Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Murder Ink - A Review


MURDER INK by Lorraine Bartlett with Gayle Leeson
The Sixth Victoria Square Mystery

A tattoo parlor in Victoria Square? That possibility is just the start of Katie Bonner's problems. When her friend and fellow merchant association member Ray goes to the contractor working on the building to get more information he receives a black eye for his efforts, but the man who dealt it winds up dead. As the sheriff hones in on Ray as the killer Katie has to deal with her tea house manager quitting with hardly any notice, Andy's assistant being overly helpful, and questions about her new vendor at Artisan's Alley. Despite relationship issues Katie strives to keep everything on track and keep Ray out of jail. Will she be able to find the real killer, or will she have as shocking of an end as the contractor?

There's a lot going on in this sixth outing of the Victoria Square mystery series, almost too much. Katie is involved with so many projects and wears so many hats, not to mention all of her relationship issues, I don't know how she has time to breathe. By the end of the novel these myriad storylines did meld, but Katie's involvement in every aspect of Victoria Square, almost as if she considers herself Empress of the Square, is a bit off putting.

I liked the addition of Brad to Tealicious, although his arrival led to yet more adolescent jealous behavior by several of the key players. I love Nick and Don and give kudos to Nick's quick thinking leading up to the penultimate scene. There are lots of clever bits given by both the author and the characters which make for an intelligent read.

MURDER INK is a complex mystery with a fast paced satisfying conclusion.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Death Bee Comes Her - A Review


The First Oregon Honeycomb Mystery

While walking her Havana Brown on the beach, Wren Johnson discovers the dead body of her aunt's crafting rival. With a label from one of Wren's lip balms clutched in her hand, the shop owner of Let it Bee quickly becomes a person of interest. As police take most of her stock, Wren, her Aunt Eloise, and shop sale's manager, Porsche, decide to go on the offense and look for the murderer themselves. But will trying to nab a killer make this Wren's last Halloween? 

What I liked best about this book is that it brings awareness to bees and their plight. As humans we truly do rely on bees for our own survival. By having a shop that not only sells products using honey, but houses a bee hive and promotes bee education in a gentle way. The recipes, not only for food, but beauty products, sound delicious and easy to prepare. I see Honey Taffy Candy in my future!

Wren Johnson is a likeable protagonist with an even more likable cat. Everett is a charming creature with a distinct personality who lights up the page. The mystery is well plotted with red herrings creating lots of avenues to explore and the Halloween setting brings a unique touch to the book.

It's good that Wren is knowledgeable in CPR, however, she isn't up to date. The American Red Cross changed its process and you no longer do a blind sweep of the person's mouth. I also think Officer Hampton plays a bit loose with police procedure. While the murder was solved, there were some loose ends, a few of which may be possible leads for future books in the series. Still, these issues, while taking me out of the scene, didn't detract much from my enjoyment of the book.

DEATH BEE COMES HER with its lovely setting filled with interesting characters and a focus on bees and honey products is a pleasant start to a new series. 

Friday, December 27, 2019

Gone, Kitty, Gone - A Review


GONE, KITTY, GONE by Eileen Watkins
The Fourth Cat Groomer Mystery

The North Jersey Cat Expo is coming and Cassie McGlone is prepared to volunteer at the nearby event. A smooth talking promoter convinces her to become even more active, offering grooming demonstrations and showcasing her new mobile grooming van. The promoter is going all out by adding a pop star and her equally famous cat to the lineup. With Cassie's veterinarian boyfriend also coming to the event, what could go wrong?

A lot actually. Instead of murder being the prime mystery, the crime to be solved in the fourth Cat Groomer Mystery is kidnapping, or rather, catnapping. Sure enough the beloved Scottish Fold, Gordie, companion to the pop star, Jacki, goes missing during a disruption at the show. While the police are more concerned with a security guard found dead, Cassie is encouraged by the young singer to help find Gordie.

I like the fact that a purloined animal is the focus of the investigation. Was he taken by a fan, a stalker, animal protester, or someone else with an entirely different motive? I also appreciate that Cassie is an intelligent woman who keeps the police apprised of her actions, and what she finds. Of course, that doesn't always help keep her out of sticky situations, but she doesn't blindly rush in.

There are lots of red herrings, suspicious people, and lots of cats making the book even more enjoyable. I enjoy seeing relationships develop and an honest concern for animals depicted here.

GONE, KITTY, GONE is a catcentric mystery that should appeal to all. Intelligent writing, deft plotting, and likable characters make this book a best in show!

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Death Bee Comes Her by Nancy Coco. This book is the first in the Oregon Honeycomb Mystery series and will be released December 31st.

While walking her Havana Brown on the beach, Wren Johnson discovers the dead body of her aunt's crafting rival. With a label from one of Wren's lip balms clutched in her hand, the shop owner of Let it Bee quickly becomes a person of interest. As police take most of her stock, Wren, her Aunt Eloise, and shop sale's manager Porsche decide to go on the offense and look for the murderer themselves. But will trying to nab a killer make this Wren's last Halloween?

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Enlightened Cow - A Review


By Columbkill Noonan
The Fourth Book in the Barnabas Tew Mystery Series

After a challenging investigation with the Mayan gods, Barnabas Tew and his assistant, Wilfred, are ready for a break. While Barnabas intends for them to return to Egypt, Wilfred thinks of going to Midgard first, consequently, despite both of their wishes, the detectives wind up in India. Meeting the various Hindu gods is disconcerting to say the least, green skin, too many arms, talking fish…and what those people were depicted doing in that tapestry!!! Although suspicious, the pair agree to help Kamadeva and his consort save their friend Rama. As the detective duo navigate the world of Hindu gods they discover that things aren’t always what they seem and motivations are shadowy. Will their willingness to help prove disastrous?

This fourth adventure of Barnabas Tew is a bit different from the other books in the series and that just may be the point. The hilarious bantering still exists as do the various gods and how Barnabas and Wilfred cope with them. There's less of a mystery here though. True, our detectives have a mission, which evolves, but the story isn't so much about saving Rama as the journey they take.

Barnabas Tew is growing spiritually, while still maintaining his blustery Victorian gentlemanness. Ganesha got to the heart of the matter as he cleared the duos auras, describing their essences perfectly. While there is a lot of heart in this story, there's a lot of laugh out loud humor that one expects in a Barnabas Tew novel as well. A fish out of water story here becomes a fish IN water story too! I love the part with the water dragon, indeed, I enjoyed the dealings with all the new friends they made here.

BARNABAS TEW AND THE CASE OF THE ENLIGHTENED COW is a delightfully funny journey with the Hindu gods looking at dharma while showing the inner spirit of our intrepid detectives.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Yultide Homicide - A Spotlight

In honor of Yule and the Winter Solstice I thought I'd shine a spotlight on a book on my TBR pile. Yuletide Homicide is the third book in the Wiccan Wheel Mystery series.

From the jacket copy:

It’s Christmas in Edindale, Illinois, and family law attorney Keli Milanni is preparing to celebrate the Wiccan holiday Yuletide, a celebration of rebirth. But this Yuletide someone else is focused on dying . . .
After years of practicing in secret, Keli has come out as a Wiccan to her boyfriend, and she feels like this Yuletide she’s the one who’s being reborn. But the Solstice is the longest night of the year, and Keli is about to stumble on a mystery so dangerous, she’ll be lucky to make it to morning.
Paired with her unbearably stuffy colleague Crenshaw Davenport III, Keli goes undercover at a real estate company owned by mayoral candidate Edgar Harrison. An old friend of Keli’s boss, Harrison, is being blackmailed, and it’s up to her to find the culprit. But the morning after the company holiday party, Harrison is found dead underneath the hotel Christmas tree. The police rule the death an accident, but Keli knows better—and she’ll risk her own rebirth to nab a missing killer.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Talking to the Dead: Kate and Maggie Fox and the Rise of Spiritualism - A Spotlight

While I primarily read cozy mysteries, I read other genres as well. I enjoy learning about a variety of subjects and am periodically able to pursue these interests by reading some nonfiction titles. Today I’d like to shine a spotlight on one such book, Talking to the Dead: Kate and Maggie Fox and the Rise of Spiritualism by Barbara Weisberg.

From the book jacket:

March 1848. Mysterious knocks are heard in a little house in rural New York, throwing the community into turmoil. Are the children who live there-Kate and Maggie Fox, sisters aged eleven and fourteen-making the raps to trick their parents? Or are the girls mediums for otherworldly messages? From a battery of strange sounds and the excitement they create, modern Spiritualism is born.

Talking to the Dead: Kate and Maggie Fox and the Rise of Spiritualism follows the remarkable story of the Fox sisters, who were catapulted to fame after word spread that they communicated with spirits. Within a few years tens of thousands of Americans were flocking to seances. An international movement developed. Yet forty years after those first knocks, the sisters shocked the country by denying that they had ever been in contact with the dead. Shortly after, in another stunning reversal, they changed their story again and reaffirmed their faith in the spirit world. Were the Fox sisters con artists who had taken a childhood prank too far? Or were they really in touch with “voices from beyond”?

In this riveting biography, Barbara Weisberg traces not only the lives of Kate, Maggie, and their family-including the girls’ shrewd and charismatic sister Leah-but also the social, religious, economic, and political forces that helped shape the Spiritualist movement. A vivid, compelling overview of a remarkable period in U.S. history, Talking to the Dead provokes questions about belief systems, the power of celebrity, the wish to reconcile faith and science, and the timeless quest for knowledge about life after death.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Currently Reading...

I just started reading Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Enlightened Cow by Columbkill Noonan. This book is the fourth in the Barnabas Tew Mystery series.

After a challenging investigation with the Mayan gods, Barnabas Tew and his assistant, Wilfred, are ready for a break. While Barnabas intends for them to return to Egypt, Wilfred thinks of going to Midgard first, consequently, despite both of their wishes, the detectives wind up in India. Meeting the various Hindu gods is disconcerting to say the least, green skin, too many arms, talking fish…and what those people were depicted doing in that tapestry!!! Although suspicious, the pair agree to help Kamadeva and his consort save their friend Rama. As the detective duo navigate the world of Hindu gods they discover that things aren’t always what they seem and motivations are shadowy. Will their willingness to help prove disastrous?

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Jingle Bells, Mussel Shells, Murder All the Way - An Interview

I'm happy to welcome Katie Hagen to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Katie writes the Sweet Reunion Romance Series. Jingle Bells, Mussel Shells, Murder All the Way is a cozy mystery spinoff and was released December 1st.

Kathy: Christmas is Tessa Brown's favorite holiday. How does Christmas rank with you!?

KH: For Tessa, the holidays are about the food, singing carols, decorations, and, of course, Christmas themed coffee. For me, Christmas is all about the music. I start playing holiday music in October! Yep. I’m one of those people. I’m not too big on gifts or the holiday meals but I definitely love a good holiday light tour with all my favorite Christmas music! (And maybe a Christmas cookie or two).

Kathy: Tessa's parents are following their dream by becoming a touring gospel duo. Do you enjoy gospel music. If so, who are your favorite artists or songs?

KH: I am a fan of all music! I live on a small island and in the rare times that I’ve been able to attend a gospel performance I have been brought to tears!

Kathy: Jingle Bells, Mussel Shells, Murder All the Way is a cozy mystery novel spinoff from a novella series. What made you decide to write a spinoff?

KH: I really fell for the Tessa in Charlotte 10 Years Later, my first novella in the A Sweet Reunion Romance Series and I felt that she deserved her own love story. When I set out to write Jingle, the plan was for it to be a holiday-themed sweet romance novella. Well, the story took me in a different direction and suddenly I had a full-length holiday cozy mystery novel on my hands! I love how it turned out and I consider it a bit of a cross-over between sweet romance and cozy mystery.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

KH: I remember reading some of the baking-themed cozies when I was a teen. I was drawn to the colorful, delicious-looking covers and though the stories were a bit older for me, with characters in their thirties, I loved following the clues and solving the mystery. Now, after spending twenty years as a dog groomer, I’m drawn to pet-themed cozies and read them whenever I get the time.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

KH: Actually, I started out writing poetry. I found a love for it while I was finishing college from home last year and released my first poetry ‘chapbook’ in February 2019 called Dreams for the Divine and Drowning under the name K.D. Hagen. Since then I’ve written a book of rhymes and fairy tales (Of a Lilac Moon) as well as a collection of literary short stories (Stained: Short Stories for the Unkempt Woman). I also have my sweet romance series and now I’m diving into cozies. I’m working on the first in a new series about a dog groomer now!

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

KH: A Sweet Reunion Romance follows four high school friends in the ten years following graduation. There are lots of secrets, second chances, broken hearts, and new beginnings.

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

KH: I really like snarky characters, probably because I tend to go the opposite way. I love Cassie from the A Sweet Reunion Romance series because she is wild and fearless. Melissa from Jingle seems a bit like a younger version of Cassie to me, she’s snarky and just bored by everything, except she actually tries to follow the rules, something I think Cassie as a teen would have laughed at.

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

KH: I think the idea for A Sweet Reunion Romance came from my poetry in Dreams for the Divine and Drowning where I played the ‘what if’ game a lot. What if that boy you secretly loved would have loved you back? What if that relationship that broke your young heart would have actually worked out? Would you have been happy? Would it have changed the happiness you have now? I wanted to write that concept as a story and Charlotte’s journey to find herself 10 years after high school started from there.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

KH: I got a lot of confidence from college and honestly, I miss getting that praise and feedback! Everyone from teachers to classmates pushed me to publish my work and taking classes about how to publish, market, and advertise definitely helped too!

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

KH: J.K Rowling, Steven King, Anne Rice, and Stacy Lee.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

KH: A book called The Clockwork Magician by Eldrich Black. It’s a young adult novel that I honestly feel could be the next big thing. The story is fantastic and is a bit like Oliver Twist meets The Golden Compass with some Harry Potter thrown in. I highly recommend it.

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

KH: I wish I had time for hobbies! I spend all my kid-free time writing and avoiding housework. I love my two dogs, Dudley and Bear, and good TV and movies such as The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. I can’t garden…at all. I draw sometimes and paint a little. I love to cook but am the worst baker. Really, when I’m not reading or writing I’m just spending time with my daughters and my husband.

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

KH: Oh wow. Ok, so this is hard because I’m on a new diet every other week. But I can say that I always have cheese, some form of crackers, fresh vegetables which I have to eat daily, and lots of spices.

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

KH: I do think that there is still at least a third book coming for the A Sweet Reunion Series from the original two stories. There are still questions left unanswered there. Tessa might get another book in her story now that more big things are coming for her. I might just meet up with her again next holiday season and make it an annual thing. Right now, I’m working on a cozy series with a clueless aspiring actress that is forced back to her hometown to run her late aunt’s dog grooming business. I’m loving the quirky small-town characters so far! I’m thinking it feels a little like the Amy Sherman Palladino show, Bunheads or Hart of Dixie with Rachel Bilson, but with a great murder mystery to solve!

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

KH: Knowing that my children can one day read my stories, feel closer to me when I’m gone, have a possible source of income to pass down, and be proud of their momma.


Jingle Bells, Mussel Shells, Murder all the Way

Can be found on Amazon in Paperback and Ebook (link below)


Amazon profile


Katie Hagen website:


Social Media links:


Instagram poetry:


Fiction and personal life:


Author Bio: 

Katie Hagen is an author and poet residing with her husband, children, and dogs, Dudley and Bear, on a little island in the Pacific Northwest. She earned her bachelor's degree in English and Creative Writing in 2018 after years of struggling to balance school, life, travel, family, and general laziness. So much of her time is spent writing that there is a rear-end sized divot in her armchair which officially means that it is hers. On the rare occasions she finds herself pried loose, she likes to take barefoot walks in the forest and socked walks to the kitchen.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Death by Proxy - A Spotlight & Giveaway

I'm happy to shine a spotlight on Death by Proxy by Paula Darnell today. This book is the third in the DIY Diva Cozy Mystery series and was released last month.

Here's an excerpt:

 Duane Harris Wesson! Is that your idea of a proposal?”
If I'd been standing, I'd have put my hands on my hips, but I was sitting beside Wes on the sofa in my den. He'd just suggested that a riverboat cruise on the Mississippi would make a great honeymoon, but he hadn't asked me to marry him!
“Uh, definitely not.” My boyfriend grabbed a pillow, placed it on the tile floor in front of me, and knelt on the plush cushion. He took my hand. “Laurel, sweetheart, I love you, and I'd love for us to spend the rest of our lives together.”
He fumbled in his jacket pocket for a moment before pulling out a small velvet-covered box. He opened it and took out a spectacular diamond ring. “Will you marry me?”
“Yes!” I said breathlessly, and Wes slipped the stunning ring onto my finger.
Bear, my chocolate Labrador retriever, had been snoozing on his bed in front of the fireplace, but sensing that something was up and not wanting to be left out, he came over and sat in front of me, next to Wes, and put his head on my lap.
Wes put one arm around me and the other around Bear, as I leaned forward to kiss him.
“Think I can get up now?” Wes asked.
“Good,” He rose and sat beside me. “That's a relief. When you called me by all three of my names, I knew I had to up my game. When I was a kid, my mom used to say that to me when I was in trouble.”
“Well, you're redeemed. Not many men would tolerate a dog nudging his way into a proposal. You're a very special man, and I love you madly.”
Wes took me in his arms, and we managed a proper kiss before Bear began gently prodding us with his nose.
“Don't worry, Bear,” Wes reassured him, as he scratched behind the inquisitive dog's ears. “You'll always be part of our family.”


Death by Proxy: A DIY Diva Mystery by Paula Darnell

About Death by Proxy

Death by Proxy: A DIY Diva Mystery Cozy Mystery  
3rd in Series Cozy Cat Press (November 2019) 
Print Length ~220 Pages 
With preparations for her upcoming wedding to handsome Wes Wesson, a Center City police lieutenant, on track and her DIY Bridal Crafts class at Hawkeye Haven's community center wrapped up, DIY Diva Laurel McMillan looks forward to a calm pre-nuptial week to finalize her wedding plans. There's only one problem: the week turns out to be anything but calm. Laurel and Wes narrowly escape being run down in the parking lot of their favorite restaurant. Laurel's bridal shower is interrupted by a mysterious stranger who sends Laurel's lovable chocolate Labrador retriever Bear into a frenzy, and when Laurel and Wes go to meet Lisa, their real estate agent, at a house she promised to show them, they discover Lisa's sister's body floating in the pool. Strangely, Lisa seems more concerned with selling houses than she does with her sister's death. After Lisa's mother inadvertently reveals family secrets, Laurel wonders whether Lisa could have killed her own sister. Will the mayhem and murder stop before Laurel discovers the key to the killer's game plan?

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: www.etsy.com/shop/PaulaDJewelry.

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.

Author Links:
Author’s websitehttps://www.pauladarnellauthor.com/  
Twitter – https://twitter.com/PaulaJDarnell  
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18782445.Paula_Darnell  
Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/paulad0057/  
Etsy shop – https://www.etsy.com/shop/PaulaDJewelry  

Purchase Links – Amazon 

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, December 13, 2019

Southern Harm - A Review & Giveaway


SOUTHERN HARM by Caroline Fardig
The Second Southern B&B Mystery

When Quinn Bellandini agreed to help her boyfriend, Tucker, dig a fire pit as a gift for his aunt, she didn't expect such heat in December. She also didn't expect to dig up a dead body! The skeletal remains turn out to be those of a girl gone missing after her high school graduation thirty years prior. A girl who lived next door to Aunt Lela and the same girl who was brazenly flirting with her husband. Tucker is devastated when his aunt is taken into police custody and Quinn agrees to help find suspects other than Lela, an idea Quinn's sister Delilah relishes. As the sisters reach out to the girl's former friends, they soon realize their parents, who were in the same graduating class, know more than they're saying. When their dad warns them off investigating and their mother vanishes without a word the Bellandini sisters realize their parents may just hold the key to the murder.

Family is the strength behind the Southern B&B Mysteries. The bad, as well as the good, tie these characters together and drive their actions. The lengths they will go to despite the past is admirable. I love the dynamic between Quinn and Delilah. The goody two shoes sister and the slightly wilder one who attacks adventure with glee. It's nice to see Quinn get a little feisty this go around. Although feisty for her is still mind mannered to most! I love the subtlety of Uncle Frank who gives his own advice and the nonchalant way others see him, or don't.

The fact that the victim was not newly murdered is a nice change of pace. We see how people change, or remain the same over time. And how high school drama is never that far away.

SOUTHERN HARM is a delightful mystery that finds skeletons in the closet as well as in the ground!


Southern Harm: A Southern B&B Mystery by Caroline Fardig

About Southern Harm

Cozy Mystery 2nd in Series  
Publisher: Alibi (November 12, 2019)  
Print Length: 263 pages 
A little Southern charm never killed anybody—until now—in an enchanting cozy mystery from the USA Today bestselling author of Southern Discomfort and the Java Jive novels.
After solving a murder at a local restaurant, Quinn Bellandini just wants to get back to her comfortable life running her grandfather’s B&B in Savannah, Georgia, with her sister, Delilah. But those plans get buried when Quinn and her new boyfriend, Tucker Heyward, dig up an old skeleton while doing some landscaping in his aunt Lela’s backyard. Before long, Lela becomes the prime suspect in the thirty-three-year-old unsolved murder of a high school homecoming queen.
Tucker is devastated. But Quinn’s conscience won’t let her risk an elderly woman spending her twilight years in jail for a crime she didn’t commit. And Delilah, bored by the quiet B&B biz, has been itching to do some more investigating of her own.
Soon they’re questioning a growing list of suspects, from nosy neighbors and snooty Savannah socialites to mild-mannered teachers and old high-school friends of the victim—including Quinn and Delilah’s own parents. But no one is safe from a killer who’s totally old school.

About the Author

CAROLINE FARDIG is the USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR of the Java Jive Mysteries series and the Lizzie Hart Mysteries series. Fardig’s BAD MEDICINE was named one of the “Best Books of 2015” by Suspense Magazine. She worked as a schoolteacher, church organist, insurance agent, funeral parlor associate, and stay-at-home mom before she realized that she wanted to be a writer when she grew up. Born and raised in a small town in Indiana, Fardig still lives in that same town with an understanding husband, two sweet kids, two energetic dogs, and one malevolent cat.

Social Media

Website: www.carolinefardig.com  
Blog: http://www.carolinefardig.com/blog/  
Twitter: @carolinefardig  
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/carolinefardigbooks  

Purchase Links Amazon B&N Kobo
Don’t miss Caroline Fardig’s thrilling Java Jive mysteries, which can be read together or separately: DEATH BEFORE DECAF | MUG SHOT | A WHOLE LATTE MURDER | BREW OR DIE | MURDER OVER MOCHAS
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Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Currently Reading...

I just started reading Gone, Kitty, Gone by Eileen Watkins. This book is the fourth in the Cat Groomer Mystery series and will be released December 31.

The North Jersey Cat Expo is coming and Cassie McGlone is prepared to volunteer at the nearby event. A smooth talking promoter convinces her to become even more active, offering grooming demonstrations and showcasing her new mobile grooming van. The promoter is going all out by adding a pop star and her equally famous cat to the lineup. With Cassie's veterinarian boyfriend also coming to the event, what could go wrong?

Monday, December 9, 2019

Fire, Fog, and Water - A Guest Post & Giveaway

I'm happy to let Sgt. Winston Windflower take over the blog today. You can find Winston on the pages of the Sgt. Windflower Mystery series by Mike Martin. Fire, Fog and Water is the eighth book in the series and was released this past fall.

Let me introduce myself. I’m Sgt. Winston Windflower. I’m an RCMP officer, A Canadian Mountie. I’m also a Cree from Northern Alberta who finds himself stationed in the small community of Grand Bank, Newfoundland. It’s a pretty quiet place, but somehow there’s also a lot of crime, even murders, that I have to investigate. That’s a part of the story. The work part.

But there’s also a whole lot more going on in my life. I have a beautiful wife, Sheila Hillier, who is truly my much better half and a little daughter, Amelia Louise, who we both adore. Sheila is also the smarter one in the family. She’s the Mayor of Grand Bank and a businesswoman who once owned the Mug-Up Café that serves the best chocolate peanut butter cake in the world. And there’s Lady, my collie and Molly the cat. Can’t forget them.

I’m glad it’s finally my turn to talk. I keep bugging Mike Martin to let me write, but he tells me my job is to look tall, dark, and handsome. I am tall, dark and handsome. Just wanted to repeat that. Anyway, let me tell you how this whole thing works. I tell ‘him’ the story and ‘he’ writes it down. Sometimes ‘he’ takes a long time and many, many drafts to get it right. ‘He’ is very lucky to have an excellent team of beta readers and a fabulous editor. Otherwise, ‘he’ would never get it done. But somehow it does get done and now there are 8 books in the Sgt. Windflower Mystery series, the latest being Fire, Fog and Water.

Fire, Fog and Water is about me, of course. And while I don’t like how ‘he’ made me out as glum and moody at the beginning, I guess ‘he’ may have been right. I got a lot going on and nobody really appreciates me, well not enough anyway. But I got out of that funk and ended up solving not one, but at least three crimes, maybe more. Not on my own, but I was a big part of it. Now ‘he’s’ telling me to shut up again, ‘cause he wants to send this post off to the blog tour. So, I’ll sign off for now.

But remember, if you are a writer, stick with it. As I always tell Mike Martin: “Do the best you can with it and then get it out into the world.” You do what you gotta’ do to make that happen. And if you’re struggling, keep on struggling. If you are a writer, keep on writing. And remember what Stephen King told me about writing “The scariest moment is always just before you start.”

Bye for now

Sgt. Windflower


Fire, Fog and Water (Sgt. Windflower Mysteries) by Mike Martin

About Fire, Fog and Water

Mystery 8th in Series  
Ottawa Press and Publishing (October 8, 2019)  
Print Length: 280 pages Digital
Sergeant Winston Windflower and his trusty crew at the Grand Bank detachment of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have more than a few mysteries on their hands. Windflower suspects that the three cases—a homicide, a near-homicide and a fire on Coronation Street—are somehow connected, but how is proving difficult to determine, especially now that he must battle his unusually cranky mood, the never-ending winter that has gripped the coastal region of Newfoundland and his new, power-hungry boss.
In Fire, Fog and Water, award-winning author Mike Martin is true to form, retaining the light crime genre for which he is known while delving into the most perplexing social issues of our time, including mental health, addictions and workplace harassment. Windflower must not only solve the drug-and-death crimes that threaten the otherwise tranquil lives of Grand Bank’s residents, he must resolve his own internal conflicts before they consume him as surely as the blaze that engulfed the house on Coronation Street

About Mike Martin

Mike Martin was born in Newfoundland, Canada. He is the author of the Sgt. Windflower Mystery series. Fire, Fog and Water is the 8th book in the series. A Long Ways from Home, was shortlisted for the Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award as the best light mystery of the year and Darkest Before the Dawn won for the 2018 Bony Blithe Award. Mike is currently Chair of the Board of Crime Writers of Canada, a national organization promoting Canadian crime and mystery writers.  
Author Links:
Website - www.sgtwindflowermysteries.com  
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/TheWalkerOnTheCapeReviewsAndMore?ref=hl  
Twitter @mike54martin  

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Sunday, December 8, 2019

Death on the Danube - An Interview, Review, & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Jennifer S. Alderson to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Jennifer writes the Travel Can Be Murder Mystery series. DEATH ON THE DANUBE: A NEW YEAR'S MURDER IN BUDAPEST is the first book in the series and was released last month.

Kathy: Lana Hansen finds herself jobless and penniless on Christmas Eve. Have you ever had a similarly horrible holiday?

JSA: Christmas when I was a child were a joyous, family filled affair. But for some reason, when I hit adolescent, things started to go downhill. I swear, for many years, it seemed as if Christmas was cursed. Cars would break down, roads would be closed, family members would become suddenly ill – you name it, it happened to one of us on or around December 25! Many years, we ended up celebrating Christmas whenever we were all healthy enough to get together, usually days or weeks after the holiday was officially over.

Kathy: Lana was an investigative reporter, but helps her landlady by becoming a tour guide. Of those two professions, which one would you prefer?

JSA: I have worked as both, and can safely say investigative journalist. I enjoyed my brief stint as a tour guide, but quickly learned that I enjoy traveling solo more than in a group.

Kathy: In DEATH ON THE DANUBE Lana leads a tour group to Budapest, Hungary. Why choose this setting for the first Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mystery?

JSA: Budapest is the vibrant capital of Hungary and the setting of my first cozy mystery, DEATH ON THE DANUBE. I enjoyed visiting this fascinating city so much, when I was trying to decide which cities my tour groups should visit, Budapest was the first that sprang to my mind!

When I first visited, I had visions of Soviet-era buildings, grey-clothed locals, and a depressing atmosphere. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is rightfully one of the most popular cities to visit in Europe these days. I hope my cozy inspires readers to consider visiting.

Kathy: When you travel, do you generally go on group tours, or do you do your own thing?

JSA: I am an avid traveler, yet most of my experiences are of backpacking adventures through multiple countries visited during one long trip. I have been on tours before, but never ones as luxurious as those described in my cozy mysteries! Luckily, my mother has been on several and has shared so many photos and stories about the guides, hotels, and fellow passengers, I feel as if I have. I was also lucky enough to spend a day with her travel group when they visited the Netherlands. That was a fun and educational experience, for sure.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

JSA: For the past three years, art-based thrillers have been my bread and butter. As much as I enjoy writing the Zelda Richardson Mystery series, I wanted to try something new. After batting several styles around, I decided to write something lighter and funnier than my current plot-heavy thrillers. Creating a new character-driven series within the framework of a whodunit-style mystery – a cozy mystery series thus – was the solution.

I enjoy reading cozy mysteries because of the puzzle aspect, as well as the quirky yet intelligent characters you often find in them. My mother is a huge mystery fan and I grew up reading Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie – in some readers’ eyes, the queen of the cozy mystery!

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

JSA: In addition to the Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mystery series, I also write the Zelda Richardson Mysteries – a series of fast-paced, plot-heavy, art thrillers. I have also published three more books, two travel adventures and a travelogue that are part of my Adventures in Backpacking series.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

JSA: My Zelda Richardson Mystery series are often described by reviewers as cozies, though technically they are more thrillers! Book One—THE LOVER"S PORTRAIT—is a suspenseful whodunit about Nazi-looted artwork that transports readers to WWII and present-day Amsterdam. Art, religion, and anthropology collide in RITUALS OF THE DEAD (Book Two), a thrilling artifact mystery set in Papua and the Netherlands. My pulse-pounding adventure set in the Netherlands, Croatia, Italy, and Turkey—MARKED FOR REVENGE (Book Three)—is a story about stolen art, the mafia, and a father’s vengeance.

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

JSA: Dotty Thompson, the owner of Wanderlust Tours, is probably my favorite to write. She is a combination of my favorite great grandmother and two great-aunts – all feisty, crazy, and fun women who taught me to not take life too seriously. Unfortunately all three passed on when I was in my twenties. Writing about Dotty is a wonderful way of bringing them all back to life.

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

JSA: Not really. After reading several different styles of cozies, I decided to create a world based around my passion in life – travel. Creating a cozy mystery series about a tour guide turned amateur sleuth was an ideal solution!

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

JSA: I had written one book and was finishing up a second when my father had an unexpected and fatal heart attack at sixty-one years old. It was quite confronting, to say the least. It was also a vivid reminder that life is short and we don’t know how long we have on this earth. I had been working up my courage to query agents before he died, but after I recovered from the shock of his loss, I decided there was no reason to wait. It took a while to get published, but I now have seven books out and the eighth will be released in February 2020.

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

JSA: Donna Leon, Alexander McCall Smith, Alex Garland, and Philip Kerr. That would be an entertaining night!

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

JSA: I just finished A LONG TIME COMING by Aaron Elkins and SECRETIVE by Sara Rosett. Next up on my lengthy TBR list is Harriet Steel’s PASSAGE FROM NUALA.

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

JSA: I love to kayak and create stained glass windows and objects.

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

JSA: Olives, feta cheese, red wine, and coffee.

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

JSA: I have a total of nine books planned out for the Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mystery, though I recently realized I could easily make it twelve. I’m writing them in blocks of three, with the idea that the characters undergo a major change at the end of book 3 that affects the next three.

My Zelda Richardson Mystery series is potentially endless; I have a long list of art-related story ideas I hope to one day turn into stories.

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

JSA: It is a joy to create a world and mystery, and see how readers react to it!



By Jennifer S. Alderson
The First Travel Can Be Murder Mystery

Newly divorced and barely making ends meet Lana Hansen takes up her landlady's offer. All she has to do is co-lead a luxury tour and she'll get a reprieve on her rent and an all expense paid trip to Budapest. How hard could it be? Although the amenities are first class, the tour members keep Lana on her toes. From snobbish behavior, to veiled fighting over a man, and furtive glances all around Lana just hopes they don't kill each other! Unfortunately, Lana's hopes are in vain when her missing co-leader's body is found!  

I love exploring new places and would love to visit Hungary, especially the Christmas markets. I recently discovered I'm not cut out to be a world traveler, therefore I'm happy to allow Lana Hansen to be my guide. I enjoyed the descriptions of Budapest and, unlike Lana, I am a history buff and like learning all the details from the local guides. She and the Fabulous Five can keep the spa days, although I think I'd appreciate the architecture.

A good number of the tourists on Lana's first outing are the sort of people I hope never to meet and certainly not travel with. Lana is a likable protagonist, even though I'm not sure how she missed the connections between the travelers, especially as a former investigative reporter. My favorite character is Dotty and I love her way with animals and her new business venture for them. The pets also add dimension to the book despite their relatively small role.

There's a slow start to the first Travel Can Be Murder Mystery. While there is conflict from the tour group from the onset, the murder doesn't happen for quite some time. Then there's a slow investigation as the tour continues. Yet the penultimate scene, where Lana figures out who did it had me on the edge of my seat.

DEATH ON THE DANUBE: A NEW YEAR'S MURDER IN BUDAPEST is an enjoyable mystery which leads readers through the picturesque country of Hungary. The details of the travel blended with the furtive behavior of the tourists make an appealing narrative. I just hope Lana and the Fabulous Five, or Stupendous Six, don't sit near me at the opera! 


Death on the Danube: A New Year’s Murder in Budapest (Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mystery Series) by Jennifer S. Alderson

About Death on the Danube

Cozy Mystery 1st in Series  
Traveling Life Press (November 28, 2019) 
Print Length ~200 Pages 
Who knew a New Year’s trip to Budapest could be so deadly? The tour must go on – even with a killer in their midst…
Recent divorcee Lana Hansen needs a break. Her luck has run sour for going on a decade, ever since she got fired from her favorite job as an investigative reporter. When her fresh start in Seattle doesn’t work out as planned, Lana ends up unemployed and penniless on Christmas Eve.
Dotty Thompson, her landlord and the owner of Wanderlust Tours, is also in a tight spot after one of her tour guides ends up in the hospital, leaving her a guide short on Christmas Day.
When Dotty offers her a job leading the tour group through Budapest, Hungary, Lana jumps at the chance. It’s the perfect way to ring in the new year and pay her rent!
What starts off as the adventure of a lifetime quickly turns into a nightmare when Carl, her fellow tour guide, is found floating in the Danube River. Was it murder or accidental death? Suspects abound when Lana discovers almost everyone on the tour had a bone to pick with Carl.
But Dotty insists the tour must go on, so Lana finds herself trapped with nine murder suspects. When another guest turns up dead, Lana has to figure out who the killer is before she too ends up floating in the Danube…
Introducing Lana Hansen, tour guide, reluctant amateur sleuth, and star of the Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mystery Series. Join Lana as she leads tourists and readers to fascinating cities around the globe on intriguing adventures that, unfortunately for Lana, often turn deadly.
Feel-good stories about friendship, travel, and celebrating new experiences. Coming soon: Books 2 and 3 in the Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mystery Series!

About Jennifer S. Alderson

Jennifer S. Alderson was born in San Francisco, raised in Seattle, and currently lives in Amsterdam. After traveling extensively around Asia, Oceania, and Central America, she moved to Darwin, Australia, before settling in the Netherlands. Her background in journalism, multimedia development, and art history enriches her novels. When not writing, she can be found in a museum, biking around Amsterdam, or enjoying a coffee along the canal while planning her next research trip.
Jennifer’s love of travel, art, and culture inspires her award-winning mystery series—the Zelda Richardson Mysteries and Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mysteries—and standalone stories.  

Author Links: 
Website: http://www.jennifersalderson.com  
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/JennifeSAlderson  
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jenniferSAldersonauthor  
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JSAauthor  
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/JenniferSAlderson  
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jennifer-s-alderson  

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