Book Review of Cozy Mystery Moonlight Can Be Murder: A Ned McNeil Mystery by Blanche Manos

This is another #BookReview by #1 Amazon best selling author & top #BookReviewer Ronda Del Boccio. This one is #CozyMystery Moonlight Can Be Murder: A Ned McNeil Mystery by Blanche Manos

Welcome back to another Write On Purpose book review. I share well-written books. I highlight what makes each good from the reader’s perspective, and reveal what writing skills and techniques make it an irresistible read. Thus, each review serves both writers and readers. This time, it's a cozy mystery by Blanche Manos titled, Moonlight Can Be Murder: A Ned McNeil Mystery.

This is one of the better cozies I have read. You'll find out why shortly. First, have a look at the book cover and description.

Moonlight Can Be Murder: A Ned McNeil Mystery. by Blanche Manos

Nettie "Ned" McNeil cannot imagine why her Uncle Cover of Moonlight Can Be Murder Cozy Mystery: A Ned McNeil Mystery by Blanche ManosJavin feels that he is in danger, but she loads her suitcases into her car, leaves Atlanta and her late husband, and makes the long trek to Ednalee, Oklahoma, to help out. When she arrives, Uncle Javin's white Victorian house is strangely dark and silent.

Inside she finds him lying on the floor in a pool of blood. So begin her first moments back in her old home town, where the mystery of Uncle Javin's violent death pulls at Ned. But his mysterious murderer seems to always be just a few steps ahead of her search. How can she protect her own life as she pursues a killer who will stop at nothing to guard a deadly secret?

I like cozies, because they're suspenseful tales about people being thrown into difficult circumstances. Sure, there's a dead body, but without the gore of true crime mysteries. What else makes this a good read?

Continue reading "Book Review of Cozy Mystery Moonlight Can Be Murder: A Ned McNeil Mystery by Blanche Manos"

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Book Review of First Maggie Storm Blue Cozy Mystery Uncultured Pearl by Sherrill M. Lewis

All my book reviews share what makes the selected volume good from both the reader’s perspective and the writing skill/author perspective. #BookReview

UPDATE: I just learned that the author Sherrill Lewis died January 27, 2016 after a long battle with ALS.

Sherrill Lewis

I never knew her, but here is what Kimberly Pennell said about her: "Her husband said her two goals in life toward the end were to see all her far-flung kids and finish the 4th book in the series. She got both and died the day after finishing the book. (shiver)"

Shiver indeed! She definitely stayed around to finish what she had set out to do. I loved this book and will read the rest in the series. Now, on to the review.

Welcome back to another Write On Purpose book review. I review  well-written books, highlighting what makes each good from the reader’s perspective and what writing skills and techniques make it an irresistible read. Thus, each review serves both writers and readers.

I love cozy mysteries, and today's review is a cozy with a touch of romance.  It is a hint of romance and not graphic, thus safe for younger or more sensitive readers. I am not a fan of graphic intimacy myself.

The way I encountered this book is because I read unsolicited submissions for a publisher, and Ms. Lewis submitted her book. I suppose I outed her by telling the publisher her books are all self published and available on Amazon.

I started reading the portion of  Uncultured Pearl she submitted to the publisher and was unhappy to run out of pages. So I used my handy-dandy Kindle Unlimited subscription to read the whole book.

I typically don't review self-published books. There are a lot of bad ones, since it's free and easy to publish. I enjoyed this book a lot,, though, and there are some good teaching points for authors in what I shall share as well.

Yes, I know a commercially published book can be bad too, but at least it has seen editors. It's more likely to be not for my taste VS awful and full of errors.

OK so, here's the info about the book:

Uncultured Pearl (Maggie Storm Blue Mystery Book 1) by Sherrill Lewis

Description from Amazon.com:

Cover of Uncoltured Pearl (Maggie Storm Blue Mystery Book 1) by Sherrill Lewis Maggie Storm Blue is taking a medical leave from her job as a PR copywriter/magician in Oklahoma City. Over the last ten years, 50-pushing-60 Maggie has experienced several psyche-battering events. De-stressing at her uncle’s idyllic lakeside home in Maine, she finds herself sidestepping her aunt’s matchmaking mischief, embroiled in solving multiple murders, and being the target of mystifying mayhem. She hopes the mayhem does not follow her back to Oklahoma. Meanwhile, she wonders, This is a vacation?

What made this cozy an irresistible read? Continue reading "Book Review of First Maggie Storm Blue Cozy Mystery Uncultured Pearl by Sherrill M. Lewis"

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Book Review of Cozy Mystery Melody for Murder: A Bertie Bigelow Mystery by Carolyn Marie Wilkins

Each week, read a #bookReview on WriteOnPUrpose.com by best selling author, speaker & Top #BookReviewer Ronda Del Boccio. This week it’s a cozy mystery called Melody for Murder: A Bertie Bigelow Mystery by Carolyn Marie Wilkins.

Welcome back to another Write On Purpose book review. Each week, I review a well-written book, highlighting what makes it good from the reader’s perspective and what writing skills and techniques make it an irresistible read. Thus, each review serves both writers and readers.

This week, it's a cozy mystery called Melody for Murder. College professor Bertie Bigelow thinks her biggest problem is her job being on the line when one of her students goes off the rails at a live performance. She soon finds herself accused of murder and in deeper danger than she ca imagine.

Melody for Murder: A Bertie Bigelow Mystery by Carolyn Marie Wilkins

Melody for Murder: A Bertie Bigelow Mystery by Carolyn Marie Wilkins

Book Description

On the South Side of Chicago, one SOUR note can lead to MURDER. When recently-widowed college choir director Bertie Bigelow reluctantly accepts a New Year's date with Judge Theophilous Green, she never imagines the esteemed civil rights pioneer and inveterate snob will be found shot to death the next morning. She's even more surprised when her talented but troubled student LaShawn Thomas is arrested for the crime. But Bertie suspects that someone in her tight-knit social circle is really the killer. Is it hot-tempered Patrice Soule, the voluptuous diva and recent winner of the Illinois Idol contest? Is it Charley Howard, the BBQ Hot Sauce King, a self-made millionaire with Mafia connections? Is it the mysterious Dr. Momolu Taylor? Newly arrived from Africa, he's invented a hot new sex drug that's got some powerful politicians feeling frisky. Or could it be Alderman "Steady Freddy" Clark, corrupt South Side ward boss and would-be patron of the arts? One thing is certain: Bertie Bigelow will need to keep her wits about her to avoid becoming the killer's next victim.

What makes this book a great read in my opinion? Continue reading "Book Review of Cozy Mystery Melody for Murder: A Bertie Bigelow Mystery by Carolyn Marie Wilkins"

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Writing Skills Book Review: Writing the Cozy Mystery by Nancy J. Cohen

This is a #BookReview of Writing the Cozy Mystery by Nancy J Cohen, an excellent resource for anyone wanting to write #cozymystery books

Some writer friends and I had a rousing discussion about whether our work in progress books were cozy mysteries or not.

A cozy mystery has a dead body or two, but not a lot of gore. The reader can cozy up with a good book by the fire, under a blanket, and have a good story without being terrified or having a lesson in forensics. An amateur sleuth gets involved trying to solve the riddle of "whodunit."

I go into more detail about it in this article.

Hannah Swensen (Murder She Baked) series and the Cat Who series are examples of cozies. I like them, because I'm not a big fan of true crime.

So I was thrilled to find this book,

Writing the Cozy Mystery by Nancy J. Cohen.

Writing the Cozy Mystery, front cover

I've read cozies of all sorts, from paranormal to historical, shopaholic to inept bounty hunter, and I may end up writing a series of my own.

This book is well organized and cuts right to the chase. I'd rather have 49 pages that get right to the point than wade through 250 looking for useful hints. Have a look at the table of contents: Continue reading "Writing Skills Book Review: Writing the Cozy Mystery by Nancy J. Cohen"

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Book Review of Cozy Mystery Permed to Death: The Bad Hair Mysteries Book 1 by Nancy J.. Cohen

Each week, read a #bookReview on WriteOnPUrpose.com by best selling author, speaker & Top #BookReviewer Ronda Del Boccio. This week it’s a #cozymystery called Permed to Death by Nancy J. Cohen

Welcome back to another Write On Purpose book review. Each week, I review a well-written book, highlighting what makes it good from the reader’s perspective and what writing skills and techniques make it an irresistible read. Thus, each review serves both writers and readers.

I found this week's read because I bought her book on writing cozy mysteries. Being a fan of cozies, I had to give one of hers a try.

Permed to Death by Nancy J. Cohen

Description of Permed to Death from Amazon:

Meet Marla Shore, a Florida beauty salon owner with a knack for creating dazzling dos—and solving mysteries . . .Marla was already having a bad day, but when one of her clients dies while getting a perm in her salon, her day just can’t get any worse . . . until the smugly competent Detective Vail accuses her of poisoning the wealthy widow’s coffee creamer! Granted, Bertha Kravitz was hardly her favorite customer, but Marla could never have murdered the ornery woman. Now it is up to the savvy stylist to find out just who did. Combing the woman’s privileged world for clues, Marla soon discovers that the town is crawling with potential suspects. As the case grows more snarled, Marla becomes determined to unmask a cunning killer before she is outwitted—and dead.

As with any book, there are things you like and things you don't. Was this a top rate read? Continue reading "Book Review of Cozy Mystery Permed to Death: The Bad Hair Mysteries Book 1 by Nancy J.. Cohen"

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Book Review of Cozy Mystery Cream Puff Murder (Hannah Swensen Series, Book 11) by Joanne Fluke

Each week, read a #bookReview on WriteOnPUrpose.com by best selling author, speaker & Top #BookReviewer Ronda Del Boccio. This week it’s a #CozyMystery called the Cream Puff Murder, #11 in the Hannah Swensen series by Joanne Fluke.

Welcome back to another Write On Purpose book review. Each week, I review a well-written book, highlighting what makes it good from the reader’s perspective and what writing skills and techniques make it an irresistible read. Thus, each review serves both writers and readers.

This week it's a cozy mystery from the Murder, She Baked series by Joanne Fluke.

I've been reading the series from the first, The Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder. Each book includes recipes. Most are for cookies, but there are some for casseroles, cakes, and other asty foods.

The first book is now a movie that received tremendous ratings on the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries Channel. That channel isn't in my package, so I haven't seen it, but I'm a Hannah fan and hope I can get it soon.

the Cream Puff Murder:

Bakery owner Hannah Swensen has a dress to fit into and a Cream Puff Murder by Joanne Flukedate with her sister, Andrea, at Lake Eden's new health club, Heavenly Bodies. Dragging herself out of bed on a frigid Minnesota morning for exercise, of all things, is bad enough. Discovering the body of man-eating bombshell Ronni Ward floating in the gym's jacuzzi? Okay, that's worse. Nor does it help that there's a plate of The Cookie Jar's very own cream puffs garnishing the murder scene.

Trying to narrow the list of Ronni's enemies down to fewer than half the town's female population, Hannah has her plate full. Trouble is, when it comes to cookies--and to murder--there's always room for one more. . .

"Foodie fans will eat up Fluke's cozy. . . A fluffy mix of sweets and suspense." --Publishers Weekly

"Entertaining and sprinkled with tempting recipes. It's a sweet treat of a novel." --The Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)

"A tasty treat." --Kirkus Reviews

Did I find this book to be a worthy read? Continue reading "Book Review of Cozy Mystery Cream Puff Murder (Hannah Swensen Series, Book 11) by Joanne Fluke"

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Is My Book a Cozy? Writing a Cozy Mystery

This article teaches you what cozy mysteries are, the typical conventions of the genre, samples of cozies, plus some tips for writing your own.

A conversation amongst myself and some friends, including authors, non-writer readers, and a publisher,   inspired this article. An author was trying to decide whether her work in progress is a cozy or a suspense book. The publisher said it's not a cozy without a murder. He thought my WIP might be a cozy; I've been calling itparanormal suspense. A non-author reader had no idea what a cozy was.

There's a lot of confusion, especially at a time when genre lines blur and there are so many mashups (mixed genre stories). I had to read a few articles to say for sure what genre I think mine is. So this article should allay confusion.

What is a Cozy Mystery?

A cozy mystery has a dead body or two, but not a lot of gore. The reader can cozy up with a good book by the fire, under a blanket, and have a good story without being terrified or having a lesson in forensics. An amateur sleuth gets involved trying to solve the riddle of "whodunit."

Examples of Cozy mystery Series:

These are just a few of many examples. Here are new cozy mystery releases on Amazon.

Bad Hair Day Mysteries by Nancy J. Cohen feature Marla Shore, a hair salon owner. Beauty shops are notorious for loose lips, and in this case, a woman dies while her perm is processing, in the first book.

Murder, She Wrote series by Jessica Fletcher was turned into a TV series. Fletcher  is a mystery writer who stumbles over dead bodies the way some folks trip over their own two feet.

The Cat Who Mysteries by Lilian Jackson Braun: Reporter Jim Qwilleran  and his Siamese cat Koko (and later another Siamese named YumYum joins them) solve all sorts of mysteries, first in New York, then, more conventionally to the genre, in a small town.

 Royal Spyness Mysteries by Rhys Bowen is a historical cozy series about a minor royal without estate or fortune trying to make her way in a changing world. Meanwhile, she encounters various mysteries and is even told by HRM The Queen to watch for certain individuals.

Darcy and Flora Cozy Mystery Series, of which The Cemetery Club is the first. Reporter Darcy has returned to her hometown where she quite literally stumbles over a dead body while helping her mother Flora tend the cemetery.

Flavia De Luce Mysteries: Ten-year-old budding chemist and amateur sleuth Flavia finds herself in a world of trouble in this series. While it is technically juvenile fiction, I adore these stories.

Paranormal cozies: One of my writer friends said there were no paranormal cozies. There are a bunch of them, as you can see from this amazon search for "paranormal cozy mysteries." Series include the Gypsy Sleuths Mysteries and Magical Cures Mystery Series.

Cozy Conventions

Here are some conventions of the cozy mystery:

  • Always a series,
  • Each novel happens in a small town or enclosed environment, perhaps a workplace,
  • Every so often in the series, the protagonist is away from home base, such as on vacation,  so the book happens elsewhere.
  • The reader comes to care about the characters, especially the point of view character.
  • The amateur sleuth
  • Is often a business owner or writer.
  • She is  somehow personally connected to the situation, either suspected of committing the crime, trying to clear a relative/friend, or for other personal reasons.
  • The sleuth is involved in such a way she wants or needs to solve the mystery.
  • Someone in town/the environment knows almost everything about everybody.
  • A cast of quirky characters people the world of the story.
  • The sleuth may be married or may go in and out of relationships throughout the series.
  • There is no sex beyond a kiss and some cuddling. Anything else goes on off-page, in the reader's imagination.
  • The whole cast have ongoing lives, including marriages, health conditions, birthdays, town festivities, break-ups, babies, etc.
  • The setting itself becomes a character with its own life because so many people and stories breathe life into it.
  • There are false trails, liars, secrets, clues and much of what you would expect from any mystery.
  • The hero generally has a confidant that helps her make sense of things.
  • The villain is someone the reader wants to come to justice, and someone who most people in the world of the books will not sorely miss.

Cozy Possibilities

You'll find cozies that involve:

  • Animals -  cats, dogs
  • Hobbies, such as knitting
  • Romance
  • Ghosts
  • Businesses: hair salon, cookie bakery, kitchen, caterer, library, B&B
  • Locations: Bay, golf course, manor house, old London
  • Sleuth may be: a child, a senior, a man, a middle-aged woman, a couple, a mother and daughter
  • Some series include recipes, as in the Fresh  Baked, Patisserie and Hannah Swensen series'.

Read FREE Cozy Mysteries

Get FREE cozies from Amazon using this link - free Cozy Mysteries Note: Be sure to watch whether they're on a free giveaway promotion or are free for Kindle unlimited subscribers.

Writing the Cozy Mystery

Want to try your hand writing  cozy?  Get Writing the Cozy Mystery by Nancy Cohen for only 99c on Kindle or $6 in print as of this writing.

WritingTheCozyMysterybyNancyJCohen

This is an excellent guide that includes the how-to plus writing exercises and templates (guides) to use in crafting your own cozies. It's short and to the point. Order your copy of Writing the Cozy Mystery now. Have you written or started writing a cozy? I hope this article helps you. Follow your BLISS, Ronda Del Boccio Best selling author and Amazon Top Reviewer Order mY books from Amazon

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