Wednesday, September 20, 2017

WIN ROCCO'S SEPTEMBER TOP PICK!!!!!!!!!

Meow, ROCCO here.  For those of you who missed my five paw review earlier this month, here it is:


ROCCO's TOP PICK!


A TALE OF TWO KITTIES – SOFIE KELLY
With a well-placed paw on a keyboard or a pointed stare, Kathleen’s two cats, Hercules and Owen, have helped her to solve cases in the past—so she has learned to trust their instincts. But she will need to rely on them more than ever when a twenty-year-old scandal leads to murder…
 
The arrival of the Janes brothers has the little town of Mayville Heights buzzing. Everyone of a certain age remembers when Victor had an affair with Leo’s wife, who then died in a car accident.
 
Now it seems the brothers are trying to reconcile, until Kathleen finds Leo dead. The police set their sights on Leo’s son and Kathleen’s good friend Simon, who doesn’t have much of an alibi. To prove her friend innocent, Kathleen will have to dig deep into the town's history—and into her sardine cracker supply, because Owen and Hercules don't work for free...


ROCCO sez:  Everyone’s favorite librarian, Kathleen Paulson is back with her ‘magical cats’ Owen and Hercules!  This series has been a favorite of mine from the first, and I was especially pleased to see that it’s now in hardcover!  Owen and Hercules, as per usual, steal the show!  This is one series that we just can’t get enough of. More!  More! More!  Five Paws!!!!!!

One lucky commenter will win my review copy!  enter your name and email address below!  Contest closes midnight, September 30th!


The HUMAN and I are taking a short fall break!  We will return with new blogs, reviews and interviews October 1st!


Till then, stay cool!  (Like a cat)
ROCCO

 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

ROCCO welcomes Jessica Estevao!

Meow, today my guest is author Jessica Estevao!

 Photo by  Lisa Knowlton

Jessica Estevao is the author of the debut novel in the Change of Fortune Mysteries, Whispers Beyond the Veil. She loves the beach, mysterious happenings, and all things good-naturedly paranormal. While she lives for most of the year in New Hampshire, with her dark and mysterious husband and exuberant children, she delights in spending her summers on the coast of Maine where she keeps an eye out for sea monsters and mermaids. As Jessie Crockett, she writes the Sugar Grove Mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime. (Photo of Jessie by Lisa Knowlton)

  • Welcome Jessica! Tell us a little about your background
Thanks ROCCO! I have always loved mysteries and have loved to write since I was a small child. I live in NH for most of the year and on the coast of Maine in the summer.
  • Tell us a bit about your Change of Fortune series.  How did that idea come about?
I’ve lived in Old Orchard for the summer for the last seven years. There is something so inspiring about the town and the beach that the story just sort of unfolded in my mind by being on site.
  • Your main character is a medium – do you believe in the supernatural?
 I do. I think there are so many ways of knowing things and experiencing the world that I am happy to consider them all.
  • How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?
Mostly they just sort of whisper in my ear as I start to write them. It feels quite magical. I don’t consciously do a lot of character plotting ahead of time. My outlines are for action. The characters seem to simply show up to play.
  • How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
I used to grope along and write a discovery draft to figure out the story. Now that I have frequent deadlines I outline and have found that it works really well for me.
  • What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?
The lag between starting a book and the publishing date can be difficult. By the time a book comes out I am deeply into another project and feel a bit disconnected. Having fun and being in flow when I am actively writing keeps me motivated. Every day I spend at my desk is a good day.
  • What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
I am working on a new historical series for Kensington called the Beryl and Edwina Mysteries. It is set in England in the early 1920s and features two friends from finishing school; Beryl, an American adventuress and Edwina, an Englishwoman who has never lived outside her village other than her time at school. I am having terrific fun with them!
  • What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?
I haven’t found any day is typical since the work has different needs based on the point in a publishing cycle I am at. Sometimes I am hard at work generating a draft. Other times I am revising or proofreading. Then there are the points in time where promotional activities like blog posts and author appearances are the priority. What is typical is that I work on some aspect of my job for at least a few hours most every day, including weekends and holidays.
  • What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
Write because you love it. In the beginning it is about a love of the process more than a focus on the product. Be kind to yourself as you build your skills.
  • What’s one thing your readers would be surprised to find out about you?
Maybe that I have written most of my last several books while wearing my bathing suit.
  • What question do you wish interviewers would ask? (And what’s the answer?)
I wish they would ask if writing is still fun after having been in the business for most of a decade. The answer is yes, it is more so every day.
  •  Where can we learn more about you and your books?
I blog with the Wicked Cozy Authors at www.wickedcozyauthors.com. I am also a member of the Facebook group Sleuths in Time. More information about my books and appearances can be found at my websites: www.jessicaestevao.com, www.jessicaellicott.com and www.jessiecrockett.com
Just for Fun:
Night or Day? Night
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  I am allergic to both so would have to say I love birds and goldfish.
Beach or Pool?   Beach
Steak or salad?  Steak on salad
Favorite Drink?  Espresso in the morning, seltzer in the afternoon and wine in the evening
Favorite Book?  Could not possibly decide
Favorite TV Series?  There are too many that I love but current favorites include Outsiders, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency and Cardinal
Favorite Movie?  There are too many to choose but I have special affection for Stand By Me and all of the Lord of the Rings.
Favorite Actor: I will watch anything with Johnny Depp or William H. Macy
Favorite Actress: Meg Ryan
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Martini
Hawaii or Alaska? I’d love to visit both.
Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be Victoria Woodhull.
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be I wouldn’t trade with anyone. I love my life.

Find Jessica at:
Instagram: jessicaestevaoauthor and jessicaellicottauthor

Penguin will donate a copy of the first Change of Fortune mystery, WHISPERS OF WARNING,  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, September 19th!


Friday, September 15, 2017

ROCCO's September BOOK OF THE MONTH!

Rocco’s September Book of the Month
WHISPERS OF WARNING/Jessica Estevao
 
Ruby Proulx’s new life in Orchard Beach, Maine, faces some sinister complications in the next Change of Fortune Mystery by Jessica Estevao…

Free from the clutches of her con artist father, Ruby Proulx is starting to settle in at the Belden, her aunt Honoria’s seaside hotel. She loves finally being rooted in one place and also feels a sense of purpose as she helps Honoria keep her business afloat by acting as a psychic medium for the hotel’s metaphysically inclined guests.
 
When one of the guests, renowned Spiritualist and outspoken suffragist Sophronia Foster Eldridge, checks into the hotel for a monthlong stay, Ruby finds her sense of purpose expands outside the confines of home and family. Sophronia takes Ruby under her wing and mentors her in the mediumistic abilities, encouraging her to fight for women’s rights. 
 
But not everyone is as happy with Sophronia’s appearance in Old Orchard. When a dangerous act of sabotage is carried out and a body is found floating in the pool of a local bathhouse, Ruby takes it upon herself to find answers— and in the process learns that her new friend has been hiding some deadly secrets of her own…

ROCCO sez:  The second in the Change of Fortune mystery series is a real winner! If you like your mysteries coupled with a dash of the supernatural, then this charming series is for you!  Ruby Proulx is one spunky heroine who reminds me in a way of Nancy Drew.  Fearless and adventuresome.  Old Orchard Maine is the perfect setting for this engrossing series that keeps getting better and better! Four and a half paws!!!!!!!

Want to win a copy of WHISPERS OF WARNING, donated by Penguin??????
Leave a comment below. Winner will be selected at random by ROCCO! Be sure to include your email address so we can contact you!

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)

Contest ends midnight, September 20 .  US entries only, please.


Friday, September 8, 2017

Welcome author Dorothy St. James!

Meow, my guest today is author Dorothy St. James!



Dorothy St. James, known for the White House Gardener Mystery series, is going back to her roots and setting a mystery series in a Southern beach town much like the one she’s called home for the past 20 years. The Southern Chocolate Shop Mysteries combine her love of fine chocolates, quirky Southern charm, with a dash of danger. Asking for Truffle hits bookstore shelves September 2017.


  • Welcome Dorothy! Tell us a little about your Southern Chocolate Shop series!
Thanks ROCCO!  Well, I love chocolate. I also love the beach. So when I set out to develop a new mystery series, I plopped my main character in a chocolate shop at the beach—my two happy places. The Chocolate Box is not an ordinary chocolate shop. The chocolate there is made from the rarest cacao bean in the world and tastes absolutely amazing. My heroine, Charity Penn lives far away from the beach in Madison, Wisconsin. But when her best friend is found dead in a vat of chocolate in this very special chocolate shop on the beach, she travels to Camellia Beach to discover what happened.
  • What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?
I’ve been writing stories ever since I’ve learned to write. My biggest challenge lately has been finding the time to write while keeping up with my daughter. She’s 4-years-old now. (I have no idea how she got so old in such a short period of time.) My greatest inspiration is the challenge of finding new ways to entertain the reader. I love to read. When I’m not writing or chasing after my little sprout or eating chocolate, I’m reading. The stories that make my heart beat faster and make me stay up all night to find out what happens inspire me. That’s what I want to do. That’s why I write.
  • You also wrote a series called the “White House Gardener” series.  How did that idea come about?
I’d love to say that the White House Gardener Mystery series sprang from my fertile imagination. Unfortunately, that’d be a lie. I was invited to write the series, which was quite an honor. The series is what the industry calls a work-for-hire. I write the book and someone else holds the copyright. To start out, I was given broad guidelines for what they wanted the series to look like. I, in turn, was given the freedom to make it my own. To do that, I populated the book with a gardener from my hometown, Charleston, South Carolina. And made sure it had lots of suspense and heart-pounding moments. The best part of writing that series was the research. I pretended to be a spy and lurked around D.C., teasing out secrets of the White House gardens. I’m lucky I’m not in jail. The task of researching chocolate shops is far safer.
  • What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
I’m currently working on the next two books in the Southern Chocolate Shop Mystery series. The publisher and I have just finished working on copy edits for book 2, Playing with Bonbon Fire (March 2018). Chocolate shop owner, Charity Penn is at it again—cooking up chocolate treats while trying to keep everyone in the quirky seaside town of Camellia Beach safe. A threatening note, a dead musician, and decades of secrets put the town’s first beach music festival and its band members in grave danger. With help from her meddling half-sister and boxes of new flavors of chocolate sweets to ignite the senses, Penn follows the shifting tide of evidence to discover secrets can be deadly.
I’m also writing book 3 in the series that will perhaps be titled The Last of the Chocolate Sea Turtles (Fall 2018). Chocolate shop owner, Charity Penn has surely lost her mind. She’s trying save a woman who could destroy her beloved chocolate shop from a murder conviction. And this is despite the heaping mountains of evidence to the contrary. A smoking gun, a dead lover, and eyewitnesses galore stand in Penn’s way of proving that appearances not only can be deceiving: they can also be deadly.
  • What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?
There’s a motto up on my white board that reads: Nulla dies sine linea. That is Latin for “never a day without lines.” My workday begins around 9PM after my daughter is asleep and the house is put back into some semblance of order. I write for several hours every day.
  • Plotter or Pantser?
Definitely a plotter. If I don’t have a map, I get lost. Really and truly lost. I have to know where I’m heading before I start writing. I’ll make notes for the entire plot and then when I start a new chapter, I’ll write down what I want the chapter to accomplish before I start writing it.
  • Do you have any pets of your own?
 I have a rescue collie mix named Rosie and a fluffy Siamese point kitty named Suki. They are both wonderful writing companions.
  • What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
 Quit my job so I could write a book. Crazy, stupid. I don’t recommend it. It took me five years to get a book published.
  • What’s one thing your readers would be surprised to find out about you?
 I have a degree in wildlife biology and I used to work for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources tagging saltwater fish in the Charleston area. The job was kind of like fishing all day. My secret? I’m terrified of fish.
  • What question do you wish interviewers would ask? (And what’s the answer?)
 Why do you write books, I mean, what’s wrong with you? There are so many real jobs out there that pay money and offer benefits. Why don’t you make your family happy and get one of those? Maybe a job you paid tons of money to a college getting qualified for?
You’re right. I don’t know what happened in my past that drives me to write. I’ve wanted to write for as long as I can remember, so perhaps it’s a past-life trauma that drives me. My skin is too thin for the mix bag of reviews. I never think I’m good enough. I often want to sit on the sofa and watch TV at night instead of at the computer. I really should get a job and make some real money, but I don’t want to. So there.
  • Where can we learn more about you and your books?
Visit me at my website: www.dorothystjames.com or stop by my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/dorothystjames
  • What’s your favorite thing to have for lunch?
Spicy Thai shrimp wrap from the Lost Dog CafĂ©. YUM! I don’t eat there nearly often enough.
Do you collect anything?
Dust. Not the answer you were expecting? Well, how about this one: Whenever I’m writing under deadline, I seem to go on shoe buying frenzies. I love fun shoes with heels and funky patterns.
  • What was your favorite book as a child?
 The Secret Garden. I’m looking forward to reading it to my daughter.
  • What store could you browse in for hours?
 My local bookstore. There’s always something new and exciting to find. It’s always an expensive trip.

You can find out more about Dorothy at:



Dorothy will give away one copy of Asking for Truffle 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. US entries only please.  Contest ends midnight, September 15! Good luck!





Friday, September 1, 2017

ROCCO'S SEPTEMBER REVIEW ROUNDUP!

ROCCO’S COZY MYSTERY REVIEW ROUNDUP – SEPTEMBER

Meow! It's time for my cozy mystery review roundup for September. Check out these titles from Berkeley:




ROCCO's TOP PICK!


A TALE OF TWO KITTIES – SOFIE KELLY
With a well-placed paw on a keyboard or a pointed stare, Kathleen’s two cats, Hercules and Owen, have helped her to solve cases in the past—so she has learned to trust their instincts. But she will need to rely on them more than ever when a twenty-year-old scandal leads to murder…
 
The arrival of the Janes brothers has the little town of Mayville Heights buzzing. Everyone of a certain age remembers when Victor had an affair with Leo’s wife, who then died in a car accident.
 
Now it seems the brothers are trying to reconcile, until Kathleen finds Leo dead. The police set their sights on Leo’s son and Kathleen’s good friend Simon, who doesn’t have much of an alibi. To prove her friend innocent, Kathleen will have to dig deep into the town's history—and into her sardine cracker supply, because Owen and Hercules don't work for free...


ROCCO sez:  Everyone’s favorite librarian, Kathleen Paulson is back with her ‘magical cats’ Owen and Hercules!  This series has been a favorite of mine from the first, and I was especially pleased to see that it’s now in hardcover!  Owen and Hercules, as per usual, steal the show!  This is one series that we just can’t get enough of. More!  More! More!  Five Paws!!!!!!

MURDER SHE WROTE – HOOK LINE AND MURDER.
Jessica enters a fly fishing competition at a nearby lake. Joining her is the sheriff’s wife, Maureen Metzger, who surprises Jess with her enthusiasm for the sport. Their guide, however, is a surprise to both.…
Brian Kinney is an ex-con. Jailed as an accomplice to Darryl Jepson, a convicted killer, Brian was later exonerated, but not before spending seven years behind bars. He seems like a decent enough fellow. Just a man trying to rebuild his life as a family man and fishing guide.
Yet when Jepson breaks out of prison vowing revenge, and the lawyer for both men is found murdered, Cabot Cove becomes the focus of the nation as local, state, and federal authorities descend on Jessica’s home town. And to add to the tension, Maureen has gone missing. Is she lost or is she a hostage? Jess soon finds herself caught in a net full of lies, deceit and ulterior motives. In order to save her friend, she’ll need to find some answers by hook or by crook.…

Sez ROCCO:  Murder She Wrote has always been a favorite in our household, both the books and the television series.  The tradition continues with the latest volume. It never ceases to amaze me how Jessica Fletcher can take the most insignificant thing and transform it into a major clue.  As usual, she’s got the solution to the murder well in hand, but not before a series of terrifying events.  I particularly love the way they weave minor characters we’ve never seen from the old series into the books, case in point, the sheriff’s wife in this one, Maureen Metzger.  Keep ‘em coming!  Four and a half paws!!!!!



PUDDING UP WITH MURDER – JULIA BUCKLEY
Spring is right around the corner, and with the warmer temperatures come plenty of food requests from Lilah Drake's covered-dish clients. Lilah pulls out all the stops with a sweet new casserole for the birthday party of Marcus Cantwell, a wealthy curmudgeon who has some angry ex-wives and more than a few enemies.
 
When he's found facedown in Lilah's casserole, it's anyone's guess as to who might have wanted the old man dead. A possible new heir to Marcus’s fortune adds some unexpected spice to the investigation, but Lilah fears that the old adage is true, and "the proof is in the pudding." 

Sez ROCCO:  Lilah is a charming heroine and the Undercover Dish Mysteries don’t disappoint.  A good solid mystery with the quirky characters that one comes to expect of a cozy series.  We hope Lilah will be serving up mysteries as her  main course for many more adventures to come! Four Paws! 

WINTER'S CHILD - MARGARET COEL



Margaret Coel’s New York Times bestselling series concludes as Arapaho attorney Vicky Holden and Father John O’Malley discover that a centuries-old mystery is tied to a modern-day crime on the Wind River Reservation…

In the midst of a blizzard, Myra and Eldon Little Shield found an abandoned baby on their doorstep and brought her inside. Five years later, no one has come back to claim the little girl now known as Mary Anne Little Shield. But now that she’s old enough to start school, her foster parents fear social services will take her—a white child—away from them.

Determined to adopt Mary Anne, the Little Shields hire lawyer Clint Hopkins, who wants Vicky as cocounsel on the case. But before their plans can take shape, a black truck deliberately runs Hopkins down in the street.

Enlisting Father John to help investigate who would kill to stop the child’s adoption, Vicky unravels a connection between the five-year-old girl and a missing alcoholic Arapaho wanted for robbery—only to uncover one of the darkest secrets in Wind River’s history…


ROCCO sez:  Another fine entry in the Wind River mysteries. If you haven't picked up any, you should!  Four paws!!!!

Leave a comment below to win a copy of Winter's Child. Winner selected at random by ROCCO! Be sure to include your email address so we can contact you!

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)

Contest ends midnight, September 7.  US entries only, please.