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.

★ Cozy Mystery Feature ★ DEATH IN CASTLE DARK by Veronica Bond | DEADLY SUMMER NIGHTS by Vicki Delany


Cozy mystery feature! Here are two “firsts” in a new series from Berkley. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing digital ARCs. My reviews will be posted soon, but until then, check out the blurbs —


★ DEATH IN CASTLE DARK ★
by Veronica Bond
(Berkley)

Actor Nora Blake finds her dream job when she is cast in a murder-mystery troupe that performs in an imposing but captivating old castle. When she stumbles upon a real murder, things take a nightmarish turn in this first book in an exciting new series.

Maybe it was too good to be true, but when Nora Blake accepted the job from Derek Corby, proprietor of Castle Dark, she could not see any downsides. She would sink her acting chops into the troupe’s intricately staged murder-mystery shows, earn free room and board in the fairy tale–like castle, and make friends with her new roommates, which include some seriously adorable kittens.

But something sinister lurks behind the walls of Castle Dark. During Nora’s second performance, one of her castmates plays the part of the victim a little too well. So well, in fact, that no one can revive him. He has been murdered. Not ready to give up her dream gig—or to be the next victim—Nora sets out to see which one of her fellow actors has taken the role of a murderous real-life villain.



★ DEADLY SUMMER NIGHTS ★
by Vicki Delany
(Berkley)

A summer of fun at a Catskills resort comes to an abrupt end when a guest is found murdered, in this new 1950s set mystery series.

It’s the summer of 1953, and Elizabeth Grady is settling into Haggerman’s Catskills Resort. As a vacation getaway, Haggerman’s is ideal, and although Elizabeth’s ostentatious but well-meaning mother is new to running the resort, Elizabeth is eager to help her organize the guests and the entertainment acts. But Elizabeth will have to resort to untested abilities if she wants to save her mother’s business.

When a reclusive guest is found dead in a lake on the grounds, and a copy of The Communist Manifesto is found in his cabin, the local police chief is convinced that the man was a Russian spy. But Elizabeth isn’t so sure, and with the fate of the resort hanging in the balance, she’ll need to dodge red herrings, withstand the Red Scare, and catch a killer red-handed.


Click on the titles above for the link to Goodreads. Happy reading! — 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

TO KILL A MOCKING GIRL by Harper Kincaid


Series: A Bookbinding Mystery, #1
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Release Date: May 12, 2020

Totally charming! TO KILL A MOCKING GIRL kicks off the new Bookbinding Mystery series by Harper Kincaid. Though it breaks one of my rules for cozy mysteries, I ended up really enjoying it. My rule is that the mystery needs to be the main focus of the book, and in Mocking Girl, the mystery got lost at times in the wonderful “other” stuff — intriguing characters and their entangled relationships. I felt like I got to know everyone on a personal level.

Every chapter begins with a quote, and I was so impressed with the choices!

“Most everything you think you know about me is nothing more than memories.” ― Haruki Murakami

So what’s the mystery? Main character Quinn Caine has returned to her hometown in Virginia to work in her family’s bookshop. She gets thrown into a police investigation when her “frenemy” from high school is murdered. Quinn’s sidekick in sleuthing is her quirky cousin Sister Daria, an Anglican nun in training. I enjoyed how the mystery wrapped up. Not what I was expecting! If you’re into cozies with lots of witty dialogue and fun pop culture references, then I’d recommend giving TO KILL A MOCKING GIRL a try.

“The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” ― Flannery O’Connor

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

📚 Find TO KILL A MOCKING GIRL on Goodreads 📚