The Project by Courtney Summers

I’m a little backed up on my reviews here, but in early February I picked up Courtney Summers’ new release, The Project. I was a big fan of her previous work, Sadie, which was a thriller about a young girl who was investigating the disappearance of her little sister. This new book takes on that same theme but in a very different setting.

Title: The Project

Author: Courtney Summers

Published: February 2, 2021

This was a story about 2 estranged sisters, Bea and Lo, that was told in a dual timeline. One sister was in a disfiguring car accident that also killed their parents and one sister joined a cult-like organization called the Unity Project when she couldn’t deal with the aftermath of the accident. As Lo, the sister who was injured, searches for her sister Bea, who joined the Unity Project and then fell off the grid, Lo finds herself attempting to infiltrate the same group where her sister found a home. Lo is a young woman who is searching for both a home and a family and the Unity Project is a tempting potential answer for both of those needs.

I enjoy reading about cult stories and I love a dual timeline, so this story really appealed to me. While I won’t spoil it, I really enjoyed the ending, not the resolution about Bea, but the parts that came after. Those parts represented trauma very well, in my opinion. I rated this one 4 stars personally. I will continue to pick up future titles from Summers because she writes female trauma and familial bonds so well.

Lemonade rating:

lemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_icon3 glasses of lemonade= a book that you could recommend to coworkers and friends you don’t know very well. There are some sex scenes and some violent scenes, but the story is addictive and you’ll want to keep reading once you’re hooked.

Murder in Season by Jon Land and Jessica Fletcher

Hello Kittens! It’s November. There’s been an election and Thanksgiving is coming. I’ll just say this: it’s a crazy time to be alive. I’m doing well, but not reading as much right now…just too much chaos going on. Nonetheless, I had a few days off last week and was able to get to the newest release concerning my favorite female sleuth: Jessica Fletcher. My favorite thing about this newest book is that it returns to the Jessica Fletcher that most of us know and love while also pausing to poke a little fun at the phenomenon that is the exceptionally high murder rate in Cabot Cove. I appreciate that the author added modern touches to Jessica’s life and broke up a few of her routines in this book without straying too far from her overall character development.

Title: Murder, She Wrote: Murder in Season

Murder, She Wrote: Murder in Season

Author: Jon Land & Jessica Fletcher

Author website:

Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime

Publish date: November 24, 2020

ISBN: 9781984804365

Buy the Book: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop


In this holiday installment to the series, the reader returns home with Jessica Fletcher after her months-long stay at Hill House. Having lost her home in a fire a few books back, Jessica is thrilled to be back home even if everything is not exactly as it was before. She is experiencing waves of nostalgia finally being back home after months spent living in a hotel. As she prepares for the holidays, and a visit from her nephew Grady, along with his wife and young son, Jessica finds herself embroiled in a new mystery. So what else is new?

When her home needs a few more updates in order to pass inspection, Jessica is just anxious to get all of the formalities over with. Unfortunately, fate has other plans. While digging on her property to install a new septic system, two bodies and a historical chest filled with long-lost documents are found. Suddenly, Jessica is thrust into investigating how the bodies got there, who they belong to, and why they were buried with a stash of historical documents.

Long-time readers will be glad to know that all of Cabot Cove’s favorite citizens make an appearance in this story. Dr. Seth Hazlitt is as ornery as ever and everyone’s favorite Sheriff Metzger is still wondering why he left New York City to move to the murder capital of Maine. We even get a few references to formed sheriff Amos Tupper and a visit from Private Detective Harry McGraw. All in all, this is a cozy installment in a long-running series that sees Jessica placed in less danger than the last few installments. This story feels more like the old-school Jessica Fletcher, lending a hand to a stalled investigation and letting life inspire her moments of investigative brilliance.

Why I liked it:
After a shaky installment in “The Murder of Twelve” which came out back in May, I didn’t go into this story expecting to love it. Land has only been writing the last couple of books in the series and I felt like the last one strayed too far from Jessica’s character. Thankfully, this book did not suffer from any of those issues. This is the Jessica that most of us know and love from the television series. She’s in the middle of the investigation because it literally starts in her lawn, but she’s not in overt danger.  There are pretty good red herrings, a mysterious recurring clue that isn’t as obvious as it first seems, and a supporting cast of characters who carry their own agendas well. Also, Harry McGraw was always one of my favorite side characters in the story, so I really loved seeing him play a crucial role in the development of this story.

What I would like to change:

There’s one part of this whole story that really bugs me. How is Jessica continuing to live in her house without a functioning septic system? At one point there are like 4 extra people staying there….so how is everyone dealing with that bathroom situation? It’s a little thing, but it did stick out to me.

Disclaimer: I received an electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My library rating:

lemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_icon5 glasses of lemonade= you could recommend this book to anyone.  There is nothing in here that is going to upset anyone and you could start handing it out on street corners. 

My personal preference rating: I gave this title 4 stars. It was a really cozy read at a time when I really needed one.

Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard

Hello Kittens! I hope you and yours are all doing well as we enter the 15th year of Quarantine. Just kidding! Things will be getting back to the new normal soon and I hope that if you, like me, are going to be forced back into the real world, that you can do so in as safe a manner as possible. For today, I have a murderous distraction of a book for you. If any of you read Adrian McKinty’s The Chain last year, then I think you will really like this story. There’s a murder, there’s a recording of the murder, there’s a creepy Irish setting, and plenty of suspects to keep you guessing. This one first hit my radar when it was reviewed over at Crime By The Book, which is any excellent blog for mystery/thriller/nordic noir fans. Enjoy and take care!

Title: RewindRewind

Author: Catherine Ryan Howard

Author website:

Publisher: Black Stone Publishing

Publish date: September 3, 2019

ISBN: 9781538519684

Buy the Book: Amazon, Barnes and Noble



It all begins with a gruesome murder. Picture it: a woman is sleeping in a dark room and suddenly a figure appears along the side, obviously intent on harm. But wait, you don’t have to picture it, because it is all on tape. Why is it on tape? Who is she? Why is she being murdered? All of these questions will be answered in good time, but two questions are going to chill your bones as you finish the first chapter: why does the killer destroy the camera and how did they know the camera was there?

In Rewind, the reader is going to meet Natalie, a social media influencer who appears to be living her best life. But looks can be deceiving, especially on the internet. In reality, strange things have been happening around Natalie, seemingly as a result of her fame. Her husband won’t take any of it seriously and questions her commitment to her job. Her best friend thinks her work is a hobby and that her life is a breeze.

We also meet Audrey. Audrey is a wannabe serious reported who is currently trudging her way through an assignment in the Entertainment department of an online magazine. Her soul crushing job everyday is to create short, pithy, click-baity stories regarding celebutantes. She is aching to be promoted to the hard news division, and with her living situation deteriorating and her finances draining fast, she could really use the extra money. When her boss tasks her with looking into the social media disappearance of a well-known star, she jumps at the chance.

We are also going to meet Andrew. Andrew runs a set of vacation cottages in a remote area. It’s the kind of place that doesn’t get cell reception and where wi-fi spots are limited. Andrew is a loner who local townspeople regularly gossip about and who fails to put his latest guest at ease. Andrew is a man with many secrets and we learn a good bit about his life in all of this.

Why I liked it:

A really compelling story. Fast-paced plotting. We start at the end of things and work our way back and forth in a way that makes it hard for the reader to piece everything together too quickly. I also loved the way the story ended with the structure of a published news article. I thought that was a particularly nice touch given how most of the story plays out.

***Spoiler alert: I will say this, I called a major twist really early on…like 4 chapters in early. That being said, I absolutely loved the story anyway.***

What I would like to change:

I actually didn’t love the structure of the story as much. It reveals itself as though it was a videotape, with chapter headings such as “Fast-Forward”, “Pause”, etc. I loved that we started with the murder, but the non-linear structure was hard for me to follow at times, and since it had non-traditional chapter titles, it was even harder. I think I would have liked all the “before” chapters grouped together and all of the “after” chapters grouped together just as much.

Disclaimer: No disclaimer needed. I borrowed this title digitally for free from my local library.

My library rating:

lemonade_iconlemonade_icon2 glasses of lemonade= a book that you could probably recommend to family and close friends.  They may not like everything that’s in it, but they’re not going to start sending you cards with holy scripture written in them as messages to get you back on the path of righteousness after reading them either.

There are scenes involving child rape, pedophilia, sexual blackmail, gaslighting, and we get a fairly graphic description of a murder. That’s a lot in one book, but the majority of the scenes involving those first two take place off the page or using a fade-in technique.

My personal preference rating: I gave this one 5 stars. I was totally hooked on this one from the first chapter and basically flew through it in a day and a half (Goodreads will say it took me 5 days, but I was a little behind on my reading and didn’t really start until a few days later). I’ve already added Howard’s backlist to my TBR.

Notes: Billed as Pyscho meets Fatal Attraction. Unfortunately, I’ve never seen either movie so I can’t comment on the accuracy of that. 😦

The Fallen Girls by Kathryn Casey

**Update 5/31/20. I was contacted the publisher who let me know that you can access this book from a few other online platforms. I’ve added links below and updated my intro for you. Now you have even more opportunities to pick up this great read!**

Hello Kittens! I’ve got one that may be a little more limited to access than my normal recommendations but I think it is a worthy read for crime fiction fans. This title is currently only being released in digital formats, but I highly recommend it. There’s an interesting setting, a haunted investigator, and an intriguing premise. I figured out whodunnit about 16 chapters from the end, but I was so hooked that I kept reading anyway. Also, there was always the possibility that the author could throw another curve ball and I would be wrong. Do you try to guess the killer when you read mysteries? I’ve started noting my guesses in my personal notes to see how quickly I can guess. My first guess on this one was wrong, but the plot helped straighten my thinking out over time.

Title: The Fallen GirlsThe Fallen Girls

Author: Kathryn Casey

Author website:

Publisher: Bookouture

Publish date: June 3, 2020

ISBN: 9781838886011

Buy the Book: Amazon, Kobo, Apple Books, Google Play


Detective Clara Jeffries has been working in Dallas PD’s Crimes Against Persons Unit for 3 years. She’s a workaholic who gets the job done and never seems to take time off. When her boss orders her to take a few days of leave, she’s at her wits end for what to do with herself. Around this time she gets an unexpected call from an old acquaintance, Max Anderson, who tells her that he believes her half-sister has gone missing. Clara agrees to return home to help Max work the case because he is having trouble speaking with Clara’s family.

Clara left Alber, Utah, years ago to escape the fundamentalist lifestyle of her Mormon community. While we only get glimpses of her past, we know that her childhood was a happy one and something happened to her in her teens that changed her life and made her want to run away. With help from a woman named Hannah to escape, Clara hasn’t been back since and hasn’t kept in touch with her family. Clara’s family considers her an Apostate, an outsider who has betrayed the faith, and they’re not anxious to talk to her or even acknowledge her existence. When Clara gets to Alber, she discovers that the case is extremely complicated because Max is certain that her sister is missing and has reason to believe that she has been taken, but Clara’s family refuses to confirm that the girl is missing or provide the police with any information.

To make matters worse, Clara’s family aren’t the only ones denying that her half-sister is gone. The police aren’t anxious to investigate a crime that they can’t prove has even happened, especially without the cooperation of the families. The harder that Clara digs into this, the more threatened the townspeople and the local police departments are getting. She is told repeatedly to drop the case and return to Texas, but Clara is certain that her sister is missing, and according to Hannah, she may not be the only one.

Why I liked it:

This was an intriguing mystery with a setting that I didn’t know much about. Casey writes about the intricacies of this Mormon community and the struggles that they have gone through. She gives a thorough treatment to the religious aspects as well as the pitfalls of this faith community, including the mistrust they have of outsiders. Ultimately, this was a thoroughly plotted mystery with a healthy amount of twists and turns. It’s not overly gory, but there is some violence and there is definitely a villain. I can easily see this novel being turned into a movie.

It’s told in alternating chapters between Clara, Max, and Clara’s half-sister, Delilah. With each chapter you get another piece of the puzzle, but the plotting is intricate enough that I didn’t put everything together until about 60% of the way through the book. I figured out who the villain was, but not everyone might, and I really don’t mind a mystery every now and then where you actually are given enough information to figure things out. Not to mention, just because you think you know who did it doesn’t mean you know why they did it, and the why is just as interesting to find out.

Also, the first chapter is seriously creepy and I loved the tone that it set. The cover art is perfect for this title and I’m not sure I’ll ever look at cornfields without thinking about this read again.

What I would like to change:

The first half of the story was really heavy on gaslighting Clara. For me, that’s always a little tough to read. It made me wish that we got to the action of the story a little quicker.

I also wish I was seeing more promotion for this title. I couldn’t find it on the author’s website (only on her Facebook page). It’s a strong story and it would be more accessible to most people in print… But I suppose that won’t matter if lots of people pick it up in digital format (which you should do). I still prefer print despite the fact that I increasingly read digitally, but I could be in the minority on this.

Disclaimer: I received an electronic advance copy of this title via the publisher on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My library rating:

lemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_icon4 glasses of lemonade= a book you could recommend to a book group or anybody who reads.  You might find controversial subject matter, but it is handled delicately.

While there is violence in the book, none of it takes place on the page so I think a book club could handle this one, and they might like reading about a community that is very different from their own.

My personal preference rating: I gave this title 5 stars. I think it is a really solid start to a mystery series. I’m going to be taking a look at the author’s backlist, which includes a lot of true crime too. Yay!

Murder in the Storybook Cottage by Ellery Adams

Hello Kittens! I continue to read up a storm from my quarantine conditions and I have got a treat for you today. It’s the sixth book in a series, so if you haven’t read the Book Retreat Mystery Series by Ellery Adams, now would be a good time to get started. I’ll be honest with you about this one: it saved the series for me. I found the fifth book to be a little underwhelming and I was starting to lose faith in the storyline. There’s a fantastic subplot that goes along with the series and I felt like the fifth book stretched the believability too far. That being said, “Murder in the Storybook Cottage” was amazing! It is a cozy quick read that will be available in less than two weeks and I think it may be just what someone people need to help deal with the stir crazy nature of staying at home.

Title: Murder in the Storybook Cottage

Author: Ellery AdamsMurder in the Storybook Cottage (Book Retreat Mysteries #6)

Author website:

Publisher: Kensington

Publish date: April 28th, 2020

ISBN: 9781496715675

Buy the Book: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

***If you are unfamiliar with the Book Retreat series, this review will contain some spoilers.***

This is the sixth installment in the Book Retreat Mystery series by Ellery Adams following Jane Steward, her sons, and her loyal friends and staff at Storyton Hall. I discovered this series a few years ago after devouring Adams’ Books by the Bay series and fell instantly in love with the book-themed resort located in the mountains of Virginia. This book restored my faith in the series after a somewhat disappointing (in my opinion) 5th book.

We join the action as Jane prepares Storyton Hall to host a children’s book themed weekend for both book industry insiders and families. She is especially excited to be hosting her first Golden Ticket family, a program Jane initiated to bring a deserving family to Storyton who would not normally be able to afford a vacation to Storyton. Things are going well for Jane and her friends, especially as she continues to sell off the contents of the secret library in order to keep her family safe. All seems well as Jane and the staff prepare for a magical weekend, but even with their efforts to mitigate the danger at Storyton, a Rip Van Winkle (code for a deceased guest) is found on the property. The victim is unknown to Jane, her staff, or seemingly any of the arriving guests, which complicates the efforts to explain this death.

Adams has taken this series in a completely new direction with this addition and I am completely supportive of it. Jane is a strong woman, managing a business, taking care of two boys, and setting boundaries on her relationship. But this time, we see the toll that so many years of fighting to protect everyone in her life has taken on her. Jane wants nothing more than for everyone to be safe at Storyton, and she can’t believe that even with all of her efforts, there is still danger afoot. Fortunately for Jane, she never has to stand alone. With her friends the Cover Girls, her steadfast Fins, and her family surrounding her, we know that she will get to the bottom of the mystery while ensuring that all her guests have a weekend they will never forget.

The shining star of this series is truly the setting. When I get to the end of each story and remember that Storyton Hall is not a real place, I am always disappointed. Adams has designed a world that cherishes readers in all forms and she introduces characters that represent the diversity of literature. The books don’t shy away from the tough subjects: this one addresses racism and the lack of diversity in children’s literature. I am really looking forward to seeing where this series will go next…especially with the information that was set up in the epilogue! I can’t believe I have to wait to see how two of my favorite series are going to come together.

Disclaimer: I received an electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

lemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_icon4 glasses of lemonade= a book you could recommend to a book group or anybody who reads.  You might find controversial subject matter, but it is handled delicately.

You have no idea how badly I wanted to give this book a 5-glass rating, but it has a few scenes that could be upsetting to some readers. There is mention of an accident that results in the death of a child, and there are also two somewhat grisly murders. While the details aren’t too explicit, there’s enough there that could put someone off. I would almost move this addition to the series out of the cozy category because of the manner of the deaths. Nonetheless, the murders themselves take place off of the page and there are no spicy scenes, so this is a series I will continue to widely recommend to mystery readers.