Acquired Books By: I am a reviewer for Prometheus Books and their imprints starting in  as I contacted them through their Edelweiss catalogues and Twitter. I appreciated the diversity of titles across genre and literary explorations – especially focusing on Historical Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction and Scientific Topics in Non-Fiction.
However, their imprints Seventh Street Books & Pyr were merged into Start Publishing in  – wherein I had the pleasure of being approached by their new publicity team via Kaye Publicity this Spring wherein I was first introduced to the Spice Shop Mysteries as I was told about a forthcoming release this June – “Chai Another Day” for which I am receiving for review consideration. I decided to back-read the series as this marks the fourth in an on-going series. Uniquely enough, the first three were published by Berkley Prime Crime and the fourth installment is being published by Seventh Street Books.
I borrowed the first three novels in the Spice Shop Mysteries “Assault and Pepper”, “Guilty as Cinnamon” and “Killing Thyme” in paperback from my local library via inter-library loan through the consortium of libraries within my state. I was not obligated to post a review as I am doing so for my own edification as a reader who loves to share her readerly life. I was not compensated for my thoughts shared herein.
I received a complimentary copy of “Chai Another Day” direct from Seventh Street Books in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for my thoughts shared herein.
on why i was drawn into the spice shop mysteries:
You could say it felt like a homage to what I personally loved about being in the Pacific Northwest when I was eighteen – I had the chance to visit Seattle and Pike’s Place Market – it was a trip which left quite the impression on me. For starters, my aversion to sunshine was no longer an issue and my entire spirit soared without the oppressively volcanic presence of the Sun. The glare was gone being that I traded regions to where even sunlight filtered through clouds at a different angle than what I had become accustomed too. The whole setting in the West is uniquely different from other parts of the States – yet, it was the vibe of Pike’s Place which left the strongest impression.
Thereby, when I first learnt of the Spice Shop Mysteries – my heart hungered to read them, as any excuse to re-visit my memories spent walking through the marketplace would be a lovely excursion to take as it marked a moment in my life where I loved being in a walkable downtown which was vibrantly alive with merchants and artisans who were both approachable and hilarious to speak too.
Yes, I even saw the infamous fishmongers happily throwing their fish and trying to get everyone to celebrate the spontaneous joy in our lives. It was the blueberry vendors who struck a chord with my foodie heart – from their oils to their wines and how the magic shoppe and the Hollywood memorabilia shoppe left strong impressions due to the beauty of conversing with people with like-minded interests. The market itself had everything you needed for your basket and then some, replete with fresh cut flowers and other knicks or knacks you might not expect to find. Always a kind smile, a hearty laugh and loads of healthy sampling to see what your palette might appreciate eating.
I could see how a spice shop would thrive here – the downtown corridor in and round the marketplace itself had heaps of hills and it was definitely walkable as the traffic wasn’t (at the time) like other cities where pedestrians might struggle against the heavy flow and constant shifting of cars. After reading the author’s notes on behalf of the market today compared to the market I once knew myself – my memories are as old as Sleepless in Seattle as Pike’s Place then was most comparable to the one I saw IRL. I’m certain that the lay of the land now is quite uniquely different – from what she mentioned of the change in structures and buildings – not to mention the relocation of a highway! Laughs. I still remember how lovely it was to just be in a place where independent businesses were thriving and where it was possible to have personable conversations with the growers of the local produce, fruit, flowers, cheese and artisan goods. The concept is much more transparent nowadays across large and small cities alike but back then it was quite the extraordinary concept!
Now, if only spice shoppes and markets had caught-on in the slow food movement and were readily accessible as health food stores, now that would be progress I’d appreciate seeing come full circle into our everyday lives!
Mostly though – what intrigued me the most is the publisher I know for publishing wicked good dramatic Crime Fiction was now enticing me to try their Cosy side of the ledger! I will also say, as the publisher changed hands – when the book arrived I wasn’t sure if there would be a change in style and format for the finished copies, as previously I had mostly received their (print) ARCs with a few finished copies here or there for Seventh Street Books.
Chai Another Day was happily a wider trade paperback edition – where you could easily open the pages, see the layout and even the font was easier on the eyes – if you directly compared this fourth installment to the previous three when the series was with Berkley. However, in regards to previous Seventh Street Books releases – the format was refreshingly new as they were the more standard version of the trade paperback than this particular one where it felt more akin to a 5×7 size than the regular versions your used to holding in your hands. I honestly preferred it for this Cosy as it made reading it quite the ease and after so many migraines plaguing me recently, ease of reading a story was priority one!
Places to find the book:
Setting: Pike's Place Market, Seattle Washington
on 3rd March, 2015
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Published By: Berkley Prime Crime (@BerkleyMystery)
imprint of Berkley Publishing (@BerkleyPub)
via Penguin Random House (@penguinrandom)
Available Formats: Trade Paperback, Audiobook and Ebook
Initially, I had planned to read the first *three!* novels in this series, however, after five migraines this past May, I decided to simply focus on “Assault & Pepper” as I couldn’t listen to the audiobooks either due to time constraints and the after effects of my migraines. As you will see, the first novel in the series held my interest at first but that interest waned a bit once I was settled inside it. I decided to forego the first novel, as I had a proper sense of the setting & the way in which Ms Budewitz wanted us to feel a part of this world to where I moved directly into “Chai Another Day”. I think you might be pleasantly surprised by what I found inside the fourth novel,..
my review of assault and pepper:
I could immediately relate to two things: temperatures below seventy-five and smelling Autumn through a palette of spices and herbs! There is something to be said for calmer climes and the foods which speak to our souls during the different seasons of the year. For me, I could skip over a volcanic Summer and a nausating Spring full of allergens in exchange for a calmer cloudy and grey environment wherein the air is crisper, the produce is healthier and your sense of season was a gentler influence than an abrasive and blundering thundercloud of insanity. Already, as soon as I started reading Assault and Pepper, I was clued into how much angst I have living where I do.
The irony of course, is they are lamenting about the uses of spice for fish and meat; something which would never interest me (save the odd scallops here or there) as I’m a veghead vegan in the making! I’d rather know how you could grill, roast, saute and otherwise dress your veg and fruits than know about the dry rubs you need for a carnivore. Despite that – the aromas and aromatics they are inviting into my sensory memories reflects my own spicy life as a home cook as I have the tendency of appreciating the warmer spices throughout the year. It isn’t that I don’t like lighter foods but my wheelhouse always includes the posher spices of India or the flavourings of the Mediterranean. You can do loads with those spices – they indulge your creativity – especially once you master Garam Marsala and Turmeric!
The specialty tea blends, ah, now your talking! I love loose teas but I have to be careful with them as sometimes I opt instead for the bags as the loose varieties can be a bit strong even if your a careful steeper! The interesting bit is that I’ve learnt recently how you can cook or bake with tea blends – something I hadn’t realised in the past and I’m keen to explore it in the future.
I could definitely relate to Reed – I have a penchant for finding new ways to incorporate curry (the spice) into a lot of what I’m choosing to cook. By the time they were contemplating what to do with roasted squash and how to spice up their oatmeal, I had heard enough to know I wished this shoppe was a viable one in our own reality! Definitely keen on how I’m not the sole home cook who likes to switch things up in her saute pan, too! I also had a mad hankering for their tea samplers as although I prefer the warmer teas (full-on spices) there are a few floral teas I don’t mind though nothing overtly fruity as that’s just wrong.
Pepper’s ex-husband reminds me of why I enjoy the Coffeehouse Mysteries – these two series share that in common; where the ex-wives have moved forward with their lives but their exes haven’t quite caught on to the fact that some woman really do not want to reconcile the marriage they’ve divorced. Tag seemed to be the kind of bloke who liked to flirt no matter what his ex felt about him; almost as if it was its own inside tongue-and-cheek game between them – even if of course, from Pepper’s perspective it wasn’t likely to progress past the playful exchanges. On her end of it though, I sensed she liked her independence and enjoyed being single – or maybe, I was picking up on the fact she was thankful she was no longer married to Tag. It could swing either way – still too early-on to know what drew them apart to begin with and what led to the divorce. Read More
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: