Thursday, January 16, 2020

Hems & Homicides by Elizabeth Penney: Excerpt, Review and Giveaway!

Hems & Homicide 

An Apron Shop Series

by Elizabeth Penney

About Hems & Homicide 

Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks (December 31, 2019)
Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
ISBN-10: 1250257948
ISBN-13: 978-1250257949
Digital ASIN: B07SBQ9Y2Z
Welcome to the first in the Apron Shop mystery series by Elizabeth Penney, set in the quaint village of Blueberry Cove, Maine where an expert seamstress turned amateur sleuth is getting measured for murder. . .

Iris Buckley is sew ready for a change. After the death of her beloved grandfather, Iris decides to stay in her Maine hometown to help out her widowed grandmother, Anne—and bring her online handmade apron designs to real-time retail life. Her and Anne’s shop, Ruffles & Bows, is set to include all the latest and vintage linen fashions, a studio for sewing groups and classes, and a friendly orange cat. The only thing that they were not planning to have on the property? A skeleton in the basement!

Anne recognizes the remains of an old friend, and when a second body shows up in the apron shop—this time their corrupt landlord, whom Anne had been feuding with for decades—she becomes a prime suspect. Now, it’s up to Iris to help clear her name. Enlisting the help of her old high-school crush Ian Stewart who, like certain fabrics, has only gotten better-looking with age and her plucky BFF Madison Morris, Iris must piece together an investigation to find out who the real killer is. . .and find a way to keep her brand-new business from being scrapped in the process.
Mail Order 2270 apron

About Elizabeth Penney

Elizabeth Penney is an author, entrepreneur, and local food advocate living in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. In addition to writing full-time, she operates a small farm. Elements that often appear in her novels include vintage summer cottages, past/present mysteries, and the arts. She is represented by the fabulous Elizabeth Bewley at Sterling Lord Literistic.

Elizabeth's writing credits include over twenty mysteries, short stories, and hundreds of business articles. A former consultant and nonprofit executive, she holds a BS and an MBA. She's also written screenplays with her musician husband.  She loves walking in the woods, kayaking on quiet ponds, trying new recipes, and feeding family and friends.
Aprons For Women Patterns | My happy sewing place...: Aprons, Aprons, Aprons

Author Links

Twitter: @liz2penney

Advance 8143 girls' aprons

My Thoughts

Hems and Homicide by Elizabeth Penney is the premiere of An Apron Shop Series.  Iris Buckley and her grandmother, Anne are opening Ribbons and Bows in Blueberry Cove, Maine.  They are going over the property with Ian Stewart, the carpenter, when Iris stumbles down the basement stairs, knocks over shelves and a skull is exposed.  Anne Buckley, Iris’s grandmother, recognizes the scarf around the skull as belonging to Star Moonshine who disappeared around July 4th in 1972.  When their landlord, Elliot Parker end up dead in the storeroom with Iris’s favorite apron tied around his neck, Anne becomes the prime suspect.  Iris with assistance from her best friend, Madison uses her knowledge gleamed from mystery novels to do a little sleuthing.  I enjoyed reading Hems and Homicide.  I love the concept of a shop featuring aprons (vintage and custom creations) along with vintage linens.  They will also have a room for sewing classes and Iris’s cat, Quincy will be in residence during the day.  The author took the time to establish the characters along with the setting.  I like Iris and Anne Buckley along with Iris’s friends.  There is a close bond between Iris and her grandmother that I thought was sweet.  They are grieving the loss of Anne’s husband, Joe who died three months earlier.  Iris wears vintage inspired clothing, loves to read, and finds petting her cat soothing.  She is attracted to Ian Stewart, their carpenter.  Iris and Ian grew up together and she had a crush on him in high school. It may be the timing is right for Iris and Ian.  We shall have to wait and see.  There are great descriptions of the town, the shops and the Buckley farm.  I would like to move to Blueberry Cove with its historic buildings and friendly (most of them) residents.  There are two mysteries in Hems and Homicide.  There is the cold case of Star Moonshine and the current death of Elliot Parker.  I thought the mysteries were clever and intriguing.  I enjoyed following the clues and solving the crimes. I thought the one manner of death to be unique.  I am eager for the next book in An Apron Shop Series.  If you like vintage clothing, charming towns, friendly character and crafty whodunits, then you will enjoy reading Hems and Homicide.  Hems and Homicide has a cold case, antique aprons, a big pig, a poisonous plant, and a gritty granddaughter.
1950s Vintage McCall Sewing Pattern 2052 Misses Cocktail or Party Apron Fits All

Excerpt from Chapter One

Bells jingled as I entered the Belgian Bean, a warm and cozy café filled with chatter and the aroma of fresh brewed coffee. The place was surprisingly busy for a cool spring morning in Blueberry Cove, Maine. Judging by the upscale outfits and unfamiliar faces, it appeared our coastal village was finally on the beaten track, even during the offseason.
DIY aprons, 1950s
My gaze skittered over the booths by the window, the line by the counter, and the tables in back. Where was Madison? Maybe I’d actually gotten here first, which would be a first—

An arm clad in fuchsia fleece shot up at the back table near the restrooms and I spotted my best friend, who was waving with a smile. Well, more like saluting wildly while bouncing up and down in her seat. But that was Madison Morris, always full of energy and enthusiasm, no matter how early the hour. Some people were morning people. Madison was one. I definitely was not.
Trying to suppress a yawn, I eyed the line of coffee carafes as I passed, tempted to pick one up and take it with me. Sophie Jacobs, another good friend and owner of the Bean, called from behind the counter, “Morning, Iris. I’ll be right with you.”

“Make it a double,” I called, grateful that fresh java would soon be on the way. Still smiling at Sophie, I edged around a chair blocking the aisle and accidentally kicked a customer’s leather messenger bag as a result.  A thin man with wire-rimmed glasses glared up at me before tugging the bag out of the way and stowing it under his chair.
“Sorry,” I said, but his attention was already on his tablet. He didn’t even glance at the Benedict Belgian he was shoveling into his mouth, a waffle topped with an egg, ham, and hollandaise sauce. Yum. Maybe I should order that.

“Can I help you?” he asked, jerking his head up again. His eyes were an icy gray, which suited his cropped dirty blond hair and light tan. Not bad looking if a little old for me, but he definitely had a stick up his—
1950s Simplicity 4092 Scallop Apron, Half Apron or Full Apron Vintage Sewing Pattern, Size Med, Bust
“No, sorry. I was just…” I waved a hand and moved on, flushing at being caught checking out his meal, like some sort of culinary creeper. After skirting a group of lively older women wearing fisherman knit sweaters and Bean boots, I finally reached the sanctuary of Madison’s table.

“What was up with Mr. Prickly back there?” Madison picked up a huge mug, holding it in both hands. The bright jacket made her golden brown skin glow, as did the matching lipstick and nail polish she wore.
“I kicked his bag. Which I feel bad about, since it’s gorgeous.” I sank into the opposite chair, arranging my full skirt under my hips. I’d sewn the ‘50s-style dress myself, a deep periwinkle blue trimmed in white at the short sleeves and neckline and topped with a vintage apron. With my black hair, blue eyes and pale complexion, periwinkle was a go-to color for me. And mid-century garment styles flattered my curvy figure, which was more Marilyn than Audrey, as in Monroe and Hepburn.

Madison crooked an index finger. “Stand up again. Are you actually wearing an apron? I know you’re opening a shop but—”
3 Vintage apron patterns
“It’s a bit much?” I obeyed and stood, even holding the frothy confection out with my fingers, the better for my friend to study it. The women seated nearby turned to look, so I spun to face them and smiled before plopping back down.

“It’s the one we used for the shop logo,” I explained. “Grammie suggested we start wearing aprons as often as possible. Free advertising.”
Princess Peggy Pop On.  Created by the Chic Manufacturing Co., Peoria, ILL.  Scraps from this garment factory were often found in quilts and recognizable when a quilt was sewn with the same print fabric in several different colors!
My paternal grandmother, Anne Buckley, and I were partners in Ruffles & Bows, a new Main Street business slated to open on Memorial Day weekend. Over the past five years, I’d built up a quite a business selling aprons and linens online, both vintage and handmade originals. But now the local economy was booming, and it was time to take advantage with a storefront. Plus Grammie needed the distraction after losing her beloved husband Joe, my Papa, three months ago.

I crossed my fingers under the table, hoping our optimistic plans would pan out. Failure is not an option. My new favorite saying.

 1950s Pretty embroidered apron over a cocktail dress
Hems & Homicide is available Amazon*, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound.  As part of the tour, there is a giveaway for three (3) print copies of Hems and Homicide (Sorry, but U.S. Only).  You can enter via the Rafflecopter form below or click here.  Be sure to leave a comment for an extra entry. Good Luck!  Thank you for visiting today.  I will return tomorrow as part of the Great Escape Virtual Book Tour to feature Dead in Dublin by Catie Murphy.  It is the debut of  A Dublin Driver Mystery series.  I hope that you have a rewarding day.  Take care and Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

Tour Participants

January 13 – A Blue Million Books – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

January 13 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT

January 13 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

January 13 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT

January 13 – Laura's Interests – REVIEW

January 14 – The Power of Words – REVIEW

January 14 – Mysteries with Character – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

January 14 – Sneaky the Library Cat's Blog – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

January 14 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT

January 14 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – SPOTLIGHT

January 15 – eBook Addicts – REVIEW

January 15 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT

January 15 – Celticlady's Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

January 15 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

January 15 – A Wytch's Book Review Blog – REVIEW

January 16 – The Avid Reader – REVIEW

January 16 – Baroness' Book Trove – REVIEW

January 16 – View from the Birdhouse – REVIEW

January 16 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW  

January 16 – Ascroft, eh? – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

January 17 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW

January 17 – Cozy Up With Kathy – REVIEW

January 17 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

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January 17 – That's What She's Reading – GUEST POST

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January 19 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW

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