Friday, August 30, 2019

Wonton Terror - A Review


WONTON TERROR by Vivien Chien
The Fourth Noodle Shop Mystery

Warm summer nights in Cleveland, Ohio mean outdoor activities and the start of the Asian Night Market. Representing the Ho-Lee Noodle House Lana Lee sees old family friends Sandra and Ronnie Chow with their new venture, the Wonton on Wheels food truck. The spectacular evening ends with a bang, literally, as an explosion rocks the night.Was this an insurance scam gone horribly wrong or did someone want Ronnie Chow dead? While her boyfriend, Detective Trudeau, is not working the case Lana feels it's her responsibility to look into things. But why doesn't anyone know much about the Chows? And why did her mother distance herself from her onetime friends? Could Sandra really be behind the plot? Between managing the restaurant and trying to keep the peace between her mother and visiting aunt, Lana hones her investigative skills. Will she uncover the truth or just get herself in hot water? 

WARNING! Do not start reading if you are hungry. Within minutes I was craving noodles and I'm still dreaming of wonton soup. So get satiated or have Chinese takeaway near to hand, and then you'll be ready to join Lana on another adventure. And what an adventure it is. I can just picture the Asian Night Market and would love to hang out and enjoy the summer night with the market's casual ambiance and innovative food offerings. When the successful night shatters in violence it brings a crushing reality to the world. Truly nowhere is safe. WONTON TERROR also takes a look at domestic violence. There are no details, like reality the subject is kept behind closed doors, but still, the subject is acknowledged and plays a major role in the mystery.

Despite explosions and the reality of domestic violence WONTON TERROR remains a light-hearted, fun read. The close knit community, and ties of family and friends bring warmth and joy, despite bickering and murder. Seeing relationships develop and grow keep me invested in this series. I really love Lana's family and they had me laughing out loud in this outing. With her sister Grace in town Lana's Mom is on edge and when she finally loses it during a family dinner out it is absolutely priceless!

The fourth Noodle House mystery is perplexing mystery which kept me guessing. While I had my suspicions about the culprit I really didn't know who was behind matters. Lana and her life is infinitely engaging and I love watching her puzzle through the mystery, asking questions while maintaining her job and family obligations.

WONTON TERROR is a fun mystery that kept me absorbed from the first page. As Lana says, "It's good to be Lana Lee" and it's a joy to read about her!

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Ideas are Everywhere - A Bark if it's Murder Guest Post & Giveaway

I'm happy to allow V. M. Burns to take over my blog today. V. M. writes the Dog Club Mystery series. BARK IF IT’S MURDER is the third book in the series and was released this past Tuesday!

By V. M. Burns

I’m often asked where I get ideas for my murder mysteries. I generally have two responses. The first is, I get ideas from everywhere. In my newest book, BARK IF IT’S MURDER, Lilly Ann Echosby has to go out of town for work and has to board her dog, Aggie. Lilly finds a high-end pet resort which features pet cameras in each of the “suites,” which allows her to go online and watch her dog. Well, guess what? When I first moved to Tennessee, I ran into a similar situation. When I lived in Indiana, I left my dogs, Coco and Cash with family. In Tennessee, I didn’t know anyone well enough to ask them to keep two pampered, very spoiled toy poodles. So, I boarded them at a fancy pet resort that had pet cameras.

Just like in the book, each kennel was decorated with a theme that included everything from mountain resort to Paris (there was a picture of the Eiffel Tower on the wall). The executive kennels (yes, my dogs stayed in these) featured a television (tuned to Animal Planet), an intercom that I could call and talk so my dogs could hear my voice, private indoor and outdoor space and of course, a pet camera. How much did all of this luxury cost? Don’t ask. It would have been cheaper for me to fly the dogs to San Diego with me and get them their own rooms at the hotel. However, watching them online gave me a certain amount of peace. But, as a mystery writer, I wondered, what would happen if I saw a murder on this camera? Thankfully, the only thing I ever saw murdered while watching my dogs on the pet cam involved the gutting of a stuffed toy, but the seed was planted.

Once I have the setting, my next thing is figuring out the victim. Here’s where my second response to “where I get ideas,” comes into play and it’s a bit more personal. Basically, when people make me angry, my stress reliever involves murdering them in my books. It’s cheap therapy and keeps me out of jail. Here’s how it works. If someone cuts me off in traffic, I don’t get angry. I simply imagine a plot where a rude driver is bludgeoned to death. When I’m tired of telemarketers interrupting my dinner? Strangling is a great way to dispatch them. The best way to get over a broken heart? A lethal dose of poison is the perfect balm to put a smile back on my face. Within the pages of my books, I can mete out revenge, retribution and justice. In the unlikely event that I run low on potential murder victims, a few close friends and family members have given me a few folks to add to my list. At present, I have enough material to last for many years to come.


Bark If It’s Murder (A Dog Club Mystery) by V.M. Burns

About Bark If It's Murder

Cozy Mystery 3rd in Series  
Lyrical Underground (August 27, 2019) 
Paperback: 162 pages
Lilly Echosby just witnessed a murder on a pet cam. Or did she?
When a last-minute opportunity arises to accompany her boss to an art auction in Atlanta, Lilly throws some money at the problem of where to board her toy poodle Aggie (short for Agatha Christie). Posh Pet Haven offers the most luxurious canine accommodations in all of Chattanooga, Tennessee. The place even provides pet cams so anxious owners can check in on their pampered pooches.
But when Lilly tries to take a peek at her poodle, she gets a terrible shock—she witnesses what she’s sure is a murder. She thinks the victim may be the wealthy co-owner of Pet Haven. The police follow her lead but find no body, no evidence of a crime, and no video record. Starting to feel like the dog owner who cried wolf, Lilly decides to go undercover to catch a killer who may be hiding in plain sight …

About V.M. Burns

V.M. Burns was born in Northwestern Indiana and spent many years in Southwestern Michigan on the Lake Michigan shoreline. She is a lover of dogs, British historic cozies, and scones with clotted cream. After many years in the Midwest, she went in search of milder winters and currently lives in Eastern Tennessee with her poodles. Her debut novel, The Plot is Murder was nominated for a 2017 Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Valerie is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and a lifetime member of Sisters in Crime. Readers can learn more by visiting her website at

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Twitter: @vmburns  

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Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Wonton Terror by Vivien Chien. This book is the fourth in the Noodle Shop Mystery series and was released yesterday.

Warm summer nights in Cleveland, Ohio mean outdoor activities and the start of the Asian Night Market. Representing the Ho-Lee Noodle House Lana Lee sees old family friends Sandra and Ronnie Chow with their new venture, the Wonton on Wheels food truck. The spectacular evening ends with a bang, literally, as an explosion rocks the night.Was this an insurance scam gone horribly wrong or did someone want Ronnie Chow dead? While her boyfriend, Detective Trudeau, is not working the case Lana feels it's her responsibility to look into things. But why doesn't anyone know much about the Chows? And why did her mother distance herself from her onetime friends? Could Sandra really be behind the plot? Between managing the restaurant and trying to keep the peace between her mother and visiting aunt, Lana hones her investigative skills. Will she uncover the truth or just get herself in hot water?

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Crypt Suzette - A Guest Post & Giveaway

I'm happy to let Bethany O’Shay take over Cozy Up With Kathy today. You can find Val on the pages of the Five-Ingredient Mystery series by Maya Corrigan. Crypt Suzette is the sixth book in the series and is being released today!

Hi! My name is Bethany O’Shay. I’ve been friends with Val Deniston ever since she moved to Bayport on Maryland’s Eastern Shore almost two years ago. I’m a first-grade teacher, and Val manages a café at the athletic club, where we both play tennis. She also caters small parties and solves murders. I sometimes help her with both of those.

Her most recent gig was catering the grand opening party at Bayport’s new bookshop, Title Wave. The party took place during the town’s Spooktacular weekend right before Halloween. I kept the children occupied making boo-nanas and creating jack o’lantern faces on tangerines. Val served her delicious sweets to the adults—crypt Suzettes and mummy hand pies. A costume contest was part of the festivities. The contestants dressed as characters from books, as did all of us who assisted at the shop’s grand opening. Not surprisingly, Val came dressed as Nancy Drew. The morning after the party, one of the contestants was found dead in what looked like an accident . . . to everyone except Val and her grandfather.

Val manages to solve perplexing mysteries, but her romantic life is as empty as a graveyard at midnight. One reason she moved here was that her fiancé in New York cheated on her. As a result, she avoids commitments. At the Title Wave’s opening party, I tried to interest her in the bookshop owner’s son, Bram. She was dead set against him, and not just because he dressed as Count Dracula. I told her she was haunted by the ghosts of boyfriends past.

Speaking of haunted, Val and I have gone to some eerie places while she was tracking down killers. A year ago we got lost in a haunted corn maze with a murderer on the loose (Final Fondue). Then in January, around the time of Edgar Allan Poe’s birthday, we crept around a nearby “House of Usher” to look for body buried there (The Tell-Tale Tarte). I confess that I was responsible for dragging Val to those locales, with help from Val’s granddad, who is a hoot. I talked her into going to the Bayport Haunted House on Halloween this year. Then, darn it, I came down with a terrible cold, and Val had to go there without me. To find out how that turned out, you’ll need to read Crypt Suzette.


Crypt Suzette (A Five-Ingredient Mystery) by Maya Corrigan

About the Book

Cozy Mystery 6th in Series  
Kensington (August 27, 2019)  
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages 
Val Deniston is catering the debut of Bayport’s newest bookstore—but the death of a customer is about to draw her into a real-life murder mystery …
Suzette Cripps has been occupying a spare bedroom at Val’s granddad’s house while she takes classes in this Maryland Eastern Shore town—but she’s always seemed a little secretive and fearful, and any talk about her past is a closed book.
After winning the costume contest at the Halloween-themed bookstore party, Suzette is mowed down by a hit-and-run driver—and Val and her grandfather start to wonder whether it was really an accident or if someone was after Suzette. Granddad is a little distracted by his new enterprise as a ghost-buster, but as Val talks to Suzette’s coworkers and fellow creative writing students, she grows more convinced that the dead woman’s demons weren’t imaginary—and that she needs to rip the mask off a killer …
Includes delicious five-ingredient recipes!

About Maya Corrigan

Maya Corrigan blends her love of food and detective stories in her Five-Ingredient Mystery series set in a fictional historic town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The first book in the series, By Cook or by Crook, was published in 2014.
Before taking up a life of crime (on the page), she taught university courses in writing, detective fiction, American literature, and drama. She won the 2013 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Unpublished Mainstream Mystery / Suspense. Her short stories, written under the name of Mary Ann Corrigan, have been published in anthologies.
When not reading and writing, she enjoys theater, tennis, trivia, cooking, and crosswords. Her website features trivia about food and mysteries.

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Sunday, August 25, 2019

The Pearl Dagger - A Review


THE PEARL DAGGER by L. A. Chandlar
The Third Art Deco Mystery

Thrilling, exciting, and dangerous, working for Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia is never a walk in the park and Lane Sanders continues to find herself in some tight spots. But Little Flower's latest push to rid New York City of pinball machines leads to results both unexpected and deadly. While the threats could stem from various gangs vying for power, it seems more likely that the Red Scroll Network is back in business. When the heir to the network is identified Lane and her boyfriend, Detective Finn Brodie, head to London.Will they find a way to end this criminal organization once and for all or will they find themselves beset by demons of a more personal nature?

The third Art Deco Mystery continues highlight the importance of the past. While the threat at first seems to be pinball, it is actual dual threats from the past coming for both Lane and Finn in the forms of the Red Scroll Network and Finn's family. Unchecked ambition is at the core of our villains, although, unlike Macbeth and his wife, the modern counterparts are much more patient.

Lane Sanders is an amazing woman. She's strong, intelligent, loyal, determined, and not afraid to be true to herself. I am delighted that I get the opportunity to watch her adventures and see her grow as she learns more about her past. Although she loves fashion and dressing up, Lane is no simpering miss and she doesn't rely on a man to save her. She's a partner, able to support and be supported. In fact, the Art Deco Mystery series is filled with strong independent women. Aunt Evelyn, Vivian, Gwen, and Daphne are also fiercely self reliant with definite purpose, surrounding themselves with people to assist them in their endeavors, but fully able to go it alone, for good or evil!

My favorite part of the book is learning about Orson Welles's VOODOO MACBETH. Indeed the story of MACBETH correlates precisely to THE PEAR DAGGER. I grinned as each similarity appeared. As with Shakespeare's MACBETH, the characters of Chandlar's THE PEAR DAGGER feel the pull of ambition and find it leading them to the edge.

THE PEARL DAGGER is a finely crafted mystery bathed in historical detail. Richly developed characters, dramatic chases, and surprising twists make this book a first rate novel you won't want to miss.

Friday, August 23, 2019

An Interview with Carol Pouliot

I'm pleased to welcome Carol Pouliot to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Carol pens the Blackwell and Watson Time-Travel Mystery series.

Kathy: The Blackwell and Watson Time-Travel Mystery series brings a detective from 1934 together with a woman from the present day. Have you ever dreamed about traveling through time yourself?

CP: Yes. I’m fascinated by ancient Egypt and have read all of Pauline Gedge’s books. It would be amazing to visit during the time of the pharaohs, when the Pyramids were being built, and when Hatshepsut’s temple was constructed. Hatshepsut is one of my heroes.

Kathy: What made you choose the 1930s as your era? If you were to travel through time yourself would you pick this time period or sometime else?

CP: I am drawn to the Golden Age of Travel. I picture myself packing trunks, suitcases, and hatboxes and boarding a sleek ocean liner or train. The 1930s would be my first choice if I were to travel into the past. I’d want to be in Europe and take the Simplon Orient Express from Paris to Istanbul.

Kathy: If you were to meet someone from another time period in your house, would you prefer to introduce him to your world or visit his?

CP: I’d want to visit his. That’s why I chose to have Olivia make increased visits into Steven’s time. In books 2 and 3 in the series, Threshold of Deceit and Death Rang the Bell, Olivia spends a lot of time in 1934. I’m sure from Steven’s point of view, he’d rather spend more time in the future, but his murder investigations keep him pretty much in his own time.

Kathy: What first drew you to mysteries?

CP: Like so many of us, I read all the Nancy Drew books when I was a kid. Later on, I fell in love with Agatha Christie’s mysteries and proceeded to read all of those. As a reader, I enjoy solving the puzzle, looking for clues, and trying to figure out not only who but also why the crime was committed. Now, as a writer, I like the challenge of creating the plot and sprinkling the story with real clues−and red herrings!

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

CP: I wrote two memoir-type pieces for Victoria magazine. When I sat down to write the first one, a real sense of satisfaction washed over me. I knew I had to spend the rest of my life writing. I’ve recently been convinced to write a blog on my updated website that launches soon. I’ve been enjoying that a lot. It allows me to be creative in a different way. I plan to post one each month. They’ll deal with a variety of topics−New Beginnings, Beer, Writers’ Conferences, Rituals, Art, and Cars−are some of the posts that I’m writing.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

CP: My series is The Blackwell and Watson Time-Travel Mysteries. Steven Blackwell, a Depression-era cop, comes face to face with Olivia Watson, a 21st-century journalist, when time folds over in the house they share−80 years apart. They begin a friendship, learn to travel to each other’s time, and eventually Olivia helps Steven uncover the killer, becoming his “partner in crime.”

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

CP: Naturally, I love Steven and Olivia. But, if I had to pick a supporting character it would be Jimmy Bou (short for Bourgogne, pronounced boo.) He’s a young patrolman, extremely enthusiastic about his work. He idolizes Steven, who is his mentor. Jimmy’s awkward but extremely good at his job. He’s loveable, like a puppy, and very funny.

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

CP: Yes. When I was teaching I sometimes took a different route to school in the morning. I’d pass a tall brick house, situated alone on a hill surrounded by an extensive lawn. I began to imagine that some kind of otherworldly phenomenon could easily happen there. In that particular isolated location, anything would be believable. I ended up pairing this with my idea of using Einstein’s theory that all time happens simultaneously and time can fold over. When the idea hit me, all of a sudden I could see Steven’s and Olivia’s entire story−all the way to the end of the series.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

CP: I wanted to share my stories.

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

CP: Ooh! This is an interesting question. I’m not sure if my choices would make for good dinner guests but here goes: Agatha Christie, Honoré de Balzac, Henrik Ibsen, and Martha Grimes.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

CP: I just finished all 8 books in Ann Cleeves’ Shetland series and I loved them! A while ago, I was in a used bookstore and came upon three novels by E. Phillips Oppenheim, who was a bestselling British mystery and thriller writer at the beginning of the 20th century. He wrote over 150 novels and is considered to be one of the inventors of the thriller. I’m reading his political thriller The Spy Paramount, which takes place in Europe in 1934.

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

CP: Travel is my passion, especially overseas. I still want to go to Tibet and I’d love to visit the Arctic Circle before it’s gone. I like playing cards and board games. I enjoy visiting art and history museums.

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

CP: Fresh tomatoes (on the counter, of course), lettuce (artisan or spring mix), natural chunky peanut butter, rye bread.

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

CP: At this point, I envision 7 books in the Blackwell and Watson Time-Travel Mysteries. If the series takes off and readers want more, I can do that.

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

CP: Talking with people who love my books and meeting other authors. Actually, that’s tied with the creative process. I love coming up with the plots and watching the story unfold!


Author Bio

Carol Pouliot holds a BA in French and Spanish and an MA in French. She has taught French, Spanish, German, and English. She also owned and operated a translating agency for 20 years in Upstate New York. Carol’s work has appeared in Victoria magazine. She is the author of The Blackwell and Watson Time-Travel Mystery series, which includes Doorway to Murder (Book #1) and Threshold of Deceit (Book #2). She is a proud member of Sisters in Crime. To learn more about Carol and The Blackwell and Watson Time-Travel Mystery series, visit


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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Death by Design - A Recipe & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Paula Darnell back to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Paula writes the DYI Diva Mystery series. Death by Design is the second book in the series and was released last month.

Traditional Version of Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwich on Plain Hamburger Bun 
Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwich
Since Death by Design: A DIY Diva Mystery is set in Iowa, I thought it would be fun to include a recipe in the book for a popular menu item at hundreds of restaurants across the state. Of course, everybody makes it a little differently. My daughter and I got together to come up with our own version of this Iowa favorite, and this is the recipe that Laurel's cousin Tracey uses when she makes pork tenderloin sandwiches for Laurel and herself in Design, A DIY Diva Mystery.

Many people have never heard of a pork tenderloin sandwich, especially if they have never lived in the Midwest. The sandwich is especially popular in Iowa where it's been on restaurant menus all over the state for decades. The traditional version of the sandwich, features a six- to eight-inch-diameter flattened, breaded, and fried piece of pork tenderloin on a regular size hamburger bun. Of course, if you prefer, it can be dressed up with a larger fancy bun and all sorts of veggies and condiments. People who prefer the traditional version of the sandwich usually tend to select fewer condiments, which may be limited to dill pickles and mustard or ketchup.

1 pork tenderloin (about 1 pound)
½ cup whole milk
2 eggs
½ cup flour
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 sleeve saltine crackers
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
peanut oil
4 hamburger buns

1.     Cut pork tenderloin into four equal pieces. Cut about three-quarters through each piece and spread to butterfly it. Put in a large sandwich bag or cover with plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet until about ¼-inch thick.
2.     In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, add milk, and beat well. Set aside.
3.     Pulverize the crackers in a food processor or by putting them in a one gallon baggie and pounding them with a mallet.
4.     In a flat pan mix flour, bread crumbs, cracker crumbs, salt, and pepper.
5.     Dredge tenderloins, one at a time, in egg mixture, and then in the crumb mixture, coating well on both sides so that the coating is as thick as possible without dropping off.
6.     Pour about ¾ inch to one inch of peanut oil into an iron skillet, large enough to accommodate each breaded tenderloin piece.
7.     Heat oil to 350 degrees over medium heat. When the oil is hot enough, pan fry each breaded tenderloins piece, one at a time, about 2 to 3 minutes per side, until golden brown.
8.     When done, remove from oil, and drain on paper towels.
9.     Serve on a bun with condiments of your choice.

Makes four sandwiches.

Dressed-Up Version of Iowa Pork Tenderloin Sandwich on Large Onion Bun


Death by Design: A DIY Diva Mystery by Paula Darnell

About the Book

Death by Design: A DIY Diva Mystery  
Cozy Mystery 2nd in Series  
Cozy Cat Press (June 20, 2019)  
Print Length: 184 pages 
DIY Diva Laurel McMillan rejoices when her student Jennifer's peacock pillow wins a design contest; that is, until Jennifer's husband Matt is smothered with the very same pillow. When the police confiscate her prize-winning pillow, Jennifer freaks out, and Laurel fears that Jennifer may be more upset about losing the pillow than about Matt's death. But the police arrest disgraced nurse Edna Elkins, not Jennifer. Begging Laurel to find the real killer, Edna insists she's innocent, but Laurel's not so sure, and when Laurel encounters Jennifer while walking her lovable Labrador retriever, Bear, she's left with more questions than answers. Should the crafty DIY Diva play DIY Detective or does Edna really belong in jail?
Includes recipes and pillow project instructions.

About Paula Darnell

An instructor at five colleges over the years, Paula Darnell most often taught the dreaded first-year English composition classes, but she's also been happy to teach some fun classes, such as fashion design, sewing, and jewelry making. Paula has a Bachelor's degree in English from the University of Iowa, Iowa City, and a Master's degree in English from the University of Nevada, Reno. Like Laurel, the main character in Death by Association, Paula enjoys all kinds of arts and crafts. Some of her memorable projects include making a hat and a cape to wear to Royal Ascot, sewing wedding gowns for both her daughters, exhibiting her textile and mixed-media artwork in juried art shows, and having one of her jewelry projects accepted for inclusion in Leather Jewelry, published by Lark Books. She sells some of her jewelry and hair accessories in her Etsy shop: Paula's interest in DIY craft projects and fashion led to her writing hundreds of articles for print and online national publications. Living in a guard-gated community governed by a homeowners' association gave Paula the idea for the setting of Death by Association. She finds that residing in an HOA community can be both a blessing and a curse. A Happy-New-Year greeting from her community association called on residents to “start the new year by reviewing your Rules and Regulations booklet,” something unlikely to top anyone's list of New Year's resolutions. Paula lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, with her husband Gary and their 110-pound dog Rocky, whose favorite pastime is lurking in the kitchen, hoping for a handout  

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