Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Murder Most Pemberley by Jessica Berg. This book is the first in the Eliza Darcy Mystery series and was released earlier this year.  

Eliza Darcy is thrilled to travel to England to attend a family reunion. Her father refuses to speak about the reason he left England and Eliza is determined to solve her family mystery. Accompanied by her cat, Eliza joins a multitude of relatives at the family estate of Pemberley where she witnesses family dysfunction in action along with an assortment of suspicious servants. An argument leads to a brawl which leads to one body dead and another missing. Is her father's break with the family tied to the current murder and her aunt's seemingly nefarious actions? Although she has the assistance of her outgoing cousin, eager great-aunt, and a hunky Brit, Eliza soon discovers that playing sleuth can be downright dangerous.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Death at a Country Mansion - A Spotlight

Today I'd like to share a book from my overflowing TBR pile. Death at a Country Mansion by Louise R. Innes is the first in the Daisy Thorne Mystery series. I really need to read this one soon as the second book is already out and the third is coming this fall!

From the back cover:

No one would ever accuse famous opera star Dame Serena Levanté of lacking a flare for the dramatic. Unfortunately, it’s curtains down on the dysfunctional diva when she’s found dead at the bottom of a staircase in her elegant home. Solving an opera singer’s murder may not be the typical hairdresser’s aria of expertise. But Dame Serena was the mother of Daisy’s best friend Floria, so Daisy must do-or-dye her best to get to the roots of the case.
When a priceless Modigliani painting in the house is reported missing, the mystery gets even more tangled. Even though the gruff but handsome Detective Inspector Paul McGuinness tells the stylist to stay out of his hair, Daisy is determined to make sure the killer faces a stern makeover—behind bars.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Poker Face - An Interview & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Paty Jager to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Paty writes the Spotted Pony Casino Mystery series. Poker Face is the first book in the series and will be released July 1, 2021.

Kathy: A disabled veteran, Dela Alvaro now works security for a casino. Do you enjoy going to casinos?

PJ: At one time I did enjoy going to casinos. When we were first married with small children, my husband and I would go to Reno, Nevada for a weekend a couple times a year. It was mostly because it was far enough away if someone called with work for hubby, he couldn’t jump in his truck and take off. 😉

Kathy: I became a big fan of Texas Hold 'Em poker and enjoyed watching the professionals play on TV. Are you a poker fan? Do you play any of the casino games?

PJ: I’m not really a fan of poker or any of the casino games. One of our first trips to Reno, a roulette dealer showed us how to play that game. I play it from time to time, but I’m more of a people watcher than a gambler.

Kathy: Dela's predecessor was found to be working with a human trafficking ring. Is there a particular reason you chose this crime?

PJ: There is a reason I chose that crime. The story is in my Gabriel Hawke book #7, Stolen Butterfly, where my character, Hawke, is called to the reservation to help find a missing woman. I introduced Dela, and her boss, to my readers in that book.  


Kathy: Your Spotted Pony Casino Mystery series takes place on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation. Indeed all of your work has Western or Native American elements in them. Why choose this setting and these elements for your writing?

PJ: I have had a fascination and interest in the Native American culture since my teens. I have been researching and talking to people a good part of my adult life to learn more. I decided to put my curiosity to good use and write about the culture. All of my books deal with justice or injustice. How the first Americans have been treated is a great injustice. If I can shed a little light and compassion on their lives and how they are coping and striving to survive, then I’ve done my job as a writer. I don’t just rely on books and the internet, I have cultivated some wonderful friendships by connecting with members of the Nez Perce, Colville, and Umatilla tribes. As for the casino setting…Dela was in the Military Police in the army before she became disabled. She had planned on retiring and joining a civilian police force. With her disability, I had to give her job that was still like law enforcement but where she wouldn’t be limited because of her disability. And I wanted the story set on or near a reservation. Since I had researched and made connections from my Hawke books at the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation, and they have a casino that is right along an interstate, I thought that would make a great place to have a variety of people passing through the casino.

Kathy: What first drew you to mysteries?

PJ: I have loved mysteries ever since my mom bought me the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys collections. As a young mother I read every mystery book I could check out from the library. While I’m not a person who likes to put puzzles together, I enjoy a good mystery that keeps me guessing and love it when the ending has a twist. I like how Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple talked to people and studied the lives of the people around her. I like having that aspect in my books as well. There is something about writing mystery that feeds my inner voyeur. I can have my characters studying other characters as I study the people I come in contact with.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

PJ: Yes. I have historical and contemporary western romance, historical paranormal romance, and an Action-Adventure trilogy as well as my murder mysteries.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

PJ: My Shandra Higheagle Mystery series: Shandra Higheagle is a Native American potter whose deceased grandmother comes to her in dreams with clues to help them solve the mysteries in a fictional ski area in Idaho.

Gabriel Hawke Novels: Gabriel Hawke is a Fish and Wildlife State Trooper guarding his ancestor’s homeland in Wallowa County Oregon. He is a master tracker, which is good when someone needs found, but his flaw when he becomes focused on the clues.

Spotted Pony Casino Mystery: Dela Alvaro, head of security at the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation, is trying to get her life back in control and keep her job at the casino. However, between murders, her mom, her new three-legged dog, and a pesky FBI Special Agent she doesn’t want to like, she may be balancing more than she can handle.

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

PJ: I’m thinking you mean in the Spotted Casino Mysteries. My favorite in that series so far is Rosie. She is an Umatilla woman who works in the deli at the casino. She is as wide as she is tall, always smiles, and flirts with the men. I like that she has no problem saying things to a man she doesn’t know that I would never think of saying. Also, she is wicked smart. She can remember every face and a name to go with the face. She remembers what is told to her and is an excellent source of information for Dela.

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

PJ: No. I had written Dela in a short story for a contest. But she was Indigenous in that story and the casino was in California. (Where the story had to be set) After I wrote the short story, I really liked the character and decided to move her north to the tribes and area I knew better and give her a series.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

PJ: Poker Face is my 51st book to be published. I have been trying to get published since the early 1990s. It took many writing classes, workshops, and critique partners to finally get a book published in 2006. The first 7 books I wrote never will be published. They were my learning tools. The next 10 books were published by a small press, and since 2011, I’ve been self-publishing and enjoying I can publish books that most agents and editors said they couldn’t figure out where to place them on a book shelf. I tend to mash genres and publishers are purists when it comes to genres.

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

PJ: Tony Hillerman, Sue Grafton, Agatha Christie, LaVyrle Spencer. Sue’s alphabet series is what made me think I could write a mystery. I’d like to talk to Tony about writing Native American culture. Agatha just to talk character. And LaVyrle’s books were the first ones that showed me I could write real life situations.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

PJ: Roaming Wild by Tracey Devlyn – We’re going to be on a panel at Bouchercon in August. I’m reading books from all the panel members.

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

PJ: When I’m not writing, I’m riding my horse, sewing, hiking, or hanging out with my grandkids and kids.

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

PJ: Milk, eggs, cheese, chocolate

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

PJ: I have planned/titled 14 books for the Spotted Pony Casino series. The next one will be House Edge. I’m using gambling terms for the titles. I’m not sure how many Gabriel Hawke Novels I’ll put out. I’m up to #8 next which will have Badger in the title. Since Hawke is a Game Warden, I use wild animal names in the titles. I have a list of about thirty animals that I can use in titles. I doubt I’ll write that many books, but you never know. My Shandra Higheagle series ended at book #16.

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

PJ: My favorite thing about being an author is talking to readers who have enjoyed my books. I sit down and write a book because it is a premise and/or character that intrigues me. When readers are intrigued and entertained by my stories it makes me happy. And if I can teach them a little about something that’s even better!


 Poker Face: A Spotted Pony Casino Mystery by Paty Jager

About Poker Face

Poker Face: A Spotted Pony Casino Mystery
Murder Mystery 1st in Series
Publisher – Windtree Press
Number of Pages – 300+-

Dela Alvaro is a disable veteran who grew up on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation. When an IED in Iraq ended her military career, she came home to reassess her life and landed a job in security at the Indian run casino on the reservation.

Not even a year into being the assistant to the head of security, the head of security is found working with a human trafficking ring and Dela is promoted on a trial basis. When one of the casino employees is found stabbed and stuffed in a laundry chute, she knows she can kiss head of security good-bye if she doesn’t find the killer before the media gets hold of the story.

While she is in over her head, she can’t decide if the FBI Special Agent called in to help is a blessing or a curse. It’s a man she ran across in Iraq who overrode her authority. When a second casino employee is killed, Dela has to decide if she can trust the special agent with not only keeping her job but keeping the rest of the casino employees safe.

About Paty Jager

Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 51 novels, 8 novellas, and numerous anthologies of murder mystery and western romance. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Paty and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. Riding horses and battling rattlesnakes, she not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.

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Friday, June 18, 2021

Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Hellenic Abduction - A Review


By Columbkill Noonan
The Fifth Barnabas Tew Mystery 

While practicing their yoga on the banks on the Ganges, Victorian private investigator Barnabas Tew and his assistant, Wilfred, are unceremoniously whisked away and deposited in Ancient Greece. Upon Odin's recommendation Zeus has summoned the duo to help him rescue a princess. Barnabas and Wilfred undertake the mission, but find Zeus's intentions not entirely honorable and are unsure if they should indeed find the woman for him. Running into various deities and other mythological beings from Ancient Greece Barnabas and Wilfred will have to keep on their toes or risk death...again! 

I absolutely love Barnabas Tew and was happy to have him and Wilfred enter another realm with which I am quite familiar, that of Greek Mythology. I couldn't help but smile as Barnabas compared the Greek and Roman pantheon. I also love how he incorporates the meditation and yoga he learned from the Hindu pantheon.

In fact, so many things made me smile in this, the fifth Barnabas Tew adventure. The rapport between Barnabas and Wilfred, the bemusement of the various gods and other mythological characters by their antics, and the fact that the bumbling duo do always, somehow, manage to solve the case...even if they die in the process. Perhaps my favorite joy comes from seeing mythological characters in a new light. My favorite aspect of that here was with Minnie the minotaur.

Throughout the series, there have been serious moments and introspective moments as well as adventure and laughs, most notably concerning the lost loves of each of the heroes. Therefore, I was much pleased with the chain of events leading up to the mystery's conclusion. I am, however, greatly concerned that the fifth Barnabas Tew Mystery may be the last book in this delightfully unique series.

BARNABAS TEW AND THE CASE OF THE HELLENIC ABDUCTION is a rip-roaring good time twining Greek mythology and Victorian sensibilities in a laugh out loud story.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading What's Past is Prologue by Susan Lynn Solomon.

Unhappy with her career in Manhattan, Jessica Menotti moves to Western New York to join the Niagara Falls District Attorney's office as a junior prosecutor. The change of scenery hasn't stopped her recurring nightmare, however, and things start to get more unsettling. In addition to dreams that leave her in a panic, sneaky co-workers, and a missing supervisor, Jessica soon finds herself experiencing déjà vu. She panics at a building she's never seen, has random memories that aren't hers, and feels connections she shouldn't. How does this relate to the crime scene she was called out to oversee? And the bones she saw? As Jessica becomes embroiled in a major case she'll have to be careful who she trusts, including herself.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Guilt is Midnight Blue - An Interview & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Josalyn McAllister to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Josalyn writes the Hazel Dean Mystery series. Guilt is Midnight Blue is the first book in the series and was released last month.

Kathy: In Guilt is Midnight Blue we meet Hazel Dean who owns a shop, Books and Chocolate. It seems like a marriage of two perfect things. Have you ever wanted to own a bookshop...or become a chocolatier?

JM: I have always wanted to own a bookshop. A dusty, cluttered, cozy used bookshop. The market for bookshops has been in decline over the years and I’ve often thought that if I was independently wealthy I would run a bookshop and use my wealth to keep it in the black. That’s the exact situation I’ve given Hazel. It’s very much a vicarious experience for me.

My mom is actually a chocolatier, so I’ve grown up with beautiful handmade chocolates and caramels around all the time. To combine that business with books seemed like a match made in heaven!

Kathy: Hazel can see other's emotions in color. How did this unique ability take shape, both for you and Hazel?

JM: I have a great aunt who claimed this ability when I was a child. She often would attempt to “smooth our auras.” I was charmed by it. When I moved to the South, I found that it isn’t that unusual of a claim. I thought giving a character that ability would make the perfect Southern magical realism heroine.

Kathy: Location can play such a big part in mysteries. Why did you choose a small Appalachian town as the setting for your Hazel Dean Mystery series?

JM: I moved to Atlanta about three years ago. When we drove through the Appalachian Mountains on the way here, I fell in love with them and knew that they needed to be the setting for my next book. I grew up in California and I lived in the Midwest for ten years. I’ve been intrigued by a lot of aspects of Southern culture, superstitions especially. It makes for a great background for cozy mysteries.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

JM: Cozies have always been comfort reads for me. As a child, I was a precocious reader. My mom didn’t really read at all, and she was concerned that I might read into things that she didn’t feel were appropriate for me, so she handed me classics. Someone told her about Agatha Christie when I was about ten and I fell in love with them. Whether or not they were actually appropriate for a ten-year-old I’m not sure. Lol.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

JM: I wrote one sweet romance novel. It was well-received, but it was torture for me to write. After an initial draft I had a few people read it and they pointed out that there was no kissing. Apparently, that’s a romance staple. I added a kissing scene but knew that I would never be able to endure that sappiness of writing another romance. The puzzle aspect of cozy mysteries suits me much better.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

JM: This series is about Hazel Dean, an amateur sleuth who owns a bookshop in a small town close to the Appalachian Trail. Her ability to see other’s emotions in color draws her to involve herself in the pursuit of justice, despite the protests of her DA husband and her father figure, who is the captain of the police.

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

JM: I really love a lot of the characters, but Hazel’s teenaged sons are my favorite. I grew up with five brothers and I was a middle school teacher. I have a theory that all teenaged boys are either obnoxiously cocky or painfully self-conscious. I gave her one of each. They’re fun to write.

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

JM: I really wanted to write magical realism set in the South, particularly in the mountains. I’ve also always wanted to write mysteries. After living in Georgia for a couple years, I decided to combine them, and I really love the result.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

JM: I have been writing random stories and descriptions since I was about seven. I started writing novels about thirteen years ago. I published the first one in 2020. Up until then I was terrified of getting negative feedback. I finally realized that I wouldn’t be able to progress any more unless I put my work out there. It was terrifying and continues to be terrifying, but I’m so glad that I did.

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

JM: Agatha Christie, Stephen King, Alexandre Dumas and Erik Larson

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

JM: Anna Karinina by Tolstoy and The Red House Mystery by A.A. Milne

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

JM: I love to bake and cook. I run. I sew my kids elaborate Halloween costumes. I read constantly. I also enjoy gardening and board games. I celebrate quirky holidays like National Donut Day and Harry Potter Day.

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

JM: Butter, oatmeal, cucumbers and yogurt

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

JM: This is Hazel’s first book and she’ll get four more.

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

JM: Coming up with plotlines! Then ranting about them to my husband, who is very sweet and pretends that they are important to him.


Guilt is Midnight Blue by Josalyn McAllister

About Guilt Is Midnight Blue

Guilt is Midnight Blue: A Hazel Dean Mystery
Cozy Mystery 1st in Series
Publisher: Eburnean Books (May 6, 2021)
Paperback: 290 pages

Hazel Dean can see other’s emotions in color. She mostly uses it to help people find the perfect book in her shop, Books and Chocolate. But, when one of her customers is murdered, the police point to an old feud. Only Hazel can tell that the accused is innocent. She must navigate around her district attorney husband, and her surrogate uncle, the police captain, to find out what really happened. Hazel drives, hikes and snoops all over her small Appalachian town in an attempt to bring peace to the victim’s family and prevent her community from being torn apart by old grudges.

About Josalyn McAllister

Josalyn McAllister is a cozy fiction author whose most recent works include Love Over Easy and Guilt is Midnight Blue. Josalyn started writing character descriptions at the tender age of seven, inspired by the works of LM Montgomery. In her teenage years she moved on to Newsies fan fiction. Inspired by National Novel Writing Month, she wrote her first novel about a child she mentored in college. She has never stopped writing. Josalyn taught middle school history before deciding she would rather spend time with her own children than other peoples. A restless soul, she has moved all over the country and collected an eclectic array of hobbies. Her writing has a relatable quality that will charm and entertain you.

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Sunday, June 13, 2021

Killing in a Koi Pond - A Review & Giveaway


By Jessica Fletcher & Terrie Farley Moran
The Fifty-Third Murder, She Wrote Mystery

After a fun mystery conference Jessica Fletcher heads to South Carolina to catch up with her old college friend, Dolores Nickens. It seems that her marriage to Willis, husband number three, agrees with her as Dolores appears happier than she's been in years. As delighted as Dolores is with her new husband, the wealthy businessman has a dark side. Willis changes abruptly from charming host to a belittling, nasty, and cruel man, seeming to take delight in ratcheting the tension and making his other guests uncomfortable. The next morning Jessica's morning jog on their property takes an unexpected turn when she sees a body in the koi pond. Willis is dead. Although they won't get to do touristy things and have fun reminiscing, this may turn out to be the best time for Jessica to visit. Once the sheriff determines that Jessica is correct and Willis was murdered, Dolores is sure to be the main suspect. 

Reading MURDER, SHE WROTE: KILLING IN A KOI POND was a nostalgic trip to a comforting past. My mom and I loved watching Angela Lansbury as Jessica Fletcher when the original TV series aired and even though Jessica wasn't in Maine, that good feeling remained as I read this enjoyable mystery. I loved the little details, talking about Malice Domestic, food descriptions that had my mouth watering, and red herrings that I thought for sure would have some bearing on the murder.

Astute readers may pick up a vital clue early in the story. I did and figured out the who, if not the why, but then as I kept reading I kind of forgot about it so near the end I wasn't sure who did it...until Jessica explained and I was like, "Oh yeah". 

MURDER, SHE WROTE: KILLING IN A KOI POND is a delightful addition to this long running series. Fully developed characters, both new and old, inhabit these pages providing rich detail bringing the story to life.


 Murder, She Wrote: Killing in a Koi Pond by Jessica Fletcher & Terrie Farley Moran

About Murder, She Wrote: Killing in a Koi Pond

Murder, She Wrote: Killing in a Koi Pond
Cozy Mystery 53rd in Series
Publisher: Berkley (June 8, 2021)
Hardcover: 288 pages

When a friend’s husband dies while Jessica Fletcher is in town visiting, Jessica’s vacation turns into a murder investigation in this latest entry in the long-running USA Today bestselling series.

After traveling to Bethesda for a mystery writers’ conference, Jessica Fletcher decides she’s earned a vacation and takes a train to Columbia, South Carolina, to visit her old college friend Dolores, who has recently married her third husband, Willis Nickens, a wealthy and cutthroat businessman. They’ve moved into an opulent historic home with plenty of space for guests, and Jessica is ready for a week of shopping, gossiping, and relaxing at the grand estate.

But the morning after she arrives, Jessica discovers Willis facedown in the koi pond, and despite what the police think, she’s sure foul play is involved. She hadn’t known Willis long, but it’s clear to her that he didn’t concern himself with making friends. The question isn’t if her friend’s husband was murdered but by whom.


About the Authors

Jessica Fletcher is a bestselling mystery writer who has a knack for stumbling upon real-life mysteries in her various travels.

Terrie Farley Moran is the author of Murder She Wrote: Killing in a Koi Pond, the latest in the long-running Jessica Fletcher series, to be followed in autumn 2021 by Murder She Wrote: Debonair in Death. She has also written the beachside Read 'Em and Eat cozy mystery series and is co-author of Laura Childs’ New Orleans scrapbooking mysteries. Her short stories have been published in numerous magazines and anthologies. Terrie is a recipient of both the Agatha and the Derringer awards.

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