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Sunday, December 6, 2015

Bun for Your Life by Karoline Barrett Review and Guest Post

Bun for Your Life
(A Bread and Batter Mystery)

Publisher: InterMix (November 17, 2015)
Cozy Mystery


As the co-owners of Bread and Batter Bakery in Destiny, New York, Molly Tyler and Olivia Williams have plenty on their plates. Molly is recently divorced and looking for a place to live, but they’re also both preparing for Destiny’s annual Apple Harvest Fair. The bakery has a booth where they’ll be selling not only delicious cupcakes and cider doughnuts, but also tote bags and t-shirts emblazoned with the bakery’s logo.
Tensions rise at the fair when local orchard owner Calista Danforth discovers organizers have assigned her usual booth to Bread and Batter. Although a heated argument ensues between her and Molly, the bakery manages to rake in lots of dough. But when Calista is found strangled to death with one of their t-shirts, Molly is named the prime suspect. Now these two friends must whip up some answers quickly before the future of their business crumbles…

What I Thought:

This was a pretty fun read.  I thought it went a little fast though, it would be one day then the next part of the book would be a week or two later, but that is okay.  This book was filled with great characters who had great relationships, especially Molly and Olivia.  Molly also has a good relationship with her ex-husband. When Molly gets in an argument with the Apple Harvest Queen and she is then found dead, Molly of course is the main suspect.  This one kept me guessing and I really like that in a cozy.  I look forward to more in this series. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book for my honest review.

About The Author –

After having several short stories published, I decided to tackle novel writing a few years ago. My first book, The Art of Being Rebekkah, is women’s fiction. Since the genre I love is mystery, my agent suggested I write one. I’m so glad she did! I recently signed with Penguin/Intermix for my Bread and Batter cozy mystery series. The first two books, Bun For Your Life and Raisin The Dead, coming soon!
I’ve live in lots of different places during my life. At the moment, I’m in a small Connecticut town with my husband. When I’m not writing, I’m either reading, spending time by the water, traveling, indulging in social media, accompanying above-mentioned husband to New York Yankees games, or doing anything that does not involve math.

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Writing a Cozy Mystery Series

Karoline Barrett

Melina’s Book Blog


Hi everyone! I’m excited to be here today to talk about writing my Bread & Batter cozy mystery series. Thanks to Melina’s Book Blog for hosting me!

Mystery is my go-to reading genre, especially cozy ones. As far as writing one myself, I’d thought about it for a half-second in the past, but I doubted my ability to come up with a suitable victim, never mind figuring out who, what, why, where, how, and when.  

Then my agent gave me a gently push in that direction, and the more I thought about it, the more the idea of writing my own mystery series appealed to me. I chose Destiny as my setting, a fictitious bucolic small town in upstate New York, surrounded by apple orchards and vineyards. Why the name Destiny? New York is a big state, all my other name choices were taken! Destiny has a nice ring to it, though, don’t you think?

I wanted my protagonist’s name to be Molly. I wanted her to own Bread & Batter Bakery with her best friend, Olivia. Not a lot to start with, but by the time the Destiny Apple Harvest Fair got under way, a new detective arrived in town, and my killer struck, it all began to make sense.  

So, what do I like most about writing a mystery series?   

1.      Entertaining readers!


2.      The bad guys!


3.      Plot twists!


4.      No mourning period when a book is done, there will be another!


5.       No going through character withdrawal, since they’re coming back!


6.      My characters become like a favorite t-shirt: comforting and familiar!


7.      I know how exactly how my characters are going to react to everything. Or, do I? Hmmmm…


8.      Creating sup-plots with secondary characters!


9.      Writing about my characters becomes second nature!


10.  Humor. I love humor in my mysteries. I’m a big fan of Ann B. Ross and Janet Evanovich. I find both of them hilarious. I put a lot of humor into my books.






11.  I get to take Crime Scene Investigation classes, and do internet searches for things like death by strangulation; how to poison someone with plants; ricin poisoning; puffer fish; ovo lacto vegetarianism; autopsies; frogs; and the Three Stooges (they don’t actually have anything to do with my book, that’s just where I ended up on the Internet that particular day.)


12.  I talk to, and email, people about fascinating subjects like apple breeding; Nancy Drew; land surveying; head injuries; police procedures in a small town; mounted police department protocol; nursing stuff, and library expansions!


13.  Coming up with interesting friends for my main character!


14.  Endless plot ideas. I’ve finished books one and two in my series, started book three, and have ideas for a few more!


15.  Dogs!   


16.  Contests for readers! I did my first contests recently, and was surprised at how much I love giving stuff away.  


Now for a few things, for me, aren’t so great about writing a mystery series:

1.      Amnesia while writing subsequent books. Who has brown hair? Who has green eyes? How many members were there on my police department again? What are the names of those characters in the book club I want to bring back?


2.      How many different ways to kill someone can I come up with?   


3.      How many people in town die before everyone packs up and hightails it out of there?


4.      What can I distract my detective with, so that Molly can step in and solve the mystery?


Luckily, the great things about writing a series outnumber the not-so-great things. I hope all of you enjoy reading my books as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Yarned and Dangerous by Sadie Hartwell


Yarned and Dangerous
(A Tangled Web Mystery)

Cozy Mystery
New Series
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Kensington (November 24, 2015)
ISBN-13: 978-1617737176


Time has not been kind to sleepy Dorset Falls, Connecticut, where an erstwhile resident is hoping to bring a tattered yarn shop back to life—but with a murderer on the loose, the whole town is in knots…
Josie Blair left Dorset Falls twelve years ago in hopes of making it big in New York City. But after earning an overpriced master’s degree and getting fired by a temperamental designer, she finds herself heading back to her hometown. Her great-uncle was injured in a car accident, and newly unemployed Josie is the only person available to take care of him. Uncle Eb’s wife didn’t survive the crash, so Josie is also tasked with selling the contents of her Aunt Cora’s yarn shop. But the needling ladies of the Charity Knitters Association pose a far bigger challenge than a shop full of scattered skeins…
Miss Marple Knits is one of the few businesses still open in the dreary downtown. Josie can’t imagine how it stayed open for so long, yet something about the cozy, resilient little shop appeals to her. But when one of the town’s most persnickety knitters turns up dead in a pile of cashmere yarn, Josie realizes there’s something truly twisted lurking beneath the town’s decaying fa├žade…

What I Thought:

I was captivated by this book from the very beginning.  It is very well written and it is filled with some great characters, some are pretty cantankerous and eccentric, but that makes the book fun.  I really like the banter between Uncle Eb  and Roy Woodruff.  Josie has come back to care for her cranky Uncle Eb after an accident broke his leg and took the life of her Aunt Cora.  Josie is tasked with closing Cora's yarn shop and there is some interest in buying the inventory.  When Josie finds a dead body in the storeroom of the yarn shop, things really get interesting.  I really enjoyed visiting Josie and the town and people of Dorset Falls, I can't wait to visit again.

I received a complimentary copy of this book for my honest review.

About The Author –
Sadie Hartwell grew up near the Canadian border in northern New York State, where it’s cold, dark, and snowy almost half the year—a perfect environment for nurturing a simultaneous love of mystery fiction and needlework. She attended St. Lawrence University, graduating with a degree in history, and has worked as a waitress, handbag designer/manufacturer, paralegal, and copy editor before turning to writing full time. Now she gets to play with yarn and make up stories whenever she wants, and wishes everyone had a job as much fun as hers.
Twitter – @SadieHartwell

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Saturday, November 21, 2015

Haunt Couture and Ghosts Galore by Rose Pressey


Haunt Couture and Ghosts Galore
(A Haunted Vintage Mystery)
Paranormal Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Kensington (October 27, 2015)
ISBN-13: 978-1617732539

This looks like a job for the fashion police!

A hot-ticket charity fashion show is the perfect chance for Cookie Chanel, proud owner of It’s Vintage Y’All, to show off her stylistic savvy for a good cause. But when a famous fashionista is fatally flattened, and the ghost of a former private investigator asks for Cookie’s help, she has to scurry to sew up a solution. With clever clues from Wind Song, her psychic cat, and sassy suggestions from Charlotte, her ghost-in-residence, Cookie must unravel the sinister stitches of a deadly design–before she becomes the next fashion victim…
What I Thought: 
Who doesn't love a good ghost story and a ghost  who solves murders is even better.  This was my first visit to Sugar Creek, GA and the Vintage Y'ALL was a very store.  This well written and entertaining story.  I really liked Cookie and her ghostly best friend Charlotte.  Cookie helps out a friend who gets murdered, so Cookie and Charlotte are on the case.  This was such a good, page-turning read.  I look forward to more in this series.
I received a complimentary copy for my honest review.

About The Author

Rose Pressey is a USA Today bestselling author. Her books Forever Charmed, Rock ‘n’ Roll is Undead, No Shoes, No Shirt, No Spells, How to Date a Werewolf, and Me and My Ghoulfriends have won her a wide following. Rose lives near Louisville, Kentucky.
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Friday, November 13, 2015

A Dickens of a Murder by Jim and Joyce Lavene

A Dickens of a Murder
(Canterville Book Shop Mystery 1)

Cozy Mystery
Print Length: 208 pages
Publisher: J. Lavene (November 3, 2015)
ASIN: B015269QSI


Christmas at Canterville!
Lisa Wellman and Simon Canterville are surprised to find a dead man on their roof in the midst of rushing to open the Canterville Book Shop in time for the holidays. And not just any dead man – Ebenezer Hart – the man who opposed the book shop opening in Olde Town, Portsmouth, Virginia.
What might be more surprising is when Daniel Fairhaven – Lisa’s ex – turns up at the door of the three-story Victorian house to head the police investigation. She hasn’t seen him in years but the sparks start to fly as soon as they are in the same room together.
Simon and Lisa are obviously the best suspects for the murder. Each of them had something to gain by Hart’s death. Then an attempt on Simon’s life throws that theory into a tailspin.
But the biggest surprise yet comes when the ghost of Charles Dickens turns up to help Lisa with the murder investigation – and writing the mystery novel she has been working on for years.
Without a doubt, Daniel and Dickens in Lisa’s life means trouble. And there’s still the matter of trying to get the book shop open with a killer on their heels.


What I Thought:

I thoroughly enjoyed this book as I have all of Jim and Joyce's books.  It will be sad that Joyce is no longer with us, but I know that Jim, with the help of their daughter, will keep this legacy going.  This book captivated me from the beginning.  I am like the main character Lisa, and I love books and have often dreamt of having my own book store.  Lisa's dream has become reality through the help of her friend Simon Canterville.  But when a body is found on the roof of Simon's home, which is about to become Canterville Bookshop, Simon is accused of the murder and Lisa's dream may come crashing down.  Lisa has to use her skills as a mystery writer to try to find the real culprit.  Filled with quirky characters, like Lisa's ex-husband who is the homicide detective and Simon's son, who seems only interested in obtaining Simon's possessions, this book had me turning the pages.

I will truly miss Joyce Lavene as I got to know her through social media, but I look forward to more from Jim.

I received a complimentary copy of this book for my honest review.

About The Authors –

Joyce and Jim Lavene write award-winning, bestselling mystery fiction as themselves, J.J. Cook, and Ellie Grant. They have written and published more than 70 novels for Harlequin, Berkley, Amazon, and Gallery Books along with hundreds of non-fiction articles for national and regional publications. They live in rural North Carolina with their family.

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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Flipped for Murder by Maddie Day

Flipped For Murder
(Country Store Mysteries)

New Cozy Series
• Series: Country Store Mysteries
• Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
• Publisher: Kensington (October 27, 2015)
• ISBN-13: 978-161773925


In this freshly baked series, author Maddie Day lifts the lid on a small town in southern Indiana, where a newcomer is cooking up a new start–until a murderer muddles the recipe…
Nursing a broken heart, Robbie Jordan is trading in her life on the West Coast for the rolling hills of southern Indiana. After paying a visit to her Aunt Adele, she fell in love with the tiny town of South Lick. And when she spots a For Sale sign on a rundown country store, she decides to snap it up and put her skills as a cook and a carpenter to use. Everyone in town shows up for the grand re-opening of Pans ‘n Pancakes, but when the mayor’s disagreeable assistant is found dead, Robbie realizes that not all press is good press. With all eyes on her, she’ll have to summon her puzzle-solving skills to clear her name, unscramble the town’s darkest secrets, and track down a cold-blooded killer–before she’s the next to die…

What I Thought:

This was a very entertaining books.  I loved how Maddie wrote the dialogue of the some of the characters in the dialect that they actually speak in.  That made the characters seem more real to me.  This was a great cozy because it left me guessing the whole way through.  I also enjoyed the quirky characters that inhabit the town of South Lick.  They all had a good motive for the murder.  I liked the main character, Robbie, and I can't wait to find out if she gets to have a relationship with her father.  I will definitely be visiting the town of South Lick again. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book for my honest review.

About The Author –

MADDIE DAY (aka: Edith Maxwell) is a former farmer of a certified organic farm, holds a Ph.D. in Linguistics, and is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. Her short stories have appeared in the anthologies Stone Cold, Fish Nets, Burning Bridges, Thin Ice, Riptide, and The Larcom Review. She lives with her beau and three cats in Massachusetts, where she’s currently working on her next Maddie Day mystery when she isn’t out gardening.

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The Stitching Hour by Amanda Lee

The Stitching Hour:
An Embroidery Mystery

Cozy Mystery
9th in Series
Publisher: NAL (November 3, 2015)
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0451473844

In the latest mystery from the bestselling author of Wicked Stitch, the future of Marcy Singer’s embroidery shop is dangling by a thread…
Marcy’s shop, the Seven-Year Stitch, is one year old this October so it’s time to party in little Tallulah Falls, Oregon. Aside from the Halloween decorations and festive stitching kits and patterns, Marcy’s got all sorts of celebratory swag, including Seven-Year Stitch key rings and goodie bags.
Unfortunately, her new neighbors might spoil the revelry. An eccentric couple has opened a haunted house next door, and all that screaming will certainly scare off customers. But there’s even more to be frightened of after a local waitress is found dead on the sidewalk with mysterious markings on her neck—and one of Marcy’s key rings beneath her. With no time to hem and haw, Marcy must act fast if she hopes to restore the peace to Tallulah Falls…

Since I just received the book, my review will be posted at a later time.

About This Author
Your Biography Information for your tour page and for use by the bloggers – Gayle Trent (and pseudonym Amanda Lee) writes the Daphne Martin Cake Decorating series and the Embroidery Mystery series. The cake decorating series features a heroine who is starting her life over in Southwest Virginia after a nasty divorce. The Embroidery Mystery series features a heroine who recently moved to the Oregon coast to open an embroidery specialty shop.
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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Olive and Let Die by Susannah Hardy--Guest Post and Giveaway

Olive and Let Die
(A Greek to Me Mystery)

Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Berkley (November 3, 2015)
ISBN-13: 978-0425271667


The second Greek to Me Mystery from the author of Feta Attraction…
As manager of the Bonaparte House, a historic landmark and Greek restaurant in upstate New York, Georgie Nikolopatos knows her local legends—and her traditional Greek recipes are to die for.
Between her soon-to-be ex-husband Spiro coming out of the closet and her budding romance with Captain Jack Conway, Georgie’s life is beginning to feel like a soap opera. And that’s before a surprise visit from her estranged mother Shirley, better known as soap star Melanie Ashley. But the dramatic family reunion takes a chilling turn when another long-lost relative turns up dead.
Just outside Spiro’s new restaurant, Georgie and Melanie find the body of Doreen Webber—a cousin Georgie never knew she had. With Spiro’s partner Inky on the list of suspects, Georgie begins to wonder what else her mother may be hiding. Is the dead-broke diva capable of murder? She’d better find out before someone adds a new twist to the family plot.
Includes delicious Greek recipes!

Since I just received this a day before the review was due, I will post a review at a later time.  Meanwhile enjoy the guest post.

About This Author

Susannah Hardy thinks she has the best job in the world: making up stories and inventing recipes to go along with them. A native of northern New York, where she attended St. Lawrence University, Susannah now lives in Connecticut with her husband, teenaged son, and Elvira the Wonder Cat.
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Thanks for having me today, Melina!

I’m so excited for the release of the second book in the Greek to Me Mysteries, OLIVE AND LET DIE.
One thing people often ask me is whether I’m Greek. The answer is no. But I did work in a Greek restaurant, and I did spend several weeks traveling around Greece years ago. I haven’t been back, but I hope to go again someday in the not too distant future.
The Greeks have provided us with stunning artwork and architecture, profound philosophy, timeless stories, plays and poems, and even the foundation for our own government. The country itself is beautiful, from the stark mountains in the north to the lush islands in the south. The people are kind, generous, and beautiful—I have two words for anyone who doubts me on that last adjective: John Stamos.
And then, there’s the food.
Oh, that Greek food is just, well, to die for! In the figurative sense, only, of course. In fact, the Greek (Mediterranean) diet is quite heart healthy, full of olives and olive oil, lean meats and fish, beans, and plenty of vegetables. But of course there’s room for richer foods like feta, pastitsio, moussaka, and even some buttery baklava. Is your mouth watering? Mine is!
So how is a non-Greek writing mysteries set in a Greek restaurant? It was clear that I could not write my heroine as a Greek woman. Georgie wouldn’t have rung true nor behaved authentically, because I, the author, simply didn’t have that experience and I knew I couldn’t do her justice. So I chose to have her marry into a Greek family instead. Sometimes she’s a bit of an outsider, an observer, both pretty good attributes for an amateur sleuth! And even though she doesn’t always understand her family, she loves them. Even Spiro, her soon-to-be-ex-husband.
And it’s love, and food, that keeps the Nikolopatos family together, even if the relationships change. Which is why I include recipes, both Greek and non-Greek, in my books and on my website.
I hope love, and food, hold your family and friends together, now in this season of Thanksgiving, and throughout the year.
Is there a special recipe that says family to you?