Saturday, February 9, 2019

ROCCO's February Cozy Revews!

Meow, it's time for our February Cozy reviews!
I'll start off with the one book from Berkley Prime Crime:

Sofie Ryan
Second Chance Cat Mystery Series
Berkley Prime Crime
January 29, 2019
Five paws

Another adventure with one of my favorite sleuths, Sarah Grayson and her feline ally, Elvis!

It's fall in North Harbor, Maine, where Sarah owns a charming secondhand shop and sells lovingly refurbished items of all kinds. The shop is always bustling--and not just because a quirky team of senior-citizen detectives works out of it and manages to get in even more trouble than Sarah's rough-and-tumble rescue cat, Elvis.

A cold case heats up when young Mallory Pearson appears at the shop. Mallory's father is in prison for negligence after her stepmother's mysterious death, but Mallory believes he is innocent and asks the in-house detectives to take on the case. With Sarah and Elvis lending a paw, the detectives decide to try to give Mallory's father a second chance of his own.

I'm a big fan of this series, andalso of The Magical Cats mysteries, which Ryan writes under the name Sofie Kelly.  This adventure does not disappoint!  Five paws!

A Sara W Garage Sale Mystery
January 29, 2019
Four Paws!

A wealthy widow has asked Sarah Winston to sell her massive collection of mysteries through her garage sale business. While sorting through piles of books stashed in the woman's attic, Sarah is amazed to discover a case of lost Hemingway stories, stolen from a train in Paris back in 1922. How did they end up in Belle Winthrop Granville's attic in Ellington, Massachusetts, almost one hundred years later? 

Before Sarah can get any answers, Belle is assaulted, the case is stolen, a maid is killed, and Sarah herself is dodging bullets. And when rumors spread that Belle has a limited edition of The Sun Also Rises in her house, Sarah is soon mixed up with a mobster, the fanatical League of Literary Treasure Hunters, and a hard-to-read rare book dealer. With someone willing to kill for the Hemingway, Sarah has to race to catch the culprit—or the bell may toll for her!

I thoroughly enjoyed this mystery, mainly becasue I too am a collector of antique books. Also - there is a lot going on here, which makes for an exciting read! four paws!

Liz Mugavero
January 29, 2019
Four Paws!

Stan and Jake’s wedding will soon take place on the town green in Frog Ledge, Connecticut, followed by a reception at their beloved Irish pub filled with friends, family, and their four favorite canine companions. Stan just has to endure the traditional girls’ night out first. Male strippers jumping out of gigantic cakes aren’t her preferred entertainment. But the hired hottie never gets around to taking it all off . . . because someone takes him out first with one of Stan’s kitchen knives. A heartbroken Stan recognizes the victim as one of the delivery men from the local farm—who must have been moonlighting for some extra cash. Now the guest list has turned into a suspect list—and Stan’s making a vow to find the killer . . .

I have always loved htis series and i'm glad to see Stan and Jake getting hitched, and also that her impending nuptials don't dim her love of solivng mysteries! Fans will enjoy this! Four paws.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

ROCCO reviews the latest Haunted Guesthouse!

EJ Copperman is back with the tenth installment of his popular Haunted Guesthouse mystery series!

Crooked Lane Books
January 8, 2019
four and one half paws

Innkeeper Alison Kerby is determined to keep her mind, body, and soul focused on bringing high-spirited hospitality to her lodgers at the Haunted Guesthouse. She simply has no time for any more murder investigations, no matter what Paul Harrison, her resident ghost detective, says. Until workers unearth a 1977 Lincoln Continental buried in the sand behind Alison’s guesthouse—and they discover a skeleton still belted in behind the steering wheel. 

Paul, of course, is on the cold case—to the extent that a ghostly gumshoe can be—but Alison is still determined not to do the incorporeal investigator’s legwork. Not this time. But her new husband Josh is intrigued, and he offers to help Paul poke into the case of the cold Continental. Uh-oh…has Josh caught the investigation bug? It’s a harsh wake-up call for a harried businesswoman who’d thought she’d told the detective life to hit the road. 

What can go wrong? How about everything? Copperman, as usual, spins an excellent tale of mystery balanced with his own special brand of humor.  highly recommended.  Four and 1/2 paws!!!

Saturday, January 12, 2019

ROCCO welcomes guest blogger Debra H. Goldstein

Being a Thief Benefits My Writing by Debra H. Goldstein

I am a thief. On a regular basis, I steal characteristics, mannerisms, physical traits and even anecdotes from people I meet or observe.

What do I do with my loot? It’s worthless on the resale market. Without even asking, I know no fence will touch my haul. My options are limited. Either I can hide my stash in my brain for future use or immediately incorporate parts of it into my present work in progress. I’ve used both methods.

In One Taste Too Many, the first of Kensington’s Sarah Blair cozy mystery series, RahRah, a Siamese cat, is an important character. For readers to enjoy RahRah, there had to be more description than “the cat purred,” but I didn’t know how Siamese cats behave. There was only one solution – steal cat data from a friend who has a beautiful Siamese cat. She thought I was doing simple research, but during the two hours I spent with her, she anecdotally described her cat’s normal and quirky behaviors, physical look, and toys. I walked away with a gold mine of information. Almost all of it found its way into One Taste Too Many to make RahRah a well- rounded and realistic character. Even better, from the way I described the beauty and coloring of her cat, the Kensington artist, who designed the book’s cover, caught her cat’s appearance for perpetuity.

The information gained was immediately incorporated into One Taste Too Many. That wasn’t the case with my 2018 Anthony and Agatha short story finalist “The Night They Burned Ms. Dixie’s Place,” (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine May/June 2017). In that story, I used information pulled from the stockpiles in my brain.

Set in the civil rights era in Birmingham, Alabama, Ms. Dixie’s place is a house where the sheets are changed more than once a night. The story includes the death, in one of the bedrooms, of a politician who campaigned against the red-light district, but frequented it. To write the story, I used what I know from living in Birmingham but the street with the brothel is modeled after one I observed in the 1970’s in Atlanta, Georgia. At that time, every local politician embraced cleaning up the red-light district, but many were well known to be visitors to the street’s adult stores and brothels. A third part of the story pulled from the recesses of memory was its most colorful character, Ms. Dixie. She is a composite of two people I met at different times in my life coupled with the flavor of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind’s Belle Watling.

In order to be able to have enough memory and current observation material to bring my writing realistically to life, I have no choice. I must steal from the minds and experiences of others. What about you? Do you expand your writing with bits and pieces of other people’s lives? Do you like it when an author adds extra details?

Judge Debra H. Goldstein is the author of One Taste Too Many, the first of Kensington’s new Sarah Blair cozy mystery series. She also wrote Should Have Played Poker and 2012 IPPY Award winning Maze in Blue. Her short stories, including Anthony and Agatha nominated “The Night They Burned Ms. Dixie’s Place,” have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies including Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Black Cat Mystery Magazine, and Mystery Weekly. Debra is president of Sisters in Crime’s Guppy Chapter, serves on SinC’s national board, and is president of the Southeast Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. Find out more about Debra at .

One Taste Too Many Buylinks:

 Thanks Debra!
Debra will give away either a print or an e-copy of ONE TASTE TOO MANY to one lucky commenter!  Just leave your name and email address in our comments section. winner will be chosen by random. org on January 25th.  Foreign entries are accepted, but winner will receive e-book ONLY.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! ROCCO goes to the dogs! (With his review of a new mystery)


I just finished reading an advance copy of a new book that debuts on January 8 and wanted to share it with you!

The name of the book is IN DOG WE TRUST.  Yeah, I know, it's not the type of book a cool cat like  myself would usually read, but this was too good to pass up!


Here's a brief synopsis:

When Jocelyn Hillier is named legal guardian for the late Mr. Allardyce’s pack of pedigreed Labrador retrievers, her world is flipped upside down. She’s spent her entire life toiling in the tourism industry in Black Dog Bay and never expected to be living the pampered life of a seasonal resident in an ocean side mansion, complete with a generous stipend. But her new role isn’t without its challenges: The dogs (although lovable) are more high-maintenance than any Hollywood diva, the man she wants to marry breaks her heart, and she’s confronted at every turn by her late benefactor’s estranged son, Liam, who thinks he’s entitled to the inheritance left to the dogs.

Jocelyn has worked too hard to back down without a fight, and she’s determined to keep her new fur family together. As she strives to uphold the “Best in Show” standards her pack requires, Jocelyn finds love, family, and forgiveness in the most unexpected places.

This book is the fifth in a series called the "Black Dog Bay' series.  It's the first one Ive read, but  now I want to read the rest, meow!  Throughout this novel, many of the characters face the question: Your money or your life?  Some of them make very interesting choices.  It got me to wondering how my life would change if i inherited millions of dollars. Wel, first thing I'd invest in a catnip factory. The rest I'd probably leave up to the human!

All in all, I found this a very enjoyable read.  Four and half paws!!!!!!

To learn more about the author, Beth Kendrick, visit
also: books


To enter,just leave your name and email address in our comments section!  Either Maxx or wlll plick the lucky winner!  US entries only please. Contest ends Jan 14.

Saturday, December 22, 2018


MEOW!  ROCCO here!

It's so hard to believe that another year is coming to a close.  I would like to wish all the fine authors who have appeared on my blog this year, as well as all my loyal followers, a very meow-y Christmas and a Happy Holiday Season!

the Human and I are taking a short winter break, but we will be back in January with more book reviews, author interviews, and lots of fun things!  also, the human wishes to apologize to anyone who is owed a book from our blog raffles - they will be sent out shortly after December 26th.

Once again, we thank you all for your support and loyalty, and hope to bring you more of the same in 2019! Anyone wishing to learn more about the Human and her books should visit her website:  and sign up for her newsletter!  (She tries to put it out quarterly, with an assist from meows truly!)

Peace, Love and Happiness in 2019


Friday, December 7, 2018

ROCCO's December Cozies!

It's time for my December cozy reviews!

First up....

A Cackleberry Club Mystery
Berkley Prime Crime
Laura Childs
December 4, 2018
Five Stars!

The women of the Cackleberry Club are back in this holiday themed mystery!  When the Ghost of Christmas Past stabs Ebenezer Scrooge during a dress rehearsal for the Kindred PLayers production of "A Christmas Carol", it spurs Suzanne into action. Even though the crusty attorney playing Scrooge wasn't the most popular man in town, it's still a shock, especially to Suzanne, who ends up chasing the murderer out of the building but loses him in the alley.  Suzanne, Toni and company find they have an increasingly long list of suspects:  the attorney's disgruntled partner?  the former secretary whom the attorney harassed? or Toni's husband Junior?  Laura Childs weaves a tangled web that readers will delight in unfolding!  Love this series! Five paws!

A Victoria Square Mystery
Lorraine Bartlett/Gayle Leeson
Berkley Prime Crime
November 27, 2018
four stars

It's Christmastime, but not everyone is jolly--especially not Vonne Barnett. Her dead body has been found in Victoria Square. Katie Bonner, the manager of Artisan's Alley, happens to be at the tea shop Vonne's mother, Francine, owns when the news is delivered. 

Vonne left a trail of men behind her so the suspects are many--but the clues are few. A broken teacup leads Katie to one of the suspects, but before she can investigate, she's attacked. Katie may be closing in on a murderer, but time is ticking because the murderer is definitely closing in on her.   A big fan of BArtlett's novels, and this one is excellent!  Four stars

An Amish Mystery
Laura Bradford
Berkley Prime Crime
November 27, 2018
Four Stars

Another fine entry in this series by one of my favorite authors!

Claire Weatherly and her beau, police detective Jakob Fisher, learn that when it comes to murder, evil can hide in plain sight in this all-new addition to the national bestselling Amish Mysteries.

Jakob and Claire have been enjoying more time together in lovely Heavenly, PA. With Claire's help, the detective is making slow progress reconnecting with the members of his Amish family who shunned him when he left to pursue a career in law enforcement. Jakob's mentor, Russ Granger, the long-retired police chief who inspired him to become a cop, is back in town. Claire has always wanted to meet the man who changed the course of Jakob's life. But not long after he arrives in Heavenly, Russ is murdered. 

Jakob can only imagine that his old friend must have been killed by someone outside of the Amish community. He and Claire soon find that things are not as they seem--and that Russ may have stumbled into something sinister before he was killed. The answers they uncover are closer to home and more shocking than they ever expected.  Four Stars!

Witch Cats of Cambridge
Clea Simon
Polis Books
December 11, 2018
Four 1/2 paws!

As a longtime fan of both cats and paranormal, I was anxious to read A Spell of Murder.  It has all the ingredients i like in a mystery: cats, a touch of the paranormal and a little romance!

Newly single Becca wants to believe she has psychic powers. With nothing but time – and a desire for empowerment – she’s studying to become a witch. What she doesn’t know is that her three cats – Harriet, Laurel, and Clara – are the ones with the real power. And when Harriet – “a cream-colored longhair with more fur than commonsense” – conjures a pillow for her own comfort, Becca believes her spells are finally working. Could that be why Trent, the coven’s devilishly handsome leader, has been showing her special attention? Or why Suzanne, a longtime coven member, draws her aside to share a secret – a confidence that may lead to murder?  Think Charmed comes to Cabot Cove and you've got it!
Four 1/2 stars!

A bakeshop mystery
Ellie Alexander
St. Martin's Paperbacks
December 31, 2018
4 1/2 stars

I love this series by Ellie Alexander.  I'm always ready for another adventure with baker Jules Capshaw! 

The heat is on for pastry chef, family business operator, and unlikely sleuth Jules Capshaw. Just when she thought she could enjoy some time away from the kitchen, Jules manages to discover a skull during a picnic by the lake. As if unearthing remains that may be connected to a missing-persons case from the 1960s isn’t enough on her plate, Jules must contend with the unsolved matter of her own marriage while her estranged husband Carlos sails the open seas, awaiting a verdict. Then there’s Jules’s bitter landlord Edgar, who is intent on making a sweet deal on a vacant lot down the block from Torte―until he turns up dead. If only Jules could find a recipe that would let her bake her cake and eat it, too…

Loved the latest instalment and fans of this series will too.  Four 1/2 stars!

A Sarah Blair Mystery
Debra Goldstein
December 18, 2018
four 1/2 stars

A new series that combines some things I love, namely food and cats!

Married at eighteen, divorced at twenty‑eight, Sarah Blair reluctantly swaps her luxury lifestyle for a cramped studio apartment and a law firm receptionist job in the tired hometown she never left. With nothing much to show for the last decade but her feisty Siamese cat, RahRah, and some clumsy domestic skills, she’s the polar opposite of her bubbly twin, Emily—an ambitious chef determined to take her culinary ambitions to the top at a local gourmet restaurant . . .

Sarah knew starting over would be messy. But things fall apart completely when her ex drops dead, seemingly poisoned by Emily’s award-winning rhubarb crisp. Now, with RahRah wanted by the woman who broke up her marriage and Emily wanted by the police for murder, Sarah needs to figure out the right recipe to crack the case before time runs out. Unfortunately, for a gal whose idea of good china is floral paper plates, catching the real killer and living to tell about it could mean facing a fate worse than death—being in the kitchen!

An excellent start to a promising new series!  Four 1/2 stars!

You could win ROCCO's review copy of Yule be Dead!

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:
* Tweet about the contest (+ 1 point)
* Friend me on Facebook (+ 1 point) (Link:!/
* Mention the contest on Facebook (+ 1 point)
* Mention the contest on your blog (+ 1 point)

Winner will be chosen at random using  Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Good luck! US entries only please! Contest closes midnight, 12/15/18

Friday, November 30, 2018

ROCCO's guest....Laura Childs!

A Guest Blog with Laura Childs, New York Times
bestselling cozy writer and author of EGGS ON ICE,
a Cackleberry Club Mystery.

Thank you so much, ROCCO, for inviting me to be a guest on your blog. Though there are no cats with starring roles in Eggs on Ice, I do have a couple of dogs. (I think you’re okay with that, because Baxter and Scruff are rather sweet canines.) And then there’s Mocha Gent the horse and Grommet the mule.

While these critters aren’t exactly crime-fighters, they do reflect greatly on my main character Suzanne’s true nature. A rescue dog like Scruff speaks volumes to Suzanne’s kindness and compassion. An older dog like Baxter, who’s been with Suzanne all his life, shows her loyalty and understanding.

Whenever Suzanne and her Cackleberry Club friends are in trouble, these creatures are there to provide a soft, furry coat to cry on or offer up a brave understanding of their struggles. Baxter and Scruff’s actions sometimes even mirror Suzanne’s turmoil and their companionable silence often results in Suzanne reaching a conclusion and taking decisive action.

In this regard, Baxter and Scruff are extremely helpful when the Kindred Players hold their first dress rehearsal for A Christmas Carol. A strange ghost wafts onstage and murders the star of the show. Shocked from her perch in the wings, Suzanne chases this spooky specter through the shadowy backstage of the theatre, but loses him when he escapes into a snowstorm. Feeling angry and threatened, Suzanne returns home to where her dogs lend their silent comfort and she ultimately decides to run her own shadow investigation. From there she attempts to juggle a multitude of suspects that include the mayor of small town Kindred, a strange visiting minister, a former female employee of the victim, and the play’s director.

When things go from bad to worse, Suzanne pays a visit to Mocha and Grommet where she does some quiet reflection in the solitude and safety of their old red barn. Feeling renewed, Suzanne goes on to deal with holiday tea parties, a second murder, a devastating fire, and a terrifying car crash.

Besides sympathetic animal characters, Eggs on Ice also offers plenty of outrageous humor, cozy moments, and recipes that include Slow Cooker Sweet and Sour Pork, Elvis French Toast, Pumpkin Breakfast Casserole, and Church Basement Funeral Bars.

Eggs on Ice is one of the most exciting, heartwarming, and personally enthralling books that I’ve ever written. And I’m equally delighted that every single chapter features a scary, shivery scene, outrageous humor, and delicious food descriptions. Best of all, there’s no filler, it’s all thriller, and a delightful pre-Holiday read!



Church Basement Funeral Bars,
a bonus recipe from Eggs on Ice

1/3 cup melted butter
1 ½ cups graham crackers, crushed
1 cup coconut flakes
1 cup dates, cut up
1 cup candied cherries, cut up
1 cup candied pineapple, cut up
1 cup pecans
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In bowl, combine melted butter with the graham cracker crumbs. Pat crumb mixture into a 9 x 13 inch pan. Then press each ingredient, in a single layer, on top of the crumbs, starting with the coconut flakes. Then press on the dates, then cherries, then pineapple, then pecans. Cover the entire dessert with the sweetened condensed milk. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes. Yields 15 to 18 bars.


Laura Childs is the New York Times, USA Today, and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author of the Scrapbooking Mysteries, Tea Shop Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. Recently, Book Riot named her mysteries to their list of “25 of the All Time Best Cozy Mystery Series.” In her previous life Laura was CEO of her own marketing firm, authored several screenplays, and produced a reality TV show. She is married to Dr. Bob, a professor of Chinese art history, enjoys travel, and has two Chinese Shar-Pei dogs.


Laura will give away an autographed copy of EGGS ON ICE 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:
* Tweet about the contest (+ 1 point)
* Friend me on Facebook (+ 1 point) (Link:!/
* Mention the contest on Facebook (+ 1 point)
* Mention the contest on your blog (+ 1 point)

Winner will be chosen at random using  Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. US entries only please. Contest ends midnight, December 6. Good luck!