Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Pampered to Death by Laura Levine. I always enjoy the antics of Jaine Austen and Prozac and this 10th outing is no exception. Instead of a luxury spa, Jaine finds a strict diet retreat. Dreams of gourmet meals, or even ding dongs and Chocolate Yoo Hoos, dissolve into the reality of steamed fish and celery fizzes. She's found some cheesecake...but her next discovery will probably be a dead body!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Gone to the Dogs

To me nothing makes a house a home more than the animals that share it with me. I have a house full with cats, rats, and a dog...and I board a horse. I'm thrilled when I discover new animal friends in the books I read. Many of my favorite authors love animals too and Linda O. Johnston is one of them. Sit, Stay, Slay was the first of her books that I read; the first Kendra Ballantyne Petsitter Mystery. Sadly, there are currently no plans for more books in this series (although with the possibility of self-publishing, you never know!) but Linda currently writes another mystery series along with romance novels.

Kathy: In addition to cozy mysteries, you write romances. Which came first?
LOJ: Depends on how you look at it.  I’m one of those traditional writers who had a dozen manuscripts under the bed before I sold a novel--and, yes, in those days it was printed-out manuscripts rather than sent via computer.  My first ones were mysteries, and my first published fiction was a mystery short story in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine which won the Robert L. Fish Memorial Award for best first mystery short story of the year.  But when I finally began selling novels, my first published ones were time travel romances.
Kathy: Do you find it easier to write one genre over another, or is it the same? Do you prefer to write one genre over another? 
LOJ: I find all genres equally challenging to write--and equally fun!  I always include some romance in my mysteries and some suspense or mystery in my romances, so I combine the genres in some respect in each of my stories.
Kathy: Animals play a huge part in your work, in particular Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. What drew you to that particular breed?
LOJ: I met my first Cavaliers on my first trip to London .  A rider on the Underground had a couple of them on her lap.  I saw them and was immediately hooked by their adorable faces.  When I returned home, I did some research and also found that they were among the most loving of breeds.  I had to have them in my life!
Kathy: Kendra deals with all sorts of pets, as does Lauren, do you have multispecies experience as well?
LOJ: I’ve always been more of a dog person than anything else, although we had fish and turtles as pets, too, when I was growing up.
Kathy: You have 2 upcoming releases. Would you tell us about them?

LOJ: OODLES OF POODLES is my fourth Pet Rescue Mystery from Berkley Prime Crime.  Its background is the film industry and making sure that “No Animals Were Harmed,”™ which is the registered trademark of the American Humane Association.  Lauren gets involved observing the shooting of a movie about rescued poodles, and then the director is murdered.  Lauren’s best friend Dr. Carlie Stellan is a suspect, so of course Lauren has to help solve the murder. 
UNDERCOVER WOLF is, coincidentally, the fourth in my Alpha Force miniseries for Harlequin Nocturne.  It’s a paranormal romance about a covert military unit of shapeshifters.  The hero Quinn is a shapeshifting wolf, and the heroine Kristine isn’t, but she’s an experience aide to shapeshifters.  They both go off together to find out what’s happened to disappeared newlyweds who are Quinn’s brother and new sister-in-law, the protagonists of the prior Nocturne, GUARDIAN WOLF. 
Kathy: What first drew you to the cozy mystery?
LOJ: I love their themes, such as, in my case, animals.  I enjoy reading about protagonists who are in law enforcement or investigation who wind up having to solve crimes, but it’s even more fun sometimes to read and write about how ordinary people deal with stumbling over dead bodies--while going about their regular lives that involve crafts, cooking or, of course, pets.
Kathy: Do you write any other genres? (I know about mysteries and romances...anything else up your sleeve?)  
LOJ: I’m always coming up with ideas for other kinds of stories.  I’ve got one theme in mind now that probably won’t be a cozy, but I haven’t yet figured out the best way of presenting it.  One of these days, though, I’ll focus on it and see where it leads me.
Kathy: Tell us about your series. (Please describe your series-each of them-in a sentence or two.)
LOJ: My Pet Rescue Mysteries are about Lauren Vancouver, the chief administrator of HotRescues, a no-kill pet shelter in L.A. ’s San Fernando Valley .  She’ll do anything to save animals--including solve murder mysteries.  As a result, in the Pet Rescue Mysteries, “no-kill” means pets, not people!
My Alpha Force miniseries for Harlequin Nocturne is about a covert military unit of shapeshifters--mostly werewolves.  Each member is also assigned an aide to help in their shifting, which is enhanced by a wonderful elixir first brewed by one of its officers, one that allows the shifters to choose when to shift and to keep their human awareness while shifted.  They keep getting into interesting situations involving members of the opposite sex who may or may not be shifters--but are definitely alluring and sexy to them!
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
LOJ: My favorite character is always the one I’m writing about at the time.  But of all those I’ve featured in stories, I’ve identified most with Kendra Ballantyne, star of my Pet-Sitter Mysteries.  That’s because she’s a lawyer, as I’ve been.  She lives in the Hollywood Hills, as I do.  And she has a tricolor Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Lexie, as I do.  Then again, I enjoy Lauren Vancouver, star of my Pet Rescue Mysteries.  My research into writing her stories led me to volunteer at a local private pet rescue shelter, which I really enjoy.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
LOJ: Not really, just a love of animals.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
LOJ: Writing is delightful, and I wanted to share what I did with others.  Publishing traditionally just seemed the way to go when I started out.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite? 
LOJ: I’d love to invite the three authors who got me into reading most as a teenager, also inspiring me to write: Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, and Phyllis A. Whitney.  Then, for the fun of it, I’d also invite Edgar Alan Poe.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
LOJ: As usual, I tend to read in the genre I’m writing to get me into the mood, since I change back and forth so often.  I’d rather not share a specific book, but since I’m finishing another Pet Rescue Mystery, it’s a cozy mystery.  But I’m about to hop into a Harlequin Romantic Suspense.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
LOJ: I already have--animals, especially dogs!
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
LOJ: Dog food, soup, ice cream, salads.
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
LOJ: Always!  There will be at least one more Pet Rescue Mystery and another Alpha Force paranormal romance, as well as another Harlequin Romantic Suspense novel.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author? 
LOJ: Writing, of course!  And letting my mind go wild.  I’ve always said that my favorite quote, although I don’t know whom to attribute it to, is “Reality is only for those who lack imagination!”

If you want to read more about Linda O. Johnson, check out these sites:
Starting Monday Cozy Mystery Book Reviews will host the Oodles of Poodles Book Tour. Be sure to follow all of the different blogs participating for more Linda O. Johnston all week!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading the 25th anniversary edition of A Shopkeeper's Millennium: Society and Revivals in Rochester, New York, 1815-1837 by Paul E. Johnson. The book looks at the connections between religion, politics, and economics during this period of time. The author gives a preface discussing what he thinks is right and wrong after 25 years of study and criticism. Yes, I am reading this book for fun. I have a myriad of interests, one of which is religious revivalism and utopian societies of the mid 19th century. What makes my enthusiasm for this topic even more interesting (at least to me) is that I happen to live in the "Burned-Over District". This area was a hotbed of religious revival and many religions actually began here (Spiritualism and Mormonism are just two).

Sunday, January 20, 2013

To Bead or Not to Bead...

I must thank Cozy Mystery Book Reviews for allowing me to participate in their first blog tour, which is also my first blog tour.Welcome everyone who is new to my blog. I hope you like what you read and continue to stop by.

I'd like to welcome Tonya Kappes, and celebrate the release of Strung Out To Die. It's interesting to note that as I write this interview, I'm finishing making some bracelets...beading them in fact. While I don't consider myself a true beader, I enjoy making jewelry and using beads in other projects as well.

Kathy: Holly is a beader, do you bead as well? If so, how did you discover the hobby and what do you tend to create?

TK: Yes! I am a beader. I co-owned a beading business for five years in the early 2000’s when it was just becoming popular and we sold it. Now being able to stay in the craft by writing about it has been so much fun. I even bead bracelets for author swag giveaways!

Kathy: Pets are part of the family for many of us, including our cozy mystery characters. What made you decide upon a pig as Holly's companion?

TK: I have series with dogs and cats which make everything so much more fun. But a PIG! And a bead eating pig at that just added humor to the novel. Plus I think pigs are cute.

Kathy: The Divas are a multigenerational bunch. Do you have a group of friends whose ages span a few generations?

TK: I do!Especially being an author with readers from 19-90. I learn a lot from all of them.

Kathy: "The Under" is an interesting aspect to the story and quirk for Holly. Will you tell us about it?

TK: Some people don’t get “the under” but I do. Who really does like to stick their hands in a dark place? That’s weird to me. I give all of my main characters a quirk that makes them stand out and this just happened to fall with the beads rolling around.

Kathy: What first drew you to the cozy mystery?

TK: I love the friendships, animals, and small towns.

Kathy: Do you write any other genres?

TK: I do write women’s fiction with a dribble of romance and I mean dribble!

Kathy: Tell us about your series. (Please describe your series in a sentence or two.)

TK: Sentence or two? Impossible…I’m a writer.  This is such a fun series! I had so much fun playing around with the Divorced Divas who are five woman, ranging in ages from 19-90), and they have formed a self help group in the local bead store, The Beaded Dragonfly. They talk about all the ways to kill off their exes, who are still in their lives. BUT when someone does show up dead on the bead floor and one of the Divas is accused of the murder, they all become sleuths to figure out who is framing one of them. Strung Out To Die is a humorous story about friendship, love, and murder!

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

TK: Of course Willow, the pig, is my favorite. She sort of steals the show! The oldest Diva, Agnes Pearl, is pretty fun to write too.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

TK: I’m currently reading my critique partner’s draft of a future novel.

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

TK: I have three teenage boys at home. All of their sports are my hobbies ;)

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

TK: Diet Coke, Red Hots, Pop Chips, and cheese.

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

TK: I have three new series planned, but won’t see the light of day until 2014. As for the Divorced Divas, there are five novels planned so far.

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

TK: My readers by far.

Thank you so much Tonya for taking the time to answer my questions.

Want more Tonya Kappes? Check out the following sites:
Facebook page:

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Currently Reading...

I'm just about to start reading Angel Condemned by Mary Stanton. This book is the fifth Beaufort & Company Mystery. I adore this series. Bree Winston-Beaufort is an attorney in Georgia...but her clients are something special, as are her coworkers.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Librarian

Growing up I thought it would be wonderful to be a librarian. What could be better than being surrounded by all those books day after day? When I realized my first career choice, wasn't the right one I looked at getting my Master's degree in library science. No concentration really appealed to me, however. I was slightly intrigued by the preservation concentration (Brooklyn Wainwright would be proud), but there was too much science and chemistry involved, so I decided against a library career. That's not to say that I don't still love and patronize libraries. Librarians will always hold a special place in my heart. I have a feeling most authors and book lovers feel the same way. It should come as no surprise then that librarians find their way into many cozy mysteries.

One of my favorite series is the Magical Cat Mysteries by Sofie Kelly. Protagonist Kathleen Paulson has moved from Boston to Minnesota to renovate the local library. She brings two cats, Owen and Hercules, into her life who are even more special than you can imagine!

Tori Sinclair is another librarian who has relocated. Tori moved from Chicago to Sweet Briar, South Carolina in the Southern Sewing Circle Mysteries by Elizabeth Lynn Casey. She tries to fit in by joining a sewing circle. Sewing tips are included.

While the majority of cozy protagonists are female, some are male, as is the case with Charlie Harris in the Cat in the Stacks Mysteries by Miranda James. Charlie is a librarian at the local college who lives with Diesel, a Maine Coon cat.

As you see, library mysteries share other cozy subgenres as well: Paranormal, Animal, Craft/Needlework and more. If you want a historical mystery with a librarian, you can have that too with the Seneca Falls Mysteries by Miriam Grace Monfredo. 

This is just the tip of the iceburg. Jenn McKinlay writes the Library Lover's Mysteries and Megan Clark is a reference librarian in the series by D.R. Meredith.

I have a mystery for you. There is a mystery series featuring a librarian that I really enjoyed, but, for the life of me, I can't remember the author or title of the book. The first book in the series introduces us to the new librarian. Some people are angry that she was hired. She creates a children's area with a stage out of a storage room so that the kids can act out their favorite stories. The love interest is a teacher. There was flooding as well. Can anyone tell me the title and author of this book? There just may be a prize if you can do it!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Iced Chiffon by Duffy Brown. This book is the first Consignment Shop Mystery.

Sunday, January 6, 2013


I don't put a lot of stock into reviews. After all, they are just people's opinions. The people writing them may have better qualifications to judge than others, or they may not. Some may have insightful comments on why things work or why they don't, some just spout nonsense.

I don't follow reviews. I've loved many things-movies, books, and more-that have received poor reviews. Bad reviews of things I like tend to anger me as well. But, like a train wreck, I sometimes have to read. Then I get angrier. I know when I see a 1 star rating for a book I love on Amazon I should ignore it if I want to stay in a good mood. But I will often read it and cringe. Especially when the reviewer is an idiot. Yes, lots of idiots post reviews, especially on Amazon (although there are plenty of idiots in the professional reviewer world too). What makes a review idiotic? Not just that the person doesn't agree with me (although that can be a good indication of idiocy...still) but when there is nothing constructive or meaningful. "I didn't like the characters." Not idiotic, but not good either; why didn't you like the characters? Idiotic would be "I didn't like the characters because there (sic) too old." (Or even worse: "there 2 old." [sic]) Another idiotic reviewer pans the book because he doesn't like the genre. If you don't like the genre don't review it if you can't be open minded! Same goes for the idiot who gave a bad review to a paranormal mystery because it had too much magic in it. Huh. While cover art can be misleading, it's a safe bet that if there's a broomstick on the cover and the cover blurb talks about witchcraft-there just might be some magic involved. Don't read it if you don't like magic, and certainly don't review it. However, the worst reviews are the ones that give books bad ratings due to issues totally unrelated to the book itself. One star reviews due to slow shipping or being unable to purchase the Kindle edition (true story) are truly ridiculous. Leave a bad review about the supplier, not the book. Ugh!

That being said, reviews are important. Not only can they inspire people to buy books with which they're unfamiliar, publishers use them to contract more books. Reviews can keep our favorite authors writing. Good reviews also give authors a boost. When I was performing I loved being mentioned positively in a review. In fact, a great way to support authors is to write positive reviews.

I haven't written any mystery reviews here. The thought is a little daunting, to be honest. Actually the first thing that comes to mind is a song from the musical You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown. I can hear the singing, "A book report on Peter Rabbit, Peter Rabbit!" I'm still not sure how I'll start, but I know I'll give two ratings-one for the book itself and the other for the series as a whole. However, there must be at least 3 books in the series in order to qualify for the second rating. It's possible that the series rating may be greater than any of the books-after all, sometimes the whole is greater than its parts! I will also state that 5 star ratings will be uncommon. To me a 5 star book is an amazing read that swept me away and left me changed. A 4 star review is a great book that I really loved. 3 stars is still a solid good read, positive and enjoyable. Reviews will cease to be that positive at the 2 star rating-an OK book with serious flaws. And a 1 star-don't bother. Odds are I won't post any 1 or 2 star reviews here. I value the work of authors too much and, after all, the review is only my opinion. I'm actually still debating if I'll use a rating system at all-you'll just have to stay tuned to find out!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Currently Reading...

Happy New Year! I hope you continue to stop by my blog this year. So what am I reading to start the year? Although I generally only read one book at a time, I'm currently reading two. I can't bring my iPad to work, and I like to read on my lunch break-so I'm reading a work of fiction on my iPad at home, and a nonfiction piece, which was a Christmas present from my folks, when I'm out and about. I'm currently reading Bead of Doubt by Tonya Kappes, an e-book. This book is a prequel and a Divorced Diva Mini-Mystery. I'll be interviewing Tonya later this month! I'm also reading Inside of a Dog : What Dogs See, Smell, and Know by Alexandra Horowitz.