Friday, September 18, 2020

ROCCO reviews Anna Gerard's PEACHY SCREAM

Meow! Today I'm reviewing PEACHY SCREAM, second in the Georgia B&B mystery series by Anna Gerard.


The Plot:

t's nothing short of inevitable that Cymbeline, GA, hosts an annual Shakespeare festival. But stage-struck Nina Fleet is about to learn that putting on an amateur theatrical production can be murder. Nina's anticipating showbiz glamour and glitz when a community Shakespearean troupe arrives for a two-week stay at her B&B. But the lights dim when she learns the company's director is her nemesis, struggling actor Harry Westcott--who still claims to be the rightful heir to Nina's elegant Queen Anne home.

Meanwhile, the troupe members are not content to leave the drama upon the stage. Accusations of infidelity and financial malfeasance make a shambles of rehearsals. And then, two days into the troupe's stay, the lead actor is found dead in Nina's formal Shakespeare garden. Natural causes...or murder most foul?

Nina uncovers evidence that something is indeed rotten in the town of Cymbeline. Too bad Harry is the only one who believes that she's not going completely off script. And exposing the truth isn't easy when the remaining troupe members say the show must go on...particularly when all of them seemingly had a motive for wanting their fellow actor to permanently exit stage right. Determined to keep the killer from making a curtain call, Nina and her trusty Australian Shepherd, Matilda, join forces with Harry to sleuth out the murder plot. 

ROCCO's Rating:  Four and a half Paws!!!!!!

ROCCO's Review:  

I have been a fan of this author’s since her Black Cat Bookshop series (written under the name of Ali Brandon) so I was anxious to give this new series a try.  I enjoyed the first in the series, Peach Clobbered, and looked forward to the second, Peachy Scream with much anticipation.

I was not disappointed.

Nina Fleet owns a B&B in Cymbeline, Georgia. She welcomes a Shakespearean troupe into her B&B, but considers throwing them out when she learns her nemesis, Harry Westcott, is directing the play.  She's not looking forward to dealing with him again, but unless she wants to ruin the festival, there's no way to turn them out.

Once everyone is settled it’s not long before Len March, who is playing the lead in the production of Hamlet, establishes himself as a real PITA.  Following several pranks on the players, Len is found dead in Nina’s garden. At first everyone assumes it was natural causes, until Nina finds the champagne glass Len was drinking out of.  That, plus another member of the troupe falling ill convince Nina foul play is afoot.  She reluctantly enlists Harry’s aid, and Harry assigns her to work as an extra in the play so she can keep an eye on things before someone else turns up dead.

I am a big fan of Ms. Gerard’s writing style and enjoyed this book as much as I did the first.  The only reason it got 4 ½ stars instead of five is because I guessed the killer and the motive early on. Anna Gerard always delivers a sound mystery with interesting characters that you find yourself caring about, and that’s the main thing!!!!!!  Definitely looking forward to Number Three.

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Friday, September 4, 2020


Here are my cozy reviews for September!

Library Lover's Mystery
Jenn McKinlay
Berkley Hardcover
September 1, 2020
five stars

Love is in the air in Briar Creek as library director Lindsey Norris and boat captain Mike (Sully) Sullivan are finally tying the knot. The entire town is excited for the happy day, and Lindsey and Sully's plan for a small wedding evaporates as more and more people insist upon attending the event of the year.   

When Lindsey and her crafternoon pals head out to Bell Island to see if it can accommodate the ever-expanding guest list, they are horrified to discover a body washed up on the rocky shore. Even worse, Lindsey recognizes the man as the justice of the peace who was supposed to officiate her wedding ceremony. When it becomes clear he was murdered, Lindsey can't help but wonder if it had to do with the wedding. Now she has to book it to solve the mystery before it ends her happily ever after before it's even begun....

I am a big fan of this series and of Lindsey Norris! She gets better with each adventure!  So happy that they finally made it to the altar!!!!!!  Even if you have not read the others (I haven't read them all either) it's easy to pick up.  five paws!!!!!

A magical cats mystery
Sofie Kelly
Penguin group; hardcover
September 1, 2020
five stars

A reality TV crew has come to town and brought librarian Kathleen Paulson and her two magical cats more than their fair share of real-life drama, in the newest installment of this New York Times bestselling series.

Spring has come to charming Mayville Heights, and with it, some Hollywood glamour. The little town is abuzz because the reboot of a popular baking TV show is filming there. Librarian Kathleen Paulson is working as an advisor on historical facts for the show, local restaurants are providing catering for the camera crews, and Kathleen's faithful felines, Hercules and Owen, are hoping there is a cat treat challenge.

But then Kathleen finds one of the judges dead. She has solved many-a-murder with help from the supernaturally gifted Herc and Owen, and with the whole town on tenterhooks, the talented trio will have to have all paws on deck to chase down this killer.

No one is a bigger fan of this great series than I.  Imagine having not only one magical cat, but two!!!  Owen and Hercules are in top form as usual!!!!!!!  And Kathleen isn't bad either.  Fans of this series will love it!!!  and new fans will too!!!  Five paws up!!!!!!!!

A.M. Stuart
  • Series: A Harriet Gordon Mystery (Book 2)
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley (September 15, 2020)
  • Trade Paperback
  • Four stars
  this is the second in the Harriet Gordon series. The series is set in 1910 and features Harriet Gordon as a sort of Jessica Fletcher, aided by inspector Robert Curran. to be honest I'm not much on period pieces but t his one  is definitely worth a look! four paws.

Vivien Chien
Noodle Shop Mysteries
St. Martin's Paperbacks
August 25, 2020
Five stars

Is life at the Ho-Lee Noodle House becoming too hot to handle?

Lana Lee’s plate is already plenty full. Running her family’s Chinese restaurant in Cleveland’s Asia Village is challenging on the best of days. But just when Lana thinks she might be able to catch her breath before the weekend―which she’s eager to spend with her equally overworked boyfriend, Detective Adam Trudeau―Lana witnesses a car accident in the parking lot. And now she has no choice but to get involved.

June Yi, of Yi’s Tea and Bakery, is a serious businesswoman well-known for her heartlessness. But June meets her match when she rear-ends the Cadillac belonging to Mah Jong lover Mildred “Millie” Mao. As each woman curses―and threatens―the other, it becomes clear to Lana that trouble lies ahead. Still, who could have imagined that Millie would end up dead at the beauty salon? The evidence suggests that she was electrocuted while having a foot bath, and all eyes are on June. Can Lana find a way to solve this case before another fatality occurs in Asia Village?

We love Chinese food and we love this series!  Lana Lee is sassy and nosy, just the type of person you'd want investigating a murder!  Can't wait for the next one, and we wish Vivien Chien all the best.  Five Paws.

Alison Brooke
Haunted Library Mystery
Crooked Lane; Hardcover
September 8, 2020
Four stars

Daphne Marriott strolls into Clover Ridge and informs librarian Carrie Singleton that she's a psychic. But had she foreseen what fate awaited her, Daphne would have steered clear of the quaint Connecticut town. Evelyn, the library ghost, tells Carrie that there's more to Daphne than she lets on.

The mysterious woman grew up in Clover Ridge with her no-good dad, who apparently met his end at the hands of Daphne's brother, Billy. Still, Daphne proves a welcome distraction when Carrie's overbearing mother hits town. Mom's much younger husband, Tom, is in a movie that's lensing locally, and she's there to keep an eye on him: Tom's costar, sultry Ilana Reingold, is also his ex-fiancée, and there's no denying the chemistry is still there. Soon after mingling with the moviemakers at a meet-and-greet, Daphne is found dead.

Carrie and Evelyn investigate, assisted by bushy-tailed library cat Smoky Joe. But the suspect list could overflow the library shelves. Has Billy killed another relative? Is their long-missing mother involved? Or Daphne's mean ex-husband? Carrie's sure she knows who committed the crime, but can she bind together the clues before the culprit Dewey-decimates the town? Four paws!!!!

Win ROCCO's review copy!

Want to win one of ROCCO's review copies?  Leave your name and email address in our comments section!  Brother Maxx will select one name at random to win one of these books!  Contest ends midnight, September 18th.  US entries only please.  :)  Entries without an email addy will be disqualified.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020


tONI, the human here!

It's been a year since the release of THE TIME FOR MURDER IS MEOW, the first Pet Shop Mystery. Since KILLERS OF A FEATHER, Pet Shop #2, will be debuting from Beyond the Page Publishing in 2021, I thought I'd take this opportunity to refresh everyone's memories of Shell, Gary, and, of course, Purrday!

To save their pet shop, Shell and her two furry sidekicks must cat-ch a killer
Crishell "Shell" McMillan sees the cancellation of her TV series as a blessing in disguise. The former actress can now take over her late aunt's pet shop, the Purr N' Bark, and do something she loves.
While getting the shop ready for re-opening, Shell is asked to loan her aunt's Cary Grant posters to the local museum for an exhibit. She finds the prospect exciting―until a museum board member, who had a long-standing feud with Shell's aunt, votes against it. When she discovers the board member dead in the museum, Shell becomes suspect number one. Can she, her Siamese cat Kahlua, and her new sidekick―her aunt's Persian Purrday―find the real culprit, or will her latest career go up in kitty litter?
"[A] buoyant start to a new series ... Fans of feline mysteries will relish The Time for Murder is Meow's pet shop framework in this story of finding one's second act."―Foreword Reviews
"[An] entertaining series debut. ... Feline-loving cozy fans will be satisfied"―Publishers Weekly

Shell McMillan is busy making plans for the grand re-opening of her Aunts Pet Shop, the Purr N Bark, and getting more frustrated by the minute.  Not only has the band she hired bugged out on her, but the fortune telling parrot that she hired has flown the coop – literally.  Seems the bird flew off when his cage was being cleaned.  Fortunately her ex co-star, Gary Presser, has found a substitute parrot.  And fortune seems to smile on her when a man wanders into her store and turns out to have a lovely singing voice.  Shell hires him on the spot, but later regrets her actions when she learns that the man is Johnny Draco, an investment counselor who left town years ago after swindling several people out of a good deal of money, one of them being Shell’s pal Rita.
The day of the grand opening Shell sees Rita arguing with Johnny in the town square.  Later on, the parrot tells Draco’s fortune.  He pulls out a card that has the Ace of Spades on it and one word - BEWARE.  Draco scoffs at it, calling the parrot a fake, and  leaves.  Later on, Shell and her cats, Purrday and Kahlua end up finding Johnny’s dead body.
With Rita and her husband the prime suspects, and both without alibis, Shell knows she has to work double time to convince her crush, Detective Josh Bloodgood, of their innocence.   As the evidence mounts up against Rita, Shell, along with Purrday and Kahlua, delve into Johnny’s past in an attempt to clear her friend-and expose a murderer before someone else suffers a similar fate.

Watch for details of release date here and on my website,

Friday, August 21, 2020


Meow!  Today I'd like to shine a spotlight on Simon Lelic's new thriller, SEARCH PARTY!

Hailed as Kafka meets Orwell (The Herald Scotland), award-winning author Simon Lelic does not shy away from creating twisty, chilling plots. He hooks readers in from the first page, not letting them go until the end. Known for his intricate, powerful, and deeply unsettling crimes and characters, Lelic is back to keep us guessing in THE SEARCH PARTY.

Like his previous highly-praised novel The New Neighbors (2018), which was called an “intense ride” (Publishers Weekly), “a bundle of creepy chills” (The Observer), and “simply ingenious” (, THE SEARCH PARTY is a masterpiece of tension and a brilliant, frightening look into the core of human relationships.

From the book cover:

A twisty, electrifying new thriller from the author of The New Neighbors and The Liar's Room...

The entire town thinks sixteen-year-old Sadie Saunders is dead. Missing now for a week, they say she was murdered. And they think they know who did it.

Sadie's five best friends aren’t so sure, and they vow to find out the truth. So they pack their bags and head into the woods where Sadie was last seen.

But they’re not just friends, they’re suspects. And each of them has a secret.

As the landscape opens up, and the darkness closes in, the reality of their situation becomes clear…

This was never really a search party.
It’s a witch hunt.

And not everyone will make it home alive.

Editorial Reviews


"Clever and atmospheric, with shades of Stand By Me."—Mark Edwards, author of Here To Stay

"A brilliantly tense tale of teenage frustration, lost souls, and sibling love, with an atmosphere as tense as the end of summer storm that threatens throughout the book. Plus a whirlwind of an ending that's like riding a rollercoaster."—Araminta Hall, author of Our Kind of Cruelty

"I've spent every free moment of the last few days feasting on The Search Party...a bloody good read and the very definition of unpredictable. Twisty, creepy, brilliantly paced, and with a denouement I never saw coming."—John Marrs, author of The One

"A chillingly complex, well-crafted web. The voices cry out from Simon Lelic's pages as if they are standing right next to you."—Jane Corry, author of I Looked Away

Saturday, August 15, 2020

ROCCO's August Cozy reviews!

Meow!  It's time to review new cozy mystery titles for August!

Miranda James
Berkley Prime Crime
August 25, 2020
Five Stars

Charlie Harris and his feline companion Diesel take a bookish vacation but discover that murder never takes a holiday, in this all-new installment of the New York Times bestselling series. 
Charlie and Diesel along with Charlie's fiancée, Helen Louise Brady, are heading to Asheville, North Carolina to spend a week at a boutique hotel and participate in a gathering of a mystery reader's club composed of patrons of the Athena Public Library. In addition to seeing the local sights, the members will take turns giving talks on their favorite authors. 

The always spry Ducote sisters, friends of the hotel’s owners, are helping underwrite the expenses, and they’ve insisted that Charlie, Helen, and Diesel join them. Anxious to get Helen Louise away from her bistro for a vacation, Charlie readily agrees. While Charlie is looking forward to relaxing with Helen Louise and Diesel, other members of the group have ulterior motives including a long-standing score to settle.

When an intrusive, uninvited guest turns up dead, only one mystery club member with a connection to the deceased appears to have a motive to kill. But could the answer really be that simple? Charlie and Diesel, along with the detecting Ducote sisters, know that every murder plot has an unexpected twist.

Charlie and Diesel are always a good read and we're glad the Ducote sisters have gotten a second life in this popular series!  Diesel gets better looking with each cover!  Good summer read, five paws up!

Bailey Cates
Magical Bakery Myster
July 28, 2020
Berkley Prime Crime
Four stars

Baker Katie Lightfoot is crafting her own magical wedding cake and tracking down a malicious murderer in the newest installment of this New York Times bestselling series.

Katie will be marrying firefighter Declan McCarthy in less than a week, and she's still finding time to run the Honeybee Bakery, where she infuses sweets and treats with special spells and cheerful charms. But her hope of getting hitched without a hitch is short-lived. When Declan's family shows up early to enjoy a few extra days in Savannah, his youngest sister finds an unsavory surprise: her ex-husband, dead in a hotel room hours after they argued.

The ex was scam artist with a lot of enemies, but the argument puts Declan's sister under suspicion. Between dress fittings and dough-kneading, Katie—along with her witchy friends in the spellbook club—will really have to work some magic to figure out who killed the con man...or there may not be a wedding.

Another good entry in this delightful series!  

Jennifer Ashley
Penguin Group
August 4, 2020
four stars

A new upstairs, downstairs Victorian murder mystery in the Kat Holloway series from the New York Times bestselling author of Death in Kew Gardens.

When young cook Kat Holloway learns that the children of London's Foundling Hospital are mysteriously disappearing and one of their nurses has been murdered, she can't turn away. She enlists the help of her charming and enigmatic confidant Daniel McAdam, who has ties to Scotland Yard, and Errol Fielding, a disreputable man from Daniel’s troubled past, to bring the killer to justice. Their investigation takes them from the grandeur of Mayfair to the slums of the East End, during which Kat learns more about Daniel and his circumstances than she ever could have imagined.

Good mystery for those who like ones set in Victorian era.

Sunday, August 2, 2020



Today I am reviewing a novel by an author both the Human and I love:  Jon Land.  You may know him best as Jessica Fletcher's new writing partner in the Murder She Wrote series, but Jon has done other books as well...the  most notable being his Caitlin Strong series!

Caitlin Strong wages her own personal war on drugs against the true power behind the illicit opioid trade in Strong from the Heart, the blistering and relentless 11th installment in Jon Land's award-winning series.

The drug crisis hits home for fifth generation Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong when the son of her outlaw lover Cort Wesley Masters nearly dies from an opioid overdose. On top of that, she’s dealing with the inexplicable tragedy of a small Texas town where all the residents died in a single night.

When Caitlin realizes that these two pursuits are intrinsically connected, she finds herself following a trail that will take her to the truth behind the crisis that claimed 75,000 lives last year. Just in time, since the same force that has taken over the opiate trade has even more deadly intentions in mind, specifically the murder of tens of millions in pursuit of their even more nefarious goals.

The power base she’s up against―comprised of politicians and Big Pharma, along with corrupt doctors and drug distributors―has successfully beaten back all threats in the past. But they’ve never had to deal with the likes of Caitlin Strong before and have no idea what’s in store when the guns of Texas come calling.

At the root of the conspiracy lies a cabal nestled within the highest corridors of power that’s determined to destroy all threats posed to them. Caitlin and Cort Wesley may have finally met their match, finding themselves isolated and ostracized with nowhere to turn, even as they strive to remain strong from the heart.

If you like a hard hitting thriller with plenty of action this is the book/series for you!  We give this one a definite five paws!!!!!! Pick it up today!!!!!

Win ROCCO's review copy!!!!!

Leave your name and email addy in our comments section below!  winner will be chosen at random by MAXX.  Ends midnight, August 10.

Friday, July 10, 2020


Ma-Row! It's time for my July cozy reviews!

First up:

Hungarian Teashop Mystery
Julia Buckley
June 30, 2020
Berkley Mass Market PB
Four stars

The only thing Hana loves more than a good cuppa is finding a delicate porcelain treasure to add to her collection. She's usually on the hunt for teacups but when she spots a rare wolf figurine at a local yard sale, she knows it's her lucky day. Hana also knows the wolf is valuable and tells the seller that he's charging too little for it. His reaction is peculiar--he says he received the wolf from someone he doesn't trust and he just wants it out of his life.

Hana is inspecting her new prize when she finds a tiny microchip attached to the bottom of the porcelain wolf. When she shows the figure to her police detective boyfriend, Erik, Hana is shocked to learn that the chip is actually a tracking device. They decide to confront the seller about the sneaky sale but when they arrive at his house, they find him dead. Erik and Hana now must hunt a calculating killer who has no intentions of crying wolf when it comes to murder...

Second entry in this series!  Four paws!!!!

Haunted Home Renovations
Juliet Blackwell
Berkley MMPB
June 30, 2020
Four and a half stars

Mel Turner can’t resist the chance to bring the Crockett Theatre, a decrepit San Francisco Art Deco movie palace, back to life. But there’s a catch for Turner Construction: Several artists are currently squatting in the building, and they aren’t the only ones haunting the once-grand halls of the historic theater.…

When one of the squatters is found dead, the police department has a long list of suspects to investigate. Meanwhile, Mel and her fiancé, Landon, are remodeling an old house for themselves, and Mel finds being on the other side of a home renovation project more challenging than she expected. 

When Mel discovers that the former owner of the Crockett Theatre died under mysterious circumstances, and that there just might be a connection to the ghost haunting her own attic, the case takes a new turn—one that could bring down the curtain for the last time.

Who doesn't love a good Juliet Blackwell mystery and this series is stellar!  Four and a half paws!

A Booktown Mystery
Lorna Barrett
Berkley HC Edition
July 21, 2020
Five Stars

Tricia Miles must swim against the tide to catch a killer when Haven't Got A Clue's assistant manager is accused of murder in the latest entry to Lorna Barrett's New York Times bestselling Booktown series.

Haven't Got A Clue bookshop owner Tricia Miles's relationship is on the rocks. After a not-so-fun vacation with her on-again-off-again lover, Marshall Cambridge, Tricia's hoping for smooth sailing back in Stoneham. Unfortunately Booktown greets her not with blue skies but with another body.

When Tricia's assistant manager, Pixie, finds homeless vet Susan Morris's body behind Haven't Got A Clue, Pixie's checkered past makes her the prime suspect. Tricia sets out to clear Pixie's name armed with only an anchor insignia earring found at the scene of the crime.

As Tricia digs deeper she discovers Susan was involved in a scandal right before retiring from the Navy—but since nobody in the village knows Susan, even Tricia's one lead is in danger of drying up. With family drama brewing in the background and all of Stoneham convinced her manager is a murderer, Tricia knows she has to get to the bottom of the case soon before Pixie's life is sunk.

OK I've read every book in htis series and I love, love, Tricia and her adventures (although she's got the worst luck with men).  Adventure number 14 will not disappoint long time fans.  BTW, if you are new to the series you can pick this one up and figure out the character relationships very easily (I know because i started with Book 12 and then went back).  No worries there! Five paws.

Lucy Burdette
Food Critic Mystery
Crooked Lane
five Paws

When a fierce rivalry between key lime pie bakers leads to a pastry chef's murder, food critic Hayley Snow is fit to be pied.

During the week between Christmas and New Year's, the year-round population of Key West, Florida, faces a tsunami of tourists and snowbirds. It doesn't help that outrageously wealthy key lime pie aficionado David Sloan has persuaded the city to host his pie-baking contest. Every pie purveyor on the island is out to win the coveted Key Lime Key to the City and Key Zest food critic Hayley Snow is on the scene to report it.

Meanwhile, Hayley's home life is turning more tart than sweet. Hayley's new hubby, police detective Nathan Bransford, announces that her intimidating mother-in-law is bearing down on the island for a surprise visit. Hayley offers to escort Nathan's crusty mom on the iconic Conch Train Tour of the island's holiday lights, but it becomes a recipe for disaster when they find a corpse among the glittering palm trees and fantastic flamingos. The victim--Au Citron Vert's controversial new pastry chef--was a frontrunner in Sloan's contest.

It's bad enough that Hayley's too-curious mother-in-law is cooking up trouble. Now, the murderer is out to take a slice out of Hayley. Can she handle the heat of a killer's kitchen?

Love this series! Five Paws!

Win one of ROCCO's review copies!

To enter, leave your name and e-mail address in our comments section!  Contest closes midnight, July 31.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

ROCCO reviews THE MURDER OF TWELVE (A Murder She Wrote Mystery)

Meow!  Today I'm reviewing the latest in the Murder She Wrote mystery series, THE MURDER OF TWELVE.

Everyone knows I have been singing the praises of Jon Land ever since he took over as Jessica's co-writer from the late Donald Bain.  Land has used his thriller background to bring a different dimension to the series.  And, apart from too much bickering between Jessica and Mort (IMHO) I LOVE LOVE LOVE the last few books and the new fresh take he has given this tried and true series.  However, I do have to say that Murder of Twelve is  my favorite so far, probably because it's a nod to the great Agatha Christie and her famous locked room mysteries.

 Still staying at the Hill House hotel while her beloved home is being rebuilt, Jessica Fletcher finds herself sharing the space for a weekend with a dozen members of a wedding party who have gathered there for a rehearsal dinner. The families of the bride and groom can't stand each other but have agreed to put aside years of long-simmering tension to celebrate the nuptials.

     Unfortunately, weather forecasters underestimated the severity of a storm that turns into a historic blizzard that dumps nearly five feet of snow on Cabot Cove, leaving everyone stranded.

     But the hotel guests have bigger things to worry about than bad weather conditions and potential cold feet, because a murderer has shown up uninvited--one who has vowed to take them down one by one....

The suspense is ratcheted up from the first chapter and just keeps on going with more twists and turns than the Runaway Train at Disney.  The ending was a surprise to me and trust me, it's pretty hard to surprise me with an ending!  If you are looking for a good, old-fashioned page turner of a mystery, look no further than THE MURDER OF TWELVE!!!!!!!

A definite five paw!!!!!!!!!!

  • Series: Murder She Wrote (Book 51)
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley (May 26, 2020)
  • Rating:  Five Paws!!!!!!

Win ROCCO's review copy!

Want to win ROCCO's ARC of MURDER OF TWELVE?  Leave your name and email address in our comments section.  Winner wlll be chosen at random using (Or Maxx)  Contest ends  midnight, June 9th.  US entries only please.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

In ROCCO's hotseat: Karen Rose Smith!

Meow, today my guest is author Karen Rose Smith!

USA Today Bestselling Author Karen Rose Smith's 104th novel will be released in 2020! Her passion is caring for her five rescued cats...and strays who are siblings. Her hobbies are gardening, cooking, watercolor painting and photography. An only child, Karen delved into books at an early age. Even though she escaped into story worlds, she had many cousins around her on weekends. Families are a strong theme in her novels in both her mysteries and romances. One of her romances about a country singer hero was developed into a TV movie aired on the UP network the past two Christmases. Watching A VERY COUNTRY CHRISTMAS with friends is one of her dreams come true. Besides romances and mysteries with Kensington, she has published with Meteor/Kismet, Harlequin/Silhouette and Harper Collins/Harlequin. She has also indie published over 20 titles.

Welcome Karen! Let's get started!

R: Tell us a little about your background. 

Hi!  I'm Karen Rose Smith.  I write mystery, romance and women's fiction.  My 104th novel will be released in 2020. Besides writing, my passion is caring four our seven rescued cats. An only child, I delved into books at an early age. I learned about kindred spirits from Anne of Green Gables, solved mysteries with Nancy Drew, and wished I could have been the rider on The Black Stallion. Yet even though I escaped often into story worlds, I had many aunts, uncles and cousins around me on weekends. My sense of family and relationships began there.  Maybe that's why families are a strong theme in my novels, whether romances or mysteries, along with couples finding true love.

R: Tell us a bit about your latest book.

MURDER WITH CLOTTED CREAM is book 5 in my Daisy’s Tea Garden mystery series. Daisy owns a tea garden with her Aunt Iris. It’s a peaceful center of community spirit and gossip. In this cozy, Margaret Vaughn escaped her Mennonite family to become an actress in NY.  Now years later she has returned and her multi-millionaire husband has built her a Little Theater. But Margaret has old and new enemies. Daisy is serving tea at Margaret’s Lancaster County historic home, when Margaret is murdered.

Along with the mystery plot, Daisy’s romantic and family relationships continue in the series. She discovers a secret her mom has been keeping and helps her daughter deal with the birth of her first baby and post partem depression. Daisy’s caring about family and friends is one of the elements that I hope draw readers into the series. 

R: How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing a book?

The advantage of writing a series is that the same core characters appear from novel to novel. Before I use a character, I develop him or her. For instance when I thought about my sleuth Daisy Swanson, I knew I wanted her to be a mom with qualities like compassion and kindness along with intuition that helped her sleuth. I decided to make her a widow with heartache in her past to give her depth. I decided that one of her daughters would be adopted so I would have future plot content to pursue. Once in a while as I write about a character, she or he surprises me! That’s what takes my book in a new direction. 

R: How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or write by “the seat of your pants?”

I extensively outline. I began writing after back surgery. I was flat on my back for four years and needed a creative outlet to escape pain. Heavily outlining enables me to write each day no matter how I feel. It’s efficient for me when I’m under contract so I can pick up my synopsis and know exactly the point of my scene and where my characters are headed. 

R:What do you consider more important, plot or character?

I consider my characters to be more important. I believe my readers connect with my characters. My characters go through universal emotions and situations that my readers can relate to. My main characters drive the plot and give purpose to each scene that propels the book forward. 

R:What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer, and what inspires you and keeps you motivated? 

I’ve been published since 1992. I wrote on an average 3 books a year. I was fortunate editors liked my work and sales were good enough to keep me under contract. The challenge is writing books I can put my heart into yet are also marketable. With every book I try to find a spark, an emotional challenge, or an issue that I feel strongly about. From my excitement over the wild horses in the Big Horns, to a pilgrimage to a primitive church in Chimayo, NM where miracles occur, to the challenge for a cowboy with a knee replacement, date rape and abusive relationships, each of those plot points have to touch me deeply. Contracts, deadlines and causes keep me motivated.  

R:What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
At present, I’m working on Daisy’s Tea Garden book 7, MURDER WITH CLOTTED CREAM that will be released May 26. I will keep writing as long as editors like my work.  I’ve written romance, women’s fiction, mystery and even sci fi short stories! Hopefully I’ll adapt to changing needs in the marketplace. 

R:What is a typical work day for you and how many hours a day or week do you devote to writing? 
My process is probably different than most writers. Because of back surgery, fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis, I’ve had to adapt my writing style. After back surgery, I wrote long hand, laid on the floor and typed manuscript from papers clothes-pinned to a waste can. I don’t write on the computer or laptop. Since the late 90’s, I’ve been using a tape recorder. I send the tapes to a friend who has typed for me all these years, and then I edit the hard copy. My husband puts editing changes into the computer for me. I do write synopses, blogs, and promotional tidbits on my ipad. 

A typical work day used to consist of me writing all day! But with social media, that changed. Now, 80 percent of my time is probably about promoting my brand on Facebook, twitter and instagram. For a while with indie publishing along with traditional publishing my day was about uploading and keeping meta data up to date. I don’t write a certain amount of hours a day. I have writing quotas I adhere to according to deadlines. I like to write two chapters a week. 

R:If you could take 3 books to a year-long writing retreat in a gorgeous setting with no library, which 3 would you take? 
Three books I would take along would be The Prophet by Kalil Gibran, The Complete Works of Shakespeare, Lady Chatterley’s Lover with essays by D.H. Lawrence. 

R:What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring writer?
Cultivate your personal attributes of persistence, patience and determination. Then read until you know what you want to write. Find your own niche.

R:What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done? 
Rescuing 7 cats and treating them like kids!  (R: Doesn’t sound crazy to me, meow!)

R:What’s one thing your readers would be surprised to learn about you?
I learned to ride a horse and swim when I was 26. 

R:Where can we learn more about you and your books.
I have two websites—a general one with romance included at And I also have a mystery website at

Just for Fun:
Night or Day?  Night
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  Cat  (R:  Yay!  Good answer)
Beach or Pool?  Beach
Steak or salad?  Steak
Favorite Drink?  White grape juice
Favorite Book?  The Flame and The Flower
Favorite TV Series?  Heartland
Favorite Movie?  Ghost
Favorite Actor:  Titus Welliver
Favorite Actress: Maureen O’Hara
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Pina Colada 
Hawaii or Alaska? Alaska

Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be Michelle Obama.

If I had just one wish, it would be for everyone to listen to each other and live in peace.

Where can we learn more about you and your books? 
Twitter @karenrosesmith

Thank you, Karen, for this great interview!

Karen will give away a $10 Amazon e-gift card to one lucky commenter!
To enter, leave your name and email address in our comments section.  To get extra entries, mention this interview and contest on Facebook, Twitter or your blog (if you have one).  Don’t forget to mention where you’ve mentioned it in your comment so you get credit.  Winner will be selected at random  using  Contest ends midnight, May 30

Thursday, May 7, 2020

ROCCO's May Cozy Reviews!

Ma-row!  Time for the May cozies!!!!!

First up, the next instalment in one of our very favorite series!!!!!!!

MAY 26, 2020

In the latest entry in this USA Today bestselling series, Jessica Fletcher takes on an Agatha Christie-style mystery when she finds herself stranded in a hotel during a blizzard with twelve strangers and a killer in their midst....

     Still staying at the Hill House hotel while her beloved home is being rebuilt, Jessica Fletcher finds herself sharing the space for a weekend with a dozen members of a wedding party who have gathered there for a rehearsal dinner. The families of the bride and groom can't stand each other but have agreed to put aside years of long-simmering tension to celebrate the nuptials.

     Unfortunately, weather forecasters underestimated the severity of a storm that turns into a historic blizzard that dumps nearly five feet of snow on Cabot Cove, leaving everyone stranded.

     But the hotel guests have bigger things to worry about than bad weather conditions and potential cold feet, because a murderer has shown up ininvited--one who has vowed to take them down one by one....

May I just say i love the direction that Land has taken this series in.  Aside from too much bickering between Jessica and Mort, the stories are crisp and well plotted.  This one has a twist even I didnt see coming!!!!!  They're rebooting everything else, why not Murder She Wrote??????  Definite five paw material.

Amish Candy Shop Mystery
Amanda Flower
  • Publisher: Kensington Books (May 26, 2020)
  • Publication Date: May 26, 2020
  • Four Paws

With Juliet Brody and Reverend Brook tying the knot in Ohio’s Amish Country’s most anticipated nuptials of the year, Bailey King is determined to do everything in her power to make the event a sweet success. Except midsummer heat waves and outdoor ceremonies don’t mix, and an exasperated Bailey soon finds herself struggling to fulfill bridesmaid duties and keep her stunning marshmallow-frosted wedding cake from becoming a gooey disaster. Then much to everyone’s shock, the entire ceremony crumbles when a guest drops dead, and the cause isn’t sunstroke . . .

Turns out, the uninvited victim came equipped with lots of dirt on the devout reverend’s hidden past. As Reverend Brook tops the murder suspect list on what should have been the happiest day of his life, Bailey and her sheriff’s deputy boyfriend vow to clear his name. Can the duo boil down a series of baffling clues before Juliet considers her marriage a bad mistake—or the killer whips up another deadly surprise?

Rita Mae Brown
Mrs. Murphy Series
Bantam Publishing
May 19, 2020
Four and a half stars

Mary Minor “Harry” Harristeen is on the hunt for a killer with a deadly green thumb when a day in the garden turns fatal in this exciting new mystery from Rita Mae Brown and her feline co-author Sneaky Pie Brown.  

Spring arrives in northern Virginia, and as the ground thaws and the peonies begin to bloom a bright magenta, the women of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church prepare for a Homecoming celebration like no other. Harry, Susan Tucker, and their friends are busy planting flowers and trimming hedges to get the church grounds in shape for the big day. 

But a note of a menace mars the beautiful spring: The brewery owned by Janice Childs and Mags Nielsen, two members of the gardening committee, gets robbed, with hundreds of dollars in merchandise taken off their delivery trucks in the dead of night. Is this the work of a random thief? Or is something more sinister afoot?
When Jeannie Cordle drops dead at a charity auction, poisoned by a fatal weed, Harry’s worst suspicions are confirmed: a killer lurks in their midst, one with a keen understanding of poisonous plants. Although she can’t yet prove it, Harry knows the murder is related to the thefts at Bottom’s Up Brewery.

With help from her feline sidekicks, Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, as well as Tee Tucker the corgi and sweet puppy Pirate, Harry sets out to find the weed in St. Luke’s garden—and stop a killer before they can strike again.

Another great installment in a tried and true series.  Who doens't love Mrs. Murphy?????

Kathleen Bridges
Lyrical Press
May 5, 2020
four stars

Liz Holt is bewitched, bothered, and bewildered when a wicked killer objects to a wiccan wedding . . .   

Island life can get pretty weird. Wiccan weddings, psychic brides, mermaid parades, eccentric parrots . . . Novelist Liz Holt has gotten used to it since moving back to the barrier island of Melbourne Beach, Florida, and once again working in her family's hotel and emporium, the Indialantic by the Sea. But one thing she'll never get used to is murder.

Groom-to-be and leader of the Sunshine Wiccan Society, white warlock Julian Rhodes is poisoned at his rehearsal dinner on the hotel's sightseeing cruiser. His psychic bride, Dorian Starwood, never saw it coming. An old friend of Liz's great-aunt Amelia, the celebrity psychic engages Liz to find out who intended to kill her intended. With her Macaw, Barnacle Bob, squawking "Pop Goes the Weasel" at Dorian's pet ferret, and the streets teeming with mermaids in tails, Liz has got to wade through the weirdness and cast a wide net for the killer—before she's the next one to sleep with the fishes . .

A New to me series.  The Wiccan angle caught my eye (I'm a sucker for a good paranormal).  Enjoyable read.

Karen Rose Smith
May 26, 2020
four and a half paws

A catering job has come in for Daisy’s Tea Garden in Pennsylvania’s Amish country—but death will be served before dessert . . .

Margaret Vaughn has hired Daisy to provide afternoon tea for her theater group. A local girl who left long ago for an acting career in New York, Margaret has returned home—with a multimillionaire husband in tow. But while Daisy bustles around Margaret’s historic farmhouse, she senses that there’s tension behind the scenes. Then she discovers the hostess on the floor of the pantry—dead and covered with clotted cream.

Barely recovered from her previous sleuthing adventure, Daisy joins forces with the former detective she’s been dating to help solve the case. Should she cast suspicion on the stars of the upcoming play? Can Margaret’s sister shine a spotlight on potential culprits? Or are there clues to be found in the victim’s past? With plenty of family stress of her own to deal with, all Daisy knows is she better act fast . . .

I've read Karen Rose Smith's other series but not this one.  I was pretty confident I'd enjoy it and I wasn't disappointed.  Now I'll have to play catch up with the previous four in this series!!!!!

STAY HOME....STAY SAFE....READ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Win one of Rocco's review copies!!!!!!

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