The Forgotten Garden, by Kate Morton

reviewed by Natalie

51pV4lY0MtL._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgPart fairy tale, part history, and part mystery with a dash of romance, The Forgotten Garden is a story about three abandoned children, an English cottage, and a walled garden.

On her 21st birthday, Nell’s father reveals that she was found abandoned on a dock in Australia with no clue as to her origins other than a white suitcase and fairy tale book. This earth-shattering revelation leads Nell to search for her biological parents. Her search is cut short upon her death, but she leaves her granddaughter, Cassandra, a cryptic message and, in her will, a cottage in England. Continue reading


World Book Day – A “Must-Read” List

It’s World Book Day today, so we just quickly want to give you the book that we each recommend to people the most. 

Natalie: The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield 
Every once in a while I read a book that I wish I could experience for the first time over and over again. This book ranks among my favorite mystery novels simply because of the author’s ability to craft beautiful sentences – and the surprising twist at the end. Continue reading

Elizabeth Is Missing

By Emma Healey                            Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Reviewed by Natalie                      4/5 stars

513shwrvdlThe mystery genre takes up a great deal of space on my bookshelves, and my love of mystery stems back to elementary school when my 4th grade teacher read The Pink Motel (as I’ve mentioned a few times). Typically, I read Agatha Christie’s mysteries along with my fair share of Gothic-style mysteries like Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in WhiteElizabeth Is Missing is #22 on my 2017 book list – a “book you were excited to buy or borrow but haven’t read yet.” I bought this book, but then read a few others before picking it up. Once I did, I didn’t want to put it down. Continue reading

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

By Robin Sloan                                Genre: Fiction
Reviewed by Natalie                      4/5 stars

From Natalie's reading list - 5. A book with a number in the title

“It was paper that saved me.”


Glow-in-the-dark cover

This line from Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore was the hook that kept me reading this book. I can relate to it. Books have been such a crucial part of my life, and books become a crucial part of our hero’s life in this book. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is set in San Francisco, the heart of tech country. The bookstore is a stalwart paper peddler in an e-reader world.

Clay Jannon, an out-of-work graphic designer, takes the only job he can get – as the night shift clerk at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. Clerks are forbidden from reading the mysterious coded tomes on the way-back shelves, but Clay’s curiosity gets the better of him. Clay decodes an age-old riddle that leads him on a quest to a secret, underground library in New York City. Continue reading

Maisie Dobbs

By Jacqueline Winspear                Genre: Mystery
Reviewed by Natalie                      5/5 stars

51uwylnaksl-_sx330_bo1204203200_I turned the double three this year, and, honestly, the side of me that loves order and pattern was pretty excited about that. More exciting though was that a dear, dear friend of mine went above and beyond, giving me The Pink Motel with the original pink cover. I’ve mentioned to her, oh, maybe 100 times that it’s such a fun book to read and that it’s a favorite from my childhood. And it’s quickly becoming a favorite for my kids. (See picture –  aka. the dorkiest photo of myself EVER – to see just how thrilled I was to receive this book.)received_10157564918280478

So what does The Pink Motel have to do with Maisie Dobbs? Everything. I was just talking to my husband about how much the kids and I are enjoying The Pink Motel because of the mystery, intrigue, and adventure. My husband said, “Well, there’s a little peek into your psyche.” It struck me that my love of mystery novels (Agatha Christie, P.D. James, Dorothy L. Sayers, etc.) in part stems from my 4th grade year of school when my teacher—bless her—read The Pink Motel and several other children’s mystery books to the class. Most of my creative writing assignments that year revolved around a female detective (named Natalie, of course) who kept weapons under her pillow should any of her murder suspects attempt to stop her crime-solving. Continue reading