Lil Pingwing’s Cozy Corner: Bells, Spells, and Murders

Lil Pingwing’s Cozy Corner: Bells, Spells, and MurdersBells, Spells, and Murders
By Carol J. Perry
Series: Witch City Mystery #7
Source Received from the publisher
Published by Kensington Publishing Corporation on September 25, 2018

Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Lee Barrett has landed her dream job at Salem’s WICH-TV. As the new field reporter, she’ll be covering events live as they’re unfolding. Next on her holiday checklist is an interview with the beloved chairman of a popular walking tour through Salem’s historic districts. But it may be his ghost walking this snowy Noel season after Lee finds him murdered in his stately offices, bloody Santa hat askew.

With her police detective boyfriend working the case and a witch’s brew of suspects–including some bell-ringing Santas–Lee chases down leads aided and abetted by her wise cat O’Ryan and some unsettling psychic visions of her own. When a revealing clue leads to another dead body, not even a monster blizzard can stop Lee from inching closer to the truth . . . and a scoop that could spell her own demise this killer Christmas.

So, I will have to let you in on a secret: I am a big scaredy cat. Huge. I am the person who can’t watch PG-13 levels of scary movies because it’ll keep me up all night. I want to blame this on my mom letting me watch “The Exorcist” too young, but that probably isn’t the whole reason. I’m just a scaredy cat.

What does that have to do with this book? It explains why I started the series and then suddenly stopped.

Yes. A cozy mystery scared me too much.

So, I did start this series a long time ago. And it was great! The series is set in Salem, Massachusetts and follows Lee Barrett. Lee lives with her aunt in a large, old house and has moved home after the death of her husband. In the first book Lee gets a job at a TV station working as a psychic during the graveyard shift. Lee would dress up and do psychic readings with viewers in between showings of old scary movies. But sometimes during those readings she would get visions of murders that were happening. Lee and her aunt (and a dreamy detective) worked together to solve the crimes.

The first book was great! I really loved it and highly recommend it.

The second book had a ghost and I got scared and stopped reading the series entirely.

I am a big chicken.

So, I was hesitant to read Bells, Spells, and Murders not because I thought it would be a bad book, but because I was worried I would get too scared to finish it. Again.

I am happy to say I finished the book! And I really liked it and am now considering reading the rest of the series (just not the one with the ghost. That one is done).

In this book Lee is working as an investigative reporter for the same TV station where she once was a psychic. However as she is about to start an interview with a local charitable bigwig, she discovers him in his office, wearing a Santa hat, and dead. Lee has to unravel his charities, businesses, and relationships, in order to find out who wanted him murdered.

As much as I wish the whole series was just about Lee working as a psychic (I really liked her in that role) it was fun to see her work as a reporter. It gave her good reason to be at the murder scene, and she got some good inside scoops from her police detective boyfriend. Lee also got some help from her aunt, who works as a research librarian, and I liked how she also had her camerawoman by her side during much of the action.

Lee was given some clues along the way thanks to her visions and some hints from her cat, O’Ryan. But I was just as lost as Lee was until the end and the final reveal — it was a tough mystery to figure out.

I enjoyed this book quite a bit and it got me started into the Christmas spirit. This is a fun and very slightly spooky book that is good for anyone like me who wants a very, very little scare!


Week In Review

September 10 – 23


We had a big storm here on Friday and our power was out for about 24 hours. The storm was a little scary, but after it passed, it wasn’t so awful being without power. We had enough food, a gas barbecue to cook on and boil water for coffee, and I got a lot of reading done by candlelight. My phone battery got super low and I turned it off to save whatever power was left, but I really liked feeling disconnected from the online world, to be honest.

The worst part was not having hot water – I did not enjoy taking a cold shower, but it was manageable. We were told to expect to be without power for a few days, but we ended up getting it back on Saturday evening. Lots of people in the area are still without power though, so we are feeling pretty fortunate.

New books:

I bought three books for my Kobo, all of which were on sale for one day only for $2.99, and which had been on my TBR list for a while:

Gone to Dust, Matt Goldman;

Our Kind of Cruelty, Araminta Hall; and

White Rabbit, Caleb Roehrig.

Books read:

I finished three books this week:

Vicious, Victoria Schwab (this was a reread because the sequel, Vengeful, is at long last coming out on Tuesday! My preorder has already shipped, so I’m really hoping it arrives a day early because I cannot wait to read that book!);

The Clockmaker’s Daughter, Kate Morton; and

China Rich Girlfriend, Kevin Kwan.

Current reads:

I ended up DNFing my audiobook attempt at Jenny Colgan’s Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe. The book itself was fine, but I’ve learned that I just cannot do audiobooks. Unless it’s a book I’ve already read, I need to see the words on the page (or screen). I would try this as a physical book or ebook, but I couldn’t focus on it in audiobook format.

I read a couple of chapters of Merve Emre’s The Personality Brokers but haven’t picked it back up recently. I’m going to try a few more chapters today, and then I’ll try to decide on a fiction book to start too.


I posted my reviews of The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton, and The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon. I also posted my sister’s review of Skinny Dipping with Murder by Auralee Wallace in the cozy corner.


 Time for a little more reading and then catching up on my Better Call Saul podcast. Happy Sunday!

The Night Sister

The Night SisterThe Night Sister
Source Received from the publisher
Published by Doubleday on August 4, 2015

Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Once the thriving attraction of rural Vermont, the Tower Motel now stands in disrepair, alive only in the memories of Amy, Piper, and Piper’s kid sister, Margot. The three played there as girls until the day that their games uncovered something dark and twisted in the motel’s past, something that ruined their friendship forever.

Now adult, Piper and Margot have tried to forget what they found that fateful summer, but their lives are upended when Piper receives a panicked midnight call from Margot, with news of a horrific crime for which Amy stands accused. Suddenly, Margot and Piper are forced to relive the time that they found the suitcase that once belonged to Silvie Slater, the aunt that Amy claimed had run away to Hollywood to live out her dream of becoming Hitchcock’s next blonde bombshell leading lady. As Margot and Piper investigate, a cleverly woven plot unfolds—revealing the story of Sylvie and Rose, two other sisters who lived at the motel during its 1950s heyday. Each believed the other to be something truly monstrous, but only one carries the secret that would haunt the generations to come.

This is an ARC that I’ve had on my shelves for a few years. I finally got around to reading it at the end of my vacation this summer, because it seemed kind of creepy – and with summer ending, I was really in the mood for a creepy book!

At times this was a suspenseful read, but I didn’t find it scary. And once I figured out what was going on (fairly early), the rest of the book became predictable.

On the positive side, I really liked the way the story moved back and forth in time, and I was invested enough in a couple of the characters to need to know how everything turned out.

But overall, this book was just okay for me.


The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn HardcastleThe Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
By Stuart Turton
Source Received from the publisher
Published by HarperCollins on September 18, 2018

Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


The Rules of Blackheath

Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered at 11:00 p.m.
There are eight days, and eight witnesses for you to inhabit.
We will only let you escape once you tell us the name of the killer.
Understood? Then let’s begin…


Evelyn Hardcastle will die. Every day until Aiden Bishop can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others…

The most inventive debut of the year twists together a mystery of such unexpected creativity it will leave readers guessing until the very last page.

I was so intrigued by this synopsis! It sounded like an intricate and twisty mystery, and I’m always up for one of those!

It took me a few chapters to really get into this book, but once I did, I was hooked. I got a real Agatha Christie vibe. This was a really fun, inventive, absorbing mystery – and I definitely didn’t solve it.

I had some reservations about the ending though. For all the fantastic build-up in this book, the end was a bit disappointing. Most of the book feels like a mystery with a bit of a sci-fi twist (living the same day over and over in the body of a different host) and I really liked that, but in the end, it felt like the more the book tried to explain itself, the less I enjoyed it. But I don’t think I can say anything more without spoiling this book, and I think this is a very fun book if you don’t know exactly what you’re getting into.

I think The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a good pick for mystery lovers, and I’m sure it’s a book I’ll be seeing on a lot of favourite lists at the end of the year. Recommended!


Lil Pingwing’s Cozy Corner: Skinny Dipping with Murder

Lil Pingwing’s Cozy Corner: Skinny Dipping with MurderSkinny Dipping With Murder
By Auralee Wallace
Series: An Otter Lake Mystery #1
Source Purchased
Published by St. Martin’s Paperbacks on March 1, 2016


Erica Bloom is in no rush to return to Otter Lake, the site of her mother’s spiritual retreat for women. Erica met her inner goddess years ago and she’s happy to have forged a new identity on her own, thank you very much. But her new-age-y, well-meaning mother is losing her grip on the business, and needs Erica’s help. So she heads back to her New Hampshire hometown, where nothing much has changed-except for maybe the body in the well…

When Erica was a teenager, she fell prey to a practical joke that left her near-naked in Otter Lake’s annual Raspberry Social. The incident was humiliating, but it wasn’t like anyone got killed-until now. Those who were behind that long-ago prank are starting to turn up dead, and Erica’s appearance in town makes her a prime suspect. To make matters worse, the town sheriff just happens to be Erica’s old nemesis, Grady Forrester…who also happens to be hotter than ever. Can Erica find a way to dig up the truth-before someone digs her grave?

I started this series after receiving an ARC for the most recent book in the series. That book was so good, so funny, and so scary that I found myself purchasing the first book as soon as I finished reading it… and then found myself purchasing the second book as soon as I had finished the first.

I don’t normally like cozies because of the humour in them. In all honesty, they aren’t really that funny. They’re great because of the small-town charm and the low-stakes mysteries, and just their general ‘cozy’ nature. This series has all of those things along with tons and tons of laughs. Like, so many that I found myself trying to describe the jokes to my husband (I don’t think he was that into it, or I may have done a terrible job of it, but either way, I’d never found myself doing that before).

Erica lives in Chicago, working as a paralegal, but returns to her hometown of Otter Lake in order to help out her mom who runs a women’s retreat out of their island home. Erica is unhappy to return, due to feelings of embarrassment after accidentally flashing the town during the Raspberry Social years ago. While helping out her mom, Erica finds the body of one of her greatest tormentors and quickly comes under suspicion. Erica and her high school best friend, Freddy, team up to try to uncover the killer before Grady, the sheriff and former love interest of Erica, can solve it himself.

I have said before in other reviews that I don’t like when the main characters are too stuck in their high school past. But, as for this book, it made it so much funnier. No one around town could forget Erica’s flashing situation, and she was so enraged by the whole thing that it just made the situation so much funnier (and I could honestly see myself reacting the same way as Erica — her ridiculous and ineffective rage reminded me a lot of my own).

I like Grady — he appears to be a good sheriff, but was also enraged by how Erica’s attempts to clear her own name kept messing up his own investigation. He was never condescending or mean (which, again, has been a previous complaint of some cop-cozy relationships in the past), but I totally understood his incredible frustration at Erica’s own sleuthing and how it was messing up his own investigation (and resulted in his beloved boat getting blown up!).

I hate to compare these to another series, but I will say that these books so far remind me of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series in that I don’t really care what the mystery is, I just have so much fun going along for the ride. Erica is hilarious (even if she is so stubborn and carries a lot of angry rage) and I love reading about her and Freddy’s adventures. I’m so excited to continue this series.

Highly recommended series, especially if you are in the mood for a good laugh.


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