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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Author Guest Post - Laura Childs

Welcome Ms. Laura Childs to our blog today.  Laura Childs is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbooking Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. Pekoe Most Poison is her just-released Tea Shop Mystery. 

In Laura’s previous life she 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.

Watch Out, I’m Watching You!

That’s right, I’m the little blond lady who’s scrunched in the corner of the coffee shop. I’m watching you carefully and jotting notes. I see what you’re wearing – I like that paisley scarf, by the way – and I’m scrutinizing the way you sip your coffee and nibble your scone.

No, I don’t work for the CIA, FBI, or IRS. I’m an author who writes three different mystery series and I get ideas for my characters by watching all the fascinating real-life characters around me. From the folks who cross my path at the driver’s license bureau to the ones who are picking through bins of organic oranges at the grocery store or kicking tires at the local garage.

You all fascinate me and give me such wonderful ideas because you’re all real, highly individual, and (this is a good thing) a little bit quirky. You see, creating literary characters is a tricky thing for an author. You want them to be loved, reviled, understood, amusing, or even feared. But characters also need to be larger than life. They need to transcend the pages, worm their way into your hearts and memories, and stick like a proverbial burr. That way you’ll look forward to reading my next book.

The interesting thing is that we all tend to respond well to characters who are a little bit like us – that are relatable. We want a book that tells a rollicking new story, but we also want that story to reflect some of who we are and what we’ve experienced in life.

In a mystery, questions drive the plot and narrative. In Pekoe Most Poison the reader will want to know – who are these crazy waiters and why are they wearing rat heads? Who put deadly poison in the tea? Who stashed a box of X-Terminate Rat Poison in the kitchen cupboard? The same elements that draw us into a story are the same things that propel characters and story lines. Most important of all, we

are as anxious to solve the murder mystery as Theodosia, the main character in Pekoe Most Poison.

So next time someone watches you surreptitiously, please don’t worry. You might end up the perfect character in someone’s best-selling novel!

All my very best,

Laura Childs

Find out more at

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Thank you Ms. Childs for that post.  

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Monday, March 20, 2017

Guest Author Post - Laura Bradford

Welcome Laura Bradford, the national bestselling author of several mystery series, including the Emergency Dessert Squad Mysteries, the Amish Mysteries, the Jenkins & Burns Mysteries, the Southern Sewing Circle Mysteries written as Elizabeth Lynn Casey, and the upcoming Tobi Tobias Mystery Series. She is a former Agatha Award nominee, and the recipient of an RT Reviewer’s Choice Award in romance.

Top Ten Things I’ve Learned From My Characters

With five mystery series (and a few romance novels) under my belt, I can honestly say I’ve learned a few things from the characters and worlds I write. So today, I give you the top ten things they’ve taught me along the way…

#10. From Elise Jenkins in my first-ever book, Deadly Readings (book # 1 in my Jenkins & Burns Mysteries): If a rash of murders in your town can be tied back to one particular boardwalk fortune teller, have your fortune told by someone else.

# 9. From Elise Jenkins in Deadly Getaway (book # 2 in my Jenkins & Burns Mysteries): If you’re vacationing on a remote island and you get word that a killer is on the loose, lock your hotel room door and stay put.

# 8. From Tori Sinclair in all eleven (soon to be twelve) of the Southern Sewing Circle Mysteries written under the pen name, Elizabeth Lynn Casey: When you move to town and people suddenly start dropping like flies, it might be you.

# 7. From Margaret Louise Davis in Death Threads (book # 2 in my Southern Sewing Circle Mysteries written under the pen name, Elizabeth Lynn Casey): Moonshine makes everything better, even sweet potato pie.

# 6. From Claire Weatherly in Suspendered Sentence (book # 4 in my Amish Mysteries): It’s best to stay out of the woods at night.

# 5. From Jakob Fisher in A Churn For The Worse (book # 5 in my Amish Mysteries): When the woman you like offers to go undercover to help catch a killer, go with your gut and say no.

# 4. From Tobi Tobias in Death in Advertising (book # 1 in my Tobi Tobias Mysteries): Maybe you *don’t* really want to know what’s behind that door…

# 3. From Carter McDade in 30 Second Death (the upcoming book # 2 in my Tobi Tobias Mysteries): Next time, when you feel the urge to tell someone off, make sure no one is lurking…

# 2. From Winnie Johnson in Éclair and Present Danger (book # 1 in my Emergency Dessert Squad Mysteries): When someone offers to buy that ambulance you inherited, let him.

# 1. From Winnie Johnson in The Silence of the Flans (second book in my Emergency Dessert Squad Mysteries): Those footsteps you hear? The ones you’re certain belong to a killer? That’s your cue to run. No, really… 

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THANK You Ms. Bradford for that top ten list.  I enjoyed all of them.  Dear reader, do you have a favorite?

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Review - Silence of the Flans

This is the second book in the new Emergency Dessert Squad series.  I have often said that I consider the second book the most difficult, following up even a fair debut carries a tremendous burden to do even better.  I reviewed the first book, Eclair and Present Danger (click here) and we had a delightful guest post by the author (click here).  Read on if you are interested in how the second book did in my humble opinion.

Author:  Laura Bedford

Copyright: March 2017 (Berkley) 300 pgs

Series: 2nd in Emergency Dessert Squad Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy

Main Characters: Winnie Johnson, baker and owner of Emergency Dessert Squad

Setting: Modern day, Silver Lake - a small college town somewhere

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

From the cover: "Baker Winnie Johnson does her best work when the heat is on. As owner of the Emergency Dessert Squad, she has a deft touch in the kitchen and a soft spot for lost causes. So when her business professor beau, Jay Morgan, expresses misgivings over having to fail one of his fourth-year students, Winnie cooks up a sweet solution. 
She’ll offer an extra credit opportunity in exchange for a little help with her growing business. But when her protégé’s first dessert delivery poisons a student journalist, the publicity threatens to burn Winnie’s business to a crisp. Now the entrepreneur-turned-detective must uncover the ingredients behind a recipe for murder before she crumbles under pressure."

Winnie Johnson enjoys the company of seniors and lives to slave away at a stove.  Renee Ballentine, the stileto wearing single mom is her best friend and cheerleader.  Mr. Nelson is the downtstairs elderly neighbor and another cheerleader who is fighting mad over the town catering to a developer.  Bridget is the elderly newspaper gossip columnist and another cheerleader for Winnie.  Greg Stevens is the hunkie fireman who shows an interest in Winnie and tries courting her in this story since Jay shuts Winnie out.  Jay Morgan, the professor and guy who makes Winnie's heart beat faster, gives her the cold shoulder throughout the story.  I had a difficult time with that scenario and his lame excuse.  Lovey, the cat she also inherited that hisses at her continually is ever present and maybe warming to Winnie a little. 

Silver Lake College is a featured setting other than Winnie's kitchen or front porch. The plot implicates Winnie as a murderer and provides the reason for her to investigate. It is straight-forward with the impact of her business failing and the town (particularly Jay) suspecting her as the  driving urgency.  That resulted in some pacing lulls - as least for me.  

There is no suspenseful killer confrontation or reveal. Winnie realizes she is alone with the killer, then - end scene.  New chapter after killer arrested.  The rest is the wrap-up.  If you have followed many of my reviews, you know a well crafted tense or suspenseful killer confrontation is my favorite.  I can appreciate even the less nail-biting killer reveals, but to not cover it at all?!  I don't know about you, but I feel incredibly cheated by that non-climax.  Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot?

I like the quirky premise of this series, a rescue dessert squad that delivers the individual dessert in an ambulance - on a stretcher.  But the concept also requires a significant amount of suspension of disbelief that selling desserts one custom order at a time, custom baked at the time of the order, out of a house kitchen, plus delivery is not only affordable but pays enough to support two employees.  If you can overlook that logical hiccup, then the idea is cute.

Rating: Good - A fun read with minor flaws as noted. Use your own judgement as to whether these items I noted will be a deal breaker for you.

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"What a great book - fun content, well-organized and easy to read and digest!" 

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Monday, March 13, 2017

Author Guest Post - Linda Wiken

Welcome author Linda Wiken to M&MM today!  For 14 years, Linda Wiken owned the mystery specialty store, Prime Crime Books in Ottawa, ON. It was with sadness and a sense of anticipation that she closed the store in 2010. 

Now, she's embarked on a life of crime between the pages. Her first novel in the Ashton Corners Book Club mysteries, A Killer Read, was published April, 2012 as her alter ego, Erika Chase, and was shortlisted for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel at the Malice Domestic conference. There are now five books in the series.

She embarked on a new writing adventure this year as the real Linda Wiken with another series, the Dinner Club Mysteries, also from Berkley Prime Crime. The first book, Toasting Up Trouble, is now available.  The second, Roux the Day, is available this month.

Roux the day! Especially if that day ends in murder. It happens!

Those of us who love reading cozy mysteries know that so well. As does J.J. Tanner, my protagonist in the Dinner Club Mysteries. Roux the Day is her second outing, along with the members of the Culinary Capers Dinner Club. And this time, she’s pulled into investigating a murder that took place at a fundraising Casino Night on a harbour cruise; one that she’d organized in her event planner capacity. When her friend, Connor Mac, goes missing and then hits the top of the suspect list, with J.J. in number two spot, she and the other foodies start their own investigation.

I’ve found that writing culinary mysteries is double the fun. Not only do I get to plan murders and the numerous villains, ah, suspects but I also do a lot of food research. Which of course involves sampling. I also have a passion for cookbooks, mainly because of the visuals. How can you not be seduced by those wonderful photos of food! Oddly enough, that’s something J.J. and I share. She is trying to up her game though, and ventures into cooking dishes that are fairly complex, for her. I find myself trying the same thing these days.

Part of the reason for my increased cooking skills comes from being on the Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen blog which requires a recipe, with photos, twice a month. If you’re into culinary mysteries, you’ll want to visit the site at Some of your favorite cozy authors blog there regularly. And the recipes are to die for. Oops, maybe not such a good choice of terms.

In Roux the Day, the members of the Culinary Capers Dinner Club choose a real cookbook, and each make a recipe out of it for their monthly dinner club gathering. This time around, I’m trying something different. I’ve asked the foodies to use the Mystery Writers of America Cookbook, and thus I had to scramble to get the appropriate permission from authors (Sara Paretsky, Lisa King, and Cathy Pickens) to reprint the ones you’ll find at the back of Roux the Day.

It turned out to be a lot of fun, mainly because everyone thinks it’s such an unusual idea.

I hope you’ll join J.J. and friends as they strategize, investigate and, of course, dine. And P.I. Ty Devine has her back, but his intentions may be more personal than professional. At least, they’re picking up from when they first met in Toasting Up Trouble, the first book in the Dinner Club Mysteries,

What’s a gal to do? Solve the crime, of course.

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Thank you Miss Wiken for your guest post.  I am amazed at the ingenuity of the many writers who even come up with their own recipes for books.  I reviewed the Mystery Writers of America Cookbook (click here).  

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Thursday, March 9, 2017

Review - Deadly Scandal

When I saw Kate Parker had a new series in Pre-WWII London, I had to read the debut book.  I know the author from the "must-read" Victorian Bookshop Mysteries, all of which I have reviewed here.  I loved that series and couldn't wait to dig into her new series.  This is my review of the first in her new series, see if it sounds like something you would like.

Author: Kate Parker

Copyright: Jan 2016 (JDP Press) 338 pgs

Series: 1st in Deadly Series Mysteries

Sensuality: Mild, adult themes

Mystery Sub-genre: Historical Cozy Mystery

Main Character: Olivia Dennis, recently widowed and newly employed society columnist

Setting: 1937, London England

Obtained Through: Personal purchase

From the cover: "Olivia Denis is a contented young wife with a carefree life in late 1930’s London. Then her world is shattered with the violent death of her husband, Reggie. The police want to call it a suicide and close the case, but Olivia knows Reggie couldn’t possibly have fired the fatal shot.

Further mysteries surface surrounding her husband’s death. Did [her husband], a trustworthy Foreign Office employee betray government secrets? Was his murder linked to the death of a German embassy clerk the same night? And who searched their flat?

Her desire for answers and her need to support herself cause her to break away from the pampered life she’s known and take a job. But with the much-needed paycheck as a society reporter for a newspaper comes a secret secondary assignment—one that involves her in the increasingly dangerous world of European politics as the continent slides toward war."

Olivia Dennis is refreshing, determined, and although pampered she isn't shocked by the real world.  Reggie, her deceased husband, live on through the memories of others and is definitely a character "in absentia" in the story.  Reggie had significant secrets he kept from everyone.  Lady Abigail (Abby), her BFF, is her cheerleader encouraging her.  Captain Adam Redmond, who works for Army Intelligence, is investigating a government leak that Reggie was under suspicion for, and gets involved in aiding/looking out for Olivia.  Of course he is charming and good looking!  They work well together and have great chemistry.  Her father, an aristocrat, wants to control Olivia's life and tuck her away.  

London just before WWII is a great setting with many, even in aristocracy, who were Hitler sympathizers.  This book brings the tenuous political atmosphere to life with intrigue and danger lurking at high society parties and among co-workers and friends.  Olivia's job at the paper comes with a condition that the paper's owner can send her on spying assignments to ferret out information at embassy parties and such about Hitler's plans.  At one point she even has to do some traveling out of the country to obtain information.

The killer reveal answered questions and tied up the threads while providing a good and tense confrontation.  The wrap-up sets the reader up for the next book.  

This story had a few elements that reminded me of the Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn movie Charade, particularly how the wife doesn't know her deceased husband's big secrets.  I have already bought the next in the series because I just couldn't stand parting from these characters for long.  This book is a treat with all the ingredients perfectly mixed and balanced for a delicious adventure.

Rating:  Near Perfect - Buy two copies: one for you and one for a friend.

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