Tuesday, June 27, 2023

A Crafty Crime Guest Post

 June 28 – My Reading Journeys – CHARACTER GUEST POST  

The Trials and Tribulations of an Amateur Sleuth

By Anastasia Pollack

The problem with being a fictional character is that you have little to no control over your own life. Take me, for example. My name is Anastasia Pollack. I was a happily married middle-class suburban wife and mother who worked as the crafts editor for a women’s magazine. But that all changed the day author Lois Winston plucked me—kicking and screaming—out of my happy existence to become the protagonist of her cozy mystery series.

Suddenly, I discovered my loving husband loved Lady Luck more than his wife and kids. Before the first page of the first book, he’d dropped dead at a casino in Las Vegas, leaving me with debt up the wazoo, his communist mother, and his loan shark. Then the bodies started dropping. Dead bodies that didn’t die from natural causes. 

And that was just in Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries. There have been twelve books and three novellas to date, and the murders and mayhem just keep coming.

Rumor has it Lois Winston, my author, began her writing career penning romance and romantic suspense novels. I often wonder how different my life would have been had she chosen me as one of her early heroines. I would have had a happily-ever-after at the end of the book and not felt like I was trapped in an updated version of Groundhog Day where only the victims, the killers, and the modes of murder change from book to book.  

Okay, the plots are also quite different in each book, but still, they’re murder mysteries. People continue to die, and with Lois having chosen me as her sleuth, I never know if I’ll survive to the next book. That’s why I consider myself a reluctant amateur sleuth. Extremely reluctant. I’m not one of those nosy elderly (or not so elderly) ladies you find in many cozy mystery series. Given my druthers, I’d rather be doing anything other than trying to figure out whodunit.

I’ve been told I needn’t worry about my imminent demise because I’m the star of the series. However, when someone is pulling your strings, do you really have an ironclad guarantee that person won’t get tired of you at some point and snip those strings? Then what? What happens to characters who are no longer wanted or needed by their authors? I’m not sure I want to find out. What if it’s worse than contending with all those dead bodies?

At least, after turning my world upside-down in the first book, Lois graciously wrote in a budding romance for me, one that recently resulted in a wedding between photojournalist (and possible spy?) Zack Barnes and me. In A Crafty Collage of Crime, we’re on our honeymoon. Does Lois at least leave us alone long enough to enjoy the honeymoon? Of course not. Within hours of the plane touching down, I stumble upon yet another dead body.

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Rudolph Day post 3


About the book 

Joy has a secret, one she promised never to reveal, but when her best friend passes away, she finds herself back home at Christmas Tree Ranch facing her greatest challenge yet: Her best friend’s brother, the love of her life and the one who broke her heart.

Tanner is devastated when he hears about his estranged twin sister’s death and when that brings the woman who holds his heart captive home, he’s ready to make the commitment and keep her home for good. Except she returns with three year old Caden who looks exactly like him.

Joy knows Tanner no longer wants her, he had made that very clear four years before, but as they spend time together helping Caden heal, she finds herself hoping their love might be reunited.

Caden instantly works his way into Tanner’s heart, as does Joy, but her lies that Caden isn’t his keeps him from making the commitment he longs to make.

Their love rekindles but they will have to remain steadfast in order to withstand the onslaught of the past. Will the truth push them apart forever or will it set them free and lead to happily-ever-after? 

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Sunday, June 25, 2023

New Releases That Caught My Eye


Murder is a Piece of Cake 

by Valerie Burns 

With small town New Bison’s Spring Festival just around the corner, the pressure is on Maddy to continue her late great-aunt Octavia’s legacy. That means scoring the top prize and transforming Baby Cakes into Southwest Michigan’s must-visit bakery, even though her inexperience in the kitchen brings nightmares of humiliating tagged photos and scathing reviews. Format

Available on Amazon

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Misfortune Cookie

 by Vivien Chien 

Lana, now officially manager of her family’s restaurant, the Ho-Lee Noodle House, is headed to sunny Irvine, California to attend a restaurant convention with her sister, Anna May, along for the ride. The girls’ very Americanized Aunt Grace has asked them to stay in her posh rental, and as the trip begins, it seems to be just what they both needed. Even the restaurant convention proves to be worthwhile and entertaining, especially when Lana witnesses a dramatic cat fight between a fortune cookie vendor and a journalist. 

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Hidden Beneath 

by Barbara Ross 

Julia and her mother, Jacqueline, have come to the exclusive summer colony of Chipmunk Island to attend a memorial service for Jacqueline’s old friend Ginny, who’s been officially declared dead half a decade after she went out for her daily swim in the harbor and was never seen again. But something seems fishy at the service—especially with the ladies of the Wednesday Club. 

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Charlotte Illes Is Not A Detective

 by Katie Siegel  

As a kid, Charlotte Illes’ uncanny sleuthing abilities made her a minor celebrity. But in high school, she hung up her detective’s hat and stashed away the signature blue landline in her “office”—aka garage—convinced that finding her adult purpose would be as easy as tracking down missing pudding cups or locating stolen diamonds. 

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Please Don’t Push Up the Daisies

 by Diane Vallere 

When interior decorator Madison Night finally meets the family of boyfriend and police captain Tex Allen, the circumstances are less than joyful. His sister’s broody botanist husband left Lily to raise their four rambunctious boys on her own, and she’s at wit’s end. The only bright spot is the mid-century ranch he gave her in their divorce settlement. 

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Saturday, June 24, 2023

Rudolph Day post 2


About the book 

It’s WinterFest time in the Valley of Artisans, and River Carter’s new life may be about to snowball. Her latest business venture is taking off, but could it also take her down? Meanwhile, Uncle Jim and Sara announce a winter wedding—but will their trip down the aisle end before it begins? Who will help Della run the cafĂ©? And when one of Vera’s big prayers for River is answered, will life be the same for any of them again?

Open for Miracles is book 2 in the Valley of Artisans series, a gentle, small-town fiction series by inspirational Christian author AmyLu Riley. Welcome back to the Valley of Artisans, where readers will want to return again and again.

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Rudolph Day Cozy Mysteries Set at Christmas


Welcome to the Barks & Beans Cafe, a quaint place where folks pet shelter dogs while enjoying a cup of java...and where murder sometimes pays a visit.

After much cajoling, Macy gives in to her neighbor, Vera, and agrees to come to her book club's Christmas party so she can share about the cafe. While public speaking isn't Macy's thing, she wants to brighten Vera's lonely holiday season...and she can sell a little house blend on the side.

When a lively book discussion spirals into a public roast of the mayor—who happens to be sitting in their midst—things get uncomfortable. Soon afterward, the mayor shows up dead in Vera's bathroom, and no amount of gingerbread cookies or eggnog can restore Vera to the club's good graces. 'Tis the season for Macy to find the murderer, or else Vera might be taking a long winter's nap in a jail cell.

Join siblings Macy and Bo Hatfield as they sniff out crimes in their hometown...with plenty of dogs along for the ride! The Barks & Beans Cafe cozy mystery series features a small town, an amateur sleuth, and no swearing or graphic scenes.

The Barks & Beans Cafe cozy mystery series in order:

Book 1: No Filter

Book 2: Iced Over

Book 3: Fair Trade

Book 4: Spilled Milk

Book 5: Trouble Brewing

Book 6: Cold Drip

Book 7: Roast Date 

Sunday, June 18, 2023

New Release How the Murder Crumbles by Debra Sennenfelder


About the book 

Wingate, Connecticut, is famed as one of the top ten shopping destinations in the state, and home to Mallory Monroe’s beloved Cookie Shop—a place where patrons are greeted with the heavenly aroma of freshly baked cookies that are as beautifully decorated as they are insanely delicious. 

Buy the book 

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Thursday, June 15, 2023

Death of a Soprano by Nupur Tustin Great Escapes Book Tour Spotlight and Excerpt


About the book 

When murder invades Haydn’s opera stage, scandal isn’t far behind . . .

Charged with ensuring that an imperial wedding transpires without mishap, composer Joseph Haydn has his hands full. Barely seventeen, Archduke Ferdinand Karl, the imperial bridegroom, is reluctant to marry. And the bride, Maria Beatrice, has her reservations as well.

But when an extortion note surfaces—an unpleasant reminder of the bridegroom’s shameful past—the wedding seems truly doomed. Worse still, all the evidence points to Haydn’s prima donna, Lucia Pacelli, being the blackmailer.

Before Haydn can confront her, however, Lucia is fatally poisoned. And Haydn is left to wonder whether his imperial charge had a hand in her death.

Troubled by the dark secrets he might uncover, Haydn is nevertheless compelled to investigate. Will the young Archduke be found innocent? Or must Haydn lead His Imperial Highness to the gallows?

Read an excerpt . . . 

Lucia in the form of teas.” He paused, unsure how to communicate his conjectures.

“Lucia’s symptoms came and went, so a tea made to remedy the particular situation was the best solution. She wasn’t the only person who sought Maria Anna’s remedies, however. Archduke Ferdinand has a tendency to indigestion. The symptoms were always the same.”

“This pouch you say was intended for the Archduke?” Herr Hipfl sounded skeptical.

“It may have been.”

“How then did it find its way into your prima donna’s changing room?”


Buy the book . . . 

Purchase Links
Buy Direct & Support the Author (ntustin.com/shop): https://ntustin.com/product/death-of-a-soprano/

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Monday, June 12, 2023

Author Interview feat Debra Sennefelder New Release How the Murder Crumbles Great Escapes Book Tour


June 13 – My Reading Journeys – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

About the book 

Debra Sennefelder whips up cookies and crime in a delicious new cozy series, perfect for fans of Joanne Fluke and Peg Cochran.

Wingate, Connecticut, is famed as one of the top ten shopping destinations in the state, and home to Mallory Monroe’s beloved Cookie Shop—a place where patrons are greeted with the heavenly aroma of freshly baked cookies that are as beautifully decorated as they are insanely delicious.

But things aren’t going so smoothly for Mallory. Her two employees are a disaster in the kitchen, she catches her boyfriend with another woman, and she’s seen having a fierce argument with food blogger Beatrice Wright, who accuses Mallory of stealing her cookie recipe. Then Beatrice turns up dead in her kitchen, flour outlining her body and a bloodied marble rolling pin nearby. Mallory immediately becomes suspect number one, her sales plummet, and she desperately tries to clear her name—but that’s not the only murder the killer is baking up.

Debra Sennefelder has cooked up a perfect recipe—endearing characters, a picture-perfect evocation of small-town life, and a quaint sweets shop. And just when things get a little too comfy, there’s always a murder or two for good measure.

Chat with the author  

Hi Debra! Welcome back to the blog! 

And thanks for offering an interview for the Great Escapes tour of your newest book!  

Get ready for some never before asked qustions.  (at least never asked here) 

Let's get to it! 

  1. Background ...all if a sudden I am just curious about what you did before.   

I had a few jobs before I became a full-time author. I worked in pre-hospital care, in retail and customer service. I also had a food blog, which was a hobby for me. It seemed to blend the best of two worlds for me – my love of baking/cooking and my love of writing. I started the blog when blogs were becoming a thing and I reviewed cookbooks and shared my recipes. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time in the day to work a full-time job, write a blog and pursue fiction writing so I made the decision to shut the blog down. That was a couple years before I sold my first book.

2. I know your fans including me are so excited about the new series.  I am sure it had been a work of love.  

Can you tell it how it originated? 

I had an idea for a new series, and I was working with my agent on the proposal. During that process, I was online and discovered a new series that had just released, and it was far too similar to my idea for me to continue. So, we scrapped that idea and then I started brainstorming again. What I came up with was another culinary-themed series featuring a cookie artist who makes beautiful cookie bouquets. 

  1. How long did it take you (if you can remember) to 'Pull the Trigger' so to speak and actually take the plunge into a new series?  

It had been something I’d been thinking about for a while so when I discussed it with my agent, it only took a few weeks before I had the short outline and first fifty pages written.

  1. This might be an odd question but can you tell us which came first the series plot or the characters? 

The characters come before the plot for me. But first I needed to have a world in place and that includes the protagonist and what she does for a living, her friends/family, her town, her enemies and all of their backstory.

4.  Pretend your a reader . . . 

Who is you favorite character?  

I don’t have one. Not even with the books by other authors I read. 

5. Speaking of characters.  Have you ever thought of including a cast of characters in the book. 

My publisher hasn’t mentioned it, so it’s something I haven’t considered.

6.  How did your cast evolve into the story? Did you already have an outline and plan on each character?  Were there any characters that kind of  pushed thier way in? 

After I knew Mallory Monroe was going to be the main character, I then set out to surround her with the people she needed in her life. There are her close friends, her family, two lovely ladies who love to share gossip, the thorn in her side and a person from her past. As I wrote the outline for the story, I got to know those characters a lot better. Aspen’s character was probably the one who once she got on the page, I felt like she needed to hang around for a while. And I’m so glad she did. She was a hoot to write.

7. I love that you include recipes.  How did you decide which recipes to include?  

I usually write the first draft of the manuscript before I decide which recipes is shared within the story and from there I decide which recipes to include at the end of the book. It’s usually the recipes I really want to make as I’m writing the second draft. 

8. Do you have a favorite?  

My favorite cookie recipe from HOW THE MURDER CRUMBLES is the Oatmeal Raisin cookie recipe. 

9. Now that this ones Done/Out of the Oven . . . Can you give us a sneak of maybe what you are working on? 

I’m working on the next Food Blogger book. It’s set at Halloween and there’s a haunted house with a legendary ghost that supposedly haunts it and legend has it that every twenty years a woman dies in that house. 

Author links 







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Character Guest Post Muddled Matrimonial Murder by Kim Davis great Escapes Book Tour

 June 13 – My Reading Journeys – CHARACTER GUEST POST

Character Guest Post

Tillie Skyler

There’s so much to do over the next two weeks to get ready for Thanksgiving, which I’m hosting at my house this year. Fortunately, at eighty-plus years, I really don’t have to lift a finger with the cooking or cleaning. It’s helpful to have so many talented cooks in the family. Foremost, there’s my professional chef grandson, Brian. He owns Oceana, a wonderful Laguna Beach restaurant which has garnered quite the accolades. Then there is Emory, Brian’s girlfriend. She’s a cupcake caterer and comes up with the best flavors. My favorite is, of course, her gimlet cupcakes. Between you and me, I hope to see an engagement ring on Emory’s finger soon, but I can’t pressure them too much since my grandson scolds me for meddling. Then there’s Emory’s twin sister, Carrie, who is a professional caterer, and their half sister, Vannie, who lives with me and is a terrific home cook. 

As matriarch of the family, my job is to provide direction on how I’d like the meal to be planned and I have plenty of ideas. Which is another reason I decided that on top of our Thanksgiving dinner, we should host a drop-in brunch for family and friends. There are so many people coming in from out-of-town for my honorary grandson, Brad’s wedding. Why he and Gabe scheduled their wedding only two days after Thanksgiving is anyone’s guess, but I suppose it’s not my place to question or criticize. 

Of course, nothing ever goes as planned, and now I’m not sure about our Thanksgiving feast and I’m not sure the wedding is even going to take place. You see, Emory and Brad stumbled across a body at the site of the planned nuptials. Unfortunately, it appears that both Brad and his intended, Detective Gabe O’Neill, had the motivation to kill the victim. Instead of focusing on Thanksgiving and wedding planning, we need to launch an investigation to clear the grooms of any wrongdoing. You might think that an eighty-something year old shouldn’t get in the middle of a murder investigation. But, ever since Emory came to be a part of my life, I’ve found a knack for helping track down clues and getting people to open up to us. Who wouldn’t want to chitchat with a little old lady such as myself?

Forgive me for cutting my musings short, but I need to freshen up and head out to a local wine bar to question the handsome owner about the victim. It seems she met up with someone shortly before her demise. At least that’s our hypothesis, given the glasses of wine she paid for. Just don’t tell the investigating detective that we have access to a hacker to find out these kinds of details to aid in our investigation. Hopefully, we’ll figure out a way to pass on the clues without implicating ourselves. And if you don’t hear from me anytime soon, I wish you and yours a wonderful feast!

Thanks so much for joining me today and I appreciate the opportunity to share a bit about my new release with you, as viewed through the eyes of octogenarian, 

Tillie Skyler! 

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Friday, June 9, 2023

New Release Lost And Clowned by Dana Mentink


About the book 

Pi Steely’s life is a circus. Literally.

As business manager for a mostly animal-free traveling show, she’s used to the unexpected. She lives year round with acrobats, trapeze artists, a performing dog, and her uncle the ringmaster. Their latest stop is a town on the California coast which should be a quick in and out, but when Pi’s soul mate turns up unexpectedly married and a body is discovered near the big top, the Steely Circus is plunged into chaos.

Who among her dear traveling companions is a murderer? What’s the dark secret from the past that’s casting a murderous shadow over the present? And how can a part time clown and her disobedient show dog uncover the truth?

Solving the mystery will be her most brilliant performance…or her final encore.

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Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Guest Post. Fungi Foul Play

 June 8 – My Reading Journeys –

Hi there, how are you? It is my pleasure to introduce myself, my name is Kandi and I have the privilege of living in the beautiful town of Carolan Springs. I’ve lived here, like, forever. I have been living here since I was a child, and I cannot envision living in any other place. The town I live in is situated a few hours away from Denver and has a charming Main Street that I adore. I have the option of driving to it, or I can take the trail that goes through the town and out to the lake. It’s beautiful too. Winter brings such a magical feeling to the atmosphere, like you’re living in a snow globe. It’s when we have quite a few tourists, too. Along with the fall, when the town hosts a homesteading fair. 
I was left a large, old house by my grandfather, and it is currently my home. My house is on a cul-de-sac, and I have chickens I care for in the backyard. It was because of one of my mischievous chickens escaping from its cage, I had the chance to meet my new neighbor. Anne Freemont moved here from another state, but if it wasn’t for her, I probably wouldn’t be able to, like, write this. Oh, almost forgot, that’s another thing. She despises it when I use ‘like’ a lot, but I’m trying to do better. But I’ll probably always use it cause I like the word, like. So why not! 
Oh, that reminds me. The first year she lived here, Anne spoke about chickens. I wonder if there will be something about mushrooms this year. I should make a note about that. Now, like, where was I? Oh, yeah. She may laugh at some things I say, but my curious mind is something I have had since a very young age. And I know she isn’t making fun of me. In many ways, I believe that I remind her of her younger self. 
Anyways, I thought life was good before she arrived. But afterwards, we’ve gotten involved in so many mysteries it’s not even funny. Though I’m not sure why mysteries would be funny. Oh well. Once Anne has heard of a mystery, she will not stop until she solves it, she is like a dog with a bone. She is determined to find a resolution to this issue and will not rest until she is certain justice is served. That’s the thing about her. She puts up a front of toughness, but in reality, she has a heart of gold. And the fact is, I just love her to bits. And she feels the same way. You can’t get any better than that. 
Apart from us, there are other inhabitants that call this place home. Of course, Stewart, who’s such a sweet guy. There’s Hope. Her mom, Faith, well, I can’t give that away. Hope is much more pragmatic than the rest of us, and as such, is often the level-headed one in our group of sleuths. She is highly skilled in both the medical and herbal fields. She is the proud owner of the Herbal Shoppe, which is located in the center of town. 
Who else? Um, Sheriff Carson. He and Anne like oil and vinegar on some days. When they come together, they make an incredible team. Along with other businesses, our town also has a bookstore, which Sorcha runs. Sam is a wonderful person who works as an EMT and supports the coroner in their duties. 
I almost let this slip my mind, but thankfully I caught myself before I did. Not only do regular people live in this area, but there is also a cool model who makes it their home. She wants to keep this quiet, so we are keeping it on the hush-hush. 
I know that there are many more people living here than I can list off, but I cannot recall them all. As of now, I will give you an overview of the situation and events in town. We were horrified to learn that someone had died, and it seemed to be caused by the ingestion of poisonous mushrooms. I know what that means. Anne will be ready to get back to her sleuthing once more. As she needs my help, I am certainly going to join in on the ride. And probably Hope too. But we can’t seem to get hold of her for the last few days. But I’m sure everything will be revealed when she returns. 

I hope you’ll come to visit us in Carolan Springs. So many people say they’d love to visit here for reals. Well, you can visit us! Just open up any of the books and we’ll be ready to welcome you to our town. You can meet all of us in Chicken Culprit (the first book) or the most recent book, Fungi Foul Play. 

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Sunday, June 4, 2023

New Releases That Caught My Eye


Songs of Wine And Murder 
by Lynn Cahoon 
With the Moonstone Beach Festival coming up, Jill is touching base with her fellow small business owners to make it as successful as possible. It’s frustrating when Darla, the owner of South Cove Winery, is late to a big meeting, but they manage to get the discussion rolling about the kite flying event and the big Battle of the Bands—which Darla’s musician boyfriend is hoping will be his big break. And Jill, of course, will be there with her food truck, hoping for a financial boost after a slow spring.

Available on Amazon

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Death Knells and Wedding Bells

 by Eva Gates 

Lucy and Connor planned for the perfect Outer Banks wedding—and that’s exactly what they got. Aside from typical rumblings of familial tensions, the late spring weather allowed for a beautiful day, the food was delicious, and everyone had a good time, until one of the guests goes missing. 

Available on Amazon

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Saturday, June 3, 2023