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Cozy Prizes Friday: Mulberry Mischief

Woo hoo hoo! Time for a Fall cozy full of mulberry and evil spirits! Love it and love this cover! So get your pumpkin spice on and check out Mulberry Mischief! Don’t forget to scroll down and enter Sharon’s giveaway!

Congratulations to CAROLYN, the winner of my 2019 Summer Giveaway. Watch your inbox!

About the Book

Mulberry Mischief (A Berry Basket Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
4th in Series

Autumn has arrived on the shores of Lake Michigan, but Marlee Jacob, proprietor of The Berry Basket, is feeling a chill for other reasons …

With the Harvest Health Fair in full swing, Marlee makes sure to stock up on elderberry products for cold and flu season. But this year there’s also a run on mulberry when an eccentric customer wants to use the dried berries to ward off evil forces. True, it’s almost Halloween, but something else seems to be spooking Leticia the Lake Lady, Oriole Point’s oddest resident. She believes someone plans to kill her—and the ghost. Only mulberries can protect them. Marlee doesn’t take her fears seriously until a man named Felix Bonaventure arrives in the village, asking questions about a mysterious woman.

The next day, Marlee finds Bonaventure dead on Leticia’s property—shot through the heart with an arrow made of mulberry wood. And Leticia has disappeared. Marlee soon learns the Lake Lady has a deadly past that is connected to the famous Sable family who are in town for the health fair. A bunch of clues start to come together—and figuring out what’s going on puts Marlee in a real jam …

Includes Berry Recipes!

Available at these online retailers – AmazonB&NKoboGoogle PlayIndieBound

About Sharon Farrow

Sharon Farrow is the latest pen name of award-winning author Sharon Pisacreta. A freelance writer since her twenties, she has been published in mystery, fantasy, and romance. Sharon currently writes The Berry Basket cozy mystery series for Kensington. The series debuted in 2016 and is set along the beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline where she now lives. She is also one half of the writing team D.E. Ireland, who co-author the Agatha nominated Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins mysteries.

Author Links –

WEB PAGE http://sharonfarrowauthor.com/

FACEBOOK @SharonFarrowAuthor

TWITTER @SharonFarrowBB

BOOKBUB @SharonFarrow

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Cozy Prizes Friday: Knot on Her Life

Today we have a new quilting mystery from Mary Marks. Pick up a copy and “piece” together the clues! (Quilting Humor) Be sure to scroll down and enter the giveaway for your chance at a print copy.

About the Book

Knot on Her Life (A Quilting Mystery)
Cozy Mystery

While quilter Martha Rose awaits the birth of her granddaughter, a neighborhood girl appears at her door with a mystery that can’t be pinned down . .

Martha’s eager to finish the baby quilt she’s making for her new granddaughter, but she scraps those plans when a young girl rings her doorbell begging for help. Poppy Halaby, the foster child of Martha’s neighbor, is an orphan whose parents were murdered by a killer who was never caught. When Poppy’s doting foster mom falls suspiciously ill, Martha is determined to keep the child safe. But she’ll have to unravel more about Poppy’s parents to stitch a broken family back together again—and prevent another crime cut from the same cloth . . .

You can find Knot on Her Life at these online retailers:

AmazonB&N Google Play kobo

My Review: 4 Stars

Martha Rose is happily preparing for a grandchild which sets the stage for the entrance of Poppy, a little girl who saw her parents murdered.  The child’s parents were different religions and Marks does a wonderful job of showing us each world. This was a heartwarming cozy that can be read as a standalone or as a part of the series. I loved the character of Crusher, the gentle giant, and want to belong to that quilt group!

About Mary Marks

About the Author

Born and raised in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, Mary Marks earned a B.A. in Anthropology from UCLA and an M.A. in Public Administration from the American Jewish University in Los Angeles. In 2004 she enrolled in the UCLA Extension Writers Program. Her first novel, Forget Me Knot, was a finalist in a national writing competition in 2011. She is currently a reviewer of cozy mysteries for The New York Journal of Books at www.nyjournalofbooks.com.

Readers can visit her at www.marymarksmysteries.com and https://www.facebook.com/mmarks2013

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Cozy Prizes Friday: No More Time

Would you help your ex if he or she was accused of murder? That’s what Dodie O’Dell decides to do in Suzanne Trauth’s latest mystery, No More Time. There was something you liked about this person once, right? Of course, then you got to know them.  Be sure to scroll down and enter Suzanne’s giveaway and she was kind enough to share some of her thoughts about writing her series.

 

About The Book


No More Time (A Dodie O’Dell Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
5th in Series

DEATH TAKES A HOLIDAY

Restaurant manager Dodie O’Dell has found her niche in the cozy New Jersey town of Etonville, creating menus that make a delicious double-act with the community theater’s productions. Now she’s ready for a vacation at the Jersey Shore town she called home before a hurricane hit. Sun, salty air, and seagulls make for a nostalgic escape from regular life—until a contingent from Etonville arrives to compete in a Jersey Shore theater festival.

Roped into helping her former boss cater the event, Dodie also gets a visit from her old flame, Jackson, who’s hoping to revive his charter boat business and is looking for a place to crash. Before Dodie can tell him that ship has sailed, Jackson’s partner is found murdered on his boat. Dodie knows her ex is a mooch, but she’s sure he’s no killer. But as she follows a trail of evidence that leads into her own past, Dodie stumbles on a dangerous conspiracy theory that could bring the festival to a shocking finale…

Excerpt from No More Time

By noon we were both hot and famished. I suggested a break from the sun at the tiki bar and we gathered our beach gear and trudged through the sand to the Polynesian music. We were halfway through our bucket of steamed clams when an elderly twosome at a table next to ours gasped in shock. We couldn’t help noticing.

“Is everything okay?” I asked gently.

The woman’s head bobbled and her wide-brimmed sunhat swung from side to side. She picked up the newspaper she’d been reading, the Candle Beach Courier, a local rag, and shoved the front page at us. “He was such a nice boy. We knew his parents years ago.”
I smiled sympathetically and scanned the sheet. Then I gasped.

“Dodie, what’s the matter?” Lola said.
“Were you acquainted with him too?” the woman asked.

I nodded numbly. Was I ever. The headline read LOCAL MAN DEAD. Underneath was a photo of the victim: It was Vinnie C. I rotated the paper so Lola could see the front page. “It’s him,” I said hoarsely.

Lola blinked. “Vincent Carcherelli,” she read.

I scanned the story. Apparently his body had been washed up on the beach sometime overnight and was discovered by a jogger early today in time to make the mid-morning edition. The police were calling it a drowning and speculating that he’d fallen off his boat, The Bounty, which had drifted half a mile off the shoreline. No foul play suspected at the moment but the investigation was ongoing.

I offered to return the newspaper but the couple refused to accept it, saying the story was too upsetting. They picked up their bill and left.

“Wow. What a coincidence. We were talking about how Jackson saw him yesterday …” Lola stopped. A light bulb went on. “The police will want to speak with Jackson. He might have been one of the last people to see Vinnie alive.”

It was Lola’s last word that brought me up short: alive. Jackson had been steamed during that meeting on the boardwalk. Did he know anything about Vinnie’s last hours? If Bill were here he’d tell me to mind my own business, let Jackson alone, let the police determine the actual cause of death. Bill was right, of course. But something about the whole event didn’t sit right with me. Why did Jackson lie about what happened when he met Vinnie?

Purchase No More Time at these online retailers!

Amazon B&NKobo

 

A Visit With Suzanne Trauth

Suzanne Trauth, Harvard Studio, Montclair, NJ. 06/27/2014 Photo by Steve Hockstein/HarvardStudio.com

     I’ve had fun since I first began the Dodie O’Dell mystery series with Show Time (followed by Time Out, Running Out of Time, Just in Time, and No More Time debuting in July) writing about Etonville, New Jersey’s community theater: the Etonville Little Theatre. Known as  the ELT. I have been able to draw on my long career in the theater as a teacher, director, writer and producer to create the on-and-offstage dramas that constantly plague the members of the ELT.

     In fact, with every novel in the series, I began by choosing a play to be performed and then found ways to tie the casting, rehearsal, and performances to the murder investigation. And, of course, to Dodie’s theme food ideas! As anyone who has experienced community theater knows, there are plenty of opportunities for turmoil and conflict among the members of the organization. Much of which generates the comic elements of the Dodie O’Dell mystery series.  

     The characters associated with the ELT are a quirky bunch: Lola, Dodie’s BFF and ELT diva; prickly director Walter; loyal sidekick and cliché-mangling Penny; character-actor-and-perpetually-grouchy Abby; full-of-himself Romeo; and police-dispatcher-wannabe-star Edna. They are a fun ensemble that keep Dodie on her toes and the town ever-ready for opening night. From Walter’s pre-show warm-ups—circle of light, blindfold trust exercises, and floating balloons—to Penny’s antics keeping the cast in line through technical and dress rehearsals, the Etonville Little Theatre is usually a hotbed of chaos.

     Which is why, in No More Time, Dodie is happy to have a break from the daily hubbub of her Etonville BFFs, friends, and neighbors for a couple of peaceful weeks vacationing down the Jersey Shore with Bill, her current love interest and Etonville police chief. At least that was the plan…

     First, her parents appear on the scene from Florida to visit old friends in Candle Beach where Dodie grew up. And to catch up with their daughter and Bill. Then her ex-boyfriend materializes on the porch of the Candle Beach bungalow she and Bill have rented needing a place to crash. Finally, Dodie discovers the ELT is coming to town having been offered a spot in the New Jersey Community Theater Festival. Yikes! There goes Dodie’s scheme to escape the Etonville havoc for sun and sand and salt air…

     At this point I was able to indulge my theatrical background and create a slate of plays for the theater festival finalists—seven entries that would vie for the first place award among New Jersey’s fictional community theaters. I decided to get some help. I had run a Facebook contest with Just in Time—readers submitted ideas for entrees and appetizers that I included on the Windjammer’s menu. I received such interesting suggestions that it was great fun creating scenes and dialogue around the winning dinner specials.

     So…for No More Time, I asked folks to send in their favorite play titles. I had a number of great submissions to choose from, giving me options for crafting a list of titles that included musicals, classics, and comedies. Thanks readers! I ended up with seven plays from seven fictional community theaters: The Sound of Music, Cinderella, King Lear, Death of a Salesman, Noises Off, Harvey, and Mousetrap. All of these choices provided wonderful opportunities for theatrical bedlam—costume snags, rehearsal glitches, and cast malfunctions. When the actors in Harvey come down with food poisoning at a company picnic, the Etonville Little Theatre takes their place with Arsenic and Old Lace. Despite murder and mayhem, it turns out to be a terrific festival with first, second, and third place winners announced on Labor Day weekend. And the winners were…oh, wait…you’ll need to read No More Time to find out.

     See you down the Shore!

Suzanne Trauth is a novelist, playwright, screenwriter, and a former theatre professor at a university. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, the Dramatists Guild, and League of Professional Theatre Women. When she is not writing, Suzanne coaches actors and serves as a celebrant performing wedding ceremonies. She lives in Woodland Park, New Jersey.

Author Links

Webpage: www.suzannetrauth.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SuzanneTrauth/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SuzanneMTrauth

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6187623.Suzanne_M_Trauth

 

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Guest Post from Suzanne Trouth

Cozy Prizes Friday: Left Fur Dead

We will be having a Harvey moment this week. Left Fur Dead features a rabbit who finds bodies. I like it! We have a a little about the book, and the author, J.M. Griffin and don’t forget to scroll down and enter the giveaway for a chance at a print copy of this furry cozy mystery!

About the Book


Left Fur Dead (A Jules & Bun Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Kensington (June 25, 2019)

On Fur Bridge Farm, Jules cares for rescued rabbits. But when a killer strikes, she’ll need a rabbit to rescue her . . .

Juliette “Jules” Bridge prides herself on the tender rehabilitation she provides for injured or abused rabbits on her New Hampshire rescue farm, but she has a very special relationship with one bunny in particular. Bun is a black-and-white rabbit who happens to have the ability to communicate through mental telepathy. Once she got over the shock, Jules found her furry friend had a lot to say.

One frigid March morning on their walk together, Bun spots a body. The police identify the frozen stiff as Arthur Freeman, aka Arty the Mime. Jules and Arty knew each other on the children’s party circuit, where he’d perform magic tricks and she had an educational rabbit petting pen. With Bun egging her on, Jules decides it’s time they hop to it and put their heads together to discover who silenced the mime. But their investigation leads them down a rabbit hole of more suspects and lies, while a killer sets a trap for them . . .

You can find Left Fur Dead at these online retailers

AmazonB&NKoboGoogle Play IndieBound

About the Author

J. M. Griffin is the bestselling cozy mystery author of sixteen novels, including the Vinnie Esposito series. She lives in rural Rhode Island with her husband and two very mysterious cats. Visit her at jm-griffin.com.

Author Links

WebsiteFacebookBlog

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If you haven’t already, you can also enter my summer giveaway. That’s right. Two giveaways to enter!

Summer Reading Giveaway 2019

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This contest is no longer accepting entries.

Cozy Prizes Friday: Whiskers in the Dark

We have some cozy royalty visiting us today! Rita Mae Brown is bringing us her 28th book in her Mrs. Murphy Mystery Series. Time to add some crime-solving cats and dogs and a ghost beagle to your summer reading list.  This looks like a good one! 

Don’t forget to enter Rita’s giveaway for your chance at a print copy of Whiskers in the Dark. 

About the Book

Whiskers in the Dark: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery
Cozy Mystery
28th in Series

Death stalks the Blue Ridge Mountains as a centuries-old mystery resurfaces and murder mars the lead-up to an annual beagle competition, in a thrilling new tale from Rita Mae Brown and her feline co-author Sneaky Pie Brown.

A massive nor’easter has hit northern Virginia, where Mary Minor “Harry” Harristeen joins groundskeeping efforts at the National Beagle Club at Aldie as the date for its springtime Hounds for Heroes veterans’ benefit approaches. Harry’s fellow volunteers, including her oldest friend, Susan Tucker, comprise a spirited group of hunting enthusiasts, some former service members themselves. But things take a sinister turn when, after a routine tree cleanup along the Club’s hunting trails, retired foreign services officer Jason Holzknect is found dead, throat slit from ear to ear. Soon enough, another murder in their midst jolts the preparations, convincing Harry that the killer is familiar with the Club—and must be close by, masked in plain sight.

The intrigue extends to the grounds of Harry’s beloved local church, where the identity of an eighteenth-century skeleton wearing precious pearls remains a mystery. The anonymous woman’s neck had been snapped, and marks on the grave where her body was secreted indicate that someone recently tried to remove it, leading Harry to question how well she really knows those around her.

As always, Harry’s crime-solving cats Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, and Tee Tucker the Corgi share her determination to sniff out the foes among friends, even those long buried. Harry will need her four-legged companions’ help more than ever: a ghostly beagle only they can see may hold the key to the culprit.

You can find Whiskers in the Dark at these online retailers 

AmazonB&NKoboGoogle PlayIndieBound

About the Author

 

Rita Mae Brown is the bestselling author of the Sneaky Pie Brown mysteries; the Sister Jane series; the Runnymede novels, including Six of One and Cakewalk; A Nose for Justice and Murder Unleashed; Rubyfruit Jungle; and In Her Day; as well as many other books. An Emmy-nominated screenwriter and a poet, Brown lives in Afton, Virginia, and is a Master of Foxhounds and the huntsman.

Sneaky Pie Brown, a tiger cat born somewhere in Albemarle County, Virginia, was discovered by Rita Mae Brown at her local SPCA. They have collaborated on numerous Mrs. Murphy mysteries—in addition to Sneaky Pie’s Cookbook for Mystery Lovers and Sneaky Pie for President.

 
Author Links
 
 
 
 

Cozy Prizes Friday: Staging is Murder



Just to show you how on top of my blog schedule I am, I had lunch with this lovely lady at Malice Domestic and didn’t realize she was scheduled for an interview today! Senior cozy author moment. Don’t forget to scroll down and enter for a chance at a free copy of Staging is Murder!

Laura Bishop just nabbed her first decorating commission—staging for sale a 19th-century mansion that hasn’t been updated for decades. But when a body falls from a laundry chute and lands at Laura’s feet, replacing flowered wallpaper becomes the least of her duties.

To clear her young assistant of the murder and save her fledgling business, Laura’s determined to find the killer. Turns out it’s not as easy as renovating a manor home, especially with two handsome men complicating her mission: the police detective assigned to the case and the real estate agent trying to save the manse from foreclosure.

Worse still, the meddling of a horoscope-guided friend, a determined grandmother, and the local funeral director could get them all killed before Laura props the first pillow.

My Interview with Grace

  • How did you come with an idea for your book? 

There were two things I had to come up with for my book. One was the hook for my character, and the other one was the “what if” question.

In a cozy, the main character usually has a hook, which I learned is a profession or interest (baker, florist, garage sale expert, etc.) that becomes a major part of the story. I was advised that since I would be spending a lot of time writing about this hook that I should pick one that I like or know something about—or be willing to do a lot of research. After looking at all of the areas of my life, work, interests, hobbies, etc., I came to realize the one thing that I enjoyed was home staging. I had spent way too many hours watching HGTV home staging shows, and when I discovered that I had a knack for it, I helped friends stage their homes. So I decided that would be my hook, and that’s how STAGING IS MURDER came about.

The “What if” question is the basis for a story. For example, what if a young boy receives a scholarship to a school of wizardry? The basis of the Harry Potter books. What if a little girl and her home are blown away by a tornado? The basis for the “Wizard of Oz.” In my case, I wrote my mystery around the question: What if a fax went to the wrong number? What could be in that fax that might cause someone to commit murder?

  • What scene do you hope your readers enjoy the most?

When I started writing fiction, the one thing that surprised me was how humor kept creeping into my writing—either from situations I put my characters in or from the snarky remarks my main character, Laura Bishop, made. A scene that I hope readers enjoy, and I hope find a bit humorous, is the one where Laura and her BFF Nita go to a campground at night to investigate whether some men living there in a rickety camper could be the ones who committed the murder. First they had to cross a field to get there, which they discovered had been used to graze cows. You can imagine the stuff they ran (or stepped) into. Later Nita also drags Laura to the same campground searching for some members of Hell’s Angels who might have been involved with the murder. Laura frequently ends up playing Ethel to Nita’s Lucy.

  • What other things have you written or what projects might we see in the future?

I’m busy working on the second book in the Laura Bishop series (tentatively titled STAGING WARS). This one involves members of a local arts group. Laura gets to see Monica, her high school nemesis, behind bars and having to sleep on a cot without her usual silk sheets. Monica definitely needs Laura’s help. But would you be willing to help clear someone of murder when you suspect that person had an affair with your late husband?

I recently completed a short story about a woman who discovers her husband of twenty-five years plans to leave her for a very young woman who lives next door and what she plans to do about it. He may regret that he strayed.

  • If you could write any other genre what would that be?

I spent a career writing step-by-step procedural guidelines and computer user guides. Quite boring, which is why I turned to murder mysteries. But if I had to write in another area, I would probably draw on that experience and turn to writing nonfiction self-help books or articles. During my career, I helped guide a lot of people in writing their resumes and applying for work. I’m definitely not an expert in that area, but I know enough to help someone who doesn’t have a clue where to start.

  • Is there a giveaway or promotion with this book?

I will be happy to send one commenter a copy of the ARC for STAGING IS MURDER.

  • Where can readers leave reviews of your book?

I hope readers will enjoy STAGING IS MURDER, and if they are willing to leave a comment or review, I would greatly appreciate it. They can leave it at one of the following:

Amazon 

Goodreads

Grace’s Website: https://www.gracetopping.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/GraceToppingAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/gtoppingauthor

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/44098504-staging-is-murder?from_search=true

Back Cover Copy

Laura Bishop just nabbed her first decorating commission—staging for sale a 19th-century mansion that hasn’t been updated for decades. But when a body falls from a laundry chute and lands at Laura’s feet, removing flowered wallpaper becomes the least of her duties. 

To clear her young assistant of the murder and save her fledgling business, Laura’s determined to find the killer. Turns out it’s not as easy as renovating a manor home, especially with two handsome men complicating her mission: the police detective assigned to the case and the real estate agent trying to save the manse from foreclosure.

Worse still, the meddling of a horoscope-guided friend, a determined grandmother, and the local funeral director could get them all killed before Laura props the first pillow.

Bio

More About the Author

Grace Topping is a recovering technical writer and IT project manager, accustomed to writing lean, boring documents. Let loose to write fiction, she is now creating murder mysteries and killing off characters who remind her of some of the people she dealt with during her career. Fictional revenge is sweet. She’s using her experience helping friends stage their homes as inspiration for her Laura Bishop mystery series. The first book in the series, Staging is Murder, is about a woman starting a new career midlife as a home stager. Grace is the current vice president of the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime, and a member of the SINC Guppies and Mystery Writers of America. She lives with her husband in Northern Virginia.

Author Links

Website – https://www.gracetopping.com

Twitter – https://twitter.com/gtoppingauthor

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/GraceToppingAuthor

GoodReads – https://www.goodreads.com/goodreadscomgracetopping

Purchase Links – Amazon B&N Kobo

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Cozy Prizes Friday: Bad Pick Mystery Tour and an Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

Let’s talk about goat yoga. (Never thought I’d be saying that!) Not really sure if this means the goats are doing the yoga or people are acting like goats doing yoga? Well, some of the characters in Bad Pick think it’s downright evil.  This is the third book in the Brie Hooker Mystery Series. Don’t forget to scroll down and enter the giveaway for an Amazon gift card!

Synopsis:

Bad Pick by Linda Lovely

Vegan Brie Hooker lives and works with her feisty Aunt Eva at Udderly Kidding Dairy, a hop, skip, and jump away from South Carolina’s Clemson University. Brie’s fun farm outreach attempt backfires when religious extremists decide goat yoga is a form of devil worship. Believing one of the zealots might be persuaded to see reason, Brie’s free-wheeling friend Mollye convinces her they should call on the young woman. Big mistake.

Picketers at Udderly’s gates soon become the least of Brie’s troubles. Not only is she accused of murder, she worries the death might actually be her fault. Danger mounts when an old family friend’s visit ensnares Brie in a high-stakes feud between a U.S. Supreme Court nominee and the woman determined to expose his secrets. In her personal life, Brie’s still torn between the town’s two most eligible bachelors. While she’s edging toward a decision, she must first survive a cunning killer adept at crafting murders that look like tragic accidents. Will Brie be another “accident” victim? Pay a visit to Udderly Kidding Dairy and find out!

Praise for Bad Pick

“There’s such a lot to enjoy in Linda Lovely’s third Brie Hooker mystery Bad Pick. Of course, I came for the goat yoga and the religious extremists (I’m only human), but I stayed for the love triangle, the female friendships, the family members rubbing along so realistically, the sidelights on vegan cooking and the rich depiction of small-town life. And what kept me flicking the pages fast enough to cause a draft? The twisty, knotty, killer plot underneath all that charm. Bad Pick is a good un!”—Catriona McPherson, Multi-Award-Winning Author of the Last Ditch Mysteries.

“Wow! In Bad Pick, Lovely wrote an amazing novel only to see one part of the plot come to life in headlines all over the country. A fringe religious cult, a Supreme Court nominee, and goat yoga combine together in a tale that fans of mysteries won’t want to miss. –Sherry Harris, Agatha Award Nominee and Author of the Sarah Winston Garage Sale mysteries.

“The Brie Hooker mysteries from author Linda Lovely continue to entertain, this time with extremists who really don’t like the farm’s new goat yoga offering. You’ll find yourself muttering, “What the feta?” as you follow the action around not one but two murders from the edge of your seat. Fix yourself a chevre sandwich and sit down to enjoy a delightful – and suspense-filled – read.”—Edith Maxwell, Author of the Local Foods Mysteries and the Quaker Midwife Mysteries.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Published by: Henery Press
Publication Date: April 16, 2019
Number of Pages: 270
ISBN: 9781635114744
Series: Brie Hooker Mystery Series
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

 

Read an excerpt:

ONE

“How many people did you con into trying this goat yoga?” Aunt Eva asked as she slapped two strips of cold bacon in a skillet.

“No conning needed,” I answered. “Everyone’s looking forward to the class.”

“You sure goat yoga’s a good idea?”

I laughed. “I’m sure. People love it. Admittedly, a sense of humor’s required, but it’s caught on all across the country. Why don’t you join the fun? Class starts at three. We don’t have many Sunday customers this time of year. We’ll probably have the farm to ourselves by then. You up for some downward-facing dog?”

“No.” Eva harrumphed. “Don’t go insulting our noble dogs. Bad enough you’ll expose our baby goats to human pretzels. It’s bound to confuse the poor kids. Won’t know which human end is supposed to be up. They’ll think all us two-legged beings are bonkers. So who’s coming?”

“Jayla, our yoga instructor, wanted to limit the trial class to four students so it’s just Mollye, Fara, Mimi, and me.”

I pulled out a bag of frozen blueberries I’d picked at the Happy Berry Farm last summer. While Udderly Kidding Dairy, my home for the past seven months, boasted dozens of blueberry bushes, our four-hundred goats called first dibs on the fruit.

“Oh, and Paint’s shooting video to promote the class,” I added.

Aunt Eva chuckled as she flipped her sizzling bacon strips. “Not a hardship for Paint, videoing young ladies in nothing but skivvies and tutus.”

I glanced heavenward. “We don’t wear tutus. Our workout clothes show less skin than you do on the Fourth of July.”

Eva cocked an eyebrow. “Could be you’re helping Paint select babes for the weeks he’s not your designated beau.”

I opened the cupboard and grabbed a microwave packet of steel-cut oatmeal. “Paint sees a variety of ladies when we’re not dating, and he knows everyone in this class. No behind-the-camera scouting required.”

“Maybe, but as far as I know, he hasn’t seen any of them with their ankles up around their ears.”

“And he won’t today.”

“If you say so, but I swear my old bones creak just looking at some of those yoga contortions.”

Eva cracked two eggs in the hot bacon grease, while I used our microwave—a new kitchen addition—to thaw my frozen berries and heat the oats. My usual February morning fare. At Udderly, we didn’t chow down until the morning chores were done. That meant I was starved and in dire need of a caffeine injection.

Eva glanced over. “So how’s that boyfriend-for-a-week plan working? Who’s ahead in the Brie Hooker heart throb race? Any close calls on the clothing discard clause?”

I smiled. “Paint and Andy try to outdo each other in dreaming up ways to initiate a striptease. Despite their enterprising efforts, the nude- default clause remains unchallenged.”

Last November, I’d agreed to this bizarre boyfriend pact with Andy Green, our veterinarian, and David “Paint” Paynter, an entrepreneurial moonshiner. Though strongly attracted to both thirty-four-year-old hunks, I’d sworn I’d date neither. Didn’t want to lose them as friends or come between them. They’d been best buds for thirty years, practically since they left diapers.

The boys came up with an alternative. I’d date Paint one week, Andy the next, until either I selected a fulltime beau, one of them opted out, or a ridiculous nudity clause kicked in. If I disrobed on any date, the magician who assisted in making my clothes disappear would win by default. Both men swore the arrangement would not affect their friendship.

Me? I felt like I’d been locked in a chastity belt. Foreplay’s a lot less fun when there’s no after.

“You know it can’t last, don’t you?” Aunt Eva asked, giving voice to my own misgivings.

“Yep, I do. But like today’s sunny warmth—way too early for mid- February—I’ll enjoy it while I can.”

TWO

Jayla Johnson, our tall, willowy teacher waved as she walked toward me. Had to admit Paint would get an eyeful watching her stretch every which way. He was male, and Jayla was a stunner. As a shorty—I’m five four—I’d always envied long-legged ladies like Jayla. Somehow those extra inches made them look cool and sophisticated.

Luckily, Jayla wasn’t in the running to join Paint’s off-week harem. She was happily married to one of Clemson University’s football coaches and had a darling three-year-old son.

“Do we have a plan B?” Jayla glanced up at the Carolina blue sky. “It’s really warm for February, but the ground’s too muddy to put our mats down in a pasture. After five minutes, we’d look like we’d been mud wrestling.”

“Agreed. It’d be a shame to get that outfit muddy.” Jayla looked like an Oreo cookie, her ebony skin a sharp contrast to her snowy outfit. “I did warn you baby goats aren’t potty-trained, didn’t I? Accidents can happen.” “Not to worry.” Jayla smiled. “My laundry room has one whole shelf devoted to stain removers for husband-son accidents. So where are we setting up?”

“The horse barn. Plenty of room and it will be easier to keep Curly, Moe, and Larry contained.”

“Who?”

“Curly, Moe, and Larry are the baby goats—five-day-old triplets. We named the kids after The Three Stooges. Full of energetic hijinks. They’re also super cuddly.”

We turned as Mollye Camp’s psychedelic van crunched down the gravel drive. Her van’s midnight blue paint job served as a backdrop for a galaxy of glittering stars, a super-sized harvest moon, and a broom-riding witch. Moll, my best friend since childhood, was a gifted potter who sold her creations along with an eclectic hodgepodge of homeopathic remedies, herbs, and astrological doodads in her Starry Skies shop.

Moll jangled as she hopped down from her ride. She adored jewelry and had more piercings than a rapper. A vibrant purple streak adorned her white-blonde hair. She chose a new neon hue every month.

Mollye hustled over. “Who we waiting for?”

“Mimi and Fara,” I answered. “We’re keeping the group small for the test run. Paint’s shooting video.”

Mollye checked the amount of cleavage revealed by her scoop-necked purple top and inspected the seams of her orange leggings as they meandered south of her shorts. “Glad I didn’t wear anything too revealing. Don’t want folks thinking I’d participate in some racy video.”

Mimi and Fara’s arrival cut short Jayla’s and my eye rolls. Racy might not be Mollye’s middle name, but outrageous could be. I loved Mollye and her adventurous spirit though it sometimes landed me in hot water. Okay, in one case, freezing water.

With rolled mats tucked under their arms, the class newcomers looked like an odd couple. Mimi, who’d emigrated from Vietnam at age two, stood four feet nine on tiptoe, while Fara, a busty blonde with long braids, topped out at five ten. Mimi was a pharmacist; Fara grew up in her family’s funeral parlor and was now the town’s youngest funeral director.

Hard for this class to be more diverse. Paint would enjoy himself. “Hey, Fara, you boxing anyone up today?” Mollye joked.

“Maybe you after class,” the funeral director quipped. “You want the deluxe mahogany coffin or a pine box? I’m thinking you and Brie have used up eight of your nine lives. Better not exert yourselves today.”

Jayla clapped her hands. “Now children. Snarky is not the proper frame of mind for yoga. Think serenity. We want to clear our minds, be one with nature.”

I chuckled at the good-natured kidding. “Follow me to our classroom. We have the horse barn to ourselves. The smell alone will remind you we’re one with nature. I evicted Rita and Hank. They’re grazing in the pasture. Figured Lilly’s mule and Eva’s horse were more inclined to nicker than meditate.”

“Where are the goats in this goat yoga?” Fara asked.

“Eva will bring Curly, Moe, and Larry in after we start. We need to leave the barn door open for the light. Jim, our Border collie, will keep the little goat Houdinis from escaping.”

The triplets’ antics drove Jim nuts. Yesterday Moe pranced on top of a picnic table for five minutes taunting the poor herd dog. Jim ran circles around the table, barking in protest, unable to figure out how to nudge Moe back to her pen. After we placed our mats, Jayla led us through a series of simple warm-up stretches and breathing exercises. I’d been an avid runner and swimmer for years, but yoga was a new pursuit. I was pleasantly surprised to find its emphasis on breathing and mindfulness and its practiced movements helped me shed stress and fall asleep faster.

Believe me, falling asleep quickly is a prized skill for anyone required to rise before the sun. At Udderly, one of my jobs appeared to be waking the roosters.

Jayla announced the cat pose. I knelt on my mat and set my arms to provide four-point support. Then I arched my back like cats do when threatened. I lowered my head, giving my neck muscles a pleasant stretch.

“Looking good, ladies.” With my head down I heard the man’s voice before I saw him.

“Don’t mind me,” the newcomer continued. “I’m gonna wander around and take photos.”

The sexy baritone belonged to Paint. It should be outlawed.

“Have fun, kids—human and goat.” Eva laughed as she let the baby goats loose in the barn. Moe immediately darted under my arched back, executed a one-eighty, and raced back again as if she were playing a game of London Bridge.

My concentration faltered as Curly discovered she had easy access to one of my earlobes and began to nibble with her lips. It tickled.

Fara broke out laughing as Larry scrambled up her arched back and danced a little jig on his newly discovered perch.

“I’ve got a miniature geisha doing a four-footed massage.” Fara giggled. “Actually feels kind of good, though very strange.”

“No talking,” Jayla admonished. “Concentrate on your breathing, your muscles. Be one with nature.”

Paint hooted. “Nature’s winning.”

Paint obviously felt he was exempt from Jayla’s no-talking reprimand. The instructor began laughing, too. Moe had curled her body around Jayla’s legs as she attempted to hold the Big Toe pose.

We were all bent in half, butts in the air, when a loud voice brayed, “Oh dear God, save us. They are bowing to the devil, mocking the Lord Jesus by thrusting their bottoms at heaven above.”

THREE

What the feta?

I snapped around to see who was calling us devil worshippers. Was this a joke?

Flipping out of downward dog, I body slammed the mat. A second after hitting the plastic, a furry comedian bounced against my side. Curly shook her head as she attempted an impressive four-legged hop. She’d taken my tumble to the ground as an invitation to play. The little goat butted my side again.

“Lord Jesus, help us keep these devil worshippers from claiming more souls!” the stranger bellowed.

I was flabbergasted. No other word for it. Then my shock morphed into anger. Who did this woman think she was, calling us devil worshippers? Who invited her to our private workout? How did she even find out about it?

The plump leader held a super-sized wooden cross before her as if she were fending off a clutch of vampires. I figured her for mid-fifties. Gray streaks wound through her mousy brown hair. Light glinting off oversized spectacles lent her the look of an alien with round yellow bug eyes.

Two cross-carrying acolytes hovered about a foot behind her.

Were these people serious? I felt the blood rush to my cheeks. My heartbeat raced. Angry? You betcha.

I almost yelled one of my old-time favorite curses. Years back, I cleaned up my salty language for dear old Mom. As a vegan, processed- meat-and-cheese exclamations had become my exclamatory substitutes. But Cruddy corndogs! didn’t quite express my outrage.

Mollye, closest to the barn door, marched toward the scowling leader. “Susan, what in blazes do you think you’re doing?” she growled. “I got a restraining order to keep you and your looney-tune zealots off my property. Now you’re following me?”

“I didn’t know you’d be here,” the intruder raged, “though I’m not surprised. Goat yoga! What blasphemy. At church this morning, one of our faithful told me you were planning this abomination. I prayed on it, and decided we had to stop the spread of this evil in Ardon County.”

She waved her cross at us. “In the name of the Father and the Son we demand—”

“You need to leave,” Paint spoke through gritted teeth. “The only evil here is you.”

Susan closed her eyes and rocked back and forth on her heels. “You are Satan’s handmaidens duping people into believing Baphomet goat worship is fun.”

Susan’s diatribe was accompanied by a murmur of “Amen, Sister, Amen” from her backups. The sidekicks still wore church-go-to-meeting dresses, nylons, and heels. They kept sneaking peeks at the ground. Worried their high heels might sink in goat doo-doo during their barnyard sortie?

One of the acolytes looked to be Susan’s age; the other much younger, about my age.

“Knights Templar worshipped Baphomet as a deity.” Susan’s tone changed. Her words flowed in a singsong chant. “These monsters with their snake eyes are his descendants.”

“Are you nuts?” Jayla broke in. “How can you think these adorable babies are evil?”

Susan’s rant hadn’t cowed my friends.

The harpy wasn’t deterred. “Open your eyes. The Satanic goat is a source of evil.” Her yellow bug eyes flashed at each of us in turn. “You worship the Devil. We won’t allow your sickness to infect the pious people of Ardon County.”

Aunt Eva appeared in the barn door carrying two pails of goat milk. “You’re trespassing and you’re scaring the baby goats.”

My aunt’s face flamed red.

“We’ll leave,” Susan said. “But this isn’t over. We will fight to the death for the soul of Ardon County. Goat yoga will not corrupt our world.”

Curly made a break for it. The tiny kid ran pell-mell toward the barn door, which happened to be a few feet beyond where the intruding trio stood. Susan screeched. Did she really believe the Devil inhabited the itty- bitty creature?

The woman raised her leg to kick Curly.

Eva flung both buckets of goat milk, drenching Susan. The white liquid plastered her beehive hairdo to her scalp and her puffy blouse to her chest.

Oh my, was she really wearing a flaming red teddy under her prim white cotton?

A laugh bubbled up. I laughed so hard I doubled over.

Susan shrieked like a storm-warning siren and ran. Though only a few drops of goat’s milk spattered her companions, they caterwauled like they’d been doused with acid as they scurried after their leader.

The entire Udderly Kidding Dairy crew exploded in laughter.

Eva halted her hee-haws long enough to imitate a cackling witch. “You’ve been baptized with the milk of Baaa-Phooey. Your souls belong to us!”

Susan spun when she reached a shiny Chevy van. “You’ll pay for this!” she yelled. “Laugh all you want. You’ll see Hell sooner than you thought.”

I quit laughing as abruptly as I’d started. It was Susan’s tone not her words that gave me the heebie-jeebies. We’d embarrassed the woman. Humiliated her. Perhaps she’d started this protest as some form of ecclesiastical theater, art for show, a way to rally the troops.

Now it was personal. Susan had been scorned.

***

Excerpt from Bad Pick by Linda Lovely. Copyright © 2019 by Linda Lovely. Reproduced with permission from Linda Lovely. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Linda Lovely

Hundreds of mystery writers have met Linda Lovely at check-in for the annual Writers’ Police Academy, which she helps organize. Lovely finds writing pure fiction isn’t a huge stretch given the years she’s spent penning PR and ad copy. She writes a blend of mystery and humor, chuckling as she plots to “disappear” the types of characters who most annoy her. Quite satisfying plus there’s no need to pester relatives for bail. Her new Brie Hooker Mystery series offers good-natured salutes to both her vegan family doctor and her cheese-addicted kin. Bad Pick is her eighth published mystery novel. She served as president of her local Sisters in Crime chapter for five years and belongs to International Thriller Writers and Romance Writers of America.

Catch Up With Our Author On:
lindalovely.com, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Linda Lovely. There will be 1 winner of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on April 1, 2019 and runs through June 2, 2019. Void where prohibited.

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Cozy Prizes Friday: Murder Between the Pages

Today we have a little mystery and a little romance from writer Linda Hope Lee with her cozy mystery Murder Between the Pages.  Linda, a former school librarian has written over two dozen books! Find out more about Linda below, and don’t forget to enter her giveaway for $25 Amazon gift card.

About the Book

Murder Between the Pages (The Nina Foster Mystery Series)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
The Wild Rose Press, Inc. (Crimson Rose) (December 19, 2018)
Paperback: 264 pages
ISBN-10: 1509223673
ISBN-13: 978-1509223671
Digital Print Length: 190 pages
ASIN: B07JKZT5TM

It’s a sad day for librarian Nina Foster when she discovers her good friend, bookstore owner Wildeen Bergman, dead on her office floor. Worse yet, another friend, romance writer Zelma Duke, becomes the police’s prime suspect. Nina knows Wildeen had something on Zelma. Was it enough to warrant murder? Handsome Stephen Kraslow, owner of the local newspaper, joins forces with Nina to find out the truth. The quest takes them on a dangerous journey of twists and turns before they reach the final outcome.

A Visit with Linda 

How did you come with an idea for your book?

Good question, considering that most of the time I don’t know where the ideas come from! But I’ll do my best here. Murder Between the Pages is the first book in my new cozy mystery series. I have published 26 books in other subgenres: contemporary, mystery, and romantic suspense. The heroines of those stories have various occupations: interior designer, museum curator, art gallery owner, actress, singer. I’ve never been any of these in real life. In real life, I was a librarian. So, with the cozy, I thought, why not write about a librarian and really put yourself into the role? And, it’s been fun. Nina and I are different in one respect, though: I was a school librarian and she is a public library librarian.

What scene do you hope your readers enjoy the most?

Another tough question. For the mystery plot, the scene would be the one in which Nina finally puts all the clues together and figures out whodunit. For the romantic subplot, the scene would be where she and Stephen first realize they care for each other.

What other things have you written or what projects might we see in the future?

See question 1 for other books written. Future projects include more in the Nina Foster Mystery Series.

If you could write any other genre what would that be?

Historical.

Is there a giveaway or promotion with this book?

Enter my giveaway below for your chance at $25 gift card.

Where can readers leave reviews of your book?

Amazon, Net Galley, Goodreads

About the Author

Linda Hope Lee had written contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and mysteries. Other pursuits include watercolor painting, photography, collecting children’s books and anything to do with wire-haired fox terriers. She makes her home in the Pacific Northwest.

Author Links

Website http://www.lindahopelee.com

Twitter: @lindahopelee

Facebook: facebook.com/lindahopelee

Goodreads: goodreads.com/lindahopelee

Purchase Links

Amazon B&N

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Cozy Prizes Friday: Murder Once Removed

 We have a Texas girl on the blog today! Ever look up your family history and find a few skeletons in the closet? That’s what happens in Murder Once Removed and the murder to be solved was back before Bluebell Ice Cream was even around (Texans will know what this is❤). This sounds like a fascinating mystery, so read the description below. If you are checking out this year’s Agatha Nominees, you should know this book won BEST FIRST NOVEL at Malice Domestic in 2017.  The giveaway for a free print copy is at the bottom of the post!

About the Book

Murder Once Removed (An Ancestor Detective Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series

S.C. Perkins’ Murder Once Removed is the captivating first mystery in the Ancestry Detective series, in which Texas genealogist Lucy Lancaster uses her skills to solve murders in both the past and present.

Except for a good taco, genealogist Lucy Lancaster loves nothing more than tracking down her clients’ long-dead ancestors, and her job has never been so exciting as when she discovers a daguerreotype photograph and a journal proving Austin, Texas, billionaire Gus Halloran’s great-great-grandfather was murdered back in 1849. What’s more, Lucy is able to tell Gus who was responsible for his ancestor’s death.

Partly, at least. Using clues from the journal, Lucy narrows the suspects down to two nineteenth-century Texans, one of whom is the ancestor of present-day U.S. senator Daniel Applewhite. But when Gus publicly outs the senator as the descendant of a murderer—with the accidental help of Lucy herself—and her former co-worker is murdered protecting the daguerreotype, Lucy will find that shaking the branches of some family trees proves them to be more twisted and dangerous than she ever thought possible.

About the Author

S.C. Perkins is a fifth-generation Texan who grew up hearing fascinating stories of her ancestry and eating lots of great Tex-Mex, both of which inspired the plot of her debut mystery novel. Murder Once Removed was the winner of the 2017 Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery competition. She resides in Houston and, when she’s not writing or working at her day job, she’s likely outside in the sun, on the beach, or riding horses.

Author Links

o www.scperkins.com

o www.twitter.com/scperkinswriter

o www.instagram.com/scperkinswriter

o www.facebook.com/scperkinswriter

o www.pinterest.com/scperkinswriter

o www.goodreads.com/scperkinswriter

Purchase links

IndieBound Amazon Barnes & Noble Books-a-Million

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Cozy Prizes Friday: The Novel Art of Murder


Don’t you love strolling through a bookstore? The smell of the books, the invitation to new worlds and excitement on every shelf? Let’s take a run over to Samantha Washington’s bookstore in North Harbor, Michigan where the senior crowd from Shady Acres has their heads together to solve another mystery.  Read my review below the description and don’t forget to put your name in for the giveaway!

About the Book


The Novel Art of Murder (Mystery Bookshop)
Cozy Mystery
3rd in Series

Mystery bookstore owner Samantha Washington is trying to keep her grandmother from spending her golden years in an orange jumpsuit . . .

The small town of North Harbor, Michigan, is just not big enough for the two of them: flamboyant phony Maria Romanov and feisty Nana Jo. The insufferable Maria claims she’s descended from Russian royalty and even had a fling with King Edward VIII back in the day. She’s not just a lousy liar, she’s a bad actress, so when she nabs the lead in the Shady Acres Senior Follies—a part Nana Jo plays every year in their retirement village production—Nana Jo blows a gasket and reads her the riot act in front of everyone.

Of course, when Maria is silenced with a bullet to the head, Nana Jo lands the leading role on the suspects list. Sam’s been writing her newest mystery, set in England between the wars, with her intrepid heroine Lady Daphne drawn into murder and scandal in the household of Winston Churchill. But now she has to prove that Nana Jo’s been framed. With help from her grandmother’s posse of rambunctious retirees, Sam shines a spotlight on Maria’s secrets, hoping to draw the real killer out of the shadow

Purchase Links – AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieBound: – Books-A-MillionHudson Booksellers

My Review

5 Stars

I liked The Novel Art of Murder. V.M. Burns has taken the traditional, contemporary cozy mystery and added a twist. There is a second, British historical cozy beautifully woven into the storytelling. I found this mystery full of funny characters and many plot twists and surprises. I loved Nana Jo and the ladies and gentlemen of Shady Acres. It had to be the funniest killer takedown I have seen! I highly recommend this one.

About the Author

V.M. Burns was born in Northwestern Indiana and spent many years in Southwestern Michigan on the Lake Michigan shoreline. She is a lover of dogs, British historic cozies, and scones with clotted cream. After many years in the Midwest, she went in search of milder winters and currently lives in Eastern Tennessee with her poodles. Her debut novel, The Plot is Murder was nominated for a 2017 Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Valerie is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and a lifetime member of Sisters in Crime. Readers can learn more by visiting her website at vmburns.com

Author Links:

Website: http://www.vmburns.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vmburnsbooks/

Twitter: @vmburns

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