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? or

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: and also here:

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


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 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)

Tuesday, November 7, 2023


 TWILIGHT FALLS by Juneau Black (Vintage; 11/7/23), the fourth book in the Shady Hollow cozy mystery series, is the newest instalment in this popular series.  In this one, our intrepid reporter Vera Vixen is embroiled in a case involving star-crossed lovers whose affair may have turned deadly.

The first three—SHADY HOLLOW, COLD CLAY, and MIRROR LAKE, were published in early 2022 and received a rave review from Sarah Weinman in the NYT who called them her “favorite new comfort reads.” The first book is a repeat regional indie bestseller, is on its sixth printing, and sells consistently. And as a reminder, Juneau Black is the pseudonym of two former Boswell Book Company booksellers in Milwaukee who came up with the idea for this series while pricing finger puppets.


These books are a true delight—you will find yourself wanting to grab a coffee and pistachio morning bun from Joe’s Mug, to peruse the shelves at Nevermore Books, and to enjoy freshly popped popcorn while joining in the Apple Blossom Walk.  Oh, and solving the murder right along with Vera, of course!  Four and a half paws.



The fourth book in the Shady Hollow mystery series sees Vera embroiled in a case involving star-crossed lovers whose affair may have turned deadly.

It's spring in Shady Hollow, and romance is in the air. Even reporter Vera Vixen is caught up in the season as her relationship with new police chief Orville Braun blossoms. But true love is not always smooth sailing, as two of the hollow's young residents come to find. Jonah Atwater and Stasia von Beaverpelt find themselves battling their families in order to be together. And when Jonah's father, Shelby, goes over the top of Twilight Falls, all signs point to Stasia being the murderer. 

The evidence against Stasia appears overwhelming, and Orville arrests her. It looks like the case is closed, but Vera isn't so sure. There are almost too many clues indicating Stasia is the killer, leading her to suspect someone is setting Stasia up. Besides, what about the mysterious ghostly creature skulking around town at night? Maybe he or she was involved? As Vera investigates further, her sleuthing puts her in direct opposition to Orville, and soon she's stirred up a hornet's nest of trouble.


Praise for the Shady Hollow Mystery Series


“The plotting is sharp, the prose lean and the atmosphere pure joy. Vixen and the rest of the critters never feel like anthropomorphic Disney cartoon characters. I eagerly await a fresh infusion of Shady Hollow mayhem."
—Sarah Weinman, The New York Times


“Offers sunshine and murder in perfect proportion to keep readers entertained and engrossed.” 

Shelf Awareness


“An absolutely delightful cozy read… An remarkable empathy is also on display in these pages, putting this book firmly in the category of heartwarming reads despite the murders it chronicles.”

—Criminal Element


Watership Down meets Mickey Spillane. A mystery of rare and sinister charm.”

Alan Bradley, New York Times bestselling author of the Flavia de Luce series


“A magical confection that will leave you nostalgic for the storybooks of your youth.  It’s quirky and clever, charming and smart.  I read Shady Hollow in one sitting and can’t wait for more!”

—Sarah Addison Allen, New York Times bestselling author of First Frost

“Get ready to fall in love with Shady Hollow and its quirky cast of animal characters. Charming and clever, Juneau Black will take readers on delightful ride as the mystery unfolds. I can’t wait to read more!”

—Amy E. Reichert, author of The Kindred Spirits Supper Club

Shady Hollow must be the coziest of cozy crime stories. I not only enjoyed reading about it—I want to live there, surrounded by enigmatic pandas, diligent mice and well-read corvids. I have to try the food, listen to the gossip and visit the tiny café—and I don’t even care that there is a murderer on the loose!”

—Leonie Swann, bestselling author of Three Bags Full

Friday, October 27, 2023



We recently came across a new (well new to us) series that we'd like to introduce you to!  the Shady Hollow Mysteries!

Set in the fictional town of Shady Hollow, the cast of characters is quite unique in that they are all animals!  there' Vera Vixen, a very foxy reporter (mainly because she is a fox - a four footed one) who's got a real nose for trouble and always seeks the truth; Lenore Lee, the raven in charge of the town's bookshop who loves a good mystery, on paper or in real life; Chief of Police Theodore Meade, a bear of a fellow (no pun intended) a brawny individual who's usually more intersted in fishing than crime solving; Dorothy Springfield, a rat who likes to get in the middle of things; Gladys Honysuckle, the town gossip; and so many more!

The first volume, SHADY HOLLOW, introduces us to the town and its quirky characters in the form of the murder of a curmudgeonly toad.  Reporter Vera Vixen is, of course, on the job --and her investigations turn up more than one skeleton in quite a few closets!  We found ourselves solving the murder right along with Vera!

In the second volume, COLD CLAY, some long-buried secrets come to light, throwing suspicion on a beloved local denizen.

It's autumn in Shady Hollow, and residents are looking forward to harvest feasts. But then a rabbit discovers a grisly crop: the bones of a moose.

Soon, the owner of Joe's Mug is dragged out of the coffeeshop and questioned by the police about the night his wife walked out of his life—and Shady Hollow—forever. It seems like an open-and-shut case, but dogged reporter Vera Vixen doesn't believe gentle Joe is a killer. She'll do anything to prove his innocence ... even if it means digging into secrets her neighbors would rather leave buried.

The third novel in the Shady Hollow mystery series, is MIRROR LAKE, n which Vera Vixen takes on her most challenging case yet: solving the murder of a rat who appears to still be alive.

Change is afoot in Shady Hollow, with an unusually tense election shaping up between long-serving Chief of Police Theodore Meade and Vera's beau, Deputy Orville Braun. But the political tension takes a back seat when resident eccentric Dorothy Springfield becomes convinced her beloved husband, Edward, is dead, and that the rat claiming to be him is actually a fraud.

While most of the town dismisses Dorothy's rants as nothing more than a delusion, Vera has her doubts. More than a few things don't add up in the Springfield household, but Vera will have to tread carefully, since, with Orville's attention on the election, she may be more exposed than ever.

Which brings us to the latest entry, out November 7th - TWILIGHT FALLS. 

 Our gal Vera gets embroiled in a case involving a pair of star crossed lovers - which Vera can relate to, since she's involved in her own relationship with police chief Orville Braun.  Shades of Romeo and Juliet overshadow this mystery of young residents battling their families to find true love - and when the father of one of them goes over the falls, Vera takes it upon herself to find out whodunit, even though her sleuthing puts her in opposition with Orville, which, of course, doens't bode well for their relationship!

Intrigued?   Would you like to win a copy of Shady Hollow, the first book in the series?  If so, leave a comment with your email address in our comments section below!  ROCCO's brother Maxx will select one lucky winner at random!  US residents only please.  Contest ends midnight, November 7th!

Friday, October 13, 2023

ROCCO'S Cozy Reviews for October!

  Ma-Row! Let's see what's in store for October!


Berkley Mass Market; October 10, 2023


It’s Christmastime in Scottsdale in the newest entry in the Cupcake Bakery Mystery series from New York Times bestselling author Jenn McKinlay. According to Kirkus Reviews“Multitudes of motives make it difficult to catch the killer in this sweet tale.” When country music star Shelby Vaughn arrives in town for a concert series, she hires her old friend Angie and the rest of the bakery crew to cater for her VIP guests. It’s a sweet gig, and despite Shelby’s heated argument with her manager, Mel and the crew decide to make the best of it. But things turn sour wen Shelby’s manager is found dead, clutching a cupcake and a bit of fabric from a Santa suit. When all suspicions lead back to Shelby, Mel and Angie stand up for their friend, determined to prove her innocence before she’s frosted for a crime she didn’t commit.

We love any book by Jenn McKinlay!  This one has a "sweet" plot and lots of action!  Followers of this series will not be disappointed! Five paws!




Berkley Mass Market; October 10, 2023


The trades have already weighed in on USA Today bestselling author Sarah Fox’s second entry in the True Confections Mystery series, with Kirkus Reviews calling the novel, “As sweet as its many sugar-infused puns.” Winter has arrived in Larch Haven, Vermont, bringing with it holiday cheer, lots of snow and the annual “Baking Spirits Bright” holiday baking competition.  As Becca preps to enter an edible model of Larch Haven, complete with a cake mountain, gingerbread cottages, and sugar-glass canals, she’s up against [some sort of candy pun for stiff competition]. The competition quickly heats to a boiling point, with flaring tempers and mysterious happenings. When one of the entrants is found dead, stabbed with Becca’s chocolate chipper, Becca tries to salvage the season by finding the killer. But the heat is on, and Becca is in danger of getting burned.

Can we ever get enough of culinary mysteries?  Lots of baking ones this month, and Sarah Fox shines with this tale.  Four and a half paws




Berkley Prime Crime Hardcover; October 24, 2023

This is the first ever Christmas mystery in the New York Times bestselling Bibliophile Mystery series, ripe with “pleasing characters and vivid descriptions of glorious Scotland” according to Kirkus Reviews! In this Christmassy chapter Brooklyn and Derek travel to Scotland for business and pleasure—to bare witness to their dear friend Claire’s marriage to her [dashing beau] and to solve a little mystery in the castle library; twelve very rare, very important books have gone missing! Once in Scotland, as Brooklyn starts working on the mystery of the missing books, bumps in the night lead to the deaths of two guests, and Brooklyn and Derek will have to race to find a killer and a book thief in this tricky Christmas tale.

This series is a personal favorite of ours!  We love reading about Brooklyn's adventures and solving the mysteries (always book related) right along with her and her hunk of a husband, Derek!  And in meow opinion, never too early to read about Christmas!  Not necessary to read others in the series to catch up but it is highly recommended! Five Paws.





Berkley Prime Crime Hardcover; on sale October 17, 2023


Librarian Kathleen Paulson and her enchanted felines return in the latest installment in the New York Times bestselling Magical Cats series. Cat lovers and fans of the series will be pleased, as Kirkus Reviews notes the novel is “Heavy on the world of continuing characters, with a few cat moments thrown in as crowd pleasers.” When a water leak repair results in a body being found behind the walls of the store run by the artists’ co-op that Kathleen's friend Maggie is part of, everyone is completely mystified as to whose body it is and who hid it there. But as the dust settles, Kathleen's boyfriend, Detective Marcus Gordon, begins to suspect that the body could belong to a young woman who disappeared more than thirty years ago. When a friend with a connection to the young woman asks Kathleen to look into the circumstances around the disappearance, she and her cats—who have a special feline talent for catching felons—find themselves digging up secrets that at least one person in Mayville Heights would much prefer stay buried.\

Another fine entry in this tried and true series.  I mean one magical cat is phenomenal but two!!!!!!  And we love solving the mysteries right along with Kathleen. Once again, it can be read as a standalone, but we highly recommend starting with book one!  Five Paws!

Tuesday, September 19, 2023


 This fall, readers can expect the next deliciously deadly installment in Agatha Award-winning author Mia P. Manansala’s Tita Rosie’s Kitchen Mysteries. 

Lila Macapagal lives in small town Shady Palms, Illinois, where she and her relatives run Tita Rosie’s Kitchen. They serve delicious Filipino dishes, and they solve crimes on the side. In MURDER AND MAMON (Berkley Prime Crime Trade Original; on sale September 19, 2023), the fourth highly anticipated novel in Manansala’s series, homicide follows Lila and her aunties to the grand opening of their new laundromat—and Lila will have to air out everyone’s dirty laundry to find the killer.


The grand opening of Lila’s family’s new laundromat quickly turns from celebration to tragedy when the building is vandalized and a relative who recently came to visit from the Philippines is found dead inside. The Calendar Crew (Lila’s crime-solving aunties, April, Mae, and June) have stuck their noses into everybody’s business for years. Now, the tables have turned as Lila must pry into the Calendar Crew’s lives to figure out who has a vendetta against the aunties and stop them before they strike again.


Manansala’s books embrace the conventions of the cozy genre while also expanding them, introducing readers to a modern Filipino heroine who faces real, relatable issues as she solves mysteries. 


MURDER AND MAMON is perfect for readers of Jesse Q. Sutanto and Roselle Lim, and for fans of cozy mysteries and romantic comedies.


Wednesday, August 23, 2023

ROCCO reviews Laura Child's HONEY DROP DEAD!

 Laura Childs’s HONEY DROP DEAD (Berkley Hardcover; August 8, 

2023), the latest installment her beloved New York Times bestselling Tea Shop Mystery series! Kirkus Reviews raves, “Historic Charleston and cream teas are a perfect backdrop for genteel murder and mayhem.”


Murder and political intrigue are teatime guests as chaos erupts at tea maven Theodosia Brownings elegant event. A phony beekeeper sprays toxic smoke at the guests, and then a shot rings out. Osgood Claxton III, a candidate for state legislature, is dead. As Theodosia investigates, against the pleas of her friends, she learns there are many people who might want to see the politico dead, and uncovered secrets threaten to turn this tragic event into a political disaster.

ROCCO's Review:

Once again we are treated to the investigative prowess of Theodosia Browning and her inimitable sidekick Drayton!  the notion of a phony beekeeper is certainly original and a departure from something that Theodosia has investigated before.  Theo indulges in her favorite past time:  snooping around, and Drayton is a loyal, if at times hesitant, assistant!  Theo whittles down the list of suspects in her usual fashion and provides an enjoyable read.  Those not famiiar with the series can easily pick it up, but once you get hooked on Theo you will want to read all of her adventures from the beginning!  The recipes at the back of the book are always a nice bonus!   The ending is in my opinion the most dramatic and unexpected one yet!  Can't wait to see how Theo and Riley's relatonship continues to progress going forward. A definite five paws!


Laura Childs has donated a copy of HONEY DROP DEAD as a giveaway to one lucky commenter! To enter, leave your name and e-mail address in our comments section below!  ROCCO's brother Maxx will select one lucky winner at random form the entries (U.S. only, please)  Contest ends midnight, Saturday September 2nd.

Friday, August 4, 2023


Ma-Row!  Here are my cozy reviews for August!

Starting off with an old favorite:


Laurie Cass

Bookmobile cat mystery


Five Stars!

When the owner of a local candy store is murdered, librarian Minnie Hamilton and her rescue cat, Eddie, prepare to find the sweet spot to solve a crime.

The charming town of Chilson, Michigan, is beautiful in the spring, and local librarian Minnie and her cat Eddie are delivering great reads far and wide on one of the first warm days of the year. But a chill sweeps through them when they discover that one of their favorite patrons, the local candy store owner, has been found murdered. Although Minnie can't understand who could have a motive to murder such a kind man, she determines that the sticky problem isn't hers to solve.

However, when rumors start flying around town and the police have no leads, Minnie decides to throw her investigative hat into the ring. The more Minnie investigates, the less certain she is that the victim's past is as wholesome as his reputation. But Minnie has plenty of experience unearthing inconvenient truths, and she and Eddie won't rest until they determine how the candy store owner met his bitter end.

We never tire of the adventures of Minnie and her delightful tabby cat Eddie, even after 11 volumes!  Even though Minnie does the heavy lifting it's Eddie who steals the show!  New and old fans alike will fall in love Five stars


Margaret Louden

Open Book Mystery

MMPB/August 1, 2023/ Four and a half stars

When murder taints writer-in-residence Penelope Parish’s charming British bookshop, she must follow the clues to catch a killer before tempers boil over.
Penelope Parish thought she’d turned the page on her amateur sleuthing days but when the owner of Upper Chumley-on-Stokes’ proposed first high-end gourmet shop is poisoned, the American novelist starts to wonder if she and her quaint British town are in for another rewrite. It turns out that not everyone was a fan of Simeon Foster’s farm-sourced charcuterie and imported pastries—many of the locals were outraged by the potential new competition.
With a full menu of suspects on her hands, this just might be Penelope’s toughest case yet. Luckily, her friends at the Open Book are there to help with every twist of the poisoned pen.
A nice mystery, good for a rainy day, with a plucky sleuth, good characters and a charming cat. Who could ask for more?


Theodosia’s Honey Bee Tea was an elegant affair set in Charleston’s new Petigru Park amid newly planted native grasses and a community beekeeping project. But when a phony beekeeper shows up and sprays toxic smoke at the guests, the party erupts in chaos. Worse yet, a shot rings out and Osgood Claxton III, candidate for state legislature, falls to the ground—dead.

Holly Burns, the gallery owner who asked Theodosia to cater the tea, is understandably heartbroken. A man is dead, her guests are angry and injured, and the paintings that were on display are left in tatters. When the police don’t seem to have a clue, when old-line politicos don’t want questions asked, Holly begs Theodosia to run a shadow investigation and help restore her gallery’s good name.

Between hosting a 
Wind in the Willows Tea and a Glam Girl Tea, Theodosia questions everyone that had a bone to pick with Claxton. This includes Booker, an angry outsider artist; Lamar Lucket, Claxton’s political opponent; and Mignon Merriweather, the dead man’s soon-to-be ex-wife. But the investigation becomes a political hot potato following a second murder, the revelation of a messy affair, a chase through a swamp, and a vandalized shop.
Note:  This is the synopsis.  We will review this book on a separate posting in August!

Theodosia’s Honey Bee Tea was an elegant affair set in Charleston’s new Petigru Park amid newly planted native grasses and a community beekeeping project. But when a phony beekeeper shows up and sprays toxic smoke at the guests, the party erupts in chaos. Worse yet, a shot rings out and Osgood Claxton III, candidate for state legislature, falls to the ground—dead.

Holly Burns, the gallery owner who asked Theodosia to cater the tea, is understandably heartbroken. A man is dead, her guests are angry and injured, and the paintings that were on display are left in tatters. When the police don’t seem to have a clue, when old-line politicos don’t want questions asked, Holly begs Theodosia to run a shadow investigation and help restore her gallery’s good name.

Between hosting a 
Wind in the Willows Tea and a Glam Girl Tea, Theodosia questions everyone that had a bone to pick with Claxton. This includes Booker, an angry outsider artist; Lamar Lucket, Claxton’s political opponent; and Mignon Merriweather, the dead man’s soon-to-be ex-wife. But the investigation becomes a political hot potato following a second murder, the revelation of a messy affair, a chase through a swamp, and a vandalized shop.
This next one debuted in May, but we love this series so we're including it here!

Domestic Diva Series
Krista Davis
HC/Kensington/May 23, 2023/five Stars

 In the New York Times bestselling author’s enormously popular culinary cozy series featuring a young Martha Stewart in the making, the maven of entertaining and sometimes sleuth Sophie Winston. Delicious recipes and a picturesque setting make this a delight for fans of Diane Mott Davidson and M.C. Beaton as Sophie must see through the lies of the potential suspects and try to keep a killer at a convention of ghost kitchens from making a ghost of one of the guests…

Sophie is busy handling the first ever convention of the Association of Ghost Kitchens—restaurants that do delivery only—but she’s taking a little time out for a lunch meeting organized by A Healthy Meal. The group is dedicated to providing meals for children in need, and as a bonus, it’ll give Sophie the perfect opportunity to ogle the lavish Old Town home of socialite Geraldine Stansfield. Gerrie’s dining room is impeccably furnished, the table laden with gleaming crystal and prized china. If it weren’t for the dead man lying on the floor, everything would be perfect . . .

No one knows the victim—or at least, no one claims to. But a little snooping by Sophie reveals links to many local notables. In fact, not only was he a client of Geraldine’s late husband, an attorney—every member of the Stansfield clan knew the deceased. But only one knows what he was doing in Gerrie’s


Gerrie’s elegant abode looks spotless, but there’s plenty of dirty linen in those family closets. Now Sophie will have to get the killer to come clean before he spoils another appetite—for good . . .
Sophie solves a mystery, makes delicious food, interacts with Natasha and may or may not be getting back with her ex-husband.  Sounds like a good time to us!!!!!  Love this series which never disappoints. So glad Kensington picked it up!!!!!  Five paws!