Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading The Legend of Acorn Hollow by Maureen Klovers. This book is the sixth in the Rita Calabrese Culinary Mystery series and is being released today!

While most people believe "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" takes place in Terrytown, the people of Acorn Hollow know that their bucolic town was the real inspiration. The community theatre is putting on their production of "The Legend of Acorn Hollow", a telling of the original Washington Irving story followed by the two local disappearances that have uncanny resemblances to the original-smashed pumpkin and all. While her son, Vinnie, is working on the production journalist, matriarch, and Italian cook extraordinaire Rita Calabrese has been asked to cater the Widow Schmalzgruben's funeral by the very much alive widow. The widow has close ties to the more recent disappearance told in the play and believes someone got away with murder. When accidents start befalling the current Ichabod Crane and Vinnie looks guilty, Rita will do everything in her power to prove his innocence, and she may just solve those mysteries from the past as well. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Wedding Bells Brew Murder - A Spotlight & Giveaway

Wedding Bells Brew Murder (Sara and Sean Cozy Mystery Series) by Carolyn Arnold

About Wedding Bells Brew Murder

 Wedding Bells Brew Murder (Sara and Sean Cozy Mystery Series)
Cozy Mystery 2nd in Series
Setting - New York
Hibbert & Stiles Publishing Inc. (August 29, 2023)
Print length: ‎ 244 pages

With all the guests at Sara and Sean’s wedding suspected of murder, her walk down the aisle will need to wait...

Everything is going perfectly on the big day until Sara opens the door of her bridal suite. Darlene Day, who made the wedding cake, falls into the room, a serving knife plunged into her back.

As the organists start to play “Here Comes the Bride,” Sara calls a pause to the proceedings. There’s a murder to solve, and the motive may be in the icing.

Darlene wasn’t the most loved person in the small town of Cotton Spring Falls, but rumor has it that she refused the offer of a big franchise to buy her bakery. Did they go so far as murder to put her out of business?

But when it’s discovered their wedding cake was poisoned, Sara and Sean could have been the intended victims all along. Did Darlene stumble upon the killer’s conspiracy and they silenced her before she could reveal their secret? Is it someone on the invitation list or the mysterious wedding crasher?

As long as the coffee is hot, and Sara has Sean and her beagle, Magnum, at her side, she isn’t going down in a heap of tulle and lace.

Wedding Bells Brew Murder is a closed-room mystery in the fashion of the great Agatha Christie that fans of Emma Davies, Verity Bright, and Helena Dixon will enjoy reading.

About Carolyn Arnold

CAROLYN ARNOLD is an internationally bestselling and award-winning author, as well as a speaker, teacher, and inspirational mentor. She has several continuing fiction series and has many published books. Her genre diversity offers readers police procedurals, hard-boiled and cozy mysteries, thrillers, and action adventures. Her crime fiction series have been praised by those in law enforcement as being accurate and entertaining. This led to her adopting the trademark: POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT™.

Carolyn was born in a small town and enjoys spending time outdoors, but she also loves the lights of a big city. Grounded by her roots and lifted by her dreams, her overactive imagination insists that she tell her stories. Her intention is to touch the hearts of millions with her books, to entertain, inspire, and empower.

She currently lives near London, Ontario, Canada with her husband and two beagles.

Author Links:  







Purchase Links – AmazoniTunesB&NKoboGoogle 

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, August 27, 2023

The Sunset Years of Agnes Sharp - A Spotlight

Today I'd like to shine a spotlight on an upcoming release, THE SUNSET YEARS OF AGNES SHARP by Leonie Swann and translated from the original German by Amy Bojang.

by Leonie Swann


It has been an eventful morning for Agnes Sharp and the other inhabitants of Sunset Hall, a house share for the old and unruly in the sleepy English countryside. Although they have had some issues (misplaced reading glasses, conflicting culinary tastes, decreasing mobility, and gluttonous grandsons), nothing prepares them for an unexpected visit from a police officer with some shocking news. A body has been discovered next door. Everyone puts on a long face for show, but they are secretly relieved the body in question is not the one they’re currently hiding in the shed (sorry, Lillith).

It seems the answer to their little problem with Lillith may have fallen right into their laps. All they have to do is find out who murdered their neighbor, so they can pin Lillith’s death on them, thus killing two (old) birds with one stone (cold killer).

With their plan sorted, Agnes and her geriatric gang spring into action. After all, everybody likes a good mystery. Besides, the more suspicion they can cast about, surely the less will land on them. To investigate, they will step out of their comfort zone, into the not-so-idyllic village of Duck End and tangle with sinister bakers, broken stairlifts, inept criminals, the local authorities, and their own dark secrets.

Friday, August 25, 2023

Secrets and Scallywags - A Review


The Fifth Magical Mystery Book Club Mystery

After choosing a new member to join them, the Magical Mystery Book Club is ready for their next adventure. A ship has just washed up on the shore of a quaint island community-the same ship, islanders believe, that was sunk by pirates the year prior. When the gang visit the ship they discover the crew still on board. A ghostly crew that is. The book club needs to find out what really happened so that they can free the ghosts thereby solving the mystery and returning home.

Readers are once again plunged into the delightful world of the Magical Mystery Book Club series with its fifth book SECRETS AND SCALLYWAGS. This time the gang lands in an island community and discover their mission is to help a band of ghostly pirates. I appreciate how the mystery doesn’t start with a murder, although there are dead bodies soon enough. I also appreciate the realism within the fantasy, such as Valeria’s reaction to a dead body and the reassurance of the gang to remember it’s just a book. Amid the laughs, and there were plenty, there was also more danger, and a darker danger, along with some moral ambiguity.

We meet a few new characters in SECRETS AND SCALLYWAGS, not only the people in their new book adventure, but the new club member. It was an interesting choice and I'm not sure how I feel about it. That being said, Valeria seems to be fitting in quite well. As for the island characters, I particularly enjoyed the pirates and the fact they were able to help Mollie. I also got very negative vibes from some of the island folk. As for our regulars, I'm even more intrigued given the veiled hints about Frank! I can't wait to learn more, especially about...whoops, no spoilers!

Family remains the heart of the Magical Mystery Book Club series. Not just family by blood, but the family you make; people banded together who not only care for each other, foibles and all, but work together for a common cause. That’s what makes this book, indeed the whole series, so heartwarming. There’s a mystery to solve, but the camaraderie and character growth make it special.

Pirates, ghosts, and magic combine making SECRETS AND SCALLYWAGS a fun and exciting escape.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Secrets and Scallywags by Elizabeth Pantley. This book is the fifth in the Magical Mystery Book Club series and was released earlier this month.

After choosing a new member to join them, the Magical Mystery Book Club is ready for their next adventure. A ship has just washed up on the shore of a quaint island community-the same ship, islanders believe, that was sunk by pirates the year prior. When the gang visit the ship they discover the crew still on board. A ghostly crew that is. The book club needs to find out what really happened so that they can free the ghosts thereby solving the mystery and returning home.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Murder in Trastevere - A Guest Post, Review, & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Faye Masters to Cozy Up With Kathy. You can find Faye on the pages of the Roman Holiday Mystery series by Jen Collins Moore. MURDER IN TRASTEVERE is the second book in the series.

Going to Rome? Seven Places to See Caravaggio’s Paintings
By Faye Masters (dictated to Jen Collins Moore)


Thinking about a trip to Rome? You’re in luck, because it’s the city I’ve called home for ten years. Some call me the Queen Bee of the expat set here, and it’s true. I know the best places for absolutely everything, and I’m always happy to share my expertise.

One tip is to create a quest. In a city as fabulous as Rome, you can’t see everything. Setting a mission for yourself is a way to get focus. I recently created the Caravaggio SocietaÌ for my friends, with a mission to see all twenty-five of Caravaggio’s paintings in Rome. He’s the bad boy artist of the Renaissance, so I knew it would be fun.

It didn’t work out quite the way I expected. The murder of one of our own put a damper on things. Especially when the gang decided it was my fault. Half thought I laced Rowena’s drink with poison, the other half seemed to think I was the intended victim. Needless to say, they weren’t exactly in the mood to spend time looking at art with me.

But I went anyway. I wasn’t about to let them get the best of me. And I’m glad I did. Not only did I get the clues I needed to piece the puzzle together, but I learned a lot about art in the process.

Caravaggio painted at the end of the Renaissance, a time when the Catholic church was spending loads of money on artists to create pictures that brought the stories of the bible to life. It was a way of reinforce the Church’s power in the face of the protestant reformation. Caravaggio took the money and pioneered an entirely new style of painting by creating a spotlight effect of light and darkness that made his art something much more than a simple bible story.

Want to see his work for yourself? Take my advice and make it a quest. Here are seven of my favorite stops to get you started:

Santa Maria del Popolo – This church stands in a beautiful piazza where pilgrims first entered Rome back in the day, so it’s a fitting beginning for a quest. There are two Caravaggio’s here, Crucifixion of St Peter and Conversion of St Paul. Crucifixion paintings are never cheerful, but there’s a lovely horse in the Conversion of St. Paul.

Capitoline Museums – The Capitoline is my favorite museum in Rome. Unlike all the places in the city stuffed with Renaissance and Baroque art, this museum is mostly statues, and mostly from the ancient period. Attractive pieces with interesting stories about a time in history that had played out like a soap opera. There are plenty of love affairs and villains and complicated family histories on display, plus two more Caravaggios: a leering John the Baptist and a crime-in-process in The Fortune Teller.

Palazzo Barberini – One of Rome’s hidden gems, this museum is blessedly crowd-free. It doesn’t have any antiquities and the art is thoughtfully arranged. (Many museums here are so jammed with great art it’s overwhelming. This place gives their art space to breath.) You can check three Caravaggios off your list here: the heart-stopping Judith Beheading Holofernes, plus two others, St Francis in Meditation and Narcissus.

Vatican Museums – This place is HUGE and probably already on your must-see list. While you’re wading through some of the world’s most impressive art, pause in front of the museum’s single Caravaggio: The Entombment of Christ. For the first time, it made me stop and really think about the people who had lived alongside Christ. What had they thought as the events unfolded? They couldn’t possibly have imagined their stories would be told and retold thousands of years later.

Doria Pamphili Gallery – This museum is a delight, plain and simple. Housed in a 17th Century palace that’s still owned by a powerful Italian family, it’s packed with treasures. But it it’s the building itself I love. Every inch of the walls and ceilings is covered with frescos, tapestries, and chandeliers. The owners are even said to have roller-skated through it as children, if you can imagine. And the Caravaggios there? The Penitent Mary Magdalene and Rest on the Flight from Egypt are both fine, but not show stoppers in my humble opinion.

Borghese Gallery – Another of Rome’s must-see museums, and it’s home to a whopping six Caravaggios, the largest collection of the artist’s work anywhere. I can’t say the paintings are my favorite, but it’s a gorgeous museum in the middle of a fantastic park.

Basilica di Sant’Agostino – A grand church that’s so conveniently located it’s worth a quick peak. It’s grand, like so many of the churches in Rome, with massive pillars supporting giant red-marble arches and Renaissance paintings everywhere. There’s one Caravaggio here: Madonna di Loreto.

Bonus) Villa Aurora – In Murder in Trastevere, I was lucky enough to arrange a personal (and expensive) tour of this thirty-thousand-square-foot private home. It’s owned by an honest-to-goodness princess. A Texan, actually, who married an Italian prince. There isn’t a royal family in Italy any longer, but somehow this branch managed to hold onto its title. In any event, private tours were once available and visitors like me got to see Caravaggio’s only painting on plaster: Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto. It’s painted on the ceiling of a former study and is a breathtaking play on perspective. The villa is up for sale now and can be had for a cool $534 million. Interested? I’ll get you the listing details.

Want to know more? You can read all about my visits to the museums and churches in Murder in Trastevere



The Second Roman Holiday Mystery
Ever composed and always social Faye Masters' perfect life has taken decided downturn. Her husband has left her and a secret revealed is forcing her to sell the building that is not only her home, but the offices of Masterpiece Tours. The worst bit- an elite runner died after attending one of her parties. With odd occurrences and accidents one has to wonder, was Rowena the intended victim, or is someone trying to kill Faye?

MURDER IN TRASTEVERE could have the additional subtitle Keeping Up Appearances (not to be confused with the BBC comedy). Faye does everything in her power to show that she has a wonderful life and executes everything perfectly, whether it's baking amazing delights, picking out better clothing options, or organizing parties and outings for her fellow expats. Faye's not the only one trying to keep up appearances. Stefano, the rich black sheep sent to work as an assistant, Cliff, the former addict, and Esta, the head of DiLorenzo Industries who's slowly being forced out by her nephews.

Faye is an interesting protagonist in that she's not very likeable. She's been in Rome for ten years, but doesn't count any Romans as friends, only the fellow expats. Sure, she has a good relationship with Thomas and Ilaria as well as certain shopkeepers-but she doesn't consider them friends. Her whole know it all, better than thou attitude is off putting. What's unusual is that Faye isn't the protagonist of the first book in the series, Maggie is. In fact, the series was called the Maggie White Mystery series, becoming the Roman Holiday Mystery series in this, the second entry. This switch had me confused until I realized what had happened. This shift of perspective is curious, especially considering Faye's officious behavior.

The mystery in the second Roman Holiday Mystery was complex, with lots of moving parts. Events shifting so at first Rowena seems the obvious victim, then changes so that Faye appears to be the intended target. I enjoyed Faye's quest to see all of Caravaggio's paintings in Rome with her Caravaggio Societa while also learning more about his life. In fact, the detailed descriptions of Rome gave me a delightful armchair vacation.
Part travelog, part art history lesson MURDER IN TRASTEVERE is a complex mystery that shines a light on the eternal city.

 Murder in Trastevere: A Roman Holiday Mystery by Jen Collins Moore

About Murder in Trastevere

Murder in Trastevere: A Roman Holiday Mystery
Cozy Mystery 2nd in Series
Setting - Rome, Italy
Level Best Books (May 18, 2023)
Paperback: ‎ 286 pages

After a decade dominating the expat scene in Rome, Faye Masters has had enough beautiful art, delicious food, and bureaucratic nonsense to last a lifetime. She’s just about decided to pack up and head home when a rival drops dead at one of Faye’s famous cocktail parties. Rumors fly that Faye was the intended target, but the police think Faye might just be an attention-seeking poisoner.

Faye refuses to let the cloud of suspicion stop her from completing a self-imposed 25-picture Caravaggio Challenge. Or keep her from assisting friends Maggie White and Thomas Evans on their painting tours of Rome. But when the leads fizzle out and a series of accidents hit close to home, Faye accepts her own life is on the line. She must search for a killer while keeping up appearances at some of Rome’s most iconic sights.

About Jen Collins Moore

Jen Collins Moore transports readers to Rome in the Roman Holiday Mysteries. Her short fiction has appeared in Mystery Weekly and Masthead: The Best New England Crime Stories. She is president of Sisters in Crime Chicagoland and a founding member of Sleuths and Sidekicks. A transplanted New Englander, she lives in Chicago with her husband and two boys.

Author Links: 




Purchase Links - Amazon - B&N

 Win a Taste of Italy Gift Basket.
Review my newest book Murder in Trastevere on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Goodreads for a chance to win a Taste of Italy gift basket.
Just click “I Reviewed It!” at
Want to enter the contest and not write a review?
No problem. Just email me 
US Only.

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Deadly Manor - A Review & Giveaway


DEADLY MANOR by Kate Parker
The Tenth Deadly Mystery
Looking for a respite from the bombing in London and a place to help her husband recover from a war injury Olivia Redmond and Adam, head to the country to stay with friends. Unfortunately, the manor is overrun when the obnoxious Viscount Norrington invites himself and a shooting party to stay as well. When two of the guests don't appear for breakfast, Livvy and Adam decide to check the old wing-and find the two men dead-murdered. Determined to help her hosts, Livvy tries to uncover the killer. But with no clear motive and a house chock full of suspects, all with secrets, the task seems insurmountable. 
I love a good country house mystery and DEADLY MANOR executes it brilliantly. Giving a look at the aristocracy, it includes a crass Viscount I'd love to punch, or at least dress down, who I was certain would be the murder victim. Without being maudlin or overly sentimental it also deals with disabilities, accommodations, and learning new ways to live. I truly appreciate the little historical details, such as refugees from London living with the vicar, blackout curtains, and the inability of women to gain access to certain places. Those facts add verisimilitude and depth and increase my enjoyment of the story.

Almost everyone has a secret in the tenth book in the Deadly series and disparate motives make for a complex and compelling mystery. The reappearance of an old foe added another layer to the already multilayered plot and tension increased as the story progressed. There were plenty of thrills to rev up my heart rate and I applaud Livvy for her determination and smarts.
DEADLY MANOR is a brilliant mystery bringing together the theme of country house parties infused with class issues all within the backdrop of World War II. This series remains one of my most favorites and I can't wait to see what happens next!


 Deadly Manor: A World War II Mystery (Deadly Series) by Kate Parker

About Deadly Manor

Deadly Manor: A World War II Mystery (Deadly Series)
Historical Cozy Mystery
10th in Series
JDP Press (August 15, 2023)
Print length: ‎ 265 pages
Surrounded by war, stalked by murder, can she stay alive? October 1940. Livvy Redmond is thrilled to receive an invitation to a country house party away from the Blitz. There she hopes to help her husband overcome his injuries from fighting in France. But excitement turns to horror when she stumbles across two members of the house party – murdered. Indebted to her hostess, Livvy attempts to catch the killer. No one is who they seem, and the party goers leave her with more questions than answers. Somewhere close, the killer waits in the shadows to stop her. Deadly Manor is the exciting tenth book in the World War II mystery Deadly Series. If you like intrepid heroines, research-based history and clean reads, then you’ll love USA Today Bestselling Author Kate Parker’s page-turning mystery. Uncover a murderer in Blitz-era England with Deadly Manor.

About Kate Parker

With her love of travel, Kate Parker sets her novels overseas. Once home from her research trips and armed with hot tea and chocolate, she can be found clicking away on her keyboard, hiking the hills of central North Carolina, and spoiling her 90 pound muse puppy. She’d tell you what she did before she retired, but then she’d have to use certain skills to eliminate you. She pens stories to entertain readers who enjoy action and murder in tales about plucky heroines, quirky characters, and difficult situations in a bygone era. Her stories are sweet, as in no graphic sex, violence, or language. Her heroines remain ladylike while chasing murderers and escaping danger. Well, as ladylike as scratching, punching, and kicking can be.

Author Links – Website Facebook BookBub GoodReads

Purchase Links – Amazon KoboB&N

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, August 18, 2023

Honey Drop Dead - A Review & Giveaway


HONEY DROP DEAD by Laura Childs
The Twenty-Sixth Tea Shop Mystery 

With its nearby bee hives, picturesque Petigru Park is the perfect setting for Theodosia Browning's Honeybee Tea. The delightful and delicious event for Imago Gallery is cut short when a beekeeper approaches and sprays noxious fumes. In the ensuing chaos a shot rings out and Osgood Claxton III, candidate for state legislature, is found dead. Known to be a connected and dirty politician with fingers in multiple pies, Theo is warned to stay clear of the investigation. But when the gallery owner begs Theo to help solve the murder, she just can't resist.  

Theodosia Browning and the Indigo Tea Shop Crew are knee deep in tea events once more. The gang is catering events such as the Honeybee Tea as well as special parties at the Indigo Tea Shop like the Wind in the Willows party and running the shop itself, yet they still have time to not only attend trunk shows and go out to dinners, but investigate another murder. I really love the details about the various teas and tea events as well as descriptions of Charleston and the various locations, making me feel that I'm actually in the Lowcountry.

HONEY DROP DEAD is a fast paced mystery fit for adrenaline junkies. With shootings and multiple chases, danger for Theo and Drayton reaches an all time high in this, their twenty-sixth outing. It's part of what makes the book eminently readable. You're compelled to keep turning the pages and, if you don't think too much, you'll enjoy the ride. It's when you do think the problem rears its ugly head. While the mystery was very well crafted, the protagonist goes too far. Theo doesn't listen, takes big, stupid, chances, and puts everyone at risk. She's become an unlikable vigilante.

HONEY DROP DEAD is an action packed adventure replete with delectable food descriptions and divine tea inspiration.


 Honey Drop Dead (A Tea Shop Mystery) by Laura Childs

About Honey Drop Dead

Honey Drop Dead (A Tea Shop Mystery)
Cozy Mystery 26th in Series
Setting – South Carolina Berkley (August 8, 2023)
Hardcover: ‎ 320 pages

The murder of a political bigwig at a Honey Bee Tea sends Theodosia Browning buzzing for answers in this latest installment of the New York Times bestselling series. Theodosia’s Honey Bee Tea was an elegant affair set in Charleston’s new Petigru Park amid newly planted native grasses and a community beekeeping project. But when a phony beekeeper shows up and sprays toxic smoke at the guests, the party erupts in chaos. Worse yet, a shot rings out and Osgood Claxton III, candidate for state legislature, falls to the ground—dead. Holly Burns, the gallery owner who asked Theodosia to cater the tea, is understandably heartbroken. A man is dead, her guests are angry and injured, and the paintings that were on display are left in tatters. When the police don’t seem to have a clue, when old-line politicos don’t want questions asked, Holly begs Theodosia to run a shadow investigation and help restore her gallery’s good name. Between hosting a Wind in the Willows Tea and a Glam Girl Tea, Theodosia questions everyone that had a bone to pick with Claxton. This includes Booker, an angry outsider artist; Lamar Lucket, Claxton’s political opponent; and Mignon Merriweather, the dead man’s soon-to-be ex-wife. But the investigation becomes a political hot potato following a second murder, the revelation of a messy affair, a chase through a swamp, and a vandalized shop. INCLUDES DELICIOUS RECIPES AND TEA TIME TIPS!

About Laura Childs

Laura Childs is the New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbook Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. In her previous life she was CEO/Creative Director of her own marketing firm and authored several screenplays. She is married to a professor of Chinese art history, loves to travel, rides horses, enjoys fundraising for various non-profits, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs.

Laura specializes in cozy mysteries that have the pace of a thriller (a thrillzy!) Her three series are:

The Tea Shop Mysteries – set in the historic district of Charleston and featuring Theodosia Browning, owner of the Indigo Tea Shop. Theodosia is a savvy entrepreneur, and pet mom to service dog Earl Grey. She’s also an intelligent, focused amateur sleuth who doesn’t rely on coincidences or inept police work to solve crimes. This charming series is highly atmospheric and rife with the history and mystery that is Charleston.

The Scrapbooking Mysteries – a slightly edgier series that take place in New Orleans. The main character, Carmela, owns Memory Mine scrapbooking shop in the French Quarter and is forever getting into trouble with her friend, Ava, who owns the Juju Voodoo shop. New Orleans’ spooky above-ground cemeteries, jazz clubs, bayous, and Mardi Gras madness make their presence known here!

The Cackleberry Club Mysteries – set in Kindred, a fictional town in the Midwest. In a rehabbed Spur station, Suzanne, Toni, and Petra, three semi-desperate, forty-plus women have launched the Cackleberry Club. Eggs are the morning specialty here and this cozy cafe even offers a book nook and yarn shop. Business is good but murder could lead to the cafe’s undoing! This series offers recipes, knitting, cake decorating, and a dash of spirituality.

Laura’s Links: WebsiteFacebook

Purchase Links – AmazonB&NKoboBookshop.orgPenguinRandomHouse

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Currently Reading...

I’m currently reading Honey Drop Dead by Laura Childs. This is the twenty-six book in the Tea Shop Mystery series and was released last week.

With its nearby bee hives, picturesque Petigru Park is the perfect setting for Theodosia Browning's Honeybee Tea. The delightful and delicious event for Imago Gallery is cut short when a beekeeper approaches and sprays noxious fumes. In the ensuing chaos a shot rings out and Osgood Claxton III, candidate for state legislature, is dead. Known to be a connected and dirty politician with fingers in multiple pies, Theo is warned to stay clear of the investigation. But when the gallery owner begs Theo to help solve the murder, she just can't resist.

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

The Body in the Back Garden - An Interview, Excerpt, & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Mark Waddell to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Mark writes the Crescent Cove Mystery series. The Body in the Back Gardens is the first book in the series and will be released next week.

Kathy: Out-of-work investigative journalist Luke Tremblay travels from Toronto to Crescent Cove, a small hamlet on Vancouver Island in the first Crescent Cove Mystery. Why choose this small hamlet across the country for your series?

MW: I started writing The Body in the Back Garden shortly after moving to Vancouver Island, a beautiful little paradise off Canada’s west coast, and I decided to set the book in my new home. Crescent Cove is a fictional town that exemplifies so many places here on the island—it’s full of friendly people and surrounded by stunning examples of natural beauty. At the same time, like Canada itself, it’s a diverse and inclusive place where everyone is welcome.

Kathy: Luke inherits his aunt's estate, including her seaside cottage and the antiques shop. Do you enjoy antiques and/or antiquing?

MW: Antiques are like little windows into the lives of people in the past, and as someone who worked as a history professor for many years, that really resonates with me. Every object has a story attached to it. I’m not an antiques expert by any means, but I certainly did my research when I wrote those scenes in the antiques shop!

Kathy: The Body in the Back Garden is a quozy mystery. While there have certainly been queer characters in cozies before, there is more recently a specific subgenre specifically for cozy mysteries whose main characters are queer. Do you prefer this delineation or would you rather it be known as just a cozy?

MW: Words like “queer” might make some potential readers uncomfortable, but I think it’s important to claim some space within such a popular and, sometimes, overcrowded genre. There are lots of people who don’t read cozies because they assume they won’t find themselves reflected in these stories. I want queer readers and their allies to know that this really is a genre for everyone.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

MW: As a kid, I fell in love with the stories written by Agatha Christie. I also watched a lot of Murder, She Wrote. I have such fond memories of watching Mystery! on PBS and seeing my favorite stories brought to life. (To this day, the only Miss Marple I will acknowledge is the incomparable Joan Hickson.) Eventually, I began reading more widely in the genre. I love the juxtaposition of quaint, idyllic settings with brutal murder, and I have a real soft spot for the plucky amateur sleuth who relies on intuition and instinct rather than training and procedure.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

MW: Apart from mysteries, the genre I love the most is fantasy. I’ve recently finished writing a darkly humorous fantasy story that I hope will land on shelves someday in the future.

Kathy: Tell us about your series. 

MW: The Crescent Cove Mysteries follow Luke Tremblay, an out-of-work investigative reporter who has returned to the seaside village he loved as a child. In doing so, he finds everything he was lacking—a real home, close friends, even the prospect of true love—along with a surprising number of dead bodies.

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

MW: Luke is something of a surrogate for myself, so I do have a certain fondness for him. Deep down, though, my favorite is Jack Munro, Luke’s childhood friend who is now in charge of the local RCMP detachment. Jack is a complex character who suffered racist abuse growing up in Crescent Cove and is now determined to make the town a better place than the one he knew. He’s calm, extremely competent, and of course he looks amazing in a Mountie’s dress uniform.

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

MW: Not really. The series leans into many of the familiar tropes from the cozy genre and is really a homage to many different stories. Geographically, though, I do take a lot of inspiration from life here on Vancouver Island.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

MW: I’ve wanted to write and publish stories since I was a kid. I got a little sidetracked by a twenty-year career in academia, but once I retired, I decided to give this a try.

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

MW: Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, together, would be a hilarious duo with hours of fascinating stories between them. Oscar Wilde, of course, would be the most entertaining person I’ve ever met. And Margaret Atwood’s incisive and wry perspective on things would leave us all simultaneously inspired and humbled.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

MW: I’ve just finished The Grimoire of Kensington Market by Lauren B. Davis, a lovely reimagining of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen. It’s dark and sad and also very beautiful. Now I’m diving into the latest book from TJ Klune, In the Lives of Puppets. The first couple of chapters have me excited to read more. 


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

MW: I adore classical music, especially from the Baroque period, and I play the viola in the Civic Orchestra of Victoria. I’m also a lifelong nerd and geek. I’m fascinated by cosmology in particular, but I love learning obscure things from the realms of philosophy, science, history…you name it, I can find something interesting in it. As well, I enjoy roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons, where I’ve been known to hurl a fireball or two.

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

MW: Good bread, chocolate, kombucha, and sriracha.

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

MW: I always have plans for future books! I’ve already written book 2 in the Crescent Cove series, a fantasy story is currently with my agent, and I’m now plotting a thriller based in the history of alchemy and magic, which I studied and taught for many years as an academic.

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

MW: I love the experience of watching ideas flow out of my brain and onto the screen. Half the time, even I don’t know what’s going to come out! 


 The Body in the Back Garden (A Crescent Cove Mystery) by Mark Waddell

About The Body in the Garden

The Body in the Back Garden (A Crescent Cove Mystery)
Queer Cozy ("Quozy") Mystery
1st in Series
Setting - The fictional town of Crescent Cove on Vancouver Island, Canada
Crooked Lane Books (August 22, 2023)
Hardcover: ‎ 272 pages

In this queer cozy series debut perfect for fans of Ellen Byron and Ellery Adams, Luke Tremblay is about to discover that Crescent Cove has more than its fair share of secrets…and some might be deadlier than others.

Crescent Cove, a small hamlet on Vancouver Island, is the last place out-of-work investigative journalist Luke Tremblay ever wanted to see again. He used to spend summers here, until his family learned that he was gay and rejected him. Now, following his aunt’s sudden death, he’s inherited her entire estate, including her seaside cottage and the antiques shop she ran for forty years in Crescent Cove. Luke plans to sell everything and head back to Toronto as soon as he can…but Crescent Cove isn’t done with him just yet.

When a stranger starts making wild claims about Luke’s aunt, Luke sends him packing. The next morning, though, Luke discovers that the stranger has returned, and now he’s lying dead in the back garden. To make matters worse, the officer leading the investigation is a handsome Mountie with a chip on his shoulder who seems convinced that Luke is the culprit. If he wants to prove his innocence and leave this town once and for all, Luke will have to use all his skills as a journalist to investigate the colorful locals while coming to terms with his own painful past.

There are secrets buried in Crescent Cove, and the more Luke digs, the more he fears they might change the town forever.

Excerpt from The Body in the Back Garden

The drive back to the cottage took no more than five minutes, and when I got there, I found a Jeep Wrangler with RCMP markings waiting for me. My heart sank. I really didn’t want a third encounter with the police today.

With some reluctance, I trudged around the side of the cottage and found Jack Munro waiting for me, brawny arms folded across his tactical vest as he gazed out at the sea. My heart sank even further, but also fluttered a little as well. I had no idea how to behave around him now that I knew he was my old friend.

As I approached, shoes crunching on the stone path, he turned to face me. I paused. Jack looked mad. His square jaw was clenched and his eyebrows were drawn downwards in a fierce glower.

Uh oh.

“We need to talk,” he informed me, and I nodded jerkily after a moment’s hesitation.

“Sure. Okay. Do you want to come inside?”

With a shake of his head, Jack then advanced towards me until he was close enough that I had to look up into his face. “I want to know why you lied to me.”

I had to work moisture back into my mouth before I could reply. “What do you mean?”

“I spoke with Aleesha Perkins.” At my blank stare, he added, “Her mom runs the greengrocers in town. She delivered some groceries here yesterday.”

Oh yeah. I nodded again, mutely.

“Aleesha claims that she witnessed you assault Joel Mackenzie and then threaten him.” Jack’s resonant baritone was tight with anger. “Is that true?”

“I wouldn’t say assault, exactly,” I hedged. “I did push him, that’s true.”

“She says you pushed him off the front porch and that he landed on his back on the ground.”

“Uh. Yes.” Jack’s eyes narrowed and I added hurriedly, “But he provoked me. He called my aunt a thief and said she got what was coming to her. I…I got upset and pushed him harder than I intended.”

“And then threatened him.”

“No!” I protested. “No, I just told him that if he came back here he’d regret it.” I paused. “Okay. That sounds bad, I admit. But I didn’t mean anything by it. It wasn’t a threat.”

Jack said nothing. His features, familiar and yet not, were completely blank.

On a rising tide of panic, I reached out involuntarily and grasped his forearm. “Jack, please. Please believe me. I did not kill Joel Mackenzie. I didn’t see him again until I found his body this morning. I know how this looks, but…”

Jack stepped back from me, breaking my hold on his arm. “You assaulted and threatened a man who later turned up dead on your property, Luke.” His voice was cool now, dispassionate. “And you have no alibi for last night. How this looks is extremely bad for you.”

My feeling of panic increased as I stared up at him. “But you know me. You know I would never—”

He cut me off with brutal finality. “I used to know you. I’m not sure I do anymore.”

I had no response to that. There was nothing left to say. My panic slowly subsided, leaving hurt and fear in its wake.

A deep silence fell between us. Waves crashed in the distance and gulls screeched overhead. “Is there anything else you want to tell me?” he finally asked. “Because if there is anything, you need to tell me now.”

I shook my head once. “There isn’t anything,” I said, barely able to speak through the tightness in my throat.

He nodded without taking his eyes off me. “I strongly advise you to stay put here at the cottage while we continue our investigation.”

I said nothing, and after a long pause Jack brushed past me as he headed back to his Jeep. I watched him go with something close to despair.

I was now the only suspect in a murder, and the person in charge of investigating that murder clearly disliked me. I wanted to trust that Jack would figure out who the killer was rather than pin this on me, but given our recent interactions, that seemed far from certain. If I didn’t want to end up in prison, there was only one option left.

I needed to solve this myself.

About Mark Waddell

Mark is originally from Calgary, Alberta, and grew up on the cold, windswept Prairies of western Canada. Fleeing southward, he earned a Ph.D. in the history of science, medicine, and technology from the Johns Hopkins University and then worked as a professor at Michigan State University for fifteen years. Finally, he persuaded his amazing husband to move to Vancouver Island, where they now live. When he's not writing stories about murderous Canadians, he plays the viola in the Civic Orchestra of Victoria, walks his dogs along the seashore, and thinks up interesting ways to kill people.

Author Links: 




 Purchase Links: PenguinRandomHouse - U.S.   

PenguinRandomHouse - Canada (includes links for Amazon,, etc.) B&N Amazon

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Murder a la Mode - An Interview, Review, & Giveaway

I'm happy to welcome Lena Gregory back to Cozy Up With Kathy. Among other series, Lena writes the Coffee & Cream Cafe Mysteries. MURDER A LA MODE is the first in the series and was released last week.

Kathy: You start a new series with MURDER A LA MODE. What led you to coffee and ice cream?

LG: I loved the idea of an ice cream parlor on eastern Long Island, the old fashioned mom and pop kind, but with a more trendy twist.


Kathy: Although Danika dreams of a trendy café, I love the idea of an old fashioned malt shop. A local diner near me used to offer egg creams, malts, and my favorite, a huckleberry phosphate. What would you choose to drink from a malt shop?

LG: A root beer float! I can still remember how they taste, though I haven’t had one in probably twenty years or more. Hmm. I might have to have one now.


Kathy: If you were to run an eatery, what types of things would you offer?

LG: I would love to run an ice cream shop, the kind where people come in to share a snack and hang around to chat.


Kathy: Your series are generally set in either New York state or Florida. Why choose Long Island for your Coffee and Cream Cafe Mystery series? 

LG: Although I live in Florida now, I lived most of my life on Long Island, and I was remembering days spent with my daughter when she was little—walking through Southampton town, visiting shops, going to the park. I thought it would be the perfect location for a trendy little ice cream/ coffee shop, even though the town of Watchogue is set just west of the Hamptons.


Kathy: Will you share any other upcoming books?

LG: I have completed the second Coffee and Cream Café Mystery, Grounds for Murder, which is due to release on November 21, and I am starting to plot book three in the series. I’m currently working on book seven in my All-Day Breakfast Café Mystery series, which should release in the fall or winter. 



MURDER A LA MODE by Lena Gregory
The First Coffee & Cream Cafe Mystery
Danika Delaney never intended to return to Watchogue, New York, let alone take over her Uncle Jimmie's ice cream shop, but here she is. As her uncle shows her the ropes who should come into the shop but, Luca, the boy who broke her heart on prom night, followed by his wife, Heather, who accuses Danika of having an affair with him. Brushing that aside, Danika to make plans as she's been given free reign, almost, to make whatever changes she wants to the shop. But a check of the basement leads to the discovery Heather's dead body. What was she doing in Jimmie's after hours? Who killed her? It couldn't be Luca. Could it? Danika, with the help of her sister and best friend, will not only prove Danika's innocence, but find the real killer.
A new Lena Gregory Mystery? Sign me up! One of my favorite authors has come up with a completely charming and funny new series and I couldn't be more delighted! Danika is a great protagonist. She's taken quite a few hits, but keeps on going. She's loyal, perhaps too loyal, funny, with lots of ideas. She also has a great team, with best friend Gwen and sister Meghan, who give emotional support and plenty of laughs. I'm still giggling over Danika and Gwen's unexpected tailing of a suspect. Then there's a hint of romance...with the possibility of a love triangle. I'll just say this-Danika, pick the new guy! I also love Danika's family, another source of humor. Don't cross her mom! And of course I'm enamoured with Danika's new roommate.

The mystery in the first Coffee & Cream Mystery was intriguing and I loved the fact that Danika wasn't 100% sure of Luca's innocence. Heather was a royal...well, you know what, so there were plenty of suspects with plenty of motives. I love how the relationships evolved while some remained the same and details emerged, slowly painting the picture of what happened...and why.

Funny, charming, and filled with great characters MURDER A LA MODE is a delightful start to a new series.


 Murder A La Mode (Coffee & Cream Cafe Mysteries) by Lena Gregory

About Murder A La Mode

Murder A La Mode (Coffee & Cream Cafe Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery 1st in Series
Setting - New York
Gemma Halliday Publishing (August 8, 2023)

From author Lena Gregory comes a delicious new series that will warm your heart and leave you guessing until the very end...

When twenty-five-year-old Danika Delaney, black sheep of the Delaney clan, returns home to Long Island to take over Jimmie's, her eccentric uncle’s old fashioned malt shop on eastern Long Island, she’s not exactly thrilled. But things start to look up when her uncle tells her she can do whatever she’d like with the shop, and it seems she might realize her dream of a small trendy café. That is, until she discovers the body of her ex-boyfriend’s estranged wife in a melted puddle of rocky road in the malt shop basement. With her two sidekicks, her sister and a good childhood friend, in tow, Dani searches for–or stumbles upon—one clue after another. But as she narrows down the suspect list, she realizes if she’s not careful she may end up in a puddle of her own...

About Lena Gregory

Lena 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 Barnes & Noble Kobo  

a Rafflecopter giveaway