The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

So, this happened.

I had heard RAVE reviews of this book.  So I ordered the UK version from Book Depository cause I love a good paperback copy.  And it wasn’t bad.  But it definitely wasn’t on my RAVE list.  (FYI….the UK version takes out the 1/2, it’s just the Seven deaths).


The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

Basically, it’s an Agatha Christie murder with a supernatural twist.  Also, it felt a bit like “Shutter Island”….

Aiden Bishop (we don’t learn this until later) has seven “hosts” to solve the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle, the mysterious daughter of the household.  He learns of clues in various ways depending on the body he is in, and it’s all seemingly orchestrated by the “Plague” doctor in a mask.  We don’t know why he’s doing what he’s doing, why Evelyn is so important, and who the other players in the game are.  The goal is to solve the murder and deliver evidence to the doctor by a specific time each night.  If it doesn’t get solved, the game starts over and memories are wiped.  Aiden befriends a young woman named Anna, who may or not be on his side.  He enlists the help of others in the household, and tries to retain memories from each host to the next to solve the murder.

It was a mish mash of information, and I can’t say I loved the way the book jumped between “hosts”.  One chapter would be one day, and then it would jump to a previous day, and then back out to the future.  Also, the ending was “meh.”  I didn’t love it.  I thought it was bit too on the nose, but maybe that’s what the author wanted.

I guess it was a fun read, trying to figure out the motives of each individual and how they interacted with various characters, but it got a bit old quickly and then I just wanted to finish the book to find out how the murder happened.  And even that was a bit unsatisfactory.  Oh well.

The Sisters Mederos by Patrice Sarath


The Sister Mederos by Patrice Sarath

I’m not gonna lie, I picked up this book because of the cover.  Sisters that are card sharks/bandits?  Yup, I’m into it.

I knew there would be magic involved, but honestly, it doesn’t feel like a fantasy book at all.  The two Sisters are Yvienne and Teresa.  Born to the wealthy House Mederos, their family experiences a tragic fall from grace at the hands of the Merchant Guild and the sisters are sent to a boarding school of horrific proportions.  The book doesn’t spend a lot of time at the school…just enough so the reader can get a sense of the way the girls had to rely on themselves.

They return to their family 6 years later, after the family is forced out of their opulent masion and cosigned to live in a less reputable part of town.  Through happenstance, Yvienne realizes she has a talent for robbing rich debutantes.  She is quickly named the “Gentlman Bandit” by the press.  Her sister, who for years believes her small magical powers were responsible for her downfall uses her talent at counting cards to take money from the rich merchants that rejoiced in her family’s misfortune.

While working from opposite ends, the sisters end up uncovering a greater conspiracy and work to restore their family to their once vaulted position.

I DEVOURED this book.  Light on the fantasy elements, it had all the marks of a great heist book.  I immediately went on to the next day and requested the second in the series which I’m starting today.  Definitely a promising start to the story of the Mederos.

Enchantee by Gita Trelease


Enchantee by Gita Trelease


Those that know me, know I’m a Francophile.  I love Paris, I love France, I love the Tour de, and I love the language.  So when this book started blowing up my twitter (@nanazlyn), I knew it would be right up my alley.  And boy was I right.

French revolution, check.  Magic, check.  Romance, check.  Shady characters, check.  CHECK CHECK CHECK!

The story follows Camille as she tries to better the situation for her and her younger sister Sophie.  They have an abusive, alcoholic brother who constantly takes their earnings (what little there are) and gambles it away.  Camille has the power of magic, and uses it to procure food for herself and her sister.  Basically it’s turning useless objects (mainly nails) into money to pay.  One one occasion, Camille and Sophie head out to find nails to change, and encounter a runaway hot air balloon.  Camille helps save the day, and in turn catches the eye of young pilot Lazare.  He sounds so dreamy in the book.  I was hooked.

Camille then learns that she can turn cards with her magic and decides to head to the palace of Versailles in order to win money for her and her sister to escape their life.  She finds an enchanted dress and makeup, that transforms her into an aristocrat who can now enter into places that were barred to her before.  Oh, and I did I mention she’s a revolutionary too?  Her father printed anti-monarchy pamphlets and her dream is to follow in his footsteps.

He cast of characters she meets at Versailles are fascinating, and the book really takes on a Cinderella type feel.  Will she be found out?  Does her magic put her in danger?  Will Lazare understand what she’s doing?  Will her brother Alain get out of his situation?

The book held me enthralled until the end…..I want more!  More revolutionary France, more magic, and more hot air balloon adventures.

The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden

I was so excited to get the third and final book in Arden’s “Winternight Trilogy” through NetGalley.  Who knew that I’d be this obsessed with tales of Russian Folklore and Witches?


The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden

SO MUCH HAPPENS IN THIS BOOK!  In 384 pages, there is a little bit of everything:

Witch burnings, devil sightings, horses that can fly, secret midnights, WAR, and of course, Zombies.  Zombies you ask?  Well, let’s just say the devil has a way of calling an army of the dead in the fight for Russia.

And most of that takes place in first three parts of the book.  *Phew*

I will say, there is one part in the beginning of the book that broke my heart so thouroughly.  It’s redemeed by the end, but man, I was gutted.

At the end of the second book, Vasya is found to be masquerading as a boy to help Moscow and Russia.  She is roundly condemed, and her old nemisis rears his ugly head after making a deal with the devil.  Through deals and escapes, the devil/bear has reappaered and is determined to rid the world of people who dont believe in his kind of spirits.  Vasya goes through the darkest midnights to recover and find her heritage.  It’s here how she learns to fight for her beliefs and fight for her family.

The winter king looms large, and she must depend on his help even more.  This book culminates in a war (in which the second most heartbreaking thing of the book happens) and we learn that man must trust the spirit world in order to survive.  It was a beautiful conlcusion to this series.

Even with all the stuff happening in this book, I still wanted to learn more about Vasya’s young niece stuck in the captial with the same powers as her Aunt.  Does she travel to the cottage by the lake to learn her craft, or is she destined to go through the same trials and tribulations of her Aunt?  I would love to know more!

This series has been amazing, and I can’t wait to read what Arden has next up her sleeve.

(For reference, here is the link where I talk about the first book in the series:



Murder on Millionaires’ Row by Erin Lindsey


Murder on Millionaires’ Row by Erin Lindsey

Did I just fall in love?  Oh yes, yes I did.

This book has it all:  *insert Stephon gif here*

  1. Plucky housemaids
  2. Surly bosses
  3. Pinkertons!
  4. Ghosts/Shades
  5. Mysterious witches
  6. Bumbling police
  7. Super hot aristocrats

Rose Gallagher is secretly in love with her boss Thomas Wiltshire.  Only problem?  He’s the man of the house and she’s his maid.  *cue sad trombone*

When he goes missing, she decides that she is going to be the one to track him down since the police don’t seem to care.  She always dreamed of a life outside of service, and this was her chance.  Her best friend/co-worker Clara tries her best to talk her out of it, but to no avail.  Rose wanders around the mansions of 5th Avenue and the seedy underbelly of the Five Points neighborhood.  Things get weird when she stumbles upon a ghost (or the  ghost stumbles upon her), and she is then led on an even more remarkable journey than she had planned on.

The mystery was great, and once Thomas re-enters the picture, I started swooning.  I cannot wait for the next book (hopefully there is a next book) because this really ticked all my boxes.


A Column of Fire by Ken Follett


A Column of Fire by Ken Follett

So, this is the continuing saga of the village of Knightsbridge that started with the building of the cathedral in Pillars of the Earth”.  If that was an epic trilogy, this one was equally as intriguing.

Starting with the reign of Queen Mary (Bloody Mary) and ending with the plot to blow up Parliament and King James, the book follows the villagers through Catholic and Protestant struggles during the Tudor legacy.  For those that don’t know….Mary was Catholic and hated Protestants.  Elizabeth was Protestant and allegedly more accommodating of Catholics, but ended up executing a whole mess of Priests.  King James extended her legacy.  So basically lots of bloodshed spilled in the name of religion.

The book crosses oceans….it bounces between England, Spain for a brief time, Netherlands for even briefer, and a long journey into France.

I love Follett’s books because they are proper sagas.  Spanning at least 80 years, the reader sees families grow up and change.  They also see how others relate to each other.  There are SEVERAL villains in this book, and man, they are the WORST!  Luckily, their ends are usually justified and are satisfying to the reader.  The “heroes” of this book are the people who realize that tolerance and acceptance is the way forward.  While they have to play politics and sometimes do things they aren’t proud of, if they had their way, people could worship and live in peace as needed.

I enjoyed this more than the Pillars series…maybe it was because I know the period of history that is discussed.  I went through a major Tudor period a few years ago, so Queen Elizabeth is my knowledge base.


Also, I saw Hamilton….and I LOVED IT!!!  The book was good, and the musical definitely lived up to the hype.  I’ve been singing the soundtrack for like  two weeks now.  And on Sunday I’ll be taking a dance class with a member of the cast.  Should be fun.

…..and another thing….if you’re in Boston on Saturday October 13, stop by the Sisters in Crime NE booth from 10-11 and say hi!  I have some book swag for my upcoming mystery!

Trust Me by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Let me get this out of the way first.  I unabashedly love Hank.  Her books are awesome sure, but she’s also a super awesome human being.

Most of those in my area may know her from being the lead investigative reporter in Boston Channel 7 News.  She brings that same investigative skills to her books as well.  Her Jane Ryland series got me hooked.  Set in Boston, it follows a one time tv reporter to the world of newspapers and of course murder and mayhem.  Plus, the detective Jake is dreamy.  Or he is at least the way I imagine him.

Anyway, so just this past month, she released her newest novel:


Trust Me by Hank Phillippi Ryan

It’s a standalone novel, centered around the court case of a young mother accused of murdering her child.  For those in the Boston area, it is reminiscent of the “Baby Doe” case that gripped the city a few years ago.  The only difference is, the mother more closely resembles Casey Anthony than a drug addicted woman.  While trying to pull herself out of a depression, former reporter Mercer is assigned to follow the case for a potential book.  Everyone knows Ashlyn (the mother) is guilty.  Mercer thinks it as well.  The first part of the book follows the trial and is interspersed with Mercer’s notes/write ups.  They clearly signify Ashlyn’s guilt.

The second part of the book takes a turn as Mercer and Ashlyn are thrown together.  I won’t spoil how, but it has to do with the book.  Ashlyn seems to be a master manipulator, and even the reader starts to wonder if they got everything wrong.

The mystery at the end is wrapped up tidily, which was a bit of a disappointment.  I thought the end could’ve used a little more explanation.  But, at the same time….fans of shows on Discovery ID will like this book for the courtroom drama.  I definitely wanted to read to the end to find out it if the reader ever learns if Ashlyn is really guilty or not.

Hank is so good at making a good beach/winter read.  And as a Massachusetts person, I love reading books set in Boston.  It makes me feel like I’m part of the action!

So Many Books….So Little Time

I’ve been MIA recently..and it’s for a good reason!

I started a new job last week, and I’m actually busy with work.  I ended up having a week off between jobs, and I read/finished about 5 books.  I probably should’ve wrote about them then, but I got distracted by starting my second book in the Baseball Mysteries.  I need to get words on paper!

Also, I now have to write monthly blog posts with my publisher, Pandamoon Publishing, so sometimes I get so wrapped up in that that I forget to tell you about all the good books I’ve read lately.

This is just a tiny sampling, but I wanted to reommend them.

First Up:


Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

Like any girl of a certain age, I can remember one of my first crushes being the Fox from Disney’s Robin Hood.  I mean, how cute was he?  I also remember falling in love with the Robin Hood myth/story at that moment.

This book is a re-telling of Robin Hood, but with one twist.  Will Scarlet is a woman!   And, ***spoiler alert***







Dead.  I died.  So good.  I finished the book last night, and I’m waiting anxiously for my Book Outlet order to come with the other two books in the series.  There was adventure! Romance!  Tough women!  Knives!  Fights! Humor!  Yeah, I was a bit into it.  And of course it has made me want to go back and watch more Robin Hood things.  I loved the BBC version, and hope I can find it on Netflix/Amazon for this weekend!  (Before the Pats game of course!)

Okay, now an ARC review.


Treacherous is the Night by Anna Lee Huber

I’ve written before about my love for Anna Lee Huber’s work, and this book just continues the love.  The new  Verity Kent mystery doesnt’ come out until September 25, but I was lucky enough to be approved for an early copy on


It was good.  Verity is dealing with the fact that her husband has returned from the dead, but also her past as a “spy” during the war is now coming to light and dangerous things are afoot.  Someone is murdering members of “La Dame Blanche”, a network of women who were working for the allies during the war.  This leads Verity to hunt down one of her former partners in espinoge to ensure their safety.  What follows is a trip through war torn Belgium and France as her and Simon follow clues to the elusive woman.

I loved.  Much like I lover her Lady Darby mysteries.  So another two thumbs up for me.

And finally….


European Travel for Monsterous Gentlewomen by Theodora Goss

This one was WAY better than the first one, but don’t read this unless you’ve read “The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter.”  That book provides the background you need to follow the exploits of the newly formed Athena Club.  Made up of the daughters of famous horror villians, these women find a bond with each other that no one in the “real” world understands.  And of course there are nefarious plans being hatched by the villians of their own stories and new villians that they alone can stop.  This book takes the reader out of London and through a little jaunt through Europe….starting in Vienna and ending in Budapest….oh, and there is the Orient Express too!  It was a fun ride, and the heroine’s are split up a for a time that really gives the reader a chance to learn more about each character which I enjoyed.

So, there is a little bit of everything this week.

Stay Tuned next Spring for my book!

And read my blog over at Pandamoon Publishing

As always, you can find me on twitter @nanazlyn (I write about the books I read there a lot too).

The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society

If I could just give a book *heart eyes* I would.  This book is like a million *heart eyes*.  I read this book between 8am and 3pm in one day!  (Thank goodness for the second to last day of work giving me the time!).


I wanted to read the book before the Netflix film premiered….and….well…I’m now so ready to watch it.  My Friday night is booked!


The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Set immediately after WWII, the book is told in letters.  Mostly between author Juliet and her best friends Sidney (also her publisher) and his sister Sophie (her oldest friend from school).  After acclaim for her wartime work, Juliet is looking for inspiration which comes in the form of a letter from the Channel Island of Guernsey.  Occupied during WWII by Germans, the islanders created their own clandestine society.  Started out of an illicit pig roast, when caught after curfew by Germans, member Elizabeth comes up with the idea for the literary society.  Potato Peel Pie is one of the rationed creations created by islanders.

Juliet receives a letter from Dawsey, former pig farmer, who found her name and address in an old book sold on the island.  Intrigued by the story of the literary society, Juliet starts a correspondence with the members of the group.  Learning their stories, she decided to go to the island for more information.  The islanders welcome her with open arms and open the society’s doors for her.  She learns more about life during the occupation, and starts a relationship with a young girl whose mother was taken off to a Concentration Camp for assisting German prisoners.  The story of Elizabeth and Kit is heartbreaking, but it is interspersed with lovely stories of the rest of the islanders taking over Kit’s care.  It made me want to pack up everything and move to the island.  Even though I had never heard of it until this book!

I honestly can’t say anything bad about this book….other than it was too short!  I need more stories of the cast of characters.  I also can’t wait to watch the show.

Also, it’s a tragic story of how the book was written too.  A labor of love by Mary Ann Shaffer, the book was started in the 1980’s.  By the time it was sold and being worked, she became ill and couldn’t get the stamina to continue writing.  She tapped her niece, Anne Barrows, the only other writer in the family.  She completed the book, but Mary Ann died before seeing how well received the book was.

If you’re in a book club, read this book!  It’s the perfect book to talk about.  Even in the midst of horrible war stories, there is a beautiful heart on this island that is just amazing.



So, I’ve just recently had several bouts of anxiety that I’m not quite sure how to deal with.  I’m seeking help, b/c it’s annoying to deal with.  I’ve even started having random panic attacks which make every day life hard.  Luckily, they aren’t as severe as others, but still enough to disrupt life.  My anxiety mostly centers around travel, and in August I’m trying to head down to NYC for the Writer’s Digest Conference.  Everything is booked….and I was supposed to go last year….but that darn anxiety got the best of me.  So, here’s hoping that I can get my stuff together for a four day trip out of town.

Which, leads me to the book I want to talk about in this post.


Murder at the Flamingo by Rachel McMillan

Now, you might be saying to yourself….”what is Nicole talking about….this looks like a good old fashioned historical mystery, not some treatise on anxiety.”  And you’d be right.  It is a good old fashioned historical mystery (set in Boston no less!).  BUT it also depicts a character who suffers from anxiety and panic attacks as well.  And it doesn’t define him in the end, and he learns how to cope with the help of a sassy former debutante.

I get ahead of myself though.  Hamish DeLuca was a going to be a lawyer until a panic attack in the courtroom drove him from Toronto to Boston where his cousin was setting up the new Flamingo nightclub.  Regina Van Buren (yes, one of those Van Buren’s), Reggie to her friends, escaped a mundane life of high society in Connecticut to become the secretary for Hamish’s cousin.  She always wanted to be like the self-sufficient women she saw at the pictures, and this is the first step to her new life.  The office is located in the North End, with cannoli’s galore, and shady characters around every turn.

The Flamingo opens to great success, and becomes even more of a destination when a dead body is found in the club.  Hamish and Reggie think it’s murder, while everyone else wants to sweep it under the rug as a tragic accident.  Is it the mob?  Careless accident?  Jealous boyfriend?  Random gentlemen in the club?  The two decide to crack the case and on the way learn some surprising truths about themselves.

I enjoyed this immensely.  It was a great introduction to the characters and the city of Boston.  I can’t wait to follow the trail of the newly minted detectives in further books!