Posted in Reading List

Cozy Up to Fall: Upcoming Cozy Mystery Releases!

Cozy Mystery fans, this one’s for you!

Even though I’ve branched out on my reading in the past couple of years, I find myself returning again and again to cozy mysteries. They’re fun, intriguing, and I love the cast of characters you generally meet throughout a series!

I took a peek around today to see what cozy titles are coming in the next few weeks, and there are some good ones! Read on to see what should be on your list…

Continue reading “Cozy Up to Fall: Upcoming Cozy Mystery Releases!”

Posted in Reading List, WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday (2/20/2019)

Hello, and Happy Wednesday bookish friends!

Nothing different to report here… it’s been snowing.  It’s still snowing.  It may snow forever.  So… I will just keep reading!!  Let’s see what books I have in hand… time for WWW Wednesday!

 

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WWW Wednesday is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words!  This is always a good mid-week status check of my reading list.  (You can see my last WWW Wednesday post here.)

It’s a fun way to keep up with what everyone is reading.  To join me, read my answers, then answer the same questions about your reading in the comments below, and if you like, in the comments on Sam’s WWW Wednesday post!  Simply use these three questions:

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. What did you recently finish reading?
  3. What do you plan to read next?

And now… onward to WWW Wednesday!

 


 

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What are you currently reading?

My goal is to read one non-fiction book a month in 2019… there’s so much out there I’d like to explore, and I think this broadens perspectives.  To that end, my selection this month is Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.  This book is all about exploring creativity: why it’s important, how to overcome fear and embrace your creative side, and the attitudes and habits that help you reach your aspirations.  I’ve just started it, but I’m looking forward to gaining some inspiration for my writing, photography, and more!

 

Find Big Magic at:

Barnes & Noble    ~    Amazon

 


 

Animal farm

What did you recently finish reading?

A couple of days ago, I sat down to read Animal Farm by the great George Orwell… and I finished it all in one sitting.  It’s a short book, to be fair, but it’s just that good.  I’m going to share my review from Goodreads:

“All animals are equal. But some animals are more equal than others.”

I can’t believe I waited so long to read this book. I’m a big fan of Orwell and liked 1984, but this one was an incredibly short and fast read, and somehow more accessible. A timeless allegorical classic. While this is a commentary on Stalinist Russia and a cautionary tale about power, propaganda, and freedom…. its nearly chilling how one can still see these themes mirrored in modern times. If you haven’t read this, add it to your list.

Seriously, if you somehow missed this one in high school… go pick it up!

 

Find Animal Farm at:

Barnes & Noble    ~    Amazon

 


 

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What do you plan to read next?

I have Criminally Cocoa, the next book in Amanda Flower’s Amish Candy Shop Mysteries, waiting for me on Net Galley!  This novella is an Easter-themed addition to this series centered around a chocolate making family of Amish heritage.  This time, Bailey and her cousin Charlotte are hitting New York City to film Bailey’s new TV show… but have to discover who seems to be sabotaging things!

This is a really fun series that I’ve featured before (see my review of Premeditated Peppermint).  I also just reviewed the latest in the Magical Bookshop series, also by Amanda Flower; check out my review and author chat here!

 

Find Criminally Cocoa (e-book only) at:

Barnes & Noble    ~    Amazon

 


 

That’s my list this week!!  I have a lot of great reading ahead of me… in addition to a full Net Galley shelf, I recently won a couple of paperback ARCs.

I hope today finds you curled up with a great book!  As always… happy reading!!

 


 

This post contains affiliate links, which allow me the opportunity to earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  Please see my policies for further information.

My thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for a complimentary digital review copy of Criminally Cocoa.  All opinions are my own.

Posted in Book Notes

Book Notes: Review of “Murders and Metaphors” by Amanda Flower (with author interview!)

If you’ve been hanging out here at The Biblio Blonde for a while, you may recall that I’m a big cozy mystery fan.  There’s just something about the way a charming setting, quirky characters, and a puzzle to be solved all come together for a very entertaining story!

I’ve recently read the first several books in a new series, the Magical Bookshop Mysteries by Amanda Flower.  Today I want to share a bit about the series as a whole, but focus on the third and latest installment, Murders and Metaphors!  After the review, keep reading for a special treat to learn more about this great author!

(I’ll have to give a few things away about Violet and the other characters that we learn in the first two books… but I’ll try to keep it to a minimum!)

 

 

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The Magical Bookshop Mystery series features Violet Waverly, a graduate student who, in the first book, is called back to her hometown of Cascade Springs, New York by her grandmother.  While Violet had been avoiding this quaint little town after a terrible incident in her past, she’s drawn back in by a colorful cast of characters:  Grandma Daisy; members of a writing group (including a handsome police chief!); the mayor of their little town, who also happens to be her high school sweetheart; and a crow, a cat, and a bookstore.

Did I include the crow, cat, and bookstore in a list of characters?  Why yes, I did.  Because they *really* are characters in every sense of the word!  Faulkner the crow showed up at the bookshop one day and never left… which doesn’t seem that unusual, until the bird starts hurling literary quotes.  Emerson, a tuxedo cat, is an escape artist who sometimes seems to know Violet better than she knows herself.

And the bookshop?  Well, it turns out Charming Books, where “the book chooses you” as the slogan goes, has a mind of its own.  Not only does the perfect book often pop out of the shelves and into an unsuspecting customer’s hands, but the shop leaves copies of books around for Violet, and even opens to certain pages she needs to read.  You see, Violet has become the shop’s caretaker, a role passed down over the years through a long line of Waverly women.  But you’ll want to pick up the books (start with Crime and Poetry) to discover how all this came to be!

Now that we’ve established some background, let’s move on to Murders and Metaphors!

In this story, it’s January, and the festivities of ice wine season are in full swing in Cascade Springs.  A big festival is taking place at Morton Vineyards (owned by the family of Nathan Morton, that mayor/ex boyfriend), but based on Violet’s history with the whole Morton clan, she wants nothing to do with it.  Grandma Daisy, of course, has other plans, and lets Violet know that she’s committed BOTH of them to host a book signing at the festival for celebrity wine expert Belinda Perkins.  (Thanks, Grandma!)

Belinda isn’t the most pleasant guest, and it turns out she has some history with Cascade Springs: she grew up there, and Lacey, a friend of Violet’s, is one of her sisters.  After a big falling out many years in the past, Lacey turns up at the festival to try to make amends.  It doesn’t go well, and Belinda storms off… only for Violet to later find her dead among the grape vines on the property.

Because of their very public scene, Lacey becomes a suspect.  To help her friend, Violet is once again on the case, and this time, Charming Books points her to Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel, Little Women.  Violet has to figure out who killed Belinda, and how the March sisters can help her find the answers.

 

This series has quickly become a favorite of mine.  The concept of a book store infused with magic and its own quirky “essence” is just delightful, and I really enjoy the charm and coziness of the town.  Violet is a great character with a well developed backstory… the way her history is woven in with the present day village is really interesting.

And Grandma Daisy?  She’s a hoot.  After reading this series, the Stephanie Plum books, and the Braxton Campus mysteries, I’ve decided that all books are greatly enhanced by a quirky grandmother!

I didn’t see the reveal of the killer coming in this one, though it provided a satisfying conclusion to the mystery.  With each book in this series, I appreciate that the case is wrapped up and there are no huge cliffhangers, but that there also remain unanswered questions about situations in Violet’s life, allowing threads to be carried from book to book.  Some series can easily be read as standalone mysteries… enough plot points are woven through this series that I would recommend starting with the first book and reading in order.  But trust me, you’ll want to do that so you don’t miss anything!

Murders and Metaphors earns five fabulous stars from me… I can’t wait to read more in this series!

Here are all three books in the series so far… add these to your list:

 

Book 1 – Crime and Poetry:

Barnes & Noble   ~   Amazon

Book 2 – Prose and Cons:

Barnes & Noble   ~   Amazon

Book 3 – Murders and Metaphors:

Barnes & Noble   ~   Amazon

 


 

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Author Amanda Flower

 

In addition to posting this review, I reached out to the author of this series, Amanda Flower, to see if she had time to answer a few questions for her readers… fortunately, she did!  Amanda is a USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award-winning mystery author!  Let’s see what she has to say about the Magical Bookshop series and her other writing.

 

It sounds like you started writing at an early age!  When did you decide to write a novel?

I decided that I wanted to be a writer when I was eleven-years-old and read a story I’d written in my class and they laughed. I knew then I wanted to write stories to make people smile and laugh. From the beginning, I wanted to write mystery novels. They were my favorite works to read from a young age too.

 

What is something you’d like us to know about Violet, the main character in this series?

Violet is complicated. She actually had a very sad past. She lost two people that she loved when she was a teenager, but despite tragedy in her own life, she hasn’t lost her sense of humor or her drive to make something of herself. I think it’s easier for her to step into the role of sleuth because she know what it’s like to lose someone and she wants to help others because of that.

 

Each of your Magical Bookshop mysteries has a well-known published work the bookstore uses to give Violet clues. How did you choose these for each story, and what are some other titles that you think would be fun to use in a future installment?

The first writer I chose for the clues in CRIME AND POETRY was Emily Dickinson because I love her work, and after that it made sense to choose contemporaries to Dickinson, so I ended up doing 19th century American authors. So far I have used the work of Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe, Louisa May Alcott, and Walt Whitman.

 

In the first Magical Bookshop mystery, Violet inherits a small tuxedo cat named Emerson.  I’ve seen pictures of your kitties on social media… tell us about your babies!

Aww! Thank you! I am definitely a cat lover. I have two tuxedos myself, so it was a natural fit to make Emerson one too. Emerson is based on my traditional black and white tuxie, Mr. Tumnus, AKA Tummy.  My second tuxie is a gray and white and his name is Reepicheep, AKA Cheeps. They are my feline editors. You can follow them on Instagram.

 

Several of your other series are set in or around Amish communities.  How did you become interested in Amish culture and how did you learn about it?

Now, I write fulltime, but I worked for as a librarian for fifteen years. My first librarian job was in Ohio’s Amish country, so I was around and interacted with the Amish every day. It gave me a unique experience that is perfect for writing.

 

Can you give us any hints about what’s next for Violet, Grandma Daisy, and Charming Books?  Or tell us about any other series you’re currently writing?

The next book featuring these characters is called SPOKE AND WORD. Grandma Daisy plans a bike race in the village of Cascade Springs, but one of the riders dies during the race! Violet is on the case again to help her grandmother, and the shop uses the poetry of Walt Whitman to solve the crime. The book will release late 2019.

In additional to this series, I’m writing many more in the Amish Candy Shop Mysteries. They next book in that series is CRIMINALLY COCOA, a novella, and TOXIC TOFFEE will be the next novel released in July.

 


 

Many thanks to Amanda for sharing more insight into her books… I’ve read at least three of her series, and have really enjoyed each one.  If you’re a cozy mystery fan, you need to put some (or all!) of them on your list!

For more about Amanda, visit her online:     Facebook  | Instagram | Website

Murders and Metaphors is out now, and Criminally Cocoa will be releasing soon, followed by Toxic Toffee in July… with more great books to come!

 

So, what do you think?  Have you added this series to your list?  Whatever book you’re cozied up with right now… happy reading!

 

This post contains affiliate links, which allow me the opportunity to earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  Please see my policies for further information.

This is my Review of the Month for the review collection on LovelyAudiobooks.info

 

 

 

 

Posted in WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday (2/13/2019)

I’m so thankful to be a reader!  I’m particularly thankful during this long, cold, and snowy winter that I love books, because it has been such a delight to curl up with great titles.

Time for WWW Wednesday to check out some of those wonderful books!

 

 

www-wednesday

 

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words!  This is always a good mid-week status check of my reading list.  (You can see my last WWW Wednesday post here.)

It’s a fun way to keep up with what everyone is reading.  To join me, read my answers, then answer the same questions about your reading in the comments below, and if you like, in the comments on Sam’s WWW Wednesday post!  Simply use these three questions:

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. What did you recently finish reading?
  3. What do you plan to read next?

And now… onward to WWW Wednesday!

 

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What are you currently reading?

Today I’m finishing up the first two books in the Braxton Campus Mysteries by James J. Cudney.  (I’m cheating just a little and wrapping these up in a package!)  I’ve “met” James through the book blogging and social media world… he’s a great guy who is not only an author, but also an avid reader and reviewer.  I recently did a cover reveal for the third book in this series… it’s releasing at the end of March so naturally, I wanted to get these two read so I could enjoy the new release when it comes out!

In Academic Curveball, we meet Kellan Ayrwick, who comes home to attend a retirement party for his father… and gets more than he bargained for when a murder occurs on the otherwise idyllic Braxton College campus!  In Broken Heart Attack, Kellan is getting to know his hometown all over again, and is becoming acquainted with one of the community’s more prominent families, when one of them suddenly dies under mysterious circumstances.  And the third book, Flower Power Trip, releases on March 30th.  Great recommended reads if you’re a cozy mystery fan!

 

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What did you recently finish reading?

Last week, I read and reviewed The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald.  This domestic suspense novel was a quick read, but a profound tale of a devastating loss, family secrets, and a mother’s fierce love and determination.

You can read my review here!

 

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What do you plan to read next?

I’m getting ready to pick up Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella.  This isn’t her newest title, but one that I bought months ago and haven’t made the time for just yet.  Kinsella writes great romantic comedy stories, so I thought the week of Valentine’s Day would be just right to dive into this book!  Here’s a little about it:

After ten years together, Sylvie and Dan have a comfortable home, fulfilling jobs, and beautiful twin girls, and they communicate so seamlessly they finish each other’s sentences. They have a happy marriage and believe they know everything there is to know about each other. Until it’s casually mentioned to them that they could be together for another sixty-eight years . . . and panic sets in. 
           
They decide to bring surprises into their marriage to keep it fresh and fun. But in their pursuit of Project Surprise Me—from unexpected gifts to restaurant dates to sexy photo shoots—mishaps arise, with disastrous and comical results. Gradually, surprises turn to shocking truths. And when a scandal from the past is uncovered, they begin to wonder if they ever really knew each other at all.
           
With a colorful cast of eccentric characters, razor-sharp observations, and her signature wit and charm, Sophie Kinsella presents a humorous yet moving portrait of a marriage—its intricacies, comforts, and complications. Surprise Me reveals that hidden layers in a close relationship are often yet to be discovered.

I think it sounds fantastic, and I’m looking forward to reading about a more established romance with a couple knee-deep in family life.

 

And that caps off my reading for the week!!  What about you, friends?  Any great titles you’d love to tell us about?  Drop your recommendations (or link to your own WWW Wednesday post) in the comments.  Happy reading… oh, and Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

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This post contains affiliate links, which allow me the opportunity to earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  Please see my policies for further information.

My thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for a complimentary digital review copy of The Night Olivia Fell.  All opinions are my own.

Posted in Book Notes

Cover Reveal: Book Three of the Braxton Campus Mysteries by James J. Cudney

Cozy mystery lovers, this one’s for you!  Are you ready for a peek at a great new cozy set to release soon… and, I dare say, a hint of spring?!?  (I’m more than ready for both!)

 

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Today I’m participating in a blog tour through Shalini at Digital Reads Blog Tours!

 

Author James J. Cudney (Jay, as his friends know him) is a well traveled, well read guy from New York City.  In addition to being a genealogist and an avid reader and book reviewer, he has been writing a series called the Braxton Campus Mysteries.

In this series, we meet Kellan, a single dad who comes home for his father’s retirement party as he prepares to leave a long career at Braxton College.  But, as usually happens in a cozy series, things don’t go according to plan, and Kellan gets swept into a precarious situation!

This cover reveal was actually fun timing for me, as I’m just starting to read book one of this series!  I always recommend starting at the beginning, so first pick up Academic Curveball, then move on to Broken Heart Attack.  (Both are available in either Kindle e-book or paperback.)

And finally… we come to the latest installment, set to be released in late March.  May I present:  Flower Power Trip!

 

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See, I told you… a hint of spring along with a fabulous new title!! Here’s a little more info about the new book:

At a masquerade ball to raise money for renovations to Memorial Library, Kellan finds a dead body dressed in a Dr. Evil costume.

Did one of Maggie’s sisters kill the annoying guest who’d been staying at the Roarke and Daughters Inn, or does the victim have a closer connection to someone else at Braxton College?

As Kellan helps school president Ursula bury a secret from her past and discover the identity of her stalker, he unexpectedly encounters a missing member of his family. Everything seems to trace back to the Stoddards: a new family who recently moved in.

Between the murder, a special flower exhibit and strange postcards arriving each week, Kellan can’t decide which mystery in his life should take priority.  But unfortunately, the biggest one of all has yet to be exposed – and when it is, Kellan won’t know what hit him.

 

You can pre-order this title today… grab the first two while you’re at it, and you’ll be all set when Flower Power Trip releases on March 30th! (That’s the e-book version… a paperback of the title will be available at a later date!)

Thanks for stopping by to check out the cover reveal.  I hope you have some great books picked out and you’re ready to relax this weekend!  Happy Friday… and happy reading!

 

This post contains affiliate links, which allow me the opportunity to earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.  Please see my policies for further information.