Posted in Cozy Mystery, Spotlight

Spotlight for Southern Sass and a Crispy Corpse, A Marygene Brown Mystery, by Kate Young

Southern Sass and a Crispy Corpse (A Marygene Brown Mystery)
by Kate Young

About Southern Sass and
a Crispy Corpse


Southern Sass and a Crispy Corpse (A Marygene Brown Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Publisher: Kensington (May 26, 2020)
Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
ISBN-10: 1496721470
ISBN-13: 978-1496721471
Digital ASIN: B07W4MRDKR

On Georgia’s picturesque Peach Cove Island, a killer is serving up a two-for-one special . . .

After their mama’s passing, Marygene Brown returned to Peach Cove Island to help her sister Jena Lynn run the family diner, renowned for its homemade peach desserts. But Mama is never too far away—her sassy spirit haunts the island, and more specifically Marygene. Lately Mama has been warning her that the dead will seek her out to solve their murders, an idea Marygene is far from peachy keen on.

But that prophecy appears to be coming true when she goes skinny-dipping off the island and swims right into a woman’s charred corpse floating in the waves. And when Marygene and her brother Sam come upon a second burned body in a wine cellar at an event they’re catering, it appears they have a double homicide on their hands. It soon turns out the victims have more in common than their charred remains, and Marygene will need to double down to find a killer who has no aversion to playing with fire. Good thing Mama has her back . . .

Includes Seven Recipes from Marygene’s Kitchen!

About Kate Young

Kate Young writes Southern mystery novels. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and the Guppy Chapter. Kate lives in a small town in Georgia with her husband, three kids, and Shih Tzu. When she is not writing her own books, she’s reading or cooking.

Author Links –

Website – https://www.kateyoungbooks.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKateYoung/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/KAYoungBooks

GoodReads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6527572.Kate_Young

BookBub – https://www.bookbub.com/profile/kate-young-b3339e9c-d2e4-482d-a637-5afd7b064d73

Purchase Links – AmazonB&NkoboIndieBound

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TOUR PARTICIPANTS

May 25 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW

May 25 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT

May 25 – The Book Decoder – REVIEW

May 26 – Cinnamon, Sugar, and a Little Bit of Murder – REVIEW, RECIPE

May 26 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

May 26 – Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

May 26 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

May 27 – Read Your Writes Book Reviews – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

May 27 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

May 27 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

May 28 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

May 28 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – REVIEW

May 28 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

May 28 – Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers – SPOTLIGHT

May 29 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW

May 29 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

May 29 – I’m Into Books – SPOTLIGHT

May 29 – T’s Stuff – SPOTLIGHT

May 30 – MJB Reviewers – REVIEW

May 30 – The Self-Rescue Princess – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

May 30 – Gimme The Scoop Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

May 30 – eBook Addicts – SPOTLIGHT

May 31 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

May 31 – Laura’s Interests – SPOTLIGHT

May 31 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

May 31 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

June 1 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT

June 1 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

June 1 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW

June 1 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

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Posted in Cozy Mystery, Freebies and Special Offers

Special 99-Cent Sale on Haunted House Ghost, A Braxton Campus Cozy Mystery, by James Cudney

Not only were many of the books in the Braxton Campus Mysteries discounted to .99 this week, but the 5th book, Haunted House Ghost, is also available as a Kindle download for only .99 from 5/29 thru 6/2. To take advantage of this discount, visit Amazon via this link.

Overview of Haunted House Ghost

It’s Halloween, and excitement is brewing in Braxton to carve jack-o’-lanterns, go on haunted hayrides, and race through the spooky corn maze at the Fall Festival.

Despite the former occupant’s warnings, Kellan renovates and moves into a mysterious old house. When a ruthless ghost promises retribution, our fearless professor turns to the eccentric town historian and an eerie psychic to communicate with the apparition. Meanwhile, construction workers discover a fifty-year-old skeleton after breaking ground on the new Memorial Library wing.

While Kellan and April dance around the chemistry sparking between them, a suspicious accident occurs at the Fall Festival. Soon, Kellan discovers the true history and dastardly connections of the Grey family. But can he capture the elusive killer – and placate the revenge-seeking ghost.

Haunted House Ghost Purchase Links

Kindle: http://mybook.to/hauntedhouseghost

Paperback: http://mybook.to/hauntedhouseghostbrapb

Large Print: http://mybook.to/hauntedhouseghostbralp

US Audiobook:

https://www.audible.com/pd/B083TSCDYC/?source_code=AUDFPWS0223189MWT-BK-ACX0-178979&ref=acx_bty_BK_ACX0_178979_rh_us

UK Audiobook:

https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/B083TNG6B1/?source_code=AUKFrDlWS02231890H6-BK-ACX0-178979&ref=acx_bty_BK_ACX0_178979_rh_uk

In the book, we quickly learn about a fire that occurred on campus during a 1968 Vietnam War protest. I imagine it looked a little bit like the one below…

Buy the Book Today Here

Below are the key details to find the blog tour… it was so much fun. There were character posts, guest posts, interviews, and giveaways!

Visit Blog Tour Here

Early Reviews

Lost Knight

Dear Readers: I deeply appreciate the author for having sent this book on over. The character development is superb. As these books progress, the characters come alive. Kellan has a great sense of humor. If this book were made into a Halloween movie or TV show, I would enjoy seeing Kellan’s responses to various things. In addition to his great sense of humor, Kellen has a knack for finding crime scenes and the putting pieces together and solving the mystery.

Interestingly, this one is a part of a whole series of cozy mysteries. Each can be read as a stand-alone and are connected at the same time. There are a lot of twists and turns along with a good many story lines within the book. Amazingly, the author managed to see all the adventures through, and tied everything up in a neat and tidy bow.

…. And these leave the reader wanting more. Yes…. There is a cliff hanger and now, I will wait patiently for the next book. I thank the author kindly for having written this book. Everyone enjoys a good mystery. This one satisfied that urge to read a good mystery. It is greatly appreciated that one can read this book into the wee hours of the morning and still be able to sleep, and not fight off horrible scary nightmares!

Shalini

“I went to the Land of Braxton
Met up with Kellan and Ulan
A cousin from Africa he was
Wanted to move to New house
But a ghost haunted that place
A skeleton was found in old library space
A confession, an attack on the side
A new murder too on the hayride
Who was the victim no one knew
The suspects were old but still new
Father and son were present
Ex and new, old and psychic were sent
A priest and his family were shaken
Kellan and April, their time was taken
A breakthrough occurred in Kellan’s mind
He showed James J Cudney is one of a kind.”

The magician has done it again. A brilliant whodunit!! James J Cudney brought out a pack of cards from his top hat and constructed a house so deeply layered that the clues were hidden in the sleight of his hand.

Brilliant in his writing, it all started with a nightmare, the words had a haunting smoothness to it. If you listened carefully, you would hear the grim reaper with the scythe.

I have never seen autumn and Halloween in real life, the author made them come alive for me with the power of his writing. Red herrings were placed strategically amongst the orange pumpkins and the Halloween props. They blended in so smoothly that guessing the killer was beyond me.

The old characters returned, romance between Sheriff April and Kellan had its sexy moments before a skeleton and murder rudely interrupted them. The plotline had many twists as this author’s books often do, and the finale was a perfect amalgamation of real and unreal.

I repeat – a fun whodunit with shades of autumn, Halloween, and ghostly sightings.

Candace

This series is so much fun! And when I saw this title and this cover, I just knew it was going to be my favorite. I’m a huge Halloween fan and would seriously just like this holiday year round! Anyway, now that I’m going off course, let me get to my boy Kellan!

Kellan’s life is full of so much drama and I love it! There’s a ton of mystery to these stories, but what I like just as much is the family dynamic with the side characters. Kellan’s such an awesome dad, and I’ve always wanted that bond he has with Nana D. Seriously, I want my own Nana D! Also, there is some awesome chemistry between April and Kellan in this one! They need to catch a break!

There was talk about Halloween costumes, food, and an entertaining mystery that needed to be solved! Can I also mention that this book had me at skeleton being found in the library! I literally finished this one in less than 24 hours because I wanted to know what was going on! Andddddddd of course there is a cliffhanger, so that leaves me yearning for the next book! Side note: can there just be a Netflix series on Kellan’s mysteries? That would be amazing!

Anne

I’m a huge fan of Cudney’s and of course love this series! Protagonist Kellen is moving into his new home that is rumored to be haunted and the first scene will scare you enough to compel you to finish. It’s the same quirky family, featuring his sweet young daughter, feisty Nana D as well as the rest of his family and relatively new love interest, April. There are several murders and lots of characters, layers and layers of plot and history surrounding the house. Even though I recommend reading the entire series, each book can stand alone as Cudney gives us plenty of background on each. This one is a little different as it brings in some spooky and macabre elements that gives it a little bit of a gothic feel. But there’s also Cudney’s charming humor that makes you laugh out loud and now has me wondering which Halloween socks to wear! This series just keeps getting better and better so now I’m awaiting #6!

Laura

This season we are back with Kellan as he’s once again pulled in a million different directions what with parenting not only Emma but his cousin as well, along with teaching, other family obligations with Nana D, Violet, Eleanor, etc., and being co-chair of a Halloween/Fall Festival being held at Danby Landing, all while trying to complete fixing up his newold house so they can move in. But all is not smooth sailing for the Ayrwick family as strange things have been happening during the renovation process. Conveniently, Gabriel has been away so they’ve been able to stay in the cottage. And the possibility that these things are being caused by the supernatural causes Kellan (though he doesn’t believe) to agree that Eleanor can contact her psychic friend Madam Zenya to see if she can help.

The renovations for the Braxton Campus library also get underway in this book but those are put on hold when during the demolition a body is discovered in the foundation. So now Kellan feels compelled to investigate that situation as well.

I quite enjoyed reading this story, and it’s always good to catch up my friends in Braxton. I also often emulate Nana D, as I also bake pie the first weekend of October. And I think this story has just enough suspense and mystery and humour and just Fall fun to make it the perfect read to curl up with on a cool Autumn night, along with a blanket and a hot chocolate.

Book Excerpt

Hunkering behind a weathered, illegible headstone in Wellington Cemetery’s oldest and scariest graveyard, I remained silent and stationary amidst a slew of exhumed corpses. Though surrounded by tall, slender white pines, a gnarly and knotty willow tree’s sweeping canopy of dying branches furtively brushed my neck. After an onslaught of howling winds furiously whipped my quivering skin, I peered over the loosened tomb marker and gawked at the mounds of freshly flung dirt. Why had a ruthless monster dug up so many coffins near the Grey mausoleum?

Skulking two rows away, the determined villain’s soulless eyes glowed like burning coal. The chilling tone of St. Mary’s somber church bells blasted—midnight’s fortuitous arrival. Its ominous beckoning prompted my unsteady feet to falter, crunching a pile of decaying leaves and foolishly revealing my secret location. Suddenly enshrouded in fog and hovering near the nameless gravestone, the rogue’s flowing black and gray robes resembled billowing smoke from an overworked chimney. “I hear you breathing, Ayrwick. Come out, come out wherever you are. I’m not finished with this game.”

“I don’t know who you are, but your obsession with me has spiraled out of control.” As an aloof moon cast an eerie luminosity, I cursed my new modern, sporty aviator eyeglasses for clouding over. Apparition or figment of an overwrought imagination, I couldn’t be certain; nor did I care at that moment. “You can’t be real. My mind is playing tricks on me.”

The ethereal bogeyman glided inches above the churchyard’s hallowed ground. The soles of its feet would vaporize upon stepping in the sacred dirt of the meandering pathways. “Are you ready to die?” the menacing, shrill voice taunted while hunting and cornering me in the darkness of my desolate hiding spot—the cold, melancholy resonance frightening all the bats, owls, and other nightlife creatures into hurried seclusion. The masked phantom narrowed a sinister gaze and brandished a mammoth-sized, razor-sharp scythe that cut swiftly through the crisp air and aimed with precision for my neck.

My arms floundered like gelatin as I struggled to push the heavy cement slab to the ground, then jumped feet first into a vacant grave with my hands and arms protecting my soon-to-be decapitated head. The stealthy tormentor cackled wildly and seized my forearm with an uncannily strong and bony grip, delivering a blast of pure ice that raced through my veins and barreled toward my erratically beating heart. My body froze as though a glacier engulfed and preserved me for all eternity.

It was then I heard myself bellow like a rabid coyote, feverishly rolling off the uncomfortable couch toward the wooden floor in the house I’d recently renovated. My petrified body trembled uncontrollably and sweated profusely. Only a nightmare, I reminded myself while rubbing sand from my weary eyes and concentrating on the conspicuously soundless room. Ever since undertaking the massive remodel, a recurring dream about a creepy grim reaper’s intent to kill me had reared its ugly head.

The vacuous, gloomy memory of the previous night had mercifully disappeared. Hopeful rays of sunshine blasted through the living room’s new bay windows and moored on the precipice of the foyer. Sparkling collections of construction dust and a pungent combination of mothballs and musty old clothes abruptly materialized in the stifled air. When a light breeze curiously swept across my startled skin, the hair on the back of my neck tingled. A willowy shadow lingered in the adjacent central hallway, confirming someone hid inside my home.

I blinked at what was hopefully a mirage, then startled again. An eerie squeak and pervasive thump echoed in the rafters of the foyer’s vaulted ceiling. Had one of the nearby heavy wooden doors just opened and closed? I leapt to my feet and rushed through the hallway to catch the troublesome lurker, but the basement ingress was as permanently sealed as it’d been on my first tour of Judge Hiram Grey’s former abode. For a multitude of reasons, we still hadn’t located the key to the sub-level of my newly acquired, antiquated, and historic home.

The nightmare I’d just awoken from must’ve incited me to imagine the whole series of events. No one lurked inside the house, which unnerved me far worse than the half-dozen times someone had surreptitiously followed me to the new neighborhood. It was as if a stalker tracked my every move, always two steps behind me in the shadows yet never in clear sight. I never asked for this.

Three months ago, my impulsive uncle begged Nana D to raise his fifteen-year-old son, Ulan, for the foreseeable future. Uncle Zach had extended his year-long expedition to protect an African elephant species nearing extinction, but my grandmother was too preoccupied with winning Wharton County’s mayoral election to acquiesce to his request. As an alternative solution, without my consent, they’d designated me Ulan’s temporary guardian. This would force me to vacate the small cottage at Danby Landing, Nana D’s organic orchard and farm, where my daughter Emma and I lived.

Due to my snarky yet generous grandmother’s aid over the summer, I’d bought The Old Grey Place and partnered with a contractor to address the most crucial repairs and optimal redesign options. Residing on a two-acre lot, the charming Victorian home offered excellent bones but had been left in disrepair for far too long. A central hallway divided the dilapidated dwelling in half, with an imposing flight of steps leading upstairs and a basement door whose contents would apparently be a future surprise. Two large rooms anchored the left side, and two more of equal size flagged the right. The home’s original owner had spread all the quarters requiring plumbing across the rear of the house, connecting them via a circular mudroom that presented exits to a detached three-car garage and well-proportioned yet overrun backyard.

Luckily, because of the condition of The Old Grey Place and lack of any other interest, we’d brokered an impressive deal; otherwise, I couldn’t have afforded it. Throughout the last month, we implemented a major facelift to the first floor to ensure a short-term, livable place to call home—three temporary bedrooms, a functional bathroom, makeshift kitchen, and comfortable living room. Since I hadn’t yet moved in my furniture, the grand relocation would occur next weekend. Over the forthcoming months, extensive renovations on the second floor would build modern bedrooms, a private home office with state-of-the-art filmmaking technology, and a traditional formal library.

Nana D had volunteered to let Ulan and Emma sleep at her farmhouse the previous night, enabling me to tick off an entire page on the extensive to-do list gnawing at my sanity inch by inch. I’d stayed behind to paint all the remaining bedrooms, then crashed on an old couch in my provisional living room. While I wasn’t as skilled in carpentry as my younger brother Gabriel, I insisted that I could roll a brush on the walls with the best of them. Other than the tight schedule, my most terrifying concern was identifying the mischievous devil who’d snuck in and out of the house when no one else was around, attempting to frighten us with childish pranks. Thankfully, the shenanigans amounted to nothing more than harmless inconvenience.

Shaking the distress off my dampened body, I searched for my cell phone. It was nine in the morning, and a critical town meeting required my humble presence on what should’ve been a relaxing Saturday. After a text demanding status on my progress, Nana D informed me that Ulan was studying for his upcoming history exam on the Salem witch trials and Emma was helping to prepare brunch.

My mother verified she was en route to chauffeur me to our planning meeting for Wharton County’s annual Fall Festival. I say our because Nana D had announced to the entire population in her first Notes from the Mayor newsletter that my mother and I would chair the much-anticipated autumn spectacular. Again, she achieved this task sans any input or agreement from us beforehand. With only days under her belt as the county’s new mayor at the time of the proclamation, we couldn’t exactly decline Little Napoleon’s flattering nomination. My barely five-foot-tall spitfire nana, known as Mayor Seraphina Danby to everyone else, had energetically earned the nickname after seeking control over every majestic or infinitesimal item within our north-central Pennsylvania county’s jurisdiction.

I located my overnight bag and fled to the bathroom to determine the extent of the damage. Noticeable splatters of red paint marbled my wavy dirty-blond hair and narrow forehead, reminiscent of pig’s blood dripping on Carrie’s unsuspecting body at the prom in the infamous Stephen King thriller. A piece of masking tape awkwardly clung to the side of my face, hiding one half of my normally well-defined, high cheekbones and irresistible, roguish dimples. I screeched as several facial hairs adhered to the tape like ants on a sugar cube when I tore it off in one rapid, painful motion. “Ouch! How the devil did that get there?”

From my sleepy and distraught body, I stripped off a pair of worn low-rise jeans, snug striped boxer briefs, and my favorite hunter-green t-shirt emblazoned with a sarcastic quote I always preached: I’m not done recovering from perfection. Though painstaking, last month’s workouts had generously chiseled out the flawless V-shape I’d sought; and if I kept at it, those six-pack abs would become a respectable eight-pack again. Staying in shape was important to me, and not just because I was a mite vain like my mother. I also wanted to live forever like Nana D.

A quick shower scrubbed off the stains and the embarrassment over my foolish appearance, enabling me to greet my mother in the driveway. She sprung for what turned out to be the most fantastic three-bean blend of morning joe that either of us had ever tasted. She also gallantly whisked us off to the downtown civic center to verify the Fall Festival was in tip-top shape. Several arguments and compromises—concerning the overly ridiculous rules for the haunted hayrides and jack-o’-lantern carving contests—detained us longer than expected. After relenting to an exceedingly caustic fellow team member and addressing a budget deficiency, we hightailed it to Danby Landing for brunch.

“I’ll bet Nana D is baking a traditional apple pie, complete with a crispy lattice crust and gooey cinnamon sugar filling. Impeccably uniform slices, no misshapen fruit chunks either,” I repeated for the third time, salivating on par with Baxter, my daughter’s always-hungry and constantly-begging-for-food six-month-old puppy. “The loser pays for lunch next week. That is, you’ll be buying me an enormous, expensive meal, Mom. And we’re heading off campus this time.” I laughed raucously, praying Violet Ayrwick didn’t accidentally steer us into a ditch on the drive home.

“You’re on, Kellan. I know your grandmother better than you do. When the weather cools down, she always ushers in autumn with a caramel and chocolate pecan pie.” My mother brushed a clump of flyaway auburn hair from her eyes so she could see the road. A torrential thunderstorm had swept through Braxton the night before, littering the slick blacktop with dangerous wet leaves and branches. A fine mist still sprinkled from the clouds, carrying an earthy scent and foreshadowing my glib future.

“I love you to pieces, but you’re wrong.” I rolled my piercing baby-blue eyes—at least that’s what others frequently deemed them—shook my head emphatically and raced into Nana D’s main farmhouse. Only two weeks shy of my thirty-third birthday and with the well-primed body of an avid runner, I’d easily beat my enthusiastic mother into the kitchen to certify my pie-guessing talent.

“I gave you life. I can take it away, my son,” she melodramatically and affectionately chastised while clambering up the path in five-inch pink pumps. Despite sinking a heel in a puddle of thick gray mud and flopping around like a drunken, one-legged pelican, she trailed behind by only seconds.

As a tried-and-true gentleman, I waited on the classically decorated rustic porch and held the fake-spider-covered door for her. Nana D had gone all out with cinnamon and pinecone aromas. I might hold a penchant for teasing my mother, but she was entirely too special not to demonstrate the loving respect she deserved. Wispy bales of yellow-brown straw and overgrown green and orange gourds adorned both sides of the entryway. “Hey, look, it’s The Hampster,” I quipped, showing one of the oddly shaped, ridged, and warty freaks of nature to my mother. She cast a disapproving glower in my direction over the wisecrack about my older brother Hampton, who’d just moved back to Braxton. Don’t ask how he earned that nickname. As if it weren’t obvious, I tended to be a tad sarcastic, but only in a clever way.

Several wooden barrels, strategically bursting with hearty goldenrod, burgundy, and burnt umber mums, dazzled our eyes as we strolled into the farmhouse. My seven-year-old daughter, dressed in a silk cape and wearing plastic vampire teeth, soared into the living room to greet us. Long, curly dark hair framed her slightly chubby cheeks and bounced feverishly on her shoulders. “I’ve been baking up a storm all morning, Daddy. Nana D insisted we couldn’t eat brunch until we finished the pies.” Although my height had reached an unimpressive five-nine, not considered remarkably tall by any measure, Emma would surpass me. Her mother’s family, easily cast as giants by most normal-sized folk, had blessed her with the imposing stature.“Monster Mash” blasted through the background speakers.

“Tell me, sweetheart. What kind of pies are you treating us to today?” After kissing Emma’s cheek, I turned to my mother. “You’re so going down.” I giggled like an immature teenager and rushed into the kitchen, dragging Emma at my side despite my nose suggesting a loss in the latest wager. Given my commitment to round-the-clock renovations, I’d recklessly forgotten Nana’s true autumn welcome. At least I had an excuse; my defenseless mother had racked up way more years of experience than me.

“Everyone knows Nana D bakes a pumpkin pie this weekend, silly,” Emma cooed, kneeling in front of the oven and grinning widely at a golden, bubbling concoction that oozed with deliciousness.

My mother sighed loudly, then impatiently snatched a knife and scurried toward the opposite counter, where two steaming dishes cooled on wire racks. “I guess we both lost, huh?”

“Don’t touch those pumpkin pies, Violet. You might be over fifty—” Nana D headily warned but was speedily silenced before revealing my mother’s true age.

“You better put a lid on it, Mom, or I’ll convince Dr. Betscha to sedate you for your own good. Don’t you dare say how old I am in front of those two.” My mother flashed a wicked smile, then flicked a hand in Emma’s and my direction. “They’ll tell the rest of the family, and you’ll be in big trouble.”

About The Author

Background

James is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College, an historic but small liberal arts school in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with a degree in English literature and minors in Education, Business and Spanish. After college, I accepted a technical writing position for a telecommunications company during Y2K and spent the last ~20 years building a career in technology & business operations in the retail, sports, media and entertainment industries. Throughout those years, I wrote some short stories, poems and various beginnings to the “Great American Novel,” but I was so focused on my career in technology and business that writing became a hobby. In 2016, I refocused some of my energies toward reinvigorating a second career in reading, writing and publishing.

Author

Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, my mind and my body. At some points, it was just a few poems or short stories; at others, it was full length novels and stories. My current focus is family drama fiction, cozy mystery novels and suspense thrillers. I think of characters and plots that I feel must be unwound. I think of situations people find themselves in and feel compelled to tell the story. It’s usually a convoluted plot with many surprise twists and turns. I feel it necessary to take that ride all over the course. My character is easily pictured in my head. I know what he is going to encounter or what she will feel. But I need to use the right words to make it clear.

Reader & Reviewer

Reading has also never left my side. Whether it was children’s books, young adult novels, college textbooks, biographies or my ultimate love, fiction, it’s ever present in my day. I read 2 books per week and I’m on a quest to update every book I’ve ever read on Goodreads, write up a review and post it on all my sites and platforms.

Blogger & Thinker

I have combined my passions into a single platform where I share reviews, write a blog and publish tons of content: TRUTH. I started my 365 Daily Challenge, where I post about a word that has some meaning to me and converse with everyone about life. There is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dogs have had weekly segments called “Ryder’s Rants” or “Baxter’s Barks” where they complain about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real. And that’s why they are me.

Genealogist & Researcher

I love history and research, finding myself often reaching back into the past to understand why someone made the choice he or she did and what were the subsequent consequences. I enjoy studying the activities and culture from hundreds of years ago to trace the roots and find the puzzle of my own history. I wish I could watch my ancestors from a secret place to learn how they interacted with others; and maybe I’ll comprehend why I do things the way I do.

Websites & Blog

Website: https://jamesjcudney.com/

Blog: https://thisismytruthnow.com

Amazon: http://bit.ly/JJCIVBooks

Next Chapter Pub: https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/james-j-cudney

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/james-j-cudney

Social Media

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamescudney4

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JamesJCudneyIVAuthor/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BraxtonCampusMysteries/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThisIsMyTruthNow/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jamescudney4/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jamescudney4/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jamescudney4

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamescudney4

Genres, Formats & Languages

I write in the family drama and mystery genres. My first two books are Watching Glass Shatter (2017) and Father Figure (2018). Both are contemporary fiction and focus on the dynamics between parents and children and between siblings. I’m currently writing the sequel to Watching Glass Shatter. I also have a light mystery series called the Braxton Campus Mysteries with six books available.

All my books come in multiple formats (Kindle, physical print, large print paperback, and audiobook) and some are also translated into foreign languages such as Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and German.

Goodreads Book Links

Watching Glass Shatter (October 2017)

Father Figure (April 2018)

Braxton Campus Mysteries

Posted in historical fiction, Spotlight

Spotlight for Kelegeen, Historical Fiction Novel, by Eileen O’Finlan

Kelegeen
by Eileen O’Finlan

About Kelegeen


Kelegeen
Historical Fiction
Publisher: BWL Publishing Inc. (March 1, 2018)
Paperback: 433 pages
ISBN-10: 0228600294
ISBN-13: 978-0228600299
Kindle ASIN: B07B52K2TB

Ireland 1846

Meg O’Connor, daughter of poor Irish cottiers, eagerly anticipates her wedding to Rory Quinn. Her dreams of marriage and family vanish along with Ireland’s potato crop when Kelegeen’s inhabitants awaken one morning to find their sole source of food destroyed by blight.

At first Meg and Rory are able to use their skills, hers of sewing and his of wood carving, to provide for themselves and their families. But tragedy and a costly mistake end those means of survival forcing them into more dangerous ventures.

As An Gorta Mór, the Great Hunger, continues to churn through Ireland ravaging the country’s peasantry with no let up in sight, Meg is compelled to make the most difficult decision of her life. What she chooses could be the salvation of the O’Connor and Quinn families or it could separate her forever from all she knows and loves.

About Eileen O’Finlan

Eileen O’Finlan calls her writing “history with a twist” because she is intrigued by the unusual and little known aspects of history – the stories on history’s margins, the things rarely taught in the classroom. For her, that’s where history really gets fun.

Born in Springfield, Massachusetts, her family moved to Worcester when she was two. Four years later they moved to Holden where Eileen grew up and where she now resides with her 93 year old mother and two cats.

Eileen holds a Bachelor’s degree in history and a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Ministry. She works full time for the Diocese of Worcester and teaches online courses in Catholic studies for the University of Dayton, Ohio. She is proud to say that Pope Francis owns a copy of her debut novel, Kelegeen. Erin’s Children, the sequel to Kelegeen, will be released by BWL Publishing, Inc. in December of 2020.

Author Links

Webpage: https://eileenofinlan.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eileenofinlanauthor/ ;

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17762333.Eileen_O_Finlan ;

Twitter: https://twitter.com/eileenofinlan ;

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnoxfrZpgvtHbAH74qM_vEQ ;

BWL Publishing, Inc. Author page: http://bookswelove.com/o-finlan-eileen/

Purchase Links: Amazon: – Barnesandnoble.comApple iTunesGoogle PlayKoboSmashwords

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Posted in Guest Post

Guest Post by Rodney Laws about How To Take Advantage of Your Time During Lockdown

Some Of The Things That Lockdown Has Given Us More Time To Do

by Rodney Laws

Image credit: PxHere

It’s easy to get lost in the despair and uncertainty of a world besieged by a pandemic. Enough weeks have passed since the first stay-at-home orders were issued that it can no longer be dismissed as a blip. Instead, we must view it as the new state of normalcy, expecting the lifting of restrictions to be glacial and accepting that social conduct may never revert to type.

In these conditions, though, we must focus on the positives — and there are positives to be found if you’re willing to consider them. It’s easy to see why you might be reluctant to do so with so many people dying or seeing their livelihoods ruined, but there’s no sense in adding to the misery by dwelling on the negatives. Life must be embraced.

And while lockdown measures have left social lives in tatters and left people feeling isolated emotionally as well as physically, getting to stay at home has been beneficial for some: and it can be beneficial for others if they’re willing to try. In this article, I’m going to talk about some of the best things that lockdown has given us more time to do:

Work on our writing

So many of us aspire to be decent writers, and many more just want to tell some basic stories that reflect their lives (either directly or indirectly), yet more often than not we leave it as a possibility: something to try one day. Eventually, we tell ourselves, our schedules will clear, obstacles will disappear, and we’ll be ready to put in the time and effort needed.

Some don’t actually believe that, of course — they just like the idea of writing far more than they do the reality of it, but they’re unwilling to admit it to themselves so they come up with excuses. But some really do expect to spend their twilight years learning to be decent writers. If they’re proactive, though, they needn’t wait that long.

What better time to start writing than now? You have creative inspiration aplenty from the complex circumstances. Relationships are being strained or strengthened, lives are changing, and you can focus in a way you ordinarily couldn’t. With your new-found surplus of free time, why not start writing about your experiences during this lockdown?

Attack our reading lists

Great writers must first be voracious readers, naturally, but it can be hard for even the most dedicated readers to keep up with recommendations while they’re busy dealing with other things. Is there a particular novel you’ve been putting off because you want to give it your full attention? A long-running series you’d like to get through in relatively-quick succession?

If you want to buy paperback or hardback books, you don’t need to go to stores: you can order them online and have them delivered. Alternatively, you can use an ereader like an Amazon Kindle and simply download the titles you want. It’s quick and convenient, so if you wince every time you think about your reading list, take this chance to make a dent in it.

Make smart long-term decisions

If short-term thinking is all you could previously handle during the working week, you’re not alone. When your calendar is packed with events, you need to keep your eyes on the road just ahead of you, and that makes it much harder to make any decisions about what’s over the horizon — decisions that can be hugely important.

Now that you have some time stuck at home, you can make smart long-term plans. You can think about where you want to be in five years, and what skills you want to develop. You can also put effort into tasks that will benefit you over time: tasks like planting fruit seeds in your garden or investing your savings.

You can also audit your finances to look for room for improvement. What are you paying for subscription services? Cancel anything you’re not using. Even your mortgage (if you have one) can be reconsidered: have a mortgage broker find you some quotes, and if you find something that better suits your current financial situation then you can go for it. It might not be fun to put time into these things, but it will make a difference in the end.

Reconnect with old friends

I talked about how relationships have been strained or strengthened, and that was always going to happen. Some people living together have found solace in company, while others have seen their differences drive them to distraction — and those kept apart by lockdown have either become closer because of it or started to feel their connections weaken.

What of old relationships, though? Do you ever think about the friends you’ve lost touch with throughout your life? Some due to petty squabbles, others due to paths simply diverging. A situation like this can produce a lot of nostalgic rumination, thinking back on all the mistakes you’ve ever made and what you’d do given a chance to set them right.

This is that chance. Right now you can be quite confident that almost anyone you care to contact will have some free time to talk to you, and you’ll have shared experiences to talk about without needing to delve into your history together. So why not give that old friend a call, or reach out to them online? You might find some pleasant closure, or you might find yourself resuming that old friendship as though it never ended. People change, and this is a great time to see what that means.

Lockdown has been tough for so many people, and we still don’t know when life will move significantly towards its former state, but we shouldn’t be too fixated on what might change. Instead, we should seek to make the most of the opportunities afforded us by the lockdown measures. It’s the best way to grow and thrive in tough circumstances.

Rodney Laws
Editor at Ecommerce Platforms
https://ecommerceplatforms.io
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Posted in Cozy Mystery

Spotlight for Hostage to Fortune, A Tea and Tarot Cozy Mystery by Kirsten Weiss

Hostage to Fortune: A Tea and Tarot Cozy Mystery
by Kirsten Weiss

About Hostage to Fortune


Hostage to Fortune: A Tea and Tarot Cozy Mystery
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Publisher: misterio press (May 21, 2020)
Number of Pages: 250
Digital ASIN:

Abigail and Hyperion uncork a murder…

Tea and Tarot room owner Abigail Beanblossom is used to running interference for her socially-awkward former boss, tech billionaire Razzzor. So when he invites her on a stakeout to investigate the sale of counterfeit wine from his latest venture – an upscale winery – she barrels on in. But the two stumble across the corpse of a wine merchant, and new wine in old bottles is now the least of their problems.

Good thing amateur detectives Abigail and her partner, tarot reader Hyperion Night, have a nose for murder. Their investigation takes them from elegant wine cellars to chic tea parties on the California coast. But just as the investigation starts to get its legs, Abigail discovers there’s more than wine at the bottom of this crime…

Hostage to Fortune is book 2 in the Tea and Tarot cozy mystery series. Start reading this hilariously cozy caper today!

Tearoom recipes in the back of the book.

About Kirsten Weiss

Kirsten Weiss has never met a dessert she didn’t like, and her guilty pleasures are watching Ghost Whisperer re-runs and drinking red wine. The latter gives her heartburn, but she drinks it anyway.

Now based in Colorado Springs, CO, she writes genre-blending cozy mystery, supernatural and steampunk suspense, mixing her experiences and imagination to create vivid worlds of fun and enchantment.

If you like funny cozy mysteries, check out her Pie Town, Tea and Tarot, Paranormal Museum and Wits’ End books. If you’re looking for some magic with your mystery, give the Witches of Doyle, Riga Hayworth and Rocky Bridges books a try. And if you like steampunk, the Sensibility Grey series might be for you.

Kirsten sends out original short stories of mystery and magic to her mailing list. If you’d like to get them delivered straight to your inbox, make sure to sign up for her newsletter at kirstenweiss.com

Feel free to follow her on Twitter @KirstenWeiss, on Tumblr at kweiss01, on Pinterest at KirstenWeiss, or on Bookbub, get in touch on Facebook, post a picture of this book to Instagram and tag her @kirstenweissauthor, or send her an email. She’ll answer you personally…which may be a good or a bad thing, depending on your perspective.

Author Links

Twitter: @KirstenWeiss

Facebook: www.facebook.com/kirsten.weiss/

Instagram: @KirstenWeissAuthor

Bookbub: www.bookbub.com/authors/kirsten-weiss

Book Series: Sensibility Grey Steampunk Suspense, Tea and Tarot cozy mysteries, the Pie Town cozy mysteries, the Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum cozy mysteries, the Doyle Witch and Doyle Cozy mystery novels, the Riga Hayworth paranormal mysteries.

  • Purchase Links

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Posted in Freebies and Special Offers, Sea Scope

Special 99-Cent Deal on the Spanish Version of Sea Scope by Debbie De Louise

The Spanish translation of my psychological mystery, Sea Scope, is available as a .99 Kindle download from 8/15 thru 8/19. This book received a 5-star review and a silver medal from Readers’ Favorite, a cover award from Top Shelf Magazine, and was a finalist in the mystery category of the Author Academy Awards.

Download Spanish edition for .99 via Amazon

Overview / Description:

Sarah Collins necesita un escape.

Mientras sufre el duelo por la muerte de su hermano y la inminente ruptura de su matrimonio, regresa al hogar de su infancia en Carolina del Sur, donde su familia regentaba una posada.

Sarah no había regresado a Vista al Mar durante veinte años; desde que ella y su hermano Glen descubrieron un cuerpo cerca del faro.  Ella nunca comprendió por qué sus padres se marcharon de Vista al Mar tan repentinamente, ni las razones detrás del suicidio de su padre.

Después que Sarah regresa a la posada, enfrenta recuerdos enterrados hacía mucho tiempo y unas pistas extrañas.  Algo no está bien en Vista al Mar.  Reunida con personas de su pasado, ella intenta descubrir qué está ocurriendo en el hogar de su infancia.

Cuando el pasado y el presente se encuentran, Sarah debe enfrentar las verdades de su familia, y lo que ocurrió aquel a de verano en el faro.  ¿Pero sobreviviría para contar la historia?

Vista Al Mar – Extracto del libro

Prólogo

Posada Vista al Mar, Veinte años atrás

Mi hermano Glen y yo corríamos por las escaleras del faro.  Mi cola de caballo se agitaba salvajemente a medida que mis zapatos deportivos golpeaban los escalones de hierro en espiral.  Como de costumbre, Glen tomó la delantera y yo reduje mi velocidad, con dolor en mis muslos.  Ciento sesenta y siete escalones después me reuní con él en la barandilla, doblada y jadeando.  Con una sonrisa pedante, él estaba allí de pie con sus brazos cruzados y relajado.

—Te gané de nuevo, Sara la tortuga. —Sacó su lengua.

Me enderecé. —Pequeño diablillo.  Se lo diré a Mamá.

Glen volteó los ojos y me dio la espalda mientras caminaba por el borde del balcón, mirando hacia abajo por la barandilla.

Luego se detuvo.

—Ey, ¿qué es eso? —preguntó, inclinándose por encima de la barandilla.

Vacilé.  Lo último que quería era mirar hacia abajo.  Glen, por otro lado, no le tenía miedo a nada.

—Aléjate de allí, Glen.  ¿Qué nos dijo Papá sobre acercarnos demasiado al borde de la barandilla?

—Tienes que venir a ver esto, Sarah.  Hay un hombre allá abajo, —dijo sobre su hombro, señalando el suelo con su dedo regordete.

A pesar de mi estómago revuelto, me asomé por el borde y seguí su mirada hasta un hombre que estaba durmiendo en la hierba arenosa.  Estaba boca abajo e inmóvil, sus brazos y piernas extendidos en ángulo, su camisa a cuadros rota.

Posted in Cozy Mystery, Freebies and Special Offers, Next Chapter

99-Cent Sale on Flower Power Trip, A Braxton Campus Cozy Mystery by James J. Cudney

The 3rd book in the Braxton Campus Mysteries series is on sale for only .99 cents from 5/20 thru 5/24. You can download it to your Kindle here. This book was released on March 30th, 2019 and has been getting rave reviews from mystery fans all around the world. You can visit all the posts from the blog tour the book went on last year.

Flower Power Trip (Braxton Campus Mysteries)
3rd in Series
Next Chapter Publishing (March 30, 2019)
Print Length: 270 pages
Digital ASIN: B07NDK76WF

Description of 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.

Flower Power Trip Purchase Links

Kindle: http://mybook.to/FlowerPowerTrip

Paperback: http://mybook.to/flowerpowertripbraxtpb

Large Print: http://mybook.to/flowerpowertripbraxtlp

US Audiobook:

https://www.audible.com/pd/B084JKVCY9/?source_code=AUDFPWS0223189MWT-BK-ACX0-181480&ref=acx_bty_BK_ACX0_181480_rh_us

UK Audiobook:

https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/B084JTQ5J6/?source_code=AUKFrDlWS02231890H6-BK-ACX0-181480&ref=acx_bty_BK_ACX0_181480_rh_uk

***

I appreciate watching his character evolution, and as always, his rowdy adventurous grandmother Nana D is a delight.
~Mallory Heart’s Cozies

The characters are all a bit quirky and eccentric, especially Nana D and her friends. They speak their mind and often had me laughing out loud.
~Carla Loves To Read

. . . a fast-paced, fun and enjoyable academic cozy mystery, one that is highly recommended!
~Jane Reads

I love this series! The characters, the setting, the plot lines, everything. This book was no exception. Between the twists and turns of the plot and the subplots becoming more and more mysterious, I was riveted to this book!
~Valerie’s Musings

Excerpt

A postcard with an image of lush sprawling foliage and a rust-covered antique carriage taunted me from the cushy passenger seat of my SUV. I almost veered off the road twice on the drive to campus because I couldn’t peel my eyes away from its persistent glare and blatant reminder of Mendoza. It had to be from Francesca. No one else knew about the remote South American vineyard we’d visited on our honeymoon many years earlier. I shook my clenched fist at the spooky vision of her vanishing in the rearview window. Was she following me everywhere now?

It was Francesca’s seventh message since leaving town and failing to inform anyone she wasn’t returning to Los Angeles. A torturous weekly mystery highlighting her whereabouts but leaving no way to contact her. At first, I thought she’d accepted my decision to remain in Pennsylvania and would wait until her parents, the heads of the Castigliano mob family, discovered a way to bring her back from the dead. Let me clarify—she wasn’t truly dead, but everyone thought she was. Upon getting caught in a vicious war with Las Vargas, a rival crime family, Francesca’s parents had faked her death as the only way to keep her safe. No one else besides Francesca’s parents and my sister knew Francesca was alive.

My wife just needed space to adjust to the changes. For two-and-a-half years, she’d been sequestered in a Los Angeles mansion watching from a distance as I raised our seven-year-old daughter on my own. Emma stayed with her nonni a couple of nights a week which made Francesca feel like her daughter was never too far away, but she couldn’t actually talk to Emma. Once I moved back home, Francesca lost her ability to see Emma and materialized from seclusion hoping to reconcile. Based on the postcards, she was visiting all the places we’d once traveled to together. Perhaps she needed to feel close to me since I’d refused to participate in whatever game her family was embroiled in with Las Vargas. Unfortunately, now that the Castiglianos blamed me for Francesca’s inexplicable disappearance, I anticipated their goons lurking around the corner and following me all the time. Dramatic stuff, huh?

I drove along Braxton’s main street cutting through the center of our charming, remote town and parked in the South Campus cable car station’s lot near Cambridge Lawn, a large open field filled with colorful flowerbeds, bright green blades of thick grass, and moss-covered stone walkways. It was Saturday, which meant graduation day at Braxton College—also my first one as a professor at the renowned institution. Although I’d only been back for a few months, it felt like I’d never left given my mother, Violet Ayrwick, was still its director of admissions and my father, Wesley Ayrwick, had just retired from its presidency. He would co-lead the ceremony with the new president to complete his responsibilities, thus allowing him to concentrate on converting the college into a university.

Although I’d been apprehensive in accepting my professorship, I grew excited about the opportunity to reconnect with family and friends whom I’d hardly seen since originally leaving town a decade ago. When my cell phone vibrated, I clicked a steering wheel button to display the text message on the SUV’s dashboard screen. The previous owner, a family friend who’d been murdered earlier that year, had added all the bells and whistles making it easy to remain hands-free. Was I the only one slightly unnerved by driving a dead woman’s car?

Nana DAre you still coming by after the graduation? I’ve got sticky buns and a broccoli and Gouda quiche for a late brunch… and I’m getting nervous about the race.

My grandmother, known as Seraphina Danby to everyone else, had finished the third and final debate in her surprise quest to become the next mayor of Wharton County, the larger geographical area encompassing Braxton and three other villages in north-central Pennsylvania. She was neck and neck with Councilman Marcus Stanton, her dreaded enemy for reasons she refused to share with anyone. I secretly suspected she was angry with him because of a bad date or his failure to flirt with her once Grandpop had left us for the great big afterlife in the sky.

Me: You’ll be the new mayor. I’m confident. Focus on the numbers. Emma doing okay?

Nana D: Yep. She’s in the stable talking to the horse groomer about finding her a puppy.

Me: Never committed to it! You told her she could have one if we moved into Danby Landing. Not me.

I’d been living with my parents in the Royal Chic-Shack, a huge modernized log cabin they’d built before I was born thirty-two years ago. When it became clear I needed my own space, Nana D thoughtfully suggested a move to her farm’s guesthouse to provide Emma and me some privacy. We’d agreed to give it a chance for the summer, but if it didn’t pan out, I’d look for our own place posthaste.

Nana D: Emma loves it here. She keeps me out of trouble. You and your mother should be grateful.

She was right. Without a chaperone or extensive supervision, Nana D often found herself skirting too close to disaster. I parked the car and told my seventy-four-year-old cross to bear—I mean that as lovingly as possible—to expect a two o’clock arrival. The graduation ceremony would last longer, but I was only making a brief presentation to declare this year’s cable car redesign winner.

Between North and South Campus ran a one-mile electrical track transporting students and faculty back and forth to dorms, academic halls, administrative offices, and other student buildings. The old-fashioned cable car was the only one of its kind in the area and often brought in visitors—and much-needed surplus income—from all over the country. Braxton’s graduating class voted each year to redesign the interior as its outgoing gift to the college. There was a surprise victor this year which would make my friend and colleague, Dean Fern Terry, quite relieved. At one point, she worried an apocalyptic dystopian world of aliens would litter the inside of the two-car transportation system she used daily. It was not happening under my watch. I checked the time, stole one last glance at the ominous postcard, and walked across Cambridge Lawn.

As I approached the last stone pathway, I heard my name being called in the distance. I turned to see Ed Mulligan talking with an unknown bald man in his mid-to-late forties. Dean Mulligan, the head of all academics at Braxton, wore an impeccably tailored three-piece suit—his normal highbrow approach to dressing—and scuttled toward me as if he were in a desperate rush to the finish line.

“Kellan, I’d like you to meet George Braun, a visiting professor who arrived in town a few weeks ago to teach a summer course,” Dean Mulligan said. When the sunlight landed on George’s face, it highlighted the rippled, leathery texture of his skin. Perhaps he suffered from the effects of a recent sunburn or battled a case of rosacea.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Kellan. Dean Mulligan tells me you recently joined Braxton and might lend a new guy some pointers about how to survive on this exquisite campus,” George replied with an unusual accent. Although I was adept at picking up common enunciations, his was a mixture of too many unbalanced inflections to be certain of its origin. There were hints of a gruff Midwest tone with drawn-out vowels, yet I sensed a cultured European style as he finished each of his words.

When Dean Mulligan nodded to confirm George’s statement, his jowls jiggled like Santa’s belly. “I can think of no one else more qualified,” he added with an exaggerated wink.

“Certainly, happy to play tour guide. I’m late at the moment, or I’d stay and chat. I have ceremonial duties for this morning’s graduation.” Upon shaking George’s hand, I noticed he wore a pair of thin leather gloves despite the warm temperatures making it unnecessary. Germaphobe?

I wanted to ask what area he’d be working on given my boss, the indomitable Dr. Myriam Castle, head of the communications department, had brought in a new professor for curriculum redesign and expansion. It was supposed to be a chunk of my role at the college, but she’d quickly made a play for additional money to hire someone other than me to prepare the future vision. Now that my father was no longer the president, but Myriam’s wife Ursula Power was in that role, things were changing.

“Perhaps we could have breakfast on Monday morning? I’m due on campus at ten o’clock to meet with Dr. Anita Singh about the courses,” George explained. A dark gray sportscoat covered broad shoulders and attempted to slim his stocky figure. Given he was noticeably several inches taller and wider than me, it didn’t appear to help.

“That sounds like a plan. Let’s meet at eight thirty at the Pick-Me-Up Diner?” I proposed, knowing it’d lend me an excuse to judge the eatery’s latest renovations.

Dean Mulligan haughtily teased,” Ah, George, you’ll soon come to learn the Ayrwick family has a long-standing establishment in and around Braxton. Eleanor, Kellan’s sister, owns the diner, a favored restaurant by most employed at or attending our fine institution.”

As Dean Mulligan provided directions to George, I caught a puzzled expression on the visiting professor’s face. He muttered something unintelligible before his gaze narrowed and highlighted two ultra-thin blond eyebrows. “Pardon?” I inquired.

“Ayrwick, you said?” he added, cocking his head to the left and focusing on the pastoral landscape behind me. He wouldn’t look me in the face without glancing away. Was he sensitive about his skin condition or his funny way of speaking? I hoped I hadn’t offended the man with my transitory stare and state of confusion.

“Yes, Dean Mulligan’s correct. My family’s been in Wharton County for close to three centuries. I look forward to speaking with you on Monday,” I replied, excusing myself and dashing toward the backstage area to locate Dean Fern Terry. Since she oversaw the graduation as head of student affairs, Fern could tell me when I was needed for the ceremony.

George Braun not only seemed familiar with the name Ayrwick, but I was certain that was concern or alarm etched on his face. After a quick catch-up with Fern, I found a spot on the east side of the stage as the ceremony began. I could stand there until it was time to declare the winner of the contest. Although I knew a few students in the graduating class, I hadn’t been at the institution long enough to serve as an announcer of graduate names nor to deliver any inspirational departing speeches.

Fern initiated the ceremony by reminiscing about the school’s history and highlighting the graduating class’s accomplishments. She introduced Ursula who took the stage to congratulate the outgoing students, then turned it over to my father for his last opportunity to say goodbye to the future alumni. As he spoke, Ursula navigated the stage’s steps like they were a catwalk and headed toward the back of the seating area.

Once my father finished boorishly riffing about something in Latin, Fern commandeered the stage and announced my name. I walked to the center and stood behind the lectern looking out at a mostly unfamiliar sea of people. With over two hundred graduates, the audience teetered around a thousand guests including their families and nearly all the college’s administrative and academic staff. I talked about the process to nominate and vote for different cable car designs, then explained how it was an awfully close race. Only two people had been told the final winner. Ursula and I agreed to surprise Fern with the results given how disappointed she’d be if the apocalypse had won. She’d tried to bribe me with a homemade coconut cream cake at Easter, but I stood firm. Where desserts were my weakness, keeping secrets was my strength.

“It gives me immense pleasure to reveal today’s winner,” I said, pointing and clicking the button on a tiny remote toward the digital screen. “I’ve been a huge fan of these two larger-than-life characters since I was a small boy, and I often find myself involved in solving a few mysteries of my own.” A series of conversations between Agatha Christie’s famed detectives, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, materialized on the large screen behind me. Various quotes and images from the books, movies, and PBS shows would appear inside the cable car to share different interpretations of the characters.

“It’s because you’re our inspiration for solving those two murder investigations,” Jordan Ballantine shouted followed by a bunch of cheers. “We wanted to honor your service to the campus!” Jordan was one of the graduates who’d be leaving Braxton to attend an MBA program in New Orleans.

In my three months at Braxton, I’d solved a couple of murders and been deemed a campus hero. I looked at Fern, Jordan’s aunt, and smiled with humility. We’d come a long way from her disciplining me when I’d been the president of my fraternity pleading forgiveness after various mischievous activities. Fern beamed back at me and lifted her hands in the air as if to say ‘holla’ like the bellowing students. Somehow the image of a sixtyish woman built like a quarterback in a gray pixie-style haircut performing such a move was frightening beyond any comfort.

As I thanked everyone for their votes, I noticed one of the graduates, Sam Taft, speaking with my brother, Gabriel. I’d caught the two of them in a cozy embrace last March shortly after someone had killed Gwendolyn Paddington to ensure an inheritance of the family fortune. I’d been shocked to see my brother after eight years but even more astonished to learn he might be gay. If you’d seen that kiss, there wouldn’t have been any question of might be, but until I spoke with him, I didn’t want to assume. Neither one had realized I’d seen them that day, and for the last seven weeks, I’d kept the information to myself. I didn’t know whether to ask Sam about it or hire a private investigator to track Gabriel.

Once I finished my speech, I sprinted down the steps to interrogate or to hug my brother—still hadn’t decided which one. I tried to reach him, but Gabriel winked and escaped in the opposite direction. Before I could rush off to beg Sam for help, Ursula stepped in the way. “Kellan, I’m glad we ran into one another. I was curious if you found out anything new?” she said with a gleam of hope.

By now, Sam had lined up on stage to receive his diploma, and Gabriel was long gone. I breathed a gulp of warm air and felt my body begin to wane. For the third week of May, the heat had come from nowhere and grown inordinately stagnant. All the comforting breezes were blocked by tall fir trees surrounding one side of Cambridge Lawn and the massive church holding firm on its southern border. I liked the hot weather, but this was intense.

Ursula had recently pleaded for help with a problem involving the past finally catching up to her. I’d learned a lot about my new boss during our conversations, some of which explained the reason she was taciturn about her history and some of which shocked me to the core. Not even Myriam knew about her wife’s tragedy or the years she’d been running and hiding from the truth about her real identity. While I felt the palpitating fear emanate off Ursula’s normally serene exterior, I tried not to judge her for the damage her prior actions had caused.

About The Author

Background

James is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College, an historic but small liberal arts school in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with a degree in English literature and minors in Education, Business and Spanish. After college, I accepted a technical writing position for a telecommunications company during Y2K and spent the last ~20 years building a career in technology & business operations in the retail, sports, media and entertainment industries. Throughout those years, I wrote some short stories, poems and various beginnings to the “Great American Novel,” but I was so focused on my career in technology and business that writing became a hobby. In 2016, I refocused some of my energies toward reinvigorating a second career in reading, writing and publishing.

Author

Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, my mind and my body. At some points, it was just a few poems or short stories; at others, it was full length novels and stories. My current focus is family drama fiction, cozy mystery novels and suspense thrillers. I think of characters and plots that I feel must be unwound. I think of situations people find themselves in and feel compelled to tell the story. It’s usually a convoluted plot with many surprise twists and turns. I feel it necessary to take that ride all over the course. My character is easily pictured in my head. I know what he is going to encounter or what she will feel. But I need to use the right words to make it clear.

Reader & Reviewer

Reading has also never left my side. Whether it was children’s books, young adult novels, college textbooks, biographies or my ultimate love, fiction, it’s ever present in my day. I read 2 books per week and I’m on a quest to update every book I’ve ever read on Goodreads, write up a review and post it on all my sites and platforms.

Blogger & Thinker

I have combined my passions into a single platform where I share reviews, write a blog and publish tons of content: TRUTH. I started my 365 Daily Challenge, where I post about a word that has some meaning to me and converse with everyone about life. There is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dogs have had weekly segments called “Ryder’s Rants” or “Baxter’s Barks” where they complain about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real. And that’s why they are me.

Genealogist & Researcher

I love history and research, finding myself often reaching back into the past to understand why someone made the choice he or she did and what were the subsequent consequences. I enjoy studying the activities and culture from hundreds of years ago to trace the roots and find the puzzle of my own history. I wish I could watch my ancestors from a secret place to learn how they interacted with others; and maybe I’ll comprehend why I do things the way I do.

Websites & Blog

Website: https://jamesjcudney.com/

Blog: https://thisismytruthnow.com

Amazon: http://bit.ly/JJCIVBooks

Next Chapter Pub: https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/james-j-cudney

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/james-j-cudney

Social Media

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamescudney4

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JamesJCudneyIVAuthor/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BraxtonCampusMysteries/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThisIsMyTruthNow/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jamescudney4/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jamescudney4/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jamescudney4

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamescudney4

Genres, Formats & Languages

I write in the family drama and mystery genres. My first two books are Watching Glass Shatter (2017) and Father Figure (2018). Both are contemporary fiction and focus on the dynamics between parents and children and between siblings. I’m currently writing the sequel to Watching Glass Shatter. I also have a light mystery series called the Braxton Campus Mysteries with six books available.

All my books come in multiple formats (Kindle, physical print, large print paperback, and audiobook) and some are also translated into foreign languages such as Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and German.

Goodreads Book Links

Watching Glass Shatter (October 2017)

Father Figure (April 2018)

Braxton Campus Mysteries

Posted in Cozy Mysteries, New Releases

Spotlight for Murder in the Wine Country, A Kelly Jackson Mystery, by Janet Finsilver

Murder in the Wine Country (A Kelly Jackson Mystery)
by Janet Finsilver

About Murder in the Wine Country

Murder in the Wine Country (A Kelly Jackson Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
6th in Series
Publisher: Lyrical Underground (April 28, 2020)
Paperback: 178 pages
ISBN-10: 1516104277
ISBN-13: 978-1516104277
Kindle ASIN: B07Z5PKHVW

Weeding out killers wasn’t part of the job description . . .

Kelly Jackson, manager of the Redwood Cove Bed and Breakfast, is excited to participate in an event to raise awareness for the plight of struggling veterans in their Northern California coastal community. Local wineries are sponsoring tastings, and to prepare for a culinary competition, professional chefs will forage for wild edible greens. Kelly plans to come along, despite a warning to beware of poachers, who have been stealing the highly valued succulent Dudleya farinosa. The senior sleuths who call themselves the Silver Sentinels join forces with environmental activists known as the Succulent Saviors to thwart the poaching operation. When a consultant for the sale of a local winery is murdered, the poachers are suspected—but so is a wine merchant, Kelly’s friend Phil. As Kelly and the Silver Sentinels attempt to root out the real killer, what she digs up might just put her permanently underground . . .

Janet Finsilver is the USA TODAY best-selling author of the Kelly Jackson mystery series. She worked in education for many years as a teacher, a program administrator, and a workshop presenter. Janet majored in English and earned a Master’s Degree in Education. She loves animals and has two dogs—Kylie and Ellie. Janet has ridden western style since she was a child and was a member of the National Ski Patrol. One of the highlights of her life was touching whales in the San Ignacio Lagoon. MURDER AT REDWOOD COVE, her debut mystery, was released on October 13, 2015. Five books followed with her most recent release on April 28, 2020, of book six, MURDER IN THE WINE COUNTRY.

Janet Finsilver and her husband reside in the San Francisco Bay Area. She enjoys cooking, and a recent attempt to reduce the number of cookbooks in the cupboard wasn’t very successful. She’s an avid reader—of course!

Please feel free to visit and/or contact me on my author Facebook page and my website. https://www.facebook.com/janetfinsilverauthor/ http://janetfinsilver.com/

Author Links

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/janetfinsilverauthor/?fref=ts

Twitter – https://twitter.com/JanetFinsilver

Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/janetfinsilver/

Web – http://janetfinsilver.com/

Purchase Links – AmazonB&N

TOUR PARTICIPANTS

May 20 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

May 20 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW

May 20 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW

May 21 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

May 21 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW

May 22 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT

May 22 – My Journey Back – CHARACTER GUEST POST

May 23 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

May 23 – T’s Stuff – SPOTLIGHT

May 24 – Brooke Blogs – GUEST POST

May 24 – Gimme The Scoop Reviews – CHARACTER GUEST POST

May 25 – Christy’s Cozy Corners– GUEST POST

May 25 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

May 26 – Cozy Up With Kathy – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

May 26 – Baroness’ Book Trove – SPOTLIGHT

May 27 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

May 27 – Literary Gold – CHARACTER GUEST POST

May 28 – Mysteries with Character – GUEST POST

May 28 – eBook Addicts – SPOTLIGHT

May 29 – Ascroft, eh? – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

May 29 – Carla Loves to Read – REVIEW

May 30 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

May 30 – Jane Reads – GUEST POST

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Posted in Authors, Reviews

Review of Love and Ruin, A Historical Fiction Novel of Ernest Hemigway’s Third Wife, Martha Gellhorn, by Paula McLain

****4-stars

Popular historical fiction novelist, Paul McLain, who previously wrote about Ernest Hemingway and his first wife in The Paris Wife, tells the story of Hemingway’s third wife, Martha “Marty” Gellhorn. This book, however, isn’t just a love story. It is also a war story because we follow Marty who, after writing an unsuccessfully-reviewed novel, finds her niche as a war correspondent covering the news for Colliers with her famous husband as her rival.

Marty is courageous, driven, and determined to document the atrocities of the several wars she’s lived through including World War II. While devoted to Ernest, she needs to make her own name among journalists.

I found this novel a riveting, fast-paced, and interesting look at the horrors of war and the personal glimpses into the life of one of America’s most famous novelist. As a writer myself, I related to Marty’s struggle making a name for herself in a competitive field that, at that time, was predominated by male authors. I highly recommend this read to those interested in history, biographies, and realistic fiction.

Paula McLain’s photo from her website

About the Author: From Paula’s website:

Paula McLain is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels, The Paris Wife and Circling the Sun. She now introduces her latest title, Love and Ruin.

Paula McLain was born in Fresno, California in 1965. After being abandoned by both parents, she and her two sisters became wards of the California Court System, moving in and out of various foster homes for the next fourteen years. When she aged out of the system, she supported herself by working as a nurses aid in a convalescent hospital, a pizza delivery girl, an auto-plant worker, a cocktail waitress–before discovering she could (and very much wanted to) write. She received her MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan in 1996.

She is the author of The Paris Wife, a New York Times and international bestseller, which has been published in thirty-four languages. The recipient of fellowships from Yaddo, The MacDowell Colony, the Cleveland Arts Prize, the Ohio Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, she is also the author of two collections of poetry; a memoir, Like Family, Growing up in Other People’s Houses; and a first novel, A Ticket to Ride. She lives with her family in Cleveland.

Connect with Paula on

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Posted in Cozy Mystery, New Releases, Spotlight

Spotlight and Blog Tour for Killing Time, A Dodie O’Dell Mystery, by Suzanne Trauth

Killing Time (A Dodie O’Dell Mystery)
by Suzanne Trauth

About Killing Time


Killing Time (A Dodie O’Dell Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
6th in Series
Publisher: Lyrical Press (June 2, 2020)
Number of Pages: 215
Digital ASIN: B07W8ZX8JV

With Halloween just around the corner, Dodie O’Dell is making preparations to transform the Windjammer Restaurant on the Jersey Shore into a haunted house, while the Etonville Little Theatre is staging Dracula. But casting the titular Transylvanian is proving challenging. The amateur actors in the company are not shy about chewing the scenery, but who among them can convincingly sink their fangs into a victim’s neck? When a mysterious newcomer with a transfixing Eastern European accent lands the part, rumors that he might be an actual vampire start to take flight—not unlike the bat who’s recently been spotted in the town park.

But everyone’s blood really runs cold when a stranger is found in the cemetery with a real stake in his heart. Dodie decides to put her Halloween theme menu on the back burner and stick her neck out to bring the killer into the light of day. She’d better keep her wits about her, though—or Dodie may be the next one to go down for the Count . . .

Excerpt

“It sure looks haunted,” Edna murmured to no one in particular, to the cast of Dracula in general. They were grouped around her on the sidewalk that ran past the old Hanratty place that Carlos and Bella had rented. I’d never been inside though once I’d driven by it when I first moved to Etonville on my way out of town. The house stood on half an acre of scruffy lawn with patches of dried dirt, surrounded by a few straggly trees—minus leaves at this time of the year—and no neighbors. The nearest houses were on a side street some distance away. The three-story building looked as if it might collapse at any moment, its outer walls covered with weathered, gray shakes, the steps to the front door supported by concrete building blocks. There was no handrail. Light leaked out of windows on the first floor. Curtains covering small, circular panes on the third story—an attic room?—quivered. Was someone up there watching us? I shivered. A turret rose upward from the right side of the structure, giving the house a smidge of outdated dignity. A drain pipe dangled loosely from the gutter.

“Let’s go.” Penny corralled actors and nudged everyone forward to the front door. There were six company members, Renfield saying he’d be along later, plus Penny, Lola, Pauli, and me. Strength in numbers.

We crept across the porch cautiously, aware of the creaking beneath us as the flooring shifted with each individual’s footsteps. Penny put out a hand to knock on the door. Before she could hit knuckles to wood, it flew open. “Welcome everyone!” Bella stood in the doorway, a silhouette backlit by muted foyer lighting.

Behind her Carlos stood silently, observing the group huddled in his entryway, like deer caught in headlights.

Lola took the lead, moving graciously into the house. “Thank you. So nice of you to invite us to your home.”

I’m not sure what the members of the Etonville Little Theatre were expecting. Given the exterior and location of the Hanratty homestead, I anticipated something out of a late-night classic horror film.

About Suzanne Trauth

Suzanne Trauth, Harvard Studio, Montclair, NJ. 06/27/2014 Photo by Steve Hockstein/HarvardStudio.com

Suzanne Trauth is a novelist, playwright, screenwriter, and a former theatre professor at a university. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, the Dramatists Guild, and League of Professional Theatre Women. When she is not writing, Suzanne coaches actors and serves as a celebrant performing wedding ceremonies. She lives in Woodland Park, New Jersey.

Author Links

Webpage: www.suzannetrauth.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SuzanneTrauth/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SuzanneMTrauth

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6187623.Suzanne_M_Trauth

Purchase Links

Amazon B&NKobo

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TOUR PARTICIPANTS

May 19 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – SPOTLIGHT

May 19 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

May 20 – StoreyBook Reviews – CHARACTER GUEST POST

May 20 – Baroness’ Book Trove – REVIEW

May 21 – Ruff Drafts – SPOTLIGHT

May 22 – Laura’s Interests– CHARACTER GUEST POST

May 22 – View from the Birdhouse – REVIEW

May 22 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

May 23 – Christy’s Cozy Corners– CHARACTER INTERVIEW

May 23 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT

May 24 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW

May 25 – Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

May 25 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT

May 26 – Dee-Scoveries – SPOTLIGHT

May 26 – Reading Is My SuperPower – GUEST POST

May 27 – Ascroft, eh? – GUEST POST

May 28 – eBook Addicts – REVIEW

May 29 – Rosepoint Publishing – REVIEW

May 30 – Gimme The Scoop Reviews – REVIEW

May 31 – Diane Reviews Books – REVIEW

May 31 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

June 1 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW

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