Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Murder in Devil's Cove by Melissa Bourbon. This book is the first in the Book Magic Mystery series and was released last week.

After twenty years Pippin Hawthorne and her brother, Grey, have returned to Devil's Cove. Spirited away by their grandmother after their mother died and their father apparently walked out of their lives, the siblings have returned to reclaim their childhood home. Abandoned, the property needs a lot of work in order to be transformed into an inn, including removing their father's old boat. When they inspect the craft, however, they find a skeleton the hatch. Perhaps their father didn't walk out on them, after all. Pippin starts to uncover the truth about her family including a curse and her special ability, that of a bibliomancer!

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Deadly Sweet Tooth - A Review


The Second Vintage Sweets Mystery

Tally Holt has a lot on her plate. In preparation for the huge reception to welcome her parents' visit she's looking to hire servers who will also work in her vintage candy shop.  She's also having to deal with the arrival of her footloose younger brother, wondering if he'll be more of a hindrance than a help. On the day of the party almost the entire town of Fredericksburg, Texas joins in the festivities, munching on Tally's homemade Clark Bars, Twinkies, and other sweets. And everyone appears to be having a good time, except for Fran, an old nemesis of her mother. But the party comes to a halt when first her mother takes ill, then Fran. Nancy is diagnosed with dengue fever, but Fran's diagnosis is murder!

I lived in Austin for 10 years and often made trips into the Texas Hill Country, including Fredericksburg. I would have loved to visit Tally's Old Tyme Sweets. I love the idea of a vintage candy shop where the sweets are made on premises. I would devour homemade twinkies!!! 

The mystery itself in the second Vintage Sweets Mystery was made quite obvious. It was so obvious I wondered if the author was planning a surprise twist, but no. I was very disappointed in the ending. There was a penultimate confrontation, but no resolution. Things were getting exciting and I was ready to see what happened next...but there was nothing. The next chapter started at a party with no mention about how the confrontation was resolved and the killer caught! I thought pages were missing from my book...but that wasn't the case.

I did love Nigel and seeing the friendship of Tally and Yolanda. I also appreciated the fact that Tally did consider the fact that either of her parents could actually be guilty and the titillating facts surrounding their possible motives.

DEADLY SWEET TOOTH serves up delicious sweets and not so savory characters in this Texas Hill Country mystery.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Campaigning Can Be Deadly - A Book Blast


Campaigning Can Be Deadly (A Discount Detective Mystery) by Charlotte Stuart

About Campaigning Can Be Deadly


Campaigning Can Be Deadly (A Discount Detective Mystery)  

Cozy Mystery 2nd in Series  

Walrus Publishing, an imprint of Amphorae Publishing Group (September 29, 2020)  

Number of Pages - 300 


What begins as a prank ends in murder . . .

The campaign for the U.S. Congressional seat was referred to in the press as "Mr. Smith goes to Washington versus the carpetbagger. "The popular local candidate gets the majority of endorsements, but his opponent's wealthy, out-of-state family is willing to do whatever it takes for him to win.

Penny-wise Investigations a discount detective agency located in a mall, is hired to find out who is stealing the local candidate's political signs. Two of their investigators, Cameron Chandler and Yuri Webster, not only catch the thieves in the act, they find a body next to a pile of stolen signs, proving that . . . Campaigning Can Be Deadly.


About Charlotte Stuart

In a world filled with uncertainty and too little chocolate, Charlotte Stuart has a passion for writing lighthearted mysteries with a pinch of adventure and a dollop of humor. Her first discount detective mystery, Survival Can Be Deadly, was a Foreward INDIES finalist. Why me? Chimeras, Conundrums and Dead Goldfish was short-listed for the Chanticleer Murder and Mayhem contest before it was published. She began her career in academia with a PhD in communications. Then, she and her husband decided to build a commercial boat and go fishing for salmon in Alaska. Currently, she is the VP for Puget Sound Sisters in Crime and lives and writes on Vashon Island in Washington State’s Puget Sound. She spends time each day entertained by herons, seals, eagles, and other wildlife.

Author Links:







Purchase Links: Amazon - B&N - Book Depository - IndieBound

Sunday, September 27, 2020

A Chat with the Cat - A Guest Post & Giveaway

I'm happy to welcome Lord Peter Wimsey to Cozy Up With Kathy today. This is not Dorothy Sayer's aristocratic detective, but rather the orange tabby cat who lives in the pages of the PIP Inc. Mystery series by Nancy Lynn Jarvis. The Funeral Murder is the second book in the series and was released earlier this month.

A Chat with the Cat 

By Nancy Lynn Jarvis

We need to get a couple of things straight right away. I know there are magical, crime solving, talking cats in some cozy mysteries, but I am not one of them. Those of you who are privileged to have cat companions and computers know we occasionally like to help you type. So, because I don’t speak and, therefore, can’t really be interviewed, we all have to agree that, for the sake of this blog, I typed this post. If you can accept that, we can work together and I can tell you my story.

My name is Lord Peter Wimsey. Word and some copy editors not familiar with Dorothy Sayer’s 1930’s British mysteries don’t understand that I was named after a great aristocratic detective and keep trying to make me Whimsy. I am not a whimsical cat, I am a large orange tabby, a ginger to those of you who, like me, prefer that description, who lives with amateur private detective, Part Pirard and―this is hard for me to admit―my best friend in the animal word, her Dalmatian, Dot.

My main responsibility is to nap on the back of a wingchair in her home office until, warm from nice sunbeams, I fall so deeply asleep that I roll off the top of the chair onto the seat without waking up or emitting so much as a startled meow. Usually, at the first hint of a household disturbance, I hightail it out the cat door in the kitchen, escape to the back yard, and go over the neighbor’s fence to safer, calmer environs.

I was content when there were just the three of us in the house, but now she’s met this sheriff’s sergeant, Tim Lindsey, and seems overly fond of him. Dot likes him, too, but I’m not sure I do. He stepped on my tail once. Yes, he’s apologized, promised to mind where he puts his big feet even in the dark, and has brought me cat toy offerings. Still, I’ll reserve judgement about him a little longer.

At the moment, I’m on a people tuna diet. People tuna is my favorite food, and Pat says I earned a weeks-worth of it after how I saved her and Dot from a gun wielding murderer…no, people, I am not exaggerating, but you’ll have to read almost all the way to the end of The Funeral Murder to find out what happened and what I did.

I liked it better when Pat was the Santa Cruz Law Librarian, but she got downsized and took up this PI gig to make ends meet and to keep me in cat food, so I suppose I shouldn’t complain. Fortunately, or unfortunately, she’s making a go of it so far and seems intent on getting involved in murder, which does not bode well for my peaceful, tranquil life, at least not until she starts making enough money to afford an office somewhere away from where I like to lay my fuzzy head.


The Funeral Murder A PIP Inc. Mystery by Nancy Lynn Jarvis

About The Funeral Murder

The Funeral Murder A PIP Inc. Mystery  

Cozy Mystery 2nd in Series  

Publisher: Good Read Mysteries, An Imprint of Good Read Publishers  

Number of Pages: 248

In The Glass House, the first book in the PIP Inc. Mysteries series Pat Pirard, recently downsized Santa Cruz Law Librarian, needed to find a new job in a hurry. She printed business cards announcing she was Private Investigator Pat and crossed her fingers, hoping she could earn enough money working for attorneys as a PI to survive.

Pat’s first investigation went well, so she’s excited when she gets a call from an estate attorney who offers her a second job. The attorney tells Pat his client died at a funeral and he needs help sorting out who is entitled to inherit her estate.

Pat quickly discovers the dead woman’s past is as complicated as her estate. And when an autopsy indicates she had two deadly toxins in her body when she died, Pat’s new case becomes not only complicated, but dangerous.

About Nancy Lynn Jarvis

Nancy Lynn Jarvis
left the real estate profession after she started having so much fun writing the Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries series that she let her license lapse. She’s enjoyed writing about Regan and her husband, Tom, but decided it was time to do a new series.

PIP Inc. introduces protagonist downsized law librarian and not-quite-licensed Private Investigator Pat Pirard. “The Funeral Murder” is the second book in the series.

After earning a BA in behavioral science from San Jose State University, Nancy worked in the advertising department of the San Jose Mercury News. A move to Santa Cruz meant a new job as a librarian and later a stint as the business manager for Shakespeare/Santa Cruz at UCSC.

Currently, she’s enjoying being a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Santa Cruz Women of Mystery.

Author Links:





Purchase Link - Amazon 


The author is graciously giving one reader a digital copy of The Funeral Murder. In order to qualify simply leave a comment on this post telling us why cats are important characters in mysteries no later than 11:59pm Eastern, Monday, September 28, 2020. Please make sure to leave an e-mail address so that I can contact you should you win.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Taken Too Soon - A Review


TAKEN TOO SOON by Edith Maxwell

The Sixth Quaker Midwife Mystery

Despite many delays and conflicts midwife Rose Carroll and Doctor David Dodge have finally wed.  A quiet Quaker service at her parents' meetinghouse is followed by a large reception David’s mother Clarinda’s insistence. The festivities are interrupted, however, by the surprise arrival of David’s estranged brother and a telegram. Rose’s two elderly aunts request that she come to them immediately. Tilly’s young ward has been murdered and they want Rose’s help. 

I was worried the day would never arrive and I am so happy that Rose's wedding went off without a hitch. Now the reception was another story, but that's OK since Rose didn't want the lavish affair Clarinda demanded anyway. While her honeymoon wasn't exactly what she and David envisioned, they were together. I love their relationship and how they compliment each other, but each is able to go off and do their own thing. Rose continues to be a capable, independent woman who knows her own mind, even after marriage.

I really enjoyed the mystery, and was led astray by various red herrings. I especially appreciate the modern themes that run through this historical mystery proving that though times may change, people and their motives rarely do. 

TAKEN TOO SOON is a thoughtful mystery that highlights the many ways in which people love, both positively and negatively. The Quaker Midwife series never fails to entertain, enlighten, and engage me and its sixth entry is no exception. I look forward to seeing how Rose and David adjust to married life and how they'll happen upon another murder to investigate in their next adventure.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Deadly Sweet Tooth by Kaye George. This book is the second in the Vintage Sweets Mystery series.

Tally Holt has a lot on her plate. In preparation for the huge reception to welcome her parents' visit she's looking to hire servers who will also work in her vintage candy shop.  She's also having to deal with the arrival of her footloose younger brother, wondering if he'll be more of a hindrance than a help. On the day of the party almost the entire town of Fredericksburg, Texas joins in the festivities, munching on Tally's homemade Clark Bars, Twinkies, and other sweets. And everyone appears to be having a good time, except for Fran, an old nemesis of her mother. But the party comes to a halt when first her mother takes ill, then Fran. Nancy is diagnosed with dengue fever, but Fran's diagnosis is murder!

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Murder in the Bayou Boneyard - A Guest Post & Giveaway

I'm happy to welcome Maggie Crozat to Cozy Up With Kathy today. You can find Maggie on the pages of the Cajun Country Mystery series by Ellen Byron. Murder in the Bayou Boneyard is the sixth book in the series and was released earlier this month.

Hi, Maggie Crozat here, and we’re dealing with a crisis in our little village of Pelican, Louisiana.

This home rental app, Rent My Digs, is not only eating up affordable housing in town, it’s stealing customers from the local B&Bs. But I came up with a great idea if I do say so myself. I suggested we all offer a special Halloween package throughout the month of October with the theme of "Pelican's Spooky Past." Each B&B in the area is offering a special event, including a play that's going to be performed in an abandoned cemetery. Talk about “spooky,” huh?

Here at Crozat Plantation B&B, we have other big news. We're finally opening our brand-new spa and I've hired a masseuse who's a long-lost Canadian cousin. I'm so excited to meet her and her family. And nervous, too. I'm not sure where the nerves are coming from. I hope they're not a bad portent, because they sometimes are. A lot of us Louisianians tend to have a bit of the second sight. But Susannah is family, right? What could go wrong there?

Whoa... speaking of sights, what's that I see in the woods? Could it be a rougarou, the Cajun version of a werewolf??? Say a prayer that's not what I saw…









Murder in the Bayou Boneyard: A Cajun Country Mystery by Ellen Byron

About Murder in the Bayou Boneyard

Cozy Mystery 6th in Series  

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books (September 8, 2020) 

Hardcover: 304 pages

Maggie Crozat has the Halloween heebie-jeebies in USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award-winning author Ellen Byron's howlingly funny sixth Cajun Country mystery.

Maggie Crozat, proprietor of a historic Cajun Country B&B, prefers to let the good times roll. But hard times rock her hostelry when a new cell phone app makes it easy for locals to rent their spare rooms to tourists. With October--and Halloween--approaching, she conjures up a witch-crafty marketing scheme to draw visitors to Pelican, Louisiana.

Five local plantation B&Bs host "Pelican's Spooky Past" packages, featuring regional crafts, unique menus, and a pet costume parade. Topping it off, the derelict Dupois cemetery is the suitably sepulchral setting for the spine-chilling play Resurrection of a Spirit. But all the witchcraft has inevitably conjured something: her B&B guests are being terrified out of town by sightings of the legendary rougarou, a cross between a werewolf and vampire.

When, in the Dupois cemetery, someone costumed as a rougarou stumbles onstage during the play--and promptly gives up the ghost, the rougarou mask having been poisoned with strychnine, Maggie is on the case. But as more murders stack up, Maggie fears that Pelican's spooky past has nothing on its bloodcurdling present.

About Ellen Byron

Maria DiRico

Ellen’s Cajun Country Mysteries have won the Agatha award for Best Contemporary Novel and multiple Lefty awards for Best Humorous Mystery. Her Catering Hall Mystery series, written as Maria DiRico, launched with Here Comes the Body and was inspired by her real life. She’s an award-winning playwright and non-award-winning TV writer of comedies like WINGS, JUST SHOOT ME, and FAIRLY ODD PARENTS, but she considers her most impressive credit working as a cater-waiter for Martha Stewart. A native New Yorker who attended New Orleans’ Tulane University, she lives in Los Angeles with her husband, daughter, and rescue furbaby. Sign up for her newsletter at

Author Links: 






Purchase Links - Penguin Random House - Amazon - B&N - Kobo - IndieBound 

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Monday, September 21, 2020

15 Minutes of Flame - A Review and Giveaway


15 MINUTES OF FLAME by Christin Brecher

The Third Nantucket Candle Maker Mystery

Stella Wright has arranged for the girl scouts to use the old Morton House as the site of their haunted house fundraiser. Stella is excited upon discovering its outbuilding was once a chandlery, but as she pries the candle sign off the wall she makes a more gruesome discovery-a skeleton. Her friend, Agnes, identifies the skeleton and tells the scandalous tale from her family's past, a story of best friends, a robbery, and betrayal of the town. The search for a second skeleton leads not only to its discovery, but a fresh murder. Will solving the mystery from the past lead to today's killer?

Autumn has come to Nantucket and with it the chills that surround Halloween, cooler temperatures and skeletons! I really like Stella, Tinker, the Candleers, well, just about everybody in the Nantucket Candle Maker Mystery series. These unique characters vibrate with life and their distinct personalities make you feel as if you're a part of their community.

I love how candles play an integral part of life, the lives of the people of eighteenth century Nantucket, and today's customers, buying candles in fanciful shapes (yes, I want a Tinker special, though I'd never burn it!), to set a scene, and ultimately to catch a killer. I really appreciate how the past and the present intermingle. I enjoyed both mysteries, but I especially loved how Stella was able to figure out the historic mystery by realizing that some things never change. As for how the killer was finally caught-absolutely brilliant!

15 MINUTES OF FLAME is a fast paced novel that combines a historical scandal and a modern day murder to create an exciting Halloween read.


15 Minutes of Flame (Nantucket Candle Maker Mystery) by Christin Brecher

About 15 Minutes of Flame

15 Minutes of Flame (Nantucket Candle Maker Mystery)  

Cozy Mystery 3rd in Series  

Publisher: Kensington (August 25, 2020) 

Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages 

As Stella Wright’s Nantucket candle store thrives, her knack for solving mysteries burns equally bright—especially when a Halloween haunted house uncovers evidence of a centuries-old murder . . .

When Stella’s friend inherits a creaky, abandoned home in Nantucket, she knows it’s the perfect setting for the town’s annual Halloween fundraiser. A deserted, boarded-up building on the property—once used as a candle-making shop—adds to the creepy ambiance. But as Stella explores the shack’s dilapidated walls, she discovers a terrible secret: the skeleton of a Quaker woman, wrapped in blood-soaked clothing and hidden deep within a stone hearth . . .

While police investigate, Stella wastes no time asking for help from friends with long ties to Nantucket’s intricate history. The key to the murder may lie within a scorching 18th century love triangle that pit two best friends against one another over a dubious man. But before the case is solved, another life will be claimed—leaving Stella to wonder who in Nantucket is friend, and who is foe . . .

About Christin Brecher

Christin Brecher was born and raised in NYC, where her family and many childhood friends still reside. As such, she feels she is as much of a small-town girl as any. The idea to write the Nantucket Candle Maker series sprang from her life-long connection to the small island off the coast of Massachusetts. Spending summers there as a child, Christin read from her family’s library of mystery novels, after which she began to imagine stories inspired by the island’s whaling heyday, its notoriously foggy nights, and during long bike rides to the beach. After many years in marketing for the publishing industry, followed by years raising her children, Murder’s No Votive Confidence is Christin’s debut novel. Visit her at
Author Links:
Purchase Links - Amazon - B&N - Kobo - Google Play - IndieBound -

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Jokers Wild - A Review


JOKERS WILD by Barbara Barrett

The Sixth Mah Jongg Mystery

Marianne Putnam is beyond thrilled. The local community theatre has chosen to produce her one act play and she will be part of the entire production process. Unfortunately, reality comes crashing down in the person of Jason Newhall, the play's director. Arrogant, antagonistic and demanding, Jason expects perfection from the amateur volunteers and pushes them to get it. When opening night finally arrives Marianne, instead of basking in her playwright's glory, gets pulled from the theatre to search for the missing director. What she finds is a dead body and another opportunity to put her sleuthing skills to use.

There needs to be a huge willing suspension of disbelief with the sixth Mah Jongg mystery. A sheriff allowing civilians to accompany deputies while they check out possible murder suspects? Said deputies reactions? But, if you can overlook that, it is an interesting way to investigate the murder. I do like how the husbands got involved and ultimately how the murderer was caught. I especially enjoyed the entire depiction of the community theatre; how the show came together and how the director ultimately achieved his vision.

While I like the fact that the four women have their own lives and separate storylines, too much time is taken to share information that has no bearing on the mystery. There was entirely too much written about the remodel of the dinner club. It had no relevance to the mystery at hand and was like reading two different books. I enjoyed it once the book concentrated on the theatre mystery.

JOKERS WILD is an entertaining mystery about cooperation and compromise.


Jokers Wild (Mah Jongg Mystery Series) by Barbara Barrett

About Jokers Wild

 Jokers Wild (Mah Jongg Mystery Series)  

Cozy Mystery 6th in Series  

Publisher: Bowker (July 5, 2020) 

Paperback: 232 pages 

“The show must go on.” That applies even to playwright Marianne Putnam, when the director of her one-act play, “Jokers Wild,” fails to show for curtains up on opening night at the community theater in Serendipity Springs, Florida. When the director’s wife begs Marianne to accompany her to their home to check on him, they find the man floating in his pool. Dead.

Though not known for his pleasant disposition—her relationship with him had been tense since nearly ramming into his car in a parking lot, but after all, he was the director—who would have wanted to murder him? Surely no one in the production crew, cast or the staff of the community center where the play was to be staged. Maybe it was the wife, who Marianne had overheard arguing with him. Or perhaps someone from his theater connections back in the Big Apple.

Since she was there when the body was discovered, Marianne is considered a suspect. That doesn’t mean she can’t help her three Mah Jongg friends—Syd, Micki and Kat—assist the sheriff with the investigation. But who’s there to help her when her path crosses the murderer’s.

About Barbara Barrett


Author Barbara Barrett. Photo by Chris Kridler,

Barbara Barrett started reading mysteries when she was pregnant with her first child to keep her mind off things like her changing body and food cravings. When she’d devoured as many Agatha Christies as she could find, she branched out to English village cozies and Ellery Queen.

Later, to avoid a midlife crisis, she began writing fiction at night when she wasn’t at her day job in human resources for Iowa State Government. After releasing eleven full-length romance novels and two novellas, she returned to the cozy mystery genre, using one of her retirement pastimes, the game of mah jongg, as her inspiration. Not only has it been a great social outlet, it has also helped keep her mind active when not writing.

Jokers Wild, the sixth book in her “Mah Jongg Mystery” series, features four friends who play mah jongg together and share otherwise in each other’s lives. None of the four is based on an actual person. Each is an amalgamation of several mah jongg friends with a lot of Barbara’s imagination thrown in for good measure. The four will continue to appear in future books in the series.

Barbara is a member of Sisters in Crime, Sinc-Iowa, Romance Writers of America and the SpacecoasT chapter of Romance Writers of America.

She is married to the man she met her senior year of college. They have two grown children and eight grandchildren.

Now retired, she is a resident of Florida, although she spends her summers in Iowa, her home state. She earned her B.A. degree in History from the University of Iowa and her Master’s Degree in History from Drake University.

When not in front of her laptop creating her next story, she plays mah jongg, travels and enjoys lunches with friends.

Author Links  

Friday, September 18, 2020

The Watchman of Rothenburg Dies - An Interview, Review, & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Adriana Licio to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Adriana pens the Homeswapper Mystery series. THE WATCHMAN OF ROTHENBURG DIES is the first book in the series and was released earlier this month.

Kathy: In the Homeswappers Mystery series Etta and Dora swap homes for a vacation. Homeswapping is an interesting concept. Have you ever tried it?

AL: For the past 15 years, my hubby and I have taken all our holidays this way, swapping homes with 40+ fellow travellers around the world.

Since 2010, when Frodo, our golden retriever, joined the family, we have given up flying and been driving all the way to European destinations. Frodo has homeswapped 20+ times, including visits to London and the UK, the Pyrenees, Brittany, Switzerland, Austria, Amsterdam, France, Stockholm and its archipelago, Gdansk and other parts of Poland, Prague, the quaint island of Ærø in Denmark and many more!

Kathy: What made you choose Germany as Etta and Dora’s first country to visit as part of a swap?

AL: My choice was more particular than that: not Germany as a whole, but the charming town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber. It was our first homeswap destination with Frodo back in 2010, and I thought that was something worth celebrating. Especially now, a decade later, when for the first time in years we won’t be going anywhere because of the pandemic.

In addition to that, this quaint little town is intriguing, cosy and mysterious all at the same time. I loved the Night Watchman’s tour, the shame masks that people were forced to wear in the middle ages in public if they misbehaved. Basically, it had all the material I needed to get a story going.

Kathy: Etta and Dora are described as two adventurous sexagenarians. With such a youth focused society I’m pleased to see more mature women as protagonists. Was it a conscious decision to make Etta and Dora older?

AL: Yes, it was a deliberate decision. Giovanni, my husband, is in his 60ies; I’m approaching 50. But we don’t feel that much different to the way we were 20 years ago. Well, in all honesty, there are some differences physically, of course, but inside we have the same energy, we pursue the same dreams and passions.

I wanted to celebrate this energy, this wish to live life to the full at 60 and beyond!

Kathy: Napoleon is a loveably disobedient Basset Hound. Is he based on a real dog?

AL: As I’ve mentioned above, I’m owned by a lovely Golden Retriever, Frodo. He’s my best pal, he’s accompanied us on all our travels, so I wanted to celebrate in my books the magic sparkle that brings humans and their furry friends together.

Frodo is a rather independent dog and has his own opinions on the things we should do, where we should visit, the attractions to see in a new place, his likes and dislikes. Napoleon is more stubborn, but some of his traits have their roots in Frodo.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

AL: Have you seen my bookshelves? Agatha Christie’s entire collection, Andrea Camilleri, Rhys Bowen, MC Beaton, TE Kinsey. What else could I write?

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

AL: Just cosies, at present.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

AL: My first series, An Italian Village Mystery, is set in the enchanting seaside town of Maratea (why not google it and discover it for yourself?) situated on a breathtaking stretch of coastline in Southern Italy. It features Giò Brando, a travel writer and reluctant sleuth who returns to her home and family to nurse a broken heart after her forthcoming wedding in London is called off. The setting gave me the scope to describe Italian lifestyle, culture, food in a small town.

My second series, The Homeswappers Mysteries, is launching shortly (more details coming soon).

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

AL: I confess, I don’t have a favourite (except Leon, of course!). Even when I write about the baddies, there’s something that attracts me to them, so I can safely say I like all my characters, if to varying degrees and for rather different reasons.

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

AL: Well, my inspiration comes from the things I like the most: travelling, reading, hiking, pets, perfumes, good food, small villages, and homeswapping.

The inspiration for the Homeswappers Mysteries is almost autobiographical, given my love for homeswapping. As for my first series, I set An Italian Village Mystery in Maratea, which again is a real place and my refuge when I need time away from work.

Agnese, Giò’s sister, owns a perfumery and loves to advise her customers on the best fragrance to see them through a particular moment of their lives. And I’m intrigued by the world of essences and perfumes.

Giò herself is a travel writer (did I mention I’m a travel freak?), and then there’s Granny. Granny loves to cook using the old family recipes, but she can also outsmart her two granddaughters when it comes to sleuthing. (I love good food, and old gossips too!)

So in each series and story, there’s a mixture of issues, places, themes I’m fond of or want to explore in more depth.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

AL: The day I found out that I could control the whole process as an indie author, from deciding the stories I want to write to choosing my own collaborators (editor, cover designer), to publishing and marketing, I decided the time was right for me to write my books.

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

AL: That’s easy! Andrea Camilleri, MC Beaton, Rhys Bowen and Agatha Christie.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

AL: I’m listening to another book in the Molly Murphy series by Rhys Bowen, and reading my first LJ Ross book, RYAN'S CHRISTMAS. I rarely start a series from Book 1.

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

AL: Hiking (once or twice a week). I need regular contact with nature to put my mind at rest and soothe my wild spirits (so my hubby says). I also love reading and travelling when I can, especially as I now combine homeswapping with research for my stories.

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

AL: We love fresh food from small local producers, so you will always find plenty of veggies and fruit (both of which vary according to season), ricotta and mozzarella, fresh milk. Of course, all kinds of pasta for the three of us (Frodo too enjoys fresh alimentation). Bitter dark chocolate, 85% cocoa.

A fresh cornetto (croissant) with a cappuccino is my treat for breakfast on special days, and guess what? That’s Giò’s favourite breakfast, too.

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

AL: For 2020, I plan to launch two more books in the Homeswapper Mysteries series, with Book 2, A Wedding and A Funeral in Mecklenburg, leading Etta and Dora to the region of 1,000 lakes in Northern Germany to attend a traditional German wedding. (Spoiler alert: it won’t be that traditional!)

And Book 3 An Aero Island Christmas Mystery will be set on a cute Danish Island thrown far into the Baltic Sea. Lots of hygge, mulled wine, a quaint Christmas Market and, my goodness, a cruel murder. Of course!

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

AL: I’m not (yet!) a full-time author; I’d love to be one.

As an indie author, I love the freedom to create my own projects and follow them through, and being able to work from the most remote of places. It would be great to go on even more homeswaps in the future and work from homes other than my own!



Please leave a message in the comments and we will pick a winner for an eBook of THE WATCHMAN OF ROTHENBURG DIES.


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The First Homeswappers Mystery

Etta and Dora have left Castelmezzano, their small Italian village, and arrived in the medieval town of Rothenburg, Germany for their first homeswapping vacation. They are welcomed by friendly neighbors and charmed by their house as well as the town itself. On their first night the duo go on the historic tour given by the Night Watchman of Rothenburg. Grim tales of torture highlight the walk, but reality takes an even more gruesome turn when Dora and Etta, pulled by the man's dog, find his murdered body. While the more sentimental Dora is more than happy to take Napoleon, the orphaned Bassett hound, under her wing, analytical Etta starts to puzzle out the murder. Will the two retired Italian school teachers solve a German murder? Perhaps more importantly, will Napoleon find a new home?

Armchair travelers can rejoice with the Homeswappers Mystery series! This quick read had me engaged and curious with smart writing and quick wit. It had me alternately smiling and filled with concern. The detailed descriptions of Rothenburg made me feel as if I was exploring alongside Dora and Etta. The book was not merely a travelogue, however, as the author skillfully entwined tourist facts within the mystery. I am partial to history and really enjoyed learning about Rothenburg. I especially loved the Elizabeth Peters reference.

I love the juxtaposition that Dora and Etta represent; soft and hard, round and angular, emotional and rational, opposites, but both together necessary for success. The two protagonists are not the only opposites in the novel as well. We see different sides to many of the characters, some of which are quite a surprise. I really enjoyed seeing these secondary characters shine in their own way. I grew quite fond of a certain patron at the Devil's Ale and Leon easily wormed his way into my heart.

THE WATCHMAN OF ROTHENBURG DIES made me want to pack my suitcase and explore the small European towns found off the beaten path. The mystery is a delightful start to a new series and I eagerly await traveling north for the next installment.


The Watchman of Rothenburg Dies: A German Cozy Mystery (The Homeswappers) by Adriana Licio

About The Watchman of Rothenburg Dies



The Watchman of Rothenburg Dies: A German Cozy Mystery (The Homeswappers)  

Cozy Mystery 1st in Series  

Publisher: The Hometravellers Press (September 1, 2020) ~180 pages

A holiday is a time to relax, unwind and see the sights. But for two adventurous sexagenarians, the sights have a tendency to include dead bodies.

Etta and Dora, both newly retired teachers, travel from their home in Southern Italy to a fairy-tale German town for their first home swap holiday, delighted by their neighbours’ warm welcome. But the welcome turns sour when the Night Watchman of Rothenburg is brutally murdered while his tour group takes photographs nearby, a halberd buried in his chest and a peculiar iron mask by his side.

When the murderer claims a second victim and the son of their hospitable neighbours becomes the number-one suspect, Etta’s analytical mind goes to work. Why was a shame mask left at the scene of each murder? Is there a clandestine trade going on behind the scenes of apparently upstanding local businesses? And why does every lead take her back to the sinister Devil’s Ale pub and the terrifying gang who lurk within?

Meanwhile, Dora has a puzzle of her own – how can she persuade Etta that a loveably disobedient Basset Hound called Napoleon is now a permanent part of their lives?

◆◆◆ Pack your bags, jump into the backseat of Etta and Dora’s old Fiat 500, and join them on their travels around Europe. There’ll be mystery, murder and mayhem aplenty wherever they go. ◆◆◆

About Adriana Licio


She loves loads of things: traveling, reading, walking, good food, small villages, and home swapping. She runs her family perfumery, and between a dark patchouli and a musky rose, she reads and writes cozy mysteries. She resisted writing as long as she could. But one day she found an alluring blank page and the words flowed in that weird English she'd learned in Glasgow...

> Get a taste of Adriana's world reading And Then There Were Bones the prequel to her An Italian Village Mystery series, exclusive to the subscribers on her mailing list -

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Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Jokers Wild by Barbara Barrett. This book is the sixth in the Mah Jongg Mystery series.

Marianne Putnam is beyond thrilled. The local community theatre has chosen to produce her one act play and she will be part of the entire production process. Unfortunately, reality comes crashing down in the person of Jason Newhall, the play's director. Arrogant, antagonistic and demanding, Jason expects perfection from the amateur volunteers and pushes them to get it. When opening night finally arrives Marianne, instead of basking in her playwright's glory, gets pulled from the theatre to search for the missing director. What she finds is a dead body and another opportunity to put her sleuthing skills to use. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Dog-Gone Dead - An Interview & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Jackie Layton to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Jackie writes the Low Country Dog Walker series. Dog-Gone Dead is the second book in the series.

Kathy: Andi Grace Scott is a dog walker. Do you have dogs of your own? 

JL: Yes. I have a Westie. Heinz just turned fourteen.

Kathy: Do you have any favorite dog breeds? 

JL: I have so many allergies, and while I enjoy all dogs, I can only have hypoallergenic dogs. Heinz is a good companion and a great watchdog.

Kathy: Andi's brother is a landscaper. Do you like to garden? 

JL: I love to garden. When we lived in Kentucky, I had large gardens. I don’t have a big yard now, and I’m still learning how to garden on the coast because the soil is so different. We’ve been blessed to have some of our new neighbors share their extra plants with us. Mexican petunias, yellow lilies, and a different variety of black-eyed Susans are some of the flowers we’ve been given. We’ve also bought some at the local nurseries, and I’m trying to figure out what grows best here.

Kathy: In Dog-Gone Dead Andi finds a body under some mulch. This begs the question-what color mulch do you use? 

JL: I prefer chunky brown mulch, but with the pandemic we found somebody we could buy pine straw from who’d deliver it. It’s a Southern thing, and it looks nice and fluffy.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries? 

JL: When I was visiting my grandmother Hubbard as a child, I found my mother’s Nancy Drew books. I started reading them and I was hooked. I’ve almost always lived in small towns, and the cozy settings appeal to me.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres? 

JL: I’ve also tried writing romance and romantic suspense, but cozies are my favorite genre.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

JL: Andi Grace Scott is a dog walker in Heyward Beach, South Carolina, the town she’s always lived in. Andi Grace has a caretake personality, and she enjoys finding ways to help her friends and neighbors.

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

JL: Andi Grace is my favorite. She’s athletic and gutsy. If she sees an injustice, she’ll do whatever it takes to help the underdog.

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

JL: No.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work? 

JL: I’ve dreamed of writing most of my life, but it never seemed realistic. When my youngest son was in high school, I decided if I didn’t try, it would never happen. I took classes, attended conferences, and studied the craft of writing and began to write.

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

JL: Agatha Christie, Mary Higgins Clark, Robert Whitlow, and Diane Mott Davidson.

Kathy: What are you currently reading? 

JL: The First to Lie by Hank Phillippi Ryan.

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

JL: I enjoy reading, gardening, walking, biking, and playing cards.

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

JL: Almond milk, Greek yogurt, coffee, and apples.

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

JL: Yes. Bag of Bones will come out later in 2020, and I just signed a contract for the next three books in the Low Country Dog Walker Mystery series.

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

JL: I love brainstorming stories, but the best thing is making friends with other authors and readers.


Dog-Gone Dead: A Low Country Dog Walker Mystery by Jackie Layton

About Dog-Gone Dead

 Dog-Gone Dead: A Low Country Dog Walker Mystery  

Cozy Mystery 2nd in Series 

Publisher: Bell Bridge Books (June 26, 2020)  

Paperback: 248 pages 


Who’d have thought mulch could cause such a stink?

Low Country dog walker Andi Grace Scott is happy to score some free mulch from one of her brother’s landscaping jobs—until she discovers the dead body buried beneath the bark.

Worse, her brother’s landscaping tools were used to commit the murder. Once the police arrest her brother and seem happy to have “caught their man,” Andi Grace has no choice but to track down the real killer. She’ll risk everything to prove her brother’s innocence. Even if it means turning over every rock in town.

If you love small-town coastal life, dogs, and strong heroines, you’ll love Dog-Gone Dead.


About Jackie Layton

Former Kentucky pharmacist Jackie Layton loves her new life in the Low Country. When she’s not writing, Jackie enjoys walks on the beach, bike rides and collecting shells. The first two books in Jackie's Low Country Dog Walker Mystery series are Bite the Dust and Dog-Gone Dead. Jackie always enjoys hearing from readers.

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Monday, September 14, 2020

Hippie Haven Homicide - A Spotlight

I'm happy to provide an excerpt from Sally Carpenter's latest Psychedelic Spy Mystery. Hippie Haven Homicide is the second book in the series.


(Noelle takes her cat, Ceebee, to the secret headquarters of SIAMESE so he can be fitted with a collar equipped with a microphone for eavesdropping)

The room they entered was lined with shelves stocked with boxes, jars, scientific reference books and notebooks full of experiment notes. The tables stuffed into the small space were covered with microscopes, Bunsen burners, tubes, beakers, jars of chemicals and various electrical and mechanical devices. A man in a white lab coat and dark trousers waited for them beside the large center island. His white hair stuck up comically, as if he were amused to see them. His wrinkled face belied his age. His thick bifocals made his blue eyes look even larger. Around his neck hung the security badge—with black and white diagonal stripes—of the internal support staff, those who remained inside headquarters to equip the outside field agents.

“You must be Noelle. I’m Dr. Albedo. We’re glad to have you working with us.” Unlike Hanover, his voice was warm and friendly, and contained a tinge of an east European accent. But Noelle couldn’t see his lips move beneath his bushy white moustache.

“This is one of our veteran scientists at SIAMESE,” Dash said.

“Please put your animal on the counter.” Dr. Albedo patted the metal-lined top of the island.

Noelle placed the cat on the spot. “You wouldn’t happen to have any cat food, would you? Ceebee is starving.”

“It’s good that the cat hasn’t eaten. It’s best for animals to fast before surgery.”

“Surgery!” Noelle scooped up Ceebee. “No way are you cutting into my pet!”

“We need to implant an earpiece for the animal. Otherwise, you can’t use the radio to give him commands.”

“What’s wrong with putting a gizmo in his ear?”

“A small device can fall out. And the people standing around would hear you talking.”

“I still don’t like it.”

“We’ll place it just under the skin,” said Dr. Albedo. “Your cat won’t feel a thing. We’ll remove it as soon as possible.”

“If this is unacceptable, you may leave, Miss McNabb,” said Hanover. “But we’ll have to scrub the mission. We have no back-up animals. We would not have asked you unless we felt confident in your ability to help us and your country. We have reports that you have trained your cat to follow your directions––not something most cats do.”

Noelle gazed into the anxious cat eyes staring back at her. She was as patriotic as any other American, but she loved her pet. “If you promise you won’t hurt Ceebee. You won’t give him a lobotomy or anything.”

“We will treat your cat as gently as we treat our agents,” said Hanover.

Destiny stifled a laugh.

“All right then.” Noelle set her cat on the island. “But be careful.”

“I’ll leave you in the doctor’s capable hands.” Hanover turned to Destiny. “Let me know if any problems arise.”

“Yes, sir,” she replied.

Noelle was indignant. “Ceebee will do his job just fine!”


Hippie Haven Homicide (Psychedelic Spy Mystery) by Sally Carpenter

About Hippie Haven Homicide

 Hippie Haven Homicide (Psychedelic Spy Mystery)  

Cozy Mystery 2nd in Series  

Publisher: Cozy Cat Press (May 21, 2020)  

Paperback: 229 pages 

Get ready to flip your wig over another groovy 1967 retro-cozy with actress and amateur spy Noelle McNabb. Spy agency SIAMESE (Special Intelligence Apparatus for Midwest Enemy Espionage and Surveillance) turns Noelle’s pet, Ceebee, into an “acoustic kitty” to listen in on an agent known only as Old Scratch. Meanwhile, a counterculture religious sect led by the Wise One infiltrates the staid town of Yuletide, Indiana. When one of the sect members makes a premature departure to the Spirit in the Sky, Noelle investigates, but finds herself in deep water—literally. With her undercover disguiser, Noelle really knows how to sock it to ‘em. However, she still can’t solve the secrets of a certain family member. Don’t miss this fab story of saints, sinners and spies!

About Sally Carpenter

Sally Carpenter is native Hoosier living in Moorpark, Calif.

She has a master’s degree in theater from Indiana State University. While in school, her plays “Star Collector” and “Common Ground” were finalists in the American College Theater Festival One-Act Playwrighting Competition. “Common Ground” also earned a college creative writing award. “Star Collector” was produced in New York City and served as the inspiration for her first mystery series.

Sally also has a Master of Divinity and a black belt in tae kwon do.

She’s worked as an actress, college writing instructor, jail chaplain and tour guide/page for Paramount Pictures.

The books in her Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol series are: The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper (2012 Eureka! Award finalist for best first mystery novel), The Sinister Sitcom Caper, The Cunning Cruise Ship Caper and The Quirky Quiz Show Caper, all with Cozy Cat Press.

Flower Power Fatality is the first book in the Psychedelic Spy series.

She has short stories in three anthologies: Last Exit to Murder, Plan B: Omnibus and Cozy Cat Shorts. She penned chapter three of the CCP group mystery Chasing the Codex.

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