Sunday, March 31, 2024

The Witless Protection Program - A Review & Giveaway


The Fifth Catering Hall Mystery
Mia Carina is a smart, capable, independent woman. That being said, she really wants to marry Shane who seems to be taking his sweet time in proposing after an amazing declaration of love. Her dream coming true turns into a nightmare when a ghost from the past reappears, very much alive. When he winds up dead everyone becomes a suspect. Will Mia be able to discover who killed the stronzo so that she can finally live happily ever after?

The book had me laughing, gasping, and agape at the antics of Mia, her friends, family, and Family. "Bigger." The essence of this mafia adjacent cast of characters is captured brilliantly, from Mia's #HOTCON brother who's in prison more often than not and her spitfire Nonna who loves to feed everyone to her aging godfather who happens to be a Godfather, and the rest of the Family. What's also real is the love, and not just between Mia and Shane. The Catering Hall Mysteries are comforting, a warm hug, and the knowledge that no matter what goes wrong, you have people who will back you until things are right again!

I absolutely adore the Catering Hall series and THE WITLESS PROTECTION PROGRAM makes a fantastic series finale. Throughout the book there were several small references to things that occurred in previous books in the series. I love that little footnotes were included noting which book the incident took place, in case you want to read more-and believe me, if you haven't read them you should!

Join Mia and the Family as she desperately tries to walk down the aisle in THE WITLESS PROTECTION PROGRAM, a murder mystery that will have you laughing out loud and craving a scrumptious Italian meal.


The Witless Protection Program (A Catering Hall Mystery) by Maria DiRico

About The Witless Protection Program

The Witless Protection Program (A Catering Hall Mystery)
Cozy Mystery 5th in Series
Setting - New York
Kensington Cozies (March 26, 2024)
Mass Market Paperback: ‎ 304 pages

Mia Carina has steered her Italian-American family’s Astoria, Queens, catering hall, Belle View Banquet Manor, into becoming the borough’s premiere party site, and nothing could make her happier—except her boyfriend proposing. There’s just one presumed-dead obstacle in the way . . .

A strong, independent woman and respected entrepreneur, Mia never imagined she’d pine for a marriage proposal. Yet lately, with her beloved Shane, she’s on tenterhooks. It’s especially surprising, considering Mia’s first husband, Adam, was a philandering grifter, assumed lost-at-sea after a boating disaster. But everyone knows what happens when you assume . . .

While working a huge wedding expo in Manhattan, Mia is shocked to spot the man who nearly destroyed her life. The one who’s supposed to be sleeping with the fishes. But she loses him in the crowd. And when it happens again the next day, it’s time for an emergency meeting with the family—and the Family. Because if Adam is alive, Mia is still married . . .

Everyone wants Adam dead. Everyone except Mia. She’s dealt with enough police for a lifetime. Mia needs to be a divorcée, not a widow. But someone out there disagrees, and if Mia doesn’t discover who, she may never be free to marry Shane—or anyone else . . .

Italian recipes included!

About Maria DiRico

Maria DiRico is the pseudonym for Ellen Byron, author of the award-winning, USA Today bestselling Cajun Country Mysteries. Born in Queens, New York, she is a first-generation Italian-American on her mother's side and the granddaughter of a low-level Jewish mobster on her father's side. She grew up visiting the Astoria Manor and Grand Bay Marina catering halls, which were run by her Italian mother's family in Queens and have become the inspiration for her Catering Hall Mystery Series. DiRico has been a writer-producer for hit television series like Wings and Just Shoot Me, and her first play, Graceland, appears in the Best Short Plays collection. She's a freelance journalist, with over 200 articles published in national magazines, and previously worked as a cater-waiter for Martha Stewart, a credit she never tires of sharing. A native New Yorker who attended Tulane University, Ellen lives in Los Angeles with her husband, daughter, and two rescue dogs.

Author Links – Website Chicks on the CaseFacebook Twitter  

Purchase Links – AmazonB&NKoboBookshop.orgKensington

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Friday, March 29, 2024

Battered and Buried - A Guest Post, Review, & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Cole Barrister to Cozy Up With Kathy today. You can find Cole on the pages of the All-Day Breakfast Café Mystery series. Battered and Buried is the seventh book in the series and was released last week.

A Day in My Life
By Cole Barrister

Usually, my days are pretty routine, which is not to say boring. I enjoy my work, running the grill at my good friend Gia’s All-Day Breakfast Café. I have to admit, it was a bit of a relief when she coaxed me out of retirement to work the grill for her. Talk about boring! I had no idea what to do with my time. Now, though, my days are full and enjoyable.

In addition to working at the café, I surround myself with good friends—Gia, of course, and her best friend, Savannah, who is an absolute sweetheart, their beaus, Hunt and Leo, and Earl, who was Gia’s first ever customer and has since become a great friend, even Trevor, who runs Storm Scoopers, the ice cream parlor down the road. And then there’s Cybil Devane, who I met through Gia. She and I have been, well, dating, I suppose. We spend a ton of time together, often walking in the woods with her beagle mix, Caesar. I enjoy nothing as much as an early morning stroll through the Ocala National Forest with Cybil. While I’ve always enjoyed walking, I tended to stick to the trails. With Cybil, though, who’s been wandering the forest for most of her life, I’ve broadened my horizons. We often ignore the trail to walk through the more natural forest. I love watching the wildlife, boars, monkeys, even the gators.

But all that peace and enjoyment came screeching to a halt the other day when my nemesis, Rusty Bragge, and his wife, Amanda, who was once the love of my life, came into the café. Of course, Rusty had to cause trouble, like always. But seeing Amanda again really threw me, more than I realized it would. I would have gotten past it, though, considering my feelings for Cybil. But then Cybil and I stumbled over Rusty’s body while hiking in the forest, and I landed smack at the top of the suspect list, thanks to our encounter in the crowded café the day before. So, unfortunately, my days are now spent trying to prove my innocence. Thankfully, my friends rallied around me, and have pitched in to help.



The Seventh All-Day Breakfast Café Mystery
Gia Morelli strives to make every customer happy at her café, but it's not always easy. Rusty Bragge despises the food, the service, and everything about her café declaring she needs to shut down and return to New York! Gia soon learns Rusty has a history of destroying people and their businesses. He also has a history with her good friend and cook, Cole. A kayaking trip to try and get the nasty encounter out of her mind leads Mia and Trevor into the Ocala National Forest where they find Cole standing over Rusty's dead body. While she knows Cole could not have murdered the man, Cole has shut down and isn't talking. When it becomes obvious that someone is trying to frame him, Gia and her friends will use all their skills to uncover the killer.
While visiting the All-Day Breakfast Café is usually a relaxing comfortable visit with friends, in BATTERED AND BURIED my stomach was in knots thanks to Rusty Bragge and his vitriolic diatribe. I got increasingly nervous when I learned more about him and his plan to destroy the café. His death didn't even solve the problem. Though the café was probably safe, Cole's freedom was definitely up in the air.
It's a good thing that Gia is surrounded by close friends because a lot of unpleasant and downright nasty people turn up in the seventh All-Day Breakfast Café Mystery. Rusty is by far the worst of the bunch. He lies, cheats, and not only wants to win, but wants to utterly destroy his competition. Those associated with him aren't much better.
The mystery was finely crafted with a victim that everybody hated. So much was riding on solving this murder and I loved how everyone pulled together. I appreciate how real the characters are, with their pasts incorporating into their present, especially the ramifications of Savannah's trauma from the previous book in the series. Despite all the drama, there's plenty of comedy too, especially from a certain wily raccoon.
BATTERED AND BURIED is an emotional roller coaster highlighting the relationships of the characters as they do what they do best, solve murders and share great food. I look forward to visiting the All-Day Breakfast Café and spending more time with these friends.

 Battered and Buried (An All-Day Breakfast Cafe Mystery) by Lena Gregory

About Battered and Buried

Battered and Buried (An All-Day Breakfast Cafe Mystery)
Cozy Mystery 7th in Series
Setting - Florida
Publisher: ‎ Beyond the Page (March 19, 2024)
Paperback: ‎ 188 pages
The best-laid plans may go awry, but the best-laid clues could frame a man for murder . . . Never one to let a day off work go to waste, café owner Gia Morelli and a friend head out for a blissful kayaking trip through the local national forest. But the peacefulness of the day is soon shattered when they come across Cole, her head cook, standing over a dead body. Worse still, the victim was a lifelong enemy of Cole’s, and clues found on the body point to the cook as the culprit. When the police take Cole in and subject him to an intense grilling, Gia vows to do everything she can to prove his innocence. As even more incriminating evidence surfaces—including when the murder weapon itself is found hidden at the café—Gia knows she’s up against someone brutal enough to kill and devious enough to frame Cole for the deed. With the police ready to make an official arrest and wrap up what they consider an open-and-shut case, Gia turns for help to an old friend who’s not above breaking the law himself. Because if she can’t find the killer, Cole may go from serving up hot dishes to serving a life sentence . . .

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.

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Thursday, March 28, 2024

Poppies, Perils, and Poison - An Interview & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Erica Wynters to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Erica writes the Camelot Flowers Mystery series. Poppies, Perils, and Poison is the second book in the series and was released last week.

Kathy: Politics can be a nasty business, especially when it comes to the matter of Garden Club presidencies. Have you ever been involved in club politics, gardening or other?

EW: While I haven’t had personal experience with the political maneuverings of a club I’ve been a member of, I have been on planning teams at church for a variety of events. It’s been interesting over the years to see how different personalities can create different dynamics. Even the number of people impacts how difficult running those teams can be. You’d think the more people, the better, but too many opinions in the mix actually makes committees less efficient. Anytime I’m in a position to plan something, I like to keep my planning team small. I can imagine Margie, the woman running for garden club president in the Poppies, Perils, and Poison, would love a small team too. She’s definitely a woman with strong opinions, who wouldn’t want a team full of people arguing with her.

Kathy: Gwen Stevens works in the family business, Camelot Flowers. Have you ever worked as a florist? Do you enjoy giving and/or receiving flowers?

EW: I’ve never personally worked as a florist. I’ve had a variety of jobs in my life including lifeguard, swimming lesson instructor, receptionist, a temp job that had me working some jobs with very funny stories, and now, my career as a marriage and family therapist. As far as whether or not I enjoy giving and/or receiving flowers, you’re outing me a little bit here. This might sound funny as someone writing a series centered around a florist, but I don’t actually like receiving flowers. I’m very aware of how expensive flowers are and how quickly they die. I’m obsessed with live plants and have more than I know what to do with at my house if that counts for something, but getting a bouquet of flowers from my husband wouldn’t be the most romantic thing for me. Now, I love giving gifts to people that they love. My mother-in-law loves getting flowers, and I really enjoy buying them for her because they make her happy. Let’s just not tell Gwen or her parents that I don’t love getting flowers. It can be our little secret.

Kathy: Are you a gardener? Do you grow flowers yourself? What's your favorite flower?

EW: I live in Phoenix, Arizona and while we have a good growing season in the winter, gardening has never been something that appealed me to. However, I love to visit elaborate flower gardens. You know, ones that I didn’t have to plant or do the work to maintain. My husband and I visited The Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC on our honeymoon, and I was blown away. I also love visiting the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix, and I have a dream to walk through beautiful gardens in the English countryside someday. My favorite flower has been the tulip for a really long time, but I’ll add two recent favorites—dahlias and chrysanthemums.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

EW: I started reading cozy mysteries after college. I love murder mysteries but get easily creeped out and having nightmares isn’t my idea of a fun time. You won’t find me watching true-crime documentaries or even the evening news. Cozy mysteries let me enter the world of mysteries and investigations without any of the grit or gore of traditional mysteries. I love the fact that most cozies are set in charming small towns. I grew up in a small town and while I know they aren’t always as charming as what we read about in books, cozies capture the best of what small town life has to offer. I took a trip to Leavenworth, WA a couple of summers ago based solely on reading about that town in Ellie Alexander’s Sloan Krause mystery series. I’ve also read a series set in Bar Harbor, Maine and would love to visit there someday.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

EW: Besides my cozy mysteries, I also write closed-door romantic suspense. I currently have a series of romantic suspense novellas on Kindle Unlimited set in Phoenix that follow Dr. Alexandra Briggs, an FBI profiler, who stumbles into danger more than her desk job should allow. I have two other romantic suspense series that I’ll be publishing over the next two year—Empire City Secrets set in New York City and Windy City Secrets set in Chicago. I love the books in these series and can’t wait for readers to meet those characters.

Kathy: Tell us about your series. 

EW: The Camelot Flowers Mystery Series follows florist, Gwen Stevens, as she balances working at her family’s flower shop, figuring out her complicated love life, and, of course, solving murders in the dreamy town of Star Junction, Illinois.

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

EW: There are so many characters to fall in love with in this series. I feel like I should say that my favorite is Gwen, since she’s the main character, but if we remove her as an option (because of course I love Gwen) then I’d pick Penny, one of Gwen’s best friends. She’s so funny and always pulling Gwen into crazy situations throughout the investigation.

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

EW: A few years ago, I was thinking about writing a cozy mystery, and I had the idea to have a woman named Guinevere (Gwen for short) who got her name because her dad was obsessed with King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Hence, naming the flower shop Camelot Flowers. In this first brainstorming session, I also considered naming the romantic interest Lance, so that Gwen’s friends could tease her about dating someone whose name could be short for Lancelot. That didn’t make it past the brainstorming stage, but I still think it’s a funny idea.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

EW: I started writing on a whim almost seven years ago after having a dream that I couldn’t shake. I thought the dream would make a good story. I decided to sit down and write the first chapter later that next night. Three weeks later, I’d finished the rough draft of my first book. Needless to say, it wasn’t very good, but I’ve edited it over and over again throughout the years as I’ve learned more about writing. That book, called Saving Stella, will come out in 2025. I always knew that if I was going to write, I wanted other people to read my books. I was never going to be satisfied with just writing for myself. It’s too much work for that!

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

EW: Oh my goodness! That’s a hard question. First, I would invite Laura Ingalls Wilder. I’ve loved her books since I was a kid and still read them as an adult when life gets particularly stressful. They’re soothing to me, like a perfectly broken in, cozy sweater. Then I’d invite my favorite authors in the cozy mystery field so that I could pick their brains about the craft of writing and more importantly the craft of building an audience. That would include Jenn McKinlay and Ellery Adams. Finally, I’d invite Denise Grover Swank. She’s an indie author who writes mysteries with a heavy dose of romance. She’s mastered the indie author field, and I would love to learn from her.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

EW: I’m currently reading Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Wealthy Widow by Kelly Rey and Gemma Halliday. It’s the third book in the series, and I’m loving this whole series. The mysteries are interesting and the characters are really funny.

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

EW: I love being out in nature, but I don’t like sleeping in nature, so no camping for me, but I love to hike. I especially love to hike to waterfalls. There’s something especially satisfying about finding water in the desert. I also love to travel, Maui being my favorite place. I read a ton. While I write cozy mysteries and clean romantic suspense, I also love to read fantasy. I tore through all the books published in the Magical Midlife Madness series last fall and can’t wait for the next one to come out this month!

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

EW: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Perfect Bars, pistachios, sumo citrus oranges (when they’re in season), and oat milk for my matcha lattes.

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

EW: I’m writing a proposal for the fourth book in the Camelot Flowers Mystery Series right now and will send it to my publisher soon. I have endless ideas for this series. I also have a book I started a year ago that I haven’t had time to work on, but am really excited about. It would be romantic suspense, but it has the same kind of feel as the cozy mysteries. Even my suspense books have plenty of humorous moments in them. Think rom-com meets suspense. The third project waiting in the wings, until I have more time, is a romantic suspense series set in a fictional ranching town in southern Arizona. Starting in 2025, I’ll be publishing two romantic suspense series. They are each shared-world series, which means each book in the series is about a different couples, but the previous couples show up in each other’s books.

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

EW: I love connecting with readers. As my readership has slowly grown, I’ve had people reach out through email, on Instagram, and on Facebook with things they’ve loved about the Camelot Flowers series. It’s my favorite thing to message with people about these characters. Probably one of my favorite memories, though, is when I was driving my daughter and her friends home from my daughter’s birthday party. One of the friends started enthusiastically telling me that Gwen needed to choose Finn, because Chris didn’t deserve her. Another friend in the backseat piped up that she agreed. They had a lively discussion about the book. I hadn’t even realized they’d read it. It was so fun to listen to teens be so invested in reading and so in love with a book that I had written.


 Poppies, Perils, and Poison (Camelot Flowers Mysteries) by Erica Wynters

About Poppies, Perils, and Poison

Poppies, Perils, and Poison (Camelot Flowers Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery 2nd in Series
Setting - Illinois
Publisher: ‎ Gemma Halliday Publishing (March 19, 2024)
Number of Pages - ~280 pages

From author Erica Wynters comes another Camelot Flowers Mystery blooming with secrets, suspicions, and danger at every turn...

Things are finally looking up with florist Gwen Stevens’ family business, Camelot Flowers, which means her biggest problem now is making her heart choose between her lifelong crush on the charming Chris Crawford and her budding romance with Finn Butler, the new police detective who makes her want to stop and smell the roses.

But Gwen’s thorny love life takes a backseat when Shannon Wentworth, a newcomer to the small town of Star Junction, drops dead in the local coffee shop the day after she announces her candidacy for garden club president. Unfortunately, Margie Philips, Gwen’s surrogate aunt, has been garden club president for years and had threatened to win again this year at any cost—which suddenly puts her in the role of prime suspect in Wentworth's untimely demise!

Determined to clear Margie’s name, Gwen digs deep and discovers a bouquet’s worth of secrets, including marital infidelity, a lawsuit threatening to ruin a local business, and even doubts about where Margie was right before the murder. With too many suspects all hiding something, will Gwen uncover the truth before the killer poisons her chances of a happily ever after?

About Erica Wynters

Erica Wynters may have lived most of her life in the frigid Midwest, but now she spends her time in the warmth and sunshine of Arizona. She loves hiking, hunting down waterfalls in the desert, reading (of course), and napping. Can napping be considered a hobby? When not weaving tales of mystery with plenty of quirky characters, laughs, and a dash of romance, Erica works as a Marriage and Family Therapist helping others find their Happily Ever Afters.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Currently Reading...

I just finished reading Battered and Buried by Lena Gregory. This book is the seventh in the All-Day Breakfast Café Mystery series and was released last week. 

Gia Morelli strives to make every customer happy at her café, but it's not always easy. Rusty Bragge despises the food, the service, and everything about her café declaring she needs to shut down and return to New York! Gia soon learns Rusty has a history of destroying people and their businesses. He also has a history with her good friend and cook, Cole. A kayaking trip to try and get the nasty encounter out of her mind leads Mia and Trevor into the Ocala National Forest where they find Cole standing over Rusty's dead body. While she knows Cole could not have murdered the man, Cole has shut down and isn't talking. When it becomes obvious that someone is trying to frame Cole Gia and her friends will use all their skills to uncover the killer.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Mayhem in Circulation - An Interview & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Leah Dobrinska to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Leah writes the Larkspur Library Mystery series. Mayhem in Circulation is the second book in the series.


Kathy: In Mayhem in Circulation Greta Plank prepares for Larkspur’s Fall Festival and regional tourism showcase. I love attending festivals and with fall being my favorite season, I consider autumn festivals the best. Do you enjoy fall festivals? What's your favorite part of them?

LD: Yes! I love festivals, and I agree…the season of fall provides the best backdrop! Nothing beats the scent of crisp leaves, pumpkin spice, and apple cider. I love how these local gatherings bring people together. Seeing the community out and engaged warms my heart. I also appreciate the good food and good music! The Larkspur Fall Festival is actually the second festival I’ve included in one of my books. My debut novel, Love at On Deck Café, which is a sweet, small-town romance, centered around a summer festival. So yeah, a big festival fan over here!

Kathy: A series of pranks wreaks havoc in the town. Personally I hate pranks, even supposedly funny ones. Do you appreciate a good prank? Or are you a prankster yourself?

LD: I’ve never been a fan of pranks myself. I feel like it’s disrespectful to harm someone’s property or person, even if it’s supposedly in good fun. I knew my main characters in Mayhem In Circulation would respond in the same way and be outraged at the destruction of property in Larkspur. It was a good way for me to bring the community together and kick off the events of the books.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

LD: I devoured the Nancy Drew books as a kid, so as an adult, I was looking for something with similar vibes. Amateur sleuths have always been my investigators of choice, I suppose. I love seeing an everyday woman put her smarts to good use and piece together a compelling puzzle. I appreciate that cozies focus less on the murder and more on the mystery. This makes this genre incredibly appealing for readers like me who love a solid, intricate mystery plot but who are maybe a little squeamish when it comes to descriptive death and crime scenes. In case you had any doubts, I’m kind of a big scaredy-cat. I want to read and write books that are gentle and happy, with characters who feel like old friends. Enter the cozy mystery.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

LD: I do! Like I mentioned above, I also write romance novels and romantic comedies. When people ask me to describe them, I say they’re like Hallmark movies but with less cringe, better kissing, and more swoon! I have two romance series, the Mapleton novels, which starts with Love at On Deck Café, and the Fall In Love series, which starts with Friends Don’t.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

LD: The Larkspur Library Mysteries are my cozies. The series kicked off with Death Checked Out, and Mayhem In Circulation is the second installment. I consider these books to be my love letter to libraries, Nancy Drew, and the Wisconsin Northwoods.

The Mapleton novels are sweet, small town romances. Mapleton is filled to the brim with quirky characters, one-of-a-kind places, and a whole lot of heart. In these books you’ll find a close-knit community that’s ready to welcome you, whether it’s your first or forty-first visit.

The Fall In Love series follows three sisters as they find love after moving across the country to the small town of Cashmere Cove, Wisconsin. These are closed door romcoms with plenty of sizzling chemistry and romantic tension, but no spice. Friends Don’t is the first book in the series.

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

LD: I absolutely adore Greta Plank, the amateur sleuth in the Larkspur series. She’s cheerful (almost to a fault), endearingly clumsy, both clever and kind, and she goes to bat for the people she cares about (which is pretty much everyone).

Greta loves:

•Her family & friends



•Water sports

•Nancy Drew

•Children’s story time

•Her lakeside cabin

She doesn’t love:

•Finding a dead body

•Being accused of murder

•A certain grumpy detective

•A certain ex-boyfriend

•Having her reputation tarnished

•Not knowing answers to questions

I hope readers love her as much as I do!

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

LD: The idea for the Larkspur series was inspired by its setting, actually. Larkspur, the small lakeside community where the events of Death Checked Out and Mayhem In Circulation take place, is based loosely on a small, unincorporated town in the Wisconsin Northwoods. When I was a kid, my extended family would gather each summer at a resort of log cabins. Almost all of my favorite childhood memories are tied to this place. We still laugh about our time spent on that lake to this day.

When I set out to write a cozy mystery, it was after I had returned from a visit to Northern Wisconsin as an adult. While ‘up north’, I came across a log cabin set on a hillside near a lake, not far from where my family used to vacation. I knew it would be the setting for my mystery.

I took the vision of that cabin and my love for the resort we used to visit and created my cozy mystery world around it. I had to take some liberties, but the bones of Larkspur were all there! I try to infuse my fictional setting with my real, sensory memories as much as possible, and as a result, I hope Larkspur rings true for cozy mystery readers.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

LD: I write because I feel most like myself when I’m creating, so I think I’ll continue writing even if I stop publishing. My stories will always have happy endings because it’s my greatest hope to spread joy with my words. I believe words are powerful catalysts for hope, healing, and happiness.

Mostly, I wanted to publish for my kids. I’m a mom of five—three girls and two boys who range in age from eleven to six months old. They keep me on my toes, and it’s my goal to make sure they know that their words and their stories matter, and that they can and should pursue their dreams. For me, that’s the dream of publishing.

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

LD: This is way too difficult! Great question! The only author I know for sure I’d want to invite is Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice is my all-time favorite book. But I’d also want to meet up with some fellow cozy mystery authors and my critique partners who I’ve yet to meet in person. So let’s say Paula Charles/Janna Rollins, Sarah E. Burr, and Christina Romeril.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

LD: I just finished Public Anchovy #1 by Mindy Quigley, and I absolutely loved it. The Deep Dish series has been a recent favorite of mine. It makes my mouth water, and the mysteries are so well-plotted. Each book keeps getting better and better. I also enjoy that it’s set in a fictional version of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

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

LD: I’m a big reader. I belong to two book clubs, so I’ve always got several titles that I’m juggling. I also enjoy running, but usually only when it’s warm enough to jog outside. In my spare time, I mostly hang out with my husband and our five kids. Lately, we’ve been big into playing board games as a family. I’m tickled that the kids have taken to Clue!

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

LD: Apples (With chocolate chips and peanut butter…It’s my go-to writing snack!)

Sparkling Water (My year-round drink of choice.)

Cheese (In Wisconsin, we have a designated cheese drawer in our fridge.)

Popcorn (It’s a favorite munchie around here!)

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

LD: I am hard at work on book three in the Larkspur Library Mystery series. It’s called A Killer Hold, and it’s set to release in December. I think it’s my most fast-paced and twisty story yet! Greta and the gang are hosting the Wisconsin Library Organization’s annual conference in Larkspur, and they’re also preparing for the anniversary of the Little Bohemia Lodge shoot-out. I’ve been able to weave in some real Wisconsin history as it pertains to the Gangster Trail (think John Dillinger and Baby Face Nelson), and I’m having a blast with it. I can’t wait to share it with you.

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

LD: I love the process of creating for its own sake. But hearing from readers that my words brought them joy or helped them through a difficult time is the icing on the cake.


 Mayhem in Circulation: A Larkspur Library Mystery by Leah Dobrinska

About Mayhem in Circulation

Mayhem in Circulation: A Larkspur Library Mystery
Cozy Mystery 2nd in Series
Setting - Wisconsin
Publisher: ‎ Level Best Books (December 5, 2023)
Paperback: ‎ 262 pages

Librarian Greta Plank is hard at work planning and preparing for Larkspur’s Fall Festival and regional tourism showcase which, if successful, will be a boon to the local economy. But disaster strikes and chances of a positive review look slimmer than a periodical’s spine when a series of pranks escalates and one of Larkspur’s own is found dead the same day the reporter is set to arrive.

Desperate to defend her town’s character and get to the bottom of the circulating mayhem, Greta begins indexing suspects. Could the crimes be an outside job, undertaken by someone intent on harming the town’s reputation? Or is someone closer to home trying to ruin Larkspur from the inside?

With destruction of property, sabotage, and strange animal mishaps piling up on top of murder, Greta wouldn’t recommend this ‘choose your own (disastrous) adventure’ to anyone. In the end, she must decide who she can trust so she can close the book on these crimes before the shadowy vandal authors another kill.

About Leah Dobrinska

Leah Dobrinska is the author of the Fall In Love romcom series, the Larkspur Library Mysteries, a cozy mystery series set in the Wisconsin Northwoods, and the Mapleton novels, a series of award-winning standalone small town romances. She earned her degree in English Literature from UW-Madison where she was awarded the Dean’s Prize and served as a Writing Fellow. She has since worked as a freelance writer, editor, and content marketer. As a kid, she hoped to grow up to be either Nancy Drew or Elizabeth Bennet. Now, she fulfills that dream by writing mysteries and love stories.

A sucker for a good sentence, a happy ending, and the smell of books—both old and new—Leah lives out her very own happily ever after in a small Wisconsin town with her husband and their gaggle of kids. When she's not writing, handing out snacks, or visiting the local library, Leah enjoys reading and running. Find out more about Leah, join her newsletter community, and connect with her through her website,

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Sunday, March 24, 2024

Dying To Go - An Interview & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Marcy Blesy to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Marcy writes the Tucson Valley Retirement Community Mystery series. Dying to Go is the first book in the series.

Kathy: In Dying to Go we meet Rosi Laruee—named Rosisophia Doroche after her mother’s beloved Golden Girls. I love the Golden Girls, though I would never name my daughter Rosisophia Doroche! While I probably am most like Dorothy I think Blanche is my favorite. Who is your favorite Golden Girl?

MB: I am definitely most like Dorothy, the responsible, former teacher. I love Sophia, though. She is unapologetically real and doesn't have a filter. LOL

Kathy: In the first Tucson Valley Retirement Community Mystery Rosi finds the body of a local tart and business owner. I do enjoy a good tart, partly because you can get several in an assortment of flavors instead of just one pie! Are you a fan of tarts? What kind?

MB: LOL I am more of a cake girl with extra frosting, but if I had to choose a tart, I would choose cherry!

Kathy: Rosi meets a lot of interesting people and a Golden Retriever puppy she names Barley. I love dogs, although I only have cats at the moment. Why pick a Golden for the breed and why a puppy instead of an older dog?

MB: I am more of a cat girl, too, and my next series will feature a cat. However, I adored my old dog. She was a mutt but so sweet. I wanted Barley to be a puppy because puppies, by nature, are more apt to create funny problems for the owner. Goldens are sweet family dogs.


Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

MB: I LOVED Murder, She Wrote as a child. As an adult I tended to read thrillers, but they can be too intense for me. Cozy mysteries are the perfect solution to my interest in mysteries that don't make me keep the light on at night. I also love creating memorable characters, and cozy mystery books are often character driven.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres? 

MB: Yes! For a decade I wrote only children's books, mostly early chapter books for second-fourth grades. I was a school librarian and inspired by my elementary students.

Kathy: Tell us about your series. 

MB: The Tucson Valley Retirement Community Cozy Mystery Series is currently a five book series with more to come. Rosi visits her retired parents at their retirement community in Tucson Valley where they spend their winters away from the snow of the midwest. Her dad is having knee replacement surgery, and she is going to help. Her long marriage has recently ended, and she's become an empty nester. She needs a break, and Tucson Valley is a good excuse to get away. However, things get crazy when she discovers a dead body and becomes fully immersed in the world of a retirement community as a 39-year-old divorcee. It's funny and light-hearted with an interesting murder mystery.

The Secret of Blue Lake and The Secret of Silver Beach are part of my romance, mystery series full of heart-warming family drama.

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

MB: I love Rosi. She's been knocked down and made some poor choices herself, but she evolves and matures as she starts a new life for herself. She's also accident prone and gets into lots of silliness which makes her human.

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

MB: I describe the series as a mix between a funny Golden Girls episode and a Murder, She Wrote episode. I'm a girl of the '80s. What can I say? LOL

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

MB: I love to write and have made my passion into a job. I hope others can take my books and escape for a few hours and enjoy the time with my mystery and characters.

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

MB: I have to go old school to some of the books that made me fall in love with reading: Louisa May Alcott (Little Women), Katherine Paterson (Bridge to Terabithia), Wilson Rawls (Where the Red Fern Grows), and a current author of my favorite books when I was a school librarian, Mo Wilems. He is hilarious. Humor and tears describe my reactions to my favorite books. When a book makes me feel something, that's the best. (Except fear!)


Kathy: What are you currently reading?

MB: I am currently reading The Extraordinary Life of Same Hell by Robert Dugoni

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

MB: I like walking along Lake Michigan looking for beach glass or interesting rocks. My husband and I like to travel, and any chance we can get to spend time with our adult sons, we take it!

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

MB: Coca-cola, Ritz crackers, eggs, cereal

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

MB: Yes! Book five in the Tucson Valley Retriement Community Cozy Mystery Series comes out March 17. Book six will be out by early May. At some point, I will pivot to another series I have planned and hope to write back and forth between the two series.

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

MB: I love the feeling I get when I have passed beyond that sticky plot point and all the pieces seem to fall into place like a great puzzle. Writing is also wonderfully therapeutic.


 Dying to Go (Nothing to Gush About): A Tucson Valley Retirement Community Cozy Mystery by Marcy Blesy

About Dying To Go

Dying to Go (Nothing to Gush About): A Tucson Valley Retirement Community Cozy Mystery
Cozy Mystery 1st in Series
Setting - Arizona
Publisher: ‎ Independently Published (November 9, 2023)
Paperback: ‎ 281 pages

Thirty-nine-year-old Rosi Laruee—named Rosisophia Doroche after her mother’s beloved Golden Girls—decides that the end of her twenty-year marriage and her dad’s impending knee replacement surgery are all the excuses she needs to visit Tucson Valley Retirement Community. But the drama follows Rosi when she finds the body of local tart and business owner, Salem Mansfield. The information she discovers using her newspaper reporter sleuthing skills coupled with the clues she picks up from lackluster Police Officer Dan Daniel lead to a surprise discovery when the murderer is revealed. Along the way, she meets a cast of characters in her parents' social circle who leave her questioning her parents' choices in friends while simultaneously befriending many of the residents, including a handsome landscaper and a brand-new Golden Retriever puppy she names Barley. Rosi’s visit to Tucson Valley proves more than she’d bargained for, but maybe, she realizes, it’s just the kind of change she needs.

Laugh out loud with Rosi, and be prepared to get the happy feels along the way! Book 2 Dying For Wine (Seeing Red) Book 3 Dying For Dirt (All Soaped Up) Book 4 Dying to Build (Nailed It) Book 5 Coming Soon!

About Marcy Blesy

Marcy Blesy is the author of over thirty books including the popular cozy mystery series: The Tucson Valley Retirement Community Cozy Mystery Series. Her adult romance mystery series includes The Secret of Blue Lake and The Secret of Silver Beach, set in Michigan. Her children's books include the best-selling Be the Vet series along with the following early chapter book series: Evie and the Volunteers, Niles and Bradford, Third Grade Outsider, and Hazel, the Clinic Cat. Her picture book, Am I Like My Daddy?, helps children who experienced the loss of a parent when they were young.

Marcy enjoys searching for treasures along the shores of Lake Michigan. She's still waiting for the day when she finds a piece of red beach glass. By day she teaches creative writing virtually to amazing students around the world.

Marcy is a believer in love and enjoys nothing more than making her readers feel a book more than simply reading it.

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Friday, March 22, 2024

Kilned at the Ceramic Shop - An Interview, Review, & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Donna Clancy to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Donna writes the Braddock Mystery series. KILNED AT THE CERAMIC SHOP is the first book in the series and was released last week.

Kathy: Bestselling mystery author Tammy Wright returns to her hometown in KILNED AT THE CERAMIC SHOP. Why made your protagonist an author?

DC: I made Tammy a mystery author because I believed it would give her a leg up in solving mysteries. Besides, I enjoy being an author and creating stories so what better occupation to give my main character.

Kathy: Tammy has returned to help her aunt run her ceramic shop during the busy tourist season. I teach ceramics to my patients at work. We don't have a wheel, but rather pour slip into molds. Do you make ceramics?

DC: Back pre-children, I ran the ceramic shop for The Otis Air Force Base. And then, later, when the base closed, I worked at the Brewster Ceramic Shop giving classes and coordinating shows for the students to sell their pieces. I haven’t done any ceramics in many years but still have many of the pieces I did back then and they decorate my house on the holidays.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

DC: When I was eight years old, I read my first Nancy Drew book. I was hooked on the mystery without the gore. I also lived up in the sticks of Maine for nine years and liked the small-town vibe and the people who lived there. You can find so many different characters who have been there their whole lives. I also am an animal fanatic and like the fact that many cozies include cats and dogs.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

DC: I do. When time permits, I self-release a new Christmas Romance each year. I also love to read and write thriller/suspense and also have written in the YA genre, but most of my books are in the cozy genre.

Kathy: Tell us about your series. 

DC: I have signed a seven-book deal with Level Best Books for The Braddock Mysteries series. Tammy, an author returns to her hometown in Braddock, Maine and finds one mystery after another to solve.

Summer Prescott Books Publishing publishes two other cozy series of mine, Trash to Treasure Mysteries and a new one, Paint and Sip Mysteries. Trash to Treasure sees Sage Fletcher, flipping furniture and other items in between finding herself involved in mysteries. Paint and Sip centers on two retired art teachers, Jannelle and Anita, who open a business that offers wine tasting while creating art pieces.

I also have two self-published cozy series. The Shipwreck Café Mysteries feature a handsome male protagonist, Jay Hallett, who has purchased a lighthouse and surrounding buildings to turn into a café. Throw in a lighthouse keeper’s ghost and it’s great mysteries on Anchor Point. The Jelly Shop Mysteries, feature Tabby, who inherits her gran’s jelly recipes and turns it into a business. She has a nose for trouble and her mother insists she is a magnet for dead bodies.

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

DC: I do. Gladys Twittle will always be my favorite out of all the characters I have written. In the Jelly Shop Mysteries, she is the town busybody, the town gossip, and if trouble is around you can be sure Gladys is right in the middle of it. She dyes her hair to match the big, bright flowered dresses she will be wearing. She can’t stand Tabby and cause most of Tabby’s problems around town. She is the character you love to hate.

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

DC: I don’t have one specific inspiration. I write what catches my attention at the time although I am partial to Maine and Cape Cod as settings.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

DC: I told my mom way back when I was eight years old that someday I would be an author like Carolyn Keene. In 2011, I started to self-publish my works but always had that yearning to be traditionally published. I signed with a terrific agent, Cindy Bullard, at Birch Literary, and now my first traditionally published book, Kilned at the Ceramic Shop, has been released. I’m now sixty-five years old. Lesson here: don’t ever give up on your dreams.

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

DC: I think the first author would be Stephen King. I used to love his books but they have become gory and dark. I would like to ask him why he changed his style of writing. The second would be Misty Simon, She seems like such a fun person to be around and I’m sure she would liven up the dinner party. Next would be Edgar Allen Poe. I would like to pick his brain and see where the stories came from that he wrote. And finally, it would be a toss-up between Ami Brunni or Adam Berry. They both deal with spirits and the afterlife which fascinates me.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

DC: I am currently reading LOST LIKE ME by Ivanka Fear. It is a new release, the second in her series, and it is excellent.

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

DC: I have many hobbies. My favorite pastime is painting but I also love various other crafts. I dabble in cooking and trying new recipes, but my daughter, Meghan, is a much better cook than I am. For about twenty years I was a wedding planner but gave that up as the brides and families became more demanding. I also love floral arranging as I worked at a florist for eight years and did a lot of their designing and many of my bride’s wedding flowers.

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

DC: I always have PopTarts, Campbells tomato soup, saltine crackers, and root beer. I have to have my daily bottle of A&W root beer while I am writing.

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

DC: KILNED is the first of seven cozies signed by Level Best. I have twenty-two books laid out for all my different series and two new series that haven’t been started yet.

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

DC: I love being able to work at home. My health isn’t what it used to be and I enjoy staying at home with my rescue Papillon, Zumiez, who is fourteen years old and no spring chicken either. It also make me extremely happy when people enjoy my stories. Many hours go into my writing and when it makes people smile and takes them away for the short time they are reading them, I can’t ask for more than that.



The First Braddock Mystery 

Bestselling author Tammy Wright has returned to Braddock, Maine to help her Aunt Clara. It's tourist season and lifting the heavy slip and molds as well as keeping up with customers is getting to be a bit much. Her imagined boring summer at the ceramic shop becomes anything but when Tammy learns her aunt is being pressured to sell her store. After encouraging her aunt not to give in Tammy makes a grim discovery. Their delivery person has been killed and left in Idle Chat and when Clara still refuses to sell she disappears. Now Tammy will move heaven and earth to find her aunt and restore Braddock to the peaceful neighborly town it once was.

I really enjoyed getting to know the people in Braddock. Tammy is smart, self reliant, and doesn't back down from a fight. She's resilient and no matter the problems, and there are some major ones in the first Braddock Mystery, she comes at them head on. Aunt Clara, though missing for a good chunk of the book, is a strong presence, one who doesn't suffer fools gladly. Zeke is a perfect romantic interest, as everyone can see, and a great friend. There are many great well as some horrible bullies and nasties.

The mystery was well plotted with intricate sub mysteries and shocking events set so that interest never flagged. I appreciated how people worked together, not only to solve the crimes, but to help one another as well. Plenty of funny moments are interspersed with serious scenes. I still chuckle at Mabel and her shotgun.

A compelling mystery, a touch of romance, and the love of family and friends make KILNED AT THE CERAMIC SHOP a wonderful start to a new series. I look forward to spending more time in Braddock!


 Kilned at the Ceramic Shop: A Braddock Mystery by Donna Clancy

About Kilned at The Ceramic Shop

Kilned at the Ceramic Shop: A Braddock Mystery
Cozy Mystery 1st in Series
Setting - Maine
Publisher: ‎ Level Best Books (March 12, 2024)
Print length: ‎ 234 pages

Tammy Wright, a bestselling mystery author returns to her hometown to give her Aunt Clara a hand with running her ceramic shop during tourist season. She discovers that two vindictive realtors have been bullying her aunt and others into selling their properties to make room for new housing developments. Those who don’t comply pay the consequences.

Tammy stumbles upon a body, and when her aunt refuses to give in to either realtor she disappears without a trace. With the help of an old schoolmate turned policeman, the writer must step out from behind her computer screen and her fictional mysteries to confront real life crime. If she doesn’t, she may never see her aunt again.

About Donna Clancy

Donna Clancy lives on Cape Cod. She has three grown children and one rescue Papillion named Zumiez. She has a seven-book deal with Level Best Books for The Braddock Mysteries, writes The Trash to Treasure and Paint and Sip cozy series’ for Summer Prescott Books Publishing as well as self-publishing The Shipwreck Cafe and Jelly Shop Mysteries. She loves to write in various genres including suspense, thriller, romance, and YA.

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Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Currently Reading...

I just finished reading Kilned at the Ceramic Shop by Donna Clancy. This is the first book in the Braddock Mystery series and was released last week. 

Bestselling author Tammy Wright has returned to Braddock, Maine to help her Aunt Clara. It's tourist season and lifting the heavy slip and molds as well as keeping up with customers is getting to be a bit much. Her imagined boring summer becomes anything but when Tammy learns her aunt is being pressured to sell her store. After encouraging her aunt not to give in Tammy makes a grim discovery. Their delivery person has been killed and left in Idle Chat and when Clara still refuses to sell she disappears. Now Tammy will move heaven and earth to find her aunt and restore Braddock to the peaceful neighborly town it once was.

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Call of the Void - A Guest Post Interview

I'm pleased to welcome Jeremy Siemens back to Cozy Up With Kathy. Jeremy writes the Sloane Donovan Mystery series. CALL OF THE VOID is the second book in the series and was released earlier this month.

Q: In TO THOSE WHO KILLED ME we met Sloane Donovan, an ex-cop struggling with mental illness as she delves into the circumstances surrounding her friend’s murder. Tell us something about the sequel, CALL OF THE VOID.

A: This novel takes place roughly six months following the events of TO THOSE WHO KILLED ME. Sloane had a rough go in that first book, and while the physical damage may be healing, the psychological scars are still very fresh. She is now working as a full-fledged private investigator with her partner, Wayne Capson, and against his wishes, she takes on the case of Emily Pike, a girl who has been missing for seven years. The case takes leads them into far deeper and darker territory than they anticipated, involving organized crime and women who have been missing for up to forty years.

Q: What’s the significance of the title?

A: CALL OF THE VOID refers to a psychological phenomenon that many people have experienced at one time or another, usually involving something like an unnerving and sudden thought to step over the edge of a cliff or veer into the path of an oncoming car. The impulse seems to come out of nowhere, and though it is not the same as suicidal ideation, it can feel quite troubling to the person experiencing it. One of the characters is a young woman who managed to escape abduction and conveys how these urges have continued to haunt her since the event. Since Sloane’s impulses often pull her toward dangerous situations, this is something she can relate to.

Q: What drew you to this story?

A: Certain crimes really get under my skin, enough so that I feel compelled to write about them. The first novel dealt with the teenage sex trade and human trafficking, and this one deals with young women going missing, just vanishing from the face of the earth. Most people don’t really want to think about what happens to them, and I can only imagine how traumatic and gut-wrenching their disappearances are for the families. Often those cases eventually go cold, and parents will exhaust their savings, hiring investigators to attempt to locate their missing children. Most of the cases end in futility and financial ruin. Reports from investigators and cops alike often say how this type of unsolved case haunts them for the rest of their careers, even into retirement. It would haunt me, too, and it certainly does Sloane, whose obsessive tendencies will allow her to stop at nothing in her quest to discover what happened to Emily Pike.

Q: How did writing the sequel differ from writing the first book?

A: CALL OF THE VOID was written before the first book was published. In fact, the first book had received so many rejections I was beginning to think it was a lost cause and was ready to move onto something new. Since some of the main characters were already living in my head, and I had what I believed to be a solid story idea, I just ran with it, and I believe the enthusiasm to be working on something fresh translated into the fast-paced energy of the story. Another change in the second book is that Sloane is now a licensed P.I., which legitimizes her and realistically broadens the scope of what she is able to do to solve cases.

Q: What is your research process like?

A: Before embarking on the first draft, I try to front-load as much research as possible, otherwise it’s too easy to procrastinate with a never-ending need to look things up. For me, a big part of research means physically going to places where the story is to be set. Once there, I try to absorb as much of the surroundings as possible, as well as take photos and notes. Whenever possible, I like to talk to people and ask questions that pertain to details of the story I want to get right. I do online research, which is also helpful, but to me there’s nothing that compares to boots-on-the-ground kind of learning. It takes more work, but I think it’s good for us writer-types to get away from the screen and out of our comfort zones.

Q: Which authors have been your biggest influences?

A: Michael Connelly, Don Winslow, Tana French, George Pelecanos, Dennis Lehane, and Jo Nesbo. There are many others as well, but those are the authors that resonate most deeply with me. These are exciting, dynamic authors who tell a great story, but also have something to say about the world around them. They also represent the level of excellence that I’m aiming for as a writer. I have a long way to go, but the desire to steadily improve at my craft is a huge motivator and fires me up like nothing else.




Sunday, March 17, 2024

Murder in the Tea Leaves - A Review & Giveaway


The Twenty-Seventh Tea Shop Mystery 

The movies have come to Charleston, South Carolina and Theodosia Browning, owner of the Indigo Tea Shop, has landed the sweet gig of providing craft services. Josh Morro, the film's director, is disgusted with the actors and the script and Theo soon finds herself on set as a tea leaf reader! The scene is running smoothly until there's a hiss, crack, and sparks, resulting in a dead director. Who had it in for Josh? The scriptwriter he accused of plagiarism?  The new director who was so conveniently available? The electrician with a debt? Even Delaine Dish is a suspect. When Theo finds a member of the Charleston Film Board murdered she's determined to dig even deeper until she finds a killer and justice is served.

Making movies can be murder, as Theodosia Browning discovers in the twenty-seventh Tea Shop Mystery. Theo is at it again, running her tea shop, creating new and inventive tea parties, expanding her catering business, helping friends, and solving murders! I don't know how she manages to cram so much activity into a day. I thoroughly enjoy the tea events and the description of the teas and food, plus the fact that recipes and tips are included at the end of the book. 

In MURDER IN THE TEA LEAVES we also get involved in movie making. I enjoyed the realistic portrayal of the filming of Dark Fortunes and the harsh reality of production. As for the mystery, I loved the misdirection and how everything finally came together. As usual there were fast paced, pulse pounding scenes making the book a quick read. There were also times I shook my head at Theo is disbelief. Why not report the attack to the police? It's not like you were in a restricted place. And the whole breaking into places to snoop. Ugh. 

Cozy teas and thrilling action combine in MURDER IN THE TEA LEAVES making a fun addition to this long running series.


 Murder in the Tea Leaves (A Tea Shop Mystery) by Laura Childs

About Murder in the Tea Leaves

Murder in the Tea Leaves (A Tea Shop Mystery)
Cozy Mystery 27th in Series
Setting - South Carolina
Publisher: ‎ Berkley (March 5, 2024)
Hardcover: ‎ 304 pages

It’s Lights, Action, Murder as tea maven Theodosia Browning scrambles for clues in this latest installment of the New York Times bestselling series.

When Theodosia Browning reads the tea leaves on the set of the movie, Dark Fortunes, things go from spooky to worse. Lights are dimmed, the camera rolls, and red hot sparks fly as the film’s director is murdered in a tricky electrical accident.

Or was it an accident? Though the cast and crew are stunned beyond belief, nobody admits to seeing a thing. And when Theodosia’s friend, Delaine, becomes the prime suspect, Theodosia begins her own shadow investigation. But who among this Hollywood cast and crew had murder on their mind? The screenwriter is a self-centered pot head, the leading actress is trying to wiggle out of her contract, the brand new director seems indifferent, and nobody trusts the slippery-when-dry Hollywood agent.

Between hosting a Breakfast at Tiffany’s Tea, a Poetry Tea, and trying to launch her own chocolate line, Theodosia doggedly hunts down clues and explores the seemingly haunted Brittlebank Manor where the murder took place. And just when she’s ready to pounce, a Charleston Film Board member is also murdered, throwing everything into total disarray. But this clever killer will go to any lengths to hide his misdeeds as Theodosia soon finds out when she and her tea sommelier, Drayton, get caught up in a dangerous stakeout.


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 takes 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  

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