Murder at Mallowan Hall by Colleen Cambridge


Description

The first in an exciting new historical mystery series set in the home of Agatha Christie!

Colleen Cambridge’s charming and inventive new historical series introduces an unforgettable heroine in Phyllida Bright, fictional housekeeper for none other than famed mystery novelist Agatha Christie. When a dead body is found during a house party at the home of Agatha Christie and her husband Max Mallowan, it’s up to famous author’s head of household, Phyllida Bright, to investigate.

Tucked away among Devon’s rolling green hills, Mallowan Hall combines the best of English tradition with the modern conveniences of 1930. Housekeeper Phyllida Bright, as efficient as she is personable, manages the large household with an iron fist in her very elegant glove. In one respect, however, Mallowan Hall stands far apart from other picturesque country houses. It has a body in the library.

A former Army nurse, Phyllida reacts with practical common sense–and a great deal of curiosity. It soon becomes clear that the victim arrived at Mallowan Hall under false pretenses during a weekend party. Now, Phyllida not only has a houseful of demanding guests on her hands–along with a distracted, anxious staff–but hordes of reporters camping outside. When another dead body is discovered–this time, one of her housemaids–Phyllida decides to follow in M. Poirot’s footsteps to determine which of the Mallowans’ guests is the killer. With help from the village’s handsome physician, Dr. Bhatt, Mr. Dobble, the butler, along with other household staff, Phyllida assembles the clues. Yet, she is all too aware that the killer must still be close at hand and poised to strike again. And only Phyllida’s wits will prevent her own story from coming to an abrupt end.

Review

A body. In the library. At the home of Agatha Christie? What a way to start a new mystery series!

Colleen Cambridge joins the ranks of authors reimagining the roles of authors, family members, and sidekicks of famous detectives and introduces us to Phyllida Bright, housekeeper to Agatha and Max Mallowan. Mrs. Bright is every bit as smooth and clever as Marple & Poirot, although with a definite penchant for the Belgian detective. She and Mrs. Mallowan make a formidable team as they work to untangle the mystery surrounding the murder of the mysterious man in the library.

Cambridge includes other wonderful characters among the household staff who I hope will be fleshed out more in future books, especially the cook, butler, and chauffeur. She uses the English house party trope to great effect here, with the murder and investigation occurring over the course of the weekend, and the perpetrator revealed in a classic gather-them-all-together-and-reveal-the-murderer ending.

I anticipate great success for this series and predict that Phyllida Bright will soon be on the level with Mary Russell and Enola Holmes!

Recommended!

Publication Date: October 26, 2021
Published By: Kensington Books
Thanks to the Publisher and Netgalley for the review copies

Another Kind of Eden by James Lee Burke


Image of a cover of a novel: James Lee Burke Another Kind of Eden

Description*

New York Times bestselling author James Lee Burke brings readers a captivating tale of justice, love, brutality, and mysticism set in the turbulent 1960s.

The American West in the early 1960s appears to be a pastoral paradise: golden wheat fields, mist-filled canyons, frolicking animals. Aspiring novelist Aaron Holland Broussard has observed it from the open door of a boxcar, riding the rails for both inspiration and odd jobs.

Jumping off in Denver, he finds work on a farm and meets Joanne McDuffy, an articulate and fierce college student and gifted painter. Their soul connection is immediate, but their romance is complicated by Joanne’s involvement with a shady professor who is mixed up with a drug-addled cult. When a sinister businessman and his son who wield their influence through vicious cruelty set their sights on Aaron, drawing him into an investigation of grotesque murders, it is clear that this idyllic landscape harbors tremendous power—and evil. Followed by a mysterious shrouded figure who might not be human, Aaron will have to face down all these foes to save the life of the woman he loves and his own.

The latest installment in James Lee Burke’s masterful Holland family saga, Another Kind of Eden is both riveting and one of Burke’s most ambitious works to date. It dismantles the myths of both the twentieth-century American West and the peace-and-love decade, excavating the beauty and idealism of the era to show the menace and chaos that lay simmering just beneath the surface.

Review

I am an on-again-off-again James Lee Burke fan, so I put off cracking this one open. I’m sorry it took me so long! Burke has delivered a sort of wet hug of a story here that makes you feel increasingly uncomfortable as those arms tighten and tighten and tighten until you just have to break away, gasping and dripping wet.

Burke delivers his usual eloquent prose – skillful character development and taut descriptions enhance a twisted plot that climaxes in a weird and scary way. I’m still not sure if I would classify this as a mystery or horror novel – the librarians will have a hard time genrefying this one.

Recommended for those who like their stories deep and dark.

Publication Date: August 71, 2021
Published By: Simon & Schuster
Thanks to *Netgalley for the review copy

No Gods, No Monsters by Cadwell Turnbull


Image showing cover of book No Gods, No Monsters: a Novel by Cadwell Turnbull

Description*

The first book in The Convergence Saga, a new series from Cadwell Turnbull, the award-winning author of The Lesson

One October morning, Laina gets the news that her brother was shot and killed by Boston cops. But what looks like a case of police brutality soon reveals something much stranger. Monsters are real. And they want everyone to know it.

As creatures from myth and legend come out of the shadows, seeking safety through visibility, their emergence sets off a chain of seemingly unrelated events. Members of a local werewolf pack are threatened into silence. A professor follows a missing friend’s trail of bread crumbs to a mysterious secret society. And a young boy with unique abilities seeks refuge in a pro-monster organization with secrets of its own. Meanwhile, more people start disappearing, suicides and hate crimes increase, and protests erupt globally, both for and against the monsters.

At the center is a mystery no one thinks to ask: Why now? What has frightened the monsters out of the dark?

The world will soon find out.

Review

I am slowly beginning to enjoy more urban fantasy, and this one is only making me enjoy the genre even more. There are monsters here, for sure, and the author does a good job of conveying the fact that there are REAL monsters of the hairy, dripping-fang variety but also monsters that live within us. Which monsters are the worst would make for a great book club discussion.

The characters and action are both vividly drawn, sometimes moving so fast I had to go back and re-read passages just to make sure I caught it all! The ending appeared to set the stage for a sequel and maybe even a series. Urban fantasy fans will enjoy.

So much hype for this book!

*An Indie Next Pick

*Included in Forbes Magazine‘s 10 Most Anticipated Books of 2021 According to Independent Booksellers

*Included in Marie Claire‘s 35 Must-Read 2021 Book Releases by Black Authors

*One of Buzzfeed‘s 35 Amazing Fantasy Books Coming Out This Summer

*A GoodReads Most Anticipated SFF Novel of 2021

*Included in GoodReads’ roundup of The Year’s Most Anticipated Fiction by Black Authors

*A BookRiot Pick of 2021 Black LGBTQ Books To Preorder

*A Polygon Pick of Best New SFF Books to Read this Summer

*A Tor Pick of Most Anticipated SFF Books for the Rest of 2021

Recommended.

Publication Date: September 7, 2021
Published By: Blackstone Publishing
Thanks to *NetGalley for the review copy

Reader Profile – Taylor Ellis, the Secondhand Librarian

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My name is Taylor Ellis and I am a 27 year small business owner, living in Rochester, NY. I currently own a bookstore called The Secondhand Librarian that focuses on the intersection of accessibility and sustainability. All of the books I offer are either secondhand or donated, and are all priced at a reasonable cost so that reading is something anyone can have access to. I live in the Park Ave area with my husband Ryan, and our all Black cat, Miso. I moved here from the DMV area to be with my husband and although I’m not a Rochester native, I’ve quickly grown to call this place home.

Would you rather meet your favorite author or your favorite character?

I would rather meet my favorite character! Rhysand from A Court of Thorns and Roses.

What book changed your life, or changed how you view the world? In what
way?

Matilda by Ronald Dahl! It was hands down my favorite book as a child and made me feel so comforted. I felt very much like her and would often run to books for an escape from the world around me. To be clear, my life was very different from hers as I had two loving parents and a stable childhood however, I always felt like the odd one out and Matilda was my fictional best friend.

Who would be your fictional soulmate?

Casteel! He is from From Blood and Ash or Rhysand!

Are you a solitary reader or social reader?

I am the worst buddy reader! My book interests are also very diverse and sometimes I end up reading a NYT Bestseller and other times I end up reading fanfiction and I just couldn’t put anyone through that.

Fiction or nonfiction?

Fiction! Reading is an escape for me so I enjoy getting lost in another world!

Are you a “finisher” or do you stop reading a book if you’re not connecting with it?

I will stop if I’m not connecting with the book. I feel like there are so many good books out there with so little time so if I don’t like it, I simply move on!

What book should everyone read?

Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides. This was one of my favorite thrillers, hands down, and it was so well done because I had no idea that the plot twist was going to occur.

Is there a book you wish you never read?

I read a book called Baby Teeth and it was hands down the worst thing I read. I’m often generous with my book ratings but this book was very difficult for me to get through content wise. I don’t want to give much away but overall, it just felt like there was no reconciliation at the end and it just made me feel very letdown. Just a lot of trauma and no healing.

What book would you love to see made into a movie? Who would play the lead role?

A Curse So Dark And Lonely. It’s just a wonderful trilogy that I would love to see come to life. I imagine Harper would be played by Chloe Bailey who is also starring in the live action of The Little Mermaid. I think she would make a wonderful Harper.

Why do you read?

I read because I enjoy diving into worlds that don’t look like the one I am currently in. It’s a nice use of the imagination. It’s one of my favorite things to do.

Thanks to Taylor for sharing her thoughts on reading. If you are a Reader or an Author and are interested in having a profile or spotlight here, please contact me at patricia.uttaro (at) gmail.com.

Treasures of the Mexican Table by Pati Jinich


Description*

The “buoyant and brainy Mexican cooking authority” (New York Times) and star of the three-time James Beard Award-winning PBS series Pati’s Mexican Table brings together more than 150 iconic dishes that define the country’s cuisine.

Although many of us can rattle off our favorite authentic Mexican dishes, we might be hard pressed to name more than ten. Which is preposterous, given that Mexico has a rich culinary history stretching back thousands of years. For the last decade, Pati Jinich has sought out the culinary treasures of her home country, from birria, to salsa macha, to coyotas, to carne asada. 

Many of these dishes are local specialties, heirlooms passed down through generations, unknown outside of their original regions. Others have become national sensations. Each recipe is a classic. Each one comes with a story told in Pati’s warm, relatable style. And each has been tested in Pati’s American kitchen to ensure it is the best of its kind. Together, these essential recipes paint a vivid picture of the richness of Mexico

Review

It’s a rare cookbook that I recommend for LibraryReads, but Treasures of the Mexican Table is so charming, chatty, and informative that I had to do so.

Pati Jinich writes to you as though you are her best friend and she’s teaching you how to make Mole or Carne Asada or any one of the delicioso recipes in this comprehensive book. For the first time ever, I feel like I am beginning to understand the subtle but powerful differences among chiles. Jinich also clearly demonstrates and communicates the depths and differences in cooking throughout the Mexican states. Her stories, included with every recipe, add a delightful charm to this book, making it very readable as well as utilitarian.

Some of the recipes use ingredients that are not readily available in my little corner of the world, so some cooks may be disappointed, but Jinich often offers alternatives that will give a similar flavor. Many recipes are also somewhat complicated, making this a book for the experienced cook. The variety of recipes is outstanding, with some of the most intriguing being Grilled Oaxacan Air-Dried Beef, Carne Con Chile, Wedding Stew (Asado De Boda), and Mole Poblano with Chicken (which has a whopping 26 ingredients just for the Mole sauce) which looks and sounds amazing.

If you watch Jinich on PBS, you will hear her voice in your head as you read. She wraps you in her enthusiasm and joy in her cooking and sharing her Mexican heritage with the world.

Highly recommended.

Publication Date: November 2, 2021
Published By: Mariner Books
Thanks to *Netgalley for the review copy

Halloween Moon by Joseph Fink


Description*

From New York Times bestselling adult author Joseph Fink comes a wickedly fun middle grade novel about a Halloween-obsessed girl named Esther Gold, who goes out trick-or-treating for one last year, only to find her town under the thrall of a mysterious presence.

Esther Gold loves Halloween more than anything in the world. So she is determined to go trick-or-treating again this year despite the fact that her parents think she is officially too old. Esther has it all planned out, from her costume to her candy-collecting strategy. But when the night rolls around, something feels . . . off.

No one is answering their door. The moon is an unnatural shade of orange. Strange children wander the streets, wearing creepy costumes that might not be costumes at all. And it seems like the only people besides Esther who are awake to see it all are her best friend, her school bully, and her grown-up next-door neighbor.

Together, this unlikely crew must find a way to lift the curse that has been placed upon their small town before it’s too late. Because someone is out to make sure Halloween never comes to an end. And even Esther doesn’t want to be trapped in this night forever.

Review

I am a Halloween Girl. It’s always been my favorite holiday, and Halloween-themed and spooky stories some of my favorites. When I read the description of Halloween Moon, I thought it sounded vaguely like a 21st century version of the Ray Bradbury classic The Halloween Tree, so I thought I’d give it a read. All I have to say is WOW!

The Halloween Moon is one of the most entertaining and visceral (n a good way) books I’ve read in a long time. The basic story is one so many American children have experienced – how old is too old to go trick-or-treating. Fink has taken that coming-of-age decision and turned it on its head, layering on all the things 13-year-olds grapple with – fear of change, new friendships, new loves, aging parents, and a wily, unpredictable, ever-changing future.

This is storytelling at its best, with a relentless, brave protagonist, her band of three sturdy friends, an evil, snarky antagonist, and a quest, all rolled into a delicious Southern California setting during the best time of the year.

But, here’s the thing. I absolutely loved this story. I am a 58 year old, Halloween-loving librarian who felt all the feels about growing older and experiencing change that are included here. Will a real 21st century 13-year-old feel the same way? I’m just not sure, but I really hope so!

Publication Date: July 27, 2021
Published By: Quill Tree Books
Thanks to *Netgalley for the review copy

In the Crypt with a Candlestick: a Mystery by Daisy Waugh


Description

A wonderfully comedic mystery full of sharp drama, sly wit—and a smidgeon of murder—in the vein P. G. Wodehouse, Julian Fellowes, and Agatha Christie.

Sir Ecgbert Tode of Tode Hall has survived to a grand old age—much to the despair of his younger wife, Emma. But at age ninety-three he has, at last, shuffled off the mortal coil.

Lady Emma Tode, thoroughly fed up with being a dutiful Lady of the Manor, wants to leave the country to spend her remaining years in Capri. Unfortunately her three tiresome children are either unwilling or unable (too mad, too lefty or too happy in Australia) to take on management of their large and important home, so the mantle passes to a distant relative and his glamorous wife.

Not long after the new owners take over, Lady Tode is found dead in the mausoleum. Accident? Or is there more going on behind the scenes of Tode Hall than an outsider would ever guess?

In the traditions of two great but very different British authors, Agatha Christie and P. G. Wodehouse, Waugh’s hilarious and entirely original twist on the country house murder mystery comes complete with stiff upper lips, even stiffer drinks, and any stiffs that might embarrass the family getting smartly brushed under the carpet.

Review

Loved, loved, LOVED this madcap romp through the “most beautiful home in England!”

Cozy mysteries often take themselves a little too seriously, and here the author pokes fun at the English County House version of the genre.

The characters, especially India, are just pure fun, and the way the bad guy is caught had me alternately gasping and cackling.

Nicely done!

Published By: Pegasus Books
Publication Date: October 5, 2021
Thanks to Edelweiss.Plus for the review copy

Be My Ghost by Carol J. Perry


Description

Maureen Doherty and her golden retriever Finn have taken possession of a charming old inn—only to discover that it’s already possessed by tenants whose lease on life already ran out. Maureen’s career as a sportswear buyer hits a snag just before Halloween, when the department store declares bankruptcy. Meanwhile, Finn’s lost his way as a guide dog after flunking his test for being too friendly and easily distracted. Sadly, only one of them can earn unemployment, so Maureen’s facing a winter of discontent in Boston–when she realizes she can’t afford her apartment.

Salvation comes when she receives a mysterious inheritance: an inn in Haven, Florida. A quaint, scenic town on the Gulf of Mexico hidden away from the theme parks, Maureen believes it’s a good place to make a fresh start with a new business venture. But she gets more than she bargained for when she finds a dead body on her property–and meets some of the inn’s everlasting tenants in the form of ghosts who offer their otherworldly talents in order to help her solve the mystery.

I discovered Carol Perry’s Witch City series last year and really enjoyed her style of writing. That style is carried over into this new series featuring a former department store buyer who suddenly finds herself the owner of a vintage inn located in Haven, Florida.

Witch City focuses on, you guessed it, witches. This new series is all about ghosts. The inn our heroine Maureen inherits is haunted you see, as is the entire town of Haven. Perry spins an engaging yarn involving ghost hunters, a pissed off inn manager, a mysterious bequest to our intrepid heroine, and at least one fun ghost haunting Maureen’s penthouse suite.

While this isn’t anything new in terms of cozy mysteries, Perry successfully begins building the foundation of what I hope will become a lengthy series featuring Maureen Doherty, her golden retriever Finn, and a host of quirky, colorful characters inhabiting the picturesque town of Haven, Florida. Some cozies are super ridiculous with just about every genre cliche thrown in for good measure; others take themselves too seriously, resulting in a boring story. Be My Ghost is just right – great characters, great writing, great setting. A winner all the way.

Publication Date: August 31, 2021
Published By: Kensington
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

The Undertakers by Nicole Glover


Description

Nicole Glover delivers the second book in her exciting Murder & Magic series of historical fantasy novels featuring Hetty Rhodes and her husband, Benjy, magic practitioners and detectives living in post–Civil War Philadelphia.

Nothing bothers Hetty and Benjy Rhodes more than a case where the answers, motives, and the murder itself feel a bit too neat. Raimond Duval, a victim of one of the many fires that have erupted recently in Philadelphia, is officially declared dead after the accident, but Hetty and Benjy’s investigation points to a powerful Fire Company known to let homes in the Black community burn to the ground. Before long, another death breathes new life into the Duval investigation: Raimond’s son, Valentine, is also found dead.

Finding themselves with the dubious honor of taking on Valentine Duval as their first major funeral, it becomes clear that his passing was intentional. Valentine and his father’s deaths are connected, and the recent fires plaguing the city might be more linked to recent community events than Hetty and Benji originally thought.

The Undertakers continues the adventures of murder and magic, where even the most powerful enchantments can’t always protect you from the ghosts of the past . . .

Review

Nicole Glover’s series debut, The Conductors, is one of the most fascinating and unique stories I’ve read in a long time, and the stars of the series, Benjamin and Henrietta Rhodes, are two of the most engaging characters put to page. Glover’s second in the series, The Undertakers, drops the reader back into the Rhodes’ Philadelphia just a few months after the conclusion of The Conductors.

Ben and Hetty are trying to get their funeral home business off the ground when a new mystery is dropped in their laps. Mysterious fires and the even more mysterious deaths of a prominent businessman and his son set Hetty and Ben on a new case. An old enemy from the past re-surfaces and raises complicated feelings and memories for Hetty, who manages to tie them all back up into a neat conclusion.

Glover does a remarkable job of interweaving stories and experiences from the past into the current lives of the Rhodes and their circle of friends. She also introduces the reader to bits of African-American history that add a depth and dimension to the plot. Here, I was prompted to research the role of early fire companies in Philadelphia and other early American cities. Fire departments today are noble organizations committed to public safety, but they weren’t always so egalitarian. Glover uses that history to depict a slice of African-American life, post-enslavement.

The magical aspect of this story continues to engage me. Celestial magic versus sorcery is such an unusual view of how different cultures approach magic. Glover creates an intricate and deep relationship between African-Americans and the elements of earth, air, fire, and water and spins that into a captivating narrative sure to appeal to fans of fantasy and magic.

If you haven’t read The Conductors, go do that between now and November when this one comes out. I am definitely looking forward to the next installment in this series!

Published by: Mariner Books
Publication Date: November 9, 2021
Thanks to Edelweiss.Plus for the review copy

Silence in the Library by Katharine Schellman

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On Tour July 12 – August 6!

Regency widow Lily Adler didn’t expect to find a corpse when visiting a family friend. Now it’s up to her to discover the killer in the charming second installment in the Lily Adler mysteries.

Regency widow Lily Adler has finally settled into her new London life when her semi-estranged father arrives unexpectedly, intending to stay with her while he recovers from an illness. Hounded by his disapproval, Lily is drawn into spending time with Lady Wyatt, the new wife of an old family friend. Lily barely knows Lady Wyatt. But she and her husband, Sir Charles, seem as happy as any newly married couple until the morning Lily arrives to find the house in an uproar and Sir Charles dead.

All signs indicate that he tripped and struck his head late at night. But when Bow Street constable Simon Page is called to the scene, he suspects foul play. And it isn’t long before Lily stumbles on evidence that Sir Charles was, indeed, murdered.

Mr. Page was there when Lily caught her first murderer, and he trusts her insight into the world of London’s upper class. With the help of Captain Jack Hartley, they piece together the reasons that Sir Charles’s family might have wanted him dead. But anyone who might have profited from the old man’s death seems to have an alibi… until Lily receives a mysterious summons to speak with one of the Wyatts’ maids, only to find the young woman dead when she arrives.

Mr. Page believes the surviving family members are hiding the key to the death of both Sir Charles and the maid. To uncover the truth, Lily must convince the father who doesn’t trust or respect her to help catch his friend’s killer before anyone else in the Wyatt household dies.

Review

This witty mystery set in the 19th century features a strong female protagonist who defies convention of the times in how she lives, works, and plays. We first meet her as she graciously accepts the obviously unwanted presence of her father in her home. The condescension and outright disrespect he shows her reinforced for me that the “good old days” were definitely not that good for women.

The plot is well-crafted, the dialog clever and skillfully written, and the sense of place remarkable. The author takes time to develop Lily’s relationships and responses to the people and situations she encounters, which helps the reader become part of the story.

All the boxes are ticked here for a rollicking good mystery. Fans of Deanna Raybourn, Carole Nelson Douglas and Tasha Alexander will enjoy this series, and vice versa.

Praise for Silence in the Library:

“Schellman’s gracefully written whodunit is equally a tale of 19th-century female empowerment and societal conventions…More than a clever murder puzzle, this is an immersion in a bygone era.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“The fast-paced, engrossing story has a climactic confrontation worthy of Rex Stout or Agatha Christie.”
Library Journal, starred review

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Mystery
Published by: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: July 13th 2021
Number of Pages: 352
ISBN: 1643857045 (ISBN13: 9781643857046)
Series: Lily Adler Mystery #2 | The Lily Adler series are stand alone mysteries but even more fabulous if read in sequence
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Katharine Schellman

Katharine Schellman is a former actor, one-time political consultant, and currently the author of the Lily Adler Mysteries. A graduate of the College of William & Mary, Katharine currently lives and writes in the mountains of Virginia in the company of her family and the many houseplants she keeps accidentally murdering. 

Find her online:
katharineschellman.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @KatharineSchellman
Instagram – @katharinewrites
Twitter – @katharinewrites
Facebook – @katharineschellman