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

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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

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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 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

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

 

Review

Gallows Court Cover

Gallows Court

by Martin Edwards

Release date: September 17th, 2019

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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

#NetGalley #Review of Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett #Teens #YA #Romance #Mystery

 

Review

Serious Moonlight Cover

Serious Moonlight

by Jenn Bennett

Release date: April 16th, 2019

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett from NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Canada in order to read and give an honest review.

“…filled with unique, quirky characters, incredible wit and it didn’t hurt she mentioned David Bowie a number of times…frankly, I was sold after that.”

I’ve been a fan of Jenn Bennett’s urban fantasy series and when this popped up on Net Galley even though it was YA, I thought I would give it a try.

I have to admit I really did enjoy this book. Like her other books, this was filled with unique, quirky characters, incredible wit and it didn’t hurt she mentioned David Bowie a number of times…frankly, I was sold after that.

Our main protagonist eighteen-year-old Birdie after the death of her mother is raised by her grandparents along with the assistance of her Mom’s eccentric best friend “Aunt Mona”.

After living with her grandparents, and under the watchful eye of her strict and very religious grandmother, Birdie becomes a very shy and introverted young woman. Being homeschooled, having strict rules, and not really knowing what true friendship is, Birdie’s view of the world and her experiences are very limited. After her grandmother passes, her grandfather who thankfully had bonded with Birdie over their love of mysteries, was a bit more laid-back allowing Birdie some freedom. At first, Birdie goes a bit wild having a one-night stand with a stranger which doesn’t turn out as expected. She struggles with her poor reaction to the situation, more so when she turns up at her first job, the graveyard shift at a famous hotel and said one-night stand, Daniel, is a co-worker. As Birdie tries to navigate “adulthood” her and nineteen-year-old Daniel strike up a friendship working on uncovering the truth behind a mysterious hotel guest that leads to a shocking and unexpected discovery.

All-in-all a fun, well written, character driven book, I would highly recommend it. Just a note to parent’s this book does contain sexual content as well as suicide but it is handled in a very responsible and tasteful manner.

 

Books

#Witchcraft and #SecretSocieties of Rural England: The Magic of Toadmen, Plough Witches, Mummers, and Bonesmen by Nigel Pennick via #NetGalley #Review #NonFiction #Historical

 

Review

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Witchcraft and Secret Societies of Rural England

The Magic of Toadmen, Plough Witches, Mummers, and Bonesmen

by

Nigel Pennick

Release date: April 9th, 2019

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Witchcraft and Secret Societies of Rural England: The Magic of Toadmen, Plough Witches, Mummers, and Bonesmen
by Nigel Pennick from NetGalley and Inner Traditions/Destiny Books in order to read and give an honest review.

As a fantasy fiction writer, I have read some of Mr Pennick’s previous works as research material in the past, so this was right up my alley.

This author is prolific and knowledgeable when it comes to the folklore that surrounds paganism and it definitely shows in “Witchcraft and Secret Societies of Rural England”.  As always, the author’s work is interesting, very meticulously researched and it is evident beyond doubt that he is passionate about the subject matter.

Witchcraft and Secret Societies of Rural England” covers everything from the secret guilds that arose around trades to magic and folklore that surrounded witches. Sharing with the reader and giving us insight into their traditions and how they came to be.

Considering much of the history of these subjects was spread through oral tradition, being passed down through the generations, the author has discovered some very unique and interesting tales that are the origins of sayings or traditions still present today.  What really intrigued me was the folklore behind some of the artefacts that have survived, in particular, the “witch bottles” and “sprite traps”. Another impressive touch, which was particularly helpful, was the fact that the author included photographs and illustrations.

I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in learning about folklore and traditions that surround Anglo-Saxon paganism.

Books

#NetGalley #Review of The Sound of Suffering by Darin C. Brown #Sci Fi & #Fantasy #Teens #YA

Review

Sound of Suffering Cover

The Sound of Suffering

by Darin C. Brown

Release date: February 21st, 2019

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Sound of Suffering by Darin C. Brown from NetGalley and Doc Squared Publishing/Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), Members’ in order to read and give an honest review.

Hunter is on a quest to find out what the aura’s, scents and sounds he experiences around people mean.  This is the second book in the Masters of Perceptions series, the first I have not read but feel it didn’t hamper my ability to enjoy the story.  Young Hunter is autistic and suffers from overwhelming stimuli when he comes in contact with others. At this point, he is learning a little bit about himself and his abilities.  While excelling at school and working his way through earning his Karate belts he still struggles with learning how to handle his gift and how to interact with those around him.  He has people to help him though, a few friends, one of which has a dubious reputation, his desk mate and his Sensei all help him but he finds his biggest confidant to be his grandfather who lives across the country.  When he gets strange sensations indicating one of his teachers is in trouble he can’t ignore the feeling and becomes determined to help her.  His friends by his side he sets out on a dangerous adventure that is much bigger than just helping his teacher. I won’t give any more away the plot takes an interesting turn you need to read!

The characters are well-written and as mentioned the story takes an unexpected and interesting path. I would give this story 4.5 stars only because I found that some things seemed a bit unnecessary and they detracted from the story. Although I appreciate that the author is trying to teach the reader through the process of reading, sometimes the “info dumps” distracted me from the flow of the story, it felt hard to stay connected.  It’s really is an ingenious story with interesting characters but many of the lessons seem repetitive. All in all, though I think it’s worth reading and would definitely recommend it!

Books

#NetGalley #Book #Review The Homecoming by Andrew Pyper ( @andrewpyper ) #Mystery #Thriller #Psychological

 

Review

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The Homecoming

by Andrew Pyper

Release date: February 26th, 2019

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Homecoming by Andrew Pyper via NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Canada in order to read and give an honest review.

… this book is clever, complex and thrilling…taking the reader on a rollercoaster ride fraught with psychological twists and turns…

Already a fan of Andrew Pyper’s work I was thrilled to be afforded the opportunity to read and review his latest book The Homecoming.  Like most of his novels, this book is clever, complex and thrilling…taking the reader on a rollercoaster ride fraught with psychological twists and turns.

When Ray Quinlan dies his family is summoned to the Pacific west coast to attend Belfountain, a secluded rainforest estate to discuss his last will and testament. Ray’s widow, son Aaron and two daughters, Franny and Bridge. Delivered by limos they are dropped off and forced to surrender their cellphones.  It is explained to them their eccentric father left them an extortionate sum of money, but there is a catch. They must spend thirty days at Belfountain without phones, television, the internet, food delivery drop off and absolutely no contact from the outside world.

As always, Pyper excels at crafting brilliant psychological and incredibly creative plotlines but also does an outstanding job creating unique and cleverly multifaceted characters. Each character is so well written he manages to create an incredibly realistic and dysfunctional Quinlan family, each battling their own demons and coping with painful, traumatic pasts.

When another set of limos deposits four more mysterious individuals Belfountain is thrown into chaos unleashing family secrets, challenging family loyalty and causing the estate to become deadly prison.

This book is so unique, unlike any other book I have read, which, being an avid reader is a rarity for me! Another great read from Andrew Pyper that definitely won’t disappoint!

 

Books

#NetGalley #Book #Review of The Hangman’s Secret (#Victorian #Mystery No.3) by Laura Joh Rowland

 

The Hangman’s Secret

(#Victorian #Mystery No.3)

by Laura Joh Rowland

Release date: January 18th, 2018

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I received a complimentary ARC copy The Hangman’s Secret (#Victorian #Mystery No.3) by Laura Joh Rowland from NetGalley & Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.

Another fantastic book in Laura Joh Rowland’s Victorian Mystery series featuring photographer and private detective Sarah Bain. Rowland, a master at writing fast-paced, suspenseful whodunits again keeps readers on the edge of their seat with this newest entry. I have been fortunate enough to read and review her first two books in the series, the first The Ripper’s Shadow and the second A Mortal Likeness, all three fantastic mysteries I would recommend.
This time around as the story opens we see Sarah Bain has landed on her feet from the previous book A Mortal Likeness. She is working as a photographer for Sir Gerald Mariner, photographing crime scenes for his London newspaper the Daily World. Sarah, Hugh, and Mick are living and working together, her relationship with Constable Barrett is going well, life seems perfect…until a call to photograph the corpse of the decapitated body of a well-known hangman, Harry Warbrick. After initially considered suicide when Sir Gerald gets wind that it was under suspicious terms, he decides to launch a contest, a race to see whether they can beat the police and solve the crime. The contest puts Sarah in a precarious position, she will have to hide what she finds from her police officer lover after they had just survived the events of the last book, “A Mortal Likeness”. Sarah is convinced that Warbrick’s murder is somehow a result of something that occurred at the execution of Amelia Carlisle, the “Baby-Butcher,” who’d killed hundreds of infants in her care. While investigating Sarah is plagued by political cover-ups, run-ins with dangerous people and an old animosity rears it’s ugly head when a former nemesis, Inspector Reid, is back and as threatening as ever.

The case tests Sarah like none other, her life, reputation, relationship, friendships, and job are all in jeopardy and my heart breaks for her throughout the book. Just when you think it can’t get any worse Rowland throws another twist that will keep you on an emotional rollercoaster. I won’t reveal anymore but if you are a fan of clever, fast-paced, mysteries this is definitely a must read.

Books

#NetGalley #BookReview Once Upon a River A Novel by Diane Setterfield #HistoricalFiction #Mystery

 

Review

Once Upon A River Cover

Once Upon a River

A Novel

by Diane Setterfield

Release date: December 4th, 2018

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Once Upon a River: A Novel by Diane Setterfield from NetGalley and Atria Books in order to read and give an honest review.

…masterfully written and engaging, character-driven story…

A fairytale for adults, “Once Upon A River” by Diane Setterfield captivates you with her unique brand of atmospheric, character-driven storytelling.  Hard to categorize, Once Upon a River is a mix of folklore and historical mystery in which Setterfield manages to craft several heart-wrenching tales of death, deceit, and heartbreak. 

The story begins at The Swan Inn on the Thames when an injured man stumbles in carrying what everyone believes is a dead child. When a nurse and healer, Rita, is examining the child, she finds that although she had no pulse earlier, she suddenly comes back to life. The child does not speak and no one knows who she is although there are missing children, long missing and presumed dead that have not been seen for years. Three families arrive at the swan with hopes that this child might be their lost baby. The Vaughan’s, whose daughter Amelia, went missing two years prior; Lily White, an emotionally unstable middle-aged woman who believes this girl is her sister Ann; and lastly Robert Armstrong, who believes she is his son Robin’s missing daughter, Alice Armstrong whose mother is rumored to have drowned Alice before taking her own life.  Stories are shared and the locals are relentless in their pursuit of spreading their tale of the miracle child. There are so many well written, engaging characters who capture your interest if not your heart, Robert Armstrong being one but Rita is perhaps my favourite character. Strong, compassionate and intelligent Rita plays a detective of sorts determined to find out what happened to the little girl.  

Although the story is slow to unfold her well-crafted characters keep the reader’s curiosity piqued. There is focus on the three families enduring heartbreak and elation as well as the dark secrets that come out along the way.  It also has it’s mysterious and deceptive characters that will keep you guessing exactly who this little girl is and who was responsible for her near death. We also hear about the mysterious “ferryman” who moves up and down the Thames taking those whose time is up to the other side of the river, definitely playing into the folklore believed by the Inn’s patrons.  

If you are interested in a masterfully written and engaging, character-driven story I would definitely recommend Once Upon A River!