SMILE BEACH MURDER by Alicia Bessette

From author Alicia Bessette comes an all-new mystery series featuring Callie Padget, a former reporter turned bookshop clerk in the Outer Banks who is pulled into a deadly web of secrets when a mysterious fall at a lighthouse echoes a tragedy from her past.

When Callie is laid off from her reporting job, she returns to her hometown of Cattail Island and lands a gig at the local bookstore — the same one where she found comfort after her mother died.

In fact, the anniversary of her mother’s infamous death is approaching. Years ago, Teri Padget tumbled from the top of the lighthouse. As islanders are once again gossiping about the tragedy, devastating news strikes: the lighthouse has claimed another victim. Eva Meeks, of Meeks Hardware.

The police are calling it suicide, but Callie does not believe Eva jumped any more than she believes her mother did — especially because Callie knows that before her death, Eva had dug up a long-forgotten treasure hunt that could have put a target on Eva’s back.

In Callie’s search for answers, she enlists the help of some beloved books and several new friends, including the handsome local martial arts instructor, Toby Dodge. But when another death rocks Cattail Island, Callie must face her fears alone. As she earns enemies in pursuit of the truth, Callie knows she will either uncover the killer or become a victim herself.

Series: An Outer Banks Bookshop Mystery, #1
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: May 10, 2022
Source: Review copy from NetGalley

Set on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, SMILE BEACH MURDER is the perfect cozy mystery for summer reading. After being laid off from her job as a reporter, Callie Padget heads home to Cattail Island to live with her uncle and work at the local bookshop until she decides what to do next. When a family friend dies under suspicious circumstances, similarly to her mother’s death years before, Callie uses her investigative skills to search for the truth.

The striking cover drew me in, but the intriguing mystery, complete with a treasure hunt, had me hooked. Callie is a smart, compassionate, and clever main character, though some of her risky choices had me gritting my teeth! I enjoyed getting to know her family and friends, and there’s definitely a strong sense of community. Her budding romance with Toby Dodge was a fun addition to the story. This book is a wonderful start to a new series, and I’m looking forward to returning to Cattail Island soon. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

DAISY JONES & THE SIX by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Everyone knows DAISY JONES & THE SIX, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity…until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock ’n’ roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies.

Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: March 5, 2019
Source: Review copy from NetGalley

★★★

Having read and loved THE SEVEN HUSBANDS OF EVELYN HUGO, I knew that Daisy Jones would have some big shoes to fill, which is why I kept putting off reading it. Last week I found out that the Daisy Jones & The Six TV series would be out soon, so I took the plunge. Turns out my heart still belongs to Evelyn.

DAISY JONES & THE SIX is told in interview form skipping around from character to character as they tell their side of the story. For me, this format didn’t work. The choppy back and forth got tiresome after a while. I really didn’t sense any emotion or feel a connection to the characters. Too much telling and not enough showing?

I do enjoy reading about the 1970s, and this book highlighted the “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll” culture of that time. I think my favorite characters were Karen and Camila, two very strong women; however, Daisy was a hot mess! Overall, DAISY JONES & THE SIX was an ok read, but with all the hype surrounding it, I was expecting something more. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

DARK AND SHALLOW LIES by Ginny Myers Sain

A teen girl disappears from her small town deep in the bayou, where magic festers beneath the surface of the swamp like water rot, in this chilling debut supernatural thriller for fans of Natasha Preston, Karen McManus, and Rory Power.

La Cachette, Louisiana, is the worst place to be if you have something to hide.

This tiny town, where seventeen-year-old Grey spends her summers, is the self-proclaimed Psychic Capital of the World — and the place where Elora Pellerin, Grey’s best friend, disappeared six months earlier.

Grey can’t believe that Elora vanished into thin air any more than she can believe that nobody in a town full of psychics knows what happened. But as she digs into the night that Elora went missing, she begins to realize that everybody in town is hiding something — her grandmother Honey; her childhood crush Hart; and even her late mother, whose secrets continue to call to Grey from beyond the grave.

When a mysterious stranger emerges from the bayou — a stormy-eyed boy with links to Elora and the town’s bloody history — Grey realizes that La Cachette’s past is far more present and dangerous than she’d ever understood. Suddenly, she doesn’t know who she can trust. In a town where secrets lurk just below the surface, and where a murderer is on the loose, nobody can be presumed innocent — and La Cachette’s dark and shallow lies may just rip the town apart.

Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: September 7, 2021
Source: Borrowed from the library

★★★

• YA Paranormal Mystery •

I started reading DARK AND SHALLOW LIES late last fall, but decided to stop to read some Christmas books. Six months later, I re-checked out the library eBook to finish, and the app actually remembered where I’d stopped reading. I thought returning it deleted bookmarks? Anyway!

The thing I loved most about this book was the setting. La Cachette, Louisiana, was a dark and complex character on its own. This is bayou country, surrounded by water, with its oppressive heat and eerie atmosphere. Psychic powers abound. Storms are threatening. And a teen girl is searching for her friend who went missing in the swamp months earlier.

The beginning grabbed my attention, and the ending was a wild, unexpected ride, but the middle part moved slowly. There was a big group of characters, none of whom I was all that invested in. I would’ve liked to have seen more character development and more action to move the plot ahead.