Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!
I am thrilled to welcome Jennifer J. Chow back to Escape With Dollycas!
Living in La La Land
By Jennifer J. Chow
Guest Post Provided by Publicist
I’d never planned on living in Los Angeles. However, I ended up moving here in order to get my master’s degree at UCLA. At the time, I figured I’d flee the traffic-heavy, smog-infested area right after completing my required two years of study. Well, fast forward a few years, and I’d stayed put.
I ended up working in the area and had gotten married by then, so I chose to settle down. I started re-evaluating my initial (and sometimes faulty) impressions of Los Angeles and found many silver linings to staying.
Here are my top five fact vs. fiction insights:
- Lotsa traffic. Okay, this perception is true. I personally experienced the slow crawl of cars leaving downtown Los Angeles and trailing behind others’ taillights on the congested freeway. However, as a local, I’ve now discovered sneaky ways to bypass the traffic. I often switch to local roads to speed up my traveling. Also, by knowing the traffic patterns, I pick more optimal times for driving to avoid getting stuck.
- Smog city. Los Angeles is known for its air pollution. We do have unclean air, but at least on the American Lung Association’s website, we’re not number one for particle pollution—that distinction goes to the Central Valley. We are, though, tops for having high ozone levels. However, we’re aware of the problem, and officials are trying to brainstorm innovative solutions to improve the air quality here. As an aside, I actually appreciate how the smog creates prettier sunsets—those gorgeous reds and oranges are amazing to behold.
- Baywatch bodies. When I first got to L.A., I remember seeing (and hearing) advertisements about how I could create a more improved version of myself, whether by eating vitamins, exercising, or undergoing surgery. This fixation on appearance confounded me, but I thought, “Maybe it’s because we’re so close to Hollywood.” While I have seen some knockouts in L.A., what I’ve noticed more is the diversity of the people who live here. There are different ages, ethnicities, and body types, and I love this variety. Bonus: There’s a huge array of delicious cuisines to choose from because of the vast number of cultures represented in the area.
- Natural disasters. Yes, we’re prone to earthquakes (and it is common that people sometimes barely blink at a tremor, as depicted in A. Story—a movie others made me watch when I first arrived in Los Angeles). Beyond the disasters, though, we also have access to natural marvels. There are rugged mountains and verdant forests to the north, plus golden sand and glistening waves to the west. Even the stark beauty of the desert is nearby, like at Joshua Tree National Park.
- Hollywood glitz. In grad school, my roommate oohed over how she’d seen the ponytail of a celebrity. I’ve also known coworkers who would haunt Pink’s Hot Dogs just to get a glimpse of somebody famous. And out-of-town friends do enjoy purchasing a Star Map and spying on celebrity homes. I myself enjoyed the excitement of a red carpet event one time—okay, so I was only within googling distance. However, I have rubbed shoulders with a few better-known figures and up-and-coming creative individuals. What I appreciate about meeting them isn’t their glamour but their artistry and perseverance. I connect with them since I’m also pursuing my own passion of writing.
I hope both the fabulous and quirky atmosphere of Los Angeles comes through in my newest novel, Mimi Lee Gets a Clue. The first in the new Sassy Cat mystery series, it features an L.A. pet groomer whose dream career gets disrupted when she becomes a suspect in the murder of a dog breeder. But with the help of her snarky cat and a dreamy lawyer neighbor, maybe she can get back to living the LA dream and running her store, Hollywoof.
So, even if you can’t come and visit L.A., perhaps you can do some virtual traveling through my book. Wishing you lots of happy reading!
Thank you, Jennifer, for visiting today!
Now let me give you my thoughts on Mimi Lee Gets A Clue.
Mimi Lee Gets a Clue (A Sassy Cat Mystery)
1st in Series
Setting – California
Publisher: Berkley (March 10, 2020)
Paperback: 336 pages
Kindle – ASIN: B07VG4QTFQ
Mimi Lee is in over her head. There’s her new Los Angeles pet grooming shop to run, her matchmaking mother to thwart, her talking cat Marshmallow to tend to—oh, and the murder of a local breeder to solve…now if only Mimi hadn’t landed herself on top of the suspect list.
Mimi Lee hoped to give Los Angeles animal lovers something to talk about with her pet grooming shop, Hollywoof. She never imagined that the first cat she said hello to would talk back or be quite so, well, catty—especially about those disastrous dates Mimi’s mother keeps setting up.
When Marshmallow exposes local breeder Russ Nolan for mistreating Chihuahuas, Mimi steals some of her cat’s attitude to tell Russ off. The next day the police show up at Hollywoof. Russ has been found dead, and Mimi’s shouting match with him has secured her top billing as the main suspect.
Hoping to clear her name and save the pups Russ left behind, Mimi enlists help from her dreamy lawyer neighbor Josh. But even with Josh on board, it’ll take Mimi and Marshmallow a lot of sleuthing and more than a little sass to get back to the pet-grooming life—and off the murder scene.
Los Angeles has a new place to take your pets for grooming. Hollywoof is operated by Mimi Lee and she just hopes she gets enough customers to keep her business afloat.
The first day her sister drops by with a surprise, a fluffy white Persian cat with big blue eyes. Mimi does prefer dogs but she can’t say no. The cat is soon named Marshmallow, a name he clearly doesn’t like and let’s er know in a surprising way.
Mimi is single but her mother has a plan for that. Mimi plays along for the most part because she has other concerns. Several customers are bringing in Chihuahuas from various services and she notices they all have health issues. When she learns that all came from the same local breeder she decides to investigate. She gets into a war of words with the man, witnessed by one of his neighbors. Mimi then reports the breeder to the proper authorities for violations. When a Police Detective Brown shows up a Hollywoof he is not there to talk about the mistreatment of animals. He is there to question her about the breeder’s murder. What!
In efforts to clear her name, Mimi starts rubbing elbows with her client’s well-to-do owners and she hires a lawyer, Josh, an easy on the eyes neighbor, she met while doing laundry. Marshmallow also becomes a key member of the investigation team.
I love Marshmallow! Haven’t you always wanted to know what your pet is thinking? The author created this fun character and explains how he learned everything he knows. So lighthearted and funny.
We get to know Mimi Lee pretty well in this first book of the series. She is petite, smart, mid-twenties, but you can tell she has led a bit of a sheltered life due to her upbringing. Her mother is Asian American and her father is caucasian. He’s pretty laid back. She is all in both her daughter’s business or forces one daughter, Mimi, the eldest to interfere in the younger sister’s business. Sometimes this goes unbelievably too far. Mimi has opened a new business without much of a plan and is running it with a seat of the pant’s attitude. Thankfully, she grows over the course of this book and so does her business. Her mother’s efforts to find Mimi find a man are pretty comical though. The family dynamics are interesting.
I really enjoyed this fresh take for an amateur sleuth team, not your typical Sherlock and Watson. The mystery was very well done and exceeded my expectations for the first book in a series. The actual detective on the case seemed to be glued to his initial thought even when Mimi tried to give me details she had uncovered. Breeders like the one in this story are a hot topic these days and Ms. Chow gives it a fantastic fictional spin. She plots a twisted up mystery to find who killed the awful man responsible for the poor puppies. Mimi got her clue well before I did. I was very entertained following along with her to clear her name and get justice for the lovable pooches and find them fur-ever homes.
Mimi Lee Gets A Clue gives readers an intriguing mystery with plenty of suspects and twists. I am curious to see how all the characters develop more. Mimi is more Nancy Drew than Jessica Fletcher, meaning she doesn’t have the sage experience needed the help solve complex mysteries, but her youth brings a real freshness to the cozy mystery genre. The rest of the characters need to be more fleshed out to support her and get readers engaged and invested in their lives. For me, Sassy Cat Marshmallow stole the show!
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About the Author
Jennifer J. Chow grew up reading Garfield comics and adores creating sassy kit lit. She also writes the Winston Wong mysteries, which feature a regular meowing cat. Her other Asian American novels include Dragonfly Dreams (a Teen Vogue pick) and The 228 Legacy.
She’s involved in Crime Writers of Color, Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime. Like her on Facebook and Follow her on GoodReads and Twitter. Connect on Instagram @jenjchow
Coming November 10, 2020
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”