Sunday, October 30, 2022

Minestrone Mischief - A Recipe, Review, & Giveaway

I'm so happy to welcome Rosie Genova to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Rosie writes the Italian Kitchen Mystery series. MINESTRONE MISCHIEF is the fourth book in the series and was released last month.

In Italian cooking, “ragu” is a catch-all name for sauces that contain meat. (It is not that stuff in a jar. Trust me.) A ragu needs a long, slow cook for its flavors to meld, which involves more prepping, lots of stirring, and more dirty pots.  I came up with this short-cut recipe after I made boneless pork ribs in a slow cooker with a homemade barbecue sauce. The meat came out so beautifully tender, I was inspired to Italian-ize it with a tomato base. The sauce from this recipe closely approximates that long simmer on the stove, but with a “set and forget it” advantage. I use a separate pan for the searing and onion/garlic sauté, but if you have a cooker with browning capability, save yourself the trouble of another pan to clean. And if time is really tight, feel free to simply dump all the ingredients over the seasoned meat and give it a stir. However you make it, this is an easy, satisfying, and tasty dish. And while it cooks, your house will smell like my grandmother’s kitchen. Buon appetito!

The finished dish! A tender bite of pork sits happily atop the rigatoni.

Slow Cooker Pork Ragu


1.5-2 lbs. of country style pork ribs
1 Vidalia onion

2 cloves of garlic
1 28 oz. can chopped tomatoes
1 28 oz. can strained tomatoes or tomato purée
1 to 2 teaspoons of salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tbs. of olive oil

Splash of red wine (optional)

1-Lightly season the ribs with salt and pepper. In a large sauté pan, brown the ribs all sides for a quick sear. Place in the bottom of the slow cooker.

2-Dice onion and begin cooking in the pan where the meat was browned. Add a drizzle of olive oil if needed. Sauté onions for 5 to 8 minutes, depending on how caramelized you would like them to be. When onions grow transparent and begin to wilt, add the garlic and sauté for approximately three minutes.

3-Add the wine and tomatoes to the onion and garlic mixture, and simmer briefly to deglaze the pan. Add salt, pepper, dried basil, and parsley. Pour mixture over meat in slow cooker, and cook on low for eight hours or until fork tender. Serve over a hearty pasta such as rigatoni.



The Fourth Italian Kitchen Mystery

Halloween is coming to Oceanside Park and with it, more mischief than mystery writer Victoria Rienzi is prepared for. Working on her next book and her relationship with Tim, she's now dealing with her "biggest fan", a stalker.

I'm so happy that this series has returned. The juxtaposition of a mystery author who kills people and solves crimes on paper and a woman who returns home to write about her roots and finds murder victims is brilliant. The fourth Italian Kitchen Mystery contains themes especially relevant today, from stalking, social media, privacy, and more. Though at times heavy, the book is peppered with humor, especially from Sofia, and I enjoyed many a laugh.

MINESTRONE MISCHIEF is a complex mystery for several reasons. What is the actual crime? Is there one crime or two? How many culprits could there be? The timing seems near impossible. Someone must be lying. Right? The victim becomes such a villain, isn't it good someone got rid of him? Should they be pursued, especially to the detriment of your own relationships? Moral dilemmas abound here making this an especially captivating and emotional mystery.

I like the emotional baggage Vic has with her relationship with Tim. It makes things more real. Life isn't easy and their relationship is complex. Readers unfamiliar with the characters may prefer things go more smoothly for them, but the reasoning behind this is more evident if you've read the previous books in the series, which I highly recommend. All of Victoria's relationships are impacted by the murders she discovers and I find that the victim in this fourth Italian Kitchen Mystery quite telling.

MINESTRONE MISCHIEF brings complex characters and comforting food together with an intricately plotted crime against a fun Jersey backdrop to create a delectable mystery to savor.


Minestrone Mischief: A Culinary Cozy (The Italian Kitchen Mysteries) by Rosie Genova

About Minestrone Mischief 

Minestrone Mischief: A Culinary Cozy (The Italian Kitchen Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery 4th in Series
Setting - New Jersey
Two Roses Books (September 28, 2022)
Paperback: ‎ 309 pages

When a Halloween stalker shows up on Mischief Night, Vic encounters lots of tricks, no treats, and one murder …

It’s the post-summer season in Oceanside Park, and mystery writer Victoria Rienzi’s hometown is preparing for one last blast on the boardwalk—its annual Mischief Night parade, held the evening before Halloween. While Nonna keeps her busy making treat bags full of Italian candy, Vic dreams up the perfect costumes for herself and Tim: Nick and Nora Charles, the famed detective pair from The Thin Man movies. Completing their look is a canine scamp, Willie, borrowed to play the part of Nora’s pet terrier.

But Victoria’s excitement is dimmed by the presence of a stalker, Edward Millman, who’s seen lurking around the Rienzi family restaurant. And who shows up at the Mischief Night parade dressed as Victoria’s book sleuth, Bernardo Vitali. But halfway through the parade, Willie sniffs out trouble, leading Vic and Tim on a not-so-merry chase that brings them to a dead body—Victoria’s stalker, Edward Millman. And in a scene straight out of Victoria’s latest book, Millman is found with a knife sticking from his chest, along with a nasty note: You deserved this.

As Vic digs into the details of the victim’s life, she wonders: Is it life imitating art? Or is there a more deadly form of mischief at work this Halloween?


About Rosie Genova

Bestselling and award-winning author Rosie Genova left her heart at the shore, which serves as the setting for much of her work. The inspiration for her cozy series, the Italian Kitchen Mysteries, comes from her deep appreciation for Italian food, her affinity for the New Jersey seaside, and her love of classic mysteries from Nancy Drew to Miss Marple. A former journalist and teacher, Rosie also writes women’s fiction and suspense. The proud mama of three grown sons, she still lives in her favorite state with her husband and a charming mutt named Lucy.

Author Links: 





Purchase Link - Amazon  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, October 28, 2022

The Ghost and the Stolen Tears - A Review & Giveaway


The Eighth Haunted Bookshop Mystery 

When bookshop owner Penelope Thornton-McClure visits her friend Fiona at the Finch Inn, she enters a world of chaos. An internet influencer is screeching that her jewels have been stolen. Norma, a nomadic woman currently working as a housekeeper at the inn and helping out at the bookstore, is soon accused of the crime. No one who knows her thinks Norma could be guilty, but when she disappears things look grim. PI Jack Shepard isn't as sure of Norma's innocence, but he knows that those jewels bring nothing but trouble, having worked a case involving them before he was killed. Now Jack and Pen, with the help of some friends, will have to figure out just who stole the Valentino Teardrops. 

While the mystery is first rate, it's the characters that make THE GHOST AND THE STOLEN TEARS so special. From Pen and her aunt to her bickering buddies and most of the residents of Quindicott, they all create a cozy environment where you want to spend time. While I'm not a huge fan of children in my mysteries I do like Spencer. I especially like how his school project entwined with the mystery. It's the  relationship between Pen and Jack that is the heart of this series, however. What's especially unique about their relationship is how Jack is able to bring Penny into his former world through her dreams. Instead of just telling her stories or giving her clues, Jack brings her into his world to explore, experience, and learn from his past. She's actually able to live it and bring the knowledge back to apply it to the present day mystery. By allowing her to do this readers also get the benefit of a historical mystery mixed with a modern day cozy. 

There's so much I love about this series, not least of which is a certain ghostly detective. In addition to great characters I love the wordplay found in the Haunted Bookshop Mystery series. From the noirish speech of Jack to the fact that a woman with a teardrop trailer is suspected of stealing the Tears of Valentino, tidbits such as these enhance the writing and the story.

Multiple mysteries past and present entwine themselves in THE GHOST AND THE STOLEN TEARS with surprises happening in all timelines. Carefully plotted clues and characterizations come together creating a confounding mystery to tickle the little grey cells. With missing jewels and a woman on the run THE GHOST AND THE STOLEN TEARS is a hauntingly good read.


 The Ghost and the Stolen Tears (Haunted Bookshop Mystery) by Cleo Coyle

About The Ghost and the Stolen Tears

The Ghost and the Stolen Tears (Haunted Bookshop Mystery)
Cozy Mystery 8th in Series
Berkley (October 4, 2022)
Mass Market Paperback: ‎ 288 pages

Norma is a modern-day nomad. Living out of her van and teardrop trailer, she revels in self-reliance, solitude, and reading in the glorious peace of nature. Jovial, wise, and scrupulously honest, she's become an uplifting presence in the little town of Quindicott, Rhode Island, where bookseller Pen is thankful to have her part-time help. But it's Norma's other job, working as a housekeeper at the Finch Inn, that gets her into terrible trouble. Norma is accused of stealing jewels from a guest's room: the legendary Valentino Teardrops, an antique necklace and earring set, inherited by a young socialite. Pen doesn't believe Norma is guilty of the crime—though the evidence is distressingly strong. And when the spirited Norma vanishes before her arrest, Pen turns to another spirit...

Jack Shepard, PI, may have been gunned down decades ago, but his memory hasn't been ghosted. Back in the 1940s, those same Valentino Teardrops starred in a bizarre case of betrayal and murder. From the look of things, history is about to repeat. Now Jack is back on the job, and Pen is eternally grateful.

About Cleo Coyle

CLEO COYLE is a pseudonym for Alice Alfonsi, writing in collaboration with her husband, Marc Cerasini. Both are New York Times bestselling authors of the long-running Coffeehouse Mysteries—now celebrating eighteen years in print. They are also authors of the nationally bestselling Haunted Bookshop Mysteries, previously written under the pseudonym Alice Kimberly. Alice has worked as a journalist in Washington, D.C., and New York, and has written popular fiction for adults and children. A former magazine editor, Marc has authored espionage thrillers and nonfiction for adults and children. Alice and Marc are also both bestselling media tie-in writers who have penned properties for Lucasfilm, NBC, Fox, Disney, Imagine, and MGM. They live and work in New York City, where they write independently and together.

Author Links

Webpage Free Newsletter Facebook Twitter BookBub Goodreads Instagram

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Currently Reading...

I just finished reading The Ghost and the Stolen Tears by Cleo Coyle. This book is the eighth in the Haunted Bookshop Mystery series and was released earlier this month.

When bookshop owner Penelope Thornton-McClure visits her friend Fiona at the Finch Inn, she enters a world of chaos. An internet influencer is screeching that her jewels have been stolen. Norma, a nomadic woman currently working as a housekeeper at the inn and helping out at the bookstore, is soon accused of the crime. No one who knew her thinks Norma could be guilty, but when she disappears things look grim. PI Jack Shepard isn't as sure of Norma's innocence, but he knows that those jewels bring nothing but trouble, having worked a case involving them before he was killed. Now Jack and Pen, with the help of some friends, will figure out just who stole the Valentino Teardrops.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

A Pickle of a Murder - A Review


A PICKLE OF A MURDER by Melissa Bourbon
The First Foxy Ladies Mystery 

With a flamboyant wardrobe and an unlit cigarette, Hattie Juniper Pickle knows her own mind. She also knows something is up when her dull as dishwater second ex-husband shows up out of the blue, with her first ex-husband, who also happens to be her third ex-husband, following on his heels. Telling her exes to come back later, Hattie is relaxing at home after a date when she hears someone messing around by her old loblolly tree. Going outside to chase them away she's stunned to find ex #2 under her tree-dead. Gathering her friends, the foxy ladies, Hattie is determined to discover what brought her ex to town and who killed him!

Having read the Book Magic Mysteries I was familiar with Hattie Juniper Pickle. Indeed, she was a secondary character so bright she deserved a series of her own and she got it in the new Foxy Ladies Mystery series. But have no fear, even if you haven't read the book series, you'll have no problem jumping in to Hattie's adventure.

I loved this quick read that brought me back to Devil's Cove. Though short, there was plenty of scintillating detail, red herrings, and enough twists and turns to keep readers guessing.

A PICKLE OF A MURDER is a fast paced colorful novella that proves that age is just a number.