A SPELL FOR TROUBLE by Esme Addison


Series: An Enchanted Bay Mystery, #1
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Release Date: May 12, 2020
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★½


Aleksandra Daniels hasn’t set foot in the quiet seaside town of Bellamy Bay, North Carolina in over twenty years. Ever since her mother’s tragic death, her father has mysteriously forbidden her from visiting her aunt and cousins. But on a whim, Alex accepts an invitation to visit her estranged relatives and to help them in their family business: an herbal apothecary known for its remarkably potent teas, salves, and folk remedies.

Bellamy Bay doesn’t look like trouble, but this is a town that harbors dark secrets. Alex discovers that her own family is at the center of salacious town gossip, and that they are rumored to be magical healers descended from mermaids. She brushes this off as nonsense until a local is poisoned and her aunt Lidia is arrested for the crime. Alex is certain Lidia is being framed, and she resolves to find out why.

Alex’s investigation unearths stories that some have gone to desperate lengths to conceal: forbidden affairs, family rivalries, and the truth about Alex’s own ancestry. And when the case turns deadly, Alex learns that not only are these secrets worth hiding, but they may even be worth killing for.


A SPELL FOR TROUBLE kicks off the new Enchanted Bay Mystery series featuring former risk assessor, Alex Daniels. After some trouble at her New York office, Alex accepts an offer to visit her Bellamy Bay relatives whom she hasn’t seen in many years. There is much she didn’t know about her long lost aunt and cousins and their enchanted apothecary shop, and all the family secrets start bubbling to the top when Aunt Lidia is arrested for murder.

I have mixed feelings about this book. The good: I loved the charming setting of Bellamy Bay and the Polish folklore that was woven into Alex’s family history. The world-building set a solid foundation for the series going forward. What I struggled with: Alex did some silly things that put the case and herself in jeopardy, especially since she has a career in risk management. I also thought the mystery itself wasn’t that interesting once the “whys” starting being revealed. However there was a nifty twist regarding the culprit that I enjoyed.

With its magical roots I’m looking forward to seeing where this series goes in future books.

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

THE BODIES IN THE LIBRARY by Marty Wingate {Review}


Series: First Edition Library Mystery, #1
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: October 8, 2019
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★½


Hayley Burke’s fresh start as the curator of The First Edition Society’s library in Bath, England, is about to take a rotten turn in this charming new mystery series from USA Today bestselling author Marty Wingate.

Hayley Burke has landed a dream job. She is the new curator of Lady Georgiana Fowling’s First Edition library. The library is kept at Middlebank House, a lovely Georgian home in Bath, England. Hayley lives on the premises and works with the finicky Glynis Woolgar, Lady Fowling’s former secretary.

Mrs. Woolgar does not like Hayley’s ideas to modernize The First Edition Society and bring in fresh blood. And she is not even aware of the fact that Hayley does not know the first thing about the Golden Age of Mysteries. Hayley is faking it till she makes it, and one of her plans to breathe new life into the Society is actually taking flight–an Agatha Christie fan fiction writers group is paying dues to meet up at Middlebank House.

But when one of the group is found dead in the venerable stacks of the library, Hayley has to catch the killer to save the Society and her new job.


Hayley Burke is the new curator of The First Edition Society, a library dedicated to first editions from the Golden Age of Mysteries. How she got the job, I’m not sure, because she’s never read a mystery, which made me laugh. It’s a sweet position she doesn’t want to lose, but when a member of an Agatha Christie fanfic group is murdered at the library, Hayley’s future there is threatened — she allowed them in, after all.

I loved the setting of Bath, England, and the gorgeous Georgian home that housed the precious books. The murder mystery is definitely Christie-inspired, with many quirky suspects. With her job at stake, as well as the survival of the society itself, I can understand why Hayley would want to launch her own investigation, or at least give the police a gently nudge here and there. I can’t resist a cozy mystery revolving around books, and this one was a quick, fun read. Now I need to catch up on my Christie.

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

Quick Thoughts: THE LYING GAME by Ruth Ware


Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Release Date: July 25, 2017
Source: Review copy from Edelweiss
Rating: ★★★½


On a cool June morning, a woman is walking her dog in the idyllic coastal village of Salten along a tidal estuary known as the Reach. Before she can stop him, the dog charges into the water to retrieve what first appears to be a wayward stick, but to her horror, turns out to be something much more sinister…

The next morning, three women in and around London—Fatima, Thea, and Isabel—receive the text they had always hoped would NEVER come, from the fourth in their formerly inseparable clique, Kate, that says only, “I need you.”

The four girls were best friends at Salten, a second rate boarding school set near the cliffs of the English Channel. Each different in their own way, the four became inseparable and were notorious for playing the Lying Game, telling lies at every turn to both fellow boarders and faculty, with varying states of serious and flippant nature that were disturbing enough to ensure that everyone steered clear of them. The myriad and complicated rules of the game are strict: no lying to each other—ever. Bail on the lie when it becomes clear it is about to be found out. But their little game had consequences, and the girls were all expelled in their final year of school under mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of the school’s eccentric art teacher, Ambrose (who also happens to be Kate’s father).

Atmospheric, twisty, and with just the right amount of chill that will keep you wrong-footed—which has now become Ruth Ware’s signature style—The Lying Game is sure to be her next big bestseller. Another unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.


THE LYING GAME is told from the perspective of Isa Wilde, a 30-something Londoner and mother of a baby girl. Isa befriended Kate, Fatima, and Thea as a teen when they attended Salten House, a boarding school in a small coastal English town. The foursome had a “lying game” they liked to play, which of course earned them the reputation of being cruel liars. After tragedy strikes and they’re faced with a scandal at school, the girls leave Salten House and go separate ways, but the stress of what happened there will continue to haunt them. Fast forward 17 years, and the four women must return to Salten to face the lies of their past.

I have mixed feelings about this book. Ruth Ware is one of my favorite authors, but I don’t think this book had the best build up of tension. Lots of drama though! I was very curious about the mystery that the women were hiding, but I felt like the plot was a bit too slow moving. I think I would have preferred hearing other characters’ POVs instead of just staying in Isa’s head. I did love the creepy atmosphere of the setting. Kate’s home is a tumbledown mill right on the water. A solid mystery, though I was hoping for more suspense, less drama.

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

THE SUMMER GUESTS by Mary Alice Monroe {Review}


Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: June 11, 2019
Source: Review copy from Edelweiss
Rating: ★★★½


From the New York Times bestselling author of the Beach House series comes a heartwarming and evocative novel about the bonds and new beginnings that are born from natural disasters and how, even during the worst of circumstances—or perhaps because of them—we discover what is most important in life.

Late August is a beautiful time on the Southern coast—the peach trees are ripe, the ocean is warm, and the sweet tea is icy. A perfect time to enjoy the rocking chairs on the porch. But beneath the calm surface bubbles a threat: it’s also peak hurricane season.

When a hurricane threatens the coasts of Florida and South Carolina, an eclectic group of evacuees flees for the farm of their friends Grace and Charles Phillips in North Carolina: the Phillips’s daughter Moira and her rescue dogs, famed equestrian Javier Angel de la Cruz, makeup artist Hannah McLain, horse breeder Gerda Klug and her daughter Elise, and island resident Cara Rutledge. They bring with them only the few treasured possessions they can fit in their vehicles. Strangers to all but the Phillips, they must ride out the storm together.

During the course of one of the most challenging weeks of their lives, relationships are put to the test as the evacuees are forced to confront the unresolved issues they have with themselves and with each other. But as the storm passes, they realize that what really matters isn’t what they brought with them to the mountains. Rather, it’s what they’ll take with them once they leave.

With Mary Alice Monroe’s “usual resplendent storytelling” (Patti Callahan Henry, New York Times bestselling author), The Summer Guests is a poignant and compelling story of self-discovery, love, and redemption.


THE SUMMER GUESTS is the first book I’ve read by Mary Alice Monroe. I know she’s well known for her Beach House series, but I wanted to jump in with a summery standalone novel.

As a Category 5 hurricane is barreling toward the coast of Florida and South Carolina, a mix of different people from the equestrian community, as well as their horses and several rescue dogs, evacuate to the safely of Grace and Charles Phillips’ farm in North Carolina. As they ride out the storm together, each faces personal and interpersonal conflicts that must be resolved for them to move forward.

I enjoyed how the cast of characters represented a range of age groups, from the early 30s to 60s. The characters were strong, though some of their stories felt rushed given the large number of them. The details of horses, horse riding, and the equestrian community were well researched. Maybe a bit too horse-heavy for me, though someone into that scene would appreciate it more.

I adored the descriptions of Grace and Charles’ Freehold Farm, set in the gorgeous mountains of North Carolina. It was the perfect, magical place to take shelter from an impending storm. The amazing location was probably my favorite character. THE SUMMER GUESTS is a lovely warm-weather read, though I wish the focus had been on a couple of main characters versus having to keep track of so many.

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


About MARY ALICE MONROE:

Mary Alice Monroe is the New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty books, including the Beach House series: The Beach House, Beach House Memories, Swimming Lessons, Beach House for Rent, and Beach House Reunion. She is a 2018 Inductee into the South Carolina Academy of Authors’ Hall of Fame, and her books have received numerous awards, including the 2008 South Carolina Center for the Book Award for Writing, the 2014 South Carolina Award for Literary Excellence, the 2015 SW Florida Author of Distinction Award, the RT Lifetime Achievement Award, the International Book Award for Green Fiction, and the 2017 Southern Book Prize for Fiction. Her bestselling novel The Beach House is also a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. An active conservationist, she lives in the lowcountry of South Carolina. Visit her at MaryAliceMonroe.com and at Facebook.com/MaryAliceMonroe.

SNIPER’S PRIDE by Megan Crane {Review}


Series: Alaska Force, #2
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: May 7, 2019
Source: Penguin’s First to Read Program
Rating: ★★★½


Return to Alaska’s Grizzly Harbor where danger strikes with arctic precision and love thaws the coldest hearts in the newest romantic suspense from the USA Today bestselling author of SEAL’s Honor.

After Mariah McKenna lands in the hospital with a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction she knows she didn’t cause, she realizes her cheating, vindictive husband would rather have a dead wife than a divorce. Afraid that he will succeed in killing her next time, Mariah goes to Grizzly Harbor to hire one of the Alaska Force special operatives to help her survive long enough to finally live a little.

Griffin Cisneros traded in a comfortable future for boot camp, where he learned the virtue of patience and focus—skills that served him well as a Marine sniper. Few things get to him these days, but something about Mariah’s mix of toughness and vulnerability gets right under his skin. Until it’s clear she’s the one thing in the world that might melt the ice in stoic, reserved Griffin, whether he likes it or not.

If he can just keep her alive…


SNIPER’S PRIDE is the second installment in the Alaska Force series, based around a group of former military men who are now special operatives helping people in need. I love books (especially romances) that are set in Alaska, so I knew I had to grab this one.

Mariah is going through a very bitter divorce, and after a couple of attempts on her life, she heads to Grizzly Harbor, Alaska, and hires Alaska Force for protection and to figure out who’s out to get her. Mariah was a tough, courageous woman doing what it took to survive. She’s specifically assigned to Griffin, a former Marine sniper who sees himself more of a machine than man, hurt in the past and hardened by his military career.

I particularly enjoyed the mystery/suspense side of this book. Mariah’s predicament was so scary, and there were plenty of exciting and nail-biting moments. On the other hand, the romance between Mariah and Griffin was so-so. It took a long time to feel any chemistry between them, and Griffin’s stubborn dislike of her and thinking he’s not capable of a relationship with anyone was trying.

Overall, I liked my introduction to Alaska Force, and I was rooting for Mariah the whole way. I would love to take a peek at the rugged, chilly island that Grizzly Harbor sits on, somewhere on Alaska’s southern coast. Next up is SERGEANT’S CHRISTMAS SIEGE set to release in the fall, and I will definitely be picking that one up!

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