Bran New Death by Victoria Hamilton – Review, Guest Post + Giveaway

Posted by Brooke in Book Review, Book Tour, Giveaways, Guest Post / 28 Comments

Disclosure: I received an electronic ARC of this book in exchange for my honest and fair review. This did not influence my opinon.

BranNewDeathcover mediumBran New Death by Victoria Hamilton
Book 1 – Merry Muffin Mysteries
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Pub. Date: September 3rd, 2013

Expert muffin baker Merry Wynter is finally ready to turn her passion into a career. But when a dead body is found on her property, she’s more worried about cooking up an alibi…

Merry is making a fresh start in small-town Autumn Vale, New York, in the mansion she’s inherited from her late uncle, Melvyn. The house is run-down and someone has been digging giant holes on the grounds, but with its restaurant-quality kitchen, the place has potential for her new baking business. She even has her first client—the local retirement home.

Unfortunately, Merry soon finds that quite a few townsfolk didn’t like Uncle Mel, and she has inherited their enmity as well as his home. Local baker Binny Turner and her crazy brother, Tom, blame Melvyn for their father’s death, and Tom may be the one vandalizing her land. But when Tom turns up dead in one of the holes in her yard, Merry needs to prove she had nothing to do with his death—or her new muffin-making career may crumble before it starts…

Guest Post

Writing a Series
By: Victoria Hamilton

Don’t you love reading series? I like to know that if I adore a book, there are more to dig into. I’m always disappointed if it turns out to be a standalone!

Now, I’ve written series in historical romance and traditional mystery, and I have to say, as different as those two genres can be, writing a series in either has some similarities. For anyone who aspires to write a series, I have a few tips from experience!

1 – Start with a plan: it helps if you have some kind of story arc planned out for the books in the series. You need to know where each book has to take you, and how each story arc is going to work into the larger series.

2 – If you need to leave the number of books open ended – in other words, if you don’t know how many books you’re going to be writing – then you have got to plan in enough ‘business’, meaning complications and detail, so that if you end up writing five books instead of, say, three, you’ll still have lot to talk about!

3 – You need to keep track of stuff! I’m bad at this. I am constantly having to go back to old manuscripts and figure out what relationship characters have, what his or her dog’s name was, whether they’ve been married twice or three times. Every author of a series, though, has a horror story or two of changing a character’s eye color midway and only discovering it in the copy edit, or, worse, not at all!

There are other intangibles that help if you are writing a series. You have to really like the characters you’re creating or you are not going to want to work with them in the long term. Honest, it is just like having co-workers you are not fond of! Pretty soon you resent them for their idiotic quirks. Agatha Christie began to despise all of Hercules Poirot’s oddities after a while, and ultimately wondered what had possessed her to make Miss Marple so old at the start of her series.

Luckily with the Merry Muffin Mystery series I feel like I’ve managed all of these things fairly well. I’m hoping the series goes beyond the three books for which I am contracted, so I have enough history in Merry’s background that I can mine it if need be for more storylines, mystery and personal. She has some unresolved issues in her past that need to be addressed at some point. Also, there are some family mysteries around the castle she has inherited… like why did her great uncle and grandfather not speak for years, and why was her father estranged from them? Did her great uncle leave any money hidden or not? If I do run out of material in her life, though, her friends have eccentric backgrounds too.

I’m ready if the series does go longer than three books, because best of all, I really love all the main characters in the series. Merry, the main character – the book is written in first person – is someone I would definitely be friends with in real life, and her friends Pish and Shilo are wonderful, devoted buddies. The citizens of Autumn Vale are a little whacky, too, but great folks! Lots of material there. I hope readers join me in my love for Merry, Pish, Shilo and the denizens of Autumn Vale, in upstate New York, and I hope they laugh along with them, as well as get busy trying to figure out who killed the victim and why!

About the Author

VictoriaHamilton-Web(1)Victoria Hamilton, nationally bestselling author of the Vintage Kitchen Mystery Series, is the pseudonym of Donna Lea Simpson, bestselling author of romance and historical mystery novels.

Victoria starting reading mystery novels at the age of 12 and devoured Agatha Christie mysteries, as well as those of Dorothy L. Sayers and Ngaio Marsh. She still adores mysteries, especially the cozy mysteries of Janet Bolin, Krista Davis, and others.

She loves to cook, and collects teapots and teacups, as well as vintage kitchen utensils and bowls. She also enjoys crafts, especially cross-stitching and crocheting, and summer days in the garden, drinking tea or wine. Besides the Merry Muffin Mystery series (Bran New Death – September 3rd) Victoria writes two other mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime, the Vintage Kitchen Mystery series (Book 3, Freezer I’ll Shoot, debuts November 5th) and the Teapot Collector Mystery series which debuts with Tempest in a Teapot, June 3rd, 2014.



Victoria Hamilton:

Merry Muffin Mysteries page:

Twitter: @MysteryVictoria

Blog: Killer Characters the 21st of each month…

My Review

I was a fan of Bran New Death and Merry Wynter right from the beginning. The character of Merry was funny and just someone I liked immediately. This is such a fun new series, and, if you’re a fan of Victoria Hamilton, you will love it! My favorite cozy mysteries involve food, so this muffin-related mystery is right up my alley. I loved this book enough that I’m going to pre-order it. 🙂


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Brooke Blogs is not responsible for prize fulfillment in the Bran New Death by Victoria Hamilton – Review, Guest Post + Giveaway.


28 responses to “Bran New Death by Victoria Hamilton – Review, Guest Post + Giveaway

  1. Lisa Brown

    I like cozy mysteries because the story lines are creative and they keep your interest from start to end.

  2. Rita Wray

    I recently started reading cozy mysteries and love them. I enjoy a series because I feel like I know the characters and can’t wait to see them again.

  3. ceblain

    When violence is not something that a reader enjoys, then that is the big reason why most people like cozies, including me. I really like the idea of a murder mystery but not having all of the gruesome details to think about so cozies are perfect. Most cozies have some humor too which I love, and Victoria’s books based on food are really something that I enjoy reading. I would love to be the recipient of Bran New Death. Have enjoyed the Vintage Kitchen Mystery series a lot so I am sure that this new series will be just as good. Thank you.

  4. Marsha Bachmeier

    Added to my TBR list! Thanks for the writing tips (although I haven’t written anything as yet, I have been thinking about attempting to write a cozy.) BTW.. love the kitchen on the cover! 😀

    • Marsha Bachmeier

      Guess I forgot to add why I love cozys…. Like some of you mentioned, I like that there is not all the violence that are in other thrillers. I like the small town vibe that most have. I also enjoy the humor and bit of romance that they include. Most cozies have that one character who is just truly outrageous! 🙂

  5. Melanie Waters Schemanski

    I love that they don’t scare me! I love a good mystery and to try to solve it without the horror of some scary books.

  6. Amanda D

    So far, all the cozy mysteries I have read involve food and I love food and a good mystery so they are perfect.

  7. Elaine

    I like cozy mysteries because they are not creepy and grisly and scary. I always feel like I could be the main character and I would be the one to be searching for the clues to solve the mystery.

  8. K Sher

    I liken the series to ‘easy listening music’. I curl up with my kitties, blanket, turn on some of my favorite playlists, and the Cozy Mysteries let me escape reality for a while.

  9. Maureen Hayes

    I love Cozy mysteries because the characters are the focus, not graphic violence, sex or bad language. I like that the people who solve the crimes are generally everyday folks that I can relate to, not super FBI specialists. It is just such a great genre and Victoria is one of the best writing them out there. Thanks so much for the chance to win a copy of this book, I love the series and the author!

  10. Rhonda Laney

    the characters are likeable like on murder she wrote. They are fun full of action, mystery and usual clean reads.

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