The only thing worse than going to your twenty-fifth high school reunion is going a pathetic failure. I’m a stay at home cat mom, who’s sixty pounds overweight, and I just ate a can of Duncan Hines chocolate frosting for breakfast. I haven’t been out of the house since my late husband’s funeral a few months ago so I haven’t had to put on pants in a really long time. That’ll teach the UPS driver to require a signature. Fortunately, my black smoke Persian Figaro enjoys our life on the sectional sofa living on microwave pot pies and raspberry Zingers. Who needs friends when you have Cupcake Wars?
Apparently, Sawyer does. She’s been my best friend since grade school – no offence Fig. Sawyer didn’t run for her life to escape beach Hell like I did. She stayed in Cape May and got married and divorced. Of course, she’s gorgeous and has a body to die for so living in a resort town that worships the bikini suits her.
She called me a little while ago complaining about these cheerleaders who made our lives miserable all through high school. Ah yeah, Sawyer – I know. That’s why my favorite food group is crème filling. I’m trying to forget. Sawyer has the flagrant boldness that comes from being a size five, so she wants to go to the reunion and face off against the bullies. I’m like, fine. Have fun with that. You do you. Only her misery wants my company and she’s not afraid to use the BFF card.
That’s why I’m currently wired on espresso and throwing t-shirts and slim fast bars into a suitcase. I have a four-hour road trip to the Jersey shore with a howling cat ahead of me. A very old, extremely cantankerous, and possibly senile Great Aunt Ginny waiting to chew me out for not coming home sooner. And an 80’s themed reunion to get in, get out, and get over as quick as possible. And. . . I still need to find pants.
This is gonna be a disaster. But at least I won’t run into the one that got away.
AUTHOR Q&A FT @LIBBYKLEINBOOKS | CLASS REUNIONS ARE MURDER + PRINT COPY #GIVEAWAY | GREAT ESCAPES BOOK TOURS PRESENTS #COZYMYSTERY
Posted by: Mayor Sonni
Class Reunions Are Murder (A Poppy McAllister Mystery) by Libby Klein is on virtual book tour. The cozy mystery stops at Readeropolis today with an author interview. Enjoy!
Don’t forget to enter for a chance to win the giveaway and follow the book tour (for other dates see the bottom of the post).
Author Interview with Libby Klein
Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?
Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
How about your least favorite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
My least favorite character in Class Reunions is Barbie. She’s a bully who only cares about her own happiness, and she’ll step on whoever she has to in order to be on top. We’ve all known a Barbie and the pain they can inflict. Those childhood bullies can leave scars that last a lifetime.
Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:
A few years ago, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and multiple food allergies. Changing my diet was hard because it had been focused solely on weight loss for over thirty years. Now my focus had to change to healing and avoiding foods I reacted to. I’ve had to adopt the Paleo diet for my health. Only I am so susceptible to the power of suggestion that when I read a cozy that takes place in a pie shop I find myself eating pie. If it’s in a bakery, Here I am making cookies. Every time I read a new book, I would sabotage myself. I thought, if only there was a cozy that encouraged me to eat healthy and do yoga every day, maybe I’d have more success with it. Writing Poppy is my inspiration to stay healthy.
Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?
How can we contact you or find out more about your books?
What can we expect from you in the future?
What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
Tell your friends and leave me good reviews.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Teresa Trent Blog
Class Reunions Are Murder (A Poppy McAllister Mystery)
by Libby Klein
Have you ever attended a class reunion and notice how not only do people not look the way they did in high school, but they vaguely resemble that Facebook photo? Today we have a great cozy mystery, Class Reunions Are Murder. Not only that, but I got an exclusive interview with Poppy McCallister who will give us the skinny on her class reunion experience. Maybe I shouldn’t have said skinny. Any girl whose special talent is sniffing out flavors in a Whitman Sampler–needs to come sit next to me! Love it.
Don’t forget to look for the Prize Guy. Enter for the chance to win a print copy of Class Reunions Are Murder!
And now…here’s Poppy
Please tell us about your latest adventure.
I was coerced into attending my twenty-fifth high school reunion at the Jersey shore by my life-long best friend, Sawyer to face off against the cheerleading bullies who made our lives miserable all through high school. One of those bullies ended up dead – through no fault of my own – and I had the misfortune of finding the body. Now guess who was voted most likely to kill a cheerleader. Yep, yours truly. Man, I just wanted to go home to Virginia, my sectional sofa, and my tubes of cookie dough. Instead, I got stuck in beach hell trying to wriggle out of the clutches of a vindictive cop and prove my innocence.
Do you have any friends/sidekicks helping you out?
I have plenty of friends and sidekicks. I’m not sure how much help they always are. Figaro is my black smoke Persian and he has a way of being a pest in just the right moment. We live with my Great Aunt Ginny. If getting into trouble were an Olympic sport, she’d have all the medals, but she’s sharp as a razor clam and misses nothing. Then there’s Sawyer, she’s my ride or die. We grew up together. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for Sawyer, and that’s how I got into this mess at the reunion.
Do you have any special skills to fight crime?
My special skills involve being able to deduce what filling is in a chocolate from the Whitman’s Sampler on sight, and my ability to sense when a coffee shop is nearby. I’m not trying to fight crime, I’m trying to fly under the radar and stay out of trouble. But I do have a way of reading people – an intuition if you will – that helps me detect lies and guilt. Aunt Ginny says I’m just overly suspicious.
Are you a full-time detective or do you do something else?
I’m a full-time couch potato. My husband passed a few months ago and I’m still trying to get out of bed in the morning. I’ve been slogging through life with all the motivation of a manatee. There are some dreams and aspirations I’d still like to see realized in my life. It seems I have my work cut out for me.
What are you most frightened of in this story?
Running into my ex-boyfriend at the reunion and him seeing I’ve chunked out since high school.
Is there anything funny that happens to you or another character in this story?
If there was such a thing as karma, what in the world did I do to deserve the feathery nightmare I had to wear to see people who hadn’t had the chance to judge me for twenty years?
If I were to choose an actor or actress to play your part in a movie, who would that be? Do you see any other characters in your story as actors or actresses that our readers might know?
I imagine myself being played by Julianne Moore or Debra Messing. Stop laughing Aunt Ginny. Aunt Ginny would be supremely lucky to be played by Carol Burnett.
Do you have other mysteries you would like to tell us about? Is this the first book in the series, or have you cracked a few other cases?
Class Reunions is the first in a series. More hijinks are soon to come.
Do you have any final words you would like to leave with our readers?
If you ever get a piece of monogrammed stationary requesting a private meeting with an old enemy at your high school reunion – don’t hesitate. Run over it with the car, tear it into a million pieces, and set it on fire immediately!
Let’s give your author a chance to speak. Anything you would like to add?
Thank you so much for reading the adventures of Poppy, Figaro, and Aunt Ginny. Drop me a line through my website or social media. I’d love to hear from you.
I met Libby at a Chessie Chapter of Sisters in Crime meeting last fall and was delighted to hear about her new series, the Poppy McAllister Mystery series, from Kensington. The first book, Class Reunions Are Murder, came out on January 30, 2018. Libby is giving away a copy of the book to a commenter! Please join me in welcoming, Libby!
I grew up in south Jersey. Exit Zero. Technically the Villas which would have been like exit two, but they didn’t make an exit two because no one wants to go to the Villas. I lived down the street from a seemingly defunct button factory. It was apparently in operation until recently, but we never saw anyone there. No cars, no people. It’s like there were secret underground tunnels that only night workers knew about. In a word – creepy.
The Villas was not exactly a hotbed of activity since it was mostly populated by summer homes and settlers who had arrived on the Mayflower. Most of Cape May County was deserted in the off season. If my dad passed more than four cars during his fifteen-minute drive home from work he was like, “Whoa! What’s with all the traffic!” Then he complained that rush hour was out of control.
When most people refer to New Jersey as the armpit of New York, they mean north Jersey. In south Jersey you’re the armpit of Philly. Yoose eat your cheese steaks and Italian hoagies and root for the Flyers and the Eagles or you’re a mook. Everyone knows it.
My high school was small, my graduating class had roughly 200 students, and I had to walk four blocks to catch the bus – which I think constitutes child abuse in today’s society. After school activities were very popular because there was literally nothing else to do other than going to the mall. And by mall, I mean the tiny little strip of about fifteen shops in Rio Grande with the K-mart, two screen movie theater and Rick’s Pizza.
When I was a kid this was a huge culture shock for me. I came from the urban sprawl of the suburbs just outside of Washington DC. We had high rise apartments, public transportation, and a different nationality of restaurant on every corner. New Jersey was cornfields and asparagus farms. You rode your bike to the deli to get your mom capicola and provolone and the good hoagie rolls because she bought tomatoes at the farm stand on the way home from work. You can’t have a good hoagie without the good hoagie rolls.
In the summer, the population of Cape May exploded from four thousand residents to forty-thousand shoobies. Shoobies are what we call the tourists who wear socks with their sandals and order everything on the side when they know they’re gonna eat it anyway. You want to be known as a shoobie all you gotta do is order a “steak and cheese” or a “sub.” We’ll still sell it to you, but now it comes with a side of disdain. You gotta learn the language if you don’t wanna be a mook.
Our little two-lane roads get so clogged with shoobies it takes forever to go a couple blocks. They descend upon the beaches and bed and breakfasts in a clash of humanity fighting for a blanket sized patch of sand to call their own. They come to rent bicycles and beach chairs, line up for miles to buy water ice and frozen custard with rainbow jimmies. They loll about in the Atlantic Ocean, basking in the blistering sun under the constant rumble of single prop planes pulling banners that advertise everything from Reef and Beef Happy Hour to Marry Me Tina.
Growing up in a resort beach town means you’re the one who works those pancake breakfast shifts before going to your booth on the boardwalk. Your nights are spent trying to cajole shoobies into three for a dollar balloon darts and water gun horse races under the constant drone of “Watch the Tram Car Please.” You gotta mind your Ps and Qs because your tenth-grade science teacher is making the funnel cakes next door.
Everyone works as much as possible in the summer because they gotta make the money last all year. Your uncle works on the fishing boats at the crack of dawn to bring in tonight’s clams casino while grandma chambermaids for tips, so she can blow it all in Atlantic City on her day off. Your teachers don’t got time to put together lesson plans the last few weeks of the school year. They’re too tired from bartending now that the clubs are open. No one’s complaining.
Some people say there’s a rudeness here, a brusque attitude common to south Jersey. Maybe it’s the Philly influence. Maybe it’s the rampant humidity or the mosquitoes the size of salt water taffy. Maybe they’re just tired from working two jobs on their feet all day so they can have the luxury of heat this winter and they don’t got time for no shoobie funnel cake emergency. Whatever it is, they don’t mean anything by it. Once you get to know them, they’ll give you the shirt off their back. Just be aware that the shirt will probably say “Welcome to New Jersey. Now go home.”
Monday, January 8, 2018
A MUST READ Class Reunions Are Murder by LIbby Klein…
I finished Class Reunions Are Murder by LIbby Klein late Thursday night. I started it Wednesday night and at midnight my son came out of his room and said “just how long is that chapter?” when I sat down at 8:30 to read it, I said I would be in to say good night to him after I finished the chapter I was reading, apparently he had been waiting a good long while… I did not want to put this book down. Each time I picked it up and got interrupted, I found I kept wanting to run grab the book and hide, sometimes adulting is really hard…
CLASS REUNIONS ARE MURDER, the first book in the brand new Poppy McAllister Mystery series by Libby Klein, is sure to be a mega-hit! From the beginning, I was drawn into the story and the life of the protagonist, Poppy McAllister. Like a favorite dessert, I wanted to gobble the book up all at once in one sitting but real life sometimes doesn’t allow that so I had to put it down frequently. However, those interludes allowed me to savor every delicious word and scene in the story, making my reading time all the more meaningful and enjoyable. Ms. Klein has created a compelling character in Poppy, who is struggling with grief caused by widowhood. Despite her loss, Poppy’s dialog and introspection is humorous and at times laugh-out-loud funny. Poppy starts out being an insecure pushover, bullied by her former mother-in-law and walked over by everyone else. Her journey back to her hometown to visit her Aunt Ginny and attend (unwillingly) her class reunion is the catalyst for Poppy’s transformation. Ms. Klein accurately captures the angst of the insecurities of high school, with the descriptions of interaction between students: the popular kids, the mean girls, the nerds, those trying to just get through without being noticed. Yet through it all, the author writes with a witty sense of humor that truly adds to the entertainment of this engaging read.
Of course amazing characters need a terrific plot and Ms. Klein delivers. The pace is steady and the murder mystery well thought out. Almost the entire student body attending the class reunion are suspects, Poppy included, when one of the mean girls from their class is murdered during the party. The author also weaves in another layer of mystery surrounding Poppy’s Aunt Ginny and why she’s being harassed by social services. It brings to light the tragic situations surrounding senior citizens and how often they are targeted for defrauding. As I read, I had to cheer for Aunt Ginny and her spunky, free spirit. She is a delightful sidekick for Poppy. The various threads of plot, suspects, and subplots are all nicely wrapped up in an exciting, suspenseful conclusion. I am counting down the days until the next installment in this terrific new series!
In the book Aunt Ginny sets Poppy up with a holistic doctor who convinces her to go gluten-free and try to give the Paleo diet a try. As difficult as it is for Poppy to adhere to the diet, she does find great relief from several physical discomforts when she eats within the guidelines. In researching the author for this post, I found that she suffers from an autoimmune disease and as such eats a gluten-free diet. I discovered several years ago that I must also follow a strict gluten-free diet so I was very happy to find that Ms. Klein provides several gluten-free recipes at the back of the book. They all look quite delicious but I was especially drawn to the Paleo Strawberry Vanilla Muffins. I don’t often make baked goods for myself, so it was a treat being able to eat something I made. The muffins are quite flavorful and the lemon zest adds a nice zing to the strawberries. The texture is nice and moist but I did notice that after a couple of days the leftover muffins turned crumbly… which isn’t unusual for gluten-free products. I’ve included a tip to combat that in the recipe below. The topping, oh my! I loved the nice crunch of toasted almonds and the coconut sugar added just enough sweetness. In the book Poppy also makes these muffins substituting blueberries for strawberries and I will certainly be giving that variation a try!