YULE BE DEAD by Lorraine Bartlett with Gayle Leeson {Christmas Cozy Mystery Review}


Series: Victoria Square, #5
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: November 27, 2018
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★¾


A Christmas crime shocks the merchants of a quaint shopping district in this latest installment of The New York Times bestselling Victoria Square series.

It’s Christmastime, but not everyone is jolly–especially not Vonne Barnett. Her dead body has been found in Victoria Square. Katie Bonner, the manager of Artisan’s Alley, happens to be at the tea shop Vonne’s mother, Francine, owns when the news is delivered.

Vonne left a trail of men behind her so the suspects are many–but the clues are few. A broken teacup leads Katie to one of the suspects, but before she can investigate, she’s attacked. Katie may be closing in on a murderer, but time is ticking because the murderer is definitely closing in on her.


Yule be dead — is that a great Christmas cozy mystery title, or what? This is the fifth book in the Victoria Square series, with Katie Bonner and her Artisan’s Alley merchants gearing up for the busy holiday season. Things get even more hectic when the tea shop owner’s daughter is murdered, and the questions Katie starts asking put her in hot water.

I’ve read one previous book from this series, so it was a delight to reunite with these characters. YULE BE DEAD is part mystery and part Victoria Square saga. Katie has so much going on in her life. She’s managing her business, entertaining her visiting mother-in-law (mother of her late husband), dealing with two romantic interests, and eyeing the tea shop that’s now for sale. While I enjoyed reading about all of those elements, I felt that the murder mystery got somewhat lost in the shuffle, and Katie’s investigation didn’t actually lead to the killer’s identity.

While I was hoping for a stronger mystery, I still greatly enjoyed this book. The characters and their relationships are real and complex, and I’m also looking forward to seeing where Katie’s new venture takes her.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

THE SECRET, BOOK, AND SCONE SOCIETY by Ellery Adams


Series: Miracle Springs, North Carolina, #1
Publisher: Kensington
Release Date: October 31, 2017
Source: Review copy from the author
Rating: ★★★★


From New York Times bestselling author Ellery Adams comes the first in an intriguing new series set within a quirky small-town club where the key to happiness, friendship—or solving a murder—can all be found within the pages of the right book…

Miracle Springs, North Carolina, is a place of healing. Strangers flock here hoping the natural hot springs, five-star cuisine, and renowned spa can cure their ills. If none of that works, they often find their way to Miracle Books, where, over a fresh-baked “comfort” scone from the Gingerbread House bakery, they exchange their stories with owner Nora Pennington in return for a carefully chosen book. That’s Nora’s special talent—prescribing the perfect novel to ease a person’s deepest pain and lighten their heaviest burden.

When a visiting businessman reaches out to Nora for guidance, she knows exactly which novels will help. But before he can keep their appointment at Miracle Books, he’s found dead on the train tracks.

Stunned, Nora forms the Secret, Book, and Scone Society, a group of damaged souls yearning to gain trust and earn redemption by helping others. To join the society, members must divulge their darkest secret—the terrible truth that brought each of them to Miracle Springs in the first place.

Determined to uncover the truth behind the businessman’s demise, the women meet in Nora’s cramped and cozy bookstore to share stories and trade support. And as they untangle a web of corruption, they also discover their own courage, purpose, and a sisterhood that will carry them through every challenge—proving it’s never too late to turn the page and start over…


THE SECRET, BOOK, AND SCONE SOCIETY is the first in a new series by Ellery Adams that beautifully combines my favorite elements of mystery, magical realism, and women’s fiction. The book is set in the enchanting town of Miracle Springs, North Carolina – a place that draws people in need of healing – including main character Nora Pennington and the other members of the Secret, Book, and Scone Society. The group forms initially to investigate the death of an out-of-town businessman, but a strong bond of friendship forms as each woman’s most painful secret is revealed.

Nora’s character is a bibliotherapist, and she always knows the right books to recommend to someone in need of guidance. Readers who love stories about books will appreciate the many titles mentioned and literary quotes throughout, as well as Nora’s amazing bookstore.

This book was a bit darker than a typical cozy mystery in that the secrets revealed were weightier than I expected. Still, this character-driven mystery was strong and kept me engaged. Enjoyed!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

DEATH OVERDUE by Allison Brook

Death Overdue (A Haunted Library Mystery, #1)
DEATH OVERDUE by Allison Brook
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A haunted library and Halloween? DEATH OVERDUE pulled me in with some of my favorite elements. Main character Carrie Singleton is the new head of programs and events at Clover Ridge’s local library. Unfortunately it’s not exactly smooth sailing at first. Carrie discovers the ghost of a former librarian haunting the stacks, learns that not everyone at the library is thrilled with her getting the job, and hosts her first event where the keynote speaker is murdered. Carrie is convinced his death is tied to the unsolved murder of another library employee 15 years earlier, so she does some investigating on her own.

This new series has potential, especially for fans of paranormal cozies and library settings. The two interwoven murder mysteries were intriguing, though it took a while for me to get into the story. I felt like there were too many details of daily happenings that slowed down the flow at times. I also wanted the library ghost to be more integral to the plot, and for Carrie’s reaction to the ghost be more – realistic? She wasn’t freaked out in the least bit. I think Carrie’s character overall needs to be spiced up a bit as the series continues.

The Halloween elements in DEATH OVERDUE were a lot of fun. Will see where the author goes with the next book.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.