cat in the stacks

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!

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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: 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: The Silence of the Library by Miranda James

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The Silence of the Library (Cat in the Stacks, #5)The Silence of the Library by Miranda James
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

The Silence of the Library is the 5th book in the ‘Cat in the Stacks’ cozy mystery series written by Miranda James. The books take place in Athena, Mississippi and focus on Charlie, a ~50ish male librarian, who solves crimes while attending to his Maine Coon cat, Diesel. In this book, a 100-year-old author is going to do a book signing and interview at Charlie’s library, but all is not what it seems. The crazies come out to see their favorite girl sleuth author, and her family is very protective of the woman’s reputation and health. As Charlie gets drawn into the web of confusion, one of the fans is murdered, forcing our indomitable librarian to assist the Deputy Chief of Police, Kanesha, find the criminal.

Miranda James has an eloquent writing style where lively and memorable characters guide the story to completion. Each story feels like a separate universe but it also have strong connections to the others and the folks around Athena. It’s not as heavily populated with secondary characters as other book series, which can be a good thing. We have 4 or 5 central supporting folks in Charley’s life, and we enjoy getting to know them more deeply. In this book, the fans were crazy! I like to think the author took a few of his (yes, in case you didn’t know, this is a pseudonym) favorite fan-encounters and created wonderful characters in his books… and while I doubt any murders have ever happened in reality, it’s a great way to involve and connect with readers… especially in the world of girl detectives and the origins of the mystery series.

Overall, I give this a 4.5 star rating… it was a clever and intricate story, and I loved so much of it. Even my faves, the Ducote sisters, were mentioned. Readers are treated to a bonus story embedded in this book. James weaves a secondary tale written by the author appearing in the book, then publishes the full story on his website. How cool! I plan to read it this summer. I also realized that I never read enough Nancy Drew, so I have been inspired to read more again. With 5 down, I have 5 more in this ‘Cat in the Stacks’ series to finish before I get to the current one the author is about to publish… I can’t wait!

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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: 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!

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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: File M for Murder by Miranda James

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File M for Murder (Cat in the Stacks, #3)File M for Murder by Miranda James
My rating: 4+ of 5 stars

After finishing the ‘Southern Ladies’ mystery series by Miranda James, it was time to catch up on the ‘Cat in the Stacks’ mystery series, beginning with the 3rd of eleven books to date, File M for Murder. Miranda James is a pseudonym for the author who has several other series under a couple of names. I haven’t gotten to those yet, but I will in time. I really enjoy the author’s writing style, tone, and voice, so I’m apt to pick up any novels that have been written.

The ‘Cat in the Stacks’ books focus on Charlie Harris, a college librarian in Athena, Mississippi (among other roles too), and Diesel, his Maine coon cat. Charlie has two adult children in their 20s, and in File M for Murder, his daughter, Laura, comes home from Hollywood to teach at the college for a semester. Unfortunately, her ex, a famous writer, looms over her and then ends up dead. Charlie has to protect his daughter, which means going up against ruthless Deputy Kanesha Berry, also his housekeeper’s daughter. Laura protests her innocence, but which member of the college or town of Athena had it in for the famous writer? We learn he lived there once before, he’d been having an affair with someone else, and he was researching a past death. Just how did it all catch up to him finally?

A few reasons why you might love this series: (1) a southern setting with charm and true heritage, (2) a cat who takes over everywhere he goes, (3) a rivalry between the key cop and the amateur sleuth, (4) an older male protagonist in a cozy, and (5) a strong cast of characters who will keep you guessing for many pages. James always packs a nice punch with the reason why the killer murders someone. When it’s related to Charlie’s past, it’s even better. Knowing the author lives in a town probably not too unlike the main village in his books makes it feel even more authentic.

I already have books 4 and 5, but once I get through those, I’ll order the next group, as I intend to finish them all by this summer. Anyone want to join in?

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