Tag Archives: Kensington Books

A day in the life of Daisy Swanson by Karen Rose Smith

Just how did I end up being owner of a tea garden in Willow Creek, Pennsylvania with my Aunt Iris?

A widow, I moved back to Willow Creek with my two teenage daughters, Jasmine and Violet. After much discussion with my Aunt Iris (all the women on my mom’s side of the family have flower names), we decided to open a tea garden to cater to tourists who visited Lancaster County but also all the local folk in Willow Creek and nearby Lancaster and York.

My best friend from high school, Tessa Miller, is my kitchen manager and an artiste in every sense of the word. She lives on the second floor of Daisy’s Tea Garden and paints in her attic studio. Another friend from high school, Cade Bankert, who escorted me to my high school prom, is a real estate agent who found us the tea garden property as well as the old barn I had renovated for a home for me and my girls

I recently discovered that Jazzi, who is fifteen and adopted, is now searching for her birth parents. Vi, who is eighteen, went off to Lehigh College last month. Jazzi and I, as well as both of our cats—Marjoram and Pepper—miss her dearly. We have been living in Willow Creek for two years now and the tea garden is doing surprisingly well. At least it is until a murder occurs there.

Jonas Groft, a former Philadelphia detective, owns a woodworking shop down the street from Daisy’s. Although, after my husband died, I decided never to need a man again, I feel something electric whenever Jonas is in the same room. He has a protective attitude that sometimes rankles, but with his help, I found myself solving a murder!

I love to create recipes to offer customers at Daisy’s Tea Garden—soups, salads and baked goods. I look forward to seeing you at Daisy’s Tea Garden as you get to know me. . .and my family. . .and my friends.


You can read more about Daisy in Murder with Lemon Tea Cakes, the first book in the NEW “Daisy’s Tea Garden” mystery series.

In an old Victorian in the heart of Pennsylvania’s Amish country, Daisy Swanson and her aunt Iris serve soups, scones, and soothing teas to tourists and locals—but a murder in their garden has them in hot water . . .

Daisy, a widowed mom of two teenagers, is used to feeling protective—so when Iris started dating the wealthy and not-quite-divorced Harvey Fitz, she worried . . . especially after his bitter ex stormed in and caused a scene at the party Daisy’s Tea Garden was catering. Then there was the gossip she overheard about Harvey’s grown children being cut out of his will. Daisy didn’t want her aunt to wind up with a broken heart—but she never expected Iris to wind up a suspect in Harvey’s murder.

Now the apple bread and orange pekoe is on the back burner while the cops treat the shop like a crime scene—and Daisy hopes that Jonas Groft, a former detective from Philadelphia, can help her clear her aunt’s name and bag the real killer before things boil over . . .

Includes delicious recipes for Iris’s Lemon Tea Cakes and more!

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Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a signed copy of Slay Bells Ring plus $10 Amazon gift certificate. U.S. entries only, please. The giveaway ends December 28, 2017. Good luck everyone!

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About the author
USA Today Bestselling Author Karen Rose Smith’s 100th novel is a 2018 release. Her passion is caring for her six rescued cats. . .and other felines who stop by in winter. Her hobbies are gardening, cooking, watercolor painting and photography. An only child, Karen delved into books at an early age. Even though she escaped into story worlds, she had many cousins around her on weekends. Families are a strong theme in her novels in both her mysteries and romances. After writing romances for 20 years, she began writing women’s fiction and cozy mysteries. She hopes to write novels in all of these genres for many years to come.

Reach out to Karen at karenrosesmith.com, on Facebook, on Twitter, on Pinterest, on Goodreads and on her blog.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life with Cat Latimer by Lynn Cahoon

Cat Latimer here. I’m getting ready for the upcoming writers retreat and thinking I might just have to go to the Aspen Hills Grocery to get muffins for the breakfast buffet. The kitchen is dark and nothing is baking. Guests should be arriving sometime Sunday afternoon and I don’t think I’ve even got a room ready for them.

What happened, you ask?

Love.

Love brought down the retreat.

No, Seth and I didn’t get in a fight. It’s Shauna. She’s been seeing a lot of Kevin lately. I mean, a lot. Like staying over at his ranch. The guy even bought her a horse. Shauna’s wanted a pony since she was six years old. It’s a fairy tale romance.

Except I think he’s arrogant and selfish. But, like my mom tells me all the time, it’s not my life.

Anyway, Shauna’s still out at the ranch. She told me she’d be here tomorrow morning first thing, but I’m heading to the store, just in case. Besides, it’s not always all about the food, right?

We’ve got a mixed bunch this time. One writer is retired from an Alaskan police force. She should be interesting. I’m hoping she’s not overbearing. Sometimes, people in law enforcement can think they know everything. Well, except Uncle Pete. He’s never been anything but kind to people. Aspen Hills is really lucky to have him as their police chief. Of course, I might be a little bias.

Anyway, Seth’s coming by to take me to dinner. It’s strange. He’s around a lot during the retreat, but it feels like we don’t get to really talk until the guests go home. To fix that, we’ve started doing a pre-retreat date night. We’re playing mini-golf this evening.

I better go get ready. I’ll see you soon. And if you run into Shauna, don’t tell her I unloaded on you. I’m really trying to be happy and supportive of her in this new relationship. Even if the guy is going to break her heart.

Cat


You can read more about Cat in Of Murder and Men, the third book in the “Cat Latimer” mystery series.

Love is in the air in Aspen Hills, and it’s making a terrible mess of Cat Latimer’s writers’ retreat—especially when blood stains the plot . . .

Ever since her business partner, Shauna, fell for a wealthy landowner in town, Cat has been working double time to keep her writers’ retreat running. And with the January session almost underway, that spells trouble. As if scheduling mishaps aren’t disastrous enough, Shauna skips out on kitchen duties one morning, forcing Cat to serve unsuspecting guests store-bought muffins . . .

But best laid plans really go awry when Shauna discovers her beau missing from their bed. When his body later turns up in the horse barn, they quickly find out the victim’s scandalous lifestyle left many dying for revenge. While balancing an eccentric group of aspiring writers and a suspect list for the record books, Cat soon finds herself on the heels of a killer—and authoring her most deadly conclusion yet . . .

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About the author
Lynn Cahoon is the author of the NYT and USA Today best-selling Tourist Trap cozy mystery series. Guidebook To Murder, book 1 of the series, won the Reader’s Crown for Mystery Fiction in 2015. She also pens the Cat Latimer series. A Story To Kill, and Fatality In Firelight are available in mass market paperback. She lives in a small town like the ones she loves to write about with her husband and two fur babies. Sign up for her newsletter at www.lynncahoon.com.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of Sister Louise “Lou” LaSalle by Olivia Matthews

Routine. Uneventful, but exceptionally fulfilling. That’s how I describe my life.

Or at least that’s how I used to describe it.

Every morning, with the exception of Sundays, my alarm clock wakes me before the sunrise. I climb out of bed in my cozy little quarters in the Motherhouse where I live with 63 other Catholic sisters of the Congregation of St. Hermione of Ephesus. You’ll find us in Briar Coast, New York. The town, which is located just outside of Buffalo, is home to fewer than one thousand people. I know, pretty tiny.

I always make my bed before kneeling beside the mattress for my morning prayers. At the age of sixty-three, that’s not always as easy as it sounds, but I believe that starting the day with a grateful heart helps keep things in perspective. After giving God thanks and asking for His guidance throughout the day, I get dressed to meet Sister Carmen “Carm” Vega for our five-mile morning run.

Sister Carm and I have been running together six days a week for more than six years since the day after we moved into the Motherhouse. We’re both from California. I was born in Los Angeles. Sister Carm was born in Mexico, but grew up in San Diego. We quickly became friends. I love her unquenchably optimistic outlook on everything, and I think my pragmatic approach keeps her grounded.

Our makeshift jogging trail carries us around the Motherhouse with its adjoining congregational office building, then to the campus of the College of St. Hermione of Ephesus. You’re right; the school’s name is not a coincidence. The congregation founded the college in 1871 as an educational institution for women. It became coeducational in 1965. The college’s campus is beautiful, especially its oval set in the center of the grounds. It’s surrounded by red brick buildings, stately trees, rolling lawns and evergreen bushes. Sister Carm and I run laps around the oval before veering off onto the dirt path of a nearby park that leads to the heart of Briar Coast. To complete our five-miles, we run everything in reverse, ending where we began – at the Motherhouse.

After cleaning up and rejoining each other for breakfast at the Motherhouse’s floral décor dining room, Sister Carm goes to work at the college where she’s a professor of Theology. I used to teach Philosophy at the college before I left to serve full-time on the congregation’s leadership team. I miss being on campus every day. Thankfully, Sister Carm and my nephew, Christian “Chris” LaSalle, the college’s acting vice president for advancement, keep me informed of the college’s latest news and events. Chris also gives me great insight on the Briar Coast community through his extensive social network.

As part of my role on the congregation’s leadership team, I have the pleasure of planning our events, including our annual feast day for St. Hermione of Ephesus. This year’s celebration features a world-renown speaker, Dr. Maurice “Mo” Jordan. Mo also happens to be a dear friend. We met in graduate school and have been friends for more than two decades although our hectic schedules make it hard to get together.

Not everyone at the congregation is as excited as I am that Mo is going to be the guest speaker. Sister Marianna Tuller has made her displeasure abundantly – and incessantly – clear. Still it never occurred to me that Mo was in mortal danger – until I found him bludgeoned to death in his hotel room.

Deputy Fran Cole and Deputy Ted Tate of the Briar Coast County Sheriff’s Office insist on putting every sister in the congregation – all 63 of us – on their suspects list. Isn’t that absurd? Perhaps they’re taking such a ridiculous approach to the investigation because they’re uncertain of what they’re doing. After all, Briar Coast has had only one murder in the past eight years. That case wasn’t even investigated since the murderer confessed at the scene.

Mo’s murder also has drawn the attention of a new resident to Briar Coast, Sharelle “Shari” Henson, a reporter with The Briar Coast Telegraph. Shari is almost as anxious to learn who killed Mo as I am. We both agree that no one in the congregation could be involved, not even Sister Marianna. Besides there are plenty of other suspects, including:

  • his wrathful wife
  • his wife’s lustful lover
  • his prideful son
  • a greedy adversary
  • an envious colleague; and
  • his slothful business partner

If the deputies aren’t going to interview these other suspects, I’m willing to do it. With Chris’s and Shari’s help, Sister Carm’s counsel, and God’s guidance, I should be able to muddle through . . . Shouldn’t I?


You can read more about Sister Lou in Mayhem & Mass, the first book in the NEW “Sister Lou” mystery series.

A Los Angeles transplant, Sister Louise “Lou” LaSalle feels right at home in Briar Coast, New York. After all, her beloved nephew, Chris, works at the college founded by her congregation. But while Sister Lou has always played by the rules, she’s about to have her faith in herself tested—by murder…

Sister Lou expects some pushback when she invites her friend, Maurice Jordan, to be the guest speaker for the St. Hermione of Ephesus Feast Day presentation. The theology professor is known far and wide for his controversial views. What she’s not prepared for is finding him dead in his hotel room, bashed over the head.

When the local deputies focus on the members of her congregation as suspects, Sister Lou takes matters into her own hands. Against Chris’s wishes, she teams up with a cynical local reporter to delve into Maurice’s life. The unlikely partners in crime-fighting uncover a litany of both devotees and detractors. And though it might take a miracle to find the killer, Sister Lou vows to carry on until justice prevails . . .

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Meet the author
Olivia Matthews is the cozy mystery pseudonym of award-winning author Patricia Sargeant. A voracious reader, Patricia first realized she wanted to be a published author at the age of nine. She’s been inspired by writers such as Walter Mosley, Dick Francis and Tami Hoag, who put ordinary people in extraordinary situations and have them find the Hero Inside. Her Sister Lou character was inspired by Catholic sisters whose courage, determination and faith have helped build communities and formed rich, lasting legacies. Raised in New York City, Patricia lives in Ohio with her husband. She loves to hear from readers. You can reach her at BooksByPatricia@yahoo.com. Learn more at her website, authoroliviamatthews.com.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of Halsey and her yellow lab, Bardot by Christine E. Blum

I was dressed in my hiking outfit for the day, army green shorts with lots of pockets, an off-shoulder white embroidered peasant blouse and pink high-top Chuck Taylors. I have to keep up appearances after all. I put a leash on Bardot and we went out the door and started up the hill.

I live towards the top end of Rose Avenue and that allows for an un-obstructed ocean breeze that cools the house all year long. At the very top of the hill sits a community garden offering six acres of fifteen by fifteen-foot plots of incredibly rich soil that are guaranteed to produce, well, produce.

The view up there was fabulous and the briny air I breathed in while admiring the ocean on the horizon made me think of Blue Hawaiian drinks and bronzed Hawaiian men.

A garden buddy had left me a basket of pears from her over-abundant crop. I clipped some watercress and arugula from my little horn of plenty and lunch was starting to take shape in my mind. I needed one more ingredient, a pomegranate. The owner of the tree near my plot had given me carte blanche to help myself. I examined the branches and saw that for the most part they were bare. Except for one large to almost bursting bulb at the top. It clearly needed to be liberated.

“Bardot, if I fall and break my leg go and get help. If I fall and break my neck go and get the bottle of La Tache that I’ve been saving for Armageddon.”

I hoisted myself up onto the first branch and looked skyward into the tree to chart my course. As I snaked through the branches I looked down and saw Bardot waiting patiently for me to send a squirrel her way. The glass is always half full for her.

When I reached my quarry I still had to stretch another foot or so to get my hand on the fruit. When I did, balancing on my tiptoes, I yanked but the pomegranate remained firmly attached to the limb. I was a good twenty feet above the ground and was not about to climb down, trod home and return with some pruning sheers.

I could clearly see the Santa Monica airport from here, brimming with activity as small planes taxied, took off or landed. The sound of their engines buzzing echoed up the hill.

Time for my second attempt.

I elongated my body and caught hold of the fruit. My other hand was clasped around the strong center trunk to hold me steady. This time when I pulled I lifted my feet to let the entire weight of my body apply the pressure. Two things happened next. The pomegranate broke free from its stem and a yellow and black small plane buzzed by only about fifteen feet from my head.

My feet never found the branch again, the hand holding onto the trunk slipped, and because I stupidly refused to let go of my prize in the other hand I was now falling through the tree.

My free arm caught a horizontal branch and I was able to swing and wrap my legs around it like a monkey would. My other hand hung freely gripping the pomegranate. I was about six feet from the ground, Bardot was jumping up and down and wagging her tail, and one of my neighbors and her two young kids had stopped their nature walk to watch.

“Oh my goodness, how can we help,” asked the mom warily.

“There’s a ladder over by the fence, can you bring it here and open it?”

“Sean?”

“On it!” The boy went on his mission like an exemplary first responder.

When at last I was on terra firma I took a breath and surveyed the damage. I had some scrapes on my forearm and a skinned shin. And an intact pomegranate.

“Thank you guys so much, I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t been walking by. Bardot is a wonderful dog but I’ve never been able to get her to set up a ladder for me. She’s always grumbles something about opposable thumbs.”

The kids giggled.

“Did you see that plane? It nearly hit me!”

“I’ve seen them lose altitude on their approach to the airport for landing, but never that low,” mom said nodding to her offspring as if this was a teachable moment. “Are you sure you’re okay? I can go get the car and drive you home.”

“Thank you, that’s sweet. But no motor vehicle is going to relieve what hurts the most right now.” I too can play teacher and the kids were hoping I’d reveal some huge gouge on my body spewing entrails.

“My pride,” I laughed. “This ranks right up there as one of my silliest ideas.”

Mom gave me an appreciative smile and class was dismissed. As they continued on their walk I heard Sean say, “That was pretty dumb.”


You can read more about Halsey and Bardot in Full Bodied Murder, the first book in the NEW “Rose Avenue Wine Club” mystery series.

As the newest member of the Rose Avenue Wine Club, Halsey wants to expand her palate—not solve murders. But when a neighbor is found dead, it’s up to her to pair the culprit with a deadly crime . . .

Leaving behind a failed marriage, New Yorker Annie “Halsey” Hall is ready to begin the next phase of her life in coastal Southern California. From the moment she arrives at her new digs on cozy Rose Avenue, she looks forward to joining the neighborhood ladies for their weekly Wine Club gathering. With only a rambunctious yellow lab puppy to keep her company, Halsey could really use a confidant—and a glass or two of her favorite white wine . . .

Unfortunately, she finds nothing but red at the Wine Club meeting—and judging by the dead woman lying face down in the backyard, it’s not spilled merlot. Halsey accidentally stumbled into the wrong address at the wrong time, and with suspicions about her past on the rise, she must prove that she isn’t a killer. Enlisting the eclectic talents of the Wine Club ladies, Halsey searches for the true criminal at large. But separating friends from foes isn’t easy on Rose Avenue, and as she racks up a suspect list, Halsey can’t shake the feeling that someone in her inner circle has a taste for murder . . .

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Meet the author
Christine E. Blum was born in Shaker Heights, Ohio. At 7 her parents moved to Europe and luckily, took her with them. Christine grew up in Paris, Brussels and finally London and along the way developed her unique brand of humor. She lives in Southern California where she’s allowed to share a house and pool with her famous yellow Lab, Bardot. Who just happens to be able to dive 10’ underwater, has appeared on Animal Planet and was in the NY Times Bestseller, Underwater Dogs. When not signing paw-tographs she can be found lounging by the pool and solving murders. Readers can visit her website at www.christineeblum.com.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of Samantha Washington by V.M. Burns

“Sam, wake up!”

I must not have responded quickly enough because the next thing I knew my grandmother pried open one of my eye lids.

Nana Jo’s face was mere inches away. Unfortunately, the activity had also awakened Snickers, one of my two chocolate toy poodles. Snickers took the opportunity to hop up onto the bed. She used my body as a runway walked toward me, stopping on my chest.

“What the—”

As soon as I opened my mouth, I knew I’d made a fatal mistake. Snickers took that opportunity to insert her tongue.

“Blah.” I pulled up the covers and used them to wipe the inside of my mouth while flopping around in an effort to unbalance the poodle from my chest. I turned to glare at Nana Jo for waking me, but she was already heading toward the door.

“Wake up. I heard a noise downstairs.”

Nothing short of ice water could have gotten me awake sooner. I hurried out of bed and slipped on my houseshoes. I grabbed the baseball bat from my closet and slid the lock to release my other poodle, Oreo, from his crate. My poodles were small, but they’d proven in the past that they were fearless when it mattered. Besides, if this turned out to be nothing, which I prayed, dear God please let this be nothing, then I could always let them outside to take care of business and maybe buy myself a couple extra minutes of sleep before I had to get up for work.

Bat in hand, the poodles and I followed Nana Jo downstairs. I didn’t need lights to see her sillouette against the brick wall of the brownstone that was now my home and North Harbor’s only mystery bookstore. In her hand was a gun.

We crept silently through the hallway and around the corner to the main bookstore.

Nana Jo held up a hand and we stopped. Snickers and Oreo took the opportunity to stretch. I looked down at them and noticed they weren’t barking or growling or showing any of the signs of distress they did the last time someone had broken into the bookstore. I glanced at the light for the door alarm and noticed it was still armed.

I came out of my batting stance and loosened my grip on the bat. “Are you sure you—”

“Shhhush!” Nana Jo turned, fingers to her lips, head cocked to the side.

That’s when I heard it. A swishing, flapping sound came from behind the office door.

I gripped my bat tightly and returned to my stance.

Nana Jo slowly twisted the doorknob, waited a few seconds and then flung open the office door.

We lept from around the corner into the room and flipped the light switch. That’s when I saw the black wings flying around the room.

I screamed and ran out of the room into the hallway. I stood in the hallway, marching around and flinging my arms around my head.

“What the heck are you doing?” Nana Jo stepped out and stared at me.

“It’s a bat!”

“I know it’s a bat.” She stared at me marching around the hall floor. “Oh good grief.” She got a broom from a nearby closet and marched back into the office.

I peeked around the corner and saw her push the button to raise the large glass garage door that opened onto the back courtyard.

Snickers and Oreo took the opportunity to head outside and take care of their business, totally oblivous to the flying mammal.

I watched as Nana Jo shoo’d the bat outside. What a way to start the day.


You can read more about Samantha Washington in To Plot Is Murder, the first book in the NEW “Mystery Bookshop” mystery series, coming November 28, 2017.

The small town of North Harbor on the shores of Lake Michigan is about to have a new mystery bookstore. But before the first customer can browse its shelves, the store’s owner is suspected of her own murder plot . . .

Samantha Washington has dreamed of owning her own mystery bookstore for as long as she can remember. And as she prepares for the store’s grand opening, she’s also realizing another dream—penning a cozy mystery set in England between the wars. While Samantha hires employees and fills the shelves with the latest mysteries, quick-witted Lady Penelope Marsh, long-overshadowed by her beautiful sister Daphne, refuses to lose the besotted Victor Carlston to her sibling’s charms. When one of Daphne’s suitors is murdered in a maze, Penelope steps in to solve the labyrinthine puzzle and win Victor.

But as Samantha indulges her imagination, the unimaginable happens in real life. A shady realtor turns up dead in her backyard, and the police suspect her—after all, the owner of a mystery bookstore might know a thing or two about murder. Aided by her feisty grandmother and an enthusiastic ensemble of colorful retirees, Samantha is determined to close the case before she opens her store. But will she live to conclude her own story when the killer has a revised ending in mind for her?

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Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of The Plot Is Murder. U.S. entries only, please. The giveaway ends November 29, 2017. Good luck!

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Meet the author
Valerie Burns was born and raised in South Bend, Indiana. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University and a Master’s degree from the University of Notre Dame and a Master of Fine Arts in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. Valerie is a training supervisor for an appliance manufacturer. She lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee with her two poodles.

Reach out to Valerie at vmburns.com and on Facebook.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of Savannah Webb by Cheryl Hollon

Hi there, I’m Savannah Webb, owner of Webb’s Glass Shop on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg, Florida. I’m so exited about our new etching class that begins on Monday. I’ll be teaching six students including the enthusiastic, troublesome, and absolutely adorable Rosenberg twins, Rachel and Faith. I know they’re at least over eighty, but they’re very cagy about their exact birth year.

This class is personally special for me as we will have a guest lecture by a world-class glass artist, Dennis Lansing. He is scheduled for a one-man show at the Dali Museum downtown. He has promised me and my class a private tour of his extraordinary etched glassworks.

It means a lot to me since Dennis was my very first boyfriend when I was in high school. I want to make a good impression, so I’ve been scrambling to get the etching equipment set up in my new Webb’s Studio. The warehouse is located a few blocks South on 22nd Street. It has enough space for teaching as well as private studio cubicles for more advanced artists.

I’m a little nervous to meet Dennis after such a long time. I’m going to the opening reception tonight. I wonder how I’ll feel. You never forget your first boyfriend.


You can read more about Savannah in Etched in Tears, the fourth book in the “Webb’s Glass Shop” Mysteries, published by Kensington Books. Available at your favorite book vendor on November 28, 2017.

When a famous glass artist is murdered at his own exhibit, deadly secrets are put on display, and it’s up to glass shop owner Savannah Webb to see through a killer’s cover.

Celebrated glass artist Dennis Lansing is returning to St. Petersburg, Florida, for an exhibit at the world-renowned Salvador Dali Museum. His unique style of embedding document images in his art is at the vanguard of contemporary glasswork. But as Savannah’s first boyfriend and a former apprentice to her father, Dennis’s return home has her reflecting on the past—a trip down memory lane that takes a dark turn when Dennis is found murdered at the museum with an old reference letter from her father in his pocket. A search through her father’s records sheds new light on Dennis’s history, but it seems his present life wasn’t so transparent either. Now, with a gallery of suspects to consider, it’s up to Savannah to figure out who fits the mold of a murderer.

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Giveaway: Leave a comment below for the chance to win a signed copy of Etched in Tears along with a recycled beer bottle turned into a cheese tray created by Cheryl and her husband George. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and ends November 28, 2017. Good luck everyone!

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About the author
Cheryl Hollon writes full time after she left an engineering career designing and building military flight simulators in amazing countries such as England, Wales, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan and India. Fulfilling the dream of a lifetime, she combines her love of writing with a passion for creating glass art. In the small glass studio behind the house, Cheryl and her husband George design, create, and produce fused glass, stained glass and painted glass artworks.

Sign up for her monthly newsletter when you visit her website at cherylhollon.com. You can also visit Cheryl and her books on Twitter and on Facebook.

All comments are welcomed.

My Musing ~ Cremains Of The Day by Misty Simon

Cremains Of The Day by Misty Simon is the first book in the NEW “Tallie Graver” mystery series. Publisher: Kensington, October 2017

There’s no reverse on the hearse . . .

For Tallulah Graver, marrying wealthy Waldo Phillips seemed like the best way out of the family business, the Graver Funeral Home. But when her marriage falls apart and Tallie is left with next to nothing, she turns to cleaning houses to make ends meet. As humbling as it is to tidy the mansions of the snobby socialites she used to call friends, at least she doesn’t have to be around dead bodies. Until . . .

She discovers one of her employers lying in a closet with a knife sticking out of her chest. This unpleasant shock seems to be part of a web of weird experiences: Tallie’s friend Gina’s shop is broken into, her ex is stun-gunned where it hurts the most, and now she’s receiving flowers from the dead woman. Granted the deliveryman is handsome, but seriously, that’s enough to cast a pall over anyone’s day. Now Tallie needs to dig deep to clean up this mess—before she finds herself in a grave situation.

This was a fun book to read. Tallie has downsided her status by cleaning houses and working for her father when she finds her employer dead. In trying to clear her name, Tallie begins an investigation with the help of a long ago friend and in the process, her name is attached to another dead body. What’s a girl to do?

The premise of this book was intriguing and I liked how the author set this up with this murder and mayhem. The mystery was nicely done with with a killer hiding in plain sight, but it was the clues dropped throughout that made kept my interest growing as I had to know how this was going to end. There were a few twists and turns that set things in motion for Tallie to figure out who was behind the murders. I enjoyed meeting Tallie’s family and friends and the interaction between was engagingly entertaining, especially those with Max. This is a welcome edition to the cozy genre and I can’t wait for more adventures with Tallie and her friends.

A day in the life with Tallulah Graver by Misty Simon

Severely caffeinated from the sweetness and caffeine of the whoopie-pie latte and stuffed with homemade cruller, I dropped off my plate at the counter and waved on my way out. With that, I trotted across the road to the brick monstrosity standing next to the local fire station where I had essentially grown up.

It wasn’t a house, but a business with a discreet plaque letting everyone know it was first opened in 1910. My family had been running the business since then. It was a point of pride for my father, but a bone of contention between us.

My one brother had chosen yard maintenance along with general handyman work and the other was a funeral director like my dad, destined someday to take over the family business. Which had left me free to marry Waldo and make babies, according to my mother.

Except now the marriage was over, my mother had no grandbabies, and my father was hinting very heavily that I should come work full-time for him and my brother. Which was not going to happen if I could in any way avoid it.

He kept promising me a raise if I’d step up to full-time, but I was having none of it. With my wages here, my wallet was tight, but I had wanted to keep out from under my parents’ rule. So, I’d made the tough decision to take on cleaning my former friends’ houses to supplement my income.

As I walked into the brick tunnel covering the driveway, I counted the days until I could be done with the cleaning jobs and concentrate solely on filling out reams of paper work to run my own business. Too many at this point to be happy, but it was better than nothing.

And, despite the fact I’d once gotten trapped in a coffin in the basement, I didn’t mind living with the other, better memories to be had at the family business. At least my dad had let me rent the small apartment above the parlor.

Long ago, my grandfather had lived up there with his whole family. When my parents had married, my mother had nixed that idea before it even entered my father’s mind. Living above dead people wasn’t my dream come true, either. However, I couldn’t ask for better or quieter neighbors.

I strolled by one of the two hearses my father had on hand as I got myself into funeral mode. The behemoth cars were all black with silver scrollwork, very tasteful and beautiful in their own way, but they weren’t for everyone.

As lovely as they were, it had been traumatizing to have to take my driver’s test in one of the big boats. Most likely, the Department of Motor Vehicles employee at Penn DOT had been scarred for life too, since shortly after the momentous event he became a clown in the circus that had come through the next town over.

I barely made it through the door before I was hit by the whirlwind that was my mother.

“Hi, baby! How was your day? The bathroom’s all ready for you, sweetheart. I know how hard it is to clean all those floors. I don’t understand why you do that when you could just as easily have taken a loan from me. You shouldn’t have dish-water hands when you used to direct the help.”

Karen Graver was in fine form today as she rambled on, trailing along behind as I went through the side door and straight to the office and bath in the back of the building. She must have been waiting at the door, which wasn’t unusual even if it was unnecessary.

It was the same litany every time: Why didn’t I let her help financially? Why did I have to make things so much harder for myself? Why was I, a working stiff instead of sitting in the lap of luxury? Why hadn’t I provided her with at least one grandbaby to dote on since my brothers were probably never going to settle down?


You can read more about Tallulah in Cremains Of The Day, the first book in the NEW “Tallie Graver” mystery series.

There’s no reverse on the hearse . . .

For Tallulah Graver, marrying wealthy Waldo Phillips seemed like the best way out of the family business, the Graver Funeral Home. But when her marriage falls apart and Tallie is left with next to nothing, she turns to cleaning houses to make ends meet. As humbling as it is to tidy the mansions of the snobby socialites she used to call friends, at least she doesn’t have to be around dead bodies. Until . . .

She discovers one of her employers lying in a closet with a knife sticking out of her chest. This unpleasant shock seems to be part of a web of weird experiences: Tallie’s friend Gina’s shop is broken into, her ex is stun-gunned where it hurts the most, and now she’s receiving flowers from the dead woman. Granted the deliveryman is handsome, but seriously, that’s enough to cast a pall over anyone’s day. Now Tallie needs to dig deep to clean up this mess—before she finds herself in a grave situation.

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Meet the author
Misty Simon loves a good story and decided one day that she would try her hand at it. Eventually she got it right. There’s nothing better in the world than making someone laugh, and she hopes everyone at least snickers in the right places when reading her books. She lives with her husband, daughter and three insane dogs in Central Pennsylvania where she is hard at work on her next novel or three. She loves to hear from readers so drop her a line at misty@mistysimon.com or visit her website at mistysimon.wordpress.com.

All comments are welcomed.

A day in the life of Tess Nakamura by Sharon Farrow

Hi, I’m Tess Nakamura. Since the lakeshore community of Oriole Point, Michigan is so small, every resident knows that I’m a glass artist, live with my longtime boyfriend David Reese, and am best friends with Marlee Jacob. David and I own Oriole Glass, a glass sculpture gallery and studio. Just around the corner is The Berry Basket, Marlee’s charming shop devoted to berry themed products. Recent events have been so startling, however, that she has devoted an equal amount of time to murder this summer. Trying to be a supportive best friend led to me getting too close to a dead body during strawberry season. Marlee is still apologizing for that. I don’t blame her for our grisly discovery. After all, she was looking out for a friend, too. And Natasha Bowman gets into almost as much trouble as Marlee.

Unlike Marlee and Natasha, I prefer to take risks in my glass blowing, not my personal life. Marlee likens me to Elinor Dashwood, the level headed heroine of Sense and Sensibility. By the way, Marlee loves to describe people by finding their fictional equivalent. Blame this on her English professor mother who went into labor while reading A Christmas Carol, then proceeded to give birth on Christmas Eve. Inspired by their last name ‘Jacob’ and her rereading of Dickens, Marlee’s mom named her after Jacob Marley, Scrooge’s business partner. It makes me grateful that I was born to an ophthalmologist mother whose preferred reading material is a medical journal. But I was born on a holiday too: Halloween. Marlee claims I got the better holiday birthday; Christmas babies apparently get shortchanged on birthday gifts. I suspect she’s right.

With both of us about to turn thirty-one, it dawned on us that we’ve been friends for two decades! We regret not having met even earlier. My parents sent me to private school and I didn’t meet Marlee until we were eleven years old and competed in the state’s spelling bee contest. We made history after tying for first place. Neither of us could correctly spell ‘floccinaucinihilipilification’. Can you blame us? Floccinaucinihilipilification is the second longest word in the English language. To be honest, I had to look it up in order to spell it correctly here. Luckily, our fight to a mutual finish in the spelling bee resulted in Marlee and I becoming besties.

Our friendship continued even when we went off to college: me to the Rhode Island School of Design, and Marlee to study marketing at New York University. After graduation, I came back to Michigan, accompanied by David, a fellow glass artist and the love of my life. We’re not married, much to the chagrin of my conservative Japanese American family. But David and I are happy with the way things are. Meanwhile I’m looking forward to being maid of honor at Marlee’s upcoming wedding to Ryan Zellar. Only there are times when Marlee seems even more reluctant than me to get married. I hope there isn’t trouble ahead for them.

Because we run our own businesses, it’s hard for Marlee and me get together as often as we’d like during summer tourist season. But we often meet up in the morning to bike to work; our homes are an easy commute to the downtown shopping district. As busy as we are at Oriole Glass and The Berry Basket, we try to take a break at Coffee By Crystal. Glass blowing is a demanding endeavor and I need my daily chai as much as Marlee needs her mocha latte.

When I want to relax, there’s no better place to chill out than Marlee’s house. She lives in a 19th century ‘Painted Lady’ overlooking Lake Michigan. Best of all, she has a private beach. Marlee loves to have friends over for a barbecue and a swim. And David and I take on all challengers in beach volleyball . . . which we invariably win.

However there hasn’t been a lot of time for beach volleyball this summer. Right now we’re celebrating the centenary of the Blackberry Art School. Since we spent two summers at BAS, Marlee and I have been looking forward to the arrival of hundreds of fellow alumni. That was before Marlee discovered the buried skeleton of a former student. Thankfully, I wasn’t with her this time. But it seems clear another murder has occurred in Oriole Point, albeit twenty years ago. I’m determined to see that my best friend stays out of trouble. For that reason I’m glad we both signed up for the Blackberry Road Rally, which should be a fun break from worrying about dead bodies. Knowing how fast Marlee drives, we’re likely to outrace our competitors. Fingers crossed, we won’t wind up trying to outrace a murderer as well.


You can read more about Tess in Blackberry Burial, the second book in the “Berry Basket” mystery series.

Between a booming art scene and elaborate Independence Day festivities, July in lakeshore Oriole Point, Michigan, is always a blast. Especially when an explosive murder case crashes the fun.

As owner of The Berry Basket, Marlee Jacob has learned a thing or two about surviving the summer tourist season in Oriole Point. So she gladly agrees to help run the annual road rally in honor of the local Blackberry Art School’s centenary celebration. While alumni arrive from around the country, Marlee hopes the expansive Sanderling farm will make an appropriate starting point for the race—despite rumors that the land is cursed . . .

But when Marlee surveys the property, she stumbles upon a long-dead body hidden in the bramble. It’s a horrifying mystery to everyone except her baker, who’s convinced the skeletal remains belong to a former student who had gone missing twenty years earlier. As the Fourth of July activities heat up, Marlee must rush to catch an elusive murderer—before the next ‘blackberry victim’ is ripe for the picking!

Includes Berry Recipes!

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Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Blackberry Burial. U.S. entries only, please. The giveaway ends November 3, 2017. Good luck everyone!

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About the author
Sharon Farrow is the latest pen name of award winning author Sharon Pisacreta. Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Sharon has been a freelance writer since her twenties, with her first novel released in 1998. Published in mystery, fantasy, and romance, Sharon currently writes The Berry Basket cozy mystery series, which debuted in 2016 with Dying For Strawberries. She is also one half of the writing team D.E. Ireland, who co-author the Agatha nominated Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins mysteries.

In her former life, Sharon turned her hand to a variety of endeavors from principal investigator on an archaeological site, college history instructor, art gallery assistant, and dancing in a dog costume for a non-profit company (it’s a long story). Although Sharon has lived in Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey, she calls Michigan home, specifically the beautiful coastline of Lake Michigan. She is so enamored of the sand dunes, orchards and beaches of western Michigan, she set The Berry Basket mysteries in a town similar to the one she is lucky to live in. Connect with Sharon at sharonfarrowauthor.com and on Twitter and Facebook.

All comments are welcomed.