Friday, August 12, 2022

A Dark and Stormy Tea - A Review & Giveaway


The Twenty-Fourth Tea Shop Mystery 

Charleston, South Carolina is known for its spookiness and haunted locales, but when the fog rises it's a real human being who commences to killing. After a break of seven years it seems that Fogheel Jack is back. Walking to her shop one foggy evening Tea Shop Owner Theodosia Browning sees a strange tableau, and soon realizes she's seen Fogheel Jack himself-and his latest victim, the daughter of a friend. Theo's inquisitive nature leads her to investigate, and lands her squarely in a killer's sights.   

Theodosia Browning has gone rogue! She deliberately questions a suspect, despite being directly told by police not to do so. Then she inserts herself in an active crime scene in order to snoop, again after being directly old to stay back. As a former police officer, I have great difficulty accepting this blatant disregard for police authority. Her actions could totally screw up an investigation. If I was Pete, her boyfriend and a detective, I'd be more apt to arrest her than date her!

Her actions do, however, move the story forward, adding plenty of thrills and keeping a heightened sense of urgency. Delightful descriptions of the tea shop and its events balance the fast paced action. Indeed, I enjoy my time at the Indigo Tea Shop just as much as reading the more high octane bits of the mystery. I can easily picture myself sipping one of Drayton's special brews and nibbling some Killer Cranberry scones and cashew chicken salad tea sandwiches, perhaps even donning a costume as I attend a themed tea.

A DARK AND STORMY TEA is an atmospheric thriller in a cozy world. Its heart racing thrills and scary chills are balanced by the comfort of good friends and food giving readers the best of both worlds.


A Dark and Stormy Tea (A Tea Shop Mystery) by Laura Childs

About A Dark and Stormy Tea

A Dark and Stormy Tea (A Tea Shop Mystery)
Cozy Mystery 24th in Series
Berkley (August 9, 2022)
Hardcover: ‎ 320 pages

A possible serial killer on the loose sends tea maven Theodosia Browning into a whirlwind of investigation in this latest installment of the New York Times bestselling series.

It was a dark and stormy night, but that was the least of Theodosia Browning's troubles. As she approaches St. Philips Graveyard, Theodosia sees two figures locked in a strange embrace. Wiping rain from her eyes, Theodosia realizes she has just witnessed a brutal murder and sees a dark-hooded figure slip away into the fog.

In the throes of alerting police, Theodosia recognizes the victim—it is the daughter of her friend, Lois, who owns the Antiquarian Bookshop next door to her own Indigo Tea Shop.

Even though this appears to be the work of a serial killer who is stalking the back alleys of Charleston, Lois begs Theodosia for help. Against the advice of her boyfriend, Detective Pete Riley, and the sage words of Drayton, her tea sommelier, amateur-sleuth Theodosia launches her own shadow investigation. And quickly discovers that suspects abound with the dead girl’s boyfriend, nefarious real estate developer, private-security man, bumbling reporter, and her own neighbor who is writing a true-crime book and searching for a big ending.


About Laura Childs

Laura Childs is the New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbook Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. 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, rides horses, enjoys fundraising for various non-profits, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs.

Laura specializes in cozy mysteries that have the pace of a thriller (a thrillzy!) Her three series are:

The Tea Shop Mysteries – set in the historic district of Charleston and featuring Theodosia Browning, owner of the Indigo Tea Shop. Theodosia is a savvy entrepreneur, and pet mom to service dog Earl Grey. She’s also an intelligent, focused amateur sleuth who doesn’t rely on coincidences or inept police work to solve crimes. This charming series is highly atmospheric and rife with the history and mystery that is Charleston.

The Scrapbooking Mysteries – a slightly edgier series that take place in New Orleans. The main character, Carmela, owns Memory Mine scrapbooking shop in the French Quarter and is forever getting into trouble with her friend, Ava, who owns the Juju Voodoo shop. New Orleans’ spooky above-ground cemeteries, jazz clubs, bayous, and Mardi Gras madness make their presence known here!

The Cackleberry Club Mysteries – set in Kindred, a fictional town in the Midwest. In a rehabbed Spur station, Suzanne, Toni, and Petra, three semi-desperate, forty-plus women have launched the Cackleberry Club. Eggs are the morning specialty here and this cozy cafe even offers a book nook and yarn shop. Business is good but murder could lead to the cafe’s undoing! This series offers recipes, knitting, cake decorating, and a dash of spirituality.

Laura’s Links: WebsiteFacebook

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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading A Dark and Stormy Tea by Laura Childs. This book is the twenty-fourth in the Tea Shop Mystery series and was released yesterday.

Charleston, South Carolina is known for its spookiness and haunted locales, but when the fog rises it's a real human being who commences to killing. After a break of seven years Fogheel Jack is back. Walking to her shop one foggy evening Tea Shop Owner Theodosia Browning sees a strange tableau, and soon realizes she's seen Fogheel Jack himself-and his latest victim, the daughter of a friend. Theo's inquisitive nature leads her to investigate, and lands her squarely in a killer's sights. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Murder Backstage - An Excerpt & Giveaway

I'm happy to share an excerpt from Murder Backstage by Nupur Tustin. This book is the fourth in the Joseph Haydn Mystery series and was released last month.


There’s an upstairs-downstairs dynamic in the Joseph Haydn Mysteries that I’m sure you’ll enjoy. Palace maids Rosalie and Greta are privy to gossip and have their own sources of information. Although, Haydn has a flair for putting together disparate bits of information, he would be severely limited in his investigation were it not for the clues Rosalie and Greta bring him. Here the maids receive a visit from their friend, Steffi:

Steffi, the Archbishop of Salzburg’s temporary maid in Vienna, shrugged out of her cape and shook her blond curls. “I wish His Grace would make up his mind whether he means to go or stay,” she complained.

She gave Rosalie her cape to hang up and seated herself at the capacious table in the Esterházy servants’ hall. “Count Kohary’s establishment is in need of a permanent kitchen maid, and the position would be mine if only I can confirm I can start in the next few days.”

“I thought His Grace meant to stay until he’d brought his musician to heel.” Greta placed a chilled glass of lemonade and a plate of Zitronenkeks—lemon cookies—before her friend. Their morning chores were done, and it had been a pleasant, if unexpected surprise, to see Steffi at the door.

“Has the man been found?” Rosalie carefully draped Steffi’s cape on one of the hooks by the door and returned to the table.

“Found and lost,” Steffi sighed, biting hungrily into a buttery cookie.

“You’re speaking in riddles, Steffi,” Greta admonished her. She helped herself to a cookie—the sweet treats with a thin layer of icing were her favorite. But fond as she was of Steffi, Greta couldn’t help reflecting that her friend had always been one to make much ado over nothing. “What exactly has happened?”

Most likely nothing much, she thought to herself.

“Well,” Steffi began, wiping the crumbs from her mouth, “he came on Saturday morning, his tail between his legs, begging to be taken back. Said he’d return to Salzburg as soon as His Grace ordered it.”

“And what did His Grace say?” Rosalie leaned forward, resting her elbows on the vast table. “That he wouldn’t?”

“Oh no, His Grace was quite willing to take him back.” Steffi took a sip of her chilled lemonade. “But the man—can you believe his temerity?—demanded His Grace pay him for all those months for which his salary had been withheld.”

“Good heavens!” Greta gasped. “I hope His Grace tossed him out with a flea in his ear.”

“Oh, he put his foot down, of course. Even so, we all thought the matter settled. That Herr Mozart—that is his name—would return to Salzburg and that His Grace would follow suit. If I’d known that wasn’t to be the case, I wouldn’t have applied for the position at Count Kohary’s.” Steffi pushed out her pretty red lips into a pout.

“And now he has gotten himself arrested.” Steffi’s emerald-green eyes flashed with anger. “And His Grace—well, I have no notion what His Grace means to do.”

“Arrested!” Rosalie’s violet eyes widened and collided with Greta’s.

“Didn’t I say it was him?” Greta folded her arms and jutted her chin out. She turned to Steffi. “He’s been arrested for murder, has he not? This—what did you say his name was?”

“Mozart,” Steffi replied. “Leopold Mozart.” She frowned. “But how did you two find out about that?” 


 Murder Backstage: A Joseph Haydn Mystery by Nupur Tustin

About Murder Backstage

Murder Backstage: A Joseph Haydn Mystery
Historical Cozy Mystery
4th in Series
Setting - In Vienna’s Burgtheater in the eighteenth century.
Foiled Plots Press (July 6, 2022)
Print length: ‎ 348 pages

When murder propels him backstage, Haydn is forced to confront a deadly killer. . .

When the Burgtheater’s impresario unexpectedly meets his maker, Joseph Haydn is relieved to learn no one expects him to look into the matter. The impresario was murdered—and the Salzburger believed to be the killer is already behind bars.

But the impresario’s untimely death is not without consequences. Haydn’s employer insists he take over the dead man’s duties. Handling the tedious technical details of putting on an opera is bad enough. Confronting the suspicious behavior backstage is even worse.

Is an innocent man being sent to the gallows? Haydn is plagued by the question when his brother Michael confirms his worst fears. The Salzburger arrested for the murder is none other than Leopold Mozart—father of the well-known child prodigy currently in Vienna.

Now, egged on by Michael—a close friend of the Mozarts—Haydn must prove Leopold innocent. Or risk his brother’s ire forever!

Praise for the Joseph Haydn Mysteries: “Tustin orchestrates a concerto of intrigue and deception . . .” – Anna Lee Huber, Lady Darby Mysteries

“A standout in the genre of historical mysteries . . .” – Midwest Book Reviews

About Nupur Tustin

A former journalist, Nupur Tustin misuses a Ph.D. in Communication and an M.A. in English to orchestrate mayhem in Joseph Haydn’s Austria and to paint intrigue in her Celine Skye Psychic Mysteries about a psychic who takes on the outrageous and still unsolved Gardner Museum theft! In addition to being a storyteller and avid mystery fan, Nupur is a wife and homeschooling Mom who’s recently become a Christian.

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Sunday, August 7, 2022

A Dish to Die For - A Review


A DISH TO DIE FOR by Lucy Burdette
The Twelfth Key West Food Critic Mystery 

Known for trying to appease everybody, Haley Snow is working on boundaries. Her resolve to say no is challenged by her father-in-law's visit and the dead body she and Ziggy uncovered. Literally uncovered, when a trip to the beach to relax turned anything but. Vowing to keep out of the investigation, Haley's interest can't help but be piqued when she starts to hear about the victim-a man actively opposing the wishes of almost everyone in Key West. Will Hayley be able to keep her distance from the murder or will she once again be drawn in?

A DISH TO DIE FOR looks at the role women have played and continue to play in Key West. A vintage cookbook published by the Woman's Club in 1949 sheds light on the role of women as well as the food of the time, both having aspects today's women may find slightly appalling.

I enjoyed getting to know Nathan's father and seeing how the various relationships in the series react and adapt. The mystery kept me captivated while descriptions of food had me salivating. I can picture Hayley on her scooter and enjoy visiting the Florida Keys from my nicely air conditioned home up North.

An additional benefit of reading the Key West Food Critic Mystery series is getting to know Key West, from the Little White House to the Woman's Club to Mallory Square and beyond. This twelfth mystery actually takes us beyond, off the rock, seeing communities a little farther off the tourist path that is Key West. Showing the problems as well as the beauty, we get a glimpse into the lives of "regular people". We also get a look at the grittier, less appealing side of the Keys.

A DISH TO DIE FOR is a delectable mystery made more compelling by its subtle commentary on important issues facing the world today.

Friday, August 5, 2022

Shifting and Shenanigans - An Interview, Review, & Giveaway

I'm happy to welcome Elizabeth Pantley back to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Elizabeth writes the Destiny Falls Mystery & Magic series and now the Magical Mystery Book Club series. SHIFTING AND SHENANIGANS, the first book in the new series, was released last month.

Kathy: You start a new series with SHIFTING AND SHENANIGANS. What made you decide to take a break from Destiny Falls and come to the Snapdragon Inn?

EP: I was reading a cozy mystery that I truly enjoyed. The setting and the people were so great – I was thinking how fun it would be to just hop inside that book for a while. And it hit me! What a great idea for a cozy mystery series! Once I starting pondering the possibilities for such a series I had to get it started!

Kathy: Was there a specific inspiration for this story?

EP: The opening scene in the mystery book part was the first to come to me. What if the book club was reading an intense scene and suddenly, they were no longer reading – they were inside the book! Once that part was settled the story slowly unfolded in my mind and took some very interesting turns.

Kathy: In the Magical Mystery Book Club series the characters find themselves inhabiting cozy mystery books. If you could visit a fictional world, in any genre, what novel would you choose?

EP: Well, right now I’d dive into the second book in this series because it’s set on a cruise ship! I love to cruise, but since Covid began I haven’t been on a ship. I took a trip vicariously through the book club and had a grand adventure on a Hawaiian cruise!

Kathy: Have you ever been part of a book club? Was it similar to the one found in your series, in that a very diverse group get together and bond over books?

EP: I’ve twice been a member in a book club, and both were great fun. We didn’t fall into any books, nor did we get absorbed into any enchanted settings … but we had so much fun! The best book clubs, I think, are half book club and half social club. Good food, drinks, and neighborhood gossip all make the experience something to look forward to every week.

Kathy: Paige and Glo have a unique niece/aunt relationship. Have you ever had a familial relationship that was a true friendship?

EP: My family is very close, and we do cross the lines between family and friends. All four of my children are adults now, and I count them as four of my best friends. They invite me to do crazy things like hike up a mountain, climb a wall in an indoor climbing gym, or plant a full-out garden in my yard. The blend between family and friend is a true blessing.

Kathy: I adore Frank. I don't really have a question, well, too many that may be revealed as the series continues. I just want to say he's great.

EP: Thanks! I love Frank, too! He’s a fun character with a lot of spunk and way too much confidence. He has a very interesting background which we’ll learn more about in future books.

Kathy: Do you have a favorite character in this series?

EP: I love them all, so don’t tell – but I happen to have a soft spot for Zell. She’s eighty and proud of it. She has zero filters, loves life to the fullest, and is up for just about anything. I want to be Zell when I’m eighty!

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

EP: I have an unlimited number of ideas! Since the book club can enter any cozy mystery book in their vast library, the locations are endless! I can explore various themes I’ve never written about. I love to write books with a touch of the paranormal in a real-life setting. Something that’s so believable you can imagine it happening. Actually, I’m now writing book three and … I don’t even believe this one since it’s so different! … but they are going back to the Wild West, the land of the authentic cowboy!


Kathy: Will you share any other upcoming books?

EP: You can expect many more new books in the Magical Mystery Book Club!

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The First Magical Mystery Book Club

Thirty and recently divorced, Paige Erickson is ready for a new start. Nothing could have prepared her for the adventure that awaits her when she and her eccentric Aunt Glo inherit the Snapdragon Inn. Though the fun loving pair spent many happy summers there, they were never allowed in the basement; now it's time. A treasure trove of books awaits them along with a book club they've been tasked to start. But these are no ordinary books and this will be no ordinary book club. The group is transported inside a book-and the only way out is to solve the murder! 

Do you ever wish you were a part of a cozy mystery? That's just what gets to happen to Paige, her Aunt Glo, and their newfound friends. I love how what they encounter is due to the fictional author's writing-be it the Disney plus Hallmark settings (lots of adjectives) or its author's errors. I like Paige and Glo-though they can be a bit silly. And I like getting to know all of the book club members. I hope we get to learn more of Frank's origins. What's interesting to note is while these characters are meaty, the characters they meet inside the book are rather one dimensional. I was captivated by the book club's story, but didn't find myself as invested in the mystery they had to solve. 

The First Magical Mystery Book Club Mystery is a totally unique book that turns a cozy mystery on its head and spins it around. If you think cozies are all the same, here's an author that totally breaks the mold, while still honoring the genre. Creative surprises abound while family and friendship remains constant.

SHIFTING AND SHENANIGANS brings a unique twist to the cozy mystery genre. A story within a story with a paranormal slant, I was enchanted by the setting and admittedly envious of the adventure. I can't even imagine what the author has in store for book club members, but I can't wait to find out.


 Shifting and Shenanigans: The Magical Mystery Book Club by Elizabeth Pantley

About Shifting and Shenanigans

Shifting and Shenanigans: The Magical Mystery Book Club
Paranormal Cozy Mystery - 1st in Series
Setting - A magical off-shoot of Colorado
Independently Published (July 15, 2022)
Print length: ‎ 210 pages

Paige and her adventurous Aunt Glo inherit a country inn from eccentric GeeGee. They pack up and hit the road, arriving at the charming place they both loved since childhood. Finally! They can get into the secret room in the basement that GeeGee kept locked! They discover it’s a wonderful library filled to the brim with mystery books. But more than the room was a secret – it’s a magical place that houses enchanted books. Paige and Glo find themselves smack-dab in the middle of a murder mystery, along with a motley group of book club friends. The club will need to work together to solve the case in order to get out of the book and back to their home.

About Elizabeth Pantley


Elizabeth Pantley says that writing the Destiny Falls Mystery and Magic book series is the most fun she’s ever had at work. Fans of the series say her joy is evident through the stories she tells. Elizabeth is also the internationally bestselling author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution and twelve other books for parents. Her books have been published in over twenty languages. She lives in the Pacific Northwest, the beautiful inspiration for the enchanted Destiny Falls world.  

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Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading A Dish to Die For by Lucy Burdette. This book is the twelfth book in the Key West Food Critic Mystery series and will be released next week.

Known for trying to appease everybody, Haley Snow is working on boundaries. Her resolve to say no is challenged by her father-in-law's visit and the dead body she and Ziggy uncovered. Literally uncovered, when a trip to the beach to relax turned anything but. Vowing to keep out of the investigation, Haley's interest can't help but be piqued when she starts to hear about the victim-a man actively opposing the wishing of almost everyone in Key West. Will Hayley be able to keep her distance from the murder or will she once again be drawn in?

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Mint Chocolate Murder - A Review


The Second Ice Cream Shop Mystery
Autumn may have arrived in Penniman, Connecticut, but the Udderly Delicious Ice Cream Shop is still doing brisk business. Riley Rhodes, shop manager, is also joining forces with caterer Bitsy Bittman to provide ice cream for the Fall Arts Festival at Moy Mull Castle. Maud Monaco, the former super model who owns the castle, has brought controversial photographer Adam Blasco in as the featured artist. His edgy photography is not everyone's cup of tea and neither is the man himself. Missing his own presentation the second day, the errant artist is eventually found dead, in the locked dungeon. Was it an accident or murder? 
A pretentious artist whose predilections are even more heinous is ripe to be murdered and we have a unique method in the second Ice Cream Shop Mystery. We also have a great setting within the charming Penniman environs. Moy Mull Castle and its grounds provide atmosphere and history too. What better place for a murder victim to be found than a dungeon? Rather fitting as well.
I enjoyed meeting the new characters and getting to know those from the previous book better. I commiserated with Caroline over Sprinkles behavior, laughing at the exit of the cat therapist while picturing my own Calumet doing something similar. Sigh. 
MINT CHOCOLATE MURDER serves up a delicious mystery sprinkled with colorful characters, funny moments, and mouthwatering ice cream.