BECAUSE I COULD NOT STOP FOR DEATH by Amanda Flower

Series: An Emily Dickinson Mystery, #1
Publisher: Berkley Books
Publication Date: September 20, 2022
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★


This book is the first in a new historical mystery series with poet Emily Dickinson and her fictional maid Willa as main characters. Set during the politically turbulent time just prior to the Civil War, this mystery finds Emily and Willa investigating the death of Willa’s brother. Police say it was an accident, but Willa believes he was murdered, and Emily’s inquisitive nature leads them into an investigation of their own.

The book is well-researched and I enjoyed the historical details, though the mystery itself isn’t very strong or complex. I also felt like the characters were dry, and their dialogue was stiff and simplistic. The series has potential with such a haunting and curious character as Emily Dickinson, but this first book fell a bit flat for me.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

THE PLOT AND THE PENDULUM by Jenn McKinlay

Series: A Library Lover’s Mystery, #13
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: October 11, 2022
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★½


I greatly enjoyed this spooky literary cozy mystery! I’m new to the Library Lover’s series and was hesitant to jump in at the 13th book, but I’m glad I did. THE PLOT AND THE PENDULUM can easily be read as stand-alone, but it did make me very curious about the previous twelve.

In this one, library director Lindsey Norris is thrilled when a wealthy local family donates their extensive collection of rare books to the library. However, her visit to the creepy Dorchester estate to collect the books lands her in the middle of a “runaway bride” cold case from 1989.

I enjoyed meeting this cast of characters, with their funny moments mixed in with more serious scenes. The foreboding atmosphere was perfect for the mystery and setting. Readers in the mood for an eerie Halloween cozy should pick this one up!

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

STEEPED TO DEATH by Gretchen Rue

Series: Witches’ Brew Mystery, #1
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: September 6, 2022
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★¼


This was an enchanting start to a new mystery series! Main character Phoebe Winchester has just inherited a spooky gothic mansion and cozy tea/bookshop from her Aunt Eudora in Raven Creek, Washington. Yep, I spent a good portion of the book trying to figure out a way to jump inside. My dream! The descriptions of the brews and baked goods were to die for.

The mystery comes into play when a deceased man is found outside Phoebe’s store, possibly murdered as he was trying to break in. What was he after, and who wanted him dead? Phoebe also discovers that Eudora was a witch (that tidbit wasn’t just a town rumor!), and she may have inherited more than just an estate from her dear aunt.

This was an enjoyable read with a little magic, romance, and a solid mystery element. Plus a delightful cat named Bob! I can’t wait for the next book. If you love witchy/paranormal cozies be sure to pick this one up.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

A SUMMER TO REMEMBER by Erika Montgomery

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: May 11, 2021
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ½


A SUMMER TO REMEMBER blends elements of family drama, mystery, and romance into a bittersweet story. Frankie is grieving the loss of her mother while trying to keep their Hollywood memorabilia store afloat. She comes across a couple of sealed letters, and a photograph of her mother with a pair of married movie stars taken a year before Frankie’s birth. Always curious about who her father was, Frankie heads across the country to Cape Cod where the photo was taken in hopes of finding clues to his identity.

I have mixed feelings about this book. I enjoyed the sense of place and the Hollywood nostalgia, and I was very curious about the family secrets surrounding Frankie’s father. The romance was lovely — two lost souls coming together. However, the pacing was slow, and I found the big reveal rather frustrating. It was unnecessary to keep this particular thing a secret for 30 years. If you can get past that hurdle, A SUMMER TO REMEMBER makes a great beach read that will leave you craving margaritas and fried clams, and wanting to dust off those old VHS movies.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.