Sunday, April 22, 2018

A Lifelong Love of Libraries by Her Grace the Duchess of Chellingworth (and a GIVEAWAY!)

Books with Welsh love spoons, and a traditional Welsh blanket
by Stephanie Twyst, Duchess of Chellingworth - aided and abetted by Cathy Ace, author of The WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries

is shortlisted for this year's Bony Blithe Award
for Best Canadian Light Mystery!

Hello there – my name’s Stephanie Twyst. Nice to meet you. Welcome to our wonderful library here, at Chellingworth Hall. May I pour you some tea?

How should you refer to me? How kind of you to ask. Properly speaking, I’m "Her Grace, The Duchess of Chellingworth"; you’re supposed to call me “Your Grace” or “Duchess” in conversation, unless we’re in the company of other Duchesses, in which case – of course – you’d use “Duchess of Chellingworth”, because, otherwise how on earth would you differentiate between us? 

But you can call me Stephanie. Just for now, while we’re alone. My mother-in-law’s not due to join us for a while, so maybe you’d better use “Duchess” then, because she can be a bit of a stickler for the proper form of address. Maybe that’s because – like me – she wasn’t born with a title, but acquired one through marriage. She was a dancer on the West End stage when she met Henry’s widowed father; it must have been an odd change of lifestyle for her. I’ve grown to love Althea – that’s the Dowager Duchess’s name – since I came to Chellingworth. You call her “Your Grace” or “Duchess” too, by the way. She prefers “Your Grace”. 

Me? I was the public relations manager here at the Hall when I met the Duke, Henry, my husband. 

No, I don't think one could say it was "love at first sight", but we did get along terribly well, and that helps, of course. From friendship grew affection; the best way.

 No, me neither; all those nasty calories add up so quickly, don’t they? On the other hand, I believe the scone is completely calorie-free! I rather miss being called Stephanie. It’s odd when you marry the man you love and, just because he’s a Duke, thereafter he’s pretty much the only person who uses your given name when addressing you. I adore it when Henry says my name; I love him very much, you see. And I know we’ll both love our firstborn a great deal – when it finally pops out. Honestly, I feel as though I’ve been pregnant forever! 

But you’re here for the books, really, aren’t you?

 Yes, we do have a magnificent collection. When we’ve finished this tea we’ll take a closer look, with some white cotton gloves on, of course. This library is nothing like the ones I used when I was growing up; public libraries are wonderful too, aren’t they? My mum and dad couldn’t really run to buying lots of books for me when I was little, so I don’t think I’d have become the reader I am today without access to all those books at my local library. 

Brecon library
 Shall I tell you a secret? My favourite author was Enid Blyton. I’d read anything she wrote. I started with Noddy, moved onto The Famous Five and The Secret Seven, then I found Mallory Towers. All those midnight feasts, all those adventures! I lived through those characters, and never imagined I’d end up living in a grand place like this, with books from floor to ceiling…though most of them are rather old and dry, and none of them would be suitable for our little boy or girl at all. 

Our local libraries – in Builth Wells and Brecon – aren’t
Builth Wells library
huge, but at least they still exist. And there’s the mobile library bus that tours the south of Powys each month, of course. It’s something I’ve been thinking I might make my “mission”. Every Duchess should have a “mission”; Althea’s been hugely involved with healthcare and educational charities, over the years. With this little one on the way, I’ve been thinking about the basics – and reading is, I believe, the most critical; the ability to read is the best path toward fulfillment for any individual.

The library bus, south Powys
Pardon? Oh, yes, you’re right, literacy and libraries do sit well together. How true. 

Now – how about this Bible here…would you like to take a look? Created in the late 1400s it’s a stunning work of art…

If you’d like to win a LARGE PRINT copy of THE CASE OF THE CURIOUS COOK - which begins with a tap leaking from a bathroom into the library at Chellingworth Hall, and develops to requires the skills of all four of the private investigators at The WISE Enquiries Agency – please comment below, with your email address, telling me about the library to which you'd like to donate the book. Open to all library lovers...anywhere in the world!

Comments close at midnight (Eastern) on 24th April 2018.  

Cathy Ace is the award-winning author of The Cait Morgan Mysteries and The WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries. Find out more about Cathy's work and life at her brand new website:


Saturday, April 21, 2018

More Than One Kind of Library

By: Hannah Moore
Title: Muffin to Fear
From: Merry Muffin Mysteries
By: Victoria Hamilton
Website: Victoria Hamilton Mysteries

My name is Hannah Moore. For those who don't know, I am wheelchair bound, and always have been. Living in a small town (Autumn Vale, NY) there weren't many resources available to a kid in a wheelchair. I did attend school some of my youth, but I was homeschooled mostly. I had a few friends, and my Mom made sure they visited often, and we did crafts and other fun stuff together.

But still... did I envy the other kids, who could run and play and most of all, go to school together? Sure I did. My parents have always done the best they could, but they couldn't give me legs that worked.

However, they could - and did - give me books. There was no library in Autumn Vale back then, but my Mom and Dad took me to book fairs, second hand book stores, garage sales, and church sales... the ones that were wheelchair accessible, anyway. I had a vast collection by the time I was ten or twelve. My Dad always had time to build me more bookcases.

Then one day I thought, why can't Autumn Vale have a library? I did research, I applied for grants, I hit up local businesses for donations, I asked a local property owner to donate space, and... I've done it! From being a shy booknerd afraid to talk to anyone, building a library has transformed me into someone who can speak to anyone about anything. I have my degree, I'm working on an advanced degree and... I'm doing it all for the love of libraries!

Some may think the Autumn Vale Community Library is dingy; it's tucked away in a place on a sidestreet and the windows are high up. But... my personal philosophy is that a library should never be too grand, or too bright, or too modern. It should be a little shabby and have some dark corners. It should welcome all who feel that there is no place for them. (Like our local eccentric, my friend Isadore) There is a place for everybody in our library.

And that leads me to say... there are many kinds of libraries, in hospitals and senior centers, nursing homes and coffee shops. There are little libraries on folks' front lawns. There are libraries all around us. People love them so much last week was National Library Week!!

So... what libraries do YOU use? Or... tell me your library memories!



The Merry Muffin Mysteries WILL be back in 2019! I have just signed to write three more, starting with Muffin But Trouble in 2019. More news to come! Sign up for my newsletter at VictoriaHamiltonMysteries dot com!

And now... a Library Giveaway!!

 Good day, all! I will be giving, to the library of your choice - and that can be a nursing home library, senior center library or any small town or city library - an assortment of a few of my Merry Muffin Mystery books.

Please, in the comments, tell me what library you'd like the books for, and why they could use them. Leave me your name and an email where I can reach you (yourname at yourserver dot com)  and enter by Midnight, April 23rd!! Canada and the US only, please!

Good Luck, EVERYONE!

Friday, April 20, 2018

Bezel Time

By Ruth Clagan, from the Clock Shop Mystery series by Julianne Holmes

In my life, the word bezel has two meanings. First, it is the grooved ring that holds the crystal of a watch or clock in place. Bezels in this context serve an important role, and are a decision that clock and watch makers consider carefully. I consider it very carefully, and have dozens and dozens of options at my disposal every day.

Bezel is also the name of my cat. I inherited my gray haired beauty along with my shop, The Cog & Sprocket. She was named by my grandfather. He always named his cats after clocks. I remember Simon and Seth from when I was a little girl. The cat right before Bezel was named Silas. There was a Sprocket and Fly Wheel (Fly for short) in between.

That doesn't mean that having cats living above a clock shop is easy. It isn't. Especially this time of year, where the weather fluctuates between winter and spring on an hourly basis. Shedding is happening, but Bezel feels like it would make more sense to hold on to her undercoat given the flurries this morning. (The crocuses are delaying their appearance as long as they can.) Nevertheless, we wrestle with the brush at least once a day, and the fur literally flies. I try and get the fur off before I head downstairs to the shop, but my efforts are futile. No matter how hard I try, stray strands of Bezel fly about and usually land on a crystal. Which is better than on the inside of the clock itself. My step-grandmother Caroline shakes her head every time she picks fur off a clock.

Lately I've taken to wearing a Cog & Sprocket smock (say that fast three times) that Caroline ordered for all of us. It is long, and gray, and has a retro lab look that I don't actually mind, but don't tell Caroline that. I like to make harumphing sounds. Every time I do Caroline says I remind her of my grandfather, and that makes us both smile.

Cat fur and clocks. Not a great combination, but a Clagan family tradition.

Luckily for me.


Julianne Holmes writes the Clock Shop Mystery series. J.A. Hennrikus writes the Theater Cop series.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

GIVEAWAYS! One for you and one for your library!

By Sally Caldera from the Read ’Em and Eat Mysteries by Terrie Farley Moran

Hi, my name is Sally Caldera, Head Librarian of the Beachside Community Library in Fort Myers Beach, Florida. I can’t tell you how lucky we are to have a fabulous cafĂ© that also functions as a book store right here in town. The owners, Sassy Cabot and Bridgy Mayfield, decorate their tables with author related memorabilia and name their menu items after books and authors. (I love, love, love The Secret Garden salad, with a creamy pecan dressing.) And they have book club meetings! Naturally we all became great friends as soon as the Read ’Em and Eat opened. Just last week, April 8-14, we all celebrated National Library Week. The library sponsored a number of fun events, including author readings, arts and crafts, and yoga lessons. When we celebrated National Library Worker’s Day, Sassy and Bridgy were kind enough to donate dozens of Miss Marple Scones for our festivities.  

Our library offers all kinds of wonderful materials to the public, but I am especially proud of our collection of Large Print Books. So many of our patrons are more comfortable reading large print books, we are lucky to be able to give them a terrific selection.

To celebrate libraries our author is offering you a chance to win two copies of Read to Death, a mass market paper back copy for you to keep and a large print copy for your local library.

To enter for a chance to win please comment below and tell us anything at all about large print books. You love to read them, you hate to, your mom reads them, you have never seen one—we want to know. Please include your email in this format: yourname (at) your server (dot) com—so the spambots can’t pick it up.

Comments close at midnight, your time, on Saturday, April 21st.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Knobcone Heights Library


by Carrie Kennersly, veterinary technician and owner of an adjoining barkery and bakery, whose adventures are memorialized in the Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries by Linda O. Johnston

Hi, everyone.  It's April now.  And yes, I know that National Library Week ran from April 8 to 14, so it ended a few days ago.  Even so, I wanted to say something here about the Knobcone Heights Library. 

Yes, Knobcone Heights has a library.  It's located near the town's Civic Center.  With my dual careers owning my shops, Barkery and Biscuits and Icing on the Cake, plus still working part-time as a veterinary technican at the Knobcone Veterinary Clinic, I don't have a lot of time to read.

Even so, I do pop in at the library whenever I get an opportunity.  I pick up books to read, sometimes mysteries similar to the real ones I've gotten involved with lately, where I've helped to solve some pretty nasty murders.  Other times, I take out books for research on how to solve those murders, although I don't get involved with research nearly as much as my full-time assistant Dinah Greeley  does.  She likes to write as well as work in the shops, so she's always conducting research.

Yes, our library happens to have copies of the books written by Linda O. Johnston that memorialize how I've solved those murders:  Bite the Biscuit, To Catch a Treat,  and Bad to the Bone--and I understand they have on order the new one about to be published next month, Pick and Chews.

Anyway, let me wish all librarians a belated Happy Library Week and thank them for all they do. 

PICK AND CHEWS, the fourth Barkery & Biscuits Mystery by Linda O. Johnston, will be a May 2018 release.

Barkery, Bakery, Biscuits, Midnight Ink, Linda O. Johnston, Barkery & Biscuits, Bite the Biscuit, To Catch A Treat, Bad to the Bone, Pick and Chews

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Celebrating Libraries - and a Giveaway!

By Chloe Ellefson, Historic Site Curator

of the Chloe Ellefson Mysteries

by Kathleen Ernst

Library week may officially be over, but I'm taking a pause from my own work to celebrate libraries---and the people who work in them.

I'm curator of collections at an outdoor museum, and sometimes do consulting work at other museums and historic sites too. Most have their own library for staff use.

The photo above was taken at an historic site where I recently spent an eventful week as a consultant. (More about that another time.) The point is, historic sites staff are grateful for whatever space they can find.

On the other end of the scale, the photo below was taken in the State Historical Society of Wisconsin's library. The ambiance always reminds me that the work done at museums and historical societies is important.

Whether squeezed into a closet or arrayed on shelves in regal halls. libraries and the materials they collect are important. To all the librarians out there, and library volunteers, thank you.

Want to support your local library? Provide the library name, town, and state or province in the comment section, and it will be entered in a Giveaway. The winning library, chosen at random, will receive the first three books in the Chloe Ellefson series:  Old World Murder, The Heirloom Murders, and The Lightkeeper's Legacy. The Giveaway closes at midnight on April 19, and the winner will be announced on April 20.

* * *
Kathleen Ernst is the author of thirty-six books, including the Chloe Ellefson Mysteries, mysteries for young readers, historical fiction, and two nonfiction books.  Before becoming a full time writer she worked as a curator at Old World Wisconsin.

To learn more about the award-winning Chloe Ellefson series---including the latest, Mining For Justice, see Kathleen's website.

Kathleen is celebrating the series with an eight-month-long retrospective, and it's Heritage of Darkness month! Stop by her blog to learn more about the book, and watch her Facebook Author Page for a Giveaway.

Monday, April 16, 2018

It’s a dog’s life...and that’s not so bad

          Bruce Wills here. The other Bruce Willis with ears, wagging tail and daily yard-waterer in Iced Chiffon
Have you ever noticed all the pets running around in cozies mysteries? And most of them are cats! What the heck? How did that happen? Does a cat greet you at the door, get your slippers, clean the kitchen floor after you spill the bacon and eggs? No! Cats sniff, turn up their nose and prance off.  Dogs have owners, Cats have staff! 

Once upon a time I didn’t have such a great life so I ran away and took up living under Reagan Summerside’s front porch. Don’t know why I chose her. Maybe because at the time Reagan’s life in Savannah sucked almost as much as mine.
But she’s an okay gal, even shared her McNuggets and fries with me but kept the martinis all to herself. I mean to tell you I could do with a martini or two on these hot summer nights.
Reagan has a consignment shop on the first floor of her half-restored Victorian. She and her Auntie KiKi who lives next door were going to name me Calvin Klein to fit in with the upscale clothes she takes in. One look at my mangled left ear, crooked tail and scared snout not to mention my questionable linage and they knew I was much better suited as Bruce Willis.
Life is good right now. Reagan says I’m the worse watchdog on the planet but I sure do make a lot of friends. If I fake a limp I can usually finesse a cookie or two from the customers and if I sit in front of the fridge long enough I get my daily dog…hot dog that is. The warm fall days here in Savannah are just made for me snoozing on the porch and one day I can get a slurp of Reagan’s peach martini.  
So what is your opinion on pets in mysteries? Paw up or down? Do they distract too much from the mystery? Do you like it when they have a point of view? Do you like cats or dogs best in a book? (That’s spelled d-o-g)
Let me know what you think and I’ll have Duffy donate one of her books to the library of your choice.