Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Sazerac, Sleuth & Slay - A Guest Post & Giveaway

I'm pleased to let Andi Anna Jones take over Cozy Up With Kathy today. You can find Andi on the pages of the Andi Anna Jones Mystery series by Mary Cunningham. Sazerac, Sleuth & Slay is the second book in the series and was released yesterday!

A few words from main character, Andi Anna Jones

I don’t usually write, but my author insisted I give it a try, so here goes.

I run a travel agency, although my right hand, Ellie, should, take credit for the success of Graves Travel.

Oh, in case you’re wondering. No, I don’t love to travel. That’s a misconception when it comes to agents, is that we all love to pack suitcases, run to the airport, and sleep in strange rooms. In fact, I’m so tired of hearing customer complaints, personal travel is about the last thing I want to do! Crowded airplanes (I’m a severe claustrophobe!), airports, and lost luggage? Forget it! Another fallacy is that we travel in luxury. Ha! I have to beg for a comped room or plane ticket. Even then, luxury is nowhere to be seen.

My life would’ve gone in a completely different direction if Graves Travel hadn’t been dumped in my lap by a well-meaning neighbor. Why I was a benefactor in his will, remains a mystery. In college, I thought I wanted to be an archeologist. Or a lawyer, although my inability to speak coherently in front of an audience would beg to differ. I also have a strong sense of justice, so defending an obviously guilty client would be against my principles.

Private detective was a more realistic dream since I’ve always loved solving mysteries. I watched Matlock, Murder She Wrote, and Colombo reruns with my dad while other kids my age were glued to cartoons. Little did I suspect then, that I’d be required to put that experience to work when a high-profile client disappeared during a trip to New Orleans. It didn’t help that, months before, I’d sent her husband to the wrong airport, oh, and the wrong state. I jumped into action, not only to search for my client, but also to lessen the opportunity for her husband to sue me and the agency for more than it’s worth!

When I’m not tearing my hair out trying to build the agency into a money-making career, I love cruising A1A in South Florida in my vintage Mustang convertible. Feeling the wind in my hair and smelling the salt air rejuvenates my spirit after a tough day dealing with unhappy clients. Being a Florida native (one of the few), I’m also a beach gal. My unruly hair and mass of freckles proves it.

So, that’s about it. Andi Anna Jones and her not-so-interesting life. Stay tuned, though. My writer has a devious mind when it comes to plot twists and turns. I never know what changes are in store.

Oh, and don’t forget to book your next trip with Graves Travel! Ellie will be happy to help.

Andi Anna Jones 


 Sazerac, Sleuth & Slay (An Andi Anna Jones Mystery) by Mary Cunningham

About Sazerac, Sleuth & Slay

Sazerac, Sleuth & Slay (An Andi Anna Jones Mystery)
Cozy Mystery 2nd in Series
Setting - In, and around, New Orleans
The Wild Rose Press, Inc (February 27, 2023)
Paperback: ‎ 260 pages

It’s gonna be a great day! Or, so she thought.

Andi Anna Jones, so-so travel agent, amateur sleuth, doesn’t suspect her least favorite client, Stewart (The Pain) Payne, will set off circumstances that lead to disappearance and death.

After his wife is a no-show for a convention in New Orleans, his threat to sue Graves Travel for “ten times more than it’s worth”, and Andi’s wish to honor one of her late dad's requests, leads her to The Big Easy in search of Grace Payne.

Five unsolved murders, a body caught in a crawfish cage, and a mysterious candle, magic, and incense shop, takes Andi deep into the bayou on a hunt for clues.

Will another victim be added to a serial killer’s list, or is the main suspect closer to Andi than she thinks?

About Mary Cunningham

Author, Mary Cunningham grew up on the northern side of the Ohio River in Corydon, Indiana.

Her first memories are of her dad’s original bedtime stories that no doubt inspired imagination and love of a well-spun “yarn”.

Through the author’s horrifying stint as a travel agent, protagonist Andi Anna Jones, travel agent and amateur sleuth, sprang to life. The adult/mystery series gives extra meaning to the phrase, “Write what you know.”

Cunningham also has a published biography depicting a military brat, college and professional basketball player, along with a five-book, middle-grade fantasy series.

She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Sisters in Crime, Atlanta Chapter, International Thriller Writers, Inc., and the Carrollton Writers Guild.

When she gives her fingers a break from the keyboard, she enjoys golf, swimming, and exploring the mountains of West Georgia where she makes her home with her husband.

Author Links: 

Website: http://www.marycunninghambooks.com  

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/cynthiasattic/  

Twitter: http://twitter.com/MaryCunningham  

Amazon Author Page: Amazon.com: Mary Cunningham: books, biography, latest update  

Goodreads: http://goodreads.com/author/show/367223.Mary_Cunningham  

Instagram: Author Mary Cunningham (@marycunningham2604) • Instagram photos and videos  

Purchase Links: Amazon - B&N

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Sunday, February 26, 2023

Bakeries and Buffoonery - A Guest Post Interview, Review, & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Moonbeam to Cozy Up With Kathy today. You can find Moonbeam on the pages of the Magical Mystery Book Club series by Elizabeth Pantley. BAKERIES AND BUFFOONERY is the fourth book in the series and was released February 15, 2023.

An interview with Moonbeam
By Elizabeth Pantley
Author of the Magical Mystery Book Club series

Hello, and welcome, Moonbeam. You have such a unique name. With your lovely flowing caftan and psychedelic peace-sign head scarf, it seems to suit you perfectly.

Thank you very much! I chose it myself; you know? I believe that people should be free to choose their own moniker once they realize who they are in this life.

I’ve been told you are an amazing cook, and you use all organic foods. What’s your specialty?

I’m most known for my organic smoothies! Everyone in our book club just loves them. I experiment with whatever produce is in season and have come up with some amazing combinations. A recent club favorite is a strawberry, blueberry, and cauliflower smoothie. It’s got almond butter in it, too, which makes it very creamy. Even the cat loves it.

That sounds very different – and tasty!

It is! It’s sweet and delicious, and so healthy, too. It’s a perfect way to sneak some vegetables into a breakfast drink.

I know you have a teenaged son, Forrest. Does he enjoy making smoothies, too?

He’s just starting to experiment. I’ll tell you a secret. Take a teen to a grocery store and give them free rein to select their own ingredients. If you encourage them to branch out and be creative, they can have so much fun with this.

You and your son are members of a cozy mystery book club together. That sounds like fun.

Oh, dearie, you have no idea! This is no ordinary book club! I’m not sure if I should be telling you this, but it’s too amazing to keep it a secret. We don’t just read these books – we actually travel inside them and become characters in the story! It’s wild and crazy!

Wow! Isn’t it scary to be part of a murder mystery book?

It can be! We’ve certainly had our moments. The worst part is stumbling upon a dead body! Before the club, I’d never seen one before, so that was a bit jarring. But I must say, if you keep in mind that you are actually inside a book, and the victim is an imaginary person, it’s not so bad.

It must feel great when you solve the mystery.

That’s the best part! When you sort through all the suspects and ferret out the red herrings, it’s a rush to get to the end of the book and the big reveal. I’ve never done anything so exciting in my life. You should read the books! They tell you all about our book journeys.

I sure will! They sound fascinating. Thanks for joining us today.

You’re very welcome. It’s fun sharing a bit about our very special, magical book club. 



The Fourth Magical Mystery Book Club

It's no secret that the book club members love to eat, so when they find a mystery with a baking competition they're all in - literally. Traveling to a town called Frosting they see that the citizens take their cake competition seriously, taking sides and promoting their favorite bakeries. But something's odd. Some of the people wear wispy clothing and odd backpacks and have mesmerizing eyes and unique hair. Oh and someone dies every year. The crew will have to find out who hates cake and try to prevent this year's murder all while nibbling on baked goods and baking themselves.

This is no Great British Baking Show-the competition in Frosting is fierce and the competitors not always pleasant and helpful. In fact, they can be downright mean. Indeed, the town and some of its residents can be quite contradictory, nice one minute, angry the next. I couldn't stand those triplets! And how they treated that poor pie man, er, guy...

The fourth Magical Mystery Book Club book continues to be a festive celebration of food and friendship with murder! I love how the gang goes about enjoying whatever environment they're in, doing fun things and living their best life. I also love how they're growing. Forrest is really coming into his own and Vee shines in this outing as we learn more about her. I also appreciate how we, and they, are learning more about how the club works, the mysterious attic in the library, for instance, as well as getting hints about Frank's origins.

BAKERIES AND BUFFOONERY is full of surprises, which is one thing that makes this series so hard to review. I refuse to have spoilers so there's so much I can't say as I don't want to ruin things for you. Just know that there are lots of surprises and an uh oh turned awww one. I shan't say more.
Friendship, teamwork, and love make BAKERIES AND BUFFOONERY an enchanting mystery where cake and competition reign. 


 Bakeries and Buffoonery: Magical Mystery Book Club by Elizabeth Pantley

About Bakeries and Buffoonery

Bakeries and Buffoonery: Magical Mystery Book Club
Paranormal Cozy Mystery 4th in Series
Setting - Small Midwestern Town
Independently Published (February 15, 2023)
Print length: ‎ 310 pages

It’s a magical book club! When this group chooses a book, magic happens. The mystery comes to life, and they find themselves part of the story. To exit the book and get back home, they need to solve the mystery and reach The End.

This time, the club chooses a book called The Great Cake Rivalry, because, well … cake! They read the back cover and it’s unanimous. So off they go into another grand adventure into a town aptly named Frosting.

Frosting is a rural town in an idyllic setting. The people live quiet lives most of the year. But in the spring, things change. The Annual Cake Competition becomes the focus of every man, woman, and child. They take this competition seriously. The cakes are spectacular. The festival is fabulous. For a week there are contests featuring all kinds of cakes. The people of the community become official tasters and vote for the winning cakes in each category.

The grand finale is a display of finely decorated cakes, made by the town’s bakeries. The winner of the best design receives a prize package that would make any baker dizzy.

Sadly, this event has been tainted. Once a year, each one different, but all somehow related to this event, a person is murdered. The main investigator is stumped, but that could be because he’s an inept buffoon.

Can the book club help the people of this community figure out who is causing this disturbing pattern of deaths, and stop another murder from happening? Can they figure out why some of the citizens dress so oddly, and why they always wear those unique backpacks? All while they fill themselves to the brim with cake, of course.

About Elizabeth Pantley


Elizabeth Pantley is the internationally bestselling author of The No-Cry Sleep Solution and twelve other books for parents, published in over twenty languages. She simultaneously writes the well-loved Destiny Falls Mystery & Magic book series and the new Magical Mystery Book Club series. Elizabeth lives in the Pacific Northwest, the gorgeous inspiration for the setting in many of her books. Visit her and sign up for her newsletter at www.nocrysolution.com  

Author Links: 

Website: https://www.nocrysolution.com/books/  

Newsletter Sign-up: https://www.nocrysolution.com/mailing-list/  

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

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/destinyfallsmystery/  

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/elizabeth-pantley  

Purchase Link - Amazon  

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Friday, February 24, 2023

No Small Murder - An Interview, Review, & Giveaway

I'm happy to welcome Lena Gregory back to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Lena writes the Mini-Meadows Mystery series. NO SMALL MURDER is the first book in the series and was released this past week.

Kathy: You start a new series with NO SMALL MURDER. Was there a specific inspiration for this series? 

LG: I am fascinated with tiny homes. I think they are adorable, but I started wondering what people do with all of their belongings. How do you condense a couple thousand square feet worth of things to fit into a tiny home? I have enough trouble just cleaning out the library/toy room to make space. With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to write a story about someone who specializes in decluttering and downsizing.


Kathy: Emma Wells is a downsizing expert who left her father's mansion to live in a Tiny Home Community. Personally I'd take the mansion. I love a big house to spread out with all my goodies. What about you? Could you live in a tiny home? 

LG: Lol! I think I’m with you on the mansion. I live in a house with my husband, three kids, son-in-law, and four (three of them large) dogs. I cannot imagine living in less than five-hundred square feet. If I lived alone, though, I feel like I’d like a tiny home, a small, cozy space to curl up in without all the maintenance involved in a full-size home.


Kathy: I find it fascinating that homes can be created out of shipping containers. Did you get to tour any such homes while writing this mystery? 

LG: I haven’t gotten to tour any yet, but I would love to. I have, however, been inside shipping containers that have been converted into storage containers. Even with two stacked together, I can’t imagine having enough space to live. While researching, I also found homes made from all kinds of different things, including airplanes.


Kathy: You currently write the Mini-Meadows Mystery series, The All-Day Breakfast Cafe Mystery series, and the Bay Island Psychic Mystery series. If you could swap places with one of your protagonists for one day, which series would you wind up in and why? 

LG: Ooh, that’s a hard one. I would probably wind up as Cass in the Bay Island Psychic Mysteries because her best friend Bee is one of my all-time favorite characters to write. He is loving, fun, and as loyal as they come. Bee is everything a friend should be.


Kathy: Will you share any other upcoming books?

LG: I am working on a whole list of books right now, lol. I just turned in the first book in my new Coffee and Cream Café Mystery series, Murder a la Mode, to my editor and am currently working on books two, Grounds for Murder, and three, Served Up Cold.  Then I have book seven in the All-Day Breakfast Café Mysteries up next, followed by book eight in the Bay Island Psychic Mysteries and books two and three, A Matter of Crime and Packing Heat, in the Mini-Meadows series. I also write inspirational romantic suspense under a pen name, so I’d love to continue doing that as well. And I have a young adult fantasy series coming soon, a middle grade fantasy, and a picture book.


Kathy: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.

LG: Thank you so much for having me! It’s always a pleasure to visit with you. 



NO SMALL MURDER by Lena Gregory
The First Mini-Meadows Mystery

Emma Wells is an expert in downsizing; she should be after leaving her father's grand house to live in a tiny home. Now she has her own business helping others downsize and is content in her cozy house with good friends nearby. A demanding new client has her grinding her teeth, however. Not only is he arrogant and rude to Emma and her business associates, he also appears to be selfish and uncaring to his family. But the shocks are just beginning for Emma when her Granny Rose stops by and declares she's moving in! And when she prepares for Mr. Aldridge's arrival in her own tiny community, she finds him dead and her friends suspects. With her insatiable curiosity, Emma isn't about to sit by doing nothing. Will she be able to find a killer? Or will a killer find her?

While I could never live in a tiny house myself, I find them fascinating and I especially like the idea of a little community of tiny homes and businesses. I admit that I wouldn't mind tooling around the neighborhood in a golf cart! Although I'm a bit like an ancient Egyptian pharaoh wanting to take all my stuff with me, I like how Emma shows people how to downsize, and laugh at how so many underestimate how much stuff they actually have. The whole concept makes for a fresh and unique mystery series.

One of the things I like best about Lena Gregory's mysteries is the close relationship between her characters and we find that in the first Mini-Meadows Mystery. Emma and her friends, Granny Rose, even Butch and Ginger, they all help create an environment you want to be a part of, even with murders! I found the mystery captivating, even if I did have an inkling of who was behind everything. There were still plenty of twists and turns with a variety of suspects and motives.

Great characters and an intriguing mystery make NO SMALL MURDER a delightful start to a new series.


No Small Murder: A Mini-Meadows Mystery by Lena Gregory

About No Small Murder

No Small Murder: A Mini-Meadows Mystery
Cozy Mystery 1st in Series
Setting - Florida
Level Best Books (February 21, 2023)
Number of Pages 215

Mini Meadows, a Tiny Home community in rural Central Florida, is home to Emma Wells, a downsize specialist who left her daddy’s mansion and her inheritance behind in favor of a simpler, more peaceful life in a tiny home that was once two shipping containers. But when she opens a shipping container and discovers her dead client sitting in a rocking chair, neatly wrapped and labeled, and two of her friends end up on the suspect list, Emma pitches in to help find the killer. With plenty of clues to unpack, Emma narrows down the suspect list, but as she begins to close in on the culprit, she realizes if she’s not careful she could end up in a box of her own.

About Lena Gregory

Lena Gregory grew up in a small town on the south shore of eastern Long Island, but she recently traded in cold, damp, gray winters for the warmth and sunshine of Central Florida, where she now lives with her husband, three kids, son-in-law, and four dogs. Her hobbies include spending time with family, reading, and walking. Her love for writing developed when her youngest son was born and didn’t sleep through the night. She works full-time as a writer and a freelance editor and is a member of Sisters in Crime.

Author Links

Purchase Links - Amazon 

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Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Oolong, Fairwell by Kristen Weiss. This book is the third in the Tea and Tarot Mystery series.

Abigail Beanblossom is happy in her tearoom in the daytime while she fights zombies in video games at night. Mother issues scare her more than zombies, however, so when the mother who abandoned her as a toddler returns Abigail is desperate to avoid her. Thus when Archer calls saying his neighbor has been murdered and he's a suspect, Abigail is happy to help. Now she and her business partner Hyperion will try to narrow down the multitude of suspects who wanted this noisy neighbor dead!

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Born to Bead Wild - A Guest Post & Giveaway

I'm happy to let Janice Peacock take over Cozy Up With Kathy today. Janice writes the Glass Bead Mystery series. Born to Bead Wild is the fifth book in the series and was released last month.

Where Do You Get Your Ideas: This Author Is a Magpie 

By Janice Peacock

One question I get often is: Where do you get your ideas? My simple answer is: From my imagination. But it’s more complicated than that. The honest answer is that I’m a bit of a magpie, taking shiny bits from my everyday life, the news, the various places I’ve traveled to, and the people I’ve met. Yes, it is true. If you are particularly interesting, you’ll end up in one of my books. But don’t worry, you’ll never know it’s you—but I will.

People aside, one of the things that is easiest to borrow from real-life are locations. It can be challenging to develop a unique setting in a book, so instead, I like to create a pastiche of several places, with some wriggle room for creative license. This process sounds more complicated than it is, but it does rely on my willingness to pull together disparate locations to create a new, unique, and cohesive setting for a book.

My most recent cozy mystery, Born to Bead Wild, is set at an art and crafts retreat called Full Moon Farm. It’s partly inspired by Crescent Lake Lodge on the Olympic Peninsula, a few hours’ drive from Seattle. My daughter went to school at the University of Washington in Seattle, so I would go to Lake Crescent whenever I could during those years. It is a beautiful, relaxing place I’ve missed going to during the last few years of staying home.

Lake Crescent’s Lodge is much like the one in Born to Bead Wild, located near a lake and with a grand lobby complete with a rock fireplace, floor-to-ceiling wood paneling, and deer heads on the walls. The lodge in my book has a few features that Lake Crescent Lodge does not—for instance, there is no direct access to the kitchen from the lobby in the real-life building, nor are there display cases ringing the room full of artifacts and awards. What is great about making things up—you can create a setting that allows the characters to conveniently move through their world and find the clue they need to solve a mystery.

Another inspiration for Full Moon Farm is Pilchuck Glass School. It is a world-renowned glass school that offers classes in summer that are usually two to three weeks long. I took a Pilchuck class about ten years ago, which was a life-changing experience. To be immersed in the world of glass art and surrounded by dozens of awe-inspiring artists was a dream come true. One of the things that I took away from Pilchuck that found its way into Born to Bead Wild was the gong. Pilchuck has a gong made from an old oxygen tank—it’s very unusual! It made quite a loud clanging sound and effectively brought people to the dining room for meals.

One more place comes into play when I think about how Full Moon Farm developed as a setting. It’s a place called Snow Farm in Massachusetts. Like Pilchuck, it is a summer arts program, but instead of just focusing on glass, they have classes in various mediums. I taught teenagers how to make glass beads for a three-week session a few years ago. The setting was rural, much like I imagine Full Moon Farms, with a dining room lined with long tables, so students and faculty could all eat together.

So, I took all my favorite parts from three places and pulled them together to make Full Moon Farm. The lodge is straight from Lake Crescent, the classes and cabins from Pilchuck, and the farm style from Snow Farm. Of course, overlaid upon this will always be the readers’ imagination about what they see in their mind’s eye when they read the book.

The world around me is inspiring, and I try to keep my cell phone tucked away, so I don’t miss any delightful details. Today I walked to the coffee shop and passed a man with the most unusual mustache. He was a skinny fellow with a tan face and a white mustache that swept across his face, from ear to ear, crossing under a prominent nose. It was like a mustache and horizontal sideburns all in one. Perhaps my description doesn’t do it justice. All I could think: Ohh, I’m going to have to put him in one of my books! He was such an interesting character, and I would have missed him if I’d been looking at my iPhone instead of paying attention to what I can see around me.

Often people will ask me if I put my friends—or enemies—in my books. The honest answer is no. I do like to create characters from scratch. Sure, I might borrow a person’s looks, like mustache-man, but I’ll give him a unique personality, perhaps drawing on endearing or annoying traits I’ve seen in others.

The other place I receive inspiration is from events in the news. I don’t want to give those of you who have not yet read Born to Bead Wild any spoilers, so I won’t mention what inspired that plot. I have to be careful when getting inspiration from the news, though. One of the reasons people read cozy mysteries is to escape the awfulness of the real world, and I certainly don’t want anything too horrible to creep into my books—other than a murder, of course. But every once in a while, a story intrigues me. One such true saga is that of Forrest Fenn and his treasure. Forrest buried a trunk of treasure somewhere in the forest and wrote a poem that contained clues to the location of the prize. Thousands of people looked for it, and finally, someone found it, though the details of that discovery have never been revealed. Doesn’t that sound like the perfect start to a cozy mystery novel? I think so!

I’m not sure if a story like Forrest Fenn’s treasure will ever make it into one of my books, but it is fun to think about. As for me, I’ll keep looking for unique locations to use as settings for my novels, keep my eyes open for unique people who can live within the pages of my books, and scan the news for tidbits that might be worth borrowing.

Yes, I’d say I am a magpie, hoarding my shiny bits of the world to use, someday, in a story. 


 Born to Bead Wild: A Humorous Cozy Mystery (Glass Bead Mystery Series) by Janice Peacock

About Born to Bead Wild

Born to Bead Wild: A Humorous Cozy Mystery (Glass Bead Mystery Series)
Cozy Mystery 5th in Series
Setting - Olympic Peninsula, Washington
Vetrai Press (January 18, 2023)
Number of Pages: 252

Something is strange at Full Moon Farms—and it isn’t just Val’s Eggplant Surprise for dinner.

Jax, Tessa, and the rest of the arts and crafts retreat attendees are shocked when they find charred bones in a glass kiln. Are the remains human or animal?

The camp owners insist the bones in the coffin-sized kiln are from a deer, but Jax finds a clue that leads her to believe the owners are lying. After Tessa’s least favorite person turns up dead, there is no doubt that a killer lurks somewhere in the deep forest of the Olympic Peninsula. As clues lead Jax and Tessa down mysterious paths, they hope they live long enough to find the culprit and make it out alive.

About Janice Peacock

Janice Peacock is a cozy mystery author who specializes in craft and hobby mysteries. She loves to write about artists who find new ways to live their lives and perhaps catch a criminal or two in the process. While working in a glass studio with several colorful and quirky artists, she was inspired to write the Glass Bead Mystery Series. The Ruby Shaw Mysteries, which are set in a small hillside mining town, were inspired by her trips to Jerome, Arizona, and Jacksonville, Oregon.

When Janice isn’t writing about amateur detectives, she wields a 2,500-degree torch to melt glass and create one-of-kind beads and jewelry. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, an enormous white dog, and an undisclosed number of cats. Visit Janice online at www.janicepeacock.com.

Author Links

Purchase Link - Amazon  

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Sunday, February 19, 2023

Sticks and Stones and a Bag of Bones - An Interview, Review, & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Heather Weidner to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Heather writes the Mermaid Bay Christmas Shoppe Mystery series. STICKS AND STONES AND A BAG OF BONES is the first book in the series and was released last month.

Kathy: STICKS AND STONES AND A BAG OF BONES takes place during Mermaid Bay's Christmas in July celebration. Does your town have Christmas in July festivities? Do you enjoy a bit of Christmas in the summer? 

HW: We don’t a summer Christmas festival. I wish we did. I love Christmas, so I am always buying decorations throughout the year.

Kathy: Jade Hicks owns a Christmas shoppe in this quaint resort town. I love browsing Christmas stores no matter the time of year and was sad when I learned one nearby had closed. Are you a fan of Christmas Shoppes? Is there anything particular you look for in these stores? 

HW: I am. And I have to stop if I see a Christmas shop while we’re on vacation. Did I say I loved Christmas? I put up 5-6 trees every year, and they’re each themed. I have a toy tree, a bear tree, and then the others are themed by color. Lately, I’ve been buying beach and mermaid decorations for this series and vintage trailers for my glamping series.

Kathy: Jade has a French Bulldog named Chloe. Are you a Frenchie fanatic? What makes this breed the perfect one for your series? 

HW: I love dogs. My stories always have a fuzzy sidekick, and I love bull dogs. They are such a fun breed. I have two crazy Jack Russell terriers. But a guy I work with has a Frenchie (who has her own Instagram account). She provided the antics and fun and served as the model for Chloe. What first drew you to cozy mysteries? I started my mystery habit with Nancy Drew and Scooby-Doo, and they were gateways to all the classics. I read thrillers and suspense, too, but I always come back to the cozies. I like that an amateur sleuth solves the crime. I like the interesting jobs the characters have and the cool towns where they live.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres? 

HW: I have one private eye series that’s a traditional mystery. She’s fun to write, too because she gets in way more trouble than I do. I also write short stories that are also mysteries. I have a couple with a little bit of paranormal, and one that’s noirish and quite dark with creepy dolls.

Kathy: Tell us about your series. 

HW: Mermaid Bay is the place I want to live and work. It’s a sweet little town that prides itself on preserving its heritage. The inhabitants are quirky and fun. And Jade owns a Christmas store. A dream job!

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

HW: I love them all. Lorelei is fun to write because she’s sassy and doesn’t care what others think. Peppermint Patti is also fun. She’s bubbly and joyfully enthusiastic. And I can’t forget about the fuzzy friends. Chloe and Neville the Devil Cat are frenemies, and their antics always make me smile.

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

HW: I love cozy mysteries. I wanted to have a Christmas store and a neat location. I grew up in Virginia Beach, and I miss the ocean. It was a great place to grow up, and even though it’s much bigger than Mermaid Bay, it’s my inspiration for beach life.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work? 

HW: I have always loved mysteries and writing. I finally decided to submit a story to an anthology in my writers’ group, Sisters in Crime, and that was my first publishing credit. My Delanie books were my first published novels (though not the first books I wrote).

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

HW: That’s tough to narrow it down. Let’s go with Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, P. D. James, and A. A. Milne (the Winnie the Pooh author wrote one mystery for his father).

Kathy: What are you currently reading? 

HW: I love to read. I just finished Delia Owens’s WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING. Now, I’m reading Ellen Bryon’s WINED AND DIED IN NEW ORLEANS.

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

HW: I love to travel and take pictures. We live in a wooded community on the reservoir, and I love to go on walks with the two crazy Jack Russells and also paddle kayaks around the lake.

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

HW: Chocolate, Iced Tea, Dr. Pepper, Ketchup

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

HW: I have 4 books that are coming out in the Jules Keene Glamping series, and I have 2 more coming out for this series.

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

HW: I love talking to readers about books and mysteries and writing.



The First Mermaid Bay Christmas Shoppe Mystery series
The Christmas in July festivities at Mermaid Bay make Jade Hicks's spirits bright, after all, what better way to promote her year round Christmas shop. A pall comes over the community when a jogger trips over a bag of bones that washed up on the beach and threatening notices are hung around town warning people to stay away from the festivities. The hope that everything is a prank ends when cranky bookstore owner Emory Jessup is found dead behind the hot dog stand. Who's behind the ominous goings on in Mermaid Bay? Any why? Jade is determined to find out. 

I love Christmas! The decorations, the gift giving, it all makes me happy so I was very pleased to see a new mystery series with a year round Christmas shop. I'm not a fan of the heat, so I can easily picture myself going into 'Tis the Season to cool off and at least dream of winter. However, it took me a while to get into the story. The writing didn't flow and things progressed quite slowly. The characters were pleasant enough. Jade makes a fairly likeable protagonist and I do like her relationship with the Sheriff. I really liked Amy. Of all the characters, she's the most dimensional and the most real. Eventually, I did get caught up in the story and enjoyed seeing Jade piece everything together.

STICKS AND STONES AND A BAG OF BONES combines Christmas and beach living in an enjoyable start to a new series.


 Sticks and Stones and a Bag of Bones: A Mermaid Bay Christmas Shoppe Mystery by Heather Weidner

About Sticks and Stones and a Bag of Bones

Sticks and Stones and a Bag of Bones: A Mermaid Bay Christmas Shoppe Mystery
Cozy Mystery 1st in Series
Setting - Virginia
Level Best Books (January 17, 2023)
Print length: ‎ 277 pages

When a beat-up suitcase full of bones washes up by the pier, the residents of the quaint resort town of Mermaid Bay are whipped into a hurricane-sized frenzy over the gruesome find in the middle of their Christmas in July festivities. The holly jolly mood retreats like the tide with everyone wondering who was in the suitcase.

Christmas shoppe owner, Jade Hicks, wades into the fracas when voodoo dolls and mysterious notes and posters about impending doom start popping up all over town, threatening to destroy the economy of a community that lives and dies by tourist dollars. Then tensions crest when the prickly bookstore owner is found strangled to death with a string of holiday lights.

Jade and her French bulldog Chloe, have to solve the crime before anyone else gets hurt and her business and the festival are forever tainted. Sticks and Stones and a Bag of Bones is the first in the Mermaid Bay Christmas Shoppe Mysteries cozy series.

About Heather Weidner

Through the years, Heather Weidner has been a cop’s kid, technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager. She writes the Delanie Fitzgerald Mysteries, The Jules Keene Glamping Mysteries, and The Mermaid Bay Christmas Shoppe Mysteries.

Her short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series, 50 Shades of Cabernet, Deadly Southern Charm, and Murder by the Glass.

She is a member of Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia, Sisters in Crime – Chessie, Guppies, International Thriller Writers, and James River Writers.

Originally from Virginia Beach, Heather has been a mystery fan since Scooby-Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers.

Author Links: 

Website and Blog: http://www.heatherweidner.com  

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HeatherWeidner1  

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

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/heather_mystery_writer/  

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8121854.Heather_Weidner  

Amazon Authors: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00HOYR0MQ  

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/HeatherBWeidner/  

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/heather-weidner-0064b233?trk=hp-identity-name  

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/heather-weidner-d6430278-c5c9-4b10-b911-340828fc7003  

TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@heather_weidner_author  

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyBjyB0zz-M1DaM-rU1bXGA?view_as=subscriber  

Purchase Link - Amazon 

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Friday, February 17, 2023

Cheddar Off Dead - A Spotlight

Today I want to shine a spotlight on a book I somehow missed when it was released...way back on March 29 of last year! Cheddar off Dead by Korina Moss is the first book in the Cheese Shop Mystery series. 


Cheesemonger Willa Bauer is proving that sweet dreams are made of cheese. She’s opened her very own French-inspired cheese shop, Curds & Whey, in the heart of the Sonoma Valley. The small town of Yarrow Glen is Willa's fresh start, and she's determined to make it a success – starting with a visit from the local food critic. What Willa didn’t know is that this guy never gives a good review, and when he shows up nothing goes according to plan. She doesn’t think the night can get any worse... until she finds the critic’s dead body, stabbed with one of her shop’s cheese knives. Now a prime suspect, Willa has always believed life’s problems can be solved with cheese, but she’s never tried to apply it to murder…

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading No Small Murder by Lena Gregory. This book is the first in the Mini-Meadows Mystery series and will be released February 21, 2023.

Emma Wells is an expert in downsizing; she should be after leaving her father's grand house to live in a tiny home. Now she has her own business helping others downsize and is content in her cozy house with good friends nearby. A demanding new client has her grinding her teeth, however. Not only is he arrogant and rude to Emma and her business associates, he also appears to be selfish and uncaring to his family. But the shocks are just beginning for Emma when her Granny Rose stops by and declares she's moving in! And when she prepares for Mr. Aldridge's arrival in her own tiny community, she finds him dead and her friends suspects. With her insatiable curiosity, Emma isn't about to sit by doing nothing. Will she be able to find a killer? Or will a killer find her?

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Killing Cupid - A Spotlight

Happy Valentine's Day! 

I thought it would be fun to shine a spotlight on a Valentine's Day themed cozy Mystery. Killing Cupid by Laura Levine is the twelfth book in the Jaine Austen Mystery series and was released in 2014. The series is still going strong. Death by Smoothie is the nineteenth book in the series and was released November 29, 2022.


When Jaine lands a job writing web copy and brochures for matchmaker Joy Amoroso, she’s excited for a chance to help the lovelorn—until she realizes Joy is a ruthless taskmaster who screams at her employees for the smallest infractions, pads her website with pictures of professional models posing as clients, and offers up convincing but empty promises of love.  So it’s no surprise when the chiseling cupid turns up dead at a Valentine’s Day mixer. Now, finding the culprit may prove harder than spotting that elusive caramel praline in a box of chocolates . . .


Here are some other Valentine's themed mysteries:

Wedding Bear Blues by Meg Macy 

Happy Homicides 2: Crimes of the Heart An Anthology

Valentine's Day is Murder by Carolyn Arnold

As Gouda as Dead by Avery Ames 

The Chocolate Cupid Killings by JoAnna Carl


What are some of your favorite mysteries set around Valentine's Day?

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Wined and Died in New Orleans - A Review & Giveaway


The Second Vintage Cookbook Mystery

Hurricane warnings have Ricki James-Diaz flustered even more than the low sales at Miss Vee’s Vintage Cookbook and Kitchenware Shop that she runs at the Bon Vee Culinary House Museum. The exciting discovery of wine hidden under the mansion since the mid 1800s could solve the historic home's financial woes. Facing her fear of social media, Ricki posts about the find, hoping to lure prospective buyers for the auction. Instead she lures shady Charbonnet relatives, all looking to cash in. When the head interloper in murdered on the property with vintage kitchenware from Ricki's shop police aim their sights at the New Orleans Charbonnet clan. In order to prove Eugenia's innocence Ricki will have to look into the Charbonnet family history and the financial problems that may have created a killer.  

The weather isn't the only thing that's stormy in the second Vintage Cookbook mystery when family and romantic relationships collide with murder! The mystery was clever with several motives, sketchy characters, and lots of avenues to explore. I like how Ricki's relationship with NOLA PD is improving, indeed how a friendship is forming. I'm also pleased with the different romantic relationships slowly evolving.

WINED AND DIED IN NEW ORLEANS rocks. Seedy relatives arriving like leeches, an annoying Gen Z who turns invaluable, and an assistant with a black heart all assail Bon Vee and add plenty of drama and fun. The characters are really coming into their own in this second outing. They're more vibrant and less flighty. I'm still not a fan of Cookie, but I don't dislike her as much, and I enjoy seeing the other friendships grow. Clarissa was a good addition, making trouble for Ricki and being a good villain. Ricki showed more restraint for dealing with her that I would have!

WINED AND DIED IN NEW ORLEANS is a fast paced New Orleans adventure with troubled families, rare wine, and devious behavior all mixing under the threat of a hurricane.


 Wined and Died in New Orleans (A Vintage Cookbook) by Ellen Byron

About Wined and Died in New Orleans

Wined and Died in New Orleans (A Vintage Cookbook)
Cozy Mystery 2nd in Series
Setting - Louisiana
Berkley (February 7, 2023)
Mass Market Paperback: ‎ 288 pages

The second in a fantastic new cozy mystery series with a vintage flair from USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award–winning author Ellen Byron.

It’s hurricane season in New Orleans and vintage cookbook fan Ricki James-Diaz is trying to shelve her weather-related fears and focus on her business, Miss Vee’s Vintage Cookbook and Kitchenware Shop, housed in the magnificent Bon Vee Culinary House Museum.

Repairs on the property unearth crates of very old, very valuable French wine, buried by the home’s builder, Jean-Louis Charbonnet. Ricki, who’s been struggling to attract more customers to Miss Vee’s, is thrilled when her post about the discovery of this long-buried treasure goes viral. She’s less thrilled when the post brings distant Charbonnet family members out of the woodwork, all clamoring for a cut of the wine’s sale.

When a dead body turns up in Bon Vee’s cheery fall decorations, the NOPD zeroes in on Eugenia Charbonnet Felice as the prime suspect, figuring that as head of the Charbonnet family, she has the most to gain. Ricki is determined to uncover the real culprit, but she can’t help noticing that Eugenia is acting strangely. Ricki wonders what kind of secret her mentor has bottled up, and fears what might happen if she uncorks it.

In the second Vintage Cookbook Mystery, Ricki has to help solve a murder, untangle family secrets, and grow her business, all while living under the threat of a hurricane that could wipe out everything from her home to Bon Vee.

About Ellen Byron

Ellen’s Cajun Country Mysteries have won the Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel and multiple Lefty Awards for Best Humorous Mystery. Bayou Book Thief will be the first book in her new Vintage Cookbook Mysteries. She also writes the Catering Hall Mystery series under the name Maria DiRico.

Ellen is an award-winning playwright, and non-award-winning TV writer of comedies like Wings, Just Shoot Me, and Fairly Odd Parents. She has written over two hundred articles for national magazines but considers her most impressive credit working as a cater-waiter for Martha Stewart. An alum of New Orleans’ Tulane University, she blogs with Chicks on the Case, is a lifetime member of the Writers Guild of America and will be the 2023 Left Coast Crime Toastmaster. Please visit her at https://www.ellenbyron.com/

Author Links: 

Newsletter: https://www.ellenbyron.com/  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ellenbyronauthor/ https://www.facebook.com/CateringHallMysteries/  

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ellenbyronmariadirico/  

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/ellen-byron https://www.bookbub.com/authors/maria-dirico  

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/23234.Ellen_Byron https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19130966.Maria_DiRico  

Purchase Links - Amazon - B&N - Kobo -

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Friday, February 10, 2023

A Half-Baked Murder - A Review


The First Cannabis Cafe Mystery 

With her engagement broken and career in tatters pastry chef Chloe Barnes flees Paris to return to California to care for her grandmother who has just been diagnosed with cancer. Reluctant to follow her doctor's recommendation to use cannabis to ease the side effects of chemotherapy Chloe takes up the challenge to make it more palatable, making high end brownies with a special ingredient. When her aunt comes up with a unique business idea, Chloe is tempted, but has a run in with an old elementary school bully. When he winds up dead and her aunt a suspect, Chloe finds herself looking for clues as well as creating recipes and contemplating a new business.

I really liked meeting Chloe in the first Cannabis Cafe Mystery. She's approachable, caring, and real. A shining pastry chef star who, through a disastrous chain of events flees Paris and returns home to Azalea Bay to start over and perhaps find her true purpose in life. I like how she's hesitant to embrace her aunt's concept, but when she does, I love how she follows through. Grandma Rose is wonderful with her burgeoning romantic relationship and I love Aunt Dawn, free wheeling and spontaneous, but with a secret. Incorporating unique hobbies such as dog dancing and Dungeons and Dragons add to the fun.

Though completely cozy A HALF-BAKED MURDER has some more worldly components. Normalizing the use of marijuana might even be considered avant-garde. Add bullying, sexual harassment, as well as other timely subjects, and the book becomes even more pertinent to today's readers. As for the murder, I'm always happy when a thoroughly bad person becomes the murder victim and such is the case here.

I am not a smoker or a midnight toker, but the idea of high end pastry infused with cannabis as a way to ease my arthritis pain is compelling. I appreciate the way cannabis use is handled, the realization that there is a stigma surrounding its use, despite it being legal, as well as the professional ways it can be sold and ingested. Though it is a fictional novel, the information appears well researched and valid. I especially like the warning to use responsibly and the fact that Chloe had all the guests at her "special" dinner arrange transportation so that no one imbibing would be driving.

A HALF-BAKED MURDER is a culinary mystery with a contemporary twist. Giving a fresh look to murder mysteries this book is a fantastic start to what promises to be a great new series.

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Wined and Died in New Orleans by Ellen Byron. This book is the second in the Vintage Cookbook Mystery series and was released yesterday.

Hurricane warnings have Ricki James-Diaz flustered even more than the low sales at Miss Vee’s Vintage Cookbook and Kitchenware Shop that she runs at the Bon Vee Culinary House Museum. The discovery of wine hidden under the mansion since the mid 1800s could solve the historic home's financial woes. Facing her fear of social media, Ricki posts about the find, hoping to lure prospective buyers for the auction. Instead she lures shady Charbonnet relatives, all looking to cash in. When the head interloper in murdered on the property with vintage kitchenware from Ricki's shop police aim their sights at the New Orleans Charbonnet clan. In order to prove Eugenia's innocence Ricki will have to look into the Charbonnet family history and the financial problems that may have created a killer.

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Miss Morton and the English House Party - A Review


By Catherine Lloyd
The First Miss Morton Mystery 

A family scandal turned Lady Catherine into Miss Morton, paid companion to the wealthy Mrs. Frogerton. In Caroline's eye better to make her own way than becoming another of her aunt's charity cases. Invited to her cousin's birthday party and ball at Greenwood Hall, Caroline steps back into Regency society, a society that would rather she disappear completely. As she assists her aunt and her employer, who has been begrudgingly invited along with her daughter, Caroline senses things aren't quite right at the manor. A missing butler, a murdered great aunt, and relatives who refuse to admit that anything is wrong lead Caroline on a dangerous path into the sordid history of Greenwood Hall. Will she uncover the truth? Should she?

Exacting societal standards dictate behavior in Regency England, and some people are more staunch supports than others, some even enjoying the cruelty they inflict. Caroline appears resigned to her new station in life and the attitude of those who were once her societal equals and family. I for one, would have liked to smack her cousin and throttle her aunt let alone her former fiancee and his family! I love Mrs. Frogerton, and find her intelligent with a zest for life, but pragmatic as well. 

A house can have a personality. It has the ability to give off a vibe, positive or negative, holding memories and secrets. Greenwood Hall is one such home and as soon as Miss Morton enters, she feels that something is off. Murder is often a light-hearted affair in cozy and historical mysteries, but the first Miss Morton Mystery shows murder in a darker manner. This is especially true as the book goes on and more truths are revealed. I appreciate the way light and dark are handled, humor diffusing some of the more distressing scenes and awful behavior of its characters while adding to the ambiance of this compelling mystery.

MISS MORTON AND THE ENGLISH HOUSE PARTY MURDER is an engrossing historical mystery that's not afraid to look into the darker corners of society.

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Murder at an Irish Castle - A Spotlight

Today I'd like to shine a spotlight on an upcoming release. Murder at an Irish Castle by Ellie Brannigan is the first book in the Irish Castle Mystery series and will be released this week.


Rodeo Drive bridalwear designer Rayne McGrath expected her thirtieth birthday to start with a power lunch and end with champagne, lobster, and a diamond engagement ring from her fiancé. Instead, flat-broke and busted, she’s on a plane to Ireland where she discovers that she’s inherited a run-down family castle. Uncle Nevin’s will contains a few caveats—for example, if Rayne doesn’t turn McGrath Castle around within a year, the entire village will be financially destroyed.
With the fate of the town in her hands, and rumors that Rayne’s uncle’s death wasn’t actually an accident, she can’t possibly go back to her old life in L.A. As the devastating truth about her uncle dawns on Rayne, it’s not just her reputation that’s on the line, it’s her life.

Featuring a sharp and endearing protagonist, a colorful and quirky locale, and replete with twists and turns befitting an old Irish village, the first in Brannigan’s mystery series transports us to a milieu as romantic as it is deadly.

Friday, February 3, 2023

Catch Your Death - A Review


CATCH YOUR DEATH by Lissa Marie Redmond
The Sixth Cold Case Investigation Mystery 

A wintry weekend at a high end resort in the Southern Tier should be a relaxing respite for cold case detectives Lauren Riley and Shane Reese. Except for the fact that it's a soft opening as well as a mini high school reunion for Shane. A reunion of people who haven't been together since the murder of their classmate seventeen years ago. And the fact that Lauren is fairly certain one of the guests is a killer.

Being trapped by a blizzard in a high end resort doesn't sound so bad, after all the power is still on and there's plenty of good food and drink. Unfortunately, there's also a killer. This sixth Cold Case Investigation has Lauren Riley questioning everything she knows about her partner, the man who's had her back and saved her life more than once. 

Tensions run high as old classmates revert back to their teenaged personas and anxiety is ratcheted up when one classmate deliberately provokes everyone else. I love the combination of an old cold case murder directly tied into a new one, especially when Shane is intimately involved with all of the suspects. I also enjoy how Lauren makes due with her limited resources, keeping in touch with the state police, and going a bit rogue while stringently following police procedure in other matters.

The Lauren Riley we see in CATCH YOUR DEATH is quite changed from the Lauren Riley we are introduced to in the first Cold Case Investigation Mystery. She's played and been played. Physically she's gone through hell and isn't quite back. She's grown.

CATCH YOUR DEATH is an atmospheric police procedural that brings closure to the ultimate high school drama. It's a perfect read for a snowy day, preferably cuddled up in a blanket with a warm drink at hand!

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Currently Reading...

I just finished reading Miss Morton and the English House Party Murder by Catherine LLoyd. This book is the first in the Miss Morton Mystery series and was released last year.

A family scandal turned Lady Catherine into Miss Morton, paid companion to the wealthy Mrs. Frogerton. In Caroline's eye better to make her own way than becoming another of her aunt's charity cases. Invited to her cousin's birthday party and ball at Greenwood Hall, Caroline steps back into Regency society, a society that would rather she disappear completely. As she assists her employer, who has been begrudgingly invited along with her daughter, and her aunt Caroline senses things aren't quite right at the manor. A missing butler, a murdered great aunt, and relatives who refuse to admit that anything is wrong lead Caroline on a dangerous path into the sordid history of Greenwood Hall. Will she uncover the truth? Should she?