Saturday, August 21, 2021

ROCCO'S August Cozy Reviews!!!!!!!

Meow, here are my cozy reviews for August!

All cozies here are published by Berkley.


A chatty corgi mystery

Jennifer Hawkins

MMPB - Aug 3, 2021

ROCCO's rating: Four paws

A charming tea room owner and her excitable talking corgi will need to work together to bring a killer to heel in this delightful cozy mystery. 

For ex-accountant Emma Reed and her beloved corgi, Oliver, opening Reed’s Classic Tea & Cakes in the idyllic village of Trevena in Cornwall has been the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.  Her cakes are popular, she has a host of wonderful new friends, and even a potential new romance.  There’s even time left over for plenty of long country walks with Oliver, who is not only the cutest corgi on record (at least to Emma), he happens to talk (at least to Emma).  What could be better?   

How about being asked to help cater the local Daphne DuMaurier literary festival?   

But when the festival organizer is found dead and foul play is suspected, Emma, Oliver and their friends are plunged deep into a poisonous mix of village jealousy, family tension, money troubles, and secret love affairs.  Emma quickly realizes it’s up to her and her intrepid corgi to discover a canny killer whose bite is worse than their bark.

Number two in a promising series.  Speaking for myself, I'm glad that now Berkley publishes cozies featuring animals that talk LOL.   Four paws!


A Chocoholic Mystery

JoAnn Carl

HC - Sale date 8/3/21

ROCCO's Rating:  4 1/2 paws

In this eighteenth mystery in the national bestselling Chocoholic series, a gang of crooks with a wicked sweet tooth wreaks havoc on the resort town of Warner Pier, and it's up to Lee Woodyard to rout the hungry rascals.

A frantic late-night phone call from her right-hand woman Dolly Jolly brings Lee Woodyard to the scene of a break-in at the Warner Pier jewelry store next door to TenHuis Chocolade. To her shock, the suspect being held at gunpoint by police is Dolly's boyfriend, Mike Westerly, who was recently hired as a night watchman specifically to prevent break-ins. Dolly hopes Lee can help straighten out the crazy misunderstanding.
Even crazier? The thieves took nothing of value from the jewelry store, only swiping some snacks. It's another in a series of break-ins by burglars the media has dubbed the Cookie Monsters. They've been hitting shops selling everything from sunglasses to shoes but stealing only sweets: lollipops, cookies, even chewing gum!
It all seems pretty funny--until the discovery of a dead body. With her friends and community in danger, Lee must stop one very sour killer before someone else comes to a bitter end.

Another long time series that never seems to run out of steam. Then again, who can resist a mystery featuring chocolate??????  four and a half paws


Dinner and a Murder Mysteries


MMPB - Sale date:  8/3/21

Actress Nora Blake finds her dream job when she is cast in a murder-mystery troupe that performs in an imposing but captivating old castle. When she stumbles upon a real murder, things take a nightmarish turn in this first book in an exciting new series.

Maybe it was too good to be true, but when Nora Blake accepted the job from Derek Corby, proprietor of Castle Dark, she could not see any downsides. She would sink her acting chops into the troupe’s intricately staged murder-mystery shows, earn free room and board in the fairy tale–like castle, and make friends with her new roommates, which include some seriously adorable kittens.

But something sinister lurks behind the walls of Castle Dark. During Nora’s second performance, one of her castmates plays the part of the victim a little too well. So well, in fact, that no one can revive him. He has been murdered. Not ready to give up her dream gig—or to be the next victim—Nora sets out to see which one of her fellow actors has taken the role of a murderous real-life villain.

I admit, the premise of this series intrigued me.  I've always loved a good mystery dinner theatre. and I'm sufficiently intrigued to see where the author will take the series next.  Four and a half paws!!!!!!!!

An old favorite rounds out this  month's entries from Berkley Prime Crime.....


Cat in the Stacks Mystery

Miranda James

HC - Sale date 8/31/21

ROCCO's rating:  Five Paws, of course!!!!!!

Librarian Charlie Harris and his faithful feline companion, Diesel, have inherited Charlie’s grandfather’s house, along with a deadly legacy: a decades-old crime scene, in this all-new mystery in the New York Times bestselling Cat in the Stacks series.

Charlie has always believed that his grandfather had sold his house to his longtime tenant, Martin Hale. So when Martin dies, Charlie is surprised to discover the house was not left to Martin but instead belongs to Charlie. As he and Diesel check out the house he remembers fondly from his childhood, he is pleasantly surprised that it is in better condition than expected. That is, until they find a literal skeleton in a closet.

While the sheriff’s department investigates the mysterious remains, Charlie digs deeper into the past for clues to the identity of the bones and why they are there. But the cold case heats up quickly when Martin’s grandson is found dead on the farm.

As Charlie delves into his own family history, he encounters many people who might have been motivated to take a life. But Charlie and Diesel know that things are not always what they seem, and that secrets seemingly lost to time have a way of finding their way back to haunt the present.

We always enjoy the adventures of Charlie and Diesel and this is another series that gets better with age like a fine wine.  And dont' those covers just keep getting cuter!!!!!!!!!  As always, Miranda James crafts a fine mystery, but the real stars are Charlie and Diesel.  Five paws

Want to win one of ROCCO's review copies?  Just leave your  name and email address in our comments section below.  ROCCO and will choose one winner on August 31st!  US entries only, please.

You must leave e-mail address to qualify for the drawing.  Good luck!

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Spotlight- Lexie Elliott HOW TO KILL YOUR BEST FRIEND






If you suspected your best friend, the person you were closest to in the whole world, was a murderer, what would you do? Would you confront her? Would you help keep her secret? Or would you begin to feel afraid? Most importantly, why don't you feel safe now that she's dead? From the author of The French Girl comes a novel full of secrets, suspense, and deadly twists.

Georgie, Lissa, and Bronwyn have been inseparable since dominating their college swim team; swimming has always been an escape from their own problems, but now their shared passion has turned deadly. How can it be true that Lissa, the strongest swimmer they know, drowned? Granted, there is something strange about Kanu Cove, where Lissa was last seen, swimming off the coast of the fabulous island resort she owned with her husband.

Lissa’s closest friends gather at the resort to honor her life, but Georgie and Bron can’t seem to stop looking over their shoulders. Danger lurks beneath the surface of the crystal-clear water, and even their luxurious private villas can’t help them feel safe. As the weather turns ominous, trapping the funeral guests together on the island, nobody knows who they can trust. Lissa’s death was only the beginning....


“Elliott, author of the psychological thrillers The French Girl (2018) and The Missing Years (2019), outdoes herself here. Readers might feel like they need a notebook to keep track of the threads of the complex plot: who has a secret history with whom, who has been telling lies about what, who really knows what happened on the day Lissa disappeared? Revelation follows revelation, with the pace increasing as the mysteries pile up, leaving us genuinely shocked at the end. A rousing success.”―Booklist

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Interview with Lexie Elliott, author of HOW TO KILL YOUR BEST FRIEND

A Conversation with Lexie Elliott, Author of HOW TO KILL YOUR BEST FRIEND

Tell us about HOW TO KILL YOUR BEST FRIEND! What inspired you to write this story?

HOW TO KILL YOUR BEST FRIEND is a psychological thriller, told through the eyes of Georgie and Bronwyn, who, together with Lissa, have been inseparable since dominating their college swim team. But Lissa, the strongest swimmer they know, has somehow drowned off the coast of the fabulous island resort she owned with her husband. Gathering together with Lissa’s closest friends on the island for her funeral, the two women find more questions than answers, and as the weather turns ominous, trapping them on the island, nobody knows who they can trust… The idea came to me whilst I was on holiday and I really liked the juxtaposition of the beautiful, sun-drenched setting with the inner darkness within the friendship group.


HOW TO KILL YOUR BEST FRIEND finds a group of college friends reunited in a tropical paradise to attend a memorial service. But it’s well known on the island that something sinister lurks beneath the blue waters. What made you choose this setting for the book? Is it based on a real place?

It is based (loosely) on a real island resort in Southeast Asia, but I won’t be spilling the beans on exactly where! The idea came to me whilst on holiday there; we were fortunate enough to be staying in a beautiful eco-resort, which was just heavenly, but it occurred to me that, despite the sunshine and the luxury, it could actually be quite terrifying if you were somehow stuck there, with the staff gradually melting away…


The story explores changing relationships between friends over time. What do you think is a key takeaway from the interactions in the book?

The characters all met when they were much younger, and much more careless and reckless—but time and circumstances have changed that, and they have to take responsibility now for their actions, both those in the present and those in the past.  To me, responsibility is really the key theme of the novel: both responsibility for oneself and to what extent one should take responsibility for friends and loved ones.


Each character in this novel has something to hide. Do you think everyone has secrets?

I’m not sure everybody has secrets of the magnitude of the characters within my novel, but I do think everyone has secrets—or at least, some part of them that they want to keep private. Nobody is an entirely open book; it’s part of human nature to present a curated facade. And that’s okay—the demands of society are such that we can’t display every little annoyance and irritation. Our curated facades allow us to have a civil, functioning relationship with the friend that we harbor some lingering resentment toward. Of course, in extreme cases, it might also allow us to consider killing that same friend!


Your two protagonists, Bronwyn and Georgie, are very different from each other. Do you relate to either character?

I relate to both, actually; more than that, I like them both very much. I think there’s a lot to like in both of them: Bronwyn is both a loving mother and a bright, practical woman who is trying to find some balance for herself now that family has overtaken career in her life, and Georgie is an extremely resilient young woman who has dragged herself out of desperate circumstances and is trying, in the face of all obstacles, to be a loyal friend.


Your characters are bonded by their love for swimming – tell us about your hobbies, and what you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Spare time—hah! There’s not a lot of that in my schedule! Exercise is important to me, though; I try to run most days, and I usually enter a marathon every year or so. Swimming has long been a passion of mine, both in the pool and in open water (I swam the English Channel solo in 2007), and I have a lovely group of like-minded friends with whom I used to go on swimming holidays, back in the days when travel was possible… As a family, we like to go on bike rides together and then snuggle up to watch a movie afterwards, and when we have the chance to travel again, anywhere with either surfing or skiing will be top of our list.


If HOW TO KILL YOUR BEST FRIEND became a movie, who would you cast as its main characters?

I always struggle with this question. The characters are exactly who they are in my mind, I can’t really think of them as anyone else—though I dare say if you gave me some suggestions, I’d have an opinion!


What are you working on next?

I’m working on my fourth novel, but it’s very early days and not fully formed in my head at present, so I can’t say too much about it for now. It will definitely be another psychological thriller, though.



Lexie Elliott, Photo © Nick James Photography