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

The Book of Candlelight by Ellery Adams

Book 3 of The Secret, Book and Scone Society

The Book of Candlelight (Secret, Book, & Scone Society, #3) 4STARS

I love this series and I just love Nora so much. Although I do not have a tragic past, I somehow seem to identify with her. I love her character and how she is always there for her friends and towns folk.

In this installment, Nora and the gang are dealing with a multitude of crimes. Not only is someone defacing the groups’ property, its very personal. Add to that, a murder or two, and Nora has her hands full.

There are a few new characters that I hope will be around for the next book. There are also a few relationships developing.

Although the personal connection with this novel was not there like the one I had with Secret, Book and Scone Society, the story was still deep and moving. This is NOT a traditional COZY Mystery Series. Although there is nothing graphic, there are romantic scenes and some of the things discussed in the group are very deep and dark. I only say that because there are a some cozy readers that take offense to anything more than a kiss or a cuss stronger than darn.

I look forward to future journeys with Nora.

I received and read this digital copy of the novel from NetGalley.

The Sweetness of Forgetting by Kristin Harmel

A beautiful story that shows love can last a lifetime.

The Sweetness of Forgetting 4 Stars

Although I have a few books by Kristin Harmel on my TBR list, I had not yet read anything by the author. I had not even heard anything about this book prior to reading it. This was a Book Club selection that I had to read regardless, so I went into it blindly. What a surprise?!?!

Like I said, I had no idea what the book was about, I didn’t even read the description. From the title and the cover, I expected a sweet, fluffy romance. As the book progressed, I understood the “forgetting” part of the title. When the reveal of the past lives came to light, I was blown away.

I love Historical Fiction. The history and research of WWII and the Holocaust in this novel were told with emotion and respect. Although this is a work of fiction, the emotion is real because the situations are real. My heart forever breaks thinking about survivors who’ve lost their entire family or worse, not even knowing what actually happened to them.

I now need to read more by Harmel. Her style of writing draws you in. Her tenderness yet rawness of the subject matter is a perfect balance of emotion. I warn you, you will need tissues while reading this story. The only reason I did not give this book 5 Stars, is because the daughter was too much. I understand sullen preteens and them coping with issues, but the overly excessive use of “whatever” and her horrible behavior to her mother was way too over the top for me.

I had the audio version of this book. The narrator, Kim McKean, did a fabulous job.

I’m Fine and Neither Are You by Camille Pagan

Review by DJB

A Fictional Self Help Novel

I’m Fine and Neither Are You

4.5 Stars(almost 5 except the protagonist was a tad bit “too” much at times and worked my nerves) **Spoiler Free Review**

This is not a book that I would normally read, as I would have considered it “too realistic” for me. However, it was selected for our book club and I stepped out of my comfort zone. I normally don’t read books about real life problems because I have my own, I read to escape reality. After reading this book, I have a better understanding of what I already knew. You can never possibly know everything that is going on in people’s lives and minds. If you didn’t already know there were problems in your relationships, reading this book will surely tell you there are many. I actually realized I do some of the same things as Penny and sabotage things because I think are going too well. Or, I accept things the way they are because I am afraid of conflict or hurting someone. The core characters of this story experience the same things most of us have and it helps to see others struggle through it. I am not saying its good to see others struggle, it just shows you that you are not alone in the struggle.

This is a work of fiction but could easily be an entertaining self help book. I highly recommend this to anyone (male or female) that has ever been in a relationship (not just a romantic one), had a stressful job, experiences the struggle with the balance of life, experienced the loss of a loved one, or an absentee parent.

I had a digital copy as well as the audio version. The Audible narrator, Amy McFadden, was great!