Monday, April 18, 2016

Guest Blog by Amanda Flower and Review & Giveaway of Crime and Poetry

Please welcome Amanda Flower to The Qwillery. Crime and Poetry, the first Magical Bookshop Mystery, was published on April 5th by Obsidian / NAL.

By Amanda Flower, author of CRIME AND POETRY

It would be absolutely impossible for me to write a novel without some quirky animal characters. I love all animals. Anyone who follows me on social media knows that, and I love animals with personality. My love of animals goes so far that my cats, Reepicheep (AKA Cheeps) and Mr. Tumnus (AKA Tummy), have their own Instagram account, and yes, they are both named after Chronicles of Narnia characters.

Because of my love of all animals when it came time to create the characters for Crime and Poetry, the first novel in the Magical Bookshop Mystery Series, I knew I had to have some memorable animal characters. Enter Emerson the tuxedo cat and Faulkner the crow.

The inspiration for both of these characters in unique. Emerson the cat is the most straightforward. He’s my cat. No, really, I’m not kidding. He’s my tuxedo cat Tummy to a T. I knew Tummy had to be the feline inspiration for Emerson because Cheeps was already represented in my Amish Quilt Shop Mysteries, which I write as Isabella Alan. Cheeps appears in that series as Dodger the gray and white cat. In the Magical Bookshop Mysteries, Emerson and Tummy are carbon copies. Aside from their identical looks they are both very mischievous. Cheeps is the quiet and calm older brother who would happily sit on my lap until the end of time. Tummy is into everything, and I do mean everything. He learned as a kitten how to open closed doors, and if I want to keep him out of a room, the only way is to lock the door. He also is always playing. While Cheeps will play with their cat toys from time to time, Tummy is always carrying a ball or mouse around in his mouth. Despite his rambunctious nature, he’s also very caring like Emerson. If I’m upset, he senses it and comes over to check on me. Just like Tummy cares for me, Emerson cares for my protagonist Violet Waverly. Emerson is a great comfort to Violet throughout the series.

In a way, Faulkner also had a real life inspiration. I knew that I wanted Grandma Daisy, Violet’s grandmother and owner of their bookshop Charming Books, to have a pet that would connect to Native American folklore because that folklore is related to the magic in the shop. While I was trying to decide of what that animal would be, a murder of crows landed in my neighborhood. Close to fifty birds descended on my street all at the same time. It’s not an uncommon sight. The crows visit my neighborhood often. The black birds marched up and down the street with their heads bobbing and flew from rooftop to rooftop cawing to each other. I knew a crow would make a perfect pet for Violet’s feisty grandmother, and I also knew crows are prominent in Native American folklore. Even better, crows can be trained to talk just like parrots, so Faulkner the crow was a perfect addition. Who wouldn’t want a smart-talking crow in a cozy mystery?

I’m looking forward to you meeting all the characters in Crime and Poetry, but I must admit that Emerson and Faulkner are among my favorites. Just wait and see the trouble those two get into!

Crime and Poetry
Series:  A Magical Bookshop Mystery 1
Publisher:  Obsidian / NAL, April 5, 2016
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 368 pages
List Price:  $7.99 (print and eBook)
ISBN:  9780451477446 (print); 9780698410213 (eBook)

From Amanda Flower — who writes the national bestselling Amish Quilt Shop Mysteries as Isabella Alan — comes the first in the new Magical Bookshop Mystery series.

Rushing home to sit by her ailing grandmother’s bedside, Violet Waverly is shocked to find Grandma Daisy the picture of perfect health. Violet doesn’t need to read between the lines: her grandma wants Violet back home and working in her magical store, Charming Books. It’s where the perfect book tends to fly off the shelf and pick you…

Violet has every intention to hightail it back to Chicago, but then a dead man is discovered clutching a volume of Emily Dickinson’s poems from Grandma Daisy’s shop. The victim is Benedict Raisin, who recently put Grandma Daisy in his will, making her a prime suspect. Now, with the help of a tuxedo cat named Emerson, Violet will have to find a killer to keep Grandma from getting booked for good…

Qwill's Thoughts

Crime and Poetry is the first novel in the new Magical Bookshop Mystery series by Amanda Flowers. It is set in the small town (population around 5000) of Cascade Springs, NY, which is not far from Niagara Falls. Violet Waverly had left years ago after some unpleasantness and returns because she believes that her Grandma Daisy is very ill. She's not. I'll leave the exact circumstances of Violet's leaving for you to read as the full story regarding why is woven throughout the novel to great effect.

Grandma Daisy's significant other, Benedict Raisin, is murdered and she is the prime suspect. One of the town police officers is determined to prove she did it. Fortunately the Chief of Police takes the lead in the investigation. Violet does not think enough is being done to remove suspicion from Grandma Daisy and steps in much to the chagrin of the police.

Violet is a graduate student in Chicago and is very close to getting her Ph.D. She's intelligent, hardworking, and a really nice person. She takes the occasional risk but she is generally careful. She encounters some of the people she grew up with when she returns - Nathan Morton (the mayor and her high school boyfriend) and Grant Morton (Nathan's younger brother and local businessman). She also meets some new folks - Sadie Cunningham (Grant's fiancée and owner of Midcentury Vintage), Carly Long and Trey Long (the carriage shop owner and her brother) and David Rainwater (the Chief of Police). Grandma Daisy is a delight! She's angling for Violet to stay in Cascade Springs now that she's returned and has a few surprises for her, not the least of which is her boyfriend, Benedict.

The magical elements are well done and well thought out. The use of Dickinson's poetry as clues for Violet is fun if not a bit perplexing for Violet - at least initially. There are two developing love interests for Violet - Nathan Morton and David Rainwater - though that is not the focus of the novel. The town of Cascade Springs is well described and utterly charming. The cat Emerson and the crow Faulkner are fabulous as is Charming Books.

The mystery at the heart of the novel kept me guessing! I wasn't sure until the very end who did it and why. Violet certainly worked hard to figure out what had happened and who was responsible for Benedict's death while at the same time dealing with issues from what happened that caused her to leave Cascade Springs.

Crime and Poetry is a captivating novel with a terrific setting and memorable characters. Violet and Grandma Daisy are wonderful and I can't wait to return to Cascade Springs!

About Amanda

Amanda Flower, a three time Agatha-nominated mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. Amanda is a librarian in Northeast Ohio. She also writes as USA Today Bestselling Author Isabella Alan. Her next release it CRIME AND POETRY coming April 5, 2016.

Website  ~  Twitter @aflowerwriter  ~  Facebook

The Giveaway

What:  One entrant will win a Mass Market Paperback copy of Crime and Poetry by Amanda Flower from the publisher. US ONLY

How:  Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on April 28, 2016. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change without any notice.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. A favorite animal would be Wilbur from Charlotte's Web.

  2. My favorite animal is Eeyore from Winnie The Pooh. Thanks.

  3. A magical bookstore, Native American folklore, a cat, a crow and a mystery too. Who could ask for more. Thanks for the chance to enter your giveaway.

  4. One of my most favorite animals is Enzo from Racing in the Rain or Maybe from Rescue Me, Maybe.

  5. One of my favorite animals is Cleo the Basset Hound from the 1955 TV series "The People's Choice."

  6. I loved Koko and YumYum from The Cat Who... cozy mystery series. I wish that series could have continued forever.

  7. I'm about to show my age. It's a toss-up between Mr. Ed (a horse)

    or Francis the talking Mule

  8. I absolutely love the Aeslin mice from Seanan McGuire's InCryptid series.