Member Reviews

I love a good cozy mystery series so I'm really glad that I decided to finally try this new to me series and pick up this first book. From the beginning pages, I just knew that this was a series that I was going to enjoy. Who doesn't want to read about a woman moving to Cambridge with her mom to help run a family owned bookstore? I mean, that's a book lover's dream, is it not? The descriptions of Cambridge, the bookstore, just Molly's new life in general had me entranced. The mystery was really just a bonus if I'm being honest. I found myself swept away in this book even when I was able to figure out the whodunnit behind it all. It was just such a pleasant read - the perfect change of pace between some of the darker books I've read this year. I'm excited to continue on with this series and to work on catching up with it (it looks like book four releases later this year).

Readers who enjoy cozy mysteries or those who want to lose themselves in the pages of a book should give this series a try. I cannot wait to grab the second book and see what adventures/troubles Molly gets into next. Four stars and easily recommended!

CW - Suicide

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What a fabulous story!! I always love a current mystery that has a mysterious back story. Not only are you trying to figure what happened now, but in the past as well.

The plot and the setting were incredible and the characters were easily relatable. I loved the family element of the book and that they all sleuthed together, to a degree. I enjoyed having a younger protagonist mature enough to do the sleuthing.

I had the audiobook of this story and the narrator was great! I felt she took me to Cambridge and into the story. I sure hope this series continues for quite some time. I am looking forward to visiting this Cambridge bookshop for years to come.

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Adorable little cozy mystery that will keep you entertained and intrigued until the very end. I loved trying to guess the plot in the story in the culprit and overall had a great time reading it I would highly recommend this if you’re into cozy mysteries of any sort and want a quick escape from the real world.

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I loved this first in series. Molly Kimball and her mother,Nina, move from the United States to Cambridge, England. They moved to help Nina’s Aunt Violet run the family owned book store. The setting is quaint and reach with literature and history. These women are likable, smart, and determined. These are great qualities for strong female protagonists. The mystery is well-plotted with plenty of suspense and suspects. The storyline follows murder, blackmail, family secrets, freindships (new and old),and a touch of romance. I recommend this book to cozy mystery fans.

All thoughts and opinions are my own, and I have not been influenced by anyone.

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CHAPTER AND CURSE – by Elizabeth Penney – 3.5 Stars

Let me begin with the setting, a centuries-old book store in Cambridge, England, the aromatic bouquet of old books, coupled with murder, mystery, scandal, and deceit in a delectable whodunit—Why yes, please and thank you, I am very interested!

Amongst the interesting cast of suspects…err, I’m mean characters, are two cute and only one cuddly, cat—Clarence and Puck.

Here’s what the book is about:

‘Librarian Molly Kimball and her mother, Nina, need a change. So when a letter arrives from Nina’s Aunt Violet in Cambridge, England requesting their help running the family bookshop, they jump at the chance…Determined to bring much-needed revenue to the bookstore, Molly invites Aunt Violet’s college classmate and famed poet Persephone Brightwell to hold a poetry reading in the shop. But the event ends in disaster when a guest is found dead …’

Overall, I enjoyed the book. The one pet peeve I have is the presumption of incompetence required by the reader regarding a particular inspector and his men’s inability to find crucial evidence after two searches.

I look forward to reading volume two in The Cambridge Bookshop series, A TREACHEROUS TALE, scheduled for release, though subject to change, on August 23, 2022.

Thank you, NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press, for providing me with an eARC of CHAPTER AND CURSE at the request of an honest review.

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This is a very cute and very cozy mystery about an American woman named Molly who moves to Cambridge, England to help her aunt run a bookstore! However, during a poetry reading, a murder takes place just outside the bookstore! And Molly is determined to figure out who the murderer is. It’s adorable and very cozy. I feel like the middle portion dragged a bit, and I lost some interest in the plot. But overall, I enjoyed this one quite a bit! And recommend it.
Olivia 🐈 and I rate this ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️.5!

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced readers copy.

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This is the first book in a new series and it's a bibliophile's dream. with its gorgeous British setting and its quirky cast of characters the reader is definitely entertained. a new murder and an old murder keep our protagonist Violet jumping for clues. I can't wait to read book 2.

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Cute book!

In Elizabeth Penney's Chapter and Curse, Molly Kimball is used to cracking open books . . . but when a poetry reading ends in murder she must use her skills to crack the case.


"With its bucolic British setting, engaging heroine, and unsolved murder dating back decades, Elizabeth Penney has penned the perfect cozy."–Ellen Byron, USA Today Bestselling Author

Librarian Molly Kimball and her mother, Nina, need a change. So when a letter arrives from Nina’s Aunt Violet in Cambridge, England requesting their help running the family bookshop, they jump at the chance.

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“Chapter and Curse,” by Elizabeth Penney (St. Martin’s Press), is the first in the Cambridge Bookshop series, featuring Molly Kimball.
Molly and her mother, Nina, move to Cambridge when Nina’s aunt request their help in running the family bookshop.
Called Thomas Marlowe Manuscripts and Folios, this old bookshop needs to be brought into the 21st century, which is just up Molly’s alley. One of her first priorities is to start having readings and book signings, so she asks Persephone Brightwell (an old friend of Aunt Violet’s), a well-known poet, to kick things off. The reading itself goes all right, but when a guest is found dead, Violet falls under suspicion since it was her knitting needle that was used as a weapon.
Molly can’t let Aunt Violet go to jail, so she works on unearthing secrets and upsetting people in the bargain, along with trying to keep the shop going.
Looking forward to the second book!

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A very exciting start to a new series. I cannot wait to read the second book. The plot was a little slow at times, but still a fun read.

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I absolutely love the cozy mystery genre and I think this book is a wonderful addition to it. Great, easy read.

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Series starter that starts off as a bibliophiles dream! Molly Kimball and her Mom need a new start, not unlike many cozy characters, so when an opportunity to travel to Cambridge, England to help save the family bookstore arrives in the form of a letter, they hop across the pond and into a mystery. Molly's mum has been very "mum" when it comes to her side of the family, in fact Molly was unaware that she had family in England. Speaking of Molly, who loves both coffee and a proper blueberry cream cheese scone, is a very relatable character who is going to make an excellent sleuth, when she isn't going through Uncle Tom's book inventory or uploading social media pics on behalf of the family book store. There was a nice group of suspects, a little danger, and a dashing bike shop owner. This is sure to be a great series and I look forward to reading the next one and finding a recipe for blueberry cream cheese scones!

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This book has everything that gets me excited about a cozy mystery – an English setting (Cambridge), historical buildings, an old bookshop, cute British guys, and even a retired spy.

The setup has the standard “life has shifted” introduction – Molly and her mother, Nina, live in Vermont, USA. Molly’s father, Derek, an American, passed away six months ago and Molly, a librarian, has recently lost her job due to budget cuts. Molly’s mother, a Brit, is a well regarded poet with several published books, but hasn’t written anything since Derek died. Both Molly and Nina definitely need a change in their lives, which arrives in the form of a letter from Nina’s Aunt Violet, who runs the family bookshop back in England. Thomas Marlowe-Manuscripts & Folios has been in the family since its start in 1605 and is listed as a historic site on Magpie Lane in Cambridge.

After Molly and Nina settle in, they discover that the bookshop hasn’t been doing too well financially. Clive Marlowe, Nina’s cousin, loaned Violet money to keep the shop going, but is now calling in his debts and wants to sell the historic shop to a (ugh) chain bookstore. Of course, Nina and Molly roll up their sleeves to help Violet keep the bookstore going.

The murder and the victim herself stirs up quite a lot of buried secrets and it made the entire mystery much for captivating as it seemed like a never-ending reveal of secrets, heartbreaks, hidden scandals and evil intentions, sometimes from the most unlikely of places. And while I loved the mystery (the pacing, clues and suprising twists were a lot of fun and kept me flipping pages as fast as I could read), it was the characters that I fell in love with in this story.

I adored Molly, Nina and Aunt Violet. There’s something so great about feisty women at any age who are smart, accomplished, can throw darts and can take care of a pint. These three ladies alone would have made the story the perfect read for me, but it was the added bonus of some great supporting characters that really added to the charm of the story.

I’m looking forward to seeing Molly’s friendship with teashop owner Daisy grow, plus there’s the two handsome guys that work at the bike shop, Kieran and Tim. Kieran is a wonderful mix of gentleman, hunk, nobleman and “regular guy” and I’m looking forward to his blossoming romance with Molly.

An intriguing backstory that will hopefully grow along with the series is Nina’s relationship with her estranged brother, Christopher. Christopher and his son Charlie work as thatchers and seem quite nice but Christopher’s wife, Janice, is absolutely terrible, so that should be cause for some fireworks in the future.

I also really enjoyed the two law enforcement characters – Inspector Sean Ryan who seems to be interested in Nina (what a nice change!) and of course, the best character, Sir Jon, a retired MI6 agent who now owns a bookshop specialising in (what else?) spy novels. He was so much fun!

The characters really gelled with me and with each other and their dialogue and interactions felt really natural and fun. Even the “baddies” were written in a way where you could hate them, but they didn’t put you off from reading the book. It was enjoyable from start to finish.

*** Thank you to publisher, St. Martin’s Press, for providing me with an e-copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

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Molly Kimball is losing her librarian job doe to budget cuts, and she’s looking for her next chapter. Her mother is a published poet, but she’s been struggling to find inspiration since Molly’s dad died. So when she gets a letter from her aunt in Cambridge, England, asking for help with the family bookshop, she and Molly decide to leave their Vermont farmhouse and head to England. After only a couple of weeks, they arrive in England and find their way to Thomas Marlowe—Manuscripts and Folios.

The bookshop is over 400 years old and has been in the family for generations, but now Molly’s Great Aunt Violet is struggling to keep the lights on. Her cousin Clive is already shopping the bookstore’s location to the chain Best Books, mush to Violet’s chagrin. But as soon as Molly and her mother get settled in, they have ideas on how to bump up sales. Molly has ideas for getting them on social media and creating a website for the store, and her mother offers Violet some money, to bring her loan with Clive current and keep Best Books at bay for a while longer.

But best of all, Molly finds out that among Violet’s group of college friends is Persephone Brightwell, one of the finest poets in England, and Molly wants her great aunt to ask her friend to do a reading at the store during the upcoming Cambridge Literary Festival. With help from some friends, they are able to set up a room for the reading, and Molly gets lots of good photos for social media at the event. Overall it’s a big success, until Molly finds herself in the back garden, chasing after a stray cat and almost stumbling over a dead body.

The woman in the garden is Myrtle, a cousin and a part of Violet’s friends group from her time at college. But the pink knitting needle that had been used to stab her was definitely Violet’s, and Molly is concerned that the police will think that Violet killed Myrtle. Molly and her new friends decide they need to investigate, to prove Violet innocent, while they’re also working to keep the bookshop in friendly hands.

Take an American new to Cambridge, add a new best friend from the local coffee shop, a couple of handsome young men from the bike rental place (one of whom is the son of a Lord), an ex-MI6 agent who runs a bookshop specializing in military thrillers, some sketchy cousins, a group of college friends with secrets, a couple of shop cats, and the breathtaking backdrop of Trinity College, and you have Chapter and Curse.

This is the first in a new series, and Elizabeth Penney has crafted a story where the setting is like another character. Setting the story in Cambridge, in a 400-year-old bookshop in a city with so much literary heritage adds depth and gravitas to the mystery. The characters of Molly, her mother Nina, and her aunt Violet are charming, and the blooming romance adds much sweetness.

I liked Chapter and Curse. I love the setting of Cambridge and the bookshop. I liked the crime and the investigation. I did feel like some of the scenes with Molly were a little overly sweet, a little saccharine, for a character of her age. I think that she’ll probably grow into her role in the books a little better as the series goes on, so I see a lot of potential for the Cambridge Bookshop series, and I look forward to reading more of these to see the journey the author and the character take together.

Egalleys for Chapter and Curse were provided by St. Martin’s Press through NetGalley, with many thanks.

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What an amazing start to a very promising series! I loved the main character and fell in love with her life and the town itself. I can’t wait to read more in this series.

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Chapter and Curse is the first book in a new series by ELizabeth Penney. The series follows Molly Kimball as she moves from Vermont to Cambridge, England after her father's passing. The Thomas Marlowe bookshop has been in Molly's mother's family for centuries and her mother's Aunt Violet wants the women to help save the shop from being taken over by a big retailer. Molly and her mother Nina quickly embrace the quaint University town and all their lovely neighbours, falling in love with the shop and surroundings.
They set up an event with a famous poet that Violet went to Cambridge University with to help promote the shop, but the event takes a turn when one of Violet's school friends ends up dead. Violet is instantly a suspect, due to the murder being in the shop backyard and some very unfortunate knitting needles. Molly, with the help of her aunt, mother, friends and a retired jame bond-like spy take it a upon themselves to find out what really happened.
There is also a secondary mystery involving one of Violet's old school mates who dies decades earlier that adds to the plot and a lovely bit of romance as well.

Overall, a fantastic start to a series. a wonderful setting, lots of family intrigue and history, well developed and interesting characters and I can't wait for the next installment. I did guess the murderer before the big reveal, but the characters kept me interested and not wanting to put the book down. Highly recommended!

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When American Molly Kimball and her recently widowed British mother move to Cambridge to take over the running of a bookstore that's been in their family for generations, the last thing they expect is to get caught up in a murder investigation. But within days of their arrival, someone dies near the bookstore, and Molly's great aunt, who invited them to England, is the prime suspect. Now, amidst trying to help the bookstore get back on its feet, learning about and meeting members of her previously estranged family, and getting to know the good-looking guy who works next door, Molly is determined to clear her aunt's name.

Overall, the book was decent. The plot drags in some places, and the mystery seems a little watered-down to me, which is certainly not what you want in a book from this genre. I liked most of the characters, though Molly herself is sort of "meh," in my opinion. The bookstore and the community around it were a lot of fun to read about. Aunt Violet's friends are a little on the bizarre side, and I had a difficult time pinning down what age anyone was supposed to be. I can figure it out with some math, but a lot of the characters act similarly to each other, so it was difficult to imagine age differences between some who I assume should have been in different generations.

I don't go into a cozy mystery expecting to figure out whodunit by the end, though that doesn't stop me from speculating. I have a tendency to take things at face value and get too caught up in the red herrings. The resolution to this mystery wasn't a total surprise to me, though, even while I didn't expect it to go that way simply because it felt so bland. The resolution to the mystery and motivation behind it seemed weak, like much more effort went into setting up this location and cast of characters for future stories than into making the mystery interesting. That's my opinion, however, and it's not enough to keep me from being interested in the continuation of this new series, due to how much I liked the setting and characters.

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This was a good beginning to a new cozy mystery series, with an interesting premise, that I would definitely recommend trying!

I received an e-ARC from the publisher.

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I loved the previous series that I read by the author. But while I did enjoy this one, it took me a bit o get into the story as the mystery itself didn't show up until a later chapter. But it was still a quick read. I look forward to picking up the Second book in the series.

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Princess Fuzzypants here: Molly’s mother receives an unexpected letter from England and before she knows it, the two of them are in Cambridge where the family bookshop is failing and Aunt Violet needs their help to save it. This is all news to Molly. She had no idea that any of this nor these people existed but as a librarian, she throws herself into coming up with ideas to revive the shop. It’s been in the family for centuries but one family member has designs on selling out to a big modern chain.

Things look promising with a reading by a famous poet set up. The poet, the woman who set it up and several others were all friends from university of Violet. Not only do the ladies have a history, it is clear they have secrets that they share. So when the woman who set it all in motion is murdered in Violet’s garden on the night of the reading and evidence is planted to point in Violet’s direction, Molly starts asking questions. As a librarian, research is second nature and the more she learns, the less palatable is the victim and the more motives are revealed that might have led to her murder. The deceased was blackmailing most of her “friends” and had been doing so since her university days. Now all Molly needs to figure out is who finally had enough.

I love the atmosphere of both the little enclave in Cambridge and the bookshop. There are some great characters including two very charming kitties. Molly is a very smart heroine with extraordinary powers of observation that even the local constabulary admits. The story also had one of the more unusual chase scenes before the killer is caught. I had sussed the villain out but there were still some surprises to be revealed. I did enjoy the book. Five purrs and two paws up.

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