Book Review Tuesday: Sunset Beach, The Player, Watching Glass Shatter @JacqBiggar @jamescudney4

Warm and cozy window seat with cushions and a opened book, light through vintage shutters, rustic style home decor. Small cat on window seat, along with coffee cup by pillow, Words Book Review Tuesday superimposed over imageHappy almost June and welcome to summer! Yeah, I get that summer doesn’t “officially” happen until June 21st, but Memorial Day has always been the threshold to summer fun, including the key opening of east coast beaches and amusement parks. Since I live in a tourist town, I think of Memorial Day as being the gateway to summer. Even though COVID-19 has put a damper on festivities, I still feel the change.

Let it be known that I FREAKING LOVE SUMMER!

Yes, I appreciate all of the seasons, but give me my pool, my Kindle (or a fat paperback), a grill, and swimming weather, and I will pass each day in sheer bliss.

And speaking of Kindles, I have several reviews to share. I read these books in March and April during shelter-in-place time. My county is finally moving to yellow phase this Friday, but I am already back at work. I won’t be able to share all the books I read while sheltering, but I would like to share some standouts. As Jackie Gleason was fond of saying, and away we go . . .


Book cover for sunset beach by Jacquie Biggar shows young couple embrace in front of ocean at sunsetSunset Beach
by Jacquie Biggar

Trace and Mona are both single parents with teenage daughters and history that goes back to their dating years in high school. Trace made the mistake of cheating on Mona with Sally, now his ex-wife. In a small town, paths cross and gossip flies. When Mona decides to run for Mayor against Trace, life becomes even more complicated, especially as these two struggle to navigate underlying feelings for each other.

This is a sweet romance with engaging characters set in a charming town. Of special mention, Trace and Mona’s daughters, Bailey and Amber, provide a secondary plot line that shines every bit as brightly as the first. The ending is superb, providing the perfect HEA you’d expect from a story like this. A winner all the way around.

5 STARS

AMAZON LINK
Genre: Romance > Parenting Teenagers  


Book cover for The Player b Jacquie Biggar shows orange tabby cat and man and woman on opposing sides, from feet to knees, hockey skates in foregroundThe Player
by Jacquie Biggar

The tables get turned in this tale of a superstar male hockey player plagued by a female stalker. Roy Donaldson has everything going for him, except an ex-girlfriend who doesn’t know how to let go. When she does everything she can to cast him in a bad light, a public relations representative steps in to repair the unjust damage to his image.

Enter Patience Kennedy, the single daughter in a family with four brothers who knows zilch about sports, but plenty about people. When the two retreat to Roy’s home in the woods to work on strategy, sparks fly. Actually, sparks fly from the first meeting between these two, and it’s fun to watch their attraction run from frustration to simmer to bloom. Toss in a stray orange tabby and you’ve got a feel-good formula destined to bring an HEA. But reaching that point presents a path twined with danger and suspense.

Jacquie Biggar mixes all the right ingredients, even touching on mental illness and family relations both good and bad. The author’s breezy writing, witty observations, and dialogue are a pleasure to read. Many times, I stopped to marvel at a particular turn of phrase or reread a section for sheer enjoyment. I’ve enjoyed everything Ms. Biggar has written. She is a skilled author who knows her craft, but The Player may just be my favorite to date. What a feel-good gem!

5 STARS

AMAZON LINK
Genre: Amateur Sleuth Mysteries > Hockey


Book cover for Watching Glass Shatter by James J. Cudney shows broken glass with large hole in center, shatter lines forking outward from holeWatching Glass Shatter
by James J. Cudney

Olivia Glass has the ideal life with five wonderful grown sons, grandchildren, and a successful husband. It all begins to crumble when her husband, Ben, dies in an automobile accident. Worse than facing life without him, is the letter he left behind, explaining that one of their children isn’t really hers. When her baby was born dead, Ben switched the infant with a different child the birth mother wanted to adopt out. But which of her five sons?

Determined to unearth the truth before sharing it with her children, Olivia decides to visit each son in their home. This is where Cudney weaves a tangled web, family drama at its best. As the book progresses, Olivia is confronted by shock after shock, realizing each son has kept a personal secret from her and others. Five brothers, five secrets.

Each brother is thoroughly fleshed out with his own particular strengths and weakness. Olivia’s character becomes clear through her actions and how others see and interact with her. There are explosive moments, heart wrenching moments, touching moments, splashes of humor. As a reader, you’ll feel frustration, melancholy, joy and contentment. The author deftly pulls multiple heartstrings in this tale of a family imploding, only to come out stronger in the end. And let’s not forget, that among these five men, one is not really Olivia’s son.

A thoroughly satisfying read.

5 STARS

AMAZON LINK
Genre:  Fiction > Family Drama


Hopefully, I’ve sparked your interest with one of these reviews. I’ve got plenty more to share, but in the meantime, I wish you happy reading!

Out and About with Blog Visits

A beam of light shines out from an open bookHi, friends! It’s almost the end of the week—I can taste Friday and the weekend. So close! We have been fortunate to have 40ish weather in Central Pennsylvania. Earlier in the week we had high 50s and a record high in the low 60s. SCORE! That’s my kind of winter!

Beautiful weather makes me want to be outside. Much like those gorgeous temps that have me spending time outdoors, blog wanderlust can kick in any time. Today, I’m making the rounds as the guest of two fabulous bloggers.

James (Jay) Cudney is interviewing me at his site, THIS IS MY TRUTH NOW. I had a lot of fun answering his questions and hope you’ll pop over if you have a moment. Jay is also a talented author (I’m a fan of his Braxton Campus Mystery Series) and has an excellent blog, so be sure to give a looksee when you visit and consider following him. He’s an excellent blogger, writer friend, and supporter of others.

Also, my dear friend and PenderPal, Marcia Meara (she gets the PenderPal reference, LOL) is shining a spotlight on Eventide today and helping me spread news of my Hode’s Hill Mystery Series sale. I hope you’ll pop over to Marcia’s place, THE WRITE STUFF to check it out. And if by some unimaginable hiccup in the universe you are not following this talented and funny author, be sure to check out her blog. I guarantee she’ll make you smile.

I’m closing comments here but hope to see you out and about! Happy reading and happy Thursday!

Book Review Tuesday: Flower Power Trip @jamescudney4

Warm and cozy window seat with cushions and a opened book, light through vintage shutters, rustic style home decor. Small cat on window seat, along with coffee cup by pillow, Words Book Review Tuesday superimposed over image

Welcome to another Book Review Tuesday! I have one book to share with you today, and although it’s part of a series, I believe it stands well on its own.This is the second Braxton Campus Mystery I’ve read, and I’m hooked. What a spectacular, delightful, eccentric, colorful assortment of characters. Five starts from me for Flower Power Trip by James J. Cudney!


Book cover for Flower Power Trip by James Cudney shows stately looking building in background, flower garden in foreground, with knife sticking up from flowersFlower Power Trip
by James J. Cudney

Once you visit Braxton Campus, you can’t help becoming immersed in the lives of the varied people who populate this quaint setting. Kellan Arywick is a professor with an uncanny knack for sleuthing out murderers—through no fault of his own, and much to the chagrin of the local sheriff. This time around, Kellan agrees to help Braxton College president, Ursula Power, discover who’s stalking her and sending threatening notes. Instead, Kellan ends up with a dead body on his hands, the prime suspect his ex-girlfriend’s sister. Kellan and Maggie have a maintained a strong friendship, so he’s soon up to his neck in trying to find out who did the deed. A stalker, a murder—and that’s only part of what’s going on in this multi-layered mystery.

Complex, but believably presented, the main threads tie up in a neat bow by the time the end arrives. Getting there, however, is quite the rollercoaster ride with suspects presenting themselves at every turn (there is also a few ongoing threads that carry over the series, but in no way leave the reader unsatisfied).

Highlights for me: Kellan’s grandmother “Nana D” is a scene stealer, though there are so many colorful characters in this series, each is given multiple moments to shine. The dialogue is witty and the writing crisp.

An absolute highlight is the masquerade party held to raise funds for renovations to the library. The theme is Heroes and Villains, with guests attending  dressed as their favorite hero or villain from literature. I want to go to that party!—minus the murder, of course. Also of note is Kellan’s frenemy relationship with Sheriff April Montague, who finds his meddling in police business annoying to say the least. It’s fun seeing the progression and changes to their relationship.

If you like cozies and whodunits, with vibrant characters and snappy dialogue, this is a series for you! I read this book without reading the first two in the series, but given how enthralled I am, I want to read them all! 5 Stars

Amazon Purchase Link
Genre: Cozy Mystery


Thanks for visiting today, and I hope you enjoyed the review. If you’re looking for a good cozy, check out Flower Power Trip and the entire Braxton Campus series. I know I’ll be reading more!

Book Review Tuesday: Haunted House Ghost @jamescudney4, My Girl @JacqBiggar, Through the Nethergate by Roberta Eaton Cheadle, Moonlight Becomes You by Mary Higgins Clark

Warm and cozy window seat with cushions and a opened book, light through vintage shutters, rustic style home decor. Small cat on window seat, along with coffee cup by pillow, Words Book Review Tuesday superimposed over image

I’m back with my second and final Book Review Tuesday post for the month of December. As mentioned in last week’s post, I won’t be sharing reviews on Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve, as I fear many readers won’t be online and I’d like to give the authors of the books I’ve read as much exposure as possible. Today’s variety includes a cozy mystery, a second-chance romance, and young-adult horror.


Book cover for cozy mystery Haunted House Ghost by James J. Cudney shows cartoon sketch of old house on hillside in front of full moon with cartoon ghost aboveHaunted House Ghost
A Kellan Ayrwick Cozy Mystery (Braxton Campus Mysteries Book 5)

by James J. Cudney

This is my first Braxton Campus mystery. It was a delight discovering these characters—and there are many. When you join a series in progress, it’s easy to get lost, but not with the Braxton series. The author did an excellent job of establishing who was who, as well as explaining the relationships that connected all the people in this fabulous fictional setting.

College professor and amateur sleuth, Kellan, moves into an old house only to discover it may be haunted by ghosts of the past. Set during Halloween, this cozy relies on past connections, family histories, plenty of secrets, and a cast of suspects that keeps the reader guessing. Toss in a fifty-year old skeleton, an eccentric psychic, plus Halloween happenings, and you can’t go wrong.

Kellan’s family is a delight—especially Nana D who is fond of calling him “brilliant one.” His developing romance with town sheriff, April, adds a nice hint of romance to the layers of mystery. Grab your scorecard, tally up the suspects, and take your best guess. If you like cozies, you’re sure to enjoy this charmer! 5 Stars!

Amazon Link
Genre: Psychic Mysteries > Mystery Series > Ghost Mysteries 


Book cover for My Girl by Jacquie Biggar shows couple sharing a kiss behind a bouquet of flowersMy Girl: Gambling Hearts—Book Three
by Jacquie Biggar

Jacquie Biggar does it again! If you love second chance romances, you’re sure to love this story! Trish is a city girl from a corporate background, Aaron, a Texas rancher. Romantically involved for a time, family conflicts forced them to part. Now Trish, her parents, and her fiancé, are the first guests at the ranch Aaron owns along with his sibling—a place now opening as a dude/guest ranch.

Sparks fly right from the get-go, but there is plenty of trouble in the form of Trish’s slimy fiance (her father forced the arrangement) and her interfering parents. There’s also a surprise or two tucked into the plot, including how some of these characters end up. But one thing you can count on is the HEA at the end. It’s a sweet journey getting there with plenty of ups and downs, but the conclusion will leave you with a fuzzy feeling and a sloppy grin. I love everything Jacquie Biggar writes, but she really hit a home run with this charmer. Of special note: although this is the third book in a series, it easily stands on its own as well. 5 Stars!

Amazon Link
Genres: Western Romance > Women’s Romance Fiction


Book cover for Through the Nethergate by Roberta Eaton Cheadle shows young girl standing in open doorway at top of dark staircase descending downThrough the Nethergate
by Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Margaret is a girl with a special gift that allows her to see ghosts who are trapped in an overworld between Heaven and Hell. She’s able to help them regain life, then help them move on in the hereafter. When she moves in with her grandfather after the death of her parents, Margaret encounters a number of ghosts, and a particularly nasty black dog that is actually the embodiment of Hugh Bigod, an evil spirit who has held the ghosts trapped for centuries. Hugh has his own ideas how Margaret’s gifts can be used to his benefit.

This is a YA horror novel that will also appeal to adults, especially with the deep research the author layers into the historical aspects of the book. I found those the strongest and was enthralled by how skillfully Cheadle brought the past to life. There are a few POV issues and a good deal of internal thought, the latter which occasionally bogs things down, but for the most part this is a quick and easy read. Margaret’s grandfather is also a strong character, and the background of many of the ghosts adds a fascinating aspect. Most of the spirits are based on historic figures. I don’t usually read books that employ Lucifer as a character, and admit to skimming some of those chapters, but overall, I found this a compelling story on multiple levels. 4 Stars!

Amazon Link
Genre: Young Adult Horror


Book cover for Moonlight Becomes you by Mary Higgins Clark shows full white moon on surrounded by clouds on dark skyMoonlight Becomes You
by Marry Higgins Clark

It’s been a while since I’ve read a book by Mary Higgins Clark. I was anxious to try this one because of a plot thread regarding Victorian burial customs. Maggie Holloway reconnects with her stepmother, Nuala, at a cocktail party. The two women haven’t seen each other since Maggie was a child but their connection is immediate. Shortly afterward, Nuala is murdered by an unknown assailant and Maggie inherits her home.

The plot involves residents of Latham Manor, a luxury living center for seniors, complete with medical staff on the premises. Maggie becomes friendly with one of Nuala’s friends, only to have that woman die unexpectedly. She soon realizes that several residents of Latham Manor have passed away in a short amount of time, and while visiting their graves discovers Victorian burial bells by their tombstones. Although this isn’t the main thread of the story, it adds an interesting twist.

There are a lot of characters to keep track of, and the book bogs a bit as each are introduced and their connections to the others become apparent. The story starts with a bang then slows down for quite a while before gaining momentum again, but it’s worth sticking with. While I deduced the identity of the killer around the 60% mark, it was entertaining to see the mystery unravel. The suspenseful ending, along with a nice wrap for the various plot threads made for a satisfying read. 4 Stars!

Amazon Link
Genre: Psychological Fiction > Psychological Thrillers
(Note: I think this reads more like cozy despite the tags on Amazon)


I’ve seen a few of these books getting a lot of attention in the blogosphere within the last few months, so my guess is that some of you have read them, or have them on your TBRs. Either way, I’d love to hear your thoughts about today’s reviews!