Saturday, October 3, 2015

Scrapbook of the Dead by Mollie Cox Bryan | Blog Tour with Review, Guest Post, Giveaway

The author of A Crafty Christmas is back with another Cumberland Creek Mystery!

The Blurb

Halloween means spooky scrapbooks for the Cumberland Creek Scrapbook Crop, but what’s been happening around town is truly frightening. First a dead woman is found in the freezer at Pamela’s Pie Palace, and the next day a second woman is found murdered by the river. Reporter Annie Chamovitz learns the victims were sisters and is certain their deaths are linked. Most bizarre of all, both women were found clutching scrapbook pages.

As their Saturday night crop quickly becomes an opportunity to puzzle out the murders, the ladies begin to wonder if Pamela is hiding more than her secret recipes for delicious pies — or if the crimes are related to the startling discovery that there are gangs in Cumberland Creek. As All Hallows Eve approaches, the crafty croppers must cut and paste the clues to unmask a deadly killer.

Includes tips and a glossary of terms for the modern scrapbooker!

Scrapbook of the Dead by Mollie Cox Bryan
Series: A Cumberland Creek Mystery, #5
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Kensington
Publication Date: September 29, 2015
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-10: 0758293585
ISBN-13: 978-0758293589
e-Book File Size: 677 KB

Amazon | B & N | Kobo | BAM! | IndieBound | iTunes | KensingtonGoodreads

Why wait? Go to the Author's website now for a sneak peek!

The Review

I just read an amazing book, y'all — Scrapbook of the Dead by Mollie Cox Bryan. Let me tell you a little about this cozy mystery. Scrapbook of the Dead is the fifth book in the Cumberland Creek Mystery series but, since there are also two e-novellas in the series, it's the seventh work in the series. 

Scrapbook of the Dead is written in third-person, from the points of view of three characters (Annie, Beatrice, and DeeAnn). In the Cumberland Creek Mysteries, "A group of diverse women get together weekly to scrapbook, eat, drink, gossip, share, and, um, solve murders." (from the author's website) This group of women, the Cumberland Creek Scrapbook Crop, plus the mother of one of the Croppers, are the sleuths — six in all. Many events that occurred in previous works are mentioned in Scrapbook of the Dead, but are not fully explained. (A couple of times, I had to refer back to earlier books to jog my memory about the events.)        

Because of the multiple points of view, multiple sleuths, and multiple references to incidents from past works, I suspect that the characters and goings-on in Scrapbook of the Dead could be difficult to follow if you were new to the series. Because of that, strongly urge you to read the series in order. (That includes the two e-novellas. Events important to the series story-line occur in them, as well as in the books.)

Alright, I've told you how (or when) you should read Scrapbook of the Dead. Now I'll tell you why you should read Scrapbook of the Dead.

Author Mollie Cox Bryan has created a very detailed world in Cumberland Creek, Virginia, over the span of the seven works. Cumberland Creek is fictional, although it feels real, due to Mollie's skill at worldbuilding, scene-setting, and writing in general. Cumberland Creek is a place I'd like to visit. 

Mollie's characters  realistic, distinctive, memorable, and well-developed in the first book  are even more richly developed now. They have evolved since the first book, and are still changing in this latest book. You can read about Mollie's six sleuths (Annie, Vera, Beatrice, DeeAnn, Paige, and Sheila) in her Guest Post below.

Cumberland Creek is a small town in the Shenandoah Valley, yet two big-city real-life issues are occurring in Scrapbook of the Dead. One issue that astonishes and scares the citizens of the small town is gangs. I cannot reveal the other big-city problem — no spoilers in this blog — but it was quite a plot twist. 

Two sub-plots (that I won't reveal) involve serious personal real-life issues for two characters. Another sub-plot involves a former resident who has returned to Cumberland Creek. Secrets that this character (one of my favorites!) reveals to Annie contribute to the fantastic ending of Scrapbook of the Dead. 

Despite the serious big-city and personal real-life issues that Mollie writes about, her sense of humor shines through in Scrapbook of the Dead. There is a lot of action and dialogue from the Croppers, and those Croppers are a fun and funny bunch.

Speaking of the Croppers, they have a weekly get-together, or Crop. Annie, Vera, Paige, and DeeAnn go to Sheila's basement, aka Scrapbooking Central (sometimes they might meet at another member's house) one evening a week, to eat, drink, gossip, and work on their scrapbooks or journals.

There are a few other Cozy Mystery series with scrapbook themes. The Cumberland Creek Mysteries are unique, though, in that they have multiple sleuths who are scrapbookers. The Cumberland Creek Mysteries are one of my favorite cozy series. Scrapbook of the Dead by Mollie Cox Bryan is her best book yet!

Author Mollie Cox Bryan is obviously an avid scrapbooker herself. She includes a great deal of scrapbooking details in her Cumberland Creek Mysteries, as she writes about these Crops. Alas, I'm not a scrapbooker, so I have no experience with the tools, techniques, and materials discussed at the Crops. I still find those sections of the books just as interesting and engaging as the rest. 

For those of you who are scrapbookers, or want to begin this hobby, you'll love the bonus scrapbooking tips and such at the end of Scrapbook of the Dead. In addition to the Glossary of Basic Terms, there are Basic Card-Making Tips and Scrapbook Essentials for the Beginner, which include Getting Started, Advice on Cropping, Frugal Scrapbooking Tips, Digital & Hybrid Scrapbooking, Great Ways to Learn Digital Scrapbooking, and Digital Scrapbooking Apps.          

Getting back to the story-line of Scrapbook of the Dead  the solution to the sisters' murders, and the reason for the scrapbook pages they held, kept me guessing. I was not only surprised by whodunit, I was surprised by the reason, the whydunit. It is a plausible motive, however. Can you figure it out?

Scrapbook of the Dead by Mollie Cox Bryan is fast-paced, and held my interest from the first paragraph to the last. I was glued to my Kindle, and finished it in two days. I am delighted to recommend Scrapbook of the Dead to all Cozy Mystery fans, particularly those fans who are crafters, especially scrapbookers. 

I absolutely love Scrapbook of the Dead by Mollie Cox Bryan, and hereby award it our highest rating of Five Kitties!

Five out of five kitties
 Note:  I received a complimentary copy of Scrapbook of the Dead in exchange for my honest review. 
All opinions shared are 100% my own.

Click here, to read other reviews and Author Guest Posts, plus Author Interviews! 

The Guest Post

Which Character Am I?

My scrapbooking mystery series features a group of amateur sleuths, which is a little different from most other cozy mysteries, with one main sleuth.  The Cumberland Creek Mysteries are set in a fictional town in very real Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, which is where I live. So many people have asked me about the town over the years. Let me assure you that it’s completely made up. It’s really the same thing with my characters.

So much has been written about creating characters and how writers feel about their characters, and so on. I think it’s fairly safe to say most of us don’t know where these characters originate. When I wrote Beatrice, who started out being 80 years old in the series, I didn’t realize until years later, that she has similar qualities to a real life woman that I used to know. That happens. 

But mostly, I think my characters are composites of myself and women that I know. It’s a process that’s a bit inexplicable, this business of creating characters and stories. Some writers like to tear it apart and analyze it. Me? I just wonder at it and like to leave things be. I don’t want to look too closely at it — it might steal some of the magic away. 

Here’s a quick primer of my three main characters:
  • Annie Chamovitz has “retired” from the rough and tumble world of Washington, DC, investigative journalism, but she still freelances. She and her husband Mike moved to Cumberland Creek from Bethesda, Md, a posh suburbanish city.  Her family is the only Jewish family in town at the start of the series.
  • Vera Matthews is the owner of the only dancing school in town. She has never quite resolved her longing for the stage. So, among other things, she delights in changing hair color and make-up palettes.  She grew up in Cumberland Creek, went to college in New York City, and danced professionally for a brief period of time.
  • Beatrice Matthews is Vera’s eighty-something-year-old mother and is not a scrapbooker. She is a quantum physicist and grew up on Jenkins Mountain, one of the many mountains surrounding the town of Cumberland Creek. 

The Second Tier of Characters:

Three other regular croppers meet every Saturday night — DeeAnn, Paige, and Sheila, who is the scrapbook consultant in the group.
  • DeeAnn Fields has been in Cumberland Creek for twenty-five years — and she's still considered a newbie. She is the owner of the only bakery in town. There’s nothing she likes better than feeding people. She brings the most delicious snacks to crops. Her focus has always been on bread, cake, and cookies. (Pamela's Pie Palace has the pie market cornered and it’s not quite in Cumberland Creek proper.) 
  • Paige Swanson grew up just outside of Cumberland Creek proper — sort of between Jenkins Mountain and the town. To look at Paige, you might think “aging hippy,” even though that is not what she is at all.  She is fond of tie-dye shirts and dangly earrings.  In fact, when Annie first meets Paige, she thinks her name doesn’t suit her at all. “She looks more like a Willow or Moonbeam.”
  • Sheila Rogers is a scrapbook consultant, who refuses to allow her children into the basement where she holds her weekly scrapbooking crops. She is also an avid runner, rarely missing a day. Sheila’s scrapbook room, house, and scrapbooks are immaculate — but Sheila herself rarely is. She wears wrinkled mismatched clothes at times, and hardly bothers brushing her hair — or wearing lipstick.

So which parts of which characters am I? Hmmm. That’s a mystery for us all to sort out. I’m not sure I really want to know. 

The Author

About Mollie Cox Bryan

In addition to the Cumberland Creek mystery series, Mollie Cox Bryan wrote the regional bestseller Mrs. Rowe’s Little Book of Southern Pies and Mrs. Rowe’s Restaurant Cookbook: A Lifetime of Recipes from the Shenandoah Valley

An award-winning journalist and poet, she currently blogs, cooks, and scrapbooks in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with her husband and two daughters. 

She was honored with an Agatha Award nomination for her first novel, Scrapbook of Secrets. 

Find Mollie on the web at

The Giveaway

Mollie will award two copies of
Scrapbook of the Dead
to two randomly drawn winners
via rafflecopter during the tour.
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