Sunday, May 4, 2014

Blog Tour Stop: Death of a Mad Hatter by Jenn McKinlay (Guest Post, Review and Giveaway)

Please join me in welcoming Jenn McKinlay to Debbie's Book Bag, today. Jenn is here promoting her book, Death of a Mad Hatter. Enjoy her guest post, along with my review of her book and a giveaway!

I came late to the game falling in love with Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll when I was a grown up. I was working the final hours of an outdoor festival for the Phoenix Public Library and the crowd had thinned, and I had no more summer reading programs to hand out but I couldn’t leave the booth until the event actually ended.
  
I started to play with my smartphone, yes, I’ve become one of those people, but I wasn’t watching videos, playing games or putting up pithy posts on social media sites.  Instead, I was doing what I always do when I have free time, I was looking at books.  I had just discovered that Google Play had loaded books automatically onto my phone when I bought it, so naturally I wanted to investigate the titles more thoroughly.  I had read all of them, the Austen, the Dickens, the Dumas and the Stevenson, but then there was Alice.  Hmm, I thought, I’ve never read Lewis Carroll.

I checked the time.  I had forty five minutes to endure until the festival was over.   I tapped the link and just like opening the cover of a book I was transported down the rabbit hole with Alice to Wonderland.  And so began some of the best forty-five minutes of my life, but then isn’t that always the way when you find a good book?  

There were several things I immediately loved about Alice in Wonderland, the word play, the wittiness, the absurdity, oh yeah; it was right up my reading alley. Now at the same time that I was devouring my new book on my tiny phone, I was also cogitating on a proposal that was due to my publisher.  I had submitted two very lengthy proposals but for a variety of reasons, valid ones, they didn’t quite fit what we were trying to do with the next hat shop mystery.
  
It was an hour and fifteen minutes later, when I realized that the rest of the festival people had packed up and gone, and that I was now sitting alone in a park in the middle of Phoenix, that the idea hit me.  A tea party set around Alice in Wonderland would make the perfect back drop for my next London hat shop mystery.  I went home that night and wrote my proposal which my editor loved and so DEATH OF A MAD HATTER was born.

Here’s one of my favorite passages from the book:

“But I don’t want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can’t help that," said the Cat. “We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad."
"How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat.  “Or you wouldn’t have come here.” 

― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Madness.  As a writer, I can absolutely relate.  I think one of the reasons I love Alice’s adventure so much is because what she feels while she is in Wonderland, that bemused confusion, is exactly what I feel when I’m writing.  On my best writing days, I am barely conscious of anything around me because I have fallen down the rabbit hole and am merely the vehicle for the words to get onto the paper.  After reading the novel, I wondered if Lewis Carroll felt the same way when he wrote the book, or if all authors feel that way when they write.  Curiouser and curiouser, isn’t it?

DEATH OF A MAD HATTER comes out on May 6th.   Here’s a little description so you can decide if you’d like to join us for tea.  Scarlett Parker and her British cousin, Vivian Tremont, are hard at work at Mim’s Whims—their ladies’ hat shop on London’s chic Portobello Road—to create hats for an Alice in Wonderland themed afternoon tea, a fund-raiser for a local children’s hospital. It seems like a wonderfully whimsical way to pass the hat, and Scarlett and Viv are delighted to outfit the Grisby family, the hosts who are hoping to raise enough money to name a new hospital wing after their patriarch.


Unfortunately, the Grisby heir will not live to see it—he’s been poisoned. When traces of the poison are found on the hat Scarlett and Viv made for him, the police become curiouser and curiouser about their involvement. Now the ladies need to don their thinking caps and find the tea party crasher who’s mad enough to kill at the drop of a hat.

Book Information:


Death of a Mad Hatter (London Hat Shop - Book 2) by Jenn McKinlay

Publication Date: 05/06/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Berkley Prime Crime
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 304
ISBN-10: 0425258904
ISBN-13: 978-0425258903

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Indiebound

Jenn McKinlay on the WEB: website, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Books in the series

London Hat Shop

1. Cloche and Dagger
2. Death of a Mad Hatter

Coverart: Click the Image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.




Excerpt from, Death of a Mad Hatter, courtesy of the author's website.

Synopsis:

ONE IN A MILLINER

Scarlett Parker and her British cousin, Vivian Tremont, are hard at work at Mim’s Whims—their ladies’ hat shop on London’s chic Portobello Road—to create hats for an Alice in Wonderland themed afternoon tea, a fund-raiser for a local children’s hospital. It seems like a wonderfully whimsical way to pass the hat, and Scarlett and Viv are delighted to outfit the Grisby family, the hosts who are hoping to raise enough money to name a new hospital wing after their patriarch.

Unfortunately, the Grisby heir will not live to see it—he’s been poisoned. When traces of the poison are found on the hat Scarlett and Viv made for him, the police become curiouser and curiouser about their involvement. Now the ladies need to don their thinking caps and find the tea party crasher who’s mad enough to kill at the drop of a hat…


Thoughts:

Author Jenn McKinlay is at it again. This time she brings readers the second book in her Hat Shop Mystery series, Death of a Mad Hatter. What is one of the things that London is famous for?... You guessed it, TEA! McKinlay not only takes on a London tradition, but also the great Lewis Carroll with an Alice in Wonderland themed tea party that ends up deadly. Readers will love McKinlay's latest offering with it's clever dialogue and multi-layered characters. A great series for first time cozy readers and mega cozy enthusiasts alike.

What I liked:

As always with a Jenn McKinlay book, readers know they are going to get a well researched, witty and clever mystery. It won't be too gory, it won't have too much vulgarity or too much of anything. It will be just right. And that's always the case. She has this cozy mystery thing down to a science. I like the fact that she writes so many different kinds of cozy mysteries. It proves how versatile she is a as a writer. She can write about cupcakes as well as she writes about libraries and she understands hats, as well as bargains. McKinlay is a very skilled writer, who knows what it takes to keep readers coming back book after book.

It's no secret... I love hats. Being from Kentucky, it's traditional to wear a hat to the Kentucky Derby and a cozy mystery series about a hat shop is right up my alley. I even wore a very stylish hat when I got married. Though the hat lasted longer than the I do's did, I love them even more now than I did then. That's why this particular series from Jenn McKinlay is quickly becoming my new favorite from her. 

Not only is it about an unusual profession... millinery shops are not that popular in the US but it has an overseas setting. In London hats are still the norm. I love all the information about the city that creeps into McKinlay's writing, as well as, the wonderful details of making hats and what is popular and what's not. Add to that Alice and Wonderland and tea and McKinlay certainly has a winner on her hands. 

Lewis Carroll has touched many lives through his writing. I'm sure when he first started writing about Alice falling down the rabbit hole, he never imagined how far she would go. I love the fact that McKinlay gives a nod to one of Carroll's most beloved characters in the Mad Hatter. The Alice in Wonderland tea was a fantastic plot idea and it worked so well with the mystery and how the victim was actually poisoned. I know there was some research to this one, as well as some very snappy dialogue writing which is a trademark of McKinlay's. 

What I didn't like:

I didn't like it when this one ended. I wanted to keep reading about Mim's Whim's and Scarlett and her friends. I think McKinlay is really on to something with this series... keep'em coming!

Bottom Line:

One of my favorite mysteries of the year so far. And if you know me, you know that's a big statement, cause I read a ton of them. Give this series a try. I think you'll find it's sophisticated, elegant and really fun to read. Loved the nod to Alice and Lewis and thought this was an all around fantastic book.

Death of a Mad Hatter will be available on May 6th from your favorite bookseller. It is available for pre-order NOW!

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!




About the Author:

A true Anglophile, New York Times bestselling author Jenn McKinlay loves all things British. In her idea of a perfect world, every day would include high tea or wearing a fabulous hat or both. This adoration of all things U.K. inspired her to write the Hat Shop Mysteries, set in London, one of her most favorite cities in the world, which she now gets to visit regularly—for research purposes, of course. Jenn is also the author of the Cupcake Bakery Mysteries and the Library Lover’s Mysteries.


Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of Death of a Mad Hatter by Jenn McKinlay.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, May 18th.

1. Please leave a comment about your experiences with Alice or Lewis Carroll in general.

2. Please fill out the FORM.

34 comments:

Lisa Brown said...

not much experience with alice or leis carroll

Linda Kish said...

My first reading of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was in the late 50s. I still have the book.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

traveler said...

Lewis Carroll has written a memorable novel which is fantasy and profound. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Angela Holland said...

I do not have much experience with Alice or Lewis but I did watch once upon a time in Wonderland which was based loosely on Alice in Wonderland.

Alicia said...

I didn't enjoy Alice in Wonderland until I was in college.

Barbara T. said...

Cheshire Cat is my favorite character.

Tea norman said...

I've read Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. Remember falling in love with the "unbirthday." I definitely need to reread this one. I haven't seen the movie.

Sue Farrell said...

I think I read Alice in Wonderland when I was too young to understand it and should reread it now.
suefarrell.farrell@gmail.com

holdenj said...

The first time I read Alice in Wonderland, I was very entranced with the tea party and chess board.
Thanks!

Katreader said...

I love Alice and Lewis. I remember Western on TV years ago and they ran into a situation similar to Alice's only to discover one of the characters was Lewis Carroll himself. I also have a plush Cheshire cat and a necklace with him and the phrase, "we're all mad here". I especially love it as I work in a psychiatric center! I love hats too!

DogsMom said...

I have always been a Wonderland fan but one's understanding and enjoyment goes so much deeper as an adult.

Texas Book Lover said...

Sadly I have not really had any experience with them.

Anonymous said...

It's been years since I've read Alice in Wonderland. rjprazak6@gmail.com (Becky Prazak)

Ayjah said...

I love Alice and have since I was a child. What amazes me is all the references to her and the book that pop up in Japanese anime!!!

skkorman said...

I read Alice in Wonderland when I was a kid and loved the fantasy of it all!

skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

SandyG265 said...

I enjoyed reading Alice in Wonderland as an adult

Anonymous said...

I liked Alice but I really love the millinery series better LOL!

Helen Kotowske said...

I like the Cheshire Cat the best.

Anonymous said...

I love the unbirthday party in the story. We have debates in my house as to whether it was a dream or if she really went to wonderland. Curiouser and curiouser.

Christina M. said...

Alice In Wonderland has always been my favorite! That is truely saying something since I'm in my 30's! I just love the title of this book!

Natasha said...

I love Alice In Wonderland!!
Thanks for the chance to win!

Debbie Carney said...

I grew up with Alice, then brought both my children up with it also, children are now 21 and 31 lol, if they have kids I know they will be Alice fans too

Carol M said...

I really enjoyed Alice in Wonderland and I liked watching it, too!

Brooke Bumgardner said...

I love Alice in Wonderland, both the story and the many film adaptations. We actually just watched a really strange version called Alice from 1988, I think it's Czech. It was crazy!

This sounds like such a fun series. I've been wanting to pick it up for a while.

Rita said...

Sounds like a great series.

Raquel Muniz said...

I am embarrassed to say I have never read the book, but have seen several movie adaptations.

Anita Yancey said...

When I was little Alice in Wonderland was my favorite book.

ayancey1974(at)gmail(dot)com

cyn209 said...

in the 4th grade, our assignment was to re-enact a chapter of Alice in Wonderland......
that's when I knew I was not meant to be on stage!! LOL!!

bn100 said...

read the book as a kid

Carol Bee said...

One of my favorite digital artist has a fascination with Alice. I love the story and his work.

Meg said...

My only experience with either is watching the movie Alice in Wonderland.

Kimberly Wyatt said...

I love Alice in Wonderland. I've read the book a couple times and I like the cartoon movie.

lag123 said...

As a child I LOVED to read Alice in a Wonderland! I liked that white rabbit.

lag110 at mchsi dot com

Chelsea B. said...

I LOVE Alice in Wonderland, and especially books or shows that recreate the fairy tale with it's own unique spin. I'm currently catching up on abc's Once Upon A Time in Wonderland, which I'm loving :-)