Guest Chick: Elizabeth Pantley

The Chicks are happy to have Elizabeth Pantley back to visit today. She was here in November 2020 when she launched her first book in the Destiny Falls series, and today she’s gearing up to release book #6, OLD BONES AND ICE CREAM CONES.

How I Pick my Next Book to Read

I suspect I’m among a group of fellow bibliophiles here. So, you know my pain when I say it’s hard to finish a series that I love and look up to an empty space. Choosing the next “world” to visit is complex.

I love to read cozy mysteries, and there are about a gazillion choices out there! My to-be-read pile could house a small library! How do I pick the next book to start from that huge stack that seems to grow by the day?

Picking a book is a serious decision every time for me, especially because I’m a series reader. I like to hang out with a cast of characters and a setting for a string of many books. I like long series – the more the better! The people become familiar – and usually they become friends. I don’t like to abandon a book once I’ve started it, so I choose carefully.

You may have your own method, but this is how I choose which book to read next.

The Cover

Yes, you can judge a book by its cover! A professionally designed cover tells me this author is serious about their career and works hard to give you their best presentation. If the author presents a great cover, then likely they’ve worked just as hard—or harder—on their manuscript.

I’ve also come to learn that certain features on a cover are signs it’s a book for me. A cat? I’m in! A cute witch? Yep! A friendly looking setting and character are perfect. A feeling of fun or a sense of a small community are great. Anything too dark or sinister and I’m outa there.

The Title

As an author, I know it’s harder to pick a great title than it is to write the whole book! How on earth do you summarize 300 pages into a few words? The individual book title and the series title are both important, and they play a big part in my decision making. They should tell me in a few words exactly what to expect inside.

I like clever titles, but I don’t like goofy or confusing titles. I love great series names, too. Usually, the titles give me a good hint if I’ll like the series or not.

The Blurb

As an author, I know that the second hardest thing to write (after the title!) is that short summary. How do you summarize an entire book in a couple paragraphs and make it enticing without giving away spoilers? It’s hard! Sadly, many authors aren’t salespeople, so they have a hard time summarizing their entire book into a paragraph or two. I’ve come to be forgiving on this part! However, I look for the things that I enjoy most in a book and avoid topics that don’t interest me. Even a poorly written blurb usually provides enough information to tell me if it’s my cup of tea. If the blurb is intriguing I’ll often read the first chapter sample, which gives me a great feeling for the writing style and characters.

The Topic

There are some subjects I’ll never add to my TBR pile. If a child or a pet is injured, kidnapped, or made unalive it’s a book I’ll pass by. Dark topics like abuse, suicide, or drugs never find their way onto my list. If a book has a politically based story, or if the main character sounds like someone I’d hate, then I won’t get past the blurb. There are too many choices out there, so it’s easy to avoid the topics I don’t want to read about.

The Reviews

Reviews are super important to my decision making. I look for patterns in the reviews – if lots of people repeat the same sentiment, that’s a sign it’s something to believe. I avoid the outlying reviews – one person who didn’t like the book because they don’t like cats won’t deter me from choosing a book! (I know a fellow murder mystery writer who got a 1-star review of her book, because it “contained too much murder.” I ignore those few odd reviews.)

I love to read blog reviews, since they are often done by knowledgeable readers and are often more in-depth and complete. I trust a handful of book bloggers to guide me to a great choice.

The Series

Once I get to know a setting and a group of characters, I love to stay with them for a while. I’ll rarely choose a book that has less than five books in the series. Five or more books give me a great reading experience.

The other thing I like to see is that it’s an ongoing series. If the newest book is just released, or about to be released it’s a good sign I’m in for a longer read. (If the series is old, but well-loved and has five or more books, I’ll still dive in!)

The Exceptions

Just like in life, there are always exceptions to every rule. I have been invited to read a book that seems to be far out of my wheelhouse but in the end turns out to be a very fun read. Then I’ve found myself a new author to follow. Keeping an open mind is helpful!

Well, there you have it! That’s how I pick a new book to read. What things help you decide what to read next?

The Destiny Falls Mystery & Magic SERIES



Book 1 – Falling into Magic

An accidental journey through a magic mirror. A portal to an enchanted land. A mysterious family she never knew she had. Hayden’s life is upended with the wonder of Destiny Falls. But it is tainted by the danger that brought her here and that threatens her newfound family. Can Hayden and her sassy sidekick remove the threat, so that she can begin her magical new life in this captivating world?

Book 2 – The Disappearance of Emily

A magic mirror. An enchanted world. A mysterious missing mother. A suspicious package. An unexplained death. A community of strange, quirky people. A sassy cat and a hilarious, bumbling, and perpetually annoyed witch. Hayden finds herself surrounded with support as she solves the mystery of the death and learns shocking secrets about herself. 

Book 3 – The Ghost Camper’s Tall Tales

A magic mirror. An enchanted world. A mysterious ghost. A hilarious witch. An unexplained death. A sassy cat. A mysterious old man keeps popping up to tell Hayden a series of tall tales. Who is he? And is he actually glowing? Are his stories fiction, or is he telling her the history of her family, the enchanted islands, and the witch? And why did a dead body show up . . . of someone who is already dead?

Book 4 – Witches, Spiders, and Schemes

A magic mirror to an enchanted world. A mysterious ghost. A hilarious, perpetually annoyed witch. A brave, sassy cat. Two unexplained deaths and a mysterious community filled with secrets. Can Hayden and the people of Destiny Falls solve the mystery and return the community to its peaceful, enchanted existence?

Book 5 – Jousting and Justice

An invitation to a medieval festival. A ferry ride to a mysterious island. A scheming, inept witch. An office break-in, an unidentified body, and a string of suspects.  Can Hayden, her brave, sassy cat, Latifa, and the people of Destiny Falls solve the mystery and enjoy the festival?

Book 6 – Old Bones and Ice Cream Cones

A boyfriend who’s missing. Or was. . . Or is. . . A boat full of old bones. A community ice cream social. A friend in trouble. A spiteful witch, and an angry villain. The mysteries abound in Destiny Falls, but Hayden, Latifa and their family and friends are up for the excitement and adventure.

22 thoughts on “Guest Chick: Elizabeth Pantley

    1. Congratulations on your upcoming release, Elizabeth! Along with the items you mentioned, I rely on recommendations from my friends a lot. Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Congratulations, Elizabeth! How I pick the book depends mostly on my frame of mind. If I just finished a thriller, I am often in the mood for something lighter. And I have a handful of people (friends and bloggers like Dru Ann Love or Kristopher Zgorski) who I turn to for recommendations.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good point, Liz. Life also dictates choices. If you need a pick-me-up or are in the mood for something deep or happy. Having folks who can give you recommendations is helpful too!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I read two kinds of books – those I feel I should read and those I want to read. Those in the first category usually have something to do with a book I’m writing – maybe a similar setting, or a subject I want to explore, of maybe even nonfiction. But then I’ll reward myself with a book I know I’ll enjoy – a new installment in a fave series or author.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s a good list, Elizabeth! I don’t often have to choose books to read because I have a big pile of books written by my friends, or books I’m asked to blurb so I’m kept pretty busy. But I’m in a couple of different book clubs. One is my Sisters in Crime club, so those are always books I like, but the other is a neighborhood club where books are chosen that I’d never have picked on my own—or even heard of. We read the entire range of books out there so it often takes me waaay out of my comfort zone. It’s rare that someone picks something I don’t like, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Becky! Yep – It’s amazing how you can build up a huge circle of author friends — and of course you want to read all their books. And when they all write series… well that list gets crazy long! I’ll have to check out the Sisters in Crime book club!


  4. I’m most influenced by word-of-mouth of people whose taste I share. But also all the things you mention, especially the cover. Yes, covers are SOOOO important! Kind of sad, actually, but there it is.

    Thanks so much for visiting the Chicks today, Elizabeth, and congrats on the new book! Yippee!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Leslie — I do love getting word-of-mouth, too. Then I have someone to chat with about a series I’m loving!

      Thanks – I’m so excited about my new book — just 10 days away! 🙂


  5. Thank you for being on the Chicks, Elizabeth, and congrats on book #6–you’re so prolific!

    Like Leslie, I’m a sucker for beautiful book covers. I also go with recommendations from friends or buy books from author pals. (Also, I do sneak a peek at those blurbs from other authors on the cover or on the back of the book.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jennifer! Thanks – when I wrote non-fiction it was pretty much one book a year. Cozy mysteries are just flowing for me now, and I can barely type fast enough. My husband says I skip to work every day — and it’s true!


  6. If the subject entices me, I’m likely to pick it up. Like you, I do love a great title and a professional looking cover (a lot of the self-published books fail in this regard). I don’t judge by how many books there are in the series. Heck, I’ll sometimes dive in on book 1 in a series and discover a series I can enjoy over (hopefully) many years to come. But I also like to space out books by one author, so I will never read two books by the same author back to back. Heck, I try to space them out by a couple of months if I can. I have so many authors I read that this isn’t usually an issue.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Mark – I also love to get into a series, and have found myself finishing all the books and then a few years later starting over with #1!


    1. Thanks Ellen! Most of us likely have such a long TBR pile that it’s more like pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey sometimes!


  7. All great points, Elizabeth! I tend to read various other genres as well as cozies, so I’m not as strict on how many books might exist in a series. I find I enjoy the anticipation of an author’s new books, even if it’s a year or more away—-and that time goes fast!! Thanks so much for visiting Chicks today, and congrats on the new book!!


    1. Thanks, Lisa! When I’m in a writing mode I like to read the same genre as I’m working on to keep in the same frame of mind. In between books I like to branch out. I also have favorite authors that I watch out for!


  8. Thanks for being here, Elizabeth, and congrats!!

    Great system for whittling down a dizzying amount of reading choices. I find that the cover and blurb are usually what I rely on, but recommendations also feature strongly. Upon a friend’s recommendation, I started reading a book that I wouldn’t typically think would be of interest to me. Turns out, I love it!


    1. Thanks, Kathleen! It is fun when a recommendation turns out to be a great book. That’s the only way I get out of my ‘usual’ genres!


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