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Monday, January 23, 2017

Author Guest Post - Cleo Coyle

Please welcome the bestselling writing duo known as CLEO COYLE, which is a pseudonym for Alice Alfonsi, writing in collaboration with her husband, Marc Cerasini.  Both are New York Times bestselling authors of the Coffeehouse Mysteries, now celebrating over ten years in print.  Alice has worked as a journalist in Washington, D.C., and New York City, and has written popular fiction, young adult and children’s books. A former magazine editor, Marc has authored espionage thrillers and nonfiction for adults and children. 


Alice and Marc are also bestselling media tie-in writers who have penned properties for Lucasfilm, NBC, Fox, Disney, Imagine, and MGM.  They live and work in New York City, where they write independently and together, including the national bestselling Haunted Bookshop Mysteries.

It has been awhile since I reviewed this series, the last was Holiday Buzz #12 (click here), and Roast Mortem #9 (click here.)  Let's check in with our writing duo and learn about the sixteenth in the series!

Dead Cold Brew: A Coffeehouse Mystery

It’s official. After sixteen books, our Greenwich Village coffeehouse manager, Clare Cosi, finally becomes engaged to her boyfriend, NYPD Detective Mike Quinn. Unfortunately, the vintage diamond Mike slips on Clare’s finger in DEAD COLD BREW, opens a Pandora’s box to a cold case murder that occurred sixty years before.

This chilling homicide happened in a stateroom of the Andrea Doria, a luxurious Italian ocean liner that tragically sank off the coast of Nantucket in 1956. On board that ship was a gifted Italian artisan named Gus Campana, the jewelry designer who created Clare’s engagement ring.

When Clare finds Gus poisoned behind his West Village workshop, she won’t rest until she uncovers who may have done it and why. Her search uncovers family scandal, a charming thief, and a deadly adversary.

If you are new to our long-running Coffeehouse Mystery series, don’t hesitate to pick up DEAD COLD BREW. You can read it as a stand-alone, and if you like it, you have 15 more mysteries to enjoy. But don’t miss this latest entry. It’s embedded with twists, turns, and wonderful secrets about New York City that we’ve discovered over the years—from an exclusive room in the legendary 21 Club, to the underbelly of the city’s Diamond District, to a hidden train platform beneath the Waldorf-Astoria.

“A fabulous diamond, blackmail, embezzlement, surprise inheritances, murder, and a decades-old family scandal…with lusciously rich recipes.”

—Publishers Weekly on Dead Cold Brew




DEAD COLD BREW is also a culinary mystery, with an
appendix of more than 25 recipes, including Cannoli Cream Cupcakes, Perfect Pumpkin Quick Bread, Blueberry Buckle Cake, (Meatless) Baked Ziti, Chicken Cacciatore (Red and White Versions), American Fettuccine Alfredo, Irish Cream Chocolate Chip Cookies, Chocolate-Espresso Cookies, tips on how to make Cold Brew Coffee like a pro, and much more. To see the book’s Free Recipe Guide, click here.

CLEO’S NEWSLETTER: Fun contests, bonus recipes, book news, and videos. To sign up, simply write an e-mail that says “sign me up” and send it to CoffeehouseMystery@gmail(dot)com

FREE TITLE CHECKLIST: Get a title checklist with mini summaries of all 16 Coffeehouse Mysteries and links to free recipe guides. To download the list as a PDF document, click here.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thank You Alice and Marc! I love your series...and your recipes. 





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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Guest Author Post - Jenn McKinlay

Please welcome Jenn Mickinlay, the author of Library Lover's Mysteries, Cupcake Mysteries, Good Bye Girl's Mysteries (as Josie Belle), Decoupage Mysteries (as Lucy Lawrence), and London Hat Shop Mysteries.

‘‘Paris Is always a good idea’’ - even if only in your mind.
Hi, Readers,

Paris, also known as the city of light, has fascinated me for as long as I can remember. I suppose it’s no surprise since the nickname ‘‘city of light’’ doesn’t refer to its amount of electrical illumination, but rather it is called the ‘‘city of light’’ because of the high concentration of artists, writers, and academics that fill the city. There must be something about Paris that draws the thinkers and dreamers to it like lightning to a lightning rod. It certainly draws me to it.

Sadly, I was all set to go to Paris to do some boots on the ground research when the tragic bombings took place. Because I was planning to take my sons, my husband and I had to have a sit down chat about the risks of traveling abroad when the temperament of the world at large was exceedingly unpredictable. In the end, I agreed the trip would have to wait, still I was on deadline and the research had to be done.

I used all sorts of online reference tools, Google Earth and YouTube being the favorites, but I also immersed myself in a million books about Paris to try and capture the feel of the city from first hand accounts, fictional tales, historical tomes, you name it. I went from feeling as if I had set an impossible task for myself -- to write accurately about a place I had never been -- to feeling like there was just too much information to cram into one book.

Suddenly, I felt as if it would be too easy to get something wrong. Because so many people have traveled there and so much had been written about it, I was sure to mess it up. Ack! Can you say pressure?

In times of high anxiety, when the ‘‘what if?’’ demon is clawing at me, I use my greatest weapon to beat it back. It’s simple but effective and I’ve taught it to my sons, because let’s face it, the teen years are fraught with anxiety. When I would start to freak out about the book: What if I get my facts wrong? What if I confuse the left and right banks? What if I mess up a description? Then I would take a deep breath and ask myself: And what if you don’t? Then I would be fine -- for about ten minutes before I would have to ask myself again: And what if you don’t? Eventually, you really do calm down, I swear.

It became a personal challenge to me to be as accurate as I could possibly be in describing Paris, with some fictional license, of course. The upside to the total immersion of research that I did is that when I do get to Paris, and I will, I’m going to know exactly where to go, when to go, and how to get there -- it’s all in my notes!

Here’s a description of ASSAULT AND BERET, so you can join me in Paris without having to leave the comforts of your own home. I must say, there is something to be said for traveling fictionally -- no bags to pack, no airports to contend with, and you don’t even need a passport!

Allons-y to Paris for more hats and homicide from the New York Times bestselling author of Copy Cap Murder!

London milliner Vivian Tremont and her American cousin and partner, Scarlett Parker, tip their caps to their beloved shop on Portobello Road in Notting Hill and set off for Paris, where Viv can’t wait to teach a hat-making class. But she has another reason to travel to the City of Light: to find the man she impulsively eloped with years ago and have their marriage annulled.

William Graham is not only handsome and charming, but he also has a glamorous job as an insurance investigator who works with priceless pieces of art, most recently a small Renoir that has been discovered in a junk shop. But when both Will and the masterpiece suddenly disappear, it’s up to the ladies from London to follow the trail of clues. They’ll need to hold on to their chapeaux, however, because someone is a master in art of deception.


THANKS FOR LETTING ME VISIT!
HAPPY READING! 



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THANK You Ms. McKinlay for joining us today.  I love Paris and can't wait to go back.  Looking forward to your book and the descriptions!

 
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Monday, January 9, 2017

Guest Author Post - Diana Orgain

Let's welcome Diana Orgain, author of the Love or Money Mystery Series, to our little blog! I reviewed her second book in the series, Second Chance at Murder (click here) and she gave us an interview (click here).  Today she shares with us the research she did for her recent release of the third book in the series.

Researching a Haunted Castle for Third Time’s a Crime

It began like most things begin today – with a google search. I was hunting for the perfect location to set my next mystery Third Time’s a Crime. The mystery is the third book in my reality TV series where I’d concocted an unsolved murder at a haunted castle. I needed an eerie location as a starting point for my story.

When I found the Preston Castle in Ione, California I knew I had it! From the Preston Castle website: “Experiences at the castle have included EVP, humming, whispers, touching, channeling, and seeing and recording orbs and apparitions. There have been no harmful events and no one has been hurt during these overnight events.”

You see this is no ordinary castle – it was the home of Preston School of Industry, one of the oldest and best-know reform schools in the United States. It is said to have been the sight of many mysterious tragic episodes, violent encounters and even unsolved murders. The accounts of visitors are that the castle is rife with ghost sightings. The fact that the castle sponsors overnight ghost tours seemed like just the ticket for my research.

I dialed my dear friend and paranormal mystery author, Kirsten Weiss.

“Want to go on a haunted castle flashlight tour with me?” I asked.

Kirsten laughed a response.

“Why are you laughing?” I asked, fearful that my request was too over the edge even for a paranormal mystery author.

“I can’t believe how lucky I am to be invited on a haunted castle tour,” Kirsten said. After I explained the details to her, Kirsten added. “Can we stop at a winery I like in Lodi?”

Now I couldn’t believe my luck. We were going to explore a historic site in California and include wine tasting?

Awesome.

We arrived at The Preston Castle as the sun was setting. It was wintertime and the light didn’t hover for very long. Before we knew it, our view of the Castle turned from breathtaking to downright eerie. The docent handed us flashlights and ushered into the vast foyer. The castle is 46,000 square feet, has 77 rooms and no fewer than 43 fireplaces and 257 windows!

We were cold beyond belief; every window in the place was broken, cracked or gone. We were only allowed to tour the first few floors and the basement. The third and fourth floor were closed due to the condition of the roof (I believe there’s a hole in it and those floors are beyond repair).

The first stop on the tour was the “prayer” room. It was set up like a small chapel, but instead of praying we watched an intro video that included the history of the construction of the castle and famous inmates (among them, my favorite country singer of all time Merle Haggard!)

Most of the public rooms on the main floor – like the dining room and hall – were enormous, while the private bedrooms on the second floor were tiny. Of note, on the second floor one side of the hallway had rooms with a sink, while the other side had rooms with a fireplace.

The dining room fascinated me. “Where's the kitchen?” I asked the docent.

“Downstairs,” she told me. “It’s where they found the body of the head housekeeper, Anna Corban.”

A chill danced across my spine. Poor Anna.

“Can we see the kitchen?” I asked.

The docent took us down a narrow staircase and showed a small cupboard where Anna’s body had been hidden. The cupboard was so small it seemed impossible that anyone would fit in it.

It turned out the kitchen was small too. All the food was prepared there and then transported through a dumbwaiter up to the dining room.

The cupboard, along with the kitchen and especially the dumbwaiter sparked an idea for me, and shortly after Third Time’s a Crime was written! I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thank you Ms. Orgain for that delightful recounting of your trip.  Creepy at night I bet.

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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Review - Crime and Catnip

I reviewed the first book in this series, Meow if it's Murder (click here), the second book, Claws for Alarm (click here), and the author did two guest posts for us (click here), and second interview (click here). I was looking forward to this next installment in the series.  So let's see what else Nora and cat sidekick Nick investigate.  

Author: T.C. LoTempio

Copyright: December 2016 (Berkley) 304 pgs

Series: 3rd in Nick & Nora Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy

Main Character: Nora Charles former crime reporter, now a small business owner

Setting: modern day, Cruz, California

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

From the book cover: "While catering a gala for the Cruz Museum, Nora Charles agrees to look into the disappearance of director Violet Crenshaw’s niece, a case previously undertaken by her [cat] Nick’s former owner, a private eye whose whereabouts are also currently unknown.
As Nora and her curious cat Nick pull at the string of clues, they begin to unravel a twisted tale of coded messages, theft, false identities, murder, and international espionage. Nora dares to hope that the labyrinth of leads will not only help them locate the missing young woman, but also solve the disappearance of the detective. That’s if Nora can stay alive long enough to find him..."

Nora's stubborness is on full display and at times she was reckless. She is not trying to help, but flat out solve the murder herself. Detective Leroy Samms, the old college fling, is back working on the case with her FBI love-interest. He continues to repeatedly tell Nora to stop asking questions or generally being involved. This gets old tiresome quick. FBI Agent Daniel Corleone gets a few good moments in the story, but is mostly alongside Samms.  This is clearly a Samms vs Corleone sub-plot and I have already stated I'm team Corleone. Sister Lacey who was prevalent in the last book was absent this time around. Nick the cat is still the intuitive wonder, giving Nora clues via scrabble tiles and even helps rescue her. He adds a subtle touch of whimsy to the story.

The museum is an effective setting used to add another layer to the story.  The plot was rewarding and more involved than I anticipated - Kudos.  The pacing was maintained and I would read past my bedtime because I was enjoying the story.  

The killer reveal is a two-part puzzle and with some good twists that I thouroughly enjoyed.  The wrap up involves Nora's completion of her task for Violet Crenshaw.  

I have to say, this series keeps getting better. It incorporates some plotting that could easily be in a grittier sleuthing book, but maintains the lighter cozy air for a wonderful escape.

Rating:  Near Perfect - Couldn't Put it down. Buy two copies, one for you and one for a friend. 

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Don’t know much about wine? ‘The Little Wine Guide’ spans Cabernet to Chardonnay with tips on how to chill and store wine to buying wine among the vast options.

This jam-packed little book removes the mystery and makes savoring a fine wine fun. Learn the lingo fast through an overview of wine to get you on your feet pronto. Learn about the basic wine types to planning your own wine tasting, the intricacies of restaurant presentation etiquette to an overview of wine in America to assist you on your personal wine journey! Understand your unique taste preferences and what interests you in the world of wine from blogs, movies, documentaries, magazines or books on the people of the wine world.


Kerrianne (Goodreads) 5 star
"Great and compact intro into the world of wine. Can't wait to tour some local wineries with my new found knowledge. So happy I was able to win this through a Goodreads Giveaway!"

Cynthia Calongne--Lyr Lobo 5 star
"What a great book - fun content, well-organized and easy to read and digest!" 






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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Guest Post - Kristi Abbott

Welcome the author of the new Popcorn Shop Mystery Series, author Eileen Rendahl, writing as Kristi Abbott, and also Eileen Carr. 

Importance of Girlfriends
I have two sisters. My mother’s best friend was her sister, who also had three girls. We spent all our vacations together and we’re all still close. I’d show you a recent picture of me with my cousin Elizabeth that attests to our closeness despite the fact that I take after my father’s side of the family and hover around a foot taller than her, but I wouldn’t want to be responsible for you spewing coffee out your nose onto your computer keyboard.

My point is not that I’m freakishly tall, it’s that I grew up in a way that fostered and revered female friendship and that finds its way into my books. In "Kernel of Truth" and "Pop Goes the Murder,” Rebecca is surrounded by female friends. She has her sister. She has Annie from the shop next door and she has Faith who works in the antique shop down the street. Her belief in female friendship is actually a bit of a blind spot for her. She can’t quite fathom the idea of a woman who would undercut other women. It doesn’t make sense to her.

I think my own personal reliance on female friends is part of why I enjoy creating the town around Rebecca so much in the Popcorn Shop Mysteries. My friends have supported me through some very dark days, have challenged me to be a better person, have had my back when things got tough, have laughed with me, have cried with me, and often have done those last two at wildly inappropriate times. It’s fun to create that same kind of life for Rebecca. My friends have made my life more interested and rich and I think they make Rebecca’s life richer and more interesting as well.

Chekhov very famously said that you shouldn’t have a pistol on the wall in the first act if it’s not going to be fired in the second. I probably shouldn’t bring up a photo unless I’m willing to show it to you. Fair warning. Swallow that coffee. Here it is:

FYI: I’m wearing flats.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Thank you Ms. Abbott.  I couldn't agree more about the importance of girlfriends to life.  I would be lost without mine and we need to help each other along in life every chance.  ;-)


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