Member Reviews

I absolutely fell in love with this book and its characters! It's definitely earned a spot on my favorites shelf!!! After Molly and her mother receive an unexpected invitation to join a relative in England, Molly is unexpectedly thrust into the role of sleuth when her aunt becomes the prime suspect in the murder of an old college friend.

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Chapter and Curse by Elizabeth Penney
First book in a new series. I have read the Apron Shop series and enjoyed those so I wanted to read this book. As in the Apron Shop series, this is also an adult daughter and her mom involved in a business venture, along with a great aunt. There are also other assorted relatives, good and bad, friends and a romantic interest. It is set in a 400 year old bookshop in Cambridge England. There is possibly a bit too much explanation of common British words and phrases but otherwise an enjoyable mystery and I look forward to more in the series.

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Molly Kimball and her mother Nina are still reeling from the death of her father and decide that a change is needed so they move from Vermont to Cambridge in the UK to help great Aunt Violet run the Thomas Marlowe bookshop. Aunt Violet with help from old school chums arranges to have Persephone Brightwell, a well known poet come for a reading from her new book in time for the Cambridge Literary Festival. However, right after the reading, one of the helpful chums is found murdered with one of Aunt Violet's knitting needles.

This was an excellent start for a new series - wonderful setting, relatable characters, and a well-written mystery.

I look forward to the next.

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Chapter and Curse: The Cambridge Bookshop Mystery Series
By Elizabeth Penney
St. Martin’s Paperbacks
October 2021

When the letter arrives from Cambridge, England, it's just what Molly and her mother Nina Kimball needed. Budget cuts were eliminating Molly's job as an assistant librarian, and the death of her father had left a vacuum in his widow’s and Molly’s lives. So they are both ready to take up the offer from Nina's Aunt Violet to come to England to help run her Thomas Marlowe-Manuscripts & Folios bookshop. Molly doesn't know much about her mother's estranged British family, but she does know that she wants to keep the bookstore out of the hands of her mother's cousin Clive, who is planning to sell the shop to a big franchise bookstore. Along with helping Violet to pay off part of a loan, the Kimball women organize an inaugural author reading event, Persephone Reads. Famous author Persephone Brightwell will be reading from her latest retrospective collection, and it will be something of a reunion for her and a few other village women who all attended St. Hildegard's college together. The night ends in tragedy though when Myrtle Marsh is found murdered, stabbed to death with one of Aunt Violet's pink knitting needles.

Fearing that the murder is also an attempt to frame her aunt and ruin the bookshop, Molly begins looking into the pasts that tied the women together. It doesn't take long to discover that Myrtle was running her own blackmailing scheme over much of the village, forcing them to pay up or have their secrets revealed to the world. Helping Molly to adjust to the quirks of language and cuisine (cottage pie is essentially a beef shepherd pie) is the neighboring bike shop owner Kieran Scott. Not only does he happen to be undeniably hunky, Kieran is also the son of a Lord and Cambridge's Just Eligible Bachelor. Molly can't help but feel intimidated when she sees the paparazzi shots of them of them together. Even if he’s distanced himself as the Second Son. A former MI6 agent who drives an Aston Martin, an abundance of coffee (Molly is still an American, after all) and scones, and research at the Wren Library ensure that Molly will have her own British Mystery Experience.

This first in the series is an absolute charmer that blends in a little family drama with booklore within a cozy British village setting. While experienced mystery readers may detect signs of the culprit early, that quickly becomes complicated when Molly discovers more victims of Myrtle's schemes. Molly's introduction to her mother's British family folds out gradually throughout the novel, and it allows Molly to see a version of Nina who gave up so much for love and is learning to move on. Aunt Violet's instruction on examining and evaluating valuable books is fascinating and fun, especially when it comes to an envious print of the Wizard of Oz. The relationships between the women are skillfully developed and heartwarming, with the hint of romance between Molly and Kieran and added delight. Anglophiles, bibliophiles, and mystery lovers will adore this introduction to Molly Kimball and the Marlowe bookshop.

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Shortly after her father's death, Molly Kimball finds herself traveling to England with her mother, Nina, to help out Nina's Aunt Violet in the family bookshop. Not only did Molly have no idea of the existence of either Aunt Violet or the bookshop, but it's soon discovered that the bookshop is in serious financial trouble and looking at the possibility of being sold to a bookstore chain. When a book reading/signing by one of Violet's old classmates- now a prominent poet- ends with the murder of a local busybody who happens to be another former classmate, Violet is quickly placed at the top of the suspect list. In order to clear her aunt's name, Molly decides to investigate and soon discovers that the victim's past activities may have made her more than a few enemies. Now Molly, her mother and aunt, and some new friends will have to dig through the clues to find out who finally decided to silence the victim for good.

As the introduction to a new cozy mystery series, Chapter and Curse gets just about everything right. Interesting (if not all likeable) characters, an intriguing location, a little romantic interest and of course, a murder with plenty of suspects. While I was able to peg the murderer pretty quickly, there were still enough diversions to make me second-guess myself on a few occasions. The history behind the murder was cleverly done and the family dynamics between Molly, her mother, and her new-found relatives were explained enough to give the reader an understanding of what had passed, yet still leave plenty of room for exploration in future books. I'm also looking forward to seeing the relationships between the characters grow.

All in all, an extremely enjoyable read and one that I have absolutely issues recommending! I look forward to more books (hopefully soon!) in this series!

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I really like the start to this new series. A bookshop, a librarian, a UK setting...what's not to love? The author does a terrific job weaving together the events of the past with the current murder. The characters are quirky enough for me to keep them all straight, but not so over-the-top that I'm distracted, and the plot ties everything up neatly. Bring on the next case!

Review copy provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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A cute cozy mystery, first book in the Cambridge Bookshop series. It’s perfect, a little romance, a little suspense, all in an English village. Even the murder weapon fits the scene, a knitting needle. I liked the characters and the plot was well executed, I’m looking forward to reading this the next book in the series.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own

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Molly Kimball and her mother move back to her mother’s native England to help her mother’s aunt run the family bookstore. Thomas Marlowe—Manuscripts and Folios, is one of the oldest bookshops in Cambridge, and is desperately in need of an overhaul to make it more attractive to customers. Aunt Violet is in debt to her conniving cousin Clive who wants to sell the bookstore to a chain and displace Violet from her home. Seeking to ramp up business for the store, a reading by Aunt Violet’s college classmate, poet Persephone Brightwell, ends in the murder of fellow classmate Myrtle Marsh with Aunt Violet the prime suspect. But as Molly and her new friends delve deeper into the life of the victim it turns out that there are many who have secrets and are glad to see Myrtle, the blackmailer, dead.

As the first in a series this did a good job of introducing the cast of characters. The setting is intriguing, a cozy mystery set in Cambridge with all the history that entails. I look forward to the next in this series.

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Chapter and Curse is the first in a charming new English cozy mystery series from Elizabeth Penney.
Molly Kimball and her mother Nina have recently moved from Vermont to Cambridge England after receiving a letter from Nina's aunt Violet Marlowe, who is in some dire need of help revitalizing her bookshop. During a poetry reading at the shop during the Cambridge Literary Festival, a local woman is murdered using Aunt Violet’s knitting needle, releasing some long held secrets. Molly with help from some new friends works to prove Aunt Violet’s innocence.

Chapter and Curse was a delightfully charming cozy set in England with just the right balance of romance, suspense and drama for the makings of an enjoyable cozy mystery. I found it quite easy and enjoyable to follow along with Molly as she conducts her investigation into the murder. The mystery was engaging with plenty of clues and suspects for readers play detective right alongside Molly. Penney has crafted some great characters that reside within the fictional community, my personal favorite being Jon, the former spy. The story moves along at a solid, steady pace right up to the entertaining and surprising ending that wrapped the mystery up expertly with no loose ends. While the mystery took center stage, the plot was complex and moved in some surprising directions with a bit of blackmail, suspense and even a hint at a future romance. Chapter and Curse is a great addition for book lovers as there are plenty of descriptions of books throughout the story. I look forward to another visit to Cambridge in the next book in the series.

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Chapter and Curse by Elizabeth Penney is the 1st book in the Cambridge Bookshop Series, and it's off to a great start. Molly Kimball, a librarian, and her mother Nina head to Cambridge, England to help Nina's Aunt Violet with the family bookstore. During a fundraiser for the bookstore, a guest is found dead, and Aunt Violet is a prime suspect, and Molly is determined to find the right killer. Wow this book grabbed me from the very first page. This book has more twists and turns, that kept me reading page after page. Just when I thought I was on the right track, I realize I wasn't. I found this book to be a quick read, with a well developed plot and characters. I am looking forward to reading more books by this author.
I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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This book was fun to read! I really enjoyed getting to know the story from this author.

In particular, I liked the fact that it is a little different from other cozies I have read and that it took place in a bookshop in England. The characters were interesting and the plot kept me interested.

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the opportunity to read and provide an honest review of this book.

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Chapter and Curse has all the elements of a great cozy, books, bookstore, cozy English village, … Molly (fresh out of work Librarian) and her mum Nina head from Vermont to help run the family business “Thomas Marlowe – Manuscripts and Folios” in Cambridge (England) – Molly has never met or heard about her British family, and is getting introduced as she goes to her family and neighbours. After a poetry reading in the shop, Molly finds a body, and her aunt becomes the prime suspect. Molly discovers that looking for clues is the same skill set that a librarian has for doing research – a girl after my own heart!
Great first book in a new series, looking forward to following Molly on more adventures.
Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for an advanced readers copy.

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The first in a new series from Elizabeth Penney but I know it certainly won't be the last!

I really enjoyed reading this book. The setting of a bookstore Cambridge was quite fun, and the whole book read like a British limited mystery series. The characters pop right off the page, and I loved that Molly now helps run the old family bookstore with her mother and aunt. I love the pacing of her friendship (relationship?) with Kieran from the bike shop. It's a very sweet, endearing friendship.

Highly suggest to anyone! Wonderful to read and I look forward to more adventures in Cambridge!

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Molly Kimball and her mother, Nina relocate to Cambridge, England after receiving a letter from Nina’s Aunt Violet Marlowe. Violet needs help getting the bookshop back in the black. During a poetry reading at the shop during the Cambridge Literary Festival, a local woman is murdered using Aunt Violet’s knitting needle. Molly with help from some new friends works to prove Aunt Violet’s innocence. Chapter and Curse by Elizabeth Penney is the debut of The Cambridge Bookshop Series. Elizabeth Penney captured Cambridge with the vivid descriptions. I could envision the beautiful old buildings of the area. The author created some great characters that live within a cozy community. Molly is a smart woman who loves books. She has great ideas for revitalizing the bookstore. I like Nina, Molly’s mother. I think she needed a change to help her recover from the death of her husband. Aunt Violet, George, Daisy, Sir John, Kiernan, and the other people living on Magpie Lane are charming. They are a friendly bunch who are welcoming. The mystery was well-plotted. We get to follow Molly as she conducts her investigation (you feel like you are in her shoes). There are breadcrumbs for readers to follow to help them solve the crime. I like how the mystery was laid out. The reveal was unique and entertaining. All the details regarding the whodunit were wrapped up so I was not left with lingering questions. I thought Chapter and Curse was well-written with slower pacing. I loved the book descriptions (like Molly, I love books) and meeting Puck. There is some romance in the book as well. I enjoyed my visit to Cambridge, and I look forward to returning in the next book. Chapter and Curse is a charming English cozy mystery with a precious Puck, an abating bookshop, a deadly poetry reading, a purloined knitting needle, a crafty cousin, good pub grub, and stealthy sleuthing.

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Molly and her mom move from Vermont to Cambridge to help run the family bookstore, family that Molly didn’t know about. During an event one of her old college friends is murdered. Molly uses her librarian skills to track down the killer.

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This is a fantastic start to a new cozy mystery series. I loved the Cambridge setting and the intriguing mystery. The characters were well rounded and endearing. I cannot wait for book 2!

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Chapter and Curse
by Elizabeth Penney
Pub Date 28 Sep 2021
St. Martin's Press, St. Martin's Paperbacks
Mystery & Thrillers

I am reviewing a copy of Chapter and Curse through St Martin Press and NetGalley:

Molly Kimball a librarian and her Mother Nina, needs 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.

Thomas Marlowe- Manuscripts and Folios is the oldest one of the oldest bookshops in Cambridge, and—unfortunately—customers can tell. After Molly and Nina arrive, spring has come to Cambridge and the famed Cambridge Literary Festival is underway. Molly has become 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. Sadly the event ends in disaster when a guest is found dead—with Molly’s great-aunt’s knitting needle used as the murder weapon. While trying to clear Violet and keep the struggling shop afloat, Molly sifts through secrets past and present, untangling a web of blackmail, deceit, and murder.

I give Chapter and Curse five out of five stars!

Happy Reading!

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So refreshing when you start a new series and realize you enjoyed each of the characters from the start. Each person, having their own distinctive voice, with a touch of humor, and not being "back-burnered" by other louder, more demanding views.

By her writing, I could not figure out if Elizabeth Penny is a British author or has just staged the book in Cambridge since her terminology fluctuates, yet after a while, it did not matter. The pace did lag in a few places, but eventually, it picked back up again with an obvious ending, but at the same time, there was a rushed feel.

Will there be more in this series? I certainly hope so since days later, the characters are still playing around in my head.

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Chapter and Curse is the first book in the Cambridge Bookshop series. When Molly and her mother learn that her aunt needs help running the family bookshop in England, they pack their bags. Molly has many ideas to bring in more customers, including author readings. However, the night of their first event, one of the guests is found murdered and Molly's aunt is the main suspect!

Chapter and Curse pulled me in right from the beginning. I would gladly pack up and move to Cambridge if someone told me they needed help running their bookshop! I liked that there were a lot of suspects because it was hard to figure out who the actual murderer was. Of course, that also means you need to keep track of more characters. Overall, I loved this cozy mystery because of the atmosphere and setting!

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This is another new series that I'm so excited for. I love Molly, her mother Nina, and Aunt Violet. I also really enjoyed the atmosphere of Thomas Marlowe bookstore. I really loved the community and the friends that Molly makes.

The mystery was solid. Pretty much as soon as the body is discovered, Molly, her family and a few friends immediately form a group to investigate. I love a team effort when it comes to an investigation and while this wasn't as fully used as I would have liked I loved when they would all get together and discuss new leads and whatnot. As the investigation continues the question changes from who would have wanted to kill the victim to who WOULDN'T want to kill the victim. The chase to the reveal was entertaining with just enough clues and red herrings to keep me me guessing.

Because this is the first book in the series there is quite a lot of setup. Penney has to explain why Molly doesn't know anything about her mother's family and why she hasn't been back as well as setup just who everyone is on this small lane in Cambridge. I found all of this interesting and enjoyed getting to know the characters. However, the setup did slow the pacing down just a smidge.

I'm excited to see where this series goes and I'm looking forward to spending more time with Molly, Nina, Aunt Violet, Kieran, Daisy and the rest of the group.

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