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!!!!!!

Leave a comment in our comments section with your name and email address. Winner will be chosen at random using (or Maxx!!!!!).. US entries only please!  Contest ends midnight May 21.


Monday, April 27, 2020

ROCCO celebrates Spring (a little late, due to move)_ with author Laura Childs and the Lavender Blue Murder!

What better way to celebrate Spring than with everyones favorite tea show owner, Theodosia Browning, who is back in her 21st adventure!

The human and I have  been a fan of this series from the start and we've watched Theodosia grow into a mature Nancy Drew, along with her two sidekicks, faithful sommelier Drayton and baker Haley.  (And let's not forget Earl Gray, her faithful Dalbrador!)  We've seen Theo get herself in some pretty tight spots, usually at the peril of her wardrobe.  Somehow she always manages to come out on top. we've seen her through some pretty traumatic romances, too....let's  hope her latest, Riley, is a keeper!


 Theodosia Browning and her tea sommelier Drayton Conneley are guests at a bird hunt styled in the precise manner of an English shooting party. Which means elevenses (sloe gin fizzes), gun loaders, the drawing of pegs, fine looking bird dogs, and shooting costumes of tweed, herringbone, and suede.

But as gunshots explode like a riff of Black Cat firecrackers, another shot sounds too close for comfort to Theodosia and Drayton. Intrigued but worried, Theodosia wanders into the neighbor's lavender field where she discovers their host, Reginald Doyle, bleeding to death.

His wife, Meredith, is beside herself with grief and begs Theodosia and Drayton to stay the night. But Theodosia awakens at 2:00A.M. to find smoke in her room and the house on fire. As the fire department screams in and the investigating sheriff returns, Meredith again pleads with Theodosia for help.

As Theodosia investigates, fingers are pointed, secrets are uncovered, Reginald's daughter-in-law goes missing presumed drowned, and Meredith is determined to find answers via a séance. All the while Theodosia worries if she's made a mistake in inviting a prime suspect to her upscale Lavender Lady Tea.

We also love the travel tips and tea suggetions at the end of each book!  Really, this series is a must read for mystery fans.....those who love a good "thrillzie" will definitely enjoy Theo and company!

Run, dont walk to your local bookstore to get your copy! 

The author, Laura Childs, will giveaway a signed copy of LAVENDER BLUE MURDER to one lucky commenter!

To enter, just leave your name and email address in our comments section!  All winners will be chosen at random using  To gain extra entries, mention this blog and giveaway on your facebook page, twitter or webpage!  Be sure to mention you've done that when you leave your comment.  US entries only please!  Contest ends May7!

Friday, April 17, 2020

ROCCO's April Cozy Reviews!!!!!!!!!

Meow Folks, we are back with April's cozy reviews!  Better late than never, guys   After moving safely to Arizona we are glad to announce our return with more reviews!

First up:

Laurie Cass
A Bookmobile Cat Mystery
Berkley Prime Crime
March 31, 2020
Four and a half stars

It's the summer season in Chilson, Michigan, and the town is packed with tourists ready for a fabulous Fourth of July fireworks show. Minnie Hamilton and her rescue cat, Eddie, have spent a busy day on the bookmobile, delivering good cheer and great reads to even the library's most far-flung patrons. But Minnie is still up for the nighttime festivities, eager to show off her little town to her visiting niece, Katrina.

But then, during the grand finale of the fireworks display, Katrina discovers a body. Minnie recognizes the victim as one of the bookmobile's most loyal patrons. And she knows she—and Eddie—will have to get to the bottom of this purr-fect crime.

This remains one of our favorite series, primarily because of lovable EDDIE, the bookmobile cat.  :)  Recommended. (Side note:  the covers are designed by Mary Ann Lasher, the same woman who also did the Nick and Nora covers!)

A STroke of Malice
Anna Lee Huber
A Lady Darby Mytstery
Berkley Prime Crime
April 7, 2020
Four stars

Lady Kiera Darby and her husband Sebastian Gage are looking forward to celebrating with new friends at an exciting yearly soiree, but they soon learn that murder never takes a holiday in the latest riveting installment in this national bestselling series.
January 1832. After enjoying a delightful few weeks with her family, expectant mother Kiera and Sebastian Gage have been invited to the Duchess of Bowmontʼs Twelfth Night party in Traquair, Scotland. Though she normally avoids such fashionable, rambunctious events, Kiera is ready to join in the festive merrymaking. But upon their arrival at the opulent estate, it becomes obvious that all is not merry in their hostess’s home. The family appears to be under a great strain, and someone seems determined to cause mayhem among the guests with a series of forged notes.

Matters swiftly turn from irksome to downright deadly when the partygoers stumble upon a decomposing body in the castleʼs crypt. The corpse is thought to be the duchessʼs son-in-law who had purportedly traveled to Paris more than a month earlier. It is evident the man met with foul play, and Kiera and Gage soon realize that a ruthless murderer walks among them—and may well be a member of the duchessʼs own family. And when the investigation takes a treacherous turn, Kiera discovers just how deep the killer is willing to dig to keep their secrets from ever seeing the light of day.

Good mystery. We give this four paws!!!!!

Julie Ann Lindsey
April 28, 2020
Cider Shop Mystery
Four and a half stars

Thanks to Winnie's new cider shop, Smythe Orchards is out of the red and folks can get their fix of the produce and other delectable products they love all year round. The locals are even booking the shop for events, including a June wedding! Winnie couldn’t be happier to see the barn filled to the rafters for the big bash—until her doting ex, Hank, is caught in a heated argument with the groom. Winnie plans to scold Hank after the party, but spots him running off instead. And when the groom turns up dead, apparently hit by the honeymoon getaway car, Hank is the main suspect. Now Hank is on the lam, and it’s up to Winnie to get to the core of the truth—before the real killer puts the squeeze on her . . .

We read the first and found this a highly enjoyable series!  think you will too!

A Cupcake Mystery
Jenn McKinley
April 28, 2020
4 1/2 stars

In the twelfth Cupcake Bakery Mystery from New York Times bestselling author Jenn McKinlay, the Fairy Tale Cupcake crew follows the clever crumb trail of a killer who's anything but cookie-cutter.

Life is all sugar and spice for the Fairy Tale Cupcake bakers--Melanie Cooper is engaged to the delectable Joe DeLaura, Angie Harper and her husband Tate are savoring married life, and the bakery is bustling with happy customers. Until one of their most valued cupcake connoisseurs ends up dead.

Local glass artist and cupcake lover Rene Fischer-Klein has always suffered from a wide variety of health issues. In an effort to cheer her up, her doting husband, Peter, brings her a four-pack of her favorite cupcakes every week. But when the police discover that Rene has been poisoned, there's no sugarcoating the fact that the last things she ate were the bakery's signature pumpkin spice cupcakes! With their lives and bakery at stake, it's up to Mel and Angie to find out who poisoned their artist friend and why, before their future is frosted for good.

A good consistent series that delivers a hit every time!

Domestic Diva Series
Hardcover, Kensington
April 28, 2020
Krista Davis
Five Stars

She's a young Martha Old Town Virginia!
New York Times bestselling author Krista Davis delights with the 13th in her enormously popular and completely charming Domestic Diva Mystery series. When a celebrity ghostwriter dies on the job, it's up to Sophie Winston, Old Town, Virginia's favorite entertaining expert and sporadic sleuth, to whip up an impromptu investigation...

Sophie never considered ghostwriting as a side gig, until former actress and aspiring lifestyle guru, Tilly Stratford, trophy wife of Wesley Winthrope, needs someone to write her celebrity cookbook. Sophie agrees, hoping she'll earn enough bread on this assignment to finish her bathroom renovations. But as it turns out, Sophie isn't the first foodie to get a taste for recipe ghostwriting, and if the marginalia are any indication, this project could be a killer...

Wesley claims professional ghostwriter, Abby Bergeron, suddenly abandoned Tilly's cookbook with no warning. But Sophie quickly discovers that Abby may be more ghost than writer now...and her disappearance was no accident. So Sophie cracks open a fresh investigation but sifting the seasoned murderer from this sampling of salty suspects won't be easy. Will Sophie savor another case closed or will the culprit simply melt away?

I was a big fan of this series and was very disappointed when Penguin axed it; fortunately Kensington picked it up!  this is another series that constantly delivers!  Love the antics of Sophie and her posse! Five stars!

Leave your name and email address in our comments section.  on April 30 MAXX will choose a winner at random!  US entries only, please!!!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

In ROCCO's hot seat - author S.C. Perkins!

MEOW!  On our last interview/blog before our move to Phoenix, AZ, my guest is author S.C. Perkins!!!!

S.C. PERKINS is a fifth-generation Texan who grew up hearing fascinating stories of her ancestry and eating lots of great Tex-Mex. Her first book, Murder Once Removed, was the winner of the 2017 Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery competition, and an Agatha Award nominee. She resides in Houston and, when she’s not writing, she’s likely outside in the sun or on the beach. 

R:  Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing.

Hi! I’m S.C. Perkins and I write the Ancestry Detective series, about a professional genealogist named Lucy Lancaster.

I’ve been a writer—in journalism, mostly—since high school and I’ve never wanted to be anything else. I’ve worked at several journalism-related jobs in my career, but finally decided to start my dream of writing novels back in 2005.

Before writing my debut cozy mystery, Murder Once Removed, I’d written one mystery that is as yet unpublished and then I self-published a romance novel. It was at a writers’ conference in Austin, Texas, in 2013 where I first got the idea for my cozy mystery series about a professional genealogist, and Lucy was born.

After much editing and rewriting, I submitted Murder Once Removed to the Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Novel Contest in 2016. I was just about to start querying agents in early 2017 when I got the call that Murder Once Removed won, and with it came a publishing contract! Murder Once Removed officially debuted in March of 2019.

R:  Tell us about your latest release

My next release is titled Lineage Most Lethal, and it’s book two in the Ancestry Detective series. I’m so excited about this one because the genealogy is centered around World War II and espionage, which are two things that never fail to fascinate me. In Lineage Most Lethal we also get to meet Lucy’s favorite person in the whole world:  her grandfather, who is a World War II veteran and may or may not be harboring a secret!

R: What’s a must have for you when you are writing? What aids the creative process?

My writing must-haves are tea—usually Darjeeling and/or Earl Grey—snacks (a lot of them), and a level of quiet. I can work in public places, so I don’t need complete silence, but I’m distracted by too much noise, and, unfortunately, by music—basically because I love music and I generally end up singing instead of writing!

R: If you had access to a time machine, which historical moment would you travel to and why?

While I don’t romanticize war and would never want to have another war again if at all possible, I would still want to go back to the World War II era and work for the Office of Strategic Services. I think I would have been an excellent codebreaker—back when code breaking was done by humans and not computers, of course. I doubt if I’d make a good codebreaker in today’s world, but back during the wartime years? Heck, yeah, I would!

R: What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
I generally write cozy and/or traditional mysteries, and I absolutely love them. I also like thrillers, historical mysteries, and historical fiction, all of which I would definitely consider writing.
R: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m a pantser, big time. However, since I’m still new to the publishing game, I’ve had to learn to write a detailed synopsis for other books I’m pitching to my agents and publisher, so I have a mild plotter side to me now as well.
R: Where can we find out more about you and your work?
You can find me at and at @SCPerkinsWriter on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest.
R: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

Write what makes you happy! But also go to writing conferences, submit to contests, get critiques (and learn to accept them with good grace), and, most of all, hire a qualified editor who deals with your book’s genre to do a thorough edit for your book. This can cost a lot of money, but it’s worth it—and it’s tax deductible to one level or another (ask your CPA for sure). Regardless, hire a good editor, trust them, and get used to being edited.

Get used to revising, too, sometimes even to the point of pulling apart whole scenes to your entire book. Learn to be as good of a rewriter as you are a writer and that will help you immensely.

R: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?

I think I’d like to be a historian, antiques dealer, or an archeologist.

R: Are there any writers  in particular that have influenced your style of writing?

Of recent authors, Rhys Bowen, Kate Carlisle, and Carolyn Haines have all influenced my writing. The late Dick Francis was also a huge influence and his books are still some of my favorites.

Just for Fun:
Night or Day?  DAY

Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  CAT, but I love dogs too!  R: Good answer, heh heh

Beach or Pool?   BEACH

Steak or salad?  STEAK

Favorite Drink?  TEA, iced or hot

Favorite Book?  THE DANGER by Dick Francis



Favorite Actor: CHRIS EVANS

Favorite Actress: KEELEY HAWES

Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? DIRTY MARTINI

Hawaii or Alaska? HAWAII

Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be TINA FEY

If I had one wish it would be: My wish would be to help our world be cleaner by reducing unneeded plastic creation and usage.

If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be:  I’m happy with myself and can’t say there’s anyone I’d trade with for more than a day, but there’s several actors, performers, and athletes I’d trade places with for 24 hours, just to enjoy being able to do what they do, at their level.

This list includes Tina Fey, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Dame Maggie Smith, a couple of ballet dancers, several show jumpers, and many Olympic athletes.

You can find S.C. at and at @SCPerkinsWriter on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

SC will give away a paperback copy of Murder Once Removed, my debut Ancestry Detective mystery!  To enter, leave your name and  email address in our comments column. Winner will be chosen at random by Maxx on Friday, March 27th.

Due to the human’s move to Phoenix the last week of March, we will resume our blog reviews and interviews in mid to late April!   Watch the human’s newsletter and Facebook for announcement!

See you soon,meow!!!!!!

Sunday, March 1, 2020


Merow!  Since the human will be offsite in Arizona most of the month, we wanted to get the cozy reviews in early!!!!!!!

A Tuscan Cooking School Mystery
Stephanie Cole
Berkley Mass Market Paperback
On sale 2/25/20
Four Stars

An American chef will have to serve up more than good eats if she wants to establish a successful farm-to-table cooking school in Tuscany, in this charming first installment in a new cozy mystery series set in Italy. 

When Nell Valenti is offered a chance to move to Tuscany to help transform an aging villa into a farm-to-table cooking school, she eagerly accepts. After all, both her job and her love life in America have been feeling stale. Plus, she'll get the chance to work under the acclaimed Italian Chef Claudio Orlandini.

But Nell gets more than she bargained for when she arrives. With only a day to go until the launch dinner for the cooking school, the villa is in shambles, and Chef O is blissfully oblivious of the work that needs to be done before a group of local dignitaries arrive, along with a filmmaker sent to showcase and advertise the new school. The situation only worsens when Nell discovers that the filmmaker is an ex-boyfriend, and he’s found murdered later that night. Even worse, Chef O has disappeared, and accusations of murder could shut the school down for good.

As tensions reach a boiling point at the villa, Nell must throw her chef's hat into the ring, and investigate the murder herself. Because if she fails to solve the case, her career, or even her life, could be next on the chopping block.  If you are a cooking fan, this one's for you.

Julia Buckley
Writer's Apprentice Mystery
Berkley Mass Market Paperback
On sale 2/25/20
Four Stars

Fifth in the Writer's Apprentice series!

Writer's apprentice Lena London is enjoying life in Blue Lake and being newly engaged, but is soon drawn into the terrifying disappearance of one of her closest friends....

Lena is starting to feel like having it all may actually be possible! She and suspense novelist Camilla Graham are busily plotting their next novel and she's got a brand-new diamond ring on her finger thanks to her fiancé, Sam West. The only blot on her Blue Lake life is a strange new corporation that has come to town called Plastisource. They seem to be intent on gobbling up prime real estate and changing the landscape of Lena's lovely adopted home.

When she and Sam get a call from their good friend (and Blue Lake detective) Doug saying that his girlfriend--and Lena's pal Belinda--isn't answering her phone and missed a date with him, they all head out to her home. The trio is shocked to discover that Belinda's purse and phone are at her house, along with a single red rose on her countertop--but Belinda herself is missing. Has she been abucted? Could the strange new corporation play a role in her disappearance? Lena is determined to find out and rescue her friend because she knows that the truth can be stranger and much more deadly than fiction....

A Sassy Cat Mystery
Jennifer J. Chow
Berkley Prime Crime
On Sale 3/3/20
Four and 1/2 Stars

Mimi Lee is in over her head. There's her new Los Angeles pet grooming shop to run, her matchmaking mother to thwart, her talking cat Marshmallow to tend to—oh, and the murder of a local breeder to if only Mimi hadn't landed herself on top of the suspect list. 

Mimi Lee hoped to give Los Angeles animal lovers something to talk about with her pet grooming shop, Hollywoof. She never imagined that the first cat she said hello to would talk back or be quite so, well, catty—especially about those disastrous dates Mimi's mother keeps setting up. 

When Marshmallow exposes local breeder Russ Nolan for mistreating Chihuahuas, Mimi steals some of her cat's attitude to tell Russ off. The next day the police show up at Hollywoof. Russ has been found dead, and Mimi's shouting match with him has secured her top billing as the main suspect. 

Hoping to clear her name and save the pups Russ left behind, Mimi enlists help from her dreamy lawyer neighbor Josh. But even with Josh on board, it'll take Mimi and Marshmallow a lot of sleuthing and more than a little sass to get back to the pet-grooming life—and off the murder scene.

Knit and Nibble Mystery
Peggy Ehrhardt
Kensington, MMP
March 31, 2020
Four Stars

Pamela Paterson and her Knit and Nibble club must clear the name of one of their knitters when he's accused of murdering the mayor . . .

The trees in Arborville, New Jersey, have started sporting sweaters. Part of the trend of public knitting art? Not exactly. An anonymous activist has been wrapping trunks in yarn to cover red X's that mark certain trees for removal by the town so they don't interfere with power lines. When the town's mayor—who supports cutting down the trees—is murdered, Pamela wonders if the tree hugger committed homicide to prevent arborcide. A knitter is arrested, but it's one of Knit and Nibble's own—the harmless Roland DeCamp, who was seen arguing with the mayor. Pamela is sure the police are barking up the wrong tree. With the help of her reporter friend Bettina, she branches off on her own investigation to root out the real killer . . .

ON SALE 3/3/20

Tea-Maven Theodosia Browning brews up trouble in the latest Tea Shop Mystery from New York Times bestselling author Laura Childs.

Tea maven Theodosia Browning and her tea sommelier Drayton Conneley are guests at a bird hunt styled in the precise manner of an English shooting party. When gunshots explode like a riff of Black Cat firecrackers, another shot sounds too close for comfort to Theodosia and Drayton. Intrigued but worried, Theodosia wanders into the neighbor's lavender field where she discovers their host, Reginald Doyle, bleeding to death.

As Theodosia investigates, fingers are pointed, secrets are uncovered, Theodosia worries if she's made a mistake in inviting a prime suspect to her upscale Lavender Lady Tea.

Who can resist Theodosia!  One of the best yet.  Watch for an in-depth review and giveaway on our Celebrate Spring March 20th blog!

Want to win one of ROCCO's review copies?  Leave your name and email address in our comments section.  Winner will be selected at random March 19.