Murder

Book Review: The Church Murders by Lisa Reynolds

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The Church Murders (Rory Murphy Mysteries #1)The Church Murders by Lisa Reynolds

If you’ve every perused the list of books I’ve read, you’ll quickly notice I tend to read A LOT in certain genres, but I also have very broad ranges and try to sample from them all. When I came across The Church Murders, the first book in the Rory Murphy Mysteries, by Lisa Reynolds, it sounded like a unique story. I know the blogger from reading and reviewing similar books, so I decided to purchase this one on Amazon earlier this month. When I realized it’s only ~60 pages and a short intro to the larger story, I slid it into a very busy October reading schedule and completed it yesterday.

To start with, for the plot and setting alone, I would recommend the book. As the author’s first book in the series, she’s working through a few approaches to get them set where she wants them (I’ve been there before!) and I appreciate all the effort going into making her voice and style perfect. Our leading sleuth, newly thrust into the role, is a disabled young gay man living in Ireland and then England (I believe). We learn a little of his backstory which essentially consists of an accident that left him in a wheelchair and feeling as if he’ll never find love. Out at a pub, Rory and his friends discuss a recent murder that occurred in a church. Rory was secretly in love with his caretaker turned friend, but the guy has a boyfriend already. Fast-forward a few weeks/months, Rory’s met someone and is finally relaxing a bit except a few more murders have occurred. He’s compelled to investigate them and works with his friends only to discover the killer might be one of them.

So… given this is a short novella intro, I don’t want to spoil much more of the plot. It combines elements of religion, sex, revenge, doubt, and love. What I saw in this book is the potential for a really strong series surrounding Rory and his friends. It’s one of the few where I’ve found a leading gay man, a leading disabled man, and a no-holds-back approach to discussing religion in a mystery book. I really liked these aspects and look forward to sampling more from the author. Given how short the first one is, I can easily say it was fully packed with twists and turns. If the author expands into longer novels from here, I think it will work out really well. This was a good story, but it definitely leaves you wanting more drawn-out action… so I’ll be picking up the next one in the series in the upcoming months to see how things progress!

If you want to check out more on the author and her blog which always has great posts, reviews, and other fun things… find her on Facebook and WordPress through these links. Thanks for sharing these characters with us, Lisa. I look forward to more soon.

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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. 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.

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Book Review: Christmas Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke

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Christmas Cake Murder (Hannah Swensen #23)Christmas Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am finally caught up on the Hannah Swensen cozy mystery series by Joanne Fluke. I finished reading Christmas Cake Murder, the 23rd of 24 books, published in the last year. The next one is in ARC form and I’m hoping to get my hands on it soon as I’d rather not wait until early 2019 when it’s formally published. Overall, I’d give it 4 stars as it had a lot of the traditional elements we normally love in these books, but the mystery was very different.

The book takes place before the first one in the series actually took place. It’s the beginning tale of how Hannah got started at The Cookie Jar. The story is a reflection on all the major characters we’ve come to love and shows us what happened when Lars, Hannah’s father, passed away. We also see how Delores reacted, what drove Andrea to become a real estate agent, and how Michelle was in high school. It was lots of fun and helped provide us with some wonderful and tender moments about this beautiful family.

It was also a bit repetitive for regular readers as we knew 25% of this content already. I can overlook that tho, as I like the setting and relationships. The other big piece of the book was a different sorta mystery where a local citizen, Essie, has an accident (truly, an accident) and is in the hospital. Hannah finds her journal and reads the book Essie had been writing. Is it about herself? Someone else in Lake Eden? Completely made up? We find out in the last chapter as the entire time we’re meandering along, we’re clueless, too. Once we find out, it’s nice closure for this book but doesn’t really connect to all the others in the series in terms of the mystery. Part of me was hoping to learn a fun fact about a new connection among the town’s inhabitants. I sadly didn’t.

That said, normal recipes look good. Everything else is spot-on. But it’s just a re-cap book with a little bit of new content… I judge it on that merit rather than give it a poor rating because it didn’t have a mystery. That was never what Fluke intended… and I’m glad I had this chance to read a bit more about Hannah’s younger years. It’s worth a read but not necessary to read in order. It could even be read first. Okay, off to find an ARC of the latest book. Wow… I completed another series (just about, don’t deny me this fact please – LOL)!

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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. 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: The Trouble With Witches by Shirley Damsgaard

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The Trouble With Witches (Ophelia & Abby, #3)The Trouble With Witches by Shirley Damsgaard

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When it comes to reading cozy mysteries, I enjoy interesting settings and sometimes even a little magic. There’s something fun about the lighthearted mystery combined with witchcraft or the occult. One of the first series I began reading years ago was the Ophelia & Abby mystery series by Shirley Damsgaard. I read two back in 2015/16 but then got pulled into a different direction. I’m on a quest to catch up on all series I’ve started so that I am current, then I’ll take on a few new ones. This month, I went back to it with the third installment, The Trouble With Witches. It was a good, solid mystery with a likable cast and setting, but I remember it being a bit better in the earlier two.

Abby and Ophelia are grandmother and granddaughter who are also modern day witches. They solve crimes and butt heads with the local police in an Iowa town. In this caper, they’re pulled to Minnesota to investigate a possible disappearance when a news reporter whom Ophelia has a little crush on asks for their help. A girl has gone missing and might be in a cult of witches. Rick, the news reporter, knows Abby and Ophelia’s secret, but he’s careful not to tell anyone else. The ladies take a road trip and discover a nice family, a mean family, Native American on a walkabout of sorts, and a poor almost-orphaned girl. How does it all come together? Someone ends up murdered. A past magician’s secrets are revealed. But who’s connected to whom in this scheme?

Overall, it was a good read and took about 3 hours to finish today. I like the magical aspects of it as they’re mostly about spells and mental connections. It challenges readers to think outside the box, but it also offers an opportunity to see a different approach to solving a puzzle. I was a little thrown off that they went to a different state, and there weren’t any normal characters from their town in this one other than the policeman and the news reporter on a couple of occasions. In the end, it was a good read, but I preferred the earlier ones. I will pick up another one next month to see if I’m ready to finish the series or say I’m done for now. I’ve given this one 3.5 stars and will round up or down on various sites to balance it out.

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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. 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 Very Mersey Murder by Brian L. Porter

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A Very Mersey Murder (Mersey Murder Mysteries Book 5)A Very Mersey Murder by Brian L. Porter

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One thing’s for sure, I’m a fan of mystery series. When I find a new one I like, such as the Mersey Murder Mysteries, I have to devour them all. I usually read in order, but I found this one after several books had been published, so now I’m backtracking to catch up before #6 comes out soon. Today, I’m reviewing A Very Mersey Murder by Brian L. Porter.

The series focuses on a core group of British policemen and policewomen who handle special crimes–usually ones with complexity and longevity. In this edition, the first series of crimes happen in 1966 when three women were brutally attacked and killed. We read in the first few chapters what happens to one of the victims after she leaves a pub to walk home in a very quiet town. It’s not so quiet anymore. Then we jump 39 years later to when the murders start happening again in the same exact method and order. If what happened in the past rings true again, the third victim will be a policewoman. Will one of our beloved Mersey heroines say a final goodbye? Add in a few chapters where someone in the current time frame has found the killer’s old journal… and shares a little about the creepy nut’s imagination and emotional state. Is it the killer reading from the journal, or just someone else who found it? You’ll never guess until the very end!

Of the three I’ve read, this is by far my favorite in the series. Porter adeptly creates a believable and charismatic set of characters who work together to solve major crimes. Sometimes they fight, sometimes they bond. But they always try to find the killer in as little time as possible. When we meet some of the victims and her friends, colleagues and acquaintances, we feel a connection to the story and the lives being impacted by the crime. Add in some side stories with adoption, illegitimate children, gender identity issues, unrequited love, and friendship, the entire book is so well-rounded, I found it hard to put down.

At times, Porter’s story is visceral and graphic, but also tasteful. Some readers may shy away from the gory details and delicate topics being covered, but if you can handle them, you’ll be thrilled with how this comes together. Just when you think you’ve figured out who the culprit could be 39 years ago and who it is today, you’re thrown another curveball. Up until the very end, you’re not sure if it’s the same person, two different relatives, a copycat, or just a random series of events. That’s good writing, plot development, and suspense!

I encourage everyone to read Porter’s books, but I must say… I’m old-school and traditional — read them in order so you can cherish and enjoy all the little nuggets along the way. It’s not necessary, as each is a standalone mystery novel, but you’ll get to know the characters even better if you see them age and understand their relationships. Regardless, they’re well-drawn, complicated, and full of life. You know their likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses. Kudos to Porter for continuing to push his readers and deliver quality story with powerful messages and imagery. And if you just want a standalone murder mystery, this will still be a fantastic one to enjoy.

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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. 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: In Want of a Knife by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli

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In Want of a Knife (A Little Library Mystery #3)In Want of a Knife by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Last month, In Want of a Knife, the 3rd book in the “A Little Library Mystery” series written by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli, was available to read and review through a cozy mystery group I belong to. I was excited to try it because she was a new author to me and it involved libraries. I picked up the novel earlier this week and finished it over the course of two days. I normally prefer to read books in order but my October reads were too hefty to add in the two earlier books in the series.

The cover and setting are adorable. One of the main characters is a little person, which made for a different and positive read. The concept of the library is wonderful, and since it takes place in Michigan, where a few good friends live, it felt like a book I might really enjoy. Overall, I did like the story and the general writing style, but I struggled with the characters and the point of view.

The backstory and current mystery were strong. I clearly understood the plight of the victims and the reason for the murders (not that I agreed with it of course – bad people!). I suspected a couple of folks but ultimately knew where it was going given how some of the story played out. It still kept me interested and offered a few surprises near the end. Reading a few chapters from the victim before anything else happened was a nice treat I don’t often see in this sub-genre. Although, I’m not exactly sure it falls into the ‘cozy’ sub-genre as it had a few heavier aspects to it.

Another new style for me was the changing POV and perspective of the characters both within a chapter and from chapter to chapter. That’s not typical for a cozy. It works normally in thrillers or suspense novels, but because it jumped around a lot, I couldn’t quite latch on to a character which is normally something I really like in a cozy. The characters were also a little too standoffish / at arms-length-away for me. At times, we connected, but in general, they weren’t people I was familiar with and they didn’t seem to be a very warm and inviting group. Unfortunately, it made that part of the book a bit of a difficult read.

All that said, the author is a good writer. She weaves a good plot and has wonderful descriptions, pacing, and tone. I am going to check out more reviews of this book and the others in the series before I decide to read the rest. I want to be sure the book series is a good match for my reading style. Sometimes it’s a good book but doesn’t workout well for certain readers. Given that, I think it falls around a 3.5 for me, but I rounded up for stars. I hope others enjoy it.

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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. 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: Banana Cream Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke

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I’m starting to get a little sad… this book, Banana Cream Pie Murder, is the 21st of 24 cozy mystery novels written in the Hannah Swensen series by Joanne Fluke. I’ve only got three more left! I was awarded the next two via NetGalley, and I’ll need to buy the last one when it’s released this fall… then I’ll have to wait months. Oh no! I’ve managed not to read any spoilers on what’s happened in the next three books, nor share anything too big in my reviews to ruin it for others, but based on the way this one ended, with the first major cliffhanger ever, I’m worried! Is it all a sham? Oh no!
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In this caper, Hannah’s newly married after finally choosing one of her three suitors throughout the series. She picked the least likely one, and something tells me that there’s a reason for it in the future books. As she settles into married life, she asks the basic questions: Do I have to cook dinner for him? Should we tell each other everything? Will he put me first always? Interesting ideas… I mean, I get she comes from a town where many of the women look at it as their responsibility to cook their husband’s dinner, so I don’t take any offense to it (nor should others as this is representing something ‘traditional’ from the past — not necessarily correct or something to promote as good, but still… it fits with the series and character type. On the flip side, she also says “I’ll do what I want with my own time, I’m not tied to the hip with him.” At least she stood up for herself there!

That said… the mystery was good up until the finish. Talk about a dark horse coming in to be the killer in the last 2 chapters. The process of elimination for other suspects was clever and good as usual, but I did feel a tad bit gipped in the end. Hmm… why is GR telling me gipped isn’t a word? Oh well… back to the review. I’d have liked to see something a little stronger, but the rest of the book was hilarious and fun to watch all the character development. Delores found the body this time. Michelle is turning out to be the best sister ever. The mayor is the scapegoat for everything. And wow… where is this police force? Always missing until Hannah’s caught the killer. Ha!

Can’t wait for more… it’s my self-indulging silly and entertaining fun! 🙂

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: Christmas Caramel Murder by Joanne Fluke

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If you’ve been following my reviews closely for the last few months, you’re probably thinking… how many baking murder books does this guy read? Or how many did that Joanne Fluke author woman write? Well… the Hannah Swensen series is up to ~25 in 2018. I’ve just finished reading #20 entitled Christmas Caramel Murder. I have the next three on my Kindle to read this fall, but I want to be fully caught up so I can get back to many other series I also enjoy. As for this one, it’s a shorter novella version but still packs quite a little punch around Christmas season. It’s a good one to read as you start thinking about the upcoming holidays, but for now, I’m still thinking about Halloween and fall so I wouldn’t allow myself to totally immerse.

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It’s written as backstory which was a different kind of read. The first and last chapters are appended to the main story, allowing Fluke to use current relationships in Hannah’s life without confusing readers. Essentially, Hannah’s telling the story to her new husband about what happened the prior year’s Christmas. I stopped myself from trying to find any timeline issues in case something happened in this book that was different since the last few, but the story on the whole is fun, so it wouldn’t matter if it had.

Herb, Lisa’s husband, is playing Santa Claus in the town Christmas play. Lisa is Hannah’s best friend and partner at The Cookie Shop. Herb’s ex-girlfriend has returned to town and is cast as Mrs. Claus, but the naughty kind. Serves her right, she ends up dead! Unfortunately, it looks like Lisa is the culprit because she was jealous when the ex kisses Herb in the play. Throw in a some high school memories, old rivalries, and teachers who want to help keep their students focused, and you’ve got a case full of shenanigans.

I enjoyed the read… less than 90 minutes as it was barely 100 pages once you remove the recipes. Someday I will cook a few from them. I do like caramel, but that’s hard to get right. Next up is banana cream pie murder… my favorite kind of…. PIE. Did you think I’d say murder? Obviously you know me well. 🙂

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.