Friday, January 31, 2014

Stake and Eggs- Review - Catching Up With The Cackleberry Club

I posted a review of the latest Cackleberry Club Mystery earlier. Here's my review of the book previous to that. My favorite in the series so far!


Stake and Eggs by Laura Childs

Fourth in the Cackleberry Club Mystery Series

Stake and Eggs is the fourth book in the Cackleberry Club mystery series by Laura Childs. The first three books, while good, had a religious overtone with affirmations and group hugs that I found to be a bit much. This aspect was hardly apparent in Stake and Eggs and with it gone I really enjoyed the book.
Suzanne, Petra, and Toni are three women of a certain age who are partners in the Cackleberry Club-a cafe that specializes in egg dishes, a book store, and a knitting store, all in one location. It's a cold day in the Midwest and the women are waiting for the arrival of the new bank manager for a meeting. They hear the arrival of a snowmobile, then what sounds like another, then a crash. When Suzanne goes out to investigate she finds the body of the bank manager...dead! Needless to say, her investigating doesn't end there. Add an elusive runaway, a winter festival, and suspects aplenty, as well as yummy descriptions of food (with recipes included at the end of the book) and you have a captivating cozy mystery.

There’s a solid mystery here with some minor mysteries along the way. Who is that runaway, where has he gone, and, more importantly, what has he seen? The characters are more rounded, even Toni’s erstwhile overage delinquent husband. Instead of being annoying, Junior brings innovation and fun in the form of his car cooker.

Stake and Eggs is a great entry to a good series. This entry really captivated me and reignited my interest in the Cackleberry Club.

Recipes are included.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Currently Reading...

I'm continuing to read Days of Wine and Roquefort by Avery Aames. This 5th book in the Cheese Shop Mystery series has me reading passed my new bedtime. I'm back at work and am getting used to a new sleep schedule, so I haven't been reading as much. I'm thoroughly enjoying this book, even if I'm not reading it quickly!

Charlotte has to deal with missing Jordan, having a house guest murdered in her workshop, dealing with the antics of some of her neighbors, and friends pressuring her to help solve the crime. There are lots of interesting angles and suspects, and I can't wait to see what happens. I'm also curious to find out who Noelle really was!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Eggs in a Casket - Review


Eggs in a Casket by Laura Childs
Fifth in the Cackleberry Club Mystery series
Suzanne, Petra, and Toni are three women of a certain age who are partners in the Cackleberry Club-a cafe that specializes in egg dishes, a book store, and a knitting store, all in one location. While delivering flowers for Memorial Cemetery’s Sesquicentennial celebration Suzanne and Toni stumble upon a body in a grave. The only problem, the body is not one of the dearly departed resting in his coffin, but a newly murdered laying in the muddy plot. Of course, our ladies get involved, especially as a good friend is a very good suspect.

Eggs in a Casket is the fifth entry in the Cackleberry Club Mystery series by Laura Childs. I always appreciate a mystery wherein the murder victim is a nasty person. That happens to be the case here, which also means there are a lot of suspects. Could the ex-wife, who was acting not so exy, be the murderer? What about the ornery man who lives next to the cemetery? Surely it couldn’t be their good friend Missy, even though she was receiving unwanted attention from the victim and was seen leaving the cemetery in a hurry just before the body was found. Could it?

I enjoyed this entry in the Cackleberry Club Mystery series. Author Laura Childs brings back her unique cast of characters. While I don’t care for Toni as a person, I realize some of her annoying (to me) actions are necessary to get Suzanne the clues she needs to help solve the murder. The climax of this story was thrilling, action packed, and kept me fully engaged. However, after I finished reading I questioned how plausible that action was. Still, if you give a willing suspension of disbelief I think you’ll find it riveting!

Recipes are included....and sound delicious!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Currently Reading...

I'm just about to start Days of Wine and Roquefort by Avery Aames. This book is the 5th in the Cheese Shop Mystery series and will be released on February 4th. I'm lucky enough to have an advanced copy.

I've really enjoyed reading the first 4 books in this series and can't wait to dive into this one, especially since it looks as though wine will have an even bigger role!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Two Kaminskis - Interview of a Kaminski by a Kaminski - No Relation

I'd like to welcome Stephen Kaminski to Cozy Up With Kathy. Stephen writes the Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective Mystery series.
Kathy: I must admit I was excited to interview you as we have something quite personal in common...our surname. Yes, I am also a Kaminski!
SK: Hi, Kathy, It’s a pleasure to meet a fellow Kaminski!

Kathy: I'm quite proud of my Polish heritage. Do you follow any specific Polish traditions?
SK: I’m proud as well.  One Polish tradition my family follows happens during the December holidays—passing the oplatek.  Oplatek is a traditional unleavened wafer that symbolizes family unity.  We stand in a circle holding hands, express our gratefulness for being together as a family during the holidays, break off a piece of oplatek and pass the remainder around, and culminate the process with hugs and kisses.  Another Polish tradition I follow is eating paczki on Paczki Day (also known as Fat Tuesday).  

Kathy: Damon Lassard is the head of Hollydale's citizens association. Have you ever held such a title? If not, would you want to do so?
SK: I haven’t been the head of a local citizens association.  It’s largely a thankless position and one I’ll definitely save for retirement.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
SK: I’ve always been a mystery lover, because I’m particularly drawn to complex plotting. What led me to the genre of cozies is the focus on witty dialogue and character development over the course of a series. I’d much rather focus on plotting, twists and turns, and snappy repartee than overt violence.   

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
SK: I don’t.  I have a full time position with a national non-profit organization so I have to focus my writing time on a single series.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.
SK: The Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective series features amateur sleuth Damon Lassard.  Damon recently returned to the United States after a stint in the Japanese professional baseball league.  He moves to the Hollydale community of Arlington, Virginia, just west of Washington, DC to live near his twice-widowed mother, Lynne. Damon spends his days volunteering as Hollydale’s citizens association president, at the local branch library, and with a community crime solvers tip line – giving him just enough free time to solve the pesky murders that seem to keep popping up. 

The cast of characters is a loveable one: Damon’s mother Lynne has a wicked sense of humor, Mrs. Chenworth is the local gossip who adores pushing Damon into corners, Rebecca (Damon’s best friend) and the breathtaking Bethany Krims add complicated twists to Damon’s love life, and Damon’s next door neighbor who is going through a mild depression allows Damon to demonstrate his compassionate side.  

Cozy Cat Press has published two books in the series thus far: It Takes Two to Strangle (2012) and Don’t Cry Over Killed Milk (2013). 

Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
SK: My favorite character is Mrs. Chenworth, the town busybody.  I use Mrs. Chenworth to impart physical comedy into my books.

Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
SK: Just personal satisfaction and the joy of being able to bring a good story to others.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
SK: I’ve always been an avid reader and for quite some time wanted to try my hand at writing.  Once I started, I couldn’t stop.  Then, I wanted to share my stories with others and had the good fortune of finding a wonderful publisher in Cozy Cat Press.

Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
SK: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Agatha Christie, James Madison (solely in his capacity as the principal author of the U.S. Constitution), and Ayn Rand (to query her on the handling of the recent financial crisis).

Kathy: What are you currently reading?
Winter of the World by Ken Follett and An Unsuitable Job for a Woman by P.D. James.

Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
SK: When not writing, reading, or working, I spend the majority of my time playing with, and shuttling around, my seven year-old daughter.  I also enjoy playing soccer and cooking (but not baking).

Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
SK: Kosher baby dill pickles, Swiss cheese, blueberries, and red wine (mainly Malbec and Shiraz).

Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
SK: I’m working hard on a third book in the Damon Lassard series and hope to have it ready for publication in the fall of 2014.

Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
SK: Writing and editing. I truly enjoy spending an early weekend morning with multiple cups of strong black coffee and my characters.  I love the feeling of writing something and knowing that six to eight months later, someone will read it and laugh out loud or say to themselves, “that was totally unexpected.”

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Eggs in a Casket by Laura Childs. If you've been reading my posts lately, you'll know that this book is the latest in the Cackleberry Club Mystery series, released just last week.

Suzanne and Toni stumble upon a body in a grave. The only problem, the body is not one of the dearly departed resting in his coffin, but a newly murdered laying in the muddy plot. Of course, our ladies get involved, especially as a good friend is a very good suspect.

Recipes are included....and sound delicious!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Teacup Turbulence: An Interview & Review

I'd like to welcome Linda O. Johnston back to Cozy Up With Kathy. Linda's latest release, Teacup Turbulence, was released this past Tuesday.

Kathy: In Teacup Turbulence dogs with little hope for adoption at their current shelter are flown to a place where finding a new home is much more likely. While your book is a work of fiction, the rescue work you describe is very real. You mention the group Wings of Rescue and a rescue group near me has used Pilots and Paws. Will you tell us about these types of rescues?

LOJ: I was fascinated and delighted to hear about this kind of rescue. I heard about it from several sources, including a family connection, a pilot who has participated in some of these wonderful flights. The idea behind it is to move pets who are hard to rehome in one area to a different locale where they're welcomed with open arms--and new homes. Sometimes the saved animals are flown directly from the spot where they've been rescued to the area where they're more likely to be adopted faster. Other times, it's done in relays as in Teacup Turbulence, where several pilots are involved in different smaller stages of moving the pets. It's also done via car rides or relays sometimes, too, or even combinations. In all, it's a wonderful thing that people do to save the lives of animals who are unwanted in one place but are sought and loved in another.

Kathy: Was there a specific inspiration for this story?

LOJ: Yes, both that family connection and a restaurant that I heard of but don't believe is open any longer, the Orange Dog Bar & Grill in Huntington Beach, California. In addition to serving good food, the owners of that restaurant apparently arranged for California dogs who needed homes to be flown to Canada where they were wanted. I heard that the restaurant lost its lease and was going to reopen elsewhere, but I haven't heard about its reopening. Nor am I sure if its underlying pet-rescue organization Orange Dog, Inc., is still in operation. But I loved the idea of what they did and was eager to write about the concept--in Teacup Turbulence! 

Kathy: I always enjoy the covers of your Pet Rescue Mysteries. Do you have any input in their design?

LOJ: I've loved them all, too. I've not been involved in their design but have been quite pleased with them. I especially like the cover for Teacup Turbulence. One of the dogs is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy. Cavaliers are not really teacup dogs, but I've been owned by Cavaliers for a lot of years so it's delightful to see one on my cover.

Kathy: Are you able to share any future plans for Hot Rescues and Lauren Vancouver?

LOJ: Lauren may be retiring from solving mysteries. At this point her only future plans may consist of a novella--unsure, although Lauren keeps whispering in my ear!

Kathy: Will you share any other upcoming books?

LOJ: I have two Harlequin Nocturnes--paranormal romances--being published in 2014, part of my Alpha Force miniseries about a covert military unit of shapeshifters: UNTAMED WOLF and LOYAL WOLF. And in September the first in my new Superstition Mystery series for Midnight Ink, LOST UNDER A LADDER, will debut.

Kathy: You volunteer with a rescue organization. What made you decide to volunteer and how do you help?

LOJ: I started volunteering with Pet Orphans of Southern California after I visited that private, pet-loving shelter while starting to research my Pet Rescue Mysteries. I really liked it and have volunteered there ever since, usually for just one afternoon a week. I'm a dog adoption counselor, which means I get to introduce visitors interested in adopting dogs to those who are available to become their family members. And when I learn that any counsel I helped with turns into an adoption, I'm always thrilled!

Kathy: I developed a new interview section-this or that. The author has to pick one of the 2 choices given.

Library or Bookstore 

LOJ: Love 'em both for different reasons. But if I have to choose one over the other, it's Bookstore. I enjoy owning books!

Expositional or Continuing Story 

LOJ: Continuing story. I tend to turn nearly anything I write into a series or mini-series these days.

Editing or Marketing 

LOJ: You know, years ago I'd definitely have chosen Editing. I love writing and the editorial process. But marketing is a large part of being a published author, and I've come to enjoy that, too--both in person by teaching or participating on panels, and online in blogs (Yes, like Cozy Up With Kathy!!!) and on Facebook. So... give me marketing.

TV or Film

LOJ: Once again, I love them both. But TV in all its many aspects is an important part of my life--news and drama shows, mostly. So... it's TV for me.

Chocolate or Vanilla

LOJ: No question here. I'm a chocoholic. Give me chocolate, the darker the better, and I'm happy!

Mountains or Beach

LOJ: I live in the Los Angeles area, so I'm not too far from the beach. But I live in the Hollywood Hills and have a view of the mountains that turn the San Fernando Valley into a valley, and much prefer cool air to hot--so... mountains.

Tea or Coffee 

LOJ: Again no question here. Maybe it's the caffeine in both coffee and chocolate, but give me a cup of coffee--no several--each day, and I'm happy.

Cats or Dogs 

LOJ: Yet again, no question: dogs. I appreciate and admire cats, but I was born loving dogs, and now particularly adore my Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Lexie and Mystie.

Summer or Winter

LOJ: As I mentioned before, I prefer cool air to hot, so winter. But remember, I live in Los Angeles and have for quite a few years. Coolness in winter here isn't like the bitter, snowy cold I grew up with in Pittsburgh. The cold didn't bother me even then, but I'm just as happy avoiding snow.

Normal or Paranormal

LOJ: I could answer this by saying either one. I like to write about things not considered to be normal, like shapeshifters, as I do with my Harlequin Nocturnes. On the other hand, rescuing pets is--and should be--normal. And dogs as family members are definitely normal. If crimes occur, solving them should be normal. So, if I really have to choose, let's just say normal--without ruling out the paranormal side! After all, are superstitions normal or not?

Vampire or Werewolf 

LOJ: Werewolf. Hey, they're animals of sorts. My Alpha Force members, who shift mostly into wolves, even maintain cover dogs that resemble what they look like in shifted form to help to keep the secret military unit's existence and talents covert.


Teacup Turbulence by Linda O. Johnston
The fifth Pet Rescue Mystery

Teacup Turbulence is the fifth entry in the Pet Rescue Mystery series by Linda O. Johnston. Thanks to an ad campaign for Hot Pets Bling, a line of faux jewelry dog collars, teacup dogs (those little breeds such as Chihuahuas, Maltese, and Yorkshire Terriers) become even more popular in Los Angeles. So popular, in fact, that local animal shelters are adopting them out almost as fast as they come in, and yet people are clamoring for more! Lauren Vancouver, director of Hot Rescues, enlists the help of two new adopters to fly some little dogs newly rescued from a Missouri puppy mill to LA, where they’d have a better chance at getting adopted. Unfortunately, our protagonist gets more than the small dogs she expected. A thoroughly unpleasant woman accompanies them. Nasty to everyone and making vague threats and accusations, it’s no wonder this stranger to LA winds up murdered. But who actually knew enough about her to want to kill her…or what did she know too much about?

Teacup Turbulence is a solid entry in the Pet Rescue Mystery series. Author Linda O. Johnston brings attention to many aspects of animal rescue work and gives readers lots of insight into the rescue community. I admit the book may give more time to this aspect and less to the actual mystery, but the two are definitely related and I, for one, enjoy reading about animals, shelters, and what we can do to help. For me, this didn’t distract from the story, but just added real world relevance. 

Linda O. Johnston pens an enjoyable mystery filled with wonderful animals that also raises awareness of pet rescue. The author gave enough twists and turns in the story to keep me intrigued. Could there be more than one mystery here? You’ll have to read it to find out!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Eggs in a Casket Winners!

Congratulations to Anonymous and Dorothy Teel: you are the winners of Laura Child's Eggs in a Casket. I'll be e-mailing you for more information.

For everyone else, your egg ideas were great. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you keep visiting-there are lots of exciting posts coming up!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Stake and Eggs by Laura Childs. This book is the 4th book in her Cackleberry Club Mystery series. The 5th book in the series, Eggs in a Casket, was just released yesterday-so I'm trying to catch up!

Suzanne, Petra, and Toni are 3 women of a certain age who are partners in the Cackleberry Club-a cafe that specializes in egg dishes, a book store, and a knitting store, all in one location. It's a cold day in the midwest and the women are waiting for the arrival of the new bank manager for a meeting. They hear the arrival of a snowmobile, then what sounds like another, then a crash. When Suzanne goes out to investigate she finds the body of the bank manager...dead! Needless to say, her investigating doesn't end there.

Recipes are included.

Don't forget to leave a comment on Sundays blog post about your favorite egg dish for a chance to win your own copy of Eggs in a Casket. You have through today to do so!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Life with a Ghost with Fire Chief Stella Griffin & Review

Life with a Ghost with Fire Chief Stella Griffin
By J. J. Cook

Maybe this should have been titled ‘Life with A Hardheaded, Stubborn Ghost’ Eric Gamlyn was a paragon while he was alive, forty years ago. Stories about him – true and not so true – ring through the mountains that surround Sweet Pepper, Tennessee.

First of all, let’s look at some of those myths:
* He built the old firehouse by himself while he was building his log cabin on the mountain close to it. I think this one is true. Maybe not totally by himself, but it was his idea and he did most of the work.

* He changed the course of the Little Pigeon River when it flooded. Not true. Come on! He’s big, but he’s not Paul Bunyan!

* He rescued many people from fires. Very true. The Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade he began was his life’s work. He died trying to protect it.

As far as Eric’s death is concerned, I’m working on it. Everyone thought he died a hero in the big silo fire. Instead, he was shot in the head and stuffed into the wall of the old firehouse. No one knew the truth until the firehouse burned down, and we found his bones and badge. Eric is mad at me, like it was my fault he didn’t die the way he thought he died! There seems to be some memory lapse for him, so he can’t remember exactly what happened. He’s not much help as I’m trying to piece it all together. And he’s got an attitude about it too! I know it’s important to him to find out the truth – he just doesn’t want to admit it. That’s fine. I can take care of it for him. Will that mean he just disappears like ghosts do in the movies sometimes when everyone figures out what happened – like The Canterbury Ghost? I hope not. He’s my best friend, despite being stubborn and hardheaded. He’s also the only hope we ever have of winning the blue ribbon in the Sweet Pepper Festival. I’m not the kind of cook that wins awards! But I am the person who won’t rest until I’ve brought Eric’s killer to justice. I can promise you that.


Playing with Fire by J.J. Cook
The second Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mystery

Come back to Sweet Pepper, Tennessee with Playing with Fire, by J.J. Cook. There’s a lot going on in this, the second Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mystery. Everyone is wondering when Stella is going to leave Tennessee and return to Chicago, including Stella. Now that it’s known that Eric was indeed murdered, Stella feels she should stay to attempt to figure out what actually happened, shouldn’t she? She’s also growing attached to the town…and her ghost is growing attached to her. To add to the quagmire her parents have come to town, bringing along her philandering ex-boyfriend. When another murder occurs it seems it must be related to the former fire chief’s murder. Is it?

I love this series and I was just as pleased with this book as I was with its predecessor. I love the fact that Eric can actually cook, actually physically prepare food and that he does so when stressed. I also appreciate the fact that he’s developing feelings for Stella and I’m wondering if she will begin to reciprocate. And what can happen if she does. I know that there can be ghostly happily ever afters in romance novels…but this is a mystery. Still, I’m quite enjoying the romantic aspect…especially Eric’s reaction to Doug! But never fear, to those of you who prefer not to get sidetracked by romance and the paranormal in your mysteries there is a good solid mystery story here. More than one actually.

I was more than pleased to be back in Sweet Pepper, Tennessee and highly recommend this book. The author deftly weaves mysteries, both new and old, with a glimpse of romance, a touch of the paranormal, and a pleasant dose of humor.