Haunted House Ghost: Death At The Fall Festival (Braxton Campus Mysteries) by James J. Cudney
It’s Halloween and Professor Kellan is renovating his newly purchased rundown mansion in the Haunted House Ghost.
A current mystery and a historic one compete for Kellan and his potential girlfriend, Sheriff April’s attention. Between that, a Fall Festival, a ghost, home renovations, a psychic, and a skeleton, no wonder Kellan and April can’t even find the time to go out on a date!
Good thing there is a guide to Who’s Who in the front of the book. This book has the largest cast of any tale shorter than a 19th-century Russian novel. Luckily, you don’t need to memorize them all. The Haunted House Ghost quickly narrows down to a handful of suspects. Kudos to the author for making me second guess my thought on who was the murderer—multiple times right up to the reveal. Overall, an enjoyable cozy mystery. 4 stars!
Thanks to the author and Great Escapes Blog Tours for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Don’t forget about entering the giveaway shown below!
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.
About James J. Cudney
James is my given name; most call me Jay. I grew up on Long Island and currently live in New York City, but I’ve traveled all across the US (and various parts of the world). After college, I spent 15 years working in technology and business operations in the sports, entertainment and media industries. Although I enjoyed my job, I left in 2016 to focus on my passion: telling stories and connecting people through words. My debut novel is ‘Watching Glass Shatter,’ a contemporary fiction family drama with elements of mystery, suspense, humor and romance. To see samples or receive news from my current and upcoming books, please subscribe with your email address at my website: https://jamesjcudney.com
What do I do outside of writing: I’m an avid genealogist (discovered 2K family members going back about 250 years) and cook (I find it so hard to follow a recipe). I love to read; between Goodreads and my blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, I have over 900 book reviews which will give you a full flavor for my voice and style. On my blog, 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 segments 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 show how I live every day.
Their Last Breath is an engrossing British police procedural where nothing is as you expect.
Gillian Lane is running for her life down a quiet English lane from a masked assailant when she is hit by a taxi and taken to hospital. When the police investigate, they find her husband and another woman tortured and strangled in her kitchen.
Meanwhile, retired detective Warren is called back to duty to investigate a mass death scene that appears to implicate one of the police’s own. An abandoned hospital is the site of a horrific fire where six women are found chained to their room’s wall. Five are dead when the firefighters arrive but one is clinging precariously to life. Could the name scratched on the floor, Hayat, be the same woman telling her tale of being a Syrian refugee in alternate chapters?
It doesn’t take a Mensa ID to figure out the dead woman is the refugee. But how the cases are connected and especially the thrilling twist at the end makes Their Last Breath a great read for police procedural fans. 4 stars!
Thanks to Amazon Publishing UK and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Marc: Chutes and Ladder is the second book in the Silicon Valley Mystery series, but can be read standalone. Marty Golden is not your typical, cozy mystery protagonist. As a male sleuth who doesn’t own a bakery, bookstore, or bed & breakfast, or live by the beach, he stands out from the crowd of cozy protagonists. Marty does bumble his way through the investigations, armed with nothing but an eye for detail and powers of self-delusion.
In Chutes and Ladder, Marty discovers the dead body of his friend while failing as chaperone for a Girl Scouts camping trip. After the police rule it an accidental death, he disagrees and decides to investigate because friends don’t let their friend’s death go unsolved.
One reviewer called it “a gem with its great plotting and unusual cast.”
Q: Where do you get your ideas for your stories?
Marc: I tend to pay attention to the strange stories in the newspaper, especially about unusual deaths or bizarre situations. This became a lot more socially acceptable once I become a published mystery author. Almost like a puzzle, I enjoy trying to merge together multiple situations into a coherent plot and trick the reader.
Q: Is there a theme in your story?
Marc: In a rare moment of introspection, I decided that the book should be about more than just humor wrapped in a mystery. A literary scholar, if one ever were foolish enough to select my novels for their dissertation, might say they’re about a search for family life, friends and happiness. However, Marty typically doesn’t realize this is what he wants out of life, so he tries hard to return to the quiet, simple and peaceful life that he had before his sister and his nieces moved to town.
Marty frequently mentions advice and etiquette lessons that his parents gave him when he was young. He’s often dismayed that their lessons didn’t cover the unusual predicaments that he finds himself in.
Q: How do you create your characters and do you have a favorite?
Marc: I’m obviously partial to the protagonist, Marty, since the novel is told in first person. My friends and family believe this fashion-backward, self-absorbed software engineer is not exactly a huge stretch of the imagination for me to write. But it’s fiction. I mean, I’m not a software engineer. I enjoy writing Marty’s nieces, especially young Megan. They’re loosely based on my own nieces and kids, exaggerated and merged with other kids that I’ve known. Perhaps my favorite side character is Mrs. Quarles, the school secretary. Marty struggles mightily to deal with her, and I always laugh as I’m writing her scenes. A surprising number of readers tell me she’s one of their favorite characters too. I’d love to hear from your readers which characters or scenes they like best.
Q: How do you bring to life the place you are writing about?
Marc: I’ve lived a long time in Silicon Valley, working in high-tech, marketing roles. A lot of interesting characters work in big, high-tech companies. While I haven’t based any character directly off someone I’ve known, let’s just say that certain people influenced some of my characters more than others—especially the nuttier or more villainous characters.
If Silicon Valley is portrayed in fiction, it tends to be a very one-sided and biased view. I wanted to highlight more of the diversity and unusual personalities that I’ve encountered in my novels.
Q: What research do you do?
Marc: I’ve found that writing has made me more willing to talk to strangers in different situations and more observant and patient in lines and crowded situations, as I’m looking for material. I’m normally more of an introvert. Who’d have thought that the solitary occupation of being an author would make me more socially outgoing?
Most of my detailed mystery research is done via the internet. I’m hopeful that no law enforcement agencies are watching my searches and wondering what I may be up to. Not to be paranoid or anything, but I’ll use this space to remind them: “Marc Jedel is a fiction writer of humorous murder mysteries. Fiction!”
Q: Anything else you’d like to tell readers about the book?
Marc: I’ll quote a reviewer: “I enjoyed this fast-paced humorous mystery just as much as Uncle and Ants. His writing is clever, and the plotting is meticulous and exceptionally well-executed.” And I swear that reviewer wasn’t related or a friend.
Chutes and Ladder, book 2 in the Silicon Valley Mystery series, can be read standalone. It and Uncle and Ants are free to Kindle Unlimited readers. Serf and Turf, book 3 in the series, will be released in mid-October 2019 so this is a perfect time to catch up. Buy them on Amazon at amazon.com/gp/product/B07PHNT7XM. For more about my books or me, please visit www.marcjedel.com.
the tour HERE
for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!
a camping trip uncovers a murder, this amateur sleuth is stuck
putting out the fire …
Golden enjoys time with his nieces, but he wanted to spend the
weekend with his new girlfriend — not chaperone a Girl Scout
camping trip. Once he stumbles upon the corpse of a friend in the
woods, the outdoors adventure becomes an open-air disaster. When the
police label it an accidental death, the meticulous Marty vows to
investigate the murder. After all, it’s poor manners to let your
friend’s death go unsolved.
the hunt for clues the cops ignored, Marty uncovers a disturbing
connection to himself. And as he digs deeper, a misbehaving pup, a
kooky cousin, and a maniacal ninja put his survival skills to the
Marty unravel the mystery before the killer, or his imagination, gets
and Ladder is
the side-splitting second novel in the Silicon Valley cozy mystery
series. If you like quirky sleuths, wacky side characters, and
laugh-out-loud moments, you’ll love this offbeat whodunit.
and Ladder to
decode a great mystery today!
attacks. Mischievous nieces.Can
a clueless uncle catch a tech-savvy killer … and be home before
a freak accident hospitalizes Marty
Golden’s sister and condemns him to
babysitter duty, he thinks it’s just another case of hardwired bad
luck in Silicon Valley.
Until a suspicious murder suggests the mishap was no mere
coincidence. Something must be done.
bad this quirky, fashion-backward
uncle isn’t exactly hero material.
his sister is in mortal danger, this
amateur sleuth follows clues to an
oddball array of suspects. Armed with nothing but an eye for detail
and powers of self-delusion, Marty
tangles with gangsters, a cantankerous school secretary, and a
perplexing woman he can’t help but fall for. Glitches in his
investigation seem like a piece of cake compared to dinner-prep and
bedtime stories with his two precocious, pre-teen nieces.
Marty catch the culprit, save his sister, and get his life back in
order before he gets unplugged?
and Ants is the first novel in
a refreshingly modern mystery series set in Silicon Valley. If you
like clever humor, sassy side characters, and average Joes facing
extraordinary circumstances, then you’ll love this twisty mystery.
and Ants to login to a fresh,
funny mystery today!
Jedel writes humorous murder mysteries. In his high-tech marketing
roles, he’s also written fiction. These are just called emails, ads,
and marketing collateral.
his family, Marc was born first — a fact his sister never lets him
forget, no matter what milestone age she hits. For most of Marc’s
life, he’s been inventing stories. Some, especially when he was
young, involved his sister as the villain. As his sister’s brother
for her entire life, he feels highly qualified to tell tales of the
evolving, quirky sibling relationship in the Silicon Valley Mystery
and friends would tell you that the protagonist in his stories, Marty
Golden, isn’t much of a stretch of the imagination for Marc, but he
proudly resembles that remark.
Marty, Marc lives in San Jose, the heart of Silicon Valley, where he
writes within earshot of the doppler effect of the local ice cream
truck. Unlike Marty, Marc has a wonderful wife and a neurotic but
sweet, small dog, who much prefers the walks resulting from writer’s
block than his writing.
his website, marcjedel.com, for free chapters of upcoming novels,
news and more.
At an informal college reunion, Karen staggers in from the patio. She claims she was raped by Ali’s husband Mike, who denies it. Ali tries to determine the truth in What You Did.
Ali and her husband Mike, Karen and her son Jake, Jodi and her husband Callum, and Bill are celebrating the 25th anniversary of starting college at Ali and Mike’s house. Their children—Cassie and Benji—are in the house as well.
There are some sticking points for me about What You Did. First, hitting us over the head with the irony of Ali working for a battered women’s shelter seemed a bit obvious. Second, the lack of redeeming characteristics for all the characters. I felt no empathy for any of them. But mostly the obvious bad guy. If you have read any previous thrillers, you don’t need to read this one. 2 stars.
Thanks to Thomas & Mercer and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Filled with common writing issues, English Grammar is a fun (yes, actually fun!) way to correct your grammar, punctuation, and word use.
Quick! What is the easiest way to determine whether to use “further” or “farther” and “affect” or “effect”? If you said for the first pair, farther refers to distance, you would be correct! For the second choice, if you said affect is a verb and effect is a noun, you would match what I thought before reading this book. But you would be wrong! Both can be used as nouns or verbs. It depends on usage. Affect is a noun when writing about the flat affect of someone’s face. Effect is a verb when you mean to make happen. You can effect change in your grammar if you read this book. If you wonder how I could be writing a review of a grammar book and start a sentence with “But”, you need to read the author’s section on the changing face of English grammar. Starting a sentence with a conjunction is fully acceptable everywhere but in an English composition class. Just a side note on my side note, does anyone else hear the Conjunction Junction song in their head every time they read or hear the word “conjunction”? They really should bring back the Schoolhouse Rock cartoons.
The author uses clear explanations and examples to explain grammar and punctuation rules. There is even a quiz afterwards for the more complex ideas. There is also a section about the differences between English (from England) and American English. For example, theatre is the English (from England) spelling but theater is the American English spelling. However, just to confuse everyone, Americans use the British spelling when trying to sound refined. Also, Shakespeare used the American spelling. English grammar differences are nothing but inconsistent. Thanks Noah Webster, who the author blames for trying to un-French the English language in An American Dictionary of the English Language in 1828.
If you read through my review all the way to this paragraph, you will probably enjoy English Grammar (the book—not necessarily the subject). It is an excellent reference that is short and to the point. And it entertains while it is teaching you something most writers, reviewers, and basically humans, need to use daily. 4 stars!
Thanks to Zephyros Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
“ ’I think I killed someone.’ The man’s voice whispered across the phone lines.” Jessie is a pregnant attorney who receives this Midnight Call from her mentor, high school teacher Terrence Butterfield.
Terrence claims he remembers nothing of the incident after his whiskey-fueled anger that kids were tagging his walls. The police determine that Jessie had a strong link to the victim. When Terrence betrays Jessie to free himself, Jessie must prove her own innocence by finding the true killer.
There are many subplots within this novel. Perhaps slightly too many as it is difficult to keep them all straight. I believe this is the first romantic triangle involving a very pregnant female I have ever read. So kudos for originality! The legal system is fully described in this book for those aspiring lawyers among us as the author is an attorney in real life. Midnight Call is an enjoyable night’s reading for legal thriller readers. 3.5 stars!
Thanks to Immortal Works and Meryl Moss Media for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
In Limited Wish, Mark is a busy sixteen-year-old. He is still playing Dungeons & Dragons with his high school buddies. However, now he is a freshman at Cambridge University. He is getting over a breakup and finding a new love. He is battling cancer. All while dealing with time travel, paradoxes, and, of course, saving the universe.
This book is set six months following its predecessor in the Impossible Times trilogy, One Word Kill (reviewed here). The author provides an in depth spoiler-filled synopsis of the prior book in this book’s prologue but the series is best read in order, if possible. If you read the prologue in this book, you will ruin all the surprises in the first book.
Admittedly, math is not my favorite subject despite having taken it through calculus in college. I also never took a physics class anywhere due to my previously mentioned aversion to math. I do like string theory, in theory at least, so the time traveling multiple universe plot was fine. However, the parallel universes did get a bit confusing as the plot was much more complex than One Word Kill. However, there is still some human emotion and humor on hand here too. Overall, Limited Wish is highly recommended for science, math and science fiction fans. For all of us just regular thriller readers, I give it 4 stars and again recommend reading One Word Kill first. Still, I can’t wait for the final book in this series, Dispel Illusion, out in November 2019!
Thanks to 47North and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
It seems like the Ghost of Hollow House may have been Agatha Christie as this tale fits right in her wheelhouse.
In Victorian England, Mina uncovers fraudulent mediums. She also writes fictional mysteries that include spiritual elements. When she is asked to uncover the reason for the haunting of a newly married friend’s mansion, she is skeptical. But when she sees a mysterious lady in white in the window when first arriving at Hollow House, she becomes intrigued. Perhaps this haunting will bring her real evidence from the other side.
Mina is a great character. Her ability to press past her disabilities and the oppression of females prevalent in Victorian times is empowering.
The mystery was challenging as well. Though I didn’t figure out whodunit or why until after the intrepid Mina, I clearly saw the clues in hindsight.
Ghost of Hollow House did resemble Agatha Christie’s mysteries in both its complexity and portrayal of English village life. I would have liked slightly more backstory for the main characters. I’ll be looking for the previous three books in this series, as well as any future entries, when I feel like reading a jolly good mystery. 4 stars!
Thanks to Sapere Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Nick is just trying to survive high school in One Word Kill…literally.
Nick, Simon, John and Elton are best friends, high schoolers, and Dungeons & Dragons fanatics in 1986. Nick also has a crush on their newest player, Mia. Plus Nick has cancer.
Bullies Devis and Rust are rumored to have burned a homeless man to death. What is undeniable is that they have fun taunting the nerds in their high school. Nick’s secret weapon is the mysterious Demus, who appears exactly when he is needed and has strange forecasting powers. The plot just gets better from there.
One Word Kill is a smart, nerdy, many worlds’ hypothesis treat for anyone who loves Back to the Future, 1980s gaming, or physics class. Thirty years after the time period of this book, the nerds clearly have won. Right, Mr. Gates and Mr. Musk? But back in the 80s, the victory wasn’t so assured. That uncertainty is a large part of the charm of this book. If you’re a fan of The Goldbergs on television, I guarantee you will enjoy this book as much as I did. 4 stars!
Thanks to 47North, Amazon Publishing UK, and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
It’s that time of year when you look around at your assembled family during your holiday party and decide they look Relatively Normal. At least they will, after you read this laugh-out-loud book.
Cat runs an event planning company in New York City. She meets and becomes engaged to Ethan, an actuary. Ethan is a planner. After Ethan and Cat are engaged and living together for two years, he insists on their two families celebrating Thanksgiving together at Cat’s family farm in rural Illinois.
Cat doesn’t know to explain her family to Ethan. Her mom collects obscure household goods like shortbread pans and various cozies. Cat’s dad is staunchly Scottish. He plays the bagpipes badly and dresses up stuffed mice as Scottish heroes. Her grandmother, Nan, says whatever she thinks. Unfortunately, she is usually thinking with a sailor’s vocabulary due to numerous small strokes. Cat’s brother, Travis, is a 29-year-old clown college dropout living in his parent’s basement.
When Cat, Ethan and his parents get to the farm all hell breaks loose. Cat’s dad has invited Cat’s high school boyfriend and former love of her life, Sam, and his parents. Unfortunately, Dad forgot to mention Cat’s engagement.
The absurdity of the Scottish Thanksgiving dinner is hilarious. Cat’s family never lie so they don’t hesitate to tell her Ethan isn’t her perfect match. When a medical emergency occurs, Cat contemplates her relationship with Ethan and her still fiery feelings for Sam, a feeling that Sam shares.
Relatively Normal starts as a superb farce. When the romance begins to heat up between Cat and Sam, Cat must decide what is important for her. The characters are so believable. You’re rooting for them to make the best decisions and live happily ever after. I recommend this book both to fans of zany humor and non-explicit romance. If you like the Stephanie Plum series, you will also like Relatively Normal. 4 stars!
Thanks to 33 Partners Publishing and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Medallion of Murder is another excellent entry in the young adult mystery series, Nefertari Hughes.
Terry, a female high school senior, has many balls in the air. She is still getting used to her leg prosthesis, deciding what to make her career after high school, and dealing with her widowed father’s romance with the mother of her best friend, Maude. Oh, and she has superpowers that she uses to fight crime at night.
Awad is a friend of Terry’s that works by day as a hieroglyph translator and by night as a member of the Illuminati. While looking for a cursed medallion, he disappears. Terry and her friends Maude and Fraser take on the medallion search while also looking for Awad.
I started reading the series with Medallion of Murder and wished I hadn’t. I think the spoilers in this book will make reading the others later a pointless exercise. Plus there was a large number of characters’ backstories to memorize in the first tenth of the book. However, the breakneck speed of the action makes this a fun young adult mystery. The book’s characters compare their earlier adventures to Scooby Doo. I agree. It’s just pure light-hearted fun. Here is one secret you won’t have to search for—this is a great read for adults too. 4 stars!
Thanks to Xpresso Book Tours and the author for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
There is a blog tour giveaway for the entire series including this book plus a $25 Amazon gift card. It closes on October 11, 2018.
Jane Doe is smart, sarcastic and a sociopath. When her only friend, Meg, kills herself over a bad romance with Steven, Jane doesn’t have enough human feeling to cry. Instead she hatches a complex plan to make Steven pay for Meg’s death.
Jane Doe is a deliciously deep dive into the cool calculating brain of a sociopath. The author’s use of first person narrative makes the reader feel just as crazy as Jane. It is a fun compelling ride that is highly recommended for thriller fans. 5 stars!
Be aware that there are many sexual situations in Jane Doe making this book recommended for adults only.
Thanks to Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley for a copy.
Enter this book giveaway to grab a free paperback copy of Paradise by Kevin Scott Olson.
My review is here but you have a chance to win this great book for yourself.
Giveaway begins August 10, 2018, at 12:01 A.M. PDT and ends August 17, 2018, at 11:59 P.M. PDT.
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Space Between is a good choice for fans of Gone Girl.
Sarah and Ben have been married 15 years when Ben mysteriously disappears. Ben leaves behind a shiny new Glock, an erased security system and a million dollar transfer into Sarah’s bank account. Ben was scheduled to testify the following week in his lawsuit against his partners in his upscale LA eatery. Could they have abducted Ben? Or could Sarah, who admittedly has problems in her marriage, be angling for the huge insurance and inheritance payoff if Ben is found dead?
Space Between in a good, not great, mystery. There have been so many similar plotlines since Gone Girl was released, it is possible I’m just burned out on the family dynamic thriller. I spent much of my reading time wondering if Sarah had ever read or watched a thriller or police procedural before. Some of her actions are bizarre and stupid. Picking up a gun without worrying about getting your fingerprints on it? Not using your alarm or even locking your doors after your husband disappears? Lying to the police? Concealing and tampering with evidence that could be used to find your husband? It is just unbelievable that a Caltech PhD and famous astrophysicist could be this stupid. Someone less jaded than I might like Space Between so 3 stars.
Thanks to Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
How many people multi-task daily? I know I do because I have so much to do in each 24-hour day. However, it does lead me to not get as much enjoyment out of each task. Mindfulness: Being Mindful in Your Everyday Life states that not focusing on one task at a time leads to living life on autopilot, stress, depression and anxiety.
The book’s solution is mindfulness or paying attention to what you are doing right now. It has some easily adopted habits to put a bit of mindfulness into your day no matter how busy it is. At work, take a five-minute break to relax and just focus on your breathing. While walking during your usual tasks, focus on your feet hitting and lifting off the ground. When eating snacks, put them in a bowl so you won’t eat the whole bag distractly while watching tv or surfing the web.
Even the book’s short length will save your time for mindfully doing something else. I read one much longer book about mindfulness previously. After about 100 pages, I decided that I just didn’t have the time or energy to spend 30 minutes a day to meditate in a quiet room. Mindfulness: Being Mindful in Your Everyday Life doesn’t require that kind of commitment. You can save time (and calories) by not eating a whole bag of chips. No one at work will know that you are focusing on your breathing at your desk. You can pay attention to the movement of your feet when walking into a grocery store or walking your dog.
This book is highly recommended for those busy people who are intrigued by the idea of enjoying their life more but don’t want to spend much time to see if mindfulness is for them. 4 stars!
Keep It Quiet is a witty British golden age mystery chock full of curmudgeons complaining about minor issues while members are being killed in their club’s easy chairs.
The chef at a London’s men’s club may have accidentally poisoned a member to death. The club’s secretary, Ford, wants to Keep It Quiet to avoid bad publicity. He enlists the help of a member, Dr. Anstruther, to put the cause of death as heart failure. Thus begins a comic farce of blackmail, threats and other crimes.
This book is hilarious! I enjoyed the hunt for the blackmailer. Despite guessing basically everyone in the book at various times, I still failed to guess correctly by the end.
Overall, highly recommended to armchair detectives and anyone looking for a droll golden age mystery. 4 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Ipso now Agora Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
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