Sad News

My name is Annie and I’m heartbroken to have to announce that my mother, Lelia Taylor, passed away suddenly but peacefully Sunday night, March 20. At this time plans for a memorial service have not been settled but when they are I will post the details here. Otherwise, this blog will not be updated anymore.

In lieu of flowers or donations, please buy a book (any book) from your local independent bookstore or in her honor.

Book Review: The Cartographer’s Secret by Tea Cooper @tea_cooper @harpermusebooks @tlcbooktours

The Cartographer’s Secret
Tea Cooper
Harper Muse, November 2021
ISBN 978-0-7852-6731-7
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

A map into the past. A long-lost young woman. And a thirty-year family mystery.

The Hunter Valley, 1880—Evie Ludgrove loves to chart the landscape around her home—hardly surprising since she grew up in the shadow of her father’s obsession with the great Australian explorer Dr. Ludwig Leichhardt. So when an advertisement appears in The Bulletin magazine offering a thousand-pound reward for proof of where Leichhardt met his fate, Evie is determined to use her father’s papers to unravel the secret. But when Evie sets out to prove her theory, she vanishes without a trace, leaving behind a mystery that haunts her family for thirty years.

1911—Letitia Rawlings arrives at the family estate in her Ford Model T to inform her great-aunt Olivia of a loss in their family. But Letitia is also escaping her own problems—her brother’s sudden death, her mother’s scheming, and her dissatisfaction with the life planned out for her. So when Letitia discovers a beautifully illustrated map that might hold a clue to the fate of her missing aunt, Evie Ludgrove, she sets out to discover the truth. But all is not as it seems, and Letitia begins to realize that solving the mystery of her family’s past could offer as much peril as redemption.

A gripping historical mystery for fans of Kate Morton and Natasha Lester’s The Paris Seamstress, The Cartographer’s Secret follows a young woman’s quest to heal a family rift as she becomes entangled in one of Australia’s greatest historical puzzles.

To many people around the world, including me, Australia is an exotic land of fascinating history and a cheeky attitude, always surprising in one way or another. I’ve learned quite a bit about this unique country from previous Tea Cooper books and that continued with The Cartographer’s Secret. Ms. Cooper could and does make a dry account of the land down under turn into a captivating tale.

This story is essentially a family saga taking place in two time periods, 1880 and 1911, and involves two mysteries, Evie’s search for a missing explorer, leading to her own disappearance, and her niece Letitia’s subsequent determination to find out what happened. Evie’s father had had almost an obsession with the explorer and she had a love of maps so she thought her mapping talents and her father’s research could point the way to learning Dr. Ludwig Leichhardt’s fate. Instead, Evie became a mystery herself but Letitia unearths secrets and learns a lot about herself along the way.

Historical mysteries are a breed unto themselves, so to speak, and this one has a basis in fact, always an intriguing element. Here we also have a little romance, a lot of adventure, and a look at two women who were ahead of their times. Ms. Cooper’s in-depth research is very evident and, once again, she has captured my imagination.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2021.


Purchase Links:
Barnes & Noble // Kobo // Amazon // Indiebound


About the Author

Tea Cooper is an established Australian author of historical fiction. In a past life she was a teacher, a journalist, and a farmer. These days she haunts museums and indulges her passion for storytelling. She is the winner of two Daphne du Maurier Awards and the bestselling author of several novels, including The Horse ThiefThe Cedar CutterThe Currency Lass, and The Naturalist’s Daughter.

Connect with Tea:

Website // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram


Follow the tour:

Monday, November 8: @smashley.reads

Monday, November 8: Lit and Life

Tuesday, November 9: Books Cooks Looks

Wednesday, November 10: @thebookscript 

Thursday, November 11: @transportedlfl 

Friday, November 12: Pick a Good Book and @pickagoodbook

Friday, November 12: Always With a Book and @k2reader

Sunday, November 14: @stumblingintobooks 

Monday, November 15: @bookoholiccafe

Monday, November 15: Reading Reality

Tuesday, November 16: Book Reviews and More by Kathy

Wednesday November 17: @mommaleighellensbooknook

Wednesday, November 17: @readingwithmrsleaf 

Thursday, November 18: @welovebigbooksandwecannotlie IG
and @welovebigbooks on TikTok

Friday, November 19: The Bookish Dilettante

Friday, November 19: Christian Chick’s Thoughts and @cctblog 

Saturday, November 20: @itsbibliotherapy 

Sunday, November 21: Girl Who Reads

Monday, November 22: @heyitscarlyrae

Monday, November 22: Read Eat Repeat

Tuesday, November 23: What is That Book About 

Wednesday, November 24: Buried Under Books 

Wednesday, November 24: 

Monday, November 29: Laura’s Reviews  and @laurasreviews_1

Tuesday November 30: Jathan and Heather

Wednesday, December 1: @lilagracereads on TikTok

Thursday, December 2: BookNAround

Friday, December 3: @mamasgottaread 

Sunday, December 5: @booktimistic

TBD: Monday, November 15: @whimsyreadswithshelby 


Daphne du Maurier Award Winner, 2021

The Cartographer’s Secret is a galvanizing, immersive adventure following
a family’s entanglement with a vanished Australian explorer through
the lush Hunter Valley at the turn of the twentieth century, forcing the
characters to reckon with the choice found at the crux of passion and
loyalty and the power of shared blood that can either destroy or heal.”
—Joy Callaway, international bestselling author of 
The Fifth Avenue Artists Society and The Greenbrier Resort


Internet Down

Our provider can’t come till Saturday night and I can’t put posts together on my phone so I’ll be on involuntary hiatus till things get fixed. Will be back as soon as I can!

At Last, Tomorrow Is the Day We’ve Been Waiting For

If you haven’t already




If at First You Don’t Succeed… @Anasleuth

USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is a former literary agent and an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry.


Newsletter sign-up:

Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog:





One of my pet peeves, is people who tell you that you can succeed at anything you set your mind to if you only work hard enough. Really? If that were true, I, and many of my fellow authors, would have permanent slots on the New York Times Bestseller List. We don’t. And it’s not from lack of hard work.

The trouble with such advice is it doesn’t factor in outside forces beyond our control that often work against us. If, through hard work, we all succeeded in fulfilling our dreams, we’d all be super-successful, wouldn’t we? Unfortunately, life doesn’t always work out the way we wish it would.

However, there’s another piece of advice I’ve come to embrace: sometimes you need to pivot and think outside the box.

My publishing career has been filled with outside forces working against me. After ten years of writing, in 2005 I sold my first two books, a quasi-romance that was more chick lit than romance and a romantic suspense.

However, two years before that, my agent told me an editor she knew was looking for mysteries featuring crafters. Who better to write a crafting mystery, she thought, than me, her client who was also a designer in the crafts industry?

I came up with Anastasia Pollack, the crafts editor at a women’s magazine. The series begins with Anastasia returning to her office one night and discovering the fashion editor’s body hot glued to her office chair. Since Anastasia’s glue gun is the murder weapon, she becomes the prime suspect.

I fleshed out the plot, gave Anastasia two teenage sons, and added a host of zany characters: a communist mother-in-law, a self-proclaimed Russian princess mother, Anastasia’s dead husband’s loan shark, and a photojournalist who may or may not be a spy. I also included a Shakespeare-quoting parrot, a haughty Persian cat, and a French bulldog with attitude. A few months later I sent the manuscript to my agent. Her assessment? “You’re funnier than Author X.” Off the manuscript went to Editor A.

Editor A also thought I was funnier than Author X. Sounds like a sale in the making, right? However, before Editor A could convince her editorial board to buy the book, she accepted a job with another publishing house where she wasn’t buying cozy mysteries. Sadly, no one else at Editor A’s previous publishing house thought I was as funny as Author X.

My agent continued to send the manuscript out. Editors B, C, D, E, and F didn’t think I was as funny as Author X. Meanwhile, the two aforementioned books sold, and I was on my way to publishing bliss—until a force beyond my control changed everything. A new CEO ran the publishing company into bankruptcy and left me and hundreds of other authors orphaned and owed thousands of dollars in royalties.

So my agent dusted off the crafting mystery and sent it off to Editor G. She thought I was as funny as Author X and wanted to buy the book—until another outside force reared its ugly head. Before the contract was drawn up, the publishing company was sold. The new company cut the cozy mystery line. Meanwhile another publisher stopped publishing cozy mysteries, and a third cut back on their cozy line.

My stalwart agent refused to give up and sent the manuscript to Editors H, I, and J, but none of them thought I was as funny as Author X. Finally, she sent the manuscript to Editor K who loved the book and offered a 3-book contract.

Life was good! The series launched in January 2011 to rave reviews, including starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist, and it was nominated for two Book of the Year awards. After two years, the publisher offered two new contracts, one for more Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries and one for a second mystery series I had dubbed The Empty Nest Mysteries.

But another outside force lurked around the corner. The publisher demanded onerous changes to the existing agency-negotiated contract. After much soul-searching and with the encouragement of my agent, I made the difficult decision to walk. A few smaller publishers showed interest in picking up the series, but they either didn’t offer advances, also had onerous contracts, or both.

That’s when I made a major pivot and decided to enter the world of indie publishing. After working so hard and so long for my traditional publishing contracts, I worried I was making a huge mistake. What I discovered is that readers don’t care how books are published, whether by large presses, small presses, or independently. They’re only interested in one thing—well-written books that tell a great story.

That was seven years ago. A Sew Deadly Cruise, which released October 1st, is the ninth book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series. I’m already planning the tenth. Indie publishing isn’t for everyone, but for me, it represented the right decision at the right time, especially since a few years later, the publisher I left folded their mystery line and orphaned all their authors.

Have outside forces ever impacted your career in such a way that you were forced to make a major change?


A Sew Deadly Cruise

An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 9

Life is looking up for magazine crafts editor Anastasia Pollack. Newly engaged, she and photojournalist fiancé Zack Barnes are on a winter cruise with her family, compliments of a Christmas gift from her half-brother-in-law. Son Alex’s girlfriend and her father have also joined them. Shortly after boarding the ship, Anastasia is approached by a man with an unusual interest in her engagement ring. When she tells Zack of her encounter, he suggests the man might be a jewel thief scouting for his next mark. But before Anastasia can point the man out to Zack, the would-be thief approaches him, revealing his true motivation. Long-buried secrets now threaten the well-being of everyone Anastasia holds dear. And that’s before the first dead body turns up.

Craft projects included.

Buy Links




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#LetsDiscuss2020 – How Do You Read? – TCL’s #DiscussionSunday #3.

It’s Day 3 of your social distancing—are you
bored yet? Here’s a nifty little poll to pique
your interest and while away a minute or two:

The Chocolate Lady's Book Review Blog


While wandering around Facebook a while back, author Jane Davis put up a very interesting post, asking the question:

How Do You Read?

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Away for a Bit

I had the best intentions of 

posting things while I’m away

for the holidays but…

I might be back on Sunday 😁