Thursday, December 29, 2016

Spotlight - The Winter People

Today I'd like to shine a spotlight on one of the books I received for Christmas: The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon.

From the back cover:

Some secrets never die.

West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter.

Now, in the present day, nineteen-year -old Ruthie lives in Sara's farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister, Fawn. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that has weighty consequences when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished. In her search for clues, she is startled to uncover a copy of Sara Harrison Shea's diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother's bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked into the historical mystery, she discovers that she's not the only person looking for someone they've lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading All-Butter Shortdead by H.Y. Hanna. This book is the prequel to the Oxford Tearoom Mystery series.

Gemma Rose is returning home to Oxford to open a tearoom, quite a departure from her high pressure job in Australia. After making friends with her nervous fellow passenger on the long flight, when Gemma finds that Jenn has left her scarf on board, she doesn't think twice about returning it to her, and is even persuaded to have a few drinks. Gemma soon discovers that no good deed goes unpunished when she wakes to the news that not only is her new friend dead, she's been murdered and Gemma is the prime suspect!

As dire as it sounds this book is filled with laughs as Gemma also deals with her technologically challenged mother, a gang of old biddies, and meets the lovable minx Muesli for the first time.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Spotlight - A Ghostly Reunion

Today I'd like to shine a spotlight on a new release. A Ghostly Reunion is the fifth book in the Ghostly Southern Mystery series by Tonya Kappes comes out today!

Emma Lee Raines sees dead people.

Proprietor of the Eternal Slumber Funeral Home, Emma Lee can see, hear, and talk to ghosts of murdered folks. And when her high school nemesis is found dead, Jade Lee Peel is the same old mean girl—trying to come between Emma Lee and her hot boyfriend, Sheriff Jack Henry Ross, all over again.
There’s only one way for Emma Lee to be free of the trash-talking ghost—solve the murder so the former prom queen can cross over.
But the last thing Jade Lee wants is to leave the town where she had her glory days. And the more Emma Lee investigates on her own, the more complicated Miss Popularity turns out to be. Now Emma Lee will have to work extra closely with her hunky lawman to get to the twisty truth.

A Ghostly Reunion

Friday, December 23, 2016

Spotlight - A Christmas Party

I'd like to shine a spotlight on A Christmas Party by Georgette Heyer. Originally published in 1941 as Envious Casca, this book is now being marketed as "A Seasonal Murder Mystery".

From the back cover:

'Tis the season-for murder...

A colorful assortment of guests at a festive holiday house party discover there is a killer in their midst when their universally reviled host is found dead-in a room locked from th einside.

For Inspector Heminway of Scotland Yard, the investigation is complicated by the fact that every guest is hiding something, throwing all their testimony into question and casting suspicion far and wide. The clever and daring crime will mystify readers, yet the answer is in plain sight all along...

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading The Elusive Elixir by Gigi Pandian. This book is the third in the Accidental Alchemist Mystery series and will be released January 8, 2017.

Shocking truths from the past are revealed as Zoe travels to France to hunt for a cure for Dorian who continues to turn into stone. As Zoe copes with these revelations upon her return to Portland, even more secrets are revealed and the dangers of not untrue alchemy prove deadly. Will Zoe be able to save Dorian without sacrificing herself, or anyone else? Will Max be able to accept all that Zoe is? I'm reading as fast as I can of this engrossing mystery to find out!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

A Feliz Navidead Interview & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Ann Myers to the blog today. Ann pens the Santa Fe Café Mystery series. Feliz Navidead is the third book in the series.

Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
AM: I knew I wanted to set a book in Santa Fe. My husband and I visit there a lot for his work, and I love the history, culture, architecture, and, of course, food. But what really sparked the series was pan de muerto, the namesake of Bread of the Dead. What a great name for bread! And perfect for a culinary mystery. I put a Day of the Dead bread-baking contest in the background, and a heroine popped to mind: a woman a little younger than me (at the time) but a lot braver, both to work in food service and to solve crimes.

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

AM: I have a soft spot for Flori. She’s not exactly a sidekick. Octogenarian instigator is probably a better description. Flori owns Tres Amigas Café, where my protagonist, Rita, works as a chef. Flori teaches Rita about New Mexican cuisine and spices up the story with hobbies such as deadly tai chi and rogue knitting. Flori is also a renowned amateur sleuth, a bold flirt, and a pincher of handsome men’s behinds. One of these things was inspired by my grandmother, but I won’t reveal which.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

AM: I finally finished a novel! I’d started several manuscripts over the years, but they petered out. Then I finally finished one and merrily sent out queries, calling the book a cozy. I got bites. And rejections. Lots of rejections, including the most inspiring and devastating, a long list detailing all the ways the book was not cozy or sellable. I ditched the non-cozy and set out to write another—hopefully better and truly cozy—mystery. That became Bread of the Dead.

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

AM: I know it’s good to mix up your dinner guests, but I’m going to choose all mystery icons.

· Agatha Christie. Of course!

· Ann Cleeves. I adore her Shetland series and would be secretly hoping for an invitation to the islands.

· Diane Mott Davidson, who first got me hooked on culinary cozies.

· Tony Hillerman, the master of Southwest mysteries.

Now what would I serve?

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

AM: I realized I hadn’t read some of the early books in Martha Grime’s Richard Jury series. I’m reading book one, The Man with a Load of Mischief. It’s wonderful to see characters I know from later books appearing for the first time.

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

AM: I’m a crafts dabbler. I guess I haven’t found “The One” craft yet, but it’s been fun trying. I’ve dabbled in pottery (my household has many heavy ceramic items), screen printing and block printing (lots of fun), cyanotypes (magic), sewing (mostly disastrous), knitting (a total failure), embroidery (better), paper-cutting (I could be okay at this), metalsmithing jewelry (I have a torch phobia that hinders production), and am currently blacksmithing. Make that trying to blacksmith. It’s a lot harder than it looks.

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

AM: 1. Cheese!

2. Miso. I don’t cook with miso a lot, but it lasts forever. I somehow have three containers.

3. Flour. I get panicky if baking supplies run low.

4. Frozen green chiles. Freshly roasted chiles are too tempting. I’ll buy a bunch in the fall, stash them in the freezer, and then forget how many I have until next season.

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

AM: I’d love to write more Santa Fe Café Mysteries and have ideas for plots. While waiting to hear how the first three books do, I’m working on a mystery/thriller set in a fictional Colorado town. The heroine is inspired by a friend, a social worker who helps kids. Crimes are already underway…a missing foster child, a murdered social worker, and soon another killing.

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

AM: When readers say they love a character. That’s truly heartwarming and means characters I love managed to escape my head and come to life.


Feliz Navidead, Ann Myers (release date: Oct. 25, 2016)

Holly, jolly, and downright deadly—the third Santa Fe Café mystery unwraps surprises both naughty and nice…

It’s the most picturesque time of the year in Santa Fe, and Chef Rita Lafitte of Tres Amigas Café hopes the twinkling lights and tasty holiday treats will charm her visiting mom. Rita is also planning fun activities, such as watching her teenage daughter, Celia, perform in an outdoor Christmas play. What she doesn’t plan for is murder.

Rita discovers a dead actor during the premier performance but vows to keep clear of the case. Sleuthing would upset her mom. Besides, there’s already a prime suspect, caught red-handed in his bloodied Santa suit. However, when the accused Santa’s wife begs for assistance—and points out that Celia and other performers could be in danger—Rita can’t say no. With the help of her elderly boss, Flori, and her coterie of rogue knitters, Rita strives to salvage her mother’s vacation, unmask a murderer, and stop this festive season from turning even more fatal.

Ann Myers writes the Santa Fe Café Mysteries. The first book in the series, Bread of the Dead (2015), introduced café chef and reluctant amateur sleuth, Rita Lafitte. Rita and her friends stir up more trouble in Cinco de Mayhem (March 2016) and Feliz Navidead (October 25, 2016). Ann lives with her husband and extra-large house cat in southern Colorado, where she enjoys cooking, crafts, and cozy mysteries.

Contact Info:
You can find Ann online on Facebook at and her website
The Santa Fe Café Mysteries are available through
Or your favorite local bookstore or library.

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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Interview and Review on Lily Pond Lane Plus a Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Carrie Doyle to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Carrie writes the Hamptons Murder Mystery series. Death on Lily Pond Lane is the second book in the series and was released earlier this year.

Kathy: Setting plays a very important part of books, especially mysteries. Why choose the Hamptons for you series?

CD:  I chose East Hampton as the setting for my books because I have lived there part time for my entire life and I know it like the back of my hand. It is my favorite place in the world—I find it placid and relaxing and exquisitely beautiful. As I mention in my books, most of the prominent American painters have flocked to the Hamptons over the decades because the light is so magical. Besides the glamorous folk who summer in the Hamptons, there are a lot of hard working and interesting people who live there. I love the creative energy. In addition, the landscape on the East End of Long Island varies remarkably. There is the ocean and the bay and the woods and the potato fields so you can feel like you are traversing across the country when you head from one end of town to the other. The produce from the farms, the fish from the ocean and the flowers from the fields are incredible.

Kathy: Although an excellent cook, Antonia Bingham bought the Windmill Inn without any real experience. Have you ever started a business without the "requisite" experience? 

CD: Aside from the lemonade stand that I started with my friend Katinka when I was 10, I mostly had some experience in the areas where I started a business. In the early 1980s Katinka and I watched an old episode of “Little Rascals” and were enchanted by the goat that they had to pull their wagon. Well, I had the wagon but not the goat, but I knew of a farm in Sagaponack (a neighboring village) where there were goats so we decided that we would raise money to buy the goat. We made $17. That was actually a lot for that time. But we didn’t get the goat. I think our parents nixed that, and Katinka had to go back to London where she lived.

Kathy: In addition to being an innkeeper Antonio also becomes an estate manager. Have you ever watched over people's houses?

CD:  I know several estate managers in East Hampton but I have never actually watched anyone’s house. They filled me in on all the nitty-gritty.

Kathy: Do you enjoy cooking as well? Do you like to experiment in the kitchen or do you tend to follow tried and true recipes?

CD: I am a huge cooking enthusiast. I generally like to make recipes from Ina Garten’s cookbooks. I worked at her store The Barefoot Contessa when I was in college, which was an incredible experience. I worked in the bakery section, which was so irresistible. But I learned a trick: if I came in the morning and had a bite of one of the pastries or cakes I would snack all day. If I could hold out two hours or so and not eat anything then I would fill up on all the aromatic fumes and not need to eat anything all day! I also read a lot of cooking magazines like “Food and Wine’”and “Bon Appetit” and “Saveur.” “Top Chef” is my favorite show. I tend to use tried and true recipes although I tweak them depending on ingredients. I replace herbs with my favorites—which are tarragon, basil, chervil and sage. I cannot stand cilantro or eat anything with it! Unlike Antonia I am a vegetarian and have been since I was 8 years old. That doesn’t stop me from making meat dishes for my family—in fact this weekend I made Ina Garten’s lamb shanks with orzo for my sister-in-law’s birthday. It is always a crowd pleaser! With meat recipes I keep them as they are because I can’t taste them! Other favorite chefs are Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver and Giada deLaurentis.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

CD: I am drawn to crime and murder stories. There, I said it. But I suppose most cozy fans feel the same! I love a good mystery and a good thriller, always have. I don’t need slasher and blood—I find all those to be cheap thrills. But I like how cozy murders examine motive so closely and investigate the psychology behind the crime. I have been reading a lot of Agatha Christie with my son lately and was fortunate enough to recently discover the BBC series Agatha Christie’s Poirot on Netflix, which is sensational! David Suchet the lead actor is fantastic. I think we can all agree that Agatha is the master of this genre, and I love how she dapples her stories with red herrings and you never truly know who did it until the end (most of the time.) I also admire Poirot’s advice that: ‘until you know exactly what sort of person the victim was, you cannot begin to see the circumstances of the crime clearly.”

Mysteries and murder are stories I gravitate towards. I loved Encyclopedia Brown as a child and my favorite book was The Mystery at Number 7 Rue Petite by Ellen Shire. My favorite board game when I was young was 221 B Baker Street. This is Sherlock Holmes’ address and it was a mystery game like Clue. There is a funny story about when I was on vacation as a teenager I badgered my whole family to play one of those murder games where we were all assigned a character and one of us was the murderer then we had to go around and say who we thought it was. When we finally played it, everyone said their suspect and then my cousin Tricia said she thought it was my character. Everyone said, no way, my character seemed totally innocent but Tricia said, ‘do you think she’d pester us for days to play this and not make herself the murderer?” and sure enough she was right!

True crime also interests me. My aunt, Katie Mahon, had a very close call with Ted Bundy, a harrowing event that she wrote about in her book The Miracle Chase. I remember when she told me her story when I was in college and it totally captivated me. In addition, I was completely obsessed with the OJ Simpson trial and loved Jeffrey Toobin’s book The Run of his Life: The People Vs. O.J. Simpson. When I recently watched the ESPN series on OJ they showed an excerpt from Nicole Brown Simpson’s diary, which described the first time OJ had ever beaten her, and it was after a party at their friends’ apartment in NYC. It was my upstairs neighbors’! I knew they were friends but never knew the horrific details. The weird thing is I was probably asleep in my bed on the floor below when that happened.

I don’t know enough to write a legal or cop procedural, which is why I chose cozy mysteries. I like the idea of people like me solving crime!

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

CD: I have published six other books under my married name Carrie Karasyov. 5 of my books were co-written with my friend Jill Kargman. Jill and I both worked in magazines after college. I worked at Harper’s Bazaar in NYC then moved to Moscow to help launch Harper’s Bazaar in Russia and I eventually became Editor-in-Chief of the Russian edition of Marie Claire Magazine. After two years at the helm I realized I did not want to live my life working in magazines. I had an amazing experience, but I would rather be writing. So Jill and I quit our jobs (she was working at Interview Magazine) and wrote a screenplay about an intern at a fashion magazine called Intern (this was before the Devil Wears Prada.) We sold the film and it was made and we found ourselves at the Sundance Film Festival. After that we sold a bunch of scripts to Paramount, Oxygen Network, Showtime and Nickelodeon but nothing ever got made so we decided to flip some of our scripts into books. Our first book was called The Right Address and it is about a fancy building on Park Avenue in Manhattan. The New York Times christened it “Gossip-Lit” and we wrote several more books in that genre, including teen books. After awhile I decided that I wanted to write less about the Upper East Side of Manhattan and more about murder, which is how I came to cozy mysteries.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

CD:  Antonia Bingham is the protagonist of The Hamptons Murder Mystery Series. She recently moved to East Hampton, New York from California after escaping a toxic marriage to a violent police officer. She has bought The Windmill Inn and revived its restaurant, which she oversees as executive chef. Antonia is curious, nosy, the friend who everyone dishes to, and who lacks self-control when it comes to food and snooping. She finds herself solving the various murders that happen around East Hampton.

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

CD:  Larry Lipper is my favorite character because I always know what he will say and how he will react to any situation. He is the diminutive crime reporter for the local newspaper, and is conceited, arrogant, and childish. Antonia has a love/hate relationship with him.

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

CD: I love Sue Grafton’s alphabet series, which is a definite inspiration for my book. She conjures up such a sense of place and I really feel like I know everything about her characters and Santa Teresa where the books are set.

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

CD: This is a great question. I was a Russian Language and Literature major so I would definitely have the Russians! I wrote my senior thesis on Vladimir Nabokov—whether or not he could be described as a Russian or American author as he wrote most of his masterpieces in English when he was living in America (and his first language was English courtesy of his governess.) His niece Marina Ledkovsky was my thesis advisor who told me all sorts of stories. I would definitely have him! I also think Nikolai Gogol would make a witty guest judging by his books which are hilarious and clever. Tolstoy is another favorite but I think he would be grumpy, and Dostoevsky would probably be drunk so in that case Jane Austen is a must as ‘Pride and Prejudice’ is my favorite book. I think I would also like F. Scott Fitzgerald as well. I have been fortunate enough to meet some of my favorite living authors already or they would be on the list! I interviewed Donna Tartt for “Town & Country Magazine” after she wrote The Goldfinch and we had a great time having tea together. I worship all of Michael Connelly’s books and I met him at Author’s Night at the East Hampton Library, a fundraiser I am involved in. I was so intimidated by his greatness (plus he is very tall!) that I could only sputter a few words. When I was young my aunt was Carol Higgins Clark’s editor and I remember when she and her mother Mary Higgins Clark came over to my house, which was very cool.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

CD: I’m reading a “Murder She Wrote” cozy mystery called Killer in the Kitchen as well as V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton. In addition, and I am reading Crooked House by Agatha Christie to my son at night. I have Michael Connelly’s new book on my nightstand. I almost hate to read it because then I have to wait a year for the next one.

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

CD: I love jigsaw puzzles (1000 piece) and cooking. I also play a lot of tennis, paddle tennis and golf and like to compete in tournaments.

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

CD: What do I always have in my fridge? Ina Garten’s Caesar salad dressing, which I make by the buckets and use on my salad. I could eat it out of the jar it is so delicious. We have whole milk, 1% milk and almond milk to cater to the various family members (I am almond.) I always have a lot of lemons and limes so my son can make me margaritas (again the recipe is from Ina Garten—very tart, not sweet.) Parmesan cheese is usually a stand by and lately Kimchi! I have been on a kimchi craze.

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

CD: I am working on the third book of the Hamptons Murder Mystery Series called Death on West End Road. It is a cold case that Antonia has been asked to look into by one of her former suspects in a murder, who was also a suspect in the cold case. It’s been fun to travel back to East Hampton in the 1990s in my mind.

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

CD: I love the flexibility of being an author. I am a mobile party unit! I have been able to live in various cities around the world and still do what I love to do. The best and worst aspect of being a writer is the flexibility though. Because I don’t have a boss or set time constraints I have to be very strict about prioritizing my work. And that can be tough to do. That’s why I work at the NY Society Library in the quiet room. There are no bills sitting in front of me that need to be paid and no dogs looking at me sadly begging for a walk.



The Second Hamptons Murder Mystery

It's the off season in the Hamptons and Antonia Bingham has taken on extra work looking after a few estates while the owners are away. At one of her stops Antonia is surprised to discover the car of a house guest who was supposed to have already left town. She is even more surprised to find his dead body in the bathtub! In an attempt to protect the homeowners and thinking the death is a tragic accident, Antonia removes what may be a vital piece of evidence. However, the victim had been making high powered enemies by filming a documentary expose. Could his death actually be murder?  

I thought for sure I knew a vital clue and was giving Antonia withering glances from my side of the book for not realizing it. I eventually discovered that I was hasty in my deductions. The object was a clue, but it wasn't what I thought it was. In fact, there were several other times that Carrie Doyle led me down paths and I willingly followed, fully believing I was correct, changing my mind a few times as I then followed new paths laid out for me. Carrie Doyle challenged me in this book, not only by the false trails left for me, but Antonia's attitude on certain subjects, and Genevieve's whole persona. 

DEATH ON LILY POND LANE is a mystery filled with twists and turns, relationship conundrums, and an intriguing look at those who reside in the exclusive enclave known as the Hamptons.

The author has graciously offered paperback copies of the first two books in the Hamptons Murder Mystery series (DEATH ON WINDMILL WAY and DEATH ON LILY POND LANE) to one lucky reader. Simply leave a comment on this blog post telling us your thoughts of either the Hamptons or running an inn. Leave your comment as well as an e-mail address no later than 11:59pm EST Sunday, December 18, 2016. Sorry, US mailing addresses only.