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#NetGalley #BookReview The Secret of Karabakh by Fidan Bagirova #Thriller #LiteraryFiction #History

The Secret of Karabakh

by Fidan Bagirova

Release date: April 14th, 2022  

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Secret of Karabakh by Fidan Bagirova from Net GalleyLume Books in order to read and give an honest review.  

a brilliantly intricate blend of mystery, thriller and historical fiction that takes you on a journey

Alana Fulton, has it all, the only child of a self-made, jet-setting, wealthy couple, she is a well-respected student finishing her PhD in Archaeology at the illustrious Cambridge University and is in a relationship with a movie star…she is living the Dream. Her reality is shifted when out of the blue she is chased by a strange man, her dorm room is viciously ransacked, and it becomes clear she was the intended target of a terrorist attack at her dorm. During the investigation it becomes clear that both her and her movie star boyfriend are prime suspects in the case. After a mysterious encounter with a hooded figure a note is pressed in her hand that reads…

“You are not who you think you are.

Your future is not what you think it will be.

You are in danger…”

When the accumulated events become surreal, and fractured memories begin to surface, Alana’s dream life begins to become a nightmare. Alana becomes driven to stay alive and protect those she loves while unravelling the mystery of who she really is.

The Secret of Karabakh by Fidan Bagirova is a brilliantly intricate blend of mystery, thriller and historical fiction that takes you on a journey from London, to Cambridge, to Switzerland and finally to Azerbaijan. Rich with detail the author seamlessly blends the challenging history and rich culture of Azerbaijan with the page-turning plot keeps the reader reading into the wee hours of the morning. Filled with multifaceted, authentic characters including a refreshingly portrayed female protagonist who is intelligent, driven, strong and resilient. All in all, this book was a wonderfully original and engaging read, that I highly recommend.

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#NetGalley #BookReview The Burning Pages (Scottish Bookshop Mystery #7) by Paige Shelton #Cozy #Mystery

The Burning Pages

(Scottish Bookshop Mystery #7)

by Paige Shelton

Release date: April 5th, 2022  

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Burning Pages (Scottish Bookshop Mystery #7) by Paige Shelton from Net Galley and St. Martin’s Press /Minotaur Books in order to read and give an honest review.  

Filled with intrigue, red herrings and incredible characters, The Burning Pages is a classic cozy that will keep you guessing in the end...

I am a fan of Paige Shelton, I have read her Dangerous Type, Alaska Wild and this, the Scottish Bookstore Series, and to be honest she has never disappointed me. The Burning Pages, the seventh book in the Scottish Bookshop Mystery is no exception, it is definitely one of my favorites in the series to date.

When Protagonist Delaney Nichols, a bookseller at the Cracked Spine Bookshop, is invited to attend a Burns night dinner held annually in honour of poet Robert Burns. Not a fan herself, Delaney asks her co-worker and Burns fan Hamlet to join her. Hosted at the “Burns House” by a close-knit trio of Burns devotees. Delaney suspects ulterior motives at play when she gets the feeling there is more than meets the eye with her hosts. Hamlet begins to act strange when meeting Neil, one of the members, although according to appearances the two had never met. It soon becomes clear that Delaney had been conned into attending the dinner in a misguided attempt to repair a long-held feud between Malcolm, one of the members. and her boss Edwin. Malcolm has been accusing Edwin of burning down his bookshop for twenty years. Once upon a time Malcolm and Edwin had been best mates, however when an argument between the two had been followed by a deliberately set fire that destroyed Malcolm’s livelihood, the suspicious fire sealed a grudge. Malcolm carried that grudge for years to the point of Edwin needing a restraining order against him. A disgusted Delaney and Hamlet leave the dinner, and later learn that the Burns House had been deliberately burned down and Neil’s body had been found. When the police confirm it was foul play and a witness gives a description of the perpetrator, Hamlet becomes prime suspect, and Delaney is determined to clear his name but in doing so learns more than she bargained for about Hamlet’s past. The further Delaney digs the more she catches the killer’s attention evident in the fact that fires seem to follow Delaney as she follows the clues. 

Filled with intrigue, red herrings and incredible characters, The Burning Pages is a classic cozy that will keep you guessing in the end. I loved the inclusion of Wyatt, Delaney’s brother in this installment, he adds the “Big Lug” component to the cast of characters. This was a wonderfully enjoyable installment in the series, and I cannot wait to read more of Delaney’s adventures. I highly recommend.

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#NetGalley #BookReview The Art of the Decoy (Scandal Mountain Antiques #1) by Trish Esden

The Art of the Decoy

Scandal Mountain Antiques #1

by Trish Esden

Release date: April 5th, 2022  

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of The Art of the Decoy (Scandal Mountain Antiques #1) by Trish Esden from NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.  

A brilliant series debut! The Art of Decoy is a fun read with a clever, intriguing, suspenseful plot, as well as a cast of quirky interesting and dynamic characters, which made this an entertaining read

When art and antiquities appraiser Edie Brown returns to her hometown of Scandal Mountain in Northern Vermont to help her uncle with the family business while her mother is imprisoned for art forgery. Her mother’s incarceration further tarnishing the family name after Edie had been caught up in an illegal deal as a juvie. Edie recovered having had her record expunged but not before the damage was done to her and her family’s reputation. She left behind her family, Shane, her old parole officer and old flame opting to leave town and branch out on her own. She went to school and landed a position at the prestigious Christie’s Auction house. 

Once back in Scandal Mountain she does not plan to stay too long, just long enough to salvage what is left of the family business. Joining her Uncle Tuck along with an intern appraiser/computer expert Kala they try to get the family’s Antique shop back on its feet. While at an event, Edie is approached by recent divorcee, Nina, with a folk-art waterfowl decoy that belongs to her father-in-law Claude who she and her daughter are currently living with. Edie recognizes the decoy as being a piece of work from a famous Quebec folk artist whose works are displayed in Canadian Museums. Edie sees a huge opportunity to earn some cash when Nina asks her to evaluate her father-in-law’s enormous collection. After a series of suspicious circumstances leads to the collection mysteriously vanishing, it looks like the past will come back to haunt Edie. When Nina points the finger at Edie, she gives her the ultimatum to find the collection in five days or she will go to the police and Edie and her mother could be cellmates. While tracking down the stolen collection Edie gets more than she bargained for, connections to murder, a museum robbery and vengeance put Edie deeper than she expected and under the microscope of the FBI Art Crime Team. As they collect more and more clues Kala uncovers disturbing news on the Darknet that makes Edie doubt all that she knows.  
 A brilliant series debut! The Art of Decoy is a fun read with a clever, intriguing, suspenseful plot, as well as a cast of quirky interesting and dynamic characters, which made this an entertaining read. Another perk is it acts as a great primer into the world of appraising antiquities. Overall, I enjoyed the book, I did feel it dragged a bit in parts, but the author more than makes up for it with a suspenseful and satisfying conclusion. I cannot wait to read more in this series, I highly recommend it.  

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#NetGalley #BookReview Long Overdue at the Lakeside Library (Lakeside Library Mystery #2) by Holly Danvers #Cozy #Mystery #CrookedLaneBooks

Long Overdue at the Lakeside Library 

Lakeside Library Mystery #2

by Holly Danvers 

Release date: February 8th, 2022  

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(3.5 Rounded up)


I received a complimentary ARC copy of Long Overdue at the Lakeside Library (Lakeside Library Mystery #2) by Holly Danvers from NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.  

… overall, a fun cozy mystery featuring a good plot and touch of romance. Having read the first book, I enjoy the way this series is developing…  

In the second book in the series, Rain Wilmot has settled into her new life back in Lofty Pines Wisconsin and finally feels at home. In book one she moves there after the death of her husband and reconnects with the friends she grew up with. Back in the swing of things with her best friends, Julia, Nick and Jace by her side, life seems almost perfect. The family’s log cabin library has opened for the winter for the first time and the community couldn’t be happier. Winters in Lofty Pines can be dark, stormy, and dismal so reading materials are at a premium, especially since there are no other libraries in the area. When a patron Wallace Benson comes in for some cookbooks hoping to win the chili cook-off at the annual ice-fishing tournament, Rain comes to his rescue. The next morning tensions flare when Wallace gets to the lake early and steals Rain’s friend Nick’s prized fishing spot. A few hours in when Wallace’s body is found in his shanty, his distraught wife begins calling Nick a murderer. Things deteriorate when a knife believed to be the weapon is found in Nick’s tackle box and he is arrested for the murder. With Julia’s police officer brother Jace removed from the case, Rain and Julia decide to take it upon themselves to prove Nick’s innocence. The two of them begin digging where they shouldn’t and when Rain is driven off the road and another victim barely escapes with their life it is up to Rain and Julie to find the culprit before someone else dies.

Overall, a fun cozy mystery featuring a good plot and touch of romance. Having read the first book, I enjoy the way this series is developing. I love the protagonist Rain but if I was being honest Julia isn’t a character, I have warmed up to yet. Julia is somewhat abrasive, and a tad irritating, for reasons I can’t put my finger on, but hopefully as the series progresses, she’ll develop into someone I can tolerate. If you are looking for a quick fun read set in snowy Wisconsin this is a great read for you.

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#NetGalley #BookReview of A Murder Like No Author (Main Street Book Club Mysteries #3) by Amy Lillard #CozyMystery

Review

A Murder Like No Author

(Main Street Book Club Mysteries #3)

by Amy Lillard

Release date: November 30th, 2021

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of A Murder Like No Author by Amy Lillard from NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press in order to read and give an honest review.

“…a cute and quick read but has a solid mystery, quirky characters, just enough action and a touch of romance…all the hallmarks of a good cozy…”

With the success of the book Missing Girl from deceased author and Sugar Springs native Wally Harrison it was only fitting that the Missing Girl movie be premiered in little old Sugar Springs. The whole town is abuzz, including bookstore owner Arlo and her notoriously inquisitive book club. The town is going crazy preparing for its big day, especially the historical Coliseum Theater which they are attempting to restore to its former glory. It is time for Sugar Springs to shine in the spotlight, but they are face with a major snag. When a stranger is intent on exposing that Wally Harrison did not really write the bestseller is silenced, the town is put under a different kind of scrutiny and puts the premiere in jeopardy. When the body is found in the Coliseum and freak accidents began to occur many are to ready to accept that the haunted reputation of the theatre is responsible, but Arlo and her book club featuring, three octogenarians are not completely convinced. As usual the book club goes into snoop mode with Arlo desperately trying to keep the reigns on the feisty trio and let the police do their job…without interference.

In reading the series a part of me admires these feisty women but I also feel Arlo’s frustration, I am sure in so many ways baptizing a cat would be easier than keeping the book club trio out of trouble. Especially after Arlo is injured and is pulled in so many different directions, I was actually getting annoyed for the character, which is unquestionably a testament to the author.

A Murder Like No Author, is a cute and quick read but has a solid mystery, quirky characters, just enough action and a touch of romance…all the hallmarks of a good cozy. which I would definitely recommend.

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#NetGalley #BookReview Silence in the Library (Lily Adler Mystery #2) by Katharine Schellman #Historical #Mystery

Review 

Silence in the Library 

(Lily Adler Mystery #2) 

by  

Katharine Schellman  

Release date: July 13th, 2021 

⭐⭐⭐⭐ 

I received a complimentary ARC copy of Silence in the Library (Lily Adler Mystery #2) by Katharine Schellman from NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review. 

… A true whodunit with multiple suspects, clever red herrings and unexpected twists and turns … 

In Silence in the Library, we meet up again in Regency London after widow Lily Adler had proven herself as a brilliant sleuth in the first book in the series The Body in the Garden which I was fortunate enough to review here.

Silence in the Library begins with the unexpected arrival of Lily’s somewhat estranged and extremely critical father. Her father a society climbing solicitor is concerned more about social mores than his daughter’s happiness. Despite being widowed two years prior young Lily has carved out a wonderful life for herself with close male friends and a consulting position with the local police much to her father’s chagrin. Her father insists she visit an old society friend Sir Charles Wyatt and his new wife. After an uncomfortable visit Lily returns home, the next day she receives word that Sir Charles has been murdered and Lily feels compelled to follow the trail with her friends who make a re-appearance, namely Captain Hartley and officer Simon Page, a member of the Bow Street Runners. I was disappointed at first but pleasantly surprised with the appearance of Ofelia later in the book.  

A true whodunit with multiple suspects, clever red herrings and unexpected twists and turns Silence in the Library keeps you guessing until the end. Although I preferred the first book in the series Silence in the Library was a great read, and I am looking forward to reading future books in this series! 

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

Review

 

After All I’ve Done

by Mina Hardy

Release date: November  10th, 2020

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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.

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#NetGalley #BookReview Deception by Gaslight by Kate Belli (A Gilded Gotham Mystery) #Historical #Mystery

 

Review

Deception by Gaslight

(A Gilded Gotham Mystery)

by 

Kate Belli

Release date: October 6th, 2020

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Deception by Gaslight (A Gilded Gotham Mystery) by Kate Belli from NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books in order to read and give an honest review.

…the mystery plot itself although slow to build, definitely does not disappoint…

Set in New York in 1888, journalist Genevieve Stewart is desperately looking to make a name for herself at her current paper the Globe. Genevieve relegated to writing about Baby Shows and the minor events of high society, she just can’t seem to get taken seriously as a journalist when an elusive jewel thief dubbed “Robin Hood” starts making an appearance, robbing from the ‘Astor 400’, the cream of the crop of New York society seems to be just the story she has been looking for. 

Although herself on the outskirts of the Astor 400 after her activist Mother creates a stir and a planned marriage to another member ends, she has found herself often ignored and pitied among high society.  Trying to make a name for herself she begins to use her connections to try and get the ‘Robin Hood’ story, the scoop of the century.  While in a seedy area of the city pursuing a lead, she is accosted by ruffians and rescued begrudgingly by a handsome stranger, Danny, only to learn Daniel McCaffrey is part of the Astor 400. Convinced that Daniel is in fact Robin Hood she sets her sites to get to the truth, but instead gets herself in the middle of murder, mayhem, and corruption at the highest levels.

Clever, complex, and very well-written, this book keeps the reader turning the pages. The author creates interesting, dynamic, and real characters who although flawed, are likeable and well developed.  I loved Genevieve’s strong and intelligent personality, as well as the clever banter that occurs between her and Daniel. The mystery plot itself although slow to build, definitely does not disappoint.  With twists and turns, this book keeps you guessing to the very satisfying end although it does leave a cliffhanger in the epilogue. I’m now a fan of Kate Belli and certainly looking forward to reading future books in this series!