Thoughts on Books (#17): The Raven’s Tale / The Hunting Party / Murder on Cape Cod


The Raven's Tale
The Raven’s Tale by Cat Winters
My rating: 3.75 of 5 stars

THE RAVEN’S TALE is a fictionalized account of 17-year old Edgar Allan Poe and his turbulent relationship with Lenore, his muse. In this world, muses are real, physical beings, and they’re considered corrupt and dangerous by polite society. Lenore comes to Edgar at a particularly vulnerable time in his life, at odds with his foster father and leaving for university. Edgar’s passion for poetry and dreams of making a living as a writer are in sharp contrast to the wishes of his practical and cruel foster father. Will Lenore save Edgar’s creative spark, or will she be snuffed out forever(more)?

I enjoyed that this book imagined what a teenage Poe would have been like, and how his “muse” buried the seeds in his mind for many of his greatest works. The plot struggled in parts, moving slowly especially during his time at university, though the writing was lovely and atmospheric. I was also hoping for more explanation of what the muses actually were. Living spirits, maybe? As a fan of Poe, there was much to appreciate in this well-researched novel. Borrowed from the library.


The Hunting Party
The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A group of friends meet at a remote lodge in the Scottish Highlands to celebrate New Year’s Eve. One of them ends up dead, and another is the murderer. But who’s dead, and whodunit? The story flips back and forth between characters and before and after the murder, until the truth is slowly revealed.

I loved the premise of this book, however I struggled to stay engaged. There were many POVs presented, and their voices were so similar it was hard to keep track. The whole group of them gave off a snobby, shallow vibe, so it was hard to care what happened to them. Their drama dragged on too long. I suppose my two favorite characters were the lodge employees, Heather and Doug. They were easier to sympathize with.

While not for me, THE HUNTING PARTY has gotten a lot of great buzz. Please check out the other reviews! Borrowed from the library.


Murder on Cape Cod (Cozy Capers Book Group Mystery #1)
Murder on Cape Cod by Maddie Day
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Westham, Massachusetts, is a delightful tourist town on Cape Cod, and home to bike shop owner Macenzie “Mac” Almeida. After book club one foggy evening, Mac stumbles across a dead body very near her home. Unfortunately evidence found at the scene makes her brother a prime suspect. The pressure is on Mac to clear her brother’s name without interfering in the official investigation.

I enjoyed this first book in the Cozy Capers Book Group Mystery. The Cape Cod setting was lovely, and the wonderful descriptions made me want to visit. Mac was a relatable, no nonsense protagonist, and I loved that she lived in a cozy tiny home! The murder mystery was not an easy one to figure out. Mac’s book group didn’t play a big role in solving the murder, but I felt like we got a solid introduction to all the members. I’m looking forward to the next Cozy Capers mystery! Purchased from Barnes & Noble.


⭐ FIND ME: INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | GOODREADS | BLOGLOVIN ⭐

Thoughts on Books (#16): Northern Encounter / Edgar Allan Poe: The Complete Short Stories / A Discovery of Witches


Northern Encounter
Northern Encounter by Jennifer LaBrecque
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I needed an uplifting change of pace from my usual dark suspense/thriller reads, and NORTHERN ENCOUNTER fit the bill perfectly. A romance set in Alaska is the perfect escape. I’ll probably never get there, so reading about it is the next best thing.

Clint is a Native Alaskan and wilderness guide who’s hired by Tessa, a videographer from Arizona. She’s come to the town of Good Riddance to film the magnificent landscape for her latest project. They feel an attraction to each other, though both have reasons for not wanting a relationship. The characters were strong, and their conflicts were realistic. Of course, I absolutely loved the small town Alaska setting. The secondary characters were likable and interesting too. Looking forward to reading the rest of the series!


The Complete Short Stories
The Complete Short Stories by Edgar Allan Poe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A motley collection of short stories from Poe (the complete collection!) – horror, suspense, comedy, detective, general life observations, even science fiction. At times the stories are too wordy, but Poe always entertains with his grand imagination. I greatly enjoyed Bob Thomley’s narration of the audiobook. ♥


A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1)
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m finishing up this chunkster book today. I liked it, though maybe not as much as I thought I would. The world building was quite interesting, and I was impressed with the scientific and historical research. I’m very curious about the magical book Diana found, and why the various creatures want it.

On the flip side, the many descriptions of things — rowing, horseback riding, food, wine, hunting, etc — slowed the pace down. I liked witchy Diana, but never warmed up to Matthew. Does he get more likable in future books??

A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES has been sitting on my TBR shelf for 8 years (!!!), so I’m glad I finally read it. Will definitely continue the series at some point.


⭐ FIND ME: INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | GOODREADS | BLOGLOVIN ⭐

Thoughts on Books (#15): Turn of the Screw / The Peacock Summer / The Little Stranger / Her Pretty Face [Audiobooks]


The Turn of the Screw
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Another ambiguous ending in this gothic fiction classic…

When a governess is hired to care for two children at a British country estate, she begins to sense an otherworldly presence around the grounds. Are they really ghosts she’s seeing? Or is something far more sinister at work?

Has the governess succumbed to madness? (If so, why?) Or are there really malevolent spirits out to get her young charges? In the end, it’s up to the reader to decide. I understand why authors do this, but sometimes it feels like a cop-out. Are there ghosts or not??

The writing was beautiful and descriptive, and there was definitely a strong creepy vibe throughout the story. I listened to this on audiobook, and Emma Thompson’s performance was amazing. Very passionate and entertaining.


The Peacock Summer
The Peacock Summer by Hannah Richell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If she could reach back through the years and warn the person she once was, what would she say? What would she say to the ghosts who now inhabit her days? So many of those she has loved are now nothing but dust and memory.

I listened to this lovely and heartbreaking novel on audio last summer, narrated by Elisabeth Hopper. It was just the right blend of mystery, historical and Gothic fiction. Dark family secrets are hidden in the walls of Cloudesley. Can Lillian save granddaughter Maggie from her same fate? Wraps up with a bittersweet ending. Enjoyable ♥


The Little Stranger
The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
My rating: 3.75 of 5 stars

I’ve had THE LITTLE STRANGER on my wish list for years, so I decided to use an Audible credit and listen to it in October. The audio was narrated by Simon Vance, and I enjoyed his performance very much. I love his voice – first heard him when I listened to BRING UP THE BODIES (which was wonderful!).

THE LITTLE STRANGER is a slow-burn, atmospheric novel of suspense. I thought it was beautifully written, quite absorbing, and downright creepy at times. It was a story that I looked forward to jumping back into. That said, I also thought it was a bit too long and drawn out, and the ending doesn’t wrap up with a tidy bow.

Set in the late 1940s, this book centers around an English physician’s relationship with a down-on-its-luck aristocratic family and their crumbling ancestral home called Hundreds Hall. Odd things are happening in the house, and family members suspect the cause is a malicious supernatural presence, but the doctor is not easily convinced.

Like I mentioned before, there’s no neat and tidy ending where everything is explained, which is a bit frustrating. I drew my own conclusions from the evidence given, and I suppose I’ll have to be satisfied with that.


Her Pretty Face
Her Pretty Face by Robyn Harding
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Awkward Frances doesn’t fit in with the snobby moms of elite Forrester Academy, so she’s surprised when the beautiful and perfect Kate wants to be her friend. The two women become very close. However, neither one knows that the other is harboring a dark secret, and one of them is a murderer.

HER PRETTY FACE is very much a slow-burner; there’s not a big mystery to figure out or fast paced suspense. The story alternates between past and present, and between three characters’ points of view: Frances, Daisy (Kate’s teenage daughter), and DJ (the wild card). Can criminal sociopaths change, and if so, should they be forgiven after serving their sentences? Do they deserve anonymity, or does society have the right to know who and where they are?

The subject matter is dark and disturbing, and according to other reviewers, this book was inspired by true events. I was hoping for a stronger mystery element, though the identity of DJ revealed at the end threw me for a loop. I listened to this on audiobook, with performances by Rebekkah Ross, Cassandra Campbell, and Kirby Heyborne. I’m already a fan of Ross and Campbell, and all three voices fit well with their character.

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


⭐ FIND ME: INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | GOODREADS | BLOGLOVIN ⭐

Thoughts on Books (#14): The Last Woman in the Forest / Séances Are For Suckers / The Witch of Willow Hall / Cross Her Heart


The Last Woman in the Forest
The Last Woman in the Forest by Diane Les Becquets
My rating: 3.75 of 5 stars

Marian is a conservationist who works with rescue dogs in research projects, often in very remote and dangerous locations. After her boyfriend Tate is killed on assignment, she begins to suspect that he was responsible for the unsolved murders of four young women. Marian enlists the aid of a retired criminal profiler in hopes of putting her mind to rest.

The cold, desolate, and quiet natural setting of this book added an eerie sense of dread to the story. The writing was beautiful, and the ending was not what I expected. The story jumps around quite a bit, before and after Tate’s death, and also snippets from the victims leading up to their encounter with the murderer. There was a big focus on descriptions of the natural world and conservation projects which were enjoyable, though I would have liked the characters to have been fleshed out more. It was a bit slow moving for a mystery/suspense, but it held my attention and kept me guessing until the end.

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


Séances are for Suckers (Eleanor Wilde Mystery #1)
Séances are for Suckers by Tamara Berry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Eleanor (Ellie) Wilde doesn’t believe in the paranormal, but that doesn’t stop her from making a living as a medium. She doesn’t consider herself a fake, because she really can solve pesky ghost problems. The ghosts, however, are typically rats in the attic or rattling pipes — but her clients don’t need to know that.

Ellie is flown to England to the ancestral manor home of Nicholas Hartford III. His mother is convinced they’re being haunted by a spirit called Xavier, and Nicholas wants Ellie to put Xavier to rest. Before that happens though, Ellie stumbles across a dead body. Now she’s charged with solving the mystery of Xavier and that of the stranger’s corpse that disappeared in the blink of an eye.

I enjoyed this first book in the Eleanor Wilde Mystery series. Ellie was a great character — witty, astute, clever, and likable — even if she is a bit of a con-artist. There’s a touching side story with Ellie and her ailing sister, and you can see how much she cares about her family. SÉANCES ARE FOR SUCKERS is a charming cozy mystery mixed with romance and a touch of “real” paranormal, which I’m excited to see what happens next with that!

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


The Witch of Willow Hall
The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

THE WITCH OF WILLOW HALL is a wonderful throwback to those beloved vintage gothic romances. Set in 1821, the story follows the Montrose family as a scandal in Boston sends them retreating to the small town of New Oldbury. Their fresh start in the country is anything but peaceful, as a malevolent force seems to be plaguing their home, Willow Hall. Will middle daughter Lydia’s inheritance of a powerful family legacy be able to save them? Unfortunately, I was in a rush to finish this book and get it back to the library in time, so I didn’t get to savor it like I wanted to!! Still, I thought WILLOW HALL was an enjoyable witchy read and an impressive debut from Hester Fox. Just the right about of spooky goodness and sweet romance. Borrowed from the library.


Cross Her Heart
Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Unfortunately this book didn’t work for me. I found it slow and repetitive, and lacking any big surprises that made me want to keep reading. The twist at the end was so far-fetched, which sometimes can be entertaining (like in her previous book, Behind Her Eyes), but this time I was just shaking my head. I see lots of positive reviews for Cross Her Heart, so probably an “it’s me” situation here. Borrowed from the library.


⭐ FIND ME: INSTAGRAM | PINTEREST | GOODREADS | BLOGLOVIN ⭐

Thoughts on Books (#13): The Masterpiece / Flight Patterns


The Masterpiece
The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

THE MASTERPIECE is about two women, fifty years apart, whose parallel stories suddenly intersect at New York City’s historic Grand Central. It’s clearly well researched regarding what was happening at the train station in the late 1920s and early 1970s, on the verge of the Great Depression, and later, at risk of being demolished.

I have mixed feelings about this book. While I thought Clara’s story in the earlier time period was more interesting, I never quite warmed to Clara’s character (though I was sympathetic to her struggles). And while Virginia was likable and relatable, her story in 1974 wasn’t as gripping. The plot seemed to struggle to move forward at times, and I had trouble staying engaged. The twist at the end was a good one, though! I think readers with an interest in the 1920s art scene will enjoy this book.

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


Flight Patterns
Flight Patterns by Karen White
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Beekeeping, rare china patterns, and a decades-old mystery are the intriguing components woven into Karen White’s family drama, FLIGHT PATTERNS.

Georgia and her sister, Maisy, have been estranged for a decade, and Georgia promised never to return to their coastal home of Apalachicola, Florida, where their grandfather is a beekeeper. That changes when Georgia, an expert in vintage things, is asked by a client to identify an unusual pattern of china, one that she’s sure she saw before, on a lone piece hidden in her mother’s closet years ago.

Reluctantly Georgia heads home with her handsome and guarded client, James, to search for the elusive piece of china with the unusual bee pattern. Not surprisingly, her return to Apalachicola is met with a chilly reception. What was it that drove the two sisters apart, and what family secrets are tied to the missing china? How does it all tie in with James?

FLIGHT PATTERNS is a beautifully written and bittersweet story in Karen White’s classic writing style. She knows how to convey a sense of place. I could taste the honey, smell the ocean, and feel the humidity! Of course, the compelling characters are what truly draw you in. They can be flawed and frustrating at times, but that just makes them more realistic. I really enjoyed the multi-layered mystery and how all of the pieces fit together. Wonderful! A great book for summer reading and fans of Southern fiction.

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


“If you want things to change, you have to stop waiting for someone else to make the first move.” ― Karen White, Flight Patterns