Tag Archives: cozy mystery

Written Off Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: Written Off

Author: Barbara Cornthwaite

Genre: Christian Cozy Mystery

Release date: May 2021

“Break a leg?” They’ll be lucky if they don’t all break their necks!

After years of waiting, Katrina finally has her happily ever after. All is right with her world . . . until hate crimes begin happening in the charming college town of Wilkester. Even more disturbing is the fact that the perpetrator seems to be connected with the writing class Katrina teaches. How can she prevent her rosy visions of the future from turning into broken dreams?

Find out in this third book of the Wilkester Mysteries.

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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Barbara Cornthwaite lives in the middle of Ireland with her husband and children. She taught college English before “retiring” to do something she loves far more; her days are now filled with homeschooling her six children, trying to keep the house tidy (a losing battle), and trying to stay warm in the damp Irish climate (also a losing battle). She is surrounded by medieval castles, picturesque flocks of sheep, and ancient stone monuments. These things are unappreciated by her children, who are more impressed by traffic jams, skyscrapers, and hot weather.

More from Barbara

What Kind of Lessons Could a Mystery Possibly Teach Me?

It’s been a couple decades since I taught a college English class, and writing the Wilkester Mysteries with Professor Katrina Peters as the main character brought back happy memories of teaching. Not enough to want to go back to it—homeschooling my own kids is much more rewarding—but enough that I had to stop myself from writing much longer lectures into the stories! These are my first contemporary novels, and it was nice to write a story without the hours and hours of historical research I usually have to do. But whatever time period stories are set in, people feel the same emotions and have to learn the same spiritual lessons.

Katrina loves literature and can’t help seeing her own life as a story. The only problem is that she keeps thinking she knows what the Author is doing, and she has definite ideas about what the plot should be. She is not unlike myself: over and over I’ve thought I knew what God was doing in my life. And if He was short on ideas, I had quite a few that He was free to use! But He has rarely been doing what I thought He was, and for some reason He never seems to use my ideas about what could happen in my story. Both Katrina and I need to learn the lesson that God’s wisdom is beyond ours, His storytelling is much deeper and richer than ours, and His plots are never predictable!

My Review

The third and concluding book of the Wilkester Mysteries, Written Off finds Katrina Peters preparing for her upcoming wedding to police detective Todd Mason. Because this trilogy follows the same character arc, it is best read in order, but the mystery plot in each stands independently. My favorite aspect of these stories is author Barbara Cornthwaite’s literary allusions; the witticisms that she employs stem from Katrina’s work as an adjunct English professor, the details of which are imparted in Brought to Book. I was an English major myself, so I get a particular glee from the quotations and references.

Given the subject matter of Written Off, this book is very germane to current events in the news. Hate crimes seemingly fueled by racism incite the otherwise quiet college town of Wilkester, and the flashpoint may be Katrina’s Writing Detective Fiction class. In an example of Cornthwaite’s clever humor, Katrina considers this and exclaims to herself, “I’d been unwittingly training a cohort of felons!” Of course, as with any mystery worth its red herrings, the solution is not so straightforward. Add in wedding planning and house hunting, and this is a fast-reading cozy that demonstrates a realistic approach to the challenges that everyone faces at some point, whether single or married.

As such, I recommend this trilogy to those who enjoy cozy literary mysteries combined with Christian romance and contemporary societal issues. I personally enjoyed the first two books the most; I prefer mystery over romance, and if I’m being completely honest, Katrina annoyed me a bit in the lead-up to the wedding. I definitely appreciate Cornthwaite’s insight into the nature of criminal activity, as evinced by Katrina’s friend Kim: “Trying to stop other people’s sin—how overwhelming. Although I don’t think they would call it sin. They would probably call it evil, which for some reason calls for destruction rather than repentance.” As Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” Ultimately the message of the Gospel comes down to this, too, as Jesus tells the Pharisees in Matthew 22: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. Love your neighbor as yourself.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

My rating: 4 stars ♥♥♥♥

See my review of Brought to Book HERE and Snuffed Out HERE

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, May 31

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 31

Locks, Hooks and Books, June 1

April Hayman, Author, June 1

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, June 2

Losing the Busyness, June 2

Texas Book-aholic, June 3

CarpeDiem, June 3

Remembrancy, June 4

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, June 4

She Lives To Read, June 5

For Him and My Family, June 5

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, June 6

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, June 6

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, June 7

Inklings and notions, June 7

Labor Not in Vain, June 8

Genesis 5020, June 8

Aryn The Libraryan 📚, June 9

Blogging With Carol, June 9

For the Love of Literature, June 10

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, June 10

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, June 11

Joanne Markey, June 11

Through the Fire blogs, June 12

Mary Hake, June 12

deb’s Book Review, June 13

Daysong Reflections, June 13

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Barbara is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a paperback of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/10ca5/written-off-celebration-tour-giveaway

Snuffed Out Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: Snuffed Out

Author: Barbara Cornthwaite

Genre: Christian cozy mystery

Release Date: July 24, 2020

Picnics can be murder… scenes.

What was supposed to be a romantic picnic at “their spot” turns criminal when Katrina and Todd stumble—almost literally—over a body.

What’s the college chef doing under a bush up in the mountains? Other than being dead, that is.

Who killed him? Why?

All clues point to people who Katrina is certain didn’t do it. Especially the one who ends up dead himself.

Uh, oh.

Thanks to a slow-burning romantic relationship that can’t seem to get past chapter one, and a determination to save her friend from false arrest, Katrina joins Todd again as they riddle out bizarre clues, weed through unlikely suspects, and learn to communicate on a more personal level.

What do you get when you combine literary humor, sweet romance, and a practical helping of faith? A cozy mystery that’ll keep you guessing. Barbara Cornthwaite’s second Wilkester Mystery has everything you want for a cozy read.

Snag Snuffed Out today.

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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Barbara Cornthwaite lives in the middle of Ireland with her husband and children. She taught college English before “retiring” to do something she loves far more; her days are now filled with homeschooling her six children, trying to keep the house tidy (a losing battle), and trying to stay warm in the damp Irish climate (also a losing battle). She is surrounded by medieval castles, picturesque flocks of sheep, and ancient stone monuments. These things are unappreciated by her children, who are more impressed by traffic jams, skyscrapers, and hot weather.

Teaser for Snuffed Out

Todd closed the folder with the Franklin case paperwork in it and laid it on top of the stack of folders waiting to be filed. He almost reached for the Delaney case notes again but resisted the impulse. There was no new information in there, and he’d gone over everything a dozen times in the last few days. He had promised Katrina he wouldn’t give up, but without any new leads to pursue, there wasn’t much he could do.

He shook his head, impatient with himself. He’d been doing so well at putting her out of his mind—hadn’t thought of her all day until this moment. Now he’d probably be struggling for the rest of the day.

John Ortega poked his head into Todd’s office.

“Hey, we just got a call from the librarian at Wilkester College about the theft of a manuscript. The chief said either one of us could go, but I thought you might like to take it.”

“Why?”

“Oh, come on,” said John. “You think I’m blind and deaf?”

“It’s no use. Nothing’s going to happen between Dr. Peters and me.”

John leaned up against the door frame and grinned at him. “’Dr. Peters,’ huh? She was ‘Katrina’ for weeks.”

“Well, that was before. Now that I know a relationship isn’t possible, I need to keep my distance.”

“She turned you down?”

“I didn’t ask, but trust me, I know what I’m talking about.”

“Hmm,” John said. “You don’t usually give up on things so easily. Well, do you mind handling this anyway? I’ve got that other robbery case to deal with, and I’m supposed to be interviewing that guy from Tacoma in a couple hours.” Todd hesitated and John added, “She’s an adjunct professor, right? She’s probably not even on campus now, and she certainly won’t be in the library.”

“Oh, okay.” Todd sighed. He pushed back his chair and stood up.

“’Attaboy. Thanks for taking the call.” John turned to go and then looked back. “It will get easier, you know.”

“I know.” As long as I don’t see her again.

My Review

The Wilkester Mysteries is a series that I hope will continue and result in many volumes. As far as cozy mysteries go, I am rather picky and often find them too fluffy or dull, which is why I lean more toward the suspense genre. However, Barbara Cornthwaite has managed to create a cozy series that has light danger and thrills without inducing nightmares or putting readers to sleep. There is a near-perfect blend of mystery, romance, literature, and faith that both entertains and educates, along with some wry humor for good measure.

For those who have bemoaned the seeming dearth of witty literary fiction focused on historical literature (or at least the knowledge thereof), this series needs to go to the top of your to-read list! Snuffed Out is book two, and in my opinion it is necessary to read book one, Brought to Book, first (read my review HERE). The characters remain consistent and although the crimes differ, the storyline itself continues, and in this case there is not enough backstory in the sequel to sufficiently understand who each person is and what is happening. Katrina narrates both stories in the first person, drawing readers directly into the mysteries and her personal life. My favorite character in the first book, I have to admit that I found Katrina annoying at times in this one, particularly when she begins comparing herself to Todd’s ex-wife. This does demonstrate her humanity, though, and her selflessness is evidenced by how she always takes care of those in need. She still quotes famous classic literature, with a fondness for the work of Jane Austen, applying it to life in unique ways.

Spiritual truths gently permeate the narrative, explaining the Gospel to characters—and readers—in brilliantly simple terms. Todd’s analysis of sin particularly stood out to me and is more relevant than ever during the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic: “Sin is dark. All sin is dark. Not just the violent and heart-breaking crimes. That stuff is what evil looks like with the mask off. Sins that don’t seem so bad—losing your temper, telling a white lie, gossiping—is the same dark evil, just with a mask on. But all of it is bad enough to separate us from God. All of it is why Jesus had to die on the cross.” Often enough, we are faced with overwhelming situations that make us feel as if we, like Katrina, are “a turtle walking through tar”, but thankfully, if we walk with the Lord, He gives us the strength and the courage to continue on as Paul exhorts us in Philippians 3:13. In Snuffed Out, fostering is again a significant theme, which is so important in and of itself as well as for the lessons it can teach. Consoling a new foster mom, Katrina tells her: “But just because something turns out to be difficult—or more difficult—than you thought it would be doesn’t mean you don’t deserve help or sympathy.” The same applies to our trials, too, and we have a Savior ready and waiting for us to call on Him!

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

My rating: 5 stars ♥♥♥♥♥

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, November 28

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 28

Texas Book-aholic, November 29

Nancy E Wood, November 29

The Avid Reader, November 30

Genesis 5020, November 30

For the Love of Literature, November 30

Sodbusterliving, December 1

Artistic Nobody, December 1 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, December 2

deb’s Book Review, December 2

Remembrancy, December 3

Ashley’s Bookshelf, December 3

Splashes of Joy, December 3

Inklings and notions, December 4

21st Century Keeper at Home, December 4

For Him and My Family, December 5

Blogging With Carol, December 5

Locks, Hooks and Books, December 6

Emily Yager, December 6

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, December 7

Lis Loves Reading, December 7

Labor Not in Vain, December 7

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 8

Mary Hake, December 8

She Lives to Read, December 9

Sara Jane Jacobs, December 9

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, December 10

Godly Book Reviews, December 10

SusanLovesBooks, December 10

Daysong Reflections, December 11

Bizwings Blog, December 11

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Barbara is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a paperback of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/103f2/snuffed-out-celebration-tour-giveaway

Brought to Book Review and GIVEAWAY!

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About the Book

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Book: Brought to Book

Author: Barbara Cornthwaite

Genre: Christian cozy mystery

Release Date: June 24, 2020

There’s nothing in Emily Post about dealing with murder.

Katrina just wanted to spend time among the books at Frank’s Bookstore. Yes, that’s an unimaginative name for a store, but Frank’s an unimaginative guy–or he was.

Now he and his murder are the reason Katrina is spending her spare time with Wilkester detective, Todd Mason. Or, that’s what she tells herself.

Why would anyone want to kill Frank Delaney? Who would do it? And is Katrina herself even safe?

Mixing faith, literary humor, sweet romance, and a cozy mystery that will keep you guessing, Barbara Cornthwaite’s first Wilkester Mystery has everything you want for a cozy read.

Begin your investigation of Brought to Book today.

Click HERE to get your copy!

About the Author

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Barbara Cornthwaite lives in the middle of Ireland with her husband and children. She taught college English before “retiring” to do something she loves far more; her days are now filled with homeschooling her six children, trying to keep the house tidy (a losing battle), and trying to stay warm in the damp Irish climate (also a losing battle). She is surrounded by medieval castles, picturesque flocks of sheep, and ancient stone monuments. These things are unappreciated by her children, who are more impressed by traffic jams, skyscrapers, and hot weather.

More from Barbara

Meeting of the Minds

A Wilkester Mysteries Introduction

Detective Todd Mason knew Katrina was the one the first time he met her. The woman had witnessed a murder—if not with her eyes, at least with her ears. She’d seen the man dying and called for help, afraid all the while that the killer would return for her. So much he’d been told before he went into the interrogation room.

“How’s she handling it?” he asked the officer who had arrived first at the scene and escorted her to the police station.

“Not too badly,” said Gary. “She’s in shock, of course, but she’s trying to hold it together. Katrina Peters. She’s in Room 2.”

He’d gone in then and gotten his first look at her. Late thirties or early forties. Brown hair that fell to her shoulders in loose waves. Brown eyes that were red-rimmed from crying. Hands clutching a tissue. She managed a faint smile when he walked in.

“Hello, Ms. Peters. I’m Detective Todd Mason. I need to ask you some questions, if that’s all right.”

“Miss,” she said, almost as a reflex.

“I beg your pardon?” Todd wasn’t sure he’d heard her correctly.

“It’s Miss Peters.” She said it firmly, repudiating the term Ms. even at such a stressful moment. Something made her blush then, and he saw her glance at his left hand. “Never mind,” she murmured.

She’s afraid I’ll think she’s trying to advertize her availability. It amused Todd to see the blush—if only she knew how refreshing it was to see a woman who would even be conscious of such a thing. Old fashioned, he thought. In a good way.

She answered his questions as calmly as she could, and even apologized for the tears that insisted on coming out now and then. When she alluded to Daniel in the lion’s den, he knew she really was out of the ordinary, and it took all his self-control not to offer to drive her home himself.

To join the investigation, read your copy of Brought to Book today.

My Review

In general, I don’t gravitate toward romances, and while I love a good mystery or suspense, cozies tend not to make my to-read list. So how did I end up requesting to review Barbara Cornthwaite’s Brought to Book? Through the recommendation of fellow readers who have highly praised this novel. There are so many interesting points that make this story memorable, and as such, it will appeal to a broader audience than it may have otherwise.

As book one in the Wilkester Mysteries series, Brought to Book introduces readers to Katrina Peters, an adjunct English professor at Wilkester College. Her faith in God has brought her to this current place in her journey through life, in more ways than one, and I felt an empathetic connection with her character. She is definitely multi-dimensional and dynamic, and I delighted in her triumphs and also sympathized with her losses. Battling a mid-life crisis of sorts, she wonders what God would have her do with the rest of her life, and the options that she considers are all godly and fruitful, but until true and complete surrender occurs, no decisions will be clear. Murder and other crimes increasingly affect her life and come closer to her as she finds herself running the gamut from suspect to witness to victim.

Cornthwaite’s skill at creating characters finds expression in Katrina’s self-doubt while wrestling with her ordeals and uncertainty: “How can anyone as ineffectual as I make an actual difference in anyone’s life?” This is a question that we all ask in some form or another at some point in our lives. However, the answer lies not in our ability but in the already-accomplished work of Christ on the cross and His ministry while on earth. As Todd tells Katrina, not taking chances or leaps of faith may be sins, “Especially if you think following the rules will keep bad things from happening to you.

Brought to Book offers many such spiritual truths and nuggets of wisdom, none of which feel forced, as well as multiple topics that are so common today, including the victories and the tears of foster care, serving as missionaries, marriage and divorce, second love, small town history and its secrets, and literature. This last one is my favorite because I have a great love for literature through the ages and of language in general, and I love how Cornthwaite implements so many literary techniques. I am now eager to read book two!

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.

My rating: 5 stars ♥♥♥♥♥

Blog Stops

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, October 10

21st Century Keeper at Home, October 10

The Avid Reader, October 10

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, October 11

Remembrancy, October 11

For the Love of Literature, October 12

Worthy2Read, October 12

Genesis 5020, October 12

deb’s Book Review, October 13

Blogging With Carol, October 13

Robin’s Nest, October 13

Texas Book-aholic, October 14

Losing the Busyness, October 14

April Hayman, Author, October 14

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, October 15

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 15

Inklings and notions, October 16

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, October 16

Daysong Reflections, October 16

Older & Smarter?, October 17

For Him and My Family, October 17

Ashley’s Bookshelf, October 18

Just Your Average reviews, October 18

Lis Loves Reading, October 18

Locks, Hooks and Books, October 19

As He Leads is Joy, October 19

Emily Yager, October 19

Sodbusterliving, October 20

Artistic Nobody, October 20 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)

Labor Not in Vain, October 20

She Lives To Read, October 21

Bizwings Blog, October 21

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, October 21

Godly Book Reviews, October 22

Mary Hake, October 22

Vicky Sluiter, October 22

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, October 23

Sara Jane Jacobs, October 23

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Barbara is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a paperback of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/10210/brought-to-book-celebration-tour-giveaway