THE SECRET, BOOK, AND SCONE SOCIETY by Ellery Adams


Series: Miracle Springs, North Carolina, #1
Publisher: Kensington
Release Date: October 31, 2017
Source: Review copy from the author
Rating: ★★★★


From New York Times bestselling author Ellery Adams comes the first in an intriguing new series set within a quirky small-town club where the key to happiness, friendship—or solving a murder—can all be found within the pages of the right book…

Miracle Springs, North Carolina, is a place of healing. Strangers flock here hoping the natural hot springs, five-star cuisine, and renowned spa can cure their ills. If none of that works, they often find their way to Miracle Books, where, over a fresh-baked “comfort” scone from the Gingerbread House bakery, they exchange their stories with owner Nora Pennington in return for a carefully chosen book. That’s Nora’s special talent—prescribing the perfect novel to ease a person’s deepest pain and lighten their heaviest burden.

When a visiting businessman reaches out to Nora for guidance, she knows exactly which novels will help. But before he can keep their appointment at Miracle Books, he’s found dead on the train tracks.

Stunned, Nora forms the Secret, Book, and Scone Society, a group of damaged souls yearning to gain trust and earn redemption by helping others. To join the society, members must divulge their darkest secret—the terrible truth that brought each of them to Miracle Springs in the first place.

Determined to uncover the truth behind the businessman’s demise, the women meet in Nora’s cramped and cozy bookstore to share stories and trade support. And as they untangle a web of corruption, they also discover their own courage, purpose, and a sisterhood that will carry them through every challenge—proving it’s never too late to turn the page and start over…


THE SECRET, BOOK, AND SCONE SOCIETY is the first in a new series by Ellery Adams that beautifully combines my favorite elements of mystery, magical realism, and women’s fiction. The book is set in the enchanting town of Miracle Springs, North Carolina – a place that draws people in need of healing – including main character Nora Pennington and the other members of the Secret, Book, and Scone Society. The group forms initially to investigate the death of an out-of-town businessman, but a strong bond of friendship forms as each woman’s most painful secret is revealed.

Nora’s character is a bibliotherapist, and she always knows the right books to recommend to someone in need of guidance. Readers who love stories about books will appreciate the many titles mentioned and literary quotes throughout, as well as Nora’s amazing bookstore.

This book was a bit darker than a typical cozy mystery in that the secrets revealed were weightier than I expected. Still, this character-driven mystery was strong and kept me engaged. Enjoyed!

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

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FAITHFUL by Alice Hoffman (Audiobook)

faithful
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★


From the New York Times bestselling author of The Marriage of Opposites and The Dovekeepers comes a soul-searching story about a young woman struggling to redefine herself and the power of love, family, and fate.

Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt.

What happens when a life is turned inside out? When love is something so distant it may as well be a star in the sky? Faithful is the story of a survivor, filled with emotion — from dark suffering to true happiness — a moving portrait of a young woman finding her way in the modern world. A fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, and men she should stay away from, Shelby has to fight her way back to her own future. In New York City she finds a circle of lost and found souls — including an angel who’s been watching over her ever since that fateful icy night.

Here is a character you will fall in love with, so believable and real and endearing, that she captures both the ache of loneliness and the joy of finding yourself at last. For anyone who’s ever been a hurt teenager, for every mother of a daughter who has lost her way, Faithful is a roadmap.


FAITHFUL is a sad yet hopeful coming of age story about a young woman dealing with grief and survivor’s guilt. After a tragic car accident, Shelby Richmond is able to walk away, but her best friend isn’t so lucky. Was there someone watching over her that night? Shelby is a troubled soul stuck in limbo when mysterious postcards start to arrive. The sender is anonymous and the messages are quite simple, but it’s just enough to nudge her forward, even a tiny bit.

I love Alice Hoffman’s prose, and the writing in this book is as beautiful as her others. Shelby’s character was difficult and not always easy to like, but deep down I knew she was good, partly due to her passion for rescuing misfit dogs! This is a story of healing, definitely pulled at my heartstrings. I had to grab the tissues a few times. FAITHFUL had a different “feel” to it than Hoffman’s other books I’ve read, though I still enjoyed it.


Audiobook • 8 hrs, 27 mins • Amber Tamblyn, Narrator

Amber Tamblyn narrated the audiobook, and this is the first time I’ve listened to a book read by her. I think she did fine with Shelby’s voice. Overall, nothing too emotional, which fit with Shelby’s apathetic disposition. If you prefer narrations with lots of inflection and drama, this wouldn’t be a good fit.


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

BURYING THE HONEYSUCKLE GIRLS by Emily Carpenter

Burying the Honeysuckle Girls
BURYING THE HONEYSUCKLE GIRLS by Emily Carpenter
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

First, I have to say that this is an impressive debut novel! The blurb intrigued me, though I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. What I got was gut-wrenching emotion, complicated characters, a puzzling mystery, and a dash of magical realism.

Wait for her. For the honeysuckle girl. She’ll find you, I think, but if she doesn’t, you find her.

Set in Alabama, the story centers around Althea, a troubled young woman who’s come home to visit her ailing father. It seems that she, too, carries the burden of a curse that strikes the women in her family on their 30th birthday. With her 30th birthday just a couple weeks away, Althea is faced with the seemingly impossible task of saving herself. What is her family’s dark secret? With just a cigar box full of clues her mother left her, Althea sets out to solve the mystery.

The story alternates between Althea in the present, and her great-grandmother Jinn back in the 1930s. I was easily wrapped up in both of their suspenseful tales, on pins and needles waiting to know their fates. The author knows how to build a suspenseful feeling of dread. Great book, would recommend to anyone.

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

THE BOOK OF SPECULATION by Erika Swyler

BookOfSpeculation
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Released: June 23, 2015
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★½


A sweeping and captivating debut novel about a young librarian who is sent a mysterious old book, inscribed with his grandmother’s name. What is the book’s connection to his family?

Simon Watson, a young librarian, lives alone on the Long Island Sound in his family home, a house perched on the edge of a cliff that is slowly crumbling into the sea. His parents are long dead, his mother having drowned in the water his house overlooks.

One day, Simon receives a mysterious book from an antiquarian bookseller; it has been sent to him because it is inscribed with the name Verona Bonn, Simon’s grandmother. Simon must unlock the mysteries of the book, and decode his family history, before fate deals its next deadly hand.

The Book of Speculation is Erika Swyler’s gorgeous and moving debut, a wondrous novel about the power of books, family, and magic.


THE BOOK OF SPECULATION is an impressive debut novel by Erika Swyler. As a book nerd, the story resonated with me. Anything about books, right? The author beautifully blended magical realism, historical fiction, and mystery to create an amazing Gothic tale about a family cursed for centuries.

I enjoyed the somewhat quirky main character Simon Watson. Simon is a young librarian, around 30, who seems better suited to have lived before the digital age. He receives a mysterious book, a very old circus ledger actually, with his deceased grandmother’s name in it. The women in his family, though blessed with a special ability, have been cursed for centuries to die young. Simon is tasked with deciphering the meaning of the book before his sister becomes the curse’s next victim.

The language in this book is gorgeous and lyrical, and I loved the haunting Gothic feeling of the story. While the plot is not fast-paced, I stayed hooked to the very end. Some elements in this book reminded me of Alice Hoffman’s writing, which I always enjoy. It gives an interesting look into the world of tarot card reading too. 4.5-stars!

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