Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Apple Cider Slaying by Julie Anne Lindsey. This book is the first book in the Cider Shop Mystery series and was released yesterday!

Winnie Montgomery is bound and determined to make Smythe Orchard a success. With her grandfather's death the orchard suffered some financial setbacks, but with her business plan in place, Winnie is primed to get a loan and get the family business back on track and more profitable than ever. No longer closing after the harvest, Winnie has plans to have special holiday events to bring even more customers in. But as she's showing the loan officer the intended space for her Cider Shop they discover the dead body of her grandma's arch rival! With the Sheriff believing Granny is the prime suspect and the chances of her bank loan diminishing with each hour Winnie knows she has to find the real killer, before it's too late!

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Murder Can Mess Up Your Masterpiece - A Review


The First Haunted Craft Fair Mystery

Celeste Cabot has decided to take a chance. Her family has helped her fix up a trailer and she's traveling to craft shows to sell her paintings. Although determined to be positive, things get dicey when Celeste meets Evan, the rude man in charge of the Summer Arts and Craft Fair in Gatlinburg. Then an angry woman brings back the painting she bought claiming it's haunted! What could be worse? Someone stealing the vendors money, the murder of Evan, and the appearance of the ghostly Elizabeth!

MURDER CAN MESS UP YOUR MASTERPIECE is a cute start to a new series. We have a charming young protagonist who's taking a chance on art, her wonderfully wacky family, two possible romantic interests, a little dog, and a ghost!

My favorite aspect of this first Haunted Craft Fair Mystery is Celeste's gift. Not only is she a talented painter, but Spirit communicates through her and adds special details to her paintings. In addition, she can paint the portrait of a spirit who wishes to communicate with the living! And Celeste was heretofore completely unaware of this ability. I look forward to seeing her psychic development as well as discovering who the blonde spirit will be. In the meantime, Elizabeth is a delightful spirit and I enjoy seeing her interact with everyone, especially Van.

I really enjoyed my first trip to a craft fair in Tennessee. Likable characters, as well as some nasty ones, and a unique paranormal spin make MURDER CAN MESS UP YOUR MASTERPIECE a delightful mystery. In addition, travel trailer tips and recipes are also included in this charming new series.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Beware the East Wind - A Spotlight & Giveaway

Today I'd like to shine a spotlight on BEWARE THE EAST WIND. This book is the fourth in the Mah Jongg Mystery series by Barbara Barrett and was released in August. I will post my review soon.



Beware the East Wind (The Mah Jongg Mysteries) by Barbara Barrett

About Beware the East Wind

Cozy Mystery 4th in Series  
Bowker (August 17, 2019)  
Paperback: 254 pages 
Beware the east wind! It’s hurricane season in Florida, and everyone’s attention is focused on preparing for the latest tempest. But in Serendipity Springs, mah jongg pals Marianne, Sydney, Micki and Kat are caught in a different kind of whirlwind—a mesmerizing murder case involving a slain hypnotist/chef and the woman police suspect of doing her in, her embittered catering partner, Portia.

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.

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Tuesday, October 22, 2019

It’s All in the Name, Right? - A Molded 4 Murder Guest Post & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome J. C. Eaton back to Cozy Up With Kathy. J. C. writes theSophie Kimball Mystery series. Molded 4 Murder is the fifth book in the series and was released this past summer.

It’s all in the name, right?

Readers often ask us where we get the names for our cozy mystery characters and if any of them are real. Heavens! Not if we can help it. Our characters tend to be so over-the-top that if we did use a real name, we’d worry about a lawsuit!

We do, however, use first names from family and friends but not in major character roles. We tend to reserve those names to fit the roles. And frankly, it’s not easy. Sometimes we create a character and then try to come up with a name for him or her. At other times, the name just pops into one of our heads and then we begin to come up with a physical description, character traits, and past history. Also a reason to commit murder, or wind up being the victim.

We’ll give you two examples and have you think about them for a minute. Here goes: Savannah Jones and Eunice Cranklemeyer

We’ll bet you come up with two entirely different characters like we did.

So where do we get our names? Well, to be honest – Everywhere!

We hear names in passing that are so intriguing that we write them down and wind up putting them in our books. Two of our names came from readers we met at book signings. Their first names were so neat that we had to use them – Vernadeen and Hestherlee.

Four first names came straight out of the Sun City West Dog Park, along with requests to “put my name in the title” and “make sure I get a movie role if your book goes anywhere.”

We find names from the Realtor listings in our local newspaper. The Phoenix area has a zillion real estate agents and it’s a regular bounty when we check out the names.

Since we live in a retirement community with a plethora of clubs, we scour the club lists for names, too. That’s how we discovered the names for our book club ladies in the Sophie Kimball Mysteries.

Church and synagogue bulletins have an amazing array of names as well. One of the things we do is mix-and-match a first name from one person with a last name from another. We’ll also add an extra letter or two to make it original.

We’ve learned that popular names seem to vary by decade so when we create a millennial character, we find names like Ashley, Amanda, Jessica, Michael, Tyler, or Ryder. Character names from the 1950s are easier – Mary, Patty, Linda, Robert, John and Paul. Post Woodstock names are fun, too – Rain, April, Stormi, Lavender, Sage, and Windy.

Our favorites are the names from the turn of the twentieth century – Grace, Hazel, Mildred, Florence, Clarence, Harold, Albert and Walter.

All of the names we use require thought. From the delivery guy to the CEO of a major corporation. After all, one of them could be our killer. And as for the pets in our series, their names are equally important as well but at least we don’t have to worry that one of them will come after us for libel when we mention “Scruffy got into a fight with Buddy.” Especially since there are at least half a dozen “Buddys” and “Scruffys” in our neck of the woods.

We do keep a running list of possible names in our “murder notebook,” so if you have any ideas you’d like to share, please feel free to let us know! Our website is and you can find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as well.

Happy character naming!


Molded 4 Murder (Sophie Kimball Mystery) by J.C. Eaton

About Molded 4 Murder

Cozy Mystery 5th in Series  
Kensington (August 27, 2019)  
Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages ISBN-10: 1496719905 ISBN-13: 978-1496719904 Digital ASIN: B07L2FJ1PN 
A view to a kiln …
Sophie “Phee” Kimball enjoys working as a bookkeeper for a private investigator. If only her mother Harriet could enjoy her retirement at Sun City West in Arizona—instead of constantly getting involved with retirees being prematurely put out to pasture. This time Quentin Dussler, a prominent member of the clay sculpting club, was found dead, clutching a piece of paper scrawled with Phee’s mother’s name.
Terrified she’s been targeted by assassins, Harriet begs Phee to investigate. What Phee uncovers is a complicated scheme that only the most diabolical of murderers would ever devise. And as she chisels away at confusing clues and potential suspects, Phee unearths something far more precious and valuable than she could imagine. Eager for answers, she takes a bold step—placing herself in the crosshairs of a stonefaced killer …

About the Authors

Ann I. Goldfarb
New York native Ann I. Goldfarb spent most of her life in education, first as a classroom teacher and later as a middle school principal and professional staff developer. Writing as J. C. Eaton, along with her husband, James Clapp, she has authored the Sophie Kimball Mysteries (Kensington) was released in June 2017. In addition, Ann has nine published YA time travel mysteries under her own name. Visit the websites at and

James E. Clapp
When James E. Clapp retired as the tasting room manager for a large upstate New York winery, he never imagined he’d be co-authoring cozy mysteries with his wife, Ann I. Goldfarb. His first novel, Booked 4 Murder (Kensington) was released in June 2017. Non-fiction in the form of informational brochures and workshop materials treating the winery industry were his forte along with an extensive background and experience in construction that started with his service in the U.S. Navy and included vocational school classroom teaching.

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Monday, October 21, 2019

Better Watch Out - A Spotlight


BETTER WATCH OUT by Christina Freeburn
The Second Merry & Bright Handcrafted Mystery

My review is coming soon. In the meantime, check out the details below!

Better Watch Out (A Merry & Bright Handcrafted Mystery) by Christina Freeburn

About Better Watch Out

Cozy Mystery 2nd in Series  
Henery Press (October 15, 2019) 
Hardcover: 252 pages  Paperback: 252 pages 
Making a list. Merry’s life is Christmas chaos. Her divorce is still in question. She’s behind on crafting orders. Ebenezer is an escape artist. And with one day left, she hasn’t completed the line-up for the annual Christmas parade, thanks to one grinch. Once Merry knows the Christmas secret, she realizes Santa isn’t what’s coming to town.
Checking it twice. Santa’s naughty list, courtesy of Jenna Wilcox, will roll down Main Street with names of residents who deserve a lump of coal in their stocking. Saving the parade won’t be easy, but Merry is up to task. Or so she thinks until she discovers Jenna’s body stashed in Santa’s sack.
Going to find out. As facts are unwrapped, Merry finds the line blurred between who’s naughty and nice. As threats are aimed at her and those she loves, Merry dashes for the truth before the murderer puts her on the naughty list and crosses her off for good.

About Christina Freeburn

Christina Freeburn has always loved books. There was nothing better than picking up a story and being transported to another place. The love of reading evolved into the love of writing and she's been writing since her teenage years. Her first novel was a 2003 Library of Virginia Literary Award nominee. Her mysteries series, Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery and Merry & Bright Handcrafted Mysteries, are a mix of crafty and crime and feature heroines whose crafting time is interrupted by crime solving.
Christina served in the US Army and has also worked as a paralegal, librarian, church secretary, and golf shop pro. She lives in West Virginia with her husband, dog, and a rarely seen cat except by those who are afraid and allergic to felines.

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Sunday, October 20, 2019

Handmade Ho-Ho Homicide - An Interview & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Lois Winston back to Cozy Up With Kathy. Lois writes the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series. Handmade Ho-Ho Homicide is the eighth book in the series and was released earlier this month.

Kathy: In Handmade Ho-Ho Homicide Ira Pollack has blinged out Anastasia's home with enough Christmas lights to rival Rockefeller Center. Do you go all out decorating your home for the holidays or are you more subdued?

LW: I’ve always lived by the design motto that “less is more.” Outside we string lights around our porch and hang a wreath on the front door. Inside, in addition to the tree, we string lights and garland on the mantle, where we also place our collection of nutcrackers. I also display various other Christmas décor that I’ve either been gifted, collected, or crafted over the years.

Kathy: Inflatable characters play a big part in the story. I admit I have never used any. Do you?

LW: No, they’re extremely expensive and noisy. But even if they weren’t, when they’re turned off during the day, all those “dead” characters lying around in the snow really creep me out.

Kathy: I turn on my outside lights the day after Thanksgiving and have my timers set from dawn to dusk. What about you?

LW: We also usually decorate a day or so after Thanksgiving and use timers for the lights, but my husband insists on the lights turning off at 11pm.

Kathy: You include some Christmas craft projects with the mystery. Do you create Christmas crafts yourself?

LW: I’d say that at least 75% of the ornaments on our tree are handmade—either by me or some of my craftier friends. I also have a cross stitched Nativity I set up on our sofa table and swap out the toss pillows for cross stitched ones.

Kathy: I love sending and receiving Christmas cards. Do you mail out real cards? Are they homemade or store bought?

LW: I still mail out Christmas cards and love receiving them, especially from friends and relatives we rarely get a chance to see. I don’t craft my own cards; however, the crafts I include in Handmade Ho-Ho Homicide are made by repurposing Christmas cards that are too pretty to stick in the recycling bin come January.

Kathy: Was there a specific inspiration for this story?

LW: Most of my plot ideas are inspired by actual events. Last year I saw numerous news stories about neighbors angry over their quiet streets being turned into a carnival atmosphere when a neighbor transformed his home into an extravagant display for the holidays. Ira was exactly the type of person who would go overboard in this way to impress his kids. As for the murder, it was inspired by an actual murder that took place in New Jersey last year. I can’t say more about that without giving away spoilers, though.

Kathy: Are you able to share any future plans for Anastasia?

LW: Anastasia’s next adventure will take place on a cruise ship. As I write this, I’m currently on a cruise doing research.

Kathy: Will you share any other upcoming books?

LW: Right now I’m concentrating on my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, but eventually I hope to write another book in my Empty Nest Mystery series. I think I first need to find a way to clone myself or do without sleep. Anyone have any suggestions?


Handmade Ho-Ho Homicide (An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery) by Lois Winston

About Handmade Ho-Ho Homicide

Cozy Mystery 8th in Series  
Independently Published  
Print Length: 212 pages 
Two and a half weeks ago magazine crafts editor Anastasia Pollack arrived home to find Ira Pollack, her half-brother-in-law, had blinged out her home with enough Christmas lights to rival Rockefeller Center. Now he’s crammed her small yard with enormous cavorting inflatable characters. She and photojournalist boyfriend (and possible spy) Zack Barnes pack up the unwanted lawn decorations to return to Ira. They arrive to find his yard the scene of an over-the-top Christmas extravaganza. His neighbors are not happy with the animatronics, laser light show, and blaring music creating traffic jams on their normally quiet street. One of them expresses his displeasure with his fists before running off.
In the excitement, the deflated lawn ornaments are never returned to Ira. The next morning Anastasia once again heads to his house before work to drop them off. When she arrives, she discovers Ira’s attacker dead in Santa’s sleigh. Ira becomes the prime suspect in the man’s murder and begs Anastasia to help clear his name. But Anastasia has promised her sons she’ll keep her nose out of police business. What’s a reluctant amateur sleuth to do?
Christmas craft projects included.

About Lois Winston

USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick-lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is a former literary agent and an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry

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