Category Archives: Eliza Nellums

Review: The Bone Cay by Eliza Nellums

Title: The Bone Cay by Eliza Nellums
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 288 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


From the critically acclaimed author of All That’s Bright and Gone comes an atmospheric thriller that unearths a cache of age-old secrets–and a hidden danger–in the Florida Keys.

Magda Trudell is the present-day caretaker of Whimbrel Estate, the Key West home of the famous poet Isobel Reyes. Isobel’s suicide at the residence in 1918 has nearly overshadowed her creative legacy–but Magda, a botanist and avid historian, is determined to protect it. Over the past decade, Magda has lovingly restored the house to the exact condition Isobel would have known. And even though a fierce October hurricane is headed straight for the Keys, she isn’t about to abandon her life’s work to evacuate.

As the mighty storm makes landfall, the dangers mount. First, a fire and flood threaten to destroy the house. Then the storm claims most of Magda’s supplies. When part of the house collapses, she unearths an old steamer trunk in the rubble that contains a woman’s remains. Is there more to Isobel’s story than Magda knows?

The unexpected appearance of a teenage girl and her father seeking shelter from the storm poses unnerving new questions. Are they really who they seem? And could they have a connection to the house’s shadowy past? As the storm rages, Magda desperately tries to solve the real mystery of Isobel’s death–and keep the living in one piece.


The Bone Cay by Eliza Nellums is a fast-paced mystery with a unique storyline.

Historian Magda Trudell is obsessed with poet Isobel Reyes. She works at Isobel’s family home, Whimbrel Estate, in Key West. Isobel died in 1918 and Magda is dedicated to bringing Whimbrel back to its former glory. But funding is tight, so she has only managed to complete the first floor. With a possibly deadly hurricane bearing down on Florida, Magda refuses to evacuate so she can protect Isobel’s treasures. With the hurricane raging around her, Magda is shocked when handyman Hank McGrath returns by boat with his teenage daughter Emily. Although her attention mainly focused on a shocking discovery, she cannot help but worry about Emily. Can Magda protect the historical home and keep everyone’ safe ?

After an unsettled childhood with her musician father, Magda has set down roots in Key West. She discovered Isobel’s poems while on the road with her father and she immediately connected to the poet’s words. Magda is fiercely protective of Isobel’s history and she is determined to keep the Whimbrel Estates’ treasures, house and property as safe as she can during the hurricane.

Trouble ensues almost immediately as Magda makes costly mistakes. She is less than thrilled when Hank and Emily arrive but she has no choice but to ask them to join her. Magda is distracted by what she just unearthed but she realizes something is just a little off with father and daughter. Her uneasiness grows as the hurricane worsens and dangerous flooding threatens to overtake the house. However, Magda soon learns that she might be in more danger than just the hurricane.

The Bone Cay is an intense mystery with a clever storyline. Magda’s obsession with Isobel is a distraction as she rides out the hurricane with people she finds difficult to trust. The setting vividly springs to life and it is impossible not to feel the extreme threat posed by the hurricane. The storyline is well-developed with stunning twists. Magda is a little irritating as she continually puts herself in peril because she makes unsound decisions. Emily is a sympathetic character but is she telling Magda the truth? Hank becomes more menacing as Eliza Nellums brings this suspenseful mystery to a pulse-pounding conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Crooked Lane Books, Eliza Nellums, Rated B, Suspense, The Bone Cay

Review: All That’s Bright and Gone by Eliza Nellums

Title: All That’s Bright and Gone by Eliza Nellums
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 247 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Fans of Jodi Picoult and Fredrik Backman will fall for this tenderhearted debut mystery following a young girl on a quest to save her family.

I know my brother is dead. But sometimes Mama gets confused.

There’s plenty about the grownup world that six-year-old Aoife doesn’t understand. Like what happened to her big brother Theo and why her mama is in the hospital instead of home where she belongs. Uncle Donny says she just needs to be patient, but Aoife’s sure her mama won’t be able to come home until Aoife learns what really happened to her brother. The trouble is no one wants to talk about Theo because he was murdered. But by whom?

With her imaginary friend Teddy by her side and the detecting skills of her nosy next door neighbor, Aoife sets out to uncover the truth about her family. But as her search takes her from the banks of Theo’s secret hideout by the river to the rooftops overlooking Detroit, Aoife will learn that some secrets can’t stay hidden forever and sometimes the pain we bury is the biggest secret of them all.

Driven by Aoife’s childlike sincerity and colored by her vivid imagination, All That’s Bright and Gone illuminates the unshakeable bond between families–and the lengths we’ll go to bring our loved ones home.


All That’s Bright and Gone by Eliza Nellums is a poignant mystery written from the perspective of six year old Aoife Scott.

When her mom, Siobhan, goes into a hospital mental ward, Aoife’s Uncle Donny comes to stay with her. Although she adores him, Aoife is desperate for her beloved mother to come home.  She is an imaginative, smart little girl who clings tightly to the family’s faith and her imaginary friend Teddy. Aoife is also friends with next door neighbor, Hannah, who convinces her they need to investigate Aoife’s brother Theo’s murder.  Aoife’s struggles to understand her mother’s mental illness and the loss of her brother lead her on a risky journey to uncover the truth about what happened to Theo.

Aoife is precocious and mature for age but she is still only six years old. Her understanding of the events is filtered through living with a mentally ill mom and their strong Catholic faith. Her interpretations and understanding of snippets of conversations is achingly poignant and occasionally humorous.  Aoife’s conviction that learning the circumstances of Theo’s death will bring her mother home drives her to make dangerous choices during her quest.

Donny Scott’s life is the complete opposite of his troubled sister.  A bachelor with no children of his own, he does not hesitate to drop everything to care for his niece.  Donny is a bit distracted and his inexperience with caring for children sometimes leads to inattention about what Aoife and Hannah are up to.  Donny tries to be honest with Aoife but he sometimes struggles when faced with his niece’s simple questions that have very complex answers.

Occasional letters from Siobhan offer a somewhat heartrending glimpse of her battle with mental illness. She is very troubled as the doctors try to find the right mix of drugs to stabilize her so she can return home.   The Scott family has a history of mental illness and it is obvious Siobhan has been dealing with her illness for several years.

All That’s Bright and Gone is an extremely well-written and captivating debut. The characters are beautifully developed and quite likeable. The storyline is clever and well-executed. With a few stunning twists and unanticipated turns, Eliza Nellums brings this inventive mystery to a surprising conclusion. I absolutely loved and highly recommend this unique, delightful novel.

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Filed under All That Is Bright and Gone, Contemporary, Crooked Lane Books, Eliza Nellums, Mystery, Rated B+, Review