Sunday, June 30, 2024

A Chocolate is Announced - A Guest Post & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Cheeseburger the Ferret to Cozy Up With Kathy today. You can find Cheeseburger on the pages of A Chocolate is Announced by Amber Royer. This book is the seventh in the Bean to Bar Mystery series and was released last week.

Hi! I’m a ferret. I love collecting things. My name is Cheeseburger -- or at least that’s what my adoptive Mommy named me. But she’s a human, and she has no idea that I already had a name – Lady Tiffany of the Grange, XVI. I know this because the little girl who lived in the house where I was born whispered it into my ear, just as she had whispered it to my mother and her mother before her. She used to tell me and my siblings about a long line of Ferrets, traced all the way back to Europe, which is a faraway land across the sea. It was a romantic life, which only occasionally involved wearing a tutu and trying to escape a chair at an imaginary tea party, a life which came to an abrupt end when my siblings and I were separated and taken into different households.

It was lonely at first, but my new Mommy spends a lot of time with me. It’s almost like having another ferret close by – almost, but not quite. I try to fill that void by collecting things. My human mom wears earrings, which are often made of big sparkly rocks, or dangly feathers, or big wooden beads. Call me a girly girl, but I love to pile them up and sit on them. Sometimes, Mommy or Dad will find my precious earrings and “tidy” them up. Which is heartbreaking. The only consolation is that I get to start all over again.

Mommy sometimes takes me with her when she travels. She’s a food critic, and she often comes home or back to wherever we’re staying, and she smells amazing. Sometimes she even brings me a bit of meat leftover from her meal. We ferrets were made to exist on meat, and getting it freshly cooked connects me to my ancestors. Of course, they were sadly forced to eat meat raw, as we were domesticated mainly to hunt rodents. Which benefited both us and the humans. And then, of course, we were also used to hunt rabbits. Speaking of which.

This time Mommy has taken me and Dad to a hotel in Galveston, Texas, a nearby land that feels sticky and smells like salt. And the whole lobby of the place smells like rabbit. Which is unusual for a hotel. There’s a lady here who also smells like rabbit – but she also smells like candy – which I’m not allowed to eat – and like flowers. I could tell just from looking at her that she’s a kind human, so I ran over to her and begged her to hold me. She did!

But then something happened at the hotel, something that smells bad in all the wrong ways – like death. I think Mommy’s in trouble, because she knew the guy who died – and there’s something negative between them, something that ties into the sadness Mommy sometimes exudes. I can smell that too. When she’s feeling that lonely sad, she tends to cuddle me and give me treats. Which is great for me. And I think it makes her feel better too.

But the kind lady who smells like rabbits also helps set things right when death has entered her world. Apparently, this has happened a number of times. Humans in the hotel keep calling her Felicity, and one of them keeps saying she’s a mega murder magnet. (Her exploits have been recorded in the Bean to Bar Mysteries series. But the human called Ash, who is here at the hotel, also has a podcast going into detail about the cases she’s solved.)

Murder is a concept I only vaguely understand. I don’t know why it is so important to them to know why someone died. It happened. You move on, right? But humans don’t do that. Mommy can’t do that. I can feel a tinge of sadness in Felicity too, but it’s more muted, almost healed. But maybe that’s why she can understand what Mommy is going through, wants to help. Which makes me happy to be around both of them.

One thing I’m worried about is that there is a dog staying in this hotel, though the rabbit seems to have left. Who knows? Maybe it’s why the rabbit left. People are being careful to keep the dog away from me, but I still have a nervous edge. I’ve started collecting things again, and storing them in a hiding spot I doubt anyone will ever find. At least not before it’s time for us to leave.

I know Felicity and the others are looking for something, but I have no understanding of what. I keep hearing the word will. Which is part of a verb, right? Will walk. Will eat. Will sniff. I wish I could help. But I really feel lost. Oh well, maybe somebody needs some cuddles.


A Chocolate is Announced (Bean to Bar Mysteries) by Amber Royer

About A Chocolate is Announced

A Chocolate is Announced (Bean to Bar Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery 7th in Series
Setting - Texas
Publisher: ‎ Golden Tip Press (June 25, 2024)
Print length: ‎ 277 pages
Felicity Koerber is finally getting her life together. She has a fiancé, her bean to bar chocolate shop on Galveston’s historic Strand has become a gathering spot for the community, and she is ready to embrace whatever the future holds. She’s ready for another launch party – despite the disaster at her grand opening, when she’d first gotten involved with solving a murder. And this time she’s embracing her status as a sleuth. She’s hosting a murder mystery weekend to celebrate the new Mystery Flavor line of craft chocolate bars. She’s held a contest to choose the attendees, who will all stay at her aunt’s flip hotel and enjoy the island. It’s all supposed to be perfectly random – only, Felicity starts to uncover connections between her guests. When one of them winds up murdered, Felicity has to keep her aunt from becoming the main suspect. The killer is very clearly calling Felicity out, leaving clues that mean little to anyone other than her. But that doesn’t narrow down the suspect pool. Her guests are there because they love the true crime podcast she’s been featured on. And she can’t decide whether the killer wants her to catch them – or just wants to taunt her. Meanwhile, Felicity is also playing host to her future in-laws and discovers that her fiancé’s sister, who is also a cop, is very competitive. Can Felicity hold her own and make a good impression, while keeping her business together and her aunt out of jail? And can Felicity solve it in time to protect the people she cares about from becoming additional victims? Satchmo the retired police dog turned therapy dog returns to help her sniff out a few clues, and one of the guests brings along a ferret named Cheeseburger, who keeps showing up in the most unexpected places.

About Amber Royer

Amber Royer writes the CHOCOVERSE comic telenovela-style foodie-inspired space opera series, and the BEAN TO BAR MYSTERIES. She is also the author of STORY LIKE A JOURNALIST: A WORKBOOK FOR NOVELISTS, which boils down her writing knowledge into an actionable plan involving over 100 worksheets to build a comprehensive story plan for your novel. She blogs about creative writing technique and all things chocolate at She also teaches creative writing and is an author coach. If you are very nice to her, she might make you cupcakes. Chocolate cupcakes, of course. A Chocolate is Announced Trailer .mp4

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Friday, June 28, 2024

A Murder Most French - A Review


A MURDER MOST FRENCH by Colleen Cambridge
The Second American in Paris Mystery

Tabitha Knight is a horrible cook, but with her good friend and neighbor Julia Child teaching her, she’s slowly improving. To further Tabitha’s culinary knowledge Julia insists she accompanies her to her school where the Chef Beauchȇne is giving a demonstration. The demonstration turns disastrous, however, when the chef opens a rare bottle of wine, sips, and keels over dead. When a second chef is killed in the same manner the following day, right in front of Tabitha and Julia again, the pair can’t help but be intrigued. Who would want to kill these chefs? And why? Does it have anything to do with the vandalism at the markets? 

Tabitha makes such a great protagonist. She's smart, ingenious, and capable. She's also devoted to her friends and family. I love the relationships found in this series, Julia and her husband (and I love that this relationship mirrors their real life one), Julia and Tabs, Grandpère and Oncle Rafe, Tabitha and her messieurs, and Tabitha and Merveille. I can't wait to see what develops.

I thoroughly enjoyed the mystery and how excited both Tabitha and Julia were at the possibility of solving another murder. Although I had a good inkling on who the killer was, I didn't know the motive. I loved seeing how everything all came together.

One of my favorite things about the American in Paris Mystery series is how Julia Child joyously describes food and cooking. Her enthusiasm is catchy and makes me feel happy. I still picture the dancing chicken breasts!

A MURDER MOST FRENCH is a scrumptious postwar mystery that will have you wanting to cook, but maybe passing on any rare wine.

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading A Murder Most French by Colleen Cambridge. This book is the second in the American in Paris Mystery series. 

Tabitha Knight is a horrible cook, but with her good friend and neighbor Julia Child teaching her, she’s slowly improving. To further Tabitha’s culinary knowledge Julia insists she accompanies her to her school where the Chef Beauchȇne is giving a demonstration. The demonstration turns disastrous, however, when the chef opens a rare bottle of wine, sips, and keels over dead. When a second chef is killed in the same manner the following day, right in front of Tabitha and Julia again, the pair can’t help but be intrigued. Who would want to kill these chefs? And why? Does it have anything to do with the vandalism at the markets?

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Double Scoop of Murder - Audio - A Book Blast

Audio Book – Double Scoop of Murder: Coffee & Cream Café Mysteries by Lena Gregory Read by Eleanor McCormick


Double Scoop of Murder: Coffee & Cream Café Mysteries
Cozy Mystery 3rd in Series
Setting – Watchogue, Long Island, New York
Audiobook (June 25, 2024)
Publisher Tantor
Audio Listening Length - 6 hours and 39 minutes
Gemma Halliday Publishing (November 21, 2023)
Number of Pages 226

From author Lena Gregory comes a hunt for more than just treasure . . .

Danika Delany is loving running her uncle's old-fashioned malt shop on eastern Long Island and putting her own modern spin on the treats they serve. Life is finally looking up for her! That is, until local billionaire Maxwell Crumbholtz dies and leaves his fortune in the form of a treasure hunt. Chaos descends on Watchogue, and Dani and the rest of the gang from the Coffee & Cream Cafe join the melee when they enter the contest, try to decipher the clues, and go in search of the treasure. But Dani digs up more than she expected when she discovers a dead body buried instead of a treasure! To make matters worse, a witness claims to have seen Dani at the scene of the murder. Now, instead of a four-billion-dollar payday, Dani is on the hunt for a killer.


About Lena Gregory

Lena Gregory is the author of the Bay Island Psychic Mysteries, which take place on a small island between the north and south forks of Long Island, New York, the All-Day Breakfast Café Mysteries, which are set on the outskirts of Florida’s Ocala National Forest, the Mini-Meadows Mysteries, set in a community of tiny homes in Central Florida, and the Coffee & Cream Café Mysteries, which take place in a small town on the south shore of eastern Long Island, New York.

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

Author Links

Audiobook Purchase Links - Amazon - B&N - Kobo 

  Find the entire Coffee & Cream Café Mystery Series in all formats here.

Coming August 27, 2024

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Framed for Murder - An Interview, Review, & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Marla A. White to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Marla writes the Pine Cove Mystery series. FRAMED FOR MURDER is the first book in the series and was released last week.


Kathy: In FRAMED FOR MURDER we meet Mel O’Rourke who runs a B & B. Have you ever wanted to run a B & B?

MAW: Of the many things I’ve wanted to do in life, running a hotel has never really been one of them. Which, come to think of it, is kind of odd considering two of my book series are set in hotels and have main characters who run them. Now a quilting store or a vineyard, that I might do!

Kathy: Mel suffered a life changing injury. Have you ever had an injury of health issues that changed your life?

MAW: Changed my life would be an overstatement, I think. I was going up a small up bank (a jump) on my horse. He was overly exuberant about it, and I tumbled off his butt, landing on my tailbone and my head. Thankfully, my head is harder than my tailbone. I still have more “junk in my trunk” than was factory installed as a result of it, if you know what I mean. It swelled so much I couldn’t wear regular pants! It still feels like I’m lying on a potato when I do yoga.

A shout out as well for an issue that doesn’t get much attention for women; I have Dupuytren's contracture, also known by the much cooler name of Viking Disease. John Elway gets all the notoriety, but women can get it to. For me, I’ve got a pinky that’s shaped like a 7 so it’s a pain in the neck to put gloves on, but like I said, life changing might be over stating it.

Kathy: Poppy Phillips is a frenemy to Mel. Have you ever had a frenemy?

MAW: That is an excellent question. I had to think about it long and hard, but I can’t really think of any. I tend to lean into either you’re a friend, or I just don’t have the band width to think that much about you. The enemy thing takes more energy than I have, LOL.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

MAW: I didn’t want to have to learn cop procedures? Just kidding. I think one of the first books I read was a Nancy Drew mystery, so detectives out of uniform who can make up the rules as they go along have always been appealing. Rex Stout’s Nero Wolf, Robert Parker’s Spenser, and of course the great Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum all got to solve crimes but bend a few laws along the way. Dick Francis mysteries were a huge influence as well. My first full-length novel from The Wild Rose Press, “Cause for Elimination,” has a cop as one of the main characters, but there’s also Emily Conners, professional horse trainer and part-time snoop.

But what, in my mind, sets a true cozy apart is the small town setting where, like “Cheers,” everybody knows your name. Pine Cove is very heavily influenced by the real town of Idyllwild, California that has a dog for a mayor and two major streets. There’s something very comforting reading them. Nothing truly bad will happen (unless you count the dead person who usually opens the story) and often times there’s a little romance along the way. It’s a nice break from real life.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?

MAW: Nobody told me you weren’t supposed to until it was too late! After I wrote “Cause” and put it in a drawer for ten years so no one could reject it, I visited a historic hotel in Southern California and was inspired to write a contemporary fantasy. The angel Gabriel wakes up in Jurupa just outside of Riverside naked, wingless, and no memory of why he’s there. It was so much fun writing those books because even the laws of physics don’t apply to angels, demons, and dragons.

I’m also working with a friend on a hockey romance series. I’m new to hockey and romance books so it’s been a wild ride learning about both.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

MAW: I love writing series because I get too attached to the characters to ever say goodbye!

The Pine Cove mysteries, of which Framed is the first, started with the novella “The Starlight Mint Surprise Murder” and is centered on the quirky little town of Pine Cove. Mel has to deal with starting over in a new life, a newly acquired fear of heights, a possible love triangle, and the occasional dead body.

“The Keeper Chronicles” features Gabriel, his lover and ex-demon(ish) Evie, and their human friends Abby and Ryan. After unseen forces make Abby the Keeper of a Book of Power, the foursome is tasked with saving the world from increasingly larger disasters, including a visit from Gabriel’s vexing siblings, the other archangels.

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

MAW: I don’t think I do. I like to believe they’re all very different and self-evolved. For instance, Dearg in “Cause” was meant to only be in one or two scenes but he kind of demanded his own storyline. And book, but that’s a work in progress.

At this moment, if I had to pick it would be Lucifer. Yes, that Lucifer. Because in his mind it’s okay if he kills his brother, but Father forbid someone else tries. Stung by his family’s rejection, he does whatever he wants and couldn’t care less what anyone thinks. Until he does.

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

MAW: Visits to Idyllwild and staying in the fictional version of The Babbling Brook kind of demanded a story be set there. The Wild Rose Press put out a call for their “cookie books” – a book of any genre with a cookie at the heart of the story. I couldn’t get my mom’s Starlight Mint Surprise cookie recipe right to save my life so that triggered the story, I’d just come home from a trip to Idyllwild, which gave me the perfect setting, and I love mysteries so it all kind of came together from there.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

MAW: One hundred percent it was my friend, who told me about the cookie books, having such a great experience with The Wild Rose Press. Like I said, "Cause” was filed away for years because I didn’t have the balls of Stephen King or F. Scott Fitzgerald who allegedly papered his walls with his rejection slips. (That notion is attributed to many writers, by the way, so maybe more than one actually did it?)

When my editor for “Starlight” asked if I had anything else, my first thought was “no” and then my friend had to remind me I had a whole dang book waiting to be found!


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

MAW: Neil Gaiman seems like a hoot, I’ve actually met Janet Evanovich once and I know she’s lovely, Leslie Charteris who wrote “The Saint” books because I enjoy the way his mind works, and Jim Butcher because his Dresden books were mind-shifting about what fantasy could be.

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

MAW: I love gardening, quilting, and putting together jigsaw puzzles to the point of putting my back out because I’ll hunch over the pieces for hours. Newly a fan of hockey, which is hard to be this season because the LA Kings just broke my heart. And of course, reading!

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

MAW: Hmmm, another good question. I’ll go with the essentials of eggs, bacon, bread, and whiskey. The last one has its own cabinet, of course. The fridge would be a silly place to keep that!

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

MAW: The rough draft of the next Pine Cove book is finished but I want to give it some breathing room before I come back to it. “Cause” was always meant to be a series and Lucifer wants his book to be written as well. There are only so many hours in a day, even when you get up at 5:30am to write. There’s this pesky job thing that keeps demanding at least eight hours a day. Ugh.

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

MAW: The easy flow of money and fame? (Not!) I love creating things that didn’t exist before I came along. Very rarely does the blank page freak me out. If I had to write on a typewriter I’d probably feel very differently, but the way computers make it so easy to change your mind about a word, sentence, or storyline I find to be very freeing.

Also, research. It’s crazy, but again the internet makes it so easy to find out things like how long a person can be frozen and still be revived or what does Slovenia celebrate instead of Thanksgiving. I love finding out weird factoids, swear words in other languages.



The First Pine Cove Mystery
Injured in the line of duty, Emmaline O'Rourke was forced to leave her career in law enforcement behind and, with the help of her family, open a B&B in the quaint and quirky town of Pine Cove. After seeing an unknown car outside she’s stunned to find a woman in her kitchen, Poppy the cat burglar. The very thief she was chasing when she was hurt and also the same thief who saved her life. It turns out that Poppy may have been set up when a standard heist turned into anything but when Poppy stumbled over a dead body. Now police are searching for “The Ghost” while she’s trying to lay low. Believing her to be a thief, but not a killer, Mel agrees to let Poppy stay. After all the woman can cook much better than Mel and is willing to work at the B&B. All Mel has to do is keep the Sheriff from discovering her true identity while investigating the murder herself.  
Although this is the first book in the Pine Cove Mystery series there were lots of references to a murder and things that happened establishing several relationships prior to the start of this book. I was a bit confused as it was reading more like the second in the series than the first. I've since learned that there is a short story prequel wherein all this action happened. I would have liked to read that first as I felt I was missing something all through FRAMED FOR MURDER. Still this book is a complete mystery unto itself and I wasn't missing anything vital. I will have to find and read the short story!

I really like Mel. With all her foibles she's still a likeable, relatable protagonist, even though I did want to smack her a few times. Talk to the man-don't act like a teenager. Poppy is by far my favorite character though. Stylish, smart, a woman who truly created herself. Grandma O is a hoot and I truly like the rest of the supporting cast, except for the horrible mayor's wife. While I like the two men in Mel's romantic scope, I'm not particularly fond of love triangles, so we'll have to see how this plays out.

As a former cop myself, I see how Mel wants to get involved in the investigation as well as her frustration in the way that the sheriff treats her. I enjoyed the mystery and how Mel and Poppy went about solving this complex well as figuring out how to run the B&B.

With a lot of wit, engaging characters, and entangled relationships FRAMED FOR MURDER is a delightful start to a new series.


Framed For Murder (A Pine Cove Mystery) by Marla A. White

About Framed for Murder

Framed For Murder (A Pine Cove Mystery)
Cozy Mystery 1st in Series
Setting - California
Publisher: ‎ The Wild Rose Press, Inc. (June 17, 2024)
Print length: ‎ 284 pages

After a life-changing injury, Mel O’Rourke trades in her badge for bed sheets, running a B & B in the quirky mountain town of Pine Cove. Her peaceful life is interrupted when an old frenemy, the notorious and charismatic cat burglar, Poppy Phillips, shows up on her doorstep, claiming she’s been framed for murder. While she’s broken plenty of laws, Mel knows she’d never kill anyone. Good thing she’s a better detective than she is a cook as she sets out to prove Poppy's innocence.

The situation gets complicated, however, when the ruggedly handsome Deputy Sheriff Gregg Marks flirts with Mel, bringing him dangerously close to the criminal she’s hiding. And just when her friendship with café owner Jackson Thibodeaux blossoms into something more, he’s offered the opportunity of a lifetime in New Orleans. Should she encourage him to go, or ask him to stay? Who knew romance could be just as hard to solve as murder?

About Marla A. White

Marla White is an award-winning novelist who prefers killing people who annoy her on paper rather than in real life. Her first full-length mystery novel, “Cause for Elimination,” placed in several contests including Killer Nashville, The RONE Awards, The Reader’s Favorite, and finishing second in the Orange County Romance Writers for Romantic Suspense. Originally from Oklahoma, she lived in a lot of other states before settling down in Los Angeles to work in the television industry. She currently teaches at UCLA Extension and gives seminars about the art of script coverage. When she’s not working on the next book, she’s out in the garden, hiking, cheering on the LA Kings, or discovering new craft cocktails.

Fun facts Something readers might find interesting about this book:

The quirky Babbling Brook Bed-and-Breakfast is loosely inspired by the Silver Pines Lodge in Idyllwild. Highly recommend staying there if you’re even in that neck of the woods.

A fact about me that readers might find interesting:

I share Mel’s nearly debilitating fear of heights. Well, not to the same extent, I can climb a set of stairs, but looking down more than a few flights? No way 😀

There’s a scene where Mel does a singing bowl session. I’ve done that and honestly, it’s pretty cool!

I accomplished the dream of becoming a published writer in my late fifties after helping other writers craft their stories for thirty years.

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Friday, June 21, 2024

One of You - A Review


ONE OF YOU by Lorie Lewis Ham
The Second Tower District Mystery 
Adjusting to life in the Tower district Roxi Carlucci is more than happy to help out with the Halloween Mysteryfest created by her friend, bookstore owner and Booktuber, Clark Halliwell. While interested in the plays and other events featured, Roxi is most looking forward to meeting Marilyn Bradford, the Queen of Cozy Mysteries. After putting our a few fires, Roxi is ready to mingle with the authors at the mixer. While munching she notices a few arguments and tension, even Marilyn, known for being nice and good-natured, seemed mad. After the festivities ended Roxi, finds Clark next to a mess of books on the floor, under which lies Marilyn…dead. Who could have killed the charming Queen of Cozy Mysteries? Did it have something to do with the surprise she intended to share at the event? Roxi and her cousin, Stephen, are immediately hired to investigate. Will the two PIs be able to assist the police and find the killer?

One thing that sets the Tower District Mysteries apart from other cozies is the pop culture references. Scooby Doo, Supernatural, Charmed, these TV shows bring smiles to fans, who can feel more of a kinship with Roxi through these fandoms. These references could, however, be problematic as not all readers may be familiar with them. I didn’t get them all though that didn’t mar the experience for me. I also really like the manner in which rescue animals are treated, especially those who, unfortunately, due to bad stereotypes are less likely to be adopted. I absolutely love Merlin and am thrilled that a pet rat is featured. Rats make wonderful pets and it’s nice to have that shown.

The mystery in ONE OF YOU had lots of twists and surprises, the first one being the murder victim. I thought for sure that the arrogant Edward, publisher and Marilyn’s husband would be killed! For the victim to be the nice Queen of Cozies herself, the very woman Roxi was fangirling over, was a stunner. I like the interplay our two PIs have with the police, showing a good working relationship instead of a snarky and adversarial one. It was also interesting to see that Tower Gossip is back continuing the overarching mystery, or non-mystery, about the deaths of Roxi’s parents as well as spouting tidbits about the current murder.

With a few Halloween tricks ONE OF YOU is a Halloween treat with a solid mystery showcasing friendship in a unique California enclave.

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Currently Reading...

I'm currently reading Framed for Murder by Marla A. White. This is the first book in the Pine Cove Mystery series and was released Monday.

Injured in the line of duty, Emmaline O'Rourke was forced to leave her career in law enforcement behind and, with the help of her family, open a B&B in the quaint and quirky town of Pine Cove. After seeing an unknown car outside she’s stunned to find a woman in her kitchen, Poppy the cat burglar. The very thief she was chasing when she was hurt and also the same thief who saved her life. It turns out that Poppy may have been set up when a standard heist turned into anything but when Poppy stumbled over a dead body. Now police are searching for “The Ghost” while she’s trying to lay low. Believing her to be a thief, but not a killer, Mel agrees to let Poppy stay. After all the woman can cook much better than Mel and is willing to work at the B&B. All Mel has to do is keep the Sheriff from discovering her true identity while investigating the murder herself.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

An Art Lover's Guide to Paris and Murder - A Review


The Seventh Countess of Harleigh Mystery

George Hazleton has always had a special fondness for his unconventional Aunt Julia, so when she asks him to visit her in Paris regarding a private matter he can't say no. He also can't say no to his wife Frances, formerly the Countess of Harleigh who insists she accompany him. They decide to make the trip a holiday and include a visit to the Paris Exhibition as well as investigate the suspicious death of the artist Paul Ducasse on behalf of Aunt Julia. But when they meet with her, she's reluctant to talk about the matter and eventually tells them she was mistaken and there's nothing to look into. When an accident turns out to be murder George and Frances will have to uncover the many secrets of Julia's life in order to catch a killer!

The seventh Countess of Harleigh Mystery finds our intrepid heroine in Paris for a honeymoon-cum-family trip to the Paris Exhibition, with a little sleuthing beforehand. If Frances and George thought dealing with an artistic crowd and a smart police detective could be challenging, not to mention solving two murders, they also have to deal with a teenaged girl!

I absolutely love Frances, the Countess of Harleigh, though now she's simply Mrs. Hazleton. I'm glad that marriage has not diminished her spunk, nor her joie de vivre. She's smart and competitive, I relish the times she uncovers things before George, let alone the police. I also enjoyed getting a glimpse of the Paris Exhibition with its moving sidewalks and vast crowds as well as seeing some of the water holes favored by artists of the time. 

A delightful holiday adventure AN ART LOVER'S GUIDE TO PARIS AND MURDER incorporates art and family secrets into an entertaining Parisian murder mystery.

Sunday, June 16, 2024

The Honeymoon Homicides - An Interview & Giveaway

I'm pleased to welcome Jeannette de Beauvoir to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Jeanette writes the Provincetown Mystery series. THE HONEYMOON HOMICIDES is the tenth book in the series and was released yesterday!

Kathy: In THE HONEYMOON HOMICIDES an unforeseen disaster ruins a carefully planned wedding reception. Have you ever been witness to a wedding reception calamity?

JDB: Fortunately, I have not!

Kathy: Sydney Riley and her new husband, Ali, have a honeymoon in the dunes of Cape Cod’s National Seashore. What would be your ultimate honeymoon location?

JDB: So many great places to go… I’m an avid traveler, and I can think of dozens. But honestly… my own honeymoon many years ago was perfect, even though the marriage itself didn’t last. We spent three days in Montréal (which remains one of my favorite cities anywhere), and then rented a cabin where we both read the stacks of books we’d brought with us. Not everybody’s cup of tea, but I loved it.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?

JDB: I have to go back in history to G.K. Chesterton. When crime novels were first finding their footing, they were all about clues and alibis and so on… but when Chesterton introduced Father Brown as detective, he made crime investigation human. Father Brown imagined how both the victim and the killer experienced life and what drove both to their fatal encounter. He understood people. Today, police procedurals are fascinating for sure… but I’m not terribly interested in serial killers. I’m interested in the small, domestic murders that have been brewing behind the scenes and finally manifest. The times when someone feels their only recourse, the only option open to them, is to take someone else’s life. They’re more human. They’re actually also more common. And they’re far more interesting.

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres? 

JDB: I do! My first and enduring love is for historical fiction, which makes sense when you consider that most of my academic work has been in history. The past is absolutely filled with amazing, fascinating stories. I began my first novel when I was fourteen years old (another version of it was finally published a few years ago!), and have always included a little history in everything I write, whether it’s via dual-timeline novels or just references to a place’s past.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.

JDB: The Provincetown series takes advantage of the myriad festivals and “theme weeks” that happen throughout the year in this town that has been Wampanoag summer camp, whaling center, fishing village, arts colony, and gay resort. I wanted to avoid the “Murder She Wrote” problem of killing off too many people in a small town, and Provincetown offered the perfect compromise between year-round residents and others washing through for various reasons.

A previous series takes place in Montréal, which I love both as a city and a culture. I myself am bicultural and bilingual (I grew up in France), so the city has always appealed to me. And Montréal’s history is filled with events and situations that still echo in the present, so I’ve taken full advantage of those implications.

My new series—to début next year—has a Boston-based protagonist who will travel to various places for various reasons and will end up being part of the solution to murders when she arrives. 

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

JDB: In the current series, Sydney and I have a lot of similarities; people who know me absolutely see me in her. Yet it is Sydney’s friend Mirela who intrigues me the most. She came to the United States to work for the summer in Ptown—and believe me when I tell you, the Bulgarian kids who come here in the summer? They are tireless. They work three jobs and sleep eight to a room and are amazing. What Mirela discovered kept her here: Ptown is also the oldest art colony in North America, and she realized that the art she had painted for fun back in Plovdiv gained her attention here. She moved to the Cape, transformed her style, and became a much-sought-after and wealthy artist… without changing her values or her friendships. I love Mirela. She fascinates me.

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

JDB: The town itself is my inspiration! There are so many aspects to it, as I mentioned earlier: layers on layers. It was long the home of the Wampanoag tribe, which was pretty much decimated by the arrival of English settlers. Eventually the town became one of the most important whaling capitals; when that industry faded, Portuguese people from the Azores who’d joined whaling crews settled here and made it an Old World sort of fishing village. Artists began coming here—there is, I understand, something unique about the light—and from 1916 on there was a flood of artists, writers, intellectuals, people like Eugene O’Neill and John Dos Passos and, later, Tennessee Williams, creating another layer of life that remains vibrant. Finally it’s also become a LGBTQ+ destination and a center for the study of marine life. And I’ve been able to draw from almost all of those layers to create stories that all contain some kernel of insight into the town’s past that few people—even residents—don’t know about, from the wrecks of pirate ships to the buildings that were stops on the Underground Railroad.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?

JDB: There are only two genres of writing, really. Writing you do for yourself, to improve your life or work through some problem—we call that “writing a journal”—and writing you do because you have something to say in the world. I’ve never really gotten the hang of writing a journal. Everything I write is to touch others—to entertain them, to give them hope, to create escapism, to make them think. And the way you touch others is to get published.

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

JDB: I always balk at the “what famous writer would you like to invite to dinner,” because the conversation would be so awkward, I’d just say how much I love their work and leave it at that. But the idea of having four there and just sitting back and listening to them intrigues me. So here we go: I’d invite Phil Rickman, who writes stunning mysteries with a slightly supernatural twist, and put him in conversation with Colette, because they both create unforgettable characters; then I’d add Georges Simenon, because he does such amazing evocations of time and place (at which Rickman isn’t too shabby, either), and finally Tana French, because her earlier books (Dublin Murder Squad) are written so beautifully and feel so tragic that one just has to underline passages; they could all four then talk about style.

Kathy: What are you currently reading?

JDB:  I’m an incredibly eclectic reader… and generally have at least two books going at once, a novel for fun and nonfiction to learn… At the moment I’m reading Sarah Addison Allen’s Other Birds, which is rich and lyrical and totally absorbing; I’m also reading The Undertow: Scenes From a Slow Civil War by Jeff Sharlet. Oh, and there’s one more, my bedtime reading at the moment is the very delightful cozy Murder at the Dolphin Hotel by Helena Dixon.

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

JDB: I find my life fascinating, but I’m never under the illusion that anybody else would; most of my excitement is interior. My primary activity is reading, though I also love watching some of the characters I’ve read about come to life on PBS and Britbox and MHz—the streaming services are my downfall in terms of time! I love love love going to museums, and when I travel, that’s a major focus, absorbing and learning and questioning and connecting. Closer to home, I have a garden with which I have an ongoing love/hate relationship.

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

JDB: Garlic (I grew up in France!). Butter (the real thing, preferably Irish). Cheese (several kinds). Juice (I had to put something healthy in there, didn’t I?).

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

JDB: I’m stepping away from the Provincetown series (The Honeymoon Homicides is the 10th book in the series, that feels about right). I may come back to it—never say never!—but I’m excited to be starting a new series next year that will take my protagonist to many places, starting in the first novel with Nepal and Everest Base Camp. I’ll be returning to the dual-timeline format that I loved using in my Montréal mystery series (Asylum, Deadly Jewels, Trapped), and I’m excited about that, too; it’s a format that adds a lot of depth and texture to a story.

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

JDB: Two levels of favorite things.

· Primary: I love touching other people with my ideas, with my slant on things. All my novels involve something that will challenge readers to think about it. That’s really important to me. The reality is, I want to change the world, one reader at a time.

· Secondary: Totally superficial? I love it when somebody says, “I lost so much sleep last night because I couldn’t close your book!”


 The Honeymoon Homicides: A Provincetown Mystery (Sydney Riley Series) by Jeannette de Beauvoir

About The Honeymoon Homicides

The Honeymoon Homicides: A Provincetown Mystery (Sydney Riley Series)
Cozy Mystery 10th in Series
Setting – Provincetown, Massachusetts, is a resort town on the tip of Cape Cod.
Publisher: ‎ Homeport Press (June 15, 2024)
Paperback: ‎ 290 pages

Despite an unforeseen disaster ruining her carefully planned wedding reception, hotelier Sydney Riley is undaunted as she and her brand-new husband Ali leave for their honeymoon in the dunes of Cape Cod’s National Seashore. But even in this deserted location, Sydney uncovers clues that might have a bearing on the wedding fiasco. Despite hoping for a new life, she’s drawn into yet another murder investigation—this time to protect Ali, who’s been called away on a secret and dangerous assignment. Can Sydney find the murderer(s) before Ali is harmed, or will a joyous week in the dunes be her only memory of their married life?

About Jeannette de Beauvoir

Jeannette de Beauvoir is an award-winning author of historical and mystery fiction and poetry, whose work has appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies. Her Provincetown mystery series is now on its 10th book, and she’s a member of the Authors Guild, the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and the Historical Novels Society. She’s also a local theatre critic and hosts an arts-related program on WOMR, a Pacifica Radio affiliate. She lives and works in a seaside cottage on Cape Cod.

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