Sunday, February 26, 2017

Dark, Witch, and Creamy - Review


The First Bewitched by Chocolate Mystery

Despite a recent murder and her cousin's warnings about danger and the occult, Caitlyn Le Fey decides to spend some time in the somewhat mysterious Cotswolds village of Tillyhenge. Distracted from uncovering her roots, Caitlyn gets involved with the crotchety owner of a chocolate shop, a dapper elderly man who claims to be her vampire uncle, and the murder itself! Will solving the murder help Caitlyn discover not only her past, but her true self?

Consistently charming, H.Y. Hanna brings us a mystery that is unique and fun. With taut writing, vivid descriptions, and the use of humor, both subtle and laugh out loud, the Cotswolds come to life once more, this time adding a paranormal flair to the already magical countryside. What makes DARK, WITCH AND CREAMY so special is that use of magic. There are no ordinary kitchen witches here-but witches with an affinity for chocolate and the ability to make the most delectable desserts. While I freely admit to gazing deeply into chocolate, I don't get the same results as Caitlyn!

Author H.Y. Hanna serves up a delicious tale with her first Bewitched by Chocolate mystery. Blending a search for identity with a mysterious stone circle, a murder, and chocolate make a tantalizing mystery. The addition of a dashing lord, a lovable giant of a dog, and a mischievous kitten are the chocolate curls on the ganache. Hanna uses these top notch ingredients with aplomb leaving readers ultimately satisfied, but with a desire for more.


Dark, Witch & Creamy (Book 1)

A witch, a kitty and dark chocolate magic…
Caitlyn is used to being the ugly duckling in her glamorous showbiz family… until the day she learns that she was adopted as an abandoned baby. Now, her search for answers takes her to the tiny English village of Tillyhenge where a man has been murdered by witchcraft – and where a mysterious shop selling enchanted chocolates is home to the “local witch”…
Soon Caitlyn finds herself fending off a toothless old vampire, rescuing an adorable kitten and meeting handsome aristocrat Lord James Fitzroy… not to mention discovering that she herself might have magical blood in her veins!
When she’s dragged into the murder investigation and realises that dark magic is involved, Caitlyn is forced to choose. Can she embrace her witchy powers in time to solve the mystery and save those she loves?
WARNING: May contain traces of “Hahaha!”

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Print editions also available from Amazon in the US and UK 

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Friday, February 24, 2017

Magicless in Nevermore - Review


MAGICLESS IN NEVERMORE by Violet Merriweather
The First Witches of Nevermore Book

Nevermore is a world of magic and witchcraft, protected from mortals, and the home of Cassandra Holly and her family. Cassie is getting desperate. She's almost 21 and has yet to come into her magic powers.  Without magic she'll be forced to leave her friends and family and the town of Nevermore itself. Desperate times call for desperate measures and with the help of her best friend Willow, Cassie tries her hand at a major spell to find her magic. Forces combine and the unexpected happens. While Cassie finds her magic, she can't quite figure out what it is. Not only that, Willow's aunt, a not quite willing aspect of the spell, is found dead-and her not quite dead spirit demands that Cassie finds out who killed her! Cassie has to deal with her new found powers, a cantankerous ghost, her family, and mean girls. Will Cassie make sense of it all before Nevermore itself is destroyed?

When creating a new world, such as Nevermore, parameters must be laid out. The rules of the world must be explained, which can lead to a certain complexity. Such is the case in MAGICLESS IN NEVERMORE. The book had a slow start as I had to adjust to how Nevermore, and its inhabitants, worked. The power structure, responsibilities, and what people were actually capable of had to be laid out by the author and understood by the reader. Once I developed a clearer understanding of the world I began to enjoy the characters as well as their interactions. Maud, who we meet as a disdainful cat (well, witch in cat form) becomes a cantankerous ghost who, although not exactly dead, demands her killer be found! I found this crotchety specter great fun. Cassie personifies the part of us that wants to fit in, be appreciated and useful, yet finds herself with egg in her face as she try to succeed. In other words, the perfect person to root for. Honest family dynamics, friendship and its antithesis, and privilege and entitlement align to create a paranormal world which perfectly reflects our own reality.

Spend time getting to know Nevermore. Once there you'll be charmed and enjoy this brave new world.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Currently Reading...

I just finished reading Dark, Witch, and Creamy by H.Y. Hanna. This book is the first in her new Bewitched by Chocolate Mystery series and was released January 30th.

Despite a recent murder and her cousin's warnings about danger and the occult Caitlyn Le Fey decides to spend some time in the somewhat mysterious Cotswolds village of Tillyhenge. Distracted from uncovering her roots, Caitlyn gets involved with the crotchety owner of a chocolate shop, a dapper elderly man who claims to be her vampire uncle, and the murder itself! Will solving the murder help Caitlyn discover not only her past, but her true self?

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Revealing Nicola - Book Blast

Revealing Nicola

by Sam Cheever

February 21, 2017 Book Blast


She has to overcome a lifetime of secrets…the shock of discovery.

He must protect a treasure that has turned passion to hate… reason to incoherence.
Poisoned by danger, intrigue, lust, and greed…their very survival is in the balance.
Can they endure the conspiracy and find love? And if they do…will it be enough?

Book Details:

Genre:Romantic Suspense, Thriller
Published by: Electric Prose Publications
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Number of Pages: 183
ISBN: 978-1-63587-971-1
Series: La Fortuna DeVitis #1
Purchase Links: Amazon  | Barnes & Noble  | iTunes  | Goodreads 

Read an excerpt:

A coughing sound engaged Franco’s training and he had her on the ground beneath him before the second shot was fired.
The roast chicken exploded, sending shredded meat across the table and raining over them.
Nici’s eyes were wide with fear. “What?”
“Stay down. Don’t move.”
He crawled off her, reaching for his piece as he positioned himself between the car and the table. From the trajectory of the shots, Franco figured the shooter had gone high, probably sitting in a tree to the south of their position. If Nic stayed down on the ground between the table and the Jeep she should be out of his range. But he had no intention of leaving her there.
He needed to get her into the car and out of that park as fast as he could.
Another shot sighed past, hitting the side of the car. Behind him, Nic yelped and he was afraid she’d been hit. “You all right?”
“Other than peeing myself? I’m just dandy. You need to get down, Franco. You’re going to get shot.”
He couldn’t help smiling as his gaze slid slowly along the perimeter. “I’m the bodyguard, remember? I’m the one who’s supposed to get shot.”
“Don’t even joke about that.”
There! A dark form shifted between the branches of a tree, seventy-five yards away. Franco dived to the ground as three rounds peppered the table, spewing food in a messy arc around them. “Damn! This guy’s good.”
“Well yeah, I can see he’s really pissed off at that potato salad.”
Franco barked out a laugh. “Keep it down back there. I’m trying to concentrate.”
“Well can you hurry? I really do have to pee and I’m thinking you don’t want me to squat right here.”
The words were light but her voice quavered with fear. He nodded. “You’re right. Let’s quit screwing around with these jerks. When I say ‘go’, I want you to roll over to the car and slide underneath it. Move as quickly as you can to the other side and climb in. Keep your head down.”
“What about you?”
“I’ll be right behind you.”
Franco lifted his head so he could see the guy in the tree. He hadn’t moved. He scanned the roads around the park and saw they were empty. Then he checked his magazine and found it half full. Hopefully it would be enough because his spare ammo was in the canvas bag in the back of the Jeep. He’d beat himself up for his carelessness later. At the moment he had bigger problems.
The SUV he’d seen driving past had pulled into position on the opposite side of the park, pinning them in.
He slid back down, assessing his options. “No good. They’ve got the other side of the car covered now.”
She sighed so long and hard he glanced her way. She was glaring at him. “I told you I needed my gun.”
He shook his head, thinking fast. There had to be some way… Franco shoved at the picnic table but it was bolted down. Too bad, he thought, it would have made a good shield while they climbed into the car. His gaze caught on the trash can beside the table. It was metal, hopefully filled with a nice depth of neutralizing trash. It wasn’t much but it was the best chance they had. “Okay, new plan. I’m going to lay down cover fire while you climb into the Jeep on this side. Lie down on the floor in the back.”
“Then how are you going to get in?”
“I’m going to use that trash can as a shield.”
Silence met his statement. “While shooting, opening the car door, and driving away?”
“I didn’t say it was a good plan.”
“Here’s a better one. Give me the gun. I’ll provide cover while you grab the can and we can both use it to get into the car.”
“Not a chance.”
“Dammit, Franco! What’s the point in my having all this self-defense training if nobody will let me use it?”
“That’s a last ditch plan.”
“This is about as last ditch as it gets, homey.”
He scrubbed a hand over his face. “I just gained new respect for your brother. If I was him I’d have introduced you to the nuclear wedgie at an early age.”
“Give me the gun, Franco.”
He would have liked to blow a hole in her plan. Unfortunately it was better than his. Dammit! “Okay. But try not to shoot me with it.”
She took the gun, ejected the mag like an expert, checked the rounds and slammed it back home. Then she sat up and slid across the grass to the table, peering over it. “That’s the shooter up there?”
“Yeah. You won’t be able to hit him but…”
Nic settled the muzzle of the gun onto the table and closed one eye.
“You shouldn’t close your eye…”
“Shut up, this works for me.”
“Okay, whatever, shoot the bad guy in the tree. Not the good guy sprinting toward the can. Got it?”
“Shoot the mouthy bodynapper with the can and gain myself some peace and quiet. Got it.”
“Lord help me.”
“Just go already, before these guys get restless.”
Right on cue, the Jeep jerked under a fresh round of bullets from the SUV. Franco glanced over the hood and saw that they were on the move. “The SUV’s coming on. We’ve got to do this now.”
“That’s what I said,” Nic murmured. She fired into the tree and Franco took off running.
Several more rounds sizzled through the air as he threw himself to the ground behind the can, some of them heading for him.
The can jerked under a couple of rounds, one of which went in high and passed straight through. There was a yelp behind him. Panic flared. “Nic?”
“I’m fine. He just stomped on my last nerve.”
Franco grabbed the can and hunkered behind it as a fresh round of bullets slammed through the air toward the shooter in the tree. There was a yelp and a rifle pinwheeled through the air to the ground, followed by the darkly clad shooter.
“Well, damn.”
“Lose the can, Martin. Here come the bad guys.”
She opened the door and threw herself inside as the SUV barreled toward them, a gun sticking out of the front passenger side window. Franco flung himself into the Jeep, trying to keep low as he clambered into the driver’s seat, and turned the key, gunning it forward as soon as the engine caught. Bullets continued to ping off the metal sides and back. A back window shattered and glass sprayed over them.
Franco headed for a copse of massive evergreens, figuring the guys in the SUV would have a harder time hitting them with a bunch of trees around. They slipped under the drooping branches and the shower of bullets stopped as they barreled across a thick carpet of dried needles. The sharp tang of evergreen filled the car as he took a turn on two wheels and headed toward the back of the park, keeping sight of the SUV driving alongside the thicket. The big car was managing to stay even with them and the occasional tree trunk exploded under a wayward bullet.
Nici’s head popped up.
“Stay down.”
“Hit the street, there’s a delivery truck backing out of that driveway there.”
She was right. If they could tuck in behind the truck…
“Hold on!” He jerked the wheel hard right and the passenger side door squealed as it scraped along a row of trunks with prickly branches. They emerged from the evergreen copse and hit a sidewalk, heading straight for a hydrant.
He jumped as she squealed. “Stop that! You scared the crap out of me.” He jerked the wheel and the car missed the hydrant by inches, heading for a fat gray squirrel holding an acorn, its shiny brown eyes wide.
“Oh for god sakes!” He jerked the wheel again, barely missing the stupid rodent, and they dropped with a bang of tortured suspension into the street just as the boxy white truck started toward the intersection. Franco tucked the Jeep in on the opposite side of it, blocking them from the SUV’s view, and took the first turn into a large subdivision as the truck lumbered on down the street.
A few quick turns later brought them out of the subdivision and Franco headed for the highway, the SUV nowhere in sight.

Excerpt from Revealing Nicola by Sam Cheever. Copyright © 2017 by Sam Cheever. Reproduced with permission from Sam Cheever. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

USA Today Bestselling Author Sam Cheever writes romantic paranormal/fantasy and mystery/suspense, creating stories that celebrate the joy of love in all its forms. Known for writing great characters, snappy dialogue, and unique and exhilarating stories, Sam is the award-winning author of 50+ books and has been writing for over a decade under several noms de plume.

If you haven't already connected, Sam would love it if you Liked/Followed her wherever you enjoy hanging out online. Here are her online haunts:

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Sunday, February 19, 2017

An Interview in G Major

I'm happy to welcome Alexia Gordon to Cozy Up With Kathy. Alexia writes the Gethsemene Brown Mystery series.

Kathy: In MURDER IN G MAJOR Gethsemene Brown moves into a haunted cliff-side cottage in southwestern Ireland. Do you believe in ghosts? Have you ever had a supernatural experience?

AG: I'm ambivalent about ghosts. I've never personally encountered one nor had a supernatural experience. However, some close family members, devout Christians not given to flights of fancy, experienced supernatural happenings. I can't dismiss their reports nor explain them away. Do I believe in ghosts? Maybe.

Kathy: Gethsemane is a classical musician. Do you enjoy classical music? Do you have a favorite composer? Have you studied and instrument?
AG: I love classical music. I studied piano from elementary school through high school and violin in junior high school. Sadly, although I learned to read music, I discovered I don't have any musical talent. I'm a better music patron than I am a musician. I don't have a single favorite composer. I like Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Holst, John Williams, Gershwin, Bernstein, Bach, Stravinsky, and Paganini, among others. I have a favorite instrument, the cello. My second favorite instrument is the violin.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

AG: I grew up reading mysteries, although the books I read would probably be classified as "traditional" instead of "cozy" these days since they weren't centered around hobbies, crafts, or occupations. They were "cozy" in the sense that any graphic violence occurred "off page" and none contained explicit sex. Romance, if there was any, was secondary to the puzzle. I'm all about the puzzle. I'm a "fix it" person. If I run into a problem I try to analyze it and solve it. That's the aspect of cozy/traditional mysteries that appeals to me. I devoured Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Rex Stout, and Carolyn Keene as a girl.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

AG: Right now, I only write mysteries. In the future, who knows?

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

AG: Gethsemane Brown is an African American classical musician, disenchanted with her career as a performer, who lands in an Irish village where she gets a chance to reinvent herself. She moves into a haunted cottage and stumbles into crime solving when she meets a charming ghost. In the first book, Murder in G Major, she investigates the ghost's murder. In the second, Death in D Minor, she investigates the theft of a valuable antique and the murder of its owner to clear her brother-in-law of suspicion of the crimes. 

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

AG: Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin are my favorite detectives. Rex Stout created the perfect blend of eccentric, Sherlock Holmes-like genius and action-oriented, tough guy detective in Wolfe and Goodwin. Plus Archie is deliciously snarky and he dressed well. I have a terrible crush on Archie.

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

AG: My inspirations were Agatha Christie, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, and the desire to see an African American amateur sleuth.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

AG: I've wanted to be a published author since the third grade when we made books as a class project and the school librarian put them on the library shelves.

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

AG: I don't know if I'd invite authors to a dinner party, except those I know personally. What if they turned out not to be anything like I imagined? Maybe Neil Gaiman, Garrison Keillor, Zadie Smith, and Walter Mosley. I'd sit quietly and listen to their conversation. Or I might invite M.R. James to hear one of his ghost stories firsthand. My first thought when I read this question was I'd rather invite fictional characters to dinner because you know what to expect. I came up with Jame Retief, Captain Janeway, and Miss Marple, then realized I read about/watch a lot of characters I wouldn't want to meet in real life--vampires, ghosts, poisoners, aliens, and moody detectives.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

AG: I'm reading The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon.

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

AG: I enjoy needlework/sewing, especially embroidery. I used to quilt but I haven't in a while. I have a crate full of quilt tops waiting for me to turn them into quilts. I collect art and books. I love to travel. I do some genealogical research.

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

AG: My fridge and pantry are usually embarrassingly bare. I always have coffee, tea, sugar, and creamer on hand.

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

AG: Book 2, Death in D Minor, comes out in July 2017. I'm working on book 3, A Killing in C Sharp.

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

AG: The best things about being an author are seeing my name on the cover of a book, being selected as one of Suspense magazine's best debut novels of 2016, and being nominated for a Lefty Award and an Agatha Award for best debut novel.
Kathy: Where can readers read more about you?

AG: I blog at, my website is, and my author Facebook page is

Friday, February 17, 2017

Skeletons in the Attic - An Interview & Review

I'm pleased to welcome Judy Penz Sheluk to Cozy Up With Kathy as part of Mystery/Thriller Week. Judy writes the Marketville Mystery series.

Kathy: Calamity (Callie) Barnstable gets a surprise inheritance in SKELETONS IN THE ATTIC with a surprise condition; she needs to solve the 30-year-old mystery of her mother's murder. How does investigating a mystery from the past affect the present day action?

JPS: It was interesting, for me, to write the book. I didn’t have an outline, I basically wrote it as if I was the one trying to get to the truth, and the things I might have done. There were a lot of clues in the attic, stored in a trunk, which had some of her mother’s belongings, photos, etc. I suppose whenever I’d start writing, I’d become Callie for the moment.

Kathy: There’s a scheming psychic in this first Marketville Mystery. Do you believe that some people have psychic ability. Have you ever been to a psychic?

JPS: I do believe some people do, absolutely, but I also believe more people who claim they do, don’t, and are in the “business” to make money. That said, many, many years ago I went to see a blind guy who would take objects and read from them. There were about 50 people in the room, maybe more, and the objects were selected at random. When he picked the gold locket I’d put in the box, he clutched his stomach and cried out in pain. My father gave me that locket when he was dying of stomach cancer. So that made a believer out of me.

Kathy: In addition to novels, you also write short stories and non-fiction. Do you find differences in how you approach writing them? Does one type come easier than others?

JPS: Magazine articles are easy for me. After 13+ years as a freelancer, I know the right questions to ask, and most features run under 1,000 words. Short crime fiction I find incredibly difficult, which is why I’m always reading short stories. Reading is the best teacher.
I typically have a bit of an outline for my short fiction, know exactly where I’m going with my magazine stuff, and pantser my way through novels, solving the mystery, chapter by chapter, alongside the reader.

Kathy: What first drew you to mysteries?

JPS: I’ve been reading mysteries since my mom brought home my first Nancy Drew book when I was just a kid. In my teens, I devoured everything by Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh. Later on, I discovered Dick Francis, Ed McBain and John D. McDonald. The list goes on!
The first true crime novel I read was In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. Brilliant. Years later, Norman Mailer’s The Executioner’s Song. That one is a commitment, but worth the investment of time.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

JPS: Early on, I dabbled in “literary” flash fiction, and it did get published. However, I love to read mystery/suspense, and I try to write what I’d like to read. That said, I wouldn’t rule out writing something that was non-fiction. It would have to be the right idea.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

JPS: Skeletons in the Attic is the first book in my Marketville mystery series. Marketville is the name of the town, and it’s loosely based on Newmarket, Ontario, Canada, a commuter town about an hour from Toronto. It is published by Imajin Books.

The Hanged Man’s Noose is the first book in my Glass Dolphin mystery series. The Glass Dolphin is the name of an antiques shop owned by Arabella Carpenter. It takes place in Lount’s Landing, which is loosely based on Holland Landing, a small town just north of Newmarket, and my home for many years. It is published by Barking Rain Press.

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

JPS: I love Arabella Carpenter. She even has a small role in Skeletons in the Attic, the first book in my Marketville series. Arabella is smart, feisty, loves shortbread, chardonnay, and cognac. She’s also loyal to her friends—even her ex-husband, Levon— wears her heart on her sleeve, and firmly believes that authenticity matters in people as well as the antiques she sells.

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

JPS: The idea for Noose – greedy real estate developer comes to small town with plans to build a megabox store, thereby harming all the indie merchants on the town’s Main Street, came to me when I saw my own small town get “absorbed” by the big box phenomenon. And I thought, what if someone was willing to kill to stop it?

The idea for Skeletons in the Attic came to me while I waited with my husband, Mike, in our lawyer's office. We were there to update our wills, and his goldendoodle kept us company while our lawyer was detained at court. The opening scenes of the book are culled directly from that experience.

Let that be your takeaway from this: everything that happens in a writer's life may end up in one of their stories.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

JPS: That was always the dream. I’ve been a freelance writer since 2003, so I knew the business, at least from a magazine perspective, though I found out getting a book published was a lot more difficult! I really wanted a traditional publisher and managed to find one, though it wasn’t easy. I’ve self-published two small collections of short stories to “test” the process, and found it quite easy. I might consider self-publishing in the future, for a different series. We’ll see how many more stories are inside of me.

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

JPS: Agatha Christie. She’s been like a mentor to me since I first discovered Poirot and Miss Marple.
Sue Grafton. I’ve read every one of her books, from A to X, as well as her short story collection, Kinsey and Me. No author has given me more pleasure.
John Sandford. No one paces a novel like Sandford. The master.
Number four is a tossup between Tana French, a brilliant Irish mystery writer, and Sarah J. Henry, author of the Troy Chance mystery series. I love the way Henry builds her story, slowly and steadily. Whichever one wants to come for pizza, which happens to be my favorite food.
I’d love to invite Truman Capote, to find out what it was like to research and write, pre-internet, and of course he was a great friend of Harper Lee. But I’m worried he’d get pouty if the dinner wasn’t all about him.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

JPS: The Whole She-Bang 3, an anthology published by Sisters in Crime Toronto, Fish Tales, an anthology published by Sisters in Crime Guppies (I alternate, and read a short story from one of them every few days) and The Wrong Side of Good-bye, the latest Harry Bosch novel by Michael Connelly.

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

JPS: I love being outdoors. In the summer, I love to golf and I belong to two ladies golf leagues. Both are nine hole leagues. I prefer 9 to 18 as it takes less time and I tend to get bored by the 12th hole…but I do some 18-hole charity tournaments.
I enjoy walking my 15-month-old Golden Retriever, Gibbs. We walk 5 to 8 miles a day, depending on the weather.
I’m also a runner. I used to do marathons and half-marathons. These days I’m more about the three miler, three or four times a week, but I might do another half some day. I don’t think I’ll do another marathon. It’s more about the time commitment than anything else.

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

JPS: Eggs. Tinned diced tomatoes, no salt added. Pasta. Canned tuna.

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

JPS: I’m currently finishing the sequel to Noose, the sequel to Skeletons, and a couple of short stories. It can be a challenge, working on multiple projects, but it’s a great problem to have.

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

JPS: Telling stories. Recently, a friend asked me about the sequel to Noose. I started telling her about it and she said, “Wow, you make it sound like these are real people.” That’s the thing, they are real to me.


Judy Penz Sheluk’s debut mystery novel, The Hanged Man’s Noose (Barking Rain Press), was published in July 2015. Skeletons in the Attic (Imajin Books), the first book in her Marketville Mystery Series, was published in August 2016.
Judy’s short crime fiction appears in World Enough and Crime, The Whole She-Bang 2, The Whole She-Bang 3, Flash and Bang and Live Free or Tri.
Judy is a member of Sisters in Crime, Crime Writers of Canada, International Thriller Writers and the Short Mystery Fiction Society.

Find Judy on her website/blog at, where she interviews other authors and blogs about the writing life. You can also find Judy on Facebook ( and Twitter (@JudyPenzSheluk) and on her Amazon author page,



The First Marketville Mystery

After the unexpected death of her father, Callie Barnstable figured she would inherit some old furniture and books. She certainly did not expect a house in the suburbs and definitely not a requirement that she not only live in the house for a year, but investigate her mother's murder.

As Callie gets settled in what was once her childhood home she discovers a house in ill-repair and finds herself dealing with a psychic her father put on retainer, pictures from a childhood she doesn't remember, and five tarot cards hidden under the carpeting. Is the house possibly haunted? Could it be that her mother hadn't abandoned her, but was actually murdered? With the help of a hunky contractor Callie starts to renovate the house, but who can she trust to help solve the mysteries of her past?  

The first Marketville Mystery raises a multitude of questions. What is the truth? Who can you trust? What are their motives? What really happened? In answering Callie will have to face her past, a past quite different from the one she remembers. In doing so she also makes the reader think. What skeletons may be in my attic?

SKELETONS IN THE ATTIC is a compelling novel that held me enthralled. Sheluk's writing is crisp, thoughtful, and her descriptions brought this Toronto suburb and its inhabitants to life. Callie is a wonderful character with down to earth charm and a good head on her shoulders. Sheluk deftly entwines the past and the present, making connections in unexpected yet satisfying ways. However, as fantastic as the first ninety percent of the book was, the denouement a bit of a let down. I found the ending too abrupt and the conclusion a bit pat. Up until that point I felt so in tune with the book and its characters I was ready to drive North and check things out myself! Despite my reaction to the ending this book remains a top read and I eagerly await its sequel.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

A Mystery/Thriller Week Visit with Alice Loweecey

I'm pleased to have Alice Loweecey join me in honor of Mystery/Thriller Week. Alice writes the  Giulia Driscoll Mystery series.

Kathy: Setting plays such an important role, especially in mysteries. Why choose an area near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for your Giulia Driscoll Mystery series?

AL: So I wouldn’t totally screw up? No, seriously! I wanted to set the series outside of NYS, just because. But I also wanted to work with similar weather patterns. Google Earth to the rescue! It showed me a large section of farmland just west of Pittsburgh, PA and Cottonwood, PA was born. This way Giulia gets to visit Pittsburgh, but I have the freedom to create anything I want in Cottonwood. (Who said “God complex?” I heard that!)

Kathy: NUN BUT THE BRAVE is the most recent Giulia Driscoll Mystery. Was there a specific inspiration for this story?

AL: There were two. I love post-apocalyptic fiction and thus came across the Doomsday Preppers who live in readiness for whatever will cause the fall of civilization. Prepper research is a gift poured into the lap of a writer—they practically write themselves. While outlining the book, a good friend posted herself in her spectacular handmade Halloween costume, a Horned God, and the centerpiece of my Prepper cult was born.

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

AL: Giulia’s going ghost hunting! Also Tarot reading and EVP catching and all kinds of supernatural fun.

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

AL: I am probably one of the most anal plotters in the business. My outlines run upwards of 5000 words. The writer can’t forget where she planted her clues. Deadlines must be met.

Kathy: In addition to your mystery series, you also write horror under the name Kate Morgan. Do you approach writing these genres differently? Does one come more easily than the other?

AL: I outline everything. I started out as a pantser and it wasn’t fun. My outlines are fluid—when the characters decide to change something, I revise the outline to suit. Structure works well with my writing style: it gives me the freedom to be more creative. Sort of like I write better when I don’t have to worry about the electric being paid.

Kathy: Authors are required to do a lot of their own marketing, especially for a new release. What's your favorite part of marketing your work? What do you dislike about marketing?

AL: I love connecting with fans. Many years back, I worked in direct marketing, so having to participate in marketing my books wasn’t a complete shock to the system. The one element I dislike is the time it takes from writing. But I’m always ready to make new fans.

Kathy: Will you share any other upcoming books?

AL: Giulia’s next book, THE CLOCK STRIKES NUN, comes out May 30. This is her sink or swim ghost hunting case. She encounters backstabbing co-workers, sees how the super-rich live, and gets a crash course in Tarot reading and exorcism. All the while bemoaning the two-cup-per-day limit on coffee now that she’s pregnant. The things we do for our kids.


For more information about Alice Loweecey check out the following links: 

Twitter: @AliceLoweecey
Goodreads: Alice_Loweecey

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Magicless in Nevermore by Violet Merriweather. This book is the first in the Witches of Nevermore series.

Nevermore is a world of magic and witchcraft, protected from mortals, and the home of Cassandra Holly and her family. Cassie is getting desperate. She's almost 21 and has yet to come into her magic powers.  Without magic she'll be forced to leave her friends and family and the town of Nevermore itself. Desperate times call for desperate measures and with the help of her best friend Willow, Cassie tries her hand at a major spell to find her magic. Forces combine and the unexpected happens. While Cassie finds her magic, she can't quite figure out what it is. Not only that, Willow's aunt, a not quite willing aspect of the spell, is found dead-and her not quite dead spirit demands that Cassie finds out who killed her! Cassie has to deal with her new found powers, a cantankerous ghost, her family, and mean girls. Will Cassie make sense of it all before Nevermore itself is destroyed?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A Timber Creek Interview

I'm pleased to welcome Margaret Mizushima to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Margaret pens the Timber Creek K-9 Mystery series.

Kathy: Your Timber Creek K-9 Mystery series features Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo. Have you met any K-9 officers?

MM: I’ve been fortunate to meet quite a few K-9 handlers and trainers, and I acknowledge those who spend the most time helping me in the acknowledgement sections of my books. One I’ll mention here is K-9 Officer/Trainer Beth Gaede, (Ret.), who moved to Colorado after retiring from the Bellingham, WA, Police Department. Beth let me shadow her while she trained dogs for AKA tracking certification, and afterwards we sat and visited while she told me wonderful stories about her late police service dog, Robo. He’s the inspiration for the Robo character in my series.

Kathy: Are you a dog person? Do you have a favorite breed?

MM: Yes, my husband is a veterinarian and we are definitely dog people. We have 3-4 dogs at a time, and I don’t have a favorite breed. Over the years (35 to be exact), we’ve shared our home with mixed breeds, labs, rottweilers, German shorthair pointers, border collies, Australian shepherds, and terriers. Years ago, we trained our rottie and one of our Austrailian shepherds in search and rescue. Right now we have a German shorthair named Hannah, a border collie named Tess, and a yellow lab named Lily. And oh yes, I must not forget to mention my writing assistant, a cat named Katy! She nestles in her spot beside my laptop every time I sit down to write.

Kathy: In STALKING GROUND, the second book in the series, Mattie and Robo get caught in a snowstorm. Living in Western New York, I’m familiar with blizzards, but fortunately, haven’t been caught out in one. Have you experienced blizzard conditions? Do you enjoy the snow?

MM: I’ve been in many a blizzard. Since we live in the country, there’s not much to block the wind, so snow coming in horizontally is a familiar winter sight, and we always need to go out there and feed the cows, no matter what. When you’re battling five to six foot snowdrifts, it’s great to be able to get inside and warm up. Poor Mattie, she didn’t have that luxury.

When our youngest child was a newborn, we had a springtime blizzard that knocked out the electricity to our house. We hunkered down in the family room and kept a fire burning for the few days it took to restore the power. Our five-year-old thought it was a great adventure. I do love watching snow fall, even when it’s howling. But the aftermath and ranch work are not a fun combination, so it’s a mixed blessing. And I don’t go outside to ski and snowshoe in it like I did when I was younger.

Kathy: What first drew you to mysteries?

MM: I think my love of mysteries started during my childhood with the Nancy Drew series. As an adult, crime fiction is my favorite genre to read, so writing mysteries and suspense came naturally.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

MM: Yes and no. Prior to getting a contract to write this series, I’d written romance, mainstream, and historical manuscripts – but none are published.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

MM: The Timber Creek K-9 mysteries are about K-9 handler Deputy Mattie Cobb, her dog Robo, and the newly-divorced veterinarian Cole Walker. Together they solve crimes in their mountain community, Timber Creek. The first book is called KILLING TRAIL, and it introduces the characters as they try to solve the murder of a teenage girl, a friend of Cole’s teenage daughter. The second book is STALKING GROUND. It delves further into the lives of the Timber Creek characters as they search for a missing woman and then find her buried up in the wilderness prior to the onset of a blizzard. A love interest sparks between Mattie and Cole in this second episode.

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

MM: I love them all. Mattie is a spunky officer, age twenty-eight, newly paired with the county’s first K-9, Robo. She’s the product of a tough childhood, raised in a variety of foster homes, and quite a rebel during her teen years until her last foster mother, Mama T, took her in and put the smack down. Mama T appears in KILLING TRAIL and is still an important part of Mattie’s life. Workaholic, veterinarian Cole Walker is trying to put his life back together after his wife left him and his two daughters; he tries to keep up with his busy practice as he learns how to be a single parent. (Just between you and me, he reminds me a little bit of my husband, so I love him, despite the fact that he’s not quite as evolved and family-engaged as my Charlie.) And then there’s Robo. He’s what the handlers call a high drive alpha male, but he’s highly trained, obedient, and courageous. What’s not to love about Robo?!

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

MM: Two inspirations occurred serendipitously when I was planning to write my first mystery. My friend Beth Gaede, mentioned above, moved to Colorado, and I spent quite a bit of time with her while she trained dogs. Also, my husband’s client, Police Chief Joe Clingan of Nunn, Colorado, who trains patrol and protection dogs, came into our clinic for a health exam on a dog he was transferring to a forest ranger. He mentioned that rangers were purchasing his narcotics detection dogs to combat drug trafficking through the national forest. My husband came home for lunch, told me what he’d heard, and a premise for my series was born right there at my kitchen table! In the series opener, KILLING TRAIL, the mountain community of fictional town Timber Creek, Colorado, has bought a narcotics detection dog to combat drug traffic through their town.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

MM: All my life, I’ve loved to read, and I especially love novels that take me out of my life and give me a mini-vacation. I wanted to write that kind of fiction and hoped to give readers that kind of experience. I met my acquiring editor, Matt Martz of Crooked Lane Books, at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers conference in Denver in 2014. This led to an offer for me to revise and resubmit and then to a contract for my first two books in the series. We’ll continue to work together now to release book three in 2017 and book four in 2018. We’ll see where we go from there.

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

MM: It’s hard to limit to four, but four of my favorite authors are Lee Child, Michael Connelly, Tess Gerritsen, and Sue Grafton. I have others that I would love to include like Margaret Coel, Robert Crais, and Tana French. I could go on and on, but I’ll stop there. My dining room is not very big.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

MM: THE WOMAN IN BLUE by Elly Griffiths. This is the most recent episode in Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway mystery series set in contemporary England. Ruth is a forensic archeologist who digs up more trouble than she can deal with as she consults with Inspector Harry Nelson to solve murders both new and ancient. I love the way Griffiths constructs her mysteries and sets a chilling mood.

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

MM: I love to read and can’t seem to find time to get enough of it nowadays. I also love to hike and until 2014, I spent a day each week in Rocky Mountain National Park, hiking up to high altitude mountain lakes at or above timberline. After I started writing on deadline, I set this interest aside for a bit but plan to get back into it this year. There is nothing like a day in the high country to clear your head!

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

MM: Yogi-brand licorice tea, almond milk, gluten free flour, and baby carrots. Sounds very healthy, doesn’t it? But the little country store that supplies me with chocolate is only a quick trip into town away. I like to pretend that if chocolate hasn’t spent time in my pantry, it doesn’t have calories.

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

MM: The third book in this series, HUNTING HOUR, will be released by Crooked Lane Books on August 8, 2017, and book four will release about a year later (Fall, 2018). I can’t wait to show you what next lies in store for Mattie and Robo!

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

MM: There are many things that I enjoy, and communicating with readers via email ( is definitely one of them. I strive to answer each one. But the surprise of seeing each new cover that my publisher sends to me is also up there at the top of the list. It’s like opening a birthday present.

Thank you, Kathy, for the opportunity to visit with you for Mystery Thriller Week. I’ll be hosting an hour on Facebook Live for MTW on February 15 from 6:00-7:00 EST. I invite readers to join me there to talk more about the books!


Margaret Mizushima is the author of the Timber Creek K-9 mystery series, which includes Killing Trail (Crooked Lane Books, 2015) and Stalking Ground (Crooked Lane Books, 2016). She has a background in speech pathology and practiced in an acute care hospital before establishing her own rehabilitation agency. Currently, she balances writing with assisting her husband with their veterinary clinic and Angus cattle herd. She enjoys reading and hiking, and she lives on a small ranch in Colorado where she and her husband raised two daughters and a multitude of animals. She can be found on Facebook/Author Margaret Mizushima, on Twitter @margmizu, and on her website at