Saturday, May 31, 2014

Caturday Art: Vino de Truffles

This weekend we're participating in Athena's Caturday Art blog hop and the Saturday PhotoHunt theme of "grape". When I think about grapes, my mind automatically goes to wine. 

Introducing Vino de Truffles:



Friday, May 30, 2014

Tempest in a Teapot by Amanda Cooper: Guest Author, Review & Giveaway

Tempest in a Teapot

Why Teapots?

By: Amanda Cooper (aka Victoria Hamilton)


How many people will wonder why I am writing a series centered around teapot collecting? I thought I would have a go at answering the question before I am asked.

First… about tea and me. I can only speak for myself, but drinking tea is about much more than just enjoying hot beverage. There are emotions and feelings tangled up with the ritual that have never, for me, been a part of my enjoyment of coffee. Coffee is for rushed mornings, a get-down-to-work straightforward brew. Tea is for afternoon; work is almost done and I need something to usher me gently from work to enjoyment.

How did I start drinking tea, you ask? At the modest home of my very English paternal grandmother there was always a Brown Betty of very strong tea on the hob, which in modern parlance is the stovetop. The tea stayed on all day long and became as dark as pitch. Conversations took place at the kitchen table over endless cups of that incredibly strong brew; as a small child I suppose that seemed a very ‘adult’ thing to do.

My first cups of tea were mostly milk and sugar warmed with a few tablespoons of hot tea from the pot, but it was tea, and I felt so grown up! My maternal grandparents gave me a milk glass teacup just fitted to small hands, and some English neighbors down the road brought back a very special tea mug from England for me; I was never actually allowed to use it, but it was mine! It has the Pied Piper on it, is English china, and I still have it in my china cabinet, a treasured piece.

But the beginning of the ritual was the teapot and ever since, I’ve loved them. For a collector there is a world of fascination in the teapot realm. You can go from rare antiques to kitschy figurals in the blink of an eye. There are teapots for animal lovers in the shapes of elephants, cats, birds and more. Consider the delicate beauties adorned with different chintz patterns, or admire silver teapots with Bakelite handles for the china or silver connoisseur. In fact there are so many types of teapots that collectors build museums to display them and folks travel for miles to marvel. Usually the museum aspect starts with a personal collection and ends with overabundance and the need for more space.

But why so many kinds of teapots? You don’t see figural coffee pots. For me the answer lies in the drink itself. Coffee is a ‘hurry up and consume’ potion; get some energy quick, drink it down! Tea is a ‘sit down and visit’ tonic. Tea encourages long gossip sessions with intimate friends, or dreamy afternoons with a book. Coffee is fuel; tea is pleasure. 

Coffee mugs have witty sayings or company logos and coffee pots are strictly utilitarian, for the most part. You can get coffee pots in china patterns to fit your set, but the coffee pot is a skinny long necked afterthought addition to the elegant set consisting of teapot, sugar bowl and creamer.

All in all, teapots blend a piquant measure of tradition, custom, memory and joy into a fragrant and bracing brew. I don’t have room to collect as I would wish, but the teapots I do have are displayed with pride. 

I hope readers enjoy the Teapot Collector Mystery series just as much as I am enjoying writing them, and that they will read with a hot cup of tea at the ready, to sip and savor.

********************************

Blurb: Tucked away in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York is the charming town of Gracious Grove, where time moves slowly, gossip spreads quickly, and the scones are to die for….

When her fashionable Manhattan restaurant goes under, Sophie Taylor retreats to her grandmother’s cozy shop, Auntie Rose’s Victorian Teahouse, where serenity is steeped to perfection in one of her many antique teapots. The last thing Sophie expects is a bustling calendar of teahouse events, like her old friend Cissy Peterson’s upcoming bridal shower.

Not everyone is pleased with the bride-to-be’s choice of venue—like Cissy’s grandmother, who owns a competing establishment, La Belle Epoque, and has held a long-simmering grudge against Rose for stealing her beau sixty years ago. Tensions reach a boiling point when Cissy’s fiancé’s mother dies while sampling scones at La Belle Epoque. Now, to help her friend, Sophie will have to bag a killer before more of the guest list becomes a hit list….

What Made Us Purr:

* The cover: I know I say this about every cozy mystery cover, but the detail in this one is just incredible. The cover kitty is Pearl, a chocolate-point Birman.Then there's the teapots, especially the overturned cat teapot. One detail I didn't notice until I held the book in my hands is the little white mouse drinking out of the teacup...too cute for words!!!

* Method of murder: During an engagement tea party, the victim is killed with a poisonous vanilla cupcake with yellow frosting. As one of the suspects says, "Poison in a little-ole innocent cupcake? That's just - well, it ain't nice. It ain't nice at all!"

* Feuding gramdmothers: Sophie's grandmother Rose and bride-to-be Cissy's grandmother Thelma Mae Earnshaw own competing tea shops right next door to each other, and have been feuding for 60 years since Rose supposedly stole Thelma's beau at a church picnic. Rose is a sweetheart, Thelma is cranky and cantankerous, and I loved them both.

* Teapots: I don't call myself a teapot collector, but I do own several so I love the premise for this series. This is my favorite piece in my collection, the Rescue Me Now Calico Cat Teapot:



What Made Us Hiss:

* Just one loose end: At one point in the book Sophie gets to snoop around the victim's house by volunteering to take care of her Siamese cat, Sweet Pea. It looked like Sophie was going to look for a home for the cat, even mentioning that she would ask for Rose's permission to adopt him herself, but we never saw Sweet Pea again! Sweet Pea, where are you?

Final Catcall: With just a limited number of suspects (those attending the engagement tea), this mystery had me completely stumped until the end. With corruption and bribery between the town council and local developers, everyone had secrets and everyone looked suspicious. I can't think of a more delightful way to spend an afternoon than with a cup of tea, a scone, a copy of this book, and a cat...of course!

Giveaway: Leave a comment by noon eastern on Wednesday, June 4th for the chance to win a copy of Tempest in a Teapot. (US entries only please.)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Diva Wraps It Up by Krista Davis: Guest Author, Review & Giveaway

The Diva Wraps It Up


Lies, Lies, Lies!

In THE DIVA WRAPS IT UP, a neighbor jazzes up her Christmas newsletter by including an untruth about each member of the family. It’s up to the recipients to decide what’s true and what isn’t. In the spirit of fun, I’m doing the same thing here. Can you guess what two things aren’t true about Krista Davis?

1. She showed her cats in a CFA cat show.
2. She is an ice cream addict.
3. Her passport was stolen in Amsterdam.
4. She was a Congressional page.
5. She was an assistant manager of the largest convention hotel in Washington, DC.
6. She began ballet at age three.
7. She majored in economics in college.
8. She runs two miles every day.
9. She loves to walk in falling snow.
10. She had a pet starling who lived for nearly eighteen years.


New York Times Bestselling author Krista Davis writes the Domestic Diva Mysteries as well as a new series for animal lovers that debuted in December with MURDER, SHE BARKED. The sequel, THE GHOST AND MRS. MEWER, will be released December 2nd. Her 8th Domestic Diva Mystery, THE DIVA WRAPS IT UP, will be in bookstores on June 3rd. Like her characters, Krista has a soft spot for cats, dogs, and cookies. She lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with three dogs and two cats.

kristadavis.com
www.facebook.com/KristaDavisAuthor
pinterest.com/kristadavisbook
mysteryloverskitchen.com
twitter.com/kristadavis
killercharacters.com

Answers:
4. She was never a Congressional page but thinks it would be fascinating.
8. ROFL! Only in her dreams.

************************
Blurb: In the latest novel in the national bestselling Domestic Diva Mystery series, it’s beginning to look a lot like murder…

The holidays are domestic diva Sophie Winston’s favorite time of year. But this season, there seem to be more mishaps than mistletoe. First, Horace Scroggins tumbles from a balcony during his office Christmas party. Then, Sophie’s neighbor takes a fall from his ladder while decorating his roof with lights. But it’s the cookie swap that really starts her wondering who’s naughty or nice….

Sophie arrives at the annual event with high spirits and thirteen dozen chocolate-drizzled gingersnaps. But when an argument erupts and a murder ensues, it becomes clear that the recent string of events is anything but accidental. Now Sophie has to make a list of suspects…and check it twice!

Mochas, Mysteries and Meows Review: They aren't so prevalent in these days of social media where everybody knows everybody else's business, but do you remember those annoying Christmas brag letters? My mother used to dread their annual arrival in our mailbox, especially those from people you didn't hear from the rest of the year and written like their lives were perfect.

The Diva Wraps It Up begins with one of those letters written by Sophie's new neighbor Gwen Babineaux. There's a caveat though - the letter contains one "fib" about each family member. Tongues are wagging all over town, so when Gwen is found murdered following her cookie swap party, on top of other Christmas-related mishaps, Old Town is thrown into a tizzy.

In addition to reuniting with old friends, a new favorite character introduced in this book is Edith Scroggins, who appears to be Mrs. Scrooge, but has every reason to be sad and bitter. I hope to see more of her in subsequent books.

This is a complex mystery that kept me guessing until the very end, with an extremely clever twist at the end. I love a good Christmas mystery any time of the year, especially when it's the latest in one of my favorite long-running series!

Giveaway: Leave a comment by noon eastern on Monday, June 2nd for the chance to win a copy of The Diva Wraps It Up. (US entries only, please.)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Chewy.com Review: Wellness Kittles

Hey everybody, Truffles at the keyboard! Last week I left you with a cliffhanger about the identity of the pawsome new treats I got from Chewy.com. I won't keep you in suspense any longer:


These treats are so amazing that I've already eaten the entire bag that Chewy.com sent me and am currently noshing on my second bag!

Stop taking pictures and open the bag, Mommy...I'm begging you!!!

Pack me up and mail me to the Kittles factory!



Before I give you all the deets about the treats, how adorable is this video??? 




Wellness Kittles Grain-Free Chicken & Cranberries Recipe Crunchy Cat Treats

Who says dogs have all the fun? Indulge your cat with Kittles natural, grain-free treats. Kittles are crunchy cat treats that come in three scrumptious flavors: Salmon & Cranberries Recipe, Chicken & Cranberries Recipe, and Tuna & Cranberries Recipe. Each morsel has under 2 calories, so pet parents can treat their loved ones multiples times per day with these guilt-free goodies.

Key Benefits
  • Grain-free recipe
  • Crunche texture helps clean teeth
  • No meat by-products, wheat, corn, soy or artificial flavors, colors or preservatives
  • Under 2 calories per treat - Over 150 treats per bag
  • 100% all natural fun-shaped treats
  • Made in the USA!
Ingredients
Deboned Chicken, Chicken Meal, Potatoes, Chickpeas, Peas, Whitefish Meal, Cranberries, Blueberries, Chicken Fat (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Natural Flavor, Ground Flaxseed, Salmon Oil, Rosemary Extract, Green Tea Extract

Thank you Chewy.com for sending me these amazing treats!!!


Disclosure: We received a free package of treats for review; all opinions are our own.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

#PurinaDays at Tractor Supply Company


My name is Melissa, and I am addicted to Tractor Supply Company.

Up until a few years ago my nearest TSC was about an hour away from me, but a few times a year I would make the drive, especially during the holiday season. When word came that a store was being built just a few miles down the road from me, I was so excited that I would drive by weekly to monitor how fast construction was progressing! Now I shop there at least once a month and I am a happy, satisfied customer.

This is why I am so excited to have been asked to tell you about Purina Days at Tractor Supply Company. Purina Days is a 5 day sale event (May 28-June 1) culminating in a special Saturday in-store event (May 31) at all TSC stores across the country. Each store's event will be unique, but all events will promote the fact that TSC carries everything you need for animals, including feed, grooming, health, toys, crates, kennels, beds and more. All events will be FREE and will include giveaways, activities, and great deals. My local store has a couple rescue groups setting up for an adoption day!

For anyone not familiar with this wonderful store, Tractor Supply makes its home in rural communities all across America and have a rich heritage of bringing customers the finest animal nutrition available. Whether you own horses, cattle, sheep, goats, chickens, swine - or dogs & cats - you will find what you need in their stores. One of Tara's favorite cat treats called Kookamungas I could only find at TSC, and Truffles is currently using their Paws and Claws kitty litter.

Their offerings go beyond our pets' needs, too! Here in my neck of the woods we're finally planting our gardens, and TSC has everything that both small scale gardeners and farmers will need to get the job done. I am a huge fan of country decor, and my pride and joy, a covered wagon planter, was purchased at TSC and sits in my living room holding my collection of Little House on the Prairie books. At Christmas I even string lights around it! And don't even get me starting on their country Christmas decorations...and their western clothing line for women...

Sounds like I'm itching to do some shopping at my favorite store, and Purina Days will be the perfect time to do it! (Truffles says: Get me something!)

This post is sponsored by Tractor Supply Company and the Pet Blogger Network. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Tractor Supply Company and their Purina Days Campaign, but Mochas, Mysteries and Meows only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Tractor Supply Company, Inc. is not responsible for the content of this article.


Monday, May 26, 2014

All Gave Some, Some Gave All



I knew a man called him Sandy Kane
Few folks even knew his name
But a hero was he
Left a boy, came back a man
Still many just don't understand
About the reasons we are free

I can't forget the look in his eyes
Or the tears he cries
As he said these words to me

All gave some and some gave all
And some stood through for the red, white and blue
And some had to fall
And if you ever think of me
Think of all your liberties and recall
Some gave all

Now Sandy Kane is no longer here
But his words are oh so clear
As they echo through out our land
For all his friends who gave us all
Who stood the ground and took the fall
To help their fellow man

Love your country and live with pride
And don't forget those who died America can't you see

All gave some and some gave all
And some stood through for the red, white and blue
And some had to fall
And if you ever think of me
Think of all your liberties and recall
Some gave all

And if you ever think of me
Think of all your liberties and recall, yes recall
Some gave all

Some gave all

Songwriters
CYRUS, BILLY RAY / CYRUS, CINDY
Published by
Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Cat's Meow Mews & Mailbox #37





Cat's Meow Mailbox is inspired by the great weekly recap book memes (Mailbox MondayWaiting On WednesdayIt’s Monday! What are you reading? and Sunday Post)











How would you like to bid on a lot of 8 new cozy mysteries AND help a cat in need? The Baby from Katnip Lounge has been quite sick and an auction is taking place to help with the vet bills. We've donated these books, #42 on the list of items. Lots of other great items are up for bid too so please check it out!


Last Week on Mochas, Mysteries and Meows:
* Lethal Lily Book Tour with Joyce & Jim Lavene: Guest Author & Giveaway
* Death Runs Adrift Book Tour with Karen MacInerney: Guest Author & Giveaway
* (Mostly) Wordless Wednesday: The Perfect Fit
* 6 Highlights from Truffles' Tarot Card Reading
* Prevention is the Best Medicine for Our Pets
Caturday Art: It's a Nip Nanner Frenzy!!!

Bought:
Ghouls Rush In Grilling and Campfires Cooking

Won:
Fifty Shades of Greyhound The Chemo-Free Cat

For Review:
To Fudge or Not to Fudge Basil Instinct Checkered Crime

NetGalley:

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Friday, May 23, 2014

Prevention is the Best Medicine for Our Pets

Hey everybody, Truffles at the keyboard! I have some good news and some bad news. First, the good news: this week I celebrated my 9 month anniversary in my forever home! Now the bad news: Mommy has started uttering the words that kitties everywhere dread...yearly vet checkup. Car rides, grabby hands, and needles...oh my!

In all seriousness, an annual checkup is extremely important. Many health problems such as hyperthyroidism, diabetes, and dental disease can be detected and treated before causing additional issues; vaccinations and flea and tick prevention need to be addressed; blood work as your pet ages is essential. Building a relationship with your vet early on is important too so that when an illness or injury occurs, they know our personalities and quirks and we feel comfortable with them, as well.

We found a great infographic about the importance of Visiting the Vet from our friends at VetDepot. (Looking at the list of Top 10 Feline Claims, Mommy said that she has visited the vet for 6 of those issues with just her last 3 cats!) We hope you find it informative, and if anybody needs me, I'll be hiding under the bed for the foreseeable future...


Thursday, May 22, 2014

6 Highlights from Truffles' Tarot Card Reading


Last Thursday I mentioned that Truffles had won a Nine Lives Spread Tarot card reading from Sparkle the Designer Cat. I actually ended up editing the blog post that morning with a Breaking News update that Sparkle had posted the reading that very day. (It can be read in it's entirety here.)

Sparkle asked us to let her know how she did, so we thought it might be fun to analyze the reading and tell her just how spot-on she was!

1) First, the card spread "tells me right away that Truffles is no ordinary kitty..." 

I had to laugh when I read this because Truffles is, without a doubt, no ordinary kitty. She has a BIG personality contained in that cute little body. Of course, as you know Sparkle, there is nothing ordinary about a tortie! Right, Binga?

2) "...and she is destined to be known far outside her home. Truffles has wisdom to impart to her fellow felines, and to humans too."

I am hoping this means that her stardom through our blog will continue to grow...maybe one day she can be almost as famous as you, Sparkle!

3) "The Earth Kitten forever sees things as fresh and new and to be explored, even as her instincts help to keep her safe. Your cosmic assignment is to keep that sense of newness and curiosity and impart it to those who come in contact with you."

"The Six of Sea, indicates a transforming milestone. It shows Sea kittens frolicking in the water, and it indicates that at some point early in your life you realized the value of fun and decided to hang onto it for always. Joy and innocent happiness are necessary qualities to life! Kind of like breaths of fresh air."

These two passages actually made me tear up a bit. Truffles entered my life under tremendously difficult circumstances, just 9 months ago following the heartbreak of losing Tara. She had HUGE paws to fill and the nearly impossible job of mending my broken heart. She is SUCH a breath of fresh air and an absolute joy. She totally has a youthful spirit, yet is very wise for her age and cautious too. She bounces around and plays with such innocent abandon that she just makes my heart melt.

4) "This third card is a lesson you have learned well, and Truffles’ card is the Three of Earth. It shows three cats cornering a yummy bug, and it shows the value of teamwork. Truffles, you have learned well to work with your human as a team to impart your spirit and wisdom."

So true. We have been together only short time, but we became inseparable immediately. We're all about teamwork, on our blog and in our everyday life!

5) "This card is what demands your attention right now, and it is the Seven of Earth, reversed. It shows a cat patiently waiting for its prey to emerge from its nest — is there one thing in your life that you are concentrating on too much? Have you focused so intensely that you have lost the bigger picture? Don’t let seemingly important things spoil your joy and sense of fun!"

This card I actually see as more of a reflection on myself than on Truffles. My blogging calendar is scheduled weeks in advance with reviews, giveaways, interviews and guest posts. I need to concentrate on not focusing so much on the business side of blogging that I forget to have fun with it...and with Truffles! My favorite blog posts are inevitably the ones that come spontaneously from a picture I snapped of her doing something utterly adorable!

6) "Your sixth card is an adventure yet to come, and it is a Major Arcana, the Good Kitty! It shows that you have a great purpose in life, and that you are meant to spread your light far and wide. There is a big event in your future that will help you achieve this, and I am very excited for you!"

We're excited too, and we're open to whatever the future holds!

*********************

These are just a few of my favorite passages, but the entire reading gave me a lot to reflect on. Last fall I won a phone session with a pet psychic that concentrated primarily on Tara which filled me with a tremendous sense of peace, so I was so happy for the opportunity to have this Tarot reading done for Truffles.

Thank you so, so much for doing this, Sparkle (and your human, Janiss!). And for anyone who hasn't visited Sparkle's blog, get over there NOW! Sparkle is a cat blogging legend and one of my heroes.


If you're interested in purchasing a set of your own Tarot cards, they can be found here. The artwork on the cards looks simply stunning!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

(Mostly) Wordless Wednesday: The Perfect Fit

A new box requires careful preparation.

Ahhh...the perfect fit.

So what did Mr. Chewy send me this month? I'll tell you all about it next week :) I'll give you one clue: these treats were so good that I've already eaten the whole package and Mommy has bought me another one!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Death Runs Adrift Book Tour with Karen MacInerney: Guest Author & Giveaway

Death Runs Adrift (Gray Whale Inn Series #6)

My (Virtual) Criminal History
by Karen MacInerney

When I was in college, taking creative writing courses from professors with a penchant for spare, moody stories in which not a whole lot happened, I often heard the old adage “Write what you know.” 

To my mind – and maybe it’s just me – that seems a tad limiting.

I happen to be writer of crime fiction, which means if I write what I know, I’m going to be limited to stories such as “The Mysterious Thermostat Adjuster” and “The Case of the Missing Cadbury Mini Eggs.” (The second title evokes deep loss and conflict, I know, but is perhaps not enough to carry a whole novel.)  

Fortunately, when starting my crime-writing career, I decided that not all advice was good advice, and I think my plots have benefited from my willingness to stretch beyond my personal experience. (Again… “The Case of the Empty Soda Cans Under the Couch,” while evincing a rather strong emotional response from me, might not have the same effect on the casual reader.)

Because of what I write, I need to be fairly conversant with a number of ethically questionable topics. Things like how to embezzle funds from an estate. And the ins and outs of committing mortgage fraud. And whether or not it is possible to kill a person by sticking her with a bratwurst skewer. And despite being asked by a fan of my werewolf trilogy whether I “write everything from personal experience,” I do not actually commit every crime I write about. Which means I have to do a lot of research. Which almost invariably involves Google.

And I hesitate every time I have to type something unsavory into that search box.

I tell myself that, since most of the topics I look up eventually appear in a story, it must be obvious that I’m not pursuing this information for direct personal use. That still doesn’t keep me from fretting about the digital footprint I’m leaving behind. A brief perusal of my search history suggest I might be a cross-dressing, skewer-wielding murderer who makes a little extra cash by committing real estate fraud and fencing illegal drugs. (And who also obsessively Googles chicken recipes, has a snail problem in her garden, and buys an inordinate number of youth-sized camouflage cargo shorts from Old Navy.) 

Still, we must suffer for our art, I suppose. And if we’re going to write fun, imaginative fiction, I think we have to push beyond the boundaries of day-to-day life. Unlike Natalie Barnes of the Gray Whale Inn, I’ve never run a bed-and breakfast; I can’t even keep my own house clean, for goodness’ sake. Unlike my character Sophie Garou, I’ve never sprouted fur and claws during a marketing meeting. And I have never, ever, participated in a drag queen contest. But it sure was fun writing about it!

I think it’s a great idea to push past what we know and write about what we’d like to know – or what we’d like to find out about – even if it does lead to some questionable Google searches.

And if the FBI shows up at my doorstep one day asking my some questions, I know I can count on you to be character witnesses. 

Right?

*****************************
Synopsis:
With her own wedding fast approaching and her mother-in-law dating an unexpected beau, the last thing Natalie Barnes needs is to find a young man shot dead in a dinghy. A note she finds with the body suggests the dearly departed had a secret rendezvous planned with somebody on the island. But when suspicion is cast on a fisherman Natalie believes to be innocent, she begins to wonder if the murder was the result of a lover’s quarrel . . . or a lobsterman’s disagreement gone horribly wrong.

About This Author
Critically acclaimed author Karen MacInerney also teaches writers’ workshops and drives a mean carpool. Her book Murder on the Rocks was selected as an Agatha nominee for Best First Novel. When she’s not writing or chauffeuring children, she loves to read, drink coffee, attempt unusual recipes, and hit the local hike-and-bike trail. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and two children, and escapes to Maine as often as possible.

Purchase Links
AMAZON          B&N

Giveaway: Leave a comment by noon eastern on Friday, May 23rd for the chance to win a print copy of Death Runs Adrift. (US entries only, please.)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Lethal Lily Book Tour with Joyce & Jim Lavene: Guest Author & Giveaway

Lethal Lily

My hero, Peggy Lee
By Shakespeare (her Great Dane)

My best friend is a woman named Peggy Lee. She is also my hero.
When I was very young, Peggy saw a man being mean to me, and she took me away from him. It wasn’t easy either. He wanted to be mean to her too. But Peggy is a human who is dedicated to taking care of people and things. And me!

Peggy loves her garden. She lets me run through it chasing birds and squirrels. She doesn’t try to hang on to me much when we’re out there anymore because of a silly incident where I accidentally pulled her through some bushes.
She’s not the kind to hold a grudge, though. She still loves me, even when I jump on her at the door. I’m so happy to see her sometimes, I can’t hold back. Now that I’m an adult, you can imagine that she has a harder time standing up when my paws hit her shoulders!

But she doesn’t care. She loves me the way I am – unclipped ears and all.
I love it when she drops the ball down the stairs for me. I can chase it through the whole house, sliding across the wood floors, almost not stopping!

Peggy goes out a lot to work. I wish she wouldn’t, but I know she has to make money to buy my food and toys. She lets me hide in her basement when strange people come to work on her house. I don’t like strangers. They remind me of the mean man.
I really like when Peggy takes me to her garden shop with her. There aren’t many squirrels or birds there, but I like her friends who work with her. Sam always has a treat for me. Selena gives great belly rubs.

That’s why Peggy is my hero. I wish she could get a medal for loving me and taking care of me. But it’s okay. When I curl up next to her sometimes in bed, it’s enough that I have her, and she has me. That’s what’s important.
************************
Synopsis
Part-time garden shop owner/part-time forensic botanist, Peggy Lee is trying to discover if the death of Ann Fletcher 20 years ago was an accident – or foul play. In return, she hopes to receive more information about her first husband’s death. She knows John Lee was murdered, but questions have arisen as to why he was killed. She is working with a private detective who stumbles across his own feet, but her Internet friend, Nightflyer, says that Harry Fletcher has the answers. When Harry is murdered by convallatoxin, from the lily of the valley plant, Peggy begins to understand her role in everything. Now she has to stay alive long enough to prove her theories – and keep her son, Paul out of trouble too!

About The Authors
Joyce and Jim Lavene write award-winning, bestselling mystery fiction as themselves, J.J. Cook, and Ellie Grant. They have written and published more than 70 novels for Harlequin, Berkley, Amazon, and Gallery Books along with hundreds of non-fiction articles for national and regional publications. They live in rural North Carolina with their family.

Author Links
www.joyceandjimlavene.com 
www.peggyleegardenmysteries.com
www.facebook.com/joyceandjimlavene 
http://amazon.com/author/jlavene 
https://twitter.com/AuthorJLavene

Amazon

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Friday, May 16, 2014

Murder at Honeychurch Hall by Hannah Dennison: Guest Author, Review & Giveaway


Murder at Honeychurch Hall: A Mystery


Melissa, thank you so much for hosting me on day 6 of my Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Murder at Honeychurch Hall. When I saw the word “Meows” in the name of your blog I couldn’t help but smile. One of the major clues in my book is actually connected not to a cat … but to a mouse—and a well-known mouse at that!

I am a true feline fanatic and I’ll talk about the love-of-my life, Mr. Tig—my beloved tuxedo cat that passed away a year ago—until the proverbial cows come home. I am sure he would have had a lot to say about introducing “mice” into my stories—even though these are antique velveteen toys! Although Mr. Tig did have an altercation with a rat once—he proudly brought a live one into the house. Fortunately, Mr. Tig and my husband managed to remove the rat with the aid of my husband’s hockey stick and Mr. Tig reading and waiting with his paws outstretched. Needless to say, it did not end well for the rat. 

The reason why I have toy mice providing a vital clue in my new book “Murder at Honeychurch Hall” is quite a peculiar story in itself. As with most things in life, they appeared unexpectedly and I thought them rather cute so I showed them to my editor and we decided they just had to get woven into the plot. As it turns out, my protagonist, Kat Stanford is an antique dealer and she specializes in antique toys. The Jerry mouse was created in 1951 from the character of MGM’s popular “Tom & Jerry” cartoon—now being revived on The Cartoon Network—and made by the Merrythought Toy Factory in Shropshire, England. 

But of course, “Murder at Honeychurch Hall” is so much more than mice. As our story opens, Kat Stanford, a TV celebrity of the show Fakes & Treasures, is shocked to learn that her newly widowed mother has recklessly bought a dilapidated carriage house on the country estate known as Honeychurch Hall. Predictably, the newcomers aren’t popular especially when they discover that Kat’s mother Iris has quite a few skeletons in her own closet—one being the fact that she’s been secretly writing racy-bodice-rippers under the pseudonym of Krystalle Storm. 

An upstairs-downstairs backdrop wouldn’t be complete without a feisty, octogenarian countess but I also threw in a precocious seven year old who is obsessed with the famous fighter pilot called Biggles. There is a treasure trove of antiques, the occasional haunting and of course, the paparazzi, who are always hungry for celebrity news. When the nanny goes missing and a body is discovered … well, I’m sure you can guess the rest! 

Oh – and if anyone is curious about the Jack Russell on the cover … his name is Mr. Chips. 

Thanks for hosting me today! 

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Blurb: In Hannah Dennison's Murder at Honeychurch Hall, Kat Stanford is just days away from starting her dream antique business with her newly widowed mother Iris when she gets a huge shock. Iris has recklessly purchased a dilapidated carriage house at Honeychurch Hall, an isolated country estate located several hundred miles from London.

Yet it seems that Iris isn’t the only one with surprises at Honeychurch Hall. Behind the crumbling façade, the inhabitants of the stately mansion are a lively group of eccentrics to be sure—both upstairs and downstairs —and they all have more than their fair share of skeletons in the closet.

When the nanny goes missing, and Vera, the loyal housekeeper ends up dead in the grotto, suspicions abound. Throw in a feisty, octogenarian countess, a precocious seven year old who is obsessed with the famous fighter pilot called Biggles, and a treasure trove of antiques, and there is more than one motive for murder.

As Iris’s past comes back to haunt her, Kat realizes she hardly knows her mother at all. A when the bodies start piling up, it is up to Kat to unravel the tangled truth behind the murders at Honeychurch Hall.

What Made Us Purr:

* The setting: No other place calls to me like the English countryside. Devon evokes thoughts of Agatha Christie and the desolate moor in Sherlock Holmes' Hound of the Baskervilles.

* The collectibles: Iris is obsessed with England's royal family, and collects coronation china. Kat collects antique toys. I was especially interested to learn about the Merrythought mice that played an integral part of the mystery, and the Steiff Mourning Bear that commemorated the sinking of the Titanic. I'm a collector at heart too!

* Iris's secret life: I really enjoyed the snippets of the historical erotic suspense novel that Iris writes in longhand and types on an old typewriter. I love her cozy little locked office covered in post it notes.

* A multitude of mysteries: In addition to a murder, a disappearance, and a robbery, how did the earl's wife really die? And is the Hall really haunted?

* The mother/daughter relationship: Kat and Iris bicker like most mothers and daughters but obviously adore each other. It will be fun to see them join forces to make their carriage house a home.

* Lady Edith Honeychurch's equine cemetery: I come here every evening just to be with my old friends. So many friends, all gone now.

What Made Us Hiss:

* Kat's boyfriend, still married to her arch-nemesis, and a real jerk. Hopefully she's rid of him for good.

* I'm a bit ambivalent about this one, but 7-year old old Harry who pretends to be a famous fighter pilot called Biggles. He's cuter than most, but in general I'm just not a huge fan of kids in cozy mysteries. What can I say, I prefer fur kids to human kids!

Final Catcall: With seemingly everyone in the book keeping secrets, at times I found the book a bit confusing, but was pleased to find everything neatly tied up in the end with a very satisfying and logical conclusion. You can vacation in Devon this summer for merely the price of a book!

******Giveaway******:
Leave a comment by noon eastern on Wednesday, May 21st, for the chance to win a hardcover copy of Murder at Honeychurch Hall. (US entries only, please.)

About The Author
Born in England, Hannah relocated to Los Angeles with her daughter and two cats to pursue a career in screenwriting. Along the road to publication she has been an obituary reporter, antique dealer, private jet flight attendant and Hollywood story analyst. Hannah is the author of the Vicky Hill Mysteries (Constable UK) and the first, in her new series, “Murder at Honeychurch Hall” (Minotaur). Now living in Portland, Oregon Hannah continues to teach mystery writing at UCLA, has served on numerous judging committees for the Mystery Writers of America and still works part-time for a west coast advertising agency. She is married to an advertising executive and enjoys hiking, horseback riding, skiing and seriously good chocolate.

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/VickyHillMysteries?ref=hl
Twitter https://twitter.com/HannahLDennison
GoodReads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1165068.Hannah_Dennison

Purchase Links
AMAZON      B&N

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Thankful Thursday: Straw Hats & Good Friends

Lots of news to catch up on this week, but to start things out:
 
Happy Straw Hat Day!!!



* As many of you know, last week the BlogPaws Conference took place in Las Vegas. While we could not attend in person, we were there in spirit. Getting to a future conference is #1 on my bucket list, but in the time being I'm living vicariously through my friends via their photos and blog posts recapping all the fun.

I want to give a shout out to two of my dear blogging friends, Debbie Glovatsky of Glogirly for winning the Nose-to-Nose Awards for Best Cat Blog AND Best Blog Design, and to Alana Grelyak of Cat in the Fridge for Best Pet Blog Video. I could not be prouder to call these two lovely ladies my friends, and cannot wait to meet them "in the fur" one day!



* Special thanks to Rocco of Cats, Books, and...More Cats for featuring Truffles as his Pet of the Month this week. His mom has a new cat cozy mystery series debuting in December. Check out the pawsome cover!

* There's a fun new cat blog that I would like to bring your attention to: Cat Mom, Too! My friend Sunny (who made my pet psychic reading a reality) is blogging about her cats, cat book reviews, and her upcoming life as mom to a human kid! Check her out.

* Truffles won a Kitty Tarot Card reading from Sparkle the Designer Cat! She's going to get the Nine Lives spread, a nine-card, lifetime reading. We're a little bit nervous what the cards will say but excited too! (BREAKING NEWS: it's posted today!!!)

* We're also proud to accept the Yoo-Hoo YOO-HOO! Award from Kitty Cat Chronicles.

* Last, but definitely not least, please continue to purr and pray for the safe homecoming of Clementine from Life From a Cat's Perspective. She snuck out a door almost three weeks ago and has not been seen since. Samantha and Clementine were our Secret Paws this past Christmas, so she's extra special to us. Where are you, darling Clementine?