Book Review: Academic Curveball by James J Cudney #murder #mystery

Goodreads Synopsis:

When Kellan Ayrwick returns home for his father’s retirement from Braxton College, he finds a dead body in Diamond Hall’s stairwell.

Unfortunately, Kellan has a connection to the victim, and so do several members of his family. Could one of them be guilty of murder? Soon after, the college’s athletic program receives mysterious donations, a nasty blog denounces his father and someone attempts to change students’ grades.

Someone is playing games on campus, but none of the facts add up. With the help of his eccentric and trouble-making nana, Kellan tries to stay out of the sheriff’s way. And if that wasn’t enough already, his own past comes spiraling back to change his life forever.

In the debut novel in the Braxton Campus Mysteries Series, you’ll discover a cozy, secluded Pennsylvania village full of quirky, sarcastic and nosy residents. 

My review:

A light-hearted murder mystery set in an academic setting with strong family vibes. I enjoyed this cozy story. It is for you if you like a well written story with lots of engaging dialogue. It is perhaps a bit different from what I would normally read but it is good to try new genres from time to time. I particularly enjoyed the main character’s Kellan Ayrwick’s feisty Nana who is such a fun character!  Kellan is a widower with a young daughter, he works on a true crime television series called “Dark Reality.” His father’s retirement party at Braxton Campus brings more than he expects when Abby Monroe is found dead and it soon becomes clear that her death is not of natural causes.

Recommended  reading for murder mystery fans who enjoy humour as a side dish to the murder mystery.

My rating 4 stars.

Social Media Links

Authors Website
Collaborative Blog
Twitter: @Marjorie_Mallon and @curseof_time
#ABRSC: Authors Bloggers Rainbow Support Club on Facebook



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My Kyrosmagica review of Swamp Ghosts by Marcia Meara




Goodreads Synopsis:

Wildlife photographer Gunnar Wolfe looked like the kind of guy every man wanted to be and every woman just plain wanted, and the St. Johns River of central Florida drew him like a magnet. EcoTour boat owner Maggie Devlin knew all the river’s secrets, including the deadliest ones found in the swamps. But neither Maggie nor Gunn was prepared for the danger that would come after them on two legs.

On a quest to make history photographing the rarest birds of them all, Gunnar hires the fiery, no-nonsense Maggie to canoe him into the most remote wetland areas in the state. He was unprepared for how much he would enjoy both the trips and Maggie’s company. He soon realizes he wants more than she’s prepared to give, but before he can win her over, they make a grisly discovery that changes everything, and turns the quiet little town of Riverbend upside down. A serial killer is on the prowl among them.

Authors Websites:

I won  a kindle copy of this book from Marcia. My review  has not been influenced in any way by receiving a free copy of this book. It is my honest opinion.


Swamp Ghosts is a novel that manages to combine romance, a murder mystery, and wonderfully descriptive passages of the animals, flora, and fauna of the St. John’s River. Quite a tall order, but I think on the whole Marcia Meara pulls it off very well. I enjoyed the interplay between the lightness of the two main protagonist’s developing love, and the darkness that lies hidden within a murderer’s heart.  The killer’s portrait is chillingly believable and at times makes you gasp, wince and reflect. So even though Marcia Meara is an older lady , she sure doesn’t write like one! She crafts a story-line with a heck of a punch. So beware!

Having said that, Maggie and Gunnar fall in love very quickly. This seems somewhat at odds with Maggie’s inability to trust. Personally I would have liked to see the love interest develop a little more slowly. Though Marcia does a great job depicting Maggie and Gunnar’s enthusiasm for each other in the bedroom department! Wonderfully sensual, without being overtly erotic.

Swamp Ghosts is an absorbing, and at times disturbing read. There is an underlying sense of uncertainty that threads throughout the novel, twisting and turning like the St. John’s River itself. Is Maggie safe with this stranger, even if he looks like a Viking, in a canoe down the St. John’s river? Will Maggie ever be able trust anyone ever again, after all that has happened to her in her past? Will Maggie lay her soul bare to Gunn? Will Gunn be able to cope with Maggie’s insecurities? Will they find what they are looking for? Or will they find something so disturbing that they wished they had never gone? This list could just go on and on ……………

Temptation lurks at every corner, and both the innocent and the guilty can’t help but give into their differing temptations. Maggie is tempted  by Gunn’s perfection.   He has the physique of a Viking. Yet he never works out, he is  naturally a hunk!  The killer kills once and he gives into temptation to kill again.

This is not a novel that concentrates on a single point of view. Instead we see into the minds of several of the protagonists that are central to the plot.

Lester is chillingly portrayed in short punchy chapters, and believe me this works well. This weird guy who lives with a whole host of albino reptiles has many facets to his personality.  He may be one of society’s misfits but he sure loves and cares for his creatures, and boy are they strange creatures just like him!

I particularly liked the twist in the tale towards the end of the novel, I won’t go into details, for fear of spoiling it for you. Oh, and I loved the title, Swamp Ghosts!

My rating:


Overall, I would recommend Swamp Ghosts to readers who enjoy a murder mystery, and readers who enjoy romance.

Have you read Swamp Ghosts. Do leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

Bye for now,


Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

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