Saturday, November 25, 2017

ROCCO's annual KIDS NEED TO READ auction

The Human and I have finally gotten our annual Kids Need To Read auction together! Better late than never, right???????

This year we are auctioning off a selection of cozy  mysteries, hardback and paperback:

Better Late than Never - Jenn McKinlay-1st edition Nov 2016
A Likely Story - Jenn McKinlay-first edition November 2015
Mrs. Jeffries and the Three Wise Women - Emily Brightwell-First edition October 2017
Ghost on the Case - Carolyn Hart first edition November 2017

Potions and Pastries - Bailey Cates
Assault and Buttery - Kristi Abbott
A Late Frost - Sheila Connolly

Paperback, autographed by author
Italian Kitchen series by Rosie Genova
Murder and Marinara
The Wedding Soup Murder
A Dish Best Served Cold

Crime and Catnip - T. C. Lotempio

Approximate value of prizes:  $175.00

Ebay auction link:

About the Charity:

Kids Need to Read was founded as a 501(c)(3) tax exempt corporation in 2008 by PJ Haarsma, Denise Gary, and Nathan Fillion. The mission of the foundation was based on the work of a 2007 project of the same name.

Founded with a passion to improve the lives of disadvantaged children by providing inspiring book collections and engaging literacy programs to underfunded schools, libraries, and organizations across the nation, Kids Need to Read aspires to empower and embolden every last child through a culture of reading. For many of the children it serves, Kids Need to Read represents a crucial link to a strong literacy education, and its programs help build and nurture support systems that these children may be lacking elsewhere in their lives. By immersing children in an integrated world of literary experiences that teaches them, firsthand, the impact of reading on every aspect of life, imagination is ignited and confidence is built for a prosperous future, regardless of race, economic status, or personal capabilities.

To learn more about them, click on this link:

Sunday, November 19, 2017

ROCCO interviews Susan Tanner

Meow! My guest this week is author Susan Tanner! 

Susan Yawn Tanner is published in historical romance as Susan Tanner but has embarked on an intriguing new series. Her latest venture is a romantic mystery showcasing one smart feline named Trouble. In Trouble in Summer Valley, she combines her love of horses with her love of cats and steps into a new genre - contemporary romantic mystery. Writing in the voice of a black cat detective, especially one with a slight British accent (thanks to his addiction to Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes) has spurred a series idea that will be sure to delight readers. Because Ms.Tanner is a horse lover as well as a cat lover, her upcoming Trouble books will have backstories which feature the world of horses, a mini-series within the Familiar Legacy series. Tanner lives on a small ranch in Mississippi and barrel races. 

Her previous novels, Highland Captive, Captive To A Dream, Exiled Heart, Fire Across Texas and Winds Across Texas as well as A Warm Southern Christmas (part of a Christmas anthology), were all published by Leisure Books.

1.    Hi Susan! Would you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I currently combine a very demanding career in a public utility with being a competitive barrel racer (with my daughter) and with writing – again – but more on that later. I have beautiful children and grandchildren who are the light of my life. After two less than stellar marriages, I’ve given up on romance (except in my books!!!)

2.    Do you have anything you would like to say to your readers?
Whatever you have in your heart to do, do it with all of your heart. Never, ever give up on a dream. As long as you can draw breath, there is no good reason to say ‘It’s too late’ or ‘I’m too old’.  Life is to be lived. Live it!

3.    Please tell us about your newest release    Trouble in Summer Valley embodies a lot of things for me. I published previously in historical romance with Leisure Books. When Carolyn Haines approached me about a collaborative effort to bring to life the son of Familiar (do please read that wonderful series!), my first reaction was very skeptical.
Mystery? Never done that.
Contemporary? Never done that.
Cat’s point of view (seriously?) Definitely never done that!
But to my ever-lasting surprise, I not only ‘did it’ I loved every minute of the writing. Okay, maybe not every minute but most for sure! What a challenge and what gratification to know I really could be more, do more than I ever imagined. (And so can each and every person reading this. Dare to dream! Then ‘do’!)

4.    What was the inspiration behind this story?

That is a little hard (emotionally) to answer. Long before the world had heard of PTSD, I knew the consequences of it. My father served with pride in WWII but he could never talk about his experiences. He, in fact, would cut you short if you asked. I knew, instinctively, that he suffered still for the things he’d been faced with in those combat zones.

Fast forward to another decade another war. A dearly loved cousin stepped on a land mine in Viet Nam and lost both legs. He was told he would never walk again much less ride but he did both through sheer determination.

In Trouble in Summer Valley, I combined my love of horses with the emotional healing I know they can bring.

5.    Tell us about your main character.

Avery Wilson is strong. As strong as I’ve had to be and learned to be. But she’s also very vulnerable as I know I have been and still sometimes am. As a writer, I’ve come to understand that our strongest characters carry our own traits. Hard as that can be to portray, it can also be our greatest achievement.

6.    Were you surprised by the behavior of any of your characters or the direction of your plot at any point while writing?

I am ALWAYS surprised by my characters, at least to some extent.  I start out one way and they lead me another. The wonderful thing is that they know better than me. They are always ‘in character’ whereas I might sometimes lead them astray.

7.    How long did it take you to write this book?

I will be honest. This book took nearly a year. BUT the first half was in fits and starts. I did most of the actual, honest-to-goodness writing in about three months.

8.    Of all the books out there, why should readers choose this one? (What makes your book stand out from the rest?)

I think the answer is different, reader-by-reader. If you are looking for lighthearted humor, I’m not your guy . . . er , . . gal! If you want grit and honesty, then I will provide. Some of the scenes with Trouble are definitely written with a touch of humor but – by and large – humor is not my forte’. Honest emotion, yes.

9.    Is there an author or book that influenced you or your writing in any way growing up or as an adult?
All of them!  Honestly. I loved reading so much I rarely distinguished types of books or styles of writing but all of them influenced!

10. Where can we purchase this book?  Amazon!

11. Do you think you may ever go into another genre?  If so, which one?
At some point I may return to historical romance. Maybe.

12. Where do you see yourself at in five years—writing wise?
Ha! I’ve learned never to predict much of anything – certainly not regarding my own life. I’ve never ‘landed’ where I thought I would!

13. Where can we learn more about you and your books?
My website is

Random Quickies!
1.    Pepsi or Coke? Coke, for sure, in the small glass bottles!
2.    Favorite kind of chocolate? Ghirardelli’s intense dark!
3.    Cats or dogs? Cats absolutely, though, sadly I am cat allergic with miserable consequences to encounters. But, though you didn’t include, horses first, last, and always.
4.    Do you read more than you write? This varies; sometimes one more than the other, but I ALWAYS meet deadlines.
5.    Favorite movie?  Love with the Proper Stranger (You’ll have to go way back to find that one. I was too young to be allowed to watch it when it first came out but found it decades later and loved it!) and Urban Cowboy.
6.    Hardback/Paperback or eReader? Still prefer print in hand. I like hardback but not the expense but I ALWAYS pass these on so feel vindicated. Paperback probably more economical but …
7.    Favorite color? Depends on the day and my mood. My youngest grandson and I have this conversation often. He doesn’t get that my ‘favorite color’ can vary day to day. Today is green by the way.
8.    How many paperback/hardcover books do you own?
Not many currently. And I’m glad the question isn’t ‘how many have you purchased’! I live in a small house that my son built with his own two hands. It’s absolutely beautiful with high end finishes that I love. I deliberately wanted small because my needs are few and I’m not a fan of housework (but don’t think tiny house, not that small!). So, I frequently buy paperback/hardcover but immediately pass them on to the other readers in my family and expect them to pass them on to the readers in their extended families. Books are to be shared!
9.    Do you own a laptop or desktop computer?
Laptop. I had a desktop but my day-job requires that I be very mobile. Because of that, I find I’m very comfortable working with a laptop where ever I am, home or away from home.
10. What book are you reading today?
I’m between books but typically something by Jill Shalvis because she makes me laugh. Or Carolyn Haines ‘Bones’ series. My books tend to be very intense so I love books that bring humor.
11. If you could live anywhere in the world it would be:

Right where I am! It is a beautiful, small town that takes pride in its appearance. Where I would like to visit is a whole different story!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

ROCCO's guest Karen Rose Smith

Meow, my guest this week is author Karen Rose Smith!

USA TODAY Bestselling and award-winning author Karen Rose Smith was born in Pennsylvania, in the Susquehanna Valley.
In college, Karen began writing poetry and also met her husband to be. They both began married life as teachers, but when their son was born, Karen decided to try her hand at a home-decorating business. She returned to teaching for a while but changes in her life led her to writing fiction. Now she writes full time. Her first novel was published in 1992; her 100th book will be published in 2018.
 A winner of New Jersey's Golden Leaf Award in Short Contemporary Romance, Colorado Romance Writers Award Of Excellence for short contemporary, as well as the Phoenix Desert Rose Chapter's Golden Quill for Traditional Romance, she has also been honored with's award for Best Special Edition. Her novels have made both the USA TODAY list, Amazon's Cozy Bestseller List and Amazon Contemporary Romance Bestseller list. She is writing two mystery series now for Kensington Books in addition to her indie SEARCH FOR LOVE series and her Harlequin romances.

  • Welcome Karen! Tell us a little about your background
Hi and thanks ROCCO!  I'm Karen Rose Smith.  I write mystery, romance and women's fiction.  My 100th novel will be released in 2018.  Besides writing, my passion is caring four our six rescued cats (We just adopted two new kittens.).  In addition, we care for two outside strays (a sibling pair) who spend most nights in our basement.

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.

I like to use different settings to give books a unique sparkle. Many of my first releases were set around my home town in Pennsylvania. One hundred books later, I now enjoy settings like Northern Arizona, New Mexico and Wyoming where the landscape can become as integral to the plot as another character. There is something about canyons, mountains and the ocean that give me a sense of awe and I like to bring that to my romances as well as mysteries.

Readers often ask me about my pastimes. I have herb, flower and vegetable gardens that help me relax. In the winter, I cook rather than garden! And year round I spend most of my time with my husband, as well as my cats who are my constant companions. They chase rainbows from sun catchers, reminding me life isn't all about work, awards and bestseller lists. Everyone needs that rainbow to chase.

Something I always dreamed of, but I never expected, happened this year.  One of my romances, HIS COUNTRY CINDERELLA, has been made into a TV movie—A VERY COUNTRY CHRISTMAS.  It will air on November 23rd on the UP Network.
  • Tell us a bit about your two series.  How did those ideas come about?
After 20 years of writing romance, my agent suggested I write a cozy mystery.  I was at a conference at the time, meeting with him.  At first the idea was foreign and I told him I'd have to write about something I knew.  He said that was fine.  So I came up with the idea of a home decorator who turned into a home stager because of the economy.  Fate led her to high-end clients and she is able to do quirky themes to stage their homes.  As I developed the idea to include an open house, it only made sense that her sister would be a caterer.  Using my favorite Italian names from my Italian background, I created the large De Luca family.  My sleuth and home stager, Caprice De Luca, is my alter ego.  She likes to cook, find homes for stray animals and have strong friend and family relationships.  Of course, I've included romantic relationships over the course of the series until her heart tells her who is Mr. Right.
With my second series, Daisy's Tea Garden Mysteries, I use my love of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and liking for tea as a starting point.  My Sleuth, Daisy Swanson, is very different from Caprice.  She is a widowed mom of two teenage daughters.  She owns Daisy's Tea Garden with her Aunt Iris.  All the women in her mother's family have flower names.  She named her own girls Violet and Jasmine.  This series has a homespun quality that I enjoy delving into.  Daisy will also become involved in a romantic relationship.
  • Tell us about your latest release
SLAY BELLS RING, my November 2017 Caprice De Luca Home Staging Mystery, is a holiday cozy. 
Christopher and Sara Merriweather have the perfect life.  They are selling their beautiful historic home that Caprice De Luca stages with the theme Christmas Delight. They plan to downsize.  Their grown children are in the vicinity and their craft shop is doing well.  Blitz, the white Malamute Chris rescued, is always by his side.  A Vietnam veteran, Chris has come to terms with his PTSD and even plays Santa Claus.  When he is murdered at the sleigh on Santa Lane not far from Santa's cabin, everyone is shocked.  (Blitz may have seen the murderer.)  As Caprice delves into the Merriweathers' lives, she discovers more than one secret.  The main one—Chris was dying from a brain tumor and had told no one.
Caprice meets with Chris's Vietnam buddies to see if she can gather clues and ferrets out secrets and complex connections that seem difficult to unravel.  Blitz, whom her dad has adopted, becomes a vital part of solving the murder when Caprice realizes there is something hidden inside the dog's collar that gives her clues.  A meeting at Santa Lane with one of the suspects is risky, but Caprice feels she has no choice.  With Blitz and her dad nearby, she finally discovers who the murderer is.  Her dad comes to the rescue and Blitz saves her life.
  • How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?
I choose a character's personality before I choose his or her name.  Once I name a character, that name seems to bring with it traits that I develop along with the background.  I write a full synopsis before starting a book so I know my characters fairly well when I begin chapter one.
  • How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
I construct my plots according to the word length I need.  Since I have been writing for thirty years, instinct takes over.  I plot the specific number of chapters, three to four scenes a chapter.  Once in a while, a character takes over a plot, but that's not a usual occurrence.
  • Which do you consider more important, plot or character?
I consider character more important.  A well-plotted book leaves me cold if I don't become involved in the characters' lives.
  • What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?
The biggest challenges have been my physical disabilities.  Back surgery that left me in pain was one of the reasons I began writing.  About fifteen years ago, fibromyalsia began affecting my eyes, so now I use a tape recorder to write and I have a typist transcribe it.  These days, a challenge is the time writers have to spend on social networks for promotion.  They can become a real time sink.  But raw writing is always a priority for me. 
  • Do you have an “How I got my agent” story you want to share?
Early in my career, I went to a conference and had several agent appointments.  My first choice was Evan Marshall, but at that time, he turned me down.  I did acquire an agent at that conference.  When I left that agency five years later, I queried Evan and he took me on.  We've worked together for over twenty years.
  • What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
Right now, I am working on Caprice mystery #8—CUT TO THE CHAISE.  I plan to keep writing mysteries...and maybe romances, too.
  • What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?
At present, I am taking a break from promotion which was eating up 80% of my time.  I've been devoting myself to raw writing, which I enjoyed the most early in my career.  I am enjoying it now as well. In a few days, I will be editing CUT TO THE CHAISE.  Those days, I read and edit most of the day to keep the continuity and to make sure I have the details right.
  • 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?
THE FLAME AND THE FLOWER by Kathleen Woodiwiss
The latest Harlan Coben novel
The latest Lisa Scottoline
  • What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
Write every day.  Be persistent concerning everything about your career.
  • What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
I rode a horse over a jump for the first time.
  • What’s one thing your readers would be surprised to find out about you?
I write using a tape recorder.
  • What question do you wish interviewers would ask? (And what’s the answer?)
QUESTION:  Can you tell me about your cats?
ANSWER:  We have 6 inside cats from three months to 16 years old.  We also care for a sibling pair that is still feral in many ways.  We've trained them to come into the basement at night so they are protected from other creatures and cold weather.
  •  Where can we learn more about you and your books?
I have two websites, one that features all my books and a second that concentrates on my mysteries

Thank you Karen!
Just for Fun:

Night or Day?  NIGHT
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  CAT  (Good answer, merow!)
Beach or Pool?   Beach
Steak or salad?   Steak
Favorite Drink?   Mocha Latte
Favorite TV Series?   The Nightshift
Favorite Movie?   Ghost
Favorite Actor:   Colin Donnell
Favorite Actress:  Drew Barrymore
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada?  Pina Colada
Hawaii or Alaska?  Hawaii
Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be Michelle Obama
If I had just one wish, it would be to be pain-free all of the time.
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be (I don't want to trade places with anyone!!)

You can find out more about Karen at:
Romance Website:

Giveaway time!

Karen will give away a $10 Amazon Gift Card and an advance copy of her January cozy mystery release, MURDER WITH LEMON TEA CAKES.

To enter, leave a comment on this blog post with your name and email address (entries without email will be disqualified). For extra entries, you can do any or all of the below:

* Follow my blog (+ 1 point)
* Follow me on Twitter (+ 1 point) (Link:
* Tweet about the contest (+ 1 point)
* Friend me on Facebook (+ 1 point) (Link:!/
* Mention the contest on Facebook (+ 1 point)
* Mention the contest on your blog (+ 1 point)

Winner will be chosen at random using  Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Good luck! US entries only, please. Contest closes midnight, November 17!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Guest poster: Mary Ellen Hughes

Cats or No Cats?
Mary Ellen Hughes

Are cats a necessary element to mysteries? I can guess what Rocco’s answer would be. Mine would be a bit more qualified.

Necessary? No. There’s scads of good mysteries with no felines, whatsoever. But enriching? I definitely think so. Which is why I wrote a cat into A Fatal Collection, the first of my new Keepsake Cove series.

            Jagger, a large Russian Blue mix, was owned by the aunt of my main character, Callie Reed. Aunt Mel told Callie on her first visit that she kept the cat’s name after bringing him home from the shelter and seeing him “strut around the cottage like a rock star.”

            When Callie’s aunt died suddenly during that visit from what was officially ruled an “accident”, Callie learned to her astonishment that she’d inherited her aunt’s music box shop and amazing fairy-tale cottage, as well as… her cat. Jagger turned out to be the most comforting element of all to Callie during that very difficult time. Though he startled her nearly to death on their first meeting by leaping down to her feet from a high bookshelf, after Aunt Mel’s funeral he was all purrs and cuddles, as though letting her know he shared her grief and they would work through it together.

            He might also have been urging her to find out the truth of his former mistress’s death, which Callie had serious doubts about, early on. As she began looking into what might really have happened to her aunt, Jagger continued to back her up by offering…comfort. And isn’t that what every amateur detective in a cozy mystery is in need of after a stressful day? I’d say so.

            As the past owner of several cats (at one point three at a time!), I’m totally aware of the comforting effects of cats. Of course, they can also have their downsides (we won’t mention the hair balls, furniture scratches, or litter box problems), but when they’re good, they can be very, very good. Whose blood pressure hasn’t lowered with a purring cat snuggled on their lap or can deny the pleasures of being greeted with joy at the front door after a long day? Never mind that the joyfulness leads pointedly to the food bowl. It’s still a lovely feeling and makes the cost of that high-end cat foot so worth it.

            Jagger, though, acted beyond simple comfort. There were times when his acute hearing gave important alerts to Callie, as the murderer, aware of her closing in, became threatening. Far be it from me to spoil anything for readers, so let’s just say that having a cat in her house was definitely an important safety feature—and it helped me greatly in writing a suspenseful scene.

            Another advantage of a cat in a mystery is that when your main character lives alone, there’s always someone to talk to, particularly while mulling over clues. Yes, the author can tell us what the character is thinking, but saying things out loud puts more life into the scene, to my mind. Especially if the cat responds in some way to important points that helps emphasize them. Dogs, of course, can be talked to as well, but they tend to interpret most of it as, “want to go for a walk?” and get all excited, whereas cats remain quiet and blink knowingly. That can be much more useful for reaching conclusions.

            So cats, I believe, are a definite asset to a cozy mystery. In fact, I intend to keep Jagger around and healthy in the books that follow A Fatal Collection. I might also think about placing a cat in the rest of the collectibles shops in Keepsake Cove as well. Shake It Up! (collectible salt and pepper shakers), could have a Tuxedo,  Kids at Heart (vintage toys) might acquire an orange tabby, and The Collectible Cook could have, oh, let’s see, maybe a Siamese or a calico sitting in its window.

            I’m guessing Rocco would approve, wouldn’t you?

ROCCO: Absolutely, PURRRRR

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Guest Poster Sharon Farrow

Sharon Farrow

When writers pitch a mystery series to an editor, front and center are the main character and the set-up. An engaging protagonist who jumps off the page, coupled with a distinctive premise, will help clinch the sale. But one character cannot carry an entire series on his or her shoulders. Even Sherlock had Watson, Mycroft, Mrs. Hudson and Lestrade. To paraphrase an African proverb: it takes a village to solve a crime.

In a contemporary cozy, the main character is often a business owner in a small town or city neighborhood. Peopling this town with a colorful roster of fellow shopkeepers, friends, rivals, and relatives provides rich fodder for a mystery series in a number of ways:

1.     Romantic Interest
2.     Sidekick/Bestie
3.     Rival
4.     Victim and Villain
5.     Informants

Romantic Interest: Most cozy heroines aren’t married, which often results in a romantic relationship with a man who lives in the town. Although this romance may continue throughout the series, more than one male character can vie for the heroine’s hand. This situation leaves the reader wondering which one she will choose in the end. Either way, a romantic interest helps to reveal a more vulnerable side to the cozy sleuth. A romantic partner may also motivate the heroine to solve the mystery, particularly if the boyfriend is in danger – or suspected of committing a crime. Will love conquer all? Sometimes it doesn’t. Murder has a way of spoiling the best of romantic moods.

Sidekick/Bestie: A series protagonist who doesn’t have a sidekick or BFF can justifiably be viewed as odd. Sidekicks are there to bounce ideas off of, help bring the main character down to earth, and act as a support system. Best friends usually share a long history with the heroine, frequently knowing her better than anyone else. Because of this, a best friend provides needed insight into the main character. Besties can find themselves in precarious situations in an effort to protect their sleuthing pal. For those who grew up reading Trixie Belden mysteries as I did, think back to how many times Honey Wheeler put herself at risk because she didn’t want to abandon her best friend, the intrepid Trixie. And the protective feeling is a mutual one. A cozy sleuth will go to extreme lengths to keep her BFF safe. After all, best friends are not only necessary. They’re irreplaceable.

Rival: No matter how entertaining or likable a cozy series heroine is, someone in town doesn’t like her. It could be a fellow business owner motivated by envy, either personal or professional. If the heroine is drawn into a murder case, the rival will be the first to cast suspicion on her involvement. Although a crime is committed in each cozy, there should be opportunity for trouble aside from that. A rival is there to stir the pot. Some rivals merely demand to be the center of attention, thus making life more difficult for everyone. The odds are that a truly obnoxious rival is fated to be killed off. Rest assured, another rival will pop up in the next book. A troublemaker is the Energizer Bunny of a cozy series.

Victim/Villain: It’s a cozy truism: someone in town will become the victim of a crime, and someone will commit  the nefarious deed. A local resident is not always the victim or the perpetrator; it may be a visitor who is murdered or endangered. Still, there is always enough drama unfolding among the local population to provide plenty of potential victims and villains. The stakes are raised when suspects and victims are drawn from the regular cast of supporting players. Imagine the shock when a character everyone thought they knew well winds up as the killer! But to pull this off, a strong cast of colorful – often contrary – people must inhabit that lovely bucolic village or quirky city district.

Informants: The cozy sleuth requires information in order to solve the mystery. Who better to provide that information than the people she lives and works with. For example, there always seems to be a local gossip who loves to spread rumors. My Berry Basket series has three: a mother and her two irrepressible sons. Since the mother is a receptionist at the police station, her gossip includes the latest village crime. Because of the variety of shops in a typical cozy, the people who work there possess special skills and knowledge pertinent to that business. So if a victim has been poisoned by a custom made birthday cake, it’s time to visit the local bakery. Finally, a crime as dark as murder always leads to the uncovering of secrets. Many of those secrets are held by the cast of supporting characters, which not only help solve the mystery, but lead to a new understanding of the local postmaster, mayor or shopkeeper. Or the heroine herself.

In the end, the amateur sleuth will indeed catch the criminal. However, it took an entire village to help her do it.

About the author
Sharon Farrow is the latest pen name of award winning author Sharon Pisacreta. Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Sharon has been a freelance writer since her twenties, with her first novel released in 1998. Published in mystery, fantasy, and romance, Sharon currently writes The Berry Basket cozy mystery series, which debuted in 2016 with Dying For Strawberries. She is also one half of the writing team D.E. Ireland, who co-author the Agatha nominated Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins mysteries.
In her former life, Sharon turned her hand to a variety of endeavors from principal investigator on an archaeological site, college history instructor, art gallery assistant, and dancing in a dog costume for a non-profit company (it’s a long story). Although Sharon has lived in Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey, she calls Michigan home, specifically the beautiful coastline of Lake Michigan. She is so enamored of the sand dunes, orchards and beaches of western Michigan, she set The Berry Basket mysteries in a town similar to the one she is lucky to live in.
Connect with Sharon at:


Sharon will give away signed copies of both Berry Basket Mysteries, Blackberry Burial and Dying for Strawberries, to two winners picked at random. To enter, please leave a comment on this blog post and don’t forget to include your name and email address.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

ROCCO's November Cozy Mystery Roundup!


Top Pick for November:

  • Series: A Paws & Claws Mystery (Book 5)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley (November 7, 2017)
  • Rating:  Five Paws!

Inspired by her German heritage, Holly’s grandmother has arranged for Wagtail to have a Christkindl Market packed with goodies and decorations for the howliday tourists. But Holly’s mood takes an unseasonable turn when she learns that her old flame and childhood friend Holmes Richardson has brought his fiancée home—and she’ll be staying at the Sugar Maple Inn…

A love triangle becomes the last thing on Holly’s mind when her Jack Russell Trixie’s nose for trouble leads her to the corpse of a pet clothing tycoon. Now Holly and her dedicated detectives—Trixie and Twinkletoes the cat—must sniff out the killer to keep Christmas from going to the dogs…

ROCCO SEZ:  This series is delightful and charming and Berkley had better keep it going!  Love the adventures of Holly and her gang and this holiday tale (tail???) more than fills the bill.   Fans of the series will love the love triangle, and the mystery is pretty good too!  Top Pick! Five Paws!!!!!!!

  • Series: A Popcorn Shop Mystery (Book 3)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley (November 7, 2017)
  • ROCCO's Rating: 4 Paws

Repairs are under way at Rebecca Anderson’s gourmet popcorn shop. With production of her tasty treats on hold, Rebecca has plenty of time to read the old diary she discovered hidden in the shop’s walls. It’s a fun peek into her town’s history…until the diary’s abrupt ending leaves Rebecca wondering whether she’s actually stumbled upon a cold case.

Unfortunately for Rebecca, mysteries are popping up right and left. When local busybody Lloyd McLaughlin is found dead, the police suspect he was poisoned by Rebecca’s popcorn. But Rebecca has only made one batch of popcorn recently, and it wasn’t intended for Lloyd. Nothing about Lloyd’s death makes sense—until Rebecca discovers a startling connection between the missing diary-writer and the murdered man.

ROCCO SEZ:  This is another charming series (even if the main pet is a poodle).  the characters are quirky and the plots well thought out.  This is another goodie that we hope to see more of! Rating: Four Paws!

  • Series: A Library Lover's Mystery (Book 7)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley (November 7, 2017)
ROCCO's rating:  4 1/2 paws!

When the Briar Creek Public Library holds its first overdue book amnesty day—no fines for late returns—the volume of incoming materials is more than Lindsey and her staff can handle. But one tardy tome catches her attention—a copy of J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, twenty years past due.

When Lindsey looks up the borrower, she’s shocked to discover it was a murdered teacher named Candice Whitley, whose killer was never found. Candice checked out the novel on the day she died. Now Lindsey wonders if it could provide a clue to the decades-old cold case. No one noticed who brought the book back in, but could it be Candice’s killer? Lindsey is determined to catch the culprit one way or another, because justice for Candice Whitley is long overdue...

ROCCO SEZ:  This is a popular series and one can see why. The characters just seem to jump off the page. Longtime fans will not be disappointed, and folks new to the series give this a try!  Four and a half Paws!

  • Series: A Magical Bakery Mystery (Book 7)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley (November 7, 2017)
  • ROCCO's rating:  4 1/2 paws!

It’s been exactly two years since Katie and her aunt and uncle opened the Honeybee Bakery, where they serve delicious—and bespelled—treats to the good people of Savannah. After a dinner celebrating the bakery’s anniversary, they all take a stroll along the waterfront and meet Aunt Lucy’s friend Orla, a colorful character who has been telling the fortunes of locals and tourists alike for years.

The next day, Orla meets with what seems like a terrible accident, but Katie’s witchy intuition tells her it was something more sinister. Together with her trustworthy coven and her firefighter boyfriend, she’ll race to find out what happened to the unfortunate fortune-teller before the piping hot trail goes cold....

ROCCO sez:  Another great entry in the magical bakery series.  This time out Katie struggles to find out who did in the local fortuneteller!  Fans will love this clever  msytery!  Rating: Four and a half paws!

Sheila Connolly
  • Series: An Orchard Mystery (Book 11)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley (November 7, 2017)
  • ROCCO's rating: Four paws

The usually quiet town of Granford, Massachusetts, is even drowsier during the colder months. But this year it’s in for a jolt when Monica Whitman moves into town. She’s a dynamo who wants to make friends fast in her new home, and she throws herself into community activities. Meg Corey, now Chapin after her marriage to Seth Chapin, is intrigued by the new arrival, who has already sold the town board on a new, fun way to bring in visitors during the off-season: WinterFare, which will feature local foods (such as Meg’s apples) and crafts, as well as entertainment. 

Tragically, Monica falls ill and dies after the event in what looks like a case of food poisoning. When all the food served at WinterFare has been tested, including Meg’s apples, it becomes clear that there’s a more sinister explanation to the older woman’s sudden demise. 

ROCCO sez:  Things sure get shaken up in town in this lively cozy!  the fast paced action will surely please fans of this long running series, which doens't show any indication of running out of steam!  Rocco's rating: Four paws!

Kate Carlisle
  • Series: A Fixer-Upper Mystery (Book 5)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley (November 7, 2017)
  • ROCCO's rating:  5 paws!

At the annual Victorian Home and Garden Tour, Lighthouse Cove, California’s premier contractor, Shannon Hammer, realizes that the competition is about to turn deadly.... 

Shannon is in high demand among rival homeowners, who will do anything to win Best in Show. One-upmanship and even espionage break out among neighbors, construction crews, decorators, and landscapers. Thanks to several new hires, Shannon is sure she can handle the extra load—until murder throws a wrench in the works.

The small town’s corrupt building inspector is found dead on one of Shannon’s jobsites, and soon plenty of suspects are coming out of the woodwork. When another body is discovered, Shannon calls on her team of close friends and devilishly astute thriller writer Mac to help her nail down the details and build a case against the killer before the door shuts on someone else—for good.

ROCCO sez:  This series should gain many more fans due to the Hallmark movies starring Jewel based on it!  This is another great installment in this stellar series!  Well plotted and even I couldnt' guess the ending!!!!! ROCCO's rating:  Five Paws!

  • Series: Chocoholic Mystery (Book 16)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley (November 7, 2017)
  • ROCCO's rating:  4 Paws

The approach of Easter means a rush of business at TenHuis Chocolade, and Lee Woodyard and her aunt Nettie need all the help they can get to make their famous chocolate bunnies. Unfortunately, new hire Bunny Birdsong is a klutzy basket case. But to Lee’s surprise, she’s a wiz with computers and fixing the store’s website, so they decide to keep her.

However, Bunny receives a few visitors they could do without: Her soon-to-be ex-husband Beau, his wealthy aunt Abigail, and his new girlfriend and her brother all descend on the shop one day and have a bitter argument. Lee hopes they can find a peaceful way to settle their dispute, but when Abigail’s body is discovered in the vacant store next door, it’s clear to Lee there’s a bad egg in her midst. Now she’s on the hunt to find out who it is…

ROCCO SEZ:  Who doens't love a book that features chocolate, and when a tasty mystery is included, so much the better!  JoAnn still manages to keep this series fresh after sixteen books!  Longtime fans will love the quirky characters and this is a good way to get introduced to a great series!  PLus, chocolate trivia!  who could ask for more?????  Rocco's rating:  Four paws!


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ROCCO reviews courtesy of Night Owl