Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss
Debbie Wiley | New Urban Fantasy & Fantasy Novel Recs!
Author Guest / February 13, 2020

By Fresh Fiction Senior Reviewer Debbie Wiley Winter is in full swing in most of the country, while here in Central Florida we’re still trying to decide whether to even participate. So far temperatures are wildly swinging from the 40s to the mid-80s with a nice gusting of wind (all day for two days, I might add) thrown in just to keep us on our toes. So why does that matter? Because it’s the perfect weather to stay inside where I can adjust the heat or the AC (sometimes both during the same day!) and curl up with a book! Even better, January and February have given us some phenomenal urban fantasy/fantasy novels to choose from. Here are a couple of my favorites: Jennifer Estep concludes her Mythos Academy Spin-Off series with SPARTAN DESTINY. Rory Forseti, a Spartan and Mythos Academy student, and the rest of Team Midgard are determined to keep powerful artifacts out of the hands of the Reapers. Unbeknownst to the rest of Team Midgard, Rory has been secretly replacing real artifacts with copies. . . but will she be able to save her friends when their latest attempt to obtain an artifact goes sour?  I love…

Debbie Wiley | Crafty Cozies as Self-Care
Author Guest / January 13, 2020

Mindfulness and self-care are hot button topics right now in our fast-paced, technology-driven world. Whether it’s gratitude journals, vision boards, yoga, self-help books, etc, everyone nowadays is looking for ways to refresh and re-energize themselves, particularly with 2020 launching a whole new decade. Reading is also a way to rest and rejuvenate, particularly if it’s books that spark your imagination and creativity. What better place to look than cozy mysteries with a crafty theme? I’ve seen hygge yarn in the stores, but it’s Sally Goldenbaum’s A MURDEROUS TANGLE that sent me to google to learn more about the hygge lifestyle. The Seaside Knitting Studio is hosting its first holiday hygge and all the members are looking forward to a quiet gathering knitting or crocheting before a warm fire in their comfortable clothes with hot spiced cider and homemade cookies. Unfortunately, a murder disrupts the town of Sea Harbor and now the Seaside Knitters are tracking down a murderer in their midst. Sally Goldenbaum’s warm and inviting characters make me want to pull out my loom and knit with soft music and the scent of lavender in the air. If you’re looking for a cleverly crafted mystery that also inspires you…

Debbie Wiley | Fresh Fiction Reviewer Top Reads of 2019
Author Guest / December 13, 2019

Now through the end of the year, some of our reviewers will be sharing their top reads of 2019! First up, Debbie Wiley…  2019 is winding down and it’s time to reflect back on the year’s reading. I read a wide range of genres, to include a mixture of cozy mysteries, urban fantasies, children’s books, nonfiction, historical fiction, comics/humor, and graphic novels. 2019 included releases from a lot of my favorite authors, like J.D. Robb, Nalini Singh, Jennifer Estep, Rachel Caine, Anne Bishop, Laura Griffin, Ilona Andrews, and Seanan McGuire, all of whom made my “Best of 2019” list. However, most of my favorite books fall into only a couple categories so I’ve decided to make up my own “Best Of” categories to highlight a few different reads than just my usual favorite authors. Best Historical Fiction that also Taught Me a Piece of History I Didn’t Know: THE BOOK WOMAN OF TROUBLESOME CREEK by Kim Michele Richardson is hands down the winner in this category. Not only was I unfamiliar with the Blue People of Kentucky, I was also unaware of the Pack Horse Library Project. Kim Michele Richardson delves deep into both issues, as we follow Cussy “Bluet”…

Debbie Wiley | Spooky Halloween Reads
Author Guest / October 24, 2019

October is the month when it’s fun to be scared! Halloween movies play on the tv stations, while readers turn to Halloween, creepy or paranormal themed books to get into the mood for October 31. For me, October is always the time to pull out a Stephen King book as his stories set the perfect atmosphere for an eerie October night. I’ve also discovered a few other reads this October that are perfect for the season. Here are some of my recommendations for creepy October reads this Halloween season: DIABHAL by Kathleen Kaufman is a deliciously dark occult thriller focusing on a matriarchal cult called The Society. Things go awry when 10-year-old Ceit Robertson’s mother is attacked by restless spirits called Sluagh and she’s placed in a foster home called MacLaren Hall. While the story itself is fictional, MacLaren Hall isn’t and has a disturbing history that only serves to heighten the creepy atmosphere Kathleen Kaufman creates.  DIABHAL is the kind of book that you can’t put down even as you wonder what will happen next- it’s classic horror at its finest! A.J. Hackwith puts a whole new diabolical spin on libraries in THE LIBRARY OF THE UNWRITTEN! Claire is…

Debbie Wiley | Bookish Storylines
Author Guest / September 30, 2019

Fresh Fiction Senior Review Debbie Wiley Bookstores have always been a place of joy for me, even as a young child. Books open up doors to new worlds and new adventures. Some authors capture that essence in their books by including bookstores as part of their plots. A wealth of emotions can be conveyed as characters learn to cope and heal through books and bookstores. Here are a few recent books that include bookstores as part of the magical world the authors transport us into. Jenny Colgan’s Scottish Bookshop series includes two books, THE BOOKSHOP ON THE SHORE and THE BOOKSHOP ON THE CORNER, centered around a mobile bookstore. Both stories focus on a female lead character who heads to Scotland seeking a new life where a mobile bookstore becomes part of both of their worlds. THE BOOKSHOP ON THE CORNER is the first book in the series and shows how Nina Redmond first creates the idea of a mobile bookstore, as she seeks to share her love of books with a population unaccustomed to reading for pleasure. The second book, THE BOOKSHOP ON THE SHORE, focuses on Zoe O’Connell’s move to Scotland and her struggles to fill Nina’s shoes…

Debbie Wiley | Keeping Cozy During Back to School
Author Guest / September 9, 2019

Senior Reviewer Debbie Wiley  School is back in session and it’s time to hit the textbooks! Navigating the politics of any school system can be tricky, but it’s even worse when things turn to murder. Several cozy mystery authors give us a taste of what happens when things turn deadly. Lee Hollis takes us into the ugly shenanigans at Portland High in MURDER AT THE PTA where someone has been posting nasty rumors and gossip on an anonymous blog. Private Investigator Maya Kendrick tracks down the owner of the blog, only to find her dead. Meanwhile, Sandra Wallage, PTA President and wife of a US Senator, is facing all sorts of hostility thanks to the last rumor posted on the blog. Maya doesn’t believe the death is a suicide, and Sandra wants to help. Lee Hollis’ first book in the Maya and Sandra Mystery takes some hilarious turns, even as we see Maya and Sandra dealing with some very weighty personal issues. I like that we see how Maya and Sandra team up together and I can’t wait to see what other murders they will solve! Susan Wittig Albert takes us away from high school to the college level in…

Debbie Wiley | Crafty Cozy Mysteries
Author Guest / July 22, 2019

By Debbie Wiley, Fresh Fiction Senior Reviewer  I have been fascinated with crafts since my great aunt gave me a wooden knitting board and a macramé kit many years ago. Admittedly, I’ve never considered myself exceptionally talented, but the mere process of loom knitting can be very soothing, almost as soothing as reading a good book. There are a lot of great cozy mysteries out there about various crafts, anything from a custom teddy bear shop such as in BEAR WITNESS TO MURDER by Meg Macy, to glassmaking (including glass beads!) in Cheryl Holland’s DOWN IN FLAMES. There’s a little something for everyone when it comes to crafty cozy mysteries, but the ones featuring the fiber arts like knitting, crocheting, embroidery, and quilting appeal to me the most. Here are a couple great series to get you started! KNOT ON HER LIFE, the latest in Mary Marks’ Quilting Mystery series, makes me wish I had a quilting circle near me with people as patient with newcomers as the characters in the book. Martha Rose jumps in to help a neighbor with her foster child and finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation. Mary Marks gives quilting tips in…

Debbie Wiley | Summer is Here and a Trip to Florida is Just a Book Away!
Author Guest / June 6, 2019

Fresh Fiction Senior Reviewer Debbie Wiley is here to take us on a tour of one of the hottest summer vacation destinations: FLORIDA. All of these great summer reads are set in the Sunshine State!!  Summer is here, and vacation mode is in full swing for many. Florida is one of the hot spots for summer travel. Not everyone can travel in person, however, so traveling to Florida through books is a great alternative. Here are some books to help you tour Florida this summer: We start out our adventure in Key West with Lucy Burdette and A DEADLY FEAST. Amateur sleuth Hayley Snow has a new mystery on her hands when someone dies during a seafood walking tour. Lucy Burdette takes readers to real restaurants in the Keys, giving readers a guide to locate all the scrumptious and tasty treats. I’m not kidding when I say I not only love the Key West Food Critic series but that I also use the series as a travel guide for my visits. While we are down in the Keys, don’t forget to stop in No Name Key and visit the No Name Pub. Tim Dorsey visits the Keys and No Name…

Debbie Wiley | Cozy Mysteries with a Paranormal Twist
Author Guest / December 3, 2018

A love for reading was instilled in me at an early age and I remember reading Gothic romances tinged with a touch of mystery as far back as middle school. Cozy mysteries and paranormal stories (urban fantasy especially) were natural fits for me as I grew older but what a great surprise to discover cozy mysteries that blended my love for the genre with my love of the paranormal! How could anyone not love a magical bookstore? Amanda Flower is quickly becoming one of my favorites for cozy mysteries with that delightful paranormal touch and her series, Magical Bookshop, is practically a must read for all book lovers. Charming Books is exactly the kind of bookstore I would love to browse, a bookstore where the book you need will fly off the shelves just for your reading pleasure. There are three books in the series, CRIME AND POETRY, PROSE AND CONS, and MURDERS AND METAPHORS (releasing in February 2019), and each book is as delightful to read as one would expect. After all, there’s a magical bookshop involved! Magical bookstores aren’t my only love, however, as enchanted gardens have captured my heart as well (particularly during gardening season when I…