Tuesday, October 30, 2018

TRICK OR TREAT! ROCCO's November Cozy Reviews! A day early!

Meow!  Here are my reviews for November, (and there are a lot!) starting with:

MURDER SHE WROTE
MANUSCRIPT FOR MURDER
A Murder She Wrote mystery
Jessica Fletcher and Jon Land
Berkley Prime Crime
Hardcover
November 6, 2018
Five Paws!!!!!!

We will do a more in-depth look at this book and series next week,but in the meantime....all I can say is WOW!  Jon Land has breathed new life into this tried and true series, and this adventure sparkles with spine tingling suspense! A must read for fans of the series (and those who are not, too1) Five Paws!



City of Secrets
A counterfeit lady novel
Victoria Thompson
Berkley; Hardcover
November 6, 2018
Four Paws!

An exciting new book in the series featuring woman-on-the-run Elizabeth Miles--from the beloved national bestselling author of the Gaslight Mysteries.

Elizabeth Miles knows that honesty is not always the best policy when it comes to finding justice.

Elizabeth has discovered that navigating the rules of high society is the biggest con of all. She knows she can play the game, but so far, her only success is Priscilla Knight, a dedicated young suffragist recently widowed for the second time. Her beloved first husband died in a tragic accident and left her with two young daughters--and a sizable fortune. While she was lost in grief, Priscilla's pastor convinced her she needed a man to look after her and engineered a whirlwind courtship and hasty marriage to fellow parishioner Endicott Knight. Now, about nine months later, Endicott is dead in what appears to be another terrible accident. 

Priscilla stands to lose everything, and Elizabeth is determined not to let that happen. But, as always, Elizabeth walks a fine line between using her unusual talents and revealing her own scandalous past. Elizabeth soon discovers that Endicott's death was anything but accidental, and revealing the truth could threaten much more than Priscilla's finances. An excellent addition to this fine series!


A Wrench in the Works
A Fixer Upper Mystery
Kate Carlisle
Berkley Prime Crime
Mass Market Paperback
November 6, 2018
4 1/2 paws

It's easy to see how this popular series became a Hallmark movie!  Love to follow the adventures of Shannon Hammer!  Now her sister Chloe is back in town to film some segments of her popular home repair show.  But when the executive producer is found dead, there are plenty of supsects, including Chloe.  Shannon's investigation leads to the discovery of why her sister moved away from Lighthouse Cove many years ago - could it be connected to the murder?

This was one of my favorites in the series, which i admit i discovered via the Hallmark movies.  Kate Carlisle does an excellent job!  Four and a half paws!


Twas the Knife Before Christmas
Jacqueline Frost
Crooked Lane
Hardcover
November 27, 2018
4 1/2 paws!


I'm a sucker for anything Christmas, particularly this charming series by Jacqueline Frost!
When a body turns up in a larger-than-life candy bowl filled with peppermints on the town square, Holly White is horrified to learn her best friend Caroline is the main suspect. Everyone in town, including Mistletoe, Maine’s sheriff, saw Caroline fighting with the victim on the night of his death. Worse, a custom kitchen knife, engraved with Caroline's initials was found with him.
Now, just ten days before Christmas, Holly’s up to her jingle bells in holiday shenanigans and in desperate need of a miracle. Juggling extra shifts at her family’s Christmas tree farm and making enough gingerbread jewelry to satisfy the crowd is already more than she can handle―and now she has to find time to clear her best friend of murder. Add in her budding relationship with the sheriff, and a personal stalker dressed as Santa Claus, and Holly’s ready to fly south until springtime.
But her Sherpa-lined mittens come off when Caroline is taken into custody. Can Holly wrap up the case in time for Christmas…even after she gains the true killer’s attention? I loved the first book in this series and the second does not disappoint! Four and a half paws

A Midwinter's Tail
Bethany Blake
Kensington
November 23, 2018
Four 1/2 paws!

I love, love, love this charming series by Bethany Blake.  The characters are so quirky and yet so appealing at the same time, and the plots are well fleshed out.  What's not to love about a mystery featureing a pet sitter as the heroine?
In this one, Daphne Templeton loves the holidays and nothing gets her into the spirit more than the town’s annual Bark the Halls Ball. The whole community will be there to wag their tails, especially this year’s special guest—Celeste “CeeCee” French, founder of a national chain of pet care franchises, who’s returning home to announce plans for a bright new flagship store.
But not everyone’s celebrating CeeCee’s homecoming. Daphne’s friend Moxie Bloom, owner of Spa and Paw, a unique salon for people and their pets, has plenty to growl about. So when CeeCee is found face down under Sylvan Creek's town Christmas tree, stabbed with a distinctive pair of professional-grade pet shears, suspicion lands squarely on Moxie. Despite Daphne’s promises to Detective Jonathan Black, she quickly reprises her role as amateur sleuth. Excellent addition to a good series.  4 1/2 paws! 

Fool's Moon
A Tarot Cats Mystery
Diane A. S. Stuckart
Midnight Ink
November 8, 2018
Four 1/2 Paws!

The author who brought you Hamlet and the Black Cat Bookshop mysteries is back, with new characters and new cats!
Most days, Ruby Sparks feels like the sign that says Tarot Card Reader Extraordinaire should say Tarot Card Reader Barely Competent. But as challenging as it is to take care of her half-sister's new age shop—and her growing menagerie of mystically inclined pets—Ruby never worries that she's bitten off more than she can chew . . . until a customer wants her to divine the truth about a murder.
When her own life is threatened with a double dose of danger, Ruby begins to wonder if she's being played for a fool. Luckily, she has Aphelia and Brandon—sibling black cats with a talent for tarot—and a feisty pitbull friend who all lend a paw in collaring the culprit before Ruby finds herself taking her final cat nap.
I'm a fan of Diane's and I loved her other series. This one has great promise!  I look forward to more from Ruby and company! Four and 1/2 paws!

A Scandal in Scarlet
A Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery
Vicki Delany
Crooked Lane; hardcover 
November 13, 2018
Five Paws!

I'm nuts over t his series and I'm not even a Sherlock Holmes fan!  I love the way Vicki Delany plots a book and her characters are delightful!  In this, the fourth instalment, Gemma Doyle, owner of the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop, acts quickly when she smells smoke outside the West London Museum. Fortunately no one is inside, but it’s too late to save the museum’s priceless collection of furniture, and damage to the historic house is extensive. Baker Street’s shop owners come together to hold an afternoon auction tea to raise funds to rebuild, and Great Uncle Arthur Doyle offers a signed first edition of The Valley of Fear
Cape Cod’s cognoscenti files into Mrs. Hudson’s Tea Room, owned by Gemma’s best friend, Jayne Wilson. Excitement fills the air (along with the aromas of Jayne’s delightful scones, of course). But the auction never happens. Before the gavel can fall, museum board chair Kathy Lamb is found dead in the back room. Wrapped tightly around her neck is a long rope of decorative knotted tea cups—a gift item that Jayne sells at Mrs. Hudson’s. Gemma’s boyfriend in blue, Ryan Ashburton, arrives on the scene with Detective Louise Estrada. But the suspect list is long, and the case far from elementary. Does Kathy’s killing have any relation to a mysterious death of seven years ago? 

Gemma has no intention of getting involved in the investigation, but when fellow shopkeeper Maureen finds herself the prime suspect she begs Gemma for her help. Ryan knows Gemma’s methods and he isn’t happy when she gets entangled in another mystery. But with so many suspects and so few clues, her deductive prowess will prove invaluable in A Scandal in Scarlet, Vicki Delany’s shrewdly plotted fourth Sherlock Holmes Bookshop mystery.  This one is a winner ( like the other three!)  5 Paws!

The Coloring Crook
Krista Davis
Kensington
November 25, 2018
Paperback
four 1/2 paws!

I'm a  huge fan of Krista Davis' two other series, so I was excited to read the first in her new series, Color Me Murder, for Kensington and the second one, THE COLORING CROOK, is just as good!
Life is looking rosy for Florrie Fox, manager of the Color Me Read bookstore in Georgetown, Washington D.C. She’s working on an adult coloring book of gardens, her romance with Sergeant Eric Jonquille has entered a new chapter, and the bookstore’s weekly coloring club is a source of friendship and entertainment. No member is more vibrant than Dolly Cavanaugh. Dolly likes to say she was blessed with beauty and cursed with lousy husbands, but at least she has a grown daughter and a stunning brownstone to show for it!

When Dolly’s love of garage sales results in her showing up at Color Me Read with a rare book in hand, Florrie is astounded. The Florist, the earliest known coloring book, was first published in 1760. An original copy would be worth a fortune—and someone else knows it. That same evening, Florrie finds Dolly dead on the floor of her apartment, a corner of a coloring book page clutched in her hand. As Florrie delves into Dolly’s past and her personal effects, she discovers a skeleton in the closet—literally—and a whole lot of shady suspects. One of them is an expert in the fine art of murder, but can Florrie draw the right conclusion?
Read it and find out!  4 1/2 paws!!!!!

A Cold Brew Killing
Lena Gregory
Lyrical Press
November 2018
Four Paws

This is the third entry in the "All Day Breakfast Cafe" msytery series, which I just discovered!

When an ice cream vendor discovers a frozen stiff, Florida diner owner Gia Morelli has to serve up some just desserts . . . 
 
Gia has become good friends with Trevor, a fun, flirtatious bachelor who owns the ice cream parlor down the street from her popular All-Day Breakfast Café. Trevor has the scoop on all sorts of local attractions and activities. But when he bursts into her diner, trembling and paler than a pint of French Vanilla, she can tell something's very wrong. Trevor points her toward his shop then passes out cold. When Gia runs down to his shop, she discovers a chilling sight—a dead body in the open freezer. But the ice cream man's troubles are just beginning. The police suspect him of this murder a la mode, especially when details of his questionable past surface. Gia believes in her friend and is determined to clear his name and find the real cold-blooded killer before someone else gets put on ice . . . 


Good mystery for a rainy day!  Gia is an interesting character that readers will enjoy getting to know. Four paws!


DEATH AND DAISIES
Amanda Flower
Magic Garden Mysteries
Crooked Lane
November 13, 2018
four Paws

A favorite author of mine, Amanda Flower, continues her "Magic Garden' series over at Crooked Lane with the second instalment.

Fiona Knox thought she was pulling her life back together when she inherited her godfather’s cottage in Duncreigan, Scotland—complete with a magical walled garden. But the erstwhile Tennessee flower shop owner promptly found herself puddle boot-deep in danger when she found a dead body among the glimmering blossoms. One police investigation later (made a trifle less unpleasant by the presence of handsome Chief Inspector Neil Craig), and Fiona’s life is getting back on a steady, though bewitched, track. Her sister Isla has just moved in with her, and the grand opening of her new spellbound venture, the Climbing Rose Flower Shop in Aberdeenshire, is imminent. 

But dark, ensorcelled clouds are gathering to douse Fiona’s newly sunny outlook. First, imperious parish minister Quaid MacCullen makes it undeniably clear that he would be happy to send Fiona back to Tennessee. Then, a horrific lightning storm, rife with terribly omen, threatens to tear apart the elderly cottage and sends Fi and Isla cowering under their beds. The storm passes, but then, Fi is called away from the Climbing Rose’s opening soiree when Kipling, the tiny village’s weak-kneed volunteer police chief, finds a dead body on the beach. 

The body proves difficult to identify, but Kipling is certain it’s that of the parish minister. Which makes Fiona, MacCullen’s new nemesis, a suspect. And what’s worse, Isla has seemed bewitched as of late…did she do something unspeakable to protect her sister?  Good suspense!  four paws!


LAST BUT NOT LEAST (and there were many more mysteries released this month!)

LOOK ALIVE, TWENTY FIVE
Stephanie PLum series
GP Putnam Sons
Hardcover
November 13, 2018
four stars

The Stephanie Plum series has been a longtime favorite of mine, and here we are at volume number twenty-five!

There's nothing like a good deli, and the Red River Deli in Trenton is one of the best. World-famous for its pastrami, cole slaw, and for its disappearing managers. Over the last month, three have vanished from the face of the earth, and the only clue in each case is one shoe that's been left behind. The police are baffled. Lula is convinced that it's a case of alien abduction. Whatever it is, they'd better figure out what's going on before they lose their new manager, Ms. Stephanie Plum.

I always enjoy the banter between Stephanie and Lula, but I confess to getting a little tired of Stephanie wafflling between Morelli and Ranger. Make up your mind already!  The  msytery is typical PLum fare, with all the usual suspects present.  Always enjoyable! Four paws!

Win one of ROCCO's review copies!

ROCCO will give one of his review copies of one of the above titles to one lucky commenter. Which one? Well, brother Maxx will choose it at random!


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, November 6. US entries only, please. Good luck!



Sunday, October 28, 2018

The Many Faces of Midnight Louie

Thank you for joining us for Midnight Louie Month!

For the first time ever, you can binge read the entire Midnight Louie Series in e-book format! Join Temple, Matt, Max, Molina,  Louie and friends in Las Vegas and beyond as they solve murders most foul, navigate international intrigue, and find love once and forevermore.

The series in order:

CAT IN AN ALPHABET SOUP (previously CATNAP) . . . CAT IN AN AQUA STORM (previously PUSSYFOOT) . . . CAT ON A BLUE MONDAY . . . CAT IN A CRIMSON HAZE . . . CAT IN A DIAMOND DAZZLE . . . CAT WITH AN EMERALD EYE . . . CAT IN A FLAMINGO FEDORA . . . CAT IN A GOLDEN GARLAND . . . CAT ON A HYACINTH HUNT . . . CAT IN AN INDIGO MOOD . . . CAT IN A JEWELED JUMPSUIT . . . CAT IN A KIWI CON . . . CAT IN A LEOPARD SPOT . . . CAT IN A MIDNIGHT CHOIR . . . CAT IN A NEON NIGHTMARE . . . CAT IN AN ORANGE TWIST . . . CAT IN A HOT PINK PURSUIT . . . CAT IN A QUICKSILVER CAPER . . . CAT IN A RED HOT RAGE . . . CAT IN A SAPPHIRE SLIPPER . . . CAT IN A TOPAZ TANGO . . . CAT IN AN ULTRAMARINE SCHEME . . . CAT IN A VEGAS GOLD VENDETTA . . . CAT IN A WHITE TIE AND TAILS . . . CAT IN AN ALIEN X-RAY . . . CAT IN A YELLOW SPOTLIGHT  . . . CAT IN A ZEBRA ZOOT SUIT . . . CAT IN AN ALPHABET ENDGAME


You can find out more about Midnight Louie and his creator, Carole Nelson Douglas, at Ms. Douglas website:  Carole Nelson Douglas


In the meantime, we leave you with a collage of some of Louie's most memorable covers!










Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Guest Poster: MIRANDA JAMES


Our guest today is author Miranda James, author of the popular Cat in the Stacks mysteries. Today Miranda shares some thoughts about Charlie and Diesel's latest adventure!


And Then There Were Six
By Miranda James



One cat in the house can be handful enough, but what about … six? 

That’s the case in the latest “Cat in the Stacks” mystery, when Charlie finds a box with five kittens on his doorstep one December morning.

In this case, the title of the book came to me before the storyline. I knew the book would be set at Christmastime, and the title Six Cats A Slayin’ popped right into my head. Once I had that title, I had to come up with a way for six cats to enter into the story.
Hence the box of kittens on the doorstep. Charlie, softie that he is, wouldn’t just take the kittens to the shelter, especially after the mysterious person who left them included a note begging for his help.

Then there’s Diesel. How would Diesel react to five frisky kittens in his domain? He’s used to putting up with Stewart Delacorte’s little poodle, Dante, but kittens? Well, turns out Diesel doesn’t seem to mind them at all.

Besides the mystery of who left the kittens on the doorstep, there is also the mystery of the new neighbor across the street. Geraldine Albritton claims to have grown up in Athena, Mississippi, but Charlie’s friend Melba Gilley has never heard of her. So who is Geraldine Albritton? And what could possibly go wrong at her open house/holiday party when all the neighbors are invited?

Six Cats A Slayin’ goes on sale today!

Win ROCCO’s review ARC copy of Six Cats!





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. Contest ends midnight, Oct. 28. Good luck!



Sunday, October 21, 2018

A BLAST FROM THE PAST - ROCCO INTERVIEWS CAROLE NELSON DOUGLAS!



In honor of "Midnight Louie" Month, we reprint this interview from 2011!
Meow, in the words of the Pointer Sisters, "I'm so excited" becasue today in my hotseat I have none other than the creator of one of my favorite feline characters, Midnight Louie, Carole Nelson Douglas herself!

For those not familiar with Carole or her works, here's a bit about her: (taken from her website)

Carole Nelson was born in Everett, Washington. She received a bachelor of arts degrees in Speech and Theater and English Literature from the College of St. Catherine in 1966. The next year, she married Sam Douglas, an artist who worked as the Minnesota Museum of Art as exhibitions director. She was a reporter and feature writer for the St. Paul Pioneer Press & Dispatch from 1967 to 1983, then became a page designer and editorial writer for the opinion pages, 1983 to 1984.  She sold a paperback original novel, Amberleigh (1980), to Jove and a fantasy, Six of Swords (1982) and its sequels, to Del Rey Books. Douglas became a fulltime fiction writer in 1984.

Douglas had incorporated animals since her first novel (there was an Irish wolfhound in Amberleigh, a King Charles spaniel in the next historical, Fair Wind, Fiery Star (1981). So little surprise she began to write about Midnight Louie, the twenty-pound black tomcat with the wit of Damon Runyon. The cat was based on a true-life cat who made his home at a motel, and truly munched on the fish in the reflective pond. The owners had no use for the cat, but a sympathetic woman retrieved and cared for the feline — and Douglas interviewed the woman and cat for a story for the St. Paul newspaper she worked for at the time. Douglas later came to own a number of cats, including one she named Midnight Louie Jr.
Midnight Louie first appeared in romantic suspense novels, Crystal Days and Crystal Nights (1990). “I just moved Louie and his carp pond to the abandoned (fictional) Joshua Tree hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, which was remodeled into the (fictional) Crystal Phoenix, the classiest hotel in Vegas, with Midnight Louie in lace as ‘unofficial hosue dick,’” she explained in a Crescent Blues interview.  Lately his adventures have taken some interesting turns: In Cat in a Sapphire Slipper (2008), for instance, takes the action to a Nevada brothel, where a prostitute has been murdered. “Douglas explores the campy, lighter side of ‘chicken ranches’ at the same time she exposes their seamier aspects,” said a Publishers Weekly reviewer.

The author  novels, including mainstream, mystery, thriller, high fantasy, science fiction, and romance/women’s fiction, Carole Nelson Douglas has been nominated for or won more than fifty writing awards. Carole was an award-winning journalist for the St. Paul Pioneer Press until moving to Texas to write fiction full time. In fact, she “found” Midnight Louie in the newspaper’s classified ads  and wrote a feature article on the real-life alley cat long before she began writing novels or Louie returned as a feline supersleuth with his own newsletter, Midnight Louie’s Scratching Post-Intelligencer, published since 1995.

Now, let's get to it! In my hotseat! Carole Nelson Douglas!

R:  Meow, hello Carole. Welcome
C:  Thank you Rocco, I'm glad to be here.

R:  for starters, tell us about Midnight Louie.
C: Midnight Louie is the first-furperson, partial narrator of his own mystery series. His beat is glitzy, dangerous Las Vegas and he is “Sam Spade with hairballs.” His alley-cat noir voice has appeared in twenty-three mystery novels.

He shares the stage in his books with four human characters, two men, two women; two amateur sleuths, two pros. Crime-solving Temple Barr, PR woman, is Louie’s roommate. (No one “owns” Louie.) He’s Temple’s protector and “muscle.” Hard-boiled female homicide lieutenant C.R. Molina has to put up with the pair of them. Max Kinsella is Temple’s ex, a magician and counter-terrorist operative on the run. Matt Devine is an ex-priest radio advice counselor who’s become Temple’s fiancée.

R:  Meow, a cat after my own heart!  How did the series start and what was your inspiration for a feline PI?
C: Louie and I had a “cute meet” through the newspaper Classifieds. I was a reporter and animal lover in St. Paul. He was a California product. Cruising the pet Classifieds, I was intrigued by a very long and expensive ad for “Midnight Louey,” a black cat “equally at home on your best couch or your neighbor’s garbage can.” The right home could have him for a dollar.

I wrote a feature story and learned that ML was surviving nicely on the expensive koi at a fancy Palo Alto motel but in danger of being shipped to the shelter. He cozied up to a visiting woman from Minnesota by the soft drink machine, wanting to escape the chilly night in her room. Obviously a ladies’ man. She flew him to St. Paul in a borrowed puppy carrier. He didn’t like apartment living with her lawyer husband, two fixed females, a vacuum cleaner and a litter box. She wanted him to go to farm where he could be free. That did happen, thanks to my article, but his unique spirit and macho chutzpah had put a firm hook into in my mind.

The key moment came after I’d written the first “who, what, when, where” sentence of the article. I decided to let Louie narrate his own remarkable saga of survival and out came his voice, part Damon Runyon, part generic gumshoe with a tad of Mrs. Malaprop.

Midnight Louie was introduced in four romances with mystery, written in the mid-eighties. But the romance editor drastically cut his few sections and stripped out many mystery elements without telling me. You might be able to do that to a down-trodden author, but you can’t do that to a cat, and especially this 20-pound black literary lion and master of cattitude. I flipped the concept to mystery with an ongoing romantic triangle (or quadrangle) and an international thriller backstory. After Catnap and Pussyfoot I wanted readers to know the order, so began a title sequence with an interior “color word” alphabet starting with Cat on a Blue Monday. Cat in a White Tie and Tails is just out.

R: How did you become the first author to make a woman from the Sherlock Holmes stories the protagonist of her own series? And have the first book, Good Night, Mr. Holmes named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and win mystery and romance awards?
C: First, I loved the stories as a kid. As an author, I noticed yet another Holmes spin-off coming out and realized that only men wrote them. So I searched the “Canon” for a female heroine. Irene Adler has been portrayed in recent successful films and TV series . . . but not as the fully developed, substantial and strong character I reinvented from Conan Doyle’s original story, “A Scandal in Bohemia.” I’m bringing the first four Adler books out in eBook and trade paperback in late September. Check her out. The reviews are fabulous, and if more women produced and directed films, she’d surely have one that does her justice in her own right.

A theme might be developing here. I like to go where women writers and women characters have traditionally not “been allowed.”

I wrote bestselling high fantasy when I started out, but the bias against female writers in the sf/f genre forced me to migrate to mystery by coming up with the Irene Adler Sherlockian series, which I at first considered a sub-genre of science fiction and fantasy. So when I saw women writing paranormal urban fantasy in the 2000s, I was primed to reenter the field. It’s been a delight to re-imagine Louie’s Las Vegas as a full-out supernatural Sin City with a werewolf mob running one hotel-casino and vampires a rival one and bunches more of scary, funny and socially relevant characters, elements and themes.

My protagonist is Delilah Street, an orphan in search of a mysterious double and a former investigative TV reporter. The name is a play on lawyer-detective Perry Mason’s right-hand woman, Della Street, so the black-and-white days of noir and mystery film are a big element. My “Cinema Simulacrums” are a paranormal blend of zombies and famous black-and-white film noir characters used as tourist draws and Delilah’s confidential informants. Delilah has a wolfhound-wolf cross rescue dog, Quicksilver, but there’s a shapeshifter who becomes an 800-pound white tiger. Midnight Louie has traveled to Delilah’s Vegas to help her on a case in a novella.

 R: Which do you prefer to write, paranormal ala Delilah Street or mystery ala Midnight Louie and why?
C: My favorite thing is to blend genres, so no series is a favorite. I’ve always liked to switch settings, times, styles. It’s the secret to being a prolific writer and the world-building is endlessly fascinating. I mix a tad of paranormal in my mystery (both Midnight Louie and Irene Adler) and put a lot of mystery noir in the seriously paranormal Delilah Street series. I even have the occasional cross reference between series, since Louie and Delilah series are both set in Las Vegas, although Delilah started out in 2013 six years before the calendar got there. Delilah started inventing paranormally named cocktails at the Inferno Hotel bar, so my characters in the Louie series can order an Albino Vampire or a Silver Zombie in the “real” world.

R: Which out of all the characters you’ve created is your favorite and why?
C: I must say Midnight Louie is my favorite. (He wouldn’t have it any other way.) This fantasy construct of a cat who thinks he’s Sam Spade can go anywhere, even the past, and satirize any social trend or institution that needs it. He’s the ultimate author’s mouthpiece. My main thrust for writing, though, is creating original and strong women characters in genre fiction. I like creating “innocent savants,” women who are smart and strong but initially naïve about the world’s evil, “Jane Doe” in the Probe books and Delilah Street in urban fantasy. That mirrors the comics male superhero upbringing in a more realistic way.

R: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?
C: I’ve been a newspaper feature writer and reporter and editor and was the “first woman” in several positions at the paper. Had I not started writing fiction on the side, I was unconsciously heading in the direction of being a columnist on the opinion pages, probably syndicated. If I had been “allowed” to get all the way there in those times.

R: What other writing genre would you like to try that you haven’t yet? Historical, screenwriting, etc?
C: I’ve written high and urban fantasy, contemporary and historical romance and mystery and science fiction thrillers. I might try children’s or YA, or a straight thriller.

R: Every writer has an “agent” story. How did you get your agent, and what is your advice to aspiring novelists querying agents?
C: A newspaper book reviewer suggested I look for an agent who was just starting out. When the first New York agent I contacted responded positively to the book, but wasn’t taking on new clients, I asked if she knew someone starting out. She happened to be giving a desk at her agency to a friend, a children’s book publisher’s widow. I’d been fantasizing about an agent with a romantic “literary” name like Serena Ravenel . . . I got Frances Schwartz.

Nowadays you want to sign up for webinars on finding an agent by Writer’s Digest or by legitimate agents themselves who offer a reading of your first three pages or the like included with the cost of the webinbar. Legit agents will give any money they get to charity. With the feedback, you can approach other agents directly, saying your proposal or complete MS was seen by so-and-so.

R: What book is on your TBR shelf you can’t wait to get to?
C: Neil Gaiman’s Coraline. 

R: What advice would you give new writers just starting out?
C: First , read voraciously. You not only learn writing by osmosis, but you learn what you want your own writing to be and do. Second, hold true to your belief in your ability to write. Everyone will have an opinion on what and how you should do it. That’s easy for them to say. You have to do the hard part: believe in your hard work and talent no matter what.

R: What would your readers be most surprised to learn about you?
C: I wanted to be an archaeologist or anthropologist in grade school.

R: Do you have any information on upcoming works or events that you are able to share?
C: The 2013 Midnight Louie novel will be Cat in an Alien X-File. I’m also getting all of my earlier books and shorter pieces of fiction into eBook format, and trade paperbacks when possible. Out in Ebook now is an Irene Adler novella, “The Private Wife of Sherlock Holmes,” and a Midnight Louie Past Life adventure in ancient Egypt, “Fruit of the Tomb,” where an early Midnight Louie incarnation solves a mystery and goes from lowly Pharaoh’s Footstool to the first private Eye of Horus.

R:  And now, a little thing I call:  JUST FOR FUN!
Your Favorite:
C: Book: Depends on the decade of my youth: Little Women, The Three Musketeers, The Lord of the RingsRebecca
Movie: The Wizard of Oz (but it should have had a cat in it)
TV show:  So You Think You Can Dance?
Actor: Johnny Depp
Actress: Meryl Streep
Night or Day: Dusk
Mountain or Lake: Lake
Hawaii or AlaskaHawaii
Book or Nook: Book
Cat or Dog?: Cats. And one occasional dog.  (Very diplomatic, heh heh)

R:  And now, in closing...Finish this sentence:  If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be _______
C:  Gee, I'm glad this was last!  Hmm...honest, I can’t come up with anybody I’d trade places with. It might be somebody rich. That’s always nice. I suppose it’d be a younger version of myself. I really want to know what happens to the world after I’m gone.



R:  Thank you so  much, Carole, for taking time out to visit with us and for one fantastic interview! 

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Midnight Louie Goes Vegas!

I want to talk about one of my favorite Louie adventures:
CAT IN A VEGAS GOLD VENDETTA!



Carole Nelson Douglas's Temple Barr is an ace P.R. wizard when it comes to promoting Las Vegas' hottest clients. She's also an amateur sleuth who has caught her share of bad guys.
In Cat in a Vegas Gold Vendetta, B-movie actress Savannah Ashleigh begs Temple to investigate the suspicious death of her rich aunt's handyman. Temple happily takes the case, if for no other reason than to take her mind off her chaotic private life. Her ex-fiancé, the Mystifying Max, is back―minus his memory. And current fiancé Matt Devine has shown up from a stint in Chicago with the promise of a surprising future. Which may or may not include Temple.
As Temple digs into the man's untimely demise she finds plenty of suspect and greedy humans swarming around the ailing Aunt Violet, who means to leave her estate to her resident cats. Temple thinks she's close to solving the case, but it becomes clear to Midnight Louie, Temple's roommate and ace feline detective, that there are more deaths both human and feline coming. Add in the return of a mysterious stalker from the past, and it's murder and mayhem on all fronts for Temple, Louie, and the ones they love!


i absoutely loved this adventure: number one, hey, it's Vegas, Baby and number two: it's Louie at his finest!  Also, don't you just love the covers?  (we'll talk about them in a later post)


Interested in buying the book? You can find it here: Vegas Gold Vendetta


Next week: More Louie!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Midnight Louie's First Adventure!

Alphabet SoupToday let's talk about the very first adventure of Midnight Louie's!



This book was previously published as Previously published as CATNAP) 




This book introduces us to an extraordinary sleuthing duo: Ms. Temple Barr, a 29-year-old Public Relations freelancer in Las Vegas, and the eighteen-pound jet-black tomcat called Midnight Louie who tells his own side of the story.

Temple is pursuing a cat in the exhibit hall at the Las Vegas ABA as fast as her spike heels will carry her–only to stumble over a dead publisher–and soon learns that the founder of Pennyroyal Press, a paperback house specializing in medical thrillers, had as many enemies as there are attendees at the ABA–and that’s 24,000.

But that’s not all. Baker & Taylor’s corporate mascots, the genial short-eared cats known and Baker and Taylor, have been snatched from their ABA booth and must be found before they’re done in. And first Temple needs to convince tall, stern, female lieutenant Molina of the Las Vegas Police that Temple herself is not up to no good. The lieutenant has all too many questions about the disappearance of Mystifying Max, the handsome stage magician who vanished from Temple’s life six months ago. Molina won’t believe that Temple knows nothing of his whereabouts . . .

What with Lieutenant Molina, Murder One and feline felony, it’s a wonder that Temple has time to notice the riveting Matt Devine, who’s just rented a condo from Temple’s landlady, in the circular building behind the Lover’s Knot Wedding chapel. But she does. . .

Catnap is narrated in part by Midnight Louie, the sleuthing tomcat who led Temple to the corpse. (You thought it was an accident?) Louie’s investigations are aided by his conversations with Ingram the bookstore cat and other felines, yet hampered by his resolve never to speak to humans. But Midnight Louie is one hardboiled, hairy-chested big dude. He always finds a way to bring the perpetrator to justice!

This book is fabulous! Carole Nelson Douglas weaves an intricate plot, and the way Louie is introduced to "His Human" Temple is nothing short of fantastic! Temple and Louie forge an undeniable bond in this book, which also introduces us to other characters that quickly become near and dear to our hearts.


ROCCO's rating: Five paws!!!!!!! You will LOVE this book! Thank you, Carole Nelson Douglas, for re-inventing Louie for a new generation of readers!!!!!!!


Buy it at: ALPHABET SOUP

Friday, October 12, 2018

October is Midnight Louie Month!

This month, we pay tribute to one of ROCCO's idols and my mentor:
MIDNIGHT LOUIE AND CAROLE NELSON DOUGLAS!!!!

Simply put, Midnight Louie is OUR kind of detective.

In his own words, he’s short, dark and unobtrusive.  He talks like a detective out of a 40s pulp novel.  Plus, he’s remarkably light on his feet and he can shimmy into places Columbo would never dare to tread.
And why not?  Louie is a cat.

A 20 pound, jet black tomcat with all of his – um- assets intact (well for the most part.  He has had a vasectomy – yeah, you heard me right) Louie is the first furpurrson of mystery, or as he puts it, the star of his own multivolume mystery series. And make no mistake about it, Louis is THE star, even though at times he finds himself sharing center stage with some very interesting humans.

A good deal of the charm for me in this series is Carole Nelson Douglas’
well fleshed out characters, both feline and human. Eighteen pound plus tomcat Louie shares the stage in his books with four human characters, two men, two women; two amateur sleuths, two pros. Crime-solving Temple Barr, PR woman and burgeoning sleuth, is Louie’s roommate. (No one “owns” Louie.) He’s Temple’s protector and “muscle.” Hard-boiled female homicide lieutenant C.R. Molina has to put up with the pair of them. Max Kinsella is Temple’s ex, a magician and counter-terrorist operative on the run. Matt Devine is an ex-priest radio advice counselor who’s become Temple’s fiancée.  And this is not to mention the feline characters, which include his alleged daughter, Midnight Louise (who loves ragging on dear old pops), Ma Barker, his mom who still oftentimes refers to him by his given  name, Grasshopper, a bomb and drug sniffing Maltese, Nose E, several assorted cats, big and little…oh! And let’s not forget those glamour pusses, cats of the female persuasion that set Louie’s tail to thumping:  Shaded silver and gold Persians Yvette and Solange, between whose affections Louie bounces like a furry black ball; the deadly Hyacinth, a seal point Siamese whose claws are dipped nightly (supposedly) in Curare; and Satin, a comely black chick with a fluffy tail, one of Louie’s first amours and the maybe-momma of Midnight Louise.

Douglas writes the series as if it were a daytime soap, interweaving plot points and characters throughout.  Like any loyal soap follower, we hung on what would happen next (which we found out, in the last of the "ALPHABET" Midnight Louie mysteries, CAT IN AN ALPHABET ENDGAME.

Now, oh, happy day, Carole Nelson Douglas is re-issuing the earlier Midnight Louie volumes!  Here's hoping that Louie gains a whole new network of fans!  The books can be found at amazon and barnes and noble!

In the coming weeks, we'll take a closer look at Louie and some of his memorable adventures. In the meantime, I leave you with this:

As Louie says, he lives in “the city that never sleeps” – and with a crew like that, who could?

More importantly, who would want to?

Check out Louie's books here:Amazon ML Mysteries

Saturday, October 6, 2018

ROCCO's OCTOBER COZIES!!!!!!

Meow!  Its time for our October cozy reviews!

First my top pick:  the latest Cat in the Stacks, SIX CATS A SLAYIN'

SIX CATS A SLAYIN'
Miranda James
  • Series: Cat in the Stacks Mystery (Book 10)
  • Publisher: Berkley (October 23, 2018)
  • Rating:  Five Paws!!


The tenth entry in this most charming series is set, as the title indicates, during the Christmas season.  As Charlie and his Maine Coon Cat Diesel prepare for the holidays with Charlie's grandchildren, Charlie gets an unwelcome invitation from a new neighbor - Gerry a nosy real estate agent for a holiday party.  Charlie, girlfriend Rose and Stuart all decide to go but they get a distinct shock when the woman is murdered during the party.  Charlie, of course, gets involved in solving the mystery which turns out to have an unusual twist I wont spoil here.  The real star of the show for me, though, was the subplot involving a box of kittens left on Charlie's doorstep.  Diesel is at his very best as caretaker of the kitties, and there just might be a little addition to the Harris family before the adventure reaches its conclusion.  All loose ends are tied up in a neat little package with a bright Christmas bow, leaving us bereft until their next adventure.  Longtime fans of this series will delight in this one, a definite five paws!   

GLITTER BOMB
A Scrapbooking Mystery
Laura Childs/Terrie Farley Moran
Berkley Prime Crime hardcover
October 2, 2018
Five Paws!!!!

Fans of this long running series will not be disappointed in the fifteenth entry!  Amidst the glitter and glitz of the Mardi Gras, Carmela Bertrand  of course runs headlong into mystery and murder when an explosion rocks the parade.  Carmela's ex-hubby, Shamus, is astride a float that msyteriously bursts into flames as it passes them, but one of the crewmembers is killed.  with Shamus in the police's eye as a main suspect, can Carmela clear her ex? And jsut what will her fiancee, Detective Edgar Babcock, have to say about her interfering? 

This series is everything a good msytery should be: interesting characters, complex plot, and a page-turner!  an undeniable Five Paws!!!!!

The Ghost and the Bogus Bookseller
Cleo Coyle
Berkley Mass Market Paperback
September 25, 2018
Four and a half Paws!

Cleo Coyle, the author of the fabulously successful Coffee House mysteries, is also the author of the Haunted Bookshop mysteries!  This was my first foray into this series and it won't be the last.  Peneope Thornton McClure owns a bookstore that's haunted by the spirit of Jack Shepard, a 1940's private investigator!  Together they solve mysteries!  (Remember the Ghost and Mrs. Muir???) In this volume, Penelope smells a rat behind the biggest best seller of the year, because folks are turning up dead to read it - literally!  With the fatalities connected to the book, Penelope and Jack team up to solve the cold case before it claims Penelope as its next victim.  Thorougly enjoyable.  Four and a half paws.

CITY OF LIES
A counterfeit lady novel
Berkley Prime Crime Paperback
Victoria Thompson
September 25, 2018
Four Stars


An exciting new historical mystery series featuring woman-on-the-run Elizabeth Miles—from the beloved national bestselling author of the Gaslight Mysteries.

Every woman plays a part—but some are more dangerous than others…

Like most women, Elizabeth Miles assumes many roles; unlike most, hers have made her a woman on the run. Living on the edge of society, Elizabeth uses her guile to relieve so-called respectable men of their ill-gotten gains. But brutal and greedy entrepreneur Oscar Thornton is out for blood. He’s lost a great deal of money and is not going to forgive a woman for outwitting him. With his thugs hot on her trail, Elizabeth seizes the moment to blend in with a group of women who have an agenda of their own. 

She never expects to like or understand these privileged women, but she soon comes to respect their intentions, forming an unlikely bond with the wealthy matriarch of the group whose son, Gideon, is the rarest of species—an honest man in a dishonest world. Elizabeth knows she’s playing a risky game, and her deception could be revealed at any moment, possibly even by sharp-eyed Gideon. Nor has she been forgotten by Thornton, who’s biding his time, waiting to strike. Elizabeth must draw on her wits and every last ounce of courage she possesses to keep her new life from being cut short by this vicious shadow from her past.

I'm not a fan of historicals, but I did enjoy this. four paws.

MURDER SHE WROTE: A DATE WITH MURDER
Jessica Fletcher, Donald Bain, Jon Land
Paperback edition
September 25, 2018
Five Paws!




This is the paperback edition of the hardcover that was reviewed last year.  Jon Land takes over for the late Donald Bain and does a masterful job of injecting new life into this tried and true series!  Jessica is on more of a "thrill ride" now and we couldn't be happier!  Longtime fans never tire of this series, and now Land is making it better than ever! Five Paws!


TWO LUCKY COMMENTERS WILL WIN ROCCOS REVIEW COPIES OF CITY OF LIES AND THE GHOST AND THE BOGUS BESTSELLER!




o 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. Winners for each book will be chosen at random. Good luck! US entries only please! Contest ends midnight, October 13!