Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Ill-Gotten Panes by Jennifer McAndrews: Guest Author, Review & Giveaway

Ill-Gotten Panes

Creating Friday the Kitten, by Jennifer McAndrews

Making notes is not my best skill. Even when I jot down quick, daily messages to myself like “pick up milk, return library books, mail packages, PUT GAS IN CAR” I often leave the list behind as I head out on my errands -- which, as you can imagine, becomes problematic when I run out of gas. It’s no surprise, then, that I keep horrible notes when writing a book. I’m forever leaving that task until after the book is complete. This means that while I would enjoy sharing the history of how I created Friday, I have no clear memory.

This is not to say I created Friday the day - I think we all know better - but Friday the kitten. She’s just right there on the cover of Ill-Gotten Panes. A little white ball of fluff with a smudge of gray between her ears. That’s Friday. My main character, Georgia Kelly, finds her early on in the story - minutes after her beloved grandfather is picked up for questioning in relation to a murder.

I knew early on that Georgia would have at least one pet and she had to start somewhere. And because she’s only recently returned to her childhood home and doesn’t have plans to remain there, maybe I thought a cat would be the best addition. Should Georgia leave the community town of Wenwood (should she manage to clear her grandfather’s name), Friday would be able to go with her, cats being generally easier than dogs to convince a landlord to allow.

But what about the apparent risk of having a cat tiptoeing around when Georgia creates stained glass boxes / windows / lamps? All those sharp edges and colorful shards might tempt a playful feline.

To answer that concern, I had to look to my own life. Of the five (yes, five) cats sharing my home, only one has any interest in my glasswork. Though three years old, she has lost none of her kitten-like curiosity. When I am working with glass - cutting, breaking, soldering in much the same way (but with nowhere near the skill) my main character Georgia would - Anya takes up residence at the end of the table, eyes wide, tail circling her seated form, and watches my every move. During this time the senior cats are sleeping, Anya’s litter mate is no doubt plotting a coup, and the youngest is stalking doorways to the outside world, hoping a bug (aka protein snack) might crawl through. Anya never reaches for the glass, never walks across a work surface or tries to steal any of the pattern pieces or lighter-weight tools. She merely watches as though learning, and shares her comforting company with me.

So while I don’t have any notes to tell me exactly why I thought Georgia should have a cat, I suspect my own Anya is much of the reason.

Blurb: Stained-glass aficionado Georgia Kelly packed up her city life for the quiet of small town Wenwood, New York. But the sleepy village’s peace is about to get shattered—by murder…

After a banking scandal loses Georgia her job and fiancé, she decides that a change of scenery will help piece her life back together. But escaping to her grandfather’s house in the old-fashioned, brick-making Hudson River hamlet of Wenwood, New York, turns out to be less relaxing than she expects. Not only is the close-knit community on edge about their beloved brickworks being turned into a marina to draw in tourists, one of those most opposed to the project winds up dead—cracked over the head with a famous Wenwood brick.

Georgia wouldn’t be broken up over the news except for the fact that the main suspect is the deceased’s biggest adversary—her grandfather. Now, to remove the stain from her grandy’s record, Georgia will have to figure out who in town was willing to kill to keep the renovation project alive, before someone else is permanently cut out of the picture…

Mochas, Mysteries and Meows Review: Ill-Gotten Panes is a wonderful debut to the new Stained-Glass mystery series by Jennifer McAndrews. Set in the Hudson River area of New York State, this book introduces us to Georgia Kelly and her somewhat grumpy but lovable grandfather Grandy. 

Georgia is a character that I felt a great affinity for, particularly because of the way a little abandoned white kitten with a gray streak atop her head worms her way into Georgia's heart. Grandy makes her attempt to find the kitten's owner and it breaks Georgia's heart to think that she might have to give the little one up. Even when faced when Grandy being arrested, and in spite of feeling guilty about it, the kitten's uncertain future is always at the forefront of her mind.

A couple of my favorite passages:

"I hated myself a little bit for getting worked up over the kitten when Grandy was sitting behind bars in the county jail. Thing was, Grandy had a lot of years behind him, years which gave him enough fortitude to withstand a night or two in lockup. He was a veteran, for heaven's sake. But the kitten - harmless, helpless - she needed someone else to look out for her. Teeny sharp claws were only so much protection."

"Her eagerness, determination, curiosity - heck, even the way her little tail stood straight up like she was receiving signals from her feline home planet - made me happy. One little kitten, amid all the bad luck, bad choices, and bad times, made me happy, acted as a balm for all the wounds life had dealt. How could I let her go?"

I loved this book with it's wonderful setting and cast of characters. I correctly guessed the identity of killer before Georgia did, and enjoyed the way the kitten's story ended up leading to the ultimate revelation. I'm eagerly awaiting the next book in the series.

Giveaway: Leave a comment by noon eastern on Friday, July 4th for the chance to win a copy of Ill-Gotten Panes. (US entries only, please.)


Karen B said...

My grandparents had a beautiful stained glass window at the landing of their staircase - but no cat!

Sounds like a great new series.


Michstjame said...

Oh, I love glass in all its forms, but stained glass is always something special. When we moved into our house, we converted a workroom off the kitchen into a small dining room and had to contend with a hole where a wall air conditioner had resided, so we had a stained glass window installed (I was shocked to learn it was remarkably affordable) and it gives me great joy every day.

This series sounds wonderful.

michstjame at gmail dot com

Denise Z. said...

Count me in as well. I'd read a series about a stained glass artist set in, Tucson, maybe? And enjoyed that. No cat in that one, however. I think this sounds like a series I'd like to get behind on reading! dz87507 at gmail dot com.

Robin Coxon said...

Stained glass and cats combined in a book, what else can you ask for beside a mystery mixed in. I love to visit our area churches and look at the beautiful craftsmanship of the people who have made the stained glass windows. The ability to combine the various colors to make up a picture portraying the many books in the Bible is fascinating. robeader53@yahoo.com

NoraA said...

I remember the stained glass window that was over the fake fireplace in my grandmother's apartment (she owned the building). We lived with her until Mommy Dearest remarried. I just love the look of stained glass and when my partner and I go on vacations we love to visit old homes to see if there are any examples of stained glass in the house.

I'm also a New Yorker who loves visiting the small towns along the Hudson. I'd love to be the winner of this first in what looks to be a really great series.


traveler said...

Stained glass windows are beautiful. Marc Chagall's always entranced me. Thanks for this lovely feature. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

petite said...

Whenever I see a house with stained glass it adds character. I like the combination of stained glass and cats which sounds intriguing. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

Debbie S said...

I love stained glass, the colors, the patterns, it amazes me at some of the detail you find.
momzillasteel at gmail dot com

Unknown said...

This sounds utterly delightful.
libbydodd at comcast dot net

Rita Wray said...

Great review, sounds like a good book.


Unknown said...

I loved this post. I understand the problem with making lists. While I'm sometimes a great list maker, I'm not always a great list taker, so I'll find myself running errands with a beautiful list at home, while I'm depending on my faulty memory in town. This book sounds wonderful. Thank you for a lovely review. michelle_willms at yahoo dot com

Meg C. said...

I love stained glass, cats, and having a new series to dive into. Looking forward to doing so. robbfan141729@yahoo.com


It sounds like an excellent book!

cyn209 said...

I LOVE first books of a new cozy series!!
thank you for the giveaway!!

cyn209 at juno dot com

Kaye Killgore said...

Count me in, I love stained-glass


Unknown said...

I love cozy mysteries, especially ones with arts and crafts involved. Thanks for the book giveaway.

Unknown said...

Part 2. Here's my email address, in case you need it. mmamacitagrita@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

I had never heard of this book! Thanks for the giveaway, Melissa...purr, Truffles!

patucker54 at aol dot com

Sue said...

I think stained glass is so beautiful. I'd love to read this book.

Anita Yancey said...

It sounds like a sweet and interesting story. I love the stained glass. Thanks for having the giveaway.


Unknown said...

looks like a fun read, thank you for the chance