Monday, September 30, 2013

Giveaway: The Big Chihuahua by Waverly Curtis

About The Big Chihuahua [description from Amazon]
P.I. Geri Sullivan and her talking Chihuahua, Pepe, are always hungry to sink their teeth into a new case. So if helping a hapless husband win back his wayward wife means sneaking into a cult of dog-worshippers, porque no? 

 Inside the believers' rural retreat, Pepe perks up his ears when the charismatic leader pegs him as the next incarnation of the spirit Dogawanda. But the discovery of a body, murdered between mantras, suggests there's more chicanery than channeling going on in this suspicious sect. While wild wolves howl, a killer is on the prowl--and it's up to Geri and her canine compadre to dig up the dirt.

To enter:
1. Two winners will each win a copy of The Big Chihuahua by Waverly Curtis in paperback. 
2. Leave a comment below to enter. Please make sure you include email/social media contact details.
3. Giveaway closes on Friday Thursday October 3, 2013 at midnight. The winners will be contacted via email.
4. Giveaway is open US/Canada only.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Top 5 Places to Visit in a Cozy Town with Amanda Flower

Top 5 Places to Visit in a Cozy Town by Chloe Humphrey from the Appleseed Creek Mystery Series by Amanda Flower

When I took the job for Director of Computer Services in Appleseed Creek in the middle of Ohio’s Amish country, I thought I would be in and out of that town in two years. Boy, was I wrong. Appleseed Creek and the people in it have stolen my heart, and now, I can’t imagine leaving. Here are my top five places to visit in my favorite little town.

Harshberger College: This is the college where I work, and I’m not just saying this place first to make my boss happy. I’m listing Harshberger first because it was my first connection with Appleseed Creek. The small college was founded by a Mennonite minister nearly eighty years ago. Today, its ties to the Mennonite faith are much looser, but the college still appreciates being so close to plain Amish and Mennonite communities in town and Knox County.

Troyer Farm: The Troyer dairy farm is where my roommate, Becky Troyer, and my boyfriend, Timothy Troyer, grew up before they decided to leave the Amish way for English life. Even though their parents are unhappy their oldest children left the Amish, they still allow them and me to visit. It is a beautiful and peaceful place. You will find Mr. Troyer working in the farm, Mrs. Troyer in the kitchen baking, the younger children playing in the yard, and Grandfather Zook ready to have a nice long chat.

Uncle Billy’s Budget Auto’s: One of Timothy’s closest friend is Billy Thorpe, who is more commonly called “Uncle Billy.” He’s a huge teddy bear who likes to lend a helping hand when he can. Billy runs the only auto parts/car rental business in town. I have had to use one of his junker cars before. Beware of the duct tape. Billy uses duct tape to fix everything, and I really do mean everything.

Kokosing Gap Trail: This is a paved peaceful walking and biking trail that travels through Knox County along the Kokosing River. Along it, you will discover old iron bridges, retired train engines, and dozens of varieties of song birds. I recommend visiting it in early spring. That’s when you will see the most birds. I saw an indigo bunting and scarlet tanager there once on a walk with Timothy.

Young’s Family Kitchen and Flea Market: The number one place you should visit in Appleseed Creek is Young’s. It’s an enormous Amish restaurant with all the traditional Amish foods from pickled eggs to friendship bread. The flea market space outside the main building is even larger than the restaurant. Timothy as a contractor has been working on enclosing three of the outdoor pavilions at Young’s for months. When that project is complete, the flea market will be open all year round. Young’s is definitely a tourist’s must see. Tell the owner Ellie Young that I sent you.


It’s SUPER SEPTEMBER! Amanda Flower (also writing as Isabella Alan) has three novels releasing in September 2013. To celebrate, she is giving away an authentic Amish Quilt hand-stitched by Amish in Holmes County, Ohio.

Enter to Win an Authentic Amish Quilt from author Amanda Flower! Click here to Enter!
Follow Amanda on Social Media at: Facebook Twitter Goodreads Pinterest
Follow Amanda’s alter ego Isabella on Facebook

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Top 5 Places to Visit in a Cozy Town with Deborah Sharp + Giveaway

Top 5 Places to Visit in Himmarshee, Fla.

Bella was nice enough to invite my middle daughter Mace to give y'all a tour of our hometown, Himmarshee, Fla. Since Mace is off somewhere solving a mystery, I decided to step in (I do that a lot!). Frankly, you might not want to go to places Mace would recommend. Most of them have require doing sporty things in natural settings, like fishing on Lake Okeechobee or canoeing the Kissimmee River. Between the Florida heat and the mosquitoes, I've never believed the Great Outdoors are as great as Mace thinks they are. Anyhoo, my tour starts in air-conditioned comfort at: 

1. Hair Today Dyed Tomorrow. You'll know it by the sign on Main Street: A pair of mechanical scissors, snipping at air. Like almost everything in the beauty parlor, from sinks to smocks, the scissors are purple. Betty Taylor's the owner, and that's her favorite color. Don't tell her I mentioned it, but purple is not Betty's most flattering hue. I should know, because I'm the salon's Color Me Gorgeous consultant, where I tell you what shades to wear if you're a Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall. I'm also an aromatherapist, and my candles and oils impart a heavenly scent. On Mace's rare visits, she complains the salon stinks like a fruit roll-up dunked in a cup of ammonia. Then again, Betty and I complain about her walking around with that snarl-fest she calls hair, so I guess we're even.  

2. The Booze 'n' Breeze Drive-thru. Now, I don't frequent this place -- well, maybe occasionally to pick up a box or three of sweet pink wine if company's coming. Our slice of middle Florida is seventy-plus miles and a world away from the state's Atlantic or Gulf coasts. If you've never been here, you may not know drive-thrus are common. You can buy what it takes to get tanked up from the convenience of your driver's seat. I always wait until I get home to open my wine, though. Drinking and driving is plain wrong. I'd never do it, and not just because I've already managed to get into a legal jam involving my vehicle. If Mace were giving this tour, this would be when she'd take you to the Himmarshee Jail. She'd point out the cell I got tossed into after I found a body in my convertible trunk and couldn't explain to a certain detective how it got there. Believe me, that's not a spot you want to tour. Nobody looks good in jailhouse orange. 

3. Himmarshee Nature Park. I'm just throwing this one in because I know Mace will be madder than a mule in a briar patch if I don't mention where she works. It's her favorite place in the world. She'd tell you all about the wild orchids growing high in the cypress trees, and the snuffling sounds the Great Blue Herons make when they're nesting.  As for me? I don't see how she can complain about Hair Today when she works smack dab in the center of a stinking swamp, and runs a rehab center for wild animals on top of that. You'd know exactly what I mean if you'd ever held your nose when she's mucking out the critters' pens, or feeding raw chicken carcasses to Ollie, the one-legged, one-eyed alligator that almost killed me once. 

4. Gladys' Diner.  Our favorite place for breakfast. The food is so tasty, your tongue will hop out and slap your forehead. The decor used to be all wagon-wheels-and-ranching-themed, playing off Himmarshee's position as the buckle in Florida's beef belt. But the owners got kind of fancy, painting the walls light blue and hanging landscape paintings of mountain ranges. I'm not sure what mountains have to do with Florida, which is as flat as a pancake griddle in these parts. But the coffee's still hot, and so are the biscuits, so everyone still goes to Gladys.' 

5. Himmarshee Links Golf and Country Club.  This is where you'll find old-time Floridians and newcomers from the North rubbing up against each other, and not always in a friendly way. Mace, of course, hates the place since they bulldozed a bunch of trees to build it. I told her we still have plenty of nature left, but we don't have any place as nice to eat dinner out. The Pork Pit barbecue joint is fine, but isn't it a nice change to go to a place with tablecloths, where you don't have to squirt sauce for your meat out of a plastic bottle? In ''Mama Gets Trashed,'' you can read all about Mace discovering a swingers' club at Himmarshee Links. Not one that works on your golf swing, either. I promise you, you'll be blushing 50 shades of pink! The good news is some of those heftier golf clubs come in handy when someone is trying to kill you.  

SYNOPSIS: Mama Gets Trashed: After a tipsy Mama tosses out her wedding ring with the trash, she drags daughter Mace to the city dump to search. When they stumble upon the body of librarian Camilla Law, the straitlaced town is scandalized: Not only is a killer on the loose, but prudish Camilla is all done up in sexy black leather. Foul play and fetish wear in little Himmarshee, Fla? Mama's blushing fifty shades of pink! 

BIO: A former USA Today reporter, Deborah Sharp traded sad news stories for funny fiction with her Mace Bauer Mysteries, featuring Mace's wacky Mama. Deborah rode a horse across Florida for one book. For another, she was interviewed by Al Roker on the Today show. She was a lot less nervous about the horse. Married to TV reporter Kerry Sanders, she lives in South Florida, where she spends her spare time chasing iguanas out of her hibiscus. Mama Gets Trashed, out Sept. 8 from Midnight Ink, is the series' fifth book. Visit her online at or onFacebook at You can read an excerpt from TRASHED, here:

GIVEAWAY: Enter to win a copy of Mama Gets Trashed.
To enter:
1. Leave a comment below for Deborah.
2. Giveaway is open US/Canada and ends on September 26, 2013 at midnight.
Please remember to leave a email address so we can contact the winner.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Saturday Giveaway: Death Al Dente by Leslie Budewitz

Today I'm giving away a copy of Leslie Budewitz's debut cozy mystery, Death al Dente.

The town of Jewel Bay, Montana—known as a Food Lovers' Village—is obsessed with homegrown and homemade Montana fare. So when Erin Murphy takes over her family’s century-old general store, she turns it into a boutique market filled with local delicacies. But Erin’s freshly booming business might go rotten when a former employee turns up dead… 

Murphy’s Mercantile, known as the Merc, has been a staple in Jewel Bay for over a hundred years. To celebrate their recent makeover as a gourmet food market, Erin has organized a town festival, Festa di Pasta, featuring the culinary goods of Jewel Bay’s finest—including her mother Fresca’s delicious Italian specialties. 

But Erin’s sweet success is soured when the shop’s former manager, Claudette, is found dead behind the Merc on the Festa’s opening night. With rival chef James Angelo stirring up rumors that Fresca’s sauce recipes were stolen from Claudette, Erin’s mother is under close scrutiny. Now Erin will have to hunt down some new suspects, or both her family and her store might wind up in hot water…

To enter:
1. Leave a comment below telling us what you are currently reading. Please don't forget to leave a email, or social media handle, so I can contact the winner.
2. Giveaway is open US/Canada and the winner will receive (1) paperback of Death al Dente.
3. Giveaway ends on Wednesday September 25 at midnight. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Guest Post with Phyllis Smallman

Today Phyllis Smallman joins us to talk about the inspiration behind her new novel, Long Gone Man.

Inspiration for a book can come from anywhere, a song, an overheard conversation or a homeless person you meet on the street. The first inspiration for Long Gone Man came from my love of Agatha Christie. In the fifties, she wrote a play called the Unexpected Guest. It had the best opening scene of any mystery ever, a car goes off the road in a fog and the driver walks to the nearest house.  The door is opened by a woman with a gun. The beautiful woman lifts the gun and says, “Come in.”

Salt Spring Island is one of over two hundred islands off the coast of British Columbia. There are two ways to get to the island, ferries or boats, but both take planning so a hasty crime and escape is out of the question. But still, with a boat you can come and go and no one is the wiser. A month after I moved to the island I met a homeless woman living in a van, at least at the time I thought she was homeless. This woman was different from other homeless people.  She seemed to be in control of her life and exactly where she wanted to be. Years later I realized that she may well have been one of the many tourists who wander through the islands on boats, bicycles and in vehicles. It didn’t matter. She piqued my curiosity. As I walked around down town, doing chores, and then climbed back up the toe of the mountain to where we live, I created a back story of a homeless singer who had come to Glenphiddie Island for revenge.  I started writing that day.

The third part of the story came from a magazine story about an old rock and roll artist.  I can’t remember his name now but he was important at one time.  He talked about the drugs sold at concerts by band members.  Sometimes the bands made more of their money from selling drugs than they did from ticket sales. And then there was one small piece of the puzzle to add.  What would have happened to Janice Joplin if she hadn’t overdosed back in 1970?  Would she have ended up homeless and singing on the streets?

Minds are wonderful things.  Like a bird building a nest, they take a piece of string from here, a twig from there and down from their own breasts and weave it into a story.

Phyllis Smallman’s first novel, Margarita Nights, won the inaugural Unhanged Author award from the Crime Writers of Canada and she has received two awards from the Florida Writers Association. Champagne for Buzzards is shortlisted as the best Florida book for 2012. Her work has appeared in both Spinetingler Magazine and Omni Mystery Magazine. Long Gone Man is her 6th book.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Top 5 places to Visit in a Cozy Town with Laura Bradford

Top 5 places to visit in a Cozy Town by Claire Weatherly,
from the Amish Mystery series by Laura Bradford 

My Favorite Places in Heavenly

I suppose a lot of people my age would think I’m crazy for giving up life in the big city. But for me, Claire Weatherly, I couldn’t imagine making a better decision than the one that brought me to Heavenly, Pennsylvania, and the heart of Amish country. Suddenly, I know what “being home” really means and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

And after I introduce you to the places and people who have welcomed me with open arms since I arrived in Heavenly, I suspect you’ll feel exactly the same way… 

Sleep Heavenly: Even if Aunt Diane didn’t run this gorgeous Victorian Bed & Breakfast on the English side of town, I’d bring you here just to show you around. The parlor is my favorite room of all with its floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, wall sconces, and gorgeous view of the Amish countryside. The fact that Diane and I have such wonderful talks in this room is simply the cherry on top. That said, it’s awfully hard to stay in the parlor for long with all the wonderful smells beckoning from the kitchen.

Heavenly Treasures: This gift shop is located on Lighted Way—the cobblestoned road linking the English and Amish ends of town. The notion of opening a store like this moved from pipe dream to reality after one of my many aforementioned talks with Aunt Diane. And you know what? I love every minute I spend inside its walls for reasons I never imagined. You see, as much as I adore displaying and selling Amish-made goods, I’ve come to treasure the folks who make them even more. People like Esther and her mother, Martha, and Benjamin and his brother, Eli.

Shoo Fly Bake Shop:  One step inside Ruth Miller’s bakery and you can see (and smell) pretty quickly just why the Amish have a reputation in the kitchen. Cakes, cupcakes, muffins, donuts, cookies, candies, and countless flavors of pie await tourists and residents alike from their perch atop the homemade shelves made by Ruth’s big brother, Benjamin. The only downfall to the place is the fact that it’s amazing aromas tend to waft across the narrow alleyway separating our stores, destroying any willpower I might try to exert between meals in the process. 

Glick’s Tools N’ More: Just on the other side of Shoo Fly Bake Shop is Howard Glick’s hardware store, a wondrous place for men who like to use power tools and contemplate home improvement projects while simultaneously freeing up their spouse to shop elsewhere (like Heavenly Treasures). In fact, Howard’s idea for creating stations where his customers can push buttons and make loud noises to their heart’s content has played a pivotal role in boosting sales for shopkeepers up and down Lighted Way…and we’re grateful.

The Heavenly Police Department: While not a spot you would typically find on a person’s “favorite spots around town” list, it makes mine. Or, perhaps I should say a particular person inside the building makes my list. Oh yes, Detective Jacob Fisher is super cute, super sweet, and relatively new in town. Unless, of course, you count the first eighteen or so years of his life, when he was still Amish… 

Intrigued? Then stop in for a longer visit by checking out the first two books in Laura Bradford’s Amish Mysteries, HEARSE AND BUGGY and ASSAULTED PRETZEL. The third book in the series, SHUNNED AND DANGEROUS, will be out in March. You can learn more about the series and the books (including a peek at the first chapter from HEARSE AND BUGGY and ASSAULTED PRETZEL) by visiting: . You can also find Laura on Twitter (@Bradfordauthor) and Facebook.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Top 5 Places to Visit in a Cozy Town with Isabella Alan + Giveaway

Top 5 Places to Visit in a Cozy Town by Angie Braddock from the Amish Quilt Shop Mystery Series by Isabella Alan

Folks in Rolling Brook don’t know what to make of me since I moved to Holmes County. I don’t know if it’s the fact I take my French bulldog Oliver everywhere I go or my fancy cowboy boots, or it could be I am an Englischer running an Amish quilt shop in a predominantly Amish town. Even with everyone in town talking about me, I’ve been able to make some great friends and find some favorite spots to visit. Here are my top five places to visit in Rolling Brook, Ohio.

Running Stitch: Of course you will want to come to my shop first and meet my Amish quilting circle. You will not meet a nicer group of ladies other than Rachel Miller, Sarah Leham, Anna Graber, and Martha Yoder. The ladies have been so kind to Oliver and me. And if you wanted to shop or buy a quilt while you were there, I wouldn’t stop you.

Miller’s Bakery: This is the best bakery in Holmes County if you ask me. It is owned and operated by Rachel’s husband and family. She works there too and is at the bakery everyday creating tasty treats. They will even bake to your specification. For example when I was under distress—because I was accused of murder. You can read all about it in MURDER, PLAIN AND SIMPLE—and requested that Rachel bake a donut the size of my head, she was able to deliver. It was the best donut I ever ate. Now, it’s a regular item on their menu.

The Dutchman’s Tea Room: This tea shop with its fancy sandwiches and collection of international teas and latte options seems to be an odd business in an Amish township, and it is. The owner Willow Moon is an interesting character to find in Ohio’s Amish country too. She loves gauzy blouses and has spikey purple hair. The hair color changes often. Despite that, her tea shop is the gathering place in town and best source for both Amish and English gossip.

Eby Amish Mercantile: The township mercantile is your one stop shop for Amish canned goods, trinkets, hardware, and just about anything else that you can think of that doesn’t require electricity. As an Amish business, the mercantile isn’t into selling newfangled technology. It’s where I go for all my supplies.

Old Ben’s Wood Working Shop: Benjamin Hershberger, better known as Old Ben, is a sweet old man. He can make anything you want out of wood, using traditional Amish techniques. You won’t see any power tools in his shop. He recently made a brand new quilting rack for me, which was much sturdier than the one I had before. I’m going to ask him to make a doghouse for Oliver next.


It’s SUPER SEPTEMBER! Amanda Flower (also writing as Isabella Alan) has three novels releasing in September 2013. To celebrate, she is giving away an authentic Amish Quilt hand-stitched by Amish in Holmes County, Ohio.

Enter to Win an Authentic Amish Quilt from author Amanda Flower! Click here to Enter!
Follow Amanda on Social Media at: Facebook Twitter Goodreads Pinterest
Follow Amanda’s alter ego Isabella on Facebook

Thank you Amanda for stopping by and I hope everyone will head over and check out her books and giveaway!


All reviews are copyrighted by Tina Diamond and Marlene Patterson. Tina Diamond's reviews also appear at and

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