R.I.P. XIII Reading Challenge

Happy Labor Day to my USA friends! Today I’m joining my favorite reading challenge, Readers Imbibing Peril, which is celebrating its 13th year!

This past month has been crazy busy with real life commitments, and I haven’t had much time for reading and blogging. Hopefully things will return to normal soon so I can get back to my books…

For this year’s challenge, I’m aiming for the PERIL IN THE FIRST level, reading four books that fall into one of these categories: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Dark Fantasy, Gothic, Horror, and Supernatural. (My favorites!!)

Sounds fun, right? I’ll be posting my progress on this post below, and also on Instagram, so please find me there too → Instagram: @bookofsecretsblog

R.I.P. XIII Books Read:

  1. THE EXES’ REVENGE by Jo Jakeman
  2. CROSS HER HEART by Sarah Pinborough
  3. THE LIES WE TOLD by Camilla Way
  4. A NOISE DOWNSTAIRS by Linwood Barclay
  5. LEAVE NO TRACE by Mindy Mejia
  6. THE LITTLE STRANGER by Sarah Waters
  7. THE WITCH AT WILLOW HALL by Hester Fox

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

THOUGHTS ON BOOKS (#11): What We Find / The Book of Lost and Found


What We Find (Sullivan's Crossing, #1)
What We Find by Robyn Carr
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

WHAT WE FIND is the beginning of another heart-warming small town saga from Robyn Carr. She’s my “most read” author, so yep, I enjoy her books very much.

This series is set in Colorado, at a place called Sullivan’s Crossing, located near the intersection of the Continental Divide trail & Colorado trail. How gorgeous would that place be? *sigh* Yet another Robyn Carr location I want to live in…

At Sullivan’s Crossing, there’s a campground and general store, and it’s all run by Sully, a cantankerous yet kindhearted guy who’s been there forever. It’s to Sullivan’s Crossing that Sully’s daughter, Maggie, returns, during a turbulent time of loss and great stress in her life. At the campground she encounters the very private Cal, someone else searching for calm and healing.

The easy pacing of this book was enjoyable, giving readers time to get to know the characters and the beautiful setting. Maggie is a strong and courageous woman, and if I was ever in trouble, I’d want her on my side. I was touched by Cal’s back story and was rooting for him to find happiness again.

I didn’t think the plot was particularly strong, though I know what the two main characters were headed for. Things had to be worked through. Closure first, then possibly a second chance at love? WHAT WE FIND is a solid start to the Sullivan’s Crossing series, and I’d recommend it to any fan of romantic women’s fiction. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


The Book of Lost and Found
The Book of Lost and Found by Lucy Foley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The cover of this book drew me in (American edition, 2015). That location is so gorgeous; I want to be there! Part of the book is set in Corsica, and the descriptions are amazing.

THE BOOK OF LOST AND FOUND is about a young woman’s quest to discover the story behind a portrait done 50 years ago, and one that her grandmother kept hidden for many years. The “present” (Kate’s story) was set in the 1980s, while the young artist’s love story was set in the 1930s. Who is the mysterious woman in the portrait who looks so much like Kate’s mother?

The premise of the book is completely my kind of story, though overall I wasn’t “wowed.” While the descriptions of time and place were beautiful, I thought that it was too wordy and slow. The relationships presented weren’t all that convincing.

This book covers many things – love lost, grief, separation, and family secrets. An OK read for me, just never truly hooked me. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

THOUGHTS ON BOOKS (#10): Something in the Water / The Dress Shop of Dreams


Something in the Water
Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman
My rating: 4.25 of 5 stars

This anxiety-inducing book was A LOT of fun to read. It’s gotten major buzz since it’s a Reese’s Book Club pick. There were 200 holds for it at my library, but I noticed ONE copy was available on the Limited Loan shelf at the branch across town. Of course, I’m there when they opened that morning to elbow my way to the top. I had to know what’s in the water!!

The opening chapter starts with a bang. You’re left wondering, how in the heck did it come to that?? The set-up: A honeymooning couple make a shocking discovery on their trip to Bora Bora. OK, so after the stunning opening, the pacing was very slow until about the 30% mark. I think I was just TOO impatient – waiting, waiting, waiting – to find out what was in the water. And then, thunk thunk thunk…

SOMETHING IN THE WATER was such an entertaining book, but also made me very nervous! Some of the decisions the characters made (especially Erin) made me STOP to blink my eyes repeatedly. What were you thinking??

After the big discovery, the author did a fantastic job keeping the suspense going and the pages turning. I can’t think of a more perfect “beach” thriller to read this summer. This is Catherine Steadman’s debut novel (wow!), and I’m looking forward to reading more from her in the future.


The Dress Shop of Dreams
The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna van Praag
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a sweet and enchanting love story! Etta runs a very special shop where she sells dresses stitched with a wee bit of magic to help her customers’ wishes come true.

One person Etta longs to help is her granddaughter, Cora. Cora’s parents died when she was young, and for most of her life, she’s hidden herself away doing research as a scientist. She’s oblivious to the fact that her lifelong friend, Walt, is madly in love with her.

Worried that Cora will lose Walt, Etta does a little magical meddling with the best intentions. But, of course, things don’t always go as planned…

This book is a lovely blend of mystery, romance, and magical realism. Many characters are introduced, each with a compelling backstory to share. There are four separate romances happening in this book, and some overlap, but each one remains unique.

I would like to have learned more about Etta’s magical gift and where it originated, but I guess that will remain a mystery.

If you’re in need of a whimsical and uplifting novel, I’d definitely recommend THE DRESS SHOP OF DREAMS. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


“Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” ― Roald Dahl

THOUGHTS ON BOOKS (#5): Wicked Plants (Audiobook) / An American Witch in Paris


Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities
Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities by Amy Stewart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

WICKED PLANTS was an Audible Daily Deal, and with that title and cover, I couldn’t resist downloading it. The book is a curious and often unsettling encyclopedia of plants that have caused harm in one way or another throughout the centuries. I don’t think a lot about plants being dangerous, but after reading this I definitely should. I was surprised that even some everyday foods can be harmful. (There’s a reason cashews aren’t sold in their shell.) However the most harmful of plants kills nearly 6 million people per year. (You can probably guess what it is.)

The audiobook was narrated by Coleen Marlo, and she did a fabulous job making each culprit plant seem down right sinister. I will say that I also checked out the hardcover of this book so I could see the illustrations and read the scientific names of all the plants. There were many presented and they moved by quickly, so it was nice to have a physical copy to reference.


An American Witch in Paris (Harlequin Nocturne)
An American Witch in Paris by Michele Hauf
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

A straight-laced vampire and a saucy American witch come together in Paris to save humanity. Vampire Ethan and witch Tuesday are memorable leads, with an intriguing supporting cast aiding their perilous mission. The world-building and conflicts were exciting. I haven’t read a paranormal romance in a long time, so this book was a lot of fun. One thing that didn’t work for me was some of what Tuesday was saying or thinking didn’t fit with a centuries-old witch. (Example: She would call troublesome men “Richards” instead of … well, you know.) AN AMERICAN WITCH IN PARIS is loosely tied to others Michele Hauf has published with Nocturne, though it can easily be read stand-alone. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for a review copy of this book.


“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” ― Marcus Tullius Cicero