Friday, July 20, 2018

Tied Up With Strings - Review


The First Serebral Seniors Mystery

American Betty Grape has come to a remote English village to spend Christmas with her friend's daughter. Once in Abbeyvayle however, Betty discovers the young woman behaving oddly. Why is she so unpleasant to the neighbors? Why is she so forgetful? And what's the real story behind the professor and his wife, whose cottage Catia is house sitting. There seem to be more questions than answers this holiday season.

TIED UP WITH STRINGS is a traditional mystery with a traditional setting-a remote English village during Christmastime. There is not much time to develop plot or characters in novellas and short stories. Neither were developed here, particularly the plot. What might be considered the prime mystery involved heinous crimes, but we never even meet the victims. When the truth is discovered, it's merely stated that the police will take care of it. It's a throw away. 

I did like the concept of this novella. The story itself, interesting, if only it were flushed out. If we got to meet the professor, his wife, and Marmalade and focused on that part of the mystery we as readers might be more invested. As it is we have a disagreeable young woman acting oddly and the protagonist trying to sort things out. When the secondary mystery is resolved we get a nice ending, but incongruous behavior.

TIED UP WITH STRINGS is a novella with promise that ultimately let me down.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Purrder She Wrote by Cate Conte. This book is the second in the Cat Café Mystery series and will be released July 31, 2018.

Maddie James is ready for the grand opening of her cat café, but not for the catfight between her volunteer and the island's resident society bad girl. When Holly is found dead, everyone assumes Adele did it. She not only had a history with the woman, she also had a temper. Maddie, however, has other suspects in mind. Adele's flighty young protege, Holly's own sister, and Maddie's brother-in-law could also have committed the crime. As Maddie works to make her new business a success, she can't help but get involved in the investigation. After all, good volunteers are hard to find.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Food for Thought and the Cozy Mystery - Guest Post & Giveaway

I'm pleased to allow Cassidy Salem to take over Cozy Up With Kathy today. Cassidy writes the Adina Donati, Accidental Sleuth, Mystery series. Killer Reputation is the third book in the series and was released last month.

Food for Thought and the Cozy Mystery
by Cassidy Salem

Can a cozy mystery be suspenseful and thought provoking at the same time? Of course, it can. The Adina Donati murder mysteries all touch on social issues and current events, such as animal welfare, environmental protection, immigration, or cybercrime. Adina’s workplace, a prestigious think tank, naturally lends itself to discussions of a wide range of issues.

This is particularly the case in the second book in the series. When I started writing Dying for Data, I didn’t set out to focus on social issues or educate readers. It just kind of happened. Sometimes, plots and characters have a mind of their own and take us where they want to go.  In the process of trying to help her neighbor’s boyfriend, Adina had to learn a lot about immigration – legal and illegal – and the pros and cons of sanctuary cities. Of course, this required research on my part, and I made every effort to present both sides of the issue – without endorsing either point of view.  Similarly, Think Murder and Killer Reputation both touch on quasi-political subjects and characters without sanctioning a specific position, and without endorsing (or opposing) any political party.

After I finished Dying for Data, I wasn’t sure what reaction to expect from readers. Had I gone too far?  I was pleasantly surprised to see reader’s feedback, ranging from “I loved the way the author weaves in current social and political topics without grandstanding,” to “Although immigration and the varying opinions on the topic form a large part of the plot, the book never gets political and does not preach.”  I hope that readers will feel the same way about the way issues are handled in Killer Reputation


Killer Reputation (Adina Donati, Accidental Sleuth) by Cassidy Salem

About the Book

Cozy Mystery 3rd in Series 
Self Published (June 15, 2018)  
Paperback: 182 pages 
Adina can’t resist snooping when someone she knows turns up dead. Again.
When a colleague at a prestigious think tank meets a violent death, Adina’s not convinced any of the obvious suspects disliked him enough to want him dead. Can the young research assistant, a quirky neighbor, and a lovable rescue pup help the police put together the pieces of the puzzle?

About the Author


About the Author

Cassidy Salem has always been an avid reader. She is especially fond of mysteries (both cozy and traditional) and police procedurals. Cassidy also enjoys reading historical fiction focused on American and world history, as well as the classics. When she’s not reading, she enjoys music and spending time with family and friends, and travels with her husband and son whenever possible. Her travels have taken her to destinations throughout the United States, Europe, and Scandinavia.

Author Links:
Twitter: @csalem11  
Facebook: Adina Donati, Accidental Sleuth  

Purchase link: Amazon

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, July 16, 2018

A Tied Up With Strings Interview & Giveaway

I'd like to welcome Madeline McEwen to the blog today. Madeline pens the Serebral Seniors Mystery series. Tied Up With Strings is the first book in the series.

Kathy: In Tied Up With Strings we meet American Betty Grape who is visiting a remote English village at Christmastime. What is the best thing about a village Christmas?

MM: Much depends upon the village in question. In theory a sense of community, togetherness, and mutual interdependence—a little privacy wouldn’t go amiss—but I hope those sentiments are available to everyone whatever their living arrangements.

Kathy: Betty is a curmudgeonly private investigator of a certain age. Why do you think Senior Sleuths are popular? Or do you think that they’re not popular?
MM: That’s a tough one. I imagine it is because we all have someone older in our lives who we have either loved or admired, and long for the chance to spend more time with them—but maybe that’s just me.

Kathy: As an ex-pat from the UK, what is one thing you miss? If you were to move back, what is one thing from the US that you’d miss?

MM: I miss talking about the weather, which is the perfect opening topic to 99% of all conversations with strangers. I do still talk about the weather, but people give me odd looks in reply. Additionally, I love the anonymity of the States. Here, I am just a foreigner, and no one can tell anything about me from what I look like, although as soon as I open my mouth, my speech patterns give me away.

On the other side of the pond, I become extremely defensive of my chosen country. People in the US are so friendly and forthright. On the whole, what you see is what you get.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

MM: I exhausted the convent’s library [I went to a boarding school] of Agatha Christie’s work, and one of the sisters suggested I try M. C. Beaton—I was hooked by the end of the first page.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

MM: Erotica—there’s so much room for comedy.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

MM: Betty wears a tough shell to disguise a tender soul and solves mini mysteries that other people overlook.

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

MM: Yes, Betty Grape. I adore her because she is a combination of the many clever, elderly, disregarded women I have met and loved.

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

MM: Yes, my two sons and their many friends, most of whom are autistic.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
MM: I don’t think writers “decide” to publish their work—agents and publishers do

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

MM: Dickens because he could spin a yard, in a chronological sequence without so much as a typewriter, like few others.

Sue Townsend because Adrian Mole was my hero.

Colin Cotterill because I idolize his gentle humor.

Terry Pratchett because British humor is a quirky thing.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

MM: I usually have half a dozen books on-the-go to meet differing needs throughout the day. e.g. the battered paperback in the car to read whilst I’m waiting to pick up whomsoever requires a chauffeur—Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty.

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

MM: Sure. Number one is gardening, and because I live in California now rather than Plymouth, England, this is an all-year-round pastime. I throw pottery—no, I don’t have a temper—but form pots on a wheel. I draw cartoons for my blog and the local writers club’s newsletter, and paint appalling watercolors.

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

MM: Cheese, Marmite, dark chocolate, and tea bags.

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

MM: I have another one awaiting editing, and another one in the pipeline. I also have a British protagonist on the brink of publication.

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

MM: Escaping into a private world with my imaginary friends.


Tied Up with Strings (A Serebral Seniors Mystery) by Madeline McEwen

About the Book

Cozy Mystery 1st in Series 
Imajin Qwickies, An imprint of Imajin Books (December 11, 2017) 
Print Length: 85 pages 
An Imajin Qwickies® Mystery/Crime Novella Big mysteries often come in small packages…
When curmudgeonly private detective Betty Grape visits a young friend, who is housesitting in a remote village in England for Christmas vacation, something seems out of place. Her friend, Catia, is visibly nervous. Is she worried about the young men in the decrepit caravan in next door’s back garden? Or is Catia involved in the disappearance of the homeowner’s invalid wife?
As an American, Betty discovers the locals are full of friendly gossip but taciturn about solid facts. Though they are determined to keep Betty from butting in on their territory, she blunders through the social morass of narrow-minded foreigners and their broad Dorset accents. Can she unravel the tight knots of this mystery? Will she find the perpetrator under thickly thatched rooves or behind floral chintz curtains?

About the Author

Madeline McEwen is an ex-pat from the UK, bi-focaled and technically challenged. She and her Significant Other manage their four offspring, one major and three minors, two autistic, two neurotypical, plus a time-share with Alzheimer's. In her free time, she walks the canines and chases the felines with her nose in a book and her fingers on a keyboard.

Author Links:
Website http://www.madelinemcewen.c

Purchase Link:

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Disorderly Conduct

I'm pleased to welcome Mary Feliz to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Mary writes the Maggie McDonald Mystery series. Disorderly Conduct is the fourth book in the series and was released last week.

Kathy: There's a devastating wildfire in Disorderly Conduct. Have you ever had to deal with a fire or other natural disaster?

MF: I worked and lived fairly close to the epicenter of the 1989 earthquake near San Francisco, and have dealt with blizzards, hurricanes, and tornados in some of the locations I’ve lived, but never anything as terrifying as a firestorm. The possibility of summer wildfires is never far from the minds of any Californian, however. After I’d written Disorderly Conduct and sent it to my editor at Kensington, the 2017 fires in Santa Rosa broke out. My nephew’s school burnt to the ground, and they were all primed to leave at a moment’s notice. This year’s fire season has brought back difficult memories for them all.

Kathy: Maggie McDonald is a professional organizer. Do you consider yourself to be organized?

MF: I wish I were more organized. Maggie’s skills are a fantasy for me. Like any other human trait, organization is a spectrum. Those who are less attuned to time- and space-management think I’m frightfully well-organized. Others, for whom Maggie’s skills are second nature, think I’m a mess. They’re all right.

Kathy: Do you have a favorite organizational tip? What is the most important thing to remember when trying to organize your home?

MF: My husband and I moved to a tiny condo in 2016, so managing clutter is a constant process for us. We keep a cardboard box by the side of the bed in our guest room (it can be shoved under the bed if we have visitors). Whenever we discover something we can do without, we pop it in the box. Every two weeks, we take the box to Goodwill.

I think the most important thing for me to remember is that “stuff” is for people to use. If I’m not using something fairly frequently, there is likely someone else for whom it might be a treasure. And what’s the worst that could happen? Maybe that I’ll give away something that turns out to be essential for my existence. But in that case, I can buy the item again when I need it, and skip storing it. With the price of real estate in California, thinking of clutter in terms of the price you pay per square foot to find room for it can be very helpful.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

MF: I love the tidy sense of justice within them. The good guys win and the bad guys are punished. No one gets hurt. That sense of knowing what you’re going to get when you pick up a book can be very satisfying.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

MF: I’ve only published cozy mysteries. I have written two young adult historical novels about life in early California but couldn’t find a publisher for them. I’m considering rewriting them as romances.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

MF: Silicon Valley Professional Organizer Maggie McDonald juggles family, community, and career with her need to get to the bottom of local murders. With the help of a team of whip-smart friends and a golden retriever with separation anxiety, she straightens out the clues and restores order. All the books are a celebration of community and family. Each of them also touches (lightly) on a significant social issue. In the first book, Address to Die For, it’s at-risk teens. Scheduled to Death looks at academic competition and the plight of teens aging out of the foster-care system. Dead Storage considers what might happen when an undocumented teen witnesses a murder and the wrong person is arrested. Should the teen report what he’s seen and risk deportation? Or stay mum and let the killer go free? Disorderly Conduct examines some of the problems associated with illegal marijuana growing on public lands—with the price of both water and land in California, it’s not a problem that will vanish, despite legalization of cannabis cultivation. I try not to beat people over the head with the social issues, but I think that they are unavoidable in any mystery, and the conflicts are timeless. Like it or not, many of these issues have always been with us, and no one has yet come up with the perfect solution.

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

MF: That’s like asking a mother about her favorite child! If I do, I’ll never admit it, though I sometimes prefer the animal characters to the humans. Just as you might have many friends and family members, but choose one to contact when you’re in a particular mood, my preferences change depending on whose story I’m writing and what mood I’m in.

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

MF: Yes and no. I’ve always loved mysteries, particularly The Moonstone, which is said to be the first novel of detective fiction. It’s also set in an English country house, which has since been mainstay of the classic British mystery. And about twenty years ago, I stumbled on a series of books by Laura Van Wormer, who writes romantic suspense for Mira. Her mom and my mother went to the same church. While Laura writes about flashy Manhattanites, the books often mirror the tropes of a British Village mystery like Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple series. In place of the tight-knit hamlet of St. Mary Mead, Laura’s characters inhabit the “villages” that can be found within a big city workplace or behind the walls of a pre-war apartment building. My delight in that incongruous setting made me look at even more unexpected locations. And what could be a greater contrast for an old-fashioned murder mystery and amateur detective than the heart of high-tech—Silicon Valley.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

MF: Beyond simply wanting to spin a story, the challenge of traditional publishing captivated me. It’s an uphill battle that only the most stubborn survive. And I’ve got plenty of stubbornness! Some people want to climb the world’s highest peak. For me, publishing a book was a similar quest.

Had I not been able to find a traditional publisher for my first Maggie book, I planned to try again with the second and the third. I wasn’t interested in self-publishing because there is so much you have to master to be successful at it. With traditional publishing, the only skill set I needed at the beginning was the writing. Since then, I’ve picked up skills in marketing and other forms of promotion, but I’ve learned most of what I know in those arenas to self-published authors.

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

MF: Louise Penny, who is as funny and charming in real life as any of her quirky characters. Wilkie Collins, who wrote The Moonstone. Josephine Tey, if only to ask why she stopped writing after only a few wonderful books. And then I think I’d invite a screen writer with a subtle wit – perhaps those who adapted Morse for the screen or the people who write The Brokenwood series. I’d love to better understand the challenges of bringing great and beloved mysteries to the screen and the tradeoffs they make in attempting to be true to the medium and to the original work.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

MF: Tami Hoag’s The Bitter Season. I’m enjoying how she deftly unfolds the story from a variety of different points of view – very much like Wilkie Collins did in The Moonstone. It can be maddening for a reader to switch back and forth, but deliciously maddening when done right. Collins and Hoag both do it right.

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

MF: I recently moved to California’s Central Coast, which has a wealth of wildlife and natural history. I’ve just begun to nibble away at the massive feast that bird-watching can be. I know most of our ducks and will soon tackle the shorebirds! E-bird has become my new best friend!

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

MF: Fresh fruit – usually Watsonville strawberries. Coffee. Milk or half and half (for the coffee). Something crunchy. I try to satisfy my crunchy cravings with jicama and carrots, but sometimes, it just has to be a cookie.

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

MF: A fifth Maggie McDonald book, Cliff Hanger, is currently in production, and I’m working on the sixth. After that, I may give Maggie a break to settle into her empty nest as the kids go off to college. I’ve got a few ideas for a new series but am strenuously avoiding distracting myself with them while I focus on Book 6.

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

MF: The amazing satisfaction and thrill that comes when all the threads of a story come together and gallop toward the end. It’s a rush!


Disorderly Conduct (A Maggie McDonald Mystery) by Mary Feliz

About the Book

 Cozy Mystery 4th in Series  
Lyrical Underground (July 10, 2018)  
Print Length: 233 pages
Professional organizer Maggie McDonald manages to balance a fastidious career with friends, family, and a spunky Golden Retriever. But add a fiery murder mystery to the mix, and Maggie wonders if she’s finally found a mess even she can’t tidy up . . .
With a devastating wildfire spreading to Silicon Valley, Maggie preps her family for a rapid evacuation. The heat rises when firefighters discover the body of her best friend Tess Olmos’s athletic husband—whose untimely death was anything but accidental. And as Tess agonizes over the whereabouts of her spouse’s drop-dead gorgeous running mate, she becomes the prime suspect in what's shaping up to become a double murder case. Determined to set the record straight, Maggie sorts through clues in an investigation more dangerous than the flames approaching her home. But when her own loved ones are threatened, can she catch the meticulous killer before everything falls apart?

About the Author

Mary Feliz writes the Maggie McDonald Mysteries featuring a Silicon Valley professional organizer and her sidekick golden retriever. She’s worked for Fortune 500 firms and mom and pop enterprises competed in whaleboat races and done synchronized swimming. She attends organizing conferences in her character’s stead, but Maggie’s skills leave her in the dust.

Author Links:

Facebook: Twitter: @maryfelizauthor

Purchase Links: Amazon B&N Kobo Google Books

Friday, July 13, 2018

Meet Sunshine Fields along with a Shelved Under Murder Review & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Sunshine Fields to Cozy Up With Kathy today. You can find Sunny on the pages of the Blue Ridge Library Mystery series by Victoria Gilbert. SHELVED UNDER MURDER is the second book in the series and was released earlier this week.

Hello, readers! I’m Sunshine Fields, but please call me Sunny.

Yes, that’s actually my name. I was raised by my grandparents, P.J. and Carol Fields, who were full-fledged hippies back in the day. They even ran a small commune on our family farm for a few years in the 1960s.

You might wonder why they named me, and not my parents. Well, the sad truth is that I’ve never known the identity of my dad, and my mom hadn’t given me a name yet when she dropped me off at their house as an infant. She left my unfiled birth certificate, with just “Baby Fields” listed on it, so my grandparents – or, as I like to call them, the “grands” – decided to name me “Sunshine.”

Sure, I’ve been teased about my name all my life, but let’s face it—it could be worse. They could’ve gone with “Strawberry.”

Anyway, a lot of people think my name suits me. I guess my personality is pretty upbeat, most of the time. I like to have fun, that’s for sure, although I’m not really what you’d call a party animal. I don’t drink much, for one thing. I do enjoy being around people and dancing and singing (badly, my friends tell me) and, most of all, flirting. I suppose my looks fit with my name too. I’m a little above average height, slender, and have long blonde hair and blue eyes. I get told all the time that I’m very pretty, which is nice of them, although I’m not all that obsessed with my looks. There are so many more important things in the world to focus on, like protecting the environment and saving endangered species, and books.

I know, I know—to look at me you might not suspect that I’m a bookworm, but I am. I’ve loved reading since I was a kid. I even work in a library—I’ve been the director’s main (and only) assistant at the Taylorsford Public Library for several years. Like my name, my occupation always seems to surprise people, which I find odd. I mean, why can’t a pretty blonde who likes to wear bohemian chic clothes love books?

But you know how it is—a lot of people stereotype based on appearances. For instance, strangers expect me to be vapid and, even worse, snobbish and catty. I’m not like that at all (I hope!) The same thing happens to my best friend, Amy Webber, who’s the library director in Taylorsford. Just because she’s a bit short and curvaceous, people assume that she’s this brainless sex-pot. Which is so not true—Amy’s extremely intelligent and the opposite of a vamp, even if she does resemble a (curvier) Clara Bow from those old silent films. And, as for the weight thing, that is so silly too. I’ve overheard people say that Amy “would be gorgeous if she just lost a few pounds.” Well, I think she looks stunning just as she is, and apparently so does her boyfriend. (Who is as handsome as he is nice, which means very).

That’s the thing about opinions based on appearance alone, though. They tend to be shallow and often just plain wrong. They can also be dangerous. I should know—I’ve made mistakes in the past, assuming someone was a good person just because they were charming (and not hard on the eyes). Honestly, based on my past experiences I’ve certainly learned that you must look below the surface to discover the real person inside before you can make any sort of reasonable judgement. I hope more people will give that habit a chance. I’ve found that someone who looks plain on the outside might just be the most interesting person you’ll ever meet. And conversely—simply because someone is beautiful doesn’t mean that they are going to be haughty or shallow or full of themselves. I have to admit it always bugs me when all the pretty girls in books are depicted as “mean girls.” That just isn’t true, and I’m here to (I hope) prove it.

Anyway, I’m happy to meet you all. I’m sure you’re delightful people. I mean, you like reading and books, so we’re bound to be friends!



SHELVED UNDER MURDER by Victoria Gilbert
The Second Blue Ridge Library Mystery

When Amy Webber agreed to help her library assistant Sunny pick up some donations from a local artist she never expected to find herself embroiled in another murder. Yet while looking for the artist she and her boyfriend stumble upon the painter's body. Did her murder have something to do with her daughter's drug addiction and shady boyfriend? Or was it something to do with the paintings found hidden in the studio? Could Taylorsford actually be home a forgery ring? As Amy prepares the library for the annual Heritage Festival she'll try to uncover the truth without becoming another victim.

As I picked up this second book in the Blue Ridge Library Mystery series I remembered how much I enjoyed the first. It turns out I enjoyed this one just as much. I love this series! The charming setting, fully developed characters, and intriguing plot make SHELVED UNDER MURDER a quintessential cozy. The only thing missing is a cat! (Perhaps in book three?) The relationship between Amy and Richard gives me the warm fuzzies and I'm delighted to see it grow.

The mystery was a good one, and although I figured out who was involved early on, it by no means detracted from my enjoyment of the book. I got a little annoyed by the attitudes of two of the characters, but that just goes to show how involved I was, wanting to shake them each and tell them they were wrong.

SHELVED UNDER MURDER is a delightful mystery that held my interest and didn't let go.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Shelved Under Murder by Victoria Gilbert. This book is the second in the Blue Ridge Mystery series and was released yesterday!

When Amy Webber agreed to help her library assistant Sunny pick up some donations from a local artist she never expected to find herself embroiled in another murder. Yet while looking for the artist she and her boyfriend stumble upon the painter's body. Did her murder have something to do with her daughter's drug addiction and shady boyfriend? Or was it something to do with the paintings found hidden in the studio? Could Taylorsford actually be home a forgery ring? As Amy prepares the library for the annual Heritage Festival she'll try to uncover the truth without becoming another victim.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Biscuits and Slashed Browns - A Spotlight

I'm not sure how I got behind in this delightful series, but I did. Today I'd like to shine a spotlight on Biscuits and Slashed Browns by Maddie Day. This book is the fourth in the Country Store Mystery series and was released earlier this year. ow to find time to catch up!

From the back cover:

For country-store owner Robbie Jordan, the National Maple syrup Festival is a sweet escape from late winter in South Lick, Indiana-until murder saps the life out of the celebration...

As Robbie arranges a breakfast-themed cook-off at Pans 'N' Pancakes, visitors pour into Brown County for the annual maple extravaganza. Unfortunately, that includes Professor Connolly, a know-it-all academic from Boston who makes enemies everywhere he goes-and this time, bad manners prove deadly. Soon after clashing with several scientists at a maple tree panel, the professor is found dead outside a sugar shack, stabbed to death by a local restaurateur's knife. When an innocent woman gets dragged into the investigation and a biologist mysteriously disappears, Robbie drops her winning maple syrup biscuits to search for answers. But can she help police crack teh case before another victim is caught in a sticky situation with a killer?

Recipes Included.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Bamboozled - Review


BAMBOOZLED by Barbara Barrett
The Second Mah Jongg Mystery

Memories of murder are still fresh in Sydney Bonner's mind, so when her husband asks her to investigate what's going on with a mutual friend, she's surprised. Checking in on Cathy and her new essential oil business is one thing, but when Cathy is suspected of murdering her boss, Syd is ready to step back and let the professionals handle it. Yet when Cathy's husband asks for help Trip not only agrees that Syd should investigate, but insists that he'll help her, Syd is stunned! Now Syd and her Mah Jongg friends are involved in another murder investigation, this time with husbandly help!

I was delighted to discover another Mah Jongg mystery. I appreciate having protagonists of a certain age who are living normal fulfilling lives. I like the fact that the characters here don't rush headlong into trouble. They have a set plan, realize that they're amateurs, and call on professionals when necessary. Of course, they still manage to annoy said professionals and get themselves into trouble. While I like the group, the problem with having four main characters is that there are too many subplots. These secondary stories flush out the characters, but detract from the mystery.

The murder was well plotted with a variety of red herrings and interesting suspects and I enjoyed the investigation. My favorite part of the book is the relationship between Syd and Trip. They are a happily married couple who still annoy and get angry with each other. Trying to work together, with minds that work differently, is a challenge. They see each other's faults, yet will always be there to support each other. They have a realistic relationship. Sadly, as much as I like the characters here, I didn't feel emotionally invested in BAMBOOZLED. Cathy, as a character, was a bit of a side note. While Syd and friends (and by extension, me) liked her and wanted to help, the investigation was more of an intellectual activity for the four friends, six actually when you include the husbands. True, there was some danger, but I wouldn't have felt that bad if they didn't clear Cathy's name and I don't think they would have either.

Friendship, marriage, and murder make BAMBOOZLED a mystery to enjoy.


Bamboozled (The Mah Jongg Mysteries) by Barbara Barrett

About the Book

Cozy Mysteries 2nd in Series  
Self Published (April 3, 2018)  
Paperback: 272 pages 
Essential oils distributor Dorcas Wiley is the boss everyone loves to hate. So when she turns up dead, killed by her own trophy, disgruntled saleswoman Cathy Broderick is the obvious suspect in her murder. Despite opportunity, motive and incriminating evidence, Cathy declares her innocence and enlists her mah jongg pals—Sydney Bonner and her cronies Marianne, Micki and Kat—to help save her from the death penalty.
Hot off a recent and nearly deadly investigation, the women are cautious about putting themselves in peril again. Syd’s spouse isn’t thrilled about another mystery in their lives, either, but he can’t resist the plea of Cathy’s husband. Soon, Syd is leading the way as they tangle with grumpy salespeople, the victim’s estranged husband and boyfriend, a mysterious housekeeper, a litigious customer, an annoyed sheriff and Cathy’s own arrogant lawyer.
The women have their own issues to deal with in their central Florida town of Serendipity Springs. Kat faces a health challenge, Micki fields a mysterious inquiry from her ex, Marianne has a chaotic anniversary and Syd wrestles with her husband over who’s really in charge. But nothing puts everyday life into perspective like the moment when their investigation brings them face to face with danger.

About the Author

Barbara Barrett started reading mysteries when she was pregnant with her first child to keep her mind off things like her changing body and food cravings. When she’d devoured as many Agatha Christies as she could find, she branched out to English village cozies and Ellery Queen.

Later, to avoid a midlife crisis, she began writing fiction at night when she wasn’t at her day job as a human resources analyst for Iowa State Government. After releasing eleven full-length romance novels and one novella, she returned to the cozy mystery genre, using one of her retirement pastimes, the game of mah jongg, as her inspiration. Not only has it been a great social outlet, it has also helped keep her mind active when not writing.

Bamboozled, the second book in her “Mah Jongg Mystery” series, features four friends who play mah jongg together and share otherwise in each other’s lives. None of the four is based on an actual person. Each is an amalgamation of several mah jongg friends with a lot of Barbara’s imagination thrown in for good measure. The four will continue to appear in future books in the series.
Anticipating the day when she would write her first mystery, she has been a member of the Mystery/Romantic Suspense chapter of Romance Writers of America for over a decade. She credits them with helping her hone her craft.

Barbara is married to the man she met her senior year of college. They have two grown children and eight grandchildren.

Author Links:
Website –  
Facebook –  
Twitter –  
Pinterest –  
GoodReads –  
Subscribe Cozy Newsletter  

Purchase Links Amazon B&N

Friday, July 6, 2018

A Souffle of Suspicion - Review & Giveaway


The Second French Bistro Mystery

Visitors are flocking to Bistro Rousseau. Not only is it Crush Week, when tourists descend on Nouvelle Vie as vineyards harvest their grapes and start to turn them into wine, but Maison Rousseau is the location for the Sweet Treats Festival. Chef C.'s sister, Renee, is the dynamo behind the event, running it like a well oiled machine. But not everyone is happy with Renee, including the woman who originally started the event and the husband she left. When Chef C. comes home to find Renee dead in her kitchen Mimi Rousseau knows she has to help solve another murder.

Sisterly love, spousal love and hate, budding romantic relationships as well as developing ones, relationships are at the heart of A SOUFFLE OF SUSPICION. I love the balance shown between them all, and I'm especially enjoying the growing relationship between Mimi and  Nash. I also enjoy Mimi's relationship with not only Cagney and Lacy, but Scooter and Scoundrel as well.

The mystery is an intriguing one. While most people seemed to like and respect Renee, there are some obvious suspects. Suspicious activity abounds, but is it related to the murder or something else entirely? I like how Mimi explores possibilities, while still keeping up with her business, and her romance. I also wonder how she still likes Willow!

Warmth, humor, a few chills, a soupçon of intrigue, and plenty of charm make for a great read. A SOUFFLE OF SUSPICION is a delectable entrée in the French Bistro Mystery series.


A Soufflé of Suspicion: A French Bistro Mystery by Daryl Wood Gerber

About the Book

Cozy Mystery 2nd in Series 
Crooked Lane Books (July 10, 2018) 
Hardcover 296 Pages
The buoyant mood at Bistro Rousseau deflates when Chef Camille’s sister, Renee, turns up dead in the chef’s kitchen, and Mimi Rousseau must tease the real killer out of a mélange of menacing characters.
Crush Week in Nouvelle Vie is a madhouse—in a good way. Tourists pour into town for the pressing of the Napa Valley’s world-renowned grapes and all the town’s businesses get a nice lift, including Bistro and Maison Rousseau. Mimi is raising the ante this year with a Sweet Treats Festival, a wonderland of croissants, cakes, tarts, and soufflés crafted with expert care by the area’s top talents.
Chef Camille’s sister Renee is managing the festival with a cast-iron fist, upsetting everyone, including her sister. Which is bad for Camille when Renee turns up dead in the chef’s kitchen. Mimi is still building her business, so her first course of action is to whip up answers and catch the unsavory perpetrator before Camille takes a dusting and gets burned.

About the Author

Agatha Award-winning Daryl Wood Gerber is best known for her nationally bestselling Cookbook Nook Mysteries and CHEESE SHOP MYSTERIES, which she pens as Avery Aames. She will soon debut the new French Bistro Mysteries. Daryl also writes stand-alone suspense: DAYS OF SECRETS and GIRL ON THE RUN. Fun tidbit: as an actress, Daryl appeared in “Murder, She Wrote.” She loves to cook, and she has a frisky Goldendoodle named Sparky who keeps her in line!

Author Links:

Visit Daryl or Avery at  
Daryl’s Blog Avery’s Blog 
Mystery Lover’s Kitchen Killer Characters
Facebook: Daryl Avery  
Twitter: @AveryAames @DarylWoodGerber  
Goodreads: Daryl Wood Gerber Avery Aames

Purchase Links: Amazon B&N BookBub Kobo 

a Rafflecopter giveaway