Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Currently Reading...

I just started reading Lie of the Needle by Cate Price. This book is the third in the Deadly Notions Mystery series and will be released next week!

It's autumn in Buck's County, Pennsylvania and Daisy and friends are helping the Millbury Historical Society raise money to stop a developer from razing a historical home and putting up cookie cutter housing. Their latest method? Making a Men of Millbury calendar...yup, the good looking guys of town are bearing all, well almost all since certain bits are strategically covered.

That's as far as I've read. I'm sure there will be a murder, but at the moment I'm just wanting to read about Detective (hot stuff) Serrano's  photo session.

Recipes and Needlework tips included.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Spotlight - Alaskan Alliance & Giveaway

Today I'd like to shine a spotlight on Alaskan Alliance by Kathi Daley. This book is the 12th in the Zoe Donovan Mystery series.

Zak and Zoe travel to Alaska after Zoe is asked by her dog trainer friend Peter to fly to Moosehead Alaska to deliver a search and rescue dog to a team desperate for some canine help after their own dog is injured during a rescue. Within twelve hours of arriving in the isolated little town, Zoe stumbles onto a murder scene where everything must be questioned because nothing is exactly as it seems. When a second body is found and a five year old cold case is reexamined, things go from complicated to bizarre. Meanwhile Levi and Ellie are home in Ashton Falls dealing with complex emotions as they solve their own thorny mystery.

Recipes Included.

Kathi Daley is offering a copy of Alaskan Alliance to one of my readers! Simply comment on this blog post telling us if you've ever been to Alaska! Leave your comment sometime this year (EST)! Make sure you leave your e-mail address so that I may contact you should you win!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Spotlight - Snow White Red-Handed

I'd like to shine a spotlight on the first book in a new series, Snow White Red-Handed by Maia Chance. The book, published this past November, is a Fairy Tale Fatal Mystery. The concept really grabbed me and I bought the book, but haven't had time to read it...yet.

From the back cover:

Miss Ophelia Flax is a Victorian actress who knows all about making quick changes and even quicker exits. But to solve a fairy-tale crime in the haunted Black Forest, she'll need more than a bit of charm...

1867: After quitting her latest variety hall engagement, Ophelia acts her way into a lady's maid position for a crass American millionaire. When her new job whisks her off to a foreboding castle straight out of a Grimm tale, she begins to wonder if her fast-talking ways might have been too hasty. The vast grounds contain the suspected remains of Snow White's cottage, along with a disturbing dwarf skeleton. And when her millionaire boss turns up dead-poisoned by an apple-the fantastic setting turns into a once upon a crime scene.

To keep from rising to the top of the suspect list, Ophelia fights through a bramble of elegant lies, sinister folklore, and priceless treasure, with only a dashing but mysterious scholar as her ally. As the clock ticks toward midnight, she'll have to break a cunning killer's spell before her own time runs out...

Friday, December 26, 2014

Review - A Haunting is Brewing


 A Haunting is Brewing by Juliet Blackwell
A Haunted Home Renovation and a Witchcraft Mystery Novella

 Mel Turner has been called upon to help get the Spooner House, a volunteer run museum, up to code so that it can be used as the site for a fundraising Halloween Ball. She's "assisted" by college theatre students and Maya, who heard about the fundraiser from Lily Ivory who donated clothes to the museum. Things get odd when the life sized dolls made by Mr. Spooner himself in the 1800s seem to have a life of their own. When Mel and Maya discover the body of one of the students dead in the house, they realize something dangerous is going on. Maya suggests Mel call upon Lily for help and soon all are involved to try to discover what is going on in the haunted house.

It's always fun imagining what would happen if I got to meet the characters in favorite books. The next best thing? Having characters from different books meet up!

A Haunting is Brewing is told from Mel Turner's point of view, the protagonist in The Haunted Home Renovation Mystery series. While I have enjoyed the books I've read in this series, I must admit that I'm behind. I am, however, up to date with the Witchcraft Mystery series and was delighted when Mel contacted Lily for help. I have more of an affinity with Lily. I'm pretty sure I'd have better results brewing a spell than performing home repairs!

Although short, it is a novella, there is a solid mystery with a definite creep factor. Sorry, to me dolls are creepy anyway and once you add Halloween and possible're going to wish you had a voodoo guy! A Haunting is Brewing is a quick read for fans of Juliet Blackwell's Witchcraft Mystery series, her Haunted Home Renovation series, both, or even readers unfamiliar with either series.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading For Whom the Bluebell Tolls by Beverly Allen. This book is the second in the Bridal Bouquet Shop Mystery series and will be released January 6, 2015.

Brad, the Cad, has returned to Ramble, Virginia bringing along a reality TV show crew to film the latest episode of Fix My Wedding. He has also arranged for Audrey to be the florist for the show. The offer proves to be more of a curse than a blessing, as Audrey has to deal with Brad's desire to get her back, a bridezilla, the mercurial machinations of one of the show's hosts, and a murder! Add her blossoming relationship with Nick and we have a hotbed of drama!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Spotlight - Meow if it's Murder

Today I'd like to shine a spotlight on a new series. Meow if it's Murder by T.C. LoTempio is the first Nick and Nora Mystery.

From the back cover:

Nora Charles doesn't believe in fate, even if she is a crime reporter who shares a name with a character from The Thin Man. In fact, she's moving back to Cruz, California, to have a quieter life. But after finding an online magazine eager for material, and a stray cat named Nick with a talent for detection, Nora's not just reporting crimes again. She's uncovering them...

Back in her hometown, Nora reconnects with old friends and makes some new ones, like Nick, the charming feline who seems determined to be her cat. But not everything about Cruz is friendly. Writing for a local online magazine, Nora investigates the curious death of socialite Lola Grainger. Though it was deemed an accident, Nora suspects foul play. And it seems her cat does, too.

Apparently, Nick used to belong to a PI who disappeared while investigating Lola Grainger's death. The coincidence is spooky, but not as spooky as the clues Nick spells out for her with scrabble letters-clues that lead her down an increasingly dangerous path. Whether fate put her on this case or not, solving it will take all of Nora's wits, and maybe a few of Nick's nine lives.

Recipes included.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Joyous Yule!

While autumn is my favorite season, I adore the Christmas time of year. I also celebrate Yule, the Winter Equinox. To me it's a day of joy and spiritual renewal...and good food and champagne! One of the things I like best about this time of year is seeing random acts of kindness and goodwill towards others. I enjoy buying and making presents for others and seeing, or hearing about, their delight once they get them. The giving holds true for my animal friends and family as well. This year I expanded my giving. I took part in the Santa Kitty Toy Hop, providing toys to shelter cats. I provided treats for the small animals there as well (one rabbit, at the moment). I also took a box of presents to a dog at a shelter.

My first stop was the Scottsville Veterinary Hospital. They are also an adoption site. They have a project called Operation Shelter Pet. People fill up a shoe box full of toys, then come to the facility, pick an animal and open the box with that shelter pet.

I bought treats for an adult dog.

No one was with this dog and there was no information on his cage. I chose him! I later found out his name is Astro and he's about 4 years old.

Here's Astro checking out one of his gifts.

I got thank you kisses.

As I was leaving I met Henry. Henry was confused with all of the people around-he was sitting outside by the door of the kennels. I found staff who took him back to the cat area.

Then I went to Rochester Animal Services AKA the Verona Street Animal Society AKA the Rochester, NY city pound.

I won a box of cat toys from author Mary Kennedy to take to the shelter.

I also took some toys I got myself.

I couldn't leave out the dogs and small animals!

Shalimar is one of the cats there waiting for a new home.

Here's the cat who stole a bit of my heart. Her name is Andrea. I told the staff to make sure she gets the wobble bobble toy! I hope she finds a home for Christmas. I hope they all do!

Here's wishing you and all the furry critters, both real and fictional, both with homes and the homeless, a joyous holiday season.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Santa Kitty Toy Hop

The toys have been gathered for the Santa Kitty Toy Hop. I'll be delivering them to Rochester Animal Services: the Verona Street Animal Society. Pictures and a longer post will follow soon.

Will you be donating to your local shelter or rescue organization?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading An Accidental Alchemist by Gigi Pandian. This book is the first in the Accidental Alchemist Mystery series. I generally don't review books with which I'm unfamiliar on book tours, but I took a chance on this book and am I sure glad I did. I am loving it! Zoe Faust (gotta love the name) has decided to settle down in Portland, Oregon after centuries of traveling. (Yes, Zoe is over 300 years old.) She decides to buy a home, a fixer upper, and perhaps begin to practice alchemy once again. There are many surprises awaiting her-a French gargoyle requesting her alchemical help, a troubled youth, a burglary, an intriguing detective, and a dead contractor on her doorstop.

Recipes included.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Shadow of Doubt Tour - An Interview with Nancy Cole Silverman

I'd like to welcome Nancy Cole Silverman to the blog today. Nancy writes the Carol Childs Mystery series. Shadow of Doubt, the first in the series, was released December 2nd.

Kathy: In Shadow of Doubt we meet Carol Childs, a reporter for a local talk radio station. How did you decide upon that career for your protagonist?

NCS: Carol Childs was an easy protagonist for me to come up with because I worked in radio, news and talk for nearly twenty five years and it felt very comfortable for me to place her inside a radio station.

Kathy: The media, both "legitimate" and social play, huge roles when someone is murdered. How have these roles changed to what we, and Carol, have to deal with today?

NCS: Time and instant gratification drive so much of what the media can provide and does today. News must turn a profit for all media and time is money. Consequently, news stories we might want to see with more in depth coverage are limited and squeezed out to make room for the next big breaking news story.

Kathy: A Hollywood psychic warns Carol of more deaths. Have you ever consulted a psychic?

NCS: In my youth, yes. Today, no. But I think writers are all a little psychic. Maybe it comes with age, I’m not certain. But the fact that Carol encounters a psychic is typical of the types of people that come through a radio station, or find a way to get in front of a reporter covering a story.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

NCS: I think Carol’s voice is most given to Cozy. She’s a middle aged woman, balancing a career and two growing kids. She also is wise in that she knows that her strengths are her brain not her brawn and as a result is very careful about how she goes about her investigations, insuring there are never shots fired. There may be hearts broken, but she avoids violence at all costs.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

NCS: Some of my short stories and novelettes are more of a mixed genre; mystery/thriller/science fiction. In addition to Michael Connelly, I like Stephen King and Dean Koonst.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

NCS: The Carol Childs Mystery Series is about a middle-aged woman in the throes of a career change. Her life is a balancing act, as are most working women. I think that makes interesting and believable. In Shadow of Doubt, we meet her as she begins her second act at the radio station, where she has been given the opportunity to do what she wanted to do with her career years earlier and work as a reporter.

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

NCS: Without a doubt it would be Carol. In many ways she is very much like me, only much ballsier.

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

NCS: The series began with a self-published book, When in Doubt, Don’t. That book was inspired by a situation I had when I tried to sell my home and it was taken over by a group of rightwing extremists with ties to the Montana Freemen. For years I wanted to write that story. I must have written it as a thriller, as a comedy and finally as a mystery. After I wrote the second book, Shadow of Doubt, Henery Press asked me to do a series and I of course agreed. I pulled When in Doubt, Don’t temporarily and I’m considering rewriting it as a prequel. I’m not sure when I’ll finally get around to writing it. Right now I’m finishing up the sequel to Shadow of Doubt, with a new book, titled, Beyond a Doubt.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

NCS: I wanted to someone to read it.

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

NCS: That’s easy; Michael Connelly, Stephen King, Daniel Koonst and Gillian Flynn and Sandra Brown. I know that’s more than four and I could go on, but I’d make room for 5 because dinner parties are better with an even number and I’d be the sixth.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

NCS: The Burning Room by Michael Connelly.

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

NCS: I love to cook, movies, theater, hiking and when possible horseback riding.

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

NCS: WINE! Cheese, nuts and apples. I’m always ready for a cocktail hour.

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

NCS: Yes. I’m currently working on a new book for the Carol Childs mystery series.

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

NCS: The time I get to spend by myself exploring my thoughts and getting to know my characters. They tickle me.

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Spotlight - Christmas Cozy

It's Christmastime so I'd like to shine a spotlight in a Christmas mystery. Christmas Cozy by Kathi Daley is the 11th book in the Zoe Donovan Mystery series.

Christmas Cozy
Christmas in Ashton Falls is always a magical time of year. The first big snow has arrived, the tree in the town square has been decorated, the window displays completed, and Hometown Christmas is just around the corner. Zoe finds herself knee deep in holiday shopping and Children’s wishes as she and Zak play host to nine year old Scooter Sherwood and his friend Alex. Although a bit hectic, the magic of Christmas is in full bloom and things couldn’t be more perfect until Zoe finds the body of history teacher Holly Jolly in the Ashton Falls High School Christmas Tree lot. When best friend Levi Denton ends up as the primary suspect, Zoe is pulled into a dangerous holiday investigation.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Currently Reading...

I am just starting to read A Feta Attraction by Susannah Hardy. This book is the first in the new Greek to me Mystery series which will be released next month. I am so excited to dive into this book; it takes place in Upstate New York, deals with ghosts, and has Greek food-with recipes, Fantastic!

Georgie Nikolopatos is the manager of a Greek restaurant owned by her mother in law which is rumoured to be haunted. Her husband has gone missing (unfortunately, not a rare occurrence) and in addition to running the restaurant, Georgie has to deal with the unwanted attentions of their biggest competitor and the ghost hunting crew her husband contacted to investigate Bonaparte House. A dead body complicates things even further!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Doodlebugged & Giveaway

I'd like to welcome Susan J. Kroupa and the Bad-Mouthed Tour! Susan writes the Doodlebugged Mystery series featuring Doodle, a bed bug sniffing labradoodle. Bad-Mouthed is the fourth in the series.

Kathy: Doodle works for works for “the boss,” Josh Hunter of Hunter Bed Bug Detection. (I've actually seen bed bug dogs at work. Dogs are amazing!) How did you choose bed bug detection as the career?

SJK: I needed a dog career that would give me lots of material without being too grim, as these mysteries are aimed at dog lovers of all ages. So I knew that dogs trained to sniff out things like narcotics or weapons were out. And then, fortunately for me and sadly for him, one of my sons, who happens to live in Arlington, VA, had the misfortune of getting bed bugs in his apartment. The exterminator sent by the manager used a dog to search out the bugs. My son was impressed and told me about the visit in great detail, and I ended up not only with a career for Doodle, but a location for the books’ settings as well.

Kathy: Doodle is described as an "obedience-impaired labradoodle". Is he based on a real dog?

SJK: Oh, my, yes! We rescued Shadow, a labradoodle puppy, in 2008 and had no idea what we were getting into. That little bundle of cuteness turned out to be a highly energetic, super smart furball that felt no obligation to listen to anything we had to say. Ever. The first year with Shadow (aka The Barkster , Boing Boing, Hyperdrive, Motor Mouth—you get the idea) was difficult, but we learned a lot about how to handle and train a high drive, independent dog. (Sort of.) There’s a reason that so many sniffer dogs are rescues. High drive dogs have too much energy and independence to make good family pets without good and consistent training. But they’re eager, often compelled, to work, to do a job. So they make good working dogs.

That said, as smart and as trouble-prone as Shadow is, Doodle is smarter and even more trouble-prone, and like most fictional characters, is a composite, with a background and a personality uniquely his own. I think simply writing about one’s pet might quickly get boring. J

Kathy: Doodle creates quite a scene at a Christmas pageant. Have you ever witnessed a Christmas pageant gone bad?

SJK: Sad to say, I’ve never seen a pageant with a dog in it, much less one that chases a rat in the middle of a performance. I’m a musician (flute, piano) and have been in lots of pageants and music programs, but the most dramatic disasters I’ve faced have been with bad mikes, crackling speakers, or tuning problems.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

SJK: I have loved mysteries and particularly cozies since high school, many eons ago. I started out with Erle Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason books—not exactly cozies, I know—and moved on to Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Dorothy L. Sayers, Margery Allingham, Patricia Moyes, Dorothy Cannell . . . gosh I could use up my word allotment here just listing authors I love. I like the wide variety of settings, the fact that the (often) amateur detectives are drawn from all walks of life, the puzzle of who-done-it, and the fact that I know a cozy won’t plop me down in a gritty world filled with scenes of graphic violence. There’s a lot to be said for that.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

SJK: I got started writing science fiction and fantasy, and while I didn’t publish any novels in that genre, some of my short fiction—most of which is available online—won literary awards and was published in professional magazines such as (the now sadly defunct) Realms of Fantasy. Many of those stories were set in a post-apocalyptic time on the Hopi and Navajo reservations, where I lived for some years, while others, such as my Christmas stories have modern setting with a whimsical fantasy element.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

SJK: The Doodlebugged mysteries have been called, “. . . the perfect blend of mystery, suspense, and laugh-out-loud doggy observations,” by best-selling author Virginia Smith. The books are aimed at a wide age-range. Kids like the surface story and identify with Doodle and Molly. Adults like all the subtext—there’s a lot going on that will go right over kids’ heads, as it does Doodle’s much of the time. There are lots of adult issues in the background: immigration, single-parenting, racism, and the importance of family, but Doodle’s narration keeps the tone light.

The series starts with Bed-Bugged, where Doodle first gets adopted by the boss and Molly. He finds bed bugs in a strange place that ends up putting him and Molly in danger. While the characters’ relationships develop through the subsequent books, each book is a standalone and can be read independently.

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

SJK: I try to be a good parent and love all my characters equally, but, in truth, the adult part of me loves “the boss” Josh Hunter, with his struggles to be a good single parent, which I was for a few years. The grandmother part of me loves Molly and her passionate, inquisitive spirit, something the parent part of me couldn’t love perhaps quite as much because Molly gets into so much trouble! And the writer part of me loves Doodle, for his good heart, and for his sarcastic voice and metaphor-impaired understanding of humans and human conversation.

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

SJK: An indirect inspiration was my mother’s death in 2010, the year before I started the books. After her death, I found I couldn’t write anything at all dark without sinking into depression. I stumbled upon—or perhaps got bitten by?—the idea for the Doodlebugged books while searching for something light and humorous that would still have something to say.

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

SJK: Definitely Dorothy L. Sayers and C.S. Lewis, although I’d be intimidated to be in the same room with them and would feel vastly undereducated and thick-brained in the presence of their keen minds. But it would be worth it to hear their conversation! I’d also invite Mary Stewart whose books have had a huge influence on me, and one of my favorite nonfiction authors, Laura Hillenbrand, author of Seabiscuit and Unbroken.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

SJK: G.M. Malliet’s Wicked Autumn—Malliet’s so very witty. Death of a Cozy Writer cracked me up. I’m finishing Cat Warren’s excellent book, What the Dog Knows: the Science and Wonder of Working Dogs, and, as a reward for finishing several writing projects, Galbraith/Rowling’s The Silkworm. I absolutely loved Cuckoo’s Calling.

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

SJK: I’m an amateur photographer and have the good fortune to live in an extremely beautiful area, the Blue Ridge Mountains in southwestern Virginia. You can see some of my favorite photos on my webpage,

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

SJK: Butter, garlic, yogurt, and cheese. Oh, and wine. But that’s five. J

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

SJK: I have the first book in a new series, TreeTalker, due out in the spring of 2015. TreeTalker blends Celtic and Hopi myths in a contemporary fantasy. And, yes, it has dogs! I also have a new Doodlebugged mystery scheduled for the fall of next year. If you sign up for my newsletter (links on my webpage and in the backs of the Doodlebugged books), you can be the first to know when new books are released.

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

SJK: Living in the worlds of the stories and getting to know the characters. And I love it when I get the words right.


For a chance to win an e-book copy of Bad-Mouthed simply leave a comment on this blog post telling us about any "obedience-impaired" dog you know or a Christmas pageant mishap. Please also leave your e-reader format and an e-mail address so that I may contact you should you win. Also, be sure to enter the Rafflecopter contest for a print copy as well!

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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Magical Mystery Tour for Spell Booked

I'm thrilled to welcome Joyce and Jim Lavene and the Magical Mystery Tour for Spell Booked. The Giveaway for this tour is REALLY special and unique.

Kathy: You write several series set in different locations. How did you decide upon Wilmington, North Carolina as the setting for your Retired Witches Mystery series?

J&JL: Thanks for having us here today, Kathy! We LOVE Wilmington. When you walk by the Cape Fear River, the history of the place embraces you. And just the name – Cape Fear – who wouldn’t want to write a mystery set there? All the old houses that made it through pirate raids, the smugglers caves, and the cobblestones make it easy to imagine what it was like when Blackbeard spent time there.

Kathy: What made you decide to write about witches...and retiring witches, at that?

J&JL: Witches have gotten a bad rap through the years. We wanted to portray them as ordinary people who can sometimes do extraordinary things and have great respect for the earth and human nature. The part about retired witches was tongue-in-cheek. Just the idea that there could be witches of a certain age who could have some problems with their magic seemed humorous to us. The story is meant to be funny.

Kathy: Did you base the witches in Spell Booked on those who practice Wicca, or follow a similar path? Did you consult any witches or Wiccans as part of your research?

J&JL: Yes. Most of the story is based on Wiccan teachings. There are some aspects that are more magical than what you’d expect to find, but we tried to stay true to the witches we know. The witches we’ve let read the story thought it was funny and enjoyed the read.

Kathy: There are many famous literary and cinematic witches. Do you have any favorites?

J&JL: Not really, although we enjoyed the Witches of East End. We wanted our witches not to be as cute, pretty, or sexy. Just a few mothers, teachers, and lifelong friends.

Kathy: I absolutely adore the cover of Spell Booked! Can you tell us about your covers and cover art? Did you give any suggestions as to what the covers should be like? Did you have any say in the matter at all? Do you know your cover artist?

J&JL: The Berkley Prime Crime artists are exceptional, aren’t they? The cover art for Spell Booked was based on what we talked about with our editor, even down to the cats! Mary Ann Lasher did the artwork for the cover and the design was by Lesley Worrell. I should also mention the great interior designs by Laura K. Corless too. We love the steaming cauldron effect!

Kathy: Are you able to share any future plans for Molly and Elsie?

J&JL: We just finished writing the second book in the series, tentatively titled Looking for Mr. Goodwitch. Molly and Elsie will be further involved with training their new witch, Dorothy, with her mother, Olivia, looking on. They’ll have to keep looking for their missing spell book, and will be involved with the Grand Council of Witches – whether they want to be or not!

Kathy: Will you share any other upcoming books?

J&JL: In 2015, we’ll have the third Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mystery, In Hot Water, out in January along with the e-novella for the Biscuit Bowl series, Gator Bowl. In February, the second Biscuit Bowl Mystery, Fry Another Day, will be out. And in September, the next Retired Witches book will be out. Plus a few other surprises! Sweet Pepper and Biscuit Bowl are both written under a pseudonym, J. J. Cook., but all the books are from Berkley.



Spell Booked by Joyce and Jim Lavene
The First Retired Witches Mystery

The magical powers of Molly, Elsie, and Olivia are fading and they need to find witches to replace them so that they may pass down their spell book and retire to Boca Raton. They have their eye on recruiting Dorothy, a young librarian who doesn't even know she's a witch when tragedy hits. Olivia is murdered and their spell book stolen. Could another witch be killing witches to get their powers? Will Molly and Elsie be able to stop a powerful witch? Will they be able to retire to Boca with their family none the wiser of their magical abilities? Will they solve the murder of Olivia? Or die trying?

Life can be difficult if you're a witch, especially if you're a witch of a certain age. Friends for years, Molly, Elsie, and Olivia have never greatly explored their powers, using them mainly to help with household tasks. Cleanse the air. Fire rage. Now, their powers are fading, and worse, misfiring, so they're looking for new witches to train to take their place so that they can enjoy retirement in Boca.

Joyce and Jim Lavene take an interesting look  at witches in their new paranormal mystery series. What happens when witches with fading powers are forced to deal with a powerful witch; a witch with more power than the three combined even in their prime?! Forced to keep non-magical family members in the dark is difficult enough, it's even worse for Molly whose husband of 30 years is the homicide detective investigating the death of her good friend.

I enjoyed this take on the magical community; showing the down to earth, dare I say, mundane, world of witches, the bureaucracy of the Council, keeping secrets from loved ones. I also appreciate the fact that these women of a certain age continue to  look for romance and just plain sex.

Spell Booked kept me guessing. Who was good, who could be trusted, and who was the rogue witch? Joyce and James Lavene created a world where magic and mundane live together yet separate-even in the same households.

Now for the REALLY special giveaway. The prize is a handwritten grimoire (a book of spells), a print copy of Spell Booked, a willow wand, and a velvet bag to carry it in! Each blog on the tour has a set of words that are clues. When all the words are put together they make a Witch's Spell.

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Friday, December 5, 2014

Why I Love Writing Cozy Mysteries - Lucy Burdette Guest Post, Review, & Giveaway

Why I Love Writing Cozy Mysteries by Lucy Burdette

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of teaching a class on writing a cozy mystery series. You could probably guess that that I love writing these books just from the fact that book number thirteen is out this month. But more on that in a little bit…

What attracts me (and maybe you) to this kind of story? The character lives by her wits and solves mysteries through her curiosity and her ability to observe things and understand the people around her. There’s no special assist from police tactics and training: no search warrants, no takedowns with guns or Tasers, no computer database to help sort out clues. The only real skills that my character brings to the series are her recipes!

So I have to tackle questions in each book: First, what business is it of Hayley's to get involved in solving a crime? What does she want more than anything? Why does she care? To put it another way, what’s her stake in the story? And yikes, who would ever listen to her when she does discover an important clue? That brings us to my favorite part of writing these books, relationships. When I think about developing a victim and possible suspects, I think about who knows who and what secrets they are hiding. And what's important to Hayley, and to her friends and her family.

The brand new book, the fifth book in the Key West food critic mystery series, is called Death with all the Trimmings. Hayley has landed the interview of her career as a food critic, talking with and observing a top chef who's moved from New York City to Key West. She soon discovers that the chef’s been experiencing sabotage in her kitchen. With a fire and a murder, things whirl out of control from there. As usual, there's lots of food and family, and in this case, the charm of a Key West Christmas, too. Hayley and I and the whole Key West gang hope you'll enjoy the read!

About Death with all the Trimmings: It may be Christmastime, but thoughts of peace on earth, good will toward men, don’t seem to extend to the restaurant business. Food critic Hayley Snow has been assigned to interview Edel Waugh, chef/owner of Key West’s hottest new restaurant. But off the record, Edel reveals that there’s been sabotage in the kitchen and asks Hayley to investigate. Things heat up fast when the restaurant is set on fire—and a body is discovered in the charred wreckage. Is someone out to destroy the chef’s business—or actually kill her? Amid holiday festivities like the lighted boat parade, and visiting relatives who stir up mixed emotions, Hayley needs to smoke out an arsonist and a killer before they turn up the heat again…on her!

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Lucy Burdette (aka Roberta Isleib) is the author of 13 mysteries, including the latest in the Key West series featuring food critic Hayley Snow. Her books and stories have been short-listed for Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards. She's a past president of Sisters in Crime. She blogs about food and mysteries at Mystery Lovers Kitchen  and Jungle Red Writers. You can also find her on Facebook, and Twitter, and Pinterest.



Death with all the Trimmings by Lucy Burdette
The 5th Key West Food Critic Mystery

It's Christmastime in Key West and Hayley Snow has a lot on her plate. Hayley is dealing with the fact that her mom has decided that wintering in Key West is a great idea, a hiatus from a romance that was just starting to brew, and the fact that Ava, co-owner of the magazine, is still trying to get her fired. On the upside, Hayley has landed a great interview with the chef/owner of a new restaurant opening in town. What Hayley doesn't know is that the chef is hoping for more than an interview from Hayley-she needs her help. Someone is sabotaging the restaurant and Chef Edel has learned that Hayley has a nose for investigating. Things have just turned deadly on Key West-here's hoping that Hayley can find some peace this Christmas! 

The more I read this series, the more I love it. Lucy Burdette gives us Christmas in Key West featuring a Hometown Holiday Parade (where Hayley, Wally, and Danielle design their golf cart to look like a giant Key Lime pie pulled by reindeer), a town wide Christmas light competition, and the lighted boat parade, followed by the Dachshund Parade on New Years Day. The vivid descriptions transport me to the scene so that even I think a warm Christmas may be delightful. But there's more than Christmas ambiance to this book.

Lucy Burdette gives us a restaurant full of suspects, but what is the real motive? Was the kitchen sabotage perpetrated by the same person who killed Juan Carlos? Why kill him? Does it all have to do with a woman scorned? A business rivalry? Both? Hayley and Miss Gloria also have to deal with the consequences of getting involved in murder; possibly the most dangerous consequences they've ever faced! Death with all the Trimmings is a delightful read that kept me intrigued. We have a well thought out mystery enriched by characters who keep evolving, the uniqueness of Key West, the spirit of Christmas, and the promise that is a new year.

Recipes included.


This book would make a perfect stocking stuffer! For a chance of your own print copy of Death with all the Trimmings leave a comment on this post describing your favorite holiday event no later than Saturday, December 6th at 11:59 pm EST. Sorry, US addresses only. Be sure to leave your e-mail address, so that I may contact you should you win.