Series: Miso Cozy Mysteries #1
Also in this series: , The Daydreamer Detective Braves the Winter, Ozoni and Onsens: A Daydreamer Detective Novella, The Daydreamer Detective Opens A Tea Shop
Published by Onigiri Press on 3/31/16
Genres: Mystery & Detective, Asia
Source: The Author
Luck? Forget it. Mei Yamagawa is fresh out of it. She's just been downsized from her 3rd job in five years and her bank account is dry. Now, to keep her head above water, she must leave Tokyo and move back to her rural Japanese hometown. And there's nothing worse than having to face your old rivals and ex-boyfriends as a failure while starting life over as a farm girl.
But when her best friend's father is murdered, and her best friend is named the main suspect, Mei turns her daydreaming ways towards solving the crime. Between dates disguised as lunches with the town's hottest bachelor chef, searching for clues, and harvesting sweet potatoes, Mei has a lot of non-paying work cut out for her.
Will she catch the killer before her bad luck turns worse? Or will she fry in the fire with the rest of her dreams of success?
I don’t really read Cozy Mysteries, but when I heard that Pajonas was writing one, I knew that I’d be jumping into the genre – I’ll pretty much read anything Pajonas writes because I LOVE the Japanese culture that she infuses into her bo0ks. Anyone out there who’s looking for diverse books for a challenge (or just because) should check out hers! (Here’s a list of Pajonas’s books I’ve reviewed, which is most of them.)
This book followed Mei, whose life is at a bit of a crossroads. She’s lost (another) job and has to move back home with her mother to work on their farm in a small Japanese village. She’s not thrilled at the prospect. But once she gets there, she finds that things are not as boring as she imagined they’d be. First off, her best friend’s father is murdered, and Mei makes it her mission to find the killer and clear her friend’s name. Then there’s the handsome owner of the new restaurant in town – what starts out as a bet that he can’t impress her with his food (she’s a pre-packaged cuisine kind of girl) turns into much more!
What Fed My Addiction:
- The Japanese culture. Since this book is set in Japan, it obviously has quite a bit of Japanese culture in it. The setting is key to the story and incredibly fleshed out – you feel immersed in all aspects of the culture (without feeling like you’re being hit over the head with it). Of course, since one of the main characters owns a restaurant, Japanese food is a big part of the story as well!
- The romance. Besides the culture, the romance was my favorite aspect of the book. It’s a bit of a slow burning romance, which I loved – Mei isn’t sure at first how she feels about Yasahiro, and she certainly doesn’t expect anything to happen between the two of them. Still, I was hooked from the start and was definitely rooting for them to end up together. Yasahiro was sweet and caring and fun and he helped Mei get past some of her insecurities, which she definitely needed!
- Self-discovery. Even though Mei is twenty-six years old, she was kind of finding herself in this book. She’d had a lot of setbacks and false starts in her life and so she was kind of doubting her own worth and her ability to succeed. Losing her job and moving back home made her feel like a failure and she had a hard time seeing past that. She’d had art, but a bad experience with a teacher made her doubt that as well. Because of that, Mei was mostly just floundering. Her journey in this book was not just to catch a killer – or even a road toward romance – but a journey of self-discovery.
What Left Me Wanting More:
- I’m not a mystery reader. So, mysteries aren’t really my favorite genre, and the mystery aspect of this story didn’t excite me all that much. This is pretty typical for me with the mysteries I’ve read (which is why I don’t read a ton of it). I enjoyed the climactic ending, but the actual investigation into the murder wasn’t my favorite aspect of the book. Luckily, this book almost felt more like a romance or a coming of age (maybe a little late?) story to me than a true mystery, so it actually didn’t bother me that I wasn’t that invested in who killed Akiko’s dad.
So, if you’re a cozy mystery reader, I highly recommend this book! Even if mysteries aren’t generally your genre, you’ll find lots to love with this one – between the Japanese culture, the romance and Mei’s internal struggles, there’s a lot going on! I give this book 4/5 stars.
***Disclosure: I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
Published by Onigiri Press on 3/19/15, 4/23/15, 7/20/15
Genres: Short Stories, Asia
Pages: 42, 43, 43
Source: The Author, Purchased, Purchased
Shhh… Listen To The Gods.
The Japanese believe the gods live in all things. Trees, appliances, animals, buildings — they all have a spirit living within them. Maybe, if you listen carefully, you can hear them too.
RICE COOKER REVENGE:
It sits there on the counter, quiet and contemplative. Who knew rice cookers could be so vengeful?
Ryu must decide whether to stay or leave The Chef’s kitchen, so he turns to an unlikely ally for help.
WASHING STATUE WANDERLUST:
This statue doesn’t want to sit around. Can it persuade someone to take it on a holiday?
Yuki has been wishing for good health her whole life, and now she has the chance to get that wish fulfilled.
This bike longs to be owned by a family with kids but is bought by a quiet, cosplaying, young woman instead.
How will Mamachari help Eriko to find true love?
These delightful, super quick short stories were very fun. In each of the stories, a different inanimate object is given life – imbued with the spirit of a Japanese god. Each story is told from two perspectives – the POV of the object itself and the POV of a person who can hear the object (not everyone can – only certain people are blessed with the ability to hear). In all three stories, either the human or the object (or both) have a problem that they solve together. My favorite story was Mamachari Matchmaker since I’m a sucker for romance, but I enjoyed reading all three of them! I give them all 4/5 stars.
***Disclosure: I received one of these books from the author in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
About the Author
Stephanie (S. J.) is a writer, knitter, amateur astrologer, Capricorn, and Japanophile. She loves foxes, owls, sushi, yoga pants, Evernote, and black tea. When she’s not writing, she’s thinking about writing or spending time outside, unless it’s winter. She hates winter. Someday she’ll own a house in both hemispheres so she can avoid the season entirely. She’s a mom to two great kids and lives with her husband and family outside NYC. They have no pets. Yet. When it comes to her work, expect the unexpected. She doesn’t write anything typical.