mystery

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…

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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 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.

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Book Review: A Deadly Eclair by Daryl Wood Gerber

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A Deadly Éclair (A French Bistro Mystery, #1)A Deadly Éclair by Daryl Wood Gerber

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

A Deadly Eclair is the debut book in the ‘A French Bistro Mystery’ series written by Daryl Wood Gerber. I read the second book in this series earlier in the year after winning it in a giveaway contest. I enjoyed the characters and setting which led me to starting the series from the beginning. There’s something about the Napa Valley atmosphere full of wine, food, and culture that makes the books easy-to-read, immersive, and charming. I’ve been to many of the places being described or noted which helps ensure an even tighter connection to the story and the characters. It also helps that the books are well-written with the right balance of humor and knowledge (about wine, food, relationships, France).

Mimi’s husband died several years ago leaving her broke. After settling his debt and untying her emotional loss over all his lies, she moved back home to start anew. This book kicks off many months later once she’s decided to open a restaurant with the backing of a new partner, Bryan. He’s a pseudo-father figure for Mimi who lost her dad years ago. Bryan asks her to manager his niece’s wedding as part of her first few events. All goes smoothly until Bryan is found dead with one of Mimi’s famous desserts in his mouth… and, oh yeah, some jewels. Mimi’s surrounded by his family, his niece’s soon-to-be husband’s family, and some interesting friends. Which one of them had a past connection to Bryan that led to murder?

Throw in some wonderful side stories with how Mimi bonds with her new staff, opens her heart to going on a date for the first time, makes new friends, helps her mom overcome some new steps in her life, and tries to earn a living despite a few wondering if she killed Bryan to kick him out of her business. She’s tough, but caring. She’s a little nosy for my tastes, but it’s often typical of these types of series. Mimi has an investment in knowing who killed Bryan since it relates to her new inn, but at times, I felt like she grilled people a bit too much. Especially when they were her guests and she was trying to succeed with her new business. She’d annoy someone in one chapter, then they were friendly with her again in the next one. Maybe I just hold grudges a bit too long!

Now that I’ve devoured two, I can say I’m a series fan and look forward to the third which I assume will be published in mid-2019. I’ll be on the lookout for joining the blog tour or ARC team if possible.

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: Death on Windmill Way by Carrie Doyle

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Death on Windmill Way: Volume 1 (Hamptons Murder Mysteries)Death on Windmill Way: Volume 1 by Carrie Doyle

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

There are lots of reasons why I choose a novel. For instance, I won a giveaway last year for the second book in the Hamptons Murder Mystery series written by Carrie Doyle and enjoyed reading it. Given the author doesn’t live too far from me in NYC and I’ve been to the Hamptons where the books take place, it felt like a good match… so I’m reading the series from the beginning starting with the first one, Death on Windmill Way. 4.5 stars to this wonderful gem that helped me jump out of a small reading slump last week where I tried three books and couldn’t get into any of them. This one left me excited to read again, and I’ll soon be picking up the next in series to keep moving forward.

Antonia moved to the Hamptons ~8 months earlier on a whim. She’d been in an awful relationship, lived in California, and needed a fresh start. She purchased an inn (sight unseen) based on a friend’s suggestion and immediately remodeled it. When the book kicks off, she’s just re-opened post-summer season to good reviews but is still struggling to make ends meet. Antonia slowly learns of a curse haunting past owners of the inn which steers her in the direction of researching the history she should’ve learned about before buying the place (she knows she messed up, too!). Unfortunately, she learns the curse is more than just a rumor – someone has been killing them, but why? Between former and new staff at the inn, some residents in the town, a few friends she makes, and the local reporter, Antonia uses her ingenuity to solve the case. The police aren’t even involved until a second murder takes place, but since it looks like an accident at first, they’re not inclined to do much.

My absolute favorite part of the book occurs when Antonia gathers all the suspects together at a dinner party and one by one picks them off… um, I mean… reveals their secrets or explains why they could be the killer. She leaves someone for last, and it’s a doozy! I had two possible culprits in mind, and I was right with one of them. That said, it’s not obvious, and the weaving in and out of everyone’s alibis and motives is truly a great story. Antonia is a strong lead character, very well developed, but with a few personality traits that might irk some. She’s a tad judgmental (equally against all people in an understandable way) but overly honest and dedicated. I really look forward to see how she develops over the series and getting to meet the rest of the regulars in the town.

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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. There are two books: Academic Curveball and Broken Heart Attack. 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: Deadly Dram by Melinda Mullet

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Deadly Dram  (Whisky Business Mystery #3)Deadly Dram by Melinda Mullet

My rating: 4.25 of 5 stars

Deadly Dram is the third book in the Whisky Business cozy mystery series written by Melinda Mullet and was published in 2018. The series takes place in Scotland with a focus on Abi Logan who’s returned home from a photojournalism job to address the death of her uncle. In this third book, Abi’s been co-running the distillery and is on a business trip to attend an award ceremony that might earn her company and whisky a valued prize. Members of the judging committee are murdered one by one which leaves Abi worried for her best friend, Patrick, who’s now on the committee to make a final decision.

When I read the first book in the series, I was enamored with the culture, characters, charm, and setting of the books. I got pulled in many directions with other required reads and didn’t catch up until recently on the second and third books, but I’m glad I did. They’re just as wonderful (if not more) and really leave me thirsting for the fourth one which hopefully comes out in mid-2019. You’re immediately transported to Scotland between the language, the background, and the complexity in all the relationships. I would love to read this book while driving around a distillery one day in the future just to feel even more connected.

The mystery is very strong. There are multiple suspects with a variety of motives. Just when you start suspecting someone, they end up dead. The side stories are intricately woven into the main story and ultimately all collide together. The romance angles are downplayed in the book, but there’s a few sparks Abi shares with others. (When’s Patrick gonna get his flirt on?) Liam (the dog) has a huge role and is such a well-fleshed out character, I could feel him running around at the inn. He might have been my favorite. Kudos to Mullet for giving me a fantastic Monday afternoon read and bringing me out of a small reading slump.

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: Top Secret Twenty-One by Janet Evanovich

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Top Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum, #21)Top Secret Twenty-One by Janet Evanovich

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Top Secret Twenty-One in the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich has all the normal hilarious banter, sexual chemistry, and silliness as the ones in the past. It also offers a deeper look at Ranger’s past, Stephanie’s grandmother’s bucket list, and Joe Morelli’s tolerance level when it comes to Stephanie’s escapades. I believe in love, but if someone put me through what she puts him through, I’d probably disappear just to avoid any further impacts. She’s a barrel of laughs, but I couldn’t worry about someone 24/7 the way Ranger and Joe have to worry about her. While she can take care of herself from time to time, it’d be way too many trips to the hospital, jail, court, and car dealership for me. That said… while I couldn’t be her lover, I can definitely love her antics.

Oh, how I laughed. Last time it was the giraffe, this time is ten feral Chihuahua dogs who travel in a ferocious pack. At least she found homes for them all by the time the ~325 pages were up. Grandma Mazur looking into a boob job was a little much for me to handle, but I can appreciate the things people put on their bucket list. While the curse with Bella was a nice touch, I would’ve loved to see more of those side stories pulling together the rest of the book rather than the missing guy trying to kill off old women. The search for the culprit was fun, but the ending was a little too confusing and wrapped up neatly in a weird way. It needed more explanation rather than a rushed closure.

On to #22 next… then only 3 more to go and I’m current. I hope to get there before 2018 ends. Then which series do I go to: VI Warshawski, I’m about 5 behind there, too. Oops, 2018 is the year for serial catch up.

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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 mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. There are two books: Academic Curveball and Broken Heart Attack. 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: Takedown Twenty by Janet Evanovich

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Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum, #20)Takedown Twenty by Janet Evanovich

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Stephanie Plum series is like your regular Saturday evening movie… there are always some good moments, often you’ll encounter a few repetitive things, and occasionally exists the chance you might wet yourself! In Janet Evanovich’s latest installment (for me, I’m behind a few books) — #20, Takedown Twenty, here’s what you need to know: (a) a giraffe is wandering around Trenton, NJ, (b) a sicko is strangling elderly women, (c) you get attacked if you attend BINGO, (d) Stephanie’s guaranteed to be shot at nearly 10 times and her car stolen at least a handful more, and (e) you’ll want to kick Evanovich’s butt if she doesn’t give us another hot Ranger / Stephanie sex scene. Stop teasing me, Woman! (said in a very humorous way and not in a negative way!)

Some think the series has gotten old and tiresome. Others see it as too repetitive. As a stand-alone book, forgetting about any of the others, it’s a solid story worth 4+ star. I pull back a little with the shiners because it is a little too formulaic. I don’t mind some similarities but we’re approaching duplicate mode in some scenes even within the same book. Her car was stolen 4 times if I counted properly. I can take twice. Maybe a third if I’ve been drinking and forgot the first time. But 4’s pushing me, and I’m a forgiving reader.

That said, it’s still laugh out loud hilarious. And if I could find a new occupation just because I want to tell people what I do, it would be to act like Lula and say I’m a reformed ‘ho. I’m not sure I could pull off the sass, but it’s worth a try, right? I’m gonna do some research. I’ll be back with #21 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. My new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. There are two books: Academic Curveball and Broken Heart Attack. 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: Harrowing Hats by Joyce and Jim Lavene

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Harrowing Hats (A Renaissance Faire Mystery, #4)Harrowing Hats by Joyce Lavene

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It’s the final week in our readathon and I’ve just finished reading the fourth book in the Renaissance Faire Mystery series by Joyce and Jim Lavene — Harrowing Hats. As I’ve come to realize, each book gets better, but on the whole, I’m not an ardent fan of the series. I like some of the characters, the overall setting, and the general writing style, but there are too many aspects I didn’t like to make this a series I’d recommend to others. Part of me wants to continue to see what happens with Jessie, but it’s a big commitment to read the remaining 4 books. Perhaps I’ll change my mind in the future, but for now there are too many other series I want to continue to explore.

In Harrowing Hats, Jessie takes a job at a hat shop to continue her experiences preparing for her PhD program in Renaissance studies. She finds one of the three brothers who run the chocolate shop dead, then a few other crimes happen which make it look like her boss at the hat shop is responsible. It seems whomever she goes to work for is either found dead or accused of murder. Stay very far away everyone, or you might just find yourself a victim, too. 🙂

Jessie’s shenanigans with Chase are of the same sort. Sometimes they’re cute together. Other times, I want to strangle Jessie for the way she treats him. Occasionally, I want to bop Chase over the head for intentionally confusing Jessie or letting her harass him over it. These two… oy, if I were friends with them in real life, I’d drop them so quickly not even The Flash could stop me. Hopefully I got that reference right, as I’m not a huge superhero guy. I’d rather deal with amateur sleuths who charm me. 🙂

I’m glad I read a few of these books as it is definitely showing me the vast range in the cozy mystery genre. These are great for someone who cares less about the mystery and more about the setting. Hopefully others loved it more than me!

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.