Friday, September 18, 2020

The Watchman of Rothenburg Dies - An Interview, Review, & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Adriana Licio to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Adriana pens the Homeswapper Mystery series. THE WATCHMAN OF ROTHENBURG DIES is the first book in the series and was released earlier this month.

Kathy: In the Homeswappers Mystery series Etta and Dora swap homes for a vacation. Homeswapping is an interesting concept. Have you ever tried it?

AL: For the past 15 years, my hubby and I have taken all our holidays this way, swapping homes with 40+ fellow travellers around the world.

Since 2010, when Frodo, our golden retriever, joined the family, we have given up flying and been driving all the way to European destinations. Frodo has homeswapped 20+ times, including visits to London and the UK, the Pyrenees, Brittany, Switzerland, Austria, Amsterdam, France, Stockholm and its archipelago, Gdansk and other parts of Poland, Prague, the quaint island of Ærø in Denmark and many more!

Kathy: What made you choose Germany as Etta and Dora’s first country to visit as part of a swap?

AL: My choice was more particular than that: not Germany as a whole, but the charming town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber. It was our first homeswap destination with Frodo back in 2010, and I thought that was something worth celebrating. Especially now, a decade later, when for the first time in years we won’t be going anywhere because of the pandemic.

In addition to that, this quaint little town is intriguing, cosy and mysterious all at the same time. I loved the Night Watchman’s tour, the shame masks that people were forced to wear in the middle ages in public if they misbehaved. Basically, it had all the material I needed to get a story going.

Kathy: Etta and Dora are described as two adventurous sexagenarians. With such a youth focused society I’m pleased to see more mature women as protagonists. Was it a conscious decision to make Etta and Dora older?

AL: Yes, it was a deliberate decision. Giovanni, my husband, is in his 60ies; I’m approaching 50. But we don’t feel that much different to the way we were 20 years ago. Well, in all honesty, there are some differences physically, of course, but inside we have the same energy, we pursue the same dreams and passions.

I wanted to celebrate this energy, this wish to live life to the full at 60 and beyond!

Kathy: Napoleon is a loveably disobedient Basset Hound. Is he based on a real dog?

AL: As I’ve mentioned above, I’m owned by a lovely Golden Retriever, Frodo. He’s my best pal, he’s accompanied us on all our travels, so I wanted to celebrate in my books the magic sparkle that brings humans and their furry friends together.

Frodo is a rather independent dog and has his own opinions on the things we should do, where we should visit, the attractions to see in a new place, his likes and dislikes. Napoleon is more stubborn, but some of his traits have their roots in Frodo.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

AL: Have you seen my bookshelves? Agatha Christie’s entire collection, Andrea Camilleri, Rhys Bowen, MC Beaton, TE Kinsey. What else could I write?

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

AL: Just cosies, at present.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

AL: My first series, An Italian Village Mystery, is set in the enchanting seaside town of Maratea (why not google it and discover it for yourself?) situated on a breathtaking stretch of coastline in Southern Italy. It features Giò Brando, a travel writer and reluctant sleuth who returns to her home and family to nurse a broken heart after her forthcoming wedding in London is called off. The setting gave me the scope to describe Italian lifestyle, culture, food in a small town.

My second series, The Homeswappers Mysteries, is launching shortly (more details coming soon).

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

AL: I confess, I don’t have a favourite (except Leon, of course!). Even when I write about the baddies, there’s something that attracts me to them, so I can safely say I like all my characters, if to varying degrees and for rather different reasons.

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

AL: Well, my inspiration comes from the things I like the most: travelling, reading, hiking, pets, perfumes, good food, small villages, and homeswapping.

The inspiration for the Homeswappers Mysteries is almost autobiographical, given my love for homeswapping. As for my first series, I set An Italian Village Mystery in Maratea, which again is a real place and my refuge when I need time away from work.

Agnese, Giò’s sister, owns a perfumery and loves to advise her customers on the best fragrance to see them through a particular moment of their lives. And I’m intrigued by the world of essences and perfumes.

Giò herself is a travel writer (did I mention I’m a travel freak?), and then there’s Granny. Granny loves to cook using the old family recipes, but she can also outsmart her two granddaughters when it comes to sleuthing. (I love good food, and old gossips too!)

So in each series and story, there’s a mixture of issues, places, themes I’m fond of or want to explore in more depth.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

AL: The day I found out that I could control the whole process as an indie author, from deciding the stories I want to write to choosing my own collaborators (editor, cover designer), to publishing and marketing, I decided the time was right for me to write my books.

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

AL: That’s easy! Andrea Camilleri, MC Beaton, Rhys Bowen and Agatha Christie.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

AL: I’m listening to another book in the Molly Murphy series by Rhys Bowen, and reading my first LJ Ross book, RYAN'S CHRISTMAS. I rarely start a series from Book 1.

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

AL: Hiking (once or twice a week). I need regular contact with nature to put my mind at rest and soothe my wild spirits (so my hubby says). I also love reading and travelling when I can, especially as I now combine homeswapping with research for my stories.

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

AL: We love fresh food from small local producers, so you will always find plenty of veggies and fruit (both of which vary according to season), ricotta and mozzarella, fresh milk. Of course, all kinds of pasta for the three of us (Frodo too enjoys fresh alimentation). Bitter dark chocolate, 85% cocoa.

A fresh cornetto (croissant) with a cappuccino is my treat for breakfast on special days, and guess what? That’s Giò’s favourite breakfast, too.

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

AL: For 2020, I plan to launch two more books in the Homeswapper Mysteries series, with Book 2, A Wedding and A Funeral in Mecklenburg, leading Etta and Dora to the region of 1,000 lakes in Northern Germany to attend a traditional German wedding. (Spoiler alert: it won’t be that traditional!)

And Book 3 An Aero Island Christmas Mystery will be set on a cute Danish Island thrown far into the Baltic Sea. Lots of hygge, mulled wine, a quaint Christmas Market and, my goodness, a cruel murder. Of course!

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

AL: I’m not (yet!) a full-time author; I’d love to be one.

As an indie author, I love the freedom to create my own projects and follow them through, and being able to work from the most remote of places. It would be great to go on even more homeswaps in the future and work from homes other than my own!



Please leave a message in the comments and we will pick a winner for an eBook of THE WATCHMAN OF ROTHENBURG DIES.


Free eBook:









The First Homeswappers Mystery

Etta and Dora have left Castelmezzano, their small Italian village, and arrived in the medieval town of Rothenburg, Germany for their first homeswapping vacation. They are welcomed by friendly neighbors and charmed by their house as well as the town itself. On their first night the duo go on the historic tour given by the Night Watchman of Rothenburg. Grim tales of torture highlight the walk, but reality takes an even more gruesome turn when Dora and Etta, pulled by the man's dog, find his murdered body. While the more sentimental Dora is more than happy to take Napoleon, the orphaned Bassett hound, under her wing, analytical Etta starts to puzzle out the murder. Will the two retired Italian school teachers solve a German murder? Perhaps more importantly, will Napoleon find a new home?

Armchair travelers can rejoice with the Homeswappers Mystery series! This quick read had me engaged and curious with smart writing and quick wit. It had me alternately smiling and filled with concern. The detailed descriptions of Rothenburg made me feel as if I was exploring alongside Dora and Etta. The book was not merely a travelogue, however, as the author skillfully entwined tourist facts within the mystery. I am partial to history and really enjoyed learning about Rothenburg. I especially loved the Elizabeth Peters reference.

I love the juxtaposition that Dora and Etta represent; soft and hard, round and angular, emotional and rational, opposites, but both together necessary for success. The two protagonists are not the only opposites in the novel as well. We see different sides to many of the characters, some of which are quite a surprise. I really enjoyed seeing these secondary characters shine in their own way. I grew quite fond of a certain patron at the Devil's Ale and Leon easily wormed his way into my heart.

THE WATCHMAN OF ROTHENBURG DIES made me want to pack my suitcase and explore the small European towns found off the beaten path. The mystery is a delightful start to a new series and I eagerly await traveling north for the next installment.


The Watchman of Rothenburg Dies: A German Cozy Mystery (The Homeswappers) by Adriana Licio

About The Watchman of Rothenburg Dies



The Watchman of Rothenburg Dies: A German Cozy Mystery (The Homeswappers)  

Cozy Mystery 1st in Series  

Publisher: The Hometravellers Press (September 1, 2020) ~180 pages

A holiday is a time to relax, unwind and see the sights. But for two adventurous sexagenarians, the sights have a tendency to include dead bodies.

Etta and Dora, both newly retired teachers, travel from their home in Southern Italy to a fairy-tale German town for their first home swap holiday, delighted by their neighbours’ warm welcome. But the welcome turns sour when the Night Watchman of Rothenburg is brutally murdered while his tour group takes photographs nearby, a halberd buried in his chest and a peculiar iron mask by his side.

When the murderer claims a second victim and the son of their hospitable neighbours becomes the number-one suspect, Etta’s analytical mind goes to work. Why was a shame mask left at the scene of each murder? Is there a clandestine trade going on behind the scenes of apparently upstanding local businesses? And why does every lead take her back to the sinister Devil’s Ale pub and the terrifying gang who lurk within?

Meanwhile, Dora has a puzzle of her own – how can she persuade Etta that a loveably disobedient Basset Hound called Napoleon is now a permanent part of their lives?

◆◆◆ Pack your bags, jump into the backseat of Etta and Dora’s old Fiat 500, and join them on their travels around Europe. There’ll be mystery, murder and mayhem aplenty wherever they go. ◆◆◆

About Adriana Licio


She loves loads of things: traveling, reading, walking, good food, small villages, and home swapping. She runs her family perfumery, and between a dark patchouli and a musky rose, she reads and writes cozy mysteries. She resisted writing as long as she could. But one day she found an alluring blank page and the words flowed in that weird English she'd learned in Glasgow...

> Get a taste of Adriana's world reading And Then There Were Bones the prequel to her An Italian Village Mystery series, exclusive to the subscribers on her mailing list -

Author Links: 

Free Prequel:  






Purchase Link - Amazon FREE on Kindle Unlimited

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Jokers Wild by Barbara Barrett. This book is the sixth in the Mah Jongg Mystery series.

Marianne Putnam is beyond thrilled. The local community theatre has chosen to produce her one act play and she will be part of the entire production process. Unfortunately, reality comes crashing down in the person of Jason Newhall, the play's director. Arrogant, antagonistic and demanding, Jason expects perfection from the amateur volunteers and pushes them to get it. When opening night finally arrives Marianne, instead of basking in her playwright's glory, gets pulled from the theatre to search for the missing director. What she finds is a dead body and another opportunity to put her sleuthing skills to use. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Dog-Gone Dead - An Interview & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Jackie Layton to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Jackie writes the Low Country Dog Walker series. Dog-Gone Dead is the second book in the series.

Kathy: Andi Grace Scott is a dog walker. Do you have dogs of your own? 

JL: Yes. I have a Westie. Heinz just turned fourteen.

Kathy: Do you have any favorite dog breeds? 

JL: I have so many allergies, and while I enjoy all dogs, I can only have hypoallergenic dogs. Heinz is a good companion and a great watchdog.

Kathy: Andi's brother is a landscaper. Do you like to garden? 

JL: I love to garden. When we lived in Kentucky, I had large gardens. I don’t have a big yard now, and I’m still learning how to garden on the coast because the soil is so different. We’ve been blessed to have some of our new neighbors share their extra plants with us. Mexican petunias, yellow lilies, and a different variety of black-eyed Susans are some of the flowers we’ve been given. We’ve also bought some at the local nurseries, and I’m trying to figure out what grows best here.

Kathy: In Dog-Gone Dead Andi finds a body under some mulch. This begs the question-what color mulch do you use? 

JL: I prefer chunky brown mulch, but with the pandemic we found somebody we could buy pine straw from who’d deliver it. It’s a Southern thing, and it looks nice and fluffy.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries? 

JL: When I was visiting my grandmother Hubbard as a child, I found my mother’s Nancy Drew books. I started reading them and I was hooked. I’ve almost always lived in small towns, and the cozy settings appeal to me.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres? 

JL: I’ve also tried writing romance and romantic suspense, but cozies are my favorite genre.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

JL: Andi Grace Scott is a dog walker in Heyward Beach, South Carolina, the town she’s always lived in. Andi Grace has a caretake personality, and she enjoys finding ways to help her friends and neighbors.

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

JL: Andi Grace is my favorite. She’s athletic and gutsy. If she sees an injustice, she’ll do whatever it takes to help the underdog.

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

JL: No.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work? 

JL: I’ve dreamed of writing most of my life, but it never seemed realistic. When my youngest son was in high school, I decided if I didn’t try, it would never happen. I took classes, attended conferences, and studied the craft of writing and began to write.

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

JL: Agatha Christie, Mary Higgins Clark, Robert Whitlow, and Diane Mott Davidson.

Kathy: What are you currently reading? 

JL: The First to Lie by Hank Phillippi Ryan.

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

JL: I enjoy reading, gardening, walking, biking, and playing cards.

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

JL: Almond milk, Greek yogurt, coffee, and apples.

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

JL: Yes. Bag of Bones will come out later in 2020, and I just signed a contract for the next three books in the Low Country Dog Walker Mystery series.

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

JL: I love brainstorming stories, but the best thing is making friends with other authors and readers.


Dog-Gone Dead: A Low Country Dog Walker Mystery by Jackie Layton

About Dog-Gone Dead

 Dog-Gone Dead: A Low Country Dog Walker Mystery  

Cozy Mystery 2nd in Series 

Publisher: Bell Bridge Books (June 26, 2020)  

Paperback: 248 pages 


Who’d have thought mulch could cause such a stink?

Low Country dog walker Andi Grace Scott is happy to score some free mulch from one of her brother’s landscaping jobs—until she discovers the dead body buried beneath the bark.

Worse, her brother’s landscaping tools were used to commit the murder. Once the police arrest her brother and seem happy to have “caught their man,” Andi Grace has no choice but to track down the real killer. She’ll risk everything to prove her brother’s innocence. Even if it means turning over every rock in town.

If you love small-town coastal life, dogs, and strong heroines, you’ll love Dog-Gone Dead.


About Jackie Layton

Former Kentucky pharmacist Jackie Layton loves her new life in the Low Country. When she’s not writing, Jackie enjoys walks on the beach, bike rides and collecting shells. The first two books in Jackie's Low Country Dog Walker Mystery series are Bite the Dust and Dog-Gone Dead. Jackie always enjoys hearing from readers.

Author Links


Twitter: @Joyfuljel  







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Monday, September 14, 2020

Hippie Haven Homicide - A Spotlight

I'm happy to provide an excerpt from Sally Carpenter's latest Psychedelic Spy Mystery. Hippie Haven Homicide is the second book in the series.


(Noelle takes her cat, Ceebee, to the secret headquarters of SIAMESE so he can be fitted with a collar equipped with a microphone for eavesdropping)

The room they entered was lined with shelves stocked with boxes, jars, scientific reference books and notebooks full of experiment notes. The tables stuffed into the small space were covered with microscopes, Bunsen burners, tubes, beakers, jars of chemicals and various electrical and mechanical devices. A man in a white lab coat and dark trousers waited for them beside the large center island. His white hair stuck up comically, as if he were amused to see them. His wrinkled face belied his age. His thick bifocals made his blue eyes look even larger. Around his neck hung the security badge—with black and white diagonal stripes—of the internal support staff, those who remained inside headquarters to equip the outside field agents.

“You must be Noelle. I’m Dr. Albedo. We’re glad to have you working with us.” Unlike Hanover, his voice was warm and friendly, and contained a tinge of an east European accent. But Noelle couldn’t see his lips move beneath his bushy white moustache.

“This is one of our veteran scientists at SIAMESE,” Dash said.

“Please put your animal on the counter.” Dr. Albedo patted the metal-lined top of the island.

Noelle placed the cat on the spot. “You wouldn’t happen to have any cat food, would you? Ceebee is starving.”

“It’s good that the cat hasn’t eaten. It’s best for animals to fast before surgery.”

“Surgery!” Noelle scooped up Ceebee. “No way are you cutting into my pet!”

“We need to implant an earpiece for the animal. Otherwise, you can’t use the radio to give him commands.”

“What’s wrong with putting a gizmo in his ear?”

“A small device can fall out. And the people standing around would hear you talking.”

“I still don’t like it.”

“We’ll place it just under the skin,” said Dr. Albedo. “Your cat won’t feel a thing. We’ll remove it as soon as possible.”

“If this is unacceptable, you may leave, Miss McNabb,” said Hanover. “But we’ll have to scrub the mission. We have no back-up animals. We would not have asked you unless we felt confident in your ability to help us and your country. We have reports that you have trained your cat to follow your directions––not something most cats do.”

Noelle gazed into the anxious cat eyes staring back at her. She was as patriotic as any other American, but she loved her pet. “If you promise you won’t hurt Ceebee. You won’t give him a lobotomy or anything.”

“We will treat your cat as gently as we treat our agents,” said Hanover.

Destiny stifled a laugh.

“All right then.” Noelle set her cat on the island. “But be careful.”

“I’ll leave you in the doctor’s capable hands.” Hanover turned to Destiny. “Let me know if any problems arise.”

“Yes, sir,” she replied.

Noelle was indignant. “Ceebee will do his job just fine!”


Hippie Haven Homicide (Psychedelic Spy Mystery) by Sally Carpenter

About Hippie Haven Homicide

 Hippie Haven Homicide (Psychedelic Spy Mystery)  

Cozy Mystery 2nd in Series  

Publisher: Cozy Cat Press (May 21, 2020)  

Paperback: 229 pages 

Get ready to flip your wig over another groovy 1967 retro-cozy with actress and amateur spy Noelle McNabb. Spy agency SIAMESE (Special Intelligence Apparatus for Midwest Enemy Espionage and Surveillance) turns Noelle’s pet, Ceebee, into an “acoustic kitty” to listen in on an agent known only as Old Scratch. Meanwhile, a counterculture religious sect led by the Wise One infiltrates the staid town of Yuletide, Indiana. When one of the sect members makes a premature departure to the Spirit in the Sky, Noelle investigates, but finds herself in deep water—literally. With her undercover disguiser, Noelle really knows how to sock it to ‘em. However, she still can’t solve the secrets of a certain family member. Don’t miss this fab story of saints, sinners and spies!

About Sally Carpenter

Sally Carpenter is native Hoosier living in Moorpark, Calif.

She has a master’s degree in theater from Indiana State University. While in school, her plays “Star Collector” and “Common Ground” were finalists in the American College Theater Festival One-Act Playwrighting Competition. “Common Ground” also earned a college creative writing award. “Star Collector” was produced in New York City and served as the inspiration for her first mystery series.

Sally also has a Master of Divinity and a black belt in tae kwon do.

She’s worked as an actress, college writing instructor, jail chaplain and tour guide/page for Paramount Pictures.

The books in her Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol series are: The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper (2012 Eureka! Award finalist for best first mystery novel), The Sinister Sitcom Caper, The Cunning Cruise Ship Caper and The Quirky Quiz Show Caper, all with Cozy Cat Press.

Flower Power Fatality is the first book in the Psychedelic Spy series.

She has short stories in three anthologies: Last Exit to Murder, Plan B: Omnibus and Cozy Cat Shorts. She penned chapter three of the CCP group mystery Chasing the Codex.

Author Links:  




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Sunday, September 13, 2020

Checked Out for Murder - A Guest Post, Review, & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Carrie Singleton to Cozy Up With Kathy today. You can find Carrie on the pages of the Haunted Library series by Allison Brook. CHECKED OUT FOR MURDER is the fourth book in the Haunted Library series and was released last week.

Hello, Everyone! My name is Carrie Singleton. I am the head of programs and events at the Clover Ridge Library in the small town of Clover Ridge, Connecticut. I'm lucky to have a job a love, a wonderful boyfriend, relatives and friends. And I seem to have a knack for getting involved in murder mysteries, which I help solve.

I wasn't always the happy person I am today. A little over a year ago, when I was twenty-nine, I came to stay with my Great-Uncle Bosco and Great-Aunt Harriet because I was feeling sad and unsettled. Coming from a dysfunctional family—my father was a thief and my mother not very maternal—I had fond memories of the summers my brother and I used to spend on the Singleton Farm when we were little. After seven months of doing low-level work in the library, I had just decided to leave Clover Ridge when I was offered the position I now have, for which I am qualified. I was about to turn it down when a voice urged me to consider taking it.

And that was how I met the ghost of Evelyn Havers, who had been a library aide for many years. It turned out that no one else could see or talk to Evelyn besides me and my four-year-old cousin, Tacey. Evelyn's niece, the unpleasant reference librarian Dorothy Hawkins, was very angry that I was given the position she wanted and made things difficult for me. But I quickly figured out how to make things difficult for Dorothy! You can read all about that in DEATH OVERDUE.

Evelyn is helpful to me in many ways, especially when it comes to solving mysteries. Having lived and worked in Clover Ridge all her life, she knew many of the townspeople and their secrets. However, she holds back information when she fears it might implicate one of her relatives.

My boyfriend, Dylan Avery, is an investigator. I met him when I rented the cottage on his estate. While Dylan sometimes worries that my sleuthing will put me in danger, he knows there's no point in telling me not to get involved. I reassure him that I don't take unnecessary risks, but honestly—sometimes things just get out of hand and you have to follow up a clue.

Angela Vecchio, who works at the circulation desk, is my best friend and confidante. She and her boyfriend Steve are about to get married. And wouldn't Angela like to see me get married, too? But I'm far from ready for such an important step. But who knows? Maybe some day in the future . . .

And let's not forget Smoky Joe, the library cat. Actually, Smoky Joe is my cat. I bring him to work with me every day—ever since he showed up at my cottage and jumped into my car. All the library patrons love Smoky Joe. He actually helps solve a mystery.

In CHECKED OUT FOR MURDER, my mother and her younger husband Tom come to Clover Ridge because Tom is in a movie they're filming in town. Trouble arises when Tom's ex-fiancée shows up to play opposite him and makes a play for him. What's worse is Tom seems to be smitten. My mother gets very upset and there are repercussions. . . .and a murder or two.

As you now know, my life is never dull. You can read all about my adventures in the Haunted Library mystery series. 




The Fourth Haunted Library Mystery

Although she has a job she loves, a great boyfriend, and wonderful friends and family to support her, Carrie Singleton is apprehensive. A movie is being filmed in town and since Tom, her mother's young husband, has a leading role, Brianna is coming to stay in Clover Ridge. Dealing with Brianna has never been easy and the fact that Tom is playing a romantic role against his former fiance doesn't help matters. When the actress is murdered days after Carrie's new friend is killed Carrie has no choice but to get involved.

All the world's a stage and in CHECKED OUT FOR MURDER no one is who they seem. A murder from long ago, a shattered family, it's no wonder the players wish to reimagine themselves and start fresh with new names.

I admire the complexity of the mystery in the fourth Haunted Library Mystery. Three murders, one years earlier, how could they possibly be related? The first two have a ready connection, but the third seems to be a total outlier. I love how Carrie tracks down clues, with a little help from Dylan, and pieces the puzzle together. I love the friendship and caring prominently shown throughout the story. From the way everyone cares about the lovable Smoky Joe to meals with friends and family, it's heartwarming and comforting. It's cozy and it's important.

CHECKED OUT FOR MURDER is a well structured complex mystery that delves into identity. You may take on other disguises, but in the end, for better or worse, the real you will shine through.


Checked Out for Murder: A Haunted Library Mystery by Allison Brook

About Checked Out for Murder

Cozy Mystery 4th in Series  
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books (September 8, 2020)  
Hardcover: 320 pages

Carrie Singleton and Evelyn the ghost sleuth the slayings of a starlet and a star-crossed psychic in Agatha Award nominee Allison Brook's fourth Haunted Library mystery.

Daphne Marriott strolls into Clover Ridge and informs librarian Carrie Singleton that she's a psychic. But had she foreseen what fate awaited her, Daphne would have steered clear of the quaint Connecticut town. Evelyn, the library ghost, tells Carrie that there's more to Daphne than she lets on.

The mysterious woman grew up in Clover Ridge with her no-good dad, who apparently met his end at the hands of Daphne's brother, Billy. Still, Daphne proves a welcome distraction when Carrie's overbearing mother hits town. Mom's much younger husband, Tom, is in a movie that's lensing locally, and she's there to keep an eye on him: Tom's costar, sultry Ilana Reingold, is also his ex-fiancée, and there's no denying the chemistry is still there. Soon after mingling with the moviemakers at a meet-and-greet, Daphne is found dead.

Carrie and Evelyn investigate, assisted by bushy-tailed library cat Smoky Joe. But the suspect list could overflow the library shelves. Has Billy killed another relative? Is their long-missing mother involved? Or Daphne's mean ex-husband? Carrie's sure she knows who committed the crime, but can she bind together the clues before the culprit Dewey-decimates the town?

About Allison Brook

A former Spanish teacher, Marilyn Levinson writes mysteries, romantic suspense, and novels for kids. Her books have received many accolades. As Allison Brook she writes the Haunted Library series. DEATH OVERDUE, the first in the series, was an Agatha nominee for Best Contemporary Novel in 2018. Other mysteries include the Golden Age of Mystery Book Club series and the Twin Lakes series.

Author Links:  





Twitter: @MarilynLevinson; @AllisonBrookML  





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Friday, September 11, 2020

Dough or Die - An Interview, Review, & Giveaway

 I'm pleased to welcome Winnie Archer to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Winnie writes the Bread Shop Mystery series. DOUGH OR DIE is the fifth book in the series and was released last month.

Kathy: Yeast of Eden is known for its wonderful breads. Do you bake your own bread? If so, what's your favorite bread to make?

WA: Yeast of Eden is my dream bakery. I love bread. The crazy thing is, that I eat gluten free. Two of my kids have Celiac and my daughter and I are intolerant, so we have eaten gluten free for a long time. I do make the recipes in each book, but gluten free. Once in a while, I’ll have a friend make a recipe to make sure how it works. In the upcoming book, one of the recipes is from a travel blogger. She was gracious and allowed the recipe to be put in the back of the book.

As for a favorite, hmmm. I love a simple baguette, which I make frequently. I love sweet breads, too, and one of my favorite breads is Babka, which is featured in a previous book. I love the chocolate, the crumbly topping, and the way it is like a jelly roll, rolled up with the chocolate in between. So yummy!

Kathy: What's your favorite bread to eat?

WA: I make what is called sausage bread a lot. It is a family tradition that I usually serve with Potato Cheese Soup. I make a French bread dough, roll it out, then spread cooked crumbled breakfast sausage over it. I roll it up like a jelly roll, let it go through another rise before brushing with an egg wash and baking. If I had to choose a favorite bread, this would be it.

Kathy: In DOUGH OR DIE a cable TV show has decided to feature the bakery as a culinary delight. Do you enjoy watching such shows? Do you have a favorite?

WA: I do love to watch cooking shows! The Great British Baking Show is a favorite. I also love the Spring and Holiday baking challenge shows.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

WA: My early reading included Nancy Drew. I graduated to Agatha Christie books in high school. When I first decided to write, I gravitated to mysteries because it’s my favorite genre to read. That first series is the Lola Cruz mysteries, a Latina PI caper series. From there, when I wanted to start a new series, my first thought was to create a cozy mystery series. I love creating quirky and relatable characters. I love exploring female relationships such as mothers and daughters, best friends, and grandmothers and aunts. These interests of mine fit well with the cozy mystery genre. I also am a small town girl, so creating fictitious small towns really appeals to me. My first cozy series was the Magical Dressmaking mystery series, next the Bread Shop mysteries, and next month the brand new Book Magic mystery series begins with Murder in Devil’s Cove.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

WA: I have written two romantic suspense mysteries, as well as a light paranormal romance. I love all three of these books! The romantic suspense mysteries center around two Mexican legends (la Llorona and chupacabra). SILENT OBESEEION, SILENT ECHOES, and STORIEBOOK CHARM are the titles.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

WA: I’m happy to! I’ll start with the Lola Cruz mysteries. Lola is a novice PI in Sacramento, has a strong connection to her family, and is rekindling a romance with her high school crush, Jack Callaghan. It’s a fun caper series with some romantic elements.

The Magical Dressmaking mysteries feature Harlow Cassidy. She is a descendant of Butch Cassidy (based on my alternate reality). She inherits her grandmother’s house in Bliss, Texas (Loretta Mae hangs around as a ghost and helps Harlow once in a while). Harlow opens a dressmaking shop where she makes people their perfect clothes, and of course, murder happens!

The Bread Shop mysteries, of which Dough or Die is the 5th book, stars Ivy Culpepper. She meets Olaya Solis, owner of Yeast of Eden, and falls in love with baking bread. Penelope Branford, her octogenarian neighbor is her sidekick in crime solving and Miguel Baptista is Ivy’s high school boyfriend and they’re rekindling their relationship. There’s bread in every book…and murder!

Finally, I have MURDER IN DEVIL'S COVE, the first Book Magic mystery, coming out on September 22nd. I love this new series, which features Pippin Lane Hawthorne—a bibliomancer. It takes place on the fictional island of Devil’s Cove in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Like my other series, murder happens!

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

WA: I don’t think I can pick a favorite of my heroines. They each embody elements of myself, and they each represent qualities I value and admire and aspire to. I love them all!

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

WA: I love baking and bread, so creating the Bread Shop mysteries was completely natural. My continued inspiration comes from wanting to explore more bread recipes, and I also want to continue to see Ivy’s relationships develop. That inspires me.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

WA: When I first started writing, I felt like I had a story to tell and I wanted to share that story. Every time I get an email from a reader, or a wonderful review, I feel amazed because the stories I love to tell have resonated with another person in the world. That is the best feeling.

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

WA: Oh my gosh, what a difficult question! I think I’d start with Agatha Christie. I’d probably want to chat with JK Rowling. I do love Harry Potter! I have loved Liane Moriarty books in the last few years, so I think it would be fun to have her at a dinner party. And I would wrap up the party by inviting Jane Austen. Female power!

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

WA: I’m just finished CIRCE, by Madeline Miller, and I’m getting ready to read BEACHES, BUNGALOWS, AND BURGLARIES by Tonya Kappes (this book is the book club selection for my Facebook book club, The Book Warriors—

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

WA: I love to bake and cook, I recently completed my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training and am teaching yoga once a week, socially distanced, I do art—not very well, but I try and enjoy it, and I walk and am hiking more and more.

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

WA: 1. Soy sauce

2. Chocolate chips

3. Frozen blueberries (picked from our local blueberry farm)

4. Cheese—not always the same type, but there is always cheese!

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

WA: Oh yes! MURDER GONE A-RYE comes out early in 2021. I’m currently writing book 7, which is a holiday book. I’m so excited about it! We haven’t firmed up the title yet, but it’ll be out in October of 2021.

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

WA: There are so many great things about being an author! I love being able to be with my dogs all day (I have a pug, Bean, and a chug, Dobby). I get to spend my days with the fictional friends I’ve created and live in their worlds. And I get to break up my days by baking and making other recipes that I feature in my books. Writing is my passion, so I’m very fortunate to be able to do what I love. 



DOUGH OR DIE by Winnie Archer
The Fifth Bread Shop Mystery
Reality TV hits Santa Sofia when Yeast of Eden is chosen to be the first bakery showcased in the new series, America's Best Bakeries. Ivy Culpepper is thrilled that her mentor, Olaya Solis, will get recognition, not only for her special artisan breads, but her community involvement and her Bread for Life program. Although Ivy notices the diva behavior of one of the hosts creating some tension, everything seems to be running smoothly. Things come to a screeching halt, however, when the cameraman, on break outside the bakery is involved in a hit and run. Did he have an enemy or is someone out to destroy the show before it even begins?

In the fifth Bread Shop mystery there is an attempted murder, a stalking, and an actual murder. But are they related? They must be, but how? Before Ivy even thinks to look into the cameraman's "accident" she is pursued by an unknown SUV. Could she have seen something she didn't realize? I liked how Ivy slowly began looking into the accident, trying to make connections where there seem to be none. I also appreciate the subtle manner in which clues are discovered. 

DOUGH OR DIE brings a love of baking and community involvement to the forefront. Societal issues such as domestic violence are brought to light in an open and honest manner and cultural diversity is embraced.

It may be a murder mystery, but DOUGH OR DIE is a feel good novel that intelligently looks at today's society. It's also a complex mystery that I thoroughly enjoyed, even though it left me craving a loaf of Olaya's rosemary bread.

Dough or Die (A Bread Shop Mystery) by Winnie Archer

About Dough or Die

Dough or Die (A Bread Shop Mystery)  

Cozy Mystery 5th in Series  

Publisher: Kensington (August 25, 2020) 

Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages

Known for its mouthwatering traditional breads, the Yeast of Eden bakery has gained fame across Northern California’s coast. Now the shop is bound for Reality TV—but a murder may kill its reputation . . .

People come to the beach town of Santa Sofia as much for the healing properties of Yeast of Eden’s breads as for a vacation getaway. And now a cable food channel has selected the bakery as a featured culinary delight for a new show. Baking apprentice Ivy Culpepper is excited as the crew arrives, ready to capture all the ins and outs of the renowned bread shop. But instead they capture something much harder to stomach: the attempted murdered of the show’s cameraman just outside Yeast of Eden . . .

With no motive and no clues, and the town craving answers, it will be up to Ivy to sift through the evidence to find the truth. But she’ll have to move quickly before someone else is targeted or the wrong person gets the heat—and the business collapses like a deflated soufflé, right before her eyes.


About Winnie Archer

Winnie Archer
is a middle school teacher by day and by night she's the author of the Bread Shop Mystery series. Born in a beach town in California, she now lives in Colorado. She fantasizes about spending summers writing in quaint, cozy locales, has a love/hate relationship with both yoga and chocolate, adores pumpkin spice lattes, is devoted to her five kids and husband, and can't believe she's lucky enough to be living the life of her dreams. Visit her online at Website .

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