Jen Dodrill

Photo courtesy of Jen Dodrill

Birds Alive!

“I know. I know. It’s been years since Zack died. You deserve to find love. I’m just . . .” She pinched her lips together and sniffled. “I miss you. I miss us.”

~ Peg’s friend Lauree from Birds Alive!

Recently, I was selected for the launch team for Jen Dodrill’s debut book, Birds Alive!. Encouraging other writers on their journey is an important part of my mission as a creator, so I jumped at the chance to read her work. This task, however, would require me to step a little out of my comfort zone. Her book was what the industry calls a “cozy” or “cozy mystery.” I was not a cozy reader. My library was full of many, many titles, capturing genres from historical fiction to romantic suspense, but not cozy mysteries. I tended to lean into the tragic and the true and the historic and the enlightening. My reading selections were all about internal examination, external motivation, complicated life issues, and exploration of the past. A similar reflection to my own life, my books often strayed toward the serious, neglecting the importance of reading something just for pure enjoyment. This book reminded me of what I was missing.

Birds Alive! provided many conversations about the things that we miss. We miss our kids when they move on, and the nest is suddenly empty. We miss our loved ones when they are lost too soon, and we miss our normal when changes expand and alter our roles and relationships. Even more, we often miss the opportunities that make us feel alive and the clues that tell us it is time to move on past our normal safe routines. What better way to find those missing things than to chase a good mystery? I certainly found a few things I had been missing as I chased my building curiosity through every chapter.

This book is a fun and flirty adventure that reminded me of the stories of my childhood. This heartwarming “whodunit” pairs widower and empty nester, Peg, with her mother-in-law as an unlikely detective partner when her attempts to step outside of her own comfort zone start off with a mysterious death. As they and their animal sidekicks prove to be better investigators than the local police, they find answers to more than just who is the bad guy.

I had forgotten how much I loved the lighthearted mystery books that carried me through my youth. Somehow, in grown-up world, I had lost my connection to the enjoyable antics of characters like Scooby and Shaggy and the delight of the search and discovery. Birds Alive! checked all the boxes of my nostalgia with an easy and enjoyable read that kept me turning the pages with curiosity. Jen Dodrill precisely captures the entertainment of story in a Nancy Drew meets Mary Higgins Clark mystery that everyone can enjoy.

Knowing this book is only book one of what looks to be a promising series brings the enjoyment level up another notch. I personally cannot wait to read the next one when it arrives.

I received this book as a free advanced reader copy from the author as part of a book release launch team. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

More About This Book

  • Birds Alive!

  • by Jen Dodrill

  • Publisher: Scrivenings Press LLC

  • Genre: Christian Mystery and Suspense

  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1649173628

  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1649173621

  • Pages: 252

  • An Empty-nesters Cozy Mystery Book 1

  • Peg—widow, mom blogger, and empty nester—is desperate for a new hobby. After a late-night blog post leaves her dedicated Mamma Birds followers fearful that she’s closing her blog, she adopts a reader’s suggestion and forms the Empty Nesters Birding Group. On their first outing overlooking beautiful Pensacola Bay, a birder dies from an allergic reaction to peanuts in the birdseed. Seed that should be peanut-free.

    A hurricane barrels toward the Gulf Coast, and Peg’s overbearing, animal-collecting, but well-meaning mother-in-law crashes Peg’s empty nest. After the hurricane passes, Peg checks on her new birder friends and finds one wounded and dying. The assailant is still there and knocks Peg down a steep staircase. Stuck in a boot with a broken foot and still reeling from the two murders, Peg recruits a fellow birder and her mother-in-law to help solve the crime. She even teams up with the detective investigating the case, whose dimples draw her in a way she hasn’t experienced in years.


Shannon Leach is a slice-of-life encouragement writer and the owner of A Repurposed Heart and ARH Inspirations. Her authentic stories and books about leadership, life, and loving people focus on encouraging others and reminding them they are not alone. Her work can also be found in Guideposts and multiple Chicken Soup for the Soul books. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in Social Work and is the co-founder of the nonprofit The Fostered Gift.

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My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Colossians 2:2-3 NIV


Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.comThe “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

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