Friday, October 31, 2014

Review - Nightmares Can Be Murder


Nightmares Can Be Murder by Mary Kennedy
The First Dream Club Mystery

In Nightmares Can Be Murder by Mary Kennedy, Taylor Black has returned to Savannah to help her sister, Ali, and Ali's struggling business, Oldies but Goodies, a candy store that specializes in old fashioned candies. It's not all sister bonding or marketing though. Ali, always intrigued by the unconscious mind, has created a dream club. Taylor, who doesn't believe in dream interpretation, is nonetheless persuaded to join Ali and her friends as they discuss each others dreams and their possible meanings. While enjoying Ali's homemade treats, Persia tells the group that she dreamt a man was murdered and described the scene. Imagine everyone's shock when the local Lothario (who Ali once dated) if found dead-just as the man in Persia's dream.

Are the answers to the mysteries of the universe simply locked in your subconscious mind? Do dreams hold the key? I've always been fascinated by dreams and dream interpretation. I may not be a pure Freudian, or Jungian, for that matter, but their takes on the subject are simply fascinating.

In Nightmares Can Be Murder, dreams seem to be supplying clues as well as insight into the recent murder. Members of the dream club have been asked to think about the victim in order to hopefully dream of him and reveal clues to his murder. Sure enough, the group members dreams reveal many details-some of which certain members wish were left undiscovered.

Mary Kennedy is off to a great start with her Dream Club Mystery series. A cast of unique characters with hidden, and not so hidden depth, cute cats, a burgeoning re-romance, and above all, a well crafted mystery make Nightmares Can Be Murder a mystery lovers dream!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Currently Reading...

It's one of those times when I feel special. I'm reading a book that isn't published yet! I'm currently reading No Mallets Intended by Victoria Hamilton. This book, the fourth in her Vintage Kitchen Mystery series, will be released November 4th. Be sure to check out my review which I'll post on the blog November 6th...a special Thursday post.

Jaymie Leighton and the Queensville Heritage Society are restoring Dumpe Manor to serve as a museum and office space for the group. While working on her contribution-turning the kitchen into a Depression era version of itself-Jaymie hears something. She tries to ignore it-but it turns out to be a person, a person who hits Jaymie with a vintage kitchen mallet and knocks her out cold! That's just the start of the problems surrounding Dumpe Manor. An egotistical writer (who appears to be out to smear the Dumpe family in the pamplet he's writing for the society), a woman scorned, and angry Dumpe descendants combine with the threat that the Manor will be taken from the society lead to murder. The body... a victim of yet another vintage kitchen mallet.

Recipe included.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Dust Bunnies and Dead Bodies & Giveaway

Please welcome Janis Thornton to Cozy Up With Kathy. Janis writes the Elmwood Confidential Cozy Mystery series. The first, Dust Bunnies and Dead Bodies, was just released October 15th.

Kathy: Crystal Cropper is a woman of mature years. I, for one, am happy to see protagonists older than the usual 20 and 30 year olds. Why choose an older protagonist? What makes writing about older women fun? Or doesn't age make a difference?

JT: Great questions, Kathy. I chose a “woman of mature years” because I wanted to present a strong, fun, female protagonist that fellow Baby Boomers could identify with and root for.

As a writer, I am used to writing from the perspective of a variety of characters—male and female at any stage of life and background. But who’s more qualified to understand how a “woman of mature years” thinks, acts, feels, and responds to people and situations than another “woman of mature years”?

Kathy: Who better to dig up the dirt on people than their cleaning lady? Have you ever had a cleaning lady? Do you think that most cleaners are discreet or dying to spill your secrets?

JT: I must confess that I do not have, nor have I ever had a cleaning lady, and I’ve got the dust bunnies to prove it. However, I have friends who hire cleaning services, and they tell me they always pre-clean their house before the housekeeper arrives. Generally speaking, reliable cleaning services are discreet, but if they find dead bodies swept under the bed, they’re probably going to be compelled to spill it.

Kathy: In Dust Bunnies and Dead Bodies Crystal Cropper looks to solve a decades-old murder and the disappearance of a high school boy. How does working to solve a mystery from the past help and/or impede a current investigation?

JT: In the real world, I can imagine that a newspaper editor who’s trying to solve an old, unsolved crime might be viewed as meddlesome and annoying, particularly if the unsolved crime is related to a current investigation. But in the Elmwoodian world I created, because Crystal’s local informants trump those of the sheriff (in both number and quality), he welcomes her meddling with open arms.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

JT: I read my first Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books about a hundred years ago and loved them. Decades later, “Murder She Wrote” came along, and I never missed an episode. I have a special affinity for cozies because of the small-town setting and the colorful characters that are a staple of the genre. Besides that, living in a town with a population of 6,000 provides me great insight on its people and its behind-the-scenes comings and goings.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

JT: I wrote two local historical nonfiction books (for Arcadia Publishing) prior to Dust Bunnies and Dead Bodies. I also have written lots of romance and mystery short stories, and a paranormal romantic-mystery, none of which have been published. But I’m not ruling anything out.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

JT: Dust Bunnies and Dead Bodies is the first book in what I intend as the Elmwood Confidential series. All will be set in the small, Indiana town of Elmwood, where Boomer-aged newspaper editor Crystal Cropper never takes “no” for an answer, vigorously rejects her “senior citizen” label, and uses the power of her pen to expose corruption erupting around her.

Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?

JT: As an author, I love all of my characters—the good, the bad, and the redeemable. They’re sort of like children to me, and as their literary “parent,” I can’t favor one over the other. However, there is one I poured more of myself into than any of the others. Crystal Cropper is more than just a one-dimensional character to me. She is, in many ways, the person I would like to be. At times, she exemplifies a facet of my actual life experience; other times she portrays attitudes, actions, courage, and skills that I’m too shy to exhibit.

Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?

JT: Mainly, the story is a product of my imagination, but I would be remiss not to acknowledge the influence of my environment. As previously noted, I live in a small community. In addition, at the time I started writing Dust Bunnies and Dead Bodies, I was deeply embedded in another small community as editor and reporter of its daily newspaper. Both scenarios helped add flavor to the story because of the seemingly limitless inspiration they provided for story building and character creation.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

JT: Getting published hasn’t been a do-or-die goal for me, but it was something that was always rolling around in my head. After I finished the Dust Bunnies and Dead Bodies manuscript, it did nothing but take up space on my hard drive for the next four years. In late 2013, I vowed that I would polish it, write my query letter and synopsis, and start submitting it to publishers. I gave myself a year. Lucky for me, PageSpring Publishing picked it up last spring, and I will be forever grateful for their faith in me.

Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?

JT: There are so many wonderful authors who I would love to meet, but the following seems like a good mix: Edgar Allan Poe (I mean … who wouldn’t like to dine with Poe?); Louisa May Alcott (not only was she a trailblazer for women writers, she could tell me about her Transcendentalist contemporaries—Emerson, Hawthorne, and Thoreau); Sue Grafton (my favorite mystery author and creator of my favorite series character, Kinsey Millhone); and William Kent Krueger (who not only is an amazing writer, he’s an awesome gentleman who would be a fabulous guest at any dinner party). I hope they don’t mind carry-out.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

JT: I currently am finishing “December Dread” by Jess Lourey, who I met this summer at the Midwest Writers Conference. Next up are Terence Faherty’s “The Quiet Woman” and D.E. Johnson’s “Detroit Shuffle.”

Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?

JT: My number one hobby is writing. (You know you’re a lucky girl when your hobby and your work are inseparable.) I am also interested in local history, genealogy, old movies, and art.

Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.

JT: I’m embarrassed to admit that you won’t find anything exotic or nutritious in my fridge or pantry—just your basic jar of peanut butter (crunchy), a box of Ritz crackers, Diet Coke, and a good supply of Milk Bones (for my dog!).

Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?

JT: There are always lots of story ideas bubbling in my head. At the moment, I am working out the next story in the Elmwood Confidential series, as well as a collection of sensational historic crimes that rocked Central Indiana between 1880 and 1965.

Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?

JT: This … being invited to chat with fellow writers and readers about writing after the writing is done. And truly, it’s wonderful to kick back for a minute to absorb how good it feels being called “author.”

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Meet J.M. Edwards & Giveaway

I'd like to welcome J.M. Edwards to the blog today. JM writes the Ruby Wisdom Mystery series. Handcuffs and High Heels is the first in the series.

Kathy: Ruby Wisdom is Private Investigator in a small town in New York. How did you decide upon this career and setting?

JME: First of all, thank you so much for the opportunity to share a bit about Ruby with your readers. She and I really appreciate the opportunity, Kathy!

As far as the career and setting, that’s all Ruby. The day that we met, I was editing another manuscript that had nothing to do with duplicitous husbands, crafty detectives or small, quirky towns populated by a cast of intriguing characters. I was in my home office, concentrating on the project, when Ruby suddenly popped into my head, flashed a wide grin, and said: “The moon was high, the lights were low and I was right in the middle of giving my favorite UPS guy a hot oil massage when the phone rang.”

I was intrigued, so we talked for a while. She explained that being a detective was a childhood dream that she decided to pursue after her first career on Wall Street came to a screeching halt. The setting of Wormwood, New York, is also Ruby’s choice. It’s her fictional hometown. After losing her job in New York City, Ruby decided she’d had enough of the big city and headed back to Wormwood to open her detective agency.

Kathy: Handcuffs & High Heels is a humorous mystery. How does adding humor change a mystery and why is it important to have it in your series?

JME: I’m a lifelong fan of both humor and mysteries. Blending the two is a tradition for many writers, including one of my favorites, Robert B. Parker. I always loved the way he twined a lighthearted sensibility through the main plot of the Spenser books. As a reader, I feel that adding humor makes the mystery more engaging and compelling. Whenever I pick up a book, I’m looking for both entertainment and escape. The world is such a harsh and violent place these days that I like the mixture of suspense, mystery and laughter!

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

JME: I like to read cozy mysteries along with suspense thrillers, hard-boiled novels and police procedurals, but when I sit down to write the results always fit snugly in the cozy category. It’s the combination of a small community, some type of crime or mischief and a likable sleuth who cracks the case. Cozy mysteries also feel warm and welcoming to me, like visiting a new destination that somehow feels like a place you’ve been to before.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

JME: I’m completely focused on cozy mysteries at the moment! The Ruby Wisdom series is my first, and I have another planned for 2015.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

JME: The series features Ruby Wisdom, a smart, sassy PI who is also tough and tender. As the only private investigator in Wormwood, New York, Ruby handles a wide range of cases—everything from jewel heists and cheating husbands to stolen wedding gowns, kidnapped artwork and fraudulent heirs. The books in the series are loaded with humor, romance, memorable characters and a sleuth who knows her way around baked goods and sweet treats as well as crime scenes and tricky investigations.

Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?

JME: I love Ruby, because she’s responsible for the series. I like the way she works and the way she lives. She’s kind and compassionate, thoughtful and genuine, witty and a little mischievous now and then.

Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?

JME: The inspiration was Ruby! As I just mentioned, she literally came out of the blue one afternoon. Since then, we’ve been spending countless hours together, and I remain inspired by her confidence, compassion, wit and dedication to unraveling the mysteries and helping her clients.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

JME: It was Ruby’s idea. She stopped by one Saturday morning when I was in the middle of the third chapter. “This is starting to look like something fun,” she said. “I think you should publish it for readers who like lighthearted cozy mysteries.”

Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?

JME: Robert B. Parker, Agatha Christie, Nora Ephron and Shel Silverstein

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

JME: The Monogram Murders: The New Hercule Poirot Mystery by Sophie Hannah and Agatha Christie

Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?

JME: In addition to writing the new Ruby Wisdom cozy mystery series, I like to spend time gardening, traveling, spoiling a small herd of cats and dogs, and taking the occasional nap.

Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.

JME: Blueberry-pomegranate juice, coffee beans, seltzer and Little Debbie Cloud Cakes.

Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?

JME: Yes, I’m working on the third Ruby Wisdom mystery and have a second series planned for next year.

Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?

JME: Spending time with engaging, entertaining characters while I write the books, and hearing from readers who take the time to share their thoughts about Ruby. Their comments and thoughts are essential because the equation is incomplete without amazing readers!


Would you like to win an e-book copy of  Handcuffs and High Heels? To enter simply comment on this post telling us what type of case Ruby should take next-stolen property, missing person...? Be sure to leave your e-mail address and what format of e-reader you have. You must comment no later than 11:59pm EST Tuesday, November 28th, 2014. Good Luck!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Review - Gossamer Ghost


Gossamer Ghost by Laura Childs
The 12th Scrapbooking Mystery

Carmela is gearing up for the very busy week that is Halloween week in New Orleans. Tons of parties and spooky events, as well as a store swamped with customers buying all of their Halloween supplies means a very busy Carmela. While walking home she peers into her neighbor's shop, Oddities, only to hear a muffled sound. Was it a scream? A cry for help? Carmela decides to investigate, only to find the dead body of the shop's owner. Feeling sorry for the owner's assistant, as well as being the person to find the body, Carmela feels it only right to look into the man's murder-even against her boyfriend (the police detective)'s wishes. Conducting her own investigation while juggling Halloween events can be difficult, and in this case, deadly!
New Orleans is a city of exuberance. A city that beats to its own drum. A city of parties and excess. At Halloween time that atmosphere is amplified and tourists and locals alike take advantage of all of the special activities.

In Gossamer Ghost Laura Childs shows us New Orleans in all its Halloween glory-from balls to a zombie crawl, to live theatre, to a ghost train, even to murder. Although not inclined to help solve the murder of her neighbor, the eccentric owner of Oddities, Carmela finds herself drawn in to the investigation once more. Carmela found the body and takes the victim's employee and fiance under her wing. How could she not help? Her helping, however, finds her making enemies with several suspects...and someone is more than willing to get her out of the way.

I always enjoy my visits to New Orleans with Carmela and friends and Gossamer Ghost is no exception. Through Laura Childs words I became a part of the story, drawn in to the adventure. Carmela partakes in a flurry of Halloween activities and I was swept away with her, never knowing what was coming next. Adding recipes and paper art tips (who doesn't want to know how to make a pseudo death mask?) Laura Childs gives us another satisfying read.

Scrapbooking and other crafty tips as well as recipes are included.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Currently Reading...

I'm continuing to read Caught Dead Handed by Carol J. Perry. I'm absolutely loving the first book of the Witch City Mystery series. Lee Barrett is back in her hometown of Salem, Massachusetts, living once again with the aunt who raised her. Instead of the television reporter job she thought she would get, Lee winds up as the late night scary movie host-who also happens to be a call in psychic. When Lee finds the murdered body of the previous movie host she also uncovers something about her past...and a latent ability resurfaces. As Lee gets to know her new coworkers, she discovers they may not be who they seem to be. Is there anyone she can trust? Who is the reversed King of Cups? I can't wait to find out!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Spooktacular Time with Laura Childs

I'm thrilled to be able to welcome Laura Childs back to Cozy Up With Kathy. Gossamer Ghost is the 12th book in her Scrapbooking Mystery series and was just released October 7th.

Kathy: Gossamer Ghost takes place around Halloween. Do you enjoy all things spooky? Do you like to decorate for Halloween?

LC: Halloween is probably one of my favorite holidays. I have lots of little tchotchkes of goblins and witches that I bring out, and my husband has a full size, hand-carved Day of the Dead statue named Senor Muerte.

Kathy: There are tons of Halloween events occurring in New Orleans and it seems as if Carmela is attending all of them! I don’t know how she finds the time or strength. If you had the opportunity would you attend all of the events?

LC: Oh yes, I’d love to get my haunt on in New Orleans. They have witches runs, vampire cams, Krewe of Boo parade, the Endless Night Vampire Ball, and no less than six haunted houses. And everybody dresses up and tosses beads. It’s almost a mini Mardi Gras.

Kathy: If you could only attend one of the Halloween events that Carmela attends, which one would you pick? For me, I think it would have to be the Ghost Train!

LC: The Ghost Train in GOSSAMER GHOST is fictional, but I think it would be a riot to rumble along toward downtown with everybody partying and hanging out the windows!

Kathy: Death masks are an interesting, if somewhat macabre, tradition. I’ve seen a few in person and admit that I don’t quite “get it.” Have you seen any death masks? Would you want your own made?

LC: I’ve seen them in European museums and my roommate and I made them in college for an art class. We used Vaseline, plastic wrap and plaster. What a sticky mess – but it worked!

Kathy: What would you say is your most indispensible scrapbooking tool? Could it be used as a murder weapon?

LC: Maybe my X-Acto knife. And since it’s razor sharp and pointed, I think it would be extremely deadly if applied to a victim’s throat.

Kathy: Are you able to share any future plans for Carmela?

LC: The next Scrapbooking Mystery is Parchment & Old Lace. Carmela discovers a murdered bride-to-be in St. Louis Cemetery and gets pulled into helping solve her death.

Kathy: Will you share any other upcoming books?

LC: Scorched Eggs, my new Cackleberry Club Mystery, will be out December 2. And Ming Tea Murder, my new Tea Shop Mystery, will be out in May.

This or That:

Kathy: Library or Bookstore?

LC: Mmn, that’s a hard one. Probably bookstore by a hair.

Kathy: Editing or Marketing?

LC: I spent twenty years at the CEO of a marketing firm, so I think it would be pretty easy to step back into that role.

Kathy: TV or Film?

LC: I’ve authored screenplays so I’d have to say film.

Kathy: Chocolate or Vanilla?

LC: Chocolate – the dark master.

Kathy: Mountains or Beach?

LC: Beach. The Hamptons are fun, so’s the Caribbean. Bali is nice but hot!

Kathy: Tea or Coffee?

LC: This is practically a no brainer for somebody who writes the Tea Shop Mysteries! (Tea)

Kathy: Cats or Dogs?

LC: My two Chinese Shar-Peis are eyeing me suspiciously right now, so . . . dogs.

Kathy: Summer or Winter?

LC: Living in Minnesota? I will definitely choose the warmth of summer.

Kathy: Normal or Paranormal?

LC: Paranormal. I once lived in a seriously haunted house and was able to connect with one of the ghosts.

Kathy: Vampire or Werewolf?

LC: Vampire. I’m much more of a night person and I love a good red wine.


Laura Childs is the New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbook Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries, and a recent recipient of the Romantic Times Book Review’s Award for Best Amateur Sleuth. In her previous life, she was CEO/Creative Director of her own marketing firm and authored several screenplays. She is married to a professor of Chinese art history, loves to travel, enjoys fund-raising for various non-profit organizations, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs.