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Welcome! Today I’m hosting a stop on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Steamed Open by Barbara Ross. Ms. Ross has graciously provided a guest post for us today. Information about the book and author, including purchase links, will be below the guest post.

Guest Post

What Makes a Cozy Mystery?

It is true that cozies are the comfort food of the crime fiction world. But like good mac and cheese, cozies don’t have to be bland, or made the same way by everyone, every time. And it’s not true, in my experience, that cozy readers read the books because they are incapable of reading anything “more challenging.” They choose to read the books, often in times of stress or simply at the end of a long, busy day. On most cozy online boards when fans discuss the other things they read, it runs the absolute gamut.

So what makes a mystery a cozy?

Those of you who’ve followed me know I don’t like seeing the genre defined by what’s NOT in the books. You know–little swearing, no graphic violence or sex. After all, before I write a word, my books contain none of those things. Yet my editor won’t accept 300 blank pages. There have to be words that add up to a story. It’s true that some readers are specifically looking for the absence of such elements, but most readers are looking for the presence of something, not just the absence.

What are these readers looking for? And, important to my writing journey, what am I trying to do? To say?

The answer came to me as I listened to a podcast where Tom and Lorenzo tried, with difficulty, to describe their love for the movie, “The Big Sick.”

At the beginning of their very positive review, Tom says, “At it’s heart it’s just a light family medical drama.”

But later, after some analysis, responding to Lorenzo, he says, “I feel bad saying it’s light. I think you’re right. I say it, too. But I think it makes it sound like it’s not nuanced. I think when we say light, we mean deeply humanistic. Everyone is afforded some level of dignity and voice. It’s a really pleasing experience for the soul.”

When I heard this, I thought, “Yes!” Everyone afforded their own dignity and voice. A pleasing experience for the soul.

I haven’t quite achieved that yet, especially the “everyone” part, but that is where I’m trying to go.

As far as I’m concerned, my contract with my readers is this: There will be a crime. There will be a solution. You will want to turn every page. It will be a pleasing experience for your soul.

Everything else is up for grabs.

About the Book

Steamed Open (A Maine Clambake Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
7th in Series
Kensington (December 18, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1496717945
ISBN-13: 978-1496717948
Digital ASIN: B07BV3RCDG

Purchase Links: AmazonB&NKobo

It’s summertime in Busman’s Harbor, Maine, and the clamming is easy—or it was until a mysterious new neighbor blocks access to the beach, cutting off the Snowden Family Clambake’s supply. Julia Snowden is just one of many townspeople angered by Bartholomew Frick’s decision. But which one of them was angry enough to kill?

Beachcombers, lighthouse buffs, and clammers are outraged after Frick puts up a gate in front of his newly inherited mansion. When Julia urges him to reconsider, she’s the last to see him alive—except the person who stabs him in the neck with a clam rake. As she pores through a long list of suspects, Julia meets disgruntled employees, rival heirs, and a pair of tourists determined to visit every lighthouse in America. They all have secrets, and Julia will have to work fast to expose the guilty party—or see this season’s clam harvest dry up for good.

About the Author

Barbara Ross is the author of the Maine Clambake Mysteries. The first book in the series, Clammed Up was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel, the RT Book Reviews, Reviewer’s Choice Best Book Award for Amateur Sleuth and was a finalist for the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction. She is co-editor/co-publisher of Level Best Books, which produces anthologies of crime stories by New England authors. She writes at her home overlooking the harbor in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. Barbara blogs with the Wicked Cozy Authors and Maine Crime Writers. Readers can visit her website at



BLOG TOUR – Academic Curveball – REVIEW

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Good morning!  Today I’m super excited to be hosting a spot on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Academic Curveball, the first in the Braxton Campus Mystery series by my friend, James J. Cudney! It’s not only a terrific book but it’s my friend’s terrific book! That makes it extra special!

About the Book

Academic Curveball (Braxton Campus Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Independently Published (October 14, 2018)
Paperback: 281 pages
ISBN-10: 172877876X
ISBN-13: 978-1728778761

Purchase Link: Amazon

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When Kellan Ayrwick returns home for his father’s retirement, he finds a dead body in Diamond Hall’s stairwell.

Unfortunately, Kellan has a connection to the victim, and so do several members of his family. Soon after, the college’s athletic program receives mysterious donations, a nasty blog denounces his father and someone attempts to change students’ grades.

Someone is playing games on campus, but none of the facts add up.

With the help of his eccentric and trouble-making nana, Kellan tries to stay out of the sheriff’s way. But who is behind the murder?


Review – 4.5 stars out of 5

This book is a terrific start to a brand-new cozy mystery series. I love everything about it!

The main characters are a lot of fun. They’re well-rounded, well-thought-out, complex, and full of personality. I just love Nana D!

The settings and other descriptions were very well done. James tends to be more wordy than I would normally like with descriptions, but somehow he makes it all work without it being boring and dragging the story down.

The plot line was intriguing. I did have an idea of the villain before the end of the book but it was still a well-planned plot with plenty of red herrings and if you weren’t paying close attention to the subtle clues, the villain will come as a surprise.

All in all it’s a wonderful start to a new series and the second book is just as terrific! I do recommend reading the series in order as there are interpersonal things that are not going to make sense if you don’t.


About the Author

James is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College with a degree in English literature. I spent fifteen years building a technology career in the retail, sports, media, and entertainment industries. I enjoyed my job, but a passion for books and stories had been missing for far too long. I’m a voracious reader in my favorite genres (thriller, suspense, contemporary, mystery, and historical fiction), as books transport me to a different world where I can immerse myself in so many fantastic cultures and places. I’m an avid genealogist who hopes to visit all the German, Scottish, Irish, and British villages my ancestors emigrated from in the 18th and 19th centuries. I frequently blog and publish book reviews on everything I read at ThisIsMyTruthNow via WordPress.

Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, my mind, and my body. I decided to pursue my passion by dusting off the creativity inside my head and drafting outlines for several novels. I quickly realized I was back in my element growing happier and more excited with life each day. My goal in writing is to connect with readers who want to be part of great stories and who enjoy interacting with authors. To get a strong picture of who I am, check out my author website or my blog. It’s full of humor and eccentricity, sharing connections with everyone I follow—all in the hope of building a network of friends across the world.

When I completed the first book, Watching Glass Shatter, I knew I’d stumbled upon my passion again, suddenly dreaming up characters, plots, and settings all day long. I chose my second novel, Father Figure, through a poll on my blog where I let everyone vote for their favorite plot and character summaries. It is with my third book, Academic Curveball,, the first in the Braxton Campus Mysteries, where I immersed myself in a college campus full of so much activity, I could hardly stop thinking about new murder scenes or character relationships to finish writing the current story. Come join in the fun!


List of Books & Blog

Watching Glass Shatter (October 2017)

Father Figure (April 2018)

Braxton Campus Mysteries

Academic Curveball – #1 (October 2018)

Broken Heart Attack – #2 (November 2018)

Flower Power Trip – #3 (Early 2019)


Websites & Blog




Social Media Links










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BLOG TOUR – Grimoires, Spas, and Chocolate Straws – REVIEW


Welcome! Today I’m hosting a spot on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Grimoires, Spas, & Chocolate Straws, the eighth book in the Spells & Caramels series by Erin Johnson!  My apologies to Erin for being late in getting this up!

About the Book

Grimoires, Spas & Chocolate Straws (A Spells & Caramels Cozy Witch Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
8th in Series
Self Published (December 29, 2018)
Paperback: 332 pages
ISBN-10: 1792728727
ISBN-13: 978-1792728723
Digital ASIN: B07LB49VBR

Purchase Link: Amazon



Sandy slaughter. An enchanting suspect. Can a magical baker protect her friends from a dangerous paradise?

Stranded on Badlands Island, Imogen Banks is driving herself crazy looking for her brother. So when the spell-casting baker’s friends suggest they escape for a luxurious dragon spa treatment, she doesn’t need a second invitation. But her hopes for coastal romance with Hank fall flat when a resort guest turns up roasted in the sand.

Suspecting murder, Imogen zeroes in on the town’s rumored “black widow” as a possible culprit. But when her friend falls for the beautiful woman despite the deadly track record, Imogen fears he’ll be the next victim to stay buried.

Can Imogen sift through the clues before the killer gives her one final treatment?

Grimoires, Spas and Chocolate Straws is the eighth book in the Spells and Caramels delightful paranormal cozy mystery series. If you like endearing heroines, a touch of romance, and unexpected twists, then you’ll love Erin Johnson’s magical whodunit.

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Review – 4.0 out of 5 stars

While I love this series in general, and enjoyed reading this one, I did feel that this one’s mystery was just a bit on the weak side.

The characters are still the ones that I’ve come to love. They’re quirky and funny and a joy to have around. Being around Imogen, Hank, Iggy, Maple, and the rest always brighten up a day.

We’re still set in the Badlands. It’s an interesting land to be in, a whole different culture and setting from what our group is used to. It’s interesting to see them work to adapt to their new surroundings, not knowing whether or not they’ll ever get back to Bijou Mer.

When it came to the mystery itself, while it was entertaining, it seemed less important to the all-around story arc than the mysteries have in the past. Some important interpersonal things happen between members of our little group during this book and those overshone the mystery, at least in my opinion. Now, being that I LIKE the characters and was happy to read about the interpersonal things, it wasn’t that big of a deal to me, but if you were just looking for the mystery, I’m afraid this one might disappoint.

I still recommend the book, especially if you’ve read and liked others in the series. There’s some pretty heavy stuff that happens between members of the group so rush out and buy this latest installment so you can be up-to-date on what’s happening!


About the Author

Erin Johnson is a native of Tempe, Arizona, Erin spends her time crafting mysterious, magical, romance-filled stories that’ll hopefully make you laugh. In between, she’s traveling, napping with her dogs, eating with her friends and family, and teaching Pilates (to allow her to eat more).



Twitter: @EJohnsonWrites


Thanks for joining me today! If you wish to visit other stops on the tour, please click on the banner below and visit the main tour page for the list of participants!


BLOG TOUR – Pineapple Upside Down Murder – GUEST POST


Welcome! Today I’m hosting a stop on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour  for Pineapple Upside Down Murder by Jodi Rath.  The author has graciously provided a guest post so that will be first and then information about the book, including purchase links, will be beneath the guest post.  Enjoy!

Guest Post by Jodi Rath

Aching news, sciatic issues, lower back pains. This is the answer I give to all my ex-students that are so thrilled and excited to hear I am now a writer!

“Wow, Mrs. R—that is SO cool! I remember when I was in high school and you talked about wanting to be a writer. Remember when I joked with your in front of the entire class and said those who can—do; those who can’t—teach . . . LOL”

“Yeah, I remember . . .” grumbling under my breath.

“So, how rad is it that you are now a writer! What’s it like?”

Okay, okay—they don’t say “rad,” that’s my age speaking, but the dialogue goes something like that! My answer, well, you saw! LOL—see I can get down with the kid lingo too! Yes, I’ve wanted to write as long as I’ve known how to write a word. I am loving it. It is RAD! BUT, I’m middle-aged now and sitting for long periods wreaks havoc on my arthritic knees and sciatica. Oh, the joys of aging!

Writing Pineapple Upside Down Murder was, to me, the greatest accomplishment of my life! I do love it; it is fun and amazing and hard and tiresome and frustrating and lots of AHA moments thrown in there too! Getting to know cozy blogger and cozy readers is EXTREMELY rewarding! I’m thrilled to be here today and wish all of you reading this a non-arthritic, pain-free day!

Hisses and Blisses

Jodi Rath


About the Book

Pineapple Upside Down Murder (The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
MYS ED llc (November 23, 2018)
Print Length: 130 pages

Purchase Links: AmazonBooks 2 Read 4 You

Introducing Jolie Tucker, an introverted yet passionate restaurant co-owner of Cast Iron Creations, who, at her best friend Ava’s request, steps out of her comfort zone which leads her into the shade of a killer in the small, cozy village of Leavensport, Ohio. The victim is the villages beloved Ellie Siler who runs the village sweet spot, Chocolate Capers. Jolie finds her grandma Opal is a prime suspect and goes on a search for answers only to find out that her families secret recipes may not belong to the Tucker family at all. Jolie’s job, family, and livelihood are all on the line. The answers are assuredly lethal.


About the Author

Moving into her second decade working in education, Jodi Rath has decided to begin a life of crime in her The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series. Her passion for both mysteries and education led her to combine the two to create her business MYS ED, where she splits her time between working as an adjunct for Ohio teachers and creating mischief in her fictional writing. She currently resides in a small, cozy village in Ohio with her husband and her seven cats.

Author Links: Webpage: FB: FB Author Page: Author Jodi Rath Twitter @jodirath

Goodreads: Bookbub:



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BLOG TOUR – With a Little Bit of Blood – REVIEW

Welcome! Pardon me for the bare-bones. I will update with graphics later. Today I’m participating in the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for With a Little Bit of Blood by D.E. Ireland.


In the fourth book from the Agatha Award nominated writing team of D.E. Ireland, famous literary characters Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins find they may have brought trouble with them when they attend a country house party in With A Little Bit of Blood.

Eliza is not happy when Higgins buys a snazzy roadster. Her misgivings prove correct when he becomes injured in a motor car crash. Forced to play nursemaid, Eliza is thrilled to accept an invitation to a house party from Lord Ashmore and his bride, the former Clara Eynsford-Hill. But upon their arrival at Banfield Manor, Eliza is dismayed to see her sweetheart Freddy arm in arm with a beautiful actress. Higgins is shocked to learn the woman who once stalked him is also attending the party. Things grow even worse when spiritualist Madame Evangeline arrives and warns of impending danger. Her prediction comes true when someone is killed during the following day’s shoot in the forest.
Higgins and Eliza suspect it wasn’t an accident, but murder. Every guest hides a dark secret that involved the dead man. But who hated him more? The French aviator, the American cinema actress, a lady novelist, the Austrian count, or a knighted explorer of the Amazon? Madame Evangeline’s séance may reveal what is really going on. But her cryptic words deepen the mystery, especially after another guest turns up dead.

Who is behind these murders? And has Higgins himself been targeted? As the day of the fox hunt begins, it seems likely that more than the fox will die. Before that happens, Eliza and the Professor must discover who may have a little bit of blood on their hands.



I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I really like the series and am looking forward to even more!

I love the chemistry between Professor Higgins and Eliza. I also love that it’s not romantic. Platonic friendships are so important and it’s so nice when the female isn’t in love with the male, they’re just friends. I don’t mind romance in my cozy mysteries, I’m just glad this one is different.

The setting is a gorgeous country house. It’s an intriguing plot and I did not figure out the villain before the end. I had a suspicion but it wasn’t very strong. Something just seemed “off” about the person.

All in all, a fabulous book and highly recommended!!

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