Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Currently Reading...

I just finished reading Perils and Lace by Gayle Leeson. This book is the second in the Ghostly Fashionista Mystery series and was released earlier this month.

Always ready for a challenge, Amanda Tucker agrees to help design the costumes for the high school's production of Beauty and the Beast. While coming up with creative designs for ottomans and feather dusters, she can't help but hear the rumors about the director having an affair with another teacher and notice that the smart as a whip student stage manager is hiding something. When the director is poisoned, Amanda fears for the students and the well being of her friend Connie, who found the woman. While helping her ghostly friend Max get a social media presence, looking our for the young stage manager, and getting closer to her boyfriend, Amanda will keep her eyes and ears open and see if she can discover just who killed Sandra Kelly.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Flight Risk - A Spotlight, Excerpt, & Giveaway

Flight Risk

by Cara Putman

on Tour April 1-30, 2020


Bestselling author Cara Putman returns with a romantic legal thriller that will challenge the assumptions of truth tellers everywhere.

Savannah Daniels has worked hard to build her law practice, to surround herself with good friends, and to be the loyal aunt her troubled niece can always count on. But since her ex-husband’s betrayal, she has trouble trusting anyone.

Jett Glover’s father committed suicide over a false newspaper report that ruined his reputation. Now a fierce champion of truth, Jett is writing the story of his journalism career—an international sex-trafficking exposé that will bring down a celebrity baseball player and the men closest to him, including Savannah’s ex-husband.

When Jett’s story breaks, tragedy ensues. Then a commercial airline crashes, and one of Savannah’s clients is implicated in the crash. Men connected to the scandal, including her ex, begin to die amid mysterious circumstances, and Savannah’s niece becomes an unwitting target.

Against their better instincts, Jett and Savannah join ranks to sort the facts from fiction. But can Savannah trust the reporter who threw her life into chaos? And can Jett face the possibility that he’s made the biggest mistake of his life?

Book Details:

Genre: Political/Romantic Suspense
Published by: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: April 7th 2020
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN: 078523327X (ISBN13: 9780785233275)
Series: This is a Stand Alone Novel
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

The conversation flowed over the antipasti course and into the pasta della casa. Every bite of Savannah’s manicotti alla fiorentina was wonderful, the ricotta and spinach blending perfectly. Just when she knew she couldn’t take another bite and get anything done afterward, thanks to the food coma, a waiter came out with a slice of cheesecake. Her mouth watered as she took in the raspberries atop the homemade delight. She put a hand on her stomach and then smiled. “I hope you brought fresh forks for everyone.”
The handsome waiter flashed a bright smile. “Whatever the birthday donna wishes is my command.” He gave a slight bow and turned away. A moment later when he returned, a fist of forks at the ready, his demeanor had changed.
Emilie watched him a moment. “What’s wrong, Antonio?”
“There has been a horrible accident. It is on the TV in the office.”
“What kind of accident?” Savannah leaned toward him. “Does it involve someone you know?”
“No.” The man shook his head, and not one of his dark hairs moved. Yet his eyes were weighted with sadness and the shadow of something more. “It is a plane. It looks bad.”
“Oh no.” The memory of a plane careening by as she looked out a courtroom window in downtown Washington, DC, years earlier flashed through her mind. Savannah fought a shudder as she withdrew a credit card from her phone case and placed it on the bill, only for Hayden to slide it back to her and replace it with her own.
“Thank you.”
Please let this be a terrible accident and not the beginning of another 9/11.
Jaime’s head was bowed over her phone as she clicked the screen. “Looks like an isolated crash.”
All Savannah could think was that Jaime should add so far to her sentence. “That’s what we all thought on 9/11 too.”
Then a second plane careened into the Twin Towers. She saw the plane that hit the Pentagon, and a fourth plane crashed in Pennsylvania, killing one of her fellow law students. She cleared her throat and stood, motioning the gals to join her.
“Let’s get back to work and see what we can learn.”
As they left her favorite restaurant, her phone buzzed and she paused to pull it out of her pocket. She glanced at the text message on the screen and her blood froze.
911. From Addy. Their emergency code.
Excerpt from Flight Risk by Cara Putman. Copyright 2020 by Cara Putman. Reproduced with permission from Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Cara Putman is the author of more than twenty-five legal thrillers, historical romances, and romantic suspense novels. She has won or been a finalist for honors including the ACFW Book of the Year and the Christian Retailing’s BEST Award. Cara graduated high school at sixteen, college at twenty, completed her law degree at twenty-seven, and recently received her MBA. She is a practicing attorney, teaches undergraduate and graduate law courses at a Big Ten business school, and is a homeschooling mom of four. She lives with her husband and children in Indiana.


Visit her at:, Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, Twitter - @Cara_Putman, & Facebook - Cara.Putman!

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

Enter To Win!!!!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Cara Putman and Thomas Nelson. There will be 2 winners. Each winner will receive a set of three (3) print copies by Cara Putman. The giveaway begins on April 1, 2020 and runs through May 2, 2020. Open to U.S. addresses only. Void where prohibited.
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Sunday, April 26, 2020

A View to a Kilt - A Spotlight

Today I'd like to shine a spotlight on the latest book that is part of a series I wish I discovered earlier! A View to a Kilt by Kaitlyn Dunnett is the thirteenth book in the Liss MacCrimmon Scottish Mystery series.

From the jacket:

A series of blizzards have kept tourists away from Moosetookalook, Maine, and shoppers out of Liss MacCrimmon’s Scottish Emporium. But as warmer weather brings promises of tartan sales and new faces, melting snow reveals cold-blooded murder . . .
Liss has suddenly found herself in charge of the March Madness Mud Season Sale, a town-wide celebration created to boost the local economy during the slushy weeks of early spring. With businesses ailing after a rough winter, the pressure is on to make this year’s effort the can’t-miss-event of the season. But before Liss can get her hands dirty, her husband makes a horrifying discovery. There’s a dead man on their property, and he didn't die of natural causes . . .

Stunned by the murder mystery developing in her own backyard, Liss receives another shock. The victim is identified as Charlie MacCrimmon, an uncle believed to have died eleven years before Liss was born. No one has seen or heard from Charlie since he went off to fight in Vietnam. What secrets could he have been hiding for so many years, and who would want to kill a man long thought to be dead?

Enlisting the help of her family, Liss uncovers more questions than answers as she delves into her uncle’s murky past. One thing is clear—before he met his end, Uncle Charlie was desperately trying to warn her about something sinister. And unless Liss can soon track down a maniacal criminal as elusive as the Loch Ness Monster, she just might be the next MacCrimmon to disappear . . .

Friday, April 24, 2020

Potions are for Pushovers - A Review


The Second Eleanor Wilde Mystery

Deciding to stay in England Eleanor Wilde reinvents herself from ghost banishing psychic medium to local witch, selling potions and elixirs. Opinion of her is mixed in the village, but she has regular customers as well as a young girl who decided to become her apprentice as part of a school project. But when the village battle-axe keels over in the church hall after accusing Eleanor of giving her the evil eye, business comes to an abrupt halt. When her apprentice suggests a werewolf, Ellie scoffs. But there are signs signifying werewolf activity and local animals are disappearing. Feeling the inspector thinks her guilty Ellie aims to prove her innocence and get back in business, werewolf or not. After all a spell from a charlatan witch won't fix that leaky thatched roof!

POTIONS ARE FOR PUSHOVERS examines possibilities. It also deals with the desire to fit in...or not. Ellie has always been transient, never in one place for long, with few attachments. Aside from a connection to her siblings, she's a loner. But despite this rough, "I don't want or need anyone" we see that she does care and wants to fit in and have people like her. The book also looks at the importance of perception and how others see you, and each other.

I laughed at how Ellie got two apprentices she never wanted or needed and admire the exuberance of the two young ladies. Lenora is a great addition and I hope we see more of this bright girl. I absolutely love how the girls' research led to the possibility of a werewolf. Sarcastic humor and surprising depth of character are the hallmark of this series, along well placed barbs and eccentric behavior. The somewhat snarky comments and behavior is refreshing, especially as we see the goodness in the characters slowly sneaking out.

POTIONS ARE FOR PUSHOVERS is a delightfully complicated village mystery awash with community and societal expectations. There are lots of surprises along with a shocking ending that leaves me anxious to see what is in store for Ellie and the village!

Thursday, April 23, 2020

When It's Time for Leaving - A Book Blast!


Book Blast - When It's Time for Leaving by Ang Pompano

About When It's Time For Leaving

Traditional Mystery 1st in Series  
Encircle Publications, LLC (October 1, 2019)  
Paperback: 274 pages
When his girlfriend dumps him and a dealer nearly rams him off a bridge, Al DeSantis quits the New Haven Police Department. Just as he plans to head for LA, he finds out the father who left when he was a kid has deeded him the Blue Palmetto Detective Agency in Georgia. Al goes down to Savannah intending to sell fast and go west, but before he can, he discovers a strong, attractive detective named Maxine, a dead body on the dock—and his father, alive, suffering from dementia, and determined to help his “new partner Al” solve the crime. Al has a lot of adjusting to do when his traditional ideas are challenged as he has to act as his father’s caretaker, and finds that Maxine is his superior in the agency that he “owns.” When his father goes missing, Al and Max must team up to save his father--and capture the murderer.
Ang Pompano’s debut novel, WHEN IT’S TIME FOR LEAVING, is a corker. Thoroughly likable former cop, Al DeSantis, wants to get out of the crime business but inherits one that, fortunately for readers, won’t let him go. — Hallie Ephron, New York Times bestselling author CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR

In When It’s Time for Leaving, debut mystery author Ang Pompano has created the most unusual and appealing duo of detectives since Holmes and Watson. —Lucy Burdette, national bestselling author of A DEADLY FEAST

Author Ang Pompano serves up the PI for the double 20s. Al DeSantis is a classic, damaged gumshoe but with a youthful energy that pulls you through the pages. —Barbara Ross, author of the Maine Clambake Mysteries and winner 2019 Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction
Crime fiction has boasted some famous fathers and sons, from Inspector Richard Queen and his son Ellery to Jim Rockford and his dad Rocky. Add to that list the unforgettable duo of Al DeSantis and Big Al—building on that tradition but with some provocative twists. Ang Pompano’s first novel proves tough-minded and warm-hearted in equal measure. A fine, multi-layered debut.—Art Taylor 2019 Edgar, Anthony, Agatha, Macavity, and Derringer Award winner

When it’s Time for Leaving is a crime thriller that delivers an atmospheric tale packed with action, suspense and some surprising twists. Pompano is a skilled storyteller who offers readers a complex mystery of chases, confrontation and introspection. The tale he weaves is, indeed a well-crafted murder mystery, set in a turbulent sea of emotions and populated with multifaceted characters. ­­­ —James Terry reviewer The Paladin Project

I like mystery/thrillers. This one is heavy on the mystery and very little thriller aspect. It is an enjoyable sometimes snarky read that made me smile. The main characters were so well written I felt like I knew them. The mystery itself was wrapped in mystery as we got to know the individuals and the hidden nuances of small towns. It was almost like watching (albeit reading) a 50/60 movie. I personally wanted the ending to share with everyone who was guilty. Have to leave it there, no spoilers. Thank you for the arc! All thoughts and opinions are my own and were unsolicited. —Cheryl M, Net Galley Reviewer

A really good and surprising mystery. The characters are great and feel like friends. I loved the snarky humor. I will definitely read more by this author. —Leah H, Net Galley Reviewer 

Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours Praise
. . . a compelling detective mystery, with a bit of romance and lots of action and suspense. It is very well written, the plot is well intertwined and the pace is flowing. ~LibriAmoriMiei

This was a good mystery, with rough around edges characters . . . I really enjoyed this mystery . . . ~eBook Addicts

Pompano’s flawed detective is fun to watch. He’s tough with the bad guys, but when dealing with his father and the gal next store, he’s totally lost. There are moments of humor; others of sadness. ~Here’s How It Happened

When It’s Time for Leaving by Ang Pompano is a traditional PI mystery that had me intrigued from the first page . . . I enjoyed the mystery and thought it was a good debut novel. ~Brooke Blogs

About Ang Pompano

Ang Pompano has been writing mysteries for more than twenty years. His mystery novel, WHEN IT’S TIME FOR LEAVING will be published on October 1, 2019, by Encircle Publications. His short stories have been published in many award-winning anthologies, including the 2019 Malice Domestic Anthology, PARNELL HALL PRESENTS MALICE DOMESTIC: MURDER MOST EDIBLE. His newest story, "Stringer" will appear in SEASCAPE: THE BEST NEW ENGLAND CRIME STORIES 2019. In addition, he has written many academic pieces including one on teaching detective fiction. A member of Mystery Writers of America, he is a past recipient of the Helen McCloy/Mystery Writers of America Scholarship for a novel in progress. He has been on the New England Crime Bake Planning Committee for fourteen years and is a long-time board member of Sisters in Crime New England. He lives in Connecticut with his wife, Annette, an artist, and his two rescue dogs, Quincy and Dexter.
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Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Potions are for Pushovers by Tamara Berry. This book is the second in the Eleanor Wilde Mystery series.

Deciding to stay in England Eleanor Wilde reinvents herself from psychic medium to local witch, selling potions and elixirs. Opinion of her is mixed in the village, but she has regular customers as well as a young girl who decided to become her apprentice as part of a school project. But when the village battle-axe keels over in the church hall after accusing Eleanor of giving her the evil eye, business comes to an abrupt halt. When her apprentice suggests a werewolf, Ellie scoffs. But there are signs signifying werewolf activity and local animals are disappearing. Feeling the inspector thinks her guilty Ellie aims to prove her innocence and get back in business, werewolf or not. After all a spell from a charlatan witch won't fix that leaky thatched roof!

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Old Friends and New, Another Murder - A Spotlight

I'm happy to shine a spotlight on Old Friends and New, Another Murder by Christa Nardi today. This book is the third in the Sheridan Hendley Mystery series.

Old Friends and New, Another Murder (Sheridan Hendley Mystery) by Christa Nardi

About Old Friends and New, Another Murder

Cozy Mystery 3rd in Series 
Independently published (December 12, 2019) 
Paperback: 206 pages 
A touch of nostalgia, a murder, and good friends
When a former colleague is implicated in his neighbor’s demise, Sheridan Hendley returns to Cold Creek to prove his innocence. Annoying as Max can be, she can’t imagine the quirky professor is capable of murder. Unfortunately, not everyone shares her opinion. Of course, it doesn’t help that Max threatened his neighbor in a public place soon before the man was murdered. Or that the victim’s drug shipments had a habit of turning up on Max’s doorstep.

About Christa Nardi

Christa Nardi is an accomplished writer and an avid reader. Her favorite authors have shifted from Carolyn Keene and Earl Stanley Gardner to more contemporary mystery crime authors over time, but she still loves a good mystery. Christa has authored the Cold Creek Cozy Mystery Series, the spinoff Sheridan Hendley Mystery Series, and the Stacie Maroni Mystery Series. She co-authors the Hannah and Tamar Mystery Series. When not reading or writing, Christa enjoys travel with her husband and playing with three dogs and three grand-daughters.  

Author Links:  
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Purchase Link - Amazon 

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Sunday, April 19, 2020

Baker's Coven - A Review


BAKER'S COVEN by Nancy Warren
The Second Great Witches Baking Show Mystery

Despite the murder that occurred during last week's filming, Poppy Wilkinson is ready to get back to Broomewode and carry on competing in the second episode of the Great British Baking Contest. The signature bake is all about local fruits and Poppy thinks she's hit the jackpot when she discovers a source for local gooseberries. But when a falling chunk of an ancient tower nearly crushes her, Poppy realizes that danger still surrounds the area. 

BAKER'S COVEN introduces a wonderful new character in the form of Sly, a gorgeous border collie who loves his orange ball. While Gateau isn't charmed, I'm as smitten as Poppy. In fact, my emotions ran high in this second episode of the Great Witches Baking Show. My heart was pumping as I shared Poppy's righteous anger toward Peter Puddifoot. I thought I would like this character as he seemed to care for the bees, but his behavior toward Sly made me feel a murderous rage!

I'm continually amazed how much content, depth, and intrigue Nancy Warren manages to put in such a short book! There are several storylines: the current mystery, the ongoing baking competition, Poppy's development as a witch, and more. All are given proper attention and meld together to form a complete and satisfying story!

BAKER'S COVEN is a mouthwatering mystery jam packed with danger, excitement, and cake. Well rounded characters, a delightful setting, and a thoughtful mystery make me eager for the next offering.

Recipe Included.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Belinda Blake and the Birds of a Feather - A Review


By Heather Day Gilbert
The Third Exotic Pet-Sitter Mystery

When Jonas calls to tell her his mother just died, Belinda Blake doesn't hesitate to return to Larches Corner. Belinda agrees to care for the woman's homing pigeons, not only to ease some of Jonas's burden, but to spend time with the enigmatic farmer and perhaps determine his feelings for her. But thoughts of Jonas aren't the only thing keeping her in town. A recent hit and run has ties to a death three years prior. Hoping to quench her curiosity, Belinda decides to help an old friend who's now a reporter. As she investigates she also considers her feelings for both Jonas and Stone, and wonders if either of them see her as more than a friend and neighbor. But as she continues to question people in Larches Corner, more than her heart may be in danger. Is she getting too close to a killer?

I absolutely loved this book! While I enjoyed the first two books in the Exotic Pet-Sitter Mystery series, this third outing knocked it out of the park. There's an old tragedy sparking modern murder, relationship quandary and development, and more than a touch of suspense and excitement. There's also more than one shocking twist! The mystery had me guessing, the romance had me hoping, and the ending opens up whole new possibilities. 

BELINDA BLAKE AND THE BIRDS OF A FEATHER looks at love, loyalty, and vengeance. Relationships, both romantic and familial, color this complex mystery making it a riveting read.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Belinda Blake and the Birds of a Feather by Heather Day Gilbert. This book is the third in the Exotic Pet-Sitter Mystery series and was released earlier this year.

When Jonas calls to tell her his mother just died, Belinda Blake doesn't hesitate to return to Larches Corner. Belinda agrees to care for the woman's homing pigeons, not only to ease some of Jonas's burden, but to spend time with the enigmatic farmer and perhaps determine his feelings for her. But thoughts of Jonas aren't the only thing keeping her in town. A recent hit and run has ties to a death three years prior. Hoping to quench her curiosity, Belinda decides to help an old friend who's now a reporter. As she investigates she also considers her feelings for both Jonas and Stone, and wonders if either of them see her as more than a friend and neighbor. But as she continues to question people in Larches Corner, more than her heart may be in danger. Is she getting too close to a killer?

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

The Great Divide - An Interview

I'm so happy to welcome L.J.M. Owen back to Cozy Up With Kathy. L.J.'s newest release is a chilling work of crime fiction entitled THE GREAT DIVIDE.

Kathy: THE GREAT DIVIDE is quite a departure from your Elizabeth Pimms Mystery series. Why the change from a lighter traditional mystery to more gritty crime fiction?

LJMO: I have two overriding, conflicting motivations for writing – one is to provide my readers with a means of escaping their current world; the other is to explore the very things we seek to escape from.

The Dr Pimms series, with it’s warm family scenes, delicious meals and mischievous cats woven into the background of Elizabeth’s forensic investigations, is the means of escape.

The Great Divide explores the darker side of human nature that many wish to escape from.

Kathy: Was there a specific inspiration for this story?

LJMO: In recent decades, a series of horrific crimes perpetrated in institutions around the world have come to light.

I’ve supported some victims of these types of crimes through part of their survival and recovery. I’ve observed that despite fiction often portraying female victims of these crimes as having fairly uniform reactions, the reality is that women’s responses vary widely.

So one of my motivations in writing THE GREAT DIVIDE was to show the breadth of reactions and coping mechanisms women – as individuals – can develop as they deal with similar childhood traumas.

Kathy: Location plays an important part of a mystery. What makes rural Tasmania the perfect setting for your novel?

LJMO: I couldn’t have written this book until moving to Tasmania and experiencing a full winter here. It’s bone achingly cold; a chill that seeps deep into the tissues of your body and doesn’t leave until six weeks into spring.

It’s also fog-enshrouded - days pass without seeing the sun.

My first bitter, claustrophobic winter in the Tasmania mountains became the perfect setting for a Gothic mystery centred on an abandoned children’s home.

Kathy: The mystery in THE GREAT DIVIDE revolves around a children's home. The very words "children's home" conjures up disturbing and troubling thoughts as well as secrets and hidden truths. Am I right to feel a creepy vibe?

LJMO: You picked it - it’s chilling. To avoid spoilers, I won’t say anything further…

Kathy: Are you able to share any future plans for Detective Jake Hunter?

LJMO: I hadn’t originally intended to write a sequel to THE GREAT DIVIDE.

It was a harrowing book to write, due to the nature of the victims and crimes described, as well as technically challenging to weave such serious material into a fast-paced reading experience.

The response to Jake’s first investigation has been fantastic, though, with many requests for a second installment. So I’m tossing up whether he should move to Hobart, the capital of Tasmania, or remain in a rural setting.

Either way, it seems that Jake isn’t done with the Gothic horrors of Tasmania’s past.

Kathy: Do you have any plans for Dr. Elizabeth Pimms?

LJMO: Certainly! Dr Pimms will shortly spring on to my laptop page to investigate murder and mayhem in ancient Mongolia, exploring the library of Karakorum and the women leaders of Genghis Khan’s empire.

Kathy: Will you share any other upcoming books?

LJMO: I’d love to return to share all my future books with you and your readers – stayed tuned.


For more information please check

Monday, April 13, 2020

Murder in the Secret Maze - A Review


The First Tory Benning Mystery

A picture perfect wedding ceremony leads to a nightmare of a reception when the groom vanishes. Landscape architect Tory Benning is worried about what could have possibly happened to her husband. Surely he hasn't jilted her mere minutes after their wedding. Searching the maze she designed with her best friend, she finds Milo's cell phone, smashed to pieces. Could Milo have been kidnapped? Or worse? When a police officer with a grudge tries to implicate Tory, she determines to find answers herself. Is Milo OK, or is the new bride a widow?

The first Tory Benning Mystery gets off to a great start. There's humor with an over the top hair stylist preparing Tory for her wedding, banter with the best friend serving as maid of honor, and a beautiful wedding which leads to a non-reception as the groom disappears. From this point on, however, things get weird. With the love of her life missing, mere days later Tory and Ashley are gaping over good looking men. Shortly after that Tory is getting all gooey over the private investigator. Sure a comment on good looking men wouldn't be amiss, but this had the makings of the start of a romance! While she believes her husband of mere minutes is dead, and it certainly seems that is the case, she doesn't know it. Then all manner of family secrets come out. Maybe one or two would be believable, but the amount here is staggering. Even Tory comments that it's like a soap opera. 

The writing style was good and the penultimate confrontation was exciting, but I found it difficult to get past the behavior of the protagonist, who I found I didn't really like. In fact, I didn't like the majority of the characters or their relationships with each other.

MURDER IN THE SECRET MAZE, while well written with an interesting plot, was laden down with too many unbelievable twists.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

This Magick Marmot - A Review & Giveaway


The Fifth Abracadabra Mystery

Kailyn Wilde is apprehensive about attending her tenth high school reunion, but the jitters pass as soon as she sees her old friends Genna and Charlotte. The night is filled with memories and laughter, but soon tragedy when Charlotte finds Genna dead in the ladies room. Kailyn has to wonder if her demise is tied to the death of a classmate their Senior year. Although deemed an accidental death ten years ago, there were nebulous rumors that someone was to blame for Scott's death. Has someone decided to finally get vengeance?

Secrets, vengeance, and love conspire in the fifth Abracadabra Mystery. There's an intriguing storyline whereby past choices determine the present action. In addition, Kailyn is working on new magickal abilities while Merlin (yes, that Merlin) tries to correct the problem all of the Wildes have been having with their magick. There's a good puzzle, heart stopping action, and lots of laughs.

Family continues to play a big part in this series. We see trust, worry, and the lengths people will go to for each other. We see how they work together as well as how families change. While Kailyn's deceased mother and grandmother seem to be moving on, and possibly away, we see other ties bonding more tightly. I adore Merlin's new familiar while continuing to love Shashkatu, who has a commanding presence despite the limitations of age.

THIS MAGICK MARMOT is a magickally filled mystery with humor, love, and marmots! I absolutely love this series and the characters that live in its pages. I only wish I could take that two hour drive to the east and meet them in person!


This Magick Marmot (An Abracadabra Mystery) by Sharon Pape

About This Magick Marmot


Cozy Mystery 5th in Series  
Publisher: Lyrical Press (April 7, 2020)  
Paperback: Pages: 200
A fatal case of school spirit . . .
Kailyn Wilde, owner of the Abracadabra potion shop, feels some dread anticipating her ten-year high school reunion at the new hotel in New Camel—but it turns out even worse than she feared. Running into her very first boyfriend is pleasant enough. Chatting with Ashley—who still can’t let go of a tragedy that happened on prom night—is a bit more uncomfortable. But the worst part comes when one of Kailyn’s oldest friends is found dead in the ladies’ room.
Soon this upstate New York town is in an uproar. And with some help from time-traveling wizard Merlin—who has adopted an unusual and alluring creature as his familiar—it’s up to Kailyn to identify the alumnus most likely to commit murder . . .

About the Author

Sharon Pape describes her writing career as having two stages. Back in the dark ages, before computers were in every household, she had three paranormal books published. The first one was condensed by Redbook Magazine, the first paperback original they had ever condensed. Around the same time, Redbook published her first short story.
Then life brought her an unexpected challenge that went by the name of breast cancer. When her treatment was over, she became a volunteer for the American Cancer Society’s Reach to Recovery Program and went on to be the program’s coordinator for Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. Several years later, with the help of her surgical oncologist and two other survivors, she started her own not-for-profit organization to provide information and peer support to newly diagnosed breast cancer patients.
Once the organization was running smoothly and didn’t require as much of her time, she returned to her first love – writing. During this second stage of her career, she’s been writing cozy mysteries with a paranormal twist and a splash of humor.

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Friday, April 10, 2020

Murder in the Secret Maze - An Interview & Giveaway

I'm happy to welcome Judith Gonda to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Judith writes the Tory Benning Mystery series. MURDER IN THE SECRET MAZE is the first book in the series and

Kathy: Tory Benning is a landscape architect. I have always been fascinated by this particular branch of gardening, especially having grown up near Frederick Law Olmstead designed gardens and parkways. How did you choose this career for Tory?

JG: Thank you for having me. That’s a great question! The short answer: my older daughter, Jennifer, is a very talented landscape architect. The longer answer is I’ve always loved the beauty of nature. Also, my husband is an architect so I’ve had an up close and personal view of the field (pun intended) of architecture and all it encompasses. Landscape architecture is a fascinating combo of many fields really. In addition to horticulture, the disciplines of architecture, urban planning, environmental and health sciences, psychology, sociology, and the visual arts all play a role in designing beautiful, functional, and even therapeutic public and private outdoor landscape and hardscape spaces. So yes, gardens. But also, design, and all the many considerations that influence design. At the University of Southern California, where my daughter earned her Master in Landscape Architecture degree, the landscape architecture program is a part of the School of Architecture. Along with learning about every aspect of plants, students learn about design, water conservation and systems from an engineering perspective, computer-assisted design, and much more. For readers who want further information about Tory’s education here is a link to USC’s landscape architecture programs

Kathy: Do you enjoy gardening? Do you follow any landscape architecture style? Or do you just plant what you like wherever it fits? Do you have a favorite landscape architect?

JG: I love to nurture in general, but I must confess I kill about fifty percent of my houseplants, even succulents, on a fairly regular basis (Not intentionally--I’m not planning a plant-murderer series!) I either over or under water them. But I do have a big palm and dracaena that are decades old. I do best with the plants that perk up after I’ve forgotten to water them with a cheery “all is forgiven” attitude.

I prefer a minimalist, zen-like landscape architecture style because of its calming effect. But I also love the beauty, intricacy, and textures of a traditional English-style garden. But alas, neither style shows up in my own backyard. I live in Los Angeles where we experience periodic droughts so our backyard only has patches of green because we have cut back on watering. But we do have hardy lemon, grapefruit, and tangerine trees, the lemon being the most consistent and bountiful producer.

My favorite landscape architect is my talented daughter, Jennifer Regnier.

Kathy: MURDER IN A SECRET MAZE features a garden maze. I've always wanted to attempt a hedge maze. Have you ever been in one?

JG: I lived in England for five years growing up and my absolutely favorite thing in the world was to go to the maze at Hampton Court. Pure delight for someone who has always been obsessed with puzzles and figuring things out.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

JG: I started reading traditional mysteries when I was in grad school. I didn’t have any money nor a TV. My main source of entertainment was to go to the University of Wisconsin-Madison library and explore the mystery section. I loved Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, Tommy and Tuppence, Lord Peter Wimsey, Nick and Nora Charles, Adam Dalgliesh, Roderick Alleyn, and, of course, Sherlock Holmes. I would binge a whole series. Many years later I started reading Sue Grafton and Janet Evanovich, maybe not cozies in the strict definition but, to me at least, in the same spirit—a plucky female sleuth who’s fun company. I also like Diane Mott Davidson, Jerrilyn Farmer, and Jenn McKinlay among others. And Robin Stevens who writes mysteries for young readers.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

JG: So far, only mysteries.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

JG: Thirty-three-year old California landscape architect Tory Benning is living her best life. She works at her family’s successful landscape architecture and nursery business and has just gotten married to Milo Spinelli, a rising star architect, at the beautiful Hotel Santa Sofia’s gardens and adjacent Secret Maze which she designed, when Milo disappears without a trace. Tory immediately suspects foul play, but the police aren’t so sure, thinking Milo might have had second thoughts, which prompts Tory to conduct her own search for Milo, dragging along her BFF, lawyer Ashley Payne, as her Watson to Tory’s Sherlock. So starts the first book in the Tory Benning Mystery Series. The rest of the book describes Tory’s quest to find out what happened to Milo, with murder, a stalker, family secrets, and many twists and turns along the way.

The subsequent books in the series will show how Tory’s problem-solving skills, empathy, and network of friends in and out of the criminal justice system, along with her clever use of technology and social media, enable her to solve crimes.

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

JG: In my series, my favorite character is Tory Benning. She’s my favorite because one minute she’s living her best life, and then she gets a one-two punch with the loss of her father and her husband. I’m a big fan of character development in books and TV because it’s hopeful and inspirational and makes the characters seem real. Currently, my gold standard is how brilliantly all the characters develop in the TV show Schitt’s Creek. My delight and challenge will be in showing how Tory copes with her loss and comes out a stronger person over time. I’m a psychologist so it’s important for me to convey that everyone deals with loss and stress in different ways and at their own pace. And that’s okay.

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

JG: Tory epitomizes resilience during highly stressful times, coping as best she can, even managing some humor with her friend Ashley in some very dark moments. I guess my inspiration was how I’ve seen myself and members of my own family cope when multiple stressful life events have occurred. It’s the tough times that test us and show us what we’re made of.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

JG: Generally speaking, I wanted to entertain people. This is the second book I’ve written but the first one that has been published. If it were totally up to me, both would be published, but unless you totally self-publish you can’t control what gets published. Every author is different, but I wanted to go the route I did because at this point in my career I like having the reinforcement of an agent and a publisher behind me.

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

JG: Sue Grafton, J.K. Rowling, Michelle Obama, and Hillary Clinton.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

JG: I was supposed to moderate a panel at the Left Coast Crime Conference in March on The Analysis of Murder: The Psychology of Crime but the pandemic put the kibosh on that. I am just finishing the four (definitely non-cozy) mysteries and thrillers written by my fellow panelists which is a break from the more sedate mysteries I typically read: Dennis Palumbo’s HEAD WOUNDS, Sheila Lowe’s PROOF OF LIFE, Ellen Kirschman’s THE FIFTH REFLECTION, and Lauri Broadbent’s IMAGES.

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

JG: I used to collect miniature fine china teacups when I was younger. Nowadays, I am into dog rescue. My two Pomeranians (and the inspiration for Tory’s Pom, Iris) are both rescues and over the last twenty years I’ve rescued other senior Poms and Yorkies.

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

JG: Nonfat milk for the coffee and tea I drink all day while writing. Coffee. Tea. Cheese.

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

JG: Yes, I am currently working on the second Tory Benning mystery, working title is MURDER IN THE CHRISTMAS TREE LOT. And after that, the third one’s working title is MURDER IN THE COMMUNITY GARDEN.

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

JG: I really do adore everything about being an author. I love creating an idea for a plot. I love creating characters. The first draft is very difficult but exciting. But I actually like the later stages of revising best because that’s when all the fine-tuning, embellishing, and tweaking takes place which for me is a lot of fun.


Murder in the Secret Maze (A Tory Benning Mystery) by Judith Gonda

About Murder in the Secret Maze

Cozy Mystery 1st in Series  
Publisher: Beyond the Publishing (February 26, 2020)  
Paperback: 273 pages
First in a new series featuring California landscape architect Tory Benning!
Landscape architect Tory Benning knows the lay of the land, but she’ll have to dig through the clues to unearth a killer . . .
After a whirlwind romance and a glorious wedding at the luxurious Hotel Santa Sofia, Tory Benning is ready to let down her hair, slip into her dancing shoes, and celebrate—until she discovers that her newly minted husband has vanished. The police suspect cold feet and second thoughts are behind Milo’s disappearance, but Tory’s certain he’s met with foul play. And since she designed the plush resort, she knows every nook and cranny of the grounds and adjoining secret maze, and wastes no time delving into her search.
As clues begin to emerge that Milo may have taken his last breath in the maze, Tory steps up her sleuthing, even as she learns she’s the prime suspect of a cop with a chip on his shoulder and is squarely in the sights of a menacing stalker. And when a second body is found on the grounds, Tory fears she’s up against a killer determined to silence any and all who get in the way. .
Not to be deterred, Tory forges ahead, navigating a case with more twists and turns than the maze itself, until the labyrinth of clues leads her to shocking revelations about her husband, her family, and the identity of a killer who’s dead set on making her the next victim . . . .

About Judith Gonda

murder in the secret maze jusdith gonda
Judith Gonda is a mystery writer and Ph.D. psychologist with a penchant for Pomeranians and puns, so it’s not surprising that psychology, Poms, and puns pop up in her amateur sleuth mysteries featuring California landscape architect Tory Benning.

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