Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, Guest Post, Monday, mystery on February 19, 2018

Death by a Whisker: A Cat Rescue Mystery
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Crooked Lane Books (February 13, 2018)
Hardcover: 320 pages

Getting used to life back home in Deer Park, North Carolina, Sydney McCall and her right-hand tabby, Toby, are helping her sister Kat run the local animal shelter. Syd and Kat are all excited about the prospect of the shelter’s newest fundraiser: shopping channel queen Ulla Townsend. Shelter admin Maggie Shayne vehemently refuses to have anything to do with the woman, but the fundraiser ensues as planned. That is, until Ulla turns up dead in the middle of the event.

The cause of death is determined to be an allergic reaction, but Syd and Toby are sniffing out something fishy. When Syd met Ulla, it was clear she was distasteful and rude. And right before the event, Syd spotted some behind-the-scenes drama between Ulla and her manager. As they begin to investigate, they realize there is no shortage of suspects, and Maggie is at the top of the list.

Now Syd and Toby must claw their way to the truth before everything goes paws up at their animal shelter in Death by a Whisker by national bestselling author T. C. LoTempio.

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Guest Post

OK You’ve written your book – now what do you call it?

T. C. LoTempio

You’ve spent hours, days, creating your little masterpiece, your baby, and finally – you’re done!  Now comes the hard part – what do you name it?

Sometimes thinking up a title for a book is even harder than the actual writing of the tome itself!  How do you come up with the perfect title? Well, I’ve found there are four things to consider:

  1. Make it Easy

A title that’s easy to remember goes a long way.  There are a few ways to make your title memorable:  Alliteration is always a good choice (Wind in the Willows, Christmas Carol).  Making it short is a good idea also:  Gone With the Wind, Little Women, Scarlet Letter.  OK, they’re classics but you get the idea.

  1. Hold their Interest

Just as your characters should be interesting, so should your title!  What makes a title interesting? Well, contradictory qualities help. (War and Peace)  Also, descriptive titles are eye-catching (Fahrenheit 451 comes to mind)

  1. Genre Indicative

Sometimes people like titles that clearly indicate the genre. For example, you’d hate to buy a book where the title indicates a romance and find out it’s a Neo-Nazi thriller instead, right?  Cozies are a good example of genre indicative titles, particularly where animals are concerned. My own series, which features a detective tuxedo cat, has titles like Meow if it’s Murder and Claws for Alarm.  Likewise the Cat Rescue seres, titled Purr M for Murder and Death by a Whisker. The titles don’t’ always have to refer to the feline characters, though. the Black Cat Bookshop series by Ali Brandon has titles that are more indicative of the location rather than the feline sleuth: Plot Boiler, Words with Fiends, A Novel Way to Die.

  1. Make ‘em Laugh!

Lastly, what attracts attention more than anything else?  A title with a bit of humor, or perhaps a “punny” one.  Many are inspired by popular movies:  Dead Witch Walking and For a Few Demons More, by Kim Harrison and Arsenic and Old Books and Twelve Angry Librarians by Miranda James are good examples.

You should research titles in your particular genre to see what the most popular titles are. What do they have in common?  Note the ones that seem particularly effective (sales figures help) and try to figure out how you might replicate them in terms of your own book.

Of course, the content of your novel should also be a factor.  Sometimes a line taken right out of the book can make a wonderful title. Check your text for memorable phrases or sentences.  Is there one line from the book that can sum it up?

Basically, a great title can be a popular expression, a play on words, an association of events – a title can be many things, but what it should be is something that will guide people right toward your book on the shelf!    A title, as long as it fits the story, can be simple.  And, as with writing, where choosing a title is concerned, practice makes perfect!

 

About the Author

fred-profileWhile Toni Lotempio does not commit – or solve – murders in real life, she has no trouble doing it on paper. Her lifelong love of mysteries began early on when she was introduced to her first Nancy Drew mystery at age 10 – The Secret in the Old Attic. She (and ROCCO, albeit he’s uncredited) pen the Nick and Nora mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime – and in Spring 2017, the new CAT RESCUE msyteries from Crooked Lane! She, Rocco and company make their home in Clifton, New Jersey, just twenty minutes from the Big Apple – New York.

ROCCO’s blogWebsiteFacebookTwitterGoodreads

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Posted in 5 paws, Cozy, Monday, mystery, Review on February 12, 2018

Synopsis

Former soap opera actress Veronica Walsh is recovering from her first holiday season in the retail world when she is pulled from retirement to star in a community production of Blithe Spirit. Delighted to play the part of a medium, Veronica must soon also assume the role of amateur sleuth when she finds the play’s director shot dead behind the theater.

Teaming with stage manager Sophie Morrissey, Veronica’s hunt for clues to the murder of Gigi Swanson leads her to a cast of colorful behind-the-scenes characters and a stunning Act Three finale. Will it be a triumph for Veronica, or will the curtain close on more than her career?

Review

Veronica Walsh is caught back up in a mystery and this time it hits close to home as the producer of the local community theater is killed.  Of course, Veronica has to investigate, that is her nature!  But at least this time she has the blessing of a local police detective to do some sleuthing and report back to her.

The mystery of this series is very well written.  In this installment, there are many likely candidates to be the murderer but it isn’t until the end when the truth is unwound that the killer is put in the spotlight.  I kept going back and forth between several characters, wanting them to be the murderer but with no real facts or evidence to support that desire.  I was a little bit surprised when the true killer was revealed, but not too much only because I had worked through most of the characters and there weren’t many characters left to be the killer.

There is an easy camaraderie between many of the main characters.  They are close friends and support each other in many ways, including doing crazy things to unearth a killer!

I have also enjoyed watching Veronica and Mark’s romantic relationship blossom.  It is very subdued in the book, but you can catch undercurrents of their appreciation for each other.

We give this book 5 paws up and eagerly await the next book!

About the Author

Jeanne Quigley grew up reading mysteries, watching soap operas, and vacationing in the Adirondacks, never imagining these pleasures would inspire the Veronica Walsh cozy mystery series. Jeanne’s love of characters—real and fictional—led her to study Sociology and English at the University of Notre Dame. Jeanne has never been a soap star, but she has worked in the music industry and for an education publisher. She resides in Rockland County, New York and is a member of the Sisters in Crime.

Website * Facebook * Goodreads

Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, Guest Post, Monday, mystery on January 29, 2018

The Vanished Bride of Northfield House

Gothic Mystery
1st in Series
Date of Release January 26, 2018
Cup of Tea Books
Paperback: 346 pages

Synopsis

England, 1922:  Times are hard. Anne Chatham is a clever, modest young woman with little money, no prospects for marriage, and a never-shared secret—she can see spirits.

Anne finds employment as a typist at Northfield House, the grand country manor of the Wellington family. Her employer, the wheelchair-bound Mr. Wellington, is kindly. His haughty wife is not. He has two handsome sons, the wry and dashing Thomas and the dark and somber Owen.

Anne feels sure her prayers have been heard. Until the terrifying night, she stumbles upon a tortured spirit roaming the dark halls of Northfield, a spirit that only she can see.

In a search for answers, she finds herself drawn to Owen as they unearth a tragic story from the Wellington family’s past—a beautiful young bride gone missing on her wedding day.

Then tragedy strikes again on the night of a glittering masquerade ball…

Guest Post

Today we welcome character Anne Chatham to SBR.  She is here to tell us a bit about her and her role in this mystery novel.  Take it away Anne!

I am Anne Chatham. My story is about love, loss, and new beginnings, but more importantly, it is about the human heart and the depths of depravity to which it may sink.

I should start at the beginning. Before arriving at Northfield House during midsummer in 1922, I was the beloved, last remaining child of a prosperous, well-respected man of the cloth. I had a home and knew my place, despite the tragic loss of my mother and siblings in the influenza epidemic that swept the world in 1919.

What little was left to me was torn asunder when Father was found seated at his desk in his study, one lifeless hand upon his Bible. He left little savings and no insurance, no ongoing support for me, a young woman of limited means and with meager prospects for marriage. At the age of 23, I was already considered a spinster.

It was up to me to support myself. Women were just starting to join the workforce in other areas than just Domestic Service. Though I respect the work a maid does, a life in service was not for me.

With the small sum of money left to me, I studied typewriting at a women’s college in Liverpool and applied for employment.  I was relieved when I found a job in a grand country estate outside of Northfield, a small community clinging to the values of the past.

And so I came to stay at Northfield House. Sir Henry Wellington, my elderly, wheelchair-bound employer, is gruff and distant but kind. His wife is not. He has two handsome sons, wry and dashing Thomas and the dark and somber Owen.

But they are not the only inhabitants of Northfield House.  A tortured spirit roams the halls… and I’m the only one who can see her.

With Owen’s help, I have started to unearth a tragic story from the Wellington family’s past – a beautiful young bride gone missing on her wedding day.  But time is not on my side and the answers may not be discovered before another tragedy strikes. ..

Excerpt

I heard scratching—fingernails or claws or beaks on wood. Then the rustle of wings, a soft fluttering. Perhaps a bird had gotten trapped on the floor above.

Knock. Thud. Knock. Thud. Knock. Thud.

Then nothing.

I waited for the thumps and scratches to begin again, but heard only Owen’s rapid breathing.

His grip on my shoulder softened. Before we could step away from each other, I heard something else. Whispers. Not words, but sibilance. A faint weeping.
I could pretend no longer that the sounds issued from an animal.

Owen shuddered, and I tried to swallow.

My sight darted from the floors to the ceilings, from corner to corner, searching for additional signs. I saw none. The bed, its elaborate draperies, and the pictures on the walls were all undisturbed, but a plaintive lament—a mournful sobbing—suddenly filled the space.

When the weeping stopped, I found my hand pressed against Owen’s chest. I could feel his heart beating, hard and fast, under my palm.

“I think it’s over,” he said, releasing my shoulders.

I reluctantly withdrew my hand and took a step away.

About the Author

Phyllis M Newman turned to writing mysteries after a career in finance and human resources. She lives in Columbus, Ohio in a big house with a weed-filled yard, three strong-willed cats, and a husband that’s easy on the eyes.

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Posted in 4 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, Monday, mystery, Review on January 22, 2018

Murder of a Good Man (A Piney Woods Mystery) by Teresa Trent
Cozy Mystery

1st in Series
Setting – Texas
Camel Press (January 15, 2018)
Paperback: 256 pages

Synopsis

When Nora Alexander drives into Piney Woods, Texas, to fulfill her dying mother’s last wish, she has no idea what awaits her. First she is run off the road, then the sealed letter she delivers turns out to be a scathing rebuke to the town’s most beloved citizen and favored candidate for Piney Woods Pioneer: Adam Brockwell. Next thing you know, Adam has been murdered in a nasty knife attack. Suspicion instantly falls on Nora, one of the last people to see him alive. After all, everyone in Piney Woods loved him. Or did they? Nora learns that her mother had a complicated past she never shared with her daughter. Told not to leave town by Tuck the flirty sheriff, Nora finds a job with Tuck’s Aunt Marty trying to get the rundown Tunie Hotel back in the black. The old hotel was Piney Woods’ heart and soul in its heyday as an oil boomtown. Now the secrets it harbors may be the key to getting Nora off the hook. She’s going to need to solve the mystery quickly to avoid arrest, or worse: becoming the killer’s next victim.

Review

An intriguing start to a new series set in the Piney Woods of East Texas. And since I have family in East Texas, I felt like I was right at home.

Nora is a strong and independent woman that is on one last mission for her mother, to bring a letter to a man in this small Texas town. However, less than 24 hours later he is murdered and Nora is the prime suspect. And as with all cozies, she has to uncover the truth as to who murdered Adam Brockwell and clear her name.

There are quite a few interesting town citizens that play an important role in helping Nora uncover the truth and clear her name. And by getting to know these people, she also makes some friends and learns some history about her mom that she never knew before arriving in this town.

The mystery was quite an adventure and I think I only suspected this character because there was no one else that seemed a likely suspect. There were some clues but not many to try and decipher the motive and reasoning for Adam’s death.

It would be remiss to omit a budding romance and Nora has caught the Sheriff’s eye. He is quite smitten with her and there are a few witty comments he makes that will definitely make you chuckle.

There is even a touch of the paranormal to this story and it added an intriguing twist.

We give it 4 paws up.

About the Author

Teresa Trent lives in Houston, Texas and is an award-winning mystery writer.  She writes the Pecan Bayou Mystery Series, is a regular contributor to the Happy Homicides Anthologies. Teresa is happy to add her Henry Park Mystery Series to her publishing credits with Color Me Dead, the first book in the series. Teresa has also won awards for her work in short stories where she loves to dabble in tales that are closer to the Twilight Zone than small town cozies. When Teresa isn’t writing, she is a full-time caregiver for her son and teaches preschoolers music part-time. Her favorite things include spending time with family and friends, waiting for brownies to come out of the oven, and of course, a good mystery.

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Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, Guest Post, Monday, mystery on January 8, 2018

Unbridled Murder (A Carson Stables Mystery) 
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Kensington (December 26, 2017)
Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1496714084
E-Book ASIN: B06XZRVFBD

After horse trainer and rancher Annie Carson visits a feedlot in eastern Washington, she is determined to save as many horses from slaughter as possible before hightailing it back home—until she discovers the sleazy owner seemingly trampled in his corral. With the fate of the feedlot herd in her hands, Annie must navigate unfamiliar territory while trying to track down a killer and solve an increasingly tangled mystery. But unfortunately for Annie, returning to the Olympic Peninsula alive will be trickier than she ever imagined.

Guest Post

Today we welcome author Leigh Hearon to StoreyBook Reviews and her insight into creating Annie, her sleuth for this series.

MY AMATEUR SLEUTH

I realized I was taking a chance when I decided to make the protagonist in my cozy mystery series a horse trainer.

Annie Carson is a forty-something, single, independent horsewoman, who does not suffer fools lightly, if at all.  Until murder gets in the way, her life revolves around the care and training of her herd, and she is convinced the company of horses is pretty much all she requires to make her life complete.  Murder, of course, changes the equilibrium of her life, and also puts her in contact with new characters that by turn irritate, challenge, and often try to thwart her investigation.  On the plus side, one particular character pretty much sweeps her off her feet.  Still, there’s a lot of horsey stuff in the book.

When Reining In Murder, the first of the Carson Stables Mysteries, came out, I anticipated a lot of criticism from readers who were horse savvy.  Anyone who’s ever been around boarding stables will recall a barn diva who is dying to tell you the proper way to wrap a bandage, how your riding could improve, and what supplements your horse really needs.  The advice usually comes whether you asked for it or not.

But I was pleasantly surprised.  A few of these types weighed in, but not a lot.  And many readers who barely knew one end of a horse from another were actually grateful for the tidbits about horse care, training, and behavior that pepper the pages.  I found the response incredibly heartening.

I’ve been around horses all my life, and for the past twenty-five years have been fortunate enough to call four of them my own.  My herd now consists of Jolie Jeune Femme, a petite, sassy chestnut Saddlebred who will celebrate her 21st birthday next month, and Edward, a tall, strapping bay Thoroughbred who shows such sensitivity and gentleness that if he were a man, I’d marry him in a heartbeat.  I’m just your average rider but when it comes to pure besotted love for equines, I’m in the top percentile.  When I began the series, I’d hoped I could lure readers into my favorite world, and I’m now cautiously optimistic that I’ve succeeded.

In Unbridled Murder, the third in the series, Annie meets perhaps her greatest challenge—saving unwanted horses.  Edward, my Thoroughbred, comes from a feedlot, the typical way station to the slaughterhouse, and I’ve seen firsthand the heartbreaking conditions horses endure before being transported to an even more horrible place.  But Annie is nothing if not tenacious, and her unrelenting determination to save the horses wins out in the end.  But it’s an uphill fight, just as it is in real life.

I admire Annie.  She has an inner strength to meet life head on that I wish I could emulate more often.  I know I’ll never ride as well as she does.  And, as a private investigator in real life, I am in complete awe of her case resolution rate.  I should be so lucky to solve as many homicides as she has in one year alone.

She has flaws, of course, which some readers have pointed out as undesirable in a female heroine, while others have admired these same traits.  Annie freely speaks her mind, and can be a tad sarcastic if provoked.  Her temper is never far away from the surface.  She has little patience for people who don’t take life as seriously or responsibly as she does.  And deep down, Annie wonders if she’s capable of holding onto a serious relationship.  She never doubts her horses love and respect her, but she finds it difficult to imagine any human, particularly the male variety, capable of loving her for own, flawed self.

I’ve had a lot of fun letting Annie’s character develop over several mysteries.  She’ll never be perfect, of course.  But she’s learning how to be more tolerate of others, and willing to let others be imperfect without always exercising her opinion.  Horses probably will always take precedence in Annie’s life.  But if she continues to solve murders in her fictional world set on the Olympic Peninsula, she may end up liking that lesser species, homo sapiens, a lot more, too.

About the Author

Leigh Hearon began her own P.I. agency, Leigh Hearon Investigative Services, in 1992. Her cases have appeared on In the Dead of Night, Forensic Files, 48 Hours, Court TV, City Confidential, Unsolved MysteriesAmerica’s Most Wanted, and CBS Evening News with Connie Chung. Hearon was an avid rider of horses throughout her childhood. She currently has a Saddlebred mare, Jolie Jeune Femme, and enjoys watching Jolie and two rescue mares cavort on a fifty-five-acre farm she shares with her husband.

Website * Facebook * Twitter

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January 3 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW

January 3 – Queen of all She Reads – SPOTLIGHT

January 4 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

January 4 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

January 5 – Brooke Blogs – GUEST POST

January 6 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW

January 7 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

January 8 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST

January 9 – Cozy Up With Kathy – INTERVIEW

January 10 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

January 11 – Valerie’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

January 12 – Bea’s Book Nook – REVIEW

January 13 – Island Confidential – INTERVIEW

January 14 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

January 15 – The Montana Bookaholic – REVIEW

January 16 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

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Posted in 5 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, Monday, mystery, Review on December 4, 2017

Of Murder and Men (A Cat Latimer Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Kensington (November 28, 2017)
Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages

Synopsis

Love is in the air in Aspen Hills, and it’s making a terrible mess of Cat Latimer’s writers’ retreat—especially when blood stains the plot . . .

Ever since her business partner, Shauna, fell for a wealthy landowner in town, Cat has been working double time to keep her writers’ retreat running. And with the January session almost underway, that spells trouble. As if scheduling mishaps aren’t disastrous enough, Shauna skips out on kitchen duties one morning, forcing Cat to serve unsuspecting guests store-bought muffins . . .

But best laid plans really go awry when Shauna discovers her beau missing from their bed. When his body later turns up in the horse barn, they quickly find out the victim’s scandalous lifestyle left many dying for revenge. While balancing an eccentric group of aspiring writers and a suspect list for the record books, Cat soon finds herself on the heels of a killer—and authoring her most deadly conclusion yet . . .

Review

I really love this series and especially that there is an underlying mystery about Cat’s ex-husband that has continued through each of the three books so far. Sadly I think it was concluded in this book but that doesn’t mean that there won’t be more that is unraveled going forward.

I love the concept of this book – a writer’s retreat at a small B&B in a small town in Colorado. And with each retreat it seems like someone is being murdered, stumbles across a crime or is involved with it somehow. Crazy, right?! But that seems to make this series even more interesting to me.

This time it involves Shauna’s boyfriend and while most are not fans of Kevin, he seems to make Shauna happy…until he ends up dead and Shauna is a suspect. And there are some interesting twists with those involved with the writer’s retreat and how they play into the crime. Some might seem obvious but others are not.

I hope that the 4th book picks up where this one ends because there is a bit of the story that leaves you hanging and I want to know how a certain scenario plays out for Shauna.

We give this 5 paws up.

About the Author

CahoonUSA Today and New York Times, best-selling author, Lynn Cahoon is an Idaho native. If you’d visit the town where she grew up, you’d understand why her mysteries and romance novels focus around the depth and experience of small town life. Currently, she’s living in a small historic town on the banks of the Mississippi river where her imagination tends to wander. She lives with her husband and four fur babies.

Goodreads * Twitter * Facebook * Website * Amazon author page

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December 1 – Valerie’s Musings – REVIEW

December 1 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

December 2 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

December 2 – Reading Is My SuperPower – GUEST POST

December 3 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT – unable to post

December 3 – The Montana Bookaholic – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

December 4 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

December 4 – Island Confidential – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

December 5 – I Wish I Lived in a Library – REVIEW

December 5 – Deal Sharing Aunt – SPOTLIGHT

December 6 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

December 6 – Varietats – REVIEW, GUEST POST

December 7 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

December 7 – Mythical Books – SPOTLIGHT

December 8 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT

December 9 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT

December 10 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW

December 11 – Book Babble – REVIEW

December 12 – Babs Book bistro – SPOTLIGHT

December 12 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

December 13 – The Bookwyrm’s Hoard – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

December 13 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW

December 14 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW

December 14 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

Posted in 4 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, Monday, mystery, paranormal, Review on November 20, 2017

That Olde White Magick (An Abracadabra Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Lyrical Underground (November 7, 2017)
Paperback: 240 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1516100583
E-Book ASIN: B06X3TLCLH

It’s time to work her crime-solving magic again . . .

Kailyn Wilde enjoys running her shop, Abracadabra, in the quaint New York hamlet of New Camel, where she lives with her six cats. Her family’s been here for centuries, and she’d like to keep up the tradition. But the place may never be the same if a big hotel gets built, so she does her civic duty and attends a town meeting along with her aunt Tilly . . . and Merlin. Yes, that Merlin—though he gets introduced to folks as her “distant English cousin.” The wizard is pretty grumpy about being transported here, but there are things about the modern world he doesn’t mind—like pizza.

Kailyn was prepared for a heated debate about the hotel, but she wasn’t expecting murder. When Tilly finds the body of a board member outside the schoolhouse, Kailyn doesn’t want any suspicion cast on the wrong person. She plans to crack this case, even if she has to talk to every living soul in town—plus a few departed ones . . .

Review

I think what I like the best about this series so far is Merlin – a sorcerer from the past that somehow ended up in today’s world and seeing how he handles new experiences each day. But all of the characters are interesting and all interact well with each other….even the killer until (s)he is caught red handed! The author does a good job of narrowing down the suspects for the reader, but even then I didn’t suspect the killer until it was revealed.

You don’t have to believe in magick to enjoy these books but I find that aspect intriguing. I’m not sure if I believe in it or not, but I am always open to discovering new things. If nothing else it makes for enjoyable reading.

Since this is the 2nd in the series, I would recommend reading book 1 first. It helps set up some of the back story and the relationship with various characters. You could read this but you might feel a little lost when it comes to the various relationships

We give it 4 paws up

About the Author

Sharon describes her writing career as having two stages. Back in the dark ages, before computers were in every household, she had three paranormal books published. The first one was condensed by Redbook Magazine, the first paperback original they ever condensed. Then life brought her an unexpected challenge, by the name of breast cancer. After treatment she and her oncologist started a not-for-profit to provide information and peer support to breast cancer patients. With the organization up and running, she returned to her first love – writing. This time around she’s been writing cozy mysteries with a paranormal twist. That Olde White Magick is the second book in her Abracadabra Mysteries.

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Posted in 4 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, Monday, mystery, Review on November 13, 2017

Canal Days Calamity (A Dog Days Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Midnight Ink (November 8, 2017)
Paperback: 240 pages

Synopsis

Cameron Cripps-Hayman is taken aback when she stumbles upon another murdered neighbor, this time behind her sister’s shop, Dog Diggity. The timing couldn’t be worse, as there’s only a week left before the store’s grand opening during Canal Days, the biggest festival of the year.

When the police arrest her handyman, Cameron knows they’ve got the wrong suspect, so the Metamora Action Agency sets their sights on cracking the case. With one solved murder under their belts, how hard could a second be?

With a flood warning and a murderer on the loose threatening the start of Canal Days, can Cameron and her crew save the town’s annual dog and pony show from being canceled?

Review

I remember reading the first book and thinking this was going to be a good series…and I was right! The second book was a little better than the first (in my opinion), the characters a little more fleshed out and a continuing story line with Cam, her husband Ben, her sister Monica, her stepdaughter Mia and a few other wacky characters.

Part of what I like about this book are all the dogs…but in this particular book there is Mike the Duck that steals the spotlight. I think he is trying to become a part of the pack!

There is murder, romance and even some fortune telling! And let’s not forget the dog treat recipes at the end of the book. I must try these sometime for my dog, I know she would love them.

I also really liked that after the mystery was solved there was quite a bit more that happened in relation to Canal Days and the town. Sometimes books stop soon after the mystery is solved but this one tied up some loose ends.

We give it 4 paws up.

jamie-blairAbout the Author

Jamie Blair (Ohio) is the award-winning author of young adult and romance books, including Leap of Faith (Simon & Schuster, 2013) and Lost to Me.

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November 8 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

November 9 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW

November 9 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

November 10 – T’s Stuff – SPOTLIGHT

November 10 – Mythical Books – GUEST POST

November 11 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT

November 11 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

November 12 – The Montana Bookaholic – SPOTLIGHT

November 13 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

November 13 – View from the Birdhouse – SPOTLIGHT

November 13 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

November 14 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

November 14 – Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers – SPOTLIGHT

November 15 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

November 16 – Socrates’ Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

November 16 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT

November 17 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW

November 17 – Books a Plenty Book Review – REVIEW

November 18 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW

November 18 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

November 19 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW

November 19 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

November 20 – Valerie’s Musings – INTERVIEW

November 21 – Cozy Up With Kathy – GUEST POST

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Posted in Cozy, excerpt, Giveaway, Monday, mystery on November 6, 2017

Scrapbook of Murder (An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
6th in Series
Self Published (October 2, 2017)
Print Length: 171 pages

Synopsis

Crafts and murder don’t normally go hand-in-hand, but “normal” deserted craft editor Anastasia Pollack’s world nearly a year ago. Now, tripping over dead bodies seems to be the “new normal” for this reluctant amateur sleuth.

When the daughter of a murdered neighbor asks Anastasia to create a family scrapbook from old photographs and memorabilia discovered in a battered suitcase, she agrees—not only out of friendship but also from a sense of guilt over the older woman’s death. However, as Anastasia begins sorting through the contents of the suitcase, she discovers a letter revealing a fifty-year-old secret, one that unearths a long-buried scandal and unleashes a killer. Suddenly Anastasia is back in sleuthing mode as she races to prevent a suitcase full of trouble from leading to more deaths.

Excerpt

“Lupe called me at work this afternoon,” I told Zack. We had escaped after dinner to his apartment. Situated above my detached garage, it afforded us a spot out of earshot of my mother-in-law Lucille, whose contempt for Zack grew exponentially with each passing day. Being permanently saddled with the woman was hard enough on a good day. Today was not a good day.

Zack finished pouring two glasses of chardonnay and handed one to me. I wandered over to the sofa and curled up in the corner. He followed, taking a seat next to me. The seconds ticked by. He shifted his body to face me. I suppose he was waiting for me to say something further, but my brain had stopped sending signals to my mouth.

Zack continued to wait. And wait. And wait some more. Finally he asked, “Should I run an errand during this extremely long, pregnant pause, or are you planning to elaborate sometime soon?”

I heaved a sigh, then polished off half my wine before answering him. “She asked if she could come over this evening to talk.”

“About?”

I speared him with my best duh! look. “Isn’t it obvious?”

“You have to stop blaming yourself, Anastasia. You’re not responsible for what happened.”

Right. And the captain of the Titanic wasn’t responsible for steering his ship into a giant iceberg. “Carmen is dead because of me. How can Lupe not blame me?”

Lupe Betancourt is Carmen Cordova’s daughter. She grew up down the street from me. Years ago she occasionally babysat my boys. Now they often babysit her kids. Or they did. I doubt Lupe will want any of us Pollacks in her home ever again.

Two-and-a-half weeks ago Lawrence Tuttnauer, my mother’s sixth and latest husband, was arrested for orchestrating the cold-blooded murders of two of my neighbors, Lupe’s mother Carmen and Betty Bentworth. He’d never met either of them. His hit man had chosen them at random because Lawrence wanted my attention diverted from the suspicious death of his daughter Cynthia. I didn’t know it at the time, but I’d poked my nose into the wrong person’s business.

As it turned out, so had Cynthia, but she’d gone a step further and threatened her old man. So Lawrence did what any connected guy in New Jersey would do—he took out a contract on her. No Father of the Year Award for him.

Although I had no regrets over the role I’d played in bringing Lawrence Tuttnauer to justice, guilt consumed me regarding the deaths of Betty and Carmen—especially Carmen. Not that nasty Betty Bentworth deserved a bullet to the skull, but no one had shed any tears over her demise, unlike the neighborhood’s reaction to Carmen’s gruesome death days before Halloween.

It doesn’t help that every time I look at Lupe, I see a younger, thinner version of her mother. She’s a living reminder of my culpability in her mother’s death.

Mama and Lawrence married a month ago after a whirlwind courtship. She said he owned a commercial laundry. Turns out his enterprise laundered greenbacks, not linens, and he serviced only one client—the mob.

My name is Anastasia Pollack, and less than a year ago I led the life of a typical suburban, middle-class working mom. That all changed the day my husband dropped dead in a Las Vegas casino. I thought he was at a sales meeting in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I also thought we were debt-free with a comfortable nest egg squirreled away.

Instead, I discovered Karl Marx Pollack, now dubbed Dead Louse of a Spouse, had carried on a long-standing affair with Lady Not-So-Lucky. Karl not only gambled away our savings and our teenage sons’ college funds, he’d taken out a second mortgage on the house, failed to pay our taxes for the last few years, maxed out our credit cards, and allowed his life insurance policy to lapse.

Strapping me with debt equal to the gross national product of Uzbekistan wasn’t the worst of his sins, though. Nor was the homicidal loan shark he’d stiffed for fifty thousand dollars who demanded I pay up—or else. No, Karl’s worst sin was sticking me with a communist mother-in-law from Hades.

I stared into my half-empty wineglass, avoiding eye contact with Zack, and forced my brain out of stall-mode. “I asked Lupe to meet me here.”

“In my apartment?”

“I hope you don’t mind.”

The apartment used to be my home office. Zack is an award-winning photojournalist. Possibly a spy. Probably both. Anyway, prior to moving above my garage, he lived in Manhattan. However, he’d suffered through one too many police raids due to suspicious neighbors claiming he was operating a meth lab in his darkroom. He was on the hunt for a quiet suburban location without shared walls; I was desperate for rent money. The apartment over my garage fulfilled both of our needs.

Less than a year ago we were complete strangers. Now we’re much more—the one and only good thing to come out of Dead Louse of a Spouse’s betrayal.

“Do you want me to stay, or should I go run that errand?” asked Zack.

“You really have an errand to run?”

“No, but I’m sure I can find something to do.”

“Are you kidding? Don’t you dare leave me alone. I need all the moral support I can get.”

About The Author

USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry. newsletter at

Website * Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog * Twitter * Pinterest * Goodreads * Newsletter

Giveaway

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Check out the other blogs on this tour

November 1 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

November 2 –  My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

November 3 – Cozy Up With Kathy – SPOTLIGHT

November 4 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

November 5 – A Blue Million Books – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

November 6 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

November 7 – Teresa Trent Author Blog – SPOTLIGHT

November 8 – Varietats – REVIEW

November 9 – Island Confidential – INTERVIEW

November 10 – Jane Reads – REVIEW

November 11 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT

November 12 – deal sharing aunt – INTERVIEW

November 13 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

November 14 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

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Posted in 5 paws, Cozy, Guest Post, Monday, mystery, Review on November 6, 2017

A Deadly Éclair: A French Bistro Mystery
Cozy Mystery
New Series
Crooked Lane Books (November 7, 2017)
Hardcover: 320 pages

Synopsis

It’s always been Mimi Rousseau’s dream to open her own bistro, but it seems beyond her grasp since she’s been chased back home to Nouvelle Vie in Napa Valley by her late husband’s tremendous debt. Until her best friend Jorianne James introduces her to entrepreneur Bryan Baker who invests in promising prospects. Now, working the bistro and inn until she’s able to pay it off and call it her own, Mimi is throwing the inn’s first wedding ever.

The wedding will be the talk of the town, as famous talk show host Angelica Edmonton, daughter of Bryan’s half-brother, Edison, has chosen the inn as her perfect venue. Anxious, Mimi is sure things are going to turn south, especially when Edison gets drunk and rowdy at the out-of-towners’ dinner, but by the evening, things begin to look up again. That is until six AM rolls around, and Bryan is found dead at the bistro with an éclair stuffed in his mouth. And the fingers point at Mimi, whose entire loan is forgiven in Bryan’s will.

Now it’s up to Mimi to clear her name and get to the bottom of things before the killer turns up the heat again in A Deadly Éclair, the scrumptious series debut by Agatha Award-winning author Daryl Wood Gerber.

Review

If it is possible to gain weight by reading a book then this might be the book that could make it happen! The restaurant is a French bistro and the food is inspired by the French so you know it has to be good. The descriptions had my mouth watering and imaging the dishes being served.

The story flows along quite well and the cast of characters seems to be well fleshed out and adds depth and dimension to the mystery plot. I think my favorite character might be Jo, she is a force to be reckoned with as Mimi’s manager and all around go to woman. She is a woman with a plan and doesn’t stop to question what might go wrong.

The mystery itself has multiple layers and many moving parts. There were many people to suspect for various reasons and the how and why that was revealed at the end was a surprise (to me at least).

I think this is going to be a great new series and especially since there are many recipes at the end of the book for us to try.

We give it 5 paws up.

Recipe

Traveling Meal

Madeleine cookies

For A Deadly Éclair, I wanted to include a cookie recipe that was simple to make yet pretty. I think cookies are always a bestseller at any party, don’t you?

I was reading up on French classics, and Madeleine cookies came to mind. They are cakelike cookies that are baked in special molds. I found my mold at William Sonoma—12 to a tin. The mold gives the cookie a delicate shell shape.

Now, according to one “account” (we know not all accounts are true), Louis XV named the cookie Madeleine to honor his father-in-law’s cook Madeleine Paulmier. He first tasted them in Lorraine in 1755 and introduced them to court, and they became the rage. True or not true? Do you care?

They are a perfect ending to a perfectly French meal.

FYI, this is our last stop on the traveling meal. Indulge yourselves! I’ve provided a regular and a gluten-free recipe. It’s also in the book! You have an exclusive first-look.

Last but not least, what is cardamom? I discovered that is a spice made from the seed pods of various plants in the ginger family. It has a strong, pungent flavor.  A substitute for cardamom is equal parts cinnamon and nutmeg.

Orange Cardamom Madeleines

(Makes 12)

For the cookies:

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon good-quality honey
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs

For the glaze:

  • ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

Directions

Brush molds of a madeleine pan with butter; set aside.

Make the batter:

  • Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat, and stir in honey and vanilla. Let cool 10 minutes.
  • In a small bowl whisk flour, baking powder, cardamom, and salt; set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees, setting the rack in the center.
  • In a medium bowl, stir together sugar and eggs. Gently fold in the flour mixture until combined. Add the butter mixture and fold until combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes.
  • Spoon the batter into the prepared madeleine pan, filling each mold halfway. Tap pan on work surface to eliminate air bubbles. If necessary, use moistened fingers to press the batter into the mold.
  • Bake until cookies have puffed and the edges are golden, 7 to 8 minutes.
  • Transfer the madeleine pan to a wire rack; let the cookies cool slightly. Unmold the cookies onto a rack, and let cool completely.

Make the orange glaze:

In a small bowl, stir together sugar and orange zest and juice until the glaze is smooth and thick. Using a small pastry brush, paint the ridged side of each cookie with the glaze. Let set 15 minutes.

Cookies can be stored in a single layer in an airtight container up to 3 days.

 

Orange Cardamom Madeleines

Gluten-free Version

(Makes 12)

For the cookies:

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon good-quality honey
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup sweet rice flour (or a gluten-free blend you enjoy)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum

For the glaze:

  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

Directions

Brush molds of a madeleine pan with butter; set aside.

Make the batter:

  • Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat, and stir in honey and vanilla. Let cool 10 minutes.
  • In a small bowl whisk gluten-free flour, baking powder, cardamom, salt, and xanthan gum; set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees, setting the rack in the center.
  • In a medium bowl, stir together sugar and eggs. Gently fold in the gluten-free flour mixture until combined. Add the butter mixture and fold until combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes.
  • Spoon the batter into the prepared madeleine pan, filling each mold halfway. Tap pan on work surface to eliminate air bubbles. If necessary, use moistened fingers to press the batter into the mold.
  • Bake until cookies have puffed and the edges are golden, 7 to 8 minutes.
  • Transfer the madeleine pan to a wire rack; let the cookies cool slightly. Unmold the cookies onto a rack, and let cool completely.

Make the orange glaze:

In a small bowl, stir together sugar and orange zest and juice until the glaze is smooth and thick. Using a small pastry brush, paint the ridged side of each cookie with the glaze. Let set 15 minutes.

Cookies can be stored in a single layer in an airtight container up to 3 days.

Facebook Giveaway

From Daryl:

I’m offering a book giveaway (winner’s choice of 1 from my published paperbacks) every day of this traveling feast. To enter today, tell me what is your favorite cookie?

BY THE WAY, don’t miss out on the French Bistro-themed BOX I’m giving away on my Facebook Author page.

About the Author

DARYL WOOD GERBER writes the nationally bestselling Cookbook Nook Mystery series featuring a cookbook store owner who is an avid reader and admitted foodie, set on the coast of California. As AVERY AAMES, she pens the Agatha Award-winning, nationally bestselling Cheese Shop Mystery series featuring a cheese shop owner amateur sleuth, set in the fictional town of Providence, Ohio. Daryl’s short stories have been nominated for the Agatha, Anthony, and other awards. Daryl also writes stand-alone suspense: Days of Secrets and Girl On the Run. Fun tidbit: as an actress, Daryl has appeared in “Murder, She Wrote” and more.

Find Daryl here: Website * Blog * Facebook * Twitter * Goodreads

Find Avery here: Website * Blog * Facebook * Twitter * Goodreads

 

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Check out the other blogs for the recipes featured there

November 1 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews

November 2 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book

November 3 – Brooke Blogs

November 4 – A Holland Reads

November 5 – Jane Reads

November 6 – StoreyBook Reviews

November 7 – Back Porchervations