THOUGHTS ON BOOKS (#5): Wicked Plants (Audiobook) / An American Witch in Paris

Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Botanical AtrocitiesWicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities by Amy Stewart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

WICKED PLANTS was an Audible Daily Deal, and with that title and cover, I couldn’t resist downloading it. The book is a curious and often unsettling encyclopedia of plants that have caused harm in one way or another throughout the centuries. I don’t think a lot about plants being dangerous, but after reading this I definitely should. I was surprised that even some everyday foods can be harmful. (There’s a reason cashews aren’t sold in their shell.) However the most harmful of plants kills nearly 6 million people per year. (You can probably guess what it is.)

The audiobook was narrated by Coleen Marlo, and she did a fabulous job making each culprit plant seem down right sinister. I will say that I also checked out the hardcover of this book so I could see the illustrations and read the scientific names of all the plants. There were many presented and they moved by quickly, so it was nice to have a physical copy to reference.

An American Witch in Paris (Harlequin Nocturne)An American Witch in Paris by Michele Hauf
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

A straight-laced vampire and a saucy American witch come together in Paris to save humanity. Vampire Ethan and witch Tuesday are memorable leads, with an intriguing supporting cast aiding their perilous mission. The world-building and conflicts were exciting. I haven’t read a paranormal romance in a long time, so this book was a lot of fun. One thing that didn’t work for me was some of what Tuesday was saying or thinking didn’t fit with a centuries-old witch. (Example: She would call troublesome men “Richards” instead of … well, you know.) AN AMERICAN WITCH IN PARIS is loosely tied to others Michele Hauf has published with Nocturne, though it can easily be read stand-alone. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for a review copy of this book.

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” ― Marcus Tullius Cicero

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.

WHISPERS OF WARNING by Jessica Estevao

Publisher: Berkley Books
Release Date: September 19, 2017
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★

The latest in a dazzling new historical mystery series featuring Ruby Proulx, a psychic with a questionable past who suddenly finds her future most uncertain…

Partially reformed con artist Ruby Proulx is starting to feel at home in her aunt’s seaside hotel. She loves the feeling of being rooted in one place and also feels a sense of purpose as she helps her aunt keep her business afloat by acting as a psychic medium for the hotel’s metaphysically inclined guests.

When one of the guests, renowned Spiritualist and outspoken suffragist Sophronia Foster Eldridge, checks into the hotel for a month-long stay, Ruby finds her sense of purpose expand outside the confines of home and family. Sophronia takes Ruby under her wing and mentors her in the mediumistic abilities, encouraging her to work for a woman’s right to vote. But not everyone is as happy with Sophronia’s appearance in Old Orchard. When her body is found floating in the saltwater plunge pool of a local bathhouse, Ruby takes it upon herself to solve the murder, and in the process learns that Sophronia was hiding some secrets of her own.

WHISPERS OF WARNING is the second book in Jessica Estevao’s A Change of Fortune Mystery series, though it can easily be read standalone. This enjoyable character-driven novel set at the turn of the last century is as much historical fiction as it is mystery, with just a touch of the paranormal.

The women’s suffrage movement of the late 1890s and the popularity of spiritualism at the time take center stage in this book. Clever and unconventional protagonist Ruby Proulx lives and works at her aunt’s seaside hotel in Maine as a medium, a job she’s well suited for as she’s had voices to guide her throughout her life. When a rally brings famous suffragist Sophronia Foster Eldridge to the hotel, Ruby is thrilled, especially when Sophronia becomes her mentor. Unfortunately the controversial woman is found dead not long after her arrival, and amateur sleuth Ruby is suspicious.

I would have liked the murder to take place sooner than the halfway point that it did, though reading about the sometimes turbulent suffrage movement from Ruby’s point of view held my interest. The metaphysical elements added a nice touch to the story without overwhelming it. I also loved the Victorian hotel and Maine coastal setting. Lovely! Ruby is an engaging main character, and I’d love to go back and read the first book to learn more of her backstory.

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