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

#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 #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 #BookReview Death of an Eye by Dana Stabenow #HistoricalFiction #Mystery

Review

Death of an Eye Cover

Death of an Eye

by Dana Stabenow

Release date: December 6th, 2018

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Death of an Eye by Dana Stabenow from NetGalley and Head of Zeus Publishing in order to read and give an honest review.

…an original, quick and entertaining read which I enjoyed…

Fans of Dana Stabenow’s Kate Shugak’s series set in Alaska will be surprised by her new series Eye of Isis. In her first instalment in this series Death of an Eye seems to be a more cosy mystery than historical fiction. Not quite as gritty as her Shugak series but still quite enjoyable.  

Set in 47 BCE. A pregnant Cleopatra is the ruler of Alexandria when her trusted spy or “Queen’s Eye”, Khemit, is murdered while secretly investigating the theft of a fresh mint of royal coins.  With Julius Caesar away, Cleopatra is vulnerable and needs someone she trusts to help her so she calls upon her most trusted childhood friend Tetisheri (Sheri ) to help her get to the bottom of it. Although a merchant, Sheri has left a horrible marriage and become a partner in her Uncle Neb’s importing business. Being well educated, having the ability to speak many languages and having connections allow Shari to obtain the information she requires without seeming suspicious. One of the Cleopatra’s trusted guards, Apollodorus, sets out to help Sheri as she navigates a murder investigation rife with politics, sociopaths and danger.  Sheri becomes a target for Cleopatra’s power hungry and wicked brother Ptolemy, Roman diplomats not pleased with women in power, bloodthirsty pirates and her abusive ex-husband, Hunifer all trying to thwart her every move.  

Although Stabenow’s work is set in ancient Alexandria and has historical elements this novel it is more of a clever fun mystery with a touch of romance and humour. I was expecting a perhaps darker more sinister story but her strong, educated, honourable and feisty characters mixed dangerous devious villains make this an original, quick and entertaining read which I enjoyed. 

 

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!

Books

Pure Skin Care Nourishing Recipes for Vibrant Skin & Natural Beauty by Stephanie L. Tourles via #NetGalley #Review #Beauty

 

Review

Pure Skin Care  by Stephanie L. Tourles

Nourishing Recipes for Vibrant Skin & Natural Beauty

by Stephanie L. Tourles

Pure Skin Care Cover

Release date: September 18th, 2018

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of Pure Skin Care: Nourishing Recipes for Vibrant Skin & Natural Beauty by Stephanie L. Tourles from NetGalley and Storey Publishing in order to read and give an honest review.

For the past ten years due to skin sensitivities I have been using more natural based cosmetics and skin care products.  The past year I have taken it even more serious goning right back to basics using pure natural items to cleanse and moisturize and honestly, the timing of this book could not be more perfect.

In Pure Skin Care, Stephanie L. Tourles educates us on the science of our skin, how to care for it, giving us information on tips to care for it other than applying products externally.   Pure Skin Care includes 78 recipes for all types of beauty products from cleansers, toners scrubs, masks, moisturizers, steams, creams and balms, and features some easy recipes for every price range. Some ingredients are most likely in your pantry, others can be purchased at health food stores and even some local grocers.   Tourles even gives us tips and techniques even teaching us to grow and dry our own herbs.

I tried creating some of the recipes and found them easy to follow, I was able to tailor them to my specific skin type and loved the results.  I particularly liked the Balance Restorer, Light and Lively Moisturizer, Salt of the Earth Scrub, Tranquility Toner and the Lavender Protection Balm, all were fairly easy to make and have left my skin glowing!

Books

#BookReview of Owl and the Tiger Thieves (The Adventures of Owl #4) by Kristi Charish (@kristicharish) via #NetGalley #Urban Fantasy

 

Review

Owl & The Tiger Thieves Cover

 Owl and the Tiger Thieves

(The Adventures of Owl #4)

by Kristi Charish

Release date: May 8th, 2018

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I received a complimentary ARC copy of  Owl and the Tiger Thieves (The Adventures of Owl #4) by Kristi Charish from NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Canada in order to read and give an honest review.

4.5 Stars…multifaceted characters, fantastic worldbuilding, action-packed plot with twists and turns… 

Being a fan of Kristi Charish’s The Adventure of Owl series, I can say this fourth instalment doesn’t disappoint. The Owl series is best described as Indiana Jane but with a paranormal/urban fantasy twist.

Owl aka Alix Hiboux our illustrious anti-hero, antiquities thief, and ex-archaeologist begins a new mission, to rescue her possessed boyfriend Rynn after the events of the last book. The only way Owl can accomplish this is to collect medallions to enlist the assistance of the Tiger Thieves. She also gets the unwelcome assistance of Rynn’s cousin and antagonist through the series, Artemis. In previous books, I loathed Artemis but oddly enough found myself actually…liking him? Charish has done a fantastic job helping her characters evolve, even Artemis which I really didn’t see happening.

This book opens with Owl’s self-imposed imprisonment in St. Albinus of Angers, an ancient pirate jail, then sends her on a quest to Venice where we meet an undead DaVinci. In Venice, she not only picks up a medallion, but an ancient weapon built by DaVinci thought to steal supernatural power.  We then travel to deserts and jungles while trying to find the other medallions.  Along the journey, she is being hunted by a new enemy, one who she loves, Rynn. A possessed Rynn is out for blood, Alix’s, and will stop at nothing to get it.

This instalment is true to form and everything we expect from Kristi Charish, multifaceted characters, fantastic worldbuilding, action-packed plot with twists and turns which leaves us with an unexpected twist at the end.

Urban fantasy and archaeology, two of my favourite things in one series and Owl & the Tiger Thieves is a fantastic entry that I would definitely recommend!