cozy mystery

Author / Series Alert: Ellen Crosby & Wine Country Mysteries

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In the past, I used to share a weekly author alert on my blog. Often it was a new indie writer I’d come across, or it might have been one I really enjoyed reading. Since I’ve given up writing my 365 Daily Challenge and have been posting mostly book reviews and my own book promotions, I decided I needed to get back to a few basics again. One of those will be sharing an alert on authors and series I’ve either finished or gotten caught up on and am awaiting the next book.

I’ve been a major fan of series ever since I was a young child and participated in summer readathons at my local library. I used to sit for hours and read books only ever in order… I’m ashamed to say I have only been about 80% faithful to that rule of reading in order, but I’m trying to be as consistent as possible these days. This week, I’m starting with a series I actually have read in order — The Wine Country Mysteries by Ellen Crosby.

I think the Wine Country Mysteries might be my favorite series right now. There are 9 books currently published with the next one due out in the Fall of 2019. I can’t wait to take that one on, even hoping I get a NetGalley ARC or find a potential blog tour. Although they fall under the cozy mystery category, they are much more complex and dynamic. All the books have detailed histories on wine-making, American politics, and the forming of the US as a nation during the Revolutionary period. Crosby is brilliant when it comes to including facts about the past in her tales. I lap it up each time and truly find her to be an impressive author. I’ve only read this one series and not the other which has two books thus far. I might give it a chance in the future, but for now, I’m focused on the wine country!

Lucie Montgomery was injured in a car accident that left her with a limp and a cane. She inherited the family vineyard after her parents both died. While her mother was killed in an accident, her father might’ve been murdered. You’ll have to read one of the books to find out the truth. She has a brother and a sister, but we mostly only see the brother. There are a few local residents whom we’ve gotten to know, and even some who end up being killers in future books — I love it! We meet some of the help at the vineyard, the local cops and news reporters, and tons of out-of-town family. The supporting cast is wide and varied, but they always make you feel a connection to the story. My favorite books have been the ones about politics, even those that reveal presidential secrets (really, true ones!). Lucie is smart and dependable; she’s not nosy nor flighty. I would be friends with her, even if she is a little direct for my taste, at times. The best part, I’ve learned so much about wine that I can’t wait to test it all out. I doubt that will happen, since like books, there are more vintages or versions of wine than one could truly imbibe! All that said, I highly recommend this series. It’s solid and intriguing with each and every book.

Meet Ellen Crosby

For some links to a few sites that might help you decide to move forward, and to read my 9 reviews of the books in her Wine Country Mysteries, check these out:

https://thisismytruthnow.com/crosby-ellen/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/371811.Ellen_Crosby

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 Alert: Mistaken Identity Crisis (Braxton Campus Mysteries #4) – Blog Tour, Release Date, Gratitude

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The 4th book in the Braxton Campus Mysteries will be released on June 30th, 2019: Mistaken Identity Crisis: Death in the Cable Car. It is currently available as a Kindle pre-order via Amazon and will also be published in print form in late June. Stay tuned for more information about future audio book and foreign language translations through the publisher’s new partners. It’s an exciting time to be part of Creativia, who will be officially changing their name this summer to Next Chapter Publishing. Let’s talk a little bit about what’s currently going on with this book.

Ever taken a ride on a cable car? Why not try one now!

Overview of MISTAKEN IDENTITY CRISIS

A clever thief with a sinister calling card has invaded Braxton campus. A string of jewelry thefts continues to puzzle the sheriff given they’re remarkably similar to an unsolved eight-year-old case from shortly before Gabriel vanished one stormy night. When a missing ruby is discovered near an electrified dead body during the campus cable car redesign project, Kellan must investigate the real killer in order to protect his brother. Amidst sorority hazing practices and the victim’s connections to several prominent Wharton County citizens, a malicious motive becomes more obvious and trickier to prove.

As if the latest murder isn’t enough to keep him busy, Kellan partners with April to end the Castigliano and Vargas crime family feud. What really happened to Francesca while all those postcards showed up in Braxton? The mafia world is more calculating than Kellan realized, and if he wants to move forward, he’ll have to make a few ruthless sacrifices.

Election Day is over, and the new mayor takes office. Nana D celebrates her 75th birthday with an adventure. A double wedding occurs at Crilly Lake on Independence Day. And Kellan receives a few more surprises as the summer heat begins to settle in Wharton County.

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Show Your Love For The Series & Author!

UPCOMING BLOG TOUR

I’m excited to share the plans for the blog tour through Great Escape Virtual Blog Tours from June 21st through July 3rd. You can learn more via the book’s dedicated page on the site.

TOUR PARTICIPANTS

June 21 – Mallory Heart’s Cozies – REVIEW

June 22 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

June 22 – LibriAmoriMiei – REVIEW

June 23 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

June 24 – Books Direct – MAP & CHARACTER LIST POST

June 25 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

June 25 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT

June 26 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

June 26 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

June 27 – Jane Reads – REVIEW

June 28 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

June 29 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

June 30 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

July 1 – Carla Loves To Read – REVIEW

July 2 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

July 2 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

July 3 – Island Confidential – GUEST POST

Check out the whole series!

Gratitude for a Beta Reader

I want to publicly thank all the beta readers who have made this book happen. As always, I include an acknowledgments page in the book, but I felt compelled to provide a special thank you to Shalini @ Digital Reads for all of her efforts on this book. For anyone who might not be familiar, or even those who are, writers rely on a small group of early readers to provide input on the story before it’s shared with a larger group. Shalini is the first person to read all my books, and in this case, she read the book at least four times throughout the process. Before I send it off to ~5 beta readers, Shalini does an alpha review to verify the content, consistency, tone, style, and general strength of the book. We spend hours chatting via messenger to discuss what’s working and what isn’t working.

From there, I will edit and rewrite until I think I’m ready to share it again. Shalini will do a quick but thorough review to push me on anything I’ve left unaddressed, then it goes off to the beta readers for formal review. Once again, Shalini spends a few hours to proofread and find any potential areas for improvement, and then I furiously make all the changes before it’s ready for the final round with the publisher. That’s where I am right now. I have all the beta reader feedback included in this version. I’m currently on vacation, but Shalini, the awesome person she is, will be doing a final read of the book this week so that when I return on 5/26, I can fix any minor proofreading issues and send it to the publisher for review and formatting.

The goal is to deliver to the ARC and Blog Tour readers in the second week of June, and this group of people will help promote the book during the initial launch. I’m super excited to share this one as the story is my favorite thus far. But rest assured, I’m already 95% complete with the outline for the 5th book in the series, and we plan to reveal the cover and the title in late June / early July right around the time we’re publishing Mistaken Identity Crisis.

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Thank you to Shalini for making all of this happen!

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.

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.

Academic Curveball: .99 Cent Kindle Download (5/22 thru 5/26)

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The debut book in the Braxton Campus Mysteries, Academic Curveball, is available as a .99 Kindle download from 5/22 thru 5/26. This book won a Best Fiction award and was the #1 downloaded Kindle book in the highest possible category back in February during the initial promotion. There are now 4 books available in the series, so why not start reading them by getting this one for less than a dollar! Buy for .99 via Amazon.

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Overview / Description:   When Kellan Ayrwick returns home for his father’s retirement from Braxton College, he finds a dead body in Diamond Hall’s stairwell. Unfortunately, Kellan has a connection to the victim, and so do several members of his family. Could one of them be guilty of murder? Soon after, the college’s athletic program receives mysterious donations, a nasty blog denounces his father and someone attempts to change students’ grades. Someone is playing games on campus, but none of the facts add up. With the help of his eccentric and trouble-making nana, Kellan tries to stay out of the sheriff’s way. And if that wasn’t enough already, his own past comes spiraling back to change his life forever.  

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Braxton Campus Mysteries Overview

A new mystery series debuting in October 2018 focusing on amateur sleuth, Kellan Ayrwick, a 32-year-old single father who solves crimes in his Pennsylvania hometown while attending to his day job as a professor at Braxton University.

  1. Academic Curveball (Oct 2018)
  2. Broken Heart Attack (Nov 2018)
  3. Flower Power Trip (Mar 2019)
  4. Mistaken Identity Crisis (Jun 2019)

Check out the Blog Tour

https://www.escapewithdollycas.com/great-escapes-virtual-book-tours/completed-tours-2019/academic-curveball-braxton-campus-mysteries-by-james-j-cudney/
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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.

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 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!

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.

Author / Series Alert: Ellen Byron & Cajun Country Mysteries

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In the past, I used to share a weekly author alert on my blog. Often it was a new indie writer I’d come across, or it might have been one I really enjoyed reading. Since I’ve given up writing my 365 Daily Challenge and have been posting mostly book reviews and my own book promotions, I decided I needed to get back to a few basics again. One of those will be sharing an alert on authors and series I’ve either finished or gotten caught up on and am awaiting the next book.

I’ve been a major fan of series ever since I was a young child and participated in summer readathons at my local library. I used to sit for hours and read books only ever in order… I’m ashamed to say I have only been about 80% faithful to that rule of reading in order, but I’m trying to be as consistent as possible these days. This week, I’m starting with a series I actually have read in order — The Cajun Country Mysteries by Ellen Byron.

Five in the Series – What a great start!

I have a personal connection to these books because of where they take place — Louisiana. Although I didn’t grow up there, my partner did, so I take a few trips a year to the bayou to visit my other family. I’ve visited a handful of plantations which makes it even easier for me to recognize some of these places, histories, and the culture. It’s ripe with imagination, drama, and intensity — exactly what Byron delivers in her books. The heroine, Maggie, is a perfect balance of intuition and analysis; she never barges into a situation or inserts herself in something where she doesn’t belong. It always feels natural.

If you’ve never read them before, then you must give them a chance. While they fall under the cozy mystery sub-genre, they are truly about the mystery and drama around the town. You might find a recipe or two, and you’ll get a few thoughts from the author about the book, but the series has depth and a very solid cast of intelligent and fun characters. Maggie has an awesome grandmother who drinks just enough to be hysterical. Her parents are wonderful owners of the family’s beautiful bed and breakfast. She’s smitten with the local detective, and her friends come in many shapes, sizes, and forms. I love them all, even the rude ones who sometimes push my buttons!

Meet Ellen Byron

For some links to a few sites that might help you decide to move forward, check these out:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/23234.Ellen_Byron

https://www.ellenbyron.com/

And my own blog page with reviews for all 5 books

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.