Thoughts on Books (#17): The Raven’s Tale / The Hunting Party / Murder on Cape Cod


The Raven's Tale
The Raven’s Tale by Cat Winters
My rating: 3.75 of 5 stars

THE RAVEN’S TALE is a fictionalized account of 17-year old Edgar Allan Poe and his turbulent relationship with Lenore, his muse. In this world, muses are real, physical beings, and they’re considered corrupt and dangerous by polite society. Lenore comes to Edgar at a particularly vulnerable time in his life, at odds with his foster father and leaving for university. Edgar’s passion for poetry and dreams of making a living as a writer are in sharp contrast to the wishes of his practical and cruel foster father. Will Lenore save Edgar’s creative spark, or will she be snuffed out forever(more)?

I enjoyed that this book imagined what a teenage Poe would have been like, and how his “muse” buried the seeds in his mind for many of his greatest works. The plot struggled in parts, moving slowly especially during his time at university, though the writing was lovely and atmospheric. I was also hoping for more explanation of what the muses actually were. Living spirits, maybe? As a fan of Poe, there was much to appreciate in this well-researched novel. Borrowed from the library.


The Hunting Party
The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A group of friends meet at a remote lodge in the Scottish Highlands to celebrate New Year’s Eve. One of them ends up dead, and another is the murderer. But who’s dead, and whodunit? The story flips back and forth between characters and before and after the murder, until the truth is slowly revealed.

I loved the premise of this book, however I struggled to stay engaged. There were many POVs presented, and their voices were so similar it was hard to keep track. The whole group of them gave off a snobby, shallow vibe, so it was hard to care what happened to them. Their drama dragged on too long. I suppose my two favorite characters were the lodge employees, Heather and Doug. They were easier to sympathize with.

While not for me, THE HUNTING PARTY has gotten a lot of great buzz. Please check out the other reviews! Borrowed from the library.


Murder on Cape Cod (Cozy Capers Book Group Mystery #1)
Murder on Cape Cod by Maddie Day
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Westham, Massachusetts, is a delightful tourist town on Cape Cod, and home to bike shop owner Macenzie “Mac” Almeida. After book club one foggy evening, Mac stumbles across a dead body very near her home. Unfortunately evidence found at the scene makes her brother a prime suspect. The pressure is on Mac to clear her brother’s name without interfering in the official investigation.

I enjoyed this first book in the Cozy Capers Book Group Mystery. The Cape Cod setting was lovely, and the wonderful descriptions made me want to visit. Mac was a relatable, no nonsense protagonist, and I loved that she lived in a cozy tiny home! The murder mystery was not an easy one to figure out. Mac’s book group didn’t play a big role in solving the murder, but I felt like we got a solid introduction to all the members. I’m looking forward to the next Cozy Capers mystery! Purchased from Barnes & Noble.


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NO ESCAPE CLAWS by Sofie Ryan {Review}


Series: A Second Chance Cat Mystery, #6
Publisher: Berkley Books
Release Date: January 29, 2019
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★¾


Sarah Grayson and her feline ally Elvis get a chance to see if their sleuthing skills are up to scratch in the sixth installment of the New York Times bestselling Second Chance Cat Mysteries.

It’s fall in North Harbor, Maine, where Sarah owns a charming secondhand shop. A cold case heats up when Mallory Pearson appears at Sarah’s doorstep. Mallory’s father is in prison for negligence after her stepmother’s mysterious death in a house fire, but Mallory believes he’s innocent and asks the quirky team of senior citizen detectives who work out of Sarah’s shop to take on the case. With Sarah and Elvis lending a paw, they decide to try to give Mallory’s father a second chance of his own…


NO ESCAPE CLAWS is book six in the Second Chance Cat Mystery series (I’ve also read the first). Main character Sarah Grayson runs a lovely secondhand shop in North Harbor, Maine, along with a quirky group of her grandmother’s friends (known as the Angels). I could spend hours in her store.

The Angels are part-time detectives as well, and with Sarah’s help they solve local mysteries. Their latest case comes at the request of young Mallory Pearson, who wants them to prove her father is innocent of negligence in the death of her stepmother. Prison is a nightmare for him, but for some reason he doesn’t want help getting out. The mystery surrounding the suspicious death was a puzzler, and Sarah & the gang were smart about their investigation. I enjoyed tagging along!

My one quibble with the book was the large number of characters. Too many to keep straight at times, which made reading frustrating. Not only were there many speaking characters, but there were lots of “off screen” folks they talked about. Maybe it’s because I’ve missed many of the previous books?

Overall I enjoyed this cozy, and it made me want to catch up with the rest of the series!

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


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Thoughts on Books (#14): The Last Woman in the Forest / Séances Are For Suckers / The Witch of Willow Hall / Cross Her Heart


The Last Woman in the Forest
The Last Woman in the Forest by Diane Les Becquets
My rating: 3.75 of 5 stars

Marian is a conservationist who works with rescue dogs in research projects, often in very remote and dangerous locations. After her boyfriend Tate is killed on assignment, she begins to suspect that he was responsible for the unsolved murders of four young women. Marian enlists the aid of a retired criminal profiler in hopes of putting her mind to rest.

The cold, desolate, and quiet natural setting of this book added an eerie sense of dread to the story. The writing was beautiful, and the ending was not what I expected. The story jumps around quite a bit, before and after Tate’s death, and also snippets from the victims leading up to their encounter with the murderer. There was a big focus on descriptions of the natural world and conservation projects which were enjoyable, though I would have liked the characters to have been fleshed out more. It was a bit slow moving for a mystery/suspense, but it held my attention and kept me guessing until the end.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book through Penguin’s First to Read Program in exchange for an honest review.


Séances are for Suckers (Eleanor Wilde Mystery #1)
Séances are for Suckers by Tamara Berry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Eleanor (Ellie) Wilde doesn’t believe in the paranormal, but that doesn’t stop her from making a living as a medium. She doesn’t consider herself a fake, because she really can solve pesky ghost problems. The ghosts, however, are typically rats in the attic or rattling pipes — but her clients don’t need to know that.

Ellie is flown to England to the ancestral manor home of Nicholas Hartford III. His mother is convinced they’re being haunted by a spirit called Xavier, and Nicholas wants Ellie to put Xavier to rest. Before that happens though, Ellie stumbles across a dead body. Now she’s charged with solving the mystery of Xavier and that of the stranger’s corpse that disappeared in the blink of an eye.

I enjoyed this first book in the Eleanor Wilde Mystery series. Ellie was a great character — witty, astute, clever, and likable — even if she is a bit of a con-artist. There’s a touching side story with Ellie and her ailing sister, and you can see how much she cares about her family. SÉANCES ARE FOR SUCKERS is a charming cozy mystery mixed with romance and a touch of “real” paranormal, which I’m excited to see what happens next with that!

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


The Witch of Willow Hall
The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

THE WITCH OF WILLOW HALL is a wonderful throwback to those beloved vintage gothic romances. Set in 1821, the story follows the Montrose family as a scandal in Boston sends them retreating to the small town of New Oldbury. Their fresh start in the country is anything but peaceful, as a malevolent force seems to be plaguing their home, Willow Hall. Will middle daughter Lydia’s inheritance of a powerful family legacy be able to save them? Unfortunately, I was in a rush to finish this book and get it back to the library in time, so I didn’t get to savor it like I wanted to!! Still, I thought WILLOW HALL was an enjoyable witchy read and an impressive debut from Hester Fox. Just the right about of spooky goodness and sweet romance. Borrowed from the library.


Cross Her Heart
Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Unfortunately this book didn’t work for me. I found it slow and repetitive, and lacking any big surprises that made me want to keep reading. The twist at the end was so far-fetched, which sometimes can be entertaining (like in her previous book, Behind Her Eyes), but this time I was just shaking my head. I see lots of positive reviews for Cross Her Heart, so probably an “it’s me” situation here. Borrowed from the library.


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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.