June 2017 Reading Review

To start with, happy Fourth of July! I hope everyone’s enjoying it and spending time relaxing and having fun.

June was a hectic month for me, but I still managed to read twelve books! I didn’t have a terrible one in the bunch, but here are my favorites from June.

  1. Death of a Pumpkin Carver – Lee Hollis
  2. A Just Clause – Lorna Barrett
  3. Drive Time – Hank Phillippi Ryan
  4. Cold Pressed Murder – Kelly Lane
  5. Poppy Done to Death – Charlaine Harris

All of the outstanding books I read were in series that I highly recommend.

Have a great Fourth, and expect reviews for Booked 4 Murder (J.C. Eaton) and All the Little Liars (Charlaine Harris) within the next few days!

Donating Unwanted Books: Locally!

Continuation of this post.


Now that I’ve weeded through my shelves and picked out the books I no longer want, what do I do with them?

Well, there’s many ways you can get rid of books that allow others to read and love the books that you no longer want!

Local Outlets

Friends/Family

Though this one may seem obvious, give them to a friend or family! If you went through an adventure phase a few years back and you know your Uncle Bill loves adventure books, then give them to Uncle Bill! You can also give the books you no longer want to read as gifts. (Though you may not want to give them that book you spilled a drink on!) I love it when a family member gives me a book and says I read this and love it, so I wanted to give you a copy. It makes you feel special, and it’s cheap!

Schools/Churches

Many schools and churches have low budgets, especially for (what they consider) unimportant things  like books, so you donating a box of books you no longer want would be a huge gift to these places.

Always call the school/church first and make sure they have a library or use for the books. Also, make sure the books are appropriate for the setting, you don’t want smut going to a church or grade school. My church has a small library and they accept donations. I’m actually in charge of the library, and any donations I get I pick through and make sure we can use. If the library can’t use them we place them in our annual yard sale, so the donation still goes to help the church.

Thrift/Secondhand Stores

My town has a thrift store that I absolutely love! I’ve literally gotten hauls of 60+ cozy mysteries there! Like almost every thrift story (also places like Goodwill and Salvation Army) they accept donations. Many of these places have boxes where you can simply drop off a bag of items, so this is a simple, easy way to donate to give back to your community! A lot of these types of stores also go to help local people, my local thrift store is healthcare oriented, so every penny it makes goes to scholarships for students going into healthcare fields, the local hospitals, and other places like that. Because of that I never feel sorry when I donate or buy from them!

Libraries

Most American communities have a library, and if you’re not looking to get money out of the books you no longer want, I’d highly suggest donating them to your local library.

Most libraries accept donations; I know at my local library you can simply drop books in their book drop and they’ll do whatever they want with them. Check your library’s website or ask your local librarian before just throwing the books in the book drop, though, because your library may have special rules for donations.

At my local library, and at many libraries surrounding my library, they go through the donated books, and if there are books in great condition that they don’t already have they’re add them to their collection, however the rest they’ll sell in their book sales.

My town’s library also does not keep mass market paperbacks. It’s a small library and space is vital to them, so they’ve decided mass market paperbacks don’t have a big enough market in my town and they take up a lot of space, so they automatically sell them. So, make sure you know what your library does with the books. Especially if you will get your feelings hurt if all of your books go into a book sale.

Used Bookstore

Though not every community has a used bookstore (my closest one is 30 miles away!), they are a wonderful place to donate and sell used books. Many used bookstores will buy books from you with either cash or store credit (so, more books!), so it’s a great option if you want to get paid for donating your books. Most used bookstores will also accept donations, however they do not accept all used books, so check with them before dropping anything off!

No matter how small your town is you can do one of these things with your old books. However, always remember to check a place’s website or call them to be sure they accept donations! Also, don’t get your feelings hurt if you see a place decided not to keep a book you donated, just like us, libraries, churches, schools, even used bookstores have limited space, and they can’t keep everything. So, whatever you do do not throw away books you no longer want! There are ways you can give back to your community with those books,

Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen – Vicki Delany

24611862 4.5/5 Christmas Towns in December

On The Back

FIRST IN A NEW SERIES!

In Rudolph, New York, it’s Christmastime all year long. But this December, while the snow-lined streets seem merry and bright, a murder is about to ruin everyone’s holiday cheer…

As the owner of Mrs. Claus’s Treasures, Merry Wilkinson knows how to decorate homes for the holidays. That’s why she thinks her float in the semi-annual Santa Claus parade is a shoe-in for best in show. But when the tractor pulling Merry’s float is sabotaged, she has to face facts: there’s a Scrooge in Christmas Town.

Merry isn’t ready to point fingers, especially with a journalist in town writing a puff piece about Rudolph’s Christmas spirit. But when she stumbles upon the reporter’s body on a late night dog walk—and police suspect he was poisoned by a gingerbread cookie crafted by her best friend, Vicky—Merry will have to put down the jingle bells and figure out who’s really been grinching about town, before Vicky ends up on Santa’s naughty list…

My Thoughts:

I bought this book right after it came out because the premise sounded good to me, but I just let it sit on my shelf literally collecting dust, without reading it, until now. I enjoyed the Lighthouse Library mysteries written by the same author (which are coming back, thanks to Crooked Lane Books!!!) but for some reason I’d never picked this series up. Well, I’m glad I did last night. Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen immediately sucked me in!

I’ll start with the one negative in this book; there’s a love triangle brewing. Besides that, the characters are smart, capable, and Merry investigates without investigating, if that makes sense. She really just looks around a little bit and the rest just falls into her lap. That’s the way I like my mysteries!

The killer wasn’t transparent at all. I thought I had it figured out, but then the plot doubled back on itself and surprised me. The setting is perfect. Anyone who knows me knows that Christmas is my favorite, so a series on a town dedicated to Christmas? I was bound to love it.

Overall a solid, wonderfully-written book. I highly recommend, and will read the next one soon!

Cozy Mystery Publishers: Post “Save Our Cozies”

Part of my post series on cozy mystery publishers.

Well, the “Save Our Cozies” movement has significantly died off, and, in the aftermath, it looks as if there has been some major changes since my cozy mystery publishers post series came out last year. Former major cozy publishers have slacked off, and some minor publishers have pushed further into the cozy market. Because of this I’ve decided to do a monthly report card on each publisher, simply breaking down how they promoted cozies on social media, how many new series were published, and how many total cozies were published. More on that will come later, however. Today I just want to examine the publishers, and rank them, by how I feel they are now in the cozy world.

If you recall, in my original series of posts, I ranked Berkley and Kensington as “The Powerhouses,” Minotaur, Henery Press, and Midnight Ink as “The Next Three,” and Crooked Lane Books as “The Newbie.” Those rankings have drastically changed in the mere year since I created those posts.

The Big One

Kensington

Based on their scheduled releases and recent releases Kensington is leading the pack. More new series (including some from preestablished authors like Ellery Adams and Krista Davis!!!) and more continued cozy releases has set the publisher apart from the rest. Though their paperbacks still aren’t at Berkley’s quality, they aren’t bad quality at all! They still have tons of sales, and have proven themselves to be the foremost cozy publisher. Kensington has also started picking up popular series dropped by Berkley, such as Ellery Adam’s Book Retreat series, and Krista Davis’s Domestic Diva mysteries (both of which I highly recommend!).

The Next Two

Crooked Lane Books

I hesitated to list Crooked Lane as second on this list, but, based on their releases, and their future series they’re picking up, they deserve it. I’ve gotten the chance to read more books from Crooked Lane, and the ones I’ve read have all been very good. However, their books all (so far) have come out in hardcover first, making them expensive. Their ebooks are also higher priced than some other publishers on this list. However, they have released their books in paperback a year later, and, like Kensington, they have been picking up former Berkley series. Series like the County Cork series by Sheila Connolly and the Lighthouse Library series by Eva Gates (!!!) have been picked up.

Berkley

Sadly, Berkley has fallen behind, and, judging from it’s release schedule for the next year, it will continue to lose it’s place as one of the biggest cozy mystery publishers. There are no new cozy series (that I’ve seen, though I may be wrong) that are in Berkley’s publishing queue. They continue cutting series, and, because of that, they are falling behind as the premier cozy publisher. However, they still publish great quality books, and have occasional sales on ebooks.

Final Three

Henery Press / Midnight Ink / Minotaur Books

The next three I’m going to put in one, because they have kept the pace they were at my earlier post. Henery Press has picked up a few series that were independently published, but besides that, they haven’t made any significant cuts or gains in cozy mysteries. The same goes for Midnight Ink and Minotaur.

Overall the huge cozy cut seems to have ended for now, and some publishers have taken up a larger share of the cozy market. Overall however, the best thing we can do as cozy lovers is buy. Buy your books the first week after the release, because that’s the most important time for authors in the publisher’s eyes. If you can’t afford to buy books new, review. Write reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, your blog, or any type of social media or book buying website. Finally, read. If we stopped reading, then there would be no need for authors. So, continue to read and love your books, and, if you can, buy new the first week after and write a review!

Let’s support our cozy authors!

Cozy Mysteries – Where Should I Start?

When I first entered the cozy mystery world a few years back I was astounded; how could there be this many mystery series in a genre? It was overwhelming, however, once I started researching, and reading I found that the cozy world isactually a small world. It may seem huge to start with, but it doesn’t feel that way once you fall in love with the genre. However, this is still a problem and question many people ask; “Where do I start?”

Starting a new series of any kind may seem daunting, but I encourage you to start at the beginning  of a series. Many cozy series have continuing subplots that continue through multiple books, so starting at the beginning helps the series to flow better.

Next, don’t ready too many books in a row. Many cozy series span ten or more books, and it’s easy to get burnt out. I know some people who read a series through and feel fine about it, but, for me at least, that’s not true. I rarely read more than one book in a row, if it’s a really good series I’ll read two books in a row, but that’s it.

Third, know what you want. Don’t start reading a series focused on pets, if you hate pets! With cozies, there are hundreds of series you can pick on hundreds of different topics, so you can always find a series that suits your needs.

So if you follow those three guidelines, you’re probably already off to a good start, and if we’re being honest, most people do those three things anyway without even thinking about it.

Finally, I have a list of some authors and series for different tastes that I loved and recommend, you can find them over at my recommendations page.

War and Peach – Susan Furlong

30138564 4/5 Peach-shaped Chocolates

On The Back:

The author of Rest in Peach serves up another bite of Southern charm in the latest Georgia Peach mystery.

Nola Mae Harper is too busy restocking the jars of preserves and chutney flying off the shelves of her shop, Peachy Keen, to keep up with all the gossip about the upcoming mayoral election, but she does know the debate is sure to be a real barn burner.
Local farmer Clem Rogers claims he has a bombshell that could take small business owner Margie Price out of the running. But before Clem can reveal his juicy secret at the debate, his actual barn goes up in flames–with him inside of it. The town casts its vote against Margie, but Nola isn’t convinced the hardworking woman is capable of murder. Now to clear Margie’s name Nola will have to work fast under pressure, before Margie gets taken in by the fuzz…
INCLUDES RECIPES!

My Thoughts:

The third in a simply delightful series, War and Peach was a wonderful book full of lovable characters, and a solid mystery.

The characters are wonderful, for the most part. Ms. Furlong does a wonderful job of creating lovable characters that a person becomes emotionally invested in. However, there is one character that I feel is underdeveloped; Cade. Cade is Nola’s love interest, yet I feel as if I barely know him at all. I don’t know if it was just me, but I failed to connect with him, and the thing I look for most in a book is the ability to connect and feel as if you’ve known a fictional character for a lifetime. I don’t get that with Cade.

The setting is wonderful, but I have trouble picturing all of it in my mind. Parts of it, like Nola’s shop, the diner, the peach farm, and the entire downtown I can picture perfectly, but I have trouble picturing the outskirts of the town, the landscape, properly. The mystery is wonderful, I loved the different ways the author chose to go with it, and I did not see the end coming at all!

Overall a wonderful book that I really enjoyed. This book left off as if it were the last in the series, which I hope it isn’t. Highly recommend this series, and recommend this book!

Update

Hello all. I have recently wrapped up my last round of schooling, and my career as a student is rapidly coming to an end. Because of that, I am going to try to be more active and restart posting on the blog. It’s been almost a year since my last post, but I have new ideas for more posts, and I am excited for what this upcoming summer brings.

Thanks all, and I hope you’ll join me for the ride!

-Jonathan

July Reading Review

Read only one less than June, so I’d say it was pretty good! I had a large amount of really good books (6 rated 4.5 or over) and July was just a great month.

Books Read: 16

Best Books of June:

  1. Crowned and Dangerous – Rhys Bowen
  2. The Diva Serves High Tea – Krista Davis
  3. Hearse and Buggy – Laura Bradford
  4. A Killer Crop – Sheila Connolly
  5. Death by the Book – Julianna Deering

Yearly Challenge: 93/180 books

Mount TBR Challenge: 25/36 books (extended again!)

Cruisin’ Through the Cozies Challenge: 80/130

I had great luck with July and I’m hoping for great luck in August. Happy reading!

 

Read to Death – Terrie Farley Moran

27177388

3.5/5 Shrimp Cookouts

On The Back:

The national bestselling author of Caught Read-Handed revisits Fort Myers Beach, Florida, where the proprietors of a local bookstore café occasionally take a stab at solving murder…

At their seaside Read ‘Em and Eat bookstore café, Sassy Cabot and Bridgy Mayfield offer fresh scones, great books, and excellent detective work…

With their book club season wrapping up with The Florida Life of Thomas Edison, Sassy and Bridgy decide to take their group on a day trip to the beautiful Edison and Ford Winter Estates. Hiring driver Oscar Frieland, who’s known for his colorful stories and love of the café’s Robert Frost fruit tartlets, the bibliophiles set off for a day of sunshine and history.

After a lovely excursion, the club returns to the café for lunch and a book discussion, but the group falls silent after Oscar is found dead in his van. The sheriff’s deputies have some questions of their own for the group, and if the ladies don’t find some answers soon, the next book they read might be from a prison library.

My Thoughts:

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from Berkley and Netgalley. All thoughts stated in this review are entirely my own.*

This is series is one of the series currently in danger of being cancelled by Berkley. It’s an honest-to-goodness shame that that’s the case because this series has so much potential! So, please go out and buy the first, second, or third book in this series and give it a chance. I truly believe that, given a few more books, this series will shine.

This book started slow for me; I honestly found the first 1/3 tedious, however after that the book started gaining momentum and the last third of the book was a solid 4 star read. Because of that I settled for a 3.5 star rating.

Sassy is an absolutely stand-out character. She jumps a little too eagerly into investigations, but in the end it works because Sassy jumps headfirst into everything. This book was slightly different in the fact that it didn’t merely focus on the mystery, it also had a strong secondary plotline of Sassy and Bridgy’s relationships with their mothers. Ir added a lot to the story and I hope that if this series continues we see more of the mothers.

The mystery was very solid. The killer took me by surprise and I loved the events leading up to the unveiling! The setting is beautiful as always. I’d absolutely love to visit the herb farm Sage went to!

Overall a solid book that I enjoyed. I will read another one and I recommend that you help #saveourcozies by buying one of these books!

June Reading Review

June was my best month of the year yet, in quantity, not quality. I read the most books of any month yet in June, yet I didn’t have very many books that I really loved.

Books Read: 17

Best Books of June:

  1. Title Wave – Lorna Barrett
  2. Death of a Kitchen Diva – Lee Hollis
  3. Musseled Out – Barbara Ross
  4. A Dark and Stormy Murder – Julia Buckley
  5. Eclair and Present Danger – Laura Bradford

Yearly Challenge: 77/180 books

Mount TBR Challenge: 19/24 books

Cruisin’ Through the Cozies Challenge: 65/130

Overall June was a great month. On to July!