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.

Thoughts on Books (#26): A SECRET SHARED • BURIED IN A GOOD BOOK • THE SHADOW HOUSE

Hello! The school year is wrapping up this week, so hopefully I’ll have more time to post and blog hop very soon. I know I’ve missed a lot, and I’m looking forward to catching up with everyone! Do you have your summer reading list ready?


A Secret Shared
A Secret Shared
by Patricia MacLachlan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A SECRET SHARED is a sweet middle grade story about adoption and the meaning of family. Twins Nora and Ben discover that their little sister Birdy has different ancestry than they do from a secret DNA test. If Birdy isn’t their biological sister, then where did she come from, and why are their parents hiding the truth?

I liked the message that family goes beyond DNA, and it’s best to be upfront about things because the truth has a way of coming to light. I wish there had been more character development and more emotion given the situation. I also thought the parent/child dynamic was a little odd. I just can’t believe Gen Alpha kids would interact with their parents like they do in this book. They seemed rather old-fashioned? This book would probably be best for the youngest middle grade readers as it’s written pretty simply and straightforward. Nice message but felt lacking in depth. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for a free copy in exchange for an honest review.


Buried in a Good Book (By the Book #1)
Buried in a Good Book
by Tamara Berry
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

After a messy divorce, successful thriller writer Tess brings her teen daughter Gertie to a cabin in the woods that she inherited from her grandfather. Tess is hoping some rustic living — no internet, electricity, or running water — will get Gertie’s mind off the fact that her dad doesn’t seem to want her in his life anymore. Instead of peace and quiet, they find themselves wrapped up in a murder investigation when body parts are found in the pond behind the cabin.

I enjoyed the dynamics between characters, especially with Tess and Sheriff Boyd, who reminds her very much of her own fictional character Detective Gonzales from her hit thriller series. There were parts of the book I found silly (Bigfoot?) and the culprit was a big surprise, didn’t make a lot of sense to me. Overall though, BURIED IN A BOOK is a fun start this new cozy series.


The Shadow House
The Shadow House
by Anna Downes
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

Ultimately I liked how the mystery played out, but it took a long time to get there. The eco-village was an odd setting to me. For some reason it took away from the creep-factor. Surprising twists toward the end, but I struggled to stay interested for a lot of the book. Borrowed from the library.

☆ Click on the book title to read the synopsis on Goodreads ☆

EVENFALL WITCHES B&B ☆ Cozy Mystery Series by Auralee Wallace



Book One: IN THE COMPANY OF WITCHES
Publication Date: October 19, 2021
Publisher: Berkley
Source: Review copy from NetGalley


When a guest dies in the B&B she helps her aunts run, a young witch must rely on some good old-fashioned investigating to clear her aunt’s name in this magical and charming new cozy mystery.

For four hundred years, the Warren witches have used their magic to quietly help the citizens of the sleepy New England town of Evenfall thrive. There’s never been a problem they couldn’t handle. But then Constance Graves — a local known for being argumentative and demanding — dies while staying at the bed and breakfast Brynn Warren maintains with her aunts. At first, it seems like an accident…but it soon becomes clear that there’s something more sinister at work, and Aunt Nora is shaping up to be the prime suspect.

There’s nothing Brynn wants more than to prove Nora’s innocence, and it hurts her to know that even two years ago that might have been easier. Brynn, after all, is a witch of the dead — a witch who can commune with ghosts. Ghosts never remember much about their deaths, but Constance might remember something about her life that would help crack the case. But Brynn hasn’t used her powers since her husband died, and isn’t even sure she still can. Brynn will just have to hope that her aunts’ magic and her own investigative skills will lead her to answers — and maybe back to the gift she once thought herself ready to give up forever.


★★★★½

If you loved the aunts in Practical Magic and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, I highly recommend you give this new magical cozy mystery series a try. There’s also a curious uncle who reminds me a bit of “we don’t talk about” Bruno who adds to the fun.

Brynn, their niece, has been unable to use her witchy powers of communicating with ghosts ever since her husband died. Somehow Brynn needs to get her witchery back to help Aunt Nora when she’s accused of murdering a guest in their New England B&B.

I enjoyed the spirited characters and their dynamics and witty banter. The murder mystery was complex and fast paced, and I enjoyed how the family’s magical powers helped with the investigation. There are additional layers of emotion and family drama that give the story extra depth. I’m excited to see this series continue!




Book Two: WHEN THE CROW’S AWAY
Publication Date: April 5, 2022
Publisher: Berkley
Source: Review copy from NetGalley


The ghost of a recently deceased chocolatier believes he was murdered, and it’s up to young witch Brynn Warren to use her magical gifts and old-fashioned sleuthing skills to find out how he really met his bitter end in this enchanting new Evenfall Witches B&B Mystery.

After spending months unable to use her powers, Brynn Warren is once again using her gift and working at her family’s bed-and-breakfast. Her heart is full, and although one of her aunts wonders if it might be a little more full with a bit of romance in her life, Brynn is certain that finding love again is not in her future. In fact, she can’t imagine anyone being more certain of anything…except for maybe, the recently deceased Mortimer Sweete. He’s certain he’s been murdered, and he wants Brynn’s help to bring his killer to justice.

Mort is positive he knows who killed him: his business partner’s wife, Cookie, who had been trying to get them to sell the candy shop for months. But Brynn doesn’t share his conviction. After all, the coroner ruled his death natural causes, and Mort did have health problems in life. But with Cookie putting up a For Sale sign for the shop already, Brynn knows she can’t just let it go.

Trying to solve a might-be murder while attempting to stop her aunt from meddling in her personal life seems like a recipe for disaster. If Brynn wants to bring Mort’s spirit peace, she’ll have to rely on all her skills — both magical and mundane — to uncover the truth.


★★★★½

WHEN THE CROW’S AWAY is a fantastic continuation of this paranormal cozy mystery series. Evenfall is an absolutely charming place, and it was great to be back with Brynn and her witchy aunts and uncle. This time Aunt Izzy does some meddling in Brynn’s love life, which she’s none to thrilled about. However, she does have a distraction in the ghost of a deceased candy maker who firmly believes he was murdered. Now that Brynn has her powers back, she’s ready to help.

This is one of the more emotional cozy mystery series I’ve read, because it deals with loss and grief in a deeper way. Plenty of family drama too! The murder mystery in this book was rather intriguing, and the twist at the end was totally unexpected. I love how the last chapter hinted at what’s to come in the next book and I am ready for it!

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing a free copy of both books in exchange for an honest review.