Monday, April 23, 2018


Shot in the Dark (A Coffeehouse Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
17th in Series
Setting - New York
Berkley Prime Crime (April 17, 2018)
Hardcover: 352 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0451488848
Digital ASIN: B07465ZYKT
A new smartphone dating game turns the Village Blend into a hookup hot spot, until one dark night, when a gunshot leaves a dead body behind and the landmark coffeehouse becomes the center of a whole new scene--a crime scene.
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 anothershot rings out.
Includes a bang-up menu of tempting recipes.

Age is not relevant when it comes to matters of the heart or desires to solve a mystery.
Everyone gets involved when techno- dating arrives and makes the Village Blend a HOT spot.
Things heat up even more with the sounds of gunshot from the upper area and the discovery of a customer's body in the river.
If Murder can be fun, then this is a series you will love.

About the Author
CLEO COYLE is the pseudonym for Alice Alfonsi, writing in collaboration with her husband, Marc Cerasini.  CLEO COYLE grew up in a small town near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After earning scholarships to study writing at Carnegie Mellon and American Universities, she began her career as a cub reporter for The New York Times. Now an author of popular fiction and New York Times bestselling media tie-in writer, Cleo lives and works in New York City, where she collaborates with her husband (also a bestselling author) to pen theCoffeehouse Mysteries for Penguin. Together Cleo and her husband also write the Haunted Bookshop Mysteries under the name Alice Kimberly. When not haunting coffeehouses, hunting ghosts, or rescuing stray cats, Cleo and Marc are bestselling media tie-in writers who have penned properties for NBC, Lucasfilm, Disney, Fox, Imagine, and MGM. In their spare time, they cook like crazy and drink a lot of java. You can learn more about Cleo, her husband, and the books they write by visiting
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Sunday, April 22, 2018

By the Book

By the Book
by Sheritta Bitikofer
Genre: Contemporary Cowboy Romance with an Urban Fantasy Twist

When Tara Christiano slid the pretty romance novel down from the shelf at the local bookstore, she never suspected that her life would be turned upside down. It isn't just any ordinary book. It can predict the future. Specifically, Tara's. And when her future becomes intertwined with a handsome new face in town, she anxiously awaits each new page that is revealed, hoping Beau will become her love interest. 

Beau Bremor came back to Brooksdale, Texas to help his brother get back on his feet after the loss of his wife. Helping on Daniel's ranch is one thing, but the well-being of his little niece, Dixie, is in the forefront of his mind. She needs a mother and Daniel needs a wife. When Beau reunites with his former high school crush, a scheme formulates. But, can he keep his objective in mind while he's falling head-over-heels again for the beautiful and witty Tara, whom he is trying to set up with his brother?

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always been a creative person. I’m an only child and my parents divorced when I was young, so when my mother was working or too busy to play with me, I’d play pretend and come up with stories. My cousins lived right around the corner from me, so I’d sometimes go over there to play. These were the days before internet, cellphones, electronic interactive games, etc. So all we had were each other. We came up with stories together and I found that I always wanted to keep the game going long after we were done. As I grew up, I discovered libraries and books where I could go on adventures from the safety of my own living room. When I learned how to write, I would make these little picture books for my friends. I even came up with a play for my second grade class to perform. I’d done a few short stories here and there through elementary school, but middle school is when I first decided to try and write something a little longer. My English teacher was phenomenal and would have us do these writing prompts first thing before class. I remember one asked us to describe how our morning went. That particular morning, I threw up in the bathroom, so I described that in full, unashamed detail. Everyone loved it! It gave me the courage to explore the craft. By the time I graduated high school, I had written four novels, a screen play, and a short story that I hoped to publish one day. It wasn’t until three years after I graduated that I began to take the self-publishing route seriously. So, I’ve always been a writer. I’ve created characters that have grown up with me and helped me discover more about myself and how I view the world. I’ve developed as a person through my passion and dedication to writing and I can’t imagine doing anything else.

How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?
By The Book was actually a very small concept at first. It wasn’t even really sure how to flesh it out until one of my other author friends decided to start and anthology project. I elected to be part of it and finally decided to dust this idea off the shelf and give it a go. There were some stipulations about the anthology project that actually helped fill in the blanks, so to speak. For instance, the fact that it takes place in Texas was a requirement for the anthology and it ended up adding a lot of meaning to the story.
The whole story started with a meme I saw on Facebook and the jist of it was the idea that a character from a book could fall in love with the reader. The first scene of By The Book played out in my mind, when Tara is in the bookstore and Beau walks in. I imagined how confused she would be to be reading about herself in the book, and then read about this handsome stranger who walks in and looks just like the model on the book cover. That was all I had to start with, and like I said, having those few requirements for the anthology really helped. The project fell through before it could start and I was free to do what I wanted with the story. I finished it and went back, adding a few details like the fact that Beau had a crush on Tara in high school, and I added some background drama about his family dilemma with the ranch.
The characters have never been difficult for me to create and my beta readers all love Dixie, Beau’s niece, because the way I’ve written her is so accurate to how a little girl would behave. The only character that I struggled with was Daniel. I wasn’t sure whether to make him a cold, unfeeling kind of guy who was shy and still mourning the loss of his wife, or the resentful older brother who harbored some bitterness about having to take care of the ranch when Beau was a better candidate. Tara’s love for line dancing stemmed from my own passion for country music. I often picture Beau as a counselor I had at a summer camp I went to in Hunstville Texas. Broad shoulders, strong, compassionate. He’s both dynamic and single-minded in that he wanted to do everything he can for his family, while still struggling with what he wants in the end.

What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
While I write a lot of urban fantasy and paranormal, I also seem to set up camp in the historical department. For that reason, I love research. By The Book didn’t require a lot of the kind of research I’m used to. I watched hours of country line dancing videos the chapter before they all go dancing, which came in handy a week later. My husband and I were at a party and they played Copperhead Road. I had never done the dance before, but I got up and was able to join in all because of my research that I did for this novella. In other books – particularly my historical series – I do extensive research. One time, I spent days trying to look up what a particular bath house in Pompeii looked like for a three or four paragraph scene in my shifter series, The Decimus Trilogy. I watched countless documentaries, read articles, looked through Google Earth, but I couldn’t find this one bathhouse. Then, I went to YouTube and a tourist had shot a five-minute video with their phone of the exact bathhouse I was looking for. I was overjoyed, but furious at the same time because I had held up work on the story until I had this one detail right. Part of my obsessive personality is that I want to make things just perfect, because I fear some history buff will come in and blast me for an inaccuracy.
The series I’m working on right now, The Legacy Series, stretches across time from 1555 England to Chicago 1920s. Each novella skips around countries too. I’ve learned so much through writing that series, probably more than any one person should know. I learned how to cuss someone out in Irish Gaelic, how to present myself in Navajo (in correct clan order), and the history of Australia down to how many people were on the prison ships as they were coming over to colonize New South Wales. I know some of these little details may never make it into the story, but knowing them as a writer helps me to flesh out my characters and know what is and what isn’t possible for the story.

What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? 
Do you do the chapters first?
I start with character names. I’ve tried to start with the outline first, but found it got confusing because I would plot out these scenes without knowing names and sometimes my notes wouldn’t make sense. Once I have my entire cast of characters figured out and how they’re all interconnected, I set to writing the chapter outlines. I used to do bullet points, but I’m starting to chart it all out in a three-column table so I can see notes about character development for each chapter and what kind of emotion needs to be conveyed. I never write a single word of the manuscript until I have the outline completely done and fine-tuned. Even when it’s done, something may come up in the course of writing the manuscript and things change, but I at least like to know where I’m going before I start.
About the same time I’m making this outline, I’ll make some basic notes about how I want the characters to develop over the course of the story. Will she get over a certain fear? Will he let go of a grudge? Stuff like that. Along with the chapter map, it helps me to understand the characters, which aids me when I’m writing out their dialogue and narrative.
Then, I start writing. I like to do about half a chapter a day, which can range from 2,000 to 3,500 words. If I’ve got a good flow going, I won’t stop there and keep going with the rest of the chapter. I like to divide up my point-of-view segments that way. So, you may see that half of the chapter is dedicated to the heroine’s perspective and then the other half is for her hero. Doing only half a chapter a day can help me reset and get into the other character’s mindset. When I’m not writing, I try to immerse myself into the next scene and get the right attitude. My day job is a blessing because I can listen to music, which will help set the mood for when I’m ready to write once I get home. The actual writing process could take me anywhere from a month and a half to two months. The exception was when I wrote a 85,000 word novel in a little over two weeks.
Once the final sentence is written, I usually treat myself to a nice dinner out with my husband or splurge on lunch for myself. Then, I give myself a couple of days to rest and regroup. Sometimes, I’ll work on the plot outline for another book or take some time to read or study the craft. Only then, once I’ve halfway emptied my head of the story, I’ll go back and do a first round of edits. Sometimes I’ll read it silently to myself, but I’ve found that I catch more typos when I have a text-to-speech program reading it to me. That could take me about a week, maybe two, because I’ll spend one afternoon editing two or three chapters.
Once my personal rounds of editing are done, I send it off to beta readers, editors, and carry on with the rest of the self-publishing process.

Fun and flirty, with a touch of magic.
Can the yearnings of the heart overcome one's sense of family loyalty?
Sweet and 90+% clean but all around wonderful.
A paranormal author of eclectic tastes, Sheritta Bitikofer has a passion for storytelling. Her goal with each book is to rebel against shallow intimacy and inspire courage through the power of love and soulful passion. Her biggest thrill comes when she presents love in a genuine light, where the protagonists not only feel a physical attraction to one another, but a deep emotional (and dare we say spiritual?) connection that fuels their relationship forward into something that will endure much longer than the last pages of their novel. A devoted wife and fur-mama to two shelter rescue dogs, Sheritta’s life is never dull. When she’s not writing her next novel, she can be found binge-watching her favorite shows on Netflix, being creative with her husband, playing with her shelter rescue dogs, or painting at a medieval reenactment event. 

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The Marmalade Murders: A Penny Brannigan Mystery by Elizabeth J. Duncan


About the Book

Cozy Mystery 9th in Series 
Minotaur Books (April 24, 2018) 
Hardcover: 288 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1250101495 
Digital ASIN: B0763SLW6M

The latest book in an award-winning mystery series, celebrated for its small-town charm and picturesque Welsh setting and starring amateur sleuth Penny Brannigan.
The competition is friendly and just a little fierce at the annual Llanelen agricultural show as town and country folk gather for the outdoor judging of farm animals and indoor judging of cakes, pies, pastries, chutneys, jams and jellies, along with vegetables, fruit and flowers. But this year, there’s a new show category: murder.
Local artist, Spa owner, and amateur sleuth Penny Brannigan agrees to help with the intake of the domestic arts entries and to judge the children’s pet competition on show day. When the president of the Welsh Women's Guild isn’t on hand to see her granddaughter and pet pug win a prize, the family becomes concerned. When a carrot cake entered in the competition goes missing, something is clearly amiss.
A black Labrador Retriever belonging to the agricultural show’s president discovers the body of the missing woman under the baked goods table. A newcomer to town, a transgender woman, is suspected, but amateur sleuth Penny Brannigan believes her to be innocent. She sets out to find the real killer, but when a second body is discovered days later, the case is thrown into confusion, and Penny knows it’s up to her to figure out what happened—and why.

 Penny and Victoria run a “spa” in a smaller community in Northern Wales, so they think they know most of the residents and much of the gossip. Although not being born there, Penny is still considered an outsider after thirty years.  The annual agricultural show is like our county fairs, in the U.S. and is dependent on many, many volunteers.
Not being the "handiest" homemaker, Penny is recruited to be a children's pet judge and for the simple task of receiving food items for judging.  These seemingly innocent activities throw Penny and friends into the center of the action - including a murder and a money mystery and the most dysfunctional family we've seen (or read about) in a while.
The writing is descriptive and beautiful and makes me long for summer days and fall harvest events.
The characters are fascinating and their relationships tangled together.
This was a lot of fun to read although the food descriptions probably added a few pounds to my own waistline!

About the Author

  Elizabeth J Duncan is the author of two mystery series – Shakespeare in the Catskills and the Penny Brannigan mystery series set in North Wales. She is a two-time winner of the Bloody Words Award for Canada’s best light mystery and lives in Toronto.
  Author Links
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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Til Death Do Us Party

Til Death Do Us Party
A Liv and Di in Dixie Mystery #4
by Vickie Fee
Genre: Cozy Mystery

Las Vegas knows how to party, and for once, event planner Liv McKay won’t be entirely behind the scenes. The Dixie gang is in Sin City to celebrate Mama and Earl’s rockin’ Elvis-themed wedding. And between juggling the botched bachelorette party and a problem-plagued soirée back home, Liv’s ready to double down on some fun. 

Mama & Earl’s happily-ever-after seems like a sure thing, but all bets (and nuptials) are off when they get to the Burning Love Wedding Chapel. Their Elvis-impersonating minister has left the building . . . permanently. And even worse, Liv’s cousin, Little Junior, is suspected of his murder. 
With Mama’s happy ending on the table and Little Junior about to lose it all, the stakes are higher than ever. Liv and her best friend, Di, must hit the Strip to find the real killer before he finally plays his ace... 
High energy, dead bodies and exposed lies. . . . A must read."
RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars, on Death Crashes the Party
A wonderful cozy mystery.”
Suspense Magazine on It’s Your Party, Die If You Want To
Readers should welcome this look at a very Southern lifestyle, complete with appended party plans.”
Kirkus Reviews on One Fete in the Grave

“Dearly beloved, I want to thank you all, thank ya very much for gathering here today. Earl couldn’t
help falling in love with Virginia and wants to be her forever teddy bear.”
The minister’s intro elicited smiles and chuckles from our little congregation, but his voice was a bit shaky. Looking more closely, I could see his face was bathed in sweat.
“And the two of them have decided it’s now or never for them to be joined in the noble estate of matrimony,” Steve said, looking unsteady on his feet and gently swaying from side to side. He suddenly stopped and gasped. His face took on a bluish tinge and I thought he might be having a heart attack.
His body seemed to spasm. With another gasp, he fell to the floor.
Dave rushed to the front and knelt down beside Steve. After checking for a pulse, he began to perform CPR and called out for someone to dial 911, and for someone else to check with the desk to see if they had a defibrillator on the premises. Di dialed 911. Larry Joe rushed out of the chapel. And Mama crumpled onto the chair next to me, sobbing.
Taylor rushed into the chapel after Larry Joe had asked her about the defibrillator. She looked down at Steve as Dave valiantly continued with CPR.
She began to sob, her shoulders shuddering, when it seemed apparent he was beyond reviving. Dave continued CPR until the EMTs arrived. He stepped away to let them take charge, then he turned to us and shook his head. I had given my seat to Earl, who had his arm around Mama with her head on his shoulder. Obviously, having the minister drop dead during the ceremony had put a damper on the wedding.
The police had arrived just after the paramedics and had taken a statement from each of us, not that there was much we could tell them. As the cops were taking statements I couldn’t help noticing Crystal, who had previously dated Steve, was shedding no tears. Little Junior, who wasn’t a fan, was surveying his surroundings as if he was studying the sparse decor. I imagined he was thinking there might be an opening for him now as a minister at the Burning Love Chapel. Looking around, I noted that the photographer had apparently slipped out of the chapel at some point during all the hubbub.
The police officer took our contact information and said that an autopsy would have to be performed. But all indications were that Steve had suffered a heart attack.
The paramedics had rolled the deceased out on a gurney and the cop was standing in the doorway to the chapel chatting with Dave.
Taylor may have broken down in tears when she saw Steve lying on the floor, but she composed herself enough to talk business.
She apologized to Mama and Earl and asked if they would like to reschedule.
“I’m sure this has been upsetting, but I know you’re only in town for a limited time. If you want to go ahead with a wedding today, we do have an opening at eleven p.m. tonight in one of the other chapels. Of course, there would be no additional charge for the larger space.”
Mama and Earl looked at Taylor in disbelief. For once my mother was speechless. Earl spoke up.
“Thank you, but I don’t think Virginia and I are in any frame of mind to continue with the wedding tonight.”
“Of course. Just give me a call when you’re ready.”
Taylor started to walk away, but stopped and turned back to face the nearly wedded couple. “Oh, by the way, take the rose arrangements with you, if you like, since you’ve already paid for them.”
I wanted to get up and smack Taylor for her appalling lack of sensitivity. But Little Junior rushed over to Mama and offered to carry the flowers out to the car if she wanted them.
“Sure, hon, if you want to,” Mama said blankly.
I assumed my cousin was just eager to do something nice for Mama and toting flower pots was the best he could come up with. He and Crystal walked to the front to retrieve the floral arrangements. When Little Junior picked up the vase from one of the two pedestals, something shiny tumbled to the floor with a metallic thud.
The cop stopped his droning conversation with Dave midsentence and walked to the front of the chapel to have a look. He pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket and picked up a silver-colored flask. He held it up, examining it more closely, then left the chapel without a word.
We assumed we were free to go.
My in-laws got into the Winnebago with Mama and Earl. The rest of us piled into the vintage pink Cadillac. Little Junior got behind the wheel and Crystal sidled up to him. Di climbed in the front seat next to Crystal and Dave got into the backseat.
Larry Joe and I exchanged a puzzled look before sliding onto the backseat, with me in the middle.

The ride back to the hotel felt like a funeral procession.

Wacky wedding antics around Las Vegas. Mama and Earl are ready to tie the knot. She has thoughts of swans and gondolas and he is looking forward to honeymoon weeks in an RV touring America.
Amidst Elvis impersonators of various sizes and talent, and endless all-you-can-eat buffets, the extended family gathers for a wedding that can't make it all the way. Elvis is no longer in the chapel.
And a favored nephew is in jail on suspicion of murder.

Even away from home Liv and her best friend, Di, must solve this mystery before anyone can enjoy happily ever after. Quick paced, quirky characters and tons of fun

Vickie Fee is a past president of the Malice in Memphis chapter of Sisters in Crime and current member of the Wisconsin Sisters in Crime. She has a degree in journalism and spent many years as a newspaper reporter, covering small Southern towns populated with colorful characters, much like those in the fictional town of Dixie. She now lives in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with her husband, John. She grew up in the South on a steady diet of Nancy Drew and iced tea, and when she’s not writing, Vickie enjoys reading mysteries and watching B movies from the 1930s and ‘40s.

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