★ 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

🎃 Reading Challenge: READERS IMBIBING PERIL #RIPXVI 🕷️ @PerilReaders 👻

It’s time for my favorite reading challenge, Readers Imbibing Peril! To join, just read as many mystery, suspense, thriller, horror, dark fantasy, supernatural, or Gothic books as you’d like September 1st August 27th – October 31st, and post/discuss them on your blog, Instagram, or Twitter. Yep, the official launch this year is a few days early, so grab those spooky books!

Use #RIPXVI or tag @PerilReaders to connect with other challenge participants. R.I.P. is also on Discord this year! Peril of the Group Read is THE SUNDIAL by Shirley Jackson.

I’m pinning this post to the top of my blog and will keep track of books for this challenge here:

  1. NOT A HAPPY FAMILY by Shari Lapena [3.5/5]
  2. A LESSON IN VENGEANCE by Victoria Lee [2/5]
  3. MRS. MARCH by Virginia Feito [3.5/5]
  4.  

Happy R.I.P. Reading!

★ Happy Publication Day ★ THE FAMILY PLOT by Megan Collins | HOW TO KILL YOUR BEST FRIEND by Lexie Elliott


Happy book birthday to these two summer thrillers! I’m looking forward to reading both. Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for providing digital ARCs. My reviews will be posted soon, but until then, check out the blurbs —


★ THE FAMILY PLOT ★
by Megan Collins
(Atria Books)

From the author of The Winter Sister and Behind the Red Door, this “masterpiece of gothic suspense and horror, filled with dark family secrets and stunning twists” (Michele Campbell, author of It’s Always the Husband) follows a family obsessed with true crime as they gather to bury their patriarch—only to find another body already in his grave.

At twenty-six, Dahlia Lighthouse is haunted by her upbringing. Raised in a secluded island mansion deep in the woods and kept isolated by her true crime-obsessed parents, she is unable to move beyond the disappearance of her twin brother, Andy, when they were sixteen.

After several years away and following her father’s death, Dahlia returns to the house, where the family makes a gruesome discovery: buried in their father’s plot is another body—Andy’s, his skull split open with an ax.

Dahlia is quick to blame Andy’s murder on the serial killer who terrorized the island for decades, while the rest of her family reacts to the revelation in unsettling ways. Her brother, Charlie, pours his energy into creating a family memorial museum, highlighting their research into the lives of famous murder victims; her sister, Tate, forges ahead with her popular dioramas portraying crime scenes; and their mother affects a cheerfully domestic facade, becoming unrecognizable as the woman who performed murder reenactments for her children. As Dahlia grapples with her own grief and horror, she realizes that her eccentric family, and the mansion itself, may hold the answers to what happened to her twin.



★ HOW TO KILL YOUR BEST FRIEND ★
by Lexie Elliott
(Berkley)

If you suspected your best friend, the person you were closest to in the whole world, was a murderer, what would you do? Would you confront her? Would you help keep her secret? Or would you begin to feel afraid? Most importantly, why don’t you feel safe now that she’s dead? From the author of The French Girl comes a novel full of secrets, suspense, and deadly twists.

Georgie, Lissa, and Bronwyn have been inseparable since dominating their college swim team; swimming has always been an escape from their own problems, but now their shared passion has turned deadly. How can it be true that Lissa, the strongest swimmer they know, drowned? Granted, there is something strange about Kanu Cove, where Lissa was last seen, swimming off the coast of the fabulous island resort she owned with her husband.

Lissa’s closest friends gather at the resort to honor her life, but Georgie and Bron can’t seem to stop looking over their shoulders. Danger lurks beneath the surface of the crystal-clear water, and even their luxurious private villas can’t help them feel safe. As the weather turns ominous, trapping the funeral guests together on the island, nobody knows who they can trust. Lissa’s death was only the beginning…


Are these books on your wish list? Have you read these authors before? Click on the titles above for the link to Goodreads. Happy reading! — 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

Welcome to our Mad Tea Party!

Hello! I’m glad you could join us for the Mad Tea Party hosted by Vanessa at A Fanciful Twist. When I was little, I thought Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was scary. The Mad Hatter and Cheshire Cat? Too creepy. Of course, now I love creepy and mysterious things. All quotes below are from Lewis Carroll’s wonderful book!

“And what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversation?”

If you’ve never been here before, I’ll quickly introduce myself. My name is Diana, and I’ve been blogging about books for a long time. So, of course, my tea party will also be a book club meeting, and we’ll be talking about one of my favorite cozy series, the Hungarian Tea House Mysteries, written by Julia Buckley.

The covers of these books are absolutely adorable! I was excited to find that I had a matching Sarah Wilkins mug for each book.

• Afternoon Tea Party •

Before we get started, we need the perfect tea-inspired essential oil blend for ambiance. I found one on the Diffuser Blends site called Afternoon Tea Party. Roman chamomile, lemon, and cinnamon bark. Smells amazing!

It was all very well to say “Drink me,” but the wise little Alice was not going to do that in a hurry. “No, I’ll look first,” she said, “and see whether it’s marked ‘poison’ or not.”

• Let your imagination grow •

DEATH IN A BUDAPEST BUTTERFLY | Tea | Whole Grain Blueberry Muffin

Hungarian folklore, European high tea, and just a touch of the paranormal come together to make DEATH IN A BUDAPEST BUTTERFLY a delightful start to this series!

Three generations of the Horvath/Keller family run Maggie’s Tea House in suburban Chicago. Hana, her mother Maggie, and grandmother Juliana are shaken when a guest is poisoned to death at one of their events. With a murderer on the loose and their business in danger, Hana is willing to help Detective Erik Wolf with his investigation and do a bit of sleuthing on her own.

The Hungarian history, culture, and myths blended throughout this book made for an enjoyable and unique cozy mystery. I also loved the budding romance between Hana and Erik.

“I suppose I ought to eat or drink something or other; but the great question is ‘What?’” — Alice

• Take a sip, turn a page •

DEATH OF A WANDERING WOLF | Tea | Jarlsberg cheese & pecans

In book two of the Hungarian Tea House Mystery series, Hana Keller gets more than she bargained for at a yard sale, when the seller, a local artist, is murdered shortly after Hana scores some too-good-to-be-true deals. Hana uses her developing psychic ability and smarts to unlock the secrets in his paintings. Will his art reveal the identity of his killer?

I enjoyed this complex murder mystery that continues to explore Hungarian culture and folklore. It was lovely seeing Hana and Detective Erik Wolf’s relationship grow closer, and the introduction of Erik’s sisters was a lot of fun. I hope they become regulars in future books. Hana and her family are wonderful characters who make this an engaging series.

“Take some more tea,” the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly.
“I’ve had nothing yet,” Alice replied in an offended tone, “so I can’t take more.”
“You mean you can’t take less,” said the Hatter. “It’s very easy to take more than nothing.”

• Read & Grow •

DEATH ON THE NIGHT OF LOST LIZZARDS | Tea | Chocolate chip pecan cookies

The third book in this charming series finds Hana busy at her family’s tea house during the bustling Christmas season, but it’s not all comfort and joy. Hana’s psychic gifts turn out to be useful when a Hungarian professor and artifact collector is murdered. With Maggie’s Tea House hosting Prof. Balog’s memorial, Hana and Erik are able to discover many possible suspects with reasons to resent the deceased man, but who among them was angry enough to kill?

DEATH ON THE NIGHT OF LOST LIZARDS was beautifully written with descriptions of snow, Christmas traditions, familial bonds, and amazing Hungarian antiques. What a lovely magical atmosphere for this puzzling mystery.

“I do wish I hadn’t drunk quite so much!” — Alice

Thanks so much for stopping by my book club tea party. I hope I sparked your interest in this delightful cozy series. Please hop over to Vanessa at A Fanciful Twist to check out her beautiful post and find links to the other partiers.

Disclosure: I received a copy of the first two books in this series from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for honest reviews.