In this intriguing new series from New York Times bestselling author Ellery Adams, a quirky club in small-town North Carolina holds the keys to health, happiness, friendship—and even solving a murder—all to be found within the pages of the right book . . .
Strangers flock to Miracle Springs hoping the natural hot springs, five-star cuisine, and renowned spa can cure their ills. If none of that works, they often find their way to Miracle Books, where, over a fresh-baked “comfort” scone, they exchange their stories with owner Nora Pennington in return for a carefully chosen book. That’s Nora’s special talent—prescribing the perfect novel to ease a person’s deepest pain. So when a visiting businessman reaches out for guidance, Nora knows exactly how to help. But before he can keep their appointment, he’s found dead on the train tracks . . .
Stunned, Nora forms the Secret, Book, and Scone Society, a group of damaged souls yearning to earn redemption by helping others. To join, members must divulge their darkest secret—the terrible truth that brought each of them to Miracle Springs in the first place. Now, determined to uncover the truth behind the businessman’s demise, the women meet in Nora’s cozy bookstore. And as they untangle a web of corruption, they also discover their own courage, purpose, and a sisterhood that will carry them through every challenge—proving it’s never too late to turn the page and start over . . .
“Anyone who loves novels that revolve around books will savor this tasty treat.”
—Library Journal, Starred Review
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Read an Excerpt
A book must be an ice-axe to break the seas frozeninside our soul.
— Franz Kafka
The man on the park bench stared at the empty space above the knuckle of Nora Pennington's pinkie finger.
Strangers were always hypnotized by this gap. They would gaze at the puckered skin stretched over the nub of finger bone for several awkward seconds before averting their eyes in disgust, pity, or both.
Like most strangers, the man's attention could only remain on Nora's pinkie for so long. She had other fascinating scars. He couldn't fixate on just one.
His chin jerked slightly, as though he knew he was being impolite and should look away, but was powerless to do so. His eyes slowly traveled over the bubble of shell-smooth skin on the back of her hand. It was pinker and shinier than the surrounding skin, and Nora sensed that the man had an irrational desire to touch it.
Years ago, when Nora was in the hospital, a night nurse with silver hair that flashed like fish scales when caught by the light told Nora that the burn on her hand was shaped like Iceland.
"That's where I'm from," the nurse had added proudly. Her voice was part grandmother's lullaby, part chamomile tea, and part chenille blanket. It was the only thing that penetrated Nora's veil of pain. "You even have the two peninsulas on Iceland's western shore. See? They're like a pair of crab pincers."
Nora hadn't opened her eyes to look. She didn't want to acknowledge the nurse's presence. She didn't want comfort. She'd wanted to be left alone to sink deeper in her ocean of agony and remorse.
The man on the bench shifted, bringing Nora back to the present.
He was studying her right arm. This was her darkest, angriest scar: a Portuguese man-of-war jellyfish swimming through her skin from wrist to shoulder. And while part of its red and purple bell disappeared into the sleeve of her white blouse, there was an impression of other sea creatures reemerging above the collar. A parade of pale, glistening octopi drifted across Nora's neck and cheek, forever trapped in the ripples and wavelets the flames had carved into her skin.
The man's eyes strayed to Nora's other hand. The unblemished one.
This was unusual. Most people finished their inspection of Nora's face with a forlorn expression. She knew exactly what they were thinking when they wore that look.
What a shame. She'd be so pretty without those scars.
But this man hadn't responded with the "too bad, so sad" expression. He was clearly more interested in the scone she held than in continuing to study her burn scars.
Nora felt herself relaxing the stiff posture she held when newcomers inspected her.
"Excuse me." The man pointed at her decimated pastry. "Where did you get that?"
Nora, who'd been feeding the scone to a small flock of mourning doves, replied, "From the Gingerbread House. They're called comfort scones. The baker, Hester, makes custom scones based on what she thinks her patrons will be comforted by. You should pay her a visit."
"I love scones, but I haven't had one in forever. I used to have a chocolate-chip scone every Thursday afternoon at this little coffee shop near my office. But that was before everything changed. I couldn't look the barista in the eye after —" The man fell into an abrupt silence. He sat very still and watched the doves devour Nora's crumbs. When every last piece was gone, he asked, "Why are you feeding yours to the birds?"
"A customer dropped it on the floor while I was in the bakery buying a cinnamon twist," Nora said. "I prefer cinnamon twists over scones because they're easier to eat while I'm reading. That's my main priority when it comes to food. Other people are obsessed with calories, nutritional value, antioxidants. I look at food and wonder: Can I eat that without having to put my book down?"
This elicited a small smile from the man. He pointed at the yellow building with the cobalt blue trim and doors on the far side of the park. The former train depot, which had been converted into a bookshop, possessed an air of charming dilapidation.
"So I take it you hang out there pretty often," he said.
"I do." Dusting crumbs from her hands, Nora added, "Miracle Books is my store."
Hearing this, the man pivoted to face her.
The sudden movement startled the doves and they took off in a burst of alarmed coos and whooshing wings.
"An African-American woman working at the thermal pools told me about the resident bibliotherapist. Was she talking about you?"
Nora saw the need in the man's eyes. She'd seen it hundreds of times. But only from those who dared to look directly at her. "This woman said that the bibliotherapist was able to help people solve their problems by recommending certain titles." The man gestured at Miracle Books. "It makes sense that you'd own a bookstore."
"I have no official training," Nora said, uttering her standard disclaimer. "Before I came to Miracle Springs, I was a librarian. I haven't taken a single course in psychology. I've never done any formal counseling."
The man frowned in confusion. "This woman said that people seek you out when the rest of the services in town failed to make them feel better. But I don't get it. How can you succeed where all of the professionals — and the healing waters — can't?"
Nora shrugged. "There's no guarantee my method will work, either. I read all the time. And I listen to people. I really listen." She held the man's dubious gaze. "Stories don't change much across continents and centuries. Hearts are broken. Pride is wounded. Souls wander too far from home and become lost. The wrong roads are taken. The incorrect choice is made. Stories echo with loneliness. Grief. Longing. Redemption. Forgiveness. Hope. And love." Now it was her turn to point at the bookstore. "That building is stuffed with books that, once opened, reveal our communal story. And, if you're lucky, the words in those books will force you to grapple with the hardest truths of your life. After reducing you to a puddle of tears, they'll raise you to your feet again. The words will pull you up, higher and higher, until you feel the sun on your face again. Until you're suddenly humming on the way to the mailbox. Or you're buying bouquets of gerbera daisies because you crave bright colors. And you'll laugh again — as freely as champagne bubbling in a tall, glass flute. When's the last time you laughed like that?"
The man's mouth twisted. He was trying to hold his emotion in check — to keep his pain from overtaking him. His hands gripped his knees so hard that his knuckles had gone white. He looked away from Nora, and she thought he might get up and leave. Instead, he asked, "How does it work? This bibliotherapy."
"Go to the Gingerbread House and buy a comfort scone," Nora said. "Tell Hester you're coming to see me and she'll put your scone in a takeout box. I have coffee, but the fanciest thing I make with my espresso machine is a latte, so if you're used to soy no-foam mochaccinos, you're going to be disappointed."
"I confess to making decisions that have complicated my life and compromised my principles," the man said. "But I've never taken my coffee any way but black."
"Then we're off to a good start." Nora got to her feet. "While you're eating, you can tell me what brought you to Miracle Springs." She held up her hands. "This won't be like a traditional counseling session where we sit down and you talk for a long period of time. You won't need to go into detail with me. I only need a broad brushstroke — a brief glimpse into the heart of your pain. That way, I can select the right books. After that, you can start reading your way to a fresh start this evening."
The man grunted, infusing his exhalation with a feeling of dismissal. "I'm not much of a reader."
"Ah." Nora moved away a few steps and then stopped and spun on her heel. "You came to Miracle Springs to make changes, didn't you? Becoming a reader is a change for the better. Trust me. No one has ever lost by becoming addicted to stories — to the lessons learned by those who possess enough courage to put pen to paper."
"You've got a point." Another dismissive grunt. "What's the worst that could happen from my opening the cover of a book?"
For the first time since they'd begun speaking, Nora smiled. And because she was showing the man the unblemished side of her face, she saw that he was utterly transfixed.
"You have no idea," Nora said. Her smile wavered before completely vanishing. "Stories are just like people. If you don't approach them with an open mind and a healthy dose of respect, they won't reveal their hidden selves to you. In that event, you'll miss out on what they have to offer. You'll walk through life an empty husk instead of a vibrant kaleidoscope of passion, wisdom, and experience."
The man studied her for a long moment. "I don't want to be empty anymore. I came to Miracle Springs days ahead of my partners to figure out how to fix things before it happens all over again. Nothing's worked. My partners arrive on the three o'clock train, so I have nothing to lose by giving your method a shot." He grinned. "At the very least, I'll have a scone for my efforts. Where is this celebrated Gingerbread House?"
Nora gave him directions and then continued on to Miracle Books. She had things to take care of before the man returned for his session. The trolley from the lodge would be arriving soon, and trolley-loads of rich and restless souls paid Nora's bills.
Nora Pennington loved selling books. She loved talking to people about books. But what she wanted most was to heal people using books.
Four years ago, when Nora had been a patient in a hospital burn unit, she'd prayed for death. Not only were her prayers unanswered, but she was also given first-rate medical care and the perfect prescription of stories, courtesy of an Icelandic nurse with silver hair.
First, the nurse brought Nora books about physically deformed men who were capable of great genius, devout love, acts of madness, or all of the above. And while Nora refused to watch television or receive visitors, she grudgingly reread Frankenstein.
Next, she was given The Phantom of the Opera, followed by the Christine Sparks version of The Elephant Man.
"Are you trying to depress me? Because I don't think I need any help in that department," Nora had grumbled to the nurse. She'd been angry. She was always angry. And when she wasn't angry, she was depressed. She felt no other emotions.
In response, the nurse had laid a copy of The Hunchback of Notre-Dame on her bed.
"Guess I'm ready for Dracula or Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," Nora had told her caregiver after she'd finished the Victor Hugo classic.
"You're heading in another direction," the nurse had cheerfully informed her, placing John Green's Looking for Alaska, Karen Kingsbury's Waiting for Morning, and Kristin Hannah's Night Road on Nora's nightstand.
Because of the narcotics, Nora hadn't immediately realized that the theme of this current set of novels was drunk driving, so she read on. As she'd turned the pages, her emotional pain became as intense as her physical pain.
"Why are you doing this?" she'd whispered to the nurse one night. "You heard about my accident. I thought you were kind."
"You have to sink to the very bottom, my child," the woman had whispered in her lullaby voice. "After that, you can push off with both feet and start swimming toward the surface. You're strong. You can get there. But it's going to hurt. You have to clean out the wound before it can heal. Let the stories be your antiseptic. Bear the pain now for a chance at a better tomorrow. Otherwise, you'll repeat the mistakes that landed you in this bed."
Nora had read every title. When she was done, the nurse had brought her a book called The Burn Journals by Brent Runyon. "It's about a boy who set himself on fire when he was fourteen," she told Nora. "I know you didn't burn yourself on purpose, but I thought you'd like to read about his recovery process. He might even make you laugh."
I doubt it, Nora had thought. She'd done a terrible, terrible thing. There would be no laughter in her life. Never again.
But she'd read the book. And the next one. And the next.
The night before she was to be discharged from the hospital, Nora had asked for more books.
"You're a librarian," the nurse had replied with a smile. "You know where to find them."
Nora had dropped her eyes. "I'm not going back. I need to start over — in another place."
The nurse had sat on the edge of Nora's bed and taken her good hand in hers. "What would this place look like? The place where you'd begin a new life?"
"It would have lots and lots of books," Nora had said. "I can't live without them." Gazing at the lights and omnipresent haze of the urban sprawl outside her window, she went on: "It would be in the country. Somewhere remote and lovely. A place where people still grow vegetable gardens and build purple-martin houses. Where they have quirky holiday parades and bake sales. A place where people look for the pets on posters stapled to telephone polls. A little town. Not so little that everyone will pry into my business, but small enough that the locals will eventually get used to my appearance. Eventually, they'll stop whispering."
"And what will you do for money in this paradise?" the nurse had asked.
At this question, Nora had gone clammy with fear. She'd been so caught up in her fantasy that she hadn't considered the practicalities. During her lengthy convalescence, she'd ignored visitors, phone calls, and letters. But as of tomorrow, she couldn't hide from the outside world anymore.
Her burn scars had begun to throb, which was good, because the pain kept her grounded. She wanted to feel pain. She deserved it, so she embraced it.
"I'll open a bookstore," she'd said calmly. "I have some savings, and if I find a town that needs a bookstore —"
"Doesn't every town?" the nurse had interjected, her glacier-blue eyes twinkling with humor.
Nora had smiled. Smiling hurt the burn wound on her right cheek, but she owed this woman a smile, at the very least. "If it wants a soul, then yes. Every town needs a bookstore."
* * *
Nora pushed open the door to Miracle Books to the jingle-jangle of sleigh bells. They weren't a light, melodious tinkle, but a loud clanging that erupted from a leather horse harness covered in baseball-sized brass bells. Nora had bought the harness at the flea market and hung it from a nail on the back of the door. This way, she knew when a customer entered the shop, even if she was at the other end of the labyrinth of bookshelves she'd created to funnel people from the front toward the ticket-agent's office.
Everything in the store — from the fainting couch to the leather sofa, and the assortment of upholstered chairs in various stages of degeneration — came from yard sales and flea markets. Occasionally, Nora made purchases from the local auction company, but these treasures were reserved for her home: a four-room, tiny house that had once been a functioning railroad car. The locals referred to her diminutive abode as Caboose Cottage because her refurbished train car was a cheerful apple-red.
After flipping the SHUT sign over to read OPEN, Nora continued walking deeper into the shop. She needed to brew coffee. The trolley would be pulling into the public parking area any moment now.
Nora entered the small office where train tickets were once sold to Miracle Springs travelers. In order to convert the office into a basic coffee dispensary, Nora had removed the ticket window's glass divide and hung a chalkboard next to the opening. The chalkboard listed the literary names of the beverages Miracle Books offered:
The Ernest Hemingway — Dark Roast The Louisa May Alcott — Light Roast The Dante Alighieri — Decaf The Wilkie Collins — Cappuccino The Jack London — Latte The Agatha ChrisTEA — Earl Grey
From time to time, customers would suggest a new and complicated espresso recipe along with a suitable author name to match.
Nora, who'd learned to treat people's feelings with care since her life had taken such a dramatic turn on a dark highway four years ago, would smile and praise the person for their creativity. She would then confess that her secondhand espresso maker could barely handle steaming milk, but if she ever had the chance to upgrade, she'd keep their drink idea in mind.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Secret, Book & Scone Society"
Copyright © 2017 Ellery Adams.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Normally, I don't spend my hard-earned dollars on a book (even if I am familiar with the author) for which a publisher can't be bothered to write a synopsis. On a whim, I bought this book in spite of the lack of synopsis. I really enjoyed it. It is a mystery that is a bit tricky to categorize. It is a little too intense to be a cozy mystery, but it is not a typical thriller-style mystery either. Rather, it is a blend of both types. As I read it, 2 very different styles of series, both favorites of mine, came to mind: the "League of Literary Ladies" series by Kylie Logan, and the "Chief Inspector Gamache" series by Louise Penny. This book doesn't copy either series, but it is evocative of both. The mystery is smart and well-paced. The characters are complex, sympathetic, and interesting. It is set in the small town of Miracle Springs in western North Carolina. The story centers around 4 very different women: Nora the bookstore owner, Estella the beauty salon owner, Hester the bakery owner, and June the R.N. and health spa assistant. In the 1st few pages of the story, a man is murdered. For a variety of reasons, the women believe his death to be a homicide not a suicide. In order to prove it, each woman must overcome her own personal demons in order for them to work together to solve the case. They form "The Secret, Book, and Scone Society". As the story progresses, they solve the mystery, and each woman learns a great deal about herself as well as about the other 3 women. I will definitely read a sequel. On a separate but related note, I mentioned earlier that it angers me when a publisher doesn't provide a synopsis for a book. The lack of information is frustrating. I also find the opposite annoying. Reviews are helpful, but simply regurgitating a synopsis word-for-word does not constitute a review! To add insult to injury, some reviewers also toss in spoilers. Stop it! I hope other readers find this review helpful. I did try to explain the book without giving away any of the action and intrigue.
Hope this is just the start of many more journeys with this group of incredible women. The author has done a beautiful job of creating characters that the reader wants to have for friends. Everyone who reads this will want a chair in the book store
Engaging, interesting women who share their life stories and gain strength and lasting friendships
"The Secret, Book, and Scone Society" by Ellery Adams is an absolutely wonderful start to a new cozy mystery series! The story is centered upon Nora, a woman with scars both physical and emotional. Nora runs a bookshop and often helps customers heal from emotional trauma by suggesting just the right mix of books. One such potential reader is found dead before he can enjoy his books, and Nora sets out to determine what really happened. The mystery is well-plotted, with enough clues and information provided to the reader to keep things interesting, but never enough to make the answer obvious. Nora thinks things through and takes logical steps to solve the mystery, instead of bumbling around and occasionally coming across a clue (like so many cozy heroines are prone to do). Of course, this doesn't mean that she never does anything dangerous or stupid! Nora's flaws are actually what make the reader love her; perfect heroines get annoying quickly. The book also shines in the area of characters and their relationships with one another. Despite running a successful business, Nora has kept herself fairly closed off from others. As the mystery unfolds, she finds herself drawing together a group of like-minded women with problems of their own. As the story progresses, each woman begins to share her secrets and find personal healing. I love the way that these personal journeys are woven into the mystery plotline, and look forward to watching the friendships deepen as the group goes on to solve future crimes (which will undoubtedly occur in their cozy town). Honestly, I can't say enough good things about "The Secret, Book, and Scone Society". It has everything a typical cozy should (including a crew of very oddly-behaving cats), but brings so much more to the table. Nora's character in particular has the potential for extensive growth and development in future installments of this series. The other regular characters (plus one mysterious newcomer) also have plenty of room to grow and provide the bases for more stories. Overall, five chunks of the tastiest, sharpest cheddar available!
Not only do you get involved with the mystery, you get involved with the characters. The friendship formulated by these four women makes you want to continue getting to know them.
Interesting read. Kept on one’s toes. Want more with the four women.
This was my 1st book by Ellery Adams it was a great book look forward to reading more by her Jill S
The Secret, Book, and Scone Society is an excellent series debut that will enchant and delight readers. I went in believing that this was a light cozy mystery and was pleasantly surprised by the depth this story contained. This book melds cozy mystery, magical realism, and contemporary fiction together to create an enchanting story with realistic, well-developed characters. The descriptive writing style worked beautifully with the mystery plot. Plus there are enough literary references to delight any reader. After a visiting businessman is found dead on the local train tracks, Nora Pennington is convinced that his death was actually a murder. Rebuffed by the local police, she joins with three other local woman who also believe the death was suspicious. Together, these four women found the Secret, Book and Scone society. Each of these remarkable women has a secret they buried long ago. However, to earn the trust of the others, they decided that they each must expose their darkest secret. While seeking out the truth of the mystery, this group may just get more than they bargained for on all accounts. I loved how realistic the characters in this book felt, particularly the main characters. They were all flawed in their own way. The friendships that formed between the four women of The Secret, Book, and Scone Society were lovely, based on mutual respect and understanding. Also, I adored that Nora used literature to help others heal while Hester makes comfort scones that bring them peace. The plot was relatively straightforward but the villains were wonderfully realistic. I loved how tightly woven the plot was. The author did a fantastic job of creating suspense while still giving the reader enough information to solve the mystery on their own. I will be eagerly anticipated the second installment in the Miracle Spring, North Carolina series. The Secret, Book, and Scone Society was utterly charming. I loved the unexpected depth contained in this cozy mystery. Definitely recommend if you're looking for a good mystery. *Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This was a surprising book. The development of the relationships of the three woman was amazing. And their “stories” were wonderfully laid out.
After a personal tragedy, Nora Pennington moves to Miracle Springs to start a new life, opening her own bookstore, Miracle Books, and leading a quiet, more sheltered lifestyle. Her new forte is that of a bibliotherapist, matching books to her customers that come in seeking peace, forgiveness or healing. But when one of her potential customers turns up dead, Nora is sure he did not commit suicide, based on their brief conversation together earlier. Circumstances then bring together three more damaged women to Nora's store and they soon find themselves involved in solving his death. But even more important, they ultimately look for ways to heal themselves. And thus, the Secret, Book and Scone Society is born. This is the first book in a new series by Ellery Adams and as with her other mystery series, immediately captures the reader with its characters, mystery and twists and turns. Each of the four woman has a personal "secret" that has overshadowed their lives, and each needs to find a way to work through this and learn to share and trust again. While the mystery was an important part of this story, it definitely took a backseat (rightfully so) to the journey that Nora, June, Hester and Estelle all are taking together...broken souls in need of healing in a town known for healing strangers. I can't wait for the next book in this series to learn more about these characters and their relationships with each other.
Dollycas’s Thoughts Nora Pennington has come to Miracle Springs, North Carolina to escape a terrible tragedy. She feels safe in her bookstore helping her customers find their own healing in the books she chooses for them. Hester runs the Gingerbread House bakery. Customers tell her a little bit about their lives and what brought them to Miracle Springs. Then she bakes them up a “comfort scone”. She and Nora work together by sending their customers to each other’s stores. June works at the hot springs spa where people come to rejuvenate themselves and Estella is a beautician who tries to help her clients find their true selves. These 4 women were very introverted, had no friends, and barely knew each other until a man left Hester’s bakery on his way to Nora’s bookstore and never arrived. Soon after, he is found dead on the railroad tracks. The local police quickly rule the death a suicide but these ladies can’t believe that is true. Together they form the Secret, Book & Scone Society and decide that together they can find the truth and get justice for a man they didn’t even know. This is such a special story, so much more than a cozy mystery, but a story where the characters bring hope to others while examining their own lives. They are each in places of needing healing themselves and over the course of this story a heartwarming bond is formed. These characters are written with a loving hand as we learn throughout the book the traumas they have endured to become the woman they are today. At first they read as timid characters but their strength grows with the turn of each page. Ellery Adams is known for creating characters that readers want to know better. These character are absolutely wonderful. They are compassionate, engaging and relatable and believable. Characters you would want to be friends with if you could jump into the book. I want to join their society. The mystery itself was a curious one. Neil Parrish was a business man clearly at a crosswords that he was unsure how to handle. Knowing nothing of the man Nora and the rest of Secret, Book & Scone Society had to do some research and legwork including sneaking around in places that put them in danger. For me it was like a huge puzzle with too many pieces. Some information moved their investigation forward, some sent them in circles, or was just interesting but may not have anything to do with Parrish’s death. I was intrigued and entertained following along for each new discovery. I was holding my breath for the climatic scenes. Wow! Miracle Springs is a very interesting place and a fantastic setting for this series. I think we have barely scratched the surface of the potential stories that can be gleaned from the town and its residents. As someone trying to heal myself from a variety of things in my life I wish I could actually travel there for my “comfort” scone and my bag of books that would set my healing on a clear course. I have loved everything I have read by this author. She is such a talented writer and she has created something truly magical in this story. I am excited to see where she takes this series. This amazing story was a true trip to PARADISE. What a extraordinary escape!
This was a fabulous read, if I could give it !ore than five stars I would. I kept putting it down while I was reading it, not because I couldn't get into it but because I didn't want it to end. It pulled me in and I wanted to stay there and get to know the characters more. I so wanted to visit Miracle Springs and have a custom made scone and then go to Miracle Books and have a session with Nora wondering what books she would choose to help me. In this first book of the series you'll meet an array of characters who will touch your heart and have you wanting to be a part of the secret society. I've always loved books and this one gave me a greater respect for the healing powers that they hold. The secrets told varied, but all were revealing moments and gave me a better grasp of who each character truly was not just who they portrayed themselves to be. I learned that true friendship offers a healing balm to those who trust and believe in it. This book wasn't just a mystery but a beginning to some wonderful friendships. I so look forward to seeing what happens next with this group of women and how ready they are to step out of their comfort zones.
I finished this book late into Monday night. I couldn't put it down. This book is so much more than a cozy mystery. It's an amazing tale about four very different women who find themselves involved in a mystery that is tearing their small town apart. Nora owns a book shop, and helps to heal those customers who need it, by suggesting books, she's a biblio-therapist. June is the manager of a luxury spa, Estella owns a hair salon and Hester owns her bakery, where comfort scones are her specialty. When the mysterious death becomes the talk of the town, the ladies begin a friendship that is so unlikely, it will take your breath away. Each lady has their own story to tell, and every one of their stories were absolutely poignant. I can't say enough about this wonderful new series by Ellery Adams. Her writing style and imagination goes beyond words. This book is so much more than I expected and I'm sure this book will appeal to all readers of any age. This book would make an excellent present for that hard to buy for person. Be sure to put this at the top of your list, you won't be disappointed. I voluntarily read an ARC of this book provided by the author.
This is the first book in a new series by Ellery Adams. It was just as enchanting to read as is looking at the cover of the book. We get to meet four powerful, and damaged women living in Miracle Springs, North Carolina. A town known where people travel to for healing. When a man is found dead these four women decide to search for answers and the truth. I have read Ellery Adams other series and love them, but this to me is her best. A story how very different individuals can form friendships. I voluntarily reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book.
The Secret, Book & Scone Society by Ellery Adams is set in Miracle Springs, North Carolina which is considered a place of healing. A group of misfits form a tight bond of friendship, two murders and corrupt officials all join together to bring a wonderful story that keeps you going and guessing until the very end. I highly recommend this book to anyone that has or hasn’t read anything by this author.
The Secret, Book & Scone Society by Ellery Adams was a strong beginning to a new series. It was more than a cozy mystery as Ms. Adams combined very detailed descriptions of the four main women characters in the book. I thought of this book as a combination mystery and women's fiction. Nora, Hester, Estella and June are some of the strongest, determined and loneliest women I have ever met in a book. Their stories as they are revealed during the mystery had me tearing up and cheering them on as their friendships strengthened. The plot was smoothly paced, the suspects were corrupt and sadly realistic in this current time. There were plenty of twists to keep me turning the pages as I never did quite figure out what was behind the murders until the reveal. Ms. Adams detail of Miracle Springs, North Carolina makes me want to visit and enjoy the spa with June, get a makeover with Estella, eat one of Hester's "special" scones, and visit Nora for a "bibliotherapist" session. The mystery was wrapped up; but I am so curious about Jed's past and the young mystery woman who appeared at the end of the book. I'm am already anxious to read the next one in the series. I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book from Kensington via NetGalley. All of the above opinions are my own. Thank you Kensington for allowing me to read and review this remarkable book.
Wow! This book was beautiful! The characters were so real and full of heart. These ladies had me rooting for them. The women in this book were all broken, yet they had been gluing themselves back together for a while. After meeting eachother, it seemed like the glue was drying faster. They all had difficult back stories. This helped them to all come together. Adams does a marvelous job of making characters that aren't just believable, but they become living, breathing beings. They aren't characters anymore, she make them people. People that you can feel for. The thing that intially draws them togther is there joint feeling of need to help a man that was murdered. A man that had seemed troubled. Someone who was broken and seemed to want to fix himself. Just like them. The women form there Secret, Book, and Scone Society and get to work. The mystery aspect was fantastic. All of the women banded together and went on a search for the killer. As they looked into the mysterious happenings, they all became closer. They laughed, cried, and got into some sticky situations with each other. You can feel there friendships getting closer as the book progressed. Books have truly saved Nora's life. I loved all of the literary references that were dolloped throughout the book. Nora always seems to think that all people see when they look at her are her scars. But she meets a guy that might just convince her that that isn't true. Take some damaged, strong women, books, and a scone or two, and you have yourself one killer of a combination. I truly believe that these women can handle whatever life throws at them. I look foward to finding out what that may be! I received a free copy of this book. I am voluntarily leaving a review. All opinions expressed here are my own.
Ellery Adams is one of my favorite authors. Her books never disappoint this reader. One of the things she excels most at is exploring the emotional depths of her characters. Whether it is their pain, their insecurities, or even their joys, you happily go along for the ride, even recognizing traits in yourself and others along the way. In The Secret, Book & Scone Society, Adams does a masterful job once again in introducing us to Nora, Estella, Hester, and June, four women with diverse lives and pain, who live in Miracle Springs, North Carolina. The mysterious death of a visiting businessman brings the four together as they resolve to determine the truth behind his passing. As they open up and share their deepest, darkest secrets to one another, a wonderful sisterhood is established. Healing, which they provide to guests in their town, becomes their own. The mystery in the story takes many twists and turns, and I was pleasantly surprised by the end. Adams is a great steward of the stories she's given, and Nora, Estella, Hester, and June, no doubt, are thanking her for telling this one so well. I look forward to many more in this series from her.
The Secret, Book and Scone Society by Ellery Adams is the first book in Miracle Springs, North Carolina series. Nora Pennington owns Miracle Books in Miracle Springs, North Carolina. The town is known to be a place of healing and Nora is known locally as a bibliotherapist. A man in the park wishes Nora‘s help, so she suggests that he pick up a comfort scone from Gingerbread House and come to her shop. Before he can get to Nora for assistance, Neil Parrish is found dead on the train tracks. When the police rule it a suicide, Nora along with Estella, June and Hester form The Secret, Book and Scone Society. Their purpose is get the truth about the man’s demise. They delve into Neil’s life to uncover what could have gotten him killed. They knew he came to town ahead of his partner’s and he was wrestling with a problem. When the four ladies meet to discuss what they have uncovered, each member of the group reveals the secret that brought them to Miracle Springs. These four women band together to get justice for one man and find themselves embroiled in a corruption scandal. The best thing to come out of this is four lone woman find friendship, love and acceptance. The Secret, Book and Scone Society is well-written and engaging. My attention was captured right away with Nora’s description. I found the four main characters to be personable yet flawed from life’s tragedy. They were fleshed out and given life—very realistic. Each one is unique. There are also some characters (namely Sheriff Todd Hendricks) that readers will really dislike and wish to maim. I did not like how the police treated women in this book (I know it was part of the story, but it was offensive). I liked the description of the town, the Gingerbread House, Nora’s home (it is in a red train caboose) and, most especially, Miracle Books. My rating for The Secret, Book and Scone Society is 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it). The book contained more cozy elements than mystery. I was hoping for a more complex whodunit (like is Ms. Adams Murder in the Mystery Suite). I did like the authors use of misdirection in this book.
This is the best book I've had the pleasure of reading all year. With wonderfully developed characters who feel like friends, a cozy small town you can't wait to visit, and a page-turning mystery to be solved, this book has all the necessary ingredients for a great read. I was sad to finish it and end my time with four great ladies for now. But it's going back in my TBR pile for a second read. When a visiting businessman turns up dead, four women who spend their lives as loners come together to learn the truth about his death. Their time together requires them to do something they haven't done in a long time, trust. But by divulging their secrets to each other, they learn to trust again and build the foundation for a wonderful friendship. Together they become an unstoppable team fighting for justice. The characters are so well written they feel like close, personal friends. My only regret is that Miracle Springs is not a real place where I can read books, eat scones, and get to know these ladies better.
I was given this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. I was very excited to read this book as soon as I opened the package. From the first few pages it didn't disappoint. There are so many levels of mystery and intrigue going on but Ellery does such a fabulous job that you don't get lost in any of them. The names of the characters fit their personalities so well that I could picture them right from the start. Her descriptions are fabulous and I wish I could visit Miracle Springs for real. The mystery and murders in the book are done very well to give you the idea of what's going on without too much and it keeps you guessing until the reveal. The whole book was written amazingly and I wait impatiently for the next one! Until then, I think I'll bake some scones.
4.5 stars THE SECRET, BOOK, AND SCONE SOCIETY is one of the best books I have read this year. Over the years, Ellery Adams has penned some of my favorite cozy mysteries, and I was excited to read this first book in a new series. THE SECRET, BOOK, AND SCONE SOCIETY is a bit darker than the typical cozy but hits all of the trade mark criteria, including a lovely small town setting, amateur sleuths, and a murder or two. The story is set in Miracle Springs, North Carolina, where the healing waters draw tourists and those seeking to sooth what ails them. Local bookstore owner Nora Pennington has some special skills of her own, calling herself a bibliotherapist. She is quite adept at listening to her customers and choosing books that she thinks they need to read. How cool is that? Nora is fighting her own inner battle – she has closed herself off to personal relationships and has scars that go far beyond those she received in a fire. When a man she meets in the park fails to keep his appointment with her and is killed by a train, she refuses to believe that he killed himself. When three other women, baker Hester, beautician Estella, and thermal pools employee June, agree with her, they set out to investigate. However, they must first learn to trust each other and agree to share their deepest, darkest secrets with each other. Thus The Secret, Book, and Scone Society is born. When a business colleague of the victim is also murdered and Estella arrested for the crime, the other three do all they can to solve the mystery. THE SECRET, BOOK, AND SCONE SOCIETY is so much more than a murder mystery full of deception and corruption. At its core, it is a story of friendship, trust, redemption, and healing. Adams excels at creating strong, yet flawed, relatable female characters, and here is no exception. Nora, Hester, June, and Estella’s personalities are as varied as their secrets, and I really feel like I got to know all of them very well. They are so realistically drawn that they leap off the page and stay with you long after the last sentence is read. I now consider them my friends. Paramedic Jedadiah Craig, who has some secrets of his own, is a charming addition to the cast of characters, and I look forward to seeing where his relationship with Nora goes. The mystery surrounding Neil Parrish’s death in intriguing, and I felt compelled to keep reading, impatiently trying to figure out how all of the puzzle pieces of the mystery fit together. There are several suspects and enough uncertainty along the way to keep me guessing. The climactic, dangerous revelation, including the identity of one of those involved in the murders, left me breathless. I cannot wait to see what Adams has in store for The Society in future installments. I highly recommend THE SECRET, BOOK, AND SCONE SOCIETY to any reader seeking a strong cast of characters and thought provoking plot. I received an ARC of this title and voluntarily shared my thoughts and opinions here.
The Secret, Book and Scone Society is the first book in this exciting new series. This series centers around four women who are friendly toward each other but don’t know each other well enough to say they are friends. The town where they live, Miracle Springs, North Carolina, is famous for its healing springs. Each of the women has their own healing power. The main character, Nora Pennington, suffered severe burns from an auto accident and still has extensive scar damage. While recovering in the hospital from her burns, she learned the healing power of books from one of her nurses. When she moved to Miracle Spring. One morning Nora is sitting on a bench feeding the birds a scone when Neil Parrish, strikes up a conversation, wondering if she is the lady that heals people with books. She answers yes and suggests he go to The Gingerbread House and get a comfort scone and come to her bookstore for a talk and she would select some books to help heal his problems. But before they can have their meeting Parrish is killed when he falls in front of a train. Nora’s bookstore is located in the towns old train depot and one by one the other three women come in to talk about the tragic event. The police department decides that it was a suicide, but the four woman seriously doubt that, as he seemed so sincere for making up for things that happened in his past. The more the women discuss the tragic event their friendship begins to grow and they are soon good friends and are willing to share the secrets that each have and that they have not shared with anyone else. So the Secret, Book and Scone Society is formed and with this new alliance set off to find what really happened to and why. Then when there is another death of one of Parrish’s business partners and the arrest of one of the Society’s members for his death, they know are sure both deaths are related and get serious about their investigation. Another well-plotted and told story from Ellery Adams. This book has a wonderful cast of characters. All four women have secrets from their past, nothing really bad, but secrets that you would only feel comfortable sharing with an extremely close friend. There might even be a romantic interest for Nora, I’m anxiously awaiting the next book in this touching and at the same time exciting new series. This reader does believe in the healing power of books from his own experience.
Becoming a reader is a change for the better. Trust me. No one has ever lost by becoming addicted to stories...” -Nora Pennington Trust me, you’ll be better after reading this first book in Ellery’s new series. We’re introduced to four dynamic, determined, daring, and damaged women in the unique town of Miracle Springs. Their lives intersect because of small town life, but they choose to establish and build relationships to become connected and thus overcome loneliness. So, surrounded by shelves and shelves of stories and savoring bites of scones, secrets are revealed and sleuthing begins. Nora, a former librarian turned bibliotherapist, puts the right stack of books in the hands of the right reader st the right time. Wow, what a gift! I feel Ellery could be Nora because I needed this book at this time in my life! “Nora Pennington loved books. She loved talking to people about books. But what she wanted most was to heal people with books.” I also appreciate the homage to numerous authors and their respective works. The mention of these brought back fond memories and added volumes to my TBR pile! In the book, Ellery includes many delightful details that draw the reader in and make the book come alive! From descriptions of delicious treats and literary drinks, to the illumination of settings (bookshop, cottage), I yearned to be in Miracle Springs building friendships with Nora, Hester, June, and Estella. Most of all, I want to be Nora who “recommend a book or two? I couldn’t think of anything I’d rather do.” And so, I’d like to recommend this book to you, with all my heart.” ❤️. Missy S
There are so many things I want to say about this book. It’s hard to know where to begin. I read this book with a highlighter in hand. A novel. With a highlighter. That should tell you something about the insight that Ellery Adams’ words provide throughout these pages. It is one of those days where you get home, take a bubble bath, and crack open a glass of wine? This book would make the perfect addition to your festivities. This book is entertaining, witty, and sure to keep you captivated from beginning to end.