Book Review: Cozy Mysteries

Book Review: Winter’s Mourning by Janice J. Richardson

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Winter’s Mourning  (Spencer Funeral Home Niagara Cozy Mystery, #2)Winter’s Mourning by Janice J. Richardson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Spencer Funeral Home Niagara Cozy Mystery series is a warm, comforting, and multi-dimensional set of books. Although I’ve only read two of the four, I know it’s one of those that will remain in your head for a long time. Janice Richardson’s second book, Winter’s Mourning, is the latest read in my queue, and I highly recommend it for a variety of fans. Whether you like a light mystery, a cozy set of consistent characters, or the ability to learn about a job you’ll probably never have… this is something to take a chance on.

Jennifer is your typical girl next door, except she runs a funeral home. Well… now two of them because her competition is retiring and has extended an offer Jennifer can’t refuse. Thankfully, she’s made a few good hires (inherited a couple of bad ones too), and together, they can get both places ready to operate smoothly. Both fell into her lap unexpectedly, but the fun and pain that ensue have been a wonderful focal point for us readers. The story continues from the first book, so you probably should read them in order to get the most benefit. In this one, there are multiple ties to everything we learned in the previous tale, so be prepared for some suspense, shock, and good old-fashioned heartwarming and heartbreaking emotions.

While not a classic whodunit or major suspense series, this is the kind of book that should appeal to a wide audience. Readers get to know how a funeral home operates, share their emotions with characters who grieve and laugh during services (mistakes sometimes do happen!), and worry when a villain tries to remove Jennifer from the picture. Seeing how Jennifer reacts, along with her newfound friendships with the cops and local businesses, brings a smile to my face. It’s the kind of book where you just lose yourself, uncaring in which direction it goes, because you love the characters so much.

I find myself rooting for Jennifer no matter the situation but I also want to throttle her a few times when she pushes herself too much to help others. Few people are like her in real life, but I happen to know some generous, caring souls. We all need someone like Jennifer in our lives… and part of me wonder how much she’s based on the real life author, Janice Richardson. Although I don’t know her personally, we’ve shared a comment or two when reviewing similar books, and I get the impression she’s just as great. You won’t know until you check the books out, so give them a chance. It’s a perfect afternoon to relax and read, knowing all along, you’ll end up even happier… now I need to get my hands on book number three!

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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: Died in the Wool by Melinda Mullet (Blog Tour)

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Today, I’m a stop on the blog tour for the latest book in the Whisky Business Mystery series by Melinda Mullet. There is a giveaway for Died in the Wool, so check out this whole post!

Giveaway Contest

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/02887792891/

My Review

Died in the Wool (Whisky Business Mystery #4)Died in the Wool by Melinda Mullet
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Died in the Wool is the fourth book in the Whisky Business Mystery series by Melinda Mullet. I began reading the series about two years ago when I saw it was set at a whisky distillery in Scotland, but I continued to read it because the characters and plots are wonderful. In this caper, Abi gets involved in volunteering on the board for a home run by a not-for-profit organization that protects battered women. She’s trying to decide what to do about her feelings for the Scotsman, Grant MacEwan, including how to run the distillery if he’s no longer involved, based on an injury in the last book. And then there are those pesky sheep she rescues; it’s time for sheering but she’s lost on the process. Let’s not forget Patrick, the best friend I’d like to meet one day, and his new relationship woes. Throw in a murder, organic farming trends, and drugs… you’ve got a well-rounded mystery with dynamic characters.

Mullet’s books are always easy to read and quite enjoyable. I look forward to them more than most other series because of how rich the setting and characters are. The author balances the perfect amount of details with subtle hints about the person’s appearance, just enough to picture it but also throw in your own ideas. I feel like I’m on the hills or at the distillery, and I like how Abi has no family around her — it makes her rely on friends even more. I wonder what it’d be like in that situation… I might drink too much of the whisky, I suppose. That’s the other great thing about this series: you learn a lot and have an opportunity to understand something you might not normally be privy to without traveling somewhere.

If you enjoy a setting that’s not in a small town in America (love them too, but this is a good alternative), with culture and a different appeal, this would be a great one to sample. You can read them out of order, as they are standalone mysteries, but it’s always better to read from the beginning. While Abi’s personal life is certainly a focus, this one is mostly about the major mystery at the shelter where a young woman dies from an apparent drug overdose. Abi investigates and finds her fellow board members aren’t all on the up-and-up. There are also a few other suspects who have a piece in this puzzle, as well as a new detective from a different town that makes Abi’s sleuthing complicated. All in all, a fun and delightful read. I highly recommend it for anyone who loves a little extra in their cozy mysteries and enjoys an international story.

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TOUR PARTICIPANTS

June 17 – ThisIsMyTruthNow – REVIEW

June 17 – Babs Book Bistro – GUEST POST

June 18 – The Power of Words – REVIEW

June 18 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – SPOTLIGHT

June 19 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT

June 19 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

June 20 – The Cozy Pages – GUEST POST

June 20 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

June 21 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

June 22 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

June 23 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW

June 23 – Carla Loves To Read – REVIEW

June 24 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – REVIEW

June 24 – eBook Addicts – SPOTLIGHT

June 25 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW  

June 25 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

June 26 – My Reading Journeys – SPOTLIGHT

June 26 – Readeropolis – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

June 27 – Ruff Drafts – GUEST POST

June 27 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

June 28 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

June 29 – Laura’s Interests – SPOTLIGHT

June 30 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

About the Book

Died in the Wool: A Whisky Business Mystery
Cozy Mystery
4th in Series
Alibi (June 18, 2019)
Print Length ~300 pages
Digital ASIN: B07GN17SQJ

No good deed goes unpunished in the Whisky Business cozy mystery series as distillery owner Abigail Logan uncovers dark secrets—and murder—at a local charity.

Photojournalist Abi Logan is finally ready to put her hectic career on hold and set down roots in the heart of the Scottish countryside. Studying the business and art of distilling whisky at Abbey Glen and volunteering at the Shepherd’s Rest women’s shelter in her spare time seem a surefire way to find the peace and stability she craves. It’s also the logical way to take her mind off her personal life. Abi’s business partner, Grant MacEwan, is facing a career-threatening disability, and as much as Abi longs to be there for him, he seems to prefer the company of a rival.

But as Abi becomes more involved with Shepherd’s Rest, she discovers that their refuge is elusive. When the shelter is rocked by a murder/suicide, Abi is outraged by the police’s lack of attention to these already marginalized women. Increasingly confident in her own skills as an investigator, Abi steps in to find out what the police will not: who left one young woman dead and another missing. But when more deadly deeds come to light, Abi must race to unravel the connections between the shelter’s benefactors and the women they have pledged to protect—and expose the killer before he strikes again.

Melinda Mullet’s delightful Whisky Business mysteries can be read together or separately. Enjoy responsibly:

SINGLE MALT MURDER | DEATH DISTILLED | DEADLY DRAM | DIED IN THE WOOL

About the Author

Melinda Mullet was born in Dallas and attended school in Texas, Washington D.C., England, and Austria. She spent many years as a practicing attorney before pursuing a career as a writer. Author of the Whisky Business Mystery series, Mullet is a passionate supporter of childhood literacy. She works with numerous domestic and international charities striving to promote functional literacy for all children. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her family.

Author Links 

Website – http://melindamullet.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/mulletmysteries/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/mulletmysteries

Purchase Links

Amazon  B&N    Kobo   Google Play

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: No Cats Allowed by Miranda James

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No Cats Allowed (Cat in the Stacks, #7)No Cats Allowed by Miranda James
Author Miranda James has done it again with the seventh book, No Cats Allowed, in the ‘Cat in the Stacks’ series. When you have a ruthless new executive overseeing the library, and this man annoys nearly everyone in town, I can’t wait to see him die in a perilous ‘accident.’ At least in books, of course. I certainly wouldn’t wish what happens to Oscar in this book on anyone in reality. I will say… I felt a certain kind of justice to know he was off’d in such a manner. Gone, but not forgotten, because of James’s fantastic writing and storytelling abilities.

Charlie Harris is our main character. Diesel is his Maine Coon cat, somewhere around 35 lbs. My dog, who is hard to manage, is 25 lbs. I can only imagine! Charlie has two grown children and a girlfriend. His wife passed away years ago but he pines away for her lovingly. I wish we’d had a chance to meet her, perhaps one day in a “historical story.” In this caper, everyone at the library is a suspect when it comes to who killed Oscar. We also meet a few other folks, namely his abused wife and her protective brother. Did they finally have enough of the man’s damage?

The best part of this story… when Oscar dies… Charlie has to step in to oversee the library. I love watching him manage other people, especially someone who treats him rather poorly because she wanted the job. James cleverly covers the HR side of the organization, and often, it hit too close to home for me. I’ve had many of the conversations he’s had with the HR department about staff, so I felt a nice kinship to the book. As always, the mystery is strong and the dialog rocks. I encountered the Ducote sisters again, albeit briefly, but it makes me smile.

And with that ending, Charlie has some stuff to deal with in the future: grandchildren, pets, and new boarders. What’s a guy to do? Well… this one will be ordering the 8th book so I can read it next week. Three more to catch up, then I’m current and waiting for his next release. YAY!

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: Arsenic and Old Books

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Arsenic and Old Books (Cat in the Stacks, #6)Arsenic and Old Books by Miranda James
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Archives. Genealogy. History. Rare journals written in specific ink and on unusual paper. Of course, I’ll love it. I’m talking about the 6th book, Arsenic and Old Books, in the ‘Cat in the Stacks’ cozy mystery series written by Miranda James. It was published in 2015 but I’m catching up on this series so that I’m ready for the 11th book, which I received via NetGalley last month. The author is a fantastic guy, and the series is always enjoyable to read; hence, it’s a definite recommend for those who love southern stories, even-paced investigations by a lovable amateur sleuth, and witty dialog.

Charlie works at a library in Athena, Mississippi. The mayor brings in a collection of her husband’s ancestor’s journals for cataloging and repair. Her son believes something in them will help showcase why he should be elected to the state senate that year. Unfortunately, as soon as the journals are left with Charlie, tons of people come out of the woodwork to steal them. What exactly did an ancestor write about that’s worth all this trouble? After a few chapters, we find out who knows the potential reason, but before we actually discover it, the journals are stolen and one of the potential thieves is killed in a hit-and-run accident. Charlie and Diesel are on the case.

One of the Ducote sisters makes an appearance, which made me quite ecstatic. There was a friendlier relationship between Charlie and the deputy, Kanesha Berry, whereas in the past, it was a bit cantankerous. James delivers a strong story dating back to Civil War times, a wealth of information on how people wrote journals ~15o years ago, and a lovely change in many of Charlie’s relationships. I appreciate the writing style and tone, and it always makes me relax and focus on the actual story. It’s an easy read but full of complexity in the mystery.

In this book, the mayor looks very suspicious, and we don’t get to meet her husband despite lots of conversations surrounding him and their son’s hope for politics. Throw in a news reporter, some professors, an opponent in the election, and some people with grudges against the family, and you’ve got a lot to work with. Diesel is misbehaving in this book, but he seems to learn his lessons. I need to introduce him to my dog, Baxter, so that behavior is transferred. On to the next 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.

Book Review: Casket Cache by Janice J. Richardson

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Casket Cache (Spencer Funeral Home Niagara Cozy Mystery, #1)Casket Cache by Janice J. Richardson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Casket Cache by Janice J. Richardson is the first book in the “Spencer Funeral Home Niagara Cozy Mystery” series and was published in 2016. The author is new to me, but I’d seen a few of her book reviews and social media posts previously and wanted to read one of her novels. I was happily entertained and will continue reading the series in the future.

Jennifer Spencer (~25ish) inherited an uncle’s funeral home several months ago. She’s quickly adapting to life in a different but familiar town, learning how to run her own business. In between the time her uncle passed on and she took over, a temporary director / mortician ran the show. Jennifer has an easy transition with him, hires a great new helper she can mentor, and loves being guided by her uncle’s former assistant / manager who wants her to succeed. Then some weird things transpire… Jennifer learns what really happened in her uncle’s wonderful funeral home during those last few months. Was the temporary director responsible or just an unknowing fool who was too focused on his job?

What a fantastic story! I loved learning all about the mortuary business and seeing the protagonist’s empathetic heart when dealing with a man who lost his son, a couple who had a stillborn child, and family grieving for their loved one. While this cozy veered from the traditional approach in terms of “find body, solve crime,” it’s fully set the stage for great things to come. I liked how Jennifer didn’t actually investigate anything but reacted to situations she found herself put in from a business perspective. Using friends and new colleagues, she realized something was amiss and provided all the details to the police. In the end, we solve one crime but had some open questions on the other: a mini-cliffhanger. I loved that aspect of the story.

Richardson’s writing style and tone make this an easy book to read. I like the main character, and her supporting cast seems to be well-rounded and have a lot of potential. The Niagara setting makes for a wonderful backdrop, and the possibilities in a funeral home are kinda cool. I’m glad I found this one and look forward to reading more later this year.

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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.

Book Review: Vengeance on Tyneside by Eileen Thornton

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Vengeance On Tyneside (Agnes Lockwood Mysteries Book 3)Vengeance On Tyneside by Eileen Thornton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Vengeance on Tyneside is the third book in the ‘Agnes Lockwood Mysteries’ written by Eileen Thornton. I’ve previously read the first two installments in this cozy series and was excited to devour this third one during the last few days. The books revolve around Agnes, a ~50ish widow with two grown sons, who has moved back to a place she once lived in years ago. In the past two books she had a flirtatious relationship with a detective on the police force, but in this one, they’ve officially become a couple. The only problem… Agnes feels an obligation to meddle, and she’s often the one to stumble upon a body in the oddest of places. It makes for a good read!

In Vengeance, she’s walking near the river when a faint voice calls out for help. By the time Agnes calls for an ambulance, the woman is too injured to further help. Agnes tries to let the situation go, and she takes a room in a hotel that she has been frequently living in while looking for a new flat to buy. It’s then she realizes some of the employees at the hotel might be involved in the murders. Two more people are killed, and a third is seriously injured. Who is behind these awful killings? And what are they trying to accomplish? Agnes works with her taxi cab driver to travel all around town collecting clues and following the police, including her detective boyfriend, Alan.

Alan tries to be understanding, but he just wants her to stop interfering in his case, especially when the Superintendent wants a quick arrest. Agnes believes they’ve arrested the wrong guy and sets out to prove it. Unfortunately, it kills much of the romance between her and Alan and almost drives them apart. By interviewing hotel employees, some passersby and a few friends of the victim, Agnes begins to piece together the gravity of the situation but puts herself in danger. Luckily, someone comes to her rescue before she ends up the final victim. I would never stay in that hotel if I valued my life. Phew, she is one lucky dame when it comes to visiting that storage room. Ouch!

Thornton has created quite an elaborate protagonist. She could match Poirot and Marple with her eccentricities, and there are moments I’m dumbfounded at how she gets away with getting so involved in a murder investigation. At the same time, it creates such clever tension, I enjoy all the impacts she creates with her insinuations and prying ways. I’m not confident this police force would solve the crimes without her help. Thornton’s simple but direct dialog and personalities find fun ways to clash, leaving readers shaking their head at all the antics. While it’s not outwardly funny / sarcastic, sometimes it comes across that way purely by body language or what isn’t being said between Agnes and whomever she’s chatting to. It’s a great technique from this savvy writer.

The books are easy to read… easily devoured in 3 hours. I split it in two sessions, but I could’ve quickly and happily read through it all at once. Agnes is clearly pictured–Thornton ensures we know who she is and what she is capable of. While she has minimal cohorts, the few who do help always make for good entertainment and action. We haven’t met her family yet, and I’m hoping in the future, Thornton throws us a visit or two to see if anyone can possibly put Agnes in her place. So far, she gets away with everything… but every hero needs an antagonist. I’m dying to meet Agnes’s future friendly foe!

Kudos to Thornton for delivering another fine installment in the series. It’s light reading, more about the process a nosy woman goes through to solve a crime with minimal access to technology and evidence. She relies on her intuition and old-fashioned techniques to break a case. I like those kinds of mysteries, and I recommend this one to anyone else who does too.

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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.

Book Review: Sad Cypress by Agatha Christie

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Sad Cypress (Hercule Poirot, #21)Sad Cypress by Agatha Christie
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Sad Cypress is the 21st book in the Hercule Poirot series written by Agatha Christie. The book was published in 1940, but this series can be read out of order. I chose this book with my friend Medhat as a buddy read this month. I’ve seen several film and tv adaptations of Christie’s books, but I’ve never caught this one. I’m on a kick to read them all in the next year.

Sad Cypress is your classic tale. An elderly woman dies of seemingly natural causes. She was about to change her will, possibly naming a local girl who visited her from time to time as her beneficiary. She might have still included her niece and nephew by marriage, but we’re uncertain. Then, the local girl ends up dead even if she didn’t get to inherit any money because the original will was never finished. What’s going on? Who wanted the money? And how does everyone fit together? Throw in two nurses, a housekeeper, a gardener, a doctor, and the niece and nephew… and those are all your suspects. Christie isn’t usually someone to bring in a random at the end, so we are fairly certain it’s one of these folks.

What a clever tale! I was immediately drawn into the plot from the beginning. We divided it into thirds so we could read over three days. I actually had to read it early in the morning because I wanted to get back to it quickly each day. While there was a bit of repetition during the deduction phase, Poirot always makes you laugh, so it’s easily ignored. Christie makes you believe her characters are telling the truth only to shock you later with a lie and a twist. It always makes sense, and you wonder how the truth could hide in plain sight. Of course, it’s a little over-the-top, but that’s this style in general. I love it, so I’m not complaining — just pointing it out for others, so they know what they’re getting themselves into. It’s over 75 years old!

How does Poirot figure it out! He has a few off-screen conversations and relays them to us later, which is helpful. The imagery is powerful, and the concept of the cypress is simple but strong. The dialog is strong even for being formatted differently than modern readers are used to. It’s full of fantastic suspense and drama moments, urging you to keep reading until you stop. While not in her top 5 for me, it’s certainly a compelling story with a lot of meandering paths that lead back to a conclusion. 4.5 stars. I think I want to read Mouse Trap next, as I’ve not seen the play or read the story.

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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.