. He has one set goal in life: obtaining the role of Horatio for the Hamlet school play. When a showdown between Lia and Kiev lands them in the principal’s office, they’re forced into volunteer work at the cringe-worthy Piggy Palooza Festival, or risk being suspended. Lia and Kiev aren’t thrilled about the situation, especially when it interferes with Lia’s relaxed life and Kiev’s theater role. But by working together, they may find more than just bacon—possibly a little love in the air.

***

You can learn more about the book on Goodreads or BookBub, and you can purchase it via Amazon. Between all the sites, it has hundreds of reviews and is still receiving mostly 5 stars. If you’re not convinced yet… check out my full review below…

“What I love most about this book is how it’s a finely balanced tale showcasing a few months’ events in a mixed group of teens without trying to teach huge moral lessons or be more than it needs to be.”

My Review of Bacon Pie



Book Review: Breaking the Mould by Victoria Hamilton

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Breaking the Mould (A Vintage Kitchen Mystery, #8)Breaking the Mould by Victoria Hamilton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Breaking the Mould is the 8th installment in the ‘Vintage Kitchen Mystery’ series written by Victoria Hamilton. I’ve read all the previous books and received a copy from NetGalley this time (thank you). I was excited to catch up on the series and because it was a Christmas-themed tale.

Jaymie is on the team to prepare for the Dickens Festival in their the upper Michigan / on the border with Canada town of Queensville. While preparing one of the outdoor fixtures with a local carpenter, the owner of a house nearby has a fit — a real Scrooge — because part of it needs to be secured by a small anchor that would reside on the very edge of his property. It’s been like that for years, but this is the man’s first year living in the house rather then renting it out. He’s a professor at the local college as well as generally disliked by most people. Of course, he ends up dead… and which local resident was it. Current or ex wife? Son? Handyman? Housekeeper or her son whom the villain ruined for no good reason? Plus several other townies are involved. This time, it’s a vintage mould that does in the murder victim. Readers are treated to a fun history of vintage Christmas items and stories, including a few delicious-sounding meals that we might want to try. Meanwhile, Jaymie visits with her friends and grows closer to her new husband, Jakob, and his daughter, Jocie.

Hamilton is a good writer who keeps us interested not only in the main mystery but all the supporting cast sub-plots and shenanigans. I enjoy catching up with the different personalities and learning about connections between the families. The villain was a righteous jerk who deserved what happened to him, in my opinion (and in book world only)! Jaymie also stands up for herself in this book to her newspaper reporter boss and the new police detective. While both were great scenes, I think it possibly came to close together and made me question whether there were too many changes in Jaymie all in quick fashion. I like her strength, but she also needs to be a little sneaky and subtle sometimes to get the job done.

Now that I’m current on 2 of the author’s series, I might need to check out one of her other ones. The next book in this series wouldn’t be available until this fall (not even sure there is one yet either) and the other series I read has been on hold for a while. Has Anyone else checked out her other books and have thoughts to share?

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 but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. 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: The Study of Silence by Malia Zaidi

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The Study of Silence (Lady Evelyn Mystery #3)The Study of Silence by Malia Zaidi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Study of Silence is the third book in the ‘Lady Evelyn Mystery’ series written by Malia Zaidi. A cross between historical fiction and a cozy mystery, readers will find themselves whisked away to a time nearly a century ago when life was quite different. Solving murders was more complicated without the internet, cell phones, and other modern technology. Lady Evelyn must rely on her strong sense of intellect and intuition, and even then, people weren’t as direct as they are today.

In this installment, Lady Evelyn has returned to England with Daniel to complete the next phase of her education. While taking classes at a local women’s college, and living in a house with several other young ladies, she struggles to decide her future. It’s too soon to marry Daniel, and she wants a different kind of life than tradition. Unfortunately, she’s born many years too soon for what she wants (and deserves). Transitioning back to the lifestyle of an unmarried English girl is made easier when her cousin, Briony, and her four children, also return from Crete. As does a murder that happens the morning after Evelyn attends a party at another professor’s home. Who killed the man? While it shouldn’t matter to her, it does… so Evelyn does her best to search for the criminal while getting involved in all sorts of situations at her boardinghouse, with her missing niece, with some family matters, and finally, the actual murder.

Zaidi’s writing style and tone will absolutely make you feel like it’s the 1920s. Between her vivid descriptions, on-point dialog and tone, and slow yet methodical approach to solving the crime, readers can sit back and just let things unravel. It’s not a suspenseful hunt-down-the-killer novel. It’s a conversational approach to learning what you can and theorizing options, then looking for clues. As much as it is about the murder, it’s also about how a woman lived in the 1920s. Zaidi admits to taking a few liberties to make the story-line work better (totally okay with me!), but nonetheless, it was still a harsh life at the time. Zaidi navigates you down that path with ease, letting readers soak in the painful pressures on a woman in her 20s — you must get married, you must not do anything bad, you must look innocent at all times! Yikes… how is that even possible?

Silence is key in this book. The reasons for the murder unfold with each chapter, and you’ll never guess the killer or the reason why. It was buried too well, but in some ways, it was also quite obvious. That’s the sign of a smart author — it’s believable yet you will be shocked. Kudos to Zaidi for bringing out the best in Lady Evelyn. I’ve purchased the fourth book in the series which recently came out this year. I’ll be reading it next month, so I’m fully caught up in this excellent series.

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 but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. 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.

Indigo Acres Apiary

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Today I step away from focusing on books to present the brand new website for my sister’s beekeeping business. Many of you remember Roda from her blogging days throughout the last couple of years. While she’s still very active on social media, her spare time (yeah, right!) has been focused on building an amazing new section on her farm, Indigo Acres, to launch an apiary – a home for bees! I’ve even seen the bee suits!!!

Isn’t it a beautiful logo?

I had the privilege of visiting Roda last fall when she only had two hives in production… now there are too many to count! She’s always painting new ones and preparing the landscape for their arrival. What an awesome place Indigo Acres was, and that was in the fall-turning-winter season when everything was starting to go into hibernation mode. Now, it’s quickly coming out for spring and showing all the brilliance of Roda’s hard working and planning. Check out the site for amazing pictures and videos.

Congratulations to Indigo Acres Apiary on their launch week! If you are interested in purchasing honey or other products, participating in small group hive experiences, or planning a custom package to understand more about saving the bees, creating pollinator gardens, or learning more about caring for these buzzing little creatures, you should definitely check out the site. There are links to all the social media sources so you can connect on various platforms. Start with the site here Indigo Acres Apiary and have your very own magical experience!