Cover Image: Mimi Lee Gets a Clue

Mimi Lee Gets a Clue

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This was such a fun cozy mystery! I loved that the main character is a dog groomer though her focus on her business seemed a bit off throughout the book, such as not worrying about not really having customers right away. The side character of the cat was fun and I liked his personality quite a bit. I did find Mimi to be a bit immature and the relationship development felt a bit juvenile and a little too instant for my taste. Overall it was a good mystery and I look forward to seeing how book 2 goes.
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Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele

As an avid pet lover, Mimi Lee Gets a Clue should make me happy.  With a young pet groomer, a “talking” cat, and a murder mystery about a breeder, all should be good, right? Unfortunately, it is lacking in depth and entertainment value.

Mimi does a good deed saving a wealthy woman’s beloved dog at the beach.  This leads to the appreciative owner investing in Mimi’s pet grooming business.  But, just as the grand opening commences, Mimi can’t help but notice several of her new clients’ puppies don’t seem quite right.  Finding that they all came from the same breeder, Mimi tries to file a complaint, bringing her to top of the police’s suspect list when said breeder is murdered.  Mimi goes about trying to clear her name and help the puppies.

Being the first book in the Sassy Cat series, I expected to spend a lot of time learning about Mimi and her world, but the characters are pretty one dimensional.  Mimi’s heart is in the right place, but she’s juvenile and not particularly likable, and I am not sure she knows how to do her job well. Simply brushing a dog or trimming another dog’s nails does not make her a professional groomer.  She comes across as a young teen instead of a business woman in her mid-twenties. This is especially true with her romantic feelings and dealings with her neighbor Josh. And, Josh is not much better. Does he not notice that Mimi loiters, waiting for him to come home or open his apartment door?  There is no angst or getting to know each other phase; they just instantly become a couple. What? I do not know if Mimi’s mother is supposed to provide comic relief or what, but I find her overbearing and unfunny. The pet owners are shallow, and everyone is rather forgettable. Marshmallow the cat and the puppies are the redeeming characters within the books pages.

My biggest problem with the story is that the murder victim is an irresponsible dog breeder.  He did not deserve to die for his actions, but his breeding practices are disgraceful and make me angry.  The puppy owners irritate me, too. They seem to have more money than sense and do not make their dogs’ welfare a priority.  That said, the mystery itself is fair. There are a small number of suspects and not that many clues to work through. The killer’s identity did not come as a surprise nor was the big climactic moment exciting or worth the wait.

To my disappointment, Mimi Lee Gets a Clue was not the right fit for me, but other readers of pet cozies might feel differently.

*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review as part of their ongoing blog tour*
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Our title heroine, Mimi Lee, has just opened the business of her dreams, a pet grooming salon in Los Angeles, with the help of rich investor Pixie St James, whose dog she saved from drowning. Sure, business is a little slow to start, but she’s sure that once word spreads of how good she is at her job, the clients will come knocking down her door. Fortunately, Pixie has a few also-wealthy friends with cute pups who are happy to give her salon a try. After grooming several darling little Chihuahuas with mobility problems, however, Mimi suspects that an unprincipled breeder has been running a con on Pixie’s friends.

Mimi goes to confront Russ Nolan and discovers that it’s worse than she feared: he’s also mistreating his animals in addition to deceiving prospective pet owners. After a very public showdown, Mimi tries to call in the authorities, but finds herself stymied by the amount of red tape required to stop Russ and free his dogs. Things get worse when Russ is found dead shortly thereafter and Mimi herself becomes prime suspect in his murder.

Fortunately, Mimi has the help of Marshmallow, the adorable rescue cat her younger sister, Alice, gave her as an opening day gift. Well, adorable on the outside, at least: on the inside, Marshmallow is a pile of hilarious snark who just so happens to be able to communicate with Mimi telepathically. At first taken aback by Marshmallow’s abilities, Mimi soon realizes she can use their unusual connection to her advantage, when they go hunting for clues that might clear her in a warehouse full of dogs:

[Marshmallow’s] eyes gleamed in the dark. “Don’t worry, I’ve got this. Just slide the door open a crack.”

I did as he requested and watched as Marshmallow crept up to the door’s edge. He gave a short meow. A moment later, he received some yips back. He then made a few strong purrs, and the dogs inside grew silent. 

“What did you say?” I asked him.

“Told them we’re doing an official investigation. Said I’m a police cat.”

“Come again?”

Marshmallow flicked a dismissive paw at the warehouse. “Dogs are so gullible.”

While Marshmallow is the highlight of this novel, he’s not the only ally in Mimi’s corner. There’s also her new neighbor, Hawaiian native Josh Akana, with whom she begins an unbelievably sweet romance. 

But since this is a murder mystery, and better yet an #OwnVoices murder mystery, it’s not all lightness and sass. As Mimi tries to clear her name, she runs into the age-old predicament of the Asian-American: being assumed to be a recent immigrant who can barely speak English simply because of the way she looks. When a group of PTA moms mistake the biracial, American-born Mimi for a recent Korean arrival to their social circle, she’s clever enough to try to turn the situation on its head:

Although… could I use her confusion to my advantage? At least she’d welcomed me into the group. I didn’t correct the woman, waiting to see how things would unfold. She soon waved me over to sit down and help stuff papers.

I copied her movements, wondering how much English my immigrant doppelganger knew. I ventured forth a word: “Tam-my?”

The women paused in their actions and gave one another snide looks. The collating lady said, “Tammy is sick.”

The other women snorted, and a firestorm of gossip erupted. They probably thought my “foreignness” meant I wouldn’t be able to understand their rapid chatter[.]

Mimi Lee Gets A Clue has some really terrific general Asian-American representation, but it honestly doesn’t do as well in representing specifically Malaysians, the purported ethnicity of Mimi’s mom. I’m not sure what form of pidgin Ma was speaking, but it was definitely not Manglish, and I say this as a native Malay speaker who grew up and went to school then university in Malaysia. I also consulted on this with other Malaysians and Malaysian-Americans of various races, who were all similarly bemused by Ma’s way of speaking. Sure there were a few terms thrown in correctly, and the food descriptions were accurate. And while I know every culture contains multitudes, Ma’s obsession with marrying off twenty-five year-old Mimi to whichever guy with a pulse she can find is far less representative of a Malaysian culture that values education and professional accomplishment than of, say, the mindset of a conservative American woman in the 20th century who can’t fathom how a woman could possibly function without a man, any man. I’m always so excited when I find out that there’s Malaysian rep in an American book, even if it isn’t all positive -- Malaysians for sure can be superstitious and meddlesome, like Ma -- but the overall cultural characterization here wasn’t negative so much as it was painfully inauthentic, and that was disappointing.

That aside, this novel is a frothy read for any pet-lover who enjoys a little mystery and romance with Asian-American protagonists written by an Asian-American author. Just don’t expect a whole lot of realism from this admittedly paranormal tale.
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Did I really want to be the one to destroy her naïve dream?
And who knew—maybe her ploy could work.
After all, I’d gotten a big break after I’d rescued Gelato.
This was Hollywood, where happy endings were crafted.
Jennifer J. Chow, Mimi Lee Gets A Clue, Kindle Loc. 3196 

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 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.

Jennifer J. Chow is a fresh voice on the mystery scene. As an Asian American, her culture seeps through in language, family relationships, and cooking styles. Having lived in Hawaii for a few months, the Asian influence wasn’t new to me, but the main character’s talking cat was a surprise. Marshmallow, the cat, isn’t just some pretty, fluffy face. Owner, Mimi Lee, and Marshmallow investigate murder. Mimi talks to the suspects while Marshmallow talks with the suspects’ pets. 

Mimi Lee Gets A Clue is a fun read. It was released by Berkley Prime Crime on March 10th and is the first of the Sassy Cat mystery series. But this isn’t Jennifer’s first series. She writes the Winston Wong cozy mystery series under the name J.J. Chow, and also writes Young Adult fantasy. 

Please welcome Jennifer J. Chow to WWK.                   E. B. Davis 

In what area of L.A. is Hollywoof located?
It’s an unnamed beach area, but the nearby pier and palm tree-lined plaza outside the shop are definitely inspired by Hermosa Beach. 

Mimi grew up in Lawndale. Where in L.A. is that?
Lawndale is a city in L.A. County. It’s located in the South Bay area of the larger Los Angeles region, east of Manhattan Beach. 

How did twenty-something Mimi get the capital to open Hollywoof?
Through sheer good fortune. As an animal lover, Mimi couldn’t help but rescue a floundering shih tzu from the choppy waters off Catalina Island. In return, the grateful (and wealthy) dog owner, Pixie St. James, provided the capital to fulfill Mimi’s dream of owning a pet grooming salon.  

Mimi’s parents are retired. Did they have their children, both in their twenties, later in life?
Yes, Mimi’s parents met later in life, so now they’re living a happy empty-nester life. 

What do Mimi’s parents do now that they are retired?
Mimi’s dad, Greg, spends his time on the golf course while Mimi’s mom, Winnie, hatches match-making plans for her two single daughters.   

What native language did Mimi’s Malaysian-born mother speak?
Mimi’s mom likes to speak Manglish, a mixture of linguistic influences found in her country, including Hakka, English, Malay, Hokkien, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Tamil. Of course, she has her own spin on it now, given her decades of living in America.

Alice, Mimi’s younger Kindergarten-teaching sister, gives her a cat from a shelter. Mimi names the cat Marshmallow. Does the name suit the cat?
Haha! Mimi thinks so because he’s a white Persian cat and very, um, puffy. Marshmallow, of course, hates the name.

Mimi, a graduate and psychology major of UCLA, thinks she’s having a psychotic experience or hallucinations when Marshmallow talks to her. Mimi’s mother isn’t the only one who has trouble with acronyms. What does DSM mean?
DSM stands for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It’s a handbook that describes different mental illnesses, and professionals use it to diagnose clients.

What is a moto jacket?
A motorcycle jacket, often leather, worn by bikers. 

Does L.A. still have a lot of air pollution?
Yes, but I feel like it’s gotten better over the years. And the smog results in gorgeous sunsets. 

Pixie, Mimi’s benefactor, sends her friends to Hollywoof to help launch the business. Are the women competitive or are they all infatuated with teacup Chihuahuas?
The women mostly just love their Chis—all for different reasons. However, they are prone to puppy envy, like when one of the women styles her pooch in a glitzy rhinestone collar and sweet pink headband.

Their dad calls Mimi and Alice, Princess One and Two. But they don’t seem spoiled, especially considering some of the gross dog grooming tasks Mimi must perform. Why is Mimi required to solve Alice’s job problem?
The “princess” moniker is a term of endearment from their dad, who’s all about hugs and encouragements. Mimi’s not required to help Alice with her job situation, but as the big sister, it’s assumed that she’ll take on the problem-solver role. Her mom definitely expects a strong drive and “can do” attitude from Mimi to help out her sister just by being part of the Lee family.  

Are exotic pets regulated by state?
Yes. For example, ferrets are legal in most other states but not in California (unless you obtain a special permit). The state department of Fish and Wildlife has information on the reasons for restricting certain species for public health and safety. 

When Mimi meets young lawyer Josh in the apartment complex’s laundry room, she gets a bad case of foot-in-mouth disease. What is the big competition between USC and UCLA?
The USC-UCLA rivalry comes from the competition between their sports teams, particularly in football. There’s also a bit of ribbing because USC is a private institution while UCLA is a public university.  

Does Josh like fortune cookies because of the taste or the fortune?
Josh likes fortune cookies because the sayings cheer him up and help him during stressful times. The yummy vanilla flavor doesn’t hurt, though. 

What is a jade burial shroud?
A jade burial shroud is a basically a suit made of jade. The precious stone was commonly cut into rectangular shapes and pieced together to provide a valuable covering for ancient Chinese royalty. 

Does doggie SUPPing, yoga, acupuncture, and pool parties really exist? Do the dogs wear diapers in the pools?
These are all real things! Owners do go stand up paddle boarding with their pets and participate in yoga with their dogs. There also are pet acupuncturists. And doggie pool parties (sans diapers) exist—Los Angeles County even opens up some of their pools to canines at the end of the summer for their annual Pooches in the Pool event.  

What is poke and spam musubi, and is it really popular in Hawaii?
Poke is a dish made from diced raw fish and garnished with savory toppings. Spam musubi is a type of sushi made with seaweed, rice, and cooked spam. I know these dishes are offered in Hawaii, but I’m not sure how popular they are there. There are definitely quite a few places serving poke bowls and musubi around Los Angeles.  

Mimi’s family’s snacks for game night are unusual to most of us. What are durian candies and furikake snack mix? What else do they snack on?
Durian candies are made from a tropical fruit found in Southeast Asia. Unlike fresh durian, they usually don’t have a strong odor, but they do retain the distinctive musky taste (sorry, I don’t have an exact flavor I can compare it to!) Furikake snack mix is an enhanced version of Chex mix, but with added butter, sugar, and furikake (a rice seasoning, often seaweed-based).   

Can someone else access your electrical panel via their phone? Don’t they need a code?
Ah, there’s a part of the story where an electrician gives instructions over the phone to one of the characters. That person is then able to access the electrical panel based on those tips.  

What’s next for Mimi and Marshmallow?
Mimi and Marshmallow will be embarking on their next adventure…which involves getting Mimi’s sister, Alice, off of the suspect list. Like sister, like sister, I suppose. 

This will post on 4/1/20
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This book given to me by Berkley through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Mimi has now become my new favorite book character. She is sweet, sassy and everything in between. I was immediately drawn to her because she's an animal lover like myself. Marshmallow was such a cute character and really added to the story. I am looking forward to the next addition to the Sassy Cat mysteries. This is my first cozy mystery ever and I am so glad I decided to  pick this one up to set my further expectations.

Chow gave us an awesome love interest and gave us just enough info to concentrate completely on the mystery,

This is a must pick up if you like cozy mysteries, cats, and a diverse read!

This review will be up on my IG on 3/10/20 the pub date and will be on my website on 3/10/20.
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Mimi Lee Gets a Clue was a funny but suspenseful mystery with a touch of wholesome romance. Mimi was a likable protagonist. I was pulled in by her curiosity and drive to ferret out the truth despite the risks to herself. There were many clues and suspects with motives, which made for a fun journey following Mimi's investigation to figure out who dunnit. The romantic subplot with Josh was incorporated into the story well, with him playing a role in helping Mimi investigate the crime. Marshmallow, the talking cat, was probably my favorite character. I wish I had a sassy cat as a sidekick. Overall, I really enjoyed myself during the reading experience and would recommend this book to anyone who wants a lighter mystery with a side of romance.
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Mimi Lee has a lot going on; she’s the owner of a brand new pet grooming shop, Hollywoof, forever being set up on disastrous blind dates by her mom, and recently found out her new cat Marshmallow can talk. Things get even more complicated when Mimi becomes the main suspect in the murder of a local dog breeder. Together, Mimi and Marshmallow set out to prove her innocence and solve the case!

I think this is the first cozy mystery I’ve ever read, and it was a pleasant surprise! The characters were funny, sweet, and likable. I had so much fun reading about the luxury lives of some Los Angeles dogs that included weekly doga (dog yoga) and acupuncture. Most importantly this was a quality murder mystery with promising suspects. Sometimes the perfect, no conflict relationship between Josh & Mimi made me feel like I was reading about teenagers instead of a couple in their mid-twenties, but I’m excited to see what happens between them in the next book! If you are looking for a light and cute but very entertaining read this one is for you!!

Thank you Netgalley, Berkley Publishing Group, and Jennifer Chow for this digital ARC in exchange for my honest review. This one is available 3/10/20!
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Mimi Lee Gets a Clue is the first book in the Sassy Cat Mystery series and I am happy to report that the kitty in this series, Marshmallow, was very much a contributing character. He was a great addition to this story and if cats could truly talk, I believe they would all sound like him. Although, he may be a cut above the rest. Also, note, that as this is the first book in the series, there is a lot of information given about Mimi, her friends, family, and business. Do not let that be a turn off because Mimi Lee Gets a Clue is truly an adorable cozy mystery that is sure to delight you!

Mimi was a woman who was finally seeing her dreams realized. She had been given an opportunity to start her dream business and that was one opportunity she was holding onto with both hands. I loved her! She was witty, curious, determined, and willing to do what she thought was right. Also, she did not mind being as creative as she needed to be to accomplish her goals. When she was given a kitty, Marshmallow, from her sister, she took his unique ability to speak with aplomb which would have made most people certainly freak out. She was a roll with it kind of character and her outlook made the story flow well.

As Mimi and Marshmallow form an uncertain partnership, they find themselves dragged into a murder mystery that was of the upmost importance to Mimi because, unfortunately, she had become a murder suspect in the death of a shady dog breeder. She absolutely needed all the support she could get to clear her name and one of the characters she met along the way was her neighbor, Josh Akana, who was a lawyer and he was very helpful. Josh and Mimi developed a relationship and that was a part that detracted from the story for me. It is very puppy-lovish and not what I would expect from a couple in their mid-twenties. Overall though, what really worked for me in Mimi Lee Gets a Clue was the mystery! It was engaging, intriguing, fun to follow along with, and also gave me a few laughs along the way!

This review is based on a complimentary book I received from NetGalley. It is an honest and voluntary review. The complimentary receipt of it in no way affected my review or rating.
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4.5 stars

This is the first book in A Sassy Cat mystery by Jennifer J. Chow

This was a stunner of a new series by Chow. Since I am allergic to animals, reading about them is probably one of the few ways I can indulge my secret love of God's furry creatures.

I really enjoyed the gimmick of this book and thought it was done very well. Mimi Lee can hear her cat  Marshmallow through a sort of psychic connection. He became like her sidekick through all the danger and mayhem. 

This book centered around animals since Mimi had a dog grooming business called Hollywoof. Her lap Marshmallow uncovered a doggie den of abused animals and before she could report him completely to the authorities, the man ends up dead. And somehow Mimi Lee ends up as suspect number one.

The author very easily introduced us to a whole slew of new characters and it all felt so natural. Usually when you try to cram so many people into a book it can feel awkward and strange. None of that here. I particularly liked the addition of newbie lawyer, Josh and Detective Brown. There are hints of a bit of a crush happening for Detective Brown where Mimi is concerned. I think in the next book Mimi may find herself with more than one suitor.

Such a fun cozy romp! Totally kept me engaged all the way through. I can't wait for the next book in the series to come out. Really loving all these new to me authors bringing us such awesome new series!

If you love a good cozy mystery, definitely check this one out. You won't be disappointed.

I received this as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) in return for an honest review. I want to thank NetGalley, the author and the publisher for allowing me to read this title.
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Comic mystery about a girl who opens a dog grooming salon and then ends up solving a murder. A very light and fluffy murder mystery set in California. While this one was a bit too comic for my taste, fans of cozy mysteries will definitely enjoy it!
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Mimi Lee and Marshmellow the cat are a really cute pair of mystery solvers! The story follows Mimi Lee, a pet groomer, and her super cute kitty Marshmellow. A little twist - the kitty can talk to Mimi and he helps her solve a murder! 

The story is super cute and really that's all I can say about it. Overall there wasn't a lot of substance to it. The characters didn't have much to them. I struggled to like Mimis mother. She was overbearing and too involved in Mimis life. I found myself annoyed everytime she spoke lol.

There is a little romance between Mimi and her neighbour/ lawyer, Josh. Josh seemed sweet and caring. However, I didn't totally 'ship' them because Mimi lacked any sort of relationship skills and Josh didn't seem to notice any of the weird things Mimi did such as waiting outside of his apartment all morning until he came out so she could talk to him. I don't know... it just felt weird to me! 

The mystery was interesting and well put together! It was light and cute. Marshemmlow made the whole book! This was what I'd say is amazing, it was just okay! It was an easy read and it was even better with a cute kitty who solves crimes! 


** Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for this arc!
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