mississippi

Book Review: The Silence of the Library by Miranda James

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

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

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

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

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

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Book Review: Out of Circulation by Miranda James

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Out of Circulation (Cat in the Stacks, #4)Out of Circulation by Miranda James
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Out of Circulation is the 4th book in the ‘Cat in the Stacks’ cozy mystery series written by Miranda James, a pseudonym for Dean James (and he has other ones too). I began reading the author’s work a few years ago and completed one of the other series (Southern Ladies) before finding my way back to this one. I am determined to catch up to the current book (#11) before the summer starts since I was recently awarded the latest on NetGalley. I’ve grown very fond of the author’s writing style, plots, and characters, and I look forward to each new one when it’s next in my queue.

Charlie Harris is ~52 and works at a library in the small town of Athena, Mississippi. He has two grown children and lost his wife years ago. He inherited a large home from an aunt who passed and continues to use it as a boarding house. Charlie also has a few pets, most prominently, Diesel, a ~35 lb. Maine Coon cat. I’ve been around the breed before as a friend of my father’s had one years ago — they do get huge! In this caper, we meet Dickce and An’gel, the two spinster sisters who become the focal point of the ‘Southern Sisters’ cozy series that Miranda James also writes. I really hope he publishes another one there, but… I was pleasantly surprised to see them as the main characters in Out of Circulation. Had I read the books properly in order, I would’ve been introduced to them before I read their separate series. Oops! You can do it this way, but I recommend reading in order.

This was my favorite book in this series so far. I love genealogical mysteries, and when I learned we’d be exploring the background of the Ducote sisters, I was psyched. A woman in their social circle is annoying everyone around her when it comes to various volunteer efforts in Athena. Of course, she winds up dead. I really didn’t like the woman, but there was a lovely call/letter with Charlie that made her seem a bit nicer. Did the sisters kill her? Doubtful, but Charlie must investigate. Unfortunately, it’s his housekeeper Azalea who looks most guilty. We learn what happened between the two women in the past, and since the normal deputy solving these crimes is Kanesha, Azalea’s daughter, she’s been removed from the investigation. Charlie and Kanesha had some run-ins in the previous books, so this was a great change of pace.

Author James is truly gifted at transporting readers to Mississippi and the southern lifestyle. Coming from the north, it’s a completely different way of life for me (although my other half is from Louisiana, so I do have some exposure). James has created vivid characters who leap off the pages either as friends or enemies right away. While I adore Diesel the cat, I’m possibly more fond of the various house guests at Charlie’s place. They provide a great deal of balance and color to the intensity of the crimes, but we also experience a variety of personalities to bring in some laughter.

The secret we learned in this book was fantastic. The hidden relationships were even better. I actually think there could be a sequel to understand more about the woman who died… what happened to her growing up to make her the way she was. We get some details, but it was so fascinating, I wanted more. I’m excited to find out what happens to Charlie’s kids in the next adventure given how this book ended – a nice small cliffhanger without rustling the boat too much. I’ll be reading the fifth one early next month. Kudos for a wonderful series that insists I finish it ASAP!

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: File M for Murder by Miranda James

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

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

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

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

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

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Book Review: Fixing to Die by Miranda James

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What’s not to love about two elderly spinster sisters who are more spry than many fifty-year-olds I know? Between the amazing southern charm, the ghost-hunting, the family drama over an inheritance, and a potentially new line of relatives, the fourth saga in the Southern Ladies Mystery series by Miranda James, Fixing to Die, has it all. Kudos to this fantastic series and author… 4.5 stars for this latest edition published in 2017. I’m sad to say I’m all caught up on this series, and the author has put it on hold per the publisher for a few years (2020?) to focus on another series about a Cat in the Stacks… I’ve finished 2 of 8 in that series but will pick up the rest this fall and winter. I’m very excited for both.

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So… ‘Fixing to’ anything is quite an expression. My family in Louisiana uses it all the time. I try to, but I fail given I can’t really claim southern roots just because I was born in Florida. Miranda James does not have to worry or extrapolate – it’s right on! These characters are fixing to do a lot of things that likely lead to murder. In this mystery, the Ducote sisters travel to Natchez to help the granddaughter of a friend who’s having some trouble in her bed and breakfast with objects moving around and mysterious temperature changes. Is there a ghost or a human causing all this drama? When her relatives show up trying to claim ownership over the house due to a long-lost will, it gets quite complicated. But then… a psychic randomly appears claiming the house is haunted. What do they all have to do with one another?

Miranda James excels at ambiance and captivating settings. The characters are also quite good, but in this one, it’s the ghost aspects that really pop. I really knew it was a human, as the series isn’t about ghosts, but there were quite a few characters who looked guilty. A major clue / red herring was thrown out about 50% thru and I thought for a moment, hmm… what’s going on here, why was this so easy. Well, I won’t give away any spoilers but there’s more going on across a few levels. It gets quite interesting and the pay-off in the end makes it worth it.

The addition of Benjy has been a fantastic story line. And the pets have such personality. It’s carefully woven into the story without any over-the-top aspects. A fine balance where it’s the story and the characters who keep drawing you back for more fun in this easy-to-picture world. I’m impressed by the variety in James’ world and look forward to reading more soon.

 

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: Digging Up the Dirt by Miranda James

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After clearing a major hurdle in my TBR with reading books I had promised reviews on, I’m now able to split my time with several existing authors and book series that I absolutely love to read and catch up on. One of those is the Southern Ladies cozy mystery series by Miranda James. This week, I read Digging Up the Dirt, published in 2016, where Dickce and An’gel are back in action sleuthing around… who wouldn’t love two ~80ish year old sisters in Mississippi with a penchant for discovering murderous drama and a flair for keeping things in order?

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When Hadley Partridge returns after a ~40 year absence, something is bound to happen in this small Mississippi town. Which of the grand bevy of older woman will win his affections? Or which of the women potentially killed his brother or sister-in-law years ago? In this truly cozy and enthralling caper, there’s a cast of wonderful and unique characters, gorgeous southern estates, and several liars! But which one is lying about more than a few ordinary things… Miranda James strikes gold in this series for me in this book by delivering a clever and hilarious plot that twists several times before you finally learn what really happened forty years ago.

James is a gifted writer who can transport you to a setting quite adeptly. I enjoy the difference yet similarities in the two sisters, but it’s the combination of their wit that makes these books sing. Often we have a single main character leading the investigation, but here, he’s got to handle two clever women who each approach the mystery from different angles. Throw in a dog, a cat, and a ward… you’ve got plenty of action going on besides the main mystery. I’m excited to catch up on this series and will be reading the 4th one next week.

If you need a fun new series with the perfect balance of mystery and town shenanigans, this is it!

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.

Review: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

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The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Book Review
4+ out of 5 stars for The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, a classic novel written in 1876 by Mark Twain. Another book where there are likely tons of reviews, each covering the plot, summary, characters, writing and themes. I’ll try not to do that, but instead a few quick hits on what made me like this one so much. An author’s job is difficult. You undoubtedly have hundreds of ideas and images swimming around inside your head. You may want to try to correct a wrong in society. You could be highlighting all the things that people should be aware of. It might be an opportunity to share a dream or wild imagination with readers. Mark Twain is all of those things tied together with a big, beautiful bow. He understands how to write. He knows how people read. He doesn’t care about either enough to worry what he does in his novels. And I don’t mean that in a critical or accusatory way. I mean that it all just pours out of him regardless of his audience, as he just naturally builds a wonderful story full of memories. With a setting like the Mississippi River, characters like Tom and Huck, messages like “how do you grow up to be a good man” threaded throughout the story, it couldn’t possibly fail. I’m not even covering the themes around slavery and freedom, men and women, skin color, age, relationships… it’s purely a theory on how to live your life so that you know what to expect, when to expect it and how to react. So much more I could say… but the best I could leave you with is… this is the kinda book everyone needs to read as we will all take something very different from it. Sometimes we will be angry that Twain didn’t do enough, considering how brilliant he was, to help support the causes going on at the time he wrote this. Others praise him for shining a light on what was happening. It’s controversial, diverse and thought-provoking. That’s why to read it — to engage in a discourse where you can feel free to share your opinion and understand every else’s feelings, too.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write 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 also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can 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. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

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Review: The Help

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The Help
The Help by Kathryn Stockett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this book at least 4 years ago, before I began to more consistently use Goodreads… and now I’m going back to ensure I have some level of a review for everything I read. It’s only fair… if the author took the time to write it, and I found a few hours to read it… I should share my views so others can decide if it’s a good book for them.

That said… did anyone not love or like this book? I’ll have to check out some other people’s reviews… And I wonder how many people just watched the movie… Oh well… I’ll keep this review short and not in my usual format, as probably everyone I’m friends with on here has already read it! 🙂

The only reason I’m not giving it a 5 is because I felt like some of the stories needed a better or stronger ending. I truly think it is a fantastic book, and it makes you really think about what happened in the not-so-distant past… and probably still happening in some parts of the country today. Scary thoughts, but in the end, at least the right people got something back they deserved, even if it wasn’t as much as it should have been.

The characters are very clear and strong. And when there are upwards of 10 to 12 supporting or lead female characters, an author has to spend a tremendous amount of time creating distinct pictures in a readers mind. Stockett did a great job with this task. Each and every one shows you a different personality: leaders and followers, movers and shakers, smart and silly, strong and weak, tolerant and intolerant, thirsty for all the world has to offer and content to stay the same for an entire lifetime.

When a writer can shuffle this many people throughout a story, they have invested themselves into the book, the characters, the setting, the theme, the future.

I haven’t read anything else by this author, but just thinking about this book, and realizing I haven’t looked at her other works makes me want to run to her profile now and pick one. Perhaps that’s what I’ll go do!



About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write 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 also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can 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. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

View all my reviews