Sunday, December 30, 2012

Long Running Series

I'm always a little sad whenever I finish a book I really like. Sad that the adventure is over and I have to say goodbye to new friends. The wonderful thing about cozy mysteries is that they're usually series-so when you finish one, you know you'll meet up with everyone again for the next adventure.

Unfortunately, some series are short lived. In some cases, this result is not desired by the author either. The book doesn't sell well and the publisher won't publish further stories in the series. Happily, the advent of e-books and self publishing has allowed some authors to continue their series even when the publisher says no. Sometimes the series ends because, tragically, the author died. Barbara Burnett Smith wrote the Purple Sage Mysteries and had just started a new beading series, Bead on Trouble when she died. A second book in that series, Beads of Doubt, was published, finished by another author. 

Some series have a set ending by the author. Carole Nelson Douglas intends to go through the entire alphabet with her Midnight Louis series. After the first two books, Catnap and Pussyfoot, the titles follow the alphabet-Cat on a Blue Monday. She's currently on W with the 2012 release of Cat in a White Tie and Tales. Kate Kingsbury also had an ending with her Pennyfoot Hotel series; although that's not quite true in that four years after the series ended she began bringing those characters back in Christmas mysteries.

Long running series are great in that you truly get to know the characters. Seeing how the characters change and grow can be amazing and wonderful. At the start of the series by Elizabeth Peters we meet Amelia Peabody, a single lady in Victorian England who is finally free to travel. By the most recent book in the series Amelia is married with grandchildren! We've also seen the political and archeological changes in Egypt. Crocodile on the Sandbank was published in 1975 with A River in the Sky released in 2010. There are currently 19 books in this series.

So what makes a series long running? Although time does count for something (the Amelia Peabody series continued for 35 years and although the author is 85 years old, she's still with us-so there may yet be another book in the series!) to me it's the number of books in the series that makes it long running. For me, a series must have at least 10 published books in order to be considered a long running series.

There are problems with long running series. Unfortunately, I've found a few clunkers in some of my favorite series. I suppose when you write that many books, some are bound to be not as great. When it first started, I adored the Mrs. Murphy series by Rita Mae Brown; every book was great. Then there was a horrible clunker. I didn't give up on it, and Rita Mae Brown got back on track with some wonderful books which I recommend. There are currently 20 books in the series which began with Wish You Were Here in 1990 with the 21st scheduled to be published in June 2013. What's interesting is that the clunker sits half way through the series.

So what are some other long running series? Cleo Coyle currently has 12 books in her Coffeehouse Mysteries. Laura Childs has two long running series. The Tea Shop Mysteries started with Death by Darjeeling in 2001 and the 14th in the series will be released in March 2013. Her Scrapbooking Series just makes the cut with her 10th book in the series, Postcards from the Dead published in 2012. There are 17 books in Joanne Fluke's Hannah Swenson series with the 18th to be published in February 2013. Two of these are actually novellas, found in holiday collections with stories with other authors, but still, more than enough to make a long running series. There are 16 books in Diane Mott Davidson's Goldy Bear series. Kate Collins started her Flower Shop Mysteries with a 2004 publication. There are now 13 books. There are 17 books in the Aunt Dimity series by Nancy Atherton starting with Aunt Dimity's Death back in 1992 with the 18th due in April 2013.

As you can see, there are plenty of long running series out there-and many series which I hope will become long running. Do you have a favorite long running series? Which current series do you hope become long running ones?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Currently Reading...

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. I'm currently reading Fox Tracks. This book is the 8th Sister Jane Mystery by Rita Mae Brown. No, I didn't neglect to mention this series in my post-"Have a Little Faith". Sister Jane isn't a nun. This series falls into the animal cozy subgenre. It's about fox hunting-don't worry, they don't kill the fox in the US! Animals speak too!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Have a Little Faith

With Christmas just a few days away, I thought I'd take a look at the Religious subgenre of cozy mysteries. Some cozies have characters of faith, but I don't consider them Religious Cozies. The Reverend Herb Jones is a supporting character (as are his cats Elocution, Cazenovia, and Lucy Fur) in the Mrs. Murphy series by Rita Mae Brown. For me, a Religious Cozy may not necessarily revolve around religion, but the protagonist is a member of faith.

Nuns seem to get involved in murder a lot! Two of my favorite series have nuns in the leading role. Sr. Mary Helen is an elderly, but very spry, nun who always carries around a mystery novel to read. What gives the Sr. Mary Helen Mysteries such verisimilitude, at least as it relates to the life of a religious, is that the author, Carol Anne O'Marie was herself, a nun. Both she and Sr. Helen belonged to the Sisters of St. Joseph, a Roman Catholic order. The series starts with A Novena for Murder and ended with the 11th book, Murder at the Monk's Table.

While the Sisters of St. Joseph work closely with people, some nuns are still cloistered, even nuns who face mysteries. Our Lady of Hope Monastery is a cloistered convent in New Mexico in the series by Aimee and David Thurlo. Sister Agatha serves as an extern sister, one who deals with the outside world. A former investigative reporter, Sister Agatha rides a motorcycle and has the help of a former police dog named Pax, who now lives at the convent.

If you want to go back in time, be sure to read the Sister Frevisse mysteries by Margaret Frazier. These books give a great look at the Medieval times, from a nun's perspective. They also give a jolly good mystery! The first in this series is The Novice's Tale.

Another of my favorite series sheds light on a whole religion, the United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing, also known as the Shakers. Deborah Woodworth takes us back to the 1930's and introduces us to Sister Rose Callahan in her series.

Nuns aren't the only clergy to be featured in mysteries, priests get involved as well. G.K. Chesterton wrote the Father Brown Mysteries in the first half of the twentieth century. Ralph M. McInerny wrote the Father Dowling Mysteries; remember the TV series with Tom Bosley? Ralph McInerny starred a nun in another series. He wrote the Sr. Mary Teresa Mysteries under the name Monica Quill. Who can forget Brother Cadfael, the 12th century monk and herbalist in the series by Ellis Peters?

It's not just those of Christian faiths who find murder. Ruby Rothman is a rabbi's widow in Eternal, Texas in the humorous Ruby the Rabbi's Wife Mysteries by Sharon Kahn. Harry Kemelman gave us the Rabbi Mystery series, following Rabbi David Small.

If you want to add a little religion to your reading, give one of these series a try!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading The Big Cat Nap by Rita Mae Brown and Sneakie Pie Brown. This book is the 20th anniversary Mrs. Murphy Mystery. Mrs. Murphy is a tiger cat who lives with animal friends Tee Tucker, a corgi, and Pewter, a cat, and her human-Harry (Mary Minor Haristeen). Harry is more curious than any cat and invariably finds trouble-from which her animal friends help her escape!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Who Has Time to Write?

Picture it: the author sitting alone in a garret writing. Brief dealings with editor and publisher are the only contact the author has with the outside world. The goal is to write and that's all the author does.

That description no longer exists for authors in today's publishing world. Not only must the author write the book, she must promote it. While this trend has been going on for decades (probably longer in some cases), social media has caused it to explode.

It's more than the occasional book tour and the odd newspaper review. Most authors today not only have their own websites, they have Facebook pages and blogs. You can follow them on Twitter and Pinterest. What about those authors who use different pen names? They often have all of these accounts for each of their names!

Some people may think that such promotion is only necessary for authors that self publish or perhaps work with small publishing companies. Not true. Authors published by the Big Boys of the publishing world promote themselves just as much. It doesn't matter if the book is the author's first or she's already a New York Times Bestseller.

With all the blogging, tweeting, and posting all over I don't know how authors find the time to actually write the books. I'm just grateful that they do!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Time Untime by Sherrilyn Kenyon. I don't always read mysteries. For a change of pace I started this paranormal romance. It's a Dark-Hunter novel, a unique world created by the author which I love to visit.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Diva Stops By For a Visit

Do you stay up late pinning recipes and decorating tips on Pinterest? Are you addicted to HGTV? Have you stockpiled articles on homemaking techniques? Do you consider yourself a domestic diva?

If you answered yes to any of the above mentioned questions then do I have the perfect cozy mystery series for you-The Domestic Diva Mysteries by Krista Davis. The Diva Runs Out of Thyme introduces us to Sophie Winston, an event planner who lives in Old Town, Alexandria, Virginia. Recipes and decorating tips are included in each book. Krista stopped by the blog for an interview.

Kathy: What first drew you to the cozy mystery?

Nancy Drew! Agatha Christie! I've been reading cozies as long as I can remember.

Kathy:  Do you write any other genres?

KD: Not at the moment. I like traditional mysteries and thrillers, but I don't see myself writing anything without a mystery in it.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

KD: Starting in 2013, I will have two series!

The Domestic Diva Mysteries take place in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia and feature a domestic diva with an advice column.

The new series is set at the Sugar Maple Inn on fictional Wagtail Mountain where a Jack Russell Terrier named Trixie has a nose for trouble.

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

KD: Gosh, which of my children do I like best? I like them all, even Natasha. Some of them grew on me. I never intended Humphrey to go past the first book. But he kept stumbling in, even when I hadn't planned on it. And I have to say that I love Francie. She's funny, sharp, can be biting, and sometimes she's a nut.

In my new series, one character is already stepping forward to be a much bigger player than I expected. Sometimes characters seem to take on a life of their own!

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

KD: I had submitted a different concept to my publisher and my editor asked if it would appeal to readers of Real Simple. I'd never heard of Real Simple so I dashed off to the drugstore to have a look.  It dawned on me that it's sort of the anti-Martha magazine for people who want to have good food and lovely homes without quite as much fuss. Right there, in the drugstore aisle, the concept of two rival domestic divas with very different styles sprang into my head.

Kathy: Sophie and Natasha have had a rivalry since they were young. Did you have a similar rivalry growing up?

KD: No. I don't know if it's good or bad, but I'm not very competitive. I have been friends with people who had some of Natasha's traits. She doesn't think she's being mean. Natasha honestly thinks she's being helpful, and is completely stunned that others wouldn't perceive her comments that way. Of course, when the tables are turned, she's the first to be offended.

Kathy: Sophie always manages to whip up delicious meals for family and friends who pop by. Are you able to do the same?

KD: It's easier for Sophie. I'm not quite as capable as she is, but I do enjoy entertaining, and I love to have friends visit. I'm always trying out recipes on my friends and family for my books and Mystery Lovers' Kitchen. In the beginning, I think they were a little bit afraid to tell me if they didn't care for something, but now they're like restaurant critics!

Kathy: How do you come up with the recipes you share in your books?

KD: Some of them are based on family recipes. Others are recipes that I work on until I get them the way I want them. I thought my poor mother would never eat Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie again. I baked so many of them that we actually got to the point where we would split a teeny little piece to try, and then I'd give the rest of the pie to neighbors.

Kathy: When it comes to decorating your own home do you go all out, or do you keep your decorating fictional and not do much of anything in reality?

KD: I go all out for Christmas. Yes, I'm a Christmas nut. I decorate for Halloween and a little bit for Easter, and I switch out certain wreaths and items on the mantel with the seasons.

Kathy: Is your decorating style more like Sophie or Natasha?

KD: Definitely Sophie! Natasha goes wild.

Kathy: I must ask, is Natasha channeling Martha Stewart?

KD: I don't think she's channeling Martha. Natasha idolizes Martha and thinks she's the Martha of the South. But in her enthusiasm, Natasha often bungles things. Shh, don't tell her I said that. She thinks she's always right.

Kathy:  Do you believe in ghosts?

KD: This is a tough question. For a very long time, I did not believe in them at all. Then I had a couple of strange experiences that were difficult to explain. When I look at the night sky and try to imagine that there is no end to space, a concept that I find very difficult, then I think there must be many, many things we don't understand or know about. By nature I'm a "show me" kind of person but I'm not sure that everything can be seen or quantified so I'm open to the idea.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

KD:It wasn't so much a decision as a quest. Just a few years ago, the only option for writers was to find a publisher. Berkley Prime Crime has been very good to me, and I'm delighted to be one of their authors.

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

KD: This is such a difficult question. I have to say that I would invite all my wonderful writer friends. It would be a huge gathering, though. So I'll answer the question assuming that I can't invite them.

Agatha Christie would top the guest list. Dinner will be on a boat moored on the Nile, probably at Luxor. Cocktails, of course. Giant shrimp as an appetizer. Beef Wellington, asparagus, creamy mashed potatoes, and an exotic salad with mangos in it. Dessert would have to be champagne and triple chocolate mousse torte.

Oh, yes, the other guests. Mark Twain, because he's hilarious and fun. Dr. Seuss because he must be delightful. Lillian Jackson Braun because I loved Qwill, Koko, and Yum Yum.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

KD: SPICE 'N DEADLY by Gail Oust. It's not out yet, but it's a fun book with wonderfully warm witty characters. It takes place in the south. Piper, the protagonist, opens a spice shop to get back on her feet after a divorce, but a murder gets in the way of her plans.

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

KD: I'm a huge lover of dogs and cats. While I haven't traveled much recently, I love to explore new places and visit other countries.

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

KD: Julie's 100 calorie Fudgesicles (I'm addicted), red pepper and tomato soup, 0% milk, and the most gorgeous huge eggs from a local farm.

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

KD: Oh my, yes! I'm very busy. THE DIVA FROSTS A CUPCAKE will be out on June 4th. I'm just starting work on the next book in that series, and I'm under contract for another as well, so the domestic divas will continue for a while.

We don't have a series name yet for the new mysteries. I'm calling them the Wagtail Mysteries, but that will probably be changed. The working title of the first book is THE TROUBLE WITH DOGS. It will be in bookstores this time next year, with a release date of December 3rd.

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

KD: My favorite thing is having a job that I love. I get up in the morning, ready to roll, eager to jump back into my current manuscript. I still can't believe that I'm so lucky.

I'm so thankful that Krista was able to take time to answer my questions, especially during this busy holiday season. Perhaps my readers can now help her. Krista is having a Christmas cookie recipe contest. The winners will have their names and recipes published in the 2014 Domestic Diva Mystery! Preference will be given to family recipes that have been handed down. An impartial group of her family and friends will tasting and choosing the winners.

Please send your recipes to Krista at KristaDavis dot com. If there's a story behind the recipe, she would love to hear it. If the recipe is from a cookbook, please tell her the title and author. If the recipe is from a website, please include a link.
Want more Krista Davis? You can find her on the following websites:

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Currently Reading...

I am just about to start Flowerbed of State by Dorothy St. James. This book is the first White House Gardener Mystery.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Holiday Mysteries...And Contest Winner

Believe it or not December is here and with it the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. What better way to help get in the spirit than to read a holiday mystery!

Many years ago my cousin in California introduced me to the Pennyfoot Hotel Mysteries by Kate Kingsbury. This fabulous series takes place in Edwardian England. Cecily Sinclair is a widow who runs the Pennyfoot Hotel with the help of her hotel manager, Baxter. What drew me in, even more than the mysteries themselves, was the relationship between Cecily and Baxter. There is an undeniable attraction, yet class barriers, among other things stand in their way. I loved how the series progressed and was sad to see it end. Then a Christmas miracle occurred. Cecily, Baxter, and the Pennyfoot crew return each year at Christmastime. Unfortunately for them, fortunately for us, murders keep interrupting their holiday festivities. While the first 12 books in the original series are tighter and more compelling, the following holiday mysteries are an enjoyable Christmas treat! Room with a Clue (1993) is the first in the series, No Clue at the Inn (2003) starts the yearly Christmas mysteries with The Clue is in the Pudding as the most recent, published just last month!

What's Christmas without cookies? Hannah Swensen bakes up cookies for her shop, The Cookie Jar in Lake Eden, Minnesota in the series penned by Joanne Fluke. A few of these take place at Christmastime, including Plum Pudding Murder and the novellas included in Gingerbread Cookie Murder and Candy Cane Murder. The books also include recipes!

You might like a cup of coffee with that Christmas cookie. If so you might like to read Holiday Grind by Cleo Coyle or her upcoming Coffeehouse Mystery, Holiday Buzz, which will be released Tuesday. Of course, one lucky reader of this blog has won an autographed copy of that very book.

I used to determine the winner, and the winner is Kimberlee, with comment #1. Congratulations. Thanks to everyone who entered.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Currently Reading...

A few weeks ago I went to the library across town. I don't go their often, as it's not only all the way across town, there's no easy way to get there. It's a small library, but they have a fantastic mystery section. So every once in a while I head out and stock up-getting more books than I can possibly read, and renew, renew, renew. That being said, I'm reading my way through those books, before I start the ones in my own library.

I'm currently reading Bitter Harvest by Sheila Connolly. This book is the 5th in the Orchard Mystery series. Meg Connolly lives in Granford, Massachusetts, attempting to make a go of an old apple orchard. The apples have been harvested and a winter storm is approaching as the novel opens.

Don't forget to read my previous blog post, The Coffeehouse Mystery Series, and leave a comment on that post. One reader will be randomly chosen to win an autographed copy of Holiday Buzz by Cleo Coyle. Comment by midnight (Eastern Standard Time) December 2 (that's Saturday night/Sunday morning) 2012 to be eligible.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Coffeehouse Mystery Series

Coffee has its own culture. The inviting coffeehouse with comfy seating, mood music, and knowledgeable baristas welcomes you in. You hear about needing that morning cup of coffee, we know all about coffee breaks, and who hasn't heard of Starbucks?! It is all around us. Coffee is a part of life for millions, probably billions, of people worldwide.

I admit it, I don't like coffee. However, that doesn't stop me from loving the Coffeehouse Mystery series by Cleo Coyle.

Clair Cosi had a job she loved and was happy with her husband and daughter. Drugs and a question of fidelity caused Clair to leave her husband and career in New York City to raise her daughter in New Jersey. Years go by and our series opens. Clair's indomitable ex-mother-in-law has hired her to run her historic coffeehouse, The Village Blend, in Greenwich Village in New York City. Since this is a mystery series, a murder soon occurs and Clair begins to investigate. On What Grounds is the book that introduces us to Clair Cosi and begins the series.

Throughout the series we learn that Madame, Clair's ex-mother-in-law and owner of the Village Blend, would like nothing better than for Clair and Matteo (her son) to get back together and has a few schemes to help them out. Thanks to the murders (it is a series, after all) Clair gets to know NYPD detective Mike Quinn...and their meetings become not entirely professional. Clair and Matteo's daughter has also grown up and is facing life decisions of her own. Through it all, coffee plays a major role; in the background, in the setting, and at times, in the mystery itself.

In addition to coffee tips, author Cleo Coyle (who is actually the husband-wife team of  Marc Cerasini and Alice Alfonsi) also shares wonderful recipes in each book. After all, what's a cup of coffee without a delightful pastry to go with it!

If you're looking for a character driven series with atmosphere, you've found the right place. The Coffeehouse Mystery series welcomes you to the Village Blend, tempting you with special coffee and desserts. As you read, you find yourselves becoming friends with the characters. You want to know more about these people and as you progress through the series you learn more and become more involved. The Village Blend welcomes you and I welcome you to give this series a try.

There are currently 11 entries in the Coffeehouse series with the 12th being released this Tuesday, December 4, 2012. In honor of this latest release Cleo Coyle has graciously donated an autographed copy of Holiday Buzz (Coffeehouse Mystery #12) to a reader of Cozy Up With Kathy. Would you like to win this book? All you have to do is leave a comment on this post. You have until midnight, December 2, 2012 (that's Saturday night/Sunday morning). At that time, I'll randomly choose one winner and announce it for that day's blog.

In the meantime, grab a cup of coffee and a Coffeehouse mystery and enjoy!

To learn more about Cleo Coyle check out her website:
You can also find her at on Tuesdays.
Twitter: @CleoCoyle (

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Currently Reading...

I'm just about to start Naughty in Nice by Rhys Bowen. We travel back in time to the early 1930's in this, the 5th installment in the Royal Spyness mysteries.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Green Thumb

I have garden designs in my head. I love pouring through seed catalogs, gardening magazines, and Pinterest, looking at all the lovely plants and imagining them in my yard. While I enjoy reading and dreaming about my garden, I don't actually do much with it. Sadly, I tend to neglect my houseplants and most die of thirst. As for the yard, I tend to let things fend for themselves. Perhaps that's why I enjoy the gardening cozy mystery. I get to think about the garden while others do all the work!

Gardening cozies feature, of course, gardeners. Most are professionals working as landscape designers, florists, or people having other, similar careers. Many of these books also include gardening tips.

Looking for an educated look at plants? Want a unique gardening shop in which to putter around? Check out The Peggy Lee Garden mysteries by Joyce and Jim Lavene. Peggy Lee is a botanist who owns a garden shop in Charlotte, North Carolina.

I love the scent that engulfs you when you enter a florist shop. If you can't make it to your local florist, why not try a fictional one? Kate Collins pens the Flower Shop mysteries. Set in New Chapel, Indiana the series features Abby Knight, owner of Bloomers Florists. Bretta Solomon also owns a flower shop, the Flower Shop, in River City, Missouri in the series by Janis Harrison.

Nina Quinn is a landscape designer with a difference-she does surprise garden makeovers in the Nina Quinn mystery series by Heather Webber.

In Virginia, near Washington DC we find Louise Eldridge, an organic gardener who becomes the host of a PBS gardening show on TV in the series by Ann Ripley. While Louise is close to Washington DC and politics (her husband is a CIA agent) Casey Calhoun is even closer. She's a gardener for the White House in The White House Gardener mysteries by Dorothy St. James.

Garden Clubs are great ways for gardeners to get together. They're also a way to find murderers. Alisa Craig gives us the Grub-and-Stakers series which takes place in Lobelia Falls, Ontario, Canada while Susan Wittig Albert takes us back to the 1930's in Darling, Alabama with the Darling Dahlias.

As outdoor gardening is coming to a close for the season, at least in my part of the world, now is the perfect time to pick up a gardening mystery. I hope you'll give one a try!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Currently Reading...

I'm coming to the conclusion of Death on a Platter by Elaine Viets. This book is the 7th entry in the Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper series. Josie is a single mom with a who lives in the lower flat of her mom's house in Maplewood, St. Louis. Josie works as a mystery shopper, rating different types of businesses. In this book Josie has to rate restaurants serving traditional St. Louis fare for a food tour. In addition to enjoying the book, I also learned some facts about St. Louis food. Shopping tips are also included.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Years ago I didn't follow too many mystery series. I'd read the latest and then anguish for a year until the next installment was published. That was then. This is now. I follow too many series with great new ones I'd like to try continually popping up.

One of the problems I face is time. There's simply not enough time to read everything I want before new books are published. It also seems that some series are published more than once a year. That's great when you really want to know what happens next. Not so great when you discover you can't possibly keep up!

More and more cozy mysteries also seem to be published. There's something for everyone. If you have as many interests as I do, this spells trouble.

Knowing how important it is for the first book in the series to do well, I've recently bought many "First in the Brand New Series" books...but if I keep buying them, what happens when the second and third books come out of the series I bought first? Honestly, some get forgotten. Then I see the title mentioned and I realize I'm a book or two behind. Especially when I don't start the series as soon as it's published.

There's also the "missing book" issue. Since I can't afford to buy all the books I read, I rely on the library. However, they oftentimes don't have all the books in the series-so I get stuck, since I read them in order. That's what happened to me with a few series I really like.

There are sooooo many series I follow I sometimes get them confused. I was reading one book when one of the secondary characters did something out character. Then I realized that I was thinking of a character with the same name...but in a different series!

I recently went to the library to try to play catch up with a few series. While I got some books I needed...I also picked up a few "first in the new series"...some which also had the second book as well. I guess I'll never learn...or catch up.

With so many new books being written, almost all of which are great reads, I sometimes wonder if it's too much of a good thing. But I'll happily keep reading.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Beef Stolen-Off, the second installment of the Clueless Cook mysteries by Liz Lipperman. Jordan seems to be a bit more food knowledgeable this least so far. She knows what Kobe beef is (whereas she didn't have a clue about fois gras last time!) Recipes are included.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Make 'Em Laugh

Beef Stolen-Off, Last Wool and Testament, Threaded for Trouble, with so many punny titles, it's natural that you can find humor in a lot of cozy mysteries. It makes sense since cozies are a "kindler, gentler, mystery". Not to say to don't find humor in darker genres as well. Some authors lighten things up so that you're less prepared when the big nasty arrives. There's also black comedy, Sweeney Todd and Harold and Maude are great musical and cinematic examples.

Humor makes life fun and interesting and I love when mysteries are able to make me laugh as well. While humor can be found everywhere, there are some cozies that just flaunt it. Don't underestimate these books.  While fun is front and center, characterization and plot are not forgotten. The mystery is still there. While some may be categorized in different subgenres as well, these laugh out loud books all belong to another one of my subgenres-the humor cozy.

One of the funniest books I've read is Alpine for You, the first Passport to Peril mystery by Maddy Hunter and she continues to make me laugh in each new installment. Emily Andrew, her grandmother, and a group of senior citizens from Iowa travel the world in this delightful series.

It should come as no surprise that Laura Levine writes a very funny series. After all, she was a writer for The Bob Newhart Show, Laverne and Shirley and other sitcoms. The Jaine Austen series takes us to Los Angeles where we meet freelance writer Jaine Austen and her cat Prozac.

Jeffrey Cohen brings mysteries and movies together in his Double Feature series. Elliot Freed owns the Comedy Tonight movie cinema-you guessed it-all comedy movies.

Bubbles Yablonsky is a hair dresser striving to be a journalist in Lehigh, Pennsylvania in the Bubbles Books by Sarah Stohmeyer. I still giggle about her attending Two Guys Community College. (Anyone of a certain age from this part of the country will know why.)

If you're looking for laughs along with murder be sure to check out these series.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading The Darling Dahlias and the Confederate Rose by Susan Wittig Albert. This book is the third in her Darling Dahlias Mysteries. The mysteries take place in the small town of Darling, Alabama and revolve around a group of ladies who belong to a gardening club, The Darling Dahlias. In addition to being a gardening mystery, it is also a historical mystery taking place in the 1930's.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Which Witch?

Growing up I loved watching the TV show Bewitched. To this day I wish I could be like Samantha. Oh to be able to wiggle my nose and have all of the house cleaning done. The world of witchcraft is varied and infinitely interesting. Sol Saks' vision of witches is just one. Cozy authors give us differing views of witches and witchcraft as well. Our protagonists generally have to work at their craft. Wiggling noses to accomplish housekeeping is as much a dream for them as it is for me!

One of my absolute favorite mystery series is a paranormal cozy featuring a witch. Juliet Blackwell has created Lily Ivory, the protagonist, and witch, in the Witchcraft Series. Lily owns a vintage clothing store in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. Lily is a witch who has never been comfortable with her powers. Throughout the series she learns and grows...and solves murders. As a side note-I love the TV show Grimm and was so excited about the Halloween episode which aired yesterday about La Llorona. It was through the Witchcraft series that I first learned of this legend. Lily has to face La Llorona in Secondhand Spirits, the first novel in the Witchcraft series.

Lily Ivory isn't the only cozy witch who has been uncomfortable with her powers. Ophelia Jenson is a psychic in Summerset Iowa whose grandmother, Abby, is a witch in the Ophelia and Abby Mystery Series by Shirley Damsgaad. While Abby is happy and content with her gifts, her granddaughter would be perfectly content without least as the series begins.

The Bewitching Mysteries by Madelyn Alt show another view of witchcraft, this time in Stony Mill, Indiana. In the first book in the series, The Trouble with Magic, we meet Maggie O'Neill as she discovers a great new job. While Maggie's new boss is a witch, Maggie doesn't really believe in witches...or the fact that she herself is one.

Heather Blake creates a new and different version of witchcraft in her series: The Wishcraft series. Darcy Merriweather and her sister, Harper, discover that they are wishcrafters-witches who are able to grant wishes. They arrive in the Enchanted Village, near Salem, Massachusetts to help their aunt and learn their craft.

Katie Lightfoot also moves to help her aunt... and uncle in their bakeshop in Savannah. What she doesn't realize is that her aunt is a witch...and she is too. Bailey Cates combines the paranormal and culinary genres is this great new series-the Magical Bakery Series. he also includes recipes.

Ella Mae LaFaye also bakes...and is also a witch in Havenwood, Georgia. The Charmed Pie Shoppe mysteries by Ellery Adams serve up a delightful combination of magic and food...pies to be exact. Recipes are included as well!

Whether our witches are just learning about their powers or are honing their skills, whether they're working with clothing, food, antiques, or books, they'll gladly welcome you to their world. I hope you'll visit them soon.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading The Undead in my Bed, a vampire romance anthology. I finished reading the first story-Shades of Gray by Katie MacAlister. I've read and really enjoyed many of her romance novels; there's lots of fun and humor to be found. Although I liked this story, I didn't love it. I think if it were a full length novel instead of a short story it would have worked better-more fully fleshing out the characters. Right now I'm reading the second story-Undead Sublet by Molly Harper and am absolutely adoring it! An overworked Chicago chef takes some time to recuperate in small town Kentucky. Her rental house comes with an unexpected roommate. This story had me at the first sentence, "In retrospect, I should have known something was wrong when the arugula started telling knock-knock jokes". The third, as yet unread, entry is Out with a Fang by Jessica Sims which involves a paranormal match-maker!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Meet Zombie Ed

It's that spooky sort of time, a time of ghosts, witches, and zombies! As a special Halloween treat I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Edward Kent, author of the Zombie Ed series. In addition to his children's books, Zombie Ed has crossed over to a young adult series with the Ed Undead series.

Kathy: You have a background in education. Is that what led you to write children's books and young adult fiction?

EK: In part, but I also have three kids, 6-8, and have plenty of experience reading children's books, and I decided to try my hand at it, writing and illustrating, because I felt that I could write one just as good, if not better.

Kathy: Why zombies?

EK: There's not a lot of children's books out there with zombies, at least not friendly zombies that go to school and won't eat you!

Kathy: Do you think you'll age Ed at some point and write him for an adult audience?

EK: Possibly. If he makes it that far! Lol. I have had a lot of adults tell me they enjoyed reading the book, even though it's aimed at the YA crowd. You never know.

Kathy: Bullying is a horrible part of life for many people (of all ages). How did you come to write Stop Bullying Me! I'm a Zombie. So What?

EK: After the young boy committed suicide in Williamsville, NY, I felt that I could do something in my books to address it and maybe help, especially on the younger level, to maybe reach out to those kids that might be starting to feel that pressure early on so they could learn and maybe be entertained at the same time. Maybe even reach the bully- wannabes that might learn what that behavior can do.

Kathy: Tell us about your Ed Undead series.

EK: This is a YA Paranormal Dystopian Romance series, where the main character, Ed, is slowly becoming a zombie due to a mysterious cause that he and his girlfriend are fighting to escape and get help. I would like to see it run three parts, with Ed slowly turning and then the choices and story will change dramatically.

Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
EK: Ed, of course, because he was the "nice guy" in school, and always wanting to do the right thing, and now he has to deal with this affliction and is set in circumstances he didn't ask for, all the while trying to keep his girlfriend from having to kill him.

Kathy: Did you have specific inspiration for your series?
EK: Not really, just my love of zombies, along with the setting, which is based on my hometown and things I was around growing up. 

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
EK: When I was downsized in 2010, I decided to take that time to try and write and publish. The Zombie Ed children's books came first, and the plan would be to get them out there with a traditional publisher, but we'll see. 

Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
EK: Stephen King, John Grisham, Dan Brown, and JRR Tolkien.

Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
EK: Milk, bread, eggs, and Pop Tarts.

Kathy: Would you care to share any hobbies your have?
EK: I enjoy drawing, movies and listening to my iPod.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?
EK: I just finished Jaws by Peter Benchley, for like the 25th time since I bought the book in '77

Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
EK: I am currently working on the second installment in the "Ed Undead" series.

Kathy: What’s your favorite thing about being an author?
EK: Just being able to write and control the stories and characters. To have things in my mind, play out on paper. And then to see it and have others read it is a kick.

Do you want to meet Ed Kent? If you're in Western New York, Ed will be part of a Halloween Party at Monkey See, Monkey Do Children's Bookstore in Clarence, NY this Wednesday, October 24, 2012. The party starts around 6pm and Ed will be reading from his book Zombie Ed Loves Halloween at about 7pm. If you attend, be sure to say hi.

Keep up to date with all things Zombie Ed at Ed Kent's Blog:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Last Wool and Testament by Molly MacRae. This is the first book in the Haunted Yarn Shop mysteries. Kath Rutlege returns to Blue Plum, Tennessee for her grandmother's funeral only to discover secrets, murder, and a ghost!

Sunday, October 14, 2012


     While I'm always in the mood for paranormal mysteries, they seem to be even more fitting in October. There's a crisp chill in the air, darkness comes earlier, and you get the feeling that something spooky could be just around the corner. Halloween will be here soon and thoughts turn to least my thoughts do. I love reading about haunted buildings, especially local haunts. All kinds of places may be haunted-and our cozy mysteries give us many examples!
     If you enter Buy the Book Bookstore in Rhode Island you'll meet one of the owners Penelope Thornton-McClure. You may also see a shadow of a man in a fedora. His name is Jack Shepard, a private investigator, and a ghost. You can read more about them in The Haunted Bookshop Mysteries by Alice Kimberly.
     Perhaps you need a place to stay and want to try a nice inn. May I recommend a new guest house on the Jersey Shore? The Haunted Guesthouse Mysteries written by E.J. Copperman introduce us to single mom Alison Kerby who is renovating an old Victorian and turning it in to a guest house. The house is already occupied however, by two ghosts...and we meet more ghosts as the series progresses.
     It's said that remodeling homes increases paranormal activity. Ask Melanie Turner what she thinks. You can find her in Juliet Blackwell's Haunted Home Renovation series.
     Want to have a quiet evening knitting? You may want to stop in The Weaver's Cat in Blue Plum, Tennessee. Members of the TGIF Club (Thank God It's Fiber) will be sure to help you...and perhaps the late owner will as well. Molly MacRae writes the Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries.
     Some ghosts are more free roaming than others. Bailey Ruth Raeburn returns to her home town to help solve mysteries after her death in the Bailey Ruth Mysteries by Carolyn Hart.
     Other ghosts haunt people. Sam Wescott finds his ex-wife, Hollis Ball, and pesters her into helping discover who murdered him in a series written by Helen Chappell.
     These are just a few of the many ghost mysteries out there. This October I dare you to come face to page with at least one of our cozy mystery ghosts.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Currently Reading...

I'm still enjoying The Diva Paints the Town by Krista Davis. I only wish Sophie Winston would cook for me!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Paranormal Mystery

Interest in the paranormal cannot be denied. Look at the popularity of such TV shoes as True Blood, Being Human, and The Vampire Diaries. Let's not forget about the big screen with Twilight and Harry Potter. Books featuring ghosts, vampires, witches, and the like have been popular for decades...if not centuries. Actually all of the above shows and movies, with the exception of Being Human, were books first! Why, then, shouldn't the paranormal be found in cozy mysteries?

There are several different types of paranormal characters, with multiple types existing in the same book in some cases. You may find ghosts: The Haunted Bookshop Mysteries by Alice Kimberly, The Haunted Guesthouse Mysteries by E.J. Copperman, The Aunt Dimity Series by Nancy Atherton, witches: A Witchcraft Mystery by Juliet Blackwell, The Ophelia and Abby Mysteries by Shirley Damsgaard, The Wishcraft Mysteries by Heather Blake, or psychics: The Chintz’n China Mysteries by Yasmine Galenorn, The Psychic Eye Series by Victoria Laurie, A Fortune Teller Mystery by Kari Lee Townsend.

What is somewhat surprising is that while the vampire is one of the most popular paranormal subjects when it comes to entertainment, including books, there are very few vampire cozy mysteries. Perhaps vampires tend to be a bit too dark for cozies.You can find a fun vampire cozy, however, in the Simon Kirby-Jones Series by Dean James.

There are differing degrees of the paranormal as well. Some series just hint at it. In others it's prominent. Some authors welcome you into their paranormal world as they welcome the character, who has only recently learned of their power or have known, but are relatively new to their craft. Readers get a good introduction into this world, learning as the protagonist does.

If you haven't already, try a paranormal cozy. After all, what's life without a little magic?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Currently Reading...

I'm just about to start reading The Diva Paints the Town, the third installment of Krista Davis' Domestic Diva Mysteries. I'm a bit behind in this great series which includes recipes!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Historical Cozy

     Ever wish you could travel in a time machine? While we may not have a Tardis at our disposal, we do have books. It's not only history books that can teach us about the past; cozy mysteries open all different time periods up for our exploration-and we don't have to worry about giving up indoor plumbing!
     Probably one of the first cozies I read was a historical cozy-Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters, the first Amelia Peabody mystery. To this day it is one of my favorite series, and fortunately for everyone, it's a long running one. The series starts in the "supposedly enlightened decade of 1880" (Peters Crocodile on the Sandbank) and introduces us to Amelia Peabody, an Englishwoman who has just inherited a tidy sum and decides to travel to Egypt. This series gives us a great picture of Victorian Egypt, humor, and a bit of romance. The first book was published in 1975 with the most recent addition, the 19th book in the series, published in 2010! Elizabeth Peters imbues these books with historical accuracy as well, she actually is an Egyptologist!
     I love when I discover non fictional characters in fictional works. Amelia Peabody meets up with several "real" people, Howard Carter, for instance. This feat is also accomplished in Robin Paige's Victorian/Edwardian Mysteries. While the main characters are fictional, every book has them meet a notable figure of the time; Rudyard Kipling, and Lillie Langtry, for example. The series takes place in England from the mid 1890's to 1903.
     Sometimes the main character is a true historical person. Beatrix Potter stars in the The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter by Susan Wittig Albert.
     Although the Victorian time period is one of my favorites, never fear, there are lots of other eras to be found in cozy mysteries. What about the Great Depression in the United States? Check out The Grace and Favor Series by Jill Churchill. Fancy a look at WWII England? Try The Manor House Mysteries by Kate Kingsbury. Rhys Bowen writes two of my favorite historicals-Molly Murphy is an Irish immigrant who becomes a private investigator in turn of the century (20th century that is) New York City in the Molly Murphy Mysteries while Lady Georgiana is a member of the royal family (she's 34th in line for the throne!) in 1930's England in the Royal Spyness series.
     Perhaps you'd prefer something a little more recent. What about the Murder a Go-Go series by Rosemary Martin? This series features Bebe Bennett in 1960's New York City. Something a little further back? Try Margaret Frazer's Dame Frevisse series; she's a medieval nun in England (Dame Frevisse is the medieval nun, not Margaret Frazier).
     Whatever time period you decide to explore-I know you'll have fun, and you just may learn something as well! 


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Peril in Paperback, the 5th book in the Bibliophile Mysteries by Kate Carlisle. Rare book restorer Brooklyn Wainwright is attending a week long house party honoring the 50th birthday of her friend's aunt. Brooklyn soon discovers some nasty guests, a good looking archivist, and a house filled with surprises.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

How Readers Can Help Writers

Authors don’t earn a lot of money for their work. Only the very few and the very famous are rich. (Can we say J.K. Rowling and Nora Roberts?) While some are able to earn a comfortable living, many keep a “regular” job in order to truly make a living.
What would we do without our favorite authors? How can we make sure books we enjoy reading not only continue to get published, but continue to get written? I’ve read a few articles from authors themselves and I’d like to share the information with you.
How can we readers help authors?
The first way is the most obvious-buy their books! Buy books for you. Buy books for gifts. Paperbacks are still under $10 (mass market paperbacks, at any rate); the perfect price for that office gift exchange! While you're shopping be sure to keep in mind, when you buy used books the authors get nothing. While it may be nice to score a great deal on a book, you’re supporting the bookstore or seller, not the author.
Here’s an interesting fact, of which I was unaware until recently, if a book does well on its release day and its first week the publisher is more likely to contract for more books. If the book doesn’t take off right away, the publisher may cancel the series! Therefore, it’s very important to buy books as soon as they’re published. Personally, I think this stinks! There are so many wonderful books out there, with new series coming out all the time. Sadly, I don’t have the money, or the time, to buy them all, let alone read them all. I can’t keep up! How disappointing to discover an author late, only to discover there will be no future books as release day sales weren’t high enough.
If you’re a voracious reader like me, you simply can’t afford to buy all the books you read. That’s OK. Go to the library and check out books there. Libraries buy books and thus support authors. If they don’t have a book you’re looking for, request it. More requests increase the likelihood of the library buying the book in question and perhaps they’ll be more likely to buy books by the same author, or similar books.
Another tip I didn’t realize is to simply “like” books on Simply search for the book you’d like to support. On that books page, right under the title and author you’ll see “reviews” and a little “like” button. Click on the “like” and you’re done. Easy Peasy! Amazon, and sites like it, has rankings which authors and publishers study. The more you like, the better! If you want to put a tad more effort you could actually write a review of the books, hopefully positive, and post it on,,, or similar sites.
Social media can be a powerful tool-use it! Talk up authors and their works on Facebook and Twitter.  Enjoy a book? Recommend it on your page. Follow your favorite authors on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest. Check out the blogs and websites of authors you like. Read book blogs (like this one). Perhaps you’d like to start your own.
Spread the word. Invite reading into your home as well as the homes of friends and family. The more we share the more likely authors will be able to continue to write the books we love.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Currently Reading...

I just started reading Death of a Kitchen Diva by Lee Hollis. This book is the first Hayley Powell Food and Cocktails Mystery. In Bar Harbor, Maine, Hayley Powell is struggling to make ends meet as an office manager for one of the town's newspapers. Her boss won't give her a raise, but allows her to become the paper's new food columnist in order to earn a bit more cash. Not everyone is happy, however.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Let's Play!

     It's all fun and games 'til someone gets murdered. Friends get together all over the world to play cards or other games. It wasn't so long ago that professional poker playing became so popular that major events were televised and big name players became household names; Johnny Chan, anyone? Take a popular game, add a murder, and you get a fun cozy series.
     If you are interested in poker, Texas Hold'em in particular, try A Poker Mystery by Jackie Chance. Another card game that has its own series is bridge. Susan Moody writes about Cassie Swan, a professional bridge player in the United Kingdom. Prefer something a little less formal? What about the Bridge Club Mysteries by Honor Hartman?
     Cards aren't the only games out there-don't forget dice games. Join Kate McCall and her friends as they play bunco and solve murders in the Bunco Babes Mysteries by Gail Oust.
     If you're more of a puzzle person, never fret, there are several cozies for you. The Kate McDonald Mysteries by Shelley Freydont feature a mathematician who returns to her home town and a puzzle museum...and murder. If you enjoy crossword puzzles, Parnell Hall writes the wickedly funny Puzzle Lady Series where things, and people, aren't exactly what they seem. Nero Blanc also writes a series featuring crossword puzzles with the duo of crossword editor Annabella Graham and private investigator Rosco Polyctrates. There's also the Mystery by the Numbers Series by Casey Mayes featuring Savannah Store a math puzzle creator, and her husband, a retired police chief.
     Whatever your puzzle or game predilection, I'm sure you'll find a cozy mystery to suit.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Ed Undead: The Chronicles of a Teenage Zombie by Edward Kent. Not a cozy mystery, this book is a bit of a departure from my usual reading, but I'm thoroughly enjoying it. There is mystery to be found, as well as humor, in this young adult novel.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Meet Lorraine Bartlett, Lorna Barrett, & LL Bartlett

I had the wonderful opportunity to interview NY Times Bestseller Lorna Barrett, author of the Booktown Series, Lorraine Bartlett, who writes the Victoria Square Mysteries, and L.L. Bartlett, creator of the Jeff Resnick Mysteries. While the Jeff Resnick series may not be considered a cozy I had to include its author because she, along with the other two, are actually one woman-Lorraine Bartlett!

Kathy:  What made you decide to publish your different series under 3 different names?

LB:  When I was offered the contract for the Booktown Mysteries, my publisher asked me to take a pseudonym.  The Jeff Resnick Mysteries are darker than a cozy mystery series (which describes the Booktown books).  The thought was to keep them separate, but I believe there’s a crossover reading audience, and I want everyone to know about all the series I write.

Kathy:  You grew up and currently live in Western New York. Your Jeff Resnick series is set in Buffalo, NY, the Victoria Square series takes place in a fictional small town in WNY; however, your Booktown series is set in New Hampshire. What made you decide on that setting?

LB:  My editor chose New Hampshire as the setting for the Booktown Mysteries.  If the choice had been mine, I would have set it in Western New York.  I know the weather here.  The weather in southern New Hampshire is different, which is why I don’t write much about winter there. 

Kathy:  You include wonderful recipes in both of your cozy series. Why did you choose to do that and where do you get your recipes?

LB:  Again, my publisher likes to include bonus material in the books they publish.  They asked for recipes, and I was happy to oblige. I get my recipes from all over the place; cookbooks, sides of jars, online. But I try to make each one I publish my own by changing the ingredients and measurements. Sometimes I try to recreate food I've eaten in restaurants. I guess I like to play with my food!

Kathy:  What first drew you to the cozy mystery?

LB:  To be honest, I hadn’t read very many cozy mysteries before I decided to try my hand at writing one.  At the time, I wasn’t able to sell my Jeff Resnick books and was frustrated.  It was time to try something else.  I had tried to write (and quite unsuccessfully) romance, although my first sales were romance short stories. A lot of readers think that romances are easy to write and sell--that they’re just formulaic, but that’s not true.  Nor is it true of writing a cozy mystery.  From the time I wrote my first cozy mystery until the time the first Booktown Mystery was published was a full nine years. I wrote and edited and rewrote countless times before I learned how to do it well.

Kathy:  Tell us about your series.

LB: The Jeff Resnick Mysteries feature a man who was viciously mugged.  As a consequence, he found he gained a kind of 6th sense when it comes to crime.  The Booktown Mysteries feature a small town with a number of used booksellers.  Tricia Miles owns the mystery bookstore, Haven’t Got a Clue and feels compelled to snoop when it comes to solving local crimes.  The Victoria Square mysteries feature a woman who owns and manages an Artisans Arcade in the charming shopping district of Victoria Square.  But crime happens, and usually Katie finds a way to become involved.

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

LB:  Jeff Resnick.  Something about him just appeals to me.  He’s a very private person, and yet because of the visions he sometimes gets, is forced to out himself and his new gift to the world at large. I’m also drawn to the relationship he has with his brother and his sister-in-law.  They are an oddball kind of family, but they’re fiercely loyal to one another.

Kathy:  Did you have specific inspiration for your series?

The Victoria Square Mysteries were inspired by my time as a vendor in an antiques arcade. I wondered what it would be like to run such a place and let my imagination run free.

Kathy:  What made you decide to publish your work?

From the time I decided I wanted to be professionally published until the time my first novel saw print was eleven years.  Since 2009, I’ve been self-publishing my backlist of titles (mostly short stories).  I’ve been very pleased with the results.

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

That’s easy.  Ellery Adams, Leann Sweeney, Julie Hyzy, and Heather Webber -- they’re all members of a group blog I belong to, The Cozy Chicks.  ( )

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

LB:  Horseradish mayo, non-fat milk, eggs, and club soda.

Kathy:  Would you care to share any hobbies your have?

LB:  I like to go junking.  I was once a vendor in an antiques co-op.  You can take the girl out of the business, but you can’t take away the thrill of the hunt.  Only now I don’t buy nearly as much.  It takes discipline to say, “I love it, but I don’t need it, and have no room for it.”  I used to knit and do counted cross-stitch, but carpal tunnel syndrome put an end to that.

Kathy:  What are you currently reading?

LB:  Pies and Prejudice by Ellery Adams.  She’s a wonderful author and a good friend.

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

LB:  I have plans to write more books in all three series.  And I have ideas for several more series that I hope to write one day.  In fact, I have more ideas than I can possibly ever find time to explore in novel length.

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

LB:  My friendships with other authors. I love talking shop.  People outside the “business” just don’t understand what we encounter in our writing and the business side of publishing.

Thanks so much Lorraine, for taking the time to talk with me.

I hope you enjoyed learning more about Lorraine, Lorna, and L.L. Be sure to give all her series a read and check out her various blogs and Facebook pages. In addition, her latest Jeff Resnick mystery will be released tomorrow, September 10, 2012. Look for Room at the Inn at most online retail outlets and get your copy!

If you want to start at the beginning-these are the first titles in each of her series:
Booktown: Murder is Binding
Victoria Square: A Crafty Killing
Jeff Resnick: Murder on the Mind - Victoria Square Mysteries - Booktown Mysteries - Jeff Resnick Mysteries

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Going Organic Can Kill You by Staci McLaughlin. The first in the Blossom Valley Mystery series introduces us to Dana who has just moved back from San Jose to her mom's house in a small California town. Although Dana is hired to help with the marketing of a new organic farm and spa she finds herself involved in much more-from herding pigs to finding dead bodies. I'm really enjoying this humorous book!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Just My Cup of Tea...or Coffee

     While the culinary genre deals with food, it also includes beverages. Coffee, tea, and other libations take center stage in some culinary mysteries.
     The Tea Shop Mysteries by Laura Childs tell us all about tea; the different blends, how to properly brew it, it even gives tips on hosting tea parties! While tea is obviously the star of the series, food plays an integral role too. Theodosia Browning, our protagonist, relies on Haley Parker to create wonderful dishes, both sweet and savory, to compliment the teas of the Indigo Tea Shop. Fortunately for us, recipes are also included in the books!
     Perhaps you're more of a coffee drinker. Try the Coffeehouse Mysteries by Cleo Coyle. Clare Cosi is the manager and head barista of her former mother-in-law's coffeehouse, the Village Blend. In this series we learn about coffee, including information on the beans themselves including harvesting from Clare's ex-husband, Matteo, a coffee bean buyer. But, what's an espresso without a biscotti? As with most coffee shops, the Village Blend offers food as well and our author shares some recipes in her books.
     A favorite beverage of mine is wine and there are a few wine mysteries out there. One of my favorite series is the Wine Country Mysteries by Ellen Crosby. Although wine and the vineyard are the mainstay of the series, I don't consider it a culinary mystery. We do learn about wine and grapes, but for some reason, I just don't get the cozy culinary vibe. That being said it's a fantastic series which I highly recommend.
   No matter your preference, food or drink, you're sure to find a culinary cozy mystery that's just right!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Murder on the Half Shelf. It's the 6th Booktown mystery by Lorna Barrett. The series starts with  Murder is Binding. Tricia Miles owns a mystery bookstore in Stoneham, New Hampshire (a town dedicated to bookstores) and keeps finding dead bodies. Recipes are included.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Culinary Mystery

There is no love sincerer than the love of food. —–George Bernard Shaw

"Food, like a loving touch or a glimpse of divine power, has that ability to comfort."
Norman Kolpas

There’s always been an interest in food, not only eating, but talking about it, reading about it, and watching it on television. Look at the popularity of The Food Network. They’ve even added another station dedicated to food-The Cooking Channel. You can find food related shows on many other stations as well. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that the culinary mystery is one of the most popular cozy genres.

In order to be a true cozy mystery food and/or drink must be an integral part of the protagonist’s life. The protagonist may have a job revolving around food, or it may just be a hobby.  Many of these mysteries series feature shop owners: The Cheese Shop Mysteries by Avery Aames, The Tea Shop Mysteries by Laura Childs, The Hannah Swensen Mysteries by Joanne Fluke, or The Mystery a la Mode Series by Wendy Lyn Watson for instance. Some characters write about food: Carolyn Blue in The Culinary Food Writer series by Nancy Fairbanks or Hayley Snow in Lucy Burdette’s Food Critic Mysteries.

You may find a character who knows nothing about food, yet it fast becomes a prominent part of their life. Liver Let Die is the first in The Clueless Cook Mystery Series by Liz Lipperman. Journalist Jordan McAllister is completely clueless when it comes to food-she doesn’t even know what foie gras is-yet she agrees to cover for her newspaper’s culinary reporter. Jordan gets in over her head…and not only when it comes to writing her column. This book includes recipes as well as a great story. In addition to being a culinary mystery, this series could also fall into the humor genre.

It should be noted that many series include recipes, but they are not necessarily culinary mysteries.  Lorraine Bartlett includes recipes in her Victoria Square Mysteries, as does Maggie Sefton in her Knitting Mysteries.
It just goes to show how popular food is, and how important it is in all of our lives. After all, everyone has to eat!

Sunday, August 19, 2012


            Reading is a passion of mine. Delving into a book opens up a new and exciting world for me. While I read all sorts of books, fiction and nonfiction alike, my favorite genre is the mystery.
            The detective story, the who-dun-it?, the mystery has been a popular genre since the mid 1800s. People were fascinated as they read about C. Auguste Dupin who solved The Murders in the Rue Morgue written by Edgar Allen Poe in 1841. In 1868 Wilkie Collins published The Moonstone, whose detective was based on a member of Scotland Yard. The love of a good mystery has never died and those first stories are just as fascinating today as they were over a century ago.
            When it comes to the mystery there are several genres and even subgenres. At times, these subgenres even cross. The basic genres of the mystery novel are the hard boiled, the police procedural, and the cozy.
            The police procedural novel is self descriptive. The novel follows a police officer, or entire department, as he or she follow police procedure to solve the crime.
            The hard boiled mystery is the “tough guy” mystery. This genre was actually developed in the United States in the 1920s when pulp magazines were all the rage. A lot of times the protagonists are tough talking private investigators such as Sam Spade. In general, these books often depict graphic violence and don’t shy away from gore or sex. The hard boiled mystery shows us a gritty, dark, earthy world.
            The cozy mystery is a more gentle mystery. The hero or heroine is often an amateur detective, a regular person who stumbles onto a murder. She could be a soccer mom, a chef, a glassblower. She then gets involved in solving the murder, sometimes to save herself. Even when the hero is a professional, a private investigator or police officer, the cozy mystery has softer edges. It’s more of a puzzle, more cerebral, and oftentimes, more humorous.
            The cozy mystery has a multitude of subgenres. There are culinary mysteries, animal mysteries, craft mysteries, historical mysteries, gardening mysteries, paranormal mysteries, and more. There’s something for everyone. If you don’t believe me, try the Simon Kirby-Jones Mysteries by Dean Jones. The hero is a Southern gentleman who moves to the English countryside. He’s a writer who happens to be gay and a vampire. This series alone gives us 5 diverse subgenres: paranormal, Southern US, English Village, gay/lesbian, and writers!
I’ve noticed a recent trend in mystery novels. If you read several new mystery series you’ll discover a lot of them are what I call “How-To Mysteries”. No, they don’t tell you how to commit crimes or give tips on murdering people, but they will give information and how-to advice on almost any project or hobby you may have.
The How-To Mystery is still a mystery novel with plot, protagonists, victims, criminals, and such. Usually it will fall into the category of cozy mystery and the protagonist will generally be a professional or enthusiast of a certain hobby. It is this hobby about which the reader will learn. Are you in the mood to try a new hobby, but not sure if you really want to get involved? Perhaps you’d like some new techniques for a hobby you already pursue. If so, reading a mystery novel may be your answer.
How these tips are given differs. Usually readers will learn things in the storyline itself as the characters talk about and describe their hobby or work. The real How-To Mystery, however, will also set this information aside from the story. Sometimes the information is contained as one feature and placed at the end of the book, like an addendum. Other times the information is divided into smaller chunks and interspersed throughout the book. A lot of times these pieces will be placed between chapters, sometimes it’s right in the midst of the story itself.
The information available out there is as varied as the mysteries themselves. You can get gardening tips from many series including a Peggy Lee Gardening Mystery by Joyce and Jim Lavene. Need a new knitting or embroidery pattern?  Try a Needlecraft Mystery by Monica Ferris. The Soap Making Series by Tim Myers will give you information on soap making and The Bear Collector’s Mysteries by John J. Lamb will take you into the world of teddy bears and the artisans who create them.
So go ahead and try reading a How-To Mystery. You’ll not only enjoy the story, but learn some tricks of the trade as well. If TV shows like Law and Order or CSI are more your style, try a police procedural. Interested in the nitty gritty of crime? Go for that hard boiled story. Whatever your preference, whatever your interests, I’m sure there’s a mystery for you out there-just go find it!

This article was originally published by The Spartan Opinion as Anatomy of the Mystery Novel.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading A Deadly Grind by Victoria Hamilton. The book is the first in her Vintage Kitchen mystery series and it includes recipes. Jaymie Leighton collects vintage cookware and cookbooks in the fictional town of Queensville, Michigan. I've only just begun the book (no one's dead yet) but am thoroughly enjoying it so far.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Cozy Up With Kathy

Join me as I explore the world of cozy mysteries. I plan on writing about many aspects of the genre-the different themes and hobbies, specific authors, how a series is progressing, and more. I hope to raise awareness of new authors as well as authors with new series. Are you looking for your favorite hobby featured in a book? I'll try to provide a good list. The content will be varied thus, hopefully, keeping your interest.

The blog will publish two posts a week. The Sunday post will be the main attraction while the Wednesday piece will be the weekly "Currently Reading" post. In this entry I'll share whatever book I'm currently reading. It may not always be a cozy may not even be a mystery. Perhaps you'll discover something new here and add what I'm currently reading to your pile of books to be read.

I hope you'll join me as I delve into cozy mysteries-finding new treasures as well as savoring those previously discovered.