Fatal Cajun Festival by Ellen Byron – a #BookReview #cozy

Love that sound, love that food, and the Mardi Gras atmosphere.

Fatal Cajun Festival by Ellen Byron

Fatal Cajun Festival: A Cajun Country Mystery by Ellen Byron

Book Blurb:

USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Ellen Byron cranks it up to eleven in the fifth fast and funny Cajun Country mystery.

Louisiana B&B owner Maggie Crozat kicks up her heels at a country music festival–but she’ll have one foot in the grave if she can’t bring the killer of a diva’s hanger-on to heel.

Grab your tickets for Cajun Country Live!, the pickers’ and crooners’ answer to the legendary New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Maggie Crozat, proprietor of the Crozat Plantation B&B, plans to be in the cheering section when her friend Gaynell Bourgeois takes the stage with her band, Gaynell and the Gator Girls.

The festival’s headliner, native daughter Tammy Barker, rocketed to stardom on a TV singing competition. She has the voice of an angel…and the personality of a devilish diva. But Maggie learns that this tiny terror carries a grudge against Gaynell. She’s already sabotaged the Gator Girls’ JazzFest audition. When a member of Tammy’s entourage is murdered at the festival, Tammy makes sure Gaynell is number one on the suspect list.

Gaynell has plenty of company on that list–including every one of Tammy’s musicians. Posing as a groupie, Maggie infiltrates Tammy’s band and will have to hit all the right notes to clear her friend’s name.

My Review:

Fatal Cajun Festival by Ellen ByronA cozy mystery with recipes, my first with the author and the series, and you know what? I really enjoyed it! I know what you’re thinking–Rosepoint Pub has had one too many and who is covering for her? Au Contraire, lovely readers, and I appreciate your concern!

First, you are wondering, “yeah, but it’s number five of the series” (with an adorable cover). Take heart. Although I’m sure you’d enjoy reading 1-4, this one functioned fine for me as a standalone for several reasons: (1) Locale driven but enough info about the main and support characters without doing a complete backstory, and (2) multi-layered and complex storyline that kept your attention. (Oh, and I might mention a complete listing of characters appears at the beginning and if I didn’t get lost, you shouldn’t.)

(Magnolia) Maggie Crozat is proprietor of the Crozat Plantation B&B in Pelican, Louisana. Her fiancé is Bo, Detective Bo Durand. And then there is Gaynell Bourgeois, Maggie’s best friend and soon to be person of interest. Lest I am to blame for confusing you, I’ll only further mention Tammy Barker, the local girl country star gone big time come back to gloat.

It is Maggie’s Grand-mère (Charlotte Crozat) who suggests the little town have a Cajun Country Live! Festival to catch music fans on their way to the larger fest in New Orleans. In the meantime, widow Grand-mère is off on a “death cleaning” and discovers something in the process she can’t ignore. Maggie must gear up her booth with Pelican Pralines as well as offer her paintings. (She also holds a new position as Doucet’s art collection specialist.)

Being a headliner, Tammy arrives amid huge pomp with her entourage, totally over-shadowing another local (lesser successful but talented) musician, Gaynell. Well, you know how musicians are. There is bound to be a clash and Gaynell and her Gator Girls land in the middle. Tammy’s manager is soon discovered in some bushes. Dead. Before Tammy’s group moves on to the Jazz Festival, Maggie will have to move fast to clear Gaynell’s name.

Boy, I do love the music, and add Cajun or Zydeco to the mix is probably the only place left where an accordion sounds GOOOOD with a washboard! Grab some crawdads, shrimp, and Cajun spice and you have a festival! This book just exudes that enthusiastic feel-good time. And then there is the mystery–mercy that gets complicated–but then you’re immersed in the whole atmosphere of the Louisiana Cajun Country. (Also, there is the Reader’s Digest explanation of Cajun vs Creole.) This is fascinating stuff, people!

Zydeco musicians at the Cajun Zydeco Festival
Photo Attribute: Cajun Zydeco Festival photo by Cheryl Gerber

The dialogue is peppered with a mix of French and Cajun patois. Maggie is interesting, but it is the history and tidbits of the area that I most appreciated and invested. It is well-paced and I must admit I didn’t guess either the perp or the reason, which provides a fascinating twist, even entirely plausible. There are bits of humor along the way; one of my favorites describing a cluster of teens.

“A giggle,” Maggie said. “I think you’d call it a giggle of girls.” (Yup!)

The conclusion came on the heels of another of Maggie’s open mouth, insert foot moments. She did annoy me a couple times. Also, I stumbled over Gaynell’s name more than once, wishing it were something else; Jane even, but Gaynell(?). Still, her character was fully engaging. I loved the recipes (and you remember I don’t usually look at them). They seemed geared to feed the entire southern militia, but that won’t stop me from trying a couple and the ingredients are already on my shopping list!

I received this digital ebook from the publisher and NetGalley and was thoroughly entertained, grateful to have the opportunity to read and review. I’m totally onboard for Book 6! Recommended to those mystery fans who don’t always get a culinary cozy and to anyone looking for an entertaining read. (Eat first.)

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Culinary Mystery, Cozy Craft and Hobby Mystery
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
ISBN: 1643851292

  • ASIN: B07NKW8WMY

 Print Length: 298 pages
Publication Date: Happy Publication Day! September 10, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: Fatal Cajun Festival 

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars 4.5-stars

Ellen Byron - authorThe Author: Author of MARDI GRAS MURDER, the 2018 AGATHA AWARD winner for Best Contemporary Novel.

Ellen Byron writes the USA Today bestselling Cajun Country Mysteries. MARDI GRAS MURDER won the Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel and was nominated for a Best Humorous Mystery Lefty Award by Left Coast Crime. A CAJUN CHRISTMAS KILLING and BODY ON THE BAYOU, both won the Lefty Award for Best Humorous Mystery, and were nominated for Agatha Awards in the category of Best Contemporary Novel. PLANTATION SHUDDERS, the first book in the series, was nominated for Agatha, Lefty, and Daphne awards. Cajun Country Mysteries offer “everything a cozy reader could want,” according to Publishers Weekly, while Library Journal says, “Diane Mott Davidson and Lou Jane Temple fans will line up for this series.” HERE COMES THE BODY, the first book in her Catering Hall Mysteries will launch in March 2020 under the name Maria DiRico.

Ellen’s TV credits include Wings and Just Shoot Me; she’s written over 200 magazine articles; her published plays include the award-winning Graceland and Asleep on the Wind. She is a native New Yorker who lives in Los Angeles and attributes her fascination with Louisiana to her college years at New Orleans’ Tulane University. She also worked as a cater-waiter for Martha Stewart, a credit she never tires of sharing. Have an early copy of Martha’s first book, ENTERTAINING? Ellen’s standing right next to her in the group shot.

©2019 V Williams V Williams

29 Seconds by T M Logan – a #BookReview

This may be old news and controversial but can still grab the headlines.

29 Seconds by T M LoganBook Blurb:

“Give me one name. One person. And I will make them disappear.”

Sarah is a young professor struggling to prove herself in a workplace controlled by the charming and manipulative Alan Hawthorne. A renowned scholar and television host, Hawthorne rakes in million-dollar grants for the university where Sarah works—so his inappropriate treatment of female colleagues behind closed doors has gone unchallenged for years. And Sarah is his newest target.

When Hawthorne’s advances become threatening, Sarah is left with nowhere to turn. Until the night she witnesses an attempted kidnapping of a young child on her drive home, and impulsively jumps in to intervene. The child’s father turns out to be a successful businessman with dangerous connections—and her act of bravery has put this powerful man in her debt. He gives Sarah a burner phone and an unbelievable offer. A once-in-a-lifetime deal that can make all her problems disappear.

No consequences. No traces. All it takes is a 29-second phone call.

Because everyone has a name to give. Don’t they?

My Review:

29 Seconds by T M LoganSometimes I feel like a salmon swimming upstream, battling against the fish ladder trying to get where the run will all be happily waiting for me. I see this one had good reviews. I was supposed to like it but I was a little more meh than ack! Or groan than eek? We are talking about Sarah, a young professor working hard to become permanent. Unfortunately, her boss is Alan Hawthorne (or Lovelock–I must have missed the explanation for the interchangeable name) and he’s made it plain there is only one way for her to achieve that goal. And the thing is, he’s left a trail of his conquests, not like this is new, only his latest.

He’s brilliant, manipulative, charming, successful, and powerful. He brings in the major bucks to the university and they like that. Well, guess that’s nothing new. So far, she’ been successful at rebuking his advances but he’s getting more worse, his last leaving her furious and impotent. She is fuming when a chance presents itself to DO something–anything (see synopsis), and she saves a young girl from an apparent kidnapping. The girl’s father is even more powerful–and very grateful.

The reader is positive she’d take the opportunity but suddenly she’s impotent again.

“You give me one name. One person. And I will make them disappear. For you.”

“I don’t have a name to give you. There isn’t anyone.”

“Nonsense. Everyone has someone they would like to punish. To have just a little bit more just in the world.”

“Maybe I’m the exception.”

Uh huh, sure. But she has 72 hours and within that time things go from bad to worse with good old Dr. Hawthorne. Now she’s really, thoroughly, beyond pissed, and makes the call. Then wakes the next morning all “what have I done?” It was explained–there is no going back. But now it’s killing her. (And I suspect would be normal for most people.) In the meantime, her two young’un’s are still fighting and squabbling, her father is still patiently there for her, and her two close friends are yet to be determined. Hubby wasn’t in the picture as he’d had to go “find himself” with someone else. She’s totally not playing this with a full deck. You’d have to wonder how she’s gotten this far.

Sarah’s running through all the scenarios–what could she do? She isn’t the brightest and comes close to telling. Telling??!! (Gimmee a break! Seriously?) But then the super baddies mess up and Hawthorne is rescued. Oh yeah, now on top of everything else, he can blackmail her into playing because of course, he knows. HE’s not stupid. (Anybody remember what Clint Eastwood said in a mess up like this one? Yeah–it’s a CF.) Sarah is fleshed enough to be annoying, the support characters about the same, less annoying. Hawthorne is just nasty.

She develops a plan to take care of him once and for all and it’s also looking like a groaner. Okay, then there is a twist at the end–a pretty good one–and I’ll assume Sarah didn’t work that one out. Dialogue works well, but the reader can’t be sure who to trust, nor is the plot unique. Neat twist at the end, but in the meantime you have had to choke a lot back, including disbelief.

So I have to ask, did you read this? If so, how did you see it? Did it aggravate you?

I received this digital download from the publisher and NetGalley and always appreciate the opportunity to read and review a topical contemporary fiction. You may see this one in a whole nother light and if so, I’d love to hear about it.

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Thrillers, Crime Thrillers
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

  • ISBN-10:1250182301
  • ISBN-13:978-1250182302
  • ASIN: B07NTQ8HP7

Print Length: 356 pages
Publication Date: Tuesday, September 10, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: 29 Seconds

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Three of Five Stars 3-stars

T M Logan - authorThe Author: Bestselling author TM Logan was a national newspaper journalist before turning to novel-writing full time. His debut thriller LIES was one of Amazon UK’s biggest ebooks of 2017, selling 350,000 copies and gathering more than 1,400 5-star reviews so far. It was published in the USA in September 2018 and has also come out in South Korea, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Hungary, Serbia, Romania and the Netherlands.

His next thriller, 29 SECONDS, is a psychological thriller set against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement. What if someone offered you a solution to the biggest problem in your life – would you take it, if you knew you’d never be found out? Even if you knew it was wrong? What if a 29-second phone call could change your life forever?

29 SECONDS is due to be published in the USA by St Martin’s Press on September 10, 2019.

Tim lives in Nottinghamshire, UK, with his wife and two children.

For exclusive writing, new releases and a FREE deleted scene from Tim, sign up to the Readers’ Club: http://www.bit.ly/TMLogan. You can also follow him on Twitter @TMLoganAuthor, find him on Facebook at /TMLoganAuthor or on his website at http://www.tmlogan.com

©2019 V Williams V Williams

Life and Other Inconveniences by Kristan Higgins

Life and Other Inconveniences by Kristan Higgins

Life and Other Inconveniences by Kristan HigginsBook Blurb:

Emma London never thought she had anything in common with her grandmother Genevieve London. The regal old woman came from wealthy and bluest-blood New England stock, but that didn’t protect her from life’s cruelest blows: the disappearance of Genevieve’s young son, followed by the premature death of her husband. But Genevieve rose from those ashes of grief and built a fashion empire that was respected the world over, even when it meant neglecting her other son.

When Emma’s own mother died, her father abandoned her on his mother’s doorstep. Genevieve took Emma in and reluctantly raised her–until Emma got pregnant her senior year of high school. Genevieve kicked her out with nothing but the clothes on her back…but Emma took with her the most important London possession: the strength not just to survive but to thrive. And indeed, Emma has built a wonderful life for herself and her teenage daughter, Riley.

So what is Emma to do when Genevieve does the one thing Emma never expected of her and, after not speaking to her for nearly two decades, calls and asks for help?

My Review:

Life and Other Inconveniences by Kristan HigginsThis book for some unfathomable reason is classified as comedic drama, among the others I’ve listed below. Humorous? No. Raw, emotional, dramatic, yes. The primary or main character here is Emma London, a 35-year-old single mother booted from Genevieve London’s (her grandmother) home when she divulged that she was (at 18) pregnant. She had been dumped on her grandmother’s doorstep after her father who lost his wife to suicide determined he could no longer care for her and her grandmother fed, clothed, and fostered her for ten years–sans love.

Fortunately, Emma could go to Pops and he would take her in, helping with the baby and providing a roof over her head while she struggled through school eventually becoming a therapist. The daughter she bore, Riley, became the light of her life, her ever-driving force, and she determined to be the best mother ever. She has, however, been left with a monumental school tab and now faced with her daughter looking at her last year of high school and college is struggling with the specter of her education as well.

After seventeen years with no communication from Genevieve, Emma suddenly gets a call that she is dying and would like to see Emma again and meet her great-granddaughter. Emma had an extremely contentious relationship with the extremely-rich Genevieve and normally would have nothing to do with her again, except that Genevieve sweetens the pot by offering to pay for Riley’s college expenses–if they’ll only stay for the summer at Sheerwater (pretentious mansion) so Genevieve won’t have to die alone.

Told in the POV of Emma, Genevieve, Riley, and Miller (a neighbor), it is Miller with whom I most invested. He is desperately sad, exhausted, and emotionally engaging. He lost his wife to childbirth and now the three-year-old rules with an iron fist. He’s beyond wit’s end. I also greatly appreciated a couple of the support characters, one being her grandfather, Pops, who decides he’ll accompany Emma and Riley in the move to the Long Island Sound in Connecticut in spite of his active contempt for Genevieve. Genevieve lost her beloved Sheppard, her oldest son, and a year later her husband; and she hasn’t gotten over it and is still bitter.

Genevieve is spiteful, nasty, loveless, and spares no one her thoughtless barbs. Emma disappointed her and she doesn’t miss a chance to say so. Riley, at sixteen, is almost syrupy sweet, too perfect to be a real sixteen year old and bounces in to charm Genevieve. There are many peripheral characters, including Emma’s dad, and Riley’s baby-daddy, Jason.

The author’s writing style hooks the reader almost immediately. It’s contemporary dialogue easily believable, sometimes profound and emotive. I found Emma on the neurotic side (perhaps that is understandable) but at times seemed to need therapy herself. I could almost buy the relationship between mother and daughter, they only have each other and Pops, but still, it slid over the top a few times. It seemed the most genuine is Miller and he is also the most sympathetic.

It’s a study in family dynamics, the little each member actually knows where the other is coming from, particularly separated by generations. Back story into each character at times lent another peek and allowed character growth, though first impressions usually remained about the strength (or lack thereof) of the person and twists or red herrings didn’t change where this storyline would venture. It is the how or why that keeps the reader gripped and turning pages. Why, why? Yeah…you know why. All along you knew why.

If you appreciate the fabric that holds families together, in spite of the warts, the secrets, tragedies, or perhaps because of the tragedies, you’ll appreciate this powerful narrative. While you may think it’s predictable, you’ll appreciate the artful way Higgins weaves her tale in and out as well as the satisfying conclusion, laying everything softly to rest–er…so to speak.

I received this beautiful print book from a Giveaway I won at Stephanie’s Novel Fiction with no expectation of a review. These are my own opinions and mostly, I loved it. You can connect with her also at #stephlvsbooks. Thank you again, Steph! I’ve become a Kristan Higgins fan and will look for additional books from the author.

Book Details:

Genre: Mother’s and Children’s Fiction, Contemporary Literature & Fiction
Publisher: Berkley

  • ISBN-10:045148942X
  • ISBN-13:978-0451489425
  • ASIN: B07KDWT4PY

Print Length: 448 pages
Publication Date: August 6, 2019
Source: Giveaway at Stephanie’s Novel Fiction
Title Link: Life and Other Inconveniences

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4-stars

Kristan Higgins - authorThe Author: Kristan Higgins is the New York Times, USA TODAY, Wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of 19 novels, which have been translated into more than two dozen languages and sold millions of copies worldwide. Her books have received dozens of awards and accolades, including starred reviews from Kirkus, The New York Journal of Books, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, People and Booklist. If you want to keep up with Kristan’s new releases and get a free short story, sign up for her mailing list at http://www.kristanhiggins.com.

Her books regularly appear on the lists for best novels of the year. Kristan is also a cohost of the Crappy Friends podcast, which discusses the often complex dynamics of female friendships, with her friend and fellow writer, Joss Dey.

The proud descendant of a butcher and a laundress, Kristan lives in Connecticut with her heroic firefighter husband. They own several badly behaved pets and are often visited by their entertaining and long-lashed children.

©2019 V Williams V Williams