My Reading Journey and Cozy Mystery Love, The Beginning…

https://www.facebook.com/ellenbyronauthor/
A Cajun Country Mystery Series
By Ellen Byron

I was a later bloomer when it comes to reading. I didn’t start reading regularly until I was in my 30s, mid to late 2000s. Prior to that, I did not read, at all. I mean literally, not at all. I struggled a lot in school with comprehension and, quite honestly, I preferred being social.

In 2005, post Hurricane Katrina, I relocated about 4 hours away from my immediate family and friends. I found myself to be very bored and lonely at times. A coworker recommended that I read Angels and Demons by Dan Brown and I figured sure, why not. That book was thick and intimidating for a non reader. I did read it and it took me about a month. I felt so accomplished.

In 2007, I returned back to the New Orleans area. One day my sister, an avid reader who read Gone with the Wind at the age of 3, said to me, “hey, I just read this book and I think you will love it.” I replied, “no thank you, I read a book last year.” I mean it was nice and all but really, I had better things to do with my time. As time went on, she pestered me about reading this darn book. Finally, bored one day, I picked up this book. I read it. I READ ANOTHER BOOK!! It was so good. It was a series and I NEEDED to know what was going to happen! That book, that book that changed my outlook on reading forever, was TWILIGHT!

At the time, only the first 2 books were available. Well what was I supposed to do?? I went into a B. Dalton Bookstore in the local mall (Borders and Barnes and Noble were too intimidating at the time). I found another YA Supernatural series to read. I bought 1 book every week until I caught up with that series. I would just stand at the YA New Release section and pick out whatever caught my eye. I was too intimidated to even venture further into the store. I was afraid to try anything different. What if I didn’t like it? Would I be discouraged and not want to read anymore? But, did I want to only read books about Vampires, Werewolves, and other supernatural and paranormal beings? Through like minded friends, recommendations, and social media, I was able to slowly broaden my reading interests.

One of those interested turned into a passion, Cozy Mysteries, and I owe it all to the amazing Ellen Byron.

One day, searching the library website, I came across a book called Plantation Shutters. On the cover, was a beautiful plantation home, a police car that looked suspiciously like an NOPD car, and a Basset Hound. I love touring the local plantations, my husband works for NOPD, and I have a Basset Hound… this book was written for me!! I immediately downloaded the book from the library and I instantly fell in love. I posted a review of the book on Goodreads and the author, Ellen Byron, actually reached out to me and thanked me!! GASP!! SQUEE!! OMG!!! I reached out to all my friends and told them “THIS AUTHOR JUST MESSAGED ME!!!!” I was a major fan girl. (This was four years ago)

Ellen and I would chit chat via social media here and there. When she was ready to release book two, Body on the Bayou, she had a release party in New Orleans and invited my husband and I. I felt so honored and fancy!! We have been friends from that moment on!!

Just a few of our moments together

Still being fairly new to the genre, I started doing some searches on Facebook. I found a couple groups here and there (nothing like it is today). One day, I was invited to join this group call the Cozy Mystery Crew. I was immediately mind blown!!! Are you kidding me??? There is this entire community of these cozy people??? This group was formed by authors just starting out, new series or new to the genre, or new to just having a book published. They did a summer reading challenge. The challenge was to read and review these authors’ books for prizes. Seriously, you are going to reward me for enjoying your amazing talent? Okay, if you insist….

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In these past four years, I have read hundreds of Cozy Mysteries and have connected and developed true friendships with many. The books in this genre offer true clean and suspenseful entertainment. Some offer comic relief and others give you amazing recipe and/or craft and household ideas. I have recommended countless books and authors to friends and other interested readers. I solicit Cozy Mysteries wherever I go. I have never met a community that I enjoy more. And when a new book is released in a series, its just like catching up with old friends.

In these past four years, I have made friends, many amazing friends. I run two Facebook groups, one completely Cozy and the other general book discussions. I have hosted many discussions for my page and others and have hosted online parties for cozy mystery authors. I was inspired to start a blog as people tell me they enjoy my reviews. I have not been super consistent with it and don’t have many followers yet, but I am going to work on that.

In addition to Ellen and the Cozy Mystery Crew (which she is now a part of GASP!!), I would like to give a shout out to all the authors that have made an impact on my life with your amazing craft and friendship; especially, Julie Anne Lindsey, Ellery Adams, Krista Davis, Amanda Flower, Lauren Elliott, Sarah Fox, Sherry Harris, Dean James, Jenny Kales, Tonya Kappes, Kimberley O’Malley, Karen Rose Smith, Kate Young, and Jenna St. James.

Cozy Mystery Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/403108960079286/?ref=share

Room of Reading Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/681322238706284/?ref=share

A Batter of Life and Death by Ellie Alexander

Book Two of the Bakeshop Mysteries

A Batter of Life and Death (A Bakeshop Mystery, #2) 4.5 STARS

I am so invested in the cast of this series and its only book two.

Community, sweets, family, friendship, reality tv, and murder.

Picture your favorite Hallmark Movie meets The Great British Bake Off but with Murder.

I must warn you… this is a highly addictive and binge worthy series. Be prepared to clear your calendar.

I had the audio version of this book… moving on to book 3!!

Meet Your Baker by Ellie Alexander

Book One of the Bakeshop Mysteries

Meet Your Baker (A Bakeshop Mystery, #1) 5 STARS

I have had this series on my TBR list for quite some time. Not sure why it took me so long to dive into the Bakeshop series, but now that I am here, I don’t want to leave. When you read book one and immediately decide you are going to binge the entire series, you know you have found something special. Setting and characters mean everything to me. Ashland sounds like the perfect atmosphere. While reading this book, it felt more like visiting with friends rather than reading a book about random characters. I got so wrapped up in the people that I forgot there was a murder to solve.

I have already moved on to book two and I cannot wait to binge this series. Ellie Alexander totally rocked this kick off to her cozy series.

I had the audio version of this book and it was fabulous.

What Not to Wear to a Graveyard by Debra Sennefelder

Book 2.5 of A Resale Boutique Mystery

What Not to Wear to a Graveyard (Resale Boutique #2.5) 4 STARS

What an action packed novella!! I normally don’t do novellas but I love Debra Sennefelder’s stories and this series is so enjoyable, I couldn’t pass it up.

New to the Resale Boutique?? Kelly Quinn was a fashion buyer in Manhattan before inheriting her grandmother’s outdated consignment shop. Giving up her high fashion life, Kelly returns to her home town of Lucky Cove to turn the consignment shop into an up scale resale boutique.

Halloween, a missing dog, and a dead socialite… Yes please!!

I was shocked by the reveal. I really couldn’t believe how jam packed these 97 pages were!!

If you want a quick read, even if you haven’t read this series, you will not be disappointed.

I cannot wait to read book 3, How to Frame a Fashionista, set to release November 24, 2020.

I had a digital copy of this book from Netgalley.

Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busybody by Barbara Ross

Book One in the Jane Darrowfield Mystery Series

Jane Darrowfield, Professional Busybody (Jane Darrowfield #1) 4 STARS

Barbara Ross, author of the Maine Clambake Series, has another new Cozy Mystery Series…

What a refreshing start to new a series.

I adore books with middle-aged and older protagonists. They seem wiser and have more experience and are usually pretty darn comical.

In this book, Jane Darrowfield is a fixer, aka a professional busybody. She gets herself in situations and tends to help make them better. When she is asked to stay at a senior living center to help diffuse some tension, she agrees to help. What she didn’t expect was for it to be like high school all over again; the populars, the artsy, the outcasts, the rebels. What she really didn’t expect was to find herself in the middle of a murder investigation.

This book made me laugh as well as feel for the real life situations that some seniors are in. It was also refreshing to see budding romance in the senior community.

I am looking forward to the next chapter of Jane’s life and to see where it takes her.

Dead-End Detective by Amanda Flower

Book One in A Piper and Porter Mystery Series

Dead-End Detective (Piper and Porter Mystery, #1) 5 STARS

Amanda Flower is an author that I will read anything she publishes. Throw in the fact that this is a Hallmark published book, well that just sweetens the pot.

I adore that, finally, a sleuthing protagonist in a cozy mystery is a licensed PI. Darby Piper’s world is about to change when the tables turn and she goes from being the investigator to the investigated. When all the clues of a murder are pointing straight to her, she has to sleuth like she has never sleuthed before to clear her name and save her business. With the time and evidence against her and the help of an unlikely partner, Darby must solve this once and for all before she goes to prison, or worse, becomes the next victim.

I figured out the who early on but had to wait for the clues to develop to piece together the why. It was a good plot and I hope to see this on Hallmark Mysteries and Movies.

I cannot wait for the next installment of this series and to see how new partners and a possible love triangle plays out.

I had a digital copy (from Netgalley) and the audio version narrated by Laura Faye Smith.

Knit of the Living Dead by Peggy Ehrhart

Book 6 of the Knit and Nibble Cozy Mystery Series

Knit of the Living Dead (A Knit & Nibble Mystery #6) 4 STARS

I highly recommend this series for crafters, wanna be crafters, cozy lovers, and lovers of small town mysteries.

Knit and Nibble is one of my top series, mainly for the close “knit” group (pun intended). I love the community and the knitting group. I love for small town life; however, I could do without the murders.

In this installment, its Halloween. I adore Fall themed cozies. Pamela and Bettina joined by Nel this go around, use their sleuthing skills to get to the bottom of murders, yes that is plural.

I did thoroughly enjoy this book, but it was not one of the stand outs in this series for me. I was hoping for more Fall for one, Penny didn’t come in town, and the murders (not to spoil) were not anyone of importance in my opinion. Maybe its just me as I am totally invested in the series and I know its ending next year, I just wanted more.

Again, this was still a 4 Star Mystery!

I enjoyed the digital version of this book (from Netgalley) as well as the audio version.

A Call For Kelp By Bree Baker (Julie Anne Lindsey writing as…)

Book 4 of The Seaside Cafe Mysteries

A Call for Kelp 5 STARS

Southern Charm on the Carolina Beach, sweet tea, boardwalks, tourist shops, and murder, what’s not to love???

In A Seaside Cafe Mystery Series, Everly Swan moves home to small town Charm, North Carolina where she opens her dream tea shop, Sun, Sand, and Tea.

She has been under the microscope since moving back to Charm. The Swan women of the island are said to be cursed in love; falling in love and losing their mate at a young age. Swan women don’t leave the island either. Well, Everly did and returned after suffering at love but since she has been back, death has followed in her wake. Since her return, the easy life of Charm has seen one too many murders, and the town is starting to think there is something to this curse of the Swans.

With an amazing core cast (the eccentric aunts, handsome detective Grady, the best bestie Amelia, Denise, and Wyatt), Everly has the support team she needs to run her dream business and solve murders.

In this installment, A celebrity visitor meets an unfortunate demise. Knowing that the deceased had a past with her grandmother, Everly decides to put on her sleuthing hat. However, someone has it out for Everly before she even starts digging. Can Everly get to the bottom of this mystery BEEfore its too late??

I received an advanced digital copy of this book from NetGalley. I cannot wait for book 5, Closely Harbored Secrets to release December 29, 2020.

The Paper Girl of Paris by Jordyn Taylor

The Paper Girl of Paris 5 STARS

I came across this book on a New Releases’ Post for May 26, 2020. I adore novels with dual timelines and I enjoy Historical Fiction, so I was immediately intrigued. This has the typical plot; person of today finds letter or photograph leading to some past unknown. This story sucked me in from the beginning.

A good portion of Historical Fiction novels center around WW II. While I understand the importance and interest, I prefer the stories to be more about the people than the war itself. I found this novel to be more of a “behind the scenes” story. This was more of a coming of age story with a historical past and a dash of mystery. Maybe because it is in the Young Adult genre, I just found it to be refreshing.

Sixteen year old Alice and her parents travel to Paris after finding out her deceased grandmother left her an apartment, an apartment that has been locked for more than seventy years. When she unlocks the apartment, she also unlocks secrets about her family’s past. Alice, along with her new “friend” Paul, set out on a journey to find the missing pieces of her grandmother’s past. Alice finds out a lot about history, her broken family, herself, and a little bit about love.

I would recommend this book to Historical Fiction lovers of all ages or anyone interested in a Coming of Age story with a historical past.

I had the audio version of this book narrated by Liza Seneca. She was a great narrator and did a fantastic job with all the accents.

The Diva Spices It Up by Krista Davis

Book 13 of the Domestic Diva Mysteries

The Diva Spices It Up (A Domestic Diva Mystery, #13) 5-STARS

I have no idea how this phenomenal series continues to get better, but Krista Davis makes it happen. I had binge read this series, books 1-11, and reading each new installment makes me feel like I am reuniting with old friends. I cannot say enough about the core characters of this series. Not only are they extremely well developed but you actually feel like you are a part of their world.

In this installment of the series, Sophie is ready for some R&R until Mars has her hired out as a ghost writer for a cookbook for one of his clients’ wives. In need of a major bathroom renovation, Sophie takes on the job. How hard can it be to write recipes?? This should be a breeze until people around this group begin going missing and dead bodies start popping up. There seems to be many with secrets, the question is, who is willing to kill to keep them buried?

I can never get enough of these books. Once I start them, I devour them, then I am devastated that I have to wait another year for the next one. I strive to be like Sophie in my daily life in the entertaining of family and friends. I adore her friends, Nina, Mars, Bernie, etc.

This is by far my favorite Cozy series and in my top 5 overall. I cannot sing the praises for these books any louder. I recommend them to anyone and everyone, cozy readers or not. If you have never tried audiobooks and don’t know if you would like them, this is the series to do it.

I have a digital copy from NetGalley of this book and the audible version. Hillary Huber, is as phenomenal of a narrator as Krista Davis is a writer.

And now we wait…….

Murder in the Wine Country by Janet Finsilver

Book 6 of the Kelly Jackson Mysteries

Murder in the Wine Country (A Kelly Jackson Mystery #6) 4STARS

I feel like this series is one of those extremely well kept secrets and we need to get the secret out!!

I love everything about the Kelly Jackson Mysteries… the plot, the setting, the characters, and the mysteries. This series has something for everyone. The setting of Redwood Cove is to die for, no pun intended. The characters are all very well developed, likable, and they all play their part in the stories. From Tommy, the child with Asperger Syndrome, and his dog Fred to all the Silver Sentinels, there is definitely a character for you. There is always a new hobby or event to explore in town and Janet Finsilver has a way of making you feel like you are experiencing it with the cast.

In this installment, its a wine tasting event. When an accident and burglary turn out to be more sinister than originally suspected, Kelly and the Silver Sentinels are on the case.

One other thing that really sticks out in the later novels, the charity developed for the aid and care of Veterans. This is a subject near and dear to my heart and the author does a great job bringing awareness.

This series is one of my favorite Cozy Mystery Series, it is carefree and entertaining. I love a series with senior sleuths. These books are easily one sitting reads and I highly recommending binging this series.

I had an advanced digital copy from NetGalley and Kensington Publishing Corporation. I also had this book in audio format. The narrator, Reba Buhr, did a fabulous job.

I am looking forward to a book 7 and more adventures at Redwood Cove.