Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Currently Reading...

I just started reading Open for Murder by Mary Angela. This book is the first in the Happy Camper Mystery series and was released yesterday!

Zo Jones, owner of The Happy Camper, is happy. She has a wonderful store, she takes time to be thankful, and her childhood friend is moving back to Spirit Canyon. Beth has inherited Spirit Canyon Lodge and is having a grand reopening of the rustic, yet chic accommodation. Zo is impressed with her friend's new venture and with press on scene the opening looks to be a great success, until Enid Barrett comes on scene. Owner of a nearby resort, Enid spoils the mood by picking a fight with just about everyone. Why would a wealthy woman with her own resort and mansion be staying at the lodge? As reasons for this unpleasant woman's presence become known, more than one person has good reason to be upset. It's bound to be a long night when a major thunderstorm knocks the power out and traps everyone inside.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

The Malt in Our Stars - A Review

 Review


THE MALT IN OUR STARS by Sarah Fox
The Third Literary Pub Mystery

The Inkwell is about to host its first author appearance and owner Sadie Coleman is thrilled and anxious. Fortunately, romantic suspense author Linnea Bliss and her assistant, Marcie, provide an entertaining event that is hugely successful. Sadie takes up Linnea's offer for lunch at the historic Shady Creek Manor and has a delightful time, despite an intrusion by the town's curmudgeon. A woman's scream stops Sadie's departure and she discovers Marcie's body which apparently has fallen out of a third story window. What was Marcie doing in an unoccupied room? Does it have anything to do with the rumor of the manor's hidden treasure? Or Eleanor's insinuation about the young woman? And what about the problems plaguing the film crew trying to film an episode for their craft beer show? Sadie is unable to contain her curiosity and delves into the investigation herself. But will her curiosity kill her?

Between the vandalism of the film crew, and the murder of the author's assistant, as well as the upcoming Masquerade Ball and her growing relationship with Grayson, Sadie has a lot to deal with in this third Literary Pub Mystery. But she does it all with grace and pluck. Well, she's not always graceful around Grayson, but that's fun for readers, if not for Sadie.

I love the Inkwell and delight in the descriptions of the literary themed food and beverages served there. I'd be enjoying a Yellow Brick Road...or two. Sarah Fox is able to capture the coziness of this Vermont town with it's historic buildings and multifaceted characters while providing an intriguing puzzle. 

THE MALT IN OUR STARS is a captivating mystery bringing the past and present together amid the literary cocktails and craft brews of a charming Vermont village.



Sunday, November 22, 2020

Can I Borrow a Snowblower? - A Dead of Winter Break Guest Post & Giveaway

I'm happy to welcome Cassandra Sato to Cozy Up With Kathy today. You can find Cassandra on the pages of the Cassnbdra Soto Mystery series. DEAD OF WINTER BREAK is the third book in the series and was released last week.

Can I Borrow a Snowblower? by Cassandra Sato


What was I thinking?

I’m young and adventurous. Moving from Waipahu on the island of Oahu, Hawai’i, to Carson, Nebraska, sounded like a great opportunity to further my career. When I arrived in July, the flowers bloomed, the temperatures were only a little higher than I was used to at home, and I had big dreams for the first semester in my new college administrator job.

Aloha everyone, I’m Cassandra Sato, writing to you from the sunroom of my Craftsman style bungalow, where I’m currently snowed in by a blizzard. Less than a week before Christmas, and up and down my street it looks like a Hollywood studio constructed a fairytale holiday set overnight complete with a foot of realistic snow. Don’t get me wrong—the snowy tree branches are beautiful, but how am I ever going to get to work?

I’ve seen snow before in my travels.

I researched the climate differences between my tropical paradise and the Midwest before accepting the position at Morton College. My friend Meg O’Brien took me shopping a couple of months ago for heavy duty snow gear. But this . . . this, whatever you call this snowy nightmare is worse than I ever imagined.

Like my mother always says, whining never makes anything better.

But if I’m completely honest with you, this semester has not gone as planned. Everything started off great. I bought my first house, reunited with my bestie Meg, and made a few new friends while settling into small town life. The men my age here are surprisingly good looking and down to earth, but who knows when I’ll be ready for a relationship again.

I’m big on making a life plan and sticking to it.

Whoever this Kelly Brakenhoff person is, once she got involved in October things quickly went downhill. A student died, some creeper stalked me, students protested the campus administration building, and my boss retired. His replacement was difficult on a good day and now she’s gone too. I’ve never owned a pet before—not even a goldfish— but now there’s a foster dog named Murphy staying at my house. No one told me Murphy wasn’t housebroken when I agreed to watch him.

Growing up the third of four children with an annoying big brother and two sisters, determination is my middle child thing. It takes a lot to move me from my goals.

To top it off, I really want to get to the office today because something strange is going on. Last Saturday, the college celebrated Fall Commencement in the gorgeous Performing Arts Center. Just when I was enjoying the pomp and circumstance of the moment, soaking in the joy on the graduates’ faces, I saw my former boss in the audience. Considering he retired in November, that was a big shocker. Worse, when I tried talking to him after the ceremony, he dodged me for a few hours then showed up later at my house looking upset.

I thought during winter break I’d take it easy, organize my closets, bond with my new dog, and catch up on Netflix.

Mother Nature had other plans for me this week.

First, I’m breaking out my brand-new snow shovel. I won’t be able to relax until I meet with Dr. Nielson and get the full story about why he came back to town. Hmmm… I wonder why the sheriff’s car just pulled into my driveway.

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Dead of Winter Break (A Cassandra Sato Mystery) by Kelly Brakenhoff

About Dead of Winter Break

Dead of Winter Break (A Cassandra Sato Mystery)
Cozy Mystery 3rd in Series
Publisher: Emerald Prairie Press (November 17, 2020)
~340 Pages Digital

It's beginning to look a lot like murder . . . And Cassandra is knee deep in . . .

Suspects. Her boss is dead, and the police are calling it burglary gone wrong. But when the killer comes after her, it's going to take more than a pair of furry boots to keep the smart, witty Morton College administrator, Cassandra Sato, out of the deep. . .

Snow. Her first Christmas in Nebraska could be her last unless her friends help unravel the mystery and housebreak her dog.

Buy now for a fast-paced, holiday themed whodunit.

Dead of Winter Break is the third book in Kelly Brakenhoff's popular Cassandra Sato Mystery Series. Death by Dissertation was a 2020 RONE Award Finalist. Publishers Weekly called Dead Week, "a diverting whodunit."

About Kelly Brakenhoff

 
KELLY BRAKENHOFF writes the Cassandra Sato Mystery series including DEATH BY DISSERTATION, a 2020 RONE Award Mystery Finalist, DEAD WEEK, "a diverting whodunit," (Publishers Weekly), and DEAD OF WINTER BREAK available in November 2020.   Kelly is an American Sign Language Interpreter whose motivation for learning ASL began in high school when she wanted to converse with her deaf friends. NEVER MIND and FARTS MAKE NOISE, her children’s picture books featuring Duke the Deaf Dog and illustrated by her sister, Theresa Murray, have quickly become popular with children, parents, and educators for promoting inclusive conversations about children with differences.   The mother of four young adults and a German Wirehair Pointer, Kelly and her husband call Nebraska home.  
 
Author Links: 
 
Purchase Link - Amazon  
 

Friday, November 20, 2020

Falling into Magic - A Review

 Review


FALLING INTO MAGIC by Elizabeth Pantley
The First Destiny Falls Mystery & Magic Book

Since she was a child Hayden has been aware that there was more to the world than could be seen, from the disappearance of her childhood cat to the boy in the mirror she'd glimpse out of the corner of her eye. All grown up, Hayden is walking home from the groomer with her cat when she's chased by a bearded man, a man just like the one her grandmothers described as wreaking havoc in their beauty parlor the day before. Hayden tumbles into a new world and discovers a family she never knew and the fact that magic does exist. But not all is well in Destiny Falls. Someone is looking for a better life and will stop at nothing to get it, even if it means destroying Hayden and her family.

I really enjoyed the storyline of the first Destiny Falls Mystery and Magic book. A play on a fish out of water, here the author takes our protagonist out of her element, but brings her home, where she can truly be who she was born to be. I love the concept of the town as a character, not only because of its setting and ambiance, but because it changes and seems to have a mind and purpose of its own.

It took me a while to get into FALLING INTO MAGIC for although I found the story intriguing I found the writing somewhat stilted. As the story progressed, however, it found its groove and the writing got tighter and more natural. Hayden is a bit immature, in her phrasing and actions, but she is likable. Her connection with her cat, Sassy, er Latifa, is heartfelt and fun. 

FALLING INTO MAGIC creates a new world wherein the town dictates the action and the players involved. It's a story with a youthful slant, a story of family and finding your place in the world. 


Thursday, November 19, 2020

The Best Writing Advice from the Mutt Mystery Authors - A Guest Post

I'm pleased to welcome the Mutt Mystery authors to Cozy Up With Kathy today. To Fetch a Villain is their latest anthology and it was released.

 The Best Writing Advice from the Mutt Mystery Authors

Heather: Don’t give up. Writing and getting published are hard work. You need to be persistent and willing to learn along the journey. This is a business, and writers need to treat their careers that way. They need to constantly improve their craft, learn new ways to market their work, and find ways to build their social media platforms.

Another piece of advice is that everyone needs an editor. No matter how good your writing is, we can all use a professional set of eyes to review our manuscript for plotholes, inconsistencies, and nasty typos. Often, you have one chance to pitch to a publisher or agent, and your manuscript has to be in the best shape possible.

 

Jayne: I woke up in 1998 with a book in my head. I honestly thought writing would be as simple as sitting down to the keyboard and letting the words flow in the exact order they needed to tell the story. Soon found out writing a book is much more work than just “reading” a book. Oh, so much, much more. I realized after my first rejection letter (a badge of honor) that I needed help, so I joined a writer’s group. They offered plenty of advice. Most of it good, but some, well, not so much. The worst advice I ever heard is “You can fix crap, but you can’t fix nothing.” In other words, just sit down and get the story out, and go back and fix it later.

I consider that the worst advice because it did not work for me. My process requires me to write one sentence at a time, be happy with it before moving on. Yes, it is a painfully slow process, but when I’m done, my novel/novella/story/blog post needs minor editing, not a complete overhaul. I truly thought I was doing something wrong, that I was a bad writer and would never reap the rewards as a published author.

I almost gave up on my dream, until I attended an author event at my local Barnes and Noble. Susan Elizabeth Phillips was on a book tour! (This was back in the days of in-person book tours, not the virtual ones of today.) Oh, what a gracious and kind lady. And when asked about her writing process, she said she writes slowly, just like me! But the best advice she gave was, “Do what works best for you.” Such a relief to learn I wasn’t a failure before even starting my writing career. So now any advice I receive must pass the SEP-sniff test. Does it work for me? If not, I go back to doing things my way.

 

Maria: The best writing advice I have been given came from Cynthia Riggs, author of the Martha's Vineyard Mysteries and starring 92 year old Victoria Trumbull. Cynthia and I were riding from Oxford to London in a pre-dawn airport shuttle after an instructive conference at St. Hilda's College. At this time, I had written my first mystery, and Cynthia had read it, but I had not yet submitted it to any agent or publisher. Her advice? Think series. Standalones don't lead to anything, usually, but a series featuring a great character or two can go on and on. After that, I wrote my first Travel Mystery starring Dotsy Lamb, retired history professor. Cynthia was right. With a good character and a reusable premise, you can go on and on.

But I wish I had followed Cynthia's other idea; In her books, time passes on Martha's Vineyard, but Victoria Trumbull is always 92 years old. I know this is impossible, but readers can accept things like this easily. But I let Dotsy age through six books and, as a result, she's now living with her second husband on his vineyard in Italy. No travel, no murders, no fellow travelers, no mystery,

The other best advice I have received came from Deni Dietz, my editor at Five Star. "Don't write from a man's point of view, Maria. You can't do it. You sound like a woman trying to figure out how a man thinks."

 

Teresa: The best writing advice I've ever received was to allow my work to be edited. Once I finish a story, I send to my writing partners to edit then send round two edits to a proof-reader. It makes my writing stronger, the story better, and catches grammar and other issues I may have missed.  

 

About the Mutt Mysteries:

Old dogs and new tricks abound in To Fetch a Villain, the third installment in the Mutt Mysteries series. This collection of four novellas illustrates why dogs are our best friends and the perfect companions for digging up clues, solving crimes, and bringing villains to justice. Let sleeping dogs lie? Not when the MUTTS are on the case!

RUFF DAY by Jayne Ormerod
Store owner Darby Moore suffers through a “ruff” day when a dead body is discovered in her custom dog house. With her best friend topping the suspect’s list, Darby knows the police are barking up the wrong tree. It’s up to Darby’s Great Dane Mr. Belvedere to channel his inner Scooby-Doo and save the day.


AT YOUR SERVICE by Maria Hudgins
Mystery writer Jessica Chastain is deaf and relies on her service dog Trey who acts as Jessica’s ears. Kim, a Bichon like Trey, is the latest addition to their family. But life is not a walk in the park when someone threatens all they hold dear. Together they take on an unethical breeder and dog-napper, whose bite is worse than his bark.


A SHOT IN THE BARK by Teresa Inge
Dog-loving Catt Ramsey hires an ex-con as her handyman to help with her dog-walking business at the same time a crime wave hits the neighborhood. But it’s Catt who is accused of murder. She enlists the help of family, friends, and her dogs Cagney and Lacey to prove man’s best friend can be crime’s worst enemy.


STRUT YOUR MUTT by Heather Weidner
Sassy PI Delanie Fitzgerald attends the Strut Your Mutt festival, where her business partner’s English bulldog is a finalist in a pampered doggie pageant. The dog’s new-found fame leads to a client with a missing poodle. Delanie and her team put paws to the pavement, sniff out clues, and show the villain that when you lie with the dogs, you wake up with fleas.

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Let’s Be Social:

Mutt Mysteries

Website/Blog: http://muttmysteries.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MuttMysteries

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MuttMysteries1

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To Fetch a Villain - Four Fun "Tails" of Scandal and Murder A Mutt Mystery by Jayne Ormerod, Maria Hudgins, Teresa Inge, & Heather Weidner

About To Fetch A Villain

 


To Fetch a Villain - Four Fun "Tails" of Scandal and Murder A Mutt Mystery
Cozy Mysteries 3rd in Series
Publisher: Bay Breeze Books Paperback: 244 pages

Old dogs and new tricks abound in TO FETCH A VILLAIN, the third installment in the Mutt Mysteries series. This collection of four novellas illustrates why dogs are our best friends and the perfect companions for digging up clues, solving crimes, and bringing villains to justice. Let sleeping dogs lie? Not when the MUTTS are on the case.

About the Authors

 

Heather Weidner Heather Weidner writes the Delanie Fitzgerald mystery series (Secret Lives and Private Eyes, The Tulip Shirt Murders, and Glitter, Glam, and Contraband). Her short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series, 50 Shades of Cabernet, and Deadly Southern Charm. Her novellas appear in The Mutt Mysteries series (To Fetch a Thief, To Fetch a Scoundrel, and To Fetch a Villain). Her new cozy series, the Jules Keene Glamping Mysteries, launches October 2021. She is a member of Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia, Sisters in Crime – Chessie, Guppies, International Thriller Writers, and James River Writers. Originally from Virginia Beach, Heather has been a mystery fan since Scooby-Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers. Through the years, she has been a cop’s kid, technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager.

   

Maria Hudgins Maria Hudgins is a mystery writer and a former high school science teacher. She is the author of the Dotsy Lamb Travel Mysteries, the Lacy Glass Archaeology Mysteries and several published short stories. Her favorite things are traveling, reading, dogs, and cats. She lives in Hampton, Virginia with her cat, Lulu.

 

Jayne Ormerod Jayne Ormerod grew up in a small Ohio town and attended a small-town Ohio college. Upon earning her accountancy degree, she became a CIA (that’s not a sexy spy thing, but a Certified Internal Auditor). She married a naval officer, and off they sailed to see the world. After nineteen moves, they, along with their two rescue dogs Tiller and Scout, settled in a cottage by the Chesapeake Bay. Jayne writes cozy mysteries about small towns with beach settings. You can read more about Jayne and her many publications at www.JayneOrmerod.com.

   

Teresa Inge Teresa Inge grew up reading Nancy Drew mysteries. Today, she doesn’t carry a rod like her idol, but she hotrods. She is president of Sisters in Crime Mystery by the Sea Chapter and author of short mysteries in Virginia is for Mysteries, 50 Shades of Cabernet, Coastal Crimes: Mysteries by the Sea, and Murder by the Glass. She resides in Southeastern Virginia with her husband and two dogs, Luke and Lena.

MUTT MYSTERIES Purchase Links - Amazon

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Falling into Magic by Elizabeth Pantley. This book is the first in the Destiny Falls Mystery and Magic series and was released last week.

Since she was a child Hayden has been aware that there was more to the world than could be seen, from the disappearance of her childhood cat to the boy in the mirror she'd glimpse out of the corner of her eye. All grown up, Hayden is walking home from the groomer with her cat when she's chased by a bearded man, a man just like the one her grandmothers described as wreaking havoc in their beauty parlor the day before. Hayden tumbles into a new world and discovers a family she never knew and the fact that magick does exist. But not all is well in Destiny Falls. Someone is looking for a better life and will stop at nothing to get it, even if it means destroying Hayden and her family.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

The Madness of Mercury - An Interview, Review, & Giveaway

I'm so happy to welcome Connie di Marco back to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Connie writes the Zodiac Mystery series. THE MADNESS OF MERCURY is the first book in the series and is being rereleased.


Kathy: Julia Bonatti is an astrologer. What are the misperceptions many people have about astrology and astrologers? Do you address any of these in THE MADNESS OF MERCURY?

CDM: Hi Kathy ~ it’s great to be visiting with you again! And thanks for hosting me today.

I certainly hope I’ve been doing a good job of portraying Julia’s working life as an astrologer, and all the various personalities she deals with. Her clients already have an open mind about astrology, otherwise they wouldn’t be sitting in her client chair. But occasionally, she runs into resistance or complete disbelief from a client, and sometimes anger, when Julia has to convey something they don’t want to hear. No matter what, Julia does her best to tread carefully and give the best advice and predictions she can.

I think a lot of people view astrology as either fortune telling or complete nonsense -- a woo-woo occupation. It’s an intense study and it works, although a lot depends on the skill of the astrologer. For example, an astrologer can’t say “You’ll meet a tall, dark and handsome stranger,” but he or she can tell you when a new relationship is likely to occur, and make an educated guess as to the type of person you’d be attracted to.

Astrology offers a frame of reference, like psychology, that an individual can use throughout life. Your natal chart is a map of the heavens at the time of your birth. It indicates the talents you are born with and the difficulties and challenges you’ll face in your life, as well as all the important cycles you’ll experience. It’s an endlessly fascinating study!

Kathy: While I certainly don't look forward to mercury retrograde and will postpone doing certain things if possible (I decided to wait until this last one passed in order to set up a new webpage) I don't panic. Of course, I never had to deal with what Julia does in this first Zodiac Mystery. What advice would you give people when mercury comes in retrograde again?

CDM: Well, I have to say that Mercury retrograde has gotten a really bad reputation. It’s honestly not terrible. Mercury rules communications – written and electronic. Mercury in a natal chart will indicate a person’s mental processes, how he or she thinks and speaks.

During a Mercury retrograde period (in other words, when Mercury appears to be moving backward from the perspective of the earth) you’ll often find that an email doesn’t go through, or your password won’t work on a certain site, or you miss a phone call. It is better not to sign contracts or agreements when Mercury’s retrograde, because the document might have a mistake or have to be revised, but it’s not disastrous. You can prepare during a retrograde period but it’s probably better to press the button on your new website when the time period is over.

It just seemed right to give Julia a Mercury retrograde period in her story, because THE MADNESS OF MERCURY is all about the planet Mercury, particularly a silver-tongued Mercury-ruled evil preacher who preys on the vulnerable.


Kathy: Setting is so important when it comes to traditional mysteries. San Francisco is so distinctive, it can almost be considered another character. What made you decide to set your series here?

CDM: I lived in the city for many years and still miss it a lot, although I do manage to visit a few times each year – research of course for the Zodiac Mysteries!

I had no doubt when I started this series that it had to take place in San Francisco. And I wanted my protagonist to have an unusual occupation. San Francisco is a beautiful city, but one of the things I love about it is its many moods. One day might be sunny, bright and windy. But let the sun set and it’s a foggy dank mysterious place. There’s lots of history to draw upon and a very eclectic population to offer Julia lots of crime. And I’m not alone. So many writers have set their stories in San Francisco. I wrote a post about San Francisco Detectives (http://www.conniedimarco.com/san-francisco-detectives/) a few years ago and as I researched, I was blown away by all the mysteries set there.

Kathy: THE MADNESS OF MERCURY was previously published by a no longer existing publishing house. How has it come to be rereleased? Are there plans for the other books in the series to be released as well?

CDM: I was really thrilled when Midnight Ink wanted the Zodiac Mysteries. It seemed the perfect fit because Midnight Ink is the fiction imprint of Llewellyn Worldwide, famous for publishing occult and spiritual books. I had fulfilled my contract for the first three books when I learned they’d be closing their doors. Many other authors were dropped in the middle of their contract and no other publisher would pick them up. It was much tougher for them. I had always planned to continue the series, no matter what, and since the publishing world was in such flux, I figured why not self-publish? Many authors have had great success and many are hybrid authors, traditionally published and self-published. As it turned out, a friend recommended me to Suspense Publishing and that was a wonderful gift. The people at Suspense have been terrific and I’m very happy to be part of their group.

Kathy: I love this series and was shocked when its publishing house closed its doors. I've been hoping the series will continue. Can we expect new books in the Zodiac series?

CDM: Absolutely! Suspense wanted to re-release the first three books with much more appropriate cover designs. (I wasn’t at all happy with my earlier covers. I didn’t feel they truly represented these stories.) Zodiac #2, ALL SIGNS POINT TO MURDER, will be out on December 1st and shortly after, TAIL OF THE DRAGON (Book 3), will be re-published.

After that, there’s a novella planned -- ENTER A WIZARD, STAGE LEFT, which is set before the series begins. Then Book 4, SERPENT'S DOOM. I’m just finishing up Book 5 now but haven’t definitely decided on a title yet.


Kathy: When it comes to writing I understand there are 2 general camps-plotters, who diligently plot their stories, and pansters, who fly by the seat of their pants. Are you a plotter, a panster, or do you fall somewhere in between?

CDM: I’m definitely a plotter. I like to know exactly where I’m going. Now, that doesn’t mean the story is carved in stone. It can be molded differently if something new comes to me, but I feel much more secure if I have a road map.

When I was writing my first series, the Soup Lovers’ Mysteries for Penguin (as Connie Archer), my editor required a detailed outline for each book. She didn’t want to see a synopsis, which is usually what editors require. This forced me to be very specific with the story line, to know where each clue would be dropped, how the action would unfold. It was a very valuable lesson and saved an enormous amount of time. I had only eight months to submit each book. I wanted to finish each one in six months to give myself time to offer it to beta readers for comments and extra time for revisions. Mysteries require a definite format – a strong plot, red herrings and camouflaged clues to be fair to readers. A really good outline is invaluable.

Kathy: Authors are required to do a lot of their own marketing, especially for a new release. What's your favorite part of marketing your work? What do you dislike about marketing?

CDM: The most difficult part of marketing is trying to figure out the best way to reach readers and where to invest my marketing budget, which certainly isn’t huge. But the most rewarding part is connecting one on one with readers who love good stories! Sadly, we can’t do in person events right now, but at least we can connect online. Hopefully the day will come sooner rather than later when we can return to more normal social interaction. I love meeting readers and signing books in person!

Kathy: Will you share any other upcoming books?

CDM: After Zodiac #3, TAIL OF THE DRAGON, will be the novella -- ENTER A WIZARD, STAGE LEFT. This was really fun to write. The action takes place at a theater production of an Agatha Christie play – Appointment with Death -- and this story has turned out to be a bit of a nod to Golden Age classics. I hadn’t planned on writing a novella but I received lots of messages from readers asking how Julia first became interested in astrology, wanting more stories featuring Gloria, Julia’s grandmother, and even asking how Julia first found her cat Wizard. So that’s how Enter a Wizard came to be.

After that Book #4 will be released – SERPENT'S DOOM. I’m finishing up Zodiac #5 right now but still haven’t decided on a title. I’m looking forward to writing more mysteries to challenge Julia’s sleuthing and astrological skills!

****************************************************************************

Review

THE MADNESS OF MERCURY By Connie di Marco
The First Zodiac Mystery

Julia Bonatti is a professional astrologer in San Francisco. In addition to private clients, she also writes the Ask Zodia newspaper feature anonymously. However, somehow not only her name, but e-mail, phone number and address have been leaked out and she's getting protests, threats, and more from people associated with the Prophet's Tabernacle. In addition, some of her private clients are making surprising claims and making poor life choices. Already one person has died, although it appears to be accidental. Violence is increasing by these religious extremists and this period of mercury in retrograde could be Julia's worst one ever...if not her last!

The first few sentences into this book I thought I would love it. The writing was just my style, the theme was right up my alley, and I thought I'd just discovered a favorite new series. As I continued, however, I became more and more nervous. While the writing was excellent, the story was reading as more of a thriller. Threats and violence escalated and one act of violence nearly made me put down the book for good. At this point while I considered this book a very good thriller, it was not what I was expecting. I was led astray by the cover. The cover is an absolute gorgeous work of art, a warm inviting room with a cat that screams "cozy mystery". It is not a cozy mystery. I continued the book, which slowed its thriller pace and became what I would call a traditional mystery.

As a traditional mystery the book is stellar. The Madness of Mercury takes a fascinating look at people and their inner workings, their motivations. It is a complex mystery which combines astrology and cult mentality, showing what can happen when divergent beliefs cross paths and intolerance rears its ugly head. This book struck some very personal chords with me. When I read about people who believe they should "not suffer a witch to live". I get nervous for me and my cats. In the book di Marco took a step across a line to show just how far the cult would go. I don't think that step was necessary, but it most certainly amped up the adrenaline and made issues much more serious, although the characters used a serious lack of judgement in how they handled this heinous situation.

The Madness of Mercury is a fast paced thrill ride of a psychological mystery. Darker with more risks and violence, there is more at stake here than in a cozy mystery. As such, it is more gripping and more disturbing, making you think more and contemplate society as a whole.

****************************************************************************

The Madness of Mercury (Zodiac Mystery) by Connie Di Marco

About The Madness of Mercury

The Madness of Mercury (Zodiac Mystery)
Traditional Mystery 1st in Series
Publisher: Suspense Publishing (October 8, 2020)
Paperback: 268 pages

San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti never thought murder would be part of her practice. But when a disastrous Mercury retrograde period hits, her life and practice is turned upside down, along with that of many of her colleagues who practice in the city. San Francisco has fallen under the spell of the Prophet’s Tabernacle, a religious cult that has descended upon the city. Reverend Roy, a Mercury-ruled, silver-tongued preacher offers a message of love and charity to the less fortunate, but Julia soon learns that the Reverend’s charity doesn’t extend to anyone who stands in his way. The Reverend is waging war on sin as he perceives it, targeting psychics, Wiccans, mediums, astrologers, gays, and anyone else he considers an abomination unto the Lord. 

Driven from her apartment, Julia seeks shelter with her client and friend, Dorothy. Dorothy has separated from her spouse and is caring for her two elderly aunts at their home on Telegraph Hill. Dorothy’s aunt, Evandra, appears stricken with dementia and her other aunt, Eunice, has fallen under the spell of the Reverend Roy. When Eunice disappears, Julia’s sure that she is headed for Prophet’s Paradise, a supposedly idyllic community north of the city. Julia fears that Eunice is being misled and will be in danger. She determines to rescue Eunice and take on the Army of the Prophet.

Julia learns once more what she already knew –that Mercury wasn’t just the messenger of the gods, he was a trickster and a liar as well.

 

About Connie di Marco

Connie di Marco is the author of the Zodiac Mysteries featuring San Francisco astrologer Julia Bonatti. The Madness of Mercury, the first book in the series will be re-released in October 2020.

Writing as Connie Archer, she is also the author of the national bestselling Soup Lover’s Mysteries from Berkley Prime Crime. You can find her excerpts and recipes in The Cozy Cookbook and The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook. Connie is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers and Sisters in Crime.

Social media links: 

Website: http://www.conniedimarco.com  

Blog: http://www.conniedimarco.com/blog  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/zodiacmysteries/ (Connie di Marco Author)  

Twitter: https://twitter.com/askzodia  

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1r4fl4U

Purchase Link - Amazon -

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Monday, November 16, 2020

Cat Conundrum - A Guest Post & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Lynley Cannon to Cozy Up With Kathy today. You can find Lynleyon the pages of the Crazy Cat Lady Mystery series. Cat Conundrum is the seventh book in the series and was released last month.

 
My name is Lynley Cannon. I’m a sixty-something cat shelter volunteer. That’s it! That’s all! Oh, I have other interests aside from volunteering. I also have a few (8) cats of my own, including a therapy cat and adventure cat. But I am not an amateur sleuth, I swear. These things just happen, and then before I know it, I’m involved. Maybe it’s my cat-like curiosity; maybe it’s merely coincidence, if you believe there is such a thing. I personally am beginning to wonder.Among other things, I foster sick cats, which is where the whole thing began for me. My friend Special Agent Denny Paris had convinced me to join him on a panel at the Cat Summit in Long Beach. I don’t know why I said yes—I am an introvert and don’t like crowds, especially when they’re staring at me. But the subject of shelter cats and how to help them get adopted in to forever homes is one close to my heart. I would happily sacrifice my comfort to help get the word out about their plight.

Long story short, the presentation went well, but then there was a murder. Yes, a murder in sleep little Long Beach! And it wasn’t the first—there had been a similar death some months back. Strangely enough, the rooms in which the men were killed had been locked from the inside.

This time, a cat was involved, discovered sealed with the dead man in the library of the Seaview Historical Museum. Someone had to foster poor kitty while Sheriff Boulder investigated the crime. Needless to say, I stepped up for the job. The cat, whom I dubbed Seaview for the museum in which he was found, immediately captured my heart, and even when the summit was over, I stayed on to care for him. The longer I stayed, the more embroiled I became in the community and its dreadful predicament.

I met the locals, some nice and some, not so much. I got along wonderfully with Long Beach’s crazy cat lady, a sweet young woman named Tabby like her clowder of cats, but it was dislike at first sight with her macho older husband. A Cat Summit attendee and her spouse were intrusive but well meaning, and I enjoyed their elderly friend who had recently lost her cat (though she swears kitty was stolen!), but another convention-goer seemed to be stalking me in a thoroughly creepy way. Denny’s aunt Cait was a joy, and since she knew everyone on the peninsula, she helped fill me in on the lowdown of the population.

The whole thing was a bit of a conundrum, but I stuck it out until the end. And it did end, in fire and fury. I barely escaped with my life, but I did, and no cats were harmed in the process. Things turned out well for most, but not for all.

No, I’m not a sleuth, just a cat lady with curiosity to match. If I’d gone home when I was supposed to, the saga would have progressed without me. Would things have been better or worse? There is no way of knowing. I like to think for all my effort that my presence was helpful in some way, to Seaview if no one else. And if I had it to do all over again?

I’d do exactly the same thing.

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To read the rest of Lynley’s story, find Cat Conundrum here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08KSK1531

Cat Conundrum is the 7th Crazy Cat Lady Cozy Mystery featuring Lynley Cannon, a sixty-something cat shelter volunteer who finds more trouble than a cat in catnip. For cat-lovers who like clean mysteries with a little bite to them. Cat tips, tricks, and facts at the beginning of each chapter.


The Crazy Cat Lady Cozy Mysteries:

Cats’ Eyes (book #1)

Copy Cat (book #2)

Cat’s Paw (book #3)

Cat Call (book #4)

Cat Café (book #5)

Cosmic Cat (book #6)

Cat Noel (a Christmas novella)

Cat Conundrum (book #7)


Books need not be read in order.
Editions Available: Kindle, Paperback

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Cat Conundrum (Crazy Cat Lady Cozy Mysteries) by Mollie Hunt

About Cat Conundrum


Cat Conundrum (Crazy Cat Lady Cozy Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery 7th in Series
Independently Published (October 29, 2020)
Number of Pages: 292

A locked room. A dead man. The cat is the only witness, and he isn’t talking.

Locked-room murders are being committed in sleepy little Long Beach, Washington. As to the killer, Sheriff Matt Boulder has no idea who or why.

The sheriff needs help. He calls his friend, animal cop Denny Paris, and gets a surprise bonus: Lynley Cannon, amateur sleuth. This isn’t how the sixty-something cat shelter volunteer envisioned her beach vacation, but when Denny asks her to join him in the search, how can she refuse?

While the officers investigate one line of inquiry, Lynley takes a different approach. Her only clues, a cat found at the murder scene and a rich man’s missing wife, lead her thread by thread to a scheme more insidious than fiction.

But who will she tell when she turns out to be the one in the locked room?  

About Mollie Hunt

Native Oregonian Mollie Hunt has always had an affinity for cats, so it was a short step for her to become a cat writer. Mollie is the author of The Crazy Cat Lady Cozy Mystery Series, featuring Lynley Cannon, a sixty-something cat shelter volunteer who finds more trouble than a cat in catnip. The 3rd in the series, CAT’S PAW, was a finalist for the 2016 Mystery & Mayhem Book Award. The 5th, CAT CAFÉ, won the World’s Best Cat Litter-ary Award in 2019. The 6th, COSMIC CAT, is the winner of the Cat Writers Association Muse Medallion Award for Best Cat Mystery 2019.

Mollie’s sci-fantasy, CAT SUMMER (Fire Star Press) also won a Muse Medallion, this time for Best Cat Sci-fi Fantasy. CAT SUMMER is the first in her Cat Seasons Tetralogy where cats save the world from an evil older than history—twice! Mollie published a stand-alone mystery, PLACID RIVER RUNS DEEP, which delves into murder, obsession, and the challenge of chronic illness in bucolic southwest Washington. Two of her short cat stories have been published in anthologies. She has a little book of Cat Poems as well.

Mollie is a member of the Oregon Writers’ Colony, Sisters in Crime, Willamette Writers, the Cat Writers’ Association, and the Northwest Independent Writers Association (NIWA). She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and a varying number of cats. Like Lynley, she is a grateful shelter volunteer.

Author Links:  

You can find Mollie Hunt, Cat Writer on her blogsite: www.lecatts.wordpress.com  

Amazon Page: www.amazon.com/author/molliehunt 

Facebook Author Page: www.facebook.com/MollieHuntCatWriter/  

Fire Star Author Page: http://prairierosepublications.com/authors_2/mollie-hunt\  

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7768987.Mollie_Hunt @MollieHuntCats  

Sign up for Mollie’s Extremely Informal Newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/c0fOTn.  

Purchase Link: Amazon 

 

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Sunday, November 15, 2020

Crime in Cornwall - A Guest Post & Giveaway

I'm happy to welcome Rita Stonningto Cozy Up With Kathy today. You can find Rita on the pages of the The British Book Tour Mystery series by Emma Dakin. Crime in Cornwall is the second book in the series and was released last month.

I don’t know how I got into such a mess. I’m forty-six and I’ve spent the last twenty years dealing with authors: petulant, grandiose, demanding, humble, shy, angry and narcissistic. You’d think I would be alert and wise. But I wasn’t. I fell for Oliver Nott the way I fell for my first inappropriate loser in the sixth form. My father helped me out of that one. No one helped me with Oliver Nott.

“Proper barmy,” my husband Patrick called him.

Oliver was mad in a way, delving in to the research for his books, searching out facts to bolster the plot line, interviewing anyone who might know about the setting with the focused purpose of an archeologist. He was always looking for the next big plot, the next big sale. Very professional. I edited his work and he was wonderful to work with. He paid attention to my suggestions and told me how much better his finished product was because I’d worked on it. That was seductive. He was our best seller and I was proud to be associated with him. While Patrick didn’t like Oliver, he respected his sales potential. He never saw him as a rival.

For the first few months of our affair I was floating. I felt young and alive. Then, he became as I’d seen him become with other women and men— critical, sarcastic, demeaning. He wanted to tell Patrick about us. That confused me and put me in a terrible position. e wanste dto tell Patrick about us.I was thinking of how to end it with him when death made the decision. It would have been tragic if he’d died in a plane crash or a car crash. But murder puts a deferent patina on sorrow. The police looked for suspects and found me. I couldn’t blame them. I was the perfect suspect. To be honest, I wanted him out of my life. The police, that Detective Inspector Evans in particular, were looking at the degree to which I was willing to go to get him out of my life.

Then I saw him in the garden, dead—and I took his phone. All I could think of was the texts, the humiliating texts that were on that phone. Patrick must not read those. That put me into an even worse position.

Claire from next door came to see me, bringing her comforting dog, Gulliver. I cried and hugged Gulliver and Claire listened. I forgot that the inspector was her lover and it was unwise to tell her anything. She was such a good listener and I badly need someone to listen, so I told her. Now, I’m really in trouble.

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Rita Stonning is a minor character in the story, but she is Claire’s next-door neighbor and, certainly, she is in trouble. In Crime in Cornwall, Claire Barclay, the protagonist, discovers who murdered Oliver Nott.

If you would like to know more about The British Book Tour series go to my website emmadakinauthor.com and click on the Join My Newsletter button. I send out information once a month. If everything is working properly, and the gremlins that haunt computers are latent, you should get a free chapter of a book when you join. 

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 Crime in Cornwall (British Book tour Mysteries) by Emma Dakin

About Crime in Cornwall


Crime in Cornwall (British Book Tour Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery 2nd in Series
Publisher: Camel Press (October 13, 2020)
Paperback: 228 pages

Patrick and Rita Stonning, Claire’s neighbors in Ashton-on-Tinch, dash down from London on weekends to host loud parties. They work in a publishing house and use their Ashton semi-detached home as a break from big city stress. Patrick arrives at Claire’s door distraught, reporting one of his partygoers, Olive Nott a best-selling author, dead. Claire discovers that not only is he dead, he’s been murdered. Patrick is suspected of the murder and has enough motive to satisfy the police. Nott wrote mysteries set in Cornwall and had planned to take his lucrative contracts to a competing company. His latest book dealt with smuggling in the caves of Cornwall. The police, including DI Mark Evans from the newly formed Major investigations Team wonder if he learned too much from his research. Claire takes her six tourists, most from America, to the Cornwall coast in search of sites of mystery novels and hears the opinions of the Cornish people on smuggling. She asks Patrick to meet her in Penzance to give a guest lecture on the smuggling in Oliver Nott’s novels. Claire finds Patrick self-aggrandizing and arrogant but doesn’t agree he would murder and sets out to find the one responsible.

From Amazon

Claire Barclay is enthusiastic about her British Mystery Book Tour business. She enjoys taking her guests, usually from America, to the settings of mystery novels where bodies are long dead. Her neighbor's plea for help to deal with a recently murdered well-known author unsettles her. She leaves the body to the police and takes her guests to Cornwall, including a British tourist who far is too interested in the dead author.

About Emma Dakin

Emma Dakin lives in Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia. She has over twenty-five trade published books of mystery and adventure for teens and middle-grade children and non-fiction for teens and adults. Her love of the British countryside and villages and her addiction to cozy mysteries now keep her writing about characters who live and work in those villages. She introduces readers to the problems that disturb that idyllic setting.

Author Links: 

Webpage/Blog emmadakinauthor.com  

Facebook http://tiny.cc/ilk3az  

Goodreads http://tiny.cc/ttk3az  

Purchase Link - Amazon - B&N IndieBound  

 

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