Friday, March 30, 2018

Murder in Little Shendon - Review


The First Hazlitt/Brandon Murder Mystery

No one in Little Shendon much liked antique store proprietor Mr. Fynche, but his gruesomely violent death was shocking. Was this a robbery gone bad, something to do with Fynche's prior work with MI5, or something else altogether? At the request of Scotland Yard Sir Victor Hazlitt and the actor, Beresford Brandon, decide to come to the quiet village to see what they can uncover.

MURDER IN LITTLE SHENDON is a genteel novel, perfectly suited to be read in front of a cozy fire with a cup of tea and a dog by your feet and cat by your side. It's a traditional English village mystery, with investigators from London coming in to assist the locals. The characters, though not fully fleshed out, are interesting and most are quite charming. Aunt Augusta, with her exotic outfits and interest in astrology, is a delightful member of the cast, I only wish we got to see more of her.

The mystery itself is intriguing with lots of possible suspects. I enjoyed the way Hazlitt, Brandon, and Inspector Burgess divvied the suspects up and how how each differed in their interviewing and investigative techniques. Once a vital clue was discovered I knew the killer's identity immediately, but my enjoyment of the book continued.

MURDER IN LITTLE SHENDON is a pleasant traditional mystery set in a lovely English village and filled with engaging characters.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Murder in Little Shendon by A.H. Richardson. This book is the first in the Hazlitt/Brandon Series of murder mystery novels.

No one in Little Shendon much liked antique store proprietor Mr. Fynche, but his gruesomely violent death was shocking. Was this a robbery gone bad, something to do with Fynche's prior work with MI5, or something else altogether? At the request of Scotland Yard Sir Victor Hazlitt and the actor, Beresford Brandon, decide to come to the quiet village to see what they can uncover.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Uninvited Corpse - An Interview & Review

I'm pleased to welcome Debra Sennefelder to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Debra writes the Food Blogger Mystery series. THE UNINVITED CORPSE is the first book in the series and is being released today!

Kathy: While I write a mystery blog, Hope Early writes a food blog. What is Hope's favorite aspect of blogging and what's her least favorite thing.

DS: Hope loves to feed people, she’s been doing it for years with friends, family and colleagues and now with her food blog she can feed so many more people when she shares her recipes. She struggles with photography, it’s an area she definitely needs to work on.

Kathy: Hope had an embarrassing stint on a reality baking show. Do you enjoy watching baking shows on TV? Do you have any favorites? I adore the Great British Baking Show.

DS: I love the Great British Baking Show. I also enjoy all of the baking competition shows on Food TV, my favorite are the cupcake episodes. It’s amazing how creative those bakers are.

Kathy: Hope does lots of recipe testing. Do you enjoy trying out recipes? Or do you create dishes off the cuff? Do you even like to cook yourself?

DS: Yes, to all of the above. I enjoy trying out new recipes, taking an old favorite and tweaking it. I like to cook very much but my passion is baking. I’ve always loved to bake.

Kathy: In THE UNINVITED CORPSE Hope attends a spring garden tour. I enjoy going on local garden tours. Do you?

DS: I’ve been to a few garden tours. We toured a beautiful garden up in Newport, Rhode Island a few summers ago. It was breathtaking. To be honest, I’m not much of a gardener and that’s probably why the first crime scene in the book is the home of a garden tour. Now that I have more time, I’ve been able to do some new plantings and I actually enjoyed it. So, maybe this city gal will become a full-fledged gardener someday.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

DS: So many things. The community, how the amateur sleuth navigated her way through the murder investigation and her relationships with those around her as she dug further into the mystery, the cast of characters, the mystery itself. I believe the amateur sleuths in cozies are strong woman with a lot of guts and determination.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

DS: Not currently. I’d written a few romantic suspense manuscripts and I had a few chicklit short-stories published over the years.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

DS: The Food Blogger Mystery series opens when former reality TV star Hope Early thought her biggest problem was driving traffic to her food blog, but discovering two dead bodies and clearing her sister of their murders have Hope trading her Google analytics for amateur sleuthing. When there’s an attempt on her own life, Hope has no choice but to uncover the murderer before she becomes the next corpse du jour.

My second series, debuting in January 2019, finds Kelly Quinn’s plan to revamp her grandmother’s clothing consignment shop hitting a snag when a psychic customer’s vision links a discounted dress to a murder. Skeptical she investigates the mystery dress, stumbles on a dead body. Now Kelly is under suspicion for murder, superstitious customers are afraid of her inventory and she needs to find a murderer because orange may be the new black, but Kelly looks so much better in turquoise.

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

DS: Hope is my favorite character and that’s because I’m in her head the entire book and I know the character very intimately. I adore all of the other characters, even the not-so-nice ones.

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

DS: No, not really. I’d wanted to write a culinary focused series because I do enjoy cooking and baking and then realized I could make the protagonist a food blogger and be able to draw off of my own experience.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

DS: I’d always wanted to be a published author for as long as I can remember.

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

DS: Great question. Katherine Hall Page, Kate White, Mary Higgins Clark and Agatha Christie.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?


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

DS: Aside from baking, I enjoy reading, shopping (now I guess it’s called research for my second series) and exercising.

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

DS: Plain Greek yogurt, eggs, pesto and Parmesan cheese.

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

DS: Yes. I’ve turned in the second Food Blogger mystery, THE HIDDEN CORPSE, to my editor and just finished the first draft of the third book, untitled at this time. I’ve turned in the first book of the Resale Boutique mysteries to my editor and I’m currently writing the outline for book two.

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

DS: I get to tell stories. I’m truly blessed to have the best job ever.



THE UNINVITED CORPSE by Debra Sennefelder
The First Food Blogger Mystery

Peaches McCoy wasn't the only uninvited guest to attend Audrey Bloom's garden tour and book signing, after all Claire talked her sister, Hope, into bringing her along. But Peaches was the one most of the other guests disliked and Peaches was the one who became the corpse. With the detective in charge honing on on Claire as the killer, Hope feels she has no choice but to save her sister and figure out who killed Peaches herself.

THE UNINVITED CORPSE introduces us to Hope Early, a former magazine editor who claimed her 15 minutes of fame as runner up on a reality baking show. Now she's returned home to Connecticut where she's working as a food blogger. Hope is tenacious, if somewhat of a wimp. Unsure whether to risk exploring her feelings for her old friend, the current chief of police, she's certain to pick up after you and try to fix things. It's this maternal instinct and desire make everything just right that drives Hope to get involved with the murder investigation, despite being warned off by the police. She's also urged on by two likable characters, Jane and Drew. Most of the characters are not very likeable, however, this does make for some very good suspects and villains, but it also made me wish Claire would be found guilty!

Despite not having an affinity towards most of the characters, I did enjoy the book. Debra Sennefelder was able to draw me into her world with vivid descriptions and excellent pacing.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Death by Dumpling - Review


The First Noodle Shop Mystery

It started with a nasty breakup with her boyfriend followed by quitting her job. Now Lana Lee is working at her parents' restaurant in order to pay her bills and keep her apartment. Being back at Ho-Lee Noodle House isn't the end of the world, but things get much worse when Mr. Feng, landlord of the Asia Village Plaza, is found dead after eating the lunch Lana brought him. To save the reputation of the restaurant as well as prove herself innocent, Lana sets out to solve the murder herself.

DEATH BY DUMPLING is a solid start to a new series. Lana Lee is a fun protagonist with a biting wit. I love seeing the family dynamics as the adult daughter has to deal with being back, if not home, at her second home, her parents' Chinese restaurant. Her mom just wants her to find a husband and eat while her dad continues to treat her more like a child than the 27 year old woman she is. The secondary characters are fun too, from the gossipy Mahjong Matrons to the equally gossipy women from Asian Accents and the horrible Kimmy Tran! My favorite person is the enigmatic Mr. Zhang. I hope we get to read more about him in future books.

Vivien Chien brings a wonderful cultural flair to her Noodle Shop Mystery series. Loads of interesting characters, most with secrets and hidden pasts, provide interest as well as possible motives. A well plotted mystery sprinkled with humor and a light seasoning of romantic interest make DEATH BY DUMPLING a terrific debut!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

A Clues in the Sand Interview & Giveaway

I'm happy to welcome Terry Ambrose to the blog today. Terry writes the Seaside Cove Bed and Breakfast Mystery series. Clues in the Sand is the second book in the series and was released March 15th.

Kathy: Your Seaside Cove Bed and Breakfast Mystery series features a single dad and his young daughter. How did you decide on a father/daughter pair for a crime solving team?

TA: Thanks for having me as a guest on your blog! I seem to be drawn to the idea of male-female pairs in my writing. The dynamics between men and women fascinate me and lend themselves to so many subtleties. But I also enjoy writing about kids. I’ve paired a child with an adult in previous books. When I do that, there’s always an undercurrent of a challenge between the two. After all, kids frequently test their boundaries, which is one way they learn how society works. I had not, however, used a father and daughter. Because I wanted to create something different from the normal single-mom sleuth mystery, I chose to reverse the roles and make my protagonist a single dad.

Kathy: In Clues in the Sand, the primary suspect is an archaeologist. Do you have an interest in archaeology?

TA: I studied archaeology in college and was constantly bombarded with the same question from my parents while taking classes. “What are you going to do with that degree?” The answer turned out to be—not much. I ended up in business, but always felt the insights I’d gained in studying other cultures gave me the ability to understand human motives just a bit more than I might have if I’d have gotten a degree in business. When I started working on the first Seaside Cove Bed & Breakfast Mystery, I realized it was an opportunity to revisit my early interest in archaeology.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

TA: I started out writing thrillers and suspense, but could never bring myself to write lots of blood and gore. In my reading, I grew tired of the constant cycle of murder and mayhem in the genre. With that said, I did enjoy the faster pacing of a thriller, and so I attempt to keep that pacing in my stories.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

TA: I write the Trouble in Paradise McKenna Mysteries, which are set in Hawai’i. I also have written the first two books in my License to Lie thriller series. I’ll be bringing out the third in that series in early 2019.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

TA: I chose the tagline “Mysteries with Character” for my blog and my writing because I believe a good story is all about the characters. Like many cozies, the town itself is integral to the Seaside Cove Bed & Breakfast Mysteries. It’s a quaint little place that has built its reputation based on hunting for buried treasure. With the discovery that there may be a sunken Spanish galleon off the coast, the once peaceful Seaside Cove is now known as a quaint little town where murder meets the sea.

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

TA: For this series, my favorite character is Rick’s daughter Alex. She’s young, precocious, and fearless. It’s those very traits that get her into trouble. You see, Alex has a habit of overstepping her boundaries, something she does far too often for her dad’s liking. Alex also has taken to writing in her journal—something I’ve never done—but that process somehow feels kind of natural when I make her entries. Oh, and did I mention she has a habit of sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong? Yeah, that’s why I love Alex.

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

TA: I don’t know that it was inspiration as much as it was serendipity. I’d been working on the first book and had written thousands of words, but wasn’t satisfied with where it was going. My wife made a comment, something like, “You need a treasure hunt. Everybody loves a treasure story.”

The idea intrigued me almost immediately, so the little town of Seaside Cove became the center of a search for the San Manuel, a Spanish galleon that sank in the 16th Century. The other factor came about during my research into treasure hunters. It turns out treasure hunting is a cutthroat business, which is a mystery writer’s dream. Oddly enough, having a serious subject as the background for the series also freed my characters up to be much more fun.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

TA: I’m a very challenge-oriented person and publication is the ultimate test for a writer. I say it’s the ultimate test because publication is the only way to get truly impartial reviews. Your friends and relatives will always gush over the great story you’ve written. But, once it goes to people who don’t know you, everything changes.

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

TA: Jana DeLeon, who writes the Miss Fortune Mystery series—her first book kept me in stitches almost the entire time I was reading. Sue Grafton because I loved those early Kinsey Millhone mysteries. Dorothy Sayers because I would love to hear about what it was like to blaze new ground as a writer. Isaac Asimov, who wrote in several genres, though primarily in science fiction. I was a huge fan of his Foundation Series.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

TA: I’m currently reading an advance copy of Plum Tea Crazy by Laura Childs. The next book I’d like to read for pleasure is Andrew McCall Smith’s The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, which was the first in that series.

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

TA: I’m very interested in photography and publish a weekly photo on my blog. I also enjoy cooking, but am not nearly as talented as some of my culinary mystery writer friends. Because writing is such a sedentary activity, I also enjoy walking and try to do a minimum of a mile a day. Just like my writing goal, that’s a minimum and if my day permits, I’ll go much further.

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

TA: Dark chocolate, coffee, almond milk, sugar!

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

TA: I typically try to plan my writing about a year in advance. The next Trouble in Paradise McKenna Mystery has the working title of The Scene of Waikiki. It will be out in July. The next Seaside Cove Bed & Breakfast Mystery will be coming out in November — it’s a Christmas mystery. After that, I’m going to complete the License to Lie series. That book is still in the early planning stages, which means I have no clue what it’s about. You might say I’m “actively waiting” for the theme to bubble up in my daily life.

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

TA: I love the process of creating a story. To me, it’s a very cathartic process. When I don’t get the time to write, I get cranky. My goal is to write a minimum of 500 words a day, but I usually do more than double that. It’s a comfortable goal that lets me be creative for the first couple of hours of my day, forget the surrounding craziness, and then approach my day with a fresh perspective.

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Friday, March 23, 2018

The Purloined Puzzle - Review


The Nineteenth Puzzle Lady Mystery

Cora Felton has a problem. Actually she has more than one. First of all, Melvin, the worst of her ex-husband, is in town. Secondly, an annoying teenage girl keeps pestering her to solve puzzles...puzzles which tend to disappear and reappear. Then there's the murder. With murder weapons appearing before crimes are committed, suspects arrested and released, nothing much makes sense. But the worst bit, Melvin has a contract for a tell-all book. Will he spill the beans about the Puzzle Lady? Will Cora have to kiss her career goodbye?  

Whip like banter fuels this lightning fast paced novel. The plot is a bit audacious with everybody, including the reader, wondering what's going on. It's reminiscent of a who's on first routine except that nobody actually knows who's on first or who's even playing! The Puzzle Lady Mysteries employ a darker shade of humor with characters who aren't the nicest people, yet I'm still left smiling and snickering.

Confusion and misdirection abound, yet readers are led to a satisfying conclusion. Filled with witty repartee THE PURLOINED PUZZLE is a fun addition to this long running series.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

3 Fun Facts about the History of Tex-Mex - Guest Post & Giveaway

I'm pleased to turn over the blog to Rebecca Adler today. Rebecca writes the Taste of Texas Mystery series. Cinco de Murder, the third book in the series, will be released April 3rd.

 3 Fun Facts about the History of Tex-Mex
By Rebecca Adler

Cinco de Mayo!

I don’t know what’s going on in your neck of the woods—but trees are blooming like crazy here in Texas! And there’s nothing that makes my heart sing like the beautiful white blooms of the dogwood tree and the soft purple blossoms of the redbuds. (Even though the name is redbud, the purple variety runs rampant in my neighborhood). A few flower varieties have begun to peek their heads out too. But I’ll know that spring has definitely sprung when the lovely lavender, pink, white, red, and deep purple blooms of the crepe myrtles appear…just in time to celebrate the Mexican and Latino traditions of Cinco de Mayo!

As you probably know, Cinco de Mayo literally means the fifth of May. On that day in 1862, against all odds, Mexico defeated the French forces led by Napoleon III at the Battle of Puebla. Here in the U.S. it’s a celebration to show pride for the wonderful Mexican culture with dancing, bright colored costumes, parades, traditional music, and eating lots of yummy Tex-Mex.

We’re all familiar with the term Tex-Mex; but did you know the word entered our American lingo in 1875 as a term that referred to the Texas Mexican Railway, which was abbreviated as TexMex? In the 1920s, a hyphen was added to describe not only the railroad but the people of Mexican descent that were born in Texas. Gradually, the term became synonymous with the Mexican food of the area.

The cuisine developed out of the Rio Grande Valley in the southern part of the state; but soon came into its own in San Antonio. Back in the 1870s wonderful cooks known as chili queens started becoming famous throughout the U.S. and internationally. That’s when Americans first became aware of the delicious, fun-filled eating experience we know as Tex-Mex.

In Cinco de Murder, the third book in my Taste of Texas mystery series, reporter-turned-Tex-Mex-waitress Josie Callahan, her feisty abuela, and even her spunky Chihuahua Lenny are polishing their traditional folklórico dances for Saturday’s big Cinco de Mayo parade. Not to be outdone, Uncle Eddie is adding his own spicy event to the fiesta menu: Broken Boot’s First Annual Charity Chili Cook-off.

But Uncle Eddie's hopes of impressing the town council go up in smoke when a cantankerous chili cook is found dead in his tent. And when Josie's beloved uncle is accused of fatal negligence, she, Lenny, and the steadfast Detective Lightfoot must uncover who ended the ambitious chilihead's life--before another cook kicks the bucket.

If you don’t live in Texas or have a local Cinco de Mayo celebration, why not follow my motto? Life is short. Eat more Tex-Mex. That’s why I made sure to include more delicious recipes in the back of this book. You’ll find some recipes a bit more Mex and some a bit more Tex, like Uncle Eddie’s secret nontraditional chili recipe as well as Josie and Senora Mari’s favorite appetizers and desserts.

May you have a beautiful spring, wherever you call home. And if you’re in the mood for a tasty, fun-filled mystery, I hope you’ll pick up a copy of Cinco de Murder.

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