Katherine Kuzma-Beck

An academic mom.

andthentheyweredoomedAs a middle school language arts teacher by day, one of my favorite authors to teach is Agatha Christie. The kids get so into it even though the language and time are dated because Christie is such a master at weaving together a mystery and making you think it is someone when the twist at the end is someone entirely different that you often either never thought of or even forgot about as the story went on. Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli borrows many Christie references that weave this cozy, dark mystery through its pages.

A Mysterious Letter

If you are a fan of And Then There Were None, you know that 10 strangers receive an invitation from the mysterious Owens’ to enjoy a long weekend on Solider Island, a luxurious residence that stands alone on an island. None of them have anything in common other than having been involved with murder and gotten away with it. Slowly, they are killed one by one until there is only one of them left. So, when author Zoe Zola receives a letter edged in black inviting her to an Agatha Christie symposium at an old Upper Peninsula hunting lodge, she is a little bit spooked especially when she realizes that she has been invited by a Ms. Emily Brent. In Christie’s novel, Emily Brent was an old pious spinster who drove her maid to suicide when she found out that the girl was pregnant. Zola goes anyway, eager to find out the mystery behind the letter and what is about to unfold at the old hunting lodge.

10 Little Christie Scholars…

Much like Christie’s And Then There Were None, 10 Christie Scholars appear on the Peninsula. Each one has an eerie resemblance or some similarity to one of the people from Christie’s novel. For instance, some of their names are the same or similar or even more strangely, just sound like one of the characters from Christie’s book. All the guests assemble for dinner and their first lecture. Here, Zoe notices that there are figurines of children around the floral centerpieces only they are not as innocent as they appear because each represents a line from the famous poem that the killer uses in And Then There Were None  to kill each of their victims:

soldier boys

And much like Buzzelli’s source material, Zoe soon finds that each night brings about a new disappearance of a guest and she must find a way to survive long enough to get herself off the Peninsula. She immediately calls her friend Jenny Weston for help, only, Jenny has to wait out the storm over Lake Superior before she can get to her friend. Zoe must use her wits to keep herself safe until help arrives. As she waits, Zoe’s story unfolds and the secrets of her own past and of her family’s are brought to light.

This dark cozy mystery is a fast read and if you love Agatha Christie, you will surely love, And Then They Were Doomed the fourth installment of the Little Library Mysteries.

Book Information

And Then They Were Doomed by Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli is scheduled to be released on August 13, 2019 with ISBN 9781643850009 from Crooked Lane Books. This review corresponds to an advanced electronic copy from the publisher that was given in exchange for this review.

For special pre-ordering pricing, snag your copy here —–> https://amzn.to/30OjzQl

In Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love one of my favorite lines is this: ” Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation.”

In 2013, my life kind of fell apart much like it did when I had graduated from college. I was in an awful relationship that finally ended. I was acting as a French teacher though I wasn’t properly certified to be a French teacher and that too, abruptly ended when they found someone with the certificate to finish the year. The next 6 months brought with it so much change.

I finally landed a tenure track position that I was certified for. I met my husband. I enrolled in my master’s program. Within a year, my life was so completely different. What had started out as a really hard time quickly blossomed into what would become my real adult life. Within 2 years, I had bought my first house, moved out of my first single gal apartment and made a real commitment to my husband who was just my boyfriend then and I enrolled in my doctoral program.

Yesterday, my handsome baby boy stole my heart, even more, when he called me “mom.” And he called me mom all day because I made such a big deal every time he did. All he wanted yesterday was his mom and when I would put him down or not be by him, he was next to me in seconds with his big brown eyes fixed on me and his hands gripping my pants going “momomomomom.” I just can’t. He is the absolute best and I am so incredibly lucky that I get to be his mom.

Later yesterday evening, I took Logan outside to go get the mail from the mailbox and our entire front lawn was alive with what had to be 50-something dragonflies. We just stood and watched them zip all around us. When I was 19, I got a tattoo of a dragonfly on my hip. I got it because dragonflies are symbolic of transformation and at the time, I was transforming into a student of art history who was about to go live on her own in New Brunswick. I have always loved dragonflies and I have them throughout our home.

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Dragonflies by Gabriela Valencia

This afternoon, news came back from my mentor that my committee approved of my dissertation which means I am now, officially, only two steps away from being able to call myself Dr. My life is transforming again and by this time next year, I know that I am going to be in a very different place in my life altogether. Everything I have been working for since that point of ruin is transforming me into who I was meant to become and it is amazing and almost indescribable to finally be at this point.

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To anyone who ever said I couldn’t do it or I wouldn’t finish, take a look at this. I did all of this while pregnant and newly post-partum. I did it with no sleep and a newborn nursing from me every 2 hours. I did it because I dreamed it and I wanted it bad enough. I wanted to change my life and I did. As my mentor will always say, ONWARD!

 

My husband and I were together for almost 4 years before we got married. We took our time, we dated for a year and a half before we moved in together. Then we lived together for a year before we got engaged and were engaged for a year before we got married. We enjoyed each other and we enjoyed getting to know each version of each other that we got to meet as our relationship changed and deepened. However, falling in love with each other happened fairly quickly. We knew we wanted to be with each other exclusively by the fourth date and by 6 months, we were talking about building a future together.

 

I had lunch with an old friend a couple of months ago and when we met up, I found out that she had ended it with what she thought was going to be her person because he suddenly decided he didn’t really want to be with her, but at the same time didn’t want to let her go either. Girl, I remember that relationship all too well. It takes a lot of courage to let go of the sliver of hope that one day it’ll be good again and brave it alone. She had asked me how I knew that my husband was different and at the time I really didn’t have an answer other than I just knew and it was because he spoke differently than other men had before him.

I’ve had four relationships in my life. I had the high school into college boyfriend who at the end of it, we found that we were more friends than we were romantic partners, I had the big one that leveled me, I had the rebound relationship and then I met my husband. And there were a bunch of bad dates, weird run-ins and a couple of whatever this is, it isn’ts. All of my boyfriends had told me that they had loved me, they had had their sweet moments and they had had their raising jerk moments too and outside of the big heartbreak, the rest all had mentioned wanting a future with me (he would say things that would always allude to a future, but he never really said it). He’d say things like “I know you’re going to be happy from now on and I know you’ll never feel alone again,” but that’s really where it ended. And with the others, those words always seemed superficial and like they were saying it because they thought that was what I wanted to hear rather than honesty which is what I craved in relationships for a long time.

Then I met my husband. And he truthfully always told me what he wanted from me and unlike other men before him, I found that his loyalty matched mine. I am a very loyal person and when I decide that you are worthy of that loyalty, I will defend you till the end. However, many people are not like that and my husband was the first person I met where he too, would protect you to the end if you were his person. He also loved his mother and his family and wanted one of his own eventually. He also courted me, he held to his word– if he said he was going to do something, he did. If I ever called him needing help, he was the first one there. It was easy and effortless to be myself with him and vice versa.

And he met any hurdle I put down. I made it clear I wasn’t putting up with anything that wasn’t right for me or compromised myself or my self-worth. He didn’t even test that, but instead, never made me question it. We both were completely open with one another.

That is how he was different and that is how love and a marriage were able to blossom between us. We respected each other and we not only love one another, but we choose each other every day. When you meet your person, they’re going to be your person no matter what. Even when they’re mad at you, they will still be there. You’re not going to question or have anxiety over where you stand with someone, it’s all going to be very easy and it will naturally unfold. While my and husband and I disagree on things, we don’t really fight. We have had one big fight in the now nearly 6 years that we have been together and that was fueled more by the stress of buying a house than it was anything between us.

Your person is just going to be different and better than anything that you ever could have dreamed of. You deserve that person and they deserve you.

inourhouseAs a new mom, the topic of this book really struck a chord with me. The basic premise is that a mother wants to return to her publishing job after having her second child. So, her husband and she hire a nanny to care for her children so she could work from home. What I was not prepared for as a new mom was how protective you become of your baby. My thoughts of someone else watching my son or worse, my son being put into daycare quickly vanished the moment my husband put him into my arms. My son would be raised at home with one of us home to raise him and thankfully, we have been able to maintain opposite work and school schedules to make sure that we are the ones parenting and making sure our son has a secure and loving home to be in where we would know exactly what was going on and who are son was around. It really was the only way I was going back to work. However, for the plot of this novel, Anna Klein was not as lucky as I was and she needed to seek outside help in order to go back to work.

The Loving Nanny

Anna and her husband Josh turn to a nanny agency to help them find the perfect fit for their family. Through the agency, they hire Oaklynn Durst who has outstanding references and seems like the perfect fit for their family. She is overly maternal, kind, goes above and beyond for their family and the kids adore her. However, soon after Oaklynn moves in the kids start to endure odd illnesses and unexplained injuries. Anna immediately becomes suspicious of Oaklynn, but her husband, Josh and their friends are quick to remind her that it’s probably all in her head and she’s worrying too much. Everyone will learn too quickly how right a mother’s instinct can be and how she shouldn’t be so easily dismissed, even if you want to push off her concerns over being newly post-partum.

Post-Partum Paranoia

As Anna and Oaklynn’s relationship further deteriorates as one child has her arm broken and the other is rushed to the hospital with high fevers and bloody diapers, Anna is forced to face what she believes: that Oaklynn is hurting her kids. However, with her daughter Grace, still in infancy, there is the pervading theme of post-partum paranoia and anxiety that may also be making her take her suspicions of Oaklynn farther than she should. What makes this novel so good is how Anna’s suspicions become so clouded in her postpartum anxiety and paranoia which makes you question her mental integrity throughout the first half of the novel. All will be revealed, however, and will come to a shocking and twisty ending that will leave you recovering for at least a couple days after you finish, The Woman in Our House.

About the Author

Andrew Hart is a pen name for New York Times best-selling author, A.J. Hartley. Currently, he is the Robinson Professor of Shakespeare Studies at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte and has penned over twenty novels that span a variety of topics from romance to suspense and young adult.

Book Information

The Woman in Our House by Andrew Hart is scheduled to be released on June 18, 2019, from Lake Union Publishing with ISBN 9781542092777. This review corresponds to an advanced electric galley that was supplied by the publisher in exchange for this review. To be linked to special pre-order pricing, click the link above!

david markI was immediately drawn to this book and was really excited when the advanced galley was delivered to my kindle. The novel starts out with an elderly man on his death bed wracked with pain with two women standing over him in 2010. The women, Cordelia Hemlock and Felicity Goose have known each other for many years and have been investigating this unfolding historical mystery since the 1960’s when they first met.

A Chance Meeting in a Graveyard

In 1967, Cordelia is a disgraced academic who has recently arrived in a small town in Scotland called Gisland. She is deep in her grief over the loss of her 2-year-old son. She finds solace in the neighboring graveyard and spends her time among the tombstones, perhaps longing to some connection to her deceased son or to death itself. Felicity comes upon her one day, laying among the graves. The two women strike up a conversation just as a storm blows in bringing heavy rain and severe lightning with it. Felicity offers to let Cordelia come back to her cottage with her since it is closer than where Cordelia is staying. Just as the two are leaving, lightning strikes a nearby mausoleum causing it to break open and reveals a body that is only days old. The two women rush to Felicity’s home where they tell her neighbor Fairfax about it. He then rushes out to see the body and get the constable. Only, he is killed and it is found that the body is gone from the mausoleum. Thus begins a long friendship between Cordelia and Felicity that spans decades as they try to uncover the mystery of the body that they found all those years ago.

A Nazi Gestapo & the French Milice

The Mausoleum became an engrossing historical investigation that plunges the two women into the world of Nazi’s and their supporters. This story takes us back to the horrors of World War II and the pervading evilness that the Gestapo enacted on countless victims that for some, continued on even after the war was over. The French Milice are also part of the torture of this novel. While the Nazis dominated Germany, the Milice were a political group in France during the same time that aided in rounding up and deporting French Jews and their families to the concentration and death camps. Also similar to the Nazis who had Hitler Youths, the French Milice also encouraged youth to participate in their youth program known as the Avant-Garde.

The Mysterious Abel

Fairfax, prior to his untimely death, is a writer who records everything that he can get his hands on. One of the things he has recorded is the testimony of a man who describes his life and the torture he endured under the hands of the Nazi Gestapo and the French Milice. The account is horrendous and the abuse and torture seemed to be neverending. The testimony records the Gestapo’s name as being Abel. Could this Abel be the man that the two women found in the grave? The mystery only expands from here, sending the women deep into history to uncover the truth in the present. If you’re looking for a novel that unravels slowly and plunges you deep into a historical investigation then this is a mystery that you will have to pick up.

Book Information

The Mausoleum by David Mark will be released on June 1, 2019, from Severn House Publishers with ISBN 9780727888723. This review corresponds to an advanced electronic galley that was supplied by the publisher in exchange for this review. To be linked to special pre-order pricing, click the link above!

I think the simplest reason why I put off marriage and even getting engaged until I was almost 30 was that I wanted to keep my 20’s for myself.

At my core, I am very artistic and I am a dreamer. I have so many dreams of what I want to do and where I want to go. I saw my 20’s as a time for me to enact those dreams before I settled down. I have said before how I have always wanted to be a wife and a mother, but I always knew that there would be a time for that and that was sometime after I had done everything I had wanted to do in my 20’s. Now, that’s not the say I didn’t want love in my 20’s, I definitely wanted to have a boyfriend that was my person, but I was nowhere near ready or in the mindset to settle down.

I wanted to travel with or without a boyfriend. I wanted to finish my education and get into a doctoral program. I wanted to live on my own with a couple cats and enjoy living on my own without roommates or a live-in boyfriend. I also wanted to buy my first house by myself. In many ways, I wanted to live my life as my own person before I became someone’s wife and someone’s mom. And your 20’s really is the absolute best time to do that because that decade of your life is such a transition time from being a college kid to a working adult with real-world responsibilities. I also wanted to know that if I had to go through life on my own, that I could do it by myself and that I was a solid, financially secure person outside of any relationship or entanglement.

I also wanted to make sure that I was with the right person when my time did come to marry. Without getting too into it here, I grew up in a marriage that was between two people that were not meant for each other and it was hard growing up in that space. And then when it finally exploded, my brother and I took the brunt of the fallout. In many ways, it was more me than my brother because I was the older one. We both have very different memories from that time in our lives.

What I took from that time in my life is that when I did have children, I wanted to make sure that they had a secure and loving relationship modeled for them so that when it became their turn to get married and start their own families, that they would know what it was supposed to be and look like. I was thankful to have found that love in my mid-20’s and that my husband got to be a part of my travels and my first time being out fully on my own and then joined me when I bought a house and together, we started a life together because, at that point, we were both ready for the next step in our lives.

In keeping my 20’s for myself, I think it made me a better wife and it definitely made me a better mother. It also gave my husband and I time to do so much stuff together. We backpacked through Europe, went to Disney World twice, got our first home together, had a lot of date nights and hangouts– we just enjoyed being together for several years. And now we’re an old married couple with a baby who spends their days watching Simple Songs of YouTube and we wouldn’t change any of it because we love having Logan and are enjoying family life.

I think everyone should wait until their 30’s or even late 20’s before they get married. Your 20’s are the best decade you’re going to have to be young, stupid and on an endless search of finding yourself. You’ll experience love and heartbreak, new jobs and opportunities and hopefully, a lot of adventure. Your 20’s are your time and I think if more people kept it like that, more people wouldn’t be getting divorced within the first few years of marriage because they will know who they truly are and what works and doesn’t work for them. You will become the most honest you have ever been when it comes to relationships and what you’re looking for. And you will be an accomplished person in your own right, outside of your marriage and your family.

And if you’re lucky you’ll meet your person and you’ll get to go home from your crazy days of responsibilities and dance to acoustic songs in your kitchen while your baby is asleep in the other room. I am excited to see where my settled self goes in this latest decade of my life and what I am writing about my 30’s when I hit my 40’s…ahhh!

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From our engagement photos at Asbury Park Convention Hall. November 2016.

Anyone else have a baby that that would live in pajamas if they could? Logan is OBSESSED with comfy clothes and threw a tantrum when I dared put him in dress pants and a bow tie for Easter. The outfit lasted long enough for maybe two pictures before I put him into a cotton t-shirt and pants and the angry dinosaur that my baby had become quickly calmed back down to his super cute self. Goumi Kids is offering 15% off all pajamas right now through my link using code ALLS15. Logan loved their sets when he was younger and the best part? They go down to PREEMIE sizes! You can also snag booties, mittens and sleep sacks for your little love. Snag your coupon and deal below:


15% off Baby Rompers at Goumikids.com. Code AllS15.