Sunday, June 17, 2018

ROCCO interviews author Annette Dashofy!


Meow, my guest today is USA best selling author Annette Dashofy!


Annette Dashofy is the USA Today best-selling author of the Zoe Chambers mystery series about a paramedic and deputy coroner in rural Pennsylvania’s tight-knit Vance Township. She has garnered three Agatha Award nominations including two for Best Contemporary Novel. The sixth in the series, UNEASY PREY, was released in March, and CRY WOLF, the seventh, cmes out this September. Annette lives with her husband and one very spoiled cat, Kensi, on part of what was her grandfather’s 150-acre dairy farm in rural Washington County, Pennsylvania

Hi Annette! Would you tell us a little bit about yourself?
 Hello ROCCO. Thanks for having me here! I’ve been writing since I was little, but after school, my fiction writing fell by the wayside as life got in the way. Now, I’m grateful though, because one of the things I did during those years was work on our local ambulance. Those experiences are what led me to create this series which has been nominated three times for an Agatha Award and has hit the USA Today Bestsellers list on several occasions.

Do you have anything you would like to say to your readers?
 I have the best fans and readers in the world! If you enjoy my books and are on Facebook, look up “Zoe Chambers Mysteries and Friends” and join. It’s a fantastic group and they have a lot of fun. Especially, it seems, when I’m not around to supervise.

Please tell us about your newest release.
 Uneasy Prey deals with several issues plaguing the elderly including those con men who pose as utility workers to gain access to homes and then frequently rob their victims blind. My own mom fell prey to these lowlifes and this book is drawn directly from her experience.  
 
Your character has the music blasting. What’s playing, and what is he/she doing while listening?
 Classic rock or country depending on her mood. And she’s probably out in the barn, cleaning stalls.

Were you surprised by the behavior of any of your characters or the direction of your plot at any point while writing?
 This is my sixth book and surprises have happened in one form or another in just about every one of them! Case in point: the ending of Bridges Burned was not at all what I intended. I tried to stop it, redirect it, change it, but no. The ending happened the way it wanted to no matter what I did.  

If your book was made into a movie, who would you like to play the lead characters?
I’ve actually been approached by a film production company, and while it’s unlikely that anything will happen, I did throw this very question out to my readers on the Zoe Chambers Facebook page. Everyone had different ideas, but personally, I’d love to see Zoe played by Beth Riesgraf. I can’t settle on anyone for Pete though. Ideas, anyone?

What do you do when you are not writing?
 I’m almost always writing! I do like to read and to get outside and walk or bike on one of our local rails-to-trails systems. And of course, I love playing with my cat, Kensi!

Is there an author or book that influenced you or your writing in any way growing up or as an adult?
 Mary Higgins Clark was an early influence, swaying me toward writing crime fiction. Currently, I’m very much a fan of Craig Johnson and Julia Spencer Fleming.

Can you tell us a little about your first publishing experience?
 My very first publishing credit was a non-fiction essay in a small, obscure magazine. The biggest shock was discovering people actually read it!  I had a number of short stories published in various e-magazines and print anthologies. But my first Zoe Chambers mystery, Circle of Influence was my first novel-length publishing credit, and it took ten years of rejection to get there.

Do you think you may ever go into another genre?  If so, which one?
I might tackle something more along the suspense or thriller line, but I can’t imagine leaving crime fiction entirely. Murder is therapeutic! (Cue the evil laughter.)

Would you ever write a screenplay?
 Never. I don’t think I’d be any good at it. I like going inside my characters heads, hearts, and souls too much to give up novels.

What is the hardest part of writing in your opinion?
 The beginning. Or maybe the middle. Or it could be the end. Basically, wherever I’m stuck at the moment!

Can you tell us some of your latest news?
 As I’m writing this, I’ve just returned home from the Malice Domestic mystery convention where my fifth Zoe Chambers mystery, No Way Home, was nominated for Best Contemporary Novel alongside Louise Penny and Margaret Maron! Spending time with those two incredible women was an amazing experience and I’m still floating. (Louise won. No surprise there.) Moving on, my seventh book, Cry Wolf releases this September.

Where do you see yourself at in five years—writing wise?
 I’d love to be working on the thirteenth Zoe mystery and maybe branching out to some stand-alones by then too. I have a couple of not-Zoe ideas whispering in the back of my brain.

What is your favorite part of writing?
 I love research. I love how I might find myself stuck, but when I dig into the research, answers just jump out at me. I’ve attended several Citizen’s Police Academies and Writer’s Police Academies. I’ve gone on ride-alongs and toured crime labs and morgues. I’m too chicken to ever be a real cop, but I love delving into that world.

Do you have any upcoming appearances that you would like to share with us? My upcoming appearances are always listed on my website (http://www.annettedashofy.com/news-and-events) The major upcoming events though are Bouchercon in St. Petersburg, Florida in September and Magna Cum Murder in Indianapolis in October.

If you were in the witness protection program, what would you choose as a career?
 Wow, that’s a good one. Maybe I could go back to teaching yoga, which I did for many years before I started writing full time. But I think I’d still be writing. Maybe I could be a ghost writer so my face would never be revealed. Actually, I’m thinking this might make a good story…

 Where can we learn more about you and your books? Check out my website at http://www.annettedashofy.com/

Thanks for a great interview, Annette!

IT’S GIVEWAY TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Annette will  give away one signed copy of Uneasy Prey to a commenter. 
To enter, leave a comment on this blog post with your name and email address (entries without email will be disqualified). For extra entries, you can do any or all of the below:


* Follow my blog (+ 1 point)
* Follow me on Twitter (+ 1 point) (Link: https://twitter.com/RoccoBlogger)
* Tweet about the contest (+ 1 point)
* Friend me on Facebook (+ 1 point) (Link: https://www.facebook.com/ToniLotempio)#!/
* Mention the contest on Facebook (+ 1 point)
* Mention the contest on your blog (+ 1 point)

Winner will be chosen at random using random.org.  Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Contest ends midnight, June 23. Good luck!



Thursday, June 14, 2018

ROCCO's Cozy Review Roundup for JUNE

BURIED IN BOOKS
KATE CARLISLE
  • Series: Bibliophile Mystery (Book 12)
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley (June 26, 2018)
  • RATING:  FOUR AND A HALF PAWS

Brooklyn has it all covered. She’s triple-checked her wedding to-do list, and everything is on track for the upcoming ceremony with the love of her life, security expert Derek Stone. 

Not everyone has been as lucky in love as Brooklyn. Her old college roommates Heather and Sara lost touch twelve years ago when Sara stole Heather’s boyfriend. Brooklyn was caught in the middle and hasn’t seen her former besties since their falling-out. When they both show up at her surprise bridal shower, Brooklyn is sure drama will ensue. But she’s touched when the women seem willing to sort out their differences and gift her rare copies of The Three Musketeers and The Red Fairy Book. 

Brooklyn’s prewedding calm is shattered when one of her formerly feuding friends is found murdered and Brooklyn determines that one of the rare books is a forgery. She can’t help but wonder if the victim played a part in this fraud, or if she was targeted because she discovered the scam. With a killer and con artist on the loose, Brooklyn and Derek—with the unsolicited help of their meddling mothers—must catch the culprit before their big day turns into a big mess.

Fans of this series will not be disappointed. Carlisle has crafted in ingenious plot and it's fun to see the characters work through the clues to find the culprit.  You don't have to be a fan of this series to enjoy the book, but it helps! Four and a half paws, only because I figured out the killer early on.

ONCE UPON A SPINE
A BIBLIOPHILE MYSTERY
KATE CARLISLE
BERKLEY
JUNE 5, 2018
FOUR STARS




Brooklyn's future in-laws are traveling from England to meet her, and if that's not enough to set her on edge, rumors abound that the charming Courtyard Shops across the street may be replaced by high-rise apartments. Their trendy neighborhood will be ruined unless Brooklyn and her fiancé, Derek Stone, can persuade the shopkeepers not to sell.
 
But with a rare edition of Alice in Wonderland causing bad blood at the Brothers Bookshop and a string of petty vandalism making everyone nervous, Brooklyn and Derek feel overwhelmed. Then the owner of the Rabbit Hole juice bar is felled by his own heavy shelves, and the local cobbler lies dead beside him. Things get curiouser and curiouser when a second priceless copy of Alice is discovered. 
 
As the Brits descend, Brooklyn learns they're not so stuffy after all. Derek's dad is won over with chocolate cream pie, and his psychic mum would kill to help Brooklyn solve this murder--before another victim takes a tumble.


always love a Brooklyn and Derek adventure, and Brooklyn is in rare form in this adventure.  Also loved the interaction between Brooklyn and her in-laws.  Another great series by Kate Carlisle that one never tires of, so when is the  Hallmark movie? Four stars.


BOUGHT THE FARM
Peg Cochran
  • Series: Farmer's Daughter Mystery (Book 3)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley (June 5, 2018)
  • Rating:  Four Stars 

  • Wedding preparations are in full swing at Love Blossom Farm as food-and-lifestyle blogger Shelby McDonald transforms the property for her friend Kelly's down-home country-style reception. But when the lead singer of the wedding band turns up dead--drowned in a trough full of rainwater and strung up like a scarecrow--the police round themselves up a barnful of suspects. 

    It seems that Travis sowed the seeds of discord wherever he went, and when it becomes clear that everyone from the groom to Shelby's own staff has motive, tracking down Travis' killer is going to be more difficult than finding a needle in a haystack. As Shelby finds herself drawn deeper into the investigation, she'll have to move quickly before the killer decides to put her out to pasture...

A delightful mystery with engaging characters and a good plot.  Shelby is an engaging sleuth and I enjoy watching her unearth clues. The country setting is a refreshing change as well. four stars.

A JUST CLAUSE
Booktown Mystery
Lorna Barrett
Berkley
June 5, 2018
Four Stars

Tricia Miles, mystery bookstore owner and amateur sleuth, is in for a surprise when her ne’er-do-well father, John, comes to town—and promptly becomes a prime suspect in the murder of a woman with her own scandalous past. Even Tricia’s faith in the old man is shaken when the Stoneham police break the news that her father is a known con man who has done jail time.  

But what about bestselling thriller author Steven Richardson? Is it a coincidence that he arrived for a book signing just before the crime or that the victim was found with a signed copy of his latest bestseller?  

From merlot to murder, Tricia is determined to clear the family name before another body shows up and ruins Stoneham’s first—and highly anticipated—wine and jazz festival.

Another fine entry in this very entertaining series. The characters - and mysteries - continue to improve with age, like a fine wine.  Four Stars


COLOR ME MURDER
KRISTA DAVIS
PEN AND INK MYSTERIES
KENSINGTON
2/27/18
4 ½ Stars
ROCCO LoTempio


By day, Florrie Fox manages Color Me Read bookstore in Georgetown, Washington D.C. By night, she creates her own intricately detailed coloring books for adults, filling the pages with objects that catch her eye. There’s plenty of inspiration in her new apartment—a beautiful carriage house belonging to Professor John Maxwell, Florrie’s boss. He offers the property to Florrie rent-free with one condition—she must move in immediately to prevent his covetous sister and nephew from trying to claim it.
 
When the professor’s nephew, Delbert, arrives, he proves just as sketchy as Florrie feared. But the following morning, Delbert has vanished. It’s not until she visits the third floor of the store that Florrie makes a tragic discovery—there’s a trap door in the landing, and a dead Delbert inside. The esteemed Professor Maxwell is an obvious suspect, but Florrie is certain this case isn’t so black and white. Doodling clues, she begins to consider other colorful characters on the scene, all with a motive for murder. With a killer drawing closer, Florrie will need to think outside the lines . . . before death makes his mark again.

Who doesn’t love a Krista Davis mystery. I’ve been a big fan of her other two series and am delighted that she’s found another home at Kensington.  This series is shaping up to be just as good as the other two, if the first volume is any indication.  For coloring fanatics, the “color me” covers are a plus!  Four and a half paws.


THE DIVA COOKS UP A STORM
KRISTA DAVIS
·        Series: Domestic Diva (Book 1)
·        Hardcover: 352 pages
·        Publisher: Kensington (May 29, 2018)
·        Rating: 4 ½ Stars

Domestic diva Sophie Winston can whip up an elaborate event in her sleep, but as the hippest hostess she rarely gets to enjoy the full guest treatment. Which is why her best friend Nina Reid Norwood loops her in to the latest culinary craze: a pop-up gourmet dinner party. The celebrity chef, the epicurean menu, and the high-profile attendees are all a surprise, turning the decadent dining experience into the hottest ticket in Old Town. But Sophie’s just pleased as punch that she finally has an opportunity to join her fellow foodies in some fun.
 
The posh party proves to be a recipe for disaster when Hollis Haberman sours spirits by bringing his own hot new dish—his young trophy wife. With Hollis’s son and ex-wife in attendance, there may be more heat at the table than in the kitchen. But by aperitifs, Sophie discovers Hollis swallowing his last bits of air, and she must scramble to stop a killer before the swanky supper becomes anyone else’s last meal.
 

The Domestic Diva is back!  It says “Book 1” on Amazon but longtime fans know that this is about the twelfth entry in Davis’ Domestic Diva series which was cancelled by Penguin last year. Thank God Kensington resurrected it!  I personally cannot get enough of Sophie Winston, domestic diva, and her quirky cast of characters!  Reading this was like coming home again.  Here’s to more books in this well-loved series!  Four and a half paws!

A PANICKED PREMONITION
Victoria Laurie
Berkley
June 5, 2018
Four Stars

Professional psychic and FBI consultant Abby Cooper is about to face a murder scene that will put all her powers to the test. Her husband, Dutch, has a side business providing security and building panic rooms for wealthy clients. One morning, one of Dutch's partners, Dave, goes missing...

Then two of Dutch's clients are found brutally murdered inside their brand-new panic room, and most of the evidence points to Dave as the killer. With the authorities racing to find and arrest him, Abby's got to use all her intuitive prowess to get to Dave first, discover the real killer, and save her husband's business. This is one case where Abby is positive there's far more to this mystery than meets her inner eye...

Abby Cooper is still gong strong!  I have loved this series from the start and i thought Abby and Dutch gettng married might be "jumping the shark" but not where Laurie is concerned. She still manages to keep Abby and her adventures exciting. This series is edgier than the normal cozy, and that's a good thing.  Four stars!


Random Hit!
One lucky commenter will win ROCCO's choice of either BOUGHT THE FARM, A PANICKED PREMINITION, OR ONCE UPON A SPINE.

This month, ROCCO will  have his brother MAXX choose the giveaway review copy! Which one will Maxie choose?   

To enter, leave your name, email address and comment on which book you think Maxxie  will pick!  (entries without email will be disqualified). For extra entries, you can do any or all of the below:


* Follow my blog (+ 1 point)
* Follow me on Twitter (+ 1 point) (Link: https://twitter.com/RoccoBlogger)
* Tweet about the contest (+ 1 point)
* Friend me on Facebook (+ 1 point) (Link: https://www.facebook.com/ToniLotempio)#!/
* Mention the contest on Facebook (+ 1 point)
* Mention the contest on your blog (+ 1 point)

Winner will be chosen at random using random.org.  Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Good luck!  contest ends midnight, June 19!

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Say hello to author Sandra Bretting!



Meow!  My guest today is author Sandra Bretting!

Sandra Bretting writes The Missy DuBois Mystery Series for Kensington/Lyrical Underground. A graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, she began her career writing for the Los Angeles Times, Orange Coast Magazine and other publications.  From 2006 until 2016, she wrote feature stories for the award-winning business section of the Houston Chronicle.
The Missy DuBois Mystery Series follows milliner and bona fide Southern belle Missy DuBois, who becomes entangled in several murders on the Great River Road in Louisiana.  The first book, Murder at Morningside, debuted in 2016, followed by Something Foul at Sweetwater in Spring 2017 and Someone’s Mad at the Hatter in Fall 2017. The fourth book, Death Comes to Dogwood Manor, releases this June. Readers can connect with Sandra at www.sandrabretting.com.


Welcome, Sandra!  Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hello, there and thanks ROCCO! I’ve been spending the past few years writing about the good folks of Bleu Bayou, Louisiana, which is a picturesque town full of antebellum mansions, weeping willows and ample jugs of sweet tea. Some of my newfound friends include Missy DuBois, a bona fide Southern belle who makes wedding hats and veils for a living (she also has a knack for finding dead bodies); Ambrose Jackson, her beau; and Det. Lance LaPorte with the Louisiana State Police Department.  Before I dropped into their corner of the world, I spent more than a decade writing feature stories for the Houston Chronicle. My family and I live in Texas, where we’re controlled by a slaphappy rescue dog who’s convinced he owns us.

Do you have anything you’d like to say to your readers?
I wake up every day so grateful I can share Missy and her friends with other people. My goal is to make every book in the Missy DuBois Mystery Series better than the last, and to give readers every reason to follow along until the final “The End.”

Tell us about your latest release:
In the fourth book in the series, Death Comes to Dogwood Manor, Missy runs afoul of an eccentric billionaire who’s turning the historic mansion into a wedding venue. The irascible businessman has more enemies than a stray cat has fleas, so the suspects are limitless when he turns up dead. Missy helps ferret the clues, all the while scrambling to restore her flooded studio before a magazine crew descends on it for a fashion spread.

     What is the favorite trait of your main character?
Missy DuBois is a spunky Southern belle who learned how to make hats by dressing ladies for the Kentucky Derby. I especially like her gentle humor (she’s never mean-spirited, beyond a well-placed “bless your heart,” of course) and that humor sees her through her many misadventures.

Your character’s on a shopping spree. What does he/she buy?
If Missy could go on a shopping spree, she’d hit up the dreamy hat shop called Fleur de Paris in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Not to buy a hat, mind you, but to scoop up their over-the-top jewelry and embellishments for her own custom creations.

What tunes does your character like to listen to:
Missy invariably pops a Harry Connick, Jr. CD into the console of her VW convertible whenever she cruises around Bleu Bayou. He’s a New Orleans boy and soooo easy on the eyes.

I’ve invited your main character over for dinner. What should I cook?
If you’re going to invite Missy over for dinner, she’d prefer something Southern, like shrimp etouffee (shrimp over spicy rice), barbecued brisket or fried catfish. But she’ll let you choose, since good manners dictate the cook gets to decide the menu.

      Please share a few favorite lines from your book with us.
One of my favorite lines in the book occurs early on, when I describe an abandoned whiskey barrel like this:  “The barrel lay on its side and fingers of sunlight reached through the broken staves, like the dying whiskey maker’s outstretched hand.” Kinda moody, don’t you think?

      If your book were to be made into a movie, who would you like to see play the      main roles?
If Death Comes to Dogwood Manor (or any of the books in the series) was made into a movie, I’d like to see Amy Adams or Debra Messing play Missy, since she’s a spunky redhead. Chris Hemsworth would be perfect as Ambrose Jackson, her boyfriend, since he has the same dark hair and Tiffany-blue eyes. Yum!

Is there a particular book or author that has influenced your writing style?
 The book that influenced me the most as I was growing up was Jack London’s Call of the Wild. His way of describing characters and places still gives me chills.

      Where can we find out more about you and your books?
People may preorder Death Comes to Dogwood Manor through Amazon, or by accessing my website at www.sandrabretting.com. Thank you so much for inviting me here today!

Thank you for a great interview, Sandra!

GIVEAWAY TIME!!!!!!!
Sandra will give away two eBook copies of Death Comes to Dogwood Manor, which debuts June 12.

To enter, leave a comment on this blog post with your name and email address (entries without email will be disqualified). For extra entries, you can do any or all of the below:
 * Follow my blog (+ 1 point)
* Follow me on Twitter (+ 1 point) (Link: https://twitter.com/RoccoBlogger)
* Tweet about the contest (+ 1 point)
* Friend me on Facebook (+ 1 point) (Link: https://www.facebook.com/ToniLotempio)#!/
* Mention the contest on Facebook (+ 1 point)
* Mention the contest on your blog (+ 1 point)

Winner will be chosen at random using random.org.  Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Good luck!  Contest ends midnight, June 16!


Saturday, June 2, 2018

A visit from an old friend....Krista Davis!


Meow, today we’re cat-ching up with an old friend, author Krista Davis!





Krista Davis lives and writes in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.  She resided in Northern Virginia for many years and lived for a time in Old Town, Alexandria.  
She really does have a gregarious Ocicat named Mochie who can open cabinets and leap to amazing heights.  Her dogs, including a Golden Retriever who isn’t golden and won’t retrieve, consider Krista’s writing career a convenient second job that allows her to be available for her primary job as door opener, canine cuisine chef, and walking assistant.
Krista’s fascination with mysteries was fueled by Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, and Agatha Christie.  Like her protagonist, Sophie Winston, Krista loves to entertain friends and family, but would just as soon leave cleaning to someone else.

Krista writes the “Domestic Diva”, “Paws and Claws” and the new “Pen and Ink” mysteries for Kensington!

·       Welcome back Krista!  Tell us about your “Pen and Ink” series! How did that idea come about?

Thanks ROCCO!  I would love to take credit for it, but my editor, Wendy McCurdy, is the one who came up with this clever idea. She contacted my agent, Jessica Faust, who contacted me. We all brainstormed, and Color Me Murder was the result.

·       What about your other series, the “ Domestic Diva” and the  “Paws and Claws”? Will we be seeing any more of them?
Oh gosh, yes! THE DIVA COOKS UP A STORM is coming on May 29th, and THE DOG WHO KNEW TOO MUCH will be out next spring.

·       What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?
Time! Time to write has been my biggest challenge lately. Three series keep me busy! I do love writing mysteries, though, so that’s great motivation.

·       What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
I just turned in THE COLORING CROOK, and am starting THE DIVA SWEETENS THE PIE.

·       What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?
It varies. My elderly mom lives with me now, so no two days are the same.

·       If you could take only three books with you for a year-long writing retreat in a gorgeous setting with no library, which three would you take?
You mean I can’t take Google? I guess I would take a fabulous but very long book. Mitchner, maybe. A combination dictionary and thesaurus (note how I’m already cheating by combining two books), and WAIT! Hold everything. One year? I would trade the right to bring three books for the right to bring my two dogs and two cats. They would have fun, and I would get more done without worrying about them!

·       What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
Don’t give up. A lot of first books don’t get published. But when you think about it, you probably didn’t play the piano perfectly the first time, or paint a masterpiece the first time you picked up a paintbrush. Sue Grafton once told me that aspiring authors need to hone their craft. You have to keep trying and learn about writing. The more you work at it, the better you’ll get.

·       What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
Well, it’s not so much something that I did, but an office of the US Consulate once closed the door in my face . . .  It’s kind of a funny story now, but it wasn’t so funny when it happened. There were a couple of British guys with me, and I still remember them saying, “The Queen would never allow this!”

·       What’s one thing your readers would be surprised to find out about you?
I’m scared out of my wits by rollercoasters. Won’t ride them. Won’t, won’t, won’t. But I will hold your jacket and purse while you ride them!

·       What question do you wish interviewers would ask? (And what’s the answer?)
Interviewers come up with amazing and original questions. Thank for being so creative, ROCCO and Toni!

·        Where can we learn more about you and your books?
I’m all over the net. I hope I see you there!
kristadavis.com
www.facebook.com/KristaDavisAuthor
instagram.com/kristadavisauthor/
mysteryloverskitchen.com
twitter.com/kristadavis
killercharacters.com

thanks for a great interview as always, Krista!!!

Now, it's Giveaway time!

Krista will give away a copy of her latest, COLOR ME MURDER, to one lucky commenter!

To enter, leave a comment on this blog post with your name and email address (entries without email will be disqualified). For extra entries, you can do any or all of the below:
* Follow my blog (+ 1 point)
* Follow me on Twitter (+ 1 point) (Link: https://twitter.com/RoccoBlogger)
* Tweet about the contest (+ 1 point)
* Friend me on Facebook (+ 1 point) (Link: https://www.facebook.com/ToniLotempio)#!/
* Mention the contest on Facebook (+ 1 point)
* Mention the contest on your blog (+ 1 point)

Winner will be chosen at random using random.org.  Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Good luck! US entries only please.  Contest closes midnight, June 9!