book review

Book Review: Chicken Culprit by Vikki Walton

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I am a frequent cozy mystery reader and often search out new series. When Vikki Walton‘s new ‘Backyard Farming’ mystery series fell into my lap, I jumped on the chance to read the first book, Chicken Culprit: (Backyard Farming Mystery Series) (Cozy Mystery). Walton is a new author for me, but one I enjoyed getting to know. In this caper, a ~40ish woman moves to a small Colorado town known for homesteading. As the story evolves, we learn she has a lot more connections to it than we originally thought — always makes for a good mystery. I’ll leave it at that so the suspense grabs you enough to check it out. I give this debut caper 3.5 out of 5 stars and will gladly continue reading the series.

 

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Walton notes a sort of tongue-in-cheek approach to the story, which I definitely see in the style and humor. At first, it threw me off a little but I settled into the tone eventually welcoming the approach as an easy and enjoyable read. The main character has a strong personality and doesn’t hide her concern over some of the interesting / wacky neighbors she meets, including a potential chicken killer, then a real killer, and a girl who says ‘like’ as often as any Valley Girl I’ve met before. (And that’s quite a few!) I like to learn when I read a cozy mystery, hence why it needs a catchy theme. This is my first farming book where I can gain some useful information if I ever move to the country (a distinct possibility!).

I can’t speak too much about the characters without giving away critical information, but there are several fun twists which I didn’t expect. There’s a bit of culture and life-experience more than I’ve seen before in a cozy, but I liked it a lot. I found the banter between the sheriff and the main character, Anne, amusing. Sometimes I think he’s a meanie, other times, he has potential. All-in-all, there’s a good level of diversity and range in the characters. Walton has a few things to work out with the setting and relationships in the book, but it’s off to a promising start.

Kudos to a new series. I look forward to checking out more.

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.

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Book Review: Lord of the Pies by Nell Hampton

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4.5 stars! When I read the first book in the Kensington Palace Chef mystery series, I was immediately hooked by author Nell Hampton‘s style and characters. In this second book, Lord of the Pies, I’ve found another fantastic winner. American transplant Carrie Ann Cole is chef for the Duke and Duchess of York in Kensington Palace. Everything points to them being Will and Kate, but you’re never 100% certain. It’s really not important who they are as much as the fact that readers know it’s English royalty.

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Carrie Ann runs one of the 4 separate palace kitchens and finds herself often in competition both in and out of the kitchen with her colleagues. In this caper, someone spying on her is found dead after apparently eating one of her pies. When she’s tossed into a televised competition for charity purposes, another mishap occurs leading to someone’s eventual death down the line. Carrie’s just trying to keep her job, but someone seems to want her gone from the palace. Luckily, the sexy chief of security and the hunky head of gardening protect her in the background as she tries to decide which ones she really wants. Unfortunately one has a serious girlfriend, but something’s about to change there soon. Throw in some affairs, rogue reporters and crazy colleagues looking to get ahead in the game, Hampton’s got another fine story for us to devour.

The two dicey concerns… I absolutely need to make a pie right now as there were too many references throughout the book. (I’ll get you for that, Hampton!) The other — the ending was too quick. The story was driving closely to reaching 5 stars because it was just so intricate and well-paced, but then there was a rush in the last 20 pages to push through finding the culprit(s) and backstory. It was good, but it could have been a bit more evenly covered, as well as a total wrap-up on what happened with a character who seemed in the midst of things and then disappeared. That said, I adore the main character. She may be in my top 5 of cozy sleuths. The background and setting are well-developed and I like the intrigue behind her boss and the royalty she rarely interacts with… you know one day they will beg Carrie Ann to help them solve a crime for someone close. And I can’t wait to read about it… many thanks to the publisher, Crooked Lane, for sending me a copy of this book, as they know I love my cozy mysteries!

 

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.

365 Challenge: Day 363 – WWtR

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WWtR: Writer’s Way to Review, a new segment on the ThisIsMyTruthNow blog

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Many tried to guess what the WWtR stood for in last week’s hints… one person came very close! I debated whether I wanted it to be the Write or Writer ‘Way to Review,’ but ultimately settled on this interesting play on words: Writer’s. So… what’s this new segment going to be about on the This Is My Truth Now blog when it starts in a few weeks:  Explaining how people choose to review books (or other things) from all different perspectives. I find it’s quite an eye-opening experience now that I’m a published author. Everyone’s styles are different, and people get quite angry over words and ratings. I want to share my approach to reviewing, as well as the pros and cons that go with it. I plan to have a weekly segment (tho that might change) covering as many angles as I can come up with, but I want it to be interactive where everyone can share their thoughts. I’ll cover questions or topics like:

  • Ratings
    • Amazon and Goodreads have 1 to 5 stars. Does that provide enough of a scale?
    • Should it be grades, like A+, A, and A- (along with other letters)
    • What about % out of 100?
  • Taking a Chance
    • If you’ve never read a genre before, or you read in one you don’t like as a test, is it fair to rate the book?
    • If an author corrects issues in a published book, should they have another chance to get ratings or is it only the first one.
    • Do you read books with lower ratings like a 1 or a 2… or even a 3 which to some is good, to some is bad.
  • Impact / Perspective
    • Low ratings can hurt someone’s ability to make a sale, which hurts their income — do reviewers realize that impact? Is that even a consideration? How does it compare to movies or theatre shows?
    • Should Indies be judged differently than established authors?
    • Are there differences in self-published versus traditional published approaches to rating a book?
    • Can you rate a book without reading the whole thing or never reading at all?
  • Grammar
    • Are you rating the book or the author/editor/publisher/marketer?
    • Do reviewers know the difference between editors and writers?
    • How forgiving are you as a reader when you see a few spelling or proofreading mistakes?
  • What things should you cover in a review?
    • Style & Approach
    • Characters
    • Plot / Story
    • Grammar and Language
    • Point of View (POV) and Perspective
    • Tones, Themes and Messages
    • Comprisons to other authors or books

My list could go on and on… but I intend to provide my thoughts from both a reader’s and a writer’s perspective. I will cover as many sides as I can think of, not just my own, although it will focus on how I personally choose to review. My hope is to offer ideas to others struggling to write something different or get started writing reviews.

I also want to encourage people to be critical of themselves when they write a review. Words can hurt people; it’s not fair to claim ‘freedom of speech’ so you can say whatever you want, including mean things about it. I believe there is a way to find a way to be constructive / nice. On the flip side, if you are a bit forward or mean, it might help drive the author to improve or build a thicker skin. I want to explore this one deeply… for example, why cross that line to be a truly nasty individual just because you can or you want to make a name for yourself? Or why be super sweet and always give a 5 because you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings? Skip the extremes, find the middle ground, perhaps?

So… I promise to be fair. I can’t wait to get started. What do you all think?

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon @ http://mybook.to/WGS. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. 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: Someone’s Mad at the Hatter by Sandra Bretting

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Why This Book 
I won this book through a cozy mystery group. I’d not read the author’s work before, but I do enjoy cozies and have family in Louisiana. I took a chance on entering the giveaway contest and reading it.

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Plot, Characters & Setting 
Missy is a hat designer who stumbles into crimes in a small Louisiana town. She’s ~30ish, dating a dressmaker and a true southern girl. In this book, Missy finds a dead wedding planner outside her store, killed with one of her hat-making tools. When her business begins to suffer, she investigates the crime, having successfully helped the local police on two prior cases. She also goes on a few dates with her dressmaker and another character, ultimately deciding who is better for her. When she figures out the crime before the police, she finds herself smack in the killer’s hands and forced to protect herself.

Approach & Style 
This is the third book in the cozy series and is told in first-person POV from Missy, the main character. I read the ~170 page Kindle version in about three hours. Chapters are short. Writing is average, a bit stilted and formal for my taste, but still a good read.

Strengths & Suggestions 
The story makes sense. The characters are diverse. The writing is clear. The setting is one of the better parts. In a world full of cozies, it has a place for readers who prefer settings in the southern US and mysteries involving clothing or weddings. For me, it was an average read where I enjoyed it, but something was also missing. It felt a little too formulaic without an ability to really attach to any of the characters. I also recognize that this setting may have been part of the reason I didn’t feel strongly about the overall series, and it may be better to read from the first book to get into the story. I might give the first one a try in the future as the mystery had several good components, especially in the red herrings and side-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 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.

Watching Glass Shatter: Blog Tour Day 8 – Book Escapade Blog Tour & Author Q & A

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What an amazing post today from Vandana at Book Escapade Blog for Day 8 of the Watching Glass Shatter book blog tour. She outdid herself and made such an interactive post. Much gratitude towards her for the wonderful review of Watching Glass Shatter.

If you aren’t familiar with Vandana, please check out the post she did on me but also all of her book reviews and other content. She has a great voice, covers a range of books and is active on social media. It would be a great new blog for you to follow!

via Watching Glass Shatter by James J. Cudney – Blog Tour and Author Q & A

Watching Glass Shatter – FAVORITE CHARACTER POLL

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Have you read Watching Glass Shatter? Why not choose your favorite character from the core family? Choose today but you can also change your mind through the end of the poll on 11/20 when the blog tour ends. Character descriptions listed below. If your favorite isn’t listed, you can write one in. The favorite character chosen as the winner will be revealed on the last day of the tour along with a special big reveal about what’s next for fans of this debut novel!

Are you excited to become an honorary member of the Glass Family?

Character Bios

Benjamin: Patriarch who dies leaving behind a widow and 5 sons. Runs a prominent Connecticut law practice but harbors a very painful family secret.

Olivia: Matriarch who becomes a widow when her husband dies in a car accident.  Runs several philanthropic organizations. Passive-aggressive mother of 5 sons.

Theodore (Teddy): Eldest son. Following in his father’s footsteps to run the family law firm. Married to Sarah and trying to have a baby. The pompous fool who harbors his own secret.

Matthew: MBA Graduate. Manages the firm’s finances. Married to Margaret with 3 young daughters. Sports fanatic.  The Golden Boy who harbors his own secret.

Caleb: Middle child, became an architect. Moved away to Maine with little contact with the rest of the family. The Runaway who harbors his own secret.

Zachary: Finding his own way through life. Raising his 5 year old daughter while fighting his ex-girlfriend for custody. The Former Drug Addict who harbors his own secret.

Ethan: Youngest son. The heart of the family who became a doctor. Contemplating an engagement. The Momma’s Boy who harbors his own secret.

Diane: Olivia’s younger sister. Voice of reason in the family. Protector of all. Divorcing husband. Harbors no secrets of her own but learns them all throughout the story.

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To purchase this novel visit Amazon

Subscribe to my newsletter to receive special content and plans for 2018

 

Book Summary

A contemporary fiction novel focusing on a New England family’s drama set in current times. The wealthy Glass family has lost its patriarch, Benjamin Glass, sooner than expected. Benjamin’s widow, Olivia, and her 5 sons each react to his death in their own way while preparing for the reading of his will. But it is Olivia who receives a very unexpected confession from her late husband about one of their sons that could shatter the whole family.

Prior to revealing the secret to her children, Olivia needs to figure out which boy Ben is referring to in the confession he left her in his will. While the family attorney is searching for the mysterious Rowena Hector whom Ben says holds the answers, Olivia asks her sons to each spend a week with her as she isn’t ready to let go of the past. But when Olivia visits her sons, she quickly learns that each one has been keeping his own secret from her.

Olivia never expected her remaining years would be so complex and life altering, but she will not rest until she is able to bring her family back together after Ben’s untimely death. Will she be able to fix them or will the whole family implode? We all need family. We all want to fit in. We’re a mix of quirky fun!

My Novel: Watching Glass Shatter – BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

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Watching Glass Shatter is going on an amazing blog tour thanks to 18 fantastic bloggers who will be participating in the coming weeks.

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The schedule of blogs and other key information is listed in the banners below. Many thanks to everyone’s hard work, especially Nel @ Reactionary Tales and Noriko @ Diary of a Bookfiend for helping design and build these marketing materials.

On this blog tour, you will find in the coming weeks:

  • Several opportunities to win e-versions of the book via special GIVEAWAYS
  • In-depth interviews with the author about everything from the book to his personal life
  • ‘Watching Glass Shatter’ Book Reviews
  • Videos with the Author & Friends
  • Special news about the Glass family and future book releases

To purchase this novel, go to Amazon @ http://mybook.to/WGS

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Subscribe to the author’s mailing list to learn more information about the plans for 2018.

Click here to subscribe and win a chance in the Giveaway. Winners will be announced during the blog Tour. More information to come on how many winners will be selected and when it will be revealed. The contest will be opened through November 5th, 2017 when the Blog Tour starts.

Are you excited to become an honorary member of the Glass Family? Stay Tuned For More!

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Book Summary

A contemporary fiction novel focusing on a New England family’s drama set in current times. The wealthy Glass family has lost its patriarch, Benjamin Glass, sooner than expected. Benjamin’s widow, Olivia, and her 5 sons each react to his death in their own way while preparing for the reading of his will. But it is Olivia who receives a very unexpected confession from her late husband about one of their sons that could shatter the whole family.

Prior to revealing the secret to her children, Olivia needs to figure out which boy Ben is referring to in the confession he left her in his will. While the family attorney is searching for the mysterious Rowena Hector whom Ben says holds the answers, Olivia asks her sons to each spend a week with her as she isn’t ready to let go of the past. But when Olivia visits her sons, she quickly learns that each one has been keeping his own secret from her.

Olivia never expected her remaining years would be so complex and life altering, but she will not rest until she is able to bring her family back together after Ben’s untimely death. Will she be able to fix them or will the whole family implode? We all need family. We all want to fit in. We’re a mix of quirky fun!