YULE BE DEAD by Lorraine Bartlett with Gayle Leeson {Christmas Cozy Mystery Review}


Series: Victoria Square, #5
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: November 27, 2018
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★¾


A Christmas crime shocks the merchants of a quaint shopping district in this latest installment of The New York Times bestselling Victoria Square series.

It’s Christmastime, but not everyone is jolly–especially not Vonne Barnett. Her dead body has been found in Victoria Square. Katie Bonner, the manager of Artisan’s Alley, happens to be at the tea shop Vonne’s mother, Francine, owns when the news is delivered.

Vonne left a trail of men behind her so the suspects are many–but the clues are few. A broken teacup leads Katie to one of the suspects, but before she can investigate, she’s attacked. Katie may be closing in on a murderer, but time is ticking because the murderer is definitely closing in on her.


Yule be dead — is that a great Christmas cozy mystery title, or what? This is the fifth book in the Victoria Square series, with Katie Bonner and her Artisan’s Alley merchants gearing up for the busy holiday season. Things get even more hectic when the tea shop owner’s daughter is murdered, and the questions Katie starts asking put her in hot water.

I’ve read one previous book from this series, so it was a delight to reunite with these characters. YULE BE DEAD is part mystery and part Victoria Square saga. Katie has so much going on in her life. She’s managing her business, entertaining her visiting mother-in-law (mother of her late husband), dealing with two romantic interests, and eyeing the tea shop that’s now for sale. While I enjoyed reading about all of those elements, I felt that the murder mystery got somewhat lost in the shuffle, and Katie’s investigation didn’t actually lead to the killer’s identity.

While I was hoping for a stronger mystery, I still greatly enjoyed this book. The characters and their relationships are real and complex, and I’m also looking forward to seeing where Katie’s new venture takes her.

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

THE ELIZAS by Sara Shepard {Review}


Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: April 17, 2018
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★¾


New York Times bestselling author of Pretty Little Liars Sara Shepard makes her mark on adult fiction with this Hitchcockian double narrative composed of lies, false memories, and a protagonist who must uncover the truth for survival.

When debut novelist Eliza Fontaine is found at the bottom of a hotel pool, her family at first assumes that it’s just another failed suicide attempt. But Eliza swears she was pushed, and her rescuer is the only witness.

Desperate to find out who attacked her, Eliza takes it upon herself to investigate. But as the publication date for her novel draws closer, Eliza finds more questions than answers. Like why are her editor, agent, and family mixing up events from her novel with events from her life? Her novel is completely fictional, isn’t it?

The deeper Eliza goes into her investigation while struggling with memory loss, the closer her life starts to resemble her novel, until the line between reality and fiction starts to blur and she can no longer tell where her protagonist’s life ends and hers begins.

Fans of Pretty Little Liars, S.J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep, and Ruth Ware’s The Woman in Cabin 10 will be drawn to the drama of feeling like no one is on your side, the high tension of not knowing who you can trust, the hair-raising truths hidden among lies, and a faceless, nameless presence controlling Eliza’s life from the shadows.


THE ELIZAS is a dual narrative featuring Eliza, a young author who’s about to have her first novel published, and Dot, the main character in her book. Eliza is a troubled individual, both her past and present self. I found her irritating at times, but I understood her current paranoia. When she’s pulled from the bottom of a swimming pool yet again, her family is convinced it’s another suicide attempt, but Eliza thinks she was pushed in. Whose story is to be believed?

And then there’s Dot. This is a book within a book, as chapters from Eliza’s novel THE DOTS alternate with her own. I enjoyed this set up quite a bit, because it added to the overall madness of the situation. After a while it was hard to tell who was real and who was the character. Though some parts were a bit far-fetched, it was still a fun and strange read, especially if you love unreliable narrators.

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

THE SIXTH VICTIM by Tessa Harris (Audiobook)


Publisher: Kensington/Blackstone Audio
Release Date: May 30, 2017
Source: Review copies from the publisher
Rating: ★★★¾


London’s East End, 1888. When darkness falls, terror begins.

The foggy streets of London’s Whitechapel district have become a nocturnal hunting ground for Jack the Ripper, and no woman is safe. Flower girl Constance Piper is not immune to dread, but she is more preoccupied with her own strange experiences of late.

Clairvoyants seem to be everywhere these days. In desperation, even Scotland Yard has turned to them to help apprehend the Ripper. Her mother has found comfort in contacting her late father in a séance. But are such powers real? And could Constance really be possessed of second sight? She longs for the wise counsel of her mentor and champion of the poor, Emily Tindall, but the kind missionary has gone missing.

Following the latest grisly discovery, Constance is contacted by a high-born lady of means who fears the victim may be her missing sister. She implores Constance to use her clairvoyance to help solve the crime, which the press is calling “the Whitechapel Mystery”, attributing the murder to the Ripper.

As Constance becomes embroiled in intrigue far more sinister than she could have imagined, assistance comes in a startling manner that profoundly challenges her assumptions about the nature of reality. She’ll need all the help she can get – because there may be more than one depraved killer out there.


A poor flower girl named Constance with the gift of clairvoyance is searching for her missing teacher on the streets of Jack the Ripper’s London in Tessa Harris’ historical mystery THE SIXTH VICTIM. At the same time, an upper crust lady enlists Constance’s help in finding her missing sister, fearing she may be the sixth victim of the deranged murderer.

This was an audio/eBook combo read for me. I enjoy Victorian mysteries, and this was a good one, definitely pulls readers into the dark and grizzly happenings of the time. Confusing at first, the book took me a few chapters before I felt comfortable with the characters and story, though overall I liked it. Constance is an intriguing and sympathetic character, and the perfect heroine for this new series.

The audiobook was performed by two narrators, Fiona Hardingham and Gemma Dawson. Their accents and inflections for the many characters helped make this an entertaining story. Eerie and gruesome!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley (eBook) and the publisher (audiobook) in exchange for an honest review.