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….

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1757692634274149/?ref=share

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

Here Comes The Body By Maria DiRico aka Ellen Byron

First in the new Catering Hall Mystery Series

Here Comes the Body (A Catering Hall Mystery #1) 5 Stars

Here Comes the Body is the first book in the new series, A Catering Hall Mystery, written by Maria DiRico, a pseudonym for author Ellen Byron.

This series centers around the protagonist, Mia Carina and her family. After her philandering husband’s boat went down in Florida, she returns home to Queens to help with her family’s new business. Being the daughter of former mobster, Ravello Carina, we are never quite sure what the family business is up to.

Mia has come home to run Belle View, her father’s catering hall, a popular spot for weddings, office parties, and more. Everything is moving along perfectly, until a dead body is located in the pop out cake at the bachelor party being hosted at Belle View.

With signs pointing to Ravello as the murder, Mia is forced with the task of proving her father’s innocence and finding the true murdered before they find her.

This book is so well written. From the details of the plot to the development of the characters, this is one heck of a way to kick off a new series. The Carina Family are a cast of characters all in itself. Being of Italian descent, I could totally appreciate the family bond. I have a “nonna” who is 95 years young and is still as feisty as they come.

I am looking forward to Mia and the family’s next adventure!!

I received an advanced reader copy of this book from the author and digital copy for review from NetGalley and Kensington Publishing Corp.

This book is set to release on February 25, 2020 and is available for preorder.

Deb’s Top YA Thriller Recommendations


I am a sucker for YA Mystery/Thrillers with diabolical teenagers. I am not sure exactly what that says about me.

Every now and again, you need a good thriller. If you are like me, you may not enjoy novels that are too graphic in a violent or sexual nature. That is the good thing about YA (young adult) Thrillers. You get all the suspense and chills without the “details”.

I have many YA Thrillers on my Read List; however when readers ask for recommendations, these are my usual go to recommendations.

To date, Kara Thomas has not let me down. She can do no wrong with her amazing books that keep you on the edge of your seat and guessing until the end. I have read all three of her YA Thrillers; Little Monsters, The Cheerleaders, and The Darkest Corners (which was my favorite so far). Her books are very gripping. I could not wait to see what happened next. Although you knew certain things, stories, and characters were sketchy, you never expect the end!!!!!

Follow Me Back by A.V. Geiger was both Impressive and Disturbing. I do not have a vast understanding of Twitter. That does not take away anything from the subject matter. The main point of this novel, You don’t always know who you are talking to on the internet. There is both light and dark in this novel… mental illness, romance, heartache, fame, paranoia, true crime, and more. The main focus was predictable but the END, I didn’t see that coming. The ending was a complete blindside and makes the entire novel worth reading.

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas is one of the first books I will recommend when asked for a YA Thriller. I hate comparing books but I would have to say that this reminded me of Mean Girls meets Single White Female. This book has Lifetime Movie status. I immediately got sucked in and couldn’t put the book down until I was finished. I actually GASPED at the end.

Sadie by Courtney Summers was very interesting to me. Not many books leave me speechless. I listened to the audiobook and I HIGHLY recommend it. Although its an excellent book, I feel like the audio version gives it that extra boost to smack it out of the park. Especially for those who enjoy pod casts, this is a must for you. This book touches on addiction, mental illness, love and loss, regret, molestation, poverty, and predators. I have read a few novels in the past by Courtney Summers and have enjoyed them, but this, this one just had IT. I felt like I was with Sadie every step of the way and felt every figurative and literal punch in the gut she did. This is one of those books that will stick with you for a long, long time.

Don’t Look Back by Jennifer Armentrout was probably one of the books that started my obsession with YA Thrillers. Fabulous!!! This book, while I had my suspicions, had me on the edge of my seat. From start to finish, I was captivated by the story. It was suspenseful, creepy, a little scary and just very well written.

While my book genre of choice is Cozy Mysteries, I do enjoy many other genres. Non Cozy Mysteries, Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Fantasy, and Suspense/Thrillers are all in my library. However; when I occasionally hit that reading funk, a good YA Thriller always does the trick for me.

Do you enjoy YA Thrillers? Have you read any of these books? Do you have a go to author or genre of books?

Psychological Thrillers and Its Okay To Love Them…

Have you ever read a book that is so disturbing that you felt wrong for enjoying it? Do you watch Investigative Discovery and wonder, why am I so interested in watching stories about killers and psychopaths?

You are not alone.

This past Saturday afternoon, I got sucked into the ID Channel for a few hours. I had to consciously tell myself to get up, get dressed, and get out of the house. Where did I go, Barnes and Noble of course.

With the new year starting, one of my goals is be more social. Another one of my goals is to get back to reading other genres of books that I enjoy (as I have become a reader of Cozy Mysteries primarily).

While at Barnes and Noble, I noticed the sign for their monthly book club this upcoming week. The book is a thriller, The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell. Although familiar with the author, I have never read any of her work. I thought, “how perfect!! A way to get in 2 of my goals!!”

The Family Upstairs
5 STARS

I downloaded the book on Audible and started to listen. I was hooked by chapter 4! The narrative cast is amazing. They really brought this story to life. The plot and the characters felt so real and gripping. I knew the book was a Thriller/Suspense Novel, but I really didn’t go into it knowing much more than that. I found myself almost becoming obsessed with the need to know what the heck was going to happen and how this would all play out in the end. Just when I thought I would have something figured out, a new plot or character twist would come to light and shock and some horror would overtake me.

I love a novel that has multiple story lines that eventually tie in together. This novel is told from multiple POVs and both past and present time frames. I can remember a few times where I audibly gasped at connections made.

I will not give out any specifics on the plot or characters as I feel reading this book with little knowledge of the plot was better for me, so I am granting you the same courtesy.

I had to sit after finishing it and just stare for a few moments. I honestly feel like need a shower or maybe even go to church, LOL. I haven’t read a psychological thriller in a while and this one has definitely reminded me that I love them.

I am not a fan of graphic and gratuitous violence and/or sex in my books and I am pleased to say that there is not much in this story. There is one semi descriptive scene that is necessary to plot, the rest is just alluded to or implied, thank goodness.

I will tell you that I will definitely pick up another Lisa Jewell book and I am going to research the narrating cast to see what other novels they do.

Goodbye 2019, Hello 2020!!

I started my blog with the best of intentions and then life happened. One of my resolutions is to do better and blog more. I am going to have some new things going on starting this year and I am super excited about it.

Do you do Reading Challenges?? I do the annual challenge on Goodreads. I am currently at 128/130. I am reading two books at the moment, so I am pushing forward to finish them tonight to make my goal.

My first book of 2019 was Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend.

My last books of 2019 will be Theater Nights are Murder by Libby Klein and For the Love of Mike by Rhys Bowen.

My first book of 2020 will be Sell Low, Sweet Harriet by Sherry Harris. This is one of my most anticipated book releases. I adore this series and the audio narrator, Hillary Huber, is amazing.

I’ve made some amazing author and reader friends this year and I look forward to continuing these relationships and making more.

This year, I started several new series. Some of my favorite new to me series have been Seaside Cafe Mysteries by Bree Baker (aka Julie Anne Lindsey), Molly Murphy Mysteries by Rhys Bowen, Amish Candy Shop Mysteries by Amanda Flower, The Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mysteries by Sherry Harris… just to name a few.

A few books that have surprised me, either being beyond my expectations or because I just didn’t think they were my tastes, have been Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by Heather Webber, Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, Southern Sass and Killer Cravings by Kate Young, Apple Cider Slayings by Julie Anne Lindsey, Sadie by Courtney Summers, The Sweetness of Forgetting by Kristin Harmel, I’m Fine and Neither Are You by Camille Pagan, In the Dog House by VM Burns, and Before We Were Strangers by Brenda Novak.

I would love to list books that I am highly anticipating for 2020 but I feel that would be impossible as there are so many.

I would like to thank some of my online reading and blogging supporters. Karen, Traci, Brandi, Becky, Meg and Francis, what can I say, you guys rock!!!

I would like to give a special shout out to some amazing authors that have befriended me this year and I can’t respect them enough for their amazing craft and dedication to their fans. Julie Anne Lindsey, Ellen Byron, Shari Randall, Sarah Fox, Jenny Kales, Linda Reilly, Debra Senefelder and The Entire Cozy Mystery Crew, Krista Davis, Kimberley O’Malley, Ellery Adams, Tonya Kappes, Dean James, Karen Rose Smith, and so, so many more… You have invited me into your circles and groups and have provided me with the confidence to get out of my comfort zone, blog, host, and be part of an amazing community.

I look forward to the new books and opportunities that 2020 will bring. May everyone have a safe New Year’s Eve and a Successful 2020!!

Thank You!

my reading journey…

It’s safe to say I was a late bloomer when it comes to reading. I was never a reader, ever! I didn’t even read when it was required for school.

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. The Da Vinci Code was all a buzz, so I figured I would try to read it and see what all the fuss was about. I read the first chapter, reread the first chapter, put it down, and never picked it up again. A coworker recommended Angels and Demons, another Dan Brown novel. I thought to myself, “I couldn’t get through the first chapter of the other book, so why would I try another one?” However, he insisted that I would love the book, so I made the extremely skeptical attempt to read it. It took me about a month, but I read it and I loved it. I was so proud of myself for reading a book.

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. Although I still enjoy a vampire here and there, my go to genre is now Mystery and Suspense, primarily Cozy Mysteries. I owe a lot of gratitude to Ellen Byron, author and friend, for introducing me to this amazing genre. I also enjoy Historical Fiction and Chick Lit. I don’t mind a nice Romance, as long as the romance doesn’t go beyond PG13.

So here I am, 12 years and about 600 books later, blogging about the books I read and how much reading has changed my life. I think its safe to say, I have discovered a passion in reading. Reading has pulled me out a few very dark places and times in my adult life. I read to be entertained and to escape the everyday trials of the real world.

Thank you all for participating in this page and helping me share my passion with you.

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

I have been thinking of starting a blog for my book reviews for quite some time. I am taking the first step by setting up this page. I know it will be a work in progress. I appreciate the support and feedback as I begin this journey.