Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Big Hair Interview and Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Lori Stacy to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Lori writes the Rose Cottage Cafe Mystery series.

Kathy: Mandy Hemphill runs the successful Rose Cottage Cafe. When you visit cafes, what's your favorite thing to order?

LS: I am a huge fan of chicken salad, as I always love to taste how cafes put their signature on a basic chicken salad, be it with fruit or nuts or—a favorite a mine—curry powder. You can tell a lot about a cafe by how good their chicken salad is!

Kathy: Is the Rose Cottage Cafe based on a real cafe or is strictly a product of your imagination.

LS: It’s a little of both. I once leased an office upstairs in an old, Victorian home that had been converted to offices and a restaurant. There was a restaurant downstairs that was run by a mother and her daughter, and it really did have a tiny kitchen and a purported ghost. When I knew that my protagonist was going to run a cafe in a quaint, Texas town, I immediately thought of the cafe, which has long since been closed, and created the Rose Cottage Cafe based upon that real cafe.

Kathy: The cafe has been converted from a possibly haunted house. Do you believe in ghosts? Have you ever had a ghostly encounter?

LS: The story of the cafe upon which the Rose Cottage Cage is based was that a ghost of a not-so-nice man lived there. And the women who ran the cafe swore that they saw his presence one night when they were there late to work on a catering order. Not one but two of the women who worked there said they walked past the small kitchen door and saw a presence sitting in chair looking at them angrily. I never did experience the ghost in that building (thank goodness!), though I did experience something inexplicable once: A children’s Blue’s Clues musical book (one of those where you press a button and it plays a song) I had started mysteriously playing “What a Friend You Have in Jesus” when I was home on Mother’s Day with just my colicky infant (at the time) son. It was strange—when I heard the noise I picked the book out of a toy basket and could hear this faint, odd music coming from it of a song that was NOT on the menu. I’d like to think it was my grandmother trying to reassure me that everything would be OK, as being a first-time mom with a constantly crying baby can be very trying.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

LS: I would say having read Mary Higgins Clark over the past 28 years—I always enjoyed her mystery novels as they were “clean” and didn’t have any gruesome scenes to give me nightmares. And then as the genre grew and authors like Diane Mott Davidson started writing cozy culinary mysteries, I realized I was hooked on cozy mysteries with food involved!

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

LS: Sweet love stories, which are probably the cozy-mystery-novel equivalent to love stories, in that they are clean and sweet. You won’t be reading any erotica by me any time soon!

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

LS: The Rose Cottage Cafe Mystery Series is about cafe-owner-turned-amateur-sleuth Mandy Hemphill. She runs the Rose Cottage Cafe in the fictional small Texas town of Orchardville, and finds herself pulled in to solve murder mysteries along with the help of the handsome Ben Hathaway, who publishes the town’s newspaper.

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

LS: While I love Mandy, I was particularly drawn to the character of Stu, who owns the building where the Rose Cottage Cafe is located. He is the quintessential Texas character, a wealthy developer who has no use for showy or fake people or for putting on airs. He is a salt-of-the-earth kind of guy. While he is a minor character, he was a lot of fun to write about because there are so many Texas types like him.

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

LS: If I weren’t a writer, I would want to own and operate a cafe, so writing a mystery set in a cafe, about the owner of a cafe, was a way to indulge this fantasy of mine. It started with a “What if…” and blossomed from there.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

LS: I have read about so many great authors who have gone the self-publishing route that I decided that was what I wanted to do. I have published work before with a publisher, and have actually been a publisher for a small press, but I really wanted to try self publishing. I feel like with all the tools available for writers to publish their own work, it is a viable and smart option today.

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

LS: I think it would be a lot of fun to have the original “chick lit” writer, Jane Austen, at a dinner party with contemporary women’s fiction writers like Emily Giffin, Jane Green and Elin Hilderbrand. It’s my feeling that when it comes to love, theoretically not much has changed from Ms. Austen’s time till today.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

LS: Speaking of Jane Austen, I am currently reading Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld. It’s a “modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice” and it’s a lot of fun. For a while, it seemed as though every book I was reading had a dead child involved and I wanted to read something light and fun instead.

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

LS: Oh yes, that one is easy—I love to cook, bake and entertain. I just hosted six houseguests for the weekend who were in town for my brother’s wedding. It was chaos, and it was wonderful! I also love to travel with my family, and enjoy going on runs with our 3-year-old golden retriever.

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

LS: Sugar, flour, butter and eggs—with those ingredients I can bake on a whim!

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

LS: I actually am working on the second book in the series, which is entitled “Sweet Tea & Sass Talk” and involves the murder of a popular cooking show host who meets her demise inside the Rose Cottage Cafe. I have an idea for a second series, about a woman who runs a haunted B&B on an island in Washington state, but as we are entering summer, when my three kids are out of school, I know I won’t be able to get to it till fall!

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

LS: When I look on my calendar and see an empty day—no appointments, no errands, no assignments—and I know that it’s a day during which I will have the privilege to write, it makes me incredibly happy. I think being able to sit down at home and do something I love for a living is the best thing about being an author.

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Monday, May 30, 2016

Spotlight - Sins of My Youth

I'm pleased to shine a spotlight on Sins of My Youth by Mary Ann Edwards.


Back Cover Copy for Sins of My Youth
Secrets, lies, and revenge. What a deadly combination! When the owner of a local strip club is found with his throat slit, Detective Charlie McClung has only one obvious suspect: his wife’s best friend, Joan. Even though Charlie finds her clutching a bloody knife while standing over the body, he has been around long enough to know that crime scenes aren’t always as they first appear. But as other suspects become victims themselves, Charlie must delve deeper into Joan’s dark and seedy past to prove her innocence.


Mary Anne Edwards is the author of The Charlie McClung Mysteries, Brilliant Disguise, A Good Girl, Criminal Kind, and Sins of My Youth. These are traditional murder mysteries with a touch of romance. There are six more books planned for this series. But her imagination tends to run wild, so you never know when it may end. Mary Anne was born in Mercedes, Texas. She now lives in Georgia with her husband of 35+ years and her Tuxedo cat, Gertrude. She and her husband dream of retiring in ... Well, they haven’t decided yet. For years, she only dabbled in writing, but with the encouragement of her husband, she left the accounting world to write full-time. Mary Anne is an advocate for the developmentally challenged and sits on the advisory board of Rockdale Cares, Inc. She is an active member of Sisters in Crime – Atlanta Chapter. Mary Anne can thankfully say that she is a breast cancer survivor. When Mary Anne is not writing, she loves to read, and watch all kinds of mysteries.


Social Media Links
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authormaryanneedwards/
Website:  http://maryanneedwards.com/
Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/maryanneedwards/
Google+:  https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MaryAnneEdwards/posts
LinkedIn:  www.linkedin.com/in/maryanneedwards
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/maedwards58
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Mary-Anne-Edwards/e/B00HZ28TIQ
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7791576.Mary_Anne_Edwards
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/mary-anne-edwards
Wiselike:  https://wiselike.com/mary-anne-edwards

Buy Links Amazon
“Brilliant Disguise” – Amazon - http://goo.gl/OaJGwc
“A Good Girl” – Amazon – http://goo.gl/CBW00b
“Criminal Kind” – Amazon - http://goo.gl/7EzXn8

Buy Links Barnes & Noble
Brilliant Disguise - http://goo.gl/vTHD3S
A Good Girl - http://goo.gl/c5KmpA
Criminal Kind - http://goo.gl/I6Yuu3

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Interview at a Fixer Upper

I'm pleased to welcome Sarah T. Hobart to the blog today. Sarah writes the Home Sweet Home Mystery series. Death at a Fixer Upper was released earlier this month.

Kathy: Sam Turner, like you, is a real estate agent. How have your experiences influenced Sam's fictional ones?

STH: All kinds of crazy things can and do happen in real estate, so there’s no shortage of material when it comes to Sam’s learning curve as an agent. One of my first clients was a self-described psychic who spent most of our time together trying to pick up the “emanations” of the homes we toured. I remember one particular house where she walked in, went pale, threw out her arms dramatically, and said, “Someone has died in this very spot.” Okay, that creeped me out a little! And then she made me research all the previous owners to see which one might have met their end in the front hall. That incident inspired a key scene in Death at a Fixer Upper. I’ve also been bitten by dogs, twice. But I love dogs.

Kathy: In Death at a Fixer Upper Sam's trying to drum up interest in a neglected Victorian home that is possibly haunted. Do you think possible hauntings help or hinder real estate deals

STH: I believe the presence of spirits is much less of a concern to potential buyers than whether or not the seller might pay to have the septic tank pumped. That being said, there are certain houses that just seem to have a negative aura, and an accompanying pattern of bad luck. Death, divorce, job loss—and bam, the home’s back on the market a year later.

Kathy: I love Victorian style homes. Do you have a favorite type of architecture?

STH: Victorians are lovely. Here on the North Coast, we have a lot of gorgeous Victorian homes, including the Carson Mansion, one of the most photographed houses in the world. But they’re also high-maintenance. I happen to love the house we live in now, which is not a Victorian, but has stucco siding we’ve never had to repaint. Of course we’ve had to do everything else – but that’s just the nature of houses. It’s a long-term relationship.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

STH: I enjoy all types of mysteries, not just cozies. I’m a huge Agatha Christie fan, and she was a master at creating intimate settings stocked with memorable characters, all bound together with a first-rate plot that leaves the reader guessing right till the end. That’s what a great mystery is all about.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

STH: The Sam Turner mysteries are the only books I’ve written. I write nonfiction humor stories as well. But I only share those with my family, because I don’t want to embarrass my kids. Any more than usual, that it.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

STH: Writing as Muriel Wills, I published two books in the series, Good Bones, and  Like a House on Fire before writing Death at a Fixer-Upper. All three follow the missteps of new real estate agent Sam Turner, a feisty, independent single mom who seems to run into trouble—and dead bodies—with every sale she pursues. She has a lot of baggage in her personal life, but muddles through with naïve enthusiasm and a sense of humor. I’m currently working on A Killer Location.

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

STH: I enjoy Max, Sam’s teenage son, who has a lot in common with my own teenage boys. It’s a great age where their personality begins to blossom, plus they grow tall enough to reach things on upper shelves. That’s an unexpected perk.

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

STH: I was challenged by my family to write a full-length novel before a certain milestone birthday, and that’s how it started. Then I had an idea for a sequel. The sequel had a cliffhanger ending, which necessitated another book. You see how it goes.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

STH: I was encouraged by the owner of our local bookstore, who thought a lot of mystery fans would enjoy reading about Sam’s misadventures. Can I name names? Thank you, Courtney Blake of Blake’s Books!

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

STH: Harper Lee, naturally; Agatha Christie, of course (though I know she’s bashful, but so am I); Mark Twain; Sue Grafton.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

STH: Carolyn G. Hart’s Bailey Ruth series. What fun! And twice I’ve been surprised when the culprit was revealed.

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

STH: Dogs, Giants baseball, and geocaching. If you haven’t tried geocaching, get out there! It’s a blast.

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

STH: Beer, cheddar, peanut butter and beer. That’s four, right?

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

STH: Yes. Wait, you want more? I have a half-formed plot for the next in my current series in my head, and a lot of other ideas percolating.

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

STH: The hours. And the dress code.

Friday, May 27, 2016

An Interview with Milk and Murder Plus a Review & Giveaway

I'm so pleased to welcome H.Y. Hanna back to Cozy Up With Kathy. Today we're talking about TEA WITH MILK AND MURDER, the second book in her Oxford Tearoom Mystery series.

Kathy: I must admit I was laughing out loud at Gemma's thoughts and descriptions of the modern art displayed in Jon's gallery. And I quite agree with her! Are your thoughts on modern art similar?

HYH: Well, I do think that when it comes to Art, beauty really is in the eye of the beholder and it’s such a subjective thing - so I don’t like to be judgemental about other people’s tastes! Having said that, I will freely admit that my tastes are more traditional than modern and I really do scratch my head over some of the things that are exhibited in the modern art galleries!

Kathy: Gemma's mum has discovered online shopping. I admit to being a huge fan myself, although I hope my purchases are better suited to me. Do you enjoy online shopping?

HYH: I’m not a huge shopper in any form but I do like browsing sites online (usually as a form of procrastination when I should be working!). Some things are easier than others – for example, I don’t think twice about buying ebooks, or even print books, from Amazon, but when it comes to things like clothes, I get a bit wary. I’m a huge believer in always trying things on and that’s something you can’t do, of course, with online shopping sites. And somehow, things always look better on the model in the picture than when it finally arrives in the mail and you try it on yourself! :-)

Kathy: Gemma and Cassie get into a huge fight over Cassie's new boyfriend. Have you ever had a friendship in jeopardy due to a man?

HYH: No, thank goodness! I HAVE been in slightly awkward situations sometimes when I didn’t particularly like or approve of the way a friend’s partner was treating her but it’s never been anything so serious that I felt like I had to interfere.

I tend to think that it’s best to stay out of people’s relationship issues. Of course, if I suspected that my friend’s new boyfriend might be a murderer – as Gemma did – then that might be a different story!

Kathy: Was there a specific inspiration for this story?

Ooh, it’s hard to think of one specific things. My inspirations for stories always come from a variety of sources, like a snippet of conversation or something I see on TV which makes me think “What if…?” - and they also come from things I’d like to explore.

For example, I liked the idea that each of the supporting characters in the Oxford Tearoom Mysteries would have a book where the spotlight was more on them – so this one was to be Cassie’s book. You get to know her better and see her flaws and vulnerabilities and grow with her in this book – as opposed to just seeing her as Gemma’s sidekick best friend. I also thought it WOULD be interesting to explore that dynamic of what happens to their friendship if a man does come between them. And lastly, I wanted to write a murder mystery where the weapon used was poison! :-)

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

HYH: Oh yes, I have lots of things in store for Gemma! :-) In this book, you see her starting to grow her tearoom business and settle back into life in England… as well as struggle to make up her mind between the two dashing men in her life: sexy CID detective, Devlin O’Connor and quietly handsome doctor, Lincoln Green.

The next book after this one (Book 3: TWO DOWN, BUN TO GO) is already out and in that one, you’ll finally get to see which man Gemma chooses, as well as how she deals with finding a new baking chef for her tearoom (her mother is on to another new thing!) The third book also focuses on Gemma’s other friend, Seth, and we learn a bit more about him… as well as introducing some new characters in Oxford and the little Cotswolds village where Gemma’s tearoom is situated.

I’m currently writing Book 4 – which again features an intriguing murder mystery: this time taking place during a cat show at the local village fete. We also see Gemma dealing with new challenges, such as a new relationship and trying to finally move out of her parents’ place and find a place of her own – not to mention, of course, coping with the antics of her mother and the Old Biddies… and her little tabby cat, Muesli!



The Second Oxford Tearoom Mystery

Gemma's mum has become the new chef at Gemma's tearoom and, much to Gemma's surprise, things are working out well, as long as you discount her mother's new found online shopping habit! The Old Biddies are also helping out in the tearoom as Cassie has been less than reliable lately. Cassie is besotted with a smooth art gallery owner, but Gemma has a bad feeling about this too smooth operator, and Muesli agrees. When a young woman makes a scene, then falls dead, during an art opening at Jon's gallery Gemma can't help but be suspicious of Jon, but will voicing her opinions cost her her best friend?

H.Y. Hanna makes me laugh out loud. Some of the comments her characters make as well as the absurd realities Gemma is faced with (wait till you read about the online water feature Gemma's mum bought for the tearoom) quite simply bring me joy...and laughter. Gemma's second adventure is another fun time, but with some serious issues. There is the murder, of course, but we see a change, and not for the better, in Cassie and the possible end of her friendship with Gemma. The author skillfully blends the highs and lows without getting too maudlin or too farcical. There are several suspects, lots of clues, and a unique method of murder. Also an unexpected hero saves the day.

If you're looking for a fun read with substance, a solid mystery set in a charming village with eccentric yet down to earth characters you need look no further than TEA WITH MILK AND MURDER. I love spending time in the Cotswolds with Gemma, Muesli, and the villagers and look forward to my next visit!

Recipe Included.


H.Y. Hanna has graciously offered the first two e-books in her Oxford Tearoom Mystery series to one lucky reader. To qualify, simply leave a comment on this post telling us your thoughts of either modern art or online shopping. Leave you comment along with an e-mail address and what format of e-book you use no later than 11:59pm EDT Sunday, May 29.



By H.Y. Hanna
While at an Oxford cocktail party, tearoom owner Gemma Rose overhears a sinister conversation minutes before a University student is fatally poisoned. Could there be a connection? And could her best friend Cassie’s new boyfriend have anything to do with the murder?

Gemma decides to start her own investigation, helped by the nosy ladies from her Oxfordshire village and her old college flame, CID detective Devlin O’Connor. But her mother is causing havoc at Gemma’s quaint English tearoom and her best friend is furious at her snooping… and this mystery is turning out to have more twists than a chocolate pretzel!

Too late, Gemma realises that she’s could be the next item on the killer’s menu. Or will her little tabby cat, Muesli, save the day?
(** Velvet Cheesecake recipe included!)

This book follows British English spelling and usage.
Clean read: no graphic violence, sex, or strong language.
Genre: humorous culinary, cat cozy mystery series / women amateur sleuth / British mystery

Link to the series in the Amazon store: http://www.hyhanna.com/oxford-tearoom-amazon-seriespage  

H.Y. Hanna
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/hyhanna.books

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Death at a Fixer-Upper by Sarah T. Hobart. This book is the first in the Home Sweet Home Mystery series and was released May 17th.

Sam Turner is a new real estate agent with Home Sweet Home Realty in California. She's a single mom dealing with a vehicle that's falling apart, the sudden reappearance of her ex-husband, sexual banter and possibly more with the chief of police, who also happens to be her sister's ex-husband, grouchy co-workers and fellow real estate agents, and a new listing. The mysterious 13 Aster Lane could be a gorgeous mansion, but currently it's a money pit falling in upon itself. Why then are so many people suddenly making offers? A developer, who intends to raze the still gorgeous rose garden, a group of paranormal investigators, and a mysterious stranger all want the place. Will Sam make the deal? Will the garden be saved? Is the house actually haunted? I'll have to keep reading to find out!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Bait and Interview with a Giveaway

I'm happy to welcome ReGina Welling and Erin Lynn to the blog today. Together they write the Ponderosa Pines Mystery series. Bait and Snitch is the fourth book in the series and was released earlier this month.

 Kathy: Setting plays such an important role in a mystery. Why is Ponderosa Pines the perfect location for your series?

Erin: Ponderosa Pines is located in Maine, and it’s a perfect setting because Maine is a place where small town living is the norm. Our largest city has less than 70,000 people—it’s a state made up of nothing but small towns. There is also a focus on living off the land, conserving resources, and keeping local, small businesses alive. Those are things we care about, and wanted to include in the series—it just made sense to set the town in our own little corner of the world.

 Kathy: In Bait and Snitch EV Torrence and Chloe LaRue may expose their neighbor’s deepest secrets. Do you think your neighborhoods have secrets? Have they ever been exposed?

ReGina: I’m dating myself, but growing up we had party line phones, which meant I could accidentally listen in on my neighbors conversations. Good etiquette required hanging up quickly, but every now and then, a sentence snippet revealed interesting details about my neighbors.

Kathy: You write as a team. How does that work? Does one person work more on the plot while the other writes the actual words?

ReGina: We sit down together and write out a detailed plot, which then gets dumped into a Scrivener file that we share using Dropbox. Once the outline is finished, we decide who is going to write each chapter/scene. When the first draft is complete, we each take a second pass at the whole manuscript to make sure it all hangs together.
Erin: We also have daily discussions about the scenes we’re writing, and we read each other’s work throughout the process. We’re open to changes, and we have no problem editing and revising each other’s sections. By the end of each book, there will be some of both of us in every scene. We’re mother and daughter, so of course we have differences of opinion and occasionally a discussion that feels reminiscent of my teenage years—but five minutes later we’re laughing and smiling again!

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

ReGina: I read the first Cat Who book by Lilian Jackson Braun when I was in high school and fell in love with the genre. Then came the Mrs. Pollifax books by Dorothy Gilman and I was hooked.
Erin: I happened across mom’s collection of Agatha Christie books sometime in high school, though I didn’t know the term “cozy mystery” back then. Miss Marple was always my favorite, and I don’t think you can get much cozier than her!

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

ReGina: My Psychic Seasons series has a bit more romance than the typical cozy, and with a touch of paranormal added in, it crosses genres.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

ReGina: Nothing bad ever happens in Ponderosa Pines. Or that’s how it was before the quirky little hamlet becomes a hotbed of intrigue when a hapless handyman ends up dead and it’s up to EV Torrence and Chloe LaRue to find his killer. The stakes are raised even higher when a second death, the handyman’s brother, occurs and reveals a blackmail scheme that threatens their beloved town.
Ponderosa Pines, located in the woods of Maine, started out as a commune in the sixties where a like-minded group headed by EV’s parents used their trust funds to build eco-friendly homes and raise their children. Fast forward to the present, and the next generation has embraced modern technology with an emphasis on green living while still retaining their small town sensibilities.
The first three books, Cat Killed A Rat, Crafting Disorder, and Caught in the Frame, are a trilogy where we follow EV and Chloe while they track the blackmailer and bring him to justice. Bait and Snitch, like the rest of the books to follow are single, standalone stories.

Psychic Seasons, my first series, has elements of the paranormal blended with romance, and a fun mystery. When Julie Hayward is dragged off to a Tarot card reading by her best friend, Gustavia, both women get more than they bargained for.
A ghostly encounter provides a cryptic clue to the location of a lost family fortune and a warning that Julie’s fiancé is not what he seems. Launched on a wild adventure, Julie and her three closest friends search for treasure, meet a guardian angel, deal with a dark spirit, and find love.

Earthbound, the spin-off series from Psychic Seasons, features former guardian angel, Galmadriel. After being tossed out of heaven, she isn’t like any other angel. Not quite human, yet not fully an angel, the best thing the PTBs can think to do with her is bounce her around so she can solve supernatural problems.
Ghosts that need to find their way home or that purposefully take the wrong path are her bread and butter. To add insult to injury, she is assigned a fledgling pair of guardian angels to train. Julius and Estelle are ready and willing to learn, but they also have a secondary agenda. One that Galmadriel is never supposed find out about.
Helping the ghost of young Ben Allen find his way home reconnects Galmadriel with Psychic Seasons alumni: Kat, Amethyst, Gustavia, and Julie in the first of many adventures to come.

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

ReGina: No, I’m sorry, I can’t choose a favorite.

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

ReGina: I grew up in a small town in Maine where the feeling of family—with all the good and the bad that can come along with it—was strong. I’ve watched feuding neighbors forget their animosity in the face of tragedy and be supportive of each other. It’s a singular feeling to grow up in a place where you know you can knock on any door and get help, or a drink of water, or even a shoulder to cry on.
Erin: A couple of years ago I lived in a townhouse that was part of a sprawling apartment complex in the woods. During the summer it felt like camping all the time, and it reminded me of home (I was living in upstate New York at the time). My mom and I had several conversations about the place, musing about how cool it would be if it was its own little self-sustaining community. It got our juices flowing, and eventually evolved into Ponderosa Pines.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

ReGina: Years of people telling me they wanted to read my stories and why didn’t I put them in a book.
Erin: I’ve been talking about wanting to write for a living since high school, but I never pulled the trigger. When we came up with the idea for Ponderosa Pines, my mom was writing her Psychic Seasons series. Seeing her succeed and have that much fun made me want to do the same. So we just decided to go for it.

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

ReGina: Madeleine L’engle, Anne McCaffrey, Jim Butcher, Maya Angelou.
Erin: Barbara Kingsolver, Agatha Christie, Jane Austen, Amanda Hesser.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

ReGina: A Scone to Die For by H.Y. Hanna
Erin: Oh, my goodness. Tea and Milk with Murder by H.Y. Hanna. Not even joking.

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

ReGina: I haven’t had as much time to play with my camera of late, but photography has been a passion of mine since I picked up a Brownie camera as a kid.
Erin: Hiking, boating, camping in the summer; home improvement and décor projects in the winter when I don’t want to go outside for any reason.

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

Erin: I have 9 and 11-year-old boys, so: fruit snacks, popsicles, smoothie supplies, and peanut butter. For myself, I can’t live without: coffee, salsa, diet coke, and yogurt.
ReGina: Coffee, apple cider vinegar (the good, unfiltered stuff), cucumbers, and don’t judge, but Pop Tarts. The unfrosted kind.

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

ReGina: Absolutely. We have at least one more Ponderosa Pines book slated for release this year and we’ve been tossing around ideas for a new series. Plus, I’ve got book 2 of the Earthbound Series to finish up by fall.

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

ReGina: No alarm clock. I’m not a morning person and I think alarm clocks are evil devices of torture.
Erin: Being able to work from pretty much anywhere. I wrote part of Cat Killed A Rat from a boat-access camping plot on a beautiful pond. Plus, no daily trudge to an office, and I can work in my PJs and nobody will know the difference.

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Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Madness of Mercury: An Interview, Review, & Giveaway

I'm happy to welcome Connie di Marco to Cozy Up with Kathy today. Connie pens the Zodiac Mystery series. The Madness of Mercury, the first book in the series, will be released June 8th.

Kathy: Julia Bonatti is an astrologer. Had you an interest in astrology before starting the Zodiac Mystery series?

CdM: Yes, I definitely did. I’ve always found the subject fascinating and over the years have bought lots of books on the subject. I thought it would be intriguing to have a protagonist with an unusual occupation that brought her in contact with people from different worlds and people with unique problems.

Kathy: Do you follow your own stars?

CdM: Well, sure! I can’t say I worry about anything on a daily basis, but I do like to keep an eye on current transits to see what’s coming up. I’m very fortunate to have a computer program that will do all the hard work for me instantly.

Astrology is so helpful in terms of timing. When should I start a new blog tour? Or what’s a quiet time to plan a vacation? And when it comes to beginning a new project, it’s always smart to start at the new moon. Those are just a few examples.

Kathy: When many people think of astrology and horoscopes they simply think of a person's sun sign. What would your advice be to these people?

CdM: An individual’s sun sign represents the “ego” in Jungian terms. It’s a very important factor in a chart because a Capricorn will react differently to any given situation than, for example, a Leo, but it’s modified by other factors. The Ascendant, Moon placement, Venus, Mars, etc. all play a role and aspects to an individual’s Sun sign will color how that person approaches life.

Kathy: Have you had a full chart done for yourself?

CdM: Actually, no. I guess I’m a do-it-yourselfer when it comes to my own chart. I have learned so much just from reading, studying and comparing transits and progressions to what is actually happening in my life at any given time that I haven’t felt the need.

Kathy: The cover of The Madness of Mercury is wonderful and looks like that of a cozy mystery. I'm only a few chapters in so far, but I consider the book a thriller. What made you decide on this darker edge?

CdM: The Zodiac Mysteries are really traditional mysteries, in my opinion -- as are cozy mysteries. But for lots of readers, I think cozy has increasingly become associated with light or humorous stories. This particular book, The Madness of Mercury, takes place against the backdrop of the larger evil that is going on in the city. Julia never thought her own life would be affected but because of these events, she’s forced to fight. So there is a large element of the dystopian in this story and perhaps even thriller elements too. I do like the excitement of thrillers and every book I’ve written, even the Soup Lover’s Mysteries, has incorporated death-defying scenes for my protagonist. I try to write the kinds of things that I like to read. And of course, I want readers to be turning pages as much as possible.

Kathy: What first drew you to mysteries?

CdM: It would have to be Nancy Drew and then later Trixie Belden. As a kid, I absolutely loved those books. I wanted to be Nancy or Trixie. Nancy never had homework. Of course, it was impossible to pin down her age, but she was old enough to drive and didn’t have to work. She was a free spirit jumping into all sorts of adventures. After those books, I was a mystery devotée! At an early age, I read all the Sherlock Holmes stories, Georges Simenon (Maigret), Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers and on and on – all the classics.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

CdM: So far, I have not, but I haven’t ruled it out. I think each tale takes its own form. And sometimes it’s impossible to label a book with a particular genre until the book is finished. And of course many books cross the lines or blend different styles and categories.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

CdM: In the Zodiac Mysteries, Julia Bonatti is a San Francisco astrologer who never thought murder would be part of her practice. She planned on a quiet life and a teaching career, but when her fiance is killed in a hit and run accident, she isn’t able to continue on that path. Astrology offered solace and was a study in which she hoped to find some answers. As time went on, she found a great deal of satisfaction in helping others with her skills.

The Soup Lover’s Mysteries are set in the tiny village of Snowflake, Vermont and revolve around Lucky Jamieson and the By the Spoonful Soup Shop which she inherited after her parents’ death. This series is a cozy series, but the characters are drawn as realistically as possible and the crimes are fueled by dark motivations. Lucky is always instrumental in solving the crime(s) and unmasking the murderer, but each book highlights one of the core characters and allows that character to take center stage.

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

CdM: I do love them all! But I think Jack, Lucky’s grandfather, is my favorite in the Soup Lover’s Mysteries. Jack is an elderly Navy vet, devoted to his granddaughter. He tells time by the bells and calls the floor the deck and the walls the bulkhead. He’s kind of an amalgam of my dear Dad and my father-in-law, but Jack has taken on a life of his own.

In the Zodiac series, it’s a toss up between Gale, Julia’s best friend, an outspoken character, and Kuan Lee, Julia’s surrogate grandfather. Kuan is an old friend of Julia’s grandmother and (now deceased) grandfather. He’s a practitioner of Chinese medicine and lives in the first floor apartment of Julia’s grandmother’s house. Julia confides in Kuan so he’s become a sort of “Yoda” figure who can offer her a different perspective on her problems.

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

CdM: I’ve always wanted to set a mystery in San Francisco. It’s a beautiful city, but it’s also a city of many moods – sunny and windy, dank and foggy, with an interesting history. I lived there for many years and still continually uncover interesting facts about the place. I also lived there during the years of Jim Jones and the People’s Temple on which Reverend Roy and the Prophet’s Tabernacle are based. Jones was a very popular and powerful figure in the city, supported by politicians and society people. It wasn’t until later when allegations of abuse began to surface that led to his decamping to the jungle and his descent into madness.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

CdM: When I first started out, my goal was to write one mystery and do my best to have it traditionally published. I knew absolutely nothing about the business and even less about self-publishing so I was starting at ground zero. If anyone had ever told me then that I would have written five books in one series, and starting another, I would never have believed them!

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

CdM: H.P. Lovecraft – for his very strange mind and his stories set in New England.
Nathaniel Hawthorne – for his Scarlet Letter, a book I really consider a feminist statement.
Dorothy Sayers – for her brilliant and clever plots.
Stephen King – see H.P. Lovecraft above and his incredible range and talent.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

CdM: Right now I’m reading Churchill’s Secret Spy, a World War II story, with a female protagonist, written by Raymond Buckland, who is also the author of the Bram Stoker series from Berkley Prime Crime. It’s a wonderful book!

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

CdM: I like to refinish old furniture. It’s hard work and messy, but doing something that’s manual work is very satisfying. Stripping away old paint and varnish and uncovering the beauty of a piece is wonderful. I just wish I had more time to do some of the things I enjoy. Writing does take up a lot of time!

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

CdM: Cat food (for my talking cat), coffee (absolutely essential), pasta and tomatoes (I love tomatoes in any dish).

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

CdM: The second book in the Zodiac Mysteries, Dark Sun, has been submitted to my publisher and will be released next year (June 2017). Right now, I’m starting work on the third book in that series but haven’t settled on a title yet. I’m also working on an LA crime story and have a couple of cozier ideas with unusual female protagonists.

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

CdM: I think the most wonderful thing about being an author is to hear from a reader that he or she really enjoyed my book. That’s truly priceless. I’m very proud to be a member of the mystery writing community too. I’ve met so many wonderful people. Mystery and thriller writers are the most generous and supportive people imaginable.



The Madness of Mercury By Connie di Marco
The First Zodiac Mystery

Julia Bonatti is a professional astrologer in San Francisco. In addition to private clients, she also writes the Ask Zodia newspaper feature anonymously. However, somehow not only her name, but e-mail, phone number and address have been leaked out and she's getting protests, threats, and more from people associated with the Prophet's Tabernacle. In addition, some of her private clients are making surprising claims and making poor life choices. Already one person has died, although it appears to be accidental. Violence is increasing by these religious extremists and this period of mercury in retrograde could be Julia's worst one ever...if not her last!

The first few sentences into this book I thought I would love it. The writing was just my style, the theme was right up my alley, and I thought I'd just discovered a favorite new series. As I continued, however, I became more and more nervous. While the writing was excellent, the story was reading as more of a thriller. Threats and violence escalated and one act of violence nearly made me put down the book for good. At this point while I considered this book a very good thriller, it was not what I was expecting. I was led astray by the cover. The cover is an absolute gorgeous work of art, a warm inviting room with a cat that screams "cozy mystery". It is not a cozy mystery. I continued the book, which slowed its thriller pace and became what I would call a traditional mystery.

As a traditional mystery the book is stellar. The Madness of Mercury takes a fascinating look at people and their inner workings, their motivations. It is a complex mystery which combines astrology and cult mentality, showing what can happen when divergent beliefs cross paths and intolerance rears its ugly head. This book struck some very personal chords with me. When I read about people who believe they should "not suffer a witch to live". I get nervous for me and my cats. In the book di Marco took a step across a line to show just how far the cult would go. I don't think that step was necessary, but it most certainly amped up the adrenaline and made issues much more serious, although the characters used a serious lack of judgement in how they handled this heinous situation.

The Madness of Mercury is a fast paced thrill ride of a psychological mystery. Darker with more risks and violence, there is more at stake here than in a cozy mystery. As such, it is more gripping and more disturbing, making you think more and contemplate society as a whole.



Astrologer Julia Bonatti never thought her chosen profession would bring danger into her life, but her outspoken advice in her newspaper column, AskZodia, makes her the target of San Francisco’s recently-arrived cult leader, Reverend Roy of the Prophet’s Tabernacle. The followers of the power hungry preacher will stop at nothing to quell the voices of those who would stand in his way and Julia’s at the top of his list. She’s willing to bet the charismatic Reverend is a Mercury-ruled individual, and she knows all too well that Mercury wasn’t just the messenger of the gods, he was a trickster and a liar as well.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Midnight Ink
Publication Date: June 8, 2016
Number of Pages: 312
ISBN: 978-0738749129
Purchase Links:
Connie di Marco is the author of the new Zodiac Mystery series from Midnight Ink, featuring San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti. Writing as Connie Archer, she is also the author of the national bestselling Soup Lover’s Mysteries from Berkley Prime Crime. Some of her excerpts and recipes can be found in The Cozy Cookbook and The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook. Connie is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime. She grew up in New England and now lives on the other coast.









Connie di Marco's website http://www.conniedimarco.com/
Connie di Marco's twitter http://twitter.com/askzodia
Connie di Marco's facebook http://www.facebook.com/zodiacmysteries/

Read an excerpt:

As I stood in line at the checkout counter of the bookstore an uncomfortable feeling stole over me. Was I being watched? I turned slowly and surveyed the customers in line behind me. No one looked suspicious. No one turned away suddenly. Just holiday shoppers focused on their own business. When I turned back my eye caught someone standing at a table close by, separated by a metal bar from the line of shoppers. A man, dark hair, black jacket, seemingly immersed in a book he was holding in his hands. No shopping bags in sight. Something about him . . . I mentally shook myself, pushing the thought out of my mind. I was being paranoid. Nerves were getting the better of me.
I paid for my purchase and left. Bundling up against the cold, I retraced my steps and approached the garage entrance. I took the elevator down to the lowest level where I had parked, stepped out and glanced around. In contrast to the crowds of people above on the streets, not a soul was in sight. I felt a frisson of fear. Why was it so deserted? My nerves were just on edge, I decided. I was imagining threats where there were none. I took a deep breath and hurried to my car. I unlocked the door and threw my bags onto the passenger seat. Before I could turn the key in the ignition I glanced in the rearview mirror. A face in a ski mask stared back at me, the eyes bright in the ambient lighting. A gasp caught in my throat. My heart raced as a gloved hand pulled my head back and covered my mouth. I felt the sharp prick of a knife point at my neck. I froze. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t speak.
“Forget about the Prophet. Make sure you keep your big mouth shut or my next visit won’t be so nice,” he growled. He pulled the knife away, let go of my jaw and jumped out of the car.

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Friday, May 20, 2016

Decanting an Interview, Review, and Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Nadine Nettmann to the blog today. Nadine writes the Sommelier Mystery series. Decanting a Murder, the first book in the series, was released earlier this month.

Kathy: Your character is studying to be a sommelier. Why choose this profession for your series?

NN: There are so many details sommeliers need to know about wine and geography and I thought it would be fun to have a protagonist who used that information to solve a mystery. It also helped in writing the series that I’m a Certified Sommelier and love wine. It made the book really fun to write which hopefully shows in the writing.

Kathy: I enjoy wine, visit many wineries, and have even attended wine tasting classes. While my palate is pretty good it isn't anywhere near that of a sommelier. How did you develop your own palate?

NN: I’ve always been very sensitive to spicy food and strong flavors so while I think I had an edge, it really comes down to learning and training your palate. While studying for my sommelier exams, I would walk through the grocery store and smell different fruits, training my brain to identify the scent of blueberries, cranberries, etc. I was also fortunate to join a blind tasting group where we had to identify wines down to region and varietal simply by looking, sniffing, and tasting the wine. Those sessions definitely helped develop and focus my palate.

Kathy: I'm lucky enough to live in the midst of three distinct viticultural regions so I mainly drink these NY state wines. I love the huge variety of Rieslings, but my favorite wine is Gewürztraminer. Do you have a favorite wine?

NN: Excellent choices! I love Gewürztraminer and Riesling. For me, I tend to switch my favorite wines throughout the year. My choices don’t necessarily go along with the seasons, but just what I’m enjoying at that time. I’ve been on a Pinot Grigio kick recently and for red wines, I’ve really been enjoying Cabernet Franc.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

NN: I’ve been a fan of Agatha Christie since I was little and I love reading amateur sleuths. It makes me feel that everyone can solve a mystery.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

NN: I’m currently working on a domestic suspense so although a different genre within mystery, still in the mystery field. I’m a huge fan of mysteries and I don’t think I will ever stray from that world.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.
NN: Decanting a Murder is the first book in a wine themed murder mystery series featuring Katie Stillwell, a sommelier who solves mysteries by using her wine skills. Every chapter is paired with a wine.

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

NN: I would have to say my main character, Katie Stillwell. I really like that she’s a dedicated friend and a hard worker, but also has a little sass.

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

NN: I’ve loved Murder, She Wrote since I was little and I thought it would be fun to have a series similar to that but in the wine world.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

NN: I’ve wanted to be a published author my entire life and though it’s been a long journey, I’m so excited that it’s happening now.

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

NN: This is such a fun question! Let’s see, I would choose Agatha Christie, Sue Grafton, Daphne DuMaurier, and Stephen King.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

NN: I just finished reading Mary Higgins Clark’s I Heard That Song Before which I loved. I’m a big fan of her work and although this book came out several years ago, I hadn’t read it until now.

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

NN: I love decorating cakes for friends and family. It’s so much fun to pipe frosting into designs and working with fondant. I also love playing guitar.

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

NN: I drink a lot of tea so I always have plenty of tea and milk. I’m also a huge fan of pickles so there’s definitely always a jar in the pantry. And of course, wine.

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

NN: I’m just wrapping up the second book in the series, currently titled Uncorking a Lie which will release in 2017 and I have a third one planned for 2018.

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

NN: I love the excitement of writing a first draft when a story pours out of my mind and onto the page.



Decanting a Murder by Nadine Nettmann
The First Sommelier Mystery

Katie Stillwell is a sommelier trying to advance in her most difficult profession. Invited to an exclusive wine event at an even more exclusive winery, Katie intends to enjoy the experience and the fine wine. The festivities have barely begun when a scream shatters the jovial atmosphere. The owner of the winery has been found dead, stabbed by a corkscrew and left in a vat of wine. The corkscrew turns out to belong to Tessa, Katie's flighty friend, a winery employee who invited her to the tasting...and Tessa cannot be found. Katie owes Tessa and is determined to use the skills of her profession, and tips her cop father taught her, to nose out the real killer!

It takes skill and a discerning palate to become a sommelier; to use all your senses to uncover the mystery in the glass. Katie takes these skills to help her friend in this first Sommelier Mystery.

Katie Stillwell is a likable protagonist. She's eminently relatable; someone with whom you'd like to spend time and get to know. She's sassy, but dependable. Her best friend, Tessa, however, is another story. Tessa's erratic and irrational behavior translates to a variety of mental disorders in my book. If that's what the author was going for, she succeeded. Otherwise readers are left with an unstable convoluted character whose behavior doesn't correspond to the action.

The mystery itself is top shelf. Nattmann lays out some red herrings and I was led astray by several characters. As for the details, Nettmann obviously knows her wine. The addition of pairing suggestions at the start of each chapter is a delightful and appreciated touch.

Decanting a Murder is a great start to a new mystery series, an enjoyable read for oenophiles and teetotalers alike. Nettmann is able to bring an elite career down to earth and tell a good story all the while imparting her wisdom and obvious love for the world of wine.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Murder, by George by Jeanne Quigley. This book is the second in the Veronica Walsh Mystery series and is being released today!

Veronica is settling in to her home town of Barton, NY, managing her store and enjoying family and friends. An unexpected art discovery at the local flea market leads to some vicious debates about who the actual owner is, or should be. On the night the painting is to have its own gallery show, the painting and its new owner are late. A search finds the owner dead and the painting gone! Could one of the town's residents vying for ownership have actually killed him? Veronica promises she won't get involved, but when pressed, that promise may not be kept!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Spotlight - It's a Wonderful Knife

I'd like to shine a spotlight on a book from one of my favorite series. It's a Wonderful Knife by Christine Wenger is the fifth book in the Comfort Food Mystery series. Unfortunately, it is also the last as the series fell victim to the publishing house cuts to cozies.

From the back cover:

Comfort food and murder are on the holiday menu in the latest mystery from the national bestselling author of Macaroni and Freeze...

All Trixie Matkowski wants for Christmas is a break-just not the broken leg she gets after slipping on some ice. With Sandy Harbor alive in the hustle and bustle of the season, it's the busiest time of the year at Trixie's Silver Bullet Diner. There are millions of things to do, including catering the town's annual Christmas pageant and community dinner with some delicious holiday comfort food.

But the festivities turn into a bit of a turkey after Liz Fellows, the director of the pageant, is found with Trixie's butcher knife in her back. Now Trixie must help the police arrest the scary gentleman-or lady-guilty of the crime if she hopes to get herself off the naughty list.

Recipes included.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Personal Preferences

Everyone has certain likes and interests, as well as turn offs. These personal preferences apply to books as well. When I find a mystery that has something to do with something I enjoy, it's more apt to pique my interest, thereby leading me to buy the book. Ooohh a mystery involving ghosts in WNY, a story about off track thoroughbreds, a cozy told from the cat's perspective...these are all hooks for me.

However, there are also turn offs. Topics and features you just don't care to be involved with. No matter how good the writer, if she or he has too much of something you don't like you may not buy that book. In fact the book may be near to brilliant, but if it has too much of something you don't care for it may not reach that five star rating for you...and you may not choose to read any more books in that series.

So what are some turn offs? Obviously this varies for readers-what's a turn off for some may just be a turn on for someone else. While my mom is an animal lover, she doesn't like it when animals speak in books. Me? I love hearing the animals speak and getting their perspectives!

Many people don't like explicit sex, violence, and language, subjects generally left out of cozies. I enjoy a good romance and say bring on explicit sex! (As long as it's character driven and/or plot related.) Language: I sometimes swear like a sailor, so it doesn't bother me. Violence-meh. While not a fan of graphic violence, and I don't appreciate gore, I wouldn't say it's a decided turn off for me. That being said, if you hurt an animal other than a human you've just ruined the book for me. This recently happened with two mysteries, one much worse than the other. I stuck with both books, both of which were very well written. I read the second book in one of the series and am glad I did as it was great! The second series...I'm not so sure about. We'll have to see when the next book appears.

I'm pretty sure I'm in the minority, but for me children and babies are a turn off. It's OK when kids are in books, but I start getting annoyed when they're the be all end all. Start gushing about getting pregnant, being pregnant, having babies...you've just derailed my interest. Too much about children and parenting and you've lost me.

It's a double edged sword for writers as the same things that may pull certain reader in may turn others off! You just can't please everyone!

What are some turn offs and turn ons for you?

Friday, May 13, 2016

Review & Giveaway - The Final Tap


THE FINAL TAP by Amanda Flower
The Second Living History Museum Mystery

It's maple season at Barton Farm, but an extraordinarily cold winter means the sap may not be running when the guests arrive! Kelsey has arranged for a local horticulture expert and maple syrup tapper, Dr. Conrad Beeson, to lecture at the museum's Maple Sugar Festival, an arrangement that doesn't sit well with Gavin, her young director of education, also a maple syrup expert. Dr. Beeson turns out to be an overbearing and unpleasant man. When the disparaging doctor winds up dead-with a drill sticking out of his chest, Kelsey has to protect the farm and her employees once again, especially as Gavin had recently threatened to kill the dead man and is now a prime suspect in his murder! 

Kelsey has a lot of surprises to deal with in THE FINAL TAP and not all of then are weather related! There are plenty of false presentations and questions about who she can trust. Family plays a huge part in this story, from Kelsey and her son along with her ex-husband, his new fiance, and her father to the victim and his family, not to mention Barton Farms' unpleasant new neighbor and her delinquent sons. What will family do for each other? Or against each other?

THE FINAL TAP is a solid second entry to the Living History Museum series. Flower combines powerful characterization and strong family values with a puzzling mystery amidst a unique background. Her vivid descriptions make me feel the cold and wish I could taste that fresh maple syrup, although she can keep the noisy schoolchildren. I'll eat my pancakes in solitude, and preferably without a murder. While Kelsey proved adept at protecting Barton Farm and its workers once again, she's thrown a much bigger curve ball in her private life. Flower leaves us wanting more as she ends this book with a bit of a stunner. Readers will be anxiously awaiting the third book in the series to see how things unfold! I know I can't wait to see what happens next!

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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Tea with Milk and Murder by H.Y. Hanna. This book is the second in the Oxford Tearoom Mystery series.

Gemma's mum has become the new chef at Gemma's tearoom and, much to Gemma's surprise, things are working out well, as long as you discount her mother's new found online shopping habit! The Old Biddies are also helping out in the tearoom as Cassie has been less than reliable lately. Cassie is besotted with a smooth art gallery owner, but Gemma has a bad feeling about this too smooth operator, and Muesli agrees. When a young woman makes a scene, then falls dead, during an art opening at Jon's gallery Gemma can't help but be suspicious of Jon, but will voicing her opinions cost her her best friend?

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Spotlight - The Wages of Sin

The Wages of Sin

by Nancy Allen

on Tour April 26 - May 11, 2016

“The Elsie Arnold series deserves to run and run.”— Alex Marwood, author of The Wicked Girls and The Killer Next Door In rural McCown County, Missouri, a young pregnant woman is found beaten to death in a trailer park. The only witness to the murder is Ivy, her six-year-old daughter, who points to her mom’s boyfriend—father of the unborn child. County prosecutor Madeleine Thompson promises the community justice, and in the Ozarks, that can only mean one thing: a death sentence. When Madeleine’s first choice for co-counsel declines to try a death penalty case, she is forced to turn to assistant prosecutor Elsie Arnold. Elsie is reluctant to join forces with her frosty boss, but the road to conviction seems smooth—until unexpected facts about the victim arise, and the testimony of the lone eyewitness Ivy becomes increasingly crucial. Against Elsie’s advice, Madeleine brings in the state attorney general’s office to assist them, while cutthroat trial attorney Claire O’Hara joins the defense. Elsie will not let the power of prosecution—of seeking justice—be wrested from her without a fight. She wants to win the case, and to avenge the death of the mother and her unborn child. But as the trial nears, Elsie begins to harbor doubts about the death penalty itself. Meanwhile, the child Ivy is in greater danger than anyone knows. “Unflinching and gritty.” — Library Journal

Book Details:

Genre: Legal Thriller, Crime Published by: Witness Impulse Publication Date: 04/26/2016 Number of Pages: 320 ISBN: 0062438751 (9780062438751) Series: An Ozarks Mystery, 3rd | Each is a Stand Alone Thriller Purchase Links:
Amazon http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0166JUGPM
Barnes & Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-wages-of-sin-nancy-allen/1123384150?ean=9780062438751
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28069982-the-wages-of-sin

Author Bio:

Nancy Allen practiced law for 15 years as Assistant Missouri Attorney General and Assistant Prosecutor in her native Ozarks. She has tried over 30 jury trials, including murder and sexual offenses, and is now a law instructor at Missouri State University. Her first novel,The Code of the Hills, was published by HarperCollins in 2014. The Wages of Sin, is the third book in her Ozarks mystery series.





Catch Up with Nancy Allen:


Nancy Allen's website https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/481361.Nancy_Allen
Nancy Allen's twitter https://twitter.com/thenancyallen
Nancy Allen's facebook https://www.facebook.com/NancyAllenAuthor/


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Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Body in the Interview

I'm so pleased to welcome Katherine Hall Page to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Katherine write the Faith Fairchild Mystery series and the latest installment, The Body in the Wardrobe, was released April 26th.

Kathy: The Body in the Wardrobe is the 23rd book in the Faith Fairchild Mystery series. Is it different writing the series now compared to when you first started?

KHP: Very different. When I wrote The Body in the Belfry, I thought I was just writing one book. It was not until my editor asked my agent, “When can we expect the next in this series?” that I realized I’d continue on for a book or so more. (23! Who knew?)

I need, however, to continue to write each book as a stand alone (or one-off) and provide a bit of background on who Faith and her family are, but not so much that it is boring for those who have read the other books. It’s been a joy to write such a long series and have the chance to grow characters and try new things—prequels, various locations yet always with the core cast of characters, although others may come and go—some of them for good!

Kathy: In The Body in the Wardrobe you bring Sophie Maxwell back. How did you decide on a return visit instead of introducing a new character?

KHP: I enjoyed writing about Sophie and Faith so much; I wasn’t ready to let Sophie go. They are very similar, although Sophie is at a different stage of life and in this book is a newlywed in her late twenties, as was Faith in the first book, The Body in the Belfry.  There are plenty of new characters as Sophie is now living in her husband’s hometown, Savannah and he seems to be related to half the state of Georgia. The Sophie/Faith connection is also a nod to the friendships we make as adults.

Kathy: Amy being bullied by mean girls. Have you had to deal with mean girls? Or mean women?

KHP: I’m afraid any woman alive has had to deal with mean girls and mean women at some point in life, hopefully for only a brief time. With the explosion of social media, bullying online has become too easy—and impersonal. Bullies post things they would never say to someone’s face. I wrote a YA, Club Meds, about a learning-disabled 9th grade boy who is victimized and forced to give his medication to the bully. The boy and his friends outwit the bully who gets his just deserts. I like the ending of this book as a testament to the way adolescents are resilient and help each other out, which is what happens with Amy Fairchild. Having taught high school for so many years, I definitely observed bullying first hand.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

KHP: When I had that gift of time—my husband took a sabbatical, my two-year-old was in morning daycare in the French city where we were living —to finally write the book in my head, I wanted to write the kind of mystery I liked to read. Traditional ones with a good puzzle, plenty of suspense, believable but complicated plot, well-drawn characters, a sense of place—and a sense of humor to relieve the tension every once in a while. In short, a Cozy!

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

KHP: In addition to Club Meds, I wrote a 4 book mystery series, Christie & Company for middle grade readers. I also had great fun writing a collection of short fiction, Small Plates, which came out 2 years ago. Finally, I did a series cookbook with original recipes and essays, Have Faith in Your Kitchen.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

KHP: Faith Sibley Fairchild is a native New Yorker, the daughter and granddaughter of clergy, who has sworn not to marry into that kind of fish bowl existence. She’s a caterer and meets future husband the Reverend Thomas Fairchild at a job—a wedding reception —unaware that he is in the city to perform the ceremony (he has changed garb). Book 1 finds her far away from the Big Apple, married with an infant living in a small town west of Boston. Things liven up when she comes across the still warm corpse of a parishioner in the town’s freestanding old belfry. And thus begins the saga of many, many more…

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

KHP: It has to be Faith Sibley Fairchild herself. We’ve been together for 23 books and years longer if you could her presence in my imagination. She is most definitely fiction and not the author herself, but we share the same values, sense of humor, and more.

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

KHP: Agatha Christie was my greatest inspiration, but so were Mary Stewart, Dorothy Sayers, Charlotte MacLeod, Patricia Moyes, Robert Barnard, Jane Langton, Virginia Rich and many, many others. My older brother was a Conan Doyle fan and those were the first mysteries I ever read, so definitely would count Holmes and Watson as inspirations as well, although possibly not considered cozies as such. Christie most of all if I have to select only one.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

KHP: I saw a query in a professional journal from an agent looking for manuscripts when we returned from France and thought I should give it a try. I had just completed my doctorate and was paying off a student loan. My intent was to go back into the field of education, but the book sold immediately. I gave myself until my son was going into first grade to see if I could make a living, contribute to our income, and it has happily been my job every since. I feel extremely lucky to have had the 2 great careers.

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

KHP: Oh gosh, this is very hard. I’d have to give a banquet! I’d want it to be a fun party, so am ruling out some favorites like the Brontës. Okay: Nancy Mitford, Gregory Maguire, Sarah Caudwell, and Colin Dexter.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

KHP: I just finished Harlan Coben’s new book, Fool Me Once. It was very different from his others, which I like, and own, but think this is his best so far. Like all of you, I have a stack of books next to the bed, also on my Kindle. I read several books at once. Right now it’s some Julie Smiths I missed in her wonderful New Orleans Skip Langdon series; a memoir: The Mad Boy, Lord Berners, My Grandmother and Me by Sofka Zinovieff, Leonardo Padura’s Havana Red-I’ve read the other 3 in his series, Havana Quartet; and A Map Of Betrayal by Ha Jin. Also a bunch of magazines—Real Simple, Cook’s Illustrated, the New Yorker, and more.

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

KHP: I don’t call reading a hobby, or even an interest, because it is more like breathing for me. I do love to cook and am a passionate traveler—far away places or just nearby ones here in New England I’ve overlooked. I am also very interested in art. My mother was a painter and early on we developed an appreciation of all kinds from cave paintings to what contemporary artists were doing, as well as everything—and from everywhere—in between.

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

KHP: A jar of herring, Kerry Gold Irish butter, stone ground grits, and eggs. So long as you have eggs, you can always concoct a good meal!

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

KHP: I am currently working on the 24th book in the series, The Body in the Casket. I’m at that lovely beginning stage where I write down thoughts, lists of characters aside from the ones that appear in all the books, timelines, and so forth. And I’m reveling in research! The plot concerns a Broadway musical and in particular the producer. I’m reading biographies, autobiographies, books on stagecraft—all of which will inform, but not necessarily appear in the book. Since I write a series, early on I alternated the books from Aleford, the small town west of Boston where Faith Fairchild lives to what I call the “someplace else books”. These have been set in France, Norway, the coast of Maine, Manhattan, Vermont, and the current one is in Savannah. The Body in the Casket is an Aleford book and a bit of a traditional country house murder mystery, complete with bad weather and the electricity going out! I’m having a great time with it.

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

KHP: Readers. I don’t mean to be flippant, but the invisible connection between author and whoever is holding the book in hand turning the pages is an extraordinary one.

The Body in the Wardrobe

by Katherine Hall Page

on Tour April 26 - May 30, 2016

Minster’s wife, caterer, and part-time sleuth Faith Fairchild pairs up with Sophie Maxwell, last seen in Body in the Birches and now a newlywed living in historic Savannah, Georgia, where Sophie crosses paths with murder.

Attorney Sophie Maxwell has come to Savannah to be with her new husband, Will. But nothing throws cold water on a hot relationship faster than a dead body. Worse for Sophie, no one believes the body she knows she saw is real, Will is spending an awful lot of time in Atlanta on a case he claims is urgent, and she’s been tasked with house hunting for them with his former sweetheart, who Sophie can’t help but suspect wishes Sophie would return to her Yankee roots!

Fortunately, Sophie has a good friend in Faith Fairchild. With teenage Amy being bullied by mean girls and husband Tom contemplating a major life change that will affect all the Fairchilds, Faith is eager for distraction in the form of some sleuthing. In between discussions of newlywed agita, surprising Savannah customs and, of course, fabulous low country food, Faith and Sophie will pair up to unmask a killer!

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery Published by: William Morrow Publication Date: April 26th 2016 Number of Pages: 256 ISBN: 0062439502 (ISBN13: 9780062439505) Series: Faith Fairchild Mystery Purchase Links:
Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Body-Wardrobe-Fairchild-Mystery-Mysteries/dp/0062439502
Barnes & Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-body-in-the-wardrobe-katherine-hall-page/1122955556
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26244593-the-body-in-the-wardrobe

Author Bio:

 Katherine Hall Page is the author of twenty-two previous Faith Fairchild mysteries, the first of which received the Agatha Award for best first mystery. The Body in the Snowdrift was honored with the Agatha Award for best novel of 2006. Page also won an Agatha for her short story “The Would-Be Widower.” The recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award at Malice Domestic, she has been nominated for the Edgar Award, the Mary Higgins Clark Award, and the Macavity Award. She lives in Lincoln, Massachusetts, and Deer Isle, Maine, with her husband.






Catch Up with Katherine Hall Page -
author's website http://www.katherine-hall-page.org
author's twitter https://twitter.com/hashtag/KatherineHallPage?src=hash
author's facebook https://www.facebook.com/katherinehallpage/


Tour Participants: 

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