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.

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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

Witchcraft & Secret Societies of Rural England Cover

 

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

The Homecoming Cover

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!

Books

#NetGalley #BookReview Matters of Vital Interest by Eric Lerner #Biography #LeonardCohen #Poet #Artist #Songwriter

 

Review

Matters of Vital Interest Cover

Matters of Vital Interest

 A Forty-Year Friendship with Leonard Cohen

by Eric Lerner

Release date: October 16th, 2018

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Matters of Vital Interest: A Forty-Year Friendship with Leonard Cohen by Eric Lerner from NetGalley and De Capo Press in order to read and give an honest review.

I have been a fan of Leonard Cohen since my teens. Unlike most of the new wave, punk heroes of my youth, Cohen’s work somehow spoke to me on a very different level. He was not glammed up with spiked hair and eyeliner but had a cool elegance that made him and his music stand out for me. Although his work was, and still is, brilliant, poetic and fairly well known, the man himself, always seemed to remain a mystery…until now. Author Eric Lerner, a close personal friend of Cohen for over forty years shares with us an intimate and unique portrait of the man, his spirit and the creative and curious workings of his mind.   

As a fan I really enjoyed this, although bittersweet and intensely emotional at times, it gave us a glimpse inside Cohen’s life like nothing else I have watched or read. Lerner and Cohen endured a great deal throughout their friendship from trying to find spiritual meaning and weathering their creative storms, to divorce, parenting and ultimately illness. These two went through it all, offering support, kindness, wit and most importantly honesty.  We saw them search for spiritual meaning, exploring Zen Buddhism while still adhering to their Jewish faith. I giggled at the story of their existential conversation whilst watching a nature documentary about penguins. We learn about what made Cohen tick, how proud he was to be a father and the little idiosyncrasies that make us see him as perhaps a little less mysterious and if anything, the very human, honest and extremely self-aware artist he was. 

I love the fact Lerner gives us a glimpse into Cohen’s life in a respectful but very honest way, highlighting the good but also sharing the troublesome often overwhelming things that Cohen endured in his life. My only issue with the book, although it wouldn’t stop me reading it, was the fact it jumps around in spots. Some sections seemed like a meandering internal dialogue going back and forth, revisiting things as they came to Lerner’s mind but often seemed a bit repetitive in my opinion.

All in all, I really enjoyed this unique gift to Cohen fans everywhere, an honest, captivating glimpse at the man and his music, a must read in my opinion.

Books

#NetGalley #BookReview The Clockmaker’s Daughter A Novel by Kate Morton #HistoricalFiction #Mystery #Paranormal

Review

Clockmaker's Daughter Cover

The Clockmaker’s Daughter A Novel

by Kate Morton

Release date: October 9th, 2018

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Clockmaker’s Daughter A Novel by Kate Morton from NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Canada in order to read and give an honest review.

… intricately woven into an absorbing, entertaining and hauntingly beautiful novel…

Kate Morton skillfully creates an epic gothic tale, intricately woven into an absorbing, entertaining and hauntingly beautiful novel that in my opinion is perhaps one of her best. The Clockmaker’s Daughter is so complex it’s difficult to summarize, there are layers upon layers of historical detail, mystery, love and loss with a touch of paranormal. 

The story follows multiple characters, shifting through different periods of time spanning from the 1860’s to the present day, all intertwined and connected to Birchwood Manor by the Thames.  One thing I love about Kate Morton’s work is she creates such fascinating and multifaceted characters with atmospheric settings that draw you into the story from the beginning. Each character is unique, the female characters strong and intelligent. In The Clockmaker’s Daughter, all of the characters are brilliant but one voice stands out for me, Birdie. We learn first-hand about her traumatic life, tragic death and her thoughts and feelings on both.

The story opens with London archivist Elodie Winslow, cataloguing the archives of James Stratton when she happens across a mysterious leather satchel containing a photograph of a stunning Victorian woman and a sketch of a mysterious house by the river. Elodie instantly feels connected to the items and is compelled to discover the origins of the house which is eerily similar to a house in a bedtime story her mother used to tell her before she died. Despite being in the middle of planning a wedding Elodie is determined to see whether it is, in fact, the house contained in the stories from her childhood. During her investigation, she discovers the satchel belongs to the artist, Edward Radcliffe and the photo is of his muse and secret love Lily and Elodie becomes obsessed with uncovering their story and is driven to visit Birchwood Manor.   The Manor’s incarnations include Edward Radcliffe’s artist’s retreat, a school for young ladies, home to a widow with three young children, the inspiration for a student’s thesis and lastly a museum dedicated to the artist Edward Radcliffe. Birchwood Manor, in some ways, seems to become a character in itself, the house seems to have a distinct personality. In each of its incarnations, the house holds a special space in each of the occupants’ hearts as well as concealing secrets in its walls about tragic events that occurred during the summer of 1862 which include murder, betrayal and loss.

I absolutely loved this book, it is not for those who are looking for a fast-paced page-turner, it definitely requires patience but it is a slow but satisfying read that is worth it and one I would highly recommend!

Books

#BookReview of The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton via #NetGalley #Mystery

 

Review

Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle Cover

The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

by Stuart Turton

Release date: September 18th, 2018

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton from NetGalley and SOURCEBOOKS Landmark in order to read and give an honest review.

“Stuart Turton’s debut novel is genius, he has written a clever, unique and deeply psychological novel that will keep you guessing to the very end….”

This has got to be perhaps the most creative, clever and brilliant novels I have read this year.  Stuart Turton writes a novel that blends an Agatha Christie feel with the movie Groundhog Day or Memento, overflowing with atmosphere, complex characters, an intricate plot, psychological twists and turns all of which leading the reader to a completely unexpected ending.  Murder, mayhem and body swapping, who could ask for more?

A brilliant cast of characters is attending a memorial party for Thomas Hardcastle who was murdered as a child years ago at Blackheath. Thomas’s sister Evelyn Hardcastle who was supposed to supervise him that day was blamed by her family and fled to Paris but after a long time estranged, she is invited to the party by her Mother. Poor Evelyn doesn’t visit for long, she is murdered at 11pm the night of the party by one of the guests and guest Aiden Bishop feels driven to solve her murder. Aiden wakes up not knowing who he is, where he is from and every time he sleeps he wakes up in another person’s body, reliving the day but not just from another’s perspective but with fuzzy vague memories of what secrets he learned through his previous host.  He is also visited by a man dressed in a plague doctor outfit and learns that he is not alone there are two others just like him and whoever solves the crime first is the only one to be freed from Blackheath.  There is also a murderous footman determined to murder his hosts so he can no longer jump. With each host, he battles their personalities’, some good, some evil but all begin to bury his own personality.  During his jumps, he figures out who the other two “jumpers” are and they decide to work together, leaving clues and notebooks so they remember what they have learned the previous day, but will they betray him?

Stuart Turton’s debut novel is genius, he has written a clever, unique and deeply psychological novel that will keep you guessing to the very end. Highly recommend it!