Sunday, April 15, 2018

Mysteries and Menus- Linda Wiken


My guest blogger this week is author Linda Wiken!

Linda Wiken writes the Dinner Club Mysteries as herself, is writing the new Castle Bookstore Mysteries as Essie Lang, and has written the Ashton Corners Book Club Mysteries as Erika Chase.  She was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel and has also been short-listed for an Arthur Ellis Award from Crime Writers of Canada for Best Short Story. She is a former mystery bookstore owner and still loves reading all the mysteries she can get her hands on.  She also loves singing in a choir, which is not always so pleasant for her Siamese cat, Keesha, who must endure hours of practice.

Thanks ROCCO!

Do you have to be a foodie to enjoy reading the Dinner Club Mysteries? No, but it does help. I mean, if you’re a fan of the cozy mystery, that’s really enough. Because, try as she may, event planner J.J. Tanner feels compelled to do some sleuthing in each of the three books.

The food is integral to her pals and cohorts, the Culinary Capers Dinner Club, but not to solving the mystery. I mean, poison is never the weapon, I’ll declare that up front. That’s because the Culinary Capers, for their monthly dinners together, use a real cookbook found on the bookshelves of your local bookstore. So, not wanting to be sued, poison is never an added ingredient.

In the first two books, events that J.J. had planned included a murder that wasn’t on the agenda. So, what’s a conscientious planner to do but try to solve the crime. Add the fact that one of the dinner club members just happens to be a suspect – sometimes more than one, and even J.J. herself – then it’s her duty to get involved.
It helps that she’s aided by sexy P.I. Ty Devine, although he’s usually doing it to keep her out of his investigation. Or out of danger. And those Culinary Capers are proving to be as good at following clues as at following recipe directions.

In the newest book, Marinating in Murder, which just came out last month, one of their own, police officer Alison Malkovich is the prime suspect after the body of her estranged husband is found in the back of her SUV. All hands aboard for this one.
If you are a foodie, you’ll enjoy being part of their many meals and, hopefully you’ll try the recipes included at the end of each book. In Roux the Day, the second one, they used the Mystery Writers of America Cookbook and with the authors’ permission, I included some of their recipes. It was a lot of fun to do and the Culinary Capers enjoyed talking about their books, too.

Food and mystery? They do go together and present a deliciously satisfying menu.

Thanks Linda!

If you like food, you will definitely enjoy the Dinner Club Mysteries!
Titles in Order:
Toasting Up Trouble
Roux the Day
Marinating In Murder

Hope y’all caught my review of Marinating in Murder on last weeks’ blog post!


Linda will give away a copy of Marinating In Murder to one lucky commenter!
To enter, leave a comment on this blog post with your name and email address (entries without email will be disqualified). For extra entries, you can do any or all of the below:

* Follow my blog (+ 1 point)
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Winner will be chosen at random using  Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Contest ends midnight, April 22! Good luck!

Saturday, April 7, 2018


Meow!  Here are my cozy reviews for April.

We'll start with my top pick:

Coffeehouse Mystery Series
Cleo Coyle
Berkley Prime Crime
Five Paws
ON SALE:  4/17/18

As Village Blend manager Clare Cosi attempts to finalize a date for her wedding, her ex-husband becomes addicted to making dates through smartphone swipes. Clare has mixed feelings about these quickie matchups happening in her coffeehouse. Even her octogenarian employer is selecting suitors by screenshot! But business is booming, and Clare works hard to keep the espresso shots flowing. Then one dark night, another kind of shot leaves a dead body for her to find. 

The corpse is a successful entrepreneur who became notorious for his "hit it and quit it" behavior: prowling for women on dating apps, then devastating his conquests with morning-after insults. Though the NYPD quickly arrests one of his recent victims, Clare finds reason to believe she's been framed. 

Now, with the help of her ex and crew of quirky baristas, Clare starts "swiping" through suspects in her own shop, determined to find the real killer before another shot rings out. 

ROCCO sez:  The 17th instalment of this popular series does not disappoint!  jam packed with action and well crafted.  Fans of the series will love it, and new converts can easily catch up on background. A sure fire hit!  Five Paws!

Jenn McKinlay
Cupcake Bakery Mysteries
On Sale:  4/3/18
Four and one half paws!

With Angie and Tate's wedding just around the corner, it's a happy time for Melanie Cooper and the bakery crew. Not only are they finessing the last minute details of the big day, but their bakery, Fairy Tale Cupcakes, has just been hired to bake cupcakes for the blockbuster book signing of a controversial author who wrote a steamy bestseller filled with juicy local gossip.

But one by one, the people Angie has hired to work at the wedding begin turning up dead. As the body count rises, the bestselling author is the next to bite the dust. Mel quickly realizes she needs to figure out how the murders are connected and why--before the killer brings the entire cupcake crew crumbling down. After all, Angie and Tate deserve their sweet happily ever after.

Book 10 in this engaging series does not disappoint!  Mystery is well crafted and it's a treat to be back with Melanie and her bakery crew!  One by one the hired workers crumble in a story reminiscent of Ten Little Indians.  Do Angle and Tate get their sweet ending? Read the book to find out!  four and a half paws.

Rebecca Adler
"Taste of Texas" Mysteries
On sale:  4/3/18
Four Paws

It's fiesta time in Broken Boot, Texas, and tourists are pouring into town faster than free beer at a bull roping for the mouthwatering Cinco de Mayo festivities. Tex-Mex waitress Josie Callahan, her feisty abuela, and even her spunky Chihuahua Lenny are polishing their folklórico dances for Saturday's big parade, while Uncle Eddie is adding his own spicy event to the fiesta menu: Broken Boot's First Annual Charity Chili Cook-off.

But Uncle Eddie's hopes of impressing the town council go up in smoke when cantankerous chili cook Lucky Straw is found dead in his tent. And when Josie's beloved uncle is accused of fatal negligence, she, Lenny, and the steadfast Detective Lightfoot must uncover who ended the ambitious chilihead's life--before another cook kicks the bucket.

Book 3 in the Taste of Texas series.  We're back in Broken Boot Texas where Josie Callahan is getting ready for the First Annual Charity Chili Cook-Off.   When an ornery cook is found dead and Josie's uncle is accused of negligence, she and her spunky Chichihua Lenny must discover the culprit before another cook bites the chili dust!  A solid entry in this series.  I enjoyed it very much and I'm not a big chili fan LOL. Four paws!  

Susan Wittig Albert
China Bayles Mysteries
ON SALE:  4/3/18
Four Stars

A present day ghost leads China Bayles to a secret from Pecan Springs's past in this haunting mystery from New York Times bestselling author Susan Wittig Albert.

While helping Ruby Wilcox clean up the loft above their shops, China comes upon a box of antique handcrafted lace and old photographs. Following the discovery, she hears a woman humming an old Scottish ballad and smells the delicate scent of lavender.... 

Soon, strange happenings start to occur in Thyme and Seasons: misplaced items, a ringing bell, and the appearance of lavender sprigs in odd places. When a customer mentions seeing a mysterious woman picking flowers nearby and then suddenly disappearing, China must finally admit what Ruby has always known--their building is haunted. But by whom?

As China investigates, the tragic story of a woman in one of the old photographs unfolds. Annie Laurie was a young widow who'd lost both her husband and her child in the same day. She manages to survive through her lace-making business and finds happiness again only to have a suspicious death overshadow her new life.

China delves into Annie's century-old mystery and realizes that solving it could have unimaginable repercussions in the here and now.

I discovered this series a few volumes ago and am in the process of catching up on background. I particularly liked this volume because I'm a sucker for anything with a supernatural tie-in.  Like all of Albert's stories, the mystery is well plotted and satisfying. China is rapidly becoming one of my favorite sleuths.  Four Paws! 

Gaslight Mystery Series
Victoria Thompson
Four Stars
On Sale: April 3, 2018

The latest Gaslight Mystery from the bestselling author of Murder in Morningside Heights finds Sarah Brandt and Frank Malloy searching for a connection between a murdered newsie and a high society woman with dangerous habits.Frank Malloy’s latest client is the well-dressed Will Bert. He’s searching for his brother, a newsboy named Freddie, so he can share his new financial good fortune. Frank makes quick work of the case and locates Freddie, but a happy reunion between brothers is not in the cards. 

When Will’s name is mentioned, Freddie runs off—only to be found dead a short time later. Suspicious, Frank tracks down Will who spins a tale of lust and deceit involving a young society woman, Estelle Longacre, also recently deceased.  Frank can’t be sure if Estelle’s risky behavior and the company she kept was to blame, or if her own ruthless family had a hand in her death.

Frank will need Sarah’s help to unearth the dark secrets of the wealthy Longacres and to discover if there is a connection between Estelle and Freddie’s death. Together they must navigate a perilous underground web of treachery to find the truth.

A solid entry in a long running series.  Well plotted and characters come right off the page.  Recommended!  Four stars! 

Juliet Blackwell
(Witchcraft Mysteries)
Four and a half Stars
On sale:  4/3/18

Witch and vintage store owner Lily Ivory faces her most difficult mystery to date with a case of mistaken identity that hits close to home...

Lily Ivory and her friends are planning a 1950s-themed brunch to benefit the local women's shelter. When a figure from her past shows up unannounced, threatening her unless she returns something that belonged to him, Lily's fianc√©, Sailor, steps in to defend her. After the same man is found dead later that day, Sailor is the primary suspect. He swears he's innocent, but multiple witnesses ID him as the perpetrator of the assault. Lily vows to clear his name...only she's not sure where to start with the mounting evidence against him. 

When she sees Sailor in the neighborhood despite knowing he's in jail, Lily starts to wonder if there could be a doppelganger in San Francisco. When she's not busy helping customers find matching outfits for the upcoming event, searching for a vintage wedding dress for her own nuptials, and dealing with an ill-timed magical cold, Lily begins to suspect one of her magical foes is targeting her loved ones in an attempt to weaken her.

This is Book Nine in this series.  Once again, I'm a sucker for anything that combines mystery and supernatural. Throw in vintage clothing (any clothing, really) and I'm hooked!  Lily Ivory brings her own special blend of sassy as she fights to clear her fiance Sailor of suspicion of murder.  Plenty of witchcraft, dopplegangers and suspense to satisfy everyone!  And come on, who doesn't love a magical pig??????
Love all the books in this series.  Just keeps getting better and better.  Would love to see a Hallmark movie of this series, Juliet Blackwell!!!!!  four and a half stars!


To enter, leave a comment on this blog post with your name and email address (entries without email will be disqualified). For extra entries, you can do any or all of the below:

* Follow my blog (+ 1 point)
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* Mention the contest on Facebook (+ 1 point)
* Mention the contest on your blog (+ 1 point)

Winner will be chosen at random using  Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Good luck!  Contest ends midnight, April 15!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Blast from the Past - Mary Janice Davidson!

Way back in 2011 I considered myself very lucky indeed to snag an interview with the undisputed queen of paranormal chick lit, Mary Janice Davidson!  Even tho we've lost touch since 2014 I and the human have followed her career.  We were very sorry to see the Queen Betsy series end, but never fear, MJ has other great ideas in the works.

To reminisce, we are reprinting our very first interview with MJ!  (No spoiler alerts necesssary, this was done in 2011, remember!!!!!)

Well, Kitties, the big day has finally arrived!  I cannot tell you how unbelievably thrilled I am to have (drumroll, please) the fabulous, queen of paranormal chick-lit herself, MARYJANICE DAVIDSON in my hotseat!

For those of you living under a rock and do not know MaryJanice, here’s a bit about her from her website:

MaryJanice Davidson invented a) her children, and b) the vampire chick lit genre. Also the Internet. She is kind to (some) children and (occasional) small animals, and enjoyes referring to herself in the third person. Appearing several times a year on the best-seller list, as well as occasional Federal "person of interest" sheets, she takes time from the living hell that is being paid to do what she loves best to seek out the nearest Cinnabon franchise. Her goals include working for world peace, figuring out how to make potstickers, and speaking at writer and reader conferences around the world. (Australia is still recovering.)

Visit her blog to check out the antics of some of MJ's heroines (Vampire Queen Betsy, FBI Agent Cadence/Shiro/Adrienne, and Jennifer Scales), eyeball book excerpts, see where she'll be any given week, play the "who do you want to play Betsy/Cadence/Jennifer in the coming movie?" game with other fans, and mock her weekly. She occasionally tolerates getting mail from readers at , has a Facebook page, and absolutely zero interest in Twitter.

And now, without any further ado, I present...MARYJANICE DAVIDSON!  Unplugged and Uncensored! In my Hotseat!

R:  Hello, MaryJanice! Welcome to my hotseat!
MJ: Thank you so much for having me. ROCCO!

R: We’ll get right to it:  I have heard that your road to publication started out as an e-author. Can you tell us a bit about that journey?

MJ: Sure.  I had a decade’s worth of rejection slips from various print publishers (hilariously, many of the publishers who now ask my agent or me for cover quotes for their authors) and was pretty discouraged.  So I decided to try my luck with e-pubs.  Their overhead wasn’t nearly as high, so they could take chances on the more out there ideas (say, a secretary who loves designer shoes getting fired and run over on her 30th birthday, only to return from the grave as queen of the vampires).  UNDEAD AND UNWED was originally an e-book. 

I didn’t know it at the time, but the big paper publishers were keeping an eye on the e-pubs.  My Berkley editor, Cindy Hwang, heard about U&U, bought it online like any customer, downloaded it, and read it.  She called a few days later to offer to buy the print rights.  Since I hadn’t queried anyone at Berkley, or pitched anyone at a conference, I was pretty astonished and assumed it was all a cruel, sadistic joke.  And that’s how it all started.

R:  A very encouraging story, meow! Now, can you tell us a little bit about your writing environment and/or any rituals you go through before sitting down to write?

MJ: Mostly my rituals involve the eating of chocolate, showering my assistant with verbal abuse, and watching re-runs of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  (Dammit, Dennis can be saved!  He just needs the love of a good woman.  Or my love.)  Ironically, though I have the option of using two beautiful offices (one at our year-round residence, and one at our cabin in Wisconsin) I usually plunk down on the nearest couch with my laptop.  And also chocolate.  And also the TV remote.

R: You write contemporary as well as paranormal, and you’ve been called the “queen of vampire chick-lit”.  What’s your favorite genre to write in/read?

MJ: Right now, it’s definitely paranormal romance, closely followed by...I guess it’d be romantic suspense?  In addition to my vampire series, I’m writing a trilogy for St. Martins Press about an FBI agent with multiple personality disorder.  There’s not a witch or werewolf in sight in those books, but I love writing them!  And if I get hung up on a problem in the Betsyverse, I can switch to another manuscript to see if the log jam in my brain will clear a little easier.

Much as I love the genre, I almost never read anything in paranormal romance these days because I’m in that world so much, creating my own stories.  That sound I keep hearing, the one coming from inside my head, sounds a lot like frying eggs...that can’t be good...better read an old Carl Hiaasen novel for a while...

R:   If you could be a character from one of your favorite books (not your own), who would you be?

MJ: Wow...tough one!  Hmm...not Scarlett O’Hara (too much drama, not to mention the slow starvation during the war years).  Not one of Carl Hiaasen’s characters...their lives and experiences are hilarious, but they tend to get shot.  Same with Andrew Vachss...his books have these wonderful dark characters who had horrific childhoods and now run around New York City scamming pimps, pedophiles, and crooked lawyers.

I’d have to go with a superhero from one of my eight zillion graphic novels (I’ve been reading comics since I was 12).  The Invisible Woman, I think...she’s probably one of the most dangerous (and underrated) superheroes ever imagined, plus she’s married to a brilliant man who never so much as glanced at another woman, and her family life is so dear to her...she never loses her perspective, no matter how many villains she pummels.  I’m always amazed at how underrated the character is...she can pop an invisible force field anywhere.  Dark alleys.  Amusement parks.  THE MIDDLE OF YOUR BRAIN.  She can kill you with a thought, and no one seems to put that together and see her as very, very dangerous.  There was a parallel universe Fantastic Four a few years back where Susan Storm was big-time evil, and pretty much RULED THE WORLD.  Because she could put an invisible force field in YOUR BRAIN.

R:  If you could trade places with any author, past or present, who would it be and why?

MJ: I wouldn’t, actually!  Nope, I’m not budging from this body/life/career.  I’m well aware that I’m ridiculously fortunate:  I’m getting well paid to do one of my favorite things, I can write anything I want and pitch anything I want, over a million copies of my books have sold, and I usually make at least one best-seller list a year.  As above: ridiculously fortunate.  Would never change places.  Ridiculous.  And fortunate!

R: You’ve mentioned in past interviews an interest in screenwriting.  How would you bring the “Betsy” saga to the big screen? Who would you want to play her and Sinclair and why?

MJ: I’ve always thought Jenna Elfman (Dharma from Dharma and Greg) would be a great Betsy.  Clive Owen (though he cannot pass for a man in his late teens/early 20s, which is when Sinclair was turned by his greatest and most loyal friend, Tina) for Sinclair, just because I love love love Clive Owen.  Or Karl Urban...oh my God, the deliciousness that is Karl Urban...if I drool much more I’ll short out the keyboard again...

While we’re tossing around wish lists, I always thought Queen Latifah would be a fantastic Jessica (yes, Jessica is super skinny, but the character is far more about attitude than weight), Amanda Seyfries would be a great Laura (the Anti-Christ), and Jennifer Coolidge (the nail technician from the Legally Blonde movies) for the Ant, Betsy’s dead stepmother (currently Satan’s assistant in Hell, which only confirmed every suspicion Betsy ever had about her).

What’s exciting is that The Betsy Show (for lack of the actual title, at least for now) is coming to Germany!  They offered me a contract for a 90-minute pilot and 6 episodes, which I jumped at.  So we’ll see how that goes...meanwhile, my agent is shopping Betsy & Co. around Hollywood, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed.  Also my toes.  Ow!  Cramp.  We actually had an offer from Disney, but turned it down...Disney’s great, but when they want the rights to something, they want EVERYTHING.  Not just stuff you’ve already written.  Stuff you might one day eventually write, maybe.  The people who shot Bambi’s mom are not to be messed with.  My agent and I kindly (and respectfully) turned them down.

R: That is interesting, meow!  Do you listen to music while you write, if so what’s on your playlist?

MJ: Not while I write, but I will admit that it’s pretty much all 80s, all the time on my iPod.  Also, One Night In Bangkok is the single greatest 80s song in the history of 80s songs.  Suck on that, Sting.

R: What do you find is your biggest challenge in keeping Betsy and Sinclair “fresh”? 

MJ: It can be tricky, because an awful lot has happened to the characters in a very short time.  And as much as I love the Betsyverse, there are only so many shoe sales I can write about without getting near-permanent brain-freeze.  Thus the shake-up seen in UNDEAD AND UNFINISHED (weirdly, despite the title, many readers assumed that was the last book in the series).  There were more shake-ups in UNDEAD AND UNDERMINED, but I’ve asked my readers not to fret too much...

*** (Caution – minor SPOILER!)

...because I’m a Disney ending writer, and Betsy WILL save the day in UNDEAD AND UNSTABLE.  The things we feared in UNFINISHED

*** (Caution – another minor SPOILER!)

will be fixed, or will never come to pass.  Or weren’t what we thought they were.  Things will work out, one way or another.  Y’know, eventually.  After another shoe sale.  And several Orange Juliuses.  And maybe a nap.

R: Meow, our readers appreciate the sneak preview! So, how far do you envision taking this series, and are any spinoffs planned?

MJ: I’d like to write at least 2 more after UNDEAD AND UNSTABLE, and while no spinoffs or planned, I’d love to do a couple of books where Laura, the Anti-Christ, is the main protagonist.  Next year I’ll be working on a paranormal anthology, UNDEAD AND UNDERWATER, which will have a werewolf novella, a story about my super hero with OCD, and a Betsy/Fred the mermaid team-up.  Be afraid.

R: Ooh, sounds great.  What do you love the most about your work?

MJ: What I love about my work today is what I loved when I was 13:  getting the clutter of stories trapped in my teeny brain written down.  Out, out, damned stories!  If I couldn’t write them down, they’d just stick in there.  Like fishhooks.  Which, you know...ow.

R: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

MJ: Quit my series of SDJs (Stupid Day Jobs) to write full-time.  It wasn’t so much crazy as scary.  Many, many people thought this was an extremely bad move on my part, not lease because I never went to college but was making a decent living doing office work.  But my husband, Anthony (he writes the Jennifer Scales weredragon series with me), was 100% supportive, and he was the one who was proved right.  Thank goodness!

About a year or two later, I did some number crunching and was amazed to realize that, if my books kept selling the way they were, I would eventually earn more than my husband, who had a Master’s from Harvard.  This had never happened in our marriage, and I wasn’t quite sure how my alpha husband would react.  So one night I said, “Uh, hon, if my books keep selling like they have, I might...I mean, I’ll probably make more money than you next year.  What d’you think about that?”  He blinked at me in surprise and said, “What, are you kidding?  I wish you were making more than me right now!”  To say he was fine with it would not even come close.  Thrilled with it.  Delighted with it.  I’ll never forget the surprise and hilarity of that moment.

R: What advice do you have for writers just starting out?

MJ:  Listen carefully:  Ten.  Years.  Of.  Rejection slips.  That was not fun.  Writing is fun, but getting rejected, not so much.  But that’s what it costs.  You’re basically in sales, and salespeople hear 9 “no thanks” for every 1 “sure, I’ll take it”.  And that’s a conservative estimate.  I started writing when I was 13, and started submitting for publication in my early 20s.  Berkley knocked on my door when I was 33, and UNDEAD AND UNWED hit shelves in 2004 (I’m 42 right now).  If I’d given up at any point in those years, I’d still be trapped in SDJs.  Hang in there.  When you get a rejection slip, send something else out immediately.  If they don’t like your book, that doesn’t mean they don’t like you (something I’ve noticed a lot of us have trouble understanding).  And write.  WRITE, dammit!  Write and submit and write more and submit again.  You will not improve if your manuscript is under your bed and you’re sick to death of looking at it.  You will not improve if the only person who looks at your work is your mommy.  Write something else and haul that sucker out when a couple of months have gone by.  Then write more.  And then more.  Write.  WRITE, DAMMIT! 

It can be tedious, and the learning curve can be long.  But the rewards are astonishing.  Unimaginable and amazing and wonderful and worth every rejection slip.  WRITE, DAMMIT!

R: What would your readers be most surprised to learn about you?

MJ: Um...well, my mom broke the world record in silhouette shooting when I was 6, and my folks regularly won shooting tournaments.  When I was a teenager, I won a few as well.  We didn’t have much money when I was growing up, so my dad taught me how to hunt and fish, and by the time I was 14, I was regularly helping put food on the table.  (I can already hear the shrieking from the animal rights people, and I respect your beliefs though I don’t share them.  But I also hate Hamburger Helper without the hamburger, thus the hunting.  Do not speak to me of Portobello mushrooms.  Portobello mushrooms do not taste like beef.  They taste like mushrooms.)

I’ll never forget something my mother-in-law said, a woman I respect and love dearly (uh, now).  She was pretty horrified to find her son was dating a woman who was the polar opposite in almost every respect:  religiously, politically, economically, a Master’s vs. a high school diploma...different in every way (which, since we’ve been married 17 years, seems to have worked out).  She wouldn’t let my husband and his siblings so much as pick up a stick and pretend to shoot it when they were kids, that’s how little she cared for guns of any kind.  Enter moi, who might as well have walked into her  house with a 12-guage shotgun strapped to my back, hissing, “Hola, beeches!” like Ben Stiller in Ron Burgandy: Anchorman.

She was super polite and nice, but couldn’t quite hide her apprehension (“Where should I put this shotgun?  Never mind, I’ll unload it and keep it in the guest bathroom.”).  It was Easter weekend, so there were tons of relatives milling around and delicious smells in the air when she said:  “I just can’t believe you go hunting.  It sounds fairly...what do you shoot?  You shoot ducks and deer?  Oh, the poor—oh, look!  The lamb chops are ready!”

R:  And now, a little thing I call:
Just for Fun:
Day or Night person?  Day!
Cat or Dog?  Dog!  (Meow, and I liked you so much until that answer! Nothing I can do to change your mind?)
Hawaii or Paris?  Hawaii!
Ryan O’Neal or Ryan Gosling?  Karl Urban!
Favorite Drink?  Orange Julius!
Favorite TV Show?  Too many:  30 Rock, It’s Always Sunny, Sons of Anarchy...
Favorite Movie?  Gone with the Wind
Favorite Author (other than yourself J)  Carl Hiaasen and Andrew Vachss

R: This has been a blast! Thank you, Mary Janice!

MJ: Great questions, ROCCO!  Thank you. You are one cool cat.


Friday, March 30, 2018


Merow, The Human and I wish to take this opportunity to wish all of our readers and followers a very Happy Easter and Passover!

We have a quiet celebration planned; I believe the human has sprung for Salmon with Garden Greens for Maxx and myself to enjoy this Sunday.

Whatever you're doing, do well and be safe!

We have good things coming up on the blog! Plus an announcement from the Human!  if you haven't signed up for her newsletter, you can do so here:

Happy Easter/Passover, Everyone!


Sunday, March 18, 2018

ROCCO's March Cozy Review Roundup!

Hey Kiddies!  It's time for ROCCO's March cozy review roundup!

Starting with his top pick:

A Tea Shop Mystery
Penguin Random House
Laura Childs
On Sale: March 6, 2018

Theodosia Browning is back in her 19th adventure, along with Drayton, Hayley, and all your old favorites and some new ones too!

Timothy Neville's mansion is perfect for parade watching, and he hosts a party to do just that.  Everyone is shocked, though, when local banker Carson Lanier tumbles over the window walk railing, but tension rises when it's learned it was more than an accident - it was murder!  Theodosia (of course) finds a bolt form a crossbow and the incident is ruled a homicide.  While the police would prefer Theo mind her own business, Neville calls on her to help solve the case.  It's not long before Theo and her pal Drayton find a cast of characters who would have gladly seen the banker dead - but which one was actually crazy enough to kill?

Fun as usual watching Theo and Drayton weed through thier list of suspects.  Theo has her third (or is it fourth) romantic interest and i have to admit I like this guy the best! I also have to admit this is one of the prettier covers in the series!!!! Laura Childs, we'll keep reading as long as you keep writing! Five Paws!!!!!

A Coffeehouse Mystery
Penguin Random House
March 6, 2018
Cleo Coyle

From tea to coffee!  This popular series is another that never seems to run out of steam.  Claire and her NYPD detective boyfriend are all aglow after his marriage proposal, but the celebration of thier engagement is short lived.  First their celebration is interrupted by a letter bequeathing a hidden treasure to Claire's daughter; next the jeweler who designed Claire's ring is found poisoned in her shop.  Both events appear to be connected to a cold case murder involving a sunken ship, an Italian curse, a jewel thief and a family secret!

One of the  most engaging series out there. I haven't read them all but I fully intend to!  This one is a must read for die hard fans of the series!  Four and a half paws.

Linda Wiken
Penguin Random House
March 6, 2018
four and a half paws

The Culinary Capers Club is back in ful lswing, planning a fall picnic for their next meeting. But when Alison Malkovich opens the back of her SUV to load in picnic supplies, she finds the dead body of her ex-husband.  Alison gets suspended from the force pending investigation and it's up to JJ and the Culinary Capers gang to clear thier pal's name!

I liked the premise of a "dinner club" from the first book in the series and the third does not disappoint.  Fans both new and old will enjoy following along as JJ and her pals track down the clues to expose a killer!  Four and a half paws!

Dipped to Death
An Olive Grove Mystery
Kelly Lane
March 6, 2018
Four Paws

Eva Knox knows there's trouble afoot when her ex-boyfriend, Dudley Dexter Codman III, shows up for a bird watching holiday. And she's not wrong - Dudley's body is soon found drowned in a pond.  When authorities determine Dudley was poisoned by one of Eva's family's olive oils, she has to find the killer before someone in her family is framed for murder.

This was the first instalment of this series that I read, and I found it thoroughly enjoyable!  I would definitely recommend it for anyone who wants to curl up with a good cozy!  Four Paws!

Last but not least:

Now in paperback, the exciting new mystery from the New York Times bestselling author, in which China Bayles fears for her husband's life as an escaped convict targets him...

A killer McQuaid put away years ago has busted out of Huntsville Prison and appears to be headed for Pecan Springs. China wants to stay by her husband's side and keep him from harm, but McQuaid insists that she get out of town and go to the Last Chance Olive Ranch, where she's agreed to teach a workshop on herbs.

The owner, Maddie Haskell, has her own troubles. She inherited the ranch and olive oil business from the late matriarch, Eliza Butler, but Eliza's nephew is contesting the will. While China throws herself into helping Maddie, McQuaid's plan to stop the convict backfires. And now McQuaid's life is not the only one at stake--and this time may really be his last chance...

Another excellent entry in this long-running mystery series! Four paws!

Win ROCCO's review copy of DIPPED TO DEATH!

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Sunday, March 11, 2018

ROCCO salutes EJ Copperman (and Jeff Cohen, too!)


Way before the human got into writing cozies, she and I were a fan of a gentleman named Jeff Cohen.

Jeff is a native of the Garden State, New Jersey (where the human and I currently make our home...for now)  and has been writing for a living ever since graduating from Rutgers.  Jeff has had numerous articles published in such publications as Writer's Digest, TV Guide and Premiere (and the New York Times, too)

The human first became a fan with Jeff's Double Feature Mystery series.  Published by Berkley Prime Crime back in the day when they liked cozies, it began with SOME LIKE IT HOT-BUTTERED. 
The series follows the adventures of Elliot Freed and his all-comedy movie theater, Comedy Tonight. The other books in the series are IT HAPPENED ONE KNIFE and A NIGHT AT THE OPERATION.

And then there's Jeff's good friend, E.J.Copperman.

Some people say that Jeff and EJ are so close it's almost like talking to the same person!  Like Jeff, EJ writes mysteries.  His Haunted Guesthouse series, formerly published by Berkley and now by Crooked Lane, is immensely popular. 
It follows the adventues of Alison Kerby, a divorcee with a nine year old daughter who buys a huge Victorian on the Jersey shore to renovate into a guesthouse.  The house isn't empty, though. It's haunted by two spirits, Paul and Maxie, and after a conk on the head Alison is able to both see and talk to them.  Paul, a former PI, soon convinces Alison to go into that same business with him.  

EJ writes three other series as well.  The Mysterious Detective series, published by Crooked Lane, has an unusual premise. 
Rachel Goldman is a midlist crime fiction writer whose slightly odd protagonist Duffy Madison consults with the local prosecutor’s office on missing person cases. She’s just finishing up her latest novel in Written Off, the first in the series, when her phone rings. The caller is a man who says he needs her help: he’s a consultant for the local prosecutor’s office who specializes in missing person cases and a mystery novelist has gone missing. He wants Rachel to help. And he says his name is Duffy Madison.

The "Agent to the Paws" series from St. Martin's deals with a woman, Kay Powell, who's a theatrical four footed clients. 
She thinks she's got it made with her first client, a lovable dog...until his owner turns up dead in the dog's dish.  the book is titled, appropriately, DOG DISH OF DOOM.

E.J. collaborates with Jeff Cohen on the Asperger’s Mysteries from Midnight Ink, in which Samuel Hoenig opens a storefront in a strip mall and hangs a sign (with tape) in the window reading Questions Answered. A borderline genius who happens to have an Autism Spectrum Disorder, Samuel narrates his tales with a… unique perspective. In the opening novel, The Question of the Missing Head, Samuel and his new associate Janet Washburn are asked a simple question by the head of a New Jersey cryonics institute: “Who took one of our frozen heads?” And the game is afoot. Or ahead. Or something.
If you haven't tried either of these remarkable writers, I suggest you go out and pick up one of their books today!  You will not be disappointed.  Or, you could enter our giveaway!
Leave your name and email address below to win a copy of the latest HAUNTED GUESTHOUSE MYSTERY, THE HOSTESS WITH THE GHOSTESS!

Find Jeff and EJ at:

Sunday, March 4, 2018


Laura Childs, New York Times bestselling author
of Plum Tea Crazy, talks about toggling between
writing cozy mysteries and thrillers.

     Most of my readers know me as Laura Childs, author of three different cozy mystery series – the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbooking Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. But under my “other” name of Gerry Schmitt, I also write the Afton Tangler Thriller series.

     As you can imagine, this double life presents a few writing problems. Cozy mysteries are a kinder, gentler form of mystery, what I often call G-rated, good for girls to grandmas. Thrillers on the other hand are basically no holds barred crazy action novels. As a thriller author, you can kill, pillage, and plunder your way through your entire story. Serial killers and mad bombers? No problem. Tea drinking? A problem. (Though perhaps Hannibal Lector enjoys a cup of English breakfast tea now and then.) So how, you might wonder, do I keep these two genres separate? I’ll share a secret with you – I kind of don’t.
     My cozy mysteries have evolved into a sort of hybrid, what I now call a “thrillzy.” This means my cozies are still based on traditional cozy guidelines (amateur sleuth, no gratuitous violence, etc.) but I’ve imbued them with the action and pace of a thriller. That is, scenes that include car chases, bodies tumbling in the surf, drones shooting down hot air balloons, rogue killers, alligators, haunted cemeteries, the supernatural, and even a food truck chase.
     My thrillers are even more action-packed. Big time shocker in the opening chapter, lots of plot twists with even more action, and a huge confrontational grand finale. But woven into my thrillers is a little bit of cozy sensibility. This means more in-depth characters, more emotional turmoil, and a point of view that also includes the bad guy. Instead of your flat out, cookie-cutter psychotic bad guy, I try to give them some much-needed emotional and psychological depth. So the crimes they commit actually seem rational to them. In other words, I portray their humanity – no matter how flawed that might be.
     So . . . women who serve tea residing cheek to jowl with crazed killers? Certainly not in the real world. But inside my computer, from whence the words all flow, they get along just fine.


Laura Childs is the USA Today and New York Times bestselling author of the Scrapbooking Mysteries, Tea Shop Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. Recently, Book Riot named the Tea Shop Mysteries to their list of “25 of the All Time Best Cozy Mystery Series.” In her previous life Laura was CEO of her own marketing firm, authored several screenplays, and produced a reality TV show. She is married to Dr. Bob, a professor of Chinese art history, enjoys travel, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs.

Thank you, Laura!

Laura's latest Tea Shop mystery, PLUM TEA CRAZY debuts this Tuesday March 6 ( Read my review next week in my cozy blog).  and isn't that a beautiful cover!!!!!!Laura will give away a copy of Plum Tea Crazy to one lucky commenter!

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* Follow my blog (+ 1 point)
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Winner will be chosen at random using  Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Good luck!  Contest ends midnight, March 10!