Friday, October 30, 2015

Murder, With Amanda Flower

I'm so happy to welcome Amanda Flower back to Cozy Up With Kathy. Writing as Isabella Alan, she had her fourth Amish Quilt Shop mystery, Murder, Plainly Read, published October 6th.

The Editors

Kathy: You have two demanding editors in Cheeps and Tummy. How do they help keep you on track? Are they really such harsh taskmasters?

AF: Cheeps and Tummy are the best. They are my chief encouragers and always keep me on task. They might act tough when it comes to edits, but they are both marshmallows at heart. It's hard to imagine writing a novel without them at my side.

Kathy: If you were able to add a new family member, would you be more likely to add Oliver or Petunia?

AF: Oh wow, this is a tough question. I have always wanted and French bulldog and a goat. It's true! When I was in college, I thought I would grow up to have a hobby farm with a bunch of animals. I love all animals, but the farm never happened since live in the city. Because of where I live, I would chose Oliver, partly motivated by wanting to dress him in sweaters in the winter like Angie does.

Kathy: In Murder, Plainly Read Angie works with librarian Austina Shaker. As a librarian yourself, did you incorporate some of your own experiences into Austina's life?

AF: I definitely did. It was a lot of fun to include a library as the backdrop for this book. I think my library staff characters act is true to what I see on the job, and I have some fun scenes in there that past and present coworkers might recognize.

Kathy: Was there a specific inspiration for this story?

AF: Two years ago, the director the Holmes County District Public Library heard me speak at a library conference about trends in Amish fiction, and he invited me to visit their library to see how they serve the Amish community. During the visit, I got to do a ride along in the library's bookmobile that visit Amish districts as an undercover librarian. It was awesome. I knew it would be a future plot for a book.

Kathy: I always enjoy the covers. Do you have any input in their design?

AF: I get the best covers. My editor (the human one), my agent, and I have discussed this many times how I luck out in the cover department every single time. I don't have much input though. Sometimes my editor will ask for an idea, but it's not every time. For the next book in the series, Murder, Handcrafted, I asked for Dodger, Angie's cat, be added to the cover, and I'm very happy to say they did it. What's even better he's the spitting image of my Cheeps.

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

AF: I do have many plans for Angie, Mitchell, and the entire gang living in Rolling Brook. In my head, I know where Angie will be at the end of the series, but I can't share that! Instead, I will say in Murder, Handcrafted (book 5) Angie is feeling increasing pressure from her mother to produce grandchildren.

Kathy: Will you share any other upcoming books?

AF: In October, in addition to Murder, Plainly Read, Andi Unstoppable, my third children's mystery, will be released. Later in the month, Amish Christmas at North Star comes out. It is a five author novella collection. I wrote a standalone novella for it called "Mourning Star."

In 2016, I have three mysteries coming in Spring: Crime and Poetry (Magical Bookshop #1), The Final Tap ( Living History Mystery #2), and Murder, Handcrafted (Amish Quilt Shop #5).


USA Today Bestselling Author Isabella Alan is the pseudonym for Amanda Flower. Amanda Flower, a three time Agatha-nominated mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. Amanda is an academic librarian for a small college near Cleveland.
Follow Isabella on Facebook Twitter Pinterest Instagram

Thursday, October 29, 2015

A Stitch to Die For - Book Blast

A Stitch to Die For by Lois Winston


A Stitch to Die For-ebookA Stitch to Die For (An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery) (Volume 5) 5th in Series Cozy Mystery • Paperback: 240 pages • Publisher: Lois Winston (July 7, 2015) • ISBN-13: 978-1940795300 goodreads-badge-add-plus


Ever since her husband died and left her in debt equal to the gross national product of Uzbekistan, magazine crafts editor and reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack has stumbled across one dead body after another—but always in work-related settings. When a killer targets the elderly nasty neighbor who lives across the street from her, murder strikes too close to home. Couple that with a series of unsettling events days before Halloween, and Anastasia begins to wonder if someone is sending her a deadly message.

About The Author –

USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry. Visit Lois/Emma at and Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog, Follow everyone on Tsu at, on Pinterest at, and onTwitter at Sign up for her newsletter at   Author Links Website: Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog: Twitter: Pinterest: Tsu: Goodreads: Purchase Links Amazon Nook Kobo iTunes Google Play

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Currently Reading. . .

I just started reading Dickens of a Murder by Joyce and Jim Lavene. This book is the first in a new series for the Lavenes, the Canterville Book Shop Mystery series. If you're a regular reader of this blog, or are a follower of cozy mysteries, you are aware of the untimely death of Joyce Lavene last week. I'm pleased to bring Joyce back to my world by reading her (and Jim's) new book.

The story starts in mid November as we meet Simon Canterville and Lisa Wellman, a unique duo who, while knowing each other for about a year, just became partners in a new venture-a book store. Looking at their Victorian shop they see a man and ponder what he's doing on their roof. While still attempting to figure out the truth of the matter the police arrive on the scene, but it's not just any patrol office, it's the Deputy Chief of Police, who happens to be Lisa's ex-husband. Unfortunately, the man on the roof is not the cable man, he's a dead man!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Happy Homicides - Guest Post

I'd like to welcome Annie Adams, one of the author's featured in Happy Homicides.

“Where do you get your ideas?” It’s a commonly asked question by my readers and friends. And it’s a good question, but one without a specific answer. Sometimes the idea for a story can start with a snippet of a sentence overheard while shopping, or a news story on the radio or TV. Sometimes I think of a place I’d like to write about or an event like a wedding, and then I begin to think of who would be at that place or event and why. That leads to thinking about who the characters in a story are going to be.

The great thing about having a series, is that I know I have a cast of characters, each of which I’ve known for a while now. That doesn’t mean I don’t learn new things about them, in fact it happens all the time. And when you place the members of that cast in a new setting or place, new and surprising things are bound to happen.

Another frequent question I’ll get from people that I know is something like, “Isn’t Danny so and so?” or “Quincy is you, right?” For those who haven’t read my books, Quincy (short for Quinella, don’t tell her I told you) is my main character. Danny is her best flower friend. Many times people who know me or the people in my life, will assume I based my characters on people that I know. It would be very convenient to have walking embodiments of all the characters in my books. I could just write down everything they say and do without having to come up with anything new. But that wouldn’t be very fun. It isn’t to say that I don’t take pieces of “characters” I’ve known in my life, or that I’ve encountered in any situation and use those pieces along with others to create a character in a book. It’s like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Some of those pieces come from something Aunt Thelma used to say, or something Cousin Brad used to do, or the way Coach Jones used to talk to us at halftime.

They say write what you know, and to some extent, that’s what I’ve tried to do. I wrote the flower shop mystery series, and guess what? I own and manage a full-service flower shop. While the setting is something I know, if I wrote about the actually daily occurrences, it might make for a boring book. A pretty picture book, maybe, but not very interesting fiction.

The flower business is great for getting a peek into a variety of emotional experiences for customers. On a daily basis, we are witness to the highest and the lowest points in a person’s lifetime. I’m honored to be part of a profession where I play a small part in those moments. Those emotional moments can and do give me ideas for stories too.

So the answer to the big question is: everywhere. I get my ideas from everywhere. So be careful, someday you, or more likely a piece of you my just end up in one of my books!


Annie Adams is the author of The Flower Shop Mystery series, and is a contributor the Happy Homicides anthology. She lives with her husband, two giant dogs, and two too giant cats in Northern Utah at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains. When not writing she can be found arranging flowers or delivering them in her own Zombie Delivery Van. She's a member of Romance Writers of America, the Utah chapter of RWA (URWA) and the Kiss of Death chapter of RWA (KOD).

A holiday bonanza! A collection of traditional mysteries to celebrate the holidays, written by by thirteen bestselling and award-winning authors. Heartwarming, brain puzzling, craft-centered, and character driven reads that’ll keep you entertained for hours. Nearly 800 pages of reading material, plus a special Recipe and Craft Bonus.

Included are:
Kiki Lowenstein and the Rowan Branch – (Joanna Campbell Slan) When Horace Goldfader is accused of murder, Kiki learns how difficult it can be to maintain peace on earth—and to keep her deathbed promise to her late friend, Dodie.
Cara Mia Delgatto and the Misdirected Gifts  — (Joanna Campbell Slan) Two waylaid items cause Cara to take a break from her booming retail business and follow her heart. Can a sprinkling of holiday magic create a “happily ever after” ending for all involved?
The Christmas Dog — (Joyce and Jim Lavene) A woman running from her deadly past finds hope, and a dog, at Christmas.

and more.


If you'd like a chance to win an e-copy of Happy Homicides simply leave a comment on this post sharing why you like to read holiday themed mysteries. Leave your comment no later than Wednesday, October 28 2015 at 11:59pm EDT along with an e-mail address so that I can contact you, should yours be the lucky comment. Please participate in the rafflecopter as well!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Spotlight - Tea Time with the Cozy Chicks

I'd like to shine a spotlight on a book published earlier this month, Tea Time with the Cozy Chicks. The book is not a mystery novel, but rather a cookbook combined with articles about tea and tea parties. The book is a combined effort of the Cozy Chicks: Ellery Adams, Lorraine Bartlett, Duffy Brown, Kate Collins, Mary Kennedy, Mary Jane Maffini, Maggie Sefton, and Leann Sweeney

From the back cover:

The Cozy Chicks realized that tea was such a perfect complement to cozy mysteries that we decided to write a book about it. Not only does Tea Time with the Cozy Chicks have delicious recipes, but it also includes themed tea menus, fascinating articles, fun facts, curious quotes, and helpful hints on how to host the most memorable tea parties ever! And for an extra treat, a few of us have included excerpts of our work as well! Read, cook, drink tea, savor, and most of all enjoy!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

A Special Halloween Event

Today I invite you to join me on Facebook for a Halloween Event. It is my day to host Kathi Daley Books Halloween Spooktacular. I'll be starting the event at Noon EDT and will go until 8pm. There will be fun and games, stories and giveaways. My theme is Halloween Memories, so come share some of yours. I'll also have many special guests.

Here's the schedule: All times Eastern.

Noon. This will be my welcoming hour. There may be surprise guests.
1pm Terrie Moran
2pm Krista Davis
3pm Cynthia Lott
4pm Daryl Wood Gerber
5pm Me again with possibly more guests
6pm Barbara Jean Coast
7pm Linda O. Johnston.
8pm That's a wrap.

Visiting authors who will stop by include Victoria Hamilton, Mary Anne Edwards, Lissa Kogut Redman, J.A. Lang, and perhaps a few more! They may stop by at any point in the day.
Authors contributing prizes, but unable to attend include Marella Sands and Roberta Isleib.

I hope to "see" you there at the event page:

Friday, October 23, 2015

Spotlight & Giveaway - Pane and Suffering

Today I'd like to shine a spotlight on a new series. Pane and Suffering is the first book in the Webb's Glass Shop Mystery series and was released September 29th.

To solve her father’s murder and save the family-owned glass shop, Savannah Webb must shatter a killer’s carefully constructed façade. . .
After Savannah’s father dies unexpectedly of a heart attack, she drops everything to return home to St. Petersburg, Florida, to settle his affairs–including the fate of the beloved, family-owned glass shop. Savannah intends to hand over ownership to her father’s trusted assistant and fellow glass expert, Hugh Trevor, but soon discovers the master craftsman also dead of an apparent heart attack.
As if the coincidence of the two deaths wasn’t suspicious enough, Savannah discovers a note her father left for her in his shop, warning her that she is in danger. With the local police unconvinced, it’s up to Savannah to piece together the encoded clues left behind by her father. And when her father’s apprentice is accused of the murders, Savannah is more desperate than ever to crack the case before the killer seizes a window of opportunity to cut her out of the picture. . .
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, October 22, 2015

In Memoriam - Joyce Lavene

In Memoriam
Joyce Lavene

The world lost a gifted writer and a wonderful woman with the sudden death of Joyce Lavene.

Joyce was no stranger to Cozy Up With Kathy having visited numerous times with gust posts and interviews. In fact, just the other day I sent her some questions for her upcoming visit to promote A Dickens of a Murder, a brand new series for the Lavenes. Although I never met her in person, I know she was thoughtful and generous, helping fellow writers and spending time with readers. A massive influence online, Joyce welcomed readers to her Facebook pages and threw wonderful parties.

Joyce has left us with an amazing number of wonderful books, written with her husband, Jim. I was first introduced to their writing years ago when I read Pretty Poison, the first book in the Peggy Lee Gardening Mystery series. I loved that series and was thrilled when they recently brought Peggy back. One of my favorite series of all time is their Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mystery series, written as J.J. Cook. I also adore their darker series The Taxi for the Dead Paranormal Mysteries. Such gifted writers with amazing ideas, they just kept coming up with great new series-I was thrilled when they announced two new series: the Canterville Book Shop Mystery series (come on, a book shop where the owners are visited by literary ghosts? How marvelous is that?) and the Christmas Tree Valley Mystery series, a spin off from my favorite Sweet Briar Fire Brigade series. These are just some of the wonderful series penned by this amazing couple, whether they wrote as Joyce and Jim Lavene, J.J. Cook, or Ellie Grant.

Joyce may be gone and her absence certainly felt, but we can easily see her again for she lives on in the words she wrote and the books she created. While I will miss her interviews and chatting with her during her online parties, I can still visit with her. All I need do is open up one of the many books she gave us and read her work. She will be right there with me again.

I hope you'll leave a comment sharing any memories you have of Joyce, or your favorite book or series that she penned.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Flipped for Murder by Maddie Day. This book is the first in the Country Store Mystery series and will be released October 27. Robbie Jordan has just opened her dream, Pans 'N' Pancakes, a combination country store specializing in antique cookware and breakfast and lunch comfort food restaurant. Not only is Robbie the owner and head cook, but she restored most of the cabinetry herself, a skill taught by her recently deceased mother. Helped by her Aunt Adele and friend, Philostrate, Robbie's grand opening is a huge success culminating in dinner and dancing with her good looking real estate lawyer. However, her happy day comes to a troubling end when she finds the police waiting for her. Stella, mayor's aide and problematic thorn in Robbie's side, at least in regards to permits for her business, is found murdered...with one of Robbie's cheesy biscuits stuffed in her mouth!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Interview of Clouds & Giveaway

I'd like to welcome J.C. Whyte to the blog today. J.C. is the author of The Color of Clouds, a supernatural mystery, which was released earlier this year.

Kathy: Pedro is a unique protagonist in The Color of Clouds. How did you choose to feature a spirit guide in your mystery?

JCW: Spirit guide Pedro isn’t the protagonist, just the narrator. He does, however, play a major role in the formation of this story. But the protagonist is the skeptical scientist Paul Strumbolt, who moves the action along.

My own scientist husband is in fact responsible for the concept of this book. For years, I listened to his theory about dark matter. Eventually it occurred to me how much fun it would be to trap a couple of characters inside this dark matter. And from there, the story just took off. Yet I needed someone on the “inside” to help guide the trapped characters. Since this someone also needed to communicate with those on the “outside,” a spirit guide was the perfect choice.

Kathy: Pedro usually sends messages through a psychic named Gwen. Have you ever visited a psychic? (For my own edification is Gwen a psychic, a medium, or a psychic medium?)

JCW: I have visited a number of clairvoyants over the years. A clairvoyant is a psychic who allegedly has visions and interprets what is seen in those visions. But Gwen is a clairaudient, a psychic who “hears” messages but cannot see into the spirit world. I have not visited any of those, but have witnessed some on TV; they purportedly get insights from their spirit guides yet the messages are seldom crystal clear. I wanted Gwen to have a higher degree of psychic ability so she could relay accurate messages throughout the story.

Kathy: Have you ever received a message from the other side?

JWC: Well, I did visit a Michael channel when this entity was still messaging near the end of the twentieth century. It was a remarkable experience. After the channel allowed the Michael collective to cohabit her consciousness, her whole personality changed. She spoke rapidly and with great humor, and never once throughout the hour-long session did she slip up by calling herself “I”; it was always “we” for the Michael entity ostensibly consisting of an array of souls beyond the earthly realm. But this psychic (as well as other Michael channels throughout the world) can no longer connect with the entity; apparently this was a short term visit (about a decade?) to allow Michael to share information about our human growth and advancement.

Yet my meeting with that Michael channel thoroughly convinced me that while some psychics might be downright phonies, there are those who do impart messages from the other side. Anyone interested in learning more about this information should seek out books about The Michael Material.

Kathy: Pedro convinces Gwen to go on a cruise in order to help a troubled teen. Have you ever been on a cruise? If so, I hope it was not as eventful as Gwen's!

JCW: I’ve been on a number of cruises, mostly in the Mediterranean and around Europe. My husband and I will be taking our next cruise in the Australia/New Zealand area. We really enjoy cruises, especially since there are so many ports of call in many different lands. But trust me, none of our cruises was ever as eventful at Gwen’s!

Kathy: What first drew you to mysteries?

JCW: Who doesn’t like a good mystery? I started reading Agatha Christie mysteries as a teenager. And she certainly never disappointed!

Kathy: The Color of Clouds appears to combine genres. Do you prefer mysteries, science fiction, with paranormal aspects? Do you write in a single genre as well?

JCW: Problem is, I can’t do what’s already been done. In other words, I have to be original. I’ve been that way for as long as I can remember. Even as a teen I refused to do needlepoint on somebody else’s pattern – had to draw my own! So naturally, I combined several genres in this book because it’s not normal to do that in the publishing world.

I’ve also written a children’s middle grade book (Karmack) about a nature spirit who boomerangs bullies with their own pranks; that’s certainly unique, huh? I guess you could say I write whatever happens to strike my fancy at a particular time. : )

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

JCW: Pedro is a favorite because he’s rather mischievous yet well-meaning. Think of the old TV show Columbo and you can picture Pedro as the rumpled coat detective played by Peter Falk. Also, I’m particularly fond of Sylvie, mostly because of her feistiness and her relationship with Ernst; these two were certainly fun characters to write.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

JCW: Every writer wants to be published. What’s the purpose of writing if no one reads it, right? I remember back in high school, when I was a reporter for the school newspaper, a bunch of mean girls made fun of something I wrote. They knew I could hear them laughing and of course their derision stung. But as I recall, the fact that they read the article gave me some small satisfaction.

What’s even more satisfying is having your work win an award. Prior to The Color of Clouds, Muse It Up Publishing released my Karmack as an ebook in 2013. It subsequently came out in paperback last December. And to date, Karmack has won two awards: a silver medal from the Children’s Literary Classics, and a first place from the Purple Dragonfly Book Awards. I hope The Color of Clouds, which Muse published last March, is good enough to win an award too!

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

JCW: Right now I’m transitioning from non-fiction back to fiction. I get on these jags where I’ll only read non-fiction, and then I tire of it and go back to fiction. So the most recent reads on my Kindle are: Darwin’s Odyssey by Kevin Jackson; On Wings of Eagles by Ken Follett; The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown; The Nazi Officer’s Wife by Edith Hahn Beer; and The Great Train Robbery by Michael Crichton. All are true stories.

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

JCW: I love to travel, and now that my husband and I are empty-nesters, we’re doing our bucket list. Last June we visited South Africa and went on a photography safari. The bush animals were so fascinating to watch. Some day, we’d love to go back to Africa and do a longer safari in the Serengeti Plain of Tanzania.

We also enjoyed a trip to South America last year, visiting both Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands. That was definitely a magical trip.

Another favorite spot of ours is Las Vegas. And by the time you read this, I will just have returned from a Karmack book signing at the annual Vegas Valley Book Festival.

Kathy: Do you have plans for future books?

JCW: I’ve given a lot of thought to writing another book featuring Pedro and Gwen, but just can’t seem to get started on it. As I said, my problem is not being able to do what’s already been done! Since I’ve written a story with these two characters it doesn’t much interest me to write about them again. But if an interesting idea does take seed in my brain, I might use them as characters in a new story. And I could set it in the Galapagos or Machu Picchu!

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

A: I’ve always had a joy of writing inside me. It just feels good to complete a piece and be satisfied with it. My least favorite thing (probably true of most authors) is having to market the book. I’d much prefer staying at my computer, completely absorbed in the writing. : )

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Guaranteed to Interview and Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Julie Mulhern to the blog today. Julie writes the Country Club Murders Mystery series. Guaranteed to Bleed is the second in the series and was released on October 13th! 

Kathy: The Country Club Murders are set in the mid 1970s. Why did you choose to set your series in this era?

JM: The early to mid-seventies were a time when things were changing drastically for women. Their roles, their career opportunities, their sexuality—everything. I love putting Ellison, the heroine, right in the middle of all those changes.

Kathy: In Guaranteed to Bleed there is an "epically bad blind date". Is this date based on a real bad date? Have you ever had a date go horribly wrong?

JM: That date belongs to Ellison. I did have a first date that ended up at jail…A police officer asked me if we planned to rob a bank for our second date. There was no second date.

Kathy: Although your series deals with socialites and a privileged community, the problems encountered are universal. Did you have a specific intention when writing about this more elite group of people?

JM: The Deep End and Guaranteed to Bleed are about the difference between appearance and reality. Keeping up appearances means a great deal to Ellison’s social set. It’s fun to lift the carpet and reveal what hides beneath.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

JM: I adore mysteries. Always have. From Nancy Drew to Agatha Christie to Dorothy L. Sayers. They were my favorite books growing up.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

JM: I also write historical romantic suspense. It seems I’m incapable of writing a book without killing someone.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

JM: The Country Club Murders are about dark things that hide just below the surface of daily life and how people deal with them.

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

JM: Gosh…Ellison? No, Anarchy. Maybe, Hunter? Frances? Definitely, Frances. Frances is so much fun to torture!

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

JM: The Deep End started with the idea of a body floating in the pool and grew from there. Somewhere along the way, I fell in love with Ellison and her family. I am so happy she’s part of my life.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

JM: I’ve wanted to be an author since I was 12. Seeing the Country Club Murders in print is a dream come true.

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

JM: Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Pat Conroy and Marian Keyes

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

JM: A is for Arsenic by Kathryn Harkup. Someone is getting poisoned in my next book!

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

JM: Like most writers, I love to read. Right now I don’t have hobbies, I have deadlines.

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

JM: Coffee, cream, Vain coffee drops, and wine. Do you need anything else?

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

JM: I am working on book three of the Country Club Murders, Clouds in My Coffee. I hope readers like it because it looks as if there might be more Country Club Murders in the future.

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

JM: My absolute favorite? Hearing from people who’ve read my books and enjoyed them!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, October 16, 2015

Review - Chef Maurice and the Bunny-Boiler Bake Off


Chef Maurice and the Bunny-Boiler Bake Off by J.A. Lang
The Third Chef Maurice Mystery

It's time for the Beakley Spring Fayre and, much to Chef Maurice's dismay, a celebrity chef has not only been invited, but as taken his place on the judging panel of the Bake Off! As Chef Bonvivant and Chef Maurice join together in their condemnation of Miranda Mathews, celebrity chef, PC Lucy has to deal with meeting Patrick's mother...and entering one of her not quite edible cakes in the competition.

I'm thrilled to see Chef Maurice, Hamilton, and the rest of the gang back in action. These characters jump off the page. Their actions are so true that, even in the face of almost farcical situations, they remain utterly believable. I want to spend time with them, I want to get to know them better, I want Chef Maurice to cook me a meal! The Chef Maurice Mystery series is just plain fun and this book is no exception.

Chef Maurice and the Bunny-Boiler Bake Off is another delightful romp in the Cotswolds. Author J.A. Lang combines the quintessential British village life with the temperamental world of chefs and stirs in a first rate mystery to create a fantastic read.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Pane and Suffering by Cheryl Hollon. This book is the first in the Webb's Glass Shop Mystery series. Savannah Webb arrives in St. Petersburg, Florida after the unexpected death of her father. Intending to sell the family stained glass store to her father's longtime friend and assistant, Hugh, and return to Seattle where she is studying and planning her own glass exhibit, Savannah's plans abruptly change when Hugh is found dead of an apparent heart attack. Two relatively young men dying of heart attacks in a matter of days? Savannah has her suspicions even before she finds a note left to her by her father claiming he was murdered. The police think she's over reacting, but Savannah intends to follow the clues left by her late father. With the help of her father's young apprentice and the British pub owner from next door perhaps she'll discover the truth behind what's really going on.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Parchment and an Interview and Giveaway

I'm so happy to welcome Laura Childs back to Cozy Up With Kathy. Parchment and Old Lace, the 13th book in the Scrapbooking Mystery series was released earlier this month.

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

LC: I’m a fear-driven writer. I’m afraid of missing deadlines, of not having a good idea, of experiencing a catastrophic brain freeze. Seriously, I do quite a bit of plotting. I always start with a “What if?” premise. In the case of my new book Parchment and Old Lace, it’s “What if Carmela hears horrible screams coming from a spooky cemetery and rushes in to help?” Once I figure out a scary way to kick off the book, I decide who my victim should be and create a handful of unsavory suspects. Then I write Chapter one and start piecing together a loose story that contains two or three more huge events as well as a bunch of fun things that my protagonist is involved in. When I have about sixty pages, I go back to the very beginning and write all the way straight through to the end. Obviously, I always hope for a few lightning strikes along the way so I can keep ratcheting up the suspense!

Kathy: Was there a specific inspiration for this story?

LC: I have kind of a dark side, so I’m always inspired by autumn, Halloween, and all the spooky activities that surround this time of year. Because my release date was October 6, (perfect!) I wanted to give my readers an extra dark and scary read. Thus you have a book filled with murder, cemeteries, séances, abandoned theme parks, and, oh yes, scrapbooking.

Kathy: Lace plays an important role in this book. Is vintage fabric an interest of yours?

LC: I didn’t know a thing about it until I saw an article about vintage mourning clothes in an issue of Town & Country. Fascinating! Those stuffy Edwardians and Victorians had incredibly strict rules governing their dress and the wearing of lace. Since I was looking for a unique angle on a story about a murdered bride-to-be, my brain did a little Aha! and I was off and running.

Kathy: Carmela teaches the most interesting classes at Memory Mine. I wish I could attend! While I’m not in need of a wedding workshop, I’d love to make a charm bracelet. What is your favorite new class offering or technique?

LC: I love it when Carmela teaches her class on memory boxes. She’s always pulling together pieces of exotic paper, pressed flowers, paper ephemera, and tiny statues of birds or angels and placing them in these adorable painted wooden boxes.

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

LC: I’m writing Carmela’s next adventure right now. The title is CREPE FACTOR and the plot involves a rather gruesome murder of a nasty restaurant critic who writes for the blog Glutton for Punishment. It’s scary, moody, and hysterical all at the same time.

Kathy: Will you share any other upcoming books?

LC: Absolutely. SCORCHED EGGS (Cackleberry Club Mystery) will be out in paperback on December 1, and DEVONSHIRE SCREAM (Tea Shop Mystery) will be out in hardcover on March 1, 2016. I also have a hard-edged thriller coming out next June. It’s titled LITTLE GIRL GONE and is a radical departure for me – a very gritty and ripped-from-the-headlines kidnapping. That book will come out under my real name of Gerry Schmitt.


Laura Childs Bio

Laura Childs is the New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty-five mysteries, including the Scrapbooking Mysteries, Tea Shop Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries, as well as the soon to be released Afton Tangler Thriller series. She is the former CEO of her own marketing firm, has won dozens of TV and radio awards, and produced two reality TV shows. She and her professor husband enjoy travel and their two Shar-Pei dogs.


Parchment and Old Lace by Laura Childs
The 13th Scrapbooking Mystery

It's autumn in New Orleans and Carmela is out on a romantic dinner date with her beau, Detective Edgar Babcock. Their date comes to an unfortunate conclusion when, on their way home, they hear a scream emanating from the cemetery. Both rush in only to find the body of a woman they had spoken with just moments before, murdered with a piece of antique lace. Although Carmela fully intends to leave the investigation in the capable hands of the New Orleans police department, she finds herself involved once again when the victim's sister, who happens to be the tarot card reader at Juju Voodoo, asks for her help.

While the book deals with weddings, not only was Isabelle (the murder victim) about to be wed, but Carmela was also teaching a wedding themed class at Memory Mine, it has a decidedly darker feel to it. Parchment and Old Lace brings not only the cooler weather of autumn, but a sense of decay with a cemetery as the crime scene, the use of a Ouija board, and a dilapidated amusement park.

Parchment and Old Lace is a great addition to the Scrapbooking Mystery series. We are given a deftly plotted mystery filled with the darkness autumn brings, yet the fun of good friendships and plenty of adventure. As an added bonus we also get scrapbooking tips and some great recipes.

Laura has graciously offered a copy of Parchment and Old Lace to two of my readers. In order to qualify, simply leave a comment on this blog post no later than 11:59 pm EDT Wednesday, October 14th, 2015 telling us your favorite part of Halloween. Don't forget to include an e-mail so that I'm able to contact you should you win!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Review - Ghost of a Potion


Ghost of a Potion by Heather Blake
The Third Magic Potion Mystery

It's Halloween in Hitching Post, Alabama and Carly Bell Hartwell is getting ready to batten down the hatches. However, her plans of hibernating during the ghostpocalypse collapse when she makes eye contact with a newly departed murder victim. Carly knew things could go bad at the masquerade ball to celebrate the restoration of the Ezekiel Mansion, after all Dylan's mother, Patricia, AKA The Face of Evil, was one of the hostesses. What was unexpected was the murder of Haywood Dodd during the festivities. When Carly unwittingly made eye contact with his ghost she knew she had no choice but to solve his murder to help him cross over. What she didn't expect were the other ghosts she would meet along the way and the many secrets she'd uncover.

Ghost of a Potion is a book you don't want to put down. Fast paced fun with eccentric characters who manage to remain completely believable and a well plotted mystery make for a fantastic read. Blake cleverly uses a countdown to fuel our adrenaline and rush to solve the murder- and finish the book. We only have three days to help the ghosts before they're trapped for another year. This pressure induced time frame adds drama and a sense of urgency to the finely crafted mysteries. Yes, mysteries. We get multiple mysteries which evolve with several viable suspects and enough red herrings to keep us jumping.

As with the other books in the Magical Potions Mystery series, Ghost of a Potion is also flat our fun to read! Funny characters, witty dialogue, and amusing situations abound. Southern charm and eccentricities are on full display. Yet an honesty and deep seated love is also present. As wild and wacky as things get Blake manages to make it real and make us care.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Are You Superstitious? Guest Post, Giveaway, & Review

Are You Superstitious?
by Linda O. Johnston

I'm asking since I'm the author of the Superstition Mysteries, and the second, KNOCK ON WOOD, has just been published.

Writing that series makes me very conscious of my own superstitions, and of other people's.  For example, in many conversations people will express something they're hopeful about, and then--you guessed it!--knock on wood that it will come true.  Or even add to what they're saying, "knock on wood."  Same goes for "fingers crossed," and/or crossing their fingers.

Do you say or do either?

Or how about finding a penny on a floor or sidewalk somewhere.  I used to hear the saying, "Find a penny, pick it up, and all the day you'll have good luck."  As a result, I picked up all pennies I found and hoped for that good luck.  I'm not sure whether that superstition evolved or my understanding of it did, but now I understand that only heads-up pennies are good luck.  As a result, I only pick them up for myself now, but I'll turn tails-up ones over so someone else can then achieve good luck from them.  And if you happen to come to a place where I'm talking about my Superstition Mysteries, don't be surprised if you notice that heads-up pennies have mysteriously appeared on the floor!

And black cats?  There are actually many superstitions about them, including, of course, that if one crosses your path you'll have bad luck.  But lots of people own and love black cats and are not always subject to bad luck.  In fact, I've researched and written other articles and blog posts that indicate the conflicting nature of black cat superstitions.

Dogs?  As far as I'm concerned, all dogs are good luck.  According to lore, black dogs are especially lucky, and it's particularly good luck to see a black and white one, like a Dalmation or Pluckie, the star of my Superstition Mysteries, if you happen to be going to a business meeting.

So am I superstitious?  In a way, although I've thought at times that superstitions are opposite for me.  For example, the number 13 has always been lucky for me, even Friday the 13th, but not so in common superstition lore.  One of my Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Lexie, is a tricolor, which means she's mostly black and white--but I consider all Cavaliers lucky including Mystie, who's a Blenheim (red and white).

So what about you?  Have I triggered any thoughts about superstitions for you here?

Well, you can be sure that my fingers are crossed that you always have good luck.  In fact, I'm now knocking on wood about it!



Knock on Wood by Linda O. Johnston
The Second Superstition Mystery

In Knock on Wood we find Rory settling in to the town of Destiny, managing the Lucky Dog Boutique and becoming part of the Destiny community. Not only is she giving talks for the town's Welcome Programs, Rory's even contemplating moving out of the Rainbow B&B to rent an apartment, or even buy a house. Rory's also learning to let go of her dead fiance and open her heart to a relationship with Destiny's Chief of Police, Justin Halbertson. She's also excited that her best friend Gemma is coming down for a visit. However, a troubled Gemma arrives a day early. Something is wrong...and while Rory will give her space for a moment, she'll soon find out the problem and look for a solution.  

Knock on Wood deals with changing relationships. Rory's relationship with Justin, Rory's old friendship with Gemma and her new friendships with Carolyn and other Destiny residents. Gemma's relationship with Frank, her ex-boyfriend, and her two new suitors, Stuart and Lou. How Frank's feelings for Gemma changed and morphed into something else. Something dangerous?
While I truly enjoy reading about superstitions, especially learning about ones with which I was unfamiliar ("A pigeon flying inside foreshadows doom." Who knew?) there is a lot of repetitive information. It's good to share how Destiny reminds reminds its visitors of superstitions (seeding the sidewalks with heads up pennies and buttons) and fine to remind readers how Rory came to Destiny (to research the veracity of superstitions after her fiance died after walking under a ladder). Yet Rory continually reiterates the same question-are superstitions real? As Rory moves on from her relationship with Walter so must Johnston leave some of this rumination behind and focus more on the murder and character relationships.

As for the mystery-it's a good one! Public Affairs Director Lou Landorf, one of Gemma's new suitors, publicly criticizes several people then gets into an argument with Gemma. Gemma becomes suspect number one when his murdered body is found. Rory soon discovers Lou made plenty of other people angry, but who was angry enough to kill?

Destiny, California is a town based on and fed by superstition. Johnston combines her love of animals with an exploration of interesting superstitions in this enjoyable series. If you love dogs, are interested in superstitions, and enjoy a bit of romance in your mystery be sure to check out the Superstition Mystery series by Linda O. Johnston.

a Rafflecopter giveaway