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Saturday, January 31, 2015

In the Spotlight: Henery Press

This week's "In the Spotlight" post is one I've been looking forward to since we started the series.  I am very happy to share with you one of my "go-to" small presses:  Henery Press, which specializes in cozy mysteries with, as they say on their website, "a splash of chick lit."

Henery Press has a stellar lineup of authors, including some award winners and USA Today Bestsellers. You will certainly recognize some of the names and titles as those we mention frequently on the Must Read and Mrs. Must Read Mysteries Facebook pages.

Susan M. Boyer's Lowcountry cozy series is a stand-out for me.  Ms. Boyer has earned several awards, including the Agatha award for Best First Novel for her debut novel, Lowcountry Boil.  As you've heard from me before, I am a HUGE fan of Lowcountry Boil, as it hits two sweet spots for me:  excellent cozy mysteries and the South.   I'm a Florida girl transplanted to the northeast,  and I love to find titles that take me home for a bit.  The Lowcountry mysteries feature PI Liz Talbot, a sassy, smart, and relatable leading character.  Boyer doubles down on the appeal with a tense, well-crafted mystery and a smidgen of paranormal flare.  The second, and equally pleasing, book in the series is Lowcountry Bombshell.  Boyer's third book, Lowcountry Boneyard, is due out in April and is available now for pre-order.  There is no doubt that it will deliver the same strong performance as her first two cozies.

As enjoyable as I found the Lowcountry series, it is not the only shining star in the "Hen House."  Henery Press consistently delivers high quality, fun reading from all of its authors, including:

  • Larissa Reinhart, the Daphne Award-nominated author of the Cherry Tucker mysteries, set in the South and featuring the humorous exploits of an artist-turned-detective
  • Lyndee Walker, the Agatha Award-nominated author of the Headlines in High Heels series featuring crime reporter Nichelle Clarke
  • Gretchen Archer,  USA Today Bestselling author of the Davis Way Crime Caper series, also set in the South and featuring security specialist Davis Way
  • Cindy Brown is a new author from Henery, and her very well-reviewed first book, Macdeath, debuted January 20th.  Macdeath features Ivy Brown, a theater actor-turned-investigator!
  • Annette Dashofy, author of the Zoe Chambers Paramedic/Coroner cozies (set in small-town Pennsylvania), is to be congratulated on her recent nomination for the Best First Novel Agatha Award for Circle of Influence
  • Alice Loweecey, author of the very well-reviewed nun-turned-PI Giulia Driscoll series
  • Kendel Lynn, Agatha-award nominated author of the island-living, PI-in-training Elliott Lisbon series
  • Bourne Morris, author of the edgy, psychological thriller The Red Queen's Run.  Although this is a bit of a departure from Henery's typical cozy, it is well-reviewed and has earned its place of honor in the press' collection.
  • Gigi Pandian, author of the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt mystery series, which was recently nominated for a Lefty Award for Best West Coast mystery
  • Diane Vallere, author of the Mad for Mod interior decorating cozy mystery series
  • Nancy Cole Silverman, author of Shadow of Doubt, featuring talk radio reporter Carol Childs.
  • Susan O'Brien's Nicki Valentine mystery, Finding Sky, also recently nominated for the Agatha Award for Best First Novel

Do you have a favorite from Henery Press?  Please comment below and tell us about it!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Death Comes to Pemberley

Are you a Jane Austen fan?  Perhaps you're a P.D. James fan?  Maybe you're like me, and you're a long time fan of both?!  If so, I just finished an absolute gem that will appeal to you:  P. D. James' Death Comes to Pemberley, a "sequel" to Jane Austen's classic love story and social commentary, Pride and Prejudice.

Death Comes to Pemberley is set six years into the marriage of Elizabeth and Darcy, amidst the grandeur of Darcy's estate, Pemberley.  James does a decidedly masterful job of crafting a mystery that is tangled up in the sticky webs of social class, wealth, and the basest of human instincts:  love, sex, and survival.

Throughout the story, James is careful to stay true to the intelligence and strength of character that Austen fans would expect from Elizabeth while allowing room for the growth that marriage and maturity bring.   We find that Wickham is as wicked as ever, and he remains a thorn in Darcy's side.  We are also treated to appearances by the silly Lydia and her equally silly mother, Mrs. Bennet.  James uses these characters judiciously to provide moments of comic relief and momentarily break the tension of the central murder mystery. Readers are also treated to a glimpse of the somewhat dubious justice system of the time, from the stage of investigation, through trial and punishment.

I won't go into details and spoil the story, but I strongly suggest you stop whatever you're doing and snap this one up!  If you are fan of Masterpiece Theater, you will also be pleased to know that Death Comes to Pemberley is available on DVD , Blu-ray, and Amazon Instant Video.  Elizabeth's character is played by Bletchley Circle's Anna Maxwell Martin, alongside Brothers and Sisters' Matthew Rhys as Darcy.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

In the Spotlight: Endeavour Press

This week we are back to showcasing a more traditional, non-traditional small press.  Did you follow that?  What I mean is that we're focusing on a press that specializes in digital publishing and is free of the restrictions and higher prices of the traditional big publishing houses. Endeavour Press describes itself as "the UK's leading independent digital publisher," a designation that has been earned via a carefully-curated catalog of newly published e-books and re-issued digital versions of out-of-print books.  

Endeavour's mystery offerings tend to the edgier, thriller-focused side of the genre, with modern day mysteries intermingled with historical thrillers.  For readers who enjoy following a particular character through a series, the press offers multiple books from several authors, including:

Alison Joseph's Murder Will Out  is a British village mystery with Agatha Christie as the star - not as an author but as an amateur detective investigating a death in the neighborhood.  It is well-reviewed and will appeal to fans of Christie as well as fans of the British cozy genre.  

Sherlock Holmes' fans will be drawn to Endeavour's collection of Sherlockian mysteries and pastiches from various authors, including Roger Riccard and David Britland.   David Dickinson's Mycroft Holmes titles also will be attractive to Sherlock fans.  Endeavour extends their appeal to fans of traditional detective stories by offering several Raffles "Gentleman Thief" mysteries from Richard Foreman.   

While we have focused only on Endeavour's mystery catalog, they also offer a wide variety of romance, historic, general fiction, and non-fiction e-books.  

Friday, January 23, 2015

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Murder is our Mascot by Tracy D. Comstock

We are pleased and excited to be hosting a Blog Tour stop for Murder is our Mascot, book one in the Schooled in Murder cozy mystery series from Tracy D. Comstock, a new Gemma Halliday Publishing author.  We are happy to share with you an excerpt from the book and a great giveaway!  As of this writing, Murder is our Mascot is available for Kindle for 99 cents at Amazon.  

Murder is the new mascot at Ellington High... 

A murdered coach and a missing counselor has thrown the school into a foreign curriculum of anger, fear, and suspicion. English teacher Emily Taylor is determined to prove that her missing friend is not a murderer. But if she's not, then who is? And where could her friend be? Against the advice of fellow math teacher and former crush Tad, Emily and her best friend Gabby dig into the dead coach's past. But someone doesn't want Emily unearthing their secrets and is determined to see that she gets a failing grade in the sleuthing department. Soon, Emily finds herself scrambling for a new lesson plan to solve the murder...before the killer sets his own deadline!


The clack of Emily Taylor's high heels echoed hollowly in the deserted high school hallway. Normally, she loved the sound her heels made on the tile floor. Her obsession with high heels began when her height topped off at a gargantuan five foot one inch, and their authoritative tapping sound typically made her feel confident and in charge. But not this morning. The click-clack reverberating off the rows of metal lockers seemed ominous, a warning of some kind.

Letting herself into her classroom, she decided that the school seemed somewhat sinister because she was unused to being there that early. Her great love affair with her snooze button meant that getting to school before it was filled with a mass of hormone-fueled teenagers was a rarity for her, but she had needed to get in early today in order to prep for a special before-school meeting with a student's mother. Stevie Davis was new to Ellington High and was really struggling in Emily's junior-level English class.

Something about Stevie tugged at Emily. He usually hid his eyes behind his fringe of bangs, causing Emily to fight the urge to grab her scissors and hack away at his curtain of hair so that she could see what was going on behind it. The few times he had tossed his hair back with the irritated shrug that was his typical answer to any question, his eyes had seemed sad, lost, or…something. Emily wasn't sure what that something was, but she was hoping that this meeting with his mother would shed some light on his issues.

Her cantankerous old computer whined to life as Emily flipped on her desk light. Dark, swollen clouds crowded the sky, swallowing her early morning classroom in shadows. Emily felt jumpy and spooked, as if those dark clouds were pressing down on her, enshrouding her in their gloom. Must be an allergy medicine-induced hangover making her feel strange this morning. Nothing like fall to get her sinuses going. As soon as she got her notes together for her meeting, she'd grab a cold shot of caffeine from the stash of sodas she kept in the teachers' lounge fridge. That would help clear her head. Or at least it would if Tad, the conference-hour-sharing, next-door math teacher and fellow soda junkie, hadn't depleted her supply.

As she pulled out samples of Stevie's writing and wrestled her computer into spitting out a copy of his grade report, the lights flickered. Glancing out the back wall of windows, Emily watched the increasing wind whip the trees into a frenzy. Multicolored fall leaves rained down like confetti. She usually loved the electric feel in the air before a good thunderstorm, but a loss of power would ruin her day's plans. Figuring she better make her copies before the ancient, temperamental copy machine went on the fritz, she began sorting through the piles on her desk for the paper she needed. They were organized piles, of course. Oh, who was she kidding? Trying to find the one thing she needed on her messy desk was like trying to isolate a single snowflake during a blizzard. Shuffling papers and files, Emily jumped at the first boom of thunder. The accompanying flash of lightning happened to spotlight the copy of the quiz for which she was searching. Hoping to entice Stevie into becoming more involved in class discussions, she was starting a unit on mythology since he had shown some interest in legends. Today's quiz was over the gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus, or it would be if she got her copies made in time.

Tucking all of her information for the meeting with Stevie's mother into a stray file folder, Emily grabbed up a fresh legal pad and pen and headed out the door. Halfway there, she turned on her heel to go back for the quiz she needed to copy. Yep, she definitely needed that soda. A glance at her vintage Strawberry Shortcake watch showed she was, as usual, cutting it close on time. But first things first.

Popping the top on the last soda in the fridge, Emily silently thanked whoever was the God of caffeine for their nectar as she took her first icy sip of the sugar-laden soda. No diet drinks for her, no sir, as the extra ten pounds on her hips could attest. Tad had tried to hide the last can behind a pitcher of green tea, knowing Emily would never touch that, even if it might benefit her hips. She, however, was on to his nefarious ways. Practicing her evil victory laugh, she click-clacked her way to the copy room to get her copies started before the meeting. Another crashing boom of thunder rattled the windows as Emily threw the door wide, propping it open with those cursed hips while she flipped the light switch. Nothing. Scanning the hallway confirmed her suspicions. The power was out. She took a step backward, thinking she would head downstairs to consult with Principal Matthews. Rain began to lash the windows over the stairwell, making the darkness of the hall seem even more complete. She fumbled her way a few feet down the hallway until the lights flickered back on again. Not wanting to waste a second in case the power decided to blink off again, Emily dashed back to the partially open copy room door. Hitting the light switch again with one hand, she rushed toward the hulking machine on the far wall. That was when papers went flying and sticky, syrupy soda sprayed everything in its path. Emily went airborne. Throwing her hands out in front of her to break her fall, Emily winced as they skidded through sticky wetness. The picture of grace she was not, so finding herself flat on her face was actually not uncommon for Emily. She could trip on a completely flat surface. The lights flickered again as she clambered to her feet, worrying about getting the sticky mess cleaned up before someone else slipped. Glancing down at her hands, she was busy cursing her lost lifeline, her last caffeine hit, when she realized that the sticky substance covering her hands was not soda. It was something thicker, and redder. Finally looking back to see what she had tripped over, Emily saw what appeared to be a head protruding from behind an office chair. Taking a cautious step closer, she could see that the head was surrounded by what looked like a puddle of congealing blood and was, thankfully, attached to a body. Unfortunately, it appeared to be a dead body. And that's when Emily began to scream and scream.

Murder is our Mascot is available now at 

Amazon  ~   Nook  ~  ibook  ~  Kobo  ~  Smashwords  ~  Print

About the Author:

Tracy Comstock is a small-town girl from Missouri. She lives in a home where she is outnumbered 3:1 by the males in her life: her husband and their two extremely adorable, but terrifyingly ornery sons. She has no pets as all living things, besides humans, of course, come to her house to die, including the victims in her books. All her life Tracy devoured books. Her parents' most effective punishment was grounding her from reading. Although she has a B.S. in Education and a Masters in Literature, she was nudged down the path to publication by encouraging (and sometimes threatening!) family, friends, professors, and students. When not working on Emily's adventures, Tracy is an adjunct instructor for several local colleges, where she gets to teach others about her greatest passion: writing.

To find out more about Tracy and her work, visit her website, or follow her on social media:

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Pinterest

To enter Tracy's giveaway for a $20 Amazon gift card, click below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Looking Ahead

The wheels are turning here at MRM, and as always, we are looking for ways to help serve you better.  As we make plans for 2015 and beyond, we have realized that some questions can be answered only by our readers.  That's where you come in, and we are turning to you for help.   As you can see, the whole process has us feeling a little silly and overwhelmed!

 Please take a look at the poll below and give us your feedback.  Feel free to comment below with other suggestions or genres that you enjoy. Also, if you do use Kindle Unlimited or Amazon Smile, please comment and tell us how satisfied you are with them.

Thanks for your continued support, and Happy Reading!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

In the Spotlight: Witness Impulse

This week's "In the Spotlight" post is highlighting the HarperCollins Witness Impulse imprint.  While it does not fit the traditional idea of a "small press," we felt that it was worthy of being highlighted both because of the quality titles and reasonable price points. In the new digital age of publishing, this type of offering from a major publisher is likely a reaction to the growth of small, reasonably-priced independent presses.

Witness Impulse is dedicated exclusively to publishing "digital originals." The imprint boasts not only award winning authors, but also stellar debut authors that round out their offerings with fresh talent.  Witness Impulse bills their digital mysteries as thrillers, but they have also branched out to offer what I would consider cozies.  Case in point is the Susan McBride River Road series featuring Miss Marple-like sleuth Helen Evans and the Debutante Dropout series from the same author.   Both of these well-reviewed cozy series are available at bargain basement prices for the Kindle.  At the time of this writing, Blue Blood, first in the Debutante series, and To Helen Back, book one of the River Road series, are available for 99 cents.

Another cozy mystery from the press is Killer Wasps, first in the series of the same name from author Amy Korman.  The series features antiques store owner turned sleuth Kristin Clark and is set in the luxury of affluent Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.  Book two in the series, Killer Getaway, is due out March 10th (available now for pre-order).

Readers interested in the thriller side of the press will not be disappointed if they are looking for breat books at bargain prices.  Many of the books from the press are available for .99 to 2.99, including Black Dog, the first book in Stephen Booth's gripping Cooper and Fry series featuring British DC Ben Cooper and his partner Diane Fry.  Booth's work has been compared to authors Ian Rankin and Peter Robinson, and is a big favorite of MRM.

British Procedural fans will also be pleased with the offerings from Witness Impulse.  Some authors and titles to highlight in this genre include:

  • Brian McGilloway's Little Girl Lost, the well-reviewed first book in the Irish procedural Lucy Black Thrillers series
  • Alison Bruce's Cambridge Blue from the DC Gary Goodhew series set in historic Cambridge
  • Mari Hannah's gripping Kate Daniels series, set in northern England

Other notable titles and authors from the press include:

  • Kristi Belcamino's very well-reviewed amateur sleuth mysteries featuring San Francisco newspaper reporter Gabriella Giovanni
  • Rory Clements' historical mysteries with John Shakespeare, William Shakespeare's brother
  • Margie Orford's mystery series set in South Africa and featuring investigative journalist and criminal profiler Dr. Clare Hart
  • Frances Fyfield's reissued British legal mysteries and thrillers
  • Carey Baldwin's Cassidy & Spenser thriller, Judgment, featuring forensic psychiatrist Cassidy and FBI profiler Spenser.  Book two of the series is due out in June.
  • Judi Culbertson's cozy, A Photographic Death, featuring bookseller/amateur detective Delhi Laine
Please comment below and let us know what you think of Witness Impulse's offerings!!  We'd love to hear from you.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

In the Spotlight: Gemma Halliday Publishing

Today we are introducing a new blog series, "In the Spotlight," in which we will highlight publishing houses that specialize in delivering digital format mysteries.  In many cases, these books are available at a much lower cost than traditional books or e-books from large publishing houses.  We are pleased to begin the series by featuring one of Mrs. MRM's favorite imprints, Gemma Halliday Publishing.

I first discovered Gemma Halliday through her High Heels cozy mystery series featuring Maddie Springer, a high fashion shoe designer who finds herself unexpectedly embroiled in murder investigations with a handsome LAPD officer. Halliday crafts a fun, quirky character that is a perfect fit for a chick-lit cozy.  Overall, the series is enjoyable in that it offers romantic cozy mysteries that don't take themselves too seriously.

I was pleased to see Halliday venture into the boutique publishing arena, lending her name and publishing expertise to some talented upcoming authors of cozy mysteries and women's fiction. My enjoyment of the High Heels series encouraged me to try some of the other series bearing her name, including the Jamie Bond (co-written with National Bestselling author Jennifer Fischetto) and Hollywood Headlines series.

Some of the gems from this imprint have come from the talented author of the Bodies of Art and Organized cozy series, Ritter Ames.  Organized for Murder, the first book in the Organized Mystery series featuring professional organizer protagonist Kate McKenzie, is a fast-paced thriller that pulls you in and keeps you holding your breath until the last page.  Ames has a talent for keeping the tension high and your interest piqued.  Halliday clearly hit a home run when she brought Ames into the GHP fold.

Ames' work is just the tip of the GHP iceberg.  As of this writing, the Halliday press represents 32 authors including:
  • Sibel Hodge, author of the Amber Fox mystery series featuring the insurance investigator/amateur sleuth of the same name
  • Stephanie Caffrey, author of the Vegas mystery series featuring quirky PI Raven McShane
  • Leslie Langtry, author of the Greatest Hits mystery series featuring the Bombay family, a motley bunch of assassins whose "talents" run in the family.  Merit Badge Murder is first in a new series from Langtry, the Merry Wrath mysteries.
  • Kelly Rey, author of Motion for Murder, featuring secretary/amateur sleuth Jamie Winters
  • Christina Burke, author of the Queenie Baby romantic mystery series, featuring wannabe rockstar Diana Hudson
  • Traci Andrighetti, author of the Franki Amato mystery series, complete with romance, suspense, and a marriage-minded Sicilian grandma
  • Janel Gradowski, author of the Culinary Competition cozy mystery series featuring competitive chef Amy Ridley (Book #2 of the series, Chicken Soup and Homicide, is due out February 23rd!)
  • Ellie Ashe, author of Chasing the Dollar, a relatively new mystery featuring former investment banker Miranda Vaughn as she attempts to clear her name and rebuild her life after being set up in a fraud scheme
  • Jennifer L. Hart, author of the Southern Pasta Shop series featuring chef Andy Buckland
  • Maria Grazia Swan, award-winning author of the Italian-inspired Lella York series

Overall, the GHP roster offers a list of authors who provide fun, quality work for a more than reasonable price.  You could fill up your "to-be-read" list quickly and inexpensively just by sticking with this press, and if you are looking for cozy mysteries with a modern twist, start here.

If you would like to sample the delights of Gemma Halliday Press, the recently-released short story collection, Cozy Christmas Capers, is a perfect place to start.  The collection includes 19 stories from 19 different GHP authors, allowing you a little taste of each series.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

New Mystery Releases 1/6/15

Today is a big day for new mystery releases! The first Tuesday of the month is such a fun time. Below is a summary of the new titles out today:

If there are any that we have missed please let us know and we will update the list!

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