louisiana

Book Review: All Hats on Deck by Sandra Bretting

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All Hats on DeckAll Hats on Deck by Sandra Bretting
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

All Hats on Deck is the fifth book in the Missy DuBois cozy mystery series written by Sandra Bretting. I’ve read and enjoyed the previous four books, so I had to get the latest one when it was released. The series takes place on the bayou in Louisiana and follows a milliner (hat designer) who mostly designs creations for upscale weddings. She and her fiance, a dressmaker, also find themselves smack in the middle of finding dead bodies. This time, Missy is on her own when she discovers a friend floating in the river. Someone we’ve come to know across the books was murdered, and it’s definitely sad.

Ruby, an older woman with wise advice who will curse you if you cross her, is found off the dock near her house, swimming with the alligators. Her grandson Hollis tries to save her, but he’s too late. Someone wanted her property, and they were willing to kill for it. Was it the river boat owner, the captain, the mayor, an old flame, her grandson, a visitor in town… there are quite a few angles for Missy to investigate. At the same time, Missy’s trying to figure out her own wedding plans and prevent a new hat shop from opening in Bleu Bayou. She doesn’t mind the competition, but it’s obvious the other owner is out to get Missy and is not a very good hat maker. It could ruin both their reputations, so Missy must protect everything around her.

Of all the books, I enjoyed Missy’s character the most in this one. She’s become more endearing, and I enjoy the southern dialect and fun sayings. I’m still not convinced of her relationship with Ambrose, as I see more of a spark with Lance. I might be in the minority on that one. I did like how she almost mothered 18-year-old Hollis, and it showed lots of potential for her future. The setting is always gorgeous and makes you want to visit a plantation or large southern estate. It also convinced me why I’ll never swim in those waters. Hollis and Missy had a conversation about swimming with the alligators that was quite similar to one I had with my other half who is from Louisiana. Nope, ain’t ever doin’ it, thank you very much. I’m with Missy on this one.

As for the mystery, it was good. There were plenty of suspects and lots of different turns to take between how Ruby died, who had it in for her, what they wanted her property for, and which person was actually trying to protect her. I do think it ended more abruptly than I prefer, as I would’ve liked to explore all the whys and hows, especially with the history of some of the characters. I also liked the subplot with the hat shop, which is unresolved, so I know we’ll get more of that in the next book. I do enjoy something fun to look forward to.

Another fun installment… and I’ll keep reading this series. Thanks for entertaining me for a few hours with the latest edition.

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 five books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, Mistaken Identity Crisis, and Haunted House Ghost. 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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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 five books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, Mistaken Identity Crisis, and Haunted House Ghost. 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: Fatal Cajun Festival by Ellen Byron

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Fatal Cajun Festival: A Cajun Country MysteryFatal Cajun Festival: A Cajun Country Mystery by Ellen Byron
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fatal Cajun Festival is the fifth book in the ‘Cajun Country Mystery’ cozy series written by Ellen Byron. I was lucky enough to get an early copy through NetGalley and happened to be current in the series so I could begin reading it this week. It will be published in early fall but you can pre-order it now via Amazon. Byron has another success on her hands, and I truly enjoyed the latest edition in this adorable and engaging series about crimes occurring on a Louisiana plantation.

Maggie’s grandmother helped organize a music festival in Pelican. A rising country singer who used to live in Pelican returns to sing for her hometown. In the days before her performance, we meet all the people in her band or running her team, then learn one of them is a former rival of Maggie’s good friend, Gay. Unfortunately, someone in the band causes trouble for a few people and winds up dead. Another person is attacked, and everything points to Gay. Maggie knows it’s not true, and even fakes a break-up with her fiance police detective, Bo, so she can unearth the scoop. Will she be successful, or will someone feed her to the alligators and snakes first?

Music and a southern Louisiana plantation go hand-in-hand. The drama that unfolds is clever and messy (in a good way) — there are a variety of strong suspects with believable alibis and motives. One of them is clearly being faked, but it’s not obvious at first. There are complex layers afoot in this mystery, and we only learn how everyone is connected, by accident, near the end. What an interesting way to assemble a band! Byron has created a compelling story with memorable characters, all the while dazzling us with subplots and side-stories about Maggie’s friends and families who aren’t involved directly in the murder mystery. For instance, Gran learns something about her late husband, and it changes her future. Maggie makes a decision about her own relationship’s future. And a few other characters get some unexpected surprises. Great way to keep viewers entertained while solving an investigation.

Byron’s books are easy to read. She wraps up her subplots. We see lots of characters who move the story along. And we never feel overwhelmed or confused. It’s a strong balance of all the things that belong in a cozy. It’s one of the series I’ve stayed super-current on so I can read the books when they first become available, rather than wait months or years to catch up. I look forward to the next one! Hurry up, please. 🙂

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 five books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, Mistaken Identity Crisis, and Haunted House Ghost. 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: Murder at Morningside by Sandra Bretting

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Murder at Morningside (Missy DuBois Mystery #1)Murder at Morningside by Sandra Bretting

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Murder at Morningside is the debut book in the Missy DuBois Mystery series written by Sandra Bretting. Missy is a wedding hat designer in Louisiana who is in love with her best friend Ambrose, a wedding dress designer, and who has a penchant for being a little too nosy and finding dead bodies. After I won the third and fourth books in a giveaway contest last year, I read them and thought they were good. I wanted to catch up on the beginning before the fifth one is released in the future, so here we go…

In this caper, Missy and Ambrose are staying at an inn where a couple is being married. They are onsite for final wedding ensemble fittings and preparation but taking advantage of the old southern home’s beautiful buildings and grounds. After overhearing a few odd conversations, they enter a hat contest to see if it will help grow Missy’s start-up business. During the opening ceremony, Missy comforts a distraught woman who can’t find her stepdaughter. She’s later found by a maid, but the girl is dead in a bathroom stall — it’s the bride Missy and Ambrose were working for but had never met! Missy gets to know the staff, family, and friends at the estate and finds herself suspecting a few people of affairs, gaslighting, and intent to harm. But which one really did the bride in? Missy discovers the truth with the help of her high school friend who’s now a detective in the parish.

As far as mysteries, it’s good. There are red herrings, strong clues, misunderstandings, and interesting discoveries. I enjoyed learning about the history of the area during the Civil War and how different kinds of hats are created. Missy is a vivid character with all the typical amateur sleuth personality traits and portrayed as a bold southern woman (maybe a little too much exaggeration, but I’m not from the South, so I can’t be 100% certain). That said, I felt some of the writing and ways in which Missy got her information were a bit forced or stilted. I remember thinking the same thing in the other books I read. It’s not bad, just borders on awkward in certain sections. I still want to read the full series as there’s a lot of dimension and detail in the settings, relationships, and characters which draw you in easily.

Bretting is strong in describing action and culture, and she has a good grasp of when and how to throw in southern slang or common vernacular. A few times it made me cock my head a bit in curiosity, but I’ve actually heard some of these sayings so it’s more just that it’s a difference place than I’m used to. That’s what makes it fun as I feel transported somewhere else while reading her books. The cover is snappy and cute. The series has a good hook. I gotta wonder what’s ultimately gonna happen between Ambrose and Missy, as in books three and four, they seem to be dating. In book one, she’s in love with him and he’s smitten. Maybe when I read book two, I’ll figure it all out. But he’s definitely got something he’s hiding…

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 novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. 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.

Book Review: Mardi Gras Murder by Ellen Byron

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Mardi Gras Murder (Cajun Country Mystery, #4)Mardi Gras Murder by Ellen Byron

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was really excited to read Mardi Gras Murder by Ellen Byron after winning a copy via a cozy mystery review group I belong to. I was so excited that I ordered the first three books in the Cajun Country series to catch up and read them all last month. Finally… today I cracked open the fresh hard cover release of this fourth wonderful gem and finished it moments ago. Dinner doesn’t need to be cooked for another 30 minutes so it’s time to write a review! All I can say is Byron knows how to pull in her readers with a fury and passion. Loved it… 5 stars all the way!

In this caper, our wonderful heroine, Maggie, found the body in the bayou behind her plantation home three weeks before the book started. And it wasn’t someone she’d ever met before — hooray, the poor girl got a break… except she can’t keep herself from investigating it. This time I blame it entirely on Gran’ who gets sick and convinces Maggie to take her place as a judge in the Miss Pelican contest (okay, a slightly different name but I prefer this one!). After a minor confrontation with another judge, Maggie finds him dead in his car. Throw in some baby drama, a mysterious painting pointing to a hidden treasure, curious genealogical history, and a beauty contest like no other, and we’ve got a fantastic novel.

Maggie’s truly become one of my favorite amateur sleuths. She’s smart and risky but not stupid and dangerous. She’s loving but not overly sweet. She’s intellectual but makes a fool of herself. I kinda wanna meet her in real life… wait, is this Ellen Byron? Hmmm… I might have to become an amateur sleuth and investigate for myself. (Don’t worry, I’m not gonna go stalk anyone!) This series has so much potential, but I’m actually a bit upset and just realized it right now. This book isn’t officially available for purchase until 11/26/18 which means the next one likely one be available until November 2019. What? I have to wait a year to read the next caper… ugh, gonna go sulk!

Psst… Ellen B – if you happen to read this, can I be a beta reader for your next book? PLEASE!

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. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and 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 –and multiple Readathons. 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: A Cajun Christmas Killing by Ellen Byron

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A Cajun Christmas Killing (Cajun Country Mystery #3)A Cajun Christmas Killing by Ellen Byron

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m thrilled to be caught up on the Cajun Country Mystery series by Ellen Byron. I won the 4th book in a contest and will be reading it next month, but beforehand I had to read the first three. I just finished A Cajun Christmas Killing and absolutely loved it. Byron is top-notch when it comes to this genre, and I’ve read hundreds of books to know what I’m talking about!

Maggie’s family’s b&b is in trouble again. Luckily no one’s died on her property, but one of her guests dies on the family plantation that they sold a few years earlier. Will they ever get a break? A ruthless NYC businessman with a penchant for annoying people turns up stabbed to death. Was it his disinterested wife? A loving step-brother? An ex? A nephew? A business partner? Or someone with a different connection who wanted him gone for treachery in the past? It’s convoluted but that’s always the best kind of mystery. Throw in Christmas bonfires, Maggie’s romance with Bo, her ex-bf returning much to her chagrin, and a proposal from someone new, and she’s gonna be grilled herself.

Byron creates superb characters. They leap off the page and demand to be heard. Sometimes you love them, other times you want to strangle them. But you will always feel something for them. The pages turn themselves, it’s so easy and natural. Rarely if ever do I find a dull scene or anything transitory. Everything has a purpose whether it’s about the main mystery or the progression of the core character set. I am so excited to start the next one in the series for my review group. If you’ve never sampled this series, it’s a must read!

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. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and 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 –and multiple Readathons. 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: Body on the Bayou by Ellen Byron

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Body on the Bayou (Cajun Country Mystery, #2)Body on the Bayou by Ellen Byron

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

After devouring the first book in the Cajun Country Mystery cozy series by Ellen Byron, I had to jump on the second, Body on the Bayou. It’s quickly becoming one of my new favorites series, and I definitely recommend it for other cozy mystery fans. Set in Louisiana on a plantation home converted into a B&B, the charming setting and characters truly invoke a wonderful southern atmosphere while sharing and spreading great history and relationships among the town of Pelican.

In this caper, Maggie is forced into serving as the maid of honor for a rival-turned-friend (Vanessa) from the last book. She and the groom’s family have been at odds for 150 years due to a curse one of them brewed up. When Vanessa’s extended family comes into town, she sticks them on Maggie as part of the responsibilities for the maid of honor. Unfortunately, a few of them turn up dead! Maggie tries to solve the case, grows more attracted to the new detective Bo, and determines who she really wants to be. Will she be able to help bring a long-lost family member back to the fold? Or will she get caught up in the downside of a wedding not meant to happen easily?

Byron is a talented writer with tons of humor ingested into dialog and narrative. It sometimes crosses the line into witty or stomach-cramping clearly showing great range in how to keep your readers invested and entertained. The pages are easy to follow, I digested this one in under 3 hours. It’s got 4.5 stars from me… the only reason I didn’t give it a full five was parts of the story were a little forced — nonetheless, it made for fantastic reading and shouldn’t worry anyone. This is a very solid series. I can’t wait to devour the next one in a week as I try to catch up on this awesome cast of characters so I can read the ARC for the latest one next month.

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. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and 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 –and multiple Readathons. 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.