Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Chazz reviews Black Cat and the Accidental Angel

 Merow! Chazz here!  I'm on my second review already, wow! ROCCO is really throwing me into the hot seat!

the book I'm reviewing today is BLACK CAT AND THE ACCIDENTAL ANGEL.

This is part of a series written by Elaine Faber. The main characters are Black Cat aka Thumper and his main squeeze, Noe-Noe. As he story opens Thumper and Noe Noe are returning home with their humans from a vacation.  A traffic incident finds one of the humans rushed to the hospital and the cats abandoned.  Thumper wakes up with amnesia, and his companion, NoeNoe promises to take care of him. "Call me your angel," she says.  And so NoeNoe becomes an Angel...accidentally.

As the cats struggle to find their way home, they end up being taken in by a farmer, John, and his daughter Cindy.  It seems that they face foreclosure on their family farm, and also someone has been playing pranks that threaten Cindy.  Thumper (renamed Black Cat by Cindy) and Angel immediaely set out to help the duo, a move that ultimately puts Angel's life at risk.

This book isn't as much a mystery as it is a tale of faith and redemption.  I won't share the ending- you'll have to read it for yourself - but those who believe in happy endings will love it. I'd have a box of Kleenex on hand while reading this book, and it did whet my appetite for reading the others in the series!

I would give this book a resounding five paws!


GIVEAWAY!  Elaine Faber will give away an ebook copy of Black Cat and the Accidental Angel to one lucky commenter! Just leave your name and email address in our comments section below! Contest ends midnight April 5th.


Elaine Faber

Elk Grove Publications/Trade Paperback

Five Paws!

Friday, March 15, 2024


 ROCCO here!  I'd like to introduce everyone to my protegee, Chazz! Chazz will be helping out doing reviews and other things with the blog, so please give him a warm welcome!  His first assignemnt was reviewing Laura Child's latest Tea Shop mystery, MURDER IN THE TEA LEAVES!



A Tea Shop Mystery

Laura Childs

Hardcover/Berkley Prime Crime

Release date: March 5, 2024

Rating: Five Paws!

When Theodosia Browning reads the tea leaves on the set of the movie, Dark Fortunes, things go from spooky to worse. Lights are dimmed, the camera rolls, and red hot sparks fly as the film’s director is murdered in a tricky electrical accident.

Or was it an accident? Though the cast and crew are stunned beyond belief, nobody admits to seeing a thing. And when Theodosia’s friend, Delaine, becomes the prime suspect, Theodosia begins her own shadow investigation. But who among this Hollywood cast and crew had murder on their mind? The screenwriter is a self-centered pot head, the leading actress is trying to wiggle out of her contract, the brand new director seems indifferent, and nobody trusts the slippery-when-dry Hollywood agent.

Between hosting a Breakfast at Tiffany’s Tea, a Poetry Tea, and trying to launch her own chocolate line, Theodosia doggedly hunts down clues and explores the seemingly haunted Brittlebank Manor where the murder took place. And just when she’s ready to pounce, a Charleston Film Board member is also murdered, throwing everything into total disarray. But this clever killer will go to any lengths to hide his misdeeds as Theodosia soon finds out when she and her tea sommelier, Drayton, get caught up in a dangerous stakeout.

Hello everyone! I'm Chazz and I'm jazzed for Laura Child's latest book to be my very first review!   I have to admit, Im very much behind on this series, but after pawing thru this one, I've got to start form book one!  The book was excellently plotted and the characters vivid.  Laura Childs has a way of making her murders quite unusual and this was no exception. I liked the way Theodosia immediately stuck up for her friend Delaine and determined to clear her name. (Although i did think Delaine was a bit  much!  She's lucky Theo is her friend.)  the book combines cozy with thriller, another of my favorite genres, so suffice it to say I'm hooked!  I look forward to reading  more of Ms Child's books (and cat-ching up on the ones I've missed!)

ROCCO;  Yes, this one is a definite winner.  What Hollywood cast and crew hasn't thought about murdeirng thier director LOL. As usual, Theodosia noses around until the killer finally makes a move.  I'm only hoping boyfiriend Reilly can stick with her - they seem a good match!  (Unless you consider Drayton, her sidekick.)  One thing: I'd give Hayley a bit more to do other than cook!  And maybe add a cat......

Both Chazz and I give this a resounding five paws up


Laura Childs will give a signed copy away to one lucky commenter! Just leave your name and email addy in our comments section and tell us who your favorite Tea Shop character is!  Chazz will select the winner!  Contest closes midnight, Friday March 22. US residents only please. 

Monday, March 4, 2024

ROCCO introduces Chazz!

 Hello Folks! ROCCO here!

As some of you know, I've been blogging here since 2008!  Im no spring chicken anymore, so the human and I decided it was time for  me to train a protegee!  and here he is!

Meet Chazz!

Chazz is a senior boy (though not as senior as myself) He will be 9 years young this September.  He is a rescue cat. He was rescued from a house that had 83 other cats living in it!  Chazz has a few health issues but overall is in remarkable shape!  He is a loving, affectionate kitty who enjoys a good chin rub and a good book!  

I hope that you all will give him a warm welcome! I look forward to sharing my knowledge with Chazz!


Thursday, February 8, 2024


 Ma Row! Here are our February Cozy Reviews!

Up first....the newest Second Chance Cat mystery!




FEBRUARY 6, 2024


Secondhand shop owner Sarah Grayson and her rescue cat, Elvis, sniff out the suspect in this new, delightful Second Chance Cat Mystery from New York Times bestselling author, Sofie Ryan.

Sarah Grayson is taking a break from her bustling secondhand shop in small-town Maine to spend time with a friend and her dog. But their purr-fect visit comes to an end when the dog leads them to a storm cellar on a nearby property, where they discover a dead body.

The deceased turns out to be a sticky-fingered financial adviser who swindled millions from investors and who has been presumed dead for almost three years. Unfortunately, suspicion falls on the owner of the property where the body was found—and that owner is a good friend of Charlotte’s Angels’, the senior citizen sleuths who work out of Sarah’s shop. It’s all paws on deck, as the Angels are determined to clear his good name. But with a tight-lipped widow, a possibly shifty sister, and a slew of unhappy investors in the mix, the list of murder suspects seems endless. Sarah, Elvis, and the Angels have a lot of webs to untangle before they can catch the culprit.
What can we say about this series that hasn't already been said?  Good characters, compelling mysteries, and a charming cat named Elvis contnually put this as the top of our TBR list.  Five Paws.


People are dying to get their hands on a rare, valuable book in the newest Library Lover’s Mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of The Plot and the Pendulum.

Briar Creek Library director Lindsey Norris and her husband, Sully, are at a popular library conference in Chicago to hear book restoration specialist Brooklyn Wainwright give a keynote address. After the lecture, Lindsey looks under her seat and finds a tote bag containing a first edition of Patricia Highsmith’s 
Strangers on a Train, inscribed to Alfred Hitchcock. Brooklyn determines the novel is one of a kind and quite valuable, so Lindsey and Sully return the book to the conference director, not wanting to stir up any trouble.

But just hours after the pair boards the train back to Connecticut, rumors that the Highsmith novel has gone missing buzz amongst the passengers, and they soon find the conference director murdered in his private compartment. And worse—the murderer planted the book in Lindsey and Sully’s room next door, making them prime suspects. Now, they must uncover the murderer and bring them to the end of their line, before they find themselves booked for a crime they didn’t commit.

Another excellent entry in a long runniung series.  Strangers on a Train was one of our favorite movies, so it was a hoot to read how it played out in this book!  Five Paws!

FEBRUARY 20 2024

Extra, extra, read all about it! Countess turned advice columnist Amelia Amesbury finds herself playing the role of sleuth when a night at the theatre turns deadly.

Victorian Countess Amelia Amesbury’s secret hobby, writing an advice column for a London penny paper, has gotten her into hot water before. After all, Amelia will do whatever it takes to help a reader in need. But now, handsome marquis Simon Bainbridge desperately requires her assistance. His beloved younger sister, Marielle, has written Amelia's Lady Agony column seeking advice on her plans to elope with a man her family does not approve of. Determined to save his sister from a scoundrel and the family from scandal, Simon asks Amelia to dissuade Marielle from the ill-advised gambit.

But when the scoundrel makes an untimely exit after a performance of Verdi’s Rigoletto, Amelia realizes there’s much more at stake than saving a young woman’s reputation from ruin. It’s going to take more than her letter-writing skills to help the dashing marquis, mend the familial bond, and find the murderer. Luckily, solving problems is her specialty!

jSecond entry in a promising new series.

Monday, December 11, 2023

SPOTLIGHT ON...Author Annelise Ryan!


Hello folks!

Today  I’m interviewing author Annelise Ryan!

Photo courtesy H. Claire Photography

USA Today bestselling author Annelise Ryan returns with the follow-up to her fascinating mystery, A Death in Door County (2022): DEATH IN THE DARK WOODS (Berkley Hardcover; on sale December 12, 2023).


In A Death in Door County (2022), Ryan introduced readers to our dedicated, but always skeptical sleuth: Morgan Carter, owner of the Odds and Ends bookstore in Door County, Wisconsin. When she’s not tending the store, she’s hunting cryptids. And although this hobby cost her parents their lives, it’s one she’ll never give up on.


In DEATH IN THE DARK WOODS, Ryan tackles another familiar mythical creature: Bigfoot! Business has been booming since cryptozoologist Morgan Carter solved the case of the monster in Lake Michigan. The Odds and Ends bookstore is thriving, of course, but Morgan is most excited by the doors that were opened for her as a cryptid hunter.


Recently, in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest area of Bayfield County, Wisconsin, there have been numerous sightings of a Bigfoot-type creature. Now, Morgan isn’t one to believe anything without conclusive proof, but after a man is found dead from a vicious throat injury in the forest, the conservation warden asks Morgan to investigate. So, is the proof out there?


When Morgan and her dog, Newt, venture into the forest to investigate they find a lot more than large footprints and large fuzzy shadows: they uncover a trail of lies, deception…and murder. It seems a mysterious creature is indeed living in the forest, and Morgan might be its next target.


 On to our interview!

Welcome Annelise!  Tell us a little about your background.

I’m a retired registered nurse who has worked everything from birth (obstetrics) to death (hospice) with the majority of my years spent in an ER setting. I’ve always been a voracious reader and wanted to be a writer beginning as far back as I can remember. My family moved a lot when I was in grade and middle school and I was always the new kid in class, a tough row to hoe. I quickly discovered that by making up stories about my life or people I’d known, things I’d seen, and places I’d been, stories that made my life sound far more interesting than it really was, I attracted new friends faster. My mother called it lying. I called it survival through storytelling and I managed to turn it into a career! I’m also lying about who I am because Annelise Ryan is a pseudonym. I have another pseudonym, too: Allyson K. Abbott. My real name is Beth Amos. As a mystery writer and ER nurse, I figured it was best to hide my writing identity because my ER patients might not have been comfortable knowing their nurse spent her spare time thinking up fun ways to kill people.

Tell us a bit about your latest book.  

My most recent novel, DEATH IN THE DARK WOODS, is the second book in my Monster Hunter Mystery series featuring cryptozoologist, Morgan Carter. She likes to hunt for cryptids in her spare time, creatures like the Loch Ness monster and Bigfoot. In this book, she investigates reports of a homicidal Bigfoot on the loose in the north woods of Wisconsin near the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior when a hunter and then a fisherman turn up dead. The first book in the series, A DEATH IN DOOR COUNTY, had her hunting for a Loch Ness-type monster in Lake Michigan. Are the deaths caused by cryptids or is it humans who are the monsters?

And now for ROCCO’s in-depth questions:

  1. How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?

I like to think of myself as a Dr. Frankenstein, piecing characters together with bits I’ve taken from real people I’ve met or observed over the years. I’m sure this will sound a bit crazy but they introduce themselves to me and reveal bits and pieces of themselves over time through their actions and the conversations I have with them in my head. (Then again, given my many identities via pseudonyms, maybe it’s understandable that my characters talk to me.) Sometimes this little Igor that resides in my brain tosses in a random piece I don’t know about, and I’m then surprised by something a character wants, does, says, or needs. Those make for fun, exciting moments in my writing.

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

Both. I turn in a 3 – 4-page synopsis to my publisher ahead of writing the book but it’s a fairly generic outline I don’t feel locked into. The end result often bears only a passing resemblance to the synopsis.

  1. Which do you consider more important, plot or character?

Character. Hands down.

  1. What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?

The biggest challenge is getting noticed. It’s become even harder now that everyone and their uncle can self-publish, and each book out there is but one drop of water in a vast ocean. I no longer doubt my ability to write or tell a good story, but I used to. My primary motivation, aside from deadlines, is this endless desire I have to tell stories, to play God with a bunch of imaginary characters and toss whatever I want at them to see how they survive…or don’t. It’s loads of fun!.

  1. What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?

I’m currently writing the third book in my Monster Hunter Mysteries featuring cryptozoologist, Morgan Carter. I hope to continue this series as long as the publisher will have me. I’m also working on a Christmas novella (for next year) featuring the characters from my Mattie Winston Mystery series.

  1. What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?

It varies from one day to the next but most of my writing is done in the early afternoons, typically 3-4 hours at a time. I write in some way every day, though some days it consists of thought processes and mental exercises rather than time at the keyboard.

  1. If you could take only three books with you for a year-long writing retreat in a gorgeous setting with no library, which three would you take?

A dictionary. That’s all. My imagination can do the rest.

8.      What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?

If someone is writing with the goal of getting published, they need to learn the business side of writing as well as the craft. Read, read, read, both the genre you want to write in and books related to the craft and business of writing. Persevere, and don’t take yourself (or your writing) too seriously. Be willing to learn and take criticism.

  1. Where can we learn more about you and your books?

www.anneliseryan.com or www.bethamos.com

Ad now....ROCCO’s Fast Five:

  • What did you do when you found out your first book was published?

When I first learned it had sold to a publisher, I cried. Then whooped. When I found out it was actually published and in stores it was late evening, and I was in my jammies. I quickly dressed and ran out to the nearest bookstore (in a mall) and stood in the store and cried once I saw it on the shelf. When I got home I realized I’d forgotten to put on a bra before I headed out and was wearing my shirt inside out. I never went into that particular bookstore again.

  • What’s your favorite part of the day?

Early morning when I first get up and the whole day is waiting for me full of potential.

  • What is your favorite movie quote?

“As … you … wish!”

  • What food do you wish was calorie free?

Pasta. Well, all foods, really. Except maybe liver. It can be as fattening as it wants because I’ll     never eat it.

  • What is something you are really bad at?



 Folks you can find out more about Annaelise here:

My books can be found in any physical or online bookstore. The full list of titles can be found here: www.anneliseryan.com and also here: www.bethamos.com

As for me personally, I can be found at several upcoming events. Check out this page, which is regularly updated: www.anneliseryan.com/events


Berkley has contributed one hardcover copy of DEATH IN A DARK WOODS FOR ONE LUCKY COMMENTER!

To enter, leave your name and email address in our comments section below.  Maxx and Random.org will pick the lucky winner! US entrie only please!

Contest ends midnight, December 15

Wednesday, November 29, 2023


 Ma-row!  Let's close out 2023 with some great upcoming cozies for November/December! (And a sneak peek at January too)


Berkley Mass Market; November 7, 2023

Landscape artist Kinsley Clark is back in a fresh new Maine-set holiday cozy, the second installment in Lyn’s Mainely Murder Mystery series. Kinsley has been re-hired to decorate the town of Harborside of the upcoming holiday season and boat parade, decking out the town with décor featuring local elements found in Maine. When local alderman Chris Chesterfield, dressed up as the Grinch, falls off the pier and into the icy Atlantic all eyes turn to Kinsley. Turns out Chris didn’t fall after all and what’s even more shocking is a revelation—he was looking to replace Kinsley with a different decorating team. Kinsley and friends must unearth the truth before she takes the fall in this “solid series”, according to Kirkus Reviews, out this fall.

Have to agree with the "solid series" review.  Setting always brings to mind another Maine based series (Hint: Cabot Cove, the murder capital of Maine).  Four and a half paws!




Berkley Prime Crime Hardcover; on sale November 14, 2023

Start reading here.


Village Blend coffee shop is the scene of a true crime in the latest entry in the beloved Coffeehouse Mysteries from New York Times bestselling author Cleo Coyle. Kirkus Reviews raves, “Scads of red herrings, peeks behind the show-biz curtain, and bountiful appended recipes will leave fans smiling contentedly.” When a hit TV show choses to spotlight the shop and its crew of baristas, master roaster Clare Cosi is beyond thrilled, especially when her superb bulletproof coffee lands her a craft services contract. Star Jerry Sullivan frequented the shop early in his career, but the past may hold more than nostalgia for Jerry. Then a real bullet is fired from a stage gun, and Clare becomes convinced something sinister is afoot. While Jerry’s production moves to exciting new locations, Clare keeps the coffee flowing—and her investigation going—even as a murderer lurks in the wings. But can she root out the rotten player in this Big Apple production before the lights go out on her?

This is one of our favorite series. We always root for Clare Cosi to find the clue that will solve the mystery. Five paws for an inventive plot and a series that never seems to run out of steam.




Berkley Prime Crime Mass Market; on sale December 12, 2023

Start reading here.


While Phaedra Brighton might not have a Mr. Darcy (yet), she's quite content with her loving family and loyal cat. Phaedra’s sister Hannah is the Jane to her Elizabeth, and she’s ecstatic that Hannah is moving home for her next adventure—opening her very own patisserie. All of Laurel Springs comes out to celebrate the grand unveiling of Tout de Sweet, including local celebrity Rachel Brandon. But the celebration turns sour when one of Hannah’s confections sends Rachel’s assistant to the hospital with poisoning. Phaedra must help her sister save her reputation and her budding business, but first she must figure out: who was the cupcake actually meant for? And how far is the culprit willing to go to take their target off the menu—permanently? 

Kirkus Reviews calls it, “Strictly for readers who think ‘choosing a gift for a romantic partner was a puzzle fit for Sherlock Holmes’,” but I’ll let you be the judge of that!  Great for readers who like to blend their cozies with a dash of romance.





Berkley Prime Crime Mass Market; on sale January 2, 2024

Start reading here.

While relaxing on her terrace, Holly Miller spots an unfamiliar reddish-gold pooch across the lake. She’s intrigued, knowing most of the animals in Wagtail, but she never expected to find the very same dog smiling at her in bed when she wakes the next morning! Turns out, the wayward pooch belongs to Holly’s cousin Josh, whom she hasn’t seen in over a decade. He’s camping with his girlfriend across the lake, and Holly returns the cute dog to Josh’s campsite twice, but the second time, Josh and his girlfriend are nowhere to be found. Instead, a guest of the Sugar Maple Inn is dead in their tent. Now it's up to Holly and Trixie to suss out a sneaky killer. According to Library Journal, “Fans of the series will enjoy this latest, as will those who enjoy pet-centered mysteries.”

Another tried and true series featuring animals, of course!  A definite thumbs up and five paws.




Sniffing Out Murder
Kallie E. Benjamin
A Bailey the Bloodhound Mystery
December 5, 2023/Trade Paperback
Four and a half paws
When a murder unleashes a widespread investigation through Crosbyville, children’s book author Pris and her trusty bloodhound, Bailey, must sniff out the truth before the whole town goes to the dogs.

After deciding that life as a teacher wasn’t right for her, Priscilla found inspiration for her first children’s book in her three-year-old bloodhound’s nose for truth, and so 
The Adventures of Bailey the Bloodhound was born. After the book’s massively pawsitive response led Pris to move back to her hometown of Crosbyville, Indiana, to continue the series, she’s surprised by how things have changed in the town, but even more so how they haven’t.

Pris is frustrated to discover that newly elected school board trustee Whitney Kelley—a former high school mean girl—is intent on making Crosbyville more competitive by eliminating “frivolous spending” on the arts and social programs, including Pris and Bailey’s beloved pet-assisted reading program. A minor altercation between them isn’t anything unusual, but after Bailey sniffs out Whitney’s body in a bed of begonias, locals start hounding Pris and Bailey as suspects for the crime.

With Bailey’s sharp senses and Pris’s hometown know-how, can they prove to the community that they’re all barking up the wrong tree?

this sounds right up our alley, merow!!!!!  Good start to what looks to be an inventive series. Four and a alf paws!

Friday, November 10, 2023


Merow! As everyone knoww, here in the Lotempio household we are huge E.J. Copperman fans,particularly of his latest series, THE JERSEY GIRL MYSTERIES. So of course when the human got her copy of the fifth entry, MY COUSIN SKINNY, I had to read it first!

 Copperman has truly outdone himself with this one, which we consider the best Jersey girl so far. Sandy, back in Jersey with Angie and Patrick for her cousin Stephanie (nickmaned Skinny)_'s wedding, finds herself caught up in drama when the bride emerges from the kitchen, bloodstained and weilding a knife, and the body of the best man is in the kitchen. there follows a puzzling mystery - several people were seen going into the kitchen. Could one of htem have killed the best man? Stephanie tags Sandy to be her lawyer, something Sandy is reluctant to do at first, but after some prodding from Patrick (and her mother, sister and Aunt) Sandy reluctantly takes on the case. although when "Skinny" keeps begging for plea deals she's more than a bit frustrated - and wondering if her cousin is, indeed, innnocent.

 Does Sandy manage to exonerate her cousin and solve the mystery of who killed Brandon Starkey? You will have to get your copy of MY COUSIN SKINNY to find out. One thing we can promise you--this one is a thrill ride from start to finish! Five Paws (we'd give it ten if Rocco had more paws)