Fate: A Doyle Witch Cozy Mystery (The Witches of Doyle #6)
by Kirsten Weiss
Guest Post by the Author
November Kitchen Witchery
November is a cozy cooking time of year. And even though Jayce Bonheim, the heroine of my cozy witch mystery, Fate, calls herself an earth witch, there’s some definite kitchen witchery in her life as well. She knows that sharing a meal is about more than nutrition – it’s about sharing around a table and all the attendant emotions.
At its most basic, kitchen witchery involves cooking with intention. That could be the intention to heal, the intention to share love and gratitude, or simply the intention to make a delicious meal. It involves slowing down and making cooking a heartfelt meditation rather than a chore.
When Jayce practices kitchen witchery (when she’s not solving crimes and keeping her hometown free from bad mojo), she takes things a step further. She’ll stir clockwise to infuse her intention into whatever she’s cooking (if she lived below the equator, she’d stir counterclockwise).
She’d also choose ingredients which correspond to whatever she was trying to do. For example, chocolate is well known to be associated with love and romance, so cocoa powder in a dinner entrée for a romantic evening would work well. If you’re planning on making candied yams or sweet potatoes this Thanksgiving, those also correspond to love. This would be a good dish for Jayce to infuse with the intention of sharing the love. Pumpkin pie is associated with abundance and healing, and so is that Thanksgiving green bean casserole. When cooking either of those dishes, Jayce might stir in her intention of abundance.
Jayce uses the same basic process when she makes her non-edible coffee hand scrub, that she sells in her coffee shop, Ground.
But in book 6 in the Doyle Witch cozy mysteries, Fate, she’s brewing up more than hand scrub and happiness spells. Jayce is on the trail of a killer. And she must determine how the murderer of a local deputy is connected to a lodge of dark magicians intent on stealing a magical book, in…
Something wicked this way comes…
Witch Jayce Bonheim has spent the last four months waiting for a horde of dark magicians to come to town.
Now, they’ve arrived, embedded in a traveling circus.
And they’re bigger and badder than this ex-party girl could have imagined, wreaking havoc wherever they go.
But when a murder rocks her small town, Jayce must stop the chaos. Walking a tightrope between dark spells and past regrets, can Jayce stop a murderer and stop these magicians from transforming the world forever?
Start reading Fate, book 6 in The Witches of Doyle cozy mystery novels.
This novel is a full-length, witch cozy mystery featuring true-to-life spells in the back of the book, a trio of witchy sisters, and a dash of romance. Though Fate can be read as a standalone, it’s best read in series order. It’s rated PG-13 due to mild language and some romance.
Don’t forget to enter the two giveaways for the book or the entire series below!
Kirsten sends out original short stories of mystery and magic to her mailing list. If you’d like to get them delivered straight to your inbox, make sure to sign up for her newsletter at kirstenweiss.com
Memories and Murder (A Tourist Trap Mystery) by Lynn Cahoon
Jill runs a bookstore and coffee shop in a small coastal Californian town in Memories and Murder, the tenth entry in the Tourist Trap cozy mystery series. When her partner and aunt, Jackie, unexpectedly calls off her engagement to Harrold, her niece Jill worries that something is wrong. Little does she know how wrong…
Jackie has been a victim of a con before and it appears she is being targeted again. This time someone who says he is her dead husband but in witness protection is asking her for money. If her husband is alive, she obviously can’t marry someone else.
I really enjoyed my first foray into the Tourist Trap mysteries. The relationships in the book are sincere. The mystery had plenty of red herrings and a twisty plot. The denouement was truly surprising! After reading Memories and Murder, I will be reading the prior nine books in the series. 5 stars! It is recommended highly for all cozy mystery fans.
Thanks to Kensington Books, Great Escapes Blog Tours, and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Don’t forget to enter for a free print copy of the book below!
It’s October in South Cove, California, and the locals in the quaint resort seem to be happily pairing off in the lull before the holidays. Everyone, that is, except for Jill Gardner’s elderly aunt, who just dumped her besotted fiancé—and she won’t say why.
When Jill hosts a talk at Coffee, Books, and More on the topic of elder abuse, all that’s really on her mind is lunch. But the topic hits close to home when she discovers Aunt Jackie has been getting mysterious calls. Jill’s certain the caller is a con artist, of course, but her feisty aunt claims to understand this, though she’s still shaken—and Harrold’s still heartbroken. Who’s behind the scam and why was her aunt targeted? When a volunteer from the Senior Project is found murdered, Jill’s detective boyfriend is on the case—and it soon becomes clear no one is safe when a caller from beyond becomes a killer in their midst.
About Lynn Cahoon
Lynn Cahoon is the award-winning author of several New York Times and USA Today bestselling cozy mystery series. The Tourist Trap series is set in central coastal California with six holiday novellas releasing in 2018–2019. She also pens the Cat Latimer series available in mass market paperback. Her newest series, the Farm to Fork mystery series, debuted in 2018. She lives in a small town like the ones she loves to write about with her husband and two fur babies. Sign up for her newsletter at www.lynncahoon.com.
Suspect in High Heels (High Heels Mysteries) by Gemma Halliday
Suspect in High Heels is the tenth book in the High Heels cozy mystery series.
Maddie is a shoe designer, mom of two-year-old twins, and wife of a police detective. However, she makes time to visit the set of Antiques Extravaganza with her mother, Betty, and her mother’s best friend. While there, Betty is told that her antique hatpin is worthless. Infuriated, Betty lashes out at the appraiser, Peter Carrington. Unfortunately, Peter is soon found dead by hatpin and Betty is the obvious suspect. With no alibi, Maddie is forced to investigate the crime to save her mother from being charged with murder.
The friendships and camaraderie are my favorite part of this series. Betty’s wacky friend is hilarious. The situations that everyone finds themselves in are good for a laugh for sure. Overall, Suspect in High Heels is an enjoyable way to spend a few hours with characters that soon feel like friends. 4 stars!
Thanks to Gemma Halliday Publishing and Great Escape Blog Tours for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Don’t forget to enter the giveaways below to win a $25 Amazon gift card or a free digital copy of the first book in the series, Spying in High Heels!
When Maddie Springer—shoe designer turned amateur sleuth—tags along with her mother to the Antiques Extravaganza road show, the last thing she expects to have to do is pull her mom off of a celebrity appraiser after he calls her prized antique hatpin a phony. But things go from harried to homicide when the same appraiser is found dead just moments later—killed by Mom’s hatpin!
Now not even Maddie’s husband, LAPD Detective Jack Ramirez, can save Mom as the force’s two most bumbling detectives are assigned to the case. As if Maddie doesn’t have enough on her plate, her best friends, Dana and Marco, enlist her help to plan the most over-the-top Hollywood surprise party ever for Dana’s fiancé (who has a little surprise of his own up his sleeve), Maddie’s adorable twin toddlers are always up to no good, and the only thing that can calm her fashion-challenged and suddenly-a-suspect mom down are aura cleansing from her favorite Venice Beach psychic, Mrs. Rosenblatt. Whether they help or hurt, Maddie’s friends assist her in wading through a slew of murder suspects—none of whom are telling the truth and all of whom have ample motive to want the appraiser dead. Was it the frigid business partner with questionable ethics? The clown-collecting fan-turned-stalker? The auction house owner with a grudge? Or was the appraiser’s real business something much more sinister than his TV personality let on…and much more deadly?
Maddie and her eccentric gang of unlikely sleuths are under the gun to find out before the real killer strikes again…and Mom takes the fall!
About Gemma Halliday
Gemma Halliday is the #1 Amazon, New York Times, and USA Today bestselling author of several cozy mystery and suspense thriller novels. Gemma’s books have received numerous awards, including a Golden Heart, two National Reader’s Choice awards, a RONE award for best mystery, and three RITA nominations. She currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her large, loud, and loving family.
Gemma’s path toward becoming a bestselling author was not a straight line—more like a zigzagging path filled with obstacles! Prior to putting pen to paper, she worked as a film and television actress, a teddy bear importer, a department store administrator, an architect’s assistant, a preschool teacher, a temporary tattoo artist, and a 900 number psychic. Luckily none of these panned out.
The High Heels Mysteries:
#1 Spying in High Heels
#2 Killer in High Heels
#3 Undercover in High Heels
#3.5 Christmas in High Heels (short story)
#4 Alibi in High Heels
#5 Mayhem in High Heels
#5.5 Honeymoon in High Heels (novella)
#5.75 Sweetheart in High Heels (short story)
#6 Fearless in High Heels
#7 Danger in High Heels
#8 Homicide in High Heels
#9 Deadly in High Heels
#10 Suspect in High Heels
#11 Peril in High Heels – coming soon!
Storm of Secrets: A Haunted Bluffs Mystery by Loretta Marion
Interview with the Author, Loretta Marion
How did you meet your agent, Jill Grosjean? Is that still a good method for aspiring authors?
I was fortunate to meet my agent at a writing conference. I had reached a crossroads in my writing journey when my critique partner wrangled me into attending a conference with her, even to the point of calling the organizers to arrange a space for me when I’d learned that registration had reached capacity. It appears I was destined to attend the conference, because in addition to Jill Grosjean Literary Agency asking for my manuscript, two editors also requested to read it. I spent the following week feverishly applying all that I had learned at the conference to polish up my manuscript before sending it out. Two weeks later, Jill called to offer representation, and she has been a stalwart believer in my writing ever since. Lucky me!
It’s been years since that fateful day, but I think that writers having the opportunity to pitch their work face-to-face with editors and agents can only improve the odds of sparking interest. Plus, there is so much to learn from the conference workshops as well as from other writers who attend.
Your first book, The Fool’s Truth, was a thriller. What made you decide to change to the paranormal cozy mystery sub-genre?
To this point in my writing career, I haven’t written any of my books with a conscious decision about the sub-genre. I’m more focused on the story, the characters and the mystery itself. I would consider all my published novels to be mysteries, with greater or lesser degrees of suspense. The books in the Haunted Bluffs Mystery Series somewhat straddle the conventional mystery with cozy elements.
In the Acknowledgements to your first haunted bluffs mystery, House of Ashes, you said the ghost of Oswin Dickinson inspired the ghosts in the series. What type of inexplicable events did you experience in your former house?
Oswin was more of a mischievous presence, his uninvited spirit never doing anything malevolent that would make me frightened of staying in my own home. Mainly, he excelled at moving things or hiding items in unusual places. I’d find clothing stuffed into the oddest spaces or reach for my teacup or wine glass and they wouldn’t be where I left them. Our unearthly lodger could also be noisy at times, emitting loud banging sounds from the attic. Maybe he was just trying to get our attention. Well, it worked. I did walk through some weirdly cold masses that were hard to explain. Our bloodhound, Bartleby, was especially spooked by his presence. The dog would pace nervously and growl at empty air. More telling were his frequent stops at Oswin’s grave to growl and whimper. I should mention here that we lived next to a three-century-old cemetery at the time and the grave of Civil War soldier Oswin Dickinson was located just beyond our back gate. Our niece claims a sighting of a man standing in our kitchen, wearing an old-fashioned blue uniform. But I think the most convincing experience was the morning when we found large footprints in the snow leading from our front door to Oswin’s grave.
I’ve seen some bad covers, even from large publishing houses. Yours are fantastic in evoking the gothic feel of your novels. Are you involved in selecting the covers of your novels? If so, what do you look for in a cover?
Thank you! I have been very fortunate with the book covers. Because The Fool’s Truth was independently published, I selected and worked with a design artist. He quickly understood what I was looking for and delivered a great cover. For the books in the Haunted Bluffs Mystery Series, the publisher – Crooked Lane Books – selected the designer. As the author, of course I have input. Initially the publisher asks for important aspects of the story setting, characters, scenes, threats, excerpts, anything relevant that may be incorporated into the cover. The publisher selects several options provided by the artist for evaluation by the team.
Obviously, in House of Ashes, it was important to feature the house which is so important to Cassandra Mitchell’s story and the history of her family. The cover for Storm of Secrets does evoke the ominous beauty of a storm, which is the center of all the secrets being “harbored” in the book. (Apologies for the irresistible pun!) In the cases of both Haunted Bluffs book covers, there were only minor changes I suggested. The designer proved to be quite impressive.
How did you decide to make your first novel available on Kindle Unlimited? Was it a good choice for a first-time author?
I didn’t begin with Kindle Unlimited for The Fool’s Truth. I was just learning the ropes of independent publishing and did a good deal of research. I followed the advice of several successful authors by marketing the e-book version through Draft2Digital. After giving that a test run, and with more research, I decided to switch to Kindle Unlimited. It gave me more control and allowed me to offer Countdown Sales which I could advertise to give the book more exposure. My recommendation to new authors is to do their homework and determine what avenues work best for them and their books. They can always change course. As for the print version of The Fool’s Truth, I have always kept it available through all outlets.
How do find beta readers before you are a published author?
I was fortunate to have a critique partner that I met very early on at a pitch conference. We have been offering guidance to each other for over a decade. I also give my manuscripts to several people whom I trust will be honest in their assessments. Some are ruthless! But I respect their input, knowing they would never want me to put out anything that wasn’t good enough. Besides which, they have helped me to become a better writer. It’s important to be open to what readers have to say and to develop a thick skin.
Another way to find beta readers is by getting to know the local librarian. He/she can select a few regulars who enjoy the genre the author writes and ask them to offer an honest and anonymous critique of the manuscript.
Describe A Storm of Secrets in five words or less?
That’s a challenge for any book! This may be cheating, but I don’t think I can say it better than Kirkus Reviews did: “Modern and historic mysteries collide”
What’s next for Cassandra? Are you working on book three of the Haunted Bluffs series?
I have some intriguing ideas in mind for Cassandra and her Whale Rock pals. I’ll leave you guessing for now…
With a small-time drug dealer dead in a dumpster, a small child missing, and a hurricane on the way, small Whale Rock Village on Cape Cod Bay is waiting on disaster amid a Storm of Secrets.
Cassie’s wedding is scheduled but canceled by the upcoming hurricane. To make the day worse, she finds a dead body in a dumpster. Cassie doesn’t let it get her down. To help people living in low-lying coastal areas, she opens her huge house, Battersea Bluffs, to a multitude of friends, wedding guests, and strangers. She serves them the catered food that was purchased for her now-canceled wedding reception.
With three-year-old Lucas still missing after the storm, the entire village searches for him. Was he kidnapped? Or was he swept out to sea? Is he to have the same fate as the nameless “Barnacle Boy” who washed up dead on the coast fifty years earlier?
There is a lot going on here. It truly is a Storm of Secrets. In addition to the mysteries mentioned above, later in the book Cassie and her family resolve several old issues. Two other families also have secrets that are discovered and unraveled. My favorite part of the novel was the family dynamics that are portrayed. When each family’s secret is exposed, honest and genuine feelings are shown. I did have a concern with so many people introduced during the first several chapters in the book. Luckily, I was reading on a Kindle so I could highlight them in case I needed to know their story later. By the middle of the book, all the different characters were easily sorted in my mind.
With a total of two crimes and three family secrets, this book will appeal to both women’s fiction and mystery readers. The pacing is not as fast as a thriller. Also, the emphasis is on the characters’ actions and emotions more than solving the mysteries. Probably not a good choice for action thriller readers—unless they want to try something different. I enjoyed it a great deal for the excellent characterizations of the main protagonists. 4 stars!
Thanks to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a $25 gift card plus plenty of signed books and book swag below!
A deadly storm, a missing three-year-old child, a suspicious death, and the eerie presence of the spirits of the dead set the stage for the second mesmerizing installment of Loretta Marion’s paranormal suspense series.
A powerful storm descends upon Cape Cod’s Whale Rock at the peak of tourist season–and the weekend Cassandra Mitchell’s and Daniel Benjamin’s wedding is set to take place at The Bluffs, the magnificent Victorian mansion Cassie inherited from her family. In the wake of the storm’s destruction, three-year-old Lucas Kleister goes missing–and the body of small-time drug dealer Lee Chambers is found in a restaurant dumpster. Now, the WRPD are faced with a murder to solve, a missing child to find, and the aftermath of one of the worst storms in recent memory.
While aiding with the clean-up and helping the displaced, Cassie has been receiving cryptic messages from the spirits of her great-grandparents, Percy and Celeste Mitchell, the original residents of The Bluffs. At first, the messages are benign, but soon, they begin to point to something more sinister. As Cassie works to decipher their meaning, the specter of a mysterious local legend surfaces. The tale of Barnacle Boy–and what happened to him during another destructive storm decades earlier–will weave through the desperate search to find Lucas and the identity of a killer.
“Modern and historic mysteries collide in Marion’s bittersweet storytelling.” —Kirkus Reviews
“[A] gripping sequel…Marion seamlessly weaves the multiple story threads together. Fans of tales of regional intrigue will be satisfied.” —Publishers Weekly
About Loretta Marion
A true bibliophile, Loretta Marion‘s affection for the written word began in childhood and followed her like a shadow throughout her life as she crafted award-winning marketing and advertising copy and educational brochures. She then applied her writing skills as a volunteer, establishing a Legacy Story program for hospice patients, which inspired her to create her own fictional stories. Her debut novel, The Fool’s Truth, is a twisty mystery set in Maine. Her Haunted Bluffs Mystery Series is set on Cape Cod and was introduced by Crooked Lane Books in 2018 beginning with HOUSE OF ASHES. Her newest release, STORM OF SECRETS, is the second book of the series.
When not whipping out words on her laptop, she is traveling, enjoying outdoor pursuits, or is curled up with a delicious new book. Loretta lives in Rhode Island with her husband, Geoffrey.
Murder at First Pitch: Ball Park Mysteries by Nicole Asselin
Guest Post by the Author
This book is a bit of wish fulfillment for me. A dream would be to work for some sort of baseball team in some sort of facility. Unfortunately, I never got the chance, but I have had some awesome jobs throughout the years including swim teacher, grocery store clerk, and now technical writer for the past 10 years.
One such job that I LOVED was working at my college library all four years of school. Curry College Levin Library was my home away from home during that time. I started out doing work study but ended up working as weekend circulation manager and Interlibrary loan assistant. I remember vividly after one big snowstorm the library was still open and I made the trek across an unplowed school to make sure the library was open for students. It was super quiet (no pun intended), but it was open. My dream was to continue to work in the library field, but unfortunately real life got in the way (and real life bills). I still dream of working at a library or a bookstore. I think most authors have that secret dream.
I recently went back to my old stomping grounds for Homecoming weekend. I returned to my roots at Curry College and brought my newly released book baby on a little field trip to my old stomping grounds. I introduced her to the places I knew and loved during my time there. It wasn’t always peaches and cream, but the library was my safe zone.
The campus itself has undergone MASSIVE changes since I competed my English degree there, but it still feels memorable when I walk across the green. I spent many afternoons and weekends in the library and returned to the circulation desk. I probably scared the poor kids working by asking if I could take a picture of my book there, but I’m a weird debut author. So I hope they understood.
Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for five copies of the eBook below!
32-year-old Madeline Boucher’s Grandfather instilled a love in the Boston Red Sox into her from an early age and increased that love by purchasing a local Independent League Baseball team, the Abington Armadillos.
After losing her corporate job in Boston, Madeline realizes her best option is to join the family baseball business. As the new “Social Media Director” for the team, Madeline attends her first business function and witnesses an argument between her brother Ben, and a strange man.
A few days later when walking the ballpark during her early morning hours, she finds the body of a man beaten to death with a baseball bat in the Visitor’s Dugout. It was the man her brother was arguing with at the party. Madeline is concerned that her brother would be considered a suspect. Through the local Detectives and Davis – the head of security for the ballpark she learns the victim is Christopher Dailey, a local baseball scout and prior felon.
When her brother is arrested and taken to the police station, she realizes she needs to figure out who the real culprit is, so her brother doesn’t take the fall for something she knows he didn’t do.
About Nicole Asselin
Nicole Asselin grew up a Navy Brat, and spent her formative high school years in the middle of Pennsylvania but always identified with her New England roots. Nicole’s family is originally from Connecticut, and her Grandpa Asselin introduced her into the Red Sox nation where she has been a member for her whole life and her Grandma Asselin introduced her to the world of mystery novels.
Nicole graduated from Curry College in Milton Mass with a degree in English/Creative Writing, minoring in Dance in 2004. She also attended George Mason University and received a Master’s in Arts Management… Now working just outside of Boston as a Technical Writer, she lives on the South Shore of Massachusetts with her three cats Julia, Jacques, and Madeline (no relation to the main character of her book).
Nicole is a current member of Sisters in Crime (National and New England) and the Mystery Writers of America. She sits on the Board of Directors for the NE branches of both groups as Social Media Liaison.
A Legacy of Murder: A Kate Hamilton Mystery by Connie Berry
Interview with Kate, lead character in A Legacy of Murder
Hi Kate. After stumbling across two bodies in less than a month, are you concerned about the same occurring on your next antiquing expedition?
Have you been talking to my mother, Diane? Linnea Larsen may be logical and down-to-earth, but even she is beginning to wonder about my bodies, as she calls them. Nonsense, of course. The Isle of Glenroth’s murky past had been simmering below the surface for generations. I just happened to be there when it finally erupted. And that’s not likely to happen again, is it?
Just in case, can you tell me where your next travel destination is and your approximate date of arrival so I can avoid it?
My next destination is Suffolk, England, a historic and perfectly safe county northeast of Cambridge. Just look at that photo! My flight from Cleveland will arrive the morning of December 5th, so I’ll be in England for all the pre-holiday celebrations (something I’ve always dreamed about). I plan to drive directly from Heathrow to Finchley Hall, the historic country house in the village of Long Barston, where my daughter, Christine, has an internship between terms at Oxford University. DI Mallory, as it happens, lives in the nearby village of Saxby St. Clare, and I’ve promised to spend as much time as possible with him—so no drama this time, please. By the way, please don’t avoid Suffolk! It’s definitely off the tourist track, but I know you would love the quaint villages and fascinating Anglo-Saxon history.
How would you characterize your relationship with English Detective Inspector Tom Mallory? Friend, boyfriend, or something more?
You do ask hard questions, don’t you? I’ve spent the past month trying to answer that question. Tom is certainly a friend, but I have to admit our relationship goes a long way beyond friendship. After Bill’s death, I thought I’d never fall in love again. After all, love is risky. Safer to live in the past. But by the end of my time in Scotland last October, I knew that Tom had captured my heart. That’s the problem—how can a transatlantic relationship ever work? His family, his job, his life are in England. Mine are in Ohio. Hopeless, right? Tom doesn’t think so, and I’ve agreed to take the next step—meeting his mother, the one who doesn’t like Americans. Yikes.
Do you think it was fate that you met Tom through careless driving on both your parts, even though he is a policeman and ought to know better?
Don’t blame Tom. I was the one distracted by memories of the island and Bill’s horrific death. Was it fate that brought us (literally) together? I’m not ruling it out. Things like that do happen—like the first automobile crash ever recorded in the United States. In 1895 there were only two automobiles in Ohio, and they managed to collide. Explain that.
Finally, is there any way to train to be an antique whisperer like yourself? Whenever I’m in a houseful of junk, I never seem to find the lone treasure.
My dad was the one who called me “an antique whisperer.” He said I was drawn like a magnet to objects of great age and beauty. An exaggeration, obviously, although (just between the two of us) I will admit to having a kind of sixth sense, almost as if I can perceive the emotional atmosphere in which an antique existed. I never talk about it, so please keep it to yourself. As far as training goes, you could certainly be trained to recognize and evaluate fine antiques, but it will take years of experience. I had the blessing of being raised by my parents, both experts in the field.
Well, it’s been lovely chatting, Diane, but I’ve got lots to do at the antique shop. If you’re ever in Jackson Falls, Ohio, stop in to see me at Antiques at the Falls!
Don’t forget to read my review of this book here and enter a giveaway for a $25 Amazon gift card below!
American antique dealer Kate Hamilton’s Christmastime jaunt to a charming English village leads to an investigation of a missing ruby…and a chain of murders.
It’s Christmastime and antiques dealer Kate Hamilton is off to visit her daughter, Christine, in the quaint English village of Long Barston. Christine and her boyfriend, Tristan, work at stately-but-crumbling Finchley Hall. Touring the Elizabethan house and grounds, Kate is intrigued by the docent’s tales of the Finchley Hoard, and the strange deaths surrounding the renowned treasure trove. But next to a small lake, Kate spies the body of a young woman, killed by a garden spade.
Nearly blind Lady Barbara, who lives at Finchley with her loyal butler, Mugg, persuades Kate to take over the murdered woman’s work. Kate finds that a Burmese ruby has vanished from the legendary Blood-Red Ring, replaced by a lesser garnet. Were the theft and the woman’s death connected?
Kate learns that Lady Barbara’s son fled to Venezuela years before, suspected of murdering another young woman. The murder weapon belonged to an old gardener, who becomes the leading suspect. But is Lady Barbara’s son back to kill again? When another body is found, the clues point toward Christine. It’s up to Kate to clear her daughter’s name in Connie Berry’s second Kate Hamilton mystery, a treasure for fans of traditional British mysteries.
About Connie Berry
Like her protagonist, Connie Berry was raised in the antiques trade. After teaching theology for twenty-five years, she took up writing mysteries featuring high-end antiques and the legacy of the past. Connie loves history, cute animals, travel with a hint of adventure, and all things British. She lives in Ohio with her husband and adorable dog, Millie.
Apple Cider Slaying (A Cider Shop Mystery) by Julie Anne Lindsey
Set in a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains of West Virginia, Apple Cider Slaying is the first book in the Cider Shop Mystery series. And it’s a great start!
Winnie and her Granny Smythe are trying to save the family orchard by persuading a local banker to fund a loan to open a cider shop in their barn. But when Granny’s nearest, and definitely not dearest, neighbor, Nadine, is found dead in their cider press, the new, and hot, Sheriff Colton states that Granny is suspect number one. Immediately after arriving at the crime scene, the Sheriff says this to Granny,
“You’re free to go, but I’d consider getting a good lawyer.”
Worrying that the Sheriff won’t look further than her Granny, Winnie is determined to prove her Granny’s innocence by finding the real killer.
This book is chockful of descriptions of small town life in rural America. The residents of Blossom Valley are gossipy but also kind and look after one another. You can picture the beautiful fall countryside in your mind easily. It is a wonderful and relaxing escape to a completely different lifestyle for this born and bred Southern Californian.
Winnie is motivated. She is extending the selling season of the orchard by booking fall bus tours to taste samples and have a hay ride to see the property’s inner workings. She also sells her Granny’s jams and pies to the locals and the tourists from their existing fruit stand. To help with expenses, Winnie works as a part-time waitress while attending community college to acquire a business degree. She uses her business education to create a business plan to turn one barn into a cider shop. To do so, Winnie needs to convince local banker, Sherman, to give her a loan. Too bad he was touring the property with her when she found Nadine.
I really enjoyed Apple Cider Slaying. It was a nice relaxing fall evening read visiting Winnie and her friends and family. The Sheriff and Winnie seem to have a mutual attraction that hopefully will grow in subsequent books. Winnie’s method of using local gossip to lead her investigation is innovative. The killer’s identity totally blind-sided me because the clues were carefully hidden among numerous red herrings. If you would like to spend a few hours, saving a family orchard, defending a Granny from murder, and visiting the residents of Blossom Valley, pick up this book. You won’t be disappointed. 5 stars!
Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Don’t forget about entering the giveaway for one of five print copies listed below!
Apples are at the core of the family business run by Winona Mae Montgomery and her Granny Smythe. But this year’s crop is unseasonably ripe with murder . . .
ONE ROTTEN APPLE
Blossom Valley, West Virginia, is home to Smythe Orchards, Winnie and her Granny’s beloved twenty-five-acre farm and family business. But any way you slice it, it’s struggling. That’s why they’re trying to drum up business with the “First Annual Christmas at the Orchard,” a good old-fashioned holiday festival with enough delicious draw to satisfy apple-picking locals and cider-loving tourists alike—until the whole endeavor takes a sour turn when the body of Nadine Cooper, Granny’s long-time, grudge-holding nemesis, is found lodged in the apple press. Now, with Granny the number one suspect, Winnie is hard-pressed to prove her innocence before the real killer delivers another murder . .
About Julie Anne Lindsey
Julie Anne Lindsey is a multi-genre author who writes the stories that keep her up at night. When she’s not creating new worlds and organizing the epic adventures of fictional characters, Julie can be found carpooling her three kids around Northeastern Ohio and plotting with her shamelessly enabling friends. Today, she hopes to make someone smile. One day she plans to change the world. Julie is a member of the International Thriller Writers, Romance Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime.
Beware the East Wind (The Mah Jongg Mysteries) by Barbara Barrett
Author Guest Post
The Mysteries of Mah Jongg
I decided to use the game of Mah Jongg as the focus of my first mystery series for two reasons. First, it was a subject with which I had some familiarity since I’d been playing it for over a decade and could, therefore, write with a certain degree of credibility. And second, it was a relatively unknown niche in the cozy mystery market which promised a whole new group of potential readers.
I soon learned that decision came with challenges of its own. The people I’d been playing with over the years offered a rich panorama of personalities to include as either main or secondary characters. However, to keep myself out of legal trouble, and avoid offending anyone, I didn’t feel I could base any one character on a specific person. I had to either use certain traits of one person and mix them with others’ characteristics or use them solely as inspirations of totally original characters. Though I managed to steer clear of legal issues by creating my characters under those restrictions, I also discovered I had some disappointed readers who bought the first book hoping they’d find themselves somewhere on its pages. Go figure.
Another challenge was the subject itself. Mah Jongg has a large and growing base of players. They had been my target when I selected this hook for the series. However, not all Mah Jongg players read mysteries. I had to tap the pocket of cozy mystery fans for sales. But the subject matter didn’t necessarily appeal. Reference to Mah Jongg comes with its own connotations, primarily, the perception it is played mainly by little old ladies and also that it was hard to understand let alone learn how to play. While there’s some truth to both—I could be seen as a little old lady, although I prefer to characterize myself as in my late middle age, and it does take a little time to learn the terms and rules—I didn’t see either as being a huge problem as long as I approached my stories with those in mind.
Admittedly, since my four protagonists are all retired, which could conceivably reinforce the “little old lady” notion, I’ve made all four active seniors, each with her own strengths and foibles. I keep mention of the technicalities of the game to a minimum, usually as simply the backdrop of the opening or closing chapter. The rest of the Mah Jongg theme is setting, and it also has served as the connection to someone involved with the murder. Oh, yes, each title contains a Mah Jongg term.
I spent the first four books in the series “settling into” the format. This summer, I had a chance to expand my horizons when it comes to characterization. The group I usually play with during the summer months decided to decrease from weekly sessions to two a month. With that in mind, I looked for other groups and found two contenders. (I actually found a couple more, but I needed to spend time actually writing, so I limited it to two.)
The first was a group who met at their church. The church actually supported them as one of their outreach activities. Given the surroundings, they didn’t play for money, simply the joy of learning the game and winning. That was a bit of a mental switch for me, although not unheard of as I’d also played for a time with a group that met at the local Y. The church-based group also played for only two hours each session; I was more accustomed to three or more hours. With the shortened time frame and no-money approach, I found I was mainly playing to enjoy the game itself. There’s a lot to be said for that. The competitive urge had to be curbed.
I was most impressed by their friendliness. They were very welcoming, which in my experience, hasn’t always been the case with some groups. They had also worked out a way to determine who played at which table at each session, which prevented factions from forming, although, from my writer’s perspective, that may have reduced my chances of tapping some juicy confrontations.
The second group played in the food court of a local mall. (The way seniors have taken over the malls during daytime hours is a whole article in itself for some future blog.) The setting alone offered potential new aspects for my stories, due to the number of other people in the mall who’d stop by. This group, too, didn’t play for money. They did tend to play a little longer, two and a half to three hours. Unlike the church group, there was no method of picking tablemates; people just sat at place that had openings, although they did attempt to move around whenever there was a winner, who was supposed to move to another table. That happened sometimes but not always.
This group played another version of Mah Jongg, which was why I selected them, so that I could continue playing this version over the summer. However, they radically changed the way the game was played by using Jokers (the wild tiles), which are not typically used in this version of the game. It took me a few weeks to adapt to this style, because it totally changed the strategy. I hope I can devise a way to introduce these features in a future story without getting overly complicated, because they offer rich back story.
How will these two experiences contribute to future stories otherwise? Those threads are still coming together. The main realization I’ve had is not to let my four Mah Jongg-playing protagonists get too comfortable with the game. I need to throw in some curves from time to time to keep it interesting and evolving.
How about you, reader? Have you encountered any new situations with the game that have sharpened your playing ability?
Beware the east wind! It’s hurricane season in Florida, and everyone’s attention is focused on preparing for the latest tempest. But in Serendipity Springs, mah jongg pals Marianne, Sydney, Micki and Kat are caught in a different kind of whirlwind—a mesmerizing murder case involving a slain hypnotist/chef and the woman police suspect of doing her in, her embittered catering partner, Portia.
About the Author
Barbara Barrett started reading mysteries when she was pregnant with her first child to keep her mind off things like her changing body and food cravings. When she’d devoured as many Agatha Christies as she could find, she branched out to English village cozies and Ellery Queen.
Later, to avoid a midlife crisis, she began writing fiction at night when she wasn’t at her day job as a human resources analyst for Iowa State Government. After releasing eleven full-length romance novels and one novella, she returned to the cozy mystery genre, using one of her retirement pastimes, the game of mah jongg, as her inspiration. Not only has it been a great social outlet, it has also helped keep her mind active when not writing.
Bamboozled, the second book in her “Mah Jongg Mystery” series, features four friends who play mah jongg together and share otherwise in each other’s lives. None of the four is based on an actual person. Each is an amalgamation of several mah jongg friends with a lot of Barbara’s imagination thrown in for good measure. The four will continue to appear in future books in the series.
Anticipating the day when she would write her first mystery, she has been a member of the Mystery/Romantic Suspense chapter of Romance Writers of America for over a decade. She credits them with helping her hone her craft.
Barbara is married to the man she met her senior year of college. They have two grown children and eight grandchildren.
“My name is Katerina Mills. Make sure I disappear.”
Katerina Mills is getting out . . .
Desperate to escape a psychotic former client, a vengeful mobster, and a dirty DEA agent, professional “fixer” Kat Mills is ready to drop out and disappear.
She doesn’t trust her employer, the shadowy MJM Consulting, but Katerina can’t say no to one last job for the biggest score yet, enough money to get lost for good… until the client asks the impossible…
Dmitry Zilinsky claims he is a direct descendant of Russia’s last Tsar, Nicholas II, and he demands Katerina steal the item that will prove it.
Kat must get the job done or she can’t make her escape. But when professional thief Alexander Winter reappears in her life, Katerina Mills faces a new choice: go it alone or risk everything to be with the one person she doesn’t want to live without?
Genre: Suspense, Thriller Published by: Jill Amy Rosenblatt Publication Date: October 22, 2019 Number of Pages: 692 ISBN: 978-1-7332560-0-1 Series: The Fixer #3 Purchase Links:Amazon, Goodreads
Read an excerpt:
CHAPTER 1 Katerina Mills sat in the silver Honda Civic, peering through the lenses of the binoculars. The factory parking lot loomed larger as she watched the first shift employees filing out, heads bowing to brace against the frigid Vermont winds, and dashing to their cars. Katerina knew every inch of the toy factory her father had managed. In high school, she had helped out after classes, typing, filing, and bookkeeping. Following graduation and while caring for William Mills through his bout of cancer, Kat worked a few hours a day and carried paperwork back and forth to her father at home. Can you keep an eye on things for your old man? Bullshit, Kat thought. It was time to find out the truth. Kat snapped out of her thoughts as Richie Calico emerged. She watched him turn up the collar of his jacket as he hustled toward a shiny, red Dodge Durango. Kat knew Richie as a third-generation, blue-collar working stiff, always looking for an angle and an easy buck. That looks new, Kat thought as she sharpened the binoculars on the Durango. Richie’s head swiveled back and forth as he hurried to the SUV. That’s not the confident man I remember strolling up to my desk with a singsong “Kat-a-reeena.” As if we shared a secret. Richie slid into the Durango, revved the engine, and took off, speeding out of the lot. Time to spill your secrets, Richie. Kat put the Civic in gear. *** Katerina watched Richie pull into a strip mall, park in front of a run-down pub, and get out. She followed, parking in the back of the lot and cutting the engine. Leaning forward, Kat wrapped her arms around the wheel. I have to go in. I need him to fill in the blanks. How do I get in and out without being noticed? Steal in and out. Like a thief. She sighed. It had been a little more than two months since her first B and E. Alexander Winter, “Bob,” and “Professor,” to Kat, a good man and an expert thief, had walked her through it and brought her out. He would know what to do. She closed her eyes, the familiar ache of missing him threatening to overwhelm her. Not now, Katerina thought, opening her eyes and forcing herself to return to the business at hand. There’s a reason Richie is looking over his shoulder. Remember what Winter taught you, she thought. Once you go in, you give yourself five minutes. Every minute you linger, your risk of getting caught rises. Scanning the lot one more time, she flipped the fur lined hood over her chestnut hair, opened the door, and got out. *** Slipping in through the back door, Katerina stepped into the shrouded gloom of the deserted dive bar. She came up behind Richie as he slouched in a booth, drinking alone. Suddenly, Richie’s eyes shot up from his Coors and he jolted at the presence of a person looming over him. Shifting to face him, Kat brushed her hood back and watched his eyes grow wide. He gaped at her as she slid into the booth. “Katerina,” Richie said, his Adam’s apple bobbing as he swallowed hard. “Uh . . . Merry Christmas, Happy New Year . . . when did you get home?” “Hi Richie,” Kat said. “How’s the heroin business?” *** Excerpt from The Last Romanov by Jill Amy Rosenblatt. Copyright 2019 by Jill Amy Rosenblatt. Reproduced with permission from Jill Amy Rosenblatt. All rights reserved.
Jill Amy Rosenblatt is the author of The Fixer (Katerina Mills) series. The Last Romanov is the third book in the series. Book 2, The Killing Kind, was the 2017 Beverly Hills Book Award Winner for Suspense. She previously published Project Jennifer and For Better or Worse through Kensington Press. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Writing and Literature and her Master’s Degree in Literature and Creative Writing from Burlington College in Vermont. She lives on Long Island and is currently at work on book four of The Fixer series, The Good Criminal.
Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!
This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Jill Amy Rosenblatt. There will be 3 winners. One (1) winner will receive a $20 Amazon.com Gift Card and Two (2) winners will receive The Fixer: The Last Romanov by Jill Amy Rosenblatt (eBook). The giveaway begins on October 21, 2019, and runs through November 25, 2019. Void where prohibited.
Molded 4 Murder (Sophie Kimball Mystery) by J.C. Eaton
When an acclaimed local potter is killed by suffocation, he is truly Molded 4 Murder.
In Glendale Arizona, Phee is a bookkeeper at Williams Investigations, a private detective firm. One day two acquaintances come in asking for Phee’s help. Someone is stealing small items at their luxurious retirement residence hotel. Tuna cans, yarn, olives, a $5 bill, and an old jar don’t sound like much but it means someone has access to their locked apartments. Phee agrees to look into the thefts. After all, she is a former police officer.
I enjoyed the characters most of all. Phee and her newish boyfriend/co-worker Marshall’s romance is moving forward nicely. You can feel the attraction. The retirees of Sun City West, including Phee’s mother, feel genuine—not generic—too. And who wouldn’t want to pal around with the enterprising Phee for a day or two?
The multitude of mysteries is intriguing too. The twists and turns in the plot allowing all to be unveiled at the conclusion are skillfully created by the author.
If you like your cozy mysteries with a touch of romance and humor, I highly recommend Molded 4 Murder. 4 stars!
Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
How did you decide on your pen name?
Our pen name is J. C. Eaton. The J.C. are Jim Clapp’s initials and Eaton was his mother’s maiden name. Since Ann writes YA time travel mysteries under her own name, we needed to create one that was strictly for the cozy mysteries we co-author.
Describe your new book in 5 words or less. Over-the-top comic romp!
How do you share writing duties between you?
We do a rough plot together but Jim flushes it out, adding the detail and sequence before turning it over to Ann for the descriptions. We both work on the characters and do the dialogues together. We go back and forth constantly and work in different parts of the house since Ann likes absolute quiet while Jim could write with a full-blown circus in front of him.
Of all the characters in your book, which ones would you kiss, marry, or kill? No fair picking the book’s murder victim to kill. They are already dead so it really would be overkill. Ann would definitely marry Nate Williams, the down-to-earth investigator and Phee’s boss. Hmm, he seems to be a lot like Jim… Jim would probably kiss those adorable blondes at The Madison Senior Living Resort.
Who are your favorite cozy writers and why?
For Ann, Nancy Atherton because she has a unique way of drawing the reader into the setting and not letting go – it’s magical. For Jim, it’s John Lamb because his protagonist is a seasoned detective working in the world of teddy bear artistry and learning as he goes. We both enjoy Agatha Christie, and pet themed cozies such as V.M. Burns, Libby Klein, Bethany Blake, Jody Holford, as well as wine and food themed cozies such as Sarah Fox, Tina Kashian, Vivien Chien, Debra Sennefelder, Jenny Kales, Linda Reilly, and Shari Randall. Ann has a penchant for paranormal cozies and adores Lena Gregory and Carol J. Perry.
What’s coming soon in J.C. Eaton’s world?
Wow! Have we been busy! MURDER AT THE MYSTERY CASTLE, in our Marcie Rayner detective series, just came out last week (Camel Publishing) and will be followed in December, 2019, by SAUVIGONE FOR GOOD, in our Wine Trail Mysteries (Kensington Lyrical). Fans of Sophie Kimball can look forward to DRESSED UP 4 MURDER in late February, 2020 where Streetman, the neurotic Chiweenie, takes center stage.
Also, we will be attending the Tucson Festival of Books on March 14, 15, 2020, in Tucson, Arizona. Ann will be moderating a panel and we’ll be on board for book signings.
Thank you both for taking the time to answer my questions!
Don’t forget to enter the contest for one of three paperback copies of the book below!
Sophie “Phee” Kimball enjoys working as a bookkeeper for a private investigator. If only her mother Harriet could enjoy her retirement at Sun City West in Arizona—instead of constantly getting involved with retirees being prematurely put out to pasture. This time Quentin Dussler, a prominent member of the clay sculpting club, was found dead, clutching a piece of paper scrawled with Phee’s mother’s name.
Terrified she’s been targeted by assassins, Harriet begs Phee to investigate. What Phee uncovers is a complicated scheme that only the most diabolical of murderers would ever devise. And as she chisels away at confusing clues and potential suspects, Phee unearths something far more precious and valuable than she could imagine. Eager for answers, she takes a bold step—placing herself in the crosshairs of a stonefaced killer …
About the Authors
Ann I. Goldfarb
New York native Ann I. Goldfarb spent most of her life in education, first as a classroom teacher and later as a middle school principal and professional staff developer. Writing as J. C. Eaton, along with her husband, James Clapp, she has authored the Sophie Kimball Mysteries (Kensington) was released in June 2017. In addition, Ann has nine published YA time travel mysteries under her own name. Visit the websites at www.jceatonauthor.com and www.timetravelmysteries.com
James E. Clapp
When James E. Clapp retired as the tasting room manager for a large upstate New York winery, he never imagined he’d be co-authoring cozy mysteries with his wife, Ann I. Goldfarb. His first novel, Booked 4 Murder(Kensington) was released in June 2017. Non-fiction in the form of informational brochures and workshop materials treating the winery industry were his forte along with an extensive background and experience in construction that started with his service in the U.S. Navy and included vocational school classroom teaching.
Here is a quick look at the paranormal cozy mysteries featuring Viola Valentine
A Ghost of a Chance
A Viola Valentine
Mystery Book 1
by Cherie Claire
Genre: Paranormal Mystery
From award-winning novelist Cherie Claire comes
a new paranormal mystery series.
They say there are blessings from Hurricane Katrina. For Viola Valentine of New
Orleans, it was losing her dead-end job and leaving behind a loveless marriage
and an overbearing family.
But the storm also blew open a psychic door. Now she sees ghosts who have died
As she enters her new career as a travel writer, solving mysteries that appear
with apparitions everywhere she goes, the one person she hopes to speak to — her
daughter who died of leukemia years before — continues to elude her.
Every day at dusk, in a small Louisiana town,
the dead emerge from Lorelei Lake. And travel writer Viola Valentine must use
her “gift” of seeing ghosts to rid this town of its apparitions. Viola
struggles not only with the task-at-hand but hopes that this evolving ability
she obtained after Hurricane Katrina will help her reach her beloved
Yet, the more Viola struggles to talk to her departed daughter, the more
frustrated she gets. Plus, it’s 2008, the height of the Great Recession, travel
jobs are hard to come by, and her suffocating family and ex-husband keep making
demands. She takes solace in a new love interest, one who teaches her how to
harness her anger.
In the end, Viola realizes that only love can solve her problems, from ridding
ghosts of lakeside towns to healing a broken heart.
Ghost Town, book two in the Viola Valentine Mystery Series by award-winning
author Cherie Claire.
Award-winning novelist Cherie Claire continues
her paranormal mystery series as travel writer Viola Valentine takes a trek
down the historic Natchez Trace of Mississippi. Traveling with her is an
adventurous heiress who’s been dead since 1860 and a living fellow travel
writer who’s not what he seems. In the end, it’s a showdown between good and
evil, and a bargain made with the devil at the crossroads may be Viola’s final
Book Three in the Viola Valentine Paranormal Mystery Series.
John Valentine left home for a birding
conference and never returned, his family chalking it up to the divorced
father’s mid-life crisis. But when a body is found on the old family homestead,
his daughter Viola must piece together the clues her father left behind. Along
for the ride are her witchy Aunt Mimi, her uptight lawyer sister Portia and her
sometimes ex-husband Thibault Boudreaux, otherwise known as TB. What they
discover on this crazy ghost trip through Texas will be much more than they
anticipated.Ghost Trippin’ continues the story of Viola Valentine, who changes her life
after Hurricane Katrina and follows her dream of being a travel writer. But the
storm also blew open a psychic door and now she sees ghosts who have died by
water. As she travels the South in her new career she must also solve mysteries
that appear with apparitions. But the one person she hopes to speak to — her
daughter who died of leukemia years before — continues to elude her. Or does
In 2005, Hurricane
Katrina uprooted Viola Valentine from her dead-end job and what she deemed
a loveless marriage. Four years later, she and her husband Thibault “TB”
Boudreaux are starting over on a Tennessee houseboat, she is following her dream
as a travel writer and TB finishing school at Smoky Mountain University.But the ghosts of the past continue to hound the couple, infiltrating negative
energy into their peaceful cove. With her family at stake, Vi must learn to
harness her supernatural powers, face her fears and fight the evil that
threatens to unravel them all.Book Five in the Viola Valentine Paranormal Mystery Series.
Cherie Claire grew up
in south Louisiana, with mud between her toes and a rabid love of Mardi Gras
parades. Born in New Orleans and now living in Cajun Country, she couldn’t help
but write about her unique, colorful state.
Cherie is the
award-winning author of several Cajun historical romances and The Cajun Embassy
series of contemporary romances. She’s a Holt Award finalist, a Romantic Times
Reviewer’s Choice Award finalist and received the Louisiana Press Women Book of
the Year. Her latest is a paranormal mystery series featuring ghost sleuth
Viola Valentine of New Orleans.
Haunted House Ghost: Death At The Fall Festival (Braxton Campus Mysteries) by James J. Cudney
It’s Halloween and Professor Kellan is renovating his newly purchased rundown mansion in the Haunted House Ghost.
A current mystery and a historic one compete for Kellan and his potential girlfriend, Sheriff April’s attention. Between that, a Fall Festival, a ghost, home renovations, a psychic, and a skeleton, no wonder Kellan and April can’t even find the time to go out on a date!
Good thing there is a guide to Who’s Who in the front of the book. This book has the largest cast of any tale shorter than a 19th-century Russian novel. Luckily, you don’t need to memorize them all. The Haunted House Ghost quickly narrows down to a handful of suspects. Kudos to the author for making me second guess my thought on who was the murderer—multiple times right up to the reveal. Overall, an enjoyable cozy mystery. 4 stars!
Thanks to the author and Great Escapes Blog Tours for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Don’t forget about entering the giveaway shown below!
It’s Halloween, and excitement is brewing in Braxton to carve jack-o’-lanterns, go on haunted hayrides, and race through the spooky corn maze at the Fall Festival.
Despite the former occupant’s warnings, Kellan renovates and moves into a mysterious old house. When a ruthless ghost promises retribution, our fearless professor turns to the eccentric town historian and an eerie psychic to communicate with the apparition. Meanwhile, construction workers discover a fifty-year-old skeleton after breaking ground on the new Memorial Library wing.
While Kellan and April dance around the chemistry sparking between them, a suspicious accident occurs at the Fall Festival. Soon, Kellan discovers the true history and dastardly connections of the Grey family. But can he capture the elusive killer – and placate the revenge-seeking ghost.
About James J. Cudney
James is my given name; most call me Jay. I grew up on Long Island and currently live in New York City, but I’ve traveled all across the US (and various parts of the world). After college, I spent 15 years working in technology and business operations in the sports, entertainment and media industries. Although I enjoyed my job, I left in 2016 to focus on my passion: telling stories and connecting people through words. My debut novel is ‘Watching Glass Shatter,’ a contemporary fiction family drama with elements of mystery, suspense, humor and romance. To see samples or receive news from my current and upcoming books, please subscribe with your email address at my website: https://jamesjcudney.com
What do I do outside of writing: I’m an avid genealogist (discovered 2K family members going back about 250 years) and cook (I find it so hard to follow a recipe). I love to read; between Goodreads and my blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, I have over 900 book reviews which will give you a full flavor for my voice and style. On my blog, there is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dogs have segments where they complain about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real and show how I live every day.
Tish and Jules are catering the Coleton Creek Garden Club’s annual award dinner when they become embroiled in a Garden Club Murder.
Sloane had won the Best Garden award for the past five years. He is also a playa in the senior housing development. When he is killed on the eve of the award’s dinner, was it because of his amorous wanderings or his gardening title? Tish and Jules decide to find out.
There are suspects aplenty in the Garden Club Murder. It is always fun to try to uncover the killer before the amateur detectives. Unfortunately, I was completely surprised by the murderer’s reveal and motive. However, looking back, there were several clues in plain sight that I missed. I enjoyed the easy camaraderie between friends Tish, Jules, and MJ. MJ has a personal subplot in this series entry that makes me like her even more. Overall, this is an enjoyable cozy mystery with relatable characters. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series. 4 stars!
Thanks to Severn House and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Marc: Chutes and Ladder is the second book in the Silicon Valley Mystery series, but can be read standalone. Marty Golden is not your typical, cozy mystery protagonist. As a male sleuth who doesn’t own a bakery, bookstore, or bed & breakfast, or live by the beach, he stands out from the crowd of cozy protagonists. Marty does bumble his way through the investigations, armed with nothing but an eye for detail and powers of self-delusion.
In Chutes and Ladder, Marty discovers the dead body of his friend while failing as chaperone for a Girl Scouts camping trip. After the police rule it an accidental death, he disagrees and decides to investigate because friends don’t let their friend’s death go unsolved.
One reviewer called it “a gem with its great plotting and unusual cast.”
Q: Where do you get your ideas for your stories?
Marc: I tend to pay attention to the strange stories in the newspaper, especially about unusual deaths or bizarre situations. This became a lot more socially acceptable once I become a published mystery author. Almost like a puzzle, I enjoy trying to merge together multiple situations into a coherent plot and trick the reader.
Q: Is there a theme in your story?
Marc: In a rare moment of introspection, I decided that the book should be about more than just humor wrapped in a mystery. A literary scholar, if one ever were foolish enough to select my novels for their dissertation, might say they’re about a search for family life, friends and happiness. However, Marty typically doesn’t realize this is what he wants out of life, so he tries hard to return to the quiet, simple and peaceful life that he had before his sister and his nieces moved to town.
Marty frequently mentions advice and etiquette lessons that his parents gave him when he was young. He’s often dismayed that their lessons didn’t cover the unusual predicaments that he finds himself in.
Q: How do you create your characters and do you have a favorite?
Marc: I’m obviously partial to the protagonist, Marty, since the novel is told in first person. My friends and family believe this fashion-backward, self-absorbed software engineer is not exactly a huge stretch of the imagination for me to write. But it’s fiction. I mean, I’m not a software engineer. I enjoy writing Marty’s nieces, especially young Megan. They’re loosely based on my own nieces and kids, exaggerated and merged with other kids that I’ve known. Perhaps my favorite side character is Mrs. Quarles, the school secretary. Marty struggles mightily to deal with her, and I always laugh as I’m writing her scenes. A surprising number of readers tell me she’s one of their favorite characters too. I’d love to hear from your readers which characters or scenes they like best.
Q: How do you bring to life the place you are writing about?
Marc: I’ve lived a long time in Silicon Valley, working in high-tech, marketing roles. A lot of interesting characters work in big, high-tech companies. While I haven’t based any character directly off someone I’ve known, let’s just say that certain people influenced some of my characters more than others—especially the nuttier or more villainous characters.
If Silicon Valley is portrayed in fiction, it tends to be a very one-sided and biased view. I wanted to highlight more of the diversity and unusual personalities that I’ve encountered in my novels.
Q: What research do you do?
Marc: I’ve found that writing has made me more willing to talk to strangers in different situations and more observant and patient in lines and crowded situations, as I’m looking for material. I’m normally more of an introvert. Who’d have thought that the solitary occupation of being an author would make me more socially outgoing?
Most of my detailed mystery research is done via the internet. I’m hopeful that no law enforcement agencies are watching my searches and wondering what I may be up to. Not to be paranoid or anything, but I’ll use this space to remind them: “Marc Jedel is a fiction writer of humorous murder mysteries. Fiction!”
Q: Anything else you’d like to tell readers about the book?
Marc: I’ll quote a reviewer: “I enjoyed this fast-paced humorous mystery just as much as Uncle and Ants. His writing is clever, and the plotting is meticulous and exceptionally well-executed.” And I swear that reviewer wasn’t related or a friend.
Chutes and Ladder, book 2 in the Silicon Valley Mystery series, can be read standalone. It and Uncle and Ants are free to Kindle Unlimited readers. Serf and Turf, book 3 in the series, will be released in mid-October 2019 so this is a perfect time to catch up. Buy them on Amazon at amazon.com/gp/product/B07PHNT7XM. For more about my books or me, please visit www.marcjedel.com.
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a camping trip uncovers a murder, this amateur sleuth is stuck
putting out the fire …
Golden enjoys time with his nieces, but he wanted to spend the
weekend with his new girlfriend — not chaperone a Girl Scout
camping trip. Once he stumbles upon the corpse of a friend in the
woods, the outdoors adventure becomes an open-air disaster. When the
police label it an accidental death, the meticulous Marty vows to
investigate the murder. After all, it’s poor manners to let your
friend’s death go unsolved.
the hunt for clues the cops ignored, Marty uncovers a disturbing
connection to himself. And as he digs deeper, a misbehaving pup, a
kooky cousin, and a maniacal ninja put his survival skills to the
Marty unravel the mystery before the killer, or his imagination, gets
and Ladder is
the side-splitting second novel in the Silicon Valley cozy mystery
series. If you like quirky sleuths, wacky side characters, and
laugh-out-loud moments, you’ll love this offbeat whodunit.
and Ladder to
decode a great mystery today!
attacks. Mischievous nieces.Can
a clueless uncle catch a tech-savvy killer … and be home before
a freak accident hospitalizes Marty
Golden’s sister and condemns him to
babysitter duty, he thinks it’s just another case of hardwired bad
luck in Silicon Valley.
Until a suspicious murder suggests the mishap was no mere
coincidence. Something must be done.
bad this quirky, fashion-backward
uncle isn’t exactly hero material.
his sister is in mortal danger, this
amateur sleuth follows clues to an
oddball array of suspects. Armed with nothing but an eye for detail
and powers of self-delusion, Marty
tangles with gangsters, a cantankerous school secretary, and a
perplexing woman he can’t help but fall for. Glitches in his
investigation seem like a piece of cake compared to dinner-prep and
bedtime stories with his two precocious, pre-teen nieces.
Marty catch the culprit, save his sister, and get his life back in
order before he gets unplugged?
and Ants is the first novel in
a refreshingly modern mystery series set in Silicon Valley. If you
like clever humor, sassy side characters, and average Joes facing
extraordinary circumstances, then you’ll love this twisty mystery.
and Ants to login to a fresh,
funny mystery today!
Jedel writes humorous murder mysteries. In his high-tech marketing
roles, he’s also written fiction. These are just called emails, ads,
and marketing collateral.
his family, Marc was born first — a fact his sister never lets him
forget, no matter what milestone age she hits. For most of Marc’s
life, he’s been inventing stories. Some, especially when he was
young, involved his sister as the villain. As his sister’s brother
for her entire life, he feels highly qualified to tell tales of the
evolving, quirky sibling relationship in the Silicon Valley Mystery
and friends would tell you that the protagonist in his stories, Marty
Golden, isn’t much of a stretch of the imagination for Marc, but he
proudly resembles that remark.
Marty, Marc lives in San Jose, the heart of Silicon Valley, where he
writes within earshot of the doppler effect of the local ice cream
truck. Unlike Marty, Marc has a wonderful wife and a neurotic but
sweet, small dog, who much prefers the walks resulting from writer’s
block than his writing.
his website, marcjedel.com, for free chapters of upcoming novels,
news and more.
Two Bites Too Many (A Sarah Blair Mystery) by Debra H. Goldstein
It’s all about the characters, baby, in Two Bites Too Many (and yes I did just reference an old Puff Daddy/Diddy hip-hop song from 1997.)
Maybelle is the protective Southern mama of twins, Sarah and Emily. Emily is denied a business loan at the small town local bank. Maybelle brings recently rich Sarah with her to complain to the bank’s manager, Lance, about the loan denial. When Lance is found dead on his desk a few moments later by Maybelle, she is suspect number one. What can Sarah do but find the real murderer to save her mother from a long prison term?
The small town of Wheaton Alabama, near Birmingham, is so well described that you feel like you traveled there. It’s an even more southern version of Mayberry.
But truly the characters are the stars here. Sarah is finally recovering from her divorce with the help of her Siamese cat RahRah’s inheritance and her job running an animal parade. Sarah quickly learns why there is a joke about the difficulties of herding cats. Emily is trying to rebuild her restaurant after a catastrophic fire. However, Maybelle is my favorite. She uses her southern charm to cover an unladylike amount of spunk and determination. Slap her or her children and draw back a stump—figuratively of course.
The mystery itself was rather easy to solve. However, Two Bites Too Many allows its readers to fall into a completely different, tightly-bound family for a few hours. And who doesn’t want to do that? Highly recommended for cozy fans. There are cats, dogs, an animal parade, and small town southern charm in abundance here plus recipes at the end. 4 stars!
Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for one print copy at the bottom of this page!
Far from a domestic goddess, Sarah Blair would rather catch bad guys than slave over a hot stove. But when a dangerous murder boils over in Wheaton, Alabama, catching the killer means leaving her comfort zone . . .
Things are finally looking up for Sarah Blair following her unsavory divorce. Settled into a cozy carriage house with her sassy Siamese cat, RahRah, she has somehow managed to hang on to her modest law firm receptionist job and—if befriending flea-bitten strays at the local animal shelter counts—lead a thriving social life. For once, Sarah almost has it together more than her enterprising twin, Emily, a professional chef whose efforts to open a gourmet restaurant have hit a real dead end.
When the president of the town bank and city council is murdered after icing Emily’s business plans, all eyes are on the one person who left the scene with blood on her hands—the twins sharp-tongued mother, Maybelle. Determined to get her mom off the hook ASAP, Sarah must collect the ingredients of a deadly crime to bring the true culprit to justice. But as neighbors turn against her family, can she pare down the suspects before another victim lands on the chopping block?
Includes quick and easy recipes!
About Debra H. Goldstein
Judge Debra H. Goldstein is the author of Two Bites Too Many, as well as One Taste Too Many, the first of Kensington’s new Sarah Blair cozy mystery series. She also wrote Should HavePlayed Poker and IPPY Award-winning Maze in Blue. Her short stories, including Anthony and Agatha nominated “The Night They Burned Ms. Dixie’s Place,” have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies including Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Black Cat Mystery Magazine, and Mystery Weekly. Debra serves on the national boards of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America and is president of the Southeast Chapter of MWA and past president of SinC’s Guppy Chapter.
No Saving Throw is a cozy mystery set in the nerdy world of Dungeons & Dragons. If the D&D term “No Saving Throw” is unfamiliar, it means you can’t roll the dice to prevent or mitigate the awful thing that just occurred. Also, it means this book may not be a good choice for you.
Autumn is the owner of a gaming store especially role-playing ones like Dungeons & Dragons. When a gamer dies, Autumn decides to protect her gaming friends, and her store’s reputation, by finding the murderer herself.
No Saving Throw’s setting in high school makes the book seem very young adult. Descriptions of scenes are scant and similar to Adventure games like you enter a dark room. For old school nerds like me, it was fun to spot the old television, movie and game Easter eggs. The mystery was easy to solve—but not Scooby Doo level easy. I wanted to understand the core group’s motivations, which were only here almost as an afterthought. Since this is only book one of a planned series, I hope that issue will be addressed in the next book. If you are into gaming or just can’t stomach another knitting or bookstore cozy, this book will be a pleasant read. 3 stars!
Thanks to Diversion Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
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