Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Craks in a Marriage by Barbara Barrett. This book is the first in the Mah Jongg Mystery series and was released earlier this month.

Sydney Bonner and her friends enjoy their weekly Mah Jongg game, even if they do have to put up with the annoying Olivia. Yet when Olivia's husband is found murdered,  it's Sydney the widow turns to in order to find out who killed her husband. Believing she's out of her element and not wanting to get in trouble, as well as not being completely sure of Olivia's innocence, Sydney asks her friends if they will join her in discretely looking into things. Now between playing mah jongg, clipping coupons, and avoiding her husband's new project, Sydney and her friends will try to catch a killer!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Pressing the Issue - Review


PRESSING THE ISSUE by Daryl Wood Gerber
The Sixth Cookbook Nook Mystery

Excitement is running high in Crystal Cove with the annual Renaissance Fair in town and preparations underway for Bailey's wedding at a local vineyard. While Jenna Hart is practicing her "fair-speak" and stacking the shelves of the Cookbook Nook with Renaissance themed cookbook, Bailey is in a tizzy, worried about her wedding, especially since her mother has got "vibes". And not good ones. A missed phone call sends the pair and their significant others to the vineyard only to find the owner murdered. Bad vibes indeed.

Love is in the air, unfortunately, so is murder. Could Nick's death be caused by love gone wrong? There are plenty of possible suspects including the girlfriend he recently dumped, the woman who has stolen his heart, even his brother! The book delves into other loves as well. In addition to Bailey's wedding preparations, wedding bells are on the minds of more than one other character.

I enjoyed the Renaissance Fair theme to the latest Cookbook Nook mystery. I've always wanted my own Ren costume and I know I could nail down my "fair-speak". As for solving the murder...Daryl Wood Gerber creates an intriguing mix of suspects and clues which Jenna navigates, well, more accurately, Bailey drags her through.

PRESSING THE ISSUE combines Renaissance Fair fun, wedding preparations with a mini bridezilla, and murder to create a delectable mystery.

Monday, February 26, 2018

An Interview with Karolina W贸jciak

I'm pleased to welcome Karolina W贸jciak to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Karolina is a Polish author now living in Canada whose novel IDENTITY UNKNOWN has just been translated into English and is now available in the US and Canada.

Kathy: In IDENTITY UNKNOWN you write the story of Krystian and Lena. Why did you choose to make your characters teenagers rather than adults?

KW: I've decided to write about young people to show their struggle, to show how lost they are and how their choices are going to reflect on their lives. I wanted to have characters to be realistic, true and without the wisdom that comes with years. I've decided to show the difficulties of a teen in a house with issues. When it comes to alcohol and drug problems, small kids are taken away. Teens are stuck in the middle and often have to adjust or find a way to live with an alcoholic parent. Krystian did his best to make it work until he is thrown out into the streets and not knowing what to do, he fights for survival. Lena is a young adult. She comes back home after her freshman year. She seems to have it all, but she's not happy.

Kathy: Lena is a journalism student. Did you ever study journalism or want to be a reporter?

KW: No, my whole life, I thought my calling was working for a corporation, but once I got there, I knew it wasn't for me. That's why I started my photography business and secretly wrote books for many years.

Kathy: Your novel is set in Poland. Do you think the challenges facing these two would be different if the book was set in Canada? Or the US?

KW: I am not familiar with the family law in Canada or US. I am pretty sure though that I could find families living a difficult life, like my character, because of the choices they made. I could have done extra research and relocate the translated novel to US but since it was already published in Poland, I didn't want to change it. I hope the readers will find it unique. The names, location etc.

Kathy: What first drew you to crime stories?

KW: Once I read somewhere a tip for writers and it said "write what you would like to read yourself". Since then I try to follow that rule. If I enjoy it, put my heart into it, other will enjoy it too. The funny thing is that some of my readers (especially people that know me in person) said that I seem like a happy-go-lucky person, not dark as it's in my novels. It's not like that, that a writer who writes horrors, thrillers or crime novels is some kind of a psycho. I don't have to be a criminal to describe a murder. It all comes to sensitivity, to empathy, to the ability to listen. I like darkness, the secret, crime, suspense, figuring out what to do, what choice to make, a fast story.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

KW: I've been asked that question a couple of times. When I write I don't think about a specific genre at all. I have a story to tell and all I do, is to make it an interesting read. I don't focus on the form, just the plot to stuff it with twists and suspenseful action. It might be a thriller or just a psychological novel. I tend to mix genres as it is part of me to go against any rules or boundaries, so in my crime there is romance, there is dead body and a murder but also happiness. My focus is on the emotions and what's going on in the book is just a background for it.

Kathy: Tell us about your book.

KW: IDENTITY UNKNOWN is my first published book, but not the first one written. I decided to choose this one as my debut, because it won't let the reader put it down. It's a page turning thriller full of surprises. I believe that this book will help me gain readers. Convince them to my writing and make them interested for next books that I am planning to write/ publish. This book shows the contrasts between classes. My goal was to show privileges people get because of their upbringing and also that all they get is not necessary what they actually need. Both characters are unhappy until their worlds shutter into pieces. My second book has already been published in Poland this January and is being translated into English. It's a long process and we need around 6 or more months to have it ready for English readers. This story also shows two characters, male and a female, who also struggle with life. Their issue is different though, they want to be better versions of themselves and that forces them to make difficult choices - like removing someone blocking their way, their chance to achieve something. The third book that I'm working on right now is going to be a series. Al least that's what's on my mind now. This series is going to be about a young police detective, who joins her father, the chief to solve murders and other criminal activities.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

KW: For years I have been writing my stories and keeping them buried deep down on my laptop. No one has seen them, no one knew about them. Until one day I showed one of them to my best friend. She said that the moment I asked her to read it, she thought how will she tell me that I suck at it, and what words to use to advise me to stop writing. She was so prepared for the book to be terrible and then she read it. The moment she finished she sent me a ton of messages like 'You have to show it to everyone else', that the book is brilliant. At first I was unsure and feared that others won't be as nice as she was. Slowly I began sending the copies of the book to more friends. Every single feedback was the same as the first one, they loved it! Thanks to all that encouragement I decided to publish my first book. I need to tell you, that through the entire week before the premiere, I was so scared that I even thought about stopping the whole process. It was the first time I was showing a piece of my mind to people, not knowing what will they say, or how will they respond. I put my whole heart into my writing, and the more you love something, the more vulnerable you are. Every now and then, I get emails from readers that thank me. Some say they found some hidden messages between the lines, others that this story made them think about their life. The amount of support, positive feedback and encouragement to keep writing is just overwhelming and convinces me that I did the right thing. I am so thankful for all the readers that gave me a chance and read my book, their feedback is my fuel.

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

KW: My biggest love is John Irving. I would even cook for him, if he would do me the honor and meet with me. There are plenty of other authors that I like, and if I would be able to spend some time with them, I would try to pick their brains. I know this sounds selfish, but I wonder what would I learn from Stephen King, Graham Masterton, Robin Cook, and then the ladies: Jane Austin and Emily Bronte.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

KW: Jo Nesbo. I have started the Harry Hole series and would like to see how the characters develop. I am also half way through an audiobook (which I listen to when I'm working on photos), the IN COLD BLOOD by Truman Capote, and books about a fictional prosecutor by a Polish author, to become more familiar with the details of police work, its internal structure etc.

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

KW: Yes, absolutely. Photography is as big a passion for me as writing. I was lucky to change my boring office work for something so creative - photography. After each photo session, I feel such adrenaline rush, as if I'd jumped on a bungee. It makes me so happy, being able to stop the moment, create the memories, make people smile or cry and stay forever behind those photographs. You can't see me on the photo, but I am there. I am also a huge dog lover. The fact is, that I am able to train the dog so well to get all the awes from people seeing how my dog behaves, and yet, I cannot do the same with my kids.

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

KW: Meat. Eggs. Mayo. Lemons (I cannot drink water without a lemon)

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

KW: Yes, I do. I have few more books ready to be published and I keep writing new ones. There are also projects that I started and could not finish. If I sit down to write, and it doesn't come easy, it means I am killing the book by forcing myself to continue. Even if the idea is there but the words don't come, I let it be. Let it sit in the drawer for as long as it needs to. I am aware that some of them might not have an ending ever, but I rather have something done good, than just done for the sake of it. I know for sure, that I won't have a sequel for IDENTITY UNKNOWN, even though readers ask me to write one. This book has been always a novel, a story told in one book. The same goes for the second book.

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

KW: Being able to create characters and for a moment being them. I try to think like a person I have created, to feel the emotions through their perspective. It's a really interesting thing that actually helps me everyday as it allows me to see someone elses point of view. We all know, how difficult it is to try to understand a person completely different from us. I do it all the time in my books. The second thing is the feedback. I have a group of people that read the books immediately after they get finished. These people can influence me to change something in the story, tell me what made them stop and smile or cringe. At first when I heard something was off, I felt like they didn't understand it, but then I've learned to listen to and appreciate all their ideas. Now I can't wait to hear back from them. Recently my mom got one of the books that I've just finished and she called me saying "how good that you've punished that guy, oh he just so deserved it". I smiled, because it was me who created him this way, who made him so irritating for the reader. If she believes that what I did was right, it means she really was into the story, felt the emotions, believed in the characters. That is pure satisfaction to be able to create something so believable. 


The bestselling novel by Polish author Karolina Wojciak is now available in the US. 

Two contrasting but mysterious, twisted and touching stories about love, sacrifice and second chances. After the tragic death of his mother, sixteen-year-old Krystian lives in poverty in Warsaw, Poland with his violent, alcoholic father. Their fights grow more intense until finally his father throws him out. Homeless and fighting for survival, Krystian has to put aside his sensitive nature and become a criminal. Lena, after a freshman year spent away from home, returns to the seaside town of Sopot between semesters, convinced that it will be another boring summer with her despotic father, a powerful lawyer. Instead, new friends show her what it feels like to make her own choices. Can Krystian escape his difficult start in life? Will Lena choose her family or her freedom? Do youthful mistakes mean there’s no chance for a good life?

To purchase the e-book, via Amazon Canada, please click here.
For Amazon readers in the US please, click here.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Murder is a Dirty Business - An Interview & Giveaway

I'm happy to welcome Tricia L. Sanders to the blog today. MURDER IS A DIRTY BUSINESS is the first book in her Grime Pays Mystery series.

Kathy: In MURDER IS A DIRTY BUSINESS Cece Cavanaugh gets a job as a cleaner, specifically cleaning up a crime scene. If you were to get a job as a cleaner, would you rather clean up crime scenes, or more mundane places?

TLS: Yikes! Good question. I hate to clean. I also don’t have the stomach for gore, and blood makes me nauseous. Mundane all the way. I get distracted easily, so cleaning usually turns into organizing a closet or a drawer.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

TLS: When I was in fourth or fifth grade I read the Donna Parker Series by Marcia Martin aka Marcia Levin. Several of her stories were mysteries, and I was hooked. I’m not a blood, guts, and gore girl, so the cozy mystery is perfect for me to get my sense of mystery without all the icky served up. I don’t have to see the murder or the victim to want to solve the mystery.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

TLS: I have a women’s fiction travel adventure in process, and I have an outline for a historical. I have also written and published several non-fiction creative essays.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

TLS: When Cece Cavanaugh’s husband empties their joint bank account, steals her designer luggage, and runs off with a younger woman, Cece must decide whether to ask her manipulative mother-in-law for a handout or get a job. Her unlikely choice is cleaning crime scenes, which leads to ferreting out killers and dodging the advances of a handsome detective.

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

TLS: That’s tough. I love Cece, but I’ve grown fond of Nancy Lustbader, a non-traditional secretary, who dishes out the snark. Nancy walked into the book and will not leave. Between her gum-popping and inappropriate clothing choices, you never know what to expect with Nancy. Would I want her as a best friend? Not initially, but she has a way of growing on you.

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

TLS: Yes, I attend a conference several years ago and one of the female speakers cleaned crime scenes. In fact, she owned the business. I knew right then I wanted to do a series based on a female crime scene cleaner, only I wanted her to become an amateur sleuth who could not clean the crime scene without getting involved in the investigation.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

TLS: It seemed a logical conclusion after spending so much time writing the story. My critique provided greatly needed support and pushed me when the time was right.

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

TLS: Well, it will be an interesting party. I’d have Marcia Martin aka Marcia Levin for sure, since she introduced me to the love of mystery. Next would be Harlan Coben. He is a master of suspense, and I would love to learn his writing process. My third guest would be Shel Silverstein. Who could not invite someone who can write such lyrical prose? And last, but never least, the queen of the who-done-it, Agatha Christie. And I’m hoping there would be a mystery to solve, because I would be taking notes! Maybe Shel and I would be taking notes. Not sure how good he would be at solving a mystery. Of course, his notes would be poetic and published… Where the Crime Scene Tape Ends or A Body in the Attic.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

TLS: Alas, I am not currently reading. I am on deadline for my next novel. The last book I read was Harlan Coben’s, Don’t Let Go. I also have Lisa Wingate’s, Before We Were Yours, waiting for me on my Kindle.

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

TLS: I love to travel. As I answer these questions, I am in Doha, Qatar sitting on a balcony overlooking the Persian Gulf. Earlier this year, I flew in a hot air balloon over the Maasai Mara in Kenya.

I’m also an amateur photographer, which goes hand-in-hand with travel. I prefer landscapes, architectural subjects, and animals. Being an introvert, I’m not comfortable photographing people.

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

TLS: Chocolate for a reward when I meet a goal. Tea, because who doesn’t need a glass of iced tea. Popcorn for times when I don’t feel like cooking dinner. Apples, because they are nutritious and make me feel better about having popcorn for dinner.

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

TLS: I am working on Book 2 of the Grime Pays series. Book 3 is outlined and up next. Then I want to finish a women’s fiction travel adventure that I have in rough draft. I also have another cozy series outlined, and another cozy series in idea stage. I need more hours in my day.

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

TLS: I love hearing from readers and especially reading their reviews.

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Friday, February 23, 2018

Egyptian Enigma - An Interview & Review

I'm so pleased to welcome L.J.M. Owen to Cozy Up With Kathy today. L.J. writes the Dr. Pimms Intermillennial Sleuth Mystery series. EGYPTIAN ENIGMA is the third book in the series and will be released in March.

Kathy: In each of your books you tell the story of an ancient woman along with Dr Pimms’ narrative. How do you choose these historical females?

LJMO: One of my goals in writing the series is to highlight forgotten women from history, so I start each novel by researching the women from that book’s featured ancient civilisation. It’s been amazing to discover fascinating, extraordinary women in every society I’ve explored; they may not have made it into mainstream history textbooks, but they are there in the literature. I now trust that no matter which civilisation I research, I'm going to be spoilt for choice as to who I write about.

In OLMEC OBITUARY I introduce readers to the ancient Olmec culture of the Mexican basin through the eyes of Ix, a player of the demanding and violent Great Ballgame. I based her character on a 3,000-year-old figurine of a woman who played that game.

MAYAN MENDACITY explores the society of the ancient Mayans of Guatemala, including their political system, female rulers and practice of human sacrifice. The main character in the historical story, Lady Six Sky, was a well-documented figure in seventh century Mayan history. This novel also touches on the dangerous path faced by many librarians-including female librarians-in the Mayan Empire.

The third book in the series, EGYPTIAN ENIGMA, is a celebration of the mostly forgotten period of Egyptian history when women could participate fully in the realms of academia, business, the military and government. Women’s legal and social status in ancient Egypt far outstripped that of many women today.

The central historical character in EGYPTIAN ENIGMA is Tausret, the final Pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty. During my research, I discovered at least ten recorded female Pharaohs over the course of ancient Egyptian history, most of whom have been ignored by modern historians. As I investigated Tausret’s life I could see how fraught it must have been, that the threat of death must have been ever-present. In the end, I chose to write about her because I could see her so clearly.

Kathy: Your mouth-watering descriptions of food add a wonderful cultural element to your mysteries and you're kind enough to share several recipes in each book. Do you like to cook? What's your favourite type of dish to make?

LJMO: I *love* to cook. And eat.

My favourite foodie thing to do is wander outside to the garden or go to a crop swap, gather as many local ingredients as possible, and make something up. I love taking freshly harvested fruit, berries, vegetables and herbs, eggs from my chickens and milk from just up the road, and turning them into a colourful stir-fry, a frittata, a berry smoothie or a blackberry clafoutis.

I have shelves and shelves of recipe books in my dining room. I flick through them while eating for inspiration when I’m cooking, as well as inspiration for the Dr Pimms series.

Kathy: In EGYPTIAN ENIGMA Dr. Pimms finally gets to return to Egypt. I admit being somewhat enthralled with Egyptology. What makes Egyptian archaeology so fascinating to the world in general?

LJMO: People like hidden things. It’s enticing, the idea that there are entire cities sitting beneath the sand, just waiting to be revealed. Pyramids and the sphinx and temples and tombs…and when they are excavated, so many hold caches of glorious artefacts.

I’d like to think there’s an unconscious pull there, too, between an ancient culture where women were essentially equal under the law and our own, which is steeped in centuries of violent misogyny and repression of women. Perhaps a sense that females were generally held in higher regard than they are across the planet now is attractive, to women in particular.

Kathy: What first drew you to mysteries?

LJMO: I find them comforting. Mysteries seek to find an answer, a solution. Most mystery novels see the protagonist reach a conclusion. For me, in our ever-changing, uncertain world, that’s appealing.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

LJMO: I began as an academic writer, then shifted to writing about women in science through my mystery series.

I’m intending to branch into historical steampunk soon, followed by dystopian political fiction later on. Though the latter will be almost entirely memoir, it’s probably going to be considered the most fanciful of my work.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

LJMO: The Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth series is the story of an archaeologist-librarian-Dr Elizabeth Pimms-who solves ancient mysteries from across the globe using 21st century techniques. The archaeology, ancient history, forensic science and library services described in the books are based on significant academic research.

A significant focus of the series is forgotten women’s history. The third book in the series, EGYPTIAN ENIGMA, is being released in March 2018 to coincide with Women’s History Month.

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

LJMO: Although they don’t have a speaking role, the characters closest to my heart would be two of Elizabeth’s cats: Billy, her phrenic library companion, and Thoth, ‘her’ cat among the family’s feline foursome. Billy is based on my own Billy, who I lost some years ago, while Thoth is based on my deeply missed Ella, who passed away just before I began writing EGYPTIAN ENIGMA.

It’s hard for me to say who my favourite character is among the humans; I think it might give too much away.

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

LJMO: As I say at the beginning of each Dr Pimms book, like many bookworms, the best parts of my childhood were spent in the story worlds created by others. A bad day saw me escape under the covers with a torch and an orange to faraway lands where mysteries were solved, hard work was rewarded, and bad guys got their comeuppance. As an adult I decided to create another place for us all to run away to.

As I’m a trained archaeologist, a qualified librarian and I have a PhD in palaeogenetics, I thought: archaeological mystery series, with a librarian protagonist – naturally! So I set about creating a series for the reader who likes to curl in an armchair, tea in hand, fireplace crackling, and immerse themselves in in a world of archaeological wonders, forensic science and really good food.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

LJMO: Like many aspiring authors, I spent years crafting my first novel. Then, in late 2014, the first draft of OLMEC OBITUARY was done. Publishing had always been the plan, but I found myself facing an absurdly unexamined question: how do I publish it?

There were two options—learn to self-publish or throw my hat into the traditional publishers’ ring. I calculated the likelihood of a traditional publisher plucking my fledgling work from their annual slush pile of 5,000 submissions. Self-publishing it was.

I initiated a Kickstarter project to fund a small print run. Unexpectedly, just five days into the crowdfunding campaign, I was contacted by a commissioning editor from a traditional publishing house, who asked to see the manuscript. They’ve published the series ever since.

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

LJMO: It would have to be:

· Enheduanna, Akkadian/Sumerian poet (c.2260 BCE), often claimed to be the world's first named author

· Hypatia of Alexandria (c.400 CE), greatest philosopher of her time

· Empress Xu of the Ming Dynasty (c. 1400 CE), known for writing highly politicised texts on women considered to be virtuous

· Christine de Pizan, Italian-French author (c. 1400 CE), who penned Le Livre de la Cit茅 des Dames (THE BOOK OF THE CITY OF LADIES)

I think we could have a fascinating conversation about the status of women across time and place; with the help of some babelfish, of course

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

LJMO: I recently finished JUST A QUEEN, the second in a trilogy on Elizabeth I by Jane Caro.

I’m now re-reading THE WOMAN WHO WOULD BE KING: HATSHEPUT"S RISE TO POWER IN ANCIENT EGYPT by Kara Cooney, ahead of interviewing her for International Women’s Day.

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

LJMO: Over the years they’ve been quite eclectic. I always intend to go back to them, but somehow…

There’s been Raqs sharqi (Egyptian dance), weight lifting, Arabic drumming and the hammered dulcimer. For a while I also studied languages and became vaguely proficient in French, Chinese, Spanish and Welsh.

At the moment it’s yoga. I’d like to pick up the dancing and drumming again, as they were the most fun so far.

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

LJMO: A SodaStream for making bubbly water, buckwheat crisps, Earl Grey tea and coconut oil.

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

LJMO: Dr Pimms was a planned series of nine books from the beginning, so there’s lots more to come! In Book 4 we’re off to the Mongolia of Genghiz Khan’s daughters and granddaughters.

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

LJMO: Without a doubt: fan mail!



The Third Dr. Pimms Intermillennial Sleuth Mystery

Despite the theft of her journal and having to curtail evening outings due to harassment by the local men, Dr. Elizabeth Pimms enjoys a marvelous vacation in Egypt with Henry, her friend from New York. While the entire trip rekindles her love of Egyptology, it is a visit to the Golden Tomb which leads Elizabeth and her friends to a new adventure. With modern day technology and good old fashioned research they plan to discover just who is buried in the Golden Tomb.

Every time I finish a Dr. Pimms mystery I feel smarter. I learn so much, about past civilizations and modern archaeological techniques, combined with strategy and deductive reasoning, my intelligence surely must be increasing!

L.J.M. Owen skillfully weaves a modern day mystery with a historical story, probing interpersonal relations and gender. The third Dr. Pimms Intermillennial Sleuth Mystery looks at patriarchy in its various forms. Wherever there are strong women wielding power, there are men looking to diminish it. Degradation, belittling, discrimination, and harassment are just some of the things women are forced to deal with. Sadly, the women in the modern day story have things worse than Pharaoh Tausret in this regard!

EGYPTIAN ENIGMA gives a fascinating look at ancient Egypt including its politics, religion, and daily life of the ruling classes. The modern day portion of the book provides more insight into the Pimms family, including the tragic death of Elizabeth's father, and just as we think we're to be given more answers, readers are left with a stunning ending that raises even more questions. My jaw dropped to the ground and I can only hope to have it closed by the time I'm able to read the next Dr. Pimms Intermillennial Sleuth Mystery.


Keep up with L.J.M. Owen using these links:

To purchase (with a discount and free shipping planet-wide):

For more information on Egyptian Enigma and the Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth series:

To keep up with the latest on the series:

And to chat to L.J. on Twitter:   @Bleuddyn_Coll

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Death by a Whisker: Guest Post, Review, & Giveaway

My Book, the Movie

Crime and Catnip

T. C. Lotempio

T. C. Lotempio is the author of the Nationally Bestselling Nick and Nora mystery series and the Cat Rescue series for Crooked Lane. When she’s not writing books, she and her cat ROCCO fundraise for Nathan Fillion’s charity, Kids Need to Read.

When I first got the idea for the Nick and Nora mystery series, It was on a cold afternoon in February. I was bundled up on my couch and I saw Turner Classics had on one of my favorite movies, The Thin Man. I had had a discussion with my literary agent earlier that day about steering away from writing paranormals and veering into cozy mystery territory. As I was watching The Thin Man, my twenty pound tuxedo cat, ROCCO, jumped up on my lap. All of which got me to thinking: What if Nick Charles died and came back as a cat? And thus the Nick and Nora mysteries were born. Nora Charles is an ex-investigative reporter who returns to her hometown of Cruz, California to run her dead mother’s sandwich shop. She can’t stay away from mysteries, though, and takes a part time job on an online crime magazine. She’s just starting to dig into her first story: the mysterious drowning of a local socialite – when she makes the acquaintance of her furry partner, Nick the cat.

I think every author dreams of having their books made into movies, and I confess I pictured very specific individuals when I was writing the series: Nora is definitely, without question, Emma Stone. There’s just no other. Her boyfriend, FBI agent Daniel Corleone could easily be played by either Ryan Reynolds or Jake Gyllenhaal. Nora’s BFF was a bit harder. I had to think of someone a bit quirky, and who better than Courtney Cox who played quirky so beautifully on Friends? Lisa Kudrow would be another good choice. As for the character of Nick the cat, well, there’s only one feline who could play him purr-fectly, and that’s ROCCO, the Incredible Blogging Cat! If you don’t believe me, visit his blog at

For the Cat Rescue mysteries, of course I can picture ROCCO’s brother Maxx in the role of Toby! The humans for this required a bit more thought. The feisty Syd McCall could easily be played by Jennifer Aniston, or maybe Alison Sweeney if her schedule would permit. For the part of her detective boyfriend Jake Gyllenhaal. (He’s played PI’s in so many movies he’s just a natural choice for me) Syd’s sidekick friend Leila Addams? Actually, I’d like to play her.馃槉 but if not me, then maybe Reese Witherspoon? (she’d have to dye that blonde hair red, though) Who would be your choices?


The Second Cat Rescue Mystery

The Friendly Paws Animal Shelter is gearing up for a big media event, when the author planning to attend is hurt in an accident. A replacement is quickly found, another Deer Park native and current shopping host megastar and new author, Ulla Townsend. While Sydney McCall and her sister Kat are pleased to have a replacement, especially one who will also donate a portion of the book sales to the shelter, Maggie is aghast and vows to be nowhere near the event. Ulla and her entourage ooze scandal, vindictiveness, and a proclivity for backstabbing so when Ulla dies at the event there are plenty of suspects...including Maggie. Syd is bound and determined to prove Maggie's innocence and help her detective boyfriend solve the case. But is she risking her future by looking into Ulla's past?

One of my favorite aspects of this book is that the setting centers around an animal shelter. I appreciate the dedication and hard work necessary to provide a haven and a chance at a new life for animals in need and am glad that this series shines a light on it, even though it doesn't really touch on the sadness and harsh realities also found there. The cats here are real characters with personalities and ties to the action and plot. They're also plain lovable. I want to hang out with Toby and give him another Melvin the Magnificent Mouse. I am also sorely tempted to adopt Annie Reilly myself, even if she is fictional!

DEATH BY A WHISKER is a cautionary tale dealing with bullying and how the past impacts both the present and future. Can we fully escape our past? How do we move on...or do we? Crisp writing and a fast paced storyline kept me quickly turning the pages easily following the multiple suspects and many motives. This second Cat Rescue Mystery was a fun read and I look forward to hearing  more from Syd and the residents of Deer Park, North Carolina. Meanwhile my cats want to know where they can get their own Melvin toys!

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Pressing the Issue by Daryl Wood Gerber. This book is the sixth book in the Cookbook Nook Mystery series and was released yesterday!

Excitement is running high in Crystal Cove with the annual Renaissance Fair in town and preparations underway for Bailey's wedding at a local vineyard. While Jenna Hart is practicing her "fair-speak" and stacking the shelves of the Cookbook Nook with Renaissance themed cookbook, Bailey is in a tizzy, worried about her wedding, especially since her mother has got "vibes". And not good ones. A missed phone call sends the pair and their significant others to the vineyard only to find the owner murdered. Bad vibes indeed.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Hour Glass: An Interview, Review, & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Michelle Rene to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Among other genres, Michelle writes historical fiction. Her latest release looks at the later years of the legendary Calamity Jane as seen through the eyes of a young boy. Today is actually the release day of HOUR GLASS.

Kathy: HOUR GLASS features the legendary Calamity Jane. How did you choose to write about her?

MR: I've always been a fan of the rough and tumble stories about Calamity Jane. To mess with her was "to court calamity." I am a huge fan of the show, Deadwood, and I basically watched it waiting for her to show up on the screen. I wanted to know more about her, so I wrote the book I wanted to read. The difficult parts were finding real facts about the woman. Everything was oral history for the most part, and a lot of it Jane embellished in her story telling. My goal was present a new and more complete Jane to my readers. Not the Jane from the show, Deadwood. Not the Doris Day Jane. My version of her.

Kathy: Had you always been interested in the Wild West?

MR: Definitely. I grew up in the south, and the wild west is deep in our culture. There's a story telling skill that seems to be ingrained in the south. We sit around an listen to each other tell stories. My grandfather would tell us about his father who was a roughneck. He knew an older Irishman who had recently been released from prison for shooting a pimp that followed the railroad workers around and stole their money. Was said to have shot so straight, the diamond tie pin the pimp wore went directly in his heart. Who knows if that is true, but the southern cadence of these stories stick with you. Westerns are the best art form I've seen that capture it.

Kathy: Today Hour would be considered to be on the autism spectrum. Do you think autism was prevalent in the 1800s? Why do you choose to give this aspect to her?

MR: People often think that autism is a new thing. It isn't. Our understanding and labeling of it is recent. It is believed the first use of the word autism was in 1908 when describing schizophrenic patients who were really withdrawn. In the 1940's, Leo Kanner began using the term when describing children who were highly intelligent by desired being alone. Over time, our knowledge has grown. Before medical understanding, people autism or schizophrenia or bi polar disorder were just considered crazy and often thrown away by society, and thus, were never recognized. The decision to make Hour autistic was threefold. One, I believe we need more representation of ASD people in literature and placing them in an era people don't expect is important. Two, I wanted to show what a family would have had to do to protect someone like that in the wild west. Three, my own son was in the process of being diagnosed with ASD when I wrote this book. Hour Glass was my way to not only paint a picture of a beautiful, autistic child, but show a loving family that gathered around her to give her a good life.

Kathy: What first drew you to historical fiction?

MR: I adore history. Always have. I drive my family crazy taking them to museums. My first historical fiction novel was about Vincent Van Gogh, and I was gonner after that.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

MR: Yes! I write science fiction as well. I also contribute to Funny Times Magazine with my west Texas essays.

Kathy: Tell us about your books.

MR: My historical novel, I Once Knew Vincent, is my multi-award winner about Vincent Van Gogh. My novella, Vacuum, is a sci-fi adventure with a blind assassin. My novelette, Danielle's Inferno, is a parody of Dante's Divine Comedy and was also adapted into a video game by One More Story Games. Right after the release of Hour Glass, my experimental novella, Tattoo, will release as well. It's a strange, sci-fi/fantasy story told backwards that's getting a lot of critic attention.

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

MR: That has to be Jane or Pudding (from Danielle's Inferno). I love writing dialogue for both of them.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

MR: It's never been an option for me not to. I adore writing, and I believed with an unwavering tenacity that my words should be in print.

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

MR: Oh wow. Cool question. I'd say Edgar Allen Poe, Mark Twain, Mary Shelly and Lewis Carroll.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

MR: I'm currently reading this amazing fantasy novel by Jesikah Sundin. Legacy - the first in her biodome chronicles.

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

MR: Sure! I chase my son around mostly, but when I'm not doing that, I'm usually painting or sculpting. My education is in art. I like to go to museums, walk through nature, go to renaissance fairs, go to wine/craft beer tastings, and watch Stranger Things on a loop. I also occasionally participate in zombie discussion panels and charity anthologies. Look for Lone Star Zombie-Con (anthology of horror and hope) coming out in March. All proceeds go to charities helping Hurricane Harvey relief.

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

MR: Almond Milk, goat cheese, tortillas, and Nutella. The makings of a very confused meal!

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

MR: I have plans for a new book but it won't be part of a series. I recently finished a historical novel about Maud Wagner, the first female tattooist in America. The next book I'm going to work on will be based on a true story of a art psychologist friend of mine who went to African to help abused girls heal through art.

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

MR: I love seeing my words touch people. When someone comes up to me and tells me how much they loved my book, that's just the best. My husband says I feed on the tears of my readers because I make them cry so much, but that's only half true. Hahaha.



HOUR GLASS by Michelle Rene

It's 1876 and Jimmy Glass has a lot on his young shoulders. With his father's illness getting worse, Jimmy has no choice but to leave their claim and bring his father to town to get medical help. Once in Deadwood Jimmy and his little sister are taken in by a local madame while their father is brought to the quarantined smallpox tents to be cared for by none other than Calamity Jane. As their father struggles to survive, Jimmy and Hour make their own lives, creating a new family with the women and men of Madame Dora DuFran's brothel.

A legend comes to life in the latest novel by Michelle Rene. We get to see Calamity Jane through the eyes of a young boy. This is not, however, Jane in her heyday. But rather a Jane who is on the downside of an incredible life after being dealt a devastating blow. This is the real Jane, a determined woman who has lived hard, and will do her best to help her friends, while trying to mute her own pain. HOUR GLASS is also the story of a young boy and his sister, struggling to make a life for themselves in the chaos of the lawless West.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. The period detail and historical accuracy made me feel a part of the time. The book is not a sugar coated look at a hero, but a gritty acknowledgement of the hard life these people lived. It's dark and dirty, but also full of love and fun! I love the little known facts thrown in (why brothels are also known as cat houses, for example) and once Hour was given her special present I had to laugh every time people swore. And people swore...a lot!

HOUR GLASS provides a captivating look at a uniquely American hero while showing that love, determination, and family, whether related by blood or not, makes all the difference in a harsh world.

Michelle Rene is graciously giving a copy of HOUR GLASS to a Cozy Up With Kathy reader. She’ll give one personalized paperback to the winner if the winner is in the US. An e-book gifted from amazon if they are from outside the US. To be eligible simply leave a comment on this blog post no later that 11:59 pm EST Friday, February 23, 2018. Be sure to leave an e-mail address so that I can contact you if your comment is chosen.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Dead as a Doornail - Cover Reveal


Beauty is skin deep, but ugly goes clear to the bone. And doesn’t our Sheriff Kenni Lowry know that? Well, she knows a lot of things.
Lucy Lowell takes great pride in writing negative reviews in the local newspaper for anything that does not go her way. When Lucy is found dead, it appears to be from natural causes.
But Sheriff Kenni Lowry knows there is more to it because the ghost of her grandfather, the ex-sheriff, is standing over the body.
His presence can only mean one thing: Murder!
Since Kenni’s relationship with Deputy Finn Vincent has heated up, Kenni is having trouble conducting the investigation without Finn questioning her every move.
Can Kenni unravel the mystery on her own or will she have to tell Finn the real reason she knows it was murder—the ghost of her poppa?
It’s blowin’ up a storm and only Kenni knows how it’ll end.







Dead as a Doornail by Tonya Kappes will be available May 15 from Henery Press!

It is Available for Pre-Order Today!!


Here are the buy links to DEAD AS A DOORNAIL.

Goodreads: Dead As A Doornail


Sunday, February 18, 2018

A Reading With Cass Donovan - Guest Post, Review, & Giveaway

I'm happy to welcome Cass Donovan to Cozy Up With Kathy today. You can find Cass in the pages of the Bay Island Psychic Mystery series by Lena Gregory. CLAIRVOYANT AMD PRESENT DANGER is the third book in the series and was released earlier this month.

A Reading With Cass Donovan
By Lena Gregory

I’m Cass Donovan, owner of Mystical Musings, a small psychic shop on Bay Island. Thank you for dropping by today. You’re just in time, too. I’m about to start a group reading at Mystical Musings, and I figured it would be fun to give you a peek at a group reading from my point of view. So, come on in, have a seat at one of the many tables scattered throughout the shop, and we’ll get started.

Usually, Stephanie, one of my best friends, introduces me. She’ll talk a little about what’s about to happen. She’ll tell my clients I will walk through the room and seek out those whose dearly departed loved ones are trying to contact them.

I only have a vague idea of what she says, because we worked it out ahead of time. While she’s speaking, I study my guests. Everyone has small tells that alert you to their thoughts and feelings. If you are good at reading those tells, which I am, thanks to years of psychiatric training and great gut instincts, you can infer a lot about a person.

But I don’t do readings to con people, I do it to help them. Unfortunately, I had to leave my psychiatric practice, and I will never go back to New York City. I enjoy the peace of living on Bay Island too much to ever go back to the hustle and bustle of city life, or the bad memories that plague me there. So I use my training to help people in another way.

To start, I can assume most of the people attending a reading expect me to contact the dead. Of course, there are skeptics, but that’s to be expected, and they’re easy enough to pick out that I can avoid them with no problem.

Right now, I am looking at a woman I can tell needs my help. She is twisting her wedding ring around and around her finger, her lower lip caught between her teeth. Just a nervous habit, or something more? I’ll have to figure it out. She has a sad look about her. Not the raw pain of fresh grief, but the kind of sadness that comes with having lost someone who was important to her and whose loss still affects her, just not recently.

The woman sitting next to her, much younger, her daughter, maybe, pats her hands.

I approach slowly, giving her time to notice I’ve focused on her. If she seems unwilling to participate, I’ll back off right away. She seems okay, though. She sits up straighter, so I figure she’s ready to chat.

The man sitting at the next table is a regular, and he knows my routine, so he stands and offers me his chair.

I accept, thank him, and pull it closer to the woman, creating a more intimate setting for our talk. I start off kind of general, since I’m not sure yet what’s wrong. “You seem worried about something.”

She nods and a tear tips over her lashes. “I am.” A strong sense of loss surrounds her.

“You’ve lost something important.”

Her eyes widen, and she nods again. “Yes, I have.”

That one wasn’t so hard to figure out, but now I have to figure out what she lost and where she lost it. “When was the last time you saw it?”

She frowns and shakes her head. “I can’t remember. My husband left it in his drawer. It was so important to him.”

“Well, why don’t we see if he can help us guide you to it?”

She pulls herself together. “Oh, that would be great.”

Now I have a lot more information than I did at the start. I know her husband is the one who’s gone, which I suspected from the way she was twisting her ring. I know she lost something, which is usually an easy problem to solve. Most people, given the right prodding, can remember where they last saw something and be led back to it. This is actually a common request.

Now I will focus on finding what she lost, but I won’t go into how just yet. After all, I don’t want to divulge all my secrets, but be sure to pick up a copy of Death at First Sight, Occult and Battery, or Clairvoyant and Present Danger if you want an even more detailed glimpse into what I do.


The Third Bay Island Psychic Mystery

While Cass gives psychic readings at her shop Mystical Musings, she never considered herself a psychic, merely a person very good at reading people, a skill cultivated during her time as a psychiatrist. Now Cass is concerned that she may be losing her mind as the woman from the nightmares that have been leaving her sleep deprived is now appearing while she's awake and pleading for help. A ghost? A psychic vision? Madness? When the ghostly apparition leads Cass to human bones buried on the beach Cass must consider that she truly has psychic abilities. Psychic or not, she knows she must uncover the identity of the apparition and what happened to her. Will she discover a connection between the suspicious man who came for a reading and the gallery owner? More importantly, will she find time to get Beast some training? 

This engaging series just keeps getting better and CLAIRVOYANT AMD PRESENT DANGER is my favorite book thus far. A slight departure from previous books, while there is a dead body and a killer, the mystery doesn't spend the majority of the time around either. The mystery at first is about Cass's mental health and a missing woman as well as the possible connection between them. In fact, CLAIRVOYANT AMD PRESENT DANGER is a book about connections. Connecting the new people in town with their pasts and their dealings with Cass, the connections of the bones on the beach with the missing girl, the connections of the friends and their significant others, and ultimately, the connection between Cass and her gift.

I love the friendship between Cass, Bee, and Stephanie. Time and time again they demonstrate what true friendship is. Beast brings unrestrained love, fun and joy to the story, although it is about time he gets some training. The mystery of the missing woman is intriguing on so many levels with a variety of clues, suspicious behavior, and suspects. Lena Gregory knocks it our of the park with this character driven, fast paced mystery.

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