A #cloakanddaggerchristmas Book Review | “In Peppermint Peril” (Book One: A Tea and Read Mysteries) by Joy Avon

Posted Wednesday, 26 December, 2018 by jorielov , , , , 0 Comments

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Acquired Book By: I often cross paths with writers in the twitterverse, as I’m a social reader who likes to engage directly with fellow book bloggers, readers, reviewers and writers. I talk with writers who are in the process of launching their writing careers inasmuch as established writers who have quite a few releases out for us to discover. The blissitude of finding this author is the fact she writes under two separate names (Vivian Conroy for Cosy Historical Mysteries; Joy Avon for the Book Tea Shop Mysteries) whilst she hosts a weekly Historical Fiction Twitter Chat I am in love with attending inasmuch as the quarterly #HistoricalFix; as you see, #HistFicChat brings all of us together who love devouring Historical stories across genres and eras of interest. It is a conversational meet-up featuring today’s Historical authors – from all gambits of the umbrella in which you could find a writer writing a Historical novel!

Due to her encouragement, I reached out to her publisher Crooked Lane Books to see if I could receive two of her novels for review – “The Butterfly Conspiracy” and “In Peppermint Peril”. I was happily surprised to receive both and this marks the first of two reviews featuring my first introductions to her characters. I elected to share both during my personal readathon within the hours of the #cloakanddaggerchristmas readathon happening between #booktube and the book blogosphere! I was unfortunately delayed until Christmas Week to begin my readings due to a bad Winter virus and am overjoyed I can finally read the stories I’ve been keenly interested in discovering!

I received a complimentary ARC copy of “In Peppermint Peril” direct from the publisher Crooked Lane Books in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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The reasons why I was dearly keen on discovering

this new Cosy Mystery series:

(as much as an explanation of how I’m connected to the author)

It might not be a very well known fact – as throughout the past five years as a book blogger, I’ve been focusing on so many different genres of entrance, I am never quite sure if any of my dear hearted visitors & readers know what my top favourite genres are to explore? Ever since I met Miss Marple I have had a penchant for Cosy Mysteries; from that day forward, I also adopted a British affinity for writing them in the Brit fashion rather than the American. It felt only right being that Dame Christie is who endeavoured to inspire a lifelong passion for the genre!

Over the years, I am thankful if I can find a new author (singular) or a new series (if they prefer a serial over a one-off) within the Cosy umbrella of stories. It is a hard call really – how to find an author who is writing the kind of stories I want to be seeking out & which series therein are being written in a style that I can sink my literary teeth into with the cosy comforting joy of feeling as if I’ve entered a world I would love to reside inside for quite a long time afterwards!

Reading Cosy Mysteries has been quite a luxury – a pleasurable exploration of Crime Fiction due to how soft & gentle the writers take us into the minds of their criminals & their sleuths. It is a lighter & fluffier side to Mysteries, Suspense & Thrillers – for the most part – as sometimes Cosies can broker a fine line between Noir, Cosy & Hard-Boiled.

I have such an attachment to Cosy Historical Mysteries that I oft-time have to remind myself to seek out a Contemporary Cosy – as a book blogger I sort of side-lined my adventures into the Lady Emily series, the Mary Russell series & the Aunt Diminty series – all of which are part of my #beatthebacklist for 2019 reading challenge – however, prior to sorting out where I am traversing in Cosies for 2019, I was thankful I crossed paths with Ms Conroy (Avon) as through the conversations we’ve shared on Twitter during her chat #HistFicChat I found a like-minded spirit – someone who is as giddy happy over these Cosies as I am myself – and her readerly habits are a mirror of my own, dear hearts!

We oft find ourselves musefully talking about the same takeaways & insights into the Mysteries & Historical stories we are discussing – in that regard, it has been a benefit of minds to have met each other in the twitterverse! As how lovely is it when you find a fellow bookish soul who reads the stories you want to be seeking out yourself to read?

So, imagine my joyfulness in being able to read two of her lovely releases as typically her stories are *not released!* into print – their Digital First. I am thankful to have found an author out there who appreciates what I do in Crime Fiction and I couldn’t wait to get invested into her stories – seeing how she set the tone for her series & which of her characters would win me over the most!

Truly though – it boiled down to this: I drink copious amounts of tea, I’m in love with chai and I could literally spend a lifetime inside a library and a book shoppe without the need to exit! Combing a love of books and the art of tea into a Cosy series? The premise of that potential surely secured my interest! 

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A #cloakanddaggerchristmas Book Review | “In Peppermint Peril” (Book One: A Tea and Read Mysteries) by Joy AvonIn Peppermint Peril
Subtitle: A Book Tea Shop Mystery
by Joy Avon
Source: Direct from Publisher

This Christmas, Callie Aspen returns to her childhood hideout Heart's Harbour, Maine, where her great-aunt runs Book Tea, a vintage tearoom where every sweet treat contains a bookish clue. Upon arrival in the fairy-tale snowy town, Callie is drawn into the preparations for a special tea party at Haywood Hall, the rambling house of Heart's Harbour's oldest resident, rich but lonely widow Dorothea Finster, who invited her estranged relatives, old friends, and the elite of the town to make a mysterious announcement about her will.

Believing they can touch a part of her fortune, everybody is determined to come, despite not liking each other or even their hostess. And Callie's old friend Sheila complicates things by using the tea party to announce her daughter's engagement, even though her daughter isn't sure she's in love with the young lawyer her mother thinks is so perfect for her.

Catering to people who each have their own agenda isn't easy for the Book Tea crew, especially once the valuable engagement ring goes missing and a dead body turns up in the conservatory. Can Callie and her great-aunt use their love of clues to dig into the crimes and show their unhappy hostess and squabbling guests the true Christmas spirit?

Genres: Amateur Detective, Christmas Story &/or Christmas Romance, Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Cookery, Cosy Mystery, Crime Fiction

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781683317937

Setting: Heart's Harbour, Maine

Published by Crooked Lane Books

on 13th November, 2018

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 288

Christmas Cosy Mystery Book Icon made by Jorie in Canva.ARC Review Icon made by Jorie in Canva.Amateur Detective Icon made by Jorie in Canva.

Published By: Crooked Lane Books (@crookedlanebks)

A Tea and Read Mysteries:

(I was rather partial to the original title of the series “A Book Tea Shop Mystery”)

In Peppermint Peril (book one)

→ Sweet Tea & Secrets (book two) *forthcoming, 11th June, 2019!

Available Formats: Trade paperback and Ebook

Converse via: #Conroy10, #CosyMystery + #TeaAndReadMysteries

About Joy Avon

Having spent many afternoons as a teen on the Nile with Poirot or confronting sinister spinsters in sleepy English towns with Miss Marple, it was only natural Joy Avon would start writing mysteries of her own. Besides writing, Joy enjoys hiking, collecting stationery, and trying new desserts, especially if chocolate is involved.

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my review of in peppermint peril:

I have a Winter’s heart – I thrive in colder environs even though the descriptions of the roads slicked over with a fresh coating of ice gives me the shivers as black ice is not to be taken lightly, what was most enjoyable about the opening scene within In Peppermint Peril is how the community came together to celebrate the snow by setting up a rink where the natural environment could provide the ice to skate over! It was such a charming opening scene – you could almost feel like you could carry skates to a bench to join the skaters or pick up one of the first cuppa cocoa’s being offered to observers. It is the kind of festive joy you hope to find IRL where the beauty of the season and the random joyfulness of the moment intermingle to form the best of memories.

Even the eccentric personality of Callie’s Great Aunt Iphy seem most at home in this sleepy harbour towne of Maine! The kind of quirky community you’d expect to find where tea is ready to serve and the quirks of living in a place tucked away from the goings on of society encourage their own pace of living.

As soon as you start to drink in the Christmassy image of Haywood Hall from the eyes of Ms Avon, you dearly wish you could stand beneath the pillars of this great estate yourself – eyeing the lights and the wreaths, drinking in the scent of the fir trees and just ‘being still’ in the moment. It is the kind of place that has a magical way of dis-alarming you – where you can feel a bit lighter just by being there. This is a place alive with warm-hearted memories of where a young girl found her feet of joy in History and in the people who created a warm ambiance of acceptance here at the Hall. You can tell for Callie, coming here now was in effect a ‘coming back to centre and home’ as her mind reflected fondly back on the days of her youth. You felt caught up in her nostalgia and wished to have had a few of those memories yourself.

I am unsure what was more alarming for Callie, re-meeting Sheila whose attitude could use an adjustment in manners or her reunion with Leadenby; whom she found is dearly misunderstood and underappreciated. The cake on the other hand was a curious discovery – one only Sheila seemed to understand how to interpret! Yet, what was quite cunning is how Callie referenced her Aunt Iphy loved to catch people off-guard and riddle them with a puzzle of a clue in order to have her bakery delights fully appreciated. For that kind of surprise, I would have love to attend the tea, even if having to be round Shelia might prove frustrating as truly the woman’s’ personality could stop clocks! She just didn’t seem to have a kindness in her that would endear you to her as you’d rather avoid her than be caught inside the snark she liked to dole out.

By the time Amber (Sheila’s daughter) and Ben arrive, Callie is still trying to make sense of Aunt Iphy’s vision for the cake! She was a bit in the dark about the recognition Amber knew of in Iphy’s motives behind ‘hiding clues’ in her savoury treats – evenso, Callie had too much to put together for this cosy little tea party than to worry about her Aunt’s hidden messages! It was such a lovely premise though – of having cake and cookies speak to you about books to be reading! I also hadn’t realised the Brother Cadfael stories had more depth to them than what I originally had thought. Made me reconsider if I ought to seek out one of the first stories in the series, as anyone who loves the BBC as much as I do (and my parents!) – has heard of this adaptation!

Then the real fun began – the elder Dorothea had it in her mind to shock everyone with news she wanted to reveal at this tea party – the cake notwithstanding more than a few tweaks – first by Aunt Iphy and then, by Sheila – this was not your benign meeting of the minds! Part of the towne’s inner influencers were in attendance and the two who seemed blindsided the most were Amber and Ben! As you pull the layers apart – the pieces start to show themselves, as Avon likes to set a scene full of quirky characters, a plausible reason to gather them together and then, she lets it sit a bit like a good stew on a Wintry’s day.

Of course, I wasn’t quite prepared for the body!! Laughs. I knew there would be a crime but it was how it was discovered and the timing of it all – which when you thought about it was rather clever as we were all a bit off-guard to recognise the plot would take such a strong turning! I didn’t even guess the right victim which is something I try to do when I’m reading Cosies and half the time I find out I’ve either bought the ‘redirection / red herring’ or haven’t put the clues together to add up to the same scenario the author’s envisioned. In this instance, I was just caught up in the moment and hadn’t realised we were in for a surprise!

Aunt Iphy is quite the charmer – she finds a way to influence those round her to do things they wish to be doing but perhaps, lack the confidence to follow through? She meddles and tries to sway how things turn out – with only the best intentions of course, but it is lovely to watch her plot out her actions as you just know she is several yards ahead of everyone round her! No wonder she loves running Book Tea! It is the perfect potboiler – where the whole community can ring round, settle in for cosy comforting treats and hot drinks, whilst their loose tongues can not just share the general gossip but perhaps leak out a few good clues!

Callie has an naturalness about her – she blends in well with all kinds of people, wells, perhaps not the lead detective on the case, mind you, as they were at odds with each other but overall, she endures well. She’s a calming compliment to her Aunt Iphy – she has a way of giving people a reason to talk to her even if they are uncertain if they should. She reaches out and tries to keep an open mind about circumstances she doesn’t fully understand. That in of itself makes her a better detective than the deputy on the case; though in truth, he was at a disadvantage. Avon does well to show how a seemingly ordinary towne can soon plot against the law! And, not with malice but just by idle gossip and the curious stirrings of truth mixing with half-lies.

The residents of the Hall fell to pieces so quickly it was hard to tell if any of them had a bit of backbone to handle crises in life. The one exception of course was the eldest amongst them – she took a leave of absence for awhile but she had such a spark of life inside her when we first were acquainted somehow I felt she had more insight into the whole affair.

There is a charming scene involving Falk and Callie – one I hadn’t foreseen happening as those two felt like they were vinegar and oil! They just naturally rubbed each other the wrong way round but then again, opposites I suppose can attract. Theirs is a quasi-professional relationship but evenso, Avon knows how to surprise her readers by placing opposite-minded characters together, seeing what will come of their meeting and then leave you curious about the long haul of a series! One thing is for certain Callie has a compassionate heart – it stems out of her actions and how she is affected by the actions of others who seek to only spread hate. There is a moment that highlights the after effects of bullying and how even during an intervention the line isn’t cut and dry how to approach the situation. I applauded Avon for bringing that into the scene and for giving Callie a special moment with a younger character.

At the centre of this tale of course is the matriarch Dorothea – a woman who has her own secrets and the one person who is interlinked to everyone else in the story. It is through a long examination of how these inter-connecting persons connect to Dorothea that we first start to understand what is happening between the clues and outside of the scenes we first came upon. It is a cleverly spun Cosy – the tangents are well timed, leading you to consider different angles of thought and most of them are logical enough to keep you guessing even if you decide to dismiss a few of them, they still carry a bit of weight for consideration.

I truly loved the respite of joy Avon gave us with this heart-warming tale! The introduction to the setting (Haywood Hall), the location (Heart’s Harbour, Maine) and the community who knits this place together was quite delightful. There were just enough twists to keep me lingering on what was revealled in past chapters and a lovely surprise by the conclusion – as I was thankful the resolutions came as they had! It is one of those kinds of Cosies you want to enjoy in the Winter and especially during the Christmastide!

on the cosy stying of joy avon:

This is the Contemporary Mystery styling of the author Vivian Conroy which is a unique departure for me, as I began reading The Butterfly Conspiracy closer to when it was being discussed and prompted on Twitter during her #Conroy10 celebrations this past Autumn. I had to forestall my readings of both her novels due to health reasons which is why this Christmas Week was a special one for me as I was able to continue reading the stories I was loving to find! She has an innate instinct for crafting together the kind of Cosies Cosy readers are hoping to find available – whenever you pick up one of her novels, you feel immediately drawn into the story-line which is such a blessing as I love how you can get this immediate connection to a new series.

I am definitely loving Avon/Conroy’s instincts for crafting Cosies – now, I must dream of the day where all her lovelies (across multiple series!) are available to read in PRINT! They are now my #mostwanted #mustread #CosyMysteries!

I like how Avon keeps you guessing – I didn’t immediately connect the dots on this mystery and I love that about her style. She gives you this lovely little environment in which to get to know better but she doesn’t leave ‘tells’ in her plotting to where you could surmise the conclusions. At least not for me and of course, I don’t overly look too hard at solving Cosies as I do like being lost in them for the joyfulness of reading them start to finish. I know other readers sometimes like to solve everything before the detectives do but for me? Half the allure is not knowing all the resolutions!

Avon likes to hide little elements of the genre within her story – such as references to other detectives or other author’s canonical works. When I reached the entrance of Deputy Falk, I was curious if that was a nod to Peter Falk who played Columbo? If so, I can keep smirking into my eggnog!!

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For the fuller effect of reading Christmas Cosies, I read this story with the joy of hearing Spotlfy’s Peaceful Christmas Piano station in the background of my readings. As the snow drifted down and the candycane striped bar of progression accompanied each piece played – it encompassed the feeling of being Christmassy & hugged inside a new Cosy I loved discovering!

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I’ve been reading a selection of #ChristmasCosyMysteries:

Photo Credit: Unsplash Photographer Toa Heftiba. (Creative Commons Zero)

Deck the Hounds (book eighteen of the Andy Carpenter Mysteries) by David Rosenfelt

Naughty On Ice (book four of the Discreet Retrieval Agency series) by Maia Chance

Whilst the following are still upcoming:

Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen (book one of A Year Round Christmas Mystery series) by Vicki Delany

The Twelve Clues of Christmas (book six of Her Royal Spyness series) by Rhys Bowen

& Candy Cane Murder (book 13.5 of the Hannah Swensen & Lucy Stone series) by Joanne Fluke

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 I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst readers who gravitate towards the same stories to read. Bookish conversations are always welcome!

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#CloakAndDaggerChristmas badge created by Jorie in Canva

Outside of my #ChristmasMysteries I’ve also read the following:

Murder at Keswick (A Sherlock Holmes Tale) by William Todd (on audiobook)

A Murder By Any Name (an Elizabethan Spy Mystery) by Suzanne M. Wolfe

Whilst the following are still upcoming:

A Reckoning in the Back Country (a Samuel Craddock Mystery) by Terry Shames

Kill Shot (a White Knight novel) by Susan Sleeman (*previously I read book one)

The Butterfly Conspiracy (A Merriweather and Royston Mystery) by Vivian Conroy

Murder at the Mill (an Iris Grey Mystery) by M.B. Shaw

See Also Proof (a Marjorie Trumaine Mystery) by Larry D. Sweazy

As Death Draws Near (a Lady Darby Mystery) by Anna Lee Huber

A Nest of Vipers (Ruritanian Rogues series) by Richard Storry (on audiobook)

Death on the River (a Tara Thrope Mystery) by Clare Chase (on audiobook)

The Tesla Gate (series of the same name) by John D. Mimms (on audiobook)

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Due note: due to a beast of a Winter virus, a few of the reviews I was working on in late December ended up not being shared as they were meant to be. I had a late start to reading these selections due to the virus as it began a few weeks before Christmas; don’t even ask how my holiday went, as I was properly miserable. This particular Cosy was comforting during the rare few moments I felt well enough to sit, read & compose my thoughts on my blog. It was light-hearted but had a soul to it – there is drama percolating beneath the surface and I was finding myself wanting to turn the pages despite how I felt.

I had a rough beginning to [January] spending nearly the full first week offline whilst trying to not lose patience in a slow recovery from a then 4+wk virus that truly was not wanting to ‘let me go’. Blessedly, I could finally release these lovelies properly & cheer for them on #bookishTwitter! The rest of the stories outside of these which were languishing til I could get back into my blog properly are being re-routed into #NewYearReads & shared during my pursuit of #BeatTheBackList 2019!

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This review is cross-posted to LibraryThing.

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I like how Avon keeps you guessing – I didn’t immediately connect the dots on this mystery and I love that about her style. She gives you this lovely little environment in which to get to know better but she doesn’t leave ‘tells’ in her plotting to where you could surmise the conclusions. At least not for me and of course, I don’t overly look too hard at solving Cosies as I do like being lost in them for the joyfulness of reading them start to finish. I know other readers sometimes like to solve everything before the detectives do but for me? Half the allure is not knowing all the resolutions!

Avon likes to hide little elements of the genre within her story – such as references to other detectives or other author’s canonical works. When I reached the entrance of Deputy Falk, I was curious if that was a nod to Peter Falk who played Columbo? If so, I can keep smirking into my eggnog!!

{SOURCES: Book Cover for “In Peppermint Peril” was provided by the author Joy Avon (aka Vivian Conroy) and is used with permission. The book synopsis for “In Peppermint Peril” and the author biography was provided by Crooked Lane Books and are being used with permission. Post dividers badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Photo of pine cones, apple and mug: Photo Credit: Unsplash Photographer Toa Heftiba (Creative Commons Zero). Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Book Review Banner using Unsplash.com (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna, #cloakanddaggerchristmas banner, the bookish icons and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2018.

I’m a social reader | I tweet my reading life

And, then the conversation continued on Twitter:

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Wednesday, 26 December, 2018 by jorielov in 21st Century, Amateur Detective, Blog Tour Host, Book Review (non-blog tour), Cookery, Cosy Mystery, Crime Fiction, Lady Detective Fiction, Modern Day, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event

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