cozy mystery

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

Posted on Updated on

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!

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.

Advertisements

Author & Book Alert: Muffin but Trouble by Victoria Hamilton

Posted on Updated on

I am beyond thrilled to share an exclusive interview with an amazing author I’ve been following for several years. If you haven’t read the ‘Merry Muffin’ or ‘Vintage Kitchen’ cozy mystery series, you are missing out! Victoria Hamilton writes under a few names and has at least one other series too, which I’ll get to read in the upcoming months… but today, she’s agreed to stop by my blog for the launch of the 6th book in the ‘Merry Muffin’ series: Muffin But Trouble — it released today!

Blurb:

In the new Merry Muffin Mystery from the author of Muffin to Fear, baker Merry Wynter must confront a spiritual guru who may be up to something far from heavenly…

With plans for a new performing arts center at Wynter Castle taking up all her time, baker Merry Wynter has been all but unaware of the fringe group compound near her small town—until a street preacher accosts her with taunts of doom and damnation. Worried that some of her close friends may have been lured in by the group and its charismatic leader, Merry begins digging into the ministry—and soon suspects they may have ties to the recent death of a young woman and the disappearance of many others.

With her rebellious teen friend Lizzie at her side, Merry steps in to confront the eerily submissive community and its misguided members, skeptical of their supposed spiritual leanings. When another young woman vanishes and Merry realizes the lives of people close to her are at stake, she will stop at nothing to uncover the group’s sinister secrets before the murderous ministry can strike again . . .

Includes tasty baking recipes!

Praise for the Merry Muffin Mysteries:

“[Has] the ingredients for a wonderful cozy mystery series.” —New York Times bestselling author Paige Shelton

“A great cozy with varied and interesting characters, nice plot with a few twists, and a good main character . . . Loved it!” —Mysteries and My Musings

“Merry Wynter’s character is extremely well-developed . . . This is a great start to a promising new series for cozy mystery fans. Five Stars!” —Goodreads

***Check out my past reviews on all her wonderful books below. I will also be updating older reviews from many years ago. This page will be Victoria Hamilton’s dedicated author page on my blog. ***

https://thisismytruthnow.com/hamilton-victoria/

Key Author Info:

Author Website – VictoriaHamiltonMysteries.com

Blog: http://victoriahamiltonmysteries.blogspot.com/

Email: Victoria@victoriahamiltonmysteries.com

Amazon and BookBub Links: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B007T7LGAU

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorVictoriaHamilton

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MysteryVictoria

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.ca/vintagekitchenm/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/598635.Victoria_Hamilton

Interview:

1 – Q – Who are you and what names do you write under?

A – My ‘real’ name is Donna Simpson, and I have written books under that name; I write as Victoria Hamilton, though I wrote one series as Amanda Cooper.

2 – Q – What is your location?

A – I’m a Canuck… a Canadian, and live in a small city in Ontario.

3 – Q – Tell us all about your available books.

A – Check out my websites for details… http://www.victoriahamiltonmysteries.com  and http://www.donnaleasimpson.com

4 – Q – Tell us a little bit about the genres of your books.

A – I have written, in past Regency romance, paranormal historical romance, historical romance mystery and just released in February a historical mystery A Gentlewoman’s Guide to Murder. Most of what I write now are cozy mysteries in the Vintage Kitchen Mystery series and the Merry Muffin Mystery series. July 2nd 2019, after a two year hiatus,  #6 of the Merry Muffin Mystery series comes out, Muffin But Trouble!

Who’s excited for the 6th book in the Merry Muffin series?

***

5 – Q – Describe your goals as a writer. What do you hope to achieve in the next few years? What are you planning to do to reach these goals?

A – My goal always is to write, and to publish. It’s all I’ve ever wanted. I don’t think I’d know who I am if I didn’t write every day.

6 – Q – What type of reader are you hoping to attract?  Who do you believe would be most interested in reading your books?

A – My books are character driven, though I do try to provide a strong plot (VERY important, of course, in a mystery!) so readers for whom character development is important will, I hope, enjoy my books.

7 – Q – What advice would you give other authors or those still trying to get published?

A – Keep trying. And if getting published is really important to you, though you do, of course have to write what speaks to you, you also need to have an audience in mind.

8 – Q – What particular challenges and struggles did you face before first becoming published?

A – It took a long time to get published and it was only after writing many books that didn’t make it. This was before self-publishing was a ‘thing’, so there was only traditional publishing or so-called ‘vanity’ presses. But it made me disciplined and it made me hungry, and I made it. I was never a ‘write one masterpiece and then I’m done’ kind of writer, I’m a ‘I want to write and be published’ kind of writer. So I wrote Regency romance to get my foot in the door, and paranormal and historical romance to keep it there, and worked into writing mysteries that way.

9 – Q – What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

A – I read, a lot! I’ve done lots of crafts, but not as much as I used to, and I like singing karaoke! Does eating brownies count as a hobby? If so, I do have one hobby I’m passionate about… brownies!

Okay, who is in the mood for dessert now?

***

10 – Q – Some authors like to make an argument or address an issue when they write. Is there an issue that you’re addressing with your book? If so, what is it?

A – I think the only issue I ever addressed is that everyone deserves a voice. As a woman I kept mine quiet for too long, and I’m just beginning to make it heard.

11 – Q – What gave you the idea for your book?

A – Ideas are never a single entity… it’s like, you set your mind on writing a book, and the ether cooperates with bits and pieces and random tufts of fluff that come together to form a coherent plot. I think a writer’s mind works that way… always vigilant, always on the lookout for just that one piece of inspiration to make a plot come together.

12 – Q – What do you like about writing in your genre?

A – I absolutely love writing mystery, of any type; traditional or historical. I feel like it gives my writing a form, like a pattern, and then I fit my plots, characters and themes into that form. It’s not like it’s a straitjacket, something I have to conform to… it’s freeing, in a way, because although there are certain elements that are required, I am free to riff within that form.

13 – Q – What do you like most and least about being an author? What is your toughest challenge?

A – Mostly, I love doing it… every day, my preference is to sit down and write, first thing in the morning, and because I do it full time I have that freedom. People always say to me ‘I’d never have the discipline’, but if you have a chance to do what you love most in the world, wouldn’t you do it? If it’s sailing, or knitting, or mountain climbing and you loved it and you could do it every day… it’s the dream job. What I like least is, the flow being interrupted by life. The toughest challenge is managing time: writers now are not just writers, they are publicists and their own assistants, and with social media there are so many drains on one’s time, that it’s a constant struggle to prioritize writing. I feel guilty sometimes that I’m not promoting enough, because I know I could do a better job at that.

14 – Q – Do you work from an outline or plot or do you just see where the characters take you?

A – There are, it is said, two types of writers, plotters and pantsers… meaning those who plot their books out and outline copiously, and those who fly by the seat of their pants, just writing. I’ve been both in my career. When I started out, an editor would only buy a book if I presented a fairly comprehensive synopsis, which I then turned into a chapter by chapter outline. But over the years, the synopsis got shorter and the outline just didn’t happen and I inadvertently turned into a pantser. I can do it; over the years with many books written I have developed a feel for pacing and length, etc.

But lately it has felt like I am just making myself crazy by pantsing… I have to go back time and again through the book to build consistency, which often doesn’t work that well and needs to be corrected by my editor (thank God for editors… really!). I end up in dead ends and problems happen for which I have no solution. Much tearing of hair and beating of the head with the computer keyboard results. So… with the book I’m currently writing I have gone back to plotting, writing in advance the scenes I need based on a synopsis of the book. I am revisiting the outline as I go, adjusting to meet the needs that develop as some things inevitably change. So far, it is proving to be a great way to speed up the writing and prevent unnecessary hair loss.

We’ll see how long these good intentions last.

I am not a pantser by nature either, so I know how you feel! Keep the hair!

***

15 – Q – Do you think that the cover plays an important part in someone buying your book(s)?   Who designs your book covers?

A – I actually do think the cover plays an important role. I don’t know if other readers feel the same, but I can recognize a writer I like or a series I’m reading based on similarities from one cover to another. Julie Mulhern covers are iconic; you can tell the series just from one glance. I can always tell a historical mystery I’m going to enjoy by the cover… books by Deanna Raybourne, Darcie Wilde, Anne Perry, and others. And traditional/cozy mystery readers can certainly tell by the cover what they are getting.

As an example… when my Vintage Kitchen Mystery series was moving to a new publisher (from Berkley to Beyond the Page) I had a grand idea for the cover; it would be an image of the musty far corner of a basement and there would be a trunk lit by one beam of light from a basement window, and peeking out of the trunk would be a skull with a hank of hair and a hatchet imbedded. Loved the idea… spooky, fun, kinda retro. Sketched it out, scanned it and sent it to my editor and agent.

They HATED it! Oh, they were polite about it, but they pointed out how it had nothing to do with previous titles, didn’t look anything like other covers in the genre or my series and just didn’t work, from a promotional point of view.

And of course they were exactly right. Look at the cover for Leave it to Cleaver and you will see a fairly standard attractive traditional mystery cover, with the skull and hatchet atop a very pretty wedding cake and my little Yorkie Poo character Hoppy reaching up to sniff. Now, THAT is the perfect cover for a traditional or cozy murder mystery! It was designed by Dar Albert of Wicked Smart Designs; she is brilliant, easy to work with, and can design a cover that works well with a series. She has designed the cover of my latest mystery to come out, Muffin But Trouble, and has magically captured the feel of the Merry Muffin Berkley covers, important now that I’ve moved the series to Beyond the Page.

The bottom line… the covers sell well. There is no point in putting road blocks in your own way when it comes to publishing and selling books.

16 – Q – What type of books do you like to read?  Who are some of your favorite authors?

A – I read a lot of different genres, and I tend to binge. I read traditional mysteries, like Julie Mulhern’s Country Club series. I read historical mysteries like Darcie Wilde’s series that started with A Useful Woman. I read suspense thrillers, like Gone Girl, Girl on a Train, and The Woman in the Window. I read a lot of research books, classic literature, biographies, books about religions, and especially true crime books.

For sharing other authors we need to check out!

***

17 – Q – What have you learned about yourself since becoming an author?

A – I’ve learned that my brain never stops working, but that not everyone’s brain works that way. I think being inside of ourselves we don’t realize that how we do or see things is not always how others do. I watch a fair bit of TV because it is one of the few OFF buttons for my brain, though that doesn’t work all that well. Things on TV… conversations, plot twists, locations, news items… they all contribute to plots I’m working on. So I often have to jump up and jot something down on the WIP or for future reference.

Excerpt of Muffin but Trouble:

“Jezebel!”

“Who, me?” I asked, pointing to my chest like I was playing a weirdly personal game of charades. I was the only female around at that moment except for an elderly woman pushing a rolling walker down the sidewalk along the line of mostly abandoned brick and boarded-up glass storefronts.

“Yes, you. Jezebel!” This time he—the shouter—pointed his finger at me, I suppose so there could be no further cause for confusion. “Harlot!” he yelped, wide-eyed and with a hint of a smile still tilting his lips upward at the corners.

Nothing like being called names on a Monday in mid-October in downtown Ridley Ridge. And the fellow who shouted at me had seemed such a pleasant dude at first, smiling and nodding, despite the sandwich-board sign he wore as he marched up and down the walk. He held another sign, a placard he hoisted high and proud announcing that all of Ridley Ridge was bound for Hell, its inhabitants the spawn of Satin (perhaps being born of a silkworm?), and were condemmed (yes, spelled that way) to etermity (those ns and ms will confuse you every time) in a lake of fire.

I may have called Ridley Ridge the center of hell, true—at times it does appear to be the cesspit of western New York State, with trash blowing along the street and doggie doo just waiting to be stepped in—but some of its inhabitants are lovely people and don’t deserve such a heated fate. Others do, but that is sad, and I try not to reflect on sad things on lovely October mornings.

“Jezebel!” he said again, as if I had failed to hear the first time, or the second time.

“Now, you don’t even know me.” I opened my plastic container and held it out, temptingly, wafting the fragrance of home-baked goodies his way. “Maybe you’re hungry. Or constipated. Have a bran muffin; it’ll solve both problems.”

“God has told me; you’re going to hell,” he said pleasantly, nodding earnestly. “You are abusing God’s grace on earth. You’re a made-up, pant-wearing Jezebel!”

Pant-wearing? Well, yes, I was wearing a pair of pinstripe Lane Bryant body-hugging slacks, with a tunic top and moto jacket. But women had been free to wear pants for decades now; how nineteen fifties of him to disapprove. And makeup . . . ? I don’t leave home without it. How very odd to have verbal brimstone rained down upon me by such a seemingly mild-mannered dude. I pushed my hair out of my eyes—the fall breeze was stiffening—and observed him. I’ll confess to feeling such dissonance that I thought I was hearing sirens in my head, like a brain wave, until the whoop of a police car pulling up to the curb and letting the siren blare in one brief blast told me it was real.

A female police officer, short but looking like she could bench press me and the kooky doomsayer, got out of the car, gave the zealot a look of disgust, and turned to me. “Ma’am, is he bothering you?”

I closed and tucked my plastic tote of muffins under my arm. “He did call me a jezebel, but that’s about it. Oh, and harlot! He did call me a harlot. Sticks and stones and all that.” I smiled. “And he didn’t want a muffin. I already asked.”

“Darn.” She seemed disappointed. Perhaps she would have liked it better if he’d hauled off and belted me. She turned to the street preacher, read his sign, and said, “Barney, I told you to lay off the crap. Now, why don’t you take your illiterate sign, go back to your encampment and leave all of us be?”

“You, Miss Police Officer, are the worst of all among the lost women of Ridley Ridge,” he said, waggling his finger at her, a smile plastered on his face. I could see now that he wore a cheery Hi. My Name Is Barney. Ask me about Salvation badge on his sandwich board, like someone marketing pricey herbal diet aids. Only he was apparently selling eternal afterlife, not just lengthy life on earth. “Usurping a man’s rightful place and wearing pants; disgusting,” he said to the cop, leering at her square, trim frame in neatly pressed khaki.

“All the better to agitate righteous types like you, Barney,” she said with a wry smile. “You should see me at the disco on a Friday night, dressed in sequins, waggling my tatas and bootie.”

He grimaced. I grinned.

“You should leave now, or I’ll cite you for loitering,” she said. “I’ve told you before to stop harassing folks. I won’t be so nice next time.”

“It’s against nature and God’s plan,” Barney said, as if she had not spoken. “My wife will never do that, wear pants, get a job. She knows her place, to provide for me whatever I so desire. That gun should be in the hands of your husband so he can keep you in line.”

“I’ll tell my husband that when we go out for target practice this weekend and I beat him on bull’s-eyes. He’ll laugh his ass off. Now go on . . . go,” she said sternly. “Beat it! Out of town. I have a badge and a gun; I’m not afraid to use either.”

That slimy smile, worse than any sneer, wedged on his unpleasantly moist mouth, he nodded, then waved to a fellow nearby, who was stapling the pamphlets to telephone poles, and trotted over to him. They bent together, whispering. I squinted, thinking I recognized the guy who had joined him, but he turned away before I could get a good look. They hustled away together, quickening into a gallop as a van with the words “The Message is with Us—Follow Us to Salivation!” painted on the side pulled up to the curb. He climbed in after it, as did the other fellow.

“What’s his problem?” I asked, about the guy who had called me a jezebel.

“Barney? Me,” the officer said, turning to me after the van sped off. “And you, and the whole of our sex who don’t conform to ankle-length dresses, long hair and modestly downturned gazes. We are to procreate, work for our master, and nothing more. That is the mission of the Light and the Way Ministry.”

“Oh well,” I said, walking away with a cheerful wave. “Nothing to do with me!”

Right then I should have known; nothing good comes of being cheerful in Ridley Ridge. Saying it was none of my business was like a cosmic taunt, a dare to the universe to come mess with me.

(Note: This interview will have a Part 2 Follow Up in a few months when the next book in the Vintage Kitchen series launches)

***

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

Posted on Updated on

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

Posted on

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…

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: Casket Cache by Janice J. Richardson

Posted on

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.

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 Crosby & Wine Country Mysteries

Posted on Updated on

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.

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

Posted on Updated on

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.

add-to-goodreads-button.png
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.

Neil Patrick Harris Thanks GIF by bubly - Find & Share on GIPHY
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.