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

I Know What You Bid Last Summer by Sherry Harris

Book 5 of the Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mysteries

I Know What You Bid Last Summer (Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mystery #5) 4 STARS

This is one of those series that I just cannot get enough of. I am binging the series and I never want to catch up. The setting, the characters, the plot… everything about it makes you feel like starting the next book is just like getting together with old friends.

In this installment, Sarah is all on her again. I am not a fan of love triangles but it works in this series. I could never pick, Team CJ or Team Seth. Well now that CJ is gone (I can’t believe he really left, even though I think he will be back), Sarah is keeping busy with her garage sale business. She was asked to head up the school swap and silent auction. What she didn’t expect to sign up for was an attack, theft, and a new murder to investigate. She is also “investigating” who in town has the best lasagna for Angelo.

I found this book to be a little more emotional than the others. I felt Sarah’s rejection and loneliness. I do love that she has so many friends and that everyone seems to be there for her, well except the killers when she is sleuthing around.

I cannot wait to jump right back in; starting The Gun Also Rises, Book 6.

I have both the digital (from NetGalley) and audio versions of this book. Hillary Huber, who is one of my most favorite narrators, does and phenomenal job with this series.

Bark If It’s Murder by V.M. Burns

Book 3 of A Dog Club Mystery

Bark If It’s Murder (Dog Club Mystery #3) 5-STARS

I cannot say enough about this series. It is sweet with a slight romantic element, family oriented, female empowering and of course, MURDER!!

Lilly has put her past behind her and started a new life in Chattanooga. With the help of her best friend, Dixie, she is settling in well in her new surrounding. Looking to purchase a new home and doing well at her job, everything seems to be falling into place.

In this installments of the series, Lilly is helping Dixie out at Dog Show. While there, she meets the owner of Pet Haven, a posh doggie daycare and boarding facility. A last-minute opportunity arises to accompany her boss to an art auction, so Lilly decides to leave Aggie in the hands of Pet Haven. While watching the live feed of the facility to check in on Aggie, Lilly witnesses something that she surely believes is a murder in progress. Upon investigation, there is no crime scene and no body. Lilly, determined not to be deemed crazy, sets off to find out what happened and to whom.

What I love most about this series is that the protagonist, Lilly, is a middle aged woman with real life problems that we can relate to. She does her investigating but unlike many mystery protagonists, she doesn’t throw herself into extremely dangerous situations. In my opinion, these would be realistic if it was realistic for middle aged women to go around solving crimes.

I received a digital copy of this book from NetGalley in return for an honest review. I highly recommend this series, and cannot wait for an announcement on book 4.

Tide and Punishment by Bree Baker (aka Julie Anne Lindsey)

A Seaside Cafe Mystery

Tide and Punishment (A Seaside Cafe Mystery, #3) 5 Stars

To be Released on September 24, 2019

Southern Charm on the Carolina Beach, sweet tea, boardwalks, tourist shops, and murder, what’s not to love??? Throw in Christmas, well I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing that makes it!! My favorite thing about this installment was the sense of community, charity, family, and love that is shown. There is nothing more heart warming than coming together as a whole to help those less fortunate.

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, and the best bestie Amelia), Everly has the support team she needs to run her dream business and solve murders.

In this installment, It’s Aunt Fran that finds herself in the police investigation after finding the body of the mayor, whom she is running against in the next race. Everyone knows that Aunt Fran is not capable of committing murder but someone is going out of their way to make it look like she did. I had my suspicions from dooms day of whom the killer may be. Turns out, I was correct but finding out the why was a shock.

I received an advanced digital copy of this book from NetGalley. I am so thankful and yet so disappointed that I got to read it early…. now I have to wait longer for BOOK 4!!!!!

This has quickly moved up to the top of my list of favorite series. Julie Anne Lindsey is an absolute doll and a very talented, humble and gracious author. She writes several other series. You can find her under the names Julie Anne Lindsey, Bree Baker, Julie Chase, and another one of my favorites, Jacqueline Frost. Psssssss….. she has a first book in a new cozy series set to release in November. Be on the look out for the release and a review from me for Apple Cider Slaying, book one of the Cider Shop Mysteries.

Please visit her website to keep up with all of Julie’s books.

http://julieannelindsey.com/

https://www.facebook.com/JulieAnneLindseyAuthor

Sadie by Courtney Summers

“Forgettable people in fly over states”

Sadie (Hardcover) 5 STARS

I am not sure where to even start. Not many books leave me speechless, but this one….

I listened to the audiobook and I HIGHLY recommend it. Although its an excellent books, 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.

Forgettable people in fly over states… this is Sadie’s life in a nutshell. No one cares about a dead or missing girl from the trailer park in Nowheresville, USA. No one cares until a reporter and pod caster brings this story to life for the world.

A dead body and then a missing girl a year later. Could this be a serial? It may be thought to be, until the trail shows Sadie out for vengeance for the death of her sister. Will she ever find the answers that she is looking for? More importantly, will she survive on the road she is taking to find the answers?

This was excellent. I haven’t really listened to pod casts but I think I may start. 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. #bookhangover

Dog Club Mysteries by V.M. Burns

In the Dog House (Dog Club Mystery #1)  5 STARS

I had no expectations going into this book. I have read Ms. Burns’s previous series (Mystery Bookshop Series) and knew I enjoyed her writing, so I just went into the next series blind.

I adored this book. I love the Cozy Mystery genre and the easy to fall in love with protagonists. However, I hadn’t realized I missing something more until I read this book. The protagonist is a middle aged woman dealing with real middle aged problems. It was really nice to truly relate on a deeper level.

Lily is a soon to be divorcee. Her husband of 25 years has left her for a woman younger than their children. She had not worked outside of the home for many years, at her husband’s request. He has since cut her off financially and is trying get her out of their home as well. So naturally when he turns up dead in a supposed burglary, Lily is the prime suspect. With the support of her children and best friend, she is determined to prove her innocence. It’s a very bumpy road but with love and support, anything can be possible.

I felt that this was almost a middle aged coming of age story. Lily finds herself, her determination, and the road to her happy place.

I read this in one sitting. I also had the audio downloaded with the digital copy. The narrator is great. I highly recommend this series.

The Puppy Who Knew Too Much (Dog Club Mystery #2) 4 STARS

I cannot say enough about this series. It is sweet with a slight romantic element, family oriented, female empowering and of course, MURDER!!

Lily has put her past behind her and started a new life in Chattanooga. With the help of her best friend, Dixie, she is settling in well in her new surrounding. With a new home and job, everything seems to be falling into place, well until she stumbles upon a dead body. With the help of Dixie, Stephanie, Joe, and Joe’s friend Red, the investigation begins.

This book has just as many twists at the first and I had no idea who the killer was nor did I expect the plot twists. I love the shenanigans the ladies get into as well as the budding romances throughout. This book releases on February 12, 2019 and I highly recommend it.

**I was awarded both books by #NetGalley in return for honest reviews**