Books

#NetGalley #BookReview of In the Garden of Spite: A Novel of the Black Widow of La Porte by Camilla Bruce #HistoricalFiction #Mystery #TrueCrime

In the Garden of Spite

A Novel of the Black Widow of La Porte

by Camilla Bruce

 

 

Release date: January 19th, 2021

🌟🌟🌟🌟

 


I received a complimentary ARC copy of In the Garden of Spite:A Novel of the Black Widow of La Porte by Camilla Bruce from NetGalley & Berkley Publishing Group in order to read and give an honest review.

… the author does an excellent job at getting inside the mind of this infamous serial killer…

This will be a challenging book for me to review I’m giving it a 3.5 but rounding it up to 4 stars. Part of me loved this book, but part of me, well…

For the positives, Camilla Bruce does such a fantastic job fictionalizing the story of a real-life serial killer Little Brynhild / Bella Sorenson / Gunnes aka “The Black Widow of La Porte”. Well-written for the most part, the author does an excellent job at getting inside the mind of this infamous serial killer. Bruce’s characters were brilliantly brought to life, perhaps in the case of Bella, a little too well. On the negative side, although I do not shy away from dark books this was even a bit much for me. Warning for those faint of heart, this novel contains graphic violence, murder, dismemberment, sex, arson, child abuse and infanticide. I also found at times it was slow and repetitive which made it a struggle to get into.

The novel follows Little Brynhild/Bella through her young teenage years and into her middle age. We learn about a heartbreaking ordeal she experiences as a young teenager in Norway that leaves wounds that fester driving her to inflict damage onto all those who get close to her. The disconnect she feels towards her family and a rage that she cannot contain, drives Little Brynhild to leave the misery of Norway to join her sister Nellie in America. In America she takes the name Bella Sorenson and is disappointed in her first experience. Bella longs to make a happy and successful life for herself, constantly seeking acceptance from those in her adopted community. Having struggled for respect in Norway she knows what she wants and what she must do to reach the status she desires for her future. Bella is determined to be the perfect self-made, powerful woman and will go to any length, taking matters into her own hands in order to get what she feels she is due.

Being a fairly famous news story, many people who follow true crime are aware of this famous female serial killer, but the author manages to get inside this monster’s head offering the reader a glimpse of what could have driven this woman to such destruction.

It is a well-written engaging fictional interpretation of the workings of this woman’s mind, but it was a little too graphic for my taste, nevertheless an intriguing read.

 

Books

#NetGalley #BookReview of Portrait of Peril (#AVictorianMystery No.5) by Laura Joh Rowland #Historical #Mystery

Portrait of Peril

A Victorian Mystery #5

by Laura Joh Rowland

 

Release date: January 12th, 2021

🌟🌟🌟🌟

 


I received a complimentary ARC copy of Portrait of Peril, A Victorian Mystery Book No. 5 by Laura Joh Rowland from NetGalley & Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.

…an entertaining fun read I would highly recommend…

I love Rowland’s Victorian Mystery series, each are fast-paced, suspenseful whodunits set in Victorian England, and I have been fortunate enough to read and review all of the books in this series. Although I found this book very entertaining, I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as the previous books in this series.  

In this story, we join Crime Scene Photographer Sarah Bain and her new husband Detective Sergeant Thomas Barrett getting ready to start their lives together as a married couple. They face some expected challenges, Sarah and her new Mother in-law are at odds, they are trying to traverse living together for the first time but when Sarah’s mentor is found dead at the church on the day it’s hosting their wedding it might just end their marriage before it begins. The victim Charles Firth helped Sarah when she was just starting out. In the years since he’s become a fairly well-known spirit photographer with a healthy book publishing contract but not without his critics. Firth is known for his portraits of ghosts and spirits of the dearly departed, often swindling the deceased’s loved ones. When a second murder occurs and her dear friend and colleague Mick is arrested for the crime, Sarah, Barrett, and her half-sister Sally, are compelled to find how who the real murderer is and clear his name.  

The usual cast of characters are present…. for the most part. Hugh, Sarah and Mick’s friend and colleague is taking his break-up from Tristan very poorly, becoming self-destructive with bouts of disappearing, leaving everyone to worry in an already challenging time. Sarah and Sally are also trying to clear their fugitive father’s name but not without their nemesis Inspector Reid watching their every move and waiting to pounce.  

Although I found this one a bit slow to start and I really didn’t find Hugh’s story line appealing I really enjoyed the twists, turns which this series is well known forThe book is an entertaining fun read I would highly recommend. It would work as a stand-alone however I really recommend reading the books in order. 

 

 

Books

#NetGalley #BookReview ~ After All I’ve Done by Mina Hardy #Mystery

Review

 

After All I’ve Done

by Mina Hardy

Release date: November  10th, 2020

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟


I received a complimentary ARC copy of After All I’ve Done by Mina Hardy from NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.

…Mina Hardy has crafted a clever psychological tale that is  intriguing and unexpected…

While driving to the hospital for a severe gallbladder attack, Diana is involved in a major car accident that changes her life.

Although she survives it is not without complications that leave her debilitated. Broken bones, intense pain and absolutely no memory of what has happened in the time leading up to the accident her life has turned upside down. Living with her Husband and a devoted mother-in-law determined to care for her until she gets back on her feet it seems like an uphill battle. Plagued by pain, amnesia, blackouts, and bad recurring dreams Diana attempts to piece together her memories and figure out why her life-long best friend/soul sister Valerie will not talk to her and why she is filled with a sense of dread about what has happened. 

Knowing that she does not love her husband and finding out he is having an affair; she is feeling alone and helpless yet knows something horrible has led them to this point. When in her dreams she is burying something underneath a tree she wonders what she has done and why she cannot remember but knows unlocking the memories will open the door to her healing.  

Mina Hardy has crafted a clever psychological tale that is  intriguing and unexpected. The plot was so intricate and in one word…twisted. I found I just could not put it down and that it kept me reading into the wee hours of the morning. A must read for those who enjoy psychological mysteries. I loved it and would highly recommend it.

Books, Information

#NetGalley #BookReview of A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians A Novel by H. G. Parry #Fantasy #Historical

A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians

A Novel

by H. G. Parry

A Declaration of Rights for Magicians

Release date: June 23rd, 2020

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟


I received a complimentary ARC copy of A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians
A Novel by H. G. Parry from NetGalley and Redhook Books in order to read and give an honest review.

Clever plot lines, interesting characters, well written and researched,I loved everything about this book.

This book is unlike anything else I have read, this dark epic historical fantasy was complex and took a while to get into but was definitely worth it.   

Set in the 18th century, A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians is an alternate history of the times including the infamous French Revolution. The story features three interconnecting plot lines set in the Caribbean, Paris and London. There are multiple political events driven by a dark powerful entity whose endgame is shocking.  It’s thought provoking in so many ways as the characters are challenged with moral dilemmas surrounding issues such as slavery, classism, to what end are they willing to go to succeed and at what cost. 

To get to the basics of the story, we are witness to the alternate version of history where magic is strictly regulated. Commoners are forbidden to use it and are given magic dampening bracelets that burn if their powers are used and face imprisonment or execution for breaking the law.  Even to save a life, magic is forbidden to commoners, only aristocrats and nobility are allowed to wield their power without consequence.  The three plot lines were equally compelling reminding me of a game of chess with the characters being pieces moved along the board with a singular purpose invisible to the reader until the end.  

H.G. Parry introduces us to Fina a slave working on a sugar plantation under British rule in Jamaica. The slaves are mistreated, their powers bound by a potion so that they are under the plantation managers  complete control. In a brief period when her magic seeps through Fina hears a voice telling her to flee Jamaica in order to save her fellow slaves and join a slave rebellion on Santa Domingo.  Meanwhile in France, Robespierre is fighting for the rights of the commoners and their ability to use magic for the betterment of their lives and in London, a trio of politicians are working for the abolition of slavery despite it being heavily debated. Each character is well developed and deals with unique obstacles and the consequences of their actions.  There is so much going on in this book it’s difficult to capture it all in this review without spoilers. Bottom line I loved the book although, ending on a cliffhanger of sorts was surprising and I certainly hope we get a second in the series from H.G. Parry. 

Clever plot lines, interesting characters, well written and researched, I loved everything about this book. This book is for you if you enjoy compelling, thought provoking historical fantasy with a twist!

Books

#Netgalley #BookReview The Lost Future of Pepperharrow (The Watchmaker of Filigree Street #2) by Natasha Pulley #MagicRealism #Steampunk #HistoricalFiction

Review

The Lost Future of Pepperharrow

(The Watchmaker of Filigree Street #2)

by Natasha Pulley

Release date: March 3rd, 2020

The Lost Future of Pepperharrow

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟


I received a complimentary ARC copy of  The Lost Future of Pepperharrow (The Watchmaker of Filigree Street #2) by Natasha Pulley from NetGalley  Bloomsbury Publishing in order to read and give an honest review.

I am a huge fan of Natasha Pulley, she has such a unique and wonderful voice, her novels are always magical and mesmerizing. The Lost Future of Pepperharrow is the second instalment in her The Watchmaker of Filigree Street which as expected is incredibly well written, complex, completely unique and captivating. Although it definitely stands on its own I really do recommend reading the first book, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street.

We start a while after the events in The Watchmaker of Filigree. Thaniel Steepleton, Keita Mori and Thaniel’s daughter, Six and their Katsu their mechanical quirky octopus begin their adventure in Victorian-era London living their lives when they are asked to travel to investigate a ghost-infested British Legation in Tokyo.  Pulley introduces us to steampunk Tokyo, Hokkaido and even the infamous Aokigahara forest. Thaniel suffering from tuberculosis in the thick London fog agrees to accept the posting as an interpreter, while Mori returns to his royal home to use his powers to investigate unfortunately having to also face a past that he has worked hard to put behind him.

Slowly the Legation begins to see an increase in ghostly activity which seems to be plaguing them. Stranger things begin to happen when Pepperharrow, a woman from Mori’s past is called upon to honour a debt, Mori starts to change and seems incredibly distant.   When Mori goes missing, Thaniel and Pepper independently go to extreme lengths to find him.

This book has everything, the author introduces us to some larger than life heroes and villains in this instalment as well as introducing us to an interesting scientific plotline. I would highly recommend this book, Natasha Pulley has given us an exquisite novel, filled with characters that come to life, rich, well-researched world-building and beautiful, flawless prose that should be savoured and enjoyed.

Books

#NetGalley #Book #Review of The Companion by Kim Taylor Blakemore #Historical #Suspense

 

Review

The Companion

A Novel

by Kim Taylor Blakemore

Release date: January 14th, 2020

🌟🌟🌟🌟


I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Companion, A Novel by Kim Taylor Blakemore from NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing in order to read and give an honest review.

an exquisitely written, atmospheric suspense that kept me engaged right to the last page...”

Author, Kim Taylor Blakemore gives us a beautifully written historical fiction novel brimming with slow-building suspense and atmosphere.  Set in 1855, New Hampshire, our narrator, Lucy Blunt is in her jail cell awaiting the hangman’s noose looking back at the events that led her to that moment.   

Lucy running away from her past shows up with falsified reference letters in hand at prominent mill owner Mr. Burton’s estate to get a position as a servant. Hired, Lucy settles in working in the kitchen, although the work is tiring and tedious but acts as a distraction from her past and the overwhelming grief that haunts her.  Her predecessor Mary is found dead and she is thrown in the middle of a grieving household. When Rebecca, the blind mistress, Eugenie Burton’s nasty companion, falls ill, Lucy ends up filling in. Unlike Rebecca, Lucy is respectful and kind towards Eugenie, earning her respect and affection.  Once jealousy rears its ugly head betrayal, threats and murder are not far behind.  

One of my favourite things about The Companion is the character development Each character felt well rounded, distinct and very real, each struggling with their lot in life. My only complaint, to be honest, I didn’t care for the open ending, in my opinion, it felt unfinished, I felt it deserved “more”. Although the ending wasn’t for me the story was an exquisitely written, atmospheric suspense that kept me engaged right to the last page. I would highly recommend.   

Books

#BookReview You Beneath Your Skin by Damyanti Biswas ( @damyantig ) Proceeds benefit @projectwhydelhi & @stopacidattacks #CrimeFiction #AcidAttacks

You Beneath Your Skin Cover

You Beneath Your Skin

by Damyanti Biswas

Release date: September 15th, 2019

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟


I received a complimentary ARC copy of You Beneath Your Skin
by Damyanti Biswas from the author and Simon & Schuster in order to read and give an honest review.

” …a flawlessly written, atmospheric, intriguing story with…”

In her debut novel, You Beneath Your Skin, Damyanti Biswas gives us a compelling psychological thriller which is not only a brilliant page-turner but shows us the truth about the misogyny and violence against women which sadly happens throughout the world.

The story opens when Anjali Morgan, a well-respected psychiatrist, is called to consult on a string of murders of young slum women, raped, murdered and disfigured with acid on the streets of New Delhi. Anjali already living a complicated life, being a single mother raising a special needs son named Nikhil, bearing the weight of a secretive past and working along-side her married boyfriend of ten years, Special Commissioner of Crime Jatin Bhatt, is dragged into the center of a dark and dangerous case. Atmospheric and gritty we are witnesses to the investigation and the very real, very disturbing details of the crime. During the climax, Anjali finally begins to realize that she is on a path that may put herself and those she loves in grave jeopardy.

Personally, I loved everything about this book, I loved the detail brought to every scene, being immersed in the culture and most of all I love the way Anjali was written…her honesty, intelligence and insecurities all felt genuine making her very relatable.

To sum up, Ms Biswas gives us a flawlessly written, atmospheric, intriguing story with well developed, authentic, characters and an intricately plotted realistic crime story which makes this such an incredibly entertaining and engrossing read that I would highly recommend!


D Biswas Bio Picture

About the Author

Damyanti Biswas lives in Singapore, and works with Delhi’s underprivileged children as part of Project Why, a charity that promotes education and social enhancement in underprivileged communities. Her short stories have been published in magazines in the US, UK, and Asia, and she helps edit the Forge Literary Magazine. You can find her on her blog and twitter. All the author proceeds will go to Project WHY and StopAcid Attacks.

Books

#NetGalley #BookReview Welcoming the Unwelcome: Wholehearted Living in a Brokenhearted World by Pema Chodron #Mindfulness #Meditation #Bodhisattva

Review

Welcoming the Unwelcome

Wholehearted Living in a Brokenhearted World

by Pema Chodron

Release date: October 8th, 2019

Welcoming the Unwelcome Cover

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟


I received a complimentary ARC copy of Welcoming the Unwelcome: Wholehearted Living in a Brokenhearted World by Pema Chodron from NetGalley and Shambhala Publications, Inc. in order to read and give an honest review.

“…is a brilliant yet challenging read and one I know I will read again…”

I recently became a fan of Pema Chodron after reading Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears and was so pleased to hear she had a new book coming out. Just beginning my journey toward Bodhisattva, I appreciate her downtoearth and non-intimidating approach to Buddhist teachings.  

In Welcoming the Unwelcome Chodron offers us wisdom on how to face the often overwhelming and uncomfortable aspects of life, embracing our emotions about those aspects while fostering a sense of peace by putting things in perspective. Each chapter discusses a particular practice with stories of others as well as personal insight about her journey.  The overall message to me was learning to see both the positives and negatives in ourselves in order to foster a level of understanding of our vulnerabilities and to help us to gain insight and compassion towards others. 

Throughout the book, Chodron offers us spiritual teachings to awaken us and assist us through our journey towards enlightenment. Although the practices are discussed in detail in each chapter, she has been kind enough to include a detailed outline of the practices at the back where they are mentioned in a more direct “how-to” approach. This book is a brilliant yet challenging read and one I know I will read again learning more each time I read it.  

Books

#NetGalley #BookReview of Gallows Court by Martin Edwards #Mystery #GoldenAge

 

Review

Gallows Court Cover

Gallows Court

by Martin Edwards

Release date: September 17th, 2019

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟


I received a complimentary ARC copy of Gallows Court by Martin Edwards from NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press in order to read and give an honest review.

“…interesting characters, an atmospheric, intricate and extremely clever plot filled with a head-spinning amount of twists, turns and perfectly placed red-herrings.”

New to author Martin Edwards, I am so impressed with Gallows Court! This novel is right out of the Golden Age of Mystery and I loved it! Edwards has created an intriguing and dynamic story to rival those of such greats as Agatha Christie and Ellery Queen but with his own unique twist. 

Set in  London, 1930, ambitious crime writer Jacob Flint tries to work his way up the ladder at a disreputable rag called “The Clarion”. Pursuing a story about a string of mysterious deaths, his path crosses with the late Judge Savernake’s daughter, Rachel Savernake an amateur sleuth, who was capable of solving a crime that had Scotland stymied. Getting a scoop from the infamous and very wealthy Ms Savernake would catapult him to the top of his field. While fed anonymous tips, interviewing witnesses and following bizarre leads Jacob is led into some questionable situations which seem to cast his suspicions on Rachel and makes him realize there is more going on than meets the eye.  

This book had it all, interesting characters, an atmospheric, intricate and extremely clever plot, filled with a head-spinning amount of twists, turns and perfectly placed red-herrings. All in all an extremely satisfying read and one that I highly recommend.

Books, Information

#NetGalley #BookReview How to #Draw and #Write in #FountainPen A Modern Guide by Ayano Usamura

 

Review

How to Draw and Write in FountainPen

A Modern Guide

by Ayano Usamura

Release date: September 17th, 2019

How to Draw and Write in Fountain Pen Cover

🌟🌟🌟🌟


I received a complimentary ARC copy of How to Draw and Write in FountainPen
A Modern Guide by Ayano Usamura from NetGalley and The Experiment Publishing Company in order to read and give an honest review.

“a fun, informative well written with great step-by-step illustrations, this book is a must-have for all those who are crafty or  love to add a little creativity to their journals…”

Whether you’re familiar with using a fountain pen or a complete novice this book offers how-to’s, tips and tricks to help you get the most out of writing with a fountain pen.  I have been using a fountain pen since I inherited my grandfather’s old Sheaffer Imperial when I was eight years old (many moons ago). I still have that pen but over the years have added about 15 more to my collection.  Although I have always written with them, I have never used fountain pens favouring technical pens for any inked artistic drawings. 

I have been journaling for years and over the past few have decided to add art and organization to my journalling practice.  My bullet journal has evolved from simple to-do lists into an artistic, fun, motivating and inspiring record of plans, goals and trackers. This book is fantastic in the fact it offers so much that both novice and experienced users will find useful. I for one loved the detailed how-tos for creating quick fun doodles for my bujo spreads which I am now using my fountain pens to create.

I highly recommend this book, it’s a fun, informative well written with great step-by-step illustrations, this book is a must-have for all those who are crafty or love to add a little creativity to their journals.