Thursday, September 5, 2019

ROCCO'S SEPTEMBER COZY REVIEWS!

It's time for ROCCO's September Cozy Reviews!

First up:

A NIGHT'S TAIL
A Magical Cats Mystery
Sofie Kelly
Hardcover; Berkley Prime Crime
September 3, 2019
Five Stars

The magic continues in Sofie Kelly's charming cozy series!

In the charming town of Mayville Heights, librarian Kathleen Paulson and her two cats pounce on clues to catch a killer, in the eleventh installment of this New York Times bestselling series.Spring is coming to Mayville Heights, and Kathleen’s brother, Ethan, has arrived in town with his band, The Flaming Gerbils. But not everything goes as scheduled when one of Ethan’s bandmates gets into a fight with a man interested in investing in the town. When the businessman’s body is later found, Ethan’s friend is implicated in the crime.

Kathleen wants to help her brother by solving the case, but she has no shortage of suspects from which to choose. Prior to his death, the investor was fighting like cats and dogs with lots of people. If this librarian wants more than a whisker’s chance of solving the case, she will need to rely on her trusty feline sidekicks, Owen and Hercules.

I love this series, and not just because of the cats, although they are a big draw!  I'm fond of Kathleen, her polceman boyfriend, and all the quirky characters in the town of Mayville Heights, which to  me is quickly becoming another Cabot Cove.  Devotees of this series will enjoy, as will new converts.  Five Paws.


WORD TO THE WISE
Library Lovers Mystery
Jenn McKinlay
September 3, 2019; Berkley Prime Crime; Hardcover
Four Stars


It's no-holds-barred murder, in the latest page-turning Library Lover's Mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of Hitting the Books.

Lindsey Norris is finally getting married to the man of her dreams—but it's not all roses for Briar Creek's beloved library director, as gardening enthusiast and town newcomer Aaron Grady gives the term “book lover” a whole new meaning. Inappropriate looks and unwelcome late-night visits to Lindsey's house have everyone from the crafternooners to Lindsey's fiancé, Sully, on edge. 

When Grady's dead body is found staged outside the library and all the clues point to Sully, Lindsey knows it's up to her to dig through the hidden chapters of Grady's previous life to find the real culprit and clear Sully's name. But becoming a thorn in the killer's side is not without its consequences, and the closer Lindsey gets to the truth, the more determined the murderer is to make her just a footnote


A "new to me" series but an old favorite for many others.  I enjoyed this cozy mystery and will definitely be picking up more in the series!  four paws!!!!


MRS. JEFFRIES AND THE ALMS OF THE ANGEL
A Victorian Mystery
Hardcover; Berkley Prime Crime
September 24, 2019
Emily Brightwell
four Stars



Mrs. Jeffries fans will be delighted with her newest adventure, which has her and Inspector Witherspoon joining forces to solve the murder of an active church member who, on the surface, appeared to be beloved by all.  When they dig deeper, however, things are not a they appear, and they soon find themselves with a plethora of suspects with motives for wanting the supposedly kindly woman dead.  another good entry in this long running series.  four stars


COOKIES AND CLAIRVOYANCE
A Magical Bakery Mystery
Bailey Cates
MM Paperback; Berkley Prime Crime
September 3, 2019
Four Stars




If you enjoy baking with a dash of the supernatural, this is the series for you!  Cates has created a wonderful world where baking and witchcraft combine, and she continues it in this eighth entry!

Hedgewitch Katie Lightfoot is juggling wedding preparations, a visit from her father, and home renovations on top of her long hours at the Honeybee Bakery, where she and her aunt Lucy imbue their yummy cookies and pastries with beneficial magic. But when firefighter Randy Post is accused of murdering a collector of rarities, and his prints are on the statue that was used to kill the man, Katie steps in. 

Randy is not only Katie's fiancé's coworker, but also the boyfriend of fellow spellbook club member and witch Bianca Devereaux. Bianca and Declan are both sure Randy is innocent, and so is Katie. However, to prove it she'll have to work with ornery detective Peter Quinn again—and this time around he knows she's more than your everyday baker.


SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT
A Year Round Christmas Mystery
Berkley Prime Crime
Vicki Delaney
August 27, 2019
Four and a half stars




Residents of Rudolph keep the spirit of Christmas alive year-round—but their joy is threatened when a group of grinches visits the town, in the charming fourth installment of the Year-Round Christmas series.

It's the week before Thanksgiving, and Merry Wilkinson, owner of Mrs. Claus's Treasures, is preparing for a weekend reunion of her mother's college friends. But when the group of women comes into Merry's shop, Merry is met with frosty attitudes and cold hearts. 

The women argue amongst themselves constantly, and the bickering only intensifies after one of the friends is poisoned. With her father's role as Santa in danger due to his proximity to the crime, Merry will need to use all of her investigative gifts to wrap this mystery up and save Santa and her favorite holiday.


What better, than to combine two of my favorite things, Christmas and mysteries?????  I have been a big fan of this series since the first book and this one is just as enjoyable.  A ROCCO recommend!


Win one of ROCCO's review copies!

Brother Maxx will choose one at random; to enter, leave your name and email address in our comments section. For extra entries, mentoin the contest and this blog on Facebook and Twitter!  One winner will be selected at random.  US ENTRIES ONLY, PLEASE.  Contest ends midnight, September 21.

Friday, August 9, 2019

ROCCO'S AUGUST COZI REVIEWS!!!!!!

Marow!  Here are my reviews for August!!!!!


SINGAPORE SAPPHIRE
A Harriet Gordon Mystery
A.M. Stuart
Berkley - Trade Paperback
August 6, 2019
Four and a half stars

Singapore, 1910--Desperate for a fresh start, Harriet Gordon finds herself living with her brother, a reverend and headmaster of a school for boys, in Singapore at the height of colonial rule. Hoping to gain some financial independence, she advertises her services as a personal secretary. It is unfortunate that she should discover her first client, Sir Oswald Newbold--explorer, mine magnate and president of the exclusive Explorers and Geographers Club--dead with a knife in his throat.

When Inspector Robert Curran is put on the case, he realizes that he has an unusual witness in Harriet. Harriet's keen eye for detail and strong sense of duty interests him, as does her distrust of the police and her traumatic past, which she is at pains to keep secret from the gossips of Singapore society.

When another body is dragged from the canal, Harriet feels compelled to help with the case. She and Curran are soon drawn into a murderous web of treachery and deceit and find themselves face-to-face with a ruthless cabal that has no qualms about killing again to protect its secrets.


THE PINT OF NO RETURN (Paperback edition)
A SLOANE KRAUS MYSTERY
ELLIE ALEXANDER
ST. MARTIN'S
AUGUST 2019
FOUR AND A HALF STARS

This is the first of thie series that I've read and I was impressed - particualarly if  you are intereted in knowing about beer, and how it's made, becasue Alexander puts  a lot of background into the book, along with a msytery!


Amateur sleuth Sloan Krause returns in The Pint of No Return, another delightful cozy by Ellie Alexander―this time investigating a movie star who's murdered not long after arriving in Leavenworth, WA to film his latest project.
No other festival compares to Oktoberfest in Leavenworth, Washington. The whole town is buzzing with excitement over this year’s activities and eagerly awaiting Nitro’s latest offering Cherrywizen, made with locally sourced cherries. But local brewmaster Sloan Krause is tapped out. Between trying to manage the pub, her pending divorce with Mac, and her mounting feelings for Garrett, she’s fermenting in internal turmoil.

To complicate matters, dreamy movie star Mitchell Morgan and his production crew have arrived in the village to film during the authentic Bavarian brewfest. Mitchell has his eye on Sloan and a taste for Nitro’s Cherrywizen. Sloan escapes his advances for good when she finds Mitchell slumped over the bar. Is this a case of one pint too many, or has Mitchell been murdered by microbrew?




A KILLER EDITION
A booktown mystery
Lorna Barrett
Berkley 
August 13, 2019
four and a half stars

With her assistant, Pixie, picking up more responsibility around the shop, Tricia Miles suddenly has a lot more time on her hands. Tricia decides to join the local animal-rescue board and enter the Great Stoneham Bake-Off, but neither pans out as smoothly as she’d hoped.

Balancing a bake-off that’s heating up with a frosty reception from the board, Tricia stops by Joyce Whitman’s romance bookstore looking for a book to get her fired up. She stumbles on something hot, but it’s an argument between Joyce and her neighbor Vera Olson instead of a steamy read. When Vera turns up dead in Joyce’s garden hours later, Tricia has to wonder—could Joyce be the killer? Or is the culprit still lurking in town?

One thing is for sure, someone in Stoneham is stirring up something more sinister than sweet. Tricia is determined to win the cutthroat cooking contest, but first she will have to make sure no one else is in danger of getting burned....

Another tried and true sereis that never seems to run out of steam...or murders.

my first time reading htis series and Iloved it.  will be picking up the others now.  :)


LOVE AND DEATH AMONG THE CHEETAHS
A ROYAL SPYNESS MYSTERY
BERKLEY
RHYS BROWN
AUGUST 6, 2019
FOUR AND A HALF STARS

Georgie and Darcy are finally on their honeymoon in Kenya's Happy Valley, but murder crashes the party in this all-new installment in the New York Times bestselling series.

Georgie is excited when Darcy announced out of the blue that they are flying to Kenya for an extended honeymoon. Once there, though, Georgie suspects her husband has been sent on a secret mission. 
Once there Darcy confides to his wife there have been a series of robberies, and it seems the thief was a member of the aristocracy and may have fled to Kenya. Since we are staying in the Happy Valley—the center of upper-class English life—they are well positioned to hunt for clues and ferret out possible suspects.

When Lord Charlton, who made advances to Georgie, is found bloodied and lifeless along a lonely stretch of road, it appears he fell victim to a lion. But it seems that the Happy Valley community wants to close the case a bit too quickly. Darcy and Georgie soon discover that there is much more than a simple robbery and an animal attack to contend with here in Kenya. Nearly everyone has a motive to want Lord Cheriton dead and some will go to great lengths to silence anyone who asks too many questions. The hunt is on! Can Georgie and Darcy survive thier honeymoon long enough to catch a killer. . . .

Rhys Bowen does not disappoint, as usual. Fans of hte series will love.

DEATH IN A BUDAPEST BUTTERFLY
a HUNGARIAN TEA HOUSE MSYTERY
JULIA BUCKLEY
BERKLEY JULY 27, 2019
FOUR STARS

Hana Keller serves up European-style cakes and teas in her family-owned tea house, but when a customer keels over from a poisoned cuppa, Hana and her tea-leaf reading grandmother will have to help catch a killer in the first Hungarian Tea House Mystery from Julia Buckley.

Hana Keller and her family run Maggie's Tea House, an establishment heavily influenced by the family's Hungarian heritage and specializing in a European-style traditional tea service. But one of the shop's largest draws is Hana's eccentric grandmother, Juliana, renowned for her ability to read the future in the leaves at the bottom of customers' cups. Lately, however, her readings have become alarmingly ominous and seemingly related to old Hungarian legends...

When a guest is poisoned at a tea event, Juliana’s dire predictions appear to have come true. Things are brought to a boil when Hana’s beloved  Anna Weatherley butterfly teacup becomes the center of the murder investigation as it carried the poisoned tea. The cup is claimed as evidence by a handsome police detective, and the pretty Tea House is suddenly endangered.  Hana and her family must catch the killer to save their business and bring the beautiful Budapest Butterfly back home where it belongs.

Good start to a promising new series!


THE TIME FOR MURDER IS MEOW
T. C. LOTEMPIO
MIDNIGHT INK
PURR N BARK PET SHOP MYSTERY
AUGUST 8, 2019

Cannot review this one - as it is the human's!!!!!!  but I can post a reminder here about it and the cover and urge you to follow her blog tour to hear reviews!!!!1
 https://www.escapewithdollycas.com/great-escapes-virtual-book-tours/upcoming-great-escapes-book-tours/the-time-for-murder-is-meow-a-purr-n-bark-pet-shop-mystery-by-t-c-lotempio/




WIN  ONE OF ROCCO'S REVIEW COPIES!!!

This month, we will be giivng away two copies!  one of SINGAPORE SAPPHIRE and one of DEATH N A BUDAPEST BUTTERFLY!  Winners of each book will be chosen at random by random.org

to enter, leave your name and email address in our comments sectin below!!!!  Tell us which book you would prefer.  US entries only, please. :)  for extra entries, mention this blog and contest on Facebook and Twitter!

Contest ends midnight, August 19!

Friday, July 26, 2019

ROCCO welcomes Anna Gerard aka Diane A.S. Stuckart!






Welcome, Anna!  Tell us a little about your background

  I’m Anna Gerard a/k/a Ali Brandon (the Black Cat Bookshop Mysteries) and Diane A.S. Stuckart  (the Tarot Cat Mystery Series and the Leonardo da Vinci Mystery series) and Alexa Smart (from back in my historical romance days!). I’ve been writing and publishing since the 1990s and am pretty much known as a Cozy Mystery writer these days.

Tell us a bit about your latest book
  PEACH CLOBBERED is the first in my new Georgia B&B Mystery series from Crooked Lane Books. It’s set in the fictional town of Cymbeline, south and west of Savannah. My amateur sleuth, Nina Fleet (pronounced NINE-ah) is recently single and new to Cymbeline, where she impulsively purchased a 3-story Queen Anne home with the proceeds from her divorce. Life should be peachy for her, but things (like murder) are putting a crimp in her new Bed and Breakfast venture. And then there’s that actor, Harry Westcott. He’s the grand-nephew of Fleet House’s previous owner and claims the house was supposed to have been willed to him. And he’s not letting the place go without a fight.

How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?
 I get to know them like I get to know any real-life people I meet, by hanging out with them over time and learning how they tick. I don’t create full-blown bios for my characters until I’ve been writing about them for a while.

How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
 I’m a pantser at the beginning of my book but in the last 1/3 to 1/4 I do start informally outlining to make sure I have hit all the plot points and wrapped up all the necessary details.

Which do you consider more important, plot or character?
 Depends on the genre of the book but, in general, strong characters can save a weak plot. A great plot is less great if the characters are cardboard.

What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
 I’m putting the final touches on PEACHY SCREAM, book 2 in the Georgia B&B series. I’m going to be self-publishing a couple of small projects and then it’s on to GBB book 3.

What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?
 I work a full-time day job and have lots of other commitments, so I squeeze in writing on my lunch hour and after work and the weekends (I’ve tried getting up at 5AM to write but, nope!).

What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
 Be willing to put in the work. No great book was ever dashed off in one draft. And once you’re published, be smart about what you dig in your heels about as far as changing or cutting your manuscript. If you protest every comma that’s cut, it will be harder to keep the things that really mean something to you.

Just for Fun:
Night or Day?  Day
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  Both (I’m bi-petual!)
Beach or Pool?   Beach
Steak or salad?  Salad
Favorite Drink?  Diet Coke
Favorite Book?   Ammie, Come Home by Barbara Michaels
Favorite TV Series?  Currently, Ink Master
Favorite Movie?  Bowfinger
Favorite Actor:   Michael Caine
Favorite Actress:  Helen Mirren
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada?  Pina Colada
Hawaii or Alaska?  Hawaii
Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be Leonardo da Vinci
If I had just one wish, it would be World peace!  Kidding…but, actually, it would be world tolerance and commonsense. 
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be  one of my dogs or cats because they live great lives.






Thursday, July 11, 2019

ROCCO'S JULY COZY REVIEWS!

Ma-Row! time to review the July cozies!

THE PAWFUL TRUTH
A Cat in the Stacks Mystery
Miranda James
Berkley Prime Crime
July 16, 2019
Five Stars


This is another exciting insalment in the Cat in the Stacks mystery series featuring librarian Charlie Harris and his cat,Diesel.

Charlie has enrolled in  an early medieval history course offered by young, charismatic professor Carey Warriner. Charlie feels a bit out of place- his fellow classmates are half his age- except for Dixie Bell Compton, another ‘mature’ student. When Charlie hears an angry exchange between her and their professor, his interest in piqued. He’s even more intrigued when she shows up at his office asking for a study partner. Charlie turns her down and is saddened to learn just a few days later that Dixie has been killed.

 Charlie wonders if Professor Warriner had anything to do with Dixie’s death. Warriner is married to a fellow professor who happens to be a successful author. There are rumors on campus that their marriage was on the rocks. Was Dixie's death the result of a lovers’ triangle gone bad? Charlie soon discovers that the professor’s wife may have some secrets of her own and his suspect list is only getting longer. 
  
As he and Diesel step further into the tangled web of relationships, someone else is viciously killed. Whose jealousy finally erupted into murderous rage? Was it a crime of passion or is there another  more sinister motive? Charlie  races to unravel this mystery: and to draw out the culprit, he may just have to put his own life on the line…

James does not disappoint and fans will enjoy solving the crime along with Charlie and Diesel. A defiite five paws!!!

NEEDLED TO DEATH
A Helping Hands Mystery
Annelise Ryan
Kensington
July 30, 2019
Four and a half paws




As a colleague of deputy coroner Mattie Winston, social worker Clothilde “Hildy” Schneider is no stranger to unsolved murders at Sorenson General Hospital. Except this time, it’s up to her to crack the case . . . 

Motivated by her own difficult past, Hildy has an unparalleled commitment to supporting troubled clients through grief and addiction in Sorenson, Wisconsin. But when a distraught group therapy member reveals disturbing details about her late son’s potential murder, Hildy goes from dedicated mental health professional to in-over-her-head amateur sleuth . . .

Alongside her loyal therapy Golden Retriever, Hildy stumbles through incriminating clues—and an unlikely partnership with Detective Bob Richmond, the irresistibly headstrong cop who shares her passion for helping others. With signs of foul play surfacing all over town, can Hildy and Detective Richmond pinpoint the deadly traits of a sharp-witted killer before another seat gets filled at grief therapy?

this looks like a good series. Recommend.

BEWITCHED AND BETHROTHED
A Witchcraft Mystery
Berkley Prime Crime
june 25, 2019
Juliet Blackwell
Five Paws



When Lily Ivory stumbles on the uniform of a former prisoner from Alcatraz and SFPD inspector Carlos Romero’s cousin is kidnapped, Lily suspects something dangerous has been unleashed on the ghost-ridden island of Alcatraz. She'll have to sleuth out the culprit—when she’s not busy entertaining her visiting relatives and resolving romantic conflicts as her wedding date approaches. Could recent omens be pointing to the magical threat in her adopted city? If so, she'll have to line up her allies to change the fate of the Bay Area. Because no matter what, Lily's determined to celebrate her marriage with her friends by her side—even if it means battling a demonic foe before she can make it to the altar.

Fans of this longtime series will not be disappointed as Lily juggles sleuthing with wedding planning.  Juliet Blackwell remains one of my favorite authors.  A definite five paws!  If you are looking for a good cozy and arealso a fan of things supernatural I highly recommend this series.


BOOKING THE CROOK
Bookmobile Cat Mystery
Laurie Cass
Berkley Prime Crime
July 2, 2019

Five Paws!




Minnie, everyone's favorite librarian and her mystery loving cat Eddie are back for another adventure!

Minnie Hamilton and her rescue cat, Eddie, cruise around lovely Chilson, Michigan delivering happiness and good reads in their bookmobile. But the feisty librarian is worried that the bookmobile's future could be uncertain when a new library board chair arrives and doesn't seem too friendly to her pet project. 

Still, she has to put her personal worries aside when she and Eddie are out on their regular route and one of their favorite customers doesn't turn up to collect her books. Minnie, at Eddie's prodding, checks on the woman and finds her lying dead in her snow-covered driveway. Now it's up to Minnie and her friends--feline and otherwise--to find the perpetrator and give them their due.

always enjoyable watching Minnie and Eddie figure out whodunit.  I liked that Minnie is ending up with Rafe, they seem suited to each other!  Another five paw mystery for July!



AND THEN THERE WERE CRUMBS
A Cookie House Mystery
Eve Calder
St. Marltin's.
July 30, 2019
Four and a half paws



FIRST IN A NEW SERIES!  She’s a talented pastry chef―with a secret recipe for solving crimes…
WELCOME TO THE COOKIE HOUSE
Kate McGuire’s life was sweet in Manhattan before she lost her restaurant job and fiancé both. But sometimes that’s just the way the cookie crumbles, and soon she finds herself starting from scratch in the island town of Coral Cay, Florida. It has everything she’s looking for: sunny beaches, friendly locals, and a Help Wanted sign in the bakery shop window. Once she convinces the shop’s crusty owner Sam Hepplewhite to hire her, Kate can’t tie on her apron fast enough. Little does she know that trouble, like warm dough, is on the rise. . .
WHERE CRIMINALS GET THEIR JUST DESSERTS
Stewart Lord is a real estate developer with a taste for a different type of dough: the green kind. He knows that he could make a killing by purchasing the Cookie House from Sam, who flat-out refuses to sell. But when Stewart turns up the heat on Sam―then turns up dead after eating a fresh batch of Sam’s cinnamon rolls―all eyes focus on the town’s beloved bakery. When the police arrest Sam for murder, Kate must somehow prove that her curmudgeonly boss is innocent. Enlisting the help of a team of lovable locals, Kate sets out to catch the real culprit with his hand in the cookie jar…before someone else gets burned.

This seems like an excellent debut and definitely one to watch!  After all, who doens't like a mystery involivng food?????



LET'S FAKE A DEAL
A SARA W GARAGE SALE MYSTERY
KENSINGTON
JULY 30, 2019
FOUR PAWS

As a former military spouse, Sarah Winston’s learned a little about organizing, packing, and moving. Her latest project sounds promising: a couple of tech-industry hipsters, newly arrived in her Massachusetts town, who need to downsize. Unfortunately, when Sarah tries to sell their stuff, she discovers it’s all stolen—and she’s the unwitting fence.

BUT SARAH’S PROBLEMS ARE JUST BEGINNING
Michelle, an old friend of Sarah’s from the Air Force base, is in line for a promotion—but not everyone is happy about it, and she’s been hit with an anonymous discrimination complaint. When one of the men she suspects is behind the accusations turns up dead in Michelle’s car, Sarah needs to clear Michelle’s name—as well as her own for selling hot merchandise. And she’ll have to do it while also organizing a cat lady’s gigantic collection of feline memorabilia, or they’ll be making room for Sarah in a jail cell . . .

Another entertaining series!  And since we've lost the Garage Sale Mysteries on Hallmark, this is an engaging substitute. Four Paws.


WIN ONE OF ROCCO'S REVIEW COPIES!

Leave your name and emall address in our comments section for a chance to win one of ROCCO's review copies.  Brother Maxx will select one of these books at random, and random.org will select the lucky winner.  For extra chances to win, mention our blog and this contest on Facebook and Twitter!
Contest closes midnight, July 20!


Friday, June 28, 2019

MURDER IN RED!

Meow, one of my very favorite series, book or tv, is MURDER SHE WROTE.  Jon Land has done a superlative job taking over as Jessica's co-author, and this time out he's crafted an intricate mystery indeed.....



Jessica Fletcher's favorite gin rummy partner, Mimi Van Dorn, checks into the brand-new Clifton Care Partners, a private hospital that's just opened up shop in town, for a simple procedure—one that leads tragically, and inexplicably, to her death. Seeking justice in her inimitable fashion, Jessica decides to pursue her own investigation on the hospital and its shadowy business dealings.

On the trail of what initially appears to be medical malpractice, Jessica digs deeper and learns her friend was actually a victim of something far more sinister. Death is bad for business, but murder is even worse, and Jessica will find plenty of both as she races to bring down Clifton Care Partners before someone else flatlines...

Land has done an excellent job of ratcheting up the suspense iin the latest Jessica mysteries. They seem more like the old tv shows!  If I had to nitpick on one thing, it would be the overuse of the term "dear lady" in this latest tome.  

What is your favorite Jessica mystery, either tv show or book?  Leave a comment with your email address below and tell us.  We'll select one at random to receive an autographed ARC of MURDER IN RED!
Ends July 7

Friday, June 14, 2019

We Welcome Alex Erickson


Meow! Today my guest is author Alex Erickson!

Alex Erickson has always wanted to write, even at a young, impressionable age. He’s always had an interest in the motive behind murder, which has led him down his current path. He’s always ready with a witty—at least in his opinion—quip, and tries to keep every conversation light and friendly. Alex lives in Ohio with his family and resident felines, who provide endless amounts of inspiration. 
Alex Erickson
Tell us a little about your background, Alex
There’s not a lot to say! I went to Ohio University for Telecommunications, and then did nothing with it. I decided to focus on my writing instead, and well, here we are!
Tell us a bit about your latest book
 The Pomeranian Always Barks Twice is a new series that is a Barnes and Noble exclusive for the first year. Like my Bookstore Café series, it’s a cozy mystery. It’s set in yet another small town, and the heroine owns a pet rescue that finds homes for “unwanted” pets. You know, the kind often overlooked in shelters because they are too old, or have health issues, or what have you. Since this is a mystery, not everything goes to plan and someone up and dies on her. But hey, that’s when the fun starts, right?
How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?
 My characters tend to let me know about them as I go. Sometimes, it takes time before I get it right. I don’t try to come up with personalities beforehand or anything like that. I figure out the plot and then let the characters develop from there. If I try to force it, the characters come off as flat or unlikeable. I’ve learned to go by feel.
How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
 I take a ton of notes before I write, most of which, I toss out once I actually start plotting things out. I typically try to get the first five to ten chapters fully plotted out. Then, I make a list of plot points I still need to hit that develops as I write. By the time I’m finished with the first five chapters or so, I’ll have everything I need to plot out the next five. I do that all the way until the end.
Which do you consider more important, plot or character?
 Character. Plot is important, of course, but if you have a great plot, but terrible characters, then no one is going to care. I believe you can sometimes skate by with a weaker plot if the characters are amazing. It’s not ideal, of course. Best case, you have both a fantastic plot and superb characters. In the end, though, I do think it is the characters that stick with people the most.
What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
 More Bookstore Café and more Furever Pets, of course! Both take up quite a bit of my writing time, but I do hope to work on a lot more in the future. I would like to explore other genres, write epic fantasies and hard-boiled detectives. I enjoy so many different genres, I can’t help but want to work in them.
What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
Never give up. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed or inferior. We all suffer it, no matter how much success we have. People are going to say hurtful things. You’re going to get rejections. It’s all part of the process. Stick with it, dedicate yourself to being the best you can possible be, and you will succeed.

What’s one thing your readers would be surprised to find out about you?
 I spend far too much time playing games. Be it video games, board games, phone games, it’s what I do to relieve stress, to have some fun. And, yeah, I tend to be competitive in them as well. Not rude or mean, but man, I always feel the need to be the best I can be. It’s the same approach I take to my writing, actually. It doesn’t always work out the way I want it to, but I refuse to give up and settle.
 Where can we learn more about you and your books?



Just for Fun:
Night or Day?  Night
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  Cat, of course!
Beach or Pool?   Beach
Steak or salad?  Salad
Favorite Drink?  Don’t really have one, but I’ll go with orange juice since I drink a glass daily.
Favorite Book?  All of them? I love too many to name just one. Or ten. Or even three dozen.
Favorite TV Series?  Right now, I’d say The Expanse, though I do really enjoy a lot of shows. Most of them are foreign crime shows with subtitles. I find them to be far more intriguing that what we get on network television here.
Favorite Movie?  Once again, I can’t just name one. I do tend to lean toward Sci-fi or horror movies when given the chance to choose.
Favorite Actor: None. I often prefer unknown actors in roles. I find it far better to see the character and not the actor. Put a well known actor in a role, and I tend to expect them to act like, well, them.
Favorite Actress: Same as above. Give me an unknown who can act!
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Neither. I don’t drink *hides*
Hawaii or Alaska?  Hawaii. Hate the cold.
Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be Stephen King. He is the one who inspired me to write.
If I had just one wish, it would be to get to keep doing what I’m doing. Sure, world peace would be nice. The cure to all diseases, but if I’m allowed to be selfish here, I don’t ever want to change my life.
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be no one! Like above, I like my life and hope to keep living it. Besides, other people have their own set of problems. I’d prefer to deal with the problems I know, rather than a fresh new set!

Thank you, Alex!


Alex will give away a copy of The Pomeranian Always Barks Twice to one lucky commenter! To enter, leave your name and address in our comments section.  US entries only, please.  Winner will be selected at random.  Contest closes June 22.