Posted in 5 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, mystery, Review on December 14, 2017

Honey-Baked Homicide (A Down South Café Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Setting – Virginia
Berkley (December 5, 2017)
Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages

Synopsis

The owner of a delightful Southern café tastes the sharp sting of suspicion in this delectable comfort food mystery . . .

It’s fall in Winter Garden, Virginia, and business at Amy Flowers’ Down South Café has never been better. So when struggling beekeeper Stuart Landon asks Amy to sell some of his honey, she’s happy to help. The jars of honey are a sweet success, but their partnership is cut short when Amy discovers Landon’s body outside the café early one morning.

As Amy tries to figure out who could possibly have wanted to harm the unassuming beekeeper, she discovers an ever-expanding list of suspects—and they’re all buzzing mad. She’ll have to use all of her skills—and her Southern charm—to find her way out of this sticky situation…

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Review

You never know who the killer might be in Winter Garden…or what might be on the menu at the Down South Cafe.

I really enjoy these books because it seems like I can never figure out the killer. I might come close now and again. I’m not sure if there are a lot of clues on this one, but there are many possibilities and it comes down to greed. I was quite surprised how the story unfolded at the end!

All the characters interact with each other quite well despite any quirky behavior. Aunt Bess always cracks me up and Homer always has some words of wisdom from his hero of the day. It is amazing how whoever the hero is, there is an appropriate quote to fit the situation.

I am enjoying the relationship between Amy and Ryan. They definitely have chemistry but are taking it slow and enjoying each other’s company.

We give this 5 paws up.

 

About the Author

Gayle&Cooper

Gayle Leeson is a pseudonym for Gayle Trent. I also write as Amanda Lee. As Gayle Trent, I write the Daphne Martin Cake Mystery series and the Myrtle Crumb Mystery series. As Amanda Lee, I write the Embroidery Mystery series. I live in Virginia with my family, which includes her own “Angus” who is not an Irish wolfhound but a Great Pyrenees who provides plenty of inspiration for the character of Mr. O’Ruff. I’m having a blast writing this new series!

 

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Posted in Book Blast, Cozy, Giveaway, mystery on December 13, 2017

Murder, She Slopes (A Penning Trouble Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Release Date – November 26, 2017
Print Length: 214 pages

Synopsis

Sirens ring. Are you listening? Near Candy Cane Lane. A Body is glistening. A murderous sight. Trubble’s investigating tonight. Walking through this winter wonderland.

It’s the week before Christmas and Investigative Journalist Penelope Trubble has reluctantly agreed to investigate the death of a woman at the Sleighs & Slopes Adventure Resort in the hopes of exonerating her her husband—who just happens to be Penny’s ex. But with so many suspicious characters lurking in the trees, Penelope risks being strangled by clues, Christmas lights, conjecture, and catastrophe. It doesn’t help that Penny’s still a little frosty with the man accused of icing his bride, and she must prove he’s no cold-blooded killer. At least there’s candy-cane cocoa, a roaring fire, and the Laurentian Mountains to savor—not to mention the hunky detective dashing through the snow after her.

Helping an ex is a slippery slope, and things are going downhill fast for Penelope Trubble.

 

About the Author

Rachael Stapleton lives in a Second Empire Victorian home with her husband and two children in Ontario, Canada and enjoys writing in the comforts of aged wood and arched dormers. To learn more about Rachael Stapleton,

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Posted in Giveaway, Guest Post, mystery on December 12, 2017

The Tulip Shirt Murders
Mystery – Humorous
2nd in Series
Sandpiper Productions (November 15, 2017)
Paperback -246 Pages
ISBN-13: 978-0999459805
E-Book ASIN: B077CSZ53X

Private investigator Delanie Fitzgerald, and her computer hacker partner, Duncan Reynolds, are back for more sleuthing in The Tulip Shirt Murders. When a local music producer hires the duo to find out who is bootlegging his artists’ CDs, Delanie uncovers more than just copyright thieves. And if chasing bootleggers isn’t bad enough, local strip club owner and resident sleaze, Chaz Smith, pops back into Delanie’s life with more requests. The police have their man in a gruesome murder, but the loud-mouthed strip club owner thinks there is more to the open and shut case. Delanie and Duncan link a series of killings with no common threads. And they must put the rest of the missing pieces together before someone else is murdered.

The Tulip Shirt Murders is a fast-paced mystery that appeals to readers who like a strong female sleuth with a knack for getting herself in and out of humorous situations such as larping and trading elbow jabs with roller derby queens.

 

Scribd * 24Symbols * Playster

Guest Post

A Playlist for My Novel, The Tulip Shirt Murders

Thank you so much for letting me visit today. The Tulip Shirt Murders is the second novel in my Delanie Fitzgerald mystery series. She is my sassy private investigator who zips around Central Virginia in her black Mustang (usually with the radio blaring).

I love music. It has always been a huge part of my life, and I have playlists for reading, writing, editing, and revising. Music is always on at home or work. (As I write this, the Zac Brown Band is blasting on my computer speakers.) I love all kinds of genres, but I seem to gravitate back to songs from the Big ‘80s. Songs from my high school and college days will always be my favorites. And that era plays a huge role in the first novel in my series, Secret Lives and Private Eyes.

Private investigator Delanie Fitzgerald, and her computer hacker partner, Duncan Reynolds, are back for more sleuthing in The Tulip Shirt Murders. When a local music producer hires the duo to find out who is bootlegging his artists’ CDs, Delanie uncovers more than just copyright thieves. And if chasing bootleggers isn’t bad enough, local strip club owner and resident sleaze, Chaz Smith, pops back into Delanie’s life with more requests. The police have their man in a gruesome murder, but the loud-mouthed strip club owner thinks there is more to the open and shut case. Delanie and Duncan link a series of killings with no common threads. And they must put the rest of the missing pieces together before someone else is murdered.

In this book, Delanie learns about larping, trades elbow jabs with roller derby queens, has her car stolen, tracks down some bungling bootleggers, and chases down a serial killer.

So here’s my playlist for The Tulip Shirt Murders. These songs make me think of Delanie, her fiesty spirit, her nose for trouble, and of course, her beloved Mustang.  (Click on the links to watch the videos)

  1. Adam Ant’s “Goody Two Shoes”
  2. Robbin Thompson’s “Candy Apple Red”
  3. Kelly Pickler’s “Red High Heels”
  4. Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song”
  5. Robbin Thompson’s “Sweet Virginia Breeze”
  6. Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive”
  7. Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark”
  8. Jake Owen’s “Barefoot Blue Jean Night”
  9. Keith Urban’s “Jeans on”
  10. Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”
  11. The Beach Boys’ “Fun, Fun, Fun”
  12. Wilson Pickett’s “Mustang Sally”
  13. Chuck Berry’s “My Mustang Ford”
  14. Jason Aldean’s “Tattoos on This Town”
  15. Toby Keith’s “Whiskey Girl”
  16. Rascal Flatts’ “Fast Cars and Freedom”
  17. Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise”
  18. Rascal Flatts’ “Life is a Highway”
  19. Jim Croce’s “Roller Derby Queen”
  20. George Jones’ “White Lightnin’”
  21. Brad Paisley’s “Moonshine in the Trunk”
  22. Mark Wills’ “Nineteen Something”
  23. Bowling for Soup’s “1985”
  24. And of course, Hall and Oates’ “Private Eyes”

Music is such a big part of our lives. We remember lyrics from songs that were popular ages ago, and it invokes a variety of emotions. This list makes me think of my sassy character and the adventures she has as she tries to track down bootleggers and a serial killer.

SBR here – I watched several of these videos and they put me in a dancin’ mood!  Plus many are what I grew up with way back when.  Definitely take a peek!

 

About the  Author

Heather WeidnerHeather Weidner’s short stories appear in Virginia is for Mysteries and Virginia is for Mysteries Volume II. Currently, she is President of Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia, and a member of Guppies and Lethal Ladies Write. Secret Lives and Private Eyes is her debut novel.

Originally from Virginia Beach, Heather has been a mystery fan since Scooby Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers.

Heather earned her BA in English from Virginia Wesleyan College and her MA in American literature from the University of Richmond. Through the years, she has been a technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager.

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December 11 – Lori’s Reading Corner – GUEST POST

December 12 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST

December 12 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

December 13 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

December 13 – Island Confidential – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

December 14 – Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers – SPOTLIGHT

December 14 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

December 15 – Ceticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

December 16 – Brooke Blogs – CHARACTER GUEST POST

December 17 – Varietats – REVIEW

December 18 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

December 19 – Cozy Up With Kathy – INTERVIEW

December 20 – Cassidy’s Bookshelves – REVIEW

Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, Guest Post, mystery on December 8, 2017

Mister Mottley and the Dying Fall
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Incorrigible Publishing (October 27, 2017)

Synopsis

The only way out is a long way down.

Edmund Mottley, Specialist in Discreet Enquiries, is in a precarious position: his old flame Susan needs his help. Her new fiance is accused of murder, and she wants Mottley to clear his name.

Mottley would rather jump off a cliff than get involved, but when Susan is threatened by a shadowy crime syndicate, Mottley leaps to her aid.

Mottley and Baker, his intrepid valet, pursue the case to an island of otherworldly beauty. But the island is haunted by secrets, treachery, madness, and … something more.

Every clue crumbles under their feet, pushing Mottley’s powers of deduction — and Baker’s loyalty — to the limit. With his own life on the line, can Mottley save Susan before time runs out?

The Mottley & Baker Mysteries are classic whodunnits set in the Golden Age of 1930’s traditional detectives. If you like Miss Marple’s pastoral puzzles or Albert Campion’s rollicking adventures, you’ll fall hard for this cozy historical mystery.

Guest Post

 

The only way out is a long way down.

Edmund Mottley, Specialist in Discreet Enquiries, is in a precarious position: his old flame Susan needs his help. Her new fiancé is accused of murder, and she wants Mottley to clear his name.

Mottley would rather jump off a cliff than get involved, but when Susan is threatened by a shadowy crime syndicate, Mottley leaps to her aid.

Mottley and Baker, his intrepid valet, pursue the case to an island of otherworldly beauty. But the island is haunted by secrets, treachery, madness, and … something more.

Every clue crumbles under their feet, pushing Mottley’s powers of deduction — and Baker’s loyalty — to the limit. With his own life on the line, can Mottley save Susan before time runs out?

The Mottley & Baker Mysteries are classic whodunnits set in the Golden Age of 1930’s traditional detectives. If you like Miss Marple’s pastoral puzzles or Albert Campion’s rollicking adventures, you’ll fall hard for this cozy historical mystery adventure.

Excerpt

The atmosphere in the Albion Club could never be called vivacious, but on a dark and chilly October afternoon, with a fire blazing and the lamps lit, it was positively soporific. For Edmund Mottley, Specialist in Discreet Enquiries, it was a refuge when one of his many aliases might have attracted unwelcome attention.

It was also an excellent place to catch up on missed sleep. He was just resting his sleek, caramel-coloured head on the red leather wing of his favourite armchair, the protective camouflage of The Times slipping from his fingers, when a well-known face, red and square as a child’s toy hay barn, was thrust into his own.

“Mottley!”

“Bah!” Mottley sat up. “Oh, it’s you. You might have given me apoplexy.”

“Look here, Mottley, it’s about this bounder Susan’s engaged to…”

“You’ve let your sister get engaged to a bounder?” Mottley tutted as he refolded The Times. “Very remiss of you, George. I may have to report you to the Committee.”

“Well, that’s rich!” George Parton snorted. “Your sister could be engaged to five people at once and you’d never know.”

“Of course I would,” Mottley replied. “She’d ring me just to crow about it.”

George scrubbed at his close-cropped brown hair. From the laces tied askew on his shining wingtips, to the missed patch of shaving soap behind his left ear, it was plain that the phlegmatic George was driven to distraction – or as near to it as he was likely to come.

Mottley leaned back in his chair. “But laying aside my sister (as she’s well accustomed to), tell me more about this bounder. What’s his name, for instance?”

“Kenward. Denis Kenward.”

“I hate him already. And what proof have we of his bounderism, notwithstanding his pernicious habit of becoming engaged to the fair Susan? I’m all ears, as the cornfield said to the scarecrow.”

“I do wish you’d shut up, Mottley. I mean, it’s frightfully serious.”

“Sorry, old bean, go on.”

“He’s murdered someone.”

Mottley pursed his lips. He stared at his old friend, slowly turning his head to regard him out of one eye, like a falcon contemplating a distant rabbit.  George blinked, and Mottley was gone. He shifted himself in a hurry, to follow Mottley’s rapidly-disappearing form into the dining-room.

He found Mottley perched, tailor-fashion, on the dining-room table, the newspaper crumpled beside him.

“What are you doing?” George yelped. “That’s unsanitary.”

“It’s the only room where all approaches are visible. Now, when you say murder…”

“They think he threw some cove over a cliff.”

Mottley leaned on his elbows, his chin propped on his index fingers. “Start at the beginning and don’t leave anything out.”

George pulled out a dining chair and sat. “You see, Kenward’s old man was some sort of industrial genius – invented a new kind of collar stud or what not. Made a bloody packet out of it, along with his business partner. This past spring, Dad joins the great majority and Kenward beetles about winding up the estate. Well, the wheels of the probate court grind slowly but they grind exceedingly small, and it turns out the business partner has been diddling the books. The company’s worth two pencils and an old soup tin, and there is no estate. There’s an awful row, and the business partner, name of Dismore, obligingly goes and falls over a cliff. It looks bad, Mottley – very bad.”

“Over a cliff? Kenward and Dismore? Collar studs, indeed. My dear idiot, you’re talking about Pneumatic Industrial Automation!” Mottley took up the newspaper and shook it. “It’s the biggest sinking since 1912 – they’re playing ‘Nearer my God to Thee’ at Bank junction, and Wall Street’s not safe for pedestrians.”

“Yes, well, there you are then.”

Mottley perused the front page. “I see it doesn’t name the son – what is it, Denis?”

“Oh, not in The Times. The tabloid press are using his name all right,” said George.

“Has he been arrested?”

“Not yet, more’s the pity. No body found, no inquest, no charges.”

“More’s the pity?” Mottley whistled long and low. “It’s one thing to take a scunner at the chap, but you’d see him hang?

“No, no, no.” George shifted in his chair. “Of course not. I just want Susan shot of him.”

Mottley levered himself to the edge of the table and let his legs dangle. “What is it you want me to do, exactly?”

“Well… Can’t you convince her that the sort of fellow who gets himself mixed up in this sort of thing isn’t the sort who is… our sort?”

“Do you really think Susan’s disposed to take my opinion on anything?”

A sudden recollection made George grimace. “Never mind all that. If you’d just nose about a bit, I’m sure you can find something that will put her off him. He’s a nasty bit of work. I’ve always thought so, but she just won’t see it.”

“You’re asking me to take this on?” Mottley hopped off the table. He leaned back on his hands and shook his head. “George, when I take a case, I look for the truth. Innocent or guilty.”

George stood. He set his jaw. Mottley knew too well the set of a Parton jaw was not to be trifled with.

George turned to go. Over his shoulder he remarked, “Come round for drinks tonight. Kenward will be there. You’ll see. Just try to talk some sense into Susan. She listens to you.”

Mottley muttered to his friend’s back, “News to me.”

About the Author

Ellen Seltz worked in the entertainment industry for twenty years, from Miami to New York and points in between. Her primary roles were actress and producer, but she also served as a comedy sketch writer, librettist, voice artist, propmaster, costumer, production assistant, camera operator and general dogsbody.

She turned to fiction writing in the vain hope that the performers would do as they were told. Joke’s on her.

Ellen is a native of Birmingham, Alabama, where she now lives with her husband and two daughters. She enjoys vegetable gardening and vintage-style sewing.

Website Join my mailing list and receive a free copy of Book 1, Mister Mottley Gets His Man.

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November 29 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

November 30 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

December 1 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

December 2 – A Chick Who Reads – REVIEW

December 3 – My Reading Journeys – SPOTLIGHT

December 4 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – REVIEW

December 5 – Island Confidential – GUEST POST

December 6 – Valerie’s Musings – REVIEW, INTERVIEW

December 7 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT

December 8 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST

December 9 – Brooke Blogs – REVIEW

December 10 – Cozy Up With Kathy – INTERVIEW

December 11 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW

December 12 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW

Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, mystery on December 7, 2017

Aria to Death: A Joseph Haydn Mystery
Historical Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Foiled Plots Press (December 1, 2017)
Paperback: 302 pages

Synopsis

When Monteverdi’s lost operas surface, so does a killer desperate to possess them. . .

Preoccupied with preparations for the opera season at Eszterháza, Kapellmeister Joseph Haydn receives a curious request from a friend in Vienna. Kaspar, an impoverished violinist with an ailing wife, wishes Haydn to evaluate a collection of scores reputed to be the lost operas of Monteverdi.

Haydn is intrigued until Her Majesty, Empress Maria Theresa, summons him with a similar request. Skeptical of the value of Kaspar’s bequest, Haydn nevertheless offers to help. But before he can examine the works, Kaspar is murdered—beaten and left to die in front of a wine tavern.

The police are quick to dismiss the death as a robbery gone wrong. But Haydn is not so sure. Kaspar’s keys were stolen and his house broken into. Could his bequest be genuine after all? And can Haydn find the true operas—and the man willing to kill for them?

Excerpt

Haydn can find nothing to fault in the scores Her Majesty, Empress Maria Theresa, has acquired. . .

“I shall have to examine the works, Your Majesty.” Haydn opened one of the vellum-bound scores the Empress Maria Theresa had handed him and perused the pages curiously.

He and Johann had accompanied the Prince to Schönbrunn that afternoon and now sat in the Empress’s white-and gold-receiving chambers in the west wing of the summer palace.

“But at a casual glance”—Haydn raised his eyes—“they appear authentic enough.”

He gently rubbed his right thumb over the paper. It felt thick and strong under his fingers. He turned his attention to the binding. The cream-colored vellum was unusually soft and the gold trim exceptionally fine.

Johann reached for the second score the Empress had placed upon a gold stool upholstered in rich crimson and read the dedication within. “The hand appears to be that of a copyist, brother.” He turned toward the Empress, who was still seated at the harpsichord. “As would be quite natural under the circumstances, Your Majesty.”

The Empress’s finely shaped eyebrows drew together into a frown. “I hope you are mistaken, Master Johann. Dr. Goretti swore to me those works were in the composer’s own hand. I have no reason to doubt his sincerity.”

“And yet you would have Haydn authenticate them,” His Serene Highness murmured. His eyes drifted toward the portrait of His Imperial Majesty, Archduke Joseph, set into a panel on the wall behind the Empress.

Haydn suppressed a smile, having glanced up in time to catch the movement in the ornate gilt-framed mirror hanging opposite him. The Prince had complained often enough, as had his Konzertmeister Luigi, of the stinginess of the Archduke’s purse.

“It is the composer’s identity rather than his hand that I desire your Kapellmeister to authenticate, Esterházy!” The Empress’s tone was sharp, her heavy jowls quivering in exasperation.

“If I may be so bold as to ask,” Haydn interjected gently, “how much did Your Majesty pay for the scores?” No doubt the purchase had caused a rift between the Empress and her son and co-regent.

“Pay for the scores!” Her Majesty’s lips protruded into a startled round, blowing her cheeks out. “Why no more than a hundred ducats apiece. But—”

Haydn hastily withdrew his eyes from the portrait looming over the Empress only to find her large blue eyes inspecting him closely.

“I am still Empress, gentlemen.” She fingered the gold lace on her mourning gown of black velvet, her tone even. “But in this instance, I am in complete agreement with my son. It was not entirely for my own pleasure that I bought the music.”

“Her Majesty intends to initiate a revival of opera seria in the capital with the great works of Monteverdi,” the Prince explained without much enthusiasm, his own tastes running to the lighter opera buffa style.

“Among other things.” The Empress’s eyes were veiled. “And too much rests upon it for me to take the word of the good physician who brought it to me.”

“It was a physician who brought these works to you, then, Your Majesty?” Johann leaned forward, his voice rising a little.

The Empress nodded, the skin under her jaw forming loose, fleshy folds under her chin. “Giacomo Goretti. A fine physician, in my opinion, although van Swieten”— she gestured with a well-fleshed but shapely hand  in the direction of the ante-chamber where her imperial physician waited —“would have it otherwise.”

“An Italian?” Haydn enquired, his eyes meeting Johann’s. “And he was only able to bring you these two works, Your Majesty?”

“With the promise of more, as I am sure Esterházy will have mentioned to you.” The Empress shifted her bulk in the direction of the Prince, who nodded wordlessly. “If these prove to be authentic, we shall purchase the entire collection. They will be more valuable still in the great composer’s own hand.”

“And he discovered them, I presume, in Venice,” Haydn hazarded. It was where the great master had ended his days, having left the Mantuan court to assume the position of Kapellmeister at the Basilica of San Marco in the city-state.

“On the contrary. It was here in Vienna that he found them.”

About the Author

A former journalist, Nupur Tustin relies upon a Ph.D. in Communication and an M.A. in English to orchestrate fictional mayhem.  The Haydn mysteries are a result of her life-long passion for classical music and its history. Childhood piano lessons and a 1903 Weber Upright share equal blame for her original compositions, available on ntustin.musicaneo.com.

Her writing includes work for Reuters and CNBC, short stories and freelance articles, and research published in peer-reviewed academic journals. She lives in Southern California with her husband, three rambunctious children, and a pit bull.

Website * Blog * Free Haydn Mystery at Taste of Murder * Facebook * Goodreads

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December 1 – Cassidy’s Bookshelves – GUEST POST/EXCERPT

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December 6 – Socrates’ Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

December 6 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT

December 7 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW

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December 8 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

December 8 – Valerie’s Musings – GUEST POST/EXCERPT

December 8 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT

Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, Guest Post, mystery on December 6, 2017

The Culinary Art of Murder (The Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery
6th in Series
The Wives of Bath Press (November 27, 2017)
Print Length: 281 pages

Synopsis

Lee’s Uncle ‘Tío’ is smitten with a visiting chef at a Silicon Valley culinary arts institute. When the lady is arrested for two murders, a fellow chef and the dishwasher, Lee Alvarez, lead investigator for Discretionary Inquiries, Inc., the family owned detective agency, agrees to help find the real killer. But undercover work at the institute proves to be more difficult than whipping up a chocolate soufflé. The killer tries to get Lee out of the way and permanently. But just who is it? The lady chef? One of her two sons? Or one of the other inmates from a cooking school with secrets as plentiful as sauces? Can Lee find the real killer before her own goose is cooked? And if it turns out to be the ambitious southern belle chef, will Tío ever forgive Lee for sending his new lady love to jail?

Guest Post

On my mother, The-Never-Had-A-Bad-Hair-Day, Lila Hamilton Alvarez

By

Lee Alvarez

 

My mother makes me crazy. I say this because she is perfect. I once heard a joke that went like this: Two men are drinking at a bar. One man says to the other, “What brings you here every night? For me, my wife can’t do anything right. I can’t stand being around her.” The second man shakes his head and replies, “It’s not my wife’s faults that are killing me. It’s her virtues.” The first man says, “Wow! You have my sympathy. That’s even worse.”

I can relate to the second man’s point of view like nobody’s business. All my life I have lived in the shadow of the most beautiful, in-control, stylish, intelligent, and knowledgeable woman on this planet, my mother, the Blond Ice Princess.

Since I was a little kid, my girlfriends used to tell me how lucky I was to have such a ‘with it and gorgeous’ mom. When I got a little older, all my boyfriends developed huge crushes on her. I think most of them hung out with me, just to get to her.

When Dad was alive, he said Mom was the only woman alive to clean fish in a beaded Halston gown. Mom would respond, while arching one of her eyebrows, that she didn’t see anything wrong with that, because she always wore an apron. Then they’d both laugh. It was a running joke between them.

These two were seriously in love. Dad worshiped Mom and Mom adored Dad. They were a modern day Romeo and Juliet, he the Mexican immigrant made good, and her the Palo Alto blueblood.

I’m told I take after my father in nearly every way. Dark hair, twilight colored eyes, fiery temper. When I was a kid, everybody said, “Lee’s got Roberto’s features but not his fixtures.”

Not that anyone ever said this around Mom. First of all, too crude. Gender-based innuendos are not made around L. H. Alvarez. She would be scandalized. And secondly, my mother can’t stand it when people use nicknames or abbreviations. She calls it lazy. I have been called Liana, since I dropped out of the womb. Whoops. Scratch that remark. Back to being too crude.

And what really makes her crazy – ha ha – is how at the tender age of eleven, I became enamored of Dashiell Hammett, the quintessential writer of hard-boiled detective stories. Dad had given me a set of the famous writer’s books for my birthday and, man oh man, it changed my life. I never looked back. Becoming a PI was the next logical step.

You could say I cut my teeth on Sam Spade. That’s who I emulate. Of course, I like to wear a Vera Wang and sip on a Starbuck’s mocha latté as I emulate.

Well, after all, I am my mother’s daughter.

About the Author

heather-havenAfter studying drama at the University of Miami in Florida, Heather went to Manhattan to pursue a career. There she wrote short stories, comedy acts, television treatments, ad copy, commercials, and two one-act plays, which were produced, among other places, at the famed Playwrights Horizon. Once, she even ghostwrote a book on how to run an employment agency. She was unemployed at the time.

One of her first paying jobs was writing a love story for a book published by Bantam called Moments of Love. She had a deadline of one week but promptly came down with the flu. Heather wrote “The Sands of Time” with a raging temperature, and delivered some pretty hot stuff because of it. Her stint at New York City’s No Soap Radio – where she wrote comedic ad copy – help develop her long-time love affair with comedy.

Her first novel started the Silicon Valley based Alvarez Family Murder Mystery Series.  Murder is a Family Business, Book One, won the Single Titles Reviewers’ Choice Award 2011, followed by the second, A Wedding to Die For, 2012 Global and EPIC finalist for Best eBook Mystery of the Year. Death Runs in the Family won the coveted Global Gold for Best Mystery Novel, 2013. DEAD….If Only won the Global Silver for Best Mystery Novel, 2015. Her fifth novel of the series, The CEO Came DOA, won the Global Gold Medal 2017 and Dan Poynter Legacy Award 2017.  The Culinary Art of Murder is the sixth book of the series.  She loves writing this series mainly because she gets to play all of the characters, including the cat!

 

Heather’s other series, The Persephone Cole Vintage Mystery Series, is set in Manhattan circa 1942, during our country’s entrance into WWII. The Dagger Before Me, Book One, was voted best historical and mystery novel by Amazon readers in October, 2013.  It was followed by Iced Diamonds. Book Three, The Chocolate Kiss-Off, is a 2016 Lefty Award Finalist Best Historical Mystery.

On a personal note, her proudest award is the Silver IPPY (Independent Publisher Book Awards) Best Mystery/thriller 2014 for Death of a Clown. The stand-alone noir mystery is steeped in Heather’s family history. Daughter of real-life Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus folk, her mother was a trapeze artist/performer and father, an elephant trainer. Heather likes to say she brings the daily existence of the Big Top to life during World War II, embellished by her own murderous imagination.

Heather gives lectures, speaks at book clubs, and moderates author panels in the Bay Area, as well as teaching the art of writing. She believes everyone should write something, be it a poem, short story or letter. Then go out and plant a tree. The world will be a better place for it.

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December 1 – Cozy Up With Kathy – INTERVIEW

December 1 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT – blogger unable to post

December 2 – Cinnamon, Sugar and a Little Bit of Murder – REVIEW

December 3 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

December 4 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW

December 5 – Sleuth Cafe – SPOTLIGHT

December 6 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST

December 7 – A Holland Reads – CHARACTER GUEST POST

December 8 – T’s Stuff – INTERVIEW

December 9 – My Reading Journeys – CHARACTER GUEST POST

December 10 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

December 11 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

December 12 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – INTERVIEW

December 13 – A Blue Million Books – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

December 14 – Dee-Scoveries – SPOTLIGHT

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.

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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, Children, Giveaway, Middle Grade, mystery, Review, Texas on December 2, 2017

THE SECRET ROOM

(Amber-Autumn Series, #4)

by

JOHN ALEXANDER

  Genre: Children’s Mystery / Chapter Book

Date of Publication: October 14, 2017

Number of Pages: 159

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Amber and Autumn, elementary school sisters, don’t seek out problems to solve, but they often find themselves engaged in uncovering truths, solving mysteries, and helping others in the process. Autumn’s natural curiosity, combined with her boldness, leads her to push for answers to anything she does not understand. Amber, her older sister, more cautious and easily spooked, prefers to let Autumn drive ahead to solve mysteries which come their way, but her keen skills of observation often lead to the resolutions they seek.

In The Secret Room, the girls, during their stay at a  B&B, discover a long-forgotten room in the attic and uncover its secrets. The story takes place at the House of Seasons, a bed-and-breakfast in historic Jefferson, Texas. Their quest to uncover secrets takes the girls on a journey through Jefferson history including a cemetery, a river boat tour, and even an evening ghost walk.

 

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PRAISE FOR THE SECRET ROOM

“Great book, really enjoyed reading.  I’d guess a target audience would be 7 to 13-year-olds. Thank you for allowing me the honor to preview your book.  I look forward to purchasing your published work.” — Joseph (Teen Beta reader)

The Secret Room is a fun read. Not only is it a mystery; it also contains some of the history of Jefferson, Texas, and the surrounding area, as well as pictures of some special places there. Children and adults will enjoy reading it, just as I did.  — Carol (Adult Beta Reader)

“Overall I thought it was a great book. I would be excited to read the next book in the series.” –Madeline (4th grade Beta Reader)

“The whole time I liked the suspense and the mystery side of it.” – Beta Reader

“I relate more to Amber because she doesn’t like a situation without light and she doesn’t like doing scary things first. She sends her little sister in to do it first and I do that. Amber is the older sister and so am I.” – Beta Reader

 

A book chock full of mystery and history!

This may be the 4th book in the series but you can definitely read them out of order. Amber and Autumn are sisters and have a penchant for uncovering mysteries. This time it happens in Jefferson Texas which is known for its history. The author did a fantastic job of weaving some of history into the story. I liked the photos that were included at the beginning of the book since they depicted the B&B where Amber and Autumn were staying in Jefferson.

Since this is aimed at middle grade readers, there is no murder – just a secret room and a famous owner. Amber and Autumn are able to uncover many clues to the delight of the owner.

If you want to get a young one interested in mysteries, this would be a good starter series for the younger crowd.

We give this 4 paws up!

John writes chapter books that appeal to elementary school children to capture their imagination and help them discover the love of reading early in life. John lives in Frisco, Texas with his beautiful wife and his King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, Charlie Brown.

John spent his childhood in a small town in east Texas. He attended college at the University of Texas earning a BS in Physics and a BA in Math (minor in Computer Science). His years in the high-tech industry, most of it on the “bleeding edge,” allowed him to develop new technology with software.

John had the privilege of co-authoring two editions of CallManager Fundamentals. The two books sold over 23,000 copies, exceeding the publisher’s goal of 8,000. Having discovered his love for writing while still working in high tech, he began writing fiction in his spare time and published The Enclave, a mystery / suspense novel, in 2010.

After leaving high-tech in 2014, he now spends full time pursuing his writing passion. He loves writing books that help children discover early in life that reading is a fun adventure. He recently released illustrated editions of the first three books in the Amber-Autumn mystery series: Christmas Garden Illustrated, Grandfather’s Blessing Illustrated, and Golden Campout Illustrated. The Secret Room is the fourth book in the series.

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GRAND PRIZE: Signed copies of all four Amber-Autumn series books + $10 Starbucks Gift Card

TWO RUNNERS-UP: Signed copy of The Secret Room

November 27-December 6, 2017

(U.S. Only)

 


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CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR

11/27/17 Book Trailer Hall Ways Blog
11/27/17 Excerpt Chapter Break Book Blog
11/28/17 Review Momma on The Rocks
11/29/17 Author Interview Books and Broomsticks
11/29/17 Guest Post A Page Before Bedtime
11/30/17 Review Missus Gonzo
12/1/17 Notable Quotable Forgotten Winds
12/1/17 Notable Quotable The Page Unbound
12/2/17 Review StoreyBook Reviews
12/3/17 Review The Librarian Talks
12/4/17 Sneak Peek Texan Girl Reads
12/4/17 Excerpt Reading by Moonlight
12/5/17 Review Tangled in Text
12/5/17 Author Interview Books in the Garden
12/6/17 Review Syd Savvy

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Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, Guest Post, mystery on November 30, 2017

Margaritas, Mayhem & Murder – Andi Anna Jones Mystery
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Imajin Books
Date of Release : NOV 30, 2017
150 pages

Synopsis

Andi’s step-mother is a real piece of work!

But is Ruby a murderer?

Andi Anna Jones, so-so travel agent/amateur sleuth, puts aside her resentment of her father’s widow and books a 60th birthday cruise to Cancun for Ruby and three friends. Never does Andi imagine the cruise will lead to the murder of a has-been lounge singer—or that Ruby will be the main suspect.

Flirting with more than danger after arriving in Mexico, Andi connects with the charming local sheriff, Manual Rodriquez. After an embarrassing night involving the sheriff, too many margaritas, and a Mariachi band, a chance to check out an eyewitness to the murder leads her to Las Vegas.

In Vegas, a mysterious meeting in the Bodies Exhibition, a body preserving in the prep-room, and an evasive owner of a dance studio, give Andi clues to help Ruby. But when Andi is mercilessly drugged and locked in a storage room, she realizes dear old step-mom isn’t the only one in jeopardy.

Guest Post

It All Starts With Reading

Mary Cunningham, author, Margaritas, Mayhem & Murder

When I was a kid, I had to cross a busy downtown street to walk the two blocks to the public library. Mom would take me across that first street then let me walk the rest of the way to my favorite spot on earth; well, except for the high school gym on Friday night basketball game night.

I guess you’d call me a tomboy. I loved sports; playing and watching. Although, I still had fun cutting out paper dolls with my friend, Cynthia, and playing with her Easy Bake Oven (I was so jealous she had one and I didn’t!)

But, back to the library. I’ll never forget the summer I discovered sports biographies. A whole set of them! Probably due to my yet-to-be-discovered OCD, I commenced reading them in order – A-Z.

I’ll never forget the thrill of learning all about Hank Aaron. I was a huge fan back then of the Milwaukee Braves outfielder. In 1957, as a 10-year-old, I would sit in front of the TV keeping stats during the Braves games. In a record-breaking year, he hit an 11th inning home run that propelled the Braves to the World Series, where he led underdog Milwaukee to an upset win over the New York Yankees in seven games. Yep, “Hammerin’ Hank” was my idol.

I tore through the biographies in record time. Patty Berg, Jim Brown, Althea Gibson, Pancho Gonzales, Byron Nelson, Warren Spahn. Then, the unbelievable happened. I finished Babe Didrikson Zaharias. Finished. Caput. A through Z. There were no more.

I was crushed.

I muddled along reading Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, and then got interested in historical fiction. Then I got bored with the writing and storylines that I considered beneath my reading and comprehension level.

As luck would have it, my aunt replaced the ancient librarian who had been in her position for, oh, around 108 years. Or, at least it seemed like it. What a refreshing change! Nothing against Miss Georgia, but she single-handedly destroyed my older brother’s love of reading. It was the summer after his fourth-grade school year. He took “The Bears of Blue River” to the desk to check it out. Miss Georgia wouldn’t let him read it. “This is a Fifth Grade book. You’ll have to wait ‘til then.” Barely a month away. My brother, who had a bit of a stubborn streak, left the library and never returned, to my knowledge.

Back to my reading boredom. Between my eight grade and freshman year, the aforementioned librarian, my beloved Aunt Gertrude, began setting books aside she thought I’d enjoy reading. To Kill a Mockingbird, of course, and anything by Steinbeck. I graduated to slightly steamier novels like Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor, and later, in high school, Lady Chatterley’s Lover. She made me swear not to tell my mother she let me check that one out. I believe I hid the book under my mattress until I finished reading and returned it, safely, to the library.

I now consider myself to be a pretty fair writer. My children’s book series, Cynthia’s Attic, has been well-received by readers of all ages. My new series, Andi Anna Jones Mysteries, is making its debut and am I ever excited! Writing these mysteries has given me a new perspective. While I love writing for middle-grade, it does keep the creative juices flowing when you change things up every now-and-then.

I wouldn’t be writing, however, if not for one important fact.

It all starts with reading!

About the Author

Author, Mary Cunningham, grew on the northern side of the Ohio River in Corydon, Indiana. Her first memories are of her dad’s original bedtime stories that no doubt inspired her imagination and love of a well-spun “yarn”.

Childhood experiences, and a recurring dream about a mysterious attic, inspired characters, Cynthia and Augusta Lee, for her award-winning middle-grade series, Cynthia’s Attic.

Through the author’s horrifying stint as a travel agent, protagonist, Andi Anna Jones, travel agent/amateur sleuth, sprang to life. This series gives extra meaning to the phrase, “Write what you know.”

Cunningham is a member of The Georgia Reading Association, and the Carrollton Writers Guild.

When she gives her fingers a break from the keyboard, she enjoys golf, swimming and exploring the mountains of West Georgia where she makes her home with her husband. Together they’ve raised three creative children, have 2 granddaughters, a grandson, a great grandson, and an adopted, four-legged, furry daughter, Lucy.

Margaritas, Mayhem, & Murder: Andi Anna Jones Mystery #1 will be released NOV 30, 2017 by Imajin Books. Book # 2 is in process.

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November 26 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

November 26 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

November 27 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

November 27 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

November 28 – Cozy Up With Kathy – INTERVIEW

November 29 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW, INTERVIEW

November 30 – StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST, SPOTLIGHT

November 30 – Socrates’ Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

December 1 – Brooke Blogs – REVIEW, CHARACTER INTERVIEW

December 1 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

December 2 – Queen of All She Reads –  SPOTLIGHT

December 2 – Valerie’s Musings – GUEST POST

Posted in Cover Reveal, Cozy, mystery on November 29, 2017

When Lucy Berberian quits her Philadelphia law firm and heads home to Ocean Crest, she knows what she’s getting—the scent of funnel cake, the sight of the wooden roller coaster, and the tastes of her family’s Mediterranean restaurant. But murder wasn’t on the menu . . .
 
Things are slow in the off-season in this Jersey Shore town, but Lucy doesn’t mind. She doesn’t even mind waitressing at the Kebab Kitchen. Her parents have put in a new hummus bar, with every flavor from lemon to roasted red pepper. It’s fun to see their calico cat again, and to catch up with her old BFF, who’s married to a cop now.

She could do without Heather Banks, though. The Gucci-toting ex-cheerleader is still as nasty as she was back in high school . . . and unfortunately, she’s just taken over as the local health inspector. Just minutes after eating at the Kebab Kitchen—where she’s tallied up a whole list of bogus violations—she falls down dead in the street. Word on the grapevine is it’s homicide, and Lucy’s the number one suspect . . .

Recipes included!

Ready…..

Set…..

Reveal!!

Coming February 27, 2018 from Kensington Books!!

You can pre-order your copy today!!

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