Monday, October 30, 2023

A Nutcracker Nightmare - A Guest Post, Review, & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Alex Wright to Cozy Up With Kathy today. You can find Alex on the pages of the Killer Chocolate Mystery series by Christina Romeril.  A NUTCRACKER NIGHTMARE is the second book in the series and was released earlier this month.

Have you ever been to Montana? My twin sister and I own a mystery book and chocolate shop called Murder and Mayhem in Harriston, Montana. We are nestled along the southwest shore of Echo with the majestic Rocky Mountains around us. Let me introduce myself. I’m Alex Wright, mid-forties, no need to dwell on that, former business banker turned bookshop owner and confectioner.

My sister, Hanna, is the chocolatier, but I can turn out a pretty decent bonbon myself. Not that Hanna would completely agree. You get a little distracted one time thirty years ago and your skills are questioned for life. Anyway, I digress. Hanna is about fifteen minutes younger than I am. After working for our parents for over twenty years she came out west to help me start Murder and Mayhem. She’d had a recent divorce and was ready to be her own boss. Even though we are identical twins, we each have our own quirks. Among other things, Hanna is more creative and I’m more analytical. I like to think our differences compliment each other.

I thought I’d take you on a little tour of our village and tell you about a few of its residents. I’ll start with Murder and Mayhem. We’ve been open for about four years and in addition to selling mystery books, we sell poison-themed chocolates. Of course, there’s no actual poison in them and they’re quite delicious. Unfortunately, they were involved in a murder or two, but once a customer buys them there’s not much we can do if they are used for nefarious purposes. Though we did recently put up a sign on the counter that says: Chocolates may not be used to commit crimes.

We have a shop mascot. Miss Watson is our rescue Staffordshire terrier. There was a time when she was afraid of her own shadow, but these days she’ll cozy up to almost anyone willing to feed her a treat. She has a sweet tooth worse than mine. Exercise isn’t really her thing either, even though terriers are supposed to be bundles of energy. Her happy place is on a window bench at the shop watching reruns of action shows featuring other canines. Despite that she and I have started to go for daily walks to the beach and back. It’s a chore, but we do it.

To the west of us is Cookies’ n Crumbs, the local bakeshop. You walk near that shop and the sweet scent of bread, vanilla, and sugar waft out to you and snare you like a fly in a web. There aren’t many days Hanna or I aren’t in there getting some kind of treat. Sam O’Connor, the owner, works magic with her pastries. Everything from scones to cupcakes and each one is delicious. Her bakeshop is a magnet for gossip. Just about everyone in the village passes through that place each week and shares bits and pieces of their lives. There’s only one other person in town who sees and hears as much as Sam.

Eudora Harris is the village postmistress across the street from Murder and Mayhem. No one knows for sure how old she is, but I have it on good authority she’s around eighty. She knows more secrets than the CIA and is just as cagey about sharing them. She looks like a fluffy old lady, all wispy white hair and pink ruffles, but there’s not much that gets by her in town. Her family helped found the village and the mansion she lives in alone is rumored to be haunted.

A few doors to the east of our shop is an antiques store run by the Wicked Witch of the West, aka Penelope Shaw. Can you tell we don’t get along? That’s mostly Penelope’s doing. The Southern divorcee hasn’t liked me since I moved in across the street from her and there was a kerfuffle about her yappy dog. But the nail in the coffin was when the newly widowed local pastor decided to ask me out instead of her. Penelope had been gunning for him since the funeral of his wife. She used every womanly wile in her arsenal from exposing her cleavage in her tight clothes, to her cloying perfume, to batting her fake lashes at him to catch his interest. Despite all that, I’m the one dating the pastor.

I’m not sure what charms I have that Penelope doesn’t, aside from cooking. Her culinary skills are likely to land you in the emergency room with food poisoning. But aside from that I’m not exactly a femme fatale. Hanna despairs at my lack of concern about my looks. She’s forever batting my hands away from my face because I have a habit of rubbing my eyes, which apparently causes wrinkles. My fashion sense also leans to the basics, jeans and sweaters. Not that Hanna dresses up much. She just seems to have a flair for adding the right scarf or chunky earrings to an outfit.

Of course, there is one thing I seem to be good at. Sleuthing. Hanna and I have helped put two killers behind bars. Oddly enough, the local sheriff and deputy haven’t appreciated our help as much as I thought they would. The attention has helped our shop, though. I had no idea that people would travel hundreds of miles to see where our little village is and to take a picture of a former murder scene. Traditionally, summer has been our busiest tourist season, but we are seeing more people stopping in town year round. Maybe, you’ll consider stopping by if you’re in the area. Of course, it’s not like Harriston is Cabot Cove, Maine. We’re not likely to see another murder in our life times.



The Second Killer Chocolate Mystery

Reunions can be difficult at the best of times, but when the high school bully is back as an obnoxious, handsy narcissist, you know it's more like the worst of times. Twins Alex and Hanna Wright are helping at the Harriston High School’s reunion weekend. Hanna is busy avoiding Kyle, the groping former football star, as well as glaring at Duncan who's hanging out with his old girlfriend while Alex is watching minor fireworks and confrontations between the former classmates. Alex heads to the basement, but instead of paper towels she finds Kyle's dead body. Nearly everyone who met him wanted to kill him, but someone actually did the dead. Police zero in on Hanna and warn Alex not to get involved, but with a sister in trouble, Alex is going to investigate!

I must admit that I love it when a jerk gets his just desserts. And I'm not talking about some of Hanna's delectable chocolates. Kyle was a lousy excuse for a human being, and though sure, no one should be murdered, but in a murder mystery someone has to be killed so why not make it a villain! Another plus to having an unlikable person become the victim there's a slew of suspects. I enjoyed seeing all the motives get uncovered. There were lots of secrets from the past and it was interesting sorting out just what was relevant to the current crime.

I also enjoyed the character dynamics. Past and present, these characters are incredibly intertwined. The relationship difficulties between Hanna and Duncan and Alex and Tom...and possibly Eddie bring more drama and questions to the plot. There's also lots of action, assaults, and bravery amid miscommunication and murder!

A NUTCRACKER NIGHTMARE brings a reunion themed murder to snowy Montana with romantic disruptions, delicious chocolates, and a poisoned pen themed blog!


A Nutcracker Nightmare (A Killer Chocolate Mystery) by Christina Romeril

About A Nutcracker Nightmare

A Nutcracker Nightmare (A Killer Chocolate Mystery)
Cozy Mystery 2nd in Series
Setting - Montana
Crooked Lane Books (October 17, 2023)
Hardcover: ‎ 320 pages

Perfect for fans of Joanne Fluke and Laura Childs, when twin sisters Hanna and Alex help out at the local high school reunion, volunteering takes a turn when they find a former classmate's dead body.

Hanna and Alex, owners of the Murder and Mayhem book and chocolate shop, are busy preparing for the Harriston High School’s reunion weekend. Neighbors will connect with old friends and perhaps try to avoid old foes. One person no one can avoid is Kyle, the former star quarterback, who is busy using his entire playbook to try and score with Hanna, even threatening her if she doesn’t play nice. At the reunion, Alex glimpses more drama than nostalgia as insults are flung around like a football at a Friday night game. The party is put on hold when Alex finds the dead body of none other than Kyle himself, bludgeoned to death by a nutcracker that the sisters admired earlier in the night.

Hanna quickly becomes the prime suspect—someone saw her slap Kyle in the face at the reunion dance. She’ll need her sister, their sleuthing canine, Watson, and their old friends and colleagues to help break this case wide open. While looking through old yearbooks and taking a stroll down memory lane, Alex uncovers a few secrets about Kyle, now, it seems like everyone had a motive to kill him.

But when the suspects start becoming the victims, Alex and Hanna know that they can’t melt under the pressure—they must find the killer before they become just another yearbook memory.

About Christina Romeril


Christina Romeril is the author of the Killer Chocolate Mystery series. The series is set in Montana at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, one of her favourite places to visit. She and her husband live a few hours away in a small village in Southern Alberta. When Christina isn’t writing she loves to hike in Waterton Lakes National Park, or just hang out there eating gourmet hot dogs and ice cream. When the former banker isn’t enjoying nature, she loves to create and consume chocolate confections. Not necessarily in that order.







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Sunday, October 29, 2023

Spectral Revelations - An Interview & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Ellen Butler to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Ellen writes the Karina Cardinal Mystery series. Spectral Revelations is the sixth book in the series and was released earlier this month.

Kathy: In Spectral Revelations Karina’s Aunt Vera has disappeared. Katrina knows Vera must be in trouble since she even abandoned her beloved cat, Nightshade. If you were to disappear, how would friends or family know you were in trouble, instead of just going off grid for a bit?

EB: I would say my husband would probably notice I’d gone missing at dinnertime when nothing was ready to eat. Then he’d probably start calling around to locate me. Then he’d probably try to track my phone.

Kathy: Karina finds a mischievous Civil War ghost in Vera's house. Do you believe in ghosts? Have you ever had a spectral encounter?

EB: Yes, I think ghosts exist. I’ve had family members who’ve had encounters with them.

Kathy: Would you prefer to live in Washington D.C., like Karina or historic Williamsburg, like Aunt Vera?

EB: Funny you should ask that. I lived forty years in the DC metro area, and recently moved to Williamsburg. While I miss my friends, the cultural events, and museums in DC, I don’t miss the traffic, and politically charged rat race. I am enjoying the more laid-back lifestyle Williamsburg offers, as well as the what the historic triangle offers.


Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

EB: I’ve always enjoyed a good mystery. I started with Nancy Drew, as a kid, and grew into reading Agatha Christie’s twisty plots. Also, I chewed up Elizabeth Peters novels like a hungry bear who found an open cooler at a campsite.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

EB: Yes, I began writing romance before pivoting to mysteries. I’ve also written historical spy novels.

Kathy: Tell us about your series. 

EB: An art heist, cybercrime, diamond theft, artifact forgery, money launderer, and Civil War ghost. What do they all have in common? Karina Cardinal, an amateur sleuth with a deadly curiosity and a talent for landing in trouble with DC’s finest crooks, conmen, and outright murderers.

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

EB: Well, I like the entire Silverthorne Security gang, but I think my favorite is Jin. I’d love to channel more if his Zen-like personality.

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

EB: Each book has its own individual inspiration which I discuss in the Author’s Notes at the end. For instance, Isabella’s Painting was inspired by a documentary I saw on the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist. Spectral Revelations was inspired by a ghost tour I took through Colonial Williamsburg.

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

EB: JK Rowling, Janet Evanovich, Agatha Christie, Elizabeth Peters.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

EB: The Woman in Cabin 10, by Ruth Ware

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

EB: I enjoy reading, spending time with my family, working on home improvement projects and attending car shows. I have a passion for classic cars, especially the bright colors of the 1950s vehicles.

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

EB: Cheese, eggs, cereal, wine

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

EB: Spectral Revelations is the final book in the Karina Cardinal series. I’m moving on to a new character and time setting.

1958, New York City. Ariadne Winter is an aspiring investigative journalist who was laughed out of all the major and minor newspaper rooms. She settled for a job at the prestigious fashion periodical, Ladies’ Lifestyle Magazine. After two years at the copy desk, she is finally sent on assignment to write a feature article. Only she stumbles across a dead body, and everyone at the Inn is a suspect. If our intrepid young reporter can put the clues together and identify the killer, maybe she can finally get her shot at becoming an investigative journalist after all.

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

EB: Attending conferences and commiserating with other authors at the bar. Writing is a very solitary job. Spending time with other authors helps you realize others share the same or similar struggles. It’s a nice way to decompress.


 Spectral Revelations: A Karina Cardinal Mystery by Ellen Butler

About Spectral Revelations

Spectral Revelations: A Karina Cardinal Mystery
Cozy Mystery 6th in Series
Setting - Williamsburg, Virginia
Power to the Pen (October 5, 2023)
Print length: ‎ 285 pages

Is Karina’s missing aunt on vacation…or on the lam?

Karina is trying to keep her mind on getting a cosponsor for a bill, but it’s tough with her Mom blowing up her phone. By the time Karina finally stops hitting “ignore”, Mom is frantic. It appears Karina’s Aunt Vera has disappeared, fibbed to her employer about the reason for her absence, even abandoned her beloved cat, Nightshade—which is completely out of character. Karina would bet her favorite pair of designer shoes that Vera is in some kind of trouble.

However, when Karina hauls her cookies from D.C. to historic Williamsburg to search Vera’s house, she finds nothing suspicious. Except for a mischievous Civil War ghost who scares the bejesus out of her and keeps trashing Vera’s office. Until Karina realizes his seemingly random ectoplasmic tantrums have a purpose—revealing key evidence.

Something is definitely fishy, but the clues aren’t adding up. And as the spirit’s visitations become more urgent, Karina calls on reinforcements for help—her latest squeeze Rick Donovan and her sister Jillian. Because the cops are following faulty leads, which could put Vera on the wrong end of an arrest warrant … if she’s found alive.

International bestselling and award-winning author Ellen Butler presents book six in the Karina Cardinal mystery series! Fans of Elizabeth Peters and Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum will adore this gripping mystery adventure.

About Ellen Butler

Ellen Butler is the internationally bestselling author of the Karina Cardinal mystery series. Her experiences working on Capitol Hill and at a medical association in Washington, D.C. inspired the mystery-action series. Book critics call the Karina Cardinal mysteries, “intelligent escapism” and “unputdownable adventures that will take readers on an electrifying yet light-hearted and humorous journey.” Butler also writes historical spy fiction. Her WWII spy novel, The Brass Compass, recently won a 2022 Speak Up Talk Radio Firebird Book Award for historical fiction. The second book in the duology, Operation Blackbird: A Cold War Spy Novel, is Butler’s latest historical fiction. The novel is inspired by true events, and won a Next Generation Indie Book Award gold medal for historical fiction. Reviewers are calling it “riveting,” and, “a thrilling adventure.”

You can find Ellen at:  

Website ~  

Facebook ~  

Twitter (X) ~ @EButlerBooks  


Goodreads ~ 

Bookbub ~  

Amazon ~  

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Friday, October 27, 2023

Syrup to No Good - A Review


SYRUP TO NO GOOD by Catherine Bruns
The Second Maple Syrup Mystery 
In addition to running Sappy Endings, her family's maple syrup farm, Leila Khourey is busy preparing for her best friend's wedding. Unfortunately, this means everyone has to deal with Uncle Grant and his obnoxious wife, Monica. Finding Monica's murdered body after the bridal shower is a big shock for Leila, but an even bigger shock is discovering Heather's wedding will be postponed unless the killer is found. With a short deadline, Leila has no intention of leaving the investigation to the police. Will Leila be able to solve the murder or will Heather lose the wedding of her dreams? Or is something even worse in store? 

Weddings can be stressful, even when everything is going to plan. Dealing with family you don't like is often par for the course, but in Heather's case things are a lot worse. Not only does she have to welcome the uncle no one likes, but also his wife that no one can stand. Monica's death makes things even worse with Uncle Grant now calling all of the wedding shots. Heather's lucky she has a friend like Leila. I'd tell her to forget it and elope, but Leila decides to try and solve the murder so Heather can have a huge wedding...putting herself in the crosshairs yet again. Adding to the drama, Leila's former fiance is back in town and looking to get back together. If that weren't bad enough, her mom is encouraging him!
In the second Maple Syrup Mystery danger, treachery, and obnoxious family members come together in a thrilling mystery. There are plenty of surprises to keep Leila and readers on their toes. In addition to the action, Leila has to confront a lot of personal issues and does so with grace. She can be hard headed, but this dogged determination is also one of her strengths.

SYRUP TO NO GOOD is full of pulse pounding moments, not so subtle investigations, and some really awful people. Be prepared to be craving Lebanese food and maple syrup infused treats as you enjoy this delectable mystery.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Currently Reading...

I just finished reading Syrup to No Good by Catherine Bruns. This book is the second in the Maple Syrup Mystery series and will be released October 31, 2023.

In addition to running Sappy Endings, her family's maple syrup farm, Leila Khourey is busy preparing for her best friend's wedding. Unfortunately, this means everyone has to deal with Uncle Grant and his obnoxious wife, Monica. Finding Monica's murdered body after the bridal shower is a big shock for Leila, but an even bigger shock is discovering Heather's wedding will be postponed unless the killer is found. With a short deadline, Leila has no intention of leaving the investigation to the police. Will Leila be able to solve the murder, or will Heather lose the wedding of her dreams? Or is something even worse in store?

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

In the Wick of Time - A Guest Post & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Sage Winslow to Cozy Up With Kathy today. You can find Sage on the pages of the Magic Candle Shop Mystery series by Valona Jones. IN THE WICK OF TIME is the second book in the series and was released last week.

Man Troubles
By Sage Winslow

Dear Diary,

At thirty years old, I’m too old to be using a diary. I suppose I should call this a journal, but I can’t keep all this pain inside. It’s too much for anyone to bear. My closest friend is my twin sister, but she’s gun-shy after all the breakups I’ve had. Junior was too clingy, Mark too distant, and Avery thought the world revolved around him. I thought for sure Brindle Pratt was my Mr. Right.

After all, he doesn’t question my moods or my need to stay in my family’s apartment above The Book and Candle Shop in downtown Savannah, GA. He doesn’t question my desire to also work a second job with plants because that soothes my soul. With being a junior partner in a law firm, Brindle works long hours too. Plus, we are compatible in the sack, and that’s saying something.

He never says he’s too tired. Neither when he goes to bed, nor when he wakes up. That’s a good thing, an excellent thing for someone like me who craves that intimacy. Unlike my sister Tabby, I lose energy as the day goes on, and the recharge that only occurs at night in our Bristol Street home doesn’t fill me up. When I’m not in a relationship, I’m constantly asking Tabby to top me off. One of these days she’s rightly gonna say no, and then what will I do?

Oh darn. One of my tears fell on the page, and the gel pen ink ran. Lemme find a ball point pen…Okay I’m back now. I can’t promise not to cry, but at least I won’t destroy my innermost thoughts by soaking the page.

Where was I? Oh yes, my constant energy shortage. I’ve seen firsthand what happens when you repeatedly run yourself down to nothing. You die. It happened to my mom, and we couldn’t save her. Her death was horrible and pointless. She should still be alive, but, no, she had to help her friend with cancer. She valued her friend’s life more than she did her own.

I realize I sound like a jerk, but Mom knew cancer didn’t respond to our energy. By giving her friend all those energy transfusions, she only helped her friend deal with the pain. She wasn’t fixing anything. That was so frustrating for me, and I lost my mom to boot.

I thought that was the worst thing that ever happened to me.

I was wrong.

Brindle shattered my heart tonight.

The hurt is so raw I can barely breathe.

Here’s what happened. Since we’ve been dating a few months, we have keys to each other’s apartments. Tonight was the third night in a row that he worked late. He claimed he didn’t want me to wait up, so he’d go to his place after work. I couldn’t settle down. I needed to see him, so I decided to surprise him with my new lingerie. It was December, so I wore a long coat over my new intimate wear. I drove over, parked in the lot, and walked the half-block to his residence.

All the lights were on in his place. Oh! My heart quickened. He was home already. Great. I walked faster. Then I saw them. Brindle. My shirtless boyfriend. And another woman. I stared at her in utter confusion then hatred. It was Alyss, the receptionist from his office. My jaw dropped until my mouth became so dry I had to close it.

He was holding her the very same way he held me. Dancing in that hip-to-hip way that was Ours. He stroked her hair and kissed it the same way he did mine. My anger flared, and I wanted to hurt both of them. Bad.

Confronting them wouldn’t change anything. He’d cheated. He’d lied to me about everything. He was to blame. How could I have been so blind? In spite of knowing I should turn around, I knocked on the door. No one answered, so I let myself in, yelled his name.

He stared at me like he’d seen a ghost.

I called him every name in the book, threw his key at him, and ran out of there. I never knew I could hurt so much, or that it would feel like my guts were ripping apart.

My twin pinged me on our twin-link. You okay?

I couldn’t talk about this to anyone yet. Couldn’t face the shame of humiliation yet. I’m okay.

Somehow I drove home and cried my eyes out. Brindle called and texted, but he didn’t come over. That made me feel worse. I shouldn’t want his comfort after he’d cut me to the quick. I couldn’t hurt him physically, but I had to do something. I took off the lingerie and cut it to shreds. I was done with him once and for all.

The next day came, and I couldn’t face the world yet. Maybe not ever.

Why wasn’t I enough for him? Why?


 In the Wick of Time (Magic Candle Shop Mystery) by Valona Jones

About In The Wick Of Time

2nd in Series
Setting - Savannah, Georgia
Crooked Lane Books (October 17, 2023)
Hardcover: ‎ 288 pages

Tabby Winslow will help her twin sister Sage with anything and everything—and that includes putting out the flames of suspicion when Sage’s boss is found murdered in this magical mystery, perfect for fans of Amanda Flower and Sofie Kelly.

December in Savannah, Georgia, is a sight to behold. With all the festivities—including the traditional riverfront luminary display during the boat parade—twin sisters Tabby and Sage Winslow are busier than ever setting up for the big celebration. But that isn’t the only thing on the sisters’ minds. Both Sage and her fellow employee Mary Nicole are vying for the sought-after assistant manager job at the plant nursery. But when Loren Lee, their boss, is found dead, and Sage becomes the police’s favorite suspect, both Winslow girls know that they’ll need more than a flicker of magic and their sisterhood to solve the murder and clear Sage’s name.

Soon, Tabby realizes that this is just one of the many problems they have. If being a suspect for murder wasn’t enough, there are more magical problems that they have to fix: Sage’s boyfriend is having a paranormal experience of his own he can’t control, there’s an energy vampire searching for his supposedly lost cousin, her cat suddenly dislikes her, and oh—every time Tabby hiccups, she turns completely invisible. The suspect list grows with each day and it seems everyone has a reason or a connection to Loren Lee.

Tabby and Sage are burning the candle at both ends—but will it be enough to keep their friends safe and find this killer? Or will they be burned by their efforts?

About Valona Jones

Valona Jones, also known as Maggie Toussaint, writes paranormal cozy mysteries set in coastal Georgia. A former scientist, she’s drawn to the study of personal energy. She sharpened her people-watching skills as a lifelong introvert and had a bank vault of personal observations when she began to write fiction. Her newest release is In The Wick of Time, book 2 in the A Magic Candle Shop Mystery, preceded by Snuffed Out, which released Jan. 2023. She’s a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime with more than twenty-five published works of fiction. She lives in coastal Georgia, where she’s seen time and tide wait for no one.

Author Links: 
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Sunday, October 22, 2023

The Fatal Folio - A Review


THE FATAL FOLIO by Elizabeth Penney
The Third Cambridge Bookshop Mystery 
Gloom and rain have descended on Cambridge, but Molly Kimball is happily ensconced in Hazelhurst House, the stately home of her boyfriend's parents, cataloging their impressive library. It's there she discovers that not only do they own the original manuscript of the popular Gothic novel The Fatal Folio, one of their ancestors wrote it. As another project Molly decides to see if she can determine just which Scott actually wrote the piece. But her literary pursuits are not the only challenges Molly faces. She and her friends stumble across the body of a student who has just been stabbed. While reeling from his death, and wondering if Kieran's cousin had anything to do with it, the manuscript is stolen. Could the crimes be connected? 

THE FATAL FOLIO is a great addition to this fantastic series. I love how the story is intertwined with that of The Fatal Folio and how we are able to read that story as well. In fact so many things are deftly interwoven in this mystery, the murder, the theft, literary research, the Gothic literary festival, and relationships. Indeed, it's the relationships that make this book, and series, so much more than just a mystery. The love and friendship between a great cast of characters influences everything and makes the reader more invested in the story. 

With Gothic bones THE FATAL FOLIO takes a dreary November and turns it into an atmospheric mystery warmed with the comfort of good friends.

Friday, October 20, 2023

Murder Uncorked - A Review


The First Cece Barton Mystery
Manager of the wine bar, Vino y Vida, widow Cece Barton is getting used to living in the small town of Colinas, California. Living close to her twin sister is just one of the perks. After hearing an argument at the bar, she soon learns that one of the men has been murdered. The same man with whom she's had unpleasant business dealings. When the brusque detective starts implying Cece could be a suspect and when Cece realizes that the good looking man staying at her sister's B&B could be the killer she decides to look into things herself. After all, it wouldn't be the first time.
While MURDER UNCORKED is the first book in the series there are several references to Cece being involved with solving a murder. It turns out there is a prequel in the anthology CHRISTMAS MITTENS MURDER. I wish I would have read this short story that introduces Cece first. Although MURDER UNCORKED certainly works fine without knowing the introductory details, since there were several references to it, I would have liked to have read it first.
I like the relationship between Cece and her twin, Allie. I also appreciate her dealings with her nephews and the fact that her relationship with her daughter is not the best. One of my favorite relationships though is between Cece and the VOM, Very Old Man, her neighbor Richard. It was also nice seeing a variety of ethnicities represented. The mystery was well plotted with nice diversions. Cece is an intelligent protagonist and I like how she handles herself.
MURDER UNCORKED is a full bodied mystery with a host of interesting characters in a unique setting. I look forward to visiting this charming town again!

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Currently Reading...

I just finished reading Murder Uncorked by Maddie Day. This book is the first in the Cece Barton Mystery series and will be released next week.

Manager of the wine bar, Vino y Vida, widow Cece Barton is getting used to living in the small town of Colinas, California. Living close to her twin sister is just one of the perks. After hearing an argument at the bar, she soon learns that one of the men has been murdered. The same man with whom she's had unpleasant business dealings. When the brusque detective starts implying Cece could be a suspect and when Cece realizes that the good looking man staying at her sister's B&B could be the killer she decides to look into things herself. After all, it wouldn't be the first time.

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Murder by the Seashore - An Interview, Review, & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Samara Yew to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Samara writes the California Bookshop Mystery series. MURDER BY THE SEASHORE is the first book in the series and today is its release day!

Kathy: Scarlett Gardner owns the Palm Trees and Page Turners bookshop. Have you ever dreamed of opening a bookshop?

SY: I think it would be fun to work at one, though opening up a brand new business seems like a ton of work as Scarlett discovers.

Kathy: Scarlett thought she'd have the help of her boyfriend and business partner, but is soon on her own. Have you ever started something as a team, but wound up doing it on your own?

SY: Nothing comes to mind. 


Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

SY: I love the puzzling solving and trying to figure out the mystery alongside the sleuth. I also love that the sleuth is a regular, everyday person who gets caught up in a mystery, often unwillingly. It’s a fun adventure to dive into.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

SY: Not at the moment.

Kathy: Tell us about your series. 

SY: MURDER BY THE SEASHORE is the first book in the California Bookshop Mysteries. Scarlett Gardner receives a mysterious inheritance from a stranger she found dead on the beach near her beloved bookshop. She gets caught up in solving multiple mysteries about who the stranger was, why the woman left her a large inheritance, and who the killer is.

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

SY: Lucia, Scarlett’s roommate/BFF, is probably my favorite character, though I really love them all. Lucia is a huge movie nerd so it was fun writing her fun facts about some of my own favorite movies such as Star Wars and Jurassic Park.

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

SY: I wrote the first draft during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November 2020. It was the height of the pandemic so no traveling, but I wished I could escape the Canadian winter and head down to Southern California for a beach vacation. So instead, I wrote a cozy mystery with that setting.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

SY: Nothing specific made me want to publish it. I had fun writing it, my agent loved it, and we were able to find a publisher who wanted it.

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

SY: Let’s have the ultimate cozy mystery dinner party. I’d invite Jenn McKinlay, Ellery Adams, Ellen Byron, and Diane Kelly.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

SY: I’m currently reading the Veronica Speedwell Mysteries by Deanna Raybourn. I just finished A MURDEROUS RELATION which is Book 5. I adore this historical mystery series! It’s a perfect blend of mystery, action, romance, and humor.

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

SY: I started canning this past summer and have become quite addicted. It’s been a great new hobby to keep me distracted from writing deadlines.

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

SY: Homemade chai concentrate, fruit, ingredients for all sorts of soup, and Greek yogurt which is usually the base for a delicious smoothie.

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

SY: I’m currently working on the next book of the California Bookshop Mysteries, and it’s been a lot of fun being back with Scarlett and the Palm Trees and Page Turners’ gang! There’s a lot more of Scarlett’s sister, Olivia, in this book, and I’ve enjoyed diving into their relationship dynamics.

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

SY: My favorite thing is taking trips to the library to check out dozens of new books and being able to call it “homework.”



The First California Bookshop Mystery 
Since her boyfriend and business partner dumped her, Scarlett Gardner is hoping she can make a go of her newly opened bookshop. When she discovers the dead body of a customer of the nearby pier, she comes under the scrutiny of Detective Maxwell. And when they learn the murdered woman left Scarlett a huge inheritance, she jumps to the top of the Detective's suspect list. With the help of her roommate best friend Scarlett decides to figure out, not only why the unknown woman left her a fortune, but who killed her before she winds up in jail and her beloved shop is forever known as the Murder Bookshop. 
The first California Bookshop Mystery welcomes readers with a great setting, a bookshop on the beach, and an interesting mystery. The fact that not only the identity of Lorelai Knight's killer is in question, but who she actually was was a novel approach that kept me intrigued. There were lots of good suspects and some nice twists and turns.
While I like Scarlett she acts so young. I suppose because she is young, but as a business owner, and her roommate a successful lawyer, the two tend to act more like teenagers than professionals. While it's refreshing that mysteries don't appear to be her favorite genre, it's a bit embarrassing how inept she is when it comes to figuring out how to investigate. She's also very wishy washy, going back and forth between suspecting people of murder, then thinking they couldn't be guilty. I found Detective Maxwell to be a bit of an overbearing, overprotective, and domineering husband, but a decent detective. On the whole, the cast of characters is likable, but there's room for growth and development.

MURDER BY THE SEASHORE is an enjoyable start to a new series. 


 Murder by the Seashore (A California Bookshop Mystery) by Samara Yew

About Murder by the Seashore

Murder by the Seashore (A California Bookshop Mystery)
Cozy Mystery 1st in Series
Setting - California
Crooked Lane Books (October 17, 2023)
Hardcover: ‎ 256 pages

Perfect for fans of Jenn McKinlay and Ellery Adams, Scarlett Gardner’s dream was to open a bookshop in Southern California, but it soon becomes a nightmare when she finds the dead body of a customer—and becomes the prime suspect.

Southern California is where dreams come true—or so Scarlett Gardner thought. When she moved there and opened the Palm Trees and Page Turners bookshop, she thought her boyfriend and business partner would be part of the story. When he leaves her for a better job, Scarlett finds herself struggling to keep her new business afloat. That’s not the only thing she has to worry about—she discovers something underneath the pier by her bookshop that she didn’t outline for her life’s story: the dead body of a book-buying customer.

After Scarlett gives a statement to the police, she thinks her life can go back to business as usual. But when a lawyer, representing someone named Lorelai Knight, tells Scarlett that she now stands to inherit a small fortune, she’s left with more questions than answers. Before she can make sense of any of it, the police bring her in for questioning; the body she found was Lorelai Knight. And the evidence they have against Scarlett doesn’t look good. Business is booming as Scarlett returns to Palm Trees and Page Turners, but for all the wrong reasons – curious tourists don’t want books, they want a glimpse of the Bookshop Killer.

Who could really be behind all of this? And why frame Scarlett? To clear her name, she’s going to have get creative—and hope she can remain one page ahead of the killer.

About Samara Yew

Samara Yew is a cozy mystery author who writes about adorable bookshops and dead bodies. A full-time mom, full-time dog servant, and part-time writer, Samara lives in British Columbia, Canada, where she can often be found watching Psych reruns. Samara loves to travel, especially visiting her husband’s home country of Singapore or donning Mickey ears in Disneyland. She’s a member of Sisters in Crime and International Thriller Writers.

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