Friday, March 16, 2018

Lethal in Old Lace - Review & Giveaway


The Fifth Consignment Shop Mystery

Finally, everything is going right for Reagan Summerside. Not only has hunky Walker Boone been cleared of any wrong doing-he actually her! Add to the thrill of being engaged, customers are finally returning to the Prissy Fox. All is right with the world. Except for the dead body...which keeps disappearing! And the fact that Auntie Kiki stole from a dead man...and is being blackmailed by the man's grandson. Did I say everything was going right?

Reagan Summerside is back in another outrageously funny Consignment Shop mystery. As always there is laugh out loud humor, memorable characters, and nonstop action. From wedding planning to wake attending, with interesting transportation choices, and a retirement home with the nickname Sexy Pines, Reagan deals with it all with pluck, determination, and a little help from her friends. 

LETHAL IN OLD LACE is all about love, acceptance, and loyalty. It's about doing all you can to help those you love and accepting them, faults and all, for who they really are. That's truly a great lesson. It's also endlessly entertaining and will leave you with a smile on your face long after you finish reading. And you'll never look at a Snickers bar the same way again.

So grab your martini and settle in for a fun time in Savannah. Don't know how to make a martini? Never fear Auntie Kiki shares several drink recipes at the end of the book. 


Duffy Brown has graciously offered a LETHAL IN OLD LACE tote to two of my readers. To be eligible, please leave a comment on this post no later than 11:59 pm EDT Saturday, March 17th. Sorry, US addresses only. Be sure to leave your e-mail address so that I can contact you. Thanks and Good Luck!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Death of an Unsung Hero

I'm happy to shine a spotlight on DEATH OF AN UNSUNG HERO by Tessa Arlen. This book is the fourth in the Lady Montfort Mystery series and was released this past Tuesday!

By Tessa Arlen 
Minotaur Books March 13, 2018


In 1916, the world is at war and the energetic Lady Montfort has persuaded her husband to offer his family’s dower house to the War Office as an auxiliary hospital for officers recovering from shell-shock with their redoubtable housekeeper Mrs. Jackson contributing to the war effort as the hospital’s quartermaster.

Despite the hospital’s success, the farming community of Haversham, led by the Montfort’s neighbor Sir Winchell Meacham, does not approve of a country-house hospital for men they consider to be cowards. When Captain Sir Evelyn Bray, one of the patients, is found lying face down in the vegetable garden with his head bashed in, both Lady Montfort and Mrs. Jackson have every reason to fear that the War Office will close their hospital. Once again the two women unite their diverse talents to discover who would have reason to murder a war hero suffering from amnesia.
Brimming with intrigue, Tessa Arlen's Death of an Unsung Hero brings more secrets and more charming descriptions of the English countryside to the wonderful Lady Montfort and Mrs. Jackson series.

An Excerpt:

Chapter One

“How very nice, Mrs. Jackson.” Iyntwood’s elderly butler settled into his chair by the window. “Why, it’s almost like old times again.” George Hollyoak’s glance took in the claustrophobic and over-furnished room: shabby velvet chairs jostled with a heavy mahogany desk, taking up far too much space in front of the win- dows, both of which were swathed in heavy curtains in a dusty but strident red plaid.

The dowager Countess of Montfort had died two years ago and her character, or that of the late Queen Victoria, whom she had revered, was still heavily imprinted on the dower house furnished as a faithful replica of the old queen’s beloved Balmoral Castle. Bright and, to Mrs. Jackson’s flinching eye, brash tartans dominated most of the reception rooms on the ground floor of Haversham Hall.

Mrs. Jackson was encouraged to see George Hollyoak sitting in her new office. It had taken weeks to coax him to visit her and now after all sorts of silly excuses here he was. Though even with her old friend and mentor sitting at his leisure with a cup of after- noon tea in his hand it wasn’t really like old times, no matter how much they all wished it were. The war had changed everything. Her face must have reflected her thoughts as she followed his gaze around the oppressively furnished room. “Perhaps not quite like old times.” Her guest smiled as he observed a shaft of dust motes dancing thickly in the late summer sunlight. “I must say you are looking well, Mrs. Jackson, and so very smart in your uniform: Voluntary Aid Detachment or Red Cross?” This was the first time he had acknowledged that Iyntwood’s dower house had been transformed into an auxiliary hospital.

“The hospital comes under the jurisdiction of the Red Cross, but I trained with the VAD. I am not an assisting nurse, so I am spared the traditional starched apron and the rather claustrophobic cap,” she answered. Long aprons and linen caps, in her experience, were worn by cooks, and although Mrs. Jackson was not a snob, she was conscious of little things like rank and station.

In acknowledging Haversham Hall’s new status the old man evidently felt he might ask his next question. He leaned forward, curiosity bright in his eyes. “And how are you finding life in your new abode?”

Mrs. Jackson hesitated before she answered. She had never liked Haversham Hall; it was as overbearing as the Victorian age it had been built in and an ugly building in comparison to the Elizabethan elegance of Iyntwood. But she had made the adjustment from being a senior servant to Ralph Cuthbert Talbot, the Earl of Mont- fort, at his principal country-seat, to the rank of quartermaster at Lady Montfort’s new hospital far more easily than she had anticipated. The real challenge had come when their first patients had arrived, but this was something she was not prepared to share with Mr. Hollyoak—not just yet.

“It is not as different as I thought it would be. Haversham Hall is not Iyntwood, but it is a building I am familiar with, and my duties here are similar to those of my position as housekeeper at Iyntwood.” That’s not strictly true, she thought, but it will do for now.

Her new job was not at all like her old one, any more than this hospital was like many of the others that had sprung up all over the country in the many private houses of the rich and titled, speedily converted to cope with an unceasing flow of wounded men from France. At Haversham Hall Hospital there were no wards lined with rows of beds, no operating theaters with trays of steel surgical instruments, or hastily installed sluices and sterilizers. Certainly there was an occasionally used sick bay and a first aid room in what was known as the medical wing, but they were merely a token adjunct. And it was these differences that were the cause for Mr. Hollyoak’s initial reluctance to visit her and for his searching question, “How are you finding life in your new abode?” because Haversham Hall Hospital was not a conventional Red Cross hospital, not by a long stretch of the imagination.

She raised her teacup to her lips and took a sip. If she was to help a man whose conventions were deeply mired in the nineteenth century to understand the value of the hospital’s purpose, she must proceed with cautious tact. She decided to start with a prosaic description of the practicalities.

“I am responsible for the running of the hospital’s housekeeping and for ordering all supplies, which means I spend most of my time sitting at my desk filling in requisition forms; the bureaucracy of wartime, her ladyship calls it. But we have plenty of nice young women from the Voluntary Aid Detachment to help with the housekeeping as well as some of our nursing duties. And I certainly need to be well placed here on the ground floor of the house to supervise them.” She did not add “every step of the way” because that way of thinking made her resent how difficult it was to work with inexpert help. To go with her cheerful tone she exhibited her most optimistic smile. VAD girls from nice middle-class families were a nightmare to train in comparison to sensible, sturdy village women who were ready to roll up their sleeves and had no roman- tic illusions about their part in the war effort.
Having given her visitor the briefest outline of her duties, she decided that she would wait for him to display genuine interest— enthusiasm would be too much to hope for—in what they were accomplishing here before she continued. She offered Mr. Hollyoak a plate of sandwiches: delicate triangles of egg with cress. She had prepared them herself, mashing the hard-boiled egg finely with a narrow-tined fork and adding just the right amount of salt, pepper, and cress to spread on lightly buttered crustless bread. He took a sandwich and closed his eyes as he chewed and swallowed the first bite.

“Perfect,” he said and smiled his appreciation, “quite perfect. I need not say how much you are missed at Iyntwood.” He took another bite of sandwich and then slowly shook his head. “The house simply isn’t the same without you.”



TESSA ARLEN is the author of Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman, Death Sits Down to Dinner and A Death by Any Other Name. She is the daughter of a British diplomat and had lived in or visited her parents in Singapore, Berlin, the Persian Gulf, Beijing, Delhi, and Warsaw by the time she was sixteen. She came to the US in 1980 and worked as an HR recruiter for the LA Olympic Organizing Committee for the 1984 Olympic Games, where she interviewed her future husband for a job. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Lethal in Old Lace by Duffy Brown. This book is the fifth book in the Consignment Shop Mystery series and was released yesterday!

Finally, everything is going right for Reagan Summerside. Not only has hunky Walker Boone been cleared of any wrong doing-he actually her! Add to the thrill of being engaged, customers are finally returning to the Prissy Fox. All is right with the world. Except for the dead body...which keeps disappearing! And the fact that Auntie Kiki stole from a dead man...and is being blackmailed by the man's grandson. Did I say everything was going right?

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Southern Discomfort - An Interview & Review

I'm happy to welcome Caroline Fardig to the blog today. Caroline writes the Southern B&B Mystery series. SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT is the first book in the series and was released last week.

Kathy: Quinn Bellandini runs her grandfather’s B&B with her sister, Delilah in Savannah, Georgia. Is this Bed and Breakfast based on a real place, or is it purely fictional?

CF: It’s fictional, mostly. I scoped out the location last summer when my family went to Savannah, so the building I use in my head for the setting is an actual place, but it’s not a bed and breakfast.

Kathy:Quinn whips up breakfasts for her guests, including scones and grits. Do you enjoy cooking? And how do you feel about grits?

CF: I love to cook! My daughter and I make scones and pastries on a regular basis, especially after we’ve been binge-watching The Great British Baking Show. And I have cheesy grits every morning for breakfast—no lie. However, I make instant ones, which would make Quinn faint, probably. Don’t tell!

Kathy:What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

CF: I like the lighthearted aspect of having an amateur sleuth be the center of the investigation. Sure, it requires a bit of a break from reality, but wouldn’t it be fun to solve a mystery in real life?

Kathy:Do you write in any other genres?

CF: Yes! I’ve got a new series (The Ellie Matthews Novels) that is much darker and grittier than anything I’ve ever written. They’re forensic police procedural mysteries, and to prepare for writing them, I’ve taken some forensics courses at my local college. I’m also developing a psychological suspense novel. A big departure from this book, but I’m loving the dark side!

Kathy:Tell us about your series.

CF: The Southern B&B series is a super sweet, clean series—one that will appeal to traditional cozy fans. The Java Jive series and The Lizzie Hart Mysteries series are definitely not your grandma’s cozies. They’re sassy and modern, just like their heroines. And then of course The Ellie Matthews Novels are at the other end of the spectrum—thrilling and sometimes disturbing.

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

CF: In SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT, Delilah is definitely my favorite. She’s sarcastic like me. Overall, I’d have to say Juliet from the Java Jive series is my very favorite, though. That girl speaks her mind and doesn’t sugarcoat anything, but she is fierce when it comes to protecting the people she loves.

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

CF: The lovely town of Savannah! My family goes to Hilton Head every year, and we always make a day trip to Savannah. The town is so full of rich history, beauty, and (supposedly) ghosts, I thought it would make a wonderful setting for a mystery.

Kathy:What made you decide to publish your work?

CF: Originally, I didn’t even consider it. I wrote the first draft of my first book, IT’S JUST A LITTLE CRUSH, and told no one—not even my husband. I honestly thought writing a book would be yet another hobby project that I’d abandon halfway through, so I didn’t want anyone to know about it. But then I got the courage to give it to a friend, and she encouraged me to work on it some more. I did that, and then I told my husband all about it. He was so excited for me, and urged me to do something with it. I self-published it and was lucky enough to turn it into a successful series. Now I’m so happy I did—and I’m so thankful for my support system of family and friends.

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

CF: Jane Austen, Stephen King, Chuck Palahniuk, and Tami Hoag. How’s that for eclectic?

Kathy:What are you currently reading?

CF: A GRAVE SEARCH by Wendy Roberts. Love it. In fact, Wendy Roberts was one of my inspirations when I first started writing. I love her strong, sarcastic female leads who are rough around the edges. Now I’m lucky enough to have gotten to know her through some author circles I’m in. I love to be able to connect with other authors!

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

CF: I love to cook and to travel, and I’ve taken up jogging, but I can’t say I enjoy it. I absolutely adore music (my degree is in music), and my husband, kids, and I play in our church band. I’ve written and recorded some songs for my Java Jive series (the main characters are singer-songwriters), which has been an amazing experience. They’re on iTunes, Spotify, etc. if you’d like to hear them!

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

CF: Coffee, for sure. I make myself a latte every morning. Grits—HA! Protein drinks, which are gross but a necessary evil. And chocolate, of course, although I keep my stash in my desk so my husband and kids don’t steal it.

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

CF: I have more ideas than I know what to do with! I’ve got all kinds of stuff in the works—I just wish there were more hours in the day to get it done.

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

F: I love developing characters. That’s the most fun for me. I love to give them flaws and real problems that everyone has. It’s great when I’m writing and the character takes over and goes in a different direction than I’d anticipated.



The First Southern B&B Mystery

Quinn enjoys visiting her friend Drew at his restaurant, despite his surly chef brother, Jason, and the venomous looks and nasty comments Jason's wife always gives her. But when she pays a late night visit to clear the air over a misunderstanding, she finds the kitchen a disaster and the chef dead on the floor. When she and Drew are named prime suspects, Drew convinces her to help him find the real killer. But when Drew's arrested, Quinn is on her own and the more she investigates, the less forthcoming Drew becomes. Between running the B&B with her sister and grandpa, making music with her band, and dealing with the neighbor who made high school hell for her sister, Quinn is determined to stand by her friend, and she won't stop asking questions until she uncovers the truth. 

I found the start of SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT a bit slow, but once it hit its stride it was off and running. I appreciate how Quinn grew as the story progressed. While naive and a bit too wimpy, she was also a bit narrow minded and stubborn. Yet as the story progressed Quinn discovered Sassy Quinn and was able to dish out what she needed to dish out. She also slowly began to open her mind, not only to Tucker and the truths of the past, but to Uncle Frank as well. As for Uncle Frank...I think he's my favorite character. What's Savannah without its ghosts and Uncle Frank is the perfect addition to Bellandini's B&B.

The first Southern B&B mystery is as sweet as the tea served with Quinn's scones. It combines Southern hospitality with murder while underscoring manners, loyalty, family, and dogged determination.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Hummus and Homicide - An Interview, Review, & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Tina Kashian to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Tina writes the Kebab Kitchen Mystery series. HUMMUS AND HOMICIDE is the first book in the series and was released February 27th!

Kathy: In HUMMUS AND HOMICIDE Lucy Berberbian returns to the Jersey Shore and is helping out in her parents' restaurant, the Kebab Kitchen. I enjoy a lot of Mediterranean cuisine as well as boardwalk fun snacks. Of these two types of food, what's one dish you could never pass up?

TK: This is a hard choice. I enjoy lots of food. But I can never pass up a good shish kebab. I love the marinated and grilled meat and vegetable skewers. When I’m on the boardwalk, I always go for a good slice of pizza and funnel cake. It’s my boardwalk comfort food.

Kathy: Lucy's parents have added a hummus bar to their restaurant. Are you a huge hummus fan? What's your favorite flavor and how best do you like to eat it?

TK: Yes, I love hummus. My favorite flavor is traditional hummus. I eat it with pita bread or vegetables. See below for my award-winning recipe!

Kathy: Lucy also has to deal with former high school mean girl who has grown into nasty woman. Did you ever have to deal with mean girls?

TK: Of course! Who hasn’t? I enjoyed high school and had a great group of friends. Almost all of us still keep in touch. But there were one or two mean girls in the school. We learned to ignore them. I now have two young girls, and when they go to high school, I’ll teach them not to pay attention to rude people.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

TK: I’m an avid reader and have always loved cozies. I have an entire bookshelf of my favorites. I love the small town, amateur sleuth that uses her brains and ingenuity to solve crimes. I still enjoy reruns of Murder She Wrote.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

K: Yes, I write historical romance as Tina Gabrielle. I’m a fan of Jane Austen and the Regency time period. I’m an attorney by profession, and I wrote an award-winning Regency Barrister series. I enjoyed researching how barrister’s handled cases and worked at the Inns of Court.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

TK: Lucy Berberian leaves her Philadelphia law firm and returns home to her family and their Mediterranean restaurant, Kebab Kitchen, at the Jersey shore. Things are looking up, until Lucy’s former high school rival turns out to be the new town health inspector. A crazy day turns deadly when her rival eats at the hummus bar, then drops dead in the parking lot. Suddenly, as suspect number one, Lucy’s in big trouble.

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

TK: Lucy, my amateur sleuth. She’s great fun and has to solve a murder after she serves her former high school rival her last meal.

Lucy’s best friend, Katie Watson, is quirky and a great character. Katie’s married to an Ocean Crest beat cop, and she’s obsessed with crime fighting television shows. She is Lucy’s partner in solving crime.

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

TK: Yes. The book takes place at a Mediterranean restaurant. I grew up in the restaurant business, and my Armenian-American parents owned a restaurant for thirty years in South Jersey. I worked almost every job—rolling silverware and wiping down tables as a tween, to hosting and waitressing as a teenager. The tips helped pay for my prom gown.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

TK: I always wanted to publish a cozy mystery and this is a dream come true. I’m very grateful to my agent and editor at Kensington.

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

TK: Agatha Christie, Jane Austen, Abraham Lincoln, and Eloisa James.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

TK: BAKE SALE MURDER by Leslie Meier. I’m enjoying this cozy mystery!

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

TK: I love to cook. Cooking isn’t always possible when I’m rushing to get the kids to their activities, but if I have time I enjoy it.

I like to swim laps. I can’t jog, even though my amateur sleuth does. Instead, I find the warm water and repetitive motion of swimming relaxing. I’ve solved plot problems while swimming the breaststroke.

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

TK: 1. Tahini to make hummus

2. Minced Garlic to make a lot of Mediterranean dishes

3. Romaine lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers because I love salads

4. Extra virgin olive oil to make salad dressing and many other things.

5. Chocolate! I added this because life is too short, and I need a bit every day.

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

TK: Yes! There are two other books in my Kebab Kitchen cozy mystery series, and I had great fun coming up with titles. HUMMUS AND HOMICIDE, STABBED IN THE BAKLAVA (9/18), and ONE FETA IN THE GRAVE (2/19). All the titles are puns on food and reflect the light and funny feel of the cozy mysteries.

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

TK: So many things! I enjoy creating my own world. When I’m writing, I focus on the characters, their emotions, and their world. I enjoy plotting the mystery and adding those fascinating red herrings. And when I’m in my writing zone, it’s wonderfully satisfying. It’s the best job.

As promised, here’s my secret hummus recipe. I make it weekly at home for the kids and the husband. It can be served as a dip with wedges of pita bread or vegetables, and goes well with broiled or grilled meat. It can also be used as a healthy alternative to mayonnaise on sandwiches.

Tina’s award-winning hummus:

1 can (15 ounces) chick peas

3½ teaspoons tahini (sesame seed puree)

3 cloves minced garlic (1½ teaspoons)

1 teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Drain can of chick peas and reserve ¼ cup fluid. Mix tahini thoroughly before using to incorporate oil that separates during storage. Using a food processor or blender, combine and blend all ingredients until smooth. If hummus is too thick, add a few tablespoons of reserved fluid from chick peas and blend again. Pour into serving platter. Enjoy!



Tina Kashian is an attorney and a former mechanical engineer whose love of reading for pleasure helped her get through years of academia. Her law cases inspired an inquiring mind of crime, and since then, Tina has been hooked on mysteries. Tina spent her childhood summers at the Jersey shore building sandcastles, boogie boarding, and riding the boardwalk Ferris wheel. She also grew up in the restaurant business, as her Armenian parents owned a restaurant for thirty years. Tina still lives in New Jersey with her supportive husband and two young daughters. Please visit her website at to join her newsletter, receive delicious recipes, enter contests, and more!

You can also connect with Tina at:






A Kebab Kitchen Mystery

When Lucy Berberian quits her Philadelphia law firm and heads home to Ocean Crest, she knows what she’s getting—the scent of funnel cake, the sight of the wooden roller coaster, and the tastes of her family’s Mediterranean restaurant. But murder wasn’t on the menu…

Things are slow in the off-season in this Jersey Shore town, but Lucy doesn’t mind. She doesn’t even mind waitressing at the Kebab Kitchen. Her parents have put in a new hummus bar, with every flavor from lemon to roasted red pepper. It’s fun to see their calico cat again, and to catch up with her old BFF, who’s married to a cop now.

She could do without Heather Banks, though. The Gucci-toting ex-cheerleader is still as nasty as she was back in high school…and unfortunately, she’s just taken over as the local health inspector. Just minutes after eating at the Kebab Kitchen—where she’s tallied up a whole list of bogus violations—she falls down dead in the street. Word on the grapevine is it’s homicide, and Lucy’s the number one suspect…

Recipes Included!

“A delectable read.”

--Bestselling Author Shelley Freydont



The First Kebab Kitchen Mystery

After being passed over for promotion yet again, Lisa Berberian quits her job as a patent attorney in Philadelphia and returns home to the Jersey Shore for an extended visit. Despite a warm welcome from friends and family, who are pleased to have her helping out in the family restaurant, Lisa has a run in with her old high school nemesis, who has just taken over from her father as health inspector. Although her father never found fault with the Kebab Kitchen, Heather amasses numerous bogus citations. What could be worse than that? Heather being found dead behind the restaurant, with her death being ruled suspicious. Will the detective put his grudge against the Berberian family aside and find the real killer or will Lisa be charged with murder?

The first Kebab Kitchen Mystery is all about family and coming home. It's about sticking together, even after being apart; a balance between nostalgia and moving with the times. Richly detailed writing makes me feel as if I'm in the midst of all the action while plenty of humor and the right amount of drama flavor this tasty mystery.

Lisa is a smart likable protagonist with a good head on her shoulders. Although charged by her father to solve the murder, Lisa knows when to investigate and when to call in the professionals. The rest of the characters are as interesting and varied as the flavors of hummus Angela creates, some traditional, some spicy, some tart, and some a bit nutty.

HUMMUS AND HOMICIDE is the start of a delectable new mystery series. I urge you all to dig in!

Recipes included.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway