Friday, May 30, 2014

Tempest in a Teapot by Amanda Cooper: Guest Author, Review & Giveaway

Tempest in a Teapot

Why Teapots?

By: Amanda Cooper (aka Victoria Hamilton)

How many people will wonder why I am writing a series centered around teapot collecting? I thought I would have a go at answering the question before I am asked.

First… about tea and me. I can only speak for myself, but drinking tea is about much more than just enjoying hot beverage. There are emotions and feelings tangled up with the ritual that have never, for me, been a part of my enjoyment of coffee. Coffee is for rushed mornings, a get-down-to-work straightforward brew. Tea is for afternoon; work is almost done and I need something to usher me gently from work to enjoyment.

How did I start drinking tea, you ask? At the modest home of my very English paternal grandmother there was always a Brown Betty of very strong tea on the hob, which in modern parlance is the stovetop. The tea stayed on all day long and became as dark as pitch. Conversations took place at the kitchen table over endless cups of that incredibly strong brew; as a small child I suppose that seemed a very ‘adult’ thing to do.

My first cups of tea were mostly milk and sugar warmed with a few tablespoons of hot tea from the pot, but it was tea, and I felt so grown up! My maternal grandparents gave me a milk glass teacup just fitted to small hands, and some English neighbors down the road brought back a very special tea mug from England for me; I was never actually allowed to use it, but it was mine! It has the Pied Piper on it, is English china, and I still have it in my china cabinet, a treasured piece.

But the beginning of the ritual was the teapot and ever since, I’ve loved them. For a collector there is a world of fascination in the teapot realm. You can go from rare antiques to kitschy figurals in the blink of an eye. There are teapots for animal lovers in the shapes of elephants, cats, birds and more. Consider the delicate beauties adorned with different chintz patterns, or admire silver teapots with Bakelite handles for the china or silver connoisseur. In fact there are so many types of teapots that collectors build museums to display them and folks travel for miles to marvel. Usually the museum aspect starts with a personal collection and ends with overabundance and the need for more space.

But why so many kinds of teapots? You don’t see figural coffee pots. For me the answer lies in the drink itself. Coffee is a ‘hurry up and consume’ potion; get some energy quick, drink it down! Tea is a ‘sit down and visit’ tonic. Tea encourages long gossip sessions with intimate friends, or dreamy afternoons with a book. Coffee is fuel; tea is pleasure. 

Coffee mugs have witty sayings or company logos and coffee pots are strictly utilitarian, for the most part. You can get coffee pots in china patterns to fit your set, but the coffee pot is a skinny long necked afterthought addition to the elegant set consisting of teapot, sugar bowl and creamer.

All in all, teapots blend a piquant measure of tradition, custom, memory and joy into a fragrant and bracing brew. I don’t have room to collect as I would wish, but the teapots I do have are displayed with pride. 

I hope readers enjoy the Teapot Collector Mystery series just as much as I am enjoying writing them, and that they will read with a hot cup of tea at the ready, to sip and savor.


Blurb: Tucked away in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York is the charming town of Gracious Grove, where time moves slowly, gossip spreads quickly, and the scones are to die for….

When her fashionable Manhattan restaurant goes under, Sophie Taylor retreats to her grandmother’s cozy shop, Auntie Rose’s Victorian Teahouse, where serenity is steeped to perfection in one of her many antique teapots. The last thing Sophie expects is a bustling calendar of teahouse events, like her old friend Cissy Peterson’s upcoming bridal shower.

Not everyone is pleased with the bride-to-be’s choice of venue—like Cissy’s grandmother, who owns a competing establishment, La Belle Epoque, and has held a long-simmering grudge against Rose for stealing her beau sixty years ago. Tensions reach a boiling point when Cissy’s fiancé’s mother dies while sampling scones at La Belle Epoque. Now, to help her friend, Sophie will have to bag a killer before more of the guest list becomes a hit list….

What Made Us Purr:

* The cover: I know I say this about every cozy mystery cover, but the detail in this one is just incredible. The cover kitty is Pearl, a chocolate-point Birman.Then there's the teapots, especially the overturned cat teapot. One detail I didn't notice until I held the book in my hands is the little white mouse drinking out of the teacup...too cute for words!!!

* Method of murder: During an engagement tea party, the victim is killed with a poisonous vanilla cupcake with yellow frosting. As one of the suspects says, "Poison in a little-ole innocent cupcake? That's just - well, it ain't nice. It ain't nice at all!"

* Feuding gramdmothers: Sophie's grandmother Rose and bride-to-be Cissy's grandmother Thelma Mae Earnshaw own competing tea shops right next door to each other, and have been feuding for 60 years since Rose supposedly stole Thelma's beau at a church picnic. Rose is a sweetheart, Thelma is cranky and cantankerous, and I loved them both.

* Teapots: I don't call myself a teapot collector, but I do own several so I love the premise for this series. This is my favorite piece in my collection, the Rescue Me Now Calico Cat Teapot:

What Made Us Hiss:

* Just one loose end: At one point in the book Sophie gets to snoop around the victim's house by volunteering to take care of her Siamese cat, Sweet Pea. It looked like Sophie was going to look for a home for the cat, even mentioning that she would ask for Rose's permission to adopt him herself, but we never saw Sweet Pea again! Sweet Pea, where are you?

Final Catcall: With just a limited number of suspects (those attending the engagement tea), this mystery had me completely stumped until the end. With corruption and bribery between the town council and local developers, everyone had secrets and everyone looked suspicious. I can't think of a more delightful way to spend an afternoon than with a cup of tea, a scone, a copy of this book, and a cat...of course!

Giveaway: Leave a comment by noon eastern on Wednesday, June 4th for the chance to win a copy of Tempest in a Teapot. (US entries only please.)


Michstjame said...

Ooh, fun! I love it when the first book of a new series comes out because there are so many possibilities and it always feel like the beginning of a fun and wonderful journey. Tempest in a teapot looks right up my alley, and I definitely agree that tea is much more than a hot beverage. I still remember the first time I was allowed to drink tea as a kid, and, yes, it made me feel grown up and special.

Thanks for the review and giveaway!

michstjame at gmail dot com

Donna A. said...

I have never read a cozy mystery before. Love your cat teapot. I also love the taste of tea.

NoraA said...

My partner and oldest son are the tea drinkers. English Breakfast Tea or Darjeeling for my better half, and Tetley or whatever the supermarket has on sale for my son. I drink what you would probably call that Southern abomination, sweet tea. We have a small collection of tea cups in the china closet. One for each daughter and our two nieces.

I would love to be your lucky winner, otherwise I'd have to beg, borrow or steal a copy in order to enjoy your new book.


Unknown said...

Looks fantastic! Thank you for the chance to win :)

Acemommy said...

Looks like a great series!

traveler said...

Love this series being a tea drinker makes it even more fascinating and fun. Thanks for this feature. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

petite said...

What a delightful book which calls to me since I drink tea all year and enjoy the warmth and soothing flavors. Many thanks. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

Anonymous said...

That looks like a fun book! I love tea but unfortunately only have the time to relax and indulge on the weekend. We'd love to be in the giveaway!

holdenj said...

This looks like a great series! I love my tea and still have one of my grandma's old china pots! Thansk!

Carol M said...

I love to start with the first book in a new series. This one sounds good! Thank you!

Carol M said...

I forgot my email. It's mittens0831 at aol dot com

Debbie S said...

I love the cover! I enjoy tea, I usually drink it in the evenings, it has a calming effect. This sounds like a fun read, thanks for the chance to win.
momzillasteel at gmail dot com

Mariodacat said...

Please don't enter me - I won a book a couple of weeks ago and it wouldn't be fair to others. By the way, M finished the book and loved it. The one you just reviewed looks interesting too. M said she may have to pick that one up also.

Unknown said...

I love tea parties and all that go with them, especially scones and pretty tea cups. This sounds like a big girls dream!! My little girls love playing tea party--without the murder!! Ronnalord(at)msn(dot)com

Unknown said...

I drink a cup of Irish breakfast tea every morning to start my day, it wouldn't seem right if I didn't !

Anonymous said...

I actually have (or had) grandmothers named Rose and Thelma. This isn't my kind of book but a coincidence like that means that I need to buy this.

Anonymous said...

Hav a Pawsum weekend.

Luv and Hugs and Kitty kisses ♥♥♥


Sue said...

Teapots can be beautiful or cutesy but all of them seem happy for some reason. I'd love to win this book, thanks for the contest.

cyn209 said...

would LOVE to read this!!!!
thank you for the giveaway!!

cyn209 at juno dot com

servedogmom said...

My daughters and I would thoroughly enjoy this new series. Nothing better then tea, mystery and a lovely cat to make for a relaxing day at the beach. Servedogmom(at)yahoo(dot)com

Anonymous said...

I would love to win Tempest in a Teapot!

Anita Yancey said...

I have never know anyone who collected teapots. But this story sounds so good and interesting. I would love to read the book. Thanks for having the giveaway.


Unknown said...

Cute cover. Thanks for the giveaway! Raquel36m (at) gmail (dot) com

Unknown said...

Love that calico teapot!

Katherine P said...

I love the teapot! This looks like a fun cozy. I love the idea of teapot collecting and if I had just a little more shelf space I'd probably own half a dozen! However books keep getting in the way.

Elisa and Abby said...

Great review. Love to read this new series. I love new cozies. How cute is the mouse drinking from the tea cup on the cover of this book. elisanabby at gmail dot com