Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Criminal Kind Interview & Giveaway

I'm happy to welcome Mary Anne Edwards back to Cozy Up With Kathy. Mary Anne writes The Charlie McClung Mystery series. Criminal Kind, the third book in the series, is being released today!

Kathy: The Charlie McClung Mystery series is a traditional mystery series. While staying true to yourself, do you sometimes try to channel some of the authors of the Golden Age of detective fiction, such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers?

MAE: I love the Golden Age detectives and I truly hope my stories has at least a tiny bit of that spirit woven into them. Someone once compared my writing style to that of Agatha Christie. I was thrilled by the compliment, not that I think I’m anywhere near her caliber. Maybe one day. An old lady can dream, right?

Kathy: Speaking of these great authors of the past, many were very interested in true crime and often studied cases and came up with their own theories. Are you interested in true crime as well? If so, stories of the past only, or current true crime cases as well?

MAE: Love true crimes of the past! So interesting to see how crime-solving has evolved over the years. Current crime cases can be interesting as well. Even with the advancements we have now, solving a mystery can still prove to be most difficult.

Kathy: When it comes to writing I understand there are 2 general camps-plotters, who diligently plot their stories, and pansters, who fly by the seat of their pants. Are you a plotter, a panster, or do you fall somewhere in between?

MAE:  I fall somewhere in between. For each story, I have a three-ring binder with loose leaf paper. I first come up with the crime, then the characters, and then write a few lines for each chapter. The chapters always change but at least I have a beginning, middle, and an ending.

Kathy: Your protagonist in the Charlie McClung Mystery series is a man. Is there a reason you chose to have a man instead of a woman take the lead role in your series?

MAE: Good question! Well, I wanted to write a traditional mystery and I’ve always liked a man in the lead. I’m old fashion, I guess. So, I decided to have a strong male who could handle a strong, yet feminine, female. They are equals as well. My characters are based on real people and real situations.

Kathy: In Criminal Kind Detective Charlie McClung takes a Caribbean cruise. Have you ever been on a cruise?

MAE: Yes, I’ve been on 10 or 11 cruises. Love cruising! I did take a few liberties with the staff and their job duties. But it’s fiction, right? Sometimes facts are not that exciting. I hope I will be forgiven.

Kathy: Was there a specific inspiration for this story?

MAE: I do a lot of people watching during a cruise. I wonder how many of the passengers are criminals in disguise. If any one of them, could toss someone over the side of the ship or push someone down the stairs without a second thought. My mind begins to spin and different scenarios pop into my head. I wonder how many people assume a different persona while on board and then return to their “real” life once they’re off the ship.

Kathy: Are you able to share any future plans for Charlie?

MAE: Charlie’s career advances. His and Marian's relationship will deepen. There will be surprises and tragedies.

Kathy: Will you share any other upcoming books?

MAE: The fourth book, “Sins of My Youth,” will be focused on Joan, Marian’s best friend. And you’ll see the stalker, again. Right now, I have a total of 10 books planned for this series. Who knows how far Charlie and Marian will go.


The author has an e-book for two lucky readers. One reader will win a Kindle copy of Brilliant Disguise, the first book in the Charlie McClung Mystery series and the other a Kindle copy of A Good Girl, the second in the series.To qualify, simply leave a comment on this post no later than 11:59 EDT Wednesday, July 1, 2015. Tell us if you've ever been on a cruise. Be sure to leave your e-mail address so that I may contact you if you win along with which book you'd prefer to win.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

A Tourist Trap Interview & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Lynn Cahoon back to Cozy Up With Kathy. Lynn writes the Tourist Trap Mystery series. Dressed to Kill, the 4th book in the series, was just released this past week!

Kathy: Dressed to Kill features a dinner theatre murder mystery. Have you ever attended one? Or participated in one?

LC: Great question. Not a murder mystery, but I used to go with a group of friends to a dinner theater in Boise, Idaho. Knock ‘em Dead put up a stage in an old warehouse and put on great shows. I saw Big River (Tom Sawyer) there and their Christmas variety show was not to be missed.

Kathy: The dinner theatre event in which Jill is reluctantly participating is for charity. Have you ever participated in something you would have rather avoided, but got involved as it was for charity?

LC: I’m not a big fan of fun runs. Now, I’ve done them, mostly as a participant, and I have a great time once I’m there, but getting me to commit? That’s the hard part.

Kathy: I've always been fascinated by the 1920s and would love to dress up as a flapper. Do flappers have any special meaning for you?

LC: Besides wanting the cool fringe dress? Actually, I love the idea of an independent woman, dancing because she loves her life. My mom always said I looked like Veronica Lake, who was an early screen star in the 1940’s. I’m sure she did her share of partying.

Kathy: Sherry is a master manipulator. Do you have the misfortune of personally knowing someone similar?

LC: Oh, my, yes. My ex-husband was a professional at the task. J I’ve also worked for people who weren’t in the job for anything but themselves. You can always spot them because they rise up fast in the ranks, never staying long enough for their decisions to start causing problems. Good news is I’ve worked with a whole lot more of the nicer people.

Kathy: Was there a specific inspiration for this story?

LC: I wanted Dressed to Kill to be about a theme. What would you do for a friend? There are several characters who are struggling with that issue in the book. But mostly, I wanted to continue with writing a good story about my friends who live in South Cove.

Kathy: Are you able to share any future plans for Jill Gardner?

LC: Killer Run releases in August. Jill Gardner—owner of Coffee, Books, and More—has somehow been talked into sponsoring a 5k race along the beautiful California coast. The race is a fundraiser for the local preservation society—but not everyone is feeling so charitable…

The day of the race, everyone hits the ground running…until a local business owner stumbles over a very stationary body. The deceased is the vicious wife of the husband-and-wife team hired to promote the event—and the husband turns to Jill for help in clearing his name. But did he do it? Jill will have to be very careful, because this killer is ready to put her out of the running…forever!

Murder on Wheels, comes out in February 2016. I love this new story, where the food truck comes to South Cove.

Both of these are available for pre-order. I signed a contract for three more books after Murder on Wheels. Look for them in June and January on going.

Kathy: Will you share any other upcoming books?

LC: The Cat Latimer series, book one, is called A Story to Kill (working title) and releases in print in October 2016. I love building a new town where new imaginary friends can live. The house Cat’s remodeling into a writer’s retreat, bed and breakfast is based after an old mansion in Boise. I loved riding my bike past the house and dreaming of what it might be like to live there.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Well Read, Then Dead by Terrie Farley Moran. This book is the first in the Read 'Em and Eat Mystery series. It was released last year and won the Agatha Award for Best First Novel!

Sassy and her best friend Bridgy have been through a lot together over the years. After a series of unpleasant ends up North, they decided to start over, relocating to the Gulf Coast of Florida to start a combination book shop and cafe. Running book club meetings and serving literary styled food the two have made many friends, including elderly cousins Augusta and Delia. Not everyone is friendly however, including the pastor's wife-who not a shining example of God's grace! There are also treasure hunters who have made veiled, and not so veiled threats. Delia is soon found murdered and Augusta decrees that Sassy must find and bring the killer to justice. With a considerate journalist and a good looking new lieutenant with the Sheriff's department both telling her to leave the investigating to the police, Sassy becomes more determined to look into things on her own.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Spotlight - The Diva Steals a Chocolate Kiss

I'd like to shine a spotlight on another new release. The Diva Steals a Chocolate Kiss by Krista Davis was published this month. This book is the 9th book in the Domestic Diva Mystery Series.

From the back cover:

The New York Times Bestselling author of The Diva Wraps it Up unwraps an all-new tale in which chocolate is the kiss of death.

Domestic diva Sophie Winston is in charge of the sweetest event in Old Town this summer. Amore Chocolates is celebrating its sixtieth anniversary with a chocolate tasting at the mansion of the company's CEO, Joe Merano-and Sophie is running the show. With cookies, candy, and five kinds of chocolate cake, it's a chocolate lover's dream! But after Joe goes missing, the celebration becomes bittersweet. And when Sophie discovers the body of a competing chocolatier in the guesthouse the event turns downright deadly.

As if that wasn't enough, Sophie's been receiving daily boxes of sweet treats. After ruling out her new beau and her exes, Sophie wonders if someone's trying to send her a message-and if she's next on a chocoholic's hit list...

Recipes Included

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Meet Joanne Guidoccio & Gilda Greco with a Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Joanne Guidoccio to the blog today. Joanne writes the Gilda Greco Mystery series. A Season for Killing Blondes is the first book in the series and was released earlier this month.

Kathy: Gilda Greco is about to open a career counseling practice. Have you ever received, or provided, career counseling?

JG: Eight years before retirement, I decided to plan ahead for the future. I signed up for a Career Development Practitioner program with a low residency option. It took me five years, but I was able to obtain the designation and hone my new skill set in the co-operative education classroom. During the last three years of my teaching career, I helped students identify career direction, prepare résumés and cover letters, hone interview skills, and adapt to their work placements.

Kathy: Not only does Gilda have to deal with a former high school crush, she has to deal with mean girl antics. Did you have to deal with such behavior in high school? Or now?

JG: In every school, past and present (and I imagine future), there will be mean girl antics. As a student, I was able to steer clear of that particular crowd. During my teaching years, I watched carefully for any inappropriate behavior and nipped it in the bud. If the behavior persisted, I enlisted the aid of social workers, guidance counselors, and administration.

Kathy: I've never agreed with the saying "blondes have more fun". They certainly don't in A Season for Killing Blondes. Did you have a particular reason to kill blondes?

JG: My well-honed left brain loves patterns. So, when I conjured up the storyline, I searched for several constants. Four dead blondes immediately came to mind. BTW...All my blonde friends are getting a chuckle out of the title.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

JG: During my “cancer” year, I was very particular about my reading material. My primary focus was healing and I could not afford any major energy drains. Cozy mysteries fit that bill beautifully. During my sixteen-month leave of absence, I read voraciously and often completed a book in one sitting. Well acquainted with the genre, I decided to try my own hand at writing.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

JG: I also write paranormal romances about middle-aged ex-mermaids. My debut novel, Between Land and Sea, was released in 2013. The sequel, The Coming of Arabella, will be released by Soul Mate Publishing in August 2015.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

JG: A Season for Killing Blondes is the first book in the Gilda Greco Mystery Series. Based in Northern Ontario, these books feature a fifty-something Italian woman, her relatives, deserving and undeserving men, and food

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

JG: I identify strongly with Gilda Greco, the protagonist of the novel. So much so, that I used the first-person POV. Our similarities...Italian Canadian, born and raised in Sudbury, relocated to Southern Ontario, mathematics teachers, career development practitioners, yoga enthusiasts, non-foodies.

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

JG: Reinvention is the recurring theme in all my novels. I’m especially interested in inspiring and motivating boomer women (and their older sisters) to launch spectacular second acts. On my website, I have featured the reinvention stories of 90+ women from Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, and the United States.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

JG: While I enjoy writing for my own personal development, I also wish to share my work. I have been very fortunate to attract the attention of The Wild Rose Press and Soul Mate Publishing.

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

JG: I would invite Louise Penny, Ann Lamott, Maeve Binchy, and Maya Angelou.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

JG: I have two books on my night table: The Birthday Lunch by Joan Clark and Your Next Breath by Iris Johansen.

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

JG: Reading, blogging, yoga, Toastmasters, movies, scrapbooking, photography.

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

JG: I love colorful fruits and vegetables and usually have the following in my fridge: blueberries, cantaloupe, yellow or orange peppers, and Swiss chard.

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

JG: Several ideas are percolating for Books 2 and 3 in the Gilda Greco Mystery Series – Too Many Women in the Room and A Different Kind of Reunion.

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

JG: After spending 31 years in a very structured workplace, I welcomed the opportunity to flex my creative muscles and enjoy a more relaxed life. There is some structure to my days, but I feel free to change the pace and add/subtract activities. Seeing my name in print is the icing on the cake.

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Friday, June 19, 2015

Spotlight - Collared for Murder

I'd like to shine a spotlight on a recently released book. Collared for Murder by Annie Knox is the third book in the Pet Boutique Mystery series.

From the back cover:

Groomed for Murder's Izzy McHale is back, and her pet boutique, Trendy Tails, is raking in the green. But someone else in town is seeing red...

The Midwestern Cat Fancier's Organization is bringing its annual weeklong retreat to Merryville, Minnesota. While that's perfect for Izzy's business, it unleashes headaches for everyone else. The event has lots of workshops on the care and breeding of cats, and it culminates in a cat show with a fabulous prize-a platinum collar dangle worth some big bucks.

Cattiness, of course, ensues. But the claws really come out after the prize disappears, and the wealthy director Phillip Denford, is done in with a pair of grooming shears. Now Izzy and her furry friends, Packer and Jinx, can't waste time pussyfooting around. They have to solve this case before a killer pounces again.

Recipes Included.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Fatal Reservations by Lucy Burdette. This book is the 6th in the Key West Food Critic Mystery series and will be released July 7, 2015.

There's a new floating restaurant in Key West, but it's causing a commotion at the city commission meeting, as it seems not to be bound to the same constraints as its on land competition. Add an unruly group of street performers to a volatile meeting and you have a recipe for disaster. Hayley's friend and confidant, the tarot reader Lorenzo, didn't see bad fortune lurking and when a fellow street performer winds up dead Lorenzo becomes the main suspect and flees town. Is Hayley right to believe in him? Even when his story keeps changing?

I enjoy being back in Key West with Hayley and her friends...and the food. This book is proving to be a wonderful addition to the series.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Burnt Island Interview & Giveaway

I'd like to welcome Mindy Quigley to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Mindy writes the Lindsay Harding Mystery series. The Burnt Island Burial Ground is the third book in the series and was just released last week.

Kathy: Setting plays such an important role in a mystery. Why is North Carolina the right choice for the Lindsay Harding Mystery series?

MQ: When I moved to North Carolina at age 21, I immediately took to the incredible diversity of the landscapes—mountains, rolling hills, big cities, tiny towns, beaches, and swamps. The range of scenery was so refreshing to someone who grew up mostly in the flat, sprawly Chicago suburbs. I didn’t start writing the Lindsay Harding series until I moved to Scotland, though, so in some ways, it’s a nostalgic postcard to a state I love.

I also like the way North Carolina reflects the changing South; that’s something in the background of all my books. In the small towns, like my invented town of Mount Moriah, there is often a mix of old attitudes and new ideas, and a varied mix of people, but there is still something distinctly friendly and Southern that knits the whole place together.

Kathy: Lindsay is a hospital chaplain. How did you decide upon this career for her?

MQ: One of my many jobs (and I’ve had many!) was working in the Pastoral Services department of the Duke University Medical Center. The chaplains would come back from the wards with these crazy stories, full of drama, heartbreak, and humor. The chaplains themselves were a quirky bunch. They ranged in age from 25 to 80, and were drawn from all different walks of life. It was a very unique place to work. I would always say, “One of you has got to write a book about this.” None of them ever took up the challenge, so I decided to do it myself.

Kathy: In The Burnt Island Burial Ground Lindsay hears a cryptic confession. Has anyone ever confessed something to you?

MQ: All the time! I’m a pretty non-judgmental person and I’m genuinely interested in other peoples’ stories, which seems to make people more open to telling me things. I was going to say that, unlike Lindsay, I’ve never had anyone confess to a killing, but then I remembered that I have! Someone confessed to me that he accidentally killed his cat, and that the guilt was tearing him apart.

Have you ever heard that saying that anger is like a hot stone—it burns the hand of the person that holds on to it? I think the same can be true of secrets.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

MQ: My favorite book of all time is Murder on the Orient Express, which I first read when I was eleven. I’ve loved mysteries ever since. There’s really nothing like a good whodunit. You get a great story and great characters with the added benefit of a little puzzle to work out as you go along. That said, I draw the line at some of the really fluffy cozies. I can’t read anything with drawn-out descriptions of shopping or dining, or anything that features talking animals or ghosts. I’ve even seen a series with talking animals AND ghosts—definitely not for me! On the flip side, I don’t want to read the grisly details of autopsies or crime scenes. The mysteries I read and write fall between those two extremes.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

MQ: I’ve just started a children’s series set in Scotland. My daughter, who is nine, persuaded me that I have to write something for children while she’s still young enough to enjoy it. She had promised to make her entire class buy it, so I’m guaranteed at least 22 sales.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

MQ: My books center on a young, female chaplain at a small-town North Carolina hospital. Hospital chaplaincy is such a fascinating line of work. Chaplains deal with life and death every single day in an extremely tough environment. That said, my books are to hospital chaplaincy what M*A*S*H is to war movies—they are funny and irreverent, focusing on the human side of a very difficult job.

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

MQ: Lindsay is based on two of my favorite people in the world: my college roommates, both of whom became ministers and did residencies as hospital chaplains. Probably because I knew them before they were even considering the ministry, I’m able to think of them first and foremost as average women—as flawed, wonderful, hilarious, and resilient as most women are. That’s how I hope people will view Lindsay. As a totally relatable human being who just happens to have an extraordinary job and an unusual knack for stumbling into danger.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

MQ: I’m not a “hide your light under a bushel” kind of person. A lot of authors are introverts, and those people might be content to write and keep their work to themselves or show it to a few close friends, but I would shrivel up and die if I couldn’t share my work. If my writing can entertain people and help them realize something new about themselves, then I feel like I’ve succeeded. When I go to book groups, I often end up talking more about the lives of the people I meet than about my work, and my favorite part of panel discussions is the interaction with the other authors. Really, this whole writing thing is just an excuse for me to meet new people!

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

MQ: 1. Agatha Christie, for obvious reasons

2. Oscar Wilde, because his glittering wit would keep everyone entertained

3. Stephanie Jaye Evans, who writes the Sugarland Mysteries. She’s a lovely human being, and her elegant Texas hostess skills would be helpful to smooth over anything that goes wrong

4. Julia Child, because I’m a terrible cook, so somebody’s going to have to keep me from burning the house down.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

MQ: I’m really enjoying The Black Hour by Lori Rader-Day. Although it’s a bit darker than some of the mysteries I read, it’s incredibly well-written and gripping. It has the added bonus of being set in a fictionalized version of my alma mater, Northwestern University, so it’s also a stroll down memory lane.

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

MQ: Writing is my hobby, at least until I start making enough money at it to quit my day job! J I also do yoga and volunteer with animal, arts, and education charities.

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

MQ: 1. Butter: Cholesterol be damned! I love the stuff.

2. Frozen peas: My go-to emergency vegetable when I need to feed my daughter and there is nothing else in the house.

3. Salsa: I always think we’re running low, when in fact we have at least five jars in the pantry.

4. Mount Olive Bread and Butter Pickles: A North Carolina necessity.

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Sunday, June 14, 2015

A Suspenseful Interview & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome John Raab to the blog today. John is the editor of Suspense Magazine.

Kathy: What first drew you to mysteries, thrillers, and horror? Do you have a favorite of the three?

JR:  Good Question. I was eight years old and went (well forced) to go to the movies and watch “Halloween”. I was scared to death, but then realized that I love the horror genre. Then I watch “Amityville Horror” and read the book and was hooked. I started reading Stephen King, but then went off and started reading mysteries, especially Agatha Christie. Stephen King, Brad Thor and Dean Koontz would be my three favorite authors.

Kathy: How did the idea of the magazine come about?

JR: My wife is a huge reader and we would visit the library and Barnes & Noble probably once a week. We kept seeing the same authors in the front of store all the time. She wanted to find new authors, so I told her that I would search around and see if someone covered the genre. To my surprise it wasn’t covered that well at all. That is when I decided to start one myself.

Kathy: Tell us about your magazine.

JR: Suspense Magazine is all about the author. We wanted to give a place where every author, regardless of sales, had a place to showcase their work. We have industry news, articles on writing, author interviews and features, excerpts from books, short stories, and over 20 pages of book reviews. But each magazine is a little different, so no two are alike.

Kathy: You also have a radio network with 5 different shows. How did you get involved with radio?

JR: When we found out that the magazine was just not large enough to cover all the emails we got for features on authors, I thought it would be a good idea to have them on the radio. Authors can be very funny and interesting, something that you really don’t get within their writing at times. By expanding to the radio we are able to give fans more authors, more stories and more exposure to the genre.

Kathy: Would you share your most memorable article? What made it so special?

JR: I don’t have one article, but I do have one interview. That was when I was able to interview Stephen King. We were a no name magazine, just starting out and I messaged him on his website and was contacted by his assistant who said he would be delighted to be in the magazine. That was when I knew we had something here and that what we were doing was something very important for authors.

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

JR: Stephen King, Edgar Allen Poe, Agatha Christie and Plato. (shocked you with that one didn’t I)

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

JR: Right now I’m actually reading for fun. I’ve read so many books for review that I decided to read some of the Star Wars books. I did finish two recent Star Wars ones, Heir to the Jedi and Lords of the Sith, they fit in great with the Star Wars universe.

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

JR: Sports (Football, Baseball, Soccer, Basketball and Hockey), playing Golf, hiking, sitting on the beach and reading while watching the waves, studying history and music (I’m a huge fan of 80’s music and heavy metal).

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

JR: Diet coke, anything chocolate, fruit and peanut butter.

Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being a magazine editor?

JR: The fact that I can help out so many people. It is great to get an email from an author saying thank you so much for including me in the magazine, or a couple of years ago hearing from an author that said because we included her book as one of the best of the year, her publisher signed her to two more books. Our magazine is not money motivated. I know that sounds strange in today’s world, but if money was our motivation we would have stopped doing this years ago. We have met so many wonderful people that have become good friends now. We are just so pleased that we can reach out and give fans a platform to show off their work.

Suspense Magazine

by John Raab

on Tour June 2015

coverSuspense Magazine is an all digital magazine that was founded in 2007. We publish short stories, interviews, exclusive excerpts, articles and more. We have also in the past published alternate endings to very popular books, IE: Sara Paretsky's book "Critical Mass".

"Suspense Magazine is chock full of stunning artwork, intriguing fiction, and interviews It's a winner!"
—Tess Gerritsen, International Bestselling Author

Get Your Subscription: Buy Now!

More About John:

John Raab founded Suspense Magazine in 2007. Also the host of three radio shows on Suspense Radio Network (Inside Edition, One on One and Beyond The Cover) also the producer for two more shows, Crime and Science Radio and The Story Blender.

The CEO / Publisher of Suspense Publishing a book publisher that publishes #1 NY Times Bestselling Author Paul Kemprecos, along with several other authors.

Catch Up:
author's website author's twitter author's facebook

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This is a giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for John Raab & Suspense Magazine. There will be 1 ebook winner of Cornerstone by JM Leduc, 1 ebook winner of The Lone Wolf by Joseph Badal, and 1 winner of the next e-release of Suspense Magazine. The giveaway begins on June 1st, 2015 and runs through July 3rd, 2015. a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Friday, June 12, 2015

Spotlight - Staged to Death

Today I'd like to shine a spotlight on Staged to Death by Karen Rose Smith. This book is the first in the Caprice De Luca Mystery series and was published in December 2013.

From the back cover:

Welcome to Kismet, PA, where home stager Caprice De Luca helps her clients shine in a lackluster real estate market-and where someone may only be in the market for murder...

Caprice De Luca has successfully parlayed her skills as an interior designer into a thriving home staging business. So when her old high school friend Roz Winslow asks her to spruce up her mess of a mansion to perk up a slow buyers market. Caprice is more than happy to share her skills. But when Roz's husband Ted is found skewered by one of his sword room's prized possessions, it appears the Winslows may have a few skeletons in their palatial closets. With the stage set for murder, Caprice will discover she can track down an antique tapestry and a cold-blooded killer with equal aplomb-as long as she's not the next victim...

Recipes included.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Currently Reading...

I just started reading Chef Maurice and the Wrath of Grapes by J.A. Lang. This book is the second book in the Chef Maurice Mystery series and I am delighted to be back in the Cotswolds.

Chef Maurice and his good friend, restaurant critic Arthur Wordington-Smythe, are visiting Bourne Hall for a dinner and wine tasting hosted by wine collector Sir William Burton-Trent. A handful of other guests including a Californian director turned vineyard owner, the granddaughter of a French wine family and her English husband, a wine critic, and an elderly relative make up the party. Things are not quite as jovial as they seem, however. When the cook discovers Sir William is locked in the wine cellar and won't respond to her knocks and calls, she fears the worst.

A country manor, a raging snowstorm, a mysterious stranger, and plenty of wine: ingredients for a perfect murder!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Review - The Feathers

Please take note, this book is a paranormal thriller. While it is a mystery, it is NOT a cozy!


The Feathers by Cynthia Lott
The First in the Southern Spectral Series

In The Feathers we follow police detectives Brenda Shapira and Roy Agnew as they search for a killer in 1978 New Orleans. The book opens with the scene of a brutal murder; the kind of scene even the most hardened homicide detectives find difficult. Graphic in detail, the innocence of the victim makes the method of murder even more disturbing. Add to that the actions of the housekeeper and the victim's siblings seem irrational. The murderer didn't hide his identity and the family welcomed him in. What held them in his thrall? The crime itself almost impossible-how could he have left without a trace? How could so violent a crime be so tidy?

Brenda and Roy are soon left to follow a trail they never saw coming and can scarcely believe. Given clues, it seems as if the murderer wants to be found. Appearing to Brenda, is he taunting her or giving her a dark promise of what's to come?

My favorite aspect of the book is what Lott provides in the chapters after each murder. As readers we meet the victims after their murders, but in these chapters Lott takes the first three victims and writes the moments leading up to their deaths. We see them full of life and talent and watch as they ultimately realize their fate.

The Feathers is a paranormal thriller that really has you on the edge of your seat. Lott sets us up. We know from the beginning how many murders are to come and we read, waiting for the shoe to drop. Our beliefs are also put to the test. Is it truly possible that the murderer is not of this world? Why is he here, how is he here, and why these seemingly unconnected victims? Lott makes the impossible, not only possible, but reasonable. At the end we are left with a possible solution, but can fate be tempered?

The Feathers is a captivating thrill fest that left me stunned. From the start Lott grabs her readers by the throat, shocking us, creating a need to read on to make sense of these seemingly senseless crimes.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Spotlight - Stalking Horse

In honor of yesterday's fantastic Belmont Stakes which resulted in American Pharoah winning the Triple Crown (first winner since 1978!) I'd like to shine a spotlight on a horse racing mystery. Although jockey Bill Shoemaker never won the triple crown (Victor Espinoza was just the 12th jockey to do so) Bill did win 11 Triple Crown races. He also wrote a mystery series. (Although I discovered he did have a ghost writer-Dick Lochte.) There are only three books in the series: Stalking Horse, Fire Horse, and Dark Horse. The first of which was published in 1994.

From the back cover of Stalking Horse:

Bill Shoemaker. Straight from the Winner's Circle, the greatest jockey of all time draws on his vast experience on and off the track to spin one of the most suspenseful mysteries of the year.

Coley Killebrew was one of the best jockey's in the business-until a race-fixing scandal got him barred from the track. Now the man responsible for blackening his name, racing steward Raymond Starbuck, offers Coley a chance to redeem his reputation. All Coley has to do is investigate some underworld characters who are muscling in on a track in New Orleans, resist the irresistible redhead he loved and lost, Francie Dorn, and reckon with Lea, Starbuck's leggy blonde daughter, who's as adept at seducing men as she is at blowing them away...

I think it's time for a new horse racing themed mystery. Perhaps a cozy, told from the point of view of one of the lead ponies. Hmmm....

Friday, June 5, 2015

Spotlight - Shadow of a Spout

Today I'd like to shine a spotlight on Shadow of a Spout by Amanda Cooper. This book is the second in the Teapot Collector Mystery series and was released in April of this year.

From the back cover:

Avid teapot collector Rose Freemont takes a break from her Victorian tea house only to fins a new mystery brewing elsewhere...

Leaving her home in Gracious Grove behind her, Rose is off to the annual convention of the International Teapot Collector's Society. Her granddaughter, Sophie, is minding the tea house while she's away. Rose is eager for tough cookie Zunia Pettigrew to appraise a prized antique teapot she believes may be a holy water vessel from China.

But when Zunia declares the pot a fake, Rose is really steamed. After Zunia is found dead beside Rose's dinged-in teapot, Sophie must rush to her grandmother's aid and find the real killer-before Rose is steeped in any more trouble...

Recipe and tea tips included.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Fillet of Murder by Linda Reilly. This book is the first in the Deep Fried Mystery series and was just released last month.

Talia Marby has left a job she hated and a fiance who didn't support her. Now she's back in her hometown, living in her recently departed grandmother's house and helping at her surrogate mother's fish and chip shop while she decides what to do with her life. Lambert's Fish & Chips is located in a charming English styled shopping plaza. Unfortunately, some of the other shop owners aren't as charming. The nasty Phil Turnbull has been harassing other owners to sign his petition to boycott a comic book shop. Determined to stop the man from bullying Bea Lambert, Talia goes to confront him in his shop...only to find his dead body!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A Pet Noir Interview & Giveaway

I'd like to welcome Clea Simon to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Clea writes the Pru Marlowe Pet Noir Mystery series. Kittens Can Kill is the 5th in the series and was released in March.

Kathy: While I have not read a lot of Noir novels, I have seen several Noir films. How did you become interested in Noir? Why choose that subgenre for your mysteries?

CS: I have always written cozy or traditional mysteries, and the truth is my “pet noir” mysteries are really cozies. But I was reading a lot of the new women-centered noir, books by Megan Abbott and Linda L. Richards, and I thought, I’d love to write one of those. So I came up with a tough-girl heroine. The problem was, as I started writing her, she ended up having an even tougher tabby. And pet noir was born. 

Kathy: Pru Marlowe has a special gift. She can hear the thoughts of animals. I would love to have that gift,would you? How did you decide to add this touch of the paranormal to your series?

CS: Well, don’t all of us who have pets think we can understand them – or that we should. I mean, so many times, my cat will look at me, like, “What is wrong with you, Clea? Why aren’t you doing as I command?” And so Pru’s gift seemed quite natural.

Kathy: I have a multi-species home. I'm lucky in that, while my furkids have had their issues, I haven't encountered anything necessitating a call to an animal behaviorist. Have you ever worked with one with any of your animals?

CS: I have interviewed several, and a good friend of mine writes about wildlife. So Pru’s work is based on their real-life studies and practices. And so much of this is very basic and yet important to know: like that working animals, such as most dogs, NEED to be doing something. If they get bored, they get into trouble. 

Kathy: I'm a firm believer in reading mystery series in order. While it's true that in many series, you can read the books out of order, or not start at the beginning of the series, but you generally get get so much more out the book when you have started at the beginning and read in order. The books in your Pet Noir series are described as being stand alone mysteries. Is each book a fully contained story, or will readers see a progression?

CS: Each book works as a standalone mystery, but if you start at the beginning - with “Dogs Don’t Lie” - you’ll get a bigger story about Pru and Wallis and her family and romantic interests.

Kathy: What first drew you to mysteries?

CS: I love the stories and that they bring everything together in the end.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

CS: I used to write nonfiction – I have three nonfiction books in print. I’m a former journalist. But now this is it.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

CS: The Pru Marlowe pet noir mysteries feature a bad-girl animal behaviorist who was living a pretty wild life in the city when she became seriously ill. In a half-delirious state, she heard someone urging her to drink some water and to seek help. That someone, it turned out, was her cat. When she realized she could hear what all animals think, she left the city and came home to her small town in the Berkshires. But she’s still trying to make peace with her new “gift.” Luckily her cat, Wallis, is here to help her.

I also write the Dulcie Schwartz mysteries. Dulce is a graduate student studying the Gothic literature of the late 18th Century, which is full of ghosts and the paranormal. She considers herself very rational - unlike her hippie mother, who is convinced she is psychic – but Dulcie does have one special spectral visitor: the ghost of her late, great cat, Mr. Grey.

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

CS: I always related to the character Toad of Toad Hall in “The Wind and the Willows.” He gets in trouble constantly because of his enthusiasms. There’s a lot of Mr. Toad in me, though I do hope I’m more considerate of others than he is.

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

CS: I am inspired by real-life events and all the pets and people that I know.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

CS: I’m reading “Dead Water,” a Benjamin January mystery by Barbra Hambly. I love her work - it’s historical, featuring a free man of color in pre-Civil War New Orleans.

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

CS: I love to cook and collect cookbooks! I also adore live music - rock, zydeco, Cajun, jazz….

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

CS: mustard, olive oil, garlic, and … mmmm.. probably Goslings diet Ginger Beer.

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

CS: Yes, I am currently working on the next Pru, “When Bunnies Go Bad,” and then it will be onto the next Dulcie!

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

CS: I get to make up adventures and spend time with my characters.

Kittens Can Kill

by Clea Simon

on Tour June 2015


coverThe dead don’t keep pets. So when animal behaviorist expert Pru Marlowe gets a call about a kitten, she doesn’t expect to find the cuddly creature playing beside the cooling body of prominent Beauville lawyer David Canaday. Heart attack? His three adult daughters angrily blame drug interactions, feline allergies—and each other. And begin to feud over their father, his considerable estate, and that cute ball of fluff. While the cause of death is pending, each sister has an axe to grind—with arguments that escalate when David’s partner reads out the will.
Pru’s special sensitivity to animals, which caused her to flee the cacophony of Manhattan for the quiet Berkshires, adds further problems. The local vet is overwhelmed as the animal hospital’s money runs out. There’s a needy Sheltie and some invasive squirrels, too. But the dead man’s kitten, his former partner, and his troublesome family keep drawing “wild-girl animal psychic Pru back in. Despite the wry observations of her trusty tabby Wallis, now the wrongfully accused kitten’s guardian, and the grudging compliance of her cop lover, this may be one time when Pru can’t solve the mystery or save the kitten she wants to believe is innocent. A single witness knows the truth about that bright spring morning. How far can Pru investigate without risking her own hidden tale?

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Published by: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: 03/03/2015
Number of Pages: 434
Series: Pru Marlowe Pet Noir #5 (Each is a Stand Alone Mystery)
ISBN: 9781464203589
Purchase Links: Amazon Barnes & Noble Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Chapter One
There’s nothing cute about a death scene. Not the shards of the mug that rested in a puddle on the cold tile floor. Not the scent of the tea—acrid and sharp—that now mingled with the mustier odors of a body’s last struggle. And certainly not the body itself, sprawled contorted beside the shattered ceramic, one arm reaching out for succor, the other frozen in rigor as it clawed at the argyle wool vest that covered the still chest.
No, there was nothing cute about the tableau that greeted me when I made my way into the kitchen of Mr. David Canaday, Esquire, after twenty minutes of pointless knocking. But the kitten that sat beside the puddle, batting at a metal button that must have popped off the vest in that last desperate effort? That little white puffball, not more than eight weeks old and intent as he could be on his newfound toy as it rolled back and forth? He was adorable. The cutest little bundle a girl could ever swoon for.
He knew it, too. As I stood there, staring, he batted that button toward me. Rolling around on its rounded top, it made its slow circular way toward my feet.
“Play?” The message in those round blue eyes was clear. I was supposed to kick the button back. To get it moving—make it livelier prey than the still man on the floor would ever be again. “Back to me?”
The button hit my boot, and the kitten reared up when I stepped back, his front paws reaching up to slap the air.
“No, kitty. I can’t.” I took another step back the way I had come.
“Play?” And another.
I had no desire to kick the button. What I wanted to do was scoop up this little puffball and run.
To remove such an innocent creature from the horror before me. That had been my plan, even before I’d walked into the room. Get the kitten, get out. Get on with my day.
That didn't look like it was going to happen. Not now, and as much as I wanted to snatch the kitten up I restrained myself and, fiddling with my bag, found my phone while I took a third step and a fourth back to the kitchen door. As much as I wanted to grab up the kitten and run for dear life, I knew better than to disturb what just might be a crime scene—or to remove what I assumed to be the only living witness.
Chapter Two
The paramedics arrived first, and for that I was grateful. They had the body on a stretcher by the time the daughter arrived, straps across those jolly blue diamonds and a blanket covering the soiled khakis below. Better still, they were the ones to tell her what that still, pale face should have. What had been patently obvious to me from the moment I’d stepped into the room: Dad was dead. They were taking him to the hospital—that was protocol—but there’d be no sirens wailing because there was no great rush. Lucky for me, she opted to ride along.
I didn't envy the paramedics. The daughter looked like the type who would fight them. Insist on CPR or defibrillation, even as the old man’s color faded to a muted version of that vest, the blood slowly settling in his back.
She didn't look much better. Pale as dishwater, with hair to match. That hair, a listless bob, had been dark once, maybe as black as mine, but time had dulled its color and its sheen, much as it had softened what might have once been impressive cheekbones and a jawline that now sloped gently into a chubby neck.
Between that pallor and the way she had carried on, I had thought at first that she was the wife. Then I remembered: the old man was widowed. It was his daughter who had called me, asking for help in settling a new pet with an increasingly shut-in and by all accounts difficult elder.
“It needs everything,” she had said when she’d called. “Shots, whatever.”
I’d been bothered by that impersonal “it.” Sexing a kitten can be difficult, but this smacked of something colder. Still, I’d said I’d call Doc Sharpe, our local vet, to set up a well-kitten visit and silently figured on adding taxi and escort charges.
In the meantime, I’d told the daughter that I’d drop by to set things up. As the woman on the phone had gone on, though, I’d begun adding services. Neither she nor her father had expected this kitten. She had errands to run, she’d said, and sounded particularly put out by its sudden, unannounced appearance.
It—that impersonal “it” again—had been an unexpected gift, the caller had said. And while that sounded odd, I wasn't going to question it. Not if they were willing to pay.
That gig was shot, I thought as I watched the ambulance from the shelter of an eager rhododendron, blossoms ready to pop.
Sure, I could bill for my time. I’d certainly charge for the load of supplies in my car. But I wouldn't count on getting paid, not soon anyway. Spring and my business usually picked up. The tourists started filtering back, and the seasonal condos filled with troubled dogs and angry cats, all confused by the very human idea of relocating for fun. But even though the May days were growing soft, my client base hadn't warmed up yet. I’d been counting on this job for at least a few regular checks.
“Mama? Where did you go?” The soft cry brought me out of my musing. Male, definitely, though still much more a baby than a boy. Spring. I looked through the bush’s dark green leaves for a nest. For a den in the dark, damp leaves beneath the trees.
“Where are you?”
The kitten. Of course. With all the hubbub, the tiny animal must have been spooked. Must have darted for safety and gotten outside. I couldn't recall anyone mentioning the little cat as they strapped the old man to the gurney and bundled his daughter in for the ride.
The kitten was determined, I’d give him that. And he seemed to have gotten over his fright. I looked around. The EMTs had left the door ajar when they first stormed in, and the little fellow probably snuck out. Normally, I’d cheer him on. Self-determination is a virtue that I applaud, but a baby is a baby, after all.
And while the east side of Beauville might look nicer than our shabby downtown, part of the appeal was its old-growth woods.
I thought of the foxes that would be nesting soon beneath those trees. And the fishers, and a few other predators, all of whom would be looking for a tasty morsel for themselves or their own young. Nature, right? With a sigh that probably revealed more about my human nature than I’d care to admit, I dropped to my knees. Besides, it wasn't like I was doing anyone else any good just then.
“I’m here, little fellow,” I called out softly, peering around the shrubbery. “Where are you?”
He didn't answer, not that I really expected him to. I should explain that this is odd for me. I have a sensitivity, you see.
Some people might call it a gift. I can pick up what animals are thinking, hear their thoughts like voices in my head. Yes, I know how nutty that sounds. That’s why I keep my particular sensitivity to myself, although I have a feeling that others are growing suspicious.
But the thing about picking up animals’ voices is that they don’t talk like you or I do. They have no need for meaningless conversation, and they certainly don’t chatter just to hear themselves speak. And so although I tend to perceive their voices in human terms—that kitten asking for its mother, for example—that’s just my weak human brain trying to make sense of what I’m really getting. Which was a young animal coming to terms with its environment. That kitten wanted to play, because playing is its job—how it learns to hunt, to survive. He had appeared to address me because kittens, like all mammals, learn from their mothers, their peers. From the world around them. He wasn't calling to me, specifically. He was reaching out, because he was alone.
Alone. That was part of what I was getting, but there was something else, too—an undercurrent of loneliness and confusion, a jumble of noise and fear and…
“Back to me? Kick it again?”
Boredom? Well, as I've said, play is a young animal’s job.
And while I didn't necessarily want to play kick the button, I was grateful for the repeated plea. The voice was clearly coming from inside.
I turned back to the silent house. Although I’d walked in with no problem—Beauville still being that kind of place—someone had thought to lock the door. Luckily, the latch was a simple one, and it gave way quickly to the thin blade of the knife I always keep close at hand. This wasn't breaking-and-entering. Not really, I told myself as I closed the door carefully behind me. I’d been hired to take care of a kitten, and that’s what I was going to do.
“Kitten? Hello?” As I've said, I wasn't really expecting an answer. What I was doing was announcing my presence, trying to sound as nonthreatening as I could, which for me meant voicing my thought in the form of a question.
“Back to me!” I tried to echo the thought I had picked up. The kitchen remained still and apparently empty. I proceeded through the open archway into what appeared to be a living room. “You there?”
“Play with me!” That insistent voice. “Why won’t he play with me?”
I didn't have the heart to tell him, but I had to. “He’s gone,” I said.
“Gone?” The question bounced back, like that button. The small creature was trying to make sense of my response. Of the word. I kicked myself. I wasn't doing the kitten any favors with my euphemism. Animals live or die in the physical world, and despite this one’s infant appeal, he probably had a better sense of reality than most of the humans in this town.
“Dead,” I said, summoning the memory of the still, cold body.
“Gone?” The damage had been done, and I felt the confusion as the kitten continued to roll that word—that concept—about in his tiny feline brain.
“Catch me!” The button appeared, rolling in a slow semicircle from under a chair. “Let’s play!”
“Kitten?” I ducked down and leaned beneath the coffee table.
There, eyes wide, crouched the little creature. He’d taken refuge from all the commotion. Up close, I could see he was undersized and a little ragged, more ready to pounce than to groom. I reached for him and he reared up, batting at me with cool paw pads. “Okay, little fellow.” I scooped him up, and as he nuzzled against my shirt, I felt a wet spot on his back.
“Feels like you've been trying to wash.” No wonder his fur looked patchy. “Or did you get splashed?”
I sniffed the kitten and caught something funky. Tea, I hoped, and not something more gruesome. I didn't think I was imagining a slight mint scent, and any puddles on the floor where the body had fallen had been trampled into dark stains. Mimicking my action, the kitten stretched around to sniff the wet spot, and promptly sneezed.
“Gesundheit, little fellow.” He looked up at me, eyes wide, and sneezed again. An adorable little snort, prompted perhaps by that touch of mint. But I've been in this business too long not to think of the other possibilities: feline viral rhinoneumonitis—FVR, better known as feline herpes—for example. Not fatal, but something to manage. At any rate, I held the little creature under the tap for a moment. He was young enough to take my impromptu bath without too much fuss and was purring as I rubbed him down with a dish towel.
“Excuse me.” The voice behind me made me twirl around and the kitten jumped to the floor. He landed by a pair of cowboy boots—turquoise blue—attached to jeans that fit like a second skin. On top of these, a woman’s face scowled at me, the eyes wide and regal. “But who are you, and what are you doing in my father’s house? And what are you doing with my kitten?”

Author Bio:

authorA recovering journalist, Clea Simon is the author of 17 mysteries and three nonfiction books. Parrots Prove Deadly is the third in her Pru Marlowe pet noir series. She lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, with her husband Jon and their cat, Musetta, and can be reached at

Clea Simon's website Clea Simon's twitter Clea Simon's facebook

Tour Participants:


This is a giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Clea Simon & Poisoned Pen Press. There will be one winner of 1 Box of Poisoned Pen Press books including Kittens Can Kill by Clea Simon. The giveaway begins on June 1st, 2015 and runs through June 3rd, 2015.


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