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From the desk of Ashleigh Stevens
Happy Fourth of July!

My husband's family has a long tradition of gathering at the family lake house in Maine for the fourth of July holiday. While not everyone is able to travel this year, my family and I are enjoying a week of kayaking, swimming, and relaxing.

And, of course, I will be writing. I FINALLY finished the cozy mystery I started back in March. I have decided to take a break before working on the next one. I have another stand alone I would like to start, as well as some romances I'm working on. But, never fear. I hope to be back at the cozy series by the end of the summer. As soon as I write book two and really nail my main character's voice, I will be looking for readers.

In the meantime, I have decided to spend my July catching up on some of my reading. Are you looking to read more this summer? Why not try some of these books?
A Glimpse at Ashleigh's Bookshelf
Derailed Plot
Derailed Plot
Summer Campbell

After finding her husband in bed with another woman, Astrid decides to accept an offer to review a transcontinental train across Spain while she reexamines her life. However, when she becomes the prime suspect in a murder, she finds herself trying to find the real culprit before she is handed over to the Spanish policia.
Although this book claims to be a cozy murder mystery, the murder does not happen until chapter 6 (out of 15). The beginning of the book focuses more on Astrid reexamining her life and getting to the train. It is also very difficult to feel immersed in the story. Beginning on page one, the book is full of scenes where the narrator tells us what has just happened during the scene break instead of showing it as it happens. Combined with the occasional errors in grammar and tense, I had a difficult time being engaged in the story.

And the scene where Astrid goes clothes shopping with a complete stranger in a Madrid airport? That felt a little weird to me.

While the story felt rushed, the ending felt incomplete. Although I could understand whodunit (and made the connection before the main character), I had trouble understanding the why. And the reader is left wondering whether Astrid will return to her husband at the end of the story, as Astrid remains undecided.

Ultimately, I walked away feeling underwhelmed.
A Killing In Vail
A Killing In Vail
D. M. O'Byrne

Reading the newspaper one morning, Ryn learns about the death of a dear friend. The Vail police are calling it an unfortunate accident, but Ryn is calling their bluff. Determined to figure out what happened to her friend, she begins an investigation of her own against the advice of her boyfriend, the Trout Fork police captain. But, when her life is put in danger, she must examine not only her suspects, but also the importance of her relationship.
I must admit, I had a rough start reading this mystery. There is a lot of front matter that I had to scroll past before I could get to the actual story. Then, I got to the first chapter.

The story begins with an info dump in the form of an epistolary and, I gotta say, I think it works. In a few short pages, we learn the main character's name, her boyfriend's name, and their hometown, as well as the name of her friend and a little background information. It was just enough information to get to know the players, maybe even get the reader interested in the story and clue the reader in to some information from the previous books, since this is #3 in a series. However, it was not enough to be overwhelming or confusing.

Unfortunately, the following scenes are full of narrations with ideas that bounce around. Much of it is expanding on topics that were mentioned in the opening emails and overall, I found the first chapter very confusing. I felt a lot of the back story that is given in the first chapter could have been shown in dialogue with the main character interacting with party guests in a wedding instead of just narration.

Within the first chapter, two weeks pass by without anything happening. It made me wonder why the wedding scene was even included. While I am not trying to rewrite the book, in my opinion, the story would have been stronger if the wedding was shown as a prologue or if more details were given to explain the main character's relationship with the deceased a little better. Then, the next chapter could start the two weeks later when Ryn reads the story of the dead body.

However, once I got through the first chapter, I found I did not want to put the book down. Although there was a lot of repetition in this book, and a little too much exposition, I really enjoyed the story and found myself invested in both the investigation and the relationship. Although this book is a mystery, I found myself more engrossed in the relationship between Ryn and Garrett than the investigation. I was pleased to learn that I figured out the whodunnit long before Ryn, though I did like the twist at the end when describing the how.

At the end of the story, I walked away from the book feeling like I needed just a little more. A little more description. A little more action. A little more dialogue. A little more romance.

That said, I really enjoyed the romance element of this book and will be reading more in this series to learn how Ryn and Garrett met and what happens to them after this.

Wondering what to read next?
Try these new reads
Easter Egg Hunt Murder
Now Available
Easter Egg Hunt Murder
A Reporter Roland Bean Cozy Mystery

Can you figure out who the killer is before the guilty culprit is revealed?
During an Easter egg hunt, Roland “Beanie” Bean and his two-year-old son Evan are searching for eggs when they find a woman sprawled in the dirt beneath a hibiscus bush. 

Little Evan thinks the lady is just sleeping, but Beanie knows better. 

The nasty gash on the woman’s forehead might not have killed her, but the stab wounds in her chest appear to be fatal. 

As an investigative reporter at the Palmchat Gazette, Beanie is the perfect person to cover the story, considering that he found the victim. 

Narrowing down the field of suspects, Beanie finds out the victim had plenty of enemies. Not only was she unfaithful to her husband, but she was blackmailing her lover and cheating her business partner and may have been involved in a scam with a vicious island cartel. 

As Beanie continues to investigate, he uncovers sinister secrets and devious motives among those who were closest to the victim. Racing to discover the killer, he ends up the target of a diabolical murderer who won’t hesitate to kill again.

Easter Egg Hunt Murder is a contemporary whodunit murder mystery novel in the Reporter Roland Bean Cozy Mystery Series but can be read as a standalone. With lots of clues and red herrings, it features plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing until the end! Get your copy today!
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