Friday, April 19, 2024

Deadly Gamble - A Review & Giveaway


DEADLY GAMBLE by Kate Parker
The Eleventh Deadly Mystery 

In 1941 Portugal is a neutral country and Lisbon a glittering city filled with both English and German businessmen and spies of various nationalities. One double agent is willing to give important information to England, but demands that his contact be a married woman. And so Olivia Redmond heads to Lisbon, in service to the spymaster once more. While it's nice to be free of nightly bombings, Livvy faces several other problems. Before she can meet with her contact he falls to his death. A search of his apartment doesn't lead to the documents, but rather the discovery of his young daughter. Livvy has to deal with annoying spies, dangerous Germans, and her own feelings as she cares for the little girl. Will Livvy be able to finish her mission, find the girl's relatives, and go home, or will Portuguese authorities put her in jail for murder?

With only a brief appearance by Sir Malcolm, the other principal characters in the series are absent from the eleventh Deadly Mystery. While I missed her interactions with Adam, as well as seeing her other friends, their absence truly gave Olivia a chance to shine on her own. And shine she did. I enjoyed how Livvy put her male counterparts in their place...and had plenty to say to certain Germans as well. DEADLY GAMBLE shows just how strong, and fierce, Livvy can be while it also shows her thought process regarding what she really wants from life.  

One of the things I like best about this series is learning new things. I never realized that Portugal was neutral during World War Two. I also love the characters, the danger, excitement, and humor found here. The plot and the historic details brought the story to life and had me completely captivated. 

DEADLY GAMBLE is a riveting story of spies and intrigue in a city trying to hold on to its luster.


 Deadly Gamble: A World War II Mystery by Kate Parker

About Deadly Gamble

Deadly Gamble: A World War II Mystery
Historical Cozy Mystery 11th in Series
Setting - Lisbon, Portugal in 1941
Publisher: ‎ JDP Press (April 16, 2024)
Print length: ‎ 255 pages

In 1940s Portugal, everyone is willing to trade secrets if the price is right.

Britain stands alone against the forces of Nazi Germany. Livvy Redmond is a young newspaperwoman determined to serve Britain’s spymaster in the face of danger. When she arrives in neutral Lisbon, she discovers a city full of spies, refugees, and the secret police.

At an elegant party to meet a double agent, Livvy witnesses him fall to his death from a balcony and must now determine what secrets he wanted to pass her. Further complicating matters, she must guard the man’s young daughter from sinister people trying to kidnap the girl.

Gambling on the assistance of British embassy staff, Livvy commits to uncovering the truth while keeping the orphan safe. With spies and traitors lurking around every corner, Livvy must race against time to learn the secret someone has already killed to keep hidden – and is willing to murder again to protect.

Deadly Gamble is the exciting eleventh book in the World War II mystery Deadly Series. If you like intrepid heroines, research-based history and clean reads, then you’ll love USA Today Bestselling Author Kate Parker’s page-turning mystery.

About Kate Parker

Kate Parker grew up inside the Beltway, when DC was a sleepy southern city and you could walk along the sidewalk directly in front of the White House. Now you can’t get within a block of the White House, and it takes Foggy Bottom and the Pentagon to house even part of what the Old State, War and Navy building held. All this fed Kate’s love of history. With retirement, Kate moved to North Carolina and took up writing historical mysteries. Now with a career spanning over a decade, Kate is a USA Today bestselling author and the Deadly Series is her longest-running series. She lives with her daughter and a 110-pound puppy.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading A Twinkle of Trouble by Daryl Wood Gerber. This book is the fifth in the Fairy Garden Mystery series and will be released next week.

Although they have a collective interest in gardening Courtney Kelly's new friends are a contentious bunch. Genevieve, a self styled influencer, has recently been panning businesses and people alike. She's even taken to bad mouthing Carmel-by-the-Sea's upcoming Summer Blooms Festival. Is it just sour grapes for not being invited to participate? Before Courtney can try to smooth things over with Genevieve, the influencer is found dead, murdered. When another in her circle becomes the prime suspect Courtney can't help but get involved.With her fairy friend Fiona by her side Courtney will dig deep to get the dirt on her new friends and find out just who's capable of murder!

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

A Midnight Puzzle - A Review


The Third Secret Staircase Mystery
Tempest Raj survived the loss of her career as a stage magician and has discovered that she's happy with her new life, creating architectural magic with her dad and his Secret Staircase Construction Company. But all they've worked for could come crashing down when a client decides not only to sue the company, but utterly destroy them. When that same client is found dead, impaled by a booby trapped door, suspicion falls, not only on Tempest, but the ghost of her mother! Tempest will have to solve more than one impossible crime lest her whole world go up in smoke.
There's nothing I hate more than a bully and Julian Rhodes was that and more. Earning his money by making up lies in order to crush people and winning, not because he was right, but because he had more money. The whole idea had my stomach in knots! I certainly wasn't sad to see him murdered, but I was sad to see that his death didn't make things easier for Tempest and her family.

I love the intellectual gymnastics A MIDNIGHT PUZZLE provides. Readers try to solve the impossible crimes along with Tempest while also trying to puzzle out her mother's disappearance and her aunt's murder. It was fascinating to see things come together, with unexpected connections and more than one surprise. 
As the Secret Staircase Mystery series continues, its characters make more of an impact, leaving a stronger impression. The more I get to know Tempest and her family, the more I like them. Of course, Grandpa Ash is my favorite...I only wish I could taste his amazing food. (Recipes are included, but I'd rather have him cook and share with me!) I also love the oh so smart rabbit, Abra.
With numerous conundrums A MIDNIGHT PUZZLE gives readers' minds a definite workout while providing love and sustenance from family and friends.

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Peril in Pink - An Interview & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Sydney Leigh to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Sydney writes the Hudson Valley B&B Mystery series. Peril in Pink is the first book in the series and was released last month.

Kathy: In Peril in Pink we meet Jess Byrne, owner of The Pearl B&B in Hudson Valley. Have you ever wanted to own a B&B?

SL: I’m not the best cook so not a B&B, but a small boutique motel? Absolutely!

Kathy: For The Pearl's grand opening Jess has arranged for her ex-boyfriend, a reality singing sensation, to perform. Have you ever worked with an ex?

SL: In high school I worked with an ex-boyfriend at a restaurant. It started out a little rocky but we managed to sort things out and develop a friendship after a while.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

SL: The punny titles. I’ve always loved mysteries but when I started to notice the hilarious titles that cozies often have, I was sold.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

SL: No, I love to sprinkle in a little romance but I love the whodunnit factor that mysteries have in them.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

SL: The Hudson Valley B&B Mystery series is a modern take on a classic genre. It’s set at a B&B and follows the lives and deaths of the people of Fletcher Lake in the Hudson Valley, in particular Jess Byrne and her best friend/business partner, Kat Miller. It’s been describe as Schitt’s Creek meets Only Murders in the Building.

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

SL: I really like Aunt Marnie. She’s Jess’s aunt and a former deadhead who followed around the Grateful Dead for years. Still a free spirit, she adds humor and heart to the book.


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

SL: There is a show on Netflix called Motel Makeover about two women who gave up their corporate careers to buy an old fishing lodge and turn it into a modern motel. It had me from the first episode and I knew it was the perfect setting for my mystery series.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

SL: I’ve always dreamed of seeing my books in bookstores and sharing my stories with readers. It’s a dream come true.

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

SL: Ohhh, tough question. 1. Jane Austen 2. Agatha Christie 3. Hannah Mary McKinnon 4. Emily Henry

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

SL: Book Lovers, Emily Henry

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

SL: Aside from spending time with friends and family, I love to read, watch movies, and plot books while doing jigsaw puzzles.

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

SL: Coffee, tea, fruit, and cheese.


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

SL: I’m working on the second book in the Hudson Valley B&B series. I also have a brand new series publishing with Level Best Books coming out in June.

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

SL: Creating characters and sharing stories.


 Peril in Pink (Hudson Valley B&B Mysteries) by Sydney Leigh

About Peril in Pink

Peril in Pink (Hudson Valley B&B Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery 1st in Series
Setting - Hudson Valley, New York
Publisher: ‎ Crooked Lane Books (March 19, 2024)
Hardcover: ‎ 304 pages

Everything is coming up rosé for innkeeper Jess Byrne until a murder on opening weekend gives her B&B’s killer vibe a whole new meaning.

Schitt’s Creek meets Only Murders in the Building in this sparkling debut mystery.

It’s the grand opening of The Pearl B&B in Hudson Valley, and owner Jess Byrne has prepared the ultimate, Insta-worthy welcome, complete with her ex-boyfriend—reality singing sensation Lars Armstrong—performing live. As guests check in and mimosas are poured, Lars arrives with his stepdad-turned-manager Bob in tow. But things go south when Bob is found dead, and Lars is the prime suspect.

After a desperate plea from Lars, and knowing the reputation of her B&B is at stake, Jess agrees to help clear Lars’ name, but the more she digs, the less sure she is that he’s innocent. Especially when he’s found at the scene of another murder.

With the guests under lockdown, the B&B in the press for all the wrong reasons, and a killer on the loose, Jess is in over her head. With the help of her best friend and business partner Kat, Jess is determined to uncover the truth before Lars is put behind bars and The Pearl is permanently cancelled.

About Sydney Leigh

Sydney Leigh spent several years running a seasonal business, working in the summer so she could spend cold months in cool places. Now she writes modern cozy mysteries and thinks about murder. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, and served on the board of Crime Writers of Canada from 2018-2021.

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Friday, April 12, 2024

The Sulpher Springs Cure - An Interview & Review

I'm pleased to welcome Jeffrey Round to Cozy Up With Kathy today. THE SULPHUR SPRINGS CURE is his latest book and it was released last month.

Kathy: THE SULPHUR SPRING CURE encompasses two different time periods: 1939 when Violet first arrived at the Sulphur Springs Hotel and 2009 when she returns. Was one time period easier to write than the other? Was one more enjoyable to immerse yourself in?

JR: Of the two time periods, 2009 was sometimes the harder to write because of the rapid advances in technology in this century. For instance, I had to remind myself that Facebook was then a relatively new invention and therefore something Violet (my protagonist) could legitimately claim not to know about when her niece, Claire, first mentions it. As well, I had to recall what was entailed in airport security clearances at the time. The scene where Violet’s hip replacement pin sets off the scanner is one I lived through when my mother and I travelled to Nova Scotia, just a few years later than when it occurs in the book.

The chapters set in 1939 were a joy to create. It’s this sort of writing that sets my imagination on fire because I can really invent. In an effort to be factual, however, many of the details were taken from real life, either from photographs taken at the time or actual objects now in my possession. The Marconi radio mentioned in chapter 20, for instance, was a model introduced in 1939. One of these was purchased by my mother’s family, who at the time lived in Noel Shore, Nova Scotia. It now resides in my home in Toronto. The Victrola Enid Browne plays so reverently each night after dinner was similar to one owned by my family when I was a child. Although LP records were the norm by then, I used to enjoy going through a box of 78 RPMs and playing those.

Kathy: Violet and her parents originally came to the hotel for the waters’ restorative properties. Many places through the centuries have touted healing waters. Have you ever availed yourself of any?

JR: Good question. I am recently back from a trip to the La Fortuna region in Costa Rica. During a three-week period, I visited three different thermal springs, the waters of which are heated by the Arenal volcano. And yes — I am sold on their restorative qualities!

Kathy: What first drew you to mysteries?

JR: My friends, the Hardy brothers, Frank and Joe. We were best buddies from the time I was ten to around the age of twelve.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

JR: I like to say that each book is its own genre and try not to force books into categories. I am also a playwright, poet and songwriter. I think it’s more interesting to explore a story in whatever way it wants to unfold and then let people tell me what they see or hear in each work.

Kathy: Tell us about your series. 

JR: Violet McPherson is not yet a series, as this is her debut story. She is eighty-four when the story opens, and is clearly haunted by something that happened when she was fourteen. I explore her story in both timelines. I have sketched out a sequel, but one with an independent storyline that takes place on a vacation resort in Havana. We will see where it leads.

I have two other characters who can legitimately claim to be in a series — one is four books in total, to date, while the other is seven. The Bradford Fairfax mystery series is a sort of cozy, because there are always murders to be solved, although Bradford himself is a secret agent. These books are comedies. Again, there is that crossing of genres that makes them hard to define. The second is the Dan Sharp series, for which I won a Lambda Award. These are more hard-hitting and closer to what a noir mystery series entails.

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

JR: Strangely — or perhaps not — I don’t have a favourite character. Or, rather, my favourite happens to be the one I’m writing at the time.

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

JR: Generally, they involve travel. THE SULPHUR SPRINGS CURE started as the result of a day trip to the ruins of the former Sulphur Springs Hotel in Dundas Valley, near Ancaster ON. As I walked along, I felt as though the grounds were talking to me. I stopped to listen to what they had to say, and this book was the result.

The first Bradford Fairfax book, THE P-TOWN MURDERS, came about as the result of a vacation to Provincetown, MA. While there I came across many quirky, real-life characters who I felt deserved to be in a book. So I put them in one.

The first Dan Sharp book, LAKE ON THE MOUNTAIN, came about as the result of a sailing trip. While passing through the Bay of Quinte in Prince Edward County, I looked up at the ridge of a promontory and felt a shiver when I was told it was called Lake On The Mountain. When I returned home I began to research the area.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

JR: THE SULPHUR SPRING CURE had been sitting on my desktop for a while when I got a message from Cormorant’s publisher, Marc Côté, asking if I had anything along the lines of the Bradford Fairfax books. I hadn’t, but it put me in mind of this book and I offered it to him instead. It was Marc’s suggestion that I focus a bit more on the book’s literary qualities that gave me the final push to polish it.

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

JR: Shakespeare would be first on the list. I recall saying this while on a panel of mystery writers and being labelled pretentious as a result. But who better to discuss murder, mayhem, and devious characters? I would also love to talk with John Le Carré, whose books enthral me even when I want to chide him for writing so many awkward sentences. Of living authors, I would invite Kate Atkinson, with whom I once had dinner and found her personality to be sparkling, and Pat Barker, author of the extraordinary “Ghost Road Trilogy.” They would all give good lip.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

JR: This question would take up a lot of space, since I can take years to complete a book, but I’ll give you the short list:

1: AS YOU LIKE IT by William Shakespeare — the first of his plays that comes fully alive for me

2: INSOMNIA by Stephen King — dreadfully overwritten, but the characters are compelling

3: PROUST'S DUCHESS by Caroline Weber — an impressively researched book about the women on whom Proust based his Duchesse de Guermantes

4. THREE-WAY RENEGADE by Keith Garebian — poems about the early gay activist Samuel Steward

5: THE FOURTH COURIER by Timothy Jay Smith — a political thriller I discovered through an on-line podcast hosted by author Brad Shreve

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

JR: I had to pause to think. I don’t have hobbies because I take everything too seriously. It’s all or nothing. I am a nature lover and gardener, however. Does that count?

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

JR: I am stuck on the Cs: cheese, chocolate, chillies and cilantro are mainstays. Perhaps I should add cooking — another C word — to my list of hobbies.

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

JR: The Dan Sharp series is probably complete at seven books. I have four more volumes sketched out in the Bradford Fairfax series. As for Violet, she will let me know when she wants to pay another visit. She is always welcome.

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

JR: Good reviews! Not for the ego boost, but as an affirmation that I am doing my job as a writer. It’s a nagging feeling most of us get. Also, I love hearing from people about my books. It doesn’t happen often enough. It doesn’t always have to be a compliment. I learn from people’s reactions. In fact, I have probably learned more from well thought-out criticism than outright praise. I think writers need to stay in touch with what informed readers are saying. 


For more information click here!



By Jeffrey Round 
Violet McAdams knows she's coming to the end of her life. Her husband dead, her body slowing, she's preparing to sell her house and move into a home for seniors. But memories are bothering her, the dead reminding her of her past and the secret she kept from that time seventy years ago. The time spend at the Sulphur Springs Hotel. The time she was involved in murder. With the dead becoming more insistent she decides to take one last trip. Accompanied by her youngest niece Violet heads back to Dundas, Ontario to discover the truth once and for all.
Part mystery, part coming of age story THE SULPHUR SPRINGS CURE is a unique and beguiling book. I appreciated the melding of the two time periods, the more recent past of 2009 and that of 1939. The historical part of the novel was fascinating with references to the upcoming war and compelling details of life at the Sulphur Springs Hotel. Invalids who nevertheless dressed for dinner, nightly dancing, the fact that personal time pieces weren't allowed, as well as the freedom given to the young girls all added to the ambiance and made it seem as if you were actually there, smelling the sulphur in the air, feeling the heat of the summer, and witnessing a girl growing up.
I really like Violet. She's a precocious youth and a headstrong senior. She knows her own mind and isn't afraid to speak it. Yet she's also naive and somewhat vulnerable. I enjoyed seeing Violet as both a fourteen year old and an elderly woman, how she's changed and adapted as well as how much she remained the same.

The author's use of foreshadowing lent a heaviness, a quietly oppressive atmosphere to the time spent in 1939. Knowing that before long something very wrong would happen, but not knowing exactly what kept me enthralled. So many mysteries, what was actually wrong with Violet's mother, what was Willoughby up to, and more. I was also captivated by the way the eighty-four year old determined the truth of what happened that fateful summer. It's interesting to note the use of tenses chosen by the author, with the modern section written in the present tense. I'm not a fan of present tense, but it did provide a notable change from Violet's past.

With wry humor and a distinct sense of time and place THE SULPHUR SPRINGS CURE is not only a mystery, but an intriguing story of a woman's search for truth and redemption.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading The Sulphur Springs Cure by Jeffrey Round. 

Violet McAdams knows she's coming to the end of her life. Her husband dead, her body slowing, she's preparing to sell her house and move into a home for seniors. But memories are bothering her, the dead reminding her of her past and the secret she kept from that time seventy years ago. The time spend at the Sulphur Springs Hotel. The time she was involved in murder. With the dead becoming more insistent she decides to take one last trip. Accompanied by her youngest niece Violet heads back to Dundas, Ontario to discover the truth once and for all.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

The Jammed Judges - An Interview & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome D. S. Lang to Cozy Up With Kathy today. D. S. writes the Doro Banyon Historical Mystery series. The Jammed Judges is the third book in the series and was released last week.

Kathy: The Doro Banyon Historical Mystery series is set in 1920s Ohio. Why did you choose this location and era for your series?

DSL: The town in the series, Michaw, is based on my dad’s birthplace. It disappeared from the maps many years ago, and it is now part of a large community: Sylvania Township. I live in (and love) the area and make my home in the City of Sylvania. The era fascinates me because life changed dramatically during the Roaring Twenties. Prohibition went into effect in 1919, and women got the vote in 1920. The latter also affected women’s roles, which is an underlying theme in the series. Doro is a college librarian, and she’s confronted with more than one dilemma in regard to being a female. She and the campus security officer work together and share ownership of a stray puppy, but Doro hesitates to get further involved with him. Married women are not employed at her college, or at many other places.

Kathy: Historical mysteries require an extra special brand of research. What's your favorite method to research this time period?

DSL: The internet has great resources, so it is easy to research slang, dress, automobiles, customs, and household matters there. I also like to use books from the era, when I can find them. One is a 1920s cookbook from General Electric. It touts recipes for their new electric refrigerator. There are a lot of gelatins!

Kathy: In The Jammed Judges two judges fall ill after eating extra portions of a jam roll at the town's May Day celebration. Do you enjoy baking? Or are you more apt to enjoy others efforts, perhaps even indulging in extra portions yourself?

DSL: I used to bake a lot. It’s a fun hobby. I can’t wait to make the shortbread in my current book. The recipe is a genuine Scots one, shared by a friend.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

DSL: I enjoy whodunits without graphic violence, obscenity, or profanity. Cozies provide intriguing puzzles, interesting characters, and fun settings. They make nice escapes.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

DSL: No, I don’t.

Kathy: Tell us about your series. 

DSL: Both of my series are a blend of history and mystery. My Arabella Stewart series, set in Ohio near Lake Erie right after the Great War, features a female sleuth just back from serving as a United States Army Signal Corps operator. The town constable, her childhood friend and girlhood crush, served as a lieutenant with the American Expeditionary Force. The two of them are at odds over her sleuthing and his refusal to talk about her brother, who died in the war. Through the eight-book series, they work out their difference and solve many crimes.

The Doro series is cozier and features some fun old-fashioned events in the books. The Jammed Judges takes place during the town’s May Days festival, so I got to include a cakewalk, May baskets, and a picnic basket auction.

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

DSL: Mac from my series is a favorite of mine. He is Bella’s partner and honorary grandfather. He’s a golf pro, originally from Scotland.

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

DSL: Imagining what life was like 100 years ago, especially in small towns, interests me. Creating a town, loosely based on one that existed, gives me a chance to travel back to a fascinating decade in America.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

DSL: I’m always looking for historical cozies, and I know others are, too.

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

DSL: Helen MacInnes, who wrote wonderful suspense novels.

Isak Dineson. I loved Out of Africa.

Phyllis Whitney, who also wrote great suspense novels.

Harper Lee, I’d like to know more about the book that published she died.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

DSL: I am reading Sisters of the Rising Sun, which is based on a true story. The women are prisoners of the Japanese during World War II. It’s heart-wrenching.

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

DSL: I grew up playing golf, but don’t play anymore. I enjoy swimming and walking my dogs. Of course, I read a lot!

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

DSL: Yogurt, hummus, grated cheese, and braunschweiger (for dog pill pockets!)

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

DSL: The next book in Doro’s series will be out in late summer.

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

DSL: I love making up stories. Like Doro, I have a vivid imagination.


 The Jammed Judges: Doro Banyon Historical Mysteries by D.S. Lang

About The Jammed Judges

The Jammed Judges: Doro Banyon Historical Mysteries
Historical Cozy Mystery 3rd in Series
Setting - Ohio
Publisher: ‎ Debra Sue Lang (April 2, 2024)
Number of Pages - Approx. 310

Journey back to the Roaring Twenties in small-town America and join Doro Banyon, college librarian and armchair detective, as she confronts another mystery.

Spring in the air, and Doro is looking forward to her hometown’s May Day celebration. When her friend Aggie wins the baking contest, their celebration is short-lived because the two local lawmen—judges for the competition—fall ill after consuming extra portions of Aggie’s jam roll. Rumors run rampant, especially when the town doctor pinpoints the cause as arsenic poisoning.

With the constabulary down for the count, the two friends must unravel the mystery. As they study possibilities, Doro and Aggie find plenty of dangling threads and likely suspects. Is someone trying to make Aggie look bad or get even with her? Or do area bootleggers want the police out of their way while a big load of illegal liquor is transported through the area? Doro resolves to crack the case before more trouble hits town.

About D.S. Lang

D.S. Lang is a former teacher, tutor, mentor, and program manager. As an only child, she often created stories to entertain herself when she didn’t have her nose in a book. She is still making up stories, but now she puts them in writing.

She writes historical mysteries set in small-town America during the Roaring Twenties. Her books feature women amateur sleuths dedicated to solving crimes, along with a team of colorful characters—often including a local lawman.

Author Links




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Monday, April 8, 2024

Luck of the Irish - A Review


Edited by Kate Darroch and Jessica Thompson

LUCK OF THE IRISH is an anthology comprised of ten short stories all with the theme of St. Patrick's Day and luck. The stories are varied; two are historical, Gilded Age and 1960s, and all have different locales including Tennessee and outer space! All of the proceeds of this anthology go to the non-profit who help immigrant, refugee, and asylum seeking families, especially the children.

With such a diverse group of stories, it's only logical that some I liked and some I didn't care for as much. I really enjoyed "A Caterer's Guide to Leprechauns and Lies" by Jessica Thompson, "A Tale of Fickle Fortune" by Amy Grundy, and "A Foliage Farewell" by J. R. Lancaster, even though the protagonist deems it unthinkable to have a litter box in the house and lets his cat outside. My favorite story by far, was "A Fatal St. Patrick's Day" by Kathleen Marple Kalb that featured characters from her Ella Shane Mystery series. This historical series is one of my favorites and this short story ably captures the personality of the characters as they solve another mystery in Gilded Age New York City. I also really appreciated the recipes included at the end of the book.

If you're in mind of a quick read with a St. Patrick's Day bent and want to help a charity as well, LUCK OF THE IRISH COZY MYSTERY ANTHOLOGY might be just your cup of tea.

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Murder, She Wrote: Murder Backstage - A Review & Giveaway


By Jessica Fletcher & Terrie Farley Moran
The Fifty-Eighth Murder, She Wrote Mystery

It's always exciting for an author to finish her manuscript, but it's doubly exciting for Jessica Fletcher as it allows her to accept her fun loving cousin's invitation to see her in a new theatrical review. Soon Jessica, along with friends Seth Hazlitt and Mort and Maureen Metzger arrive in Edmonton, Canada ready for a fun vacation. While the friends are able to see some of the wonderful sites, they are also plagued by lost items, surly and pushy people, and theatrical drama. When Jessica accompanies Emma for an after hours costume fitting they also find a murdered body! Who could have killed the part time stage hand who also worked as a bartender at their hotel? While the Canadian police have matters in hand, Jessica can't help but look into things as well. Jessica's vacation has become a working holiday in more ways than one!

Jessica Fletcher is one of the best cozy mystery sleuths of all time. She isn't reckless, she works with the police, and she notices everything! In MURDER, SHE WROTE: MURDER BACKSTAGE Jessica spends most of her time sightseeing, as she should when vacationing. When murder happens, she observes and her investigation is primarily a trip to the library and discrete inquiries. And yet, due to her acute observations, she solved the crime! Perfection!

I love the camaraderie between Jessica and her friends, as well as the effervescent Cousin Emma. Seeing Seth and Mort so enthusiastic about meeting their childhood idol was a welcome change from their more serious professions and it was fun seeing Jess and Maureen simply shake their heads at the men's antics. I also enjoyed the glimpses of Jess as a child as she and Emma reminisced. 

The mystery was finely plotted with several things occurring in the book I thought for certain played a major role. I later discovered I was somewhat led astray and I enjoyed a few surprises along the way. I also really liked learning about Edmonton and was grateful for the opportunity to be an armchair traveler as well as armchair detective!

MURDER, SHE WROTE: MURDER BACKSTAGE combines the beauty of Edmonton, the drama of theatre, and a finely crafted mystery along with wit and friendship in a delightful mystery.


 Murder, She Wrote: Murder Backstage by Jessica Fletcher and Terrie Farley Moran

About Murder, She Wrote: Murder Backstage

Murder, She Wrote: Murder Backstage
Cozy Mystery 58th in Series
Setting - Edmonton in Alberta, Canada
Publisher: ‎ Berkley (April 2, 2024)
Paperback: ‎ 272 pages

The newest entry in the USA Today bestselling Murder, She Wrote series.

Jessica Fletcher’s British cousin, Emma MacGill, will be traveling to Edmonton in Alberta, Canada, to perform with internationally famous star of stage, screen, and television Derek Braverman in an old-fashioned musical review. Emma would love for Jessica to join her there and suggests she bring along some friends. Having just finished her latest book, Jessica is ready for a vacation and is delighted to agree. Dr. Seth Hazlitt and Sheriff Mort Metzger are huge fans of Braverman, so they are eager to tag along, and their fanboy behavior gives Jessica and Mort’s wife, Maureen, more than occasional cause to roll their eyes.

Upon arrival in Edmonton, Jessica is quickly outed as mystery writer J. B. Fletcher, and despite numerous protests, a hotel staffer arranges a book signing for her. This and touristy adventures arranged for the group make for a much busier trip than Jessica was expecting. When a hotel bartender, who also happens to be a stagehand for Emma’s play, turns up dead backstage at the theater, Jessica’s fun and relaxing vacation quickly becomes anything but.

About the Authors


Along with Jessica Fletcher, Terrie Farley Moran co-writes the Murder She Wrote mystery series including Murder, She Wrote: Killer on the Court. She is the author of the Read ‘Em and Eat cozy mystery series and also co-writes the Scrapbooking Mysteries with Laura Childs. Recipient of both the Agatha and the Derringer Awards, Moran has published numerous mystery short stories. The only thing Terrie enjoys more than wrangling mystery plots into submission is hanging out with any or all of her seven grandchildren.  

Author Links – Webpage Facebook  

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Friday, April 5, 2024

Molten Death - An Interview, Review, & Giveaway

I'm happy to welcome Leslie Karst back to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Leslie writes the Orchid Island Mystery series. MOLTEN DEATH is the first book in the series and was released this week.

Kathy: MOLTEN DEATH is the first Orchid Island Mystery. What made you decide to start a new series?

LK: After finishing up A SENSE FOR MURDER, the sixth book in my Sally Solari mystery series, I came to the conclusion that I’d now pretty much told Sally’s story and was ready to move on to something new. I’d been living half time on the Big Island of Hawai‘i since 2007 (and making annual visits since 1990), and it struck me that it would be marvelous to set a series in this amazing place and bring it alive to those who’ve never had the chance to visit the state, or who have done so but would love to revisit via armchair traveling with my book.

Kathy: In MOLTEN DEATH we meet retired caterer Valerie Corbin and her wife Kristen who are looking forward to enjoying the delicious food and vibrant culture of Hawai'i. What is your favorite Hawaiian delicacy?

LK: Oh, boy, such a hard question! If I had to pick only one, I think it would have to be poke (pronounced “poh-kay”), which is bite-size pieces of raw sushi-grade fish—often ahi tuna—mixed with seasonings such as soy or oyster sauce, sesame oil, seaweed, green onions, even sriracha-mayonnaise. It’s delicious! Poke is often served over steamed rice, but it goes great with crackers or tortilla chips, as well. (And yes, there’s a recipe for poke—three different kinds!—in MOLTEN DEATH.)

Kathy: Location can play an integral role in a mystery. What makes the “Orchid Island” the perfect setting for your series?

LK: For me, what that makes the Big Island so very special is the presence of two active volcanoes (three, if you count Hualālai, which looms over the tourist town of Kailua-Kona and last erupted in 1801—just yesterday, in geologic terms). This ongoing volcanic activity has shaped not only the island’s geology, flora, and fauna, but also the culture of the intrepid Polynesians who made the long voyage from the South Pacific to the archipelago by outrigger canoe some eight hundred years ago.

Living in a place where at any moment the land can tremble and shake and where molten rock can spew from the depths of the earth and come rushing down the mountain towards your village will have an enormous impact on how you view life. Dances, chants, and intonations to Pele with her streaming hair of fire become all important in an attempt to appease the volcano goddess and implore her to spare your family, your community, your land. Even today, inhabitants of the Big Island pay respect to Pele by leaving her offerings of gin and woven leis of ti intertwined with ‘ōhi‘a lehua blossoms along the rim of Kīlauea crater.

Which of course makes it the perfect location for a novel in which the protagonist witnesses a human leg being covered over by hot, molten rock and sets out to discover the mystery of the body in the lava!

Kathy: What's your favorite aspect of Hawaiian culture?

LK: The aloha spirit, which truly is a vital component of the culture of the Hawaiian islands.

Here’s a fun example: Shortly after my wife and I moved to Hilo, we were heading down the sidewalk near our home and spied a gang of teenage boys approaching us from the opposite direction. They were big, tall, and quite tough looking, jostling each other roughly as they walked. Expecting them to pass us by with gruff looks—or worse—we smiled nervously as they came near.

But what did they do? As one, every single boy smiled broadly and said to us in a friendly, melodic, high-pitched voice, “Hello aunty!”

Kathy: Valerie believes a murder has been committed, but she's the only witness to a now-vanished corpse. Have you ever seen something that no one else believed?

LK: I’ve certainly never seen a dead body out on a lava flow, thank goodness! Nor have I ever witnessed a ghost, or a man in a dark coat following me, or a UFO, or anything else that any one would have reason to disbelieve. So I guess my answer is no. Which is a good thing, because—as Valerie discovers in MOLTEN DEATH—it’s no fun at all to have folks not believe you when you know you saw something. Especially of that “thing” is a corpse....

Kathy: Was there a specific inspiration for this story?

LK: As I said above, I’ve luckily never seen a corpse being covered by hot lava, but I have heard tales of people using the flow as a way to hide bodies. Which makes a lot of sense, since once it’s been covered by hardened rock, no one is ever going to find that body again. So it was partly that, but also my fascination with and awe regarding volcanoes. Another story:

One of the most memorable experiences I ever had occurred during my first visit to the Big Island, when my volcano-junkie parents (yes, I come by it honestly)—who were spending several months on the island—took my partner (now wife) and me out for a pre-dawn hike to see the current lava flow. After walking for an hour or so over an arid, black landscape more reminiscent of the moon than of a tropical paradise, we saw a red glow and steam rising in the distance and cautiously approached. There at our feet was a gaping hole some ten feet wide that had opened up in the hardened rock.

It was a volcanic skylight: a view down into a lava tube in which a river of molten rock flowed immediately below us, its orange-white magma so bright that it was impossible to stare at for more than a moment. Frightened by the sight—and scalded by the searing-hot steam rising from the hole—we jumped back quickly. Would the rock we were standing upon crumble, too, and send us tumbling into the river of lava? But the sight proved far too compelling, and as one, the four of us crept forward once again to gaze in awe down into the fiery depths, below.

Kathy: When it comes to writing I understand there are 2 general camps-plotters, who diligently plot their stories, and pansters, who fly by the seat of their pants. Are you a plotter, a panster, or do you fall somewhere in between?

LK: I started out as a devout plotter, writing multi-page outlines before typing one word of my manuscript. But over the course of now seven published mysteries, I’ve shifted. I still do a fair amount of outlining—and I always know who did it, why, and what the inciting incident is that makes my protagonist take on the investigation—but I now allow myself to simply write, not always knowing exactly where it will take me. And I have to say, I’m sometimes surprised about where that is! Which makes the writing process that much more fun.

Kathy: Authors are required to do a lot of their own marketing, especially for a new release. What's your favorite part of marketing your work? What do you dislike about marketing?

LK: My favorite part is absolutely engaging with readers and other writers. The crime writing community is the most friendly, warm, and generous group of people I’ve ever had the good fortune to spend time with, and I treasure all of you!

The worse? Having to “sell” myself and my books. Ugh. It’s so very hard having to do what seems like bragging all the time in order to get publicity for your books. As a result, I am eternally grateful to anyone who does that bragging for me. Thank to all of you who review my—and others’—books or talk them up to your friends and on social media!

Kathy: Will you share any other upcoming books?

LK: I’m currently writing book two in the Orchid Isle mystery series, entitled WATERS OF DESTRUCTION. In this sequel to MOLTEN DEATH, my protagonist Valerie is hired as a bartender at the Speckled Gecko, where her pal Sachiko is the dining room manager. The guy she replaces has not shown up for work for several days, and everyone assumes he’s merely gone AWOL. But when his body is discovered in the Wailuku River (whose name means “waters of destruction”) and Sachiko becomes the prime suspect in his murder, Valerie steps in to help her friend and investigate. The only question is, can Valerie discover the identity of the real culprit before her customers learn that it’s more than Mai Tais she’s been serving up at the bar? 



MOLTEN DEATH by Leslie Karst
The First Orchid Isle Mystery

Their trip to Hawai'i was supposed to be a time to rest and relax, but that goes out the window when Valerie Corbin sees a body disappearing in the molten lava and neither her wife, Kristen, or friend Isaac seem to believe her. Witnessing that leg disappearing in the fiery lava reminds Valerie too much of the accident that recently killed her brother. After reading about a missing person and unable to get the horrific images out of her mind, she decides to start asking some questions. Although her preoccupation is causing a rift between her and Kirsten, Valerie needs answers. But will her push for the truth cause more harm than good?

MOLTEN DEATH is a truly unique mystery. Technically, there is no crime, so there’s no police involvement. Valerie sees a leg that is engulfed by lava before anyone else sees it. While readers believe her, everyone else is doubtful. Before she can even suggest foul play, Valerie deems it imperative to find out to whom the leg, and presumably body, belonged. The novel is a mix between Valerie trying to identify the body and determining what happened to it, relaxing and enjoying the sites and food of Hawai'i, and dealing with relationship issues along with the aftermath of the accident that killed her brother.

While I truly appreciate the Hawaiian spellings and use of Pidgin, trying to mentally pronounce everything tended to be a distraction, if not taking me out of the story then slowing the pacing to a crawl. That being said, I loved the information provided, especially the reasoning behind speaking Pidgin and the ability some people have to easily switch between that and standard English. One of my favorite aspects of the book was all the knowledge that was shared, from the various sites, cultural aspects, food, and weather!

MOLTEN DEATH is an appealing entry to the Orchid Island Mystery series with diverse characters, an exotic setting, and a compelling story. There are also plenty of great foodie descriptions with recipes included at the end of the book.


 Molten Death (An Orchid Isle Mystery) by Leslie Karst

About Molten Death

Molten Death (An Orchid Isle Mystery)
Cozy Mystery 1st in Series
Setting - the Big Island of Hawai‘i
Publisher: ‎ Severn House (April 2, 2024)
Hardcover: ‎ 224 pages

A glimpse of a quickly melting corpse at the foot of a volcano has amateur sleuth and food enthusiast Valerie Corbin shocked. But how can she investigate a murder, when there's no evidence the victim ever existed?

The first Orchid Isle cozy mystery, set in tropical Hilo, Hawai'i, introduces a fun and feisty LGBTQ+ couple who swap surfing lessons for sleuthing sessions!

Retired caterer Valerie Corbin and her wife Kristen have come to the Big Island of Hawai'i to treat themselves to a well-earned tropical vacation. After the recent loss of her brother, Valerie is in sore need of a distraction from her troubles and is looking forward to enjoying the delicious food and vibrant culture the state has to offer.

Early one morning, the couple and their friend - tattooed local boy, Isaac - set out to see an active lava flow, and Valerie is mesmerized by the shape-shifting mass of orange and red creeping over the field of black rock. Spying a boot in the distance, she strides off alone, pondering how it could have gotten there, only to realize to her horror that the boot is still attached to a leg - a leg which is slowly being engulfed by the hot lava.

Valerie's convinced a murder has been committed - but as she's the only witness to the now-vanished corpse, who's going to believe her?

Determined to prove what she saw, and get justice for the unknown victim, Valerie launches her own investigation. But, thrown into a Hawaiian culture far from the luaus and tiki bars of glossy tourist magazines, she soon begins to fear she may be the next one to end up entombed in shiny black rock . . .

The amiable characters, stunning backdrop and culinary delights make this the perfect cozy of fans who enjoy a tropical vacation with a twisty murder mystery and compelling Hawai'ian culture - paired with an added bonus of recipes of local Hawai'ian dishes!


About Leslie Karst

In addition to Molten Death, Leslie Karst is the author of the Lefty Award-nominated Sally Solari mystery series and Justice is Served: A Tale of Scallops, the Law, and Cooking for RBG. After years waiting tables and singing in a new wave rock band, she decided she was ready for a “real” job and ended up at Stanford Law School. It was during her career as an attorney that Leslie rediscovered her youthful passion for food and cooking and once more returned to school—this time to earn a degree in culinary arts. Now retired from the law, Leslie spends her time cooking, cycling, gardening, observing cocktail hour promptly at five o’clock, and of course writing. She and her wife split their time between Santa Cruz, California and Hilo, Hawai‘i.

Author Links: 


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Mystery Lovers Kitchen 





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Thursday, April 4, 2024

Cats, Carats, and Killers - A Review


The Fourth Urban Tails Pet Shop Mystery 

Shell McMillan, owner of the Urban Tails Pet Shop and former star of Spy Anyone, is proud to be a sponsor of Appraise for Strays, a fundraiser for the local animal shelter. While several unique items have come in, a lot of interest is being shown in a little wooden box, too much interest. One such interested person is Pete Martin, a bad penny who's returned to town. When he winds up dead, diner owner Gus Morton becomes the prime suspect. Could the box and the murder be tied to an old jewelry heist? With the FBI in town investigating and a hot shot journalist insinuating himself in the investigation Shell will do what she can to prove Gus is innocent with help from friends, including the special felines, Purrday and Princess Fuzzypants.

An unsolved robbery with missing diamonds, an unassuming wooden box, and murder combine in the delightful fourth Urban Tails Pet Shop Mystery.  

A jewel heist combined with an antiques appraisal? Yes, please. It's a great combination. The possibility of discovering treasure is always a thrill, one of the reason those antique appraisal shows are so compelling. Could that godawful painting from Aunt Hatty be an actual Picasso? Or that vase you got at the charity shop. Could it be worth more than the $2.00 you spent?

Readers are introduced to the original crime which is then skillfully woven through the new mystery, that of the wooden box and the murder. Important information and clues are clearly laid out providing several “ah ha” moments as pieces click into place. Then there's the penultimate action scene with a major twist!

I enjoy the camaraderie of the friends, particularly Shell and Gary and the quiet romance between Shell and Josh. I like that Gary is the voice of reason and that Shell shares everything with the police and FBI, well, almost everything…at least until she goes off to confirm one last thing, which was almost her undoing. Fortunately, help wasn’t far away. The characters are well developed with their own strengths and foibles, but as wonderful as the humans are, for me it’s the cats who steal the show. Purraday makes certain that clues are found and messages get across. Princess Fuzzypants goes above and beyond in this story and proves she’s not just a pretty face. And Kahlua looks on, above it all.

CATS, CARATS, AND KILLERS is a finely crafted mystery that will have you dreaming of diamonds and perhaps looking around at your own possible treasures.


 Cats, Carats and Killers (Urban Tails Pet Shop Mysteries) by T. C. LoTempio

About Cats, Carats, and Killers

Cats, Carats and Killers (Urban Tails Pet Shop Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery 4th in Series
Setting - Connecticut
Publisher: ‎ Beyond the Page Publishing (March 19, 2024)
Paperback: ‎ 182 pages
There may be honor among thieves, but a long-ago diamond heist might hold the secret to a man’s murder . . . Pet shop owner Shell McMillan is thrilled to see everyone in Fox Hollow flocking to the local animal shelter’s fundraiser, where they can get their old keepsakes and collectibles appraised and maybe even sell them for a tidy sum. But the event has drawn some shady characters as well, including Pete Martin, who seems determined to get his hands on a beat-up old jewelry box at any cost. Then Martin is found murdered, and Shell has to go from fundraising to finding a killer. It doesn’t take long for Shell to figure out that the jewelry box was concealing diamonds from a long-ago heist, and that Martin wasn’t the only one trying to get his hands on the stash. But to figure out who wanted him dead, she’ll have to uncover who was behind the original heist and who knows where the rest of the gems are hidden. It’s as dangerous a case as Shell has ever faced, and if she’s not careful, her search for the missing stones will leave her stone-cold dead . . .

About T.C. LoTempio


T. C. LoTempio is the award-winning, national bestselling author of the Nick and Nora mystery series. Her cat, Rocco, provides the inspiration for the character of Nick the cat. She also writes the Urban Tails Pet Shop Mystery Series, as well as the Cat Rescue series and the Tiffany Austin Food Blogger series. Check out her and Rocco's blog,, and visit her website,, for more information.

Social Media Links: 




Twitter/X: @RoccoBlogger  


Purchase Links - Amazon - B&N - Kobo

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Currently Reading...

I just finished reading Cats, Carats, and Killers by T. C. LoTempio. This book is the fourth in the Urban Tails Mystery series and was released last month.

Shell McMillan, owner of the Urban Tails Pet Shop and former star of Spy Anyone, is proud to be a sponsor of Appraise for Strays, a fundraiser for the local animal shelter. While several interesting items have come in, a lot of interest is being shown in a little wooden box, too much interest. One such interested person is Pete Martin, a bad penny who's returned to town. When he winds up dead, diner owner Gus Morton becomes the prime suspect. Could the box and the murder be tied to an old jewelry heist? With the FBI in town investigating and a hot shot journalist insinuating himself in the investigation Shell will do what she can to prove Gus is innocent with help from friends including the special felines, Purrday and Princess Fuzzypants.

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Cold in Niagara - A Spotlight

Today I'd like to shine a spotlight on a mystery set in Niagara Falls, NY. COLD IN NIAGARA is the ninth book in the Emily Goode Mystery series.


Brenda McNeil disappeared fifteen years ago. Was she the victim of foul play? Did she run from a cheating husband? Now men searching for mammoth bones dig up human remains. A driver’s license identifies these as Brenda’s. But, when the Niagara Falls Medical Examiner looks carefully at the bones what he finds raises questions.

Desperate for a new book idea, Emlyn Goode begins a search for answers. When she and her husband Detective Roger Frey visit a retirement community to speak with the detective who’d investigated the Brenda McNeil missing-person case they learn one of his fellow residents has recently been murdered.

Are the two cases related? Emlyn’s otherworldly instincts tell her they are and that learning how will identify the killer. As she delves further into her research Emlyn enters a world filled with twists and turns where danger lurks in every shadow.


About the Author:

A former entertainment attorney, Susan Lynn Solomon is the facilitator of the Writer’s Critique Group that is co-sponsored by the Buffalo Central Library and Just Buffalo Literary Center.

She is the author short stories that have appeared in numerous literary journals. These include, Abigail Bender (awarded an Honorable Mention in a Writers Journal short romance competition), Ginger Man, Elvira, The Memory Tree, Going Home, Yesterday’s Wings, Smoker’s Lament, Kaddish, and Sabbath (nominated for the 2013 Best of the Net). A collection of her short stories, Voices in My Head, has been released by Solstice Publishing.

Ms. Solomon is also the author of the Emlyn Goode Mysteries. A finalist in Chanticleer International Book Award’s Mystery & Mayhem Novel category, and a finalist for the 2016 Book Excellence Award, her first Emlyn Goode novel, The Magic of Murder, has received rave reviews, as have the novelettes, Bella Vita, The Day the Music Died, A Shot in the Woods, and ’Twas the Season. The second Emlyn Goode novel, Dead Again, was a finalist for both the 2017 McGrath House Indie Book of the Year and the 2018 Book Excellent Award. Writing is Murder, the third Emlyn Goode novel was awarded a First Place in the 2019 Chanticleer International Book Award Mystery & Mayhem category.

Stepping aside from mysteries, Ms. Solomon’s novel, Abigail’s Window, has been awarded a gold medal as a finalist in the Readers Favorite novel competition and the Chanticleer International Book Award gave it the Grand Prize as the best paranormal romance of 2019. In addition, her recent novel, Raising Kane is a finalist in both the Book Excellence Awards and the Chanticleer International Book Awards

Her latest books are What’s Past is Prologue, Shooting Parr and the recently published Honeymoon Murder, and Cold in Niagara, the new Emlyn Goode Mystery.

Author link:

Purchase link: Amazon