Academic Curveball by James J. Cudney #Mystery #BookReview @jamescudney4



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.



James is my given name; most call me Jay. I grew up on Long Island and currently live in New York City, but I’ve traveled all across the US (and various parts of the world). After college, I spent 15 years working in technology and business operations in the sports, entertainment and media industries. Although I enjoyed my job, I left in 2016 to focus on my passion: telling stories and connecting people through words. My debut novel is ‘Watching Glass Shatter,’ a contemporary fiction family drama with elements of mystery, suspense, humor and romance. To see samples or receive news from my current and upcoming books, please subscribe with your email address at my website:

What do I do outside of writing: I’m an avid genealogist (discovered 2K family members going back about 250 years) and cook (I find it so hard to follow a recipe). I love to read; between Goodreads and my blog at, I have over 500 book reviews which will give you a full flavor for my voice and style. On my blog, I started the 365 Daily Challenge, where I post a word each day that has some meaning to me, then converse with everyone about life. There is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dog has a weekly segment called “Ryder’s Rants” where he complains about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real and show how I live every day.

A bit of humor: Everything doubles as something else when you live in NYC. For me, it’s the dining room, my favorite space in the apartment, where more than just my cooking is on display! As I look out the windows onto a 12th floor terrace, various parts of nature (trees, bushes, flowers, bugs & animals) inspire me to write. Ryder, my 10-year old shiba inu, usually lays on my feet, growling when I shift positions too many times or when I forget to share my food! Although he’s only 20 pounds, he’s quite strong and pushy. But how else can you pen the best story possible without these things by your side?


man and woman in brown leather coat standing on brown soil
Photo by Vera Arsic on

My Review

Things are not what they seem in this debut of the Braxton Campus mystery series!

Kellan Ayrwick is going home for his father’s retirement ceremony from the college he’s run for the past twenty years. Kellan’s boss takes the opportunity to have him meet a woman with information for a true crime show they’re working on, but before he can find her there’s a murder on campus.

Kellan’s dad, Wesley, becomes a prime suspect and Kellan must weave his way through a tangled web of lies and deceit if he wants to find the true killer.

There’s plenty of stress in the Ayrwick home as accusations against Wesley’s management of funds is questioned and rumors abound. My favorite character was Nana D, whose sarcasm and sage advice give humor to a tense situation.

Favorite lines:

Nana D: Is that a dirty wet mop on your head? You’re dressed like a hooligan. Put on a coat, it’s cold out.

Me: Thanks, Captain Obvious. I fell on the walkway. You think I’m normally this much of a disaster?

Nana D: And you’re supposed to be the brilliant one? Have you given up on life, or did it give up on you?

Me: Keep it up, and I won’t visit this weekend. You’re supposed to be a sweet and loving grandma.

Nana D: If that’s what you want, go down to the old folks’ home and rent yourself a little biddy. Maybe you two can share some smashed peas, green Jell-O, and a tasty glass of Ovaltine. I’ll even pay.

Cudney, James J.. Academic Curveball (Braxton Campus Mysteries Book 1) (Kindle Locations 138-140). Creativia. Kindle Edition.

I give Academic Curveball 5 lovely kisses: A great new-to-me author!




  1. Lovely review Jacquie and on my next Amazon run, sounds like a great read… Congratulations Jay

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think you’ll enjoy this one, Sally. It’s a good who-done-it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you so much, Jacquie… I really appreciate it. And same to you Sally for sharing it everywhere.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Really enjoyed this, James. Best of luck with your sales!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I see why you chose those lines. The one from Nana D. with the little biddy, Ovaltine, and green Jell-O made me laugh. Congrats on the review, Jay. Thanks for sharing, Jacquie.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I laughed, too. Can just picture her eyes sparkling while she’s teasing him 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Thank you very much! I appreciate it.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Staci Troilo says:

    I love it when you list favorite lines, Jacquie. These were wonderful choices. Sounds like a great book.

    Wishing Jay all the best.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Staci. I gravitate to sarcasm much of the time, lol

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Staci Troilo says:

        My favorite form of humor.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Thank you very much!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. So the secret to jay’s success is his dog being pushy? Got it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol, it can’t hurt anyway 😊


  6. Beware Of The Reader says:

    I am so happy that you loved Jay’s book Jacquie! He is a dang fantastic author!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad I gave Academic Curveball a read. I’ll have to try his other work 🙂


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