BOOK REVIEW: Chapter and Curse {Cambridge Bookshop # 1} by Elizabeth Penney

I can't say whether it was the promise of a charming English village or the vintage bookshop occupied by a cat that drew me in; but somehow I stumbled upon Elizabeth Penney's Chapter and Curse {Cambridge Bookshop, # 1} and I absolutely had to delve into it. While Chapter and Curse did bring me both of those things {as well as a colorful cast of characters}; it failed to charm me enough to want to continue on with the series. Nevertheless, I do highly recommend to those who want an easy to follow cozy with a cast of characters who feel like old friends.

Since the death of her father, part-time librarian Molly Kimball and her British mother, Nina, have felt a strong sense of emptiness in their lives. So strong, in fact, that they feel that they need some sort of change to move forward. When they unexpectedly receive a letter from Nina's Aunt Violet in Cambridge, England requesting their help in running the family bookshop, Thomas Marlowe - Manuscripts and Folios, they see it as a bit of fate, and promptly leave their Vermont home for the UK. Nina has always been tight-lipped about her family, so Molly is headed directly into the unknown; but she is eager for a new adventure, and more than happy to oblige.

Though ramshackle by outward appearances, Thomas Marlowe, is one of Cambridge's oldest bookshops, brimming with rare odds and ends that collectors flock to. It is Aunt Violet's hope that Nina and Molly can inject a bit of youth into the business - bringing it into the digital age with ecommerce and social media; while helping to repair some of the more...crumbly bits. Oddly enough, Nina and Molly's arrival coincides with the Cambridge Literary Festival, allowing Molly to begin her Thomas Marlowe update immediately. Eager to capitalize on the flashy festival, and draw crowds and new customers to Thomas Marlowe, Molly invites Aunt Violet's old college classmate and famed poet, Persephone Brightwell, to the shop for a poetry reading. The reading itself turns out to be a smash, but ends on a low note when a guest is found dead. The murder weapon? Aunt Violet's pink knitting needle.

With Aunt Violet now a prime suspect in the senseless murder, Molly is determined to not only clear her name, but keep the struggling Thomas Marlowe afloat at the same time. Doing so, however, will take more resolve than she expected, as she must turn to the past to unravel secrets directly correlated to the present involving lies, blackmail, and murder. And in the midst of her amateur sleuthing, she may just have a moment or two to canoodle with cutie Kieran - resident tabloid fodder scion of a titled family turned bike shop owner who has an eye for Molly, and a desire for a simple life sans paparazzi.

Le sigh...I had such high hopes for this book, but they quickly dissipated when I was able to not only pinpoint the murderer but unravel the entire decades old mystery in just a few short chapters, leaving me to watch for ages as the overeager Molly chased after incorrect theories and suspects, before finally figuring it all out correctly in the very end. Admittedly, I am rather good at solving mysteries prior to the MC; but this one was so obviously drawn that it felt too easy. Had the characters been more appealing, I would have at least enjoyed their antics; however, I was unenthused by the cast here.

Molly, though supposedly a young adult {in her twenties, I believe} comes off as very immature at times. Though she is likable; she oftentimes reminds me of a 14-year-old as opposed to an adult. She has very little depth; and though there are some things about her that are appealing, she doesn't have the ability to carry the story. Adding to that, the whole meet cute storyline involving Kieran is a bit much, as his character, and the whole paparazzi deal simply does not fit in with this book. In fact, Kieran and his titled family seem fit for another story altogether. I may be in the minority when I say this, but while I find the Cambridge, England atmosphere quite charming, I will not be returning, as there simply isn't enough here for me to want to continue on. Womp womp.

Star Rating: ***



ellie said...

Thanks for your great review! I love the cover.

Caitlin'nMegan said...

So good to know from your review! Thank you πŸ₯€πŸ’•πŸ§

Ivy's Closet said...

Wonderful review. Thanks for this!

Cherry Blossoms said...

So glad you reviewed this book. I had been wondering how it would be.

Hollyn'Stevie said...

Oh, too bad about the main character. It looks to have some charm. Great review.

The Book Group said...

Oh, such a beautiful book cover. Hope you find a mystery series you love.

Better Left Unsaid said...

I so enjoyed your review. Thanks for doing this. Hope the next book is better.

R's Rue said...

Thank you for sharing. I could use prayer. I will write later. Thank you and love you friend.

R's Rue said...

Love you friend. Happy Friday.

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