Tag: mystery

down the tbr hole

Down the TBR Hole #24

Hi guys! It’s time for another review of the TBR in today’s Down the TBR Hole post! Down the TBR Hole is a meme created by Lia @ Lost in a Story. The idea is to review the books on your TBR to decide if you still want to read them. The rules are as follows: –

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

Today I’ll be checking out the next ten books on the list – are you ready?

 

The Fourteenth Letter – Claire Evans

Goodreads – The Fourteenth Letter

One balmy June evening in 1881, Phoebe Stanbury stands before the guests at her engagement party: this is her moment, when she will join the renowned Raycraft family. As she takes her fiancé’s hand, a stranger with a knife steps forward and ends the poor girl’s life. Amid the chaos, he turns to her groom and mouths: “I promised I would save you”.

Curl up for a sumptuous, exhilarating debut as a young legal clerk seeks to solve the mystery of Phoebe’s death – and uncovers a secret world full of danger.

 

Doesn’t the synopsis for this sound really intriguing?! Who is this girl and why is she murdered? How does her murder save her fiancé? I want to find out!

Verdict: Keep

 

Everless – Sara Holland

Goodreads – Everless

In the kingdom of Sempera, time is currency—extracted from blood, bound to iron, and consumed to add time to one’s own lifespan. The rich aristocracy, like the Gerlings, tax the poor to the hilt, extending their own lives by centuries.

No one resents the Gerlings more than Jules Ember. A decade ago, she and her father were servants at Everless, the Gerlings’ palatial estate, until a fateful accident forced them to flee in the dead of night. When Jules discovers that her father is dying, she knows that she must return to Everless to earn more time for him before she loses him forever.

But going back to Everless brings more danger—and temptation—than Jules could have ever imagined. Soon she’s caught in a tangle of violent secrets and finds her heart torn between two people she thought she’d never see again. Her decisions have the power to change her fate—and the fate of time itself.

 

I purchased an e-book copy of Everless last year as I loved the sound of it so much. I stand by that decision even now. It’s an unusual concept with a lot of potential and I can’t wait to see how the narrative plays out. It has pretty good reviews on Goodreads too.

Verdict: Keep

 

A Brief History of Time – Stephen Hawking

Goodreads – A Brief History of Time

In the ten years since its publication in 1988, Stephen Hawking’s classic work has become a landmark volume in scientific writing, with more than nine million copies in forty languages sold worldwide. That edition was on the cutting edge of what was then known about the origins and nature of the universe. But the intervening years have seen extraordinary advances in the technology of observing both the micro- and the macrocosmic worlds. These observations have confirmed many of Professor Hawking’s theoretical predictions in the first edition of his book, including the recent discoveries of the Cosmic Background Explorer satellite (COBE), which probed back in time to within 300,000 years of the universe’s beginning and revealed wrinkles in the fabric of space-time that he had projected.

Eager to bring to his original text the new knowledge revealed by these observations, as well as his own recent research, Professor Hawking has prepared a new introduction to the book, written an entirely new chapter on wormholes and time travel, and updated the chapters throughout.

 

I am by no means a science geek, but I definitely want to give this a try. After his death last year I added this book to the TBR. The man was a genius; his incredible research and his battle against motor neurone disease (outliving his initial 2 years life expectancy prognosis by 53 years!) will be his lasting legacy.

Verdict: Keep

 

Fools and Mortals – Bernard Cornwell

Goodreads – Fools and Mortals

A dramatic new departure for international bestselling author Bernard Cornwell, FOOLS AND MORTALS takes us into the heart of the Elizabethan era, long one of his favourite periods of British history.

Fools and Mortals follows the young Richard Shakespeare, an actor struggling to make his way in a company dominated by his estranged older brother, William. As the growth of theatre blooms, their rivalry – and that of the playhouses, playwrights and actors vying for acclaim and glory – propels a high-stakes story of conflict and betrayal.

Showcasing his renowned storyteller’s skill, Bernard Cornwell has created an Elizabethan world incredibly rich in its portrayal: you walk the London streets, stand in the palaces and are on stage in the playhouses, as he weaves a remarkable story in which performances, rivalries and ambition combine to form a tangled web of intrigue.

 

Fools and Mortals is currently sat on my bookshelf in the hallway. I have dipped into it very recently, if only to share a First Lines Friday post about it. After that intro, I found it hard to put the book away again. I can see myself picking it pretty soon.

Verdict: Keep

 

Katherine of Aragón: The True Queen – Alison Weir

Goodreads – Katherine of Aragon

Bestselling author and acclaimed historian Alison Weir takes on what no fiction writer has done before: creating a dramatic six-book series in which each novel covers one of King Henry VIII’s wives. In this captivating opening volume, Weir brings to life the tumultuous tale of Katherine of Aragón. Henry’s first, devoted, and “true” queen.

A princess of Spain, Catalina is only sixteen years old when she sets foot on the shores of England. The youngest daughter of the powerful monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella, Catalina is a coveted prize for a royal marriage – and Arthur, Prince of Wales, and heir to the English throne, has won her hand. But tragedy strikes and Catalina, now Princess Katherine, is betrothed to the future Henry VIII. She must wait for his coming-of-age, an ordeal that tests her resolve, casts doubt on her trusted confidantes, and turns her into a virtual prisoner.

Katherine’s patience is rewarded when she becomes Queen of England. The affection between Katherine and Henry is genuine, but forces beyond her control threaten to rend her marriage, and indeed the nation, apart. Henry has fallen under the spell of Katherine’s maid of honor, Anne Boleyn. Now Katherine must be prepared to fight, to the end if God wills it, for her faith, her legitimacy, and her heart.

 

The Tudor period and the lives of Henry VIII and his wives is one of my favourite topics of history. When I saw an article interviewing Alison Weir about the books/series in Writer’s Magazine, I had to add the first to the TBR. If I get on with the writing style of this first book then the rest will be going on the TBR too.

Verdict: Keep

 

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman

Goodreads – Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine.

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

Soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . .

The only way to survive is to open your heart.

 

I think I am going to relate to Eleanor more than I would like to admit. Whilst I do go out to some social events, I’m not that adventurous. My weekends are not full of pizza and alcohol, but books. I have better than phone chats because I get to go and see my parents at the weekend. I’m hoping this will be an enjoyable read… and it might even teach me something about myself!

Verdict: Keep

 

The Hangman’s Daughter – Oliver Pötzsch

Goodreads – The Hangman’s Daughter

Magdalena, the clever and headstrong daughter of Bavarian hangman Jakob Kuisl, lives with her father outside the village walls and is destined to be married off to another hangman’s son—except that the town physician’s son is hopelessly in love with her. And her father’s wisdom and empathy are as unusual as his despised profession. It is 1659, the Thirty Years’ War has finally ended, and there hasn’t been a witchcraft mania in decades. But now, a drowning and gruesomely injured boy, tattooed with the mark of a witch, is pulled from a river and the villagers suspect the local midwife, Martha Stechlin.

Jakob Kuisl is charged with extracting a confession from her and torturing her until he gets one. Convinced she is innocent, he, Magdalena, and her would-be suitor race against the clock to find the true killer. Approaching Walpurgisnacht, when witches are believed to dance in the forest and mate with the devil, another tattooed orphan is found dead and the town becomes frenzied. More than one person has spotted what looks like the devil—a man with a hand made only of bones. The hangman, his daughter, and the doctor’s son face a terrifying and very real enemy.

 

My love of historical fiction is shining through in this Down the TBR Hole post.

It’s unusual for such compassion to be shown, one by a hangman and two, to someone accused of witchcraft. Magdalena’s quest to uncover the truth should be an excellent mystery to solve.

Verdict: Keep

 

The Rithmatist – Brandon Sanderson

The Rithmatist

Goodreads – The Rithmatist

The Rithmatist, Brandon Sanderson’s New York Times bestselling epic teen adventure is now available in paperback.

More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings. Rithmatists are humanity’s only defense against the Wild Chalklings. Having nearly overrun the territory of Nebrask, the Wild Chalklings now threaten all of the American Isles.

As the son of a lowly chalkmaker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students learn the magical art that he would do anything to practice. Then students start disappearing—kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood. Assigned to help the professor who is investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend Melody find themselves on the trail of an unexpected discovery—one that will change Rithmatics—and their world—forever.

A New York Times Book Review Notable Children’s Book of 2013

 

Brandon Sanderson, at this point, is an auto-buy author. Saying that I aim to read ALL his books is a tall order. He has already written a lot of books and so many more are in the planning. I’ve already read one trilogy (The Mistborn trilogy) and started another series (The Stormlight Archives). I’m also reading Elantris later this month. It’s fair to say I am making an effort.

I love the way he builds each fantasy world differently to the next. The one thing the books I have read so far have in common is that magic is based around some physical element; it isn’t an infinite resource. No magically getting rid of inconvenient problems.

Verdict: Keep

 

Eve of Man – Giovanna Fletcher

Eve of Man

Goodreads – Eve of Man

AGAINST ALL ODDS, SHE SURVIVED.
THE FIRST GIRL BORN IN FIFTY YEARS.
THEY CALLED HER EVE . . .

All her life Eve has been kept away from the opposite sex. Kept from the truth of her past.

But at sixteen it’s time for Eve to face her destiny. Three potential males have been selected for her. The future of humanity is in her hands. She’s always accepted her fate.

Until she meets Bram.

Eve wants control over her life. She wants freedom.

But how do you choose between love and the future of the human race?

EVE OF MAN is the first in an explosive new trilogy by bestselling authors Giovanna & Tom Fletcher.

 

I’m on the fence with this one. It’s a work of dystopian fiction, which in theory should be right up my street. I have doubts though. If the narrative is going to consist of constant mournful pining for someone else then I’m just not going to get on with it.

If I didn’t have such a large TBR then maybe I’d give it the benefit of the doubt and try it. I think I’ll drop this one.

Verdict: Go

 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke & Bone

Goodreads – Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Errand requiring immediate attention. Come.

The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it. Karou read the message. ‘He never says please’, she sighed, but she gathered up her things.

When Brimstone called, she always came.

In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she’s a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in ‘Elsewhere’, she has never understood Brimstone’s dark work – buying teeth from hunters and murderers – nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn’t whole.

Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.

 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is going nowhere but into my hands to read! I actually just bought my copy of the book a couple of weeks ago. Paperback, because I love Laini Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer series and I don’t doubt I’ll love this one too.

Verdict: Keep

One book out of ten doesn’t feel all that productive, but at least I can say I know my reading preferences. The books I am considering at this point were only added to the TBR a year ago, so comparatively, they aren’t even that old choices. I doubt there will be much I filter off the list at this point… but I can look, right?

Have you read any of these books? Do you agree with my choices?

As always, I would love to hear from you!

 

 

signature

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

First Lines Friday – 19/07/2019

Not only is today one of the best days of the week because it’s Friday – it’s also my mum’s birthday! Not only that, but my sister has come to the visit and celebrate with us for the weekend! I’m really looking forward to spending the time together with them – it’s not very often we are all together nowadays.

So, if you are reading this, Happy Birthday Mum! You really are one in a million!

 

I’m back again with my new regular fortnightly feature – First Lines Friday. I’ve seen this post on many a blog and I think it’s a fun way to try something new, without the bias of a front cover or knowledge of the book before you try it!

So, shall we get on with today’s post? Here are the first few lines from today’s featured book!

 

 

 

 

I died just after the clock in the passageway struck nine.

There are those who claim that Her Majesty, Elizabeth, by the grace of God, Queen of England, France and of Ireland, will not allow clocks to strike the hour in her palaces. Time is not allowed to pass for her. She has defeated time. But that clock struck. I remember it.

I counted nine bells. Nine. Then my killer stuck.

And I died.

 

My brother says there is only one way to tell a story. ‘Begin,’ he says in his irritatingly pedantic manner, ‘at the beginning. Where else?’

I see I have started a little too late, so we shall go back to five minutes before nine, and begin again.

 

 

The main influence behind this book purchase is the author. I have read, adored and reviewed a few of his other historical fiction works. What sets this book apart from his other series I am reading is that it is a completely different period of history. Set in Elizabethan England, it’s a far cry from the blood and battles of the Viking era.
Have you any inkling what today’s book is?

 

Fools and Mortals – Bernard Cornwell

 

A dramatic new departure for international bestselling author Bernard Cornwell, FOOLS AND MORTALS takes us into the heart of the Elizabethan era, long one of his favourite periods of British history.

Fools and Mortals follows the young Richard Shakespeare, an actor struggling to make his way in a company dominated by his estranged older brother, William. As the growth of theatre blooms, their rivalry – and that of the playhouses, playwrights and actors vying for acclaim and glory – propels a high-stakes story of conflict and betrayal.

Showcasing his renowned storyteller’s skill, Bernard Cornwell has created an Elizabethan world incredibly rich in its portrayal: you walk the London streets, stand in the palaces and are on stage in the playhouses, as he weaves a remarkable story in which performances, rivalries and ambition combine to form a tangled web of intrigue.

What do you think of the introduction to Fools and Mortals? Doesn’t it suck you in and make you want to read on? If I didn’t have such a busy TBR I would be so tempted!

Have you read the book or added it your TBR? As always, I would love to hear from you!!

 

 

signature

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

First Lines Friday – 05/07/2019

Happy Friday everybody! It’s an especially great day for me as today is our National Day here on the Isle of Man. Otherwise known as Tynwald Day, it’s a day we celebrate our status as a crown dependency. Those of us that aren’t particularly nationalists celebrate the fact that we don’t have to roll into our office jobs at 9am.

I’m back again with my new regular feature – First Lines Friday. I’ve read a few other similar posts and felt inspired to write my own. It’s a fun way to introduce new books to potential readers!

This is one of two new posts I am scheduling to post on a Friday. Both posts are typically published weekly, however, I will be publishing them both fortnightly on alternate weeks to avoid things becoming too repetitive. This is also dependent on my other blogging commitments.

So, shall we get on with today’s post? Here are the first few lines from today’s featured book!

 

 

I sit with my wrists cuffed to the table and I think, But that I am forbid / To tell the secrets of my prison house / I could a tale unfold whose lightest word / Would harrow up thy soul. The guard stands by the door, watching me, like he’s waiting for something to happen.

Enter Joseph Colbourne. He is a graying man now, almost fifty. It’s a surprise, every few weeks, to see how much he’s aged – and he’s aged a little more, every few weeks, for ten years.

 

 

 

Today’s book choice has been sat on my shelf for some time now. Even from the above extract, you’ll probably guess that there is a theatre element to the novel. Up until I left school I loved and actively took part in Performing Arts. I even have GCSE and A-Level equivalent qualifications in it. I don’t so much now I am working, but the love of theatre has stayed with me.

Have you any inkling what today’s book is?

If We Were Villains – M. L. Rio

 

Oliver Marks has just served ten years in jail – for a murder he may or may not have committed. On the day he’s released, he’s greeted by the man who put him in prison. Detective Colborne is retiring, but before he does, he wants to know what really happened a decade ago.

As one of seven young actors studying Shakespeare at an elite arts college, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingenue, extra. But when the casting changes, and the secondary characters usurp the stars, the plays spill dangerously over into life, and one of them is found dead. The rest face their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, and themselves, that they are blameless.

Do you like the introduction to If We Were Villains? Have you read the book or added it your TBR? As always, I would love to hear from you!!

 

 

signature

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

#BlogTour Book Review: Three – K. J. McGillick

Good morning everyone! Haven’t the last few days been absolutely fantastic?! We’ve had glorious practically wall-to-wall sunshine… and I’m spending the time at work! Oh well, I have some time off coming up in a few weeks, so I can keep my fingers crossed that the weather holds!

Today gets even better, however, as I have the opportunity to feature one of my favourite authors for another blog tour! I have read several books by K. J. McGillick now, thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources. If you would like to check out the other books I have read, you can find my reviews of Facing A Twisted Judgment, Karma Never Loses an Address and Trust Me using the links.

 

THREE: Deception Love Murder

Goodreads – Three

Inviting a stranger into your home can be dangerous. Inviting a stranger into your life can turn deadly.

How would you feel if you discovered your death was meticulously planned by someone you loved? You didn’t know how or when or even why. All you could do was wait.

Emma has it all-a job she loves and a man who professed to love her.

Or did she? How could she be so blind?

When her lover’s car is found burned and abandoned in another state, the police come asking some hard questions. What she discovers upends her world completely. Jude had been living a double life right under her nose. A deceitful life, a treacherous life. Who was this man that had already groomed another woman to take over Emma’s life? A woman who was Emma’s body double and now dead.

Why had she so easily trusted this psychopath with her heart? Betrayed on every level, consequences not of Emma’s making were nipping at her heels. Tick. Tock.

THREE is a gripping crime thriller that will have you hooked. A fast-paced psychological thriller that has been compared to the works of Dan Brown. It can be read as a standalone and serves as the first book in the Path of Deception and Betrayal series.

Purchase Links:    Amazon US      Amazon UK

Three will be 99 p/c for the duration of the tour.

Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/nxVD9MOsLss

 

My Thoughts…

K. J. McGillick is an author that I repeatedly go back to, and her latest novel Three hasn’t disappointed! Full of last-minute twists and turns, the FBI has its work cut out for them if they are going to take out a sophisticated crime cell linked to terrorism.

With each book I have read by the author, the knowledge she has of the art world and the opportunities for criminals within it is phenomenal. It’s a lucrative and unregulated business, making it a playground for anyone wanting to make money… or make it disappear for a while.

I really enjoyed how events unravelled, all starting with an unknown deposit box. I felt sympathetic for Emma throughout; discovering the man you are building a life with isn’t the man you thought and trusted him to be, must be devastating! Things go from bad to worse for meek, naive Emma as the case unfolds, but from the experience, a bold and more confident young woman emerges.

There is an element of romance to the narrative, but it’s not so intrusive that anyone not a fan of romance, like me, can’t read it. Depending on how it’s written, intense character relationships can make me feel uncomfortable. I’m not a prude or anything like that. Relationships, by nature, are very personal and if I feel like I’m intruding I get uncomfortable and it breaks my reading flow. As the relationship is a budding one, I was almost guaranteed to be safe from that.

Three brilliantly balances a complex plot, an array of characters and a great deal of knowledge in all matters (il)legal, with art as a specialist topic! I really enjoyed reading the book, as I have other novels by K. J. McGillick. I thoroughly recommend it to anyone who enjoys crime/suspense or thriller novels!

 

Author Bio –

K. J. McGillick was born in New York and once she started to walk she never stopped running. But that’s what New Yorker’s do. Right? A Registered Nurse, a lawyer now author.

As she evolved so did her career choices. After completing her graduate degree in nursing, she spent many years in the university setting sharing the dreams of the enthusiastic nursing students she taught. After twenty rewarding years in the medical field she attended law school and has spent the last twenty-four years as an attorney helping people navigate the turbulent waters of the legal system. Not an easy feat. And now? Now she is sharing the characters she loves with readers hoping they are intrigued by her twisting and turning plots and entertained by her writing

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/KJMcGillickauthor/

Kathleen McGillick

@KJMcGillickAuth

http://www.kjmcgillick.com/

https://twitter.com/KJMcGillickAuth

https://www.goodreads.com/Kmcgillick

Blog Tour Review: Karma Never Loses an Address – K. J. McGillick

***I received a copy of the book from the author via Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources in exchange for an honest review. All the opinions stated are my own***

 

 

Karma Never Loses An Address – K. J. McGillick

Betrayal on Every Level

Marley Bennington had brutally murdered her older sister Samantha in a drug fueled rage. Only two people know that fact as true. One of those two people, was sitting in a state prison, serving a sentence for a crime he didn’t commit. Who was that unfortunate person? Alex Clarke, Samantha Bennington’s husband, the man so buried in circumstantial evidence that he confessed to a crime he didn’t commit, rather than face a trial. He was now trapped with no way out.

It all began as sibling rivalry and jealousy, as so many tales of treachery do. Now, that intense jealousy had ended in her sister’s murder. Once Alex was tucked safely away in prison, Marley was set to inherit millions of dollars tainted with her sister’s blood. But suddenly, two obstacles stood in her way preventing her from quickly obtaining the reward for her well executed plan. One obstacle was her brother, and the other a nosy little old lady. But for Marley, this wasn’t a problem. She had killed twice already and cheated the justice system. What were a few more bodies?

Justice delayed is justice denied. Can Marley be trapped by the very people she tried to deceive? Will karma finally visit her door? Another gripping, tangled tale from the author of Facing A Twisted Judgment.

Purchase Links: Amazon UK    Amazon US

 

My Thoughts…

Karma Never Loses an Address follows on from events in Facing A Twisted Judgment. I had the pleasure of taking part in a Blog Tour for that book back on December 4th last year. If this is the first encounter you have had with the series, you can catch up on some of the details in that post, which can be found here.

There is something so satisfying about knowing that someone is going to get what they deserve, isn’t there? And Marley sure deserves it! With an art collection worth $130 million to fight over, the stakes are high. But is the risk worth the reward?

J. McGillick’s legal knowledge shines through once again. Battles are fought inside the courtroom as well at outside. The technical matters concerning inheritance in this complex case are detailed, yet kept at a level that is easy to follow for us law novices.

The balance of familiar characters and new faces to the Bennington’s row keeps the storyline fresh. Beloved Mary cannot help herself in ensuring that Marley gets her due. To do so, she recruits an unstoppable team including Tallulah West, a family law attorney. She is one of the main character POV’s in the book as she is assigned the task of preventing Marley from obtaining administration over her late sister’s estate.

Karma Never Loses an Address has a well-developed, sophisticated plot line. Full of unpredictable characters, you never quite know what is going to happen next. Unexpected turns keep you guessing until the very end!

 

Author Bio –

K. J. McGillick was born in New York and once she started to walk she never stopped running. But that’s what New Yorker’s do. Right? A Registered Nurse, a lawyer now author.

As she evolved so did her career choices. After completing her graduate degree in nursing, she spent many years in the university setting sharing the dreams of the enthusiastic nursing students she taught. After twenty rewarding years in the medical field she attended law school and has spent the last twenty-four years as an attorney helping people navigate the turbulent waters of the legal system. Not an easy feat. And now? Now she is sharing the characters she loves with readers hoping they are intrigued by her twisting and turning plots and entertained by her writing.

 

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/KJMcGillickauthor/

Kathleen McGillick

@KJMcGillickAuth

http://www.kjmcgillick.com/

https://twitter.com/KJMcGillickAuth

 

down the tbr hole

Down the TBR Hole #12

It feels like ages since I last published a blog post. I am, of course, exaggerating. It has only been a week, but when you are normally drafting a post every 2-3 days, it’s odd going cold turkey.

As I am now back from my trip with family I am publishing another Down the TBR Hole post! For anyone unfamiliar, here are the rules: –

The meme was created by Lia @ Lost in a Story:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

So, shall we review the next ten books on my list?

 

The Secret History – Donna Tartt

The Secret History

Goodreads – The Secret History

Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality they slip gradually from obsession to corruption and betrayal, and at last – inexorably – into evil.

The blurb for this book doesn’t really give away much as to the content of the book; rather, more about the nature of the scenario within. I think this could be both interesting and exciting, so it is staying on the list. I am also hoping that as a result of reading it, I can inspire myself back into reading more classics.

Verdict: Keep

 

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Goodreads – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow-impossible though it seems-they may still be alive. A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

I am surprised this book only has a 3.9-star rating on Goodreads. I read a lot of reviews on the book from the blogging community and I distinctly remember a glowing report from all the posts I read. That’s what inspired me to add the book to the list in the first place.

I have read a few mystery/suspense books recently and really enjoyed them. The synopsis does a very good job of luring the reader in. I added this book to the TBR nearly a year ago to the day – and I am still attracted to it now.

Verdict: Keep

 

Letters to the Lost – Brigid Kemmerer

Letters to the Lost

Goodreads – Letters to the Lost

Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother’s death, she leaves letters at her grave. It’s the only way Juliet can cope.

Declan Murphy isn’t the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he’s trying to escape the demons of his past.

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can’t resist writing back. Soon, he’s opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they’re not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.

I’m torn about this one, I’ll admit. As before, the mystery element of their unknown connection to each other is intriguing, but on the other hand, I suspect it is going to end up as a romance… and that would be the straw to break the camel’s back. I don’t want to invest time and energy in reading this book to end up disappointed, so I am going to take it off the list.

Verdict: Bin!

 

Caraval – Stephanie Garber

Caraval

Goodreads – Caraval

Remember, it’s only a game…

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away.

This book has been insanely popular for the past year. I’ve seen plenty of reviews for it. This is again why I added the book to the TBR. For much the same reason as Letters to the Lost, I am dubious of the book for the reliance on romance to maintain a storyline.

Had I not purchased a copy of the book already, I would have removed it from the list. As it happens, I did purchase a digital copy on sale, so I am as well giving it a try. I’m not holding my breath for a glowing review, but, only time will tell.

Verdict: Keep

 

Liath Luachra: The Grey One – Brian O’Sullivan

Liath Luachra

Goodreads – Liath Luachra: The Grey One

Ireland 188 A.D: A land of tribal affiliations, secret alliances and treacherous rivalries.

Youthful woman warrior Liath Luachra has survived two brutal years fighting with mercenary war party “The Friendly Ones” but now the winds are shifting.
Dispatched on a murderous errand where nothing is as it seems, she must survive a group of treacherous comrades, the unwanted advances of her battle leader and a personal history that might be her own undoing.

Clanless and friendless, she can count on nothing but her wits, her fighting skills and her natural ferocity to see her through.

Woman warrior, survivor, killer and future guardian to Irish hero Fionn mac Cumhaill – this is her story.

I don’t like to champion the concept of female warrior / “girl power” as exceptional or out of the ordinary too much. Empowerment should be equal in achievement irrespective of gender, but there are instances on both sides of the coin when this is not the case.

I was drawn to this book as it is a dark tale touching upon a number of sensitive issues. I purchased a copy of the book as soon as I read the synopsis, and I stand by my decision!

Verdict: Keep

 

Lunatics, Imbeciles and Idiots: A History of Insanity in Nineteenth-Century Britain and Ireland – Kathryn Burtinshaw & John Burt

Lunatics, Imbeciles and Idiots

Goodreads – Lunatics, Imbeciles and Idiots

In the first half of the nineteenth century, treatment of the mentally ill in Britain and Ireland underwent radical change. No longer manacled, chained and treated like wild animals, patient care was defined in law and medical understanding, and treatment of insanity developed.

Focusing on selected cases, this new study enables the reader to understand how progressively advancing attitudes and expectations affected decisions, leading to better legislation and medical practice throughout the century. Specific mental health conditions are discussed in detail and the treatments patients received are analyzed in an expert way. A clear view of why institutional asylums were established, their ethos for the treatment of patients, and how they were run as palaces rather than prisons giving moral therapy to those affected becomes apparent. The changing ways in which patients were treated, and altered societal views to the incarceration of the mentally ill, are explored. The book is thoroughly illustrated and contains images of patients and asylum staff never previously published, as well as firsthand accounts of life in a nineteenth-century asylum from a patients perspective.

Written for genealogists as well as historians, this book contains clear information concerning access to asylum records and other relevant primary sources and how to interpret their contents in a meaningful way.

I don’t have many non-fiction books on the TBR, and this one tickles my inner psychology nerd.

I studied psychology years ago and learned how the brain worked and treatments administered etc. As a part of that, we touched upon some of the treatments used or imposed on the “clinically insane”. I still want to read this book as a refresher to my previous knowledge… because I really do find the topic interesting! Psychology is often labelled a social science as there are no definite answers or treatments to a given problem. There are a number of different approaches to treating a condition and new research is constantly contributing to evolving these.

Verdict: Keep

 

Infinite Sacrifice – L. E. Waters

Infinite Sacrifice

Goodreads – Infinite Sacrifice

Maya’s shocked to discover it’s not the heaven she imagined; in fact, a life of adventure begins the moment you die.

Zachariah, her faithful spirit guide, explains the rules of the dead: in order to regain complete awareness and reunite with loved ones all souls must review their previous lives.

Maya plunges warily into her turbulent pasts as a sociopathic High Priest in ancient Egypt; an independent mother protecting a dangerous secret in glorious Sparta; an Irish boy kidnapped and enslaved by Vikings; and a doctor’s wife forced to make an ethical stand in plague-ridden England.

All the while, Maya yearns to be with those she cares about most and worries that she hasn’t learned all of heaven’s most vital lessons. Will she be forced to leave the tranquility of heaven to survive yet another painful and tumultuous life? Or worse, accept the bitter reality of having to go back alone?

This was added to my TBR because I was interested in the element of the afterlife. I am much undecided as to whether I believe in any of that at all. There are elements of history in this short read as well, spanning ancient Egypt to England in the 1300’s.

Again, as I have already purchased a copy of this book, I will take the time to read it. Had I not, I might have considered taking it off the TBR.

Verdict: Keep

 

Children of the Revolution – Peter Robinson

Children of the Revolution

Goodreads – Children of the Revolution

A disgraced college lecturer is found murdered with £5,000 in his pocket on a disused railway line near his home. Since being dismissed from his job for sexual misconduct four years previously, he has been living a poverty-stricken and hermit-like existence in this isolated spot.

The suspects range from several individuals at the college where he used to teach to a woman who knew the victim back in the early ’70s at Essex University, then a hotbed of political activism. When Banks receives a warning to step away from the case, he realises there is much more to the mystery than meets the eye – for there are plenty more skeletons to come out of the closet . . .

I recently read “Death in Dulwich” by Alice Castle, which is similar in setting. A school teacher is found dead on the grounds, and as the book unravels we learn of his not-so-innocent past. As I really enjoyed reading this one, I think this could be really interesting too. I’ll probably start the Inspector Banks series from the beginning before reading this though, so I won’t be reading it for a while to come.

Verdict: Keep

 

The Killer on the Wall – Emma Kavanagh

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17260972-children-of-the-revolution

Goodreads – The Killer on the Wall

The first body comes as a shock

The second brings horror

The third signals the beginning of a nightmare

When fifteen-year-old Isla Bell finds three bodies propped against Hadrian’s Wall, her whole world falls apart. In such a close-knit community, everyone knows the victims, and the man who did it.

Twenty years on and Isla has dedicated her life to forensic psychology; studying the brains of serial killers, and even coming face to face with the convicted murderer who turned her world upside down. She is safe after all, with him behind bars.

Then another body appears against the Wall.

And another.

As the nightmare returns and the body count rises, everyone in town is a suspect.

Who is the Killer on the Wall?

I have kept a lot of books on the TBR so far, and after reading the synopsis, I just don’t know. It does sound interesting, but it doesn’t quite pop out at me like the previous books on the list have.

I’m going to say no to this one.

Verdict: Bin

 

Daughter of the Burning City – Amanda Foody

Daughter of the Burning City

Goodreads – Daughter of the Burning City

Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show.

But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed…until one of them is murdered.

Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn’t actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca, and their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina’s illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all of her loved ones disappear.

I love how the premise of the book centers around a circus and the workings of illusion. Combine that with the element of murder/mystery and I’m hooked! This may also end up being a coming-of-age tale (given that the character is explicitly defined as a teenager). Not my favourite trope, but as it is so commonplace, I’ll just have to get on with it!

Verdict: Keep

 

So that is the next ten books on my list sorted! Have you read any of these books? As ever I would love to hear your thoughts!

Blog Tour and Giveaway: The London Murder Mystery series – Alice Castle

I am very pleased to be taking part in this Blog Tour today. The tour features the first two books in The London Murder Mystery series, Death in Dulwich and The Girl in the Gallery.

I was very kindly provided with free copies of each book in exchange for a review by Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources. I cannot wait to share my thoughts with you guys!

 

Death in Dulwich

Death in Dulwich (London Murder Mystery 1)

Goodreads – Death in Dulwich

Thirty-something single mum Beth Haldane is forced to become Dulwich’s answer to Miss Marple when she stumbles over a murder victim on her first day at work. To clear her name, Beth is plunged into a cozy mystery that’s a contemporary twist on Golden Age crime classics. But can she pull it off? She already has a bouncy young son, haughty cat, a fringe with a mind of its own and lots of bills to pay, as she struggles to keep up with the yummy mummies of SE21. Join Beth in #1 of the London Murder Mystery series, as she discovers the nastiest secrets can lurk in the nicest places.

My Thoughts…

Beth is a bubbly young woman, who discovers a murder on her first day back at work. Having convinced herself that she is implicated, she delves in to try and uncover the murderer and motive.

I quite enjoyed her bouncy, ditzy character. She loves to think she is organised; she cleans and tidies the house to “get her thoughts together”. The facade slips whenever she has to tip the contents of her handbag out to find her phone though. It is her way of determining that she is in control. But, as a single mum, things can get pretty hectic. I like the “modern” family structure in the book – increasingly there are more families, for one reason or another, that are reliant on a single parent. I thought it was great that this was recognised.

Alice Castle’s description of Beth is on-point, even down to the rogue, uncooperative hair (anyone with long hair will really relate to this, I’m sure). Her personality makes her the perfect candidate to want to uncover the mystery, despite being warned of the potential dangers by Inspector York. Exasperated at her meddling and finding her around the corner of every development, York has to concede to her knowledge of the small, exclusive community in order to solve the case. Whilst most of the narrative is written from Beth’s perspective, there are small sections from Inspector York. I would have liked to see a little more from his perspective, as the expert on the case.

The narrative is full of plot twists, leaving you guessing the next move and the identity of the perpetrator. What makes it even better is that the final twist was one I didn’t expect at all.

 

The Girl in the Gallery

The London Murder Mystery series #2

Goodreads – The Girl in the Gallery

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to Dulwich…

It’s a perfect summer’s morning in the plush south London suburb, and thirty-something Beth Haldane sneaks off to visit one of her favourite places – the world-famous Picture Gallery.

She’s enjoying a few moments’ respite from juggling her job at prestigious private school Wyatt’s and her role as single mum to little boy, Ben, when she stumbles across a shocking new exhibit on display. Before she knows it, she’s in the thick of a fresh, and deeply chilling, investigation.

Who is The Girl in the Gallery?

Join Beth in adventure #2 of The London Murder Mystery series as she tries to uncover the truth about a secret eating away at the very heart of Dulwich.

 

My Thoughts…

I moved on to reading The Girl in the Gallery almost immediately after Death in Dulwich. A number of the main characters are already established; therefore the plot flows effortlessly, without filling in too much back-story. The tale continues shortly after Death in Dulwich leaves off, making the book easy to pick up. There are plenty of references to the previous book to remind you what has happened before anyway.

The biggest plus point is how well the book tackles the sensitive issues within. Body image and the impact of social media are explored in detail. I particularly like how different characters in the book have various views on the struggle teenage girls’ experience. On the whole, the narrative has a balanced approach. This topic is completely different from the first book, so neither narrative nor setting is stale and repetitive.

The dynamic between characters is familiar, yet boundaries are tested in this second installment of the series. Inspector York has come to appreciate that in Dulwich, Beth has access to the inside scoop and enough curiosity to investigate to make his job easier. Where there was a reluctance to involve her in the previous case, now he calls upon her insight willingly.

One of my observations from Death in Dulwich is that there was little input from Inspector York into the narrative. Small sections are devoted to his viewpoint on the case, but they are few and far between. Whilst the sections in The Girl in the Gallery are still quite brief, York certainly has more of a voice and presence than before.

I really enjoyed reading both of these books and cannot wait to see what Calamity in Camberwell has in store! Once again, a huge thank you to both the author and Rachel for organising the tour! If you would like to read either book featured today, a copy can be purchased using the following links:-

Alternatively, the author is running a GIVEAWAY of a signed copy of each book via Rafflecopter. Please note that this is only available to UK residents at this time. See the Terms and Conditions below:-

*Terms and Conditions – UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link above. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

 


 

About the Author

Before turning to a life of crime, Alice Castle was a UK newspaper journalist for The Daily Express, The Times and The Daily Telegraph. Her first book, Hot Chocolate, was a European best-seller which sold out in two weeks.

Alice is currently working on Calamity in Catford, the sequel to Death in Dulwich and The Girl in the Gallery. It’s the third instalment in the London Murder Mystery series and will be published by Crooked Cat next year. Once again, it features Beth Haldane and DI Harry York. 

Alice is also a top mummy blogger, writing at DD’s Diary.

She lives in south London and is married with two children, two step-children and two cats.

Join Alice Castle on her Facebook page.

Alice is also on Twitter and sometimes even on Instagram 

Reading List - July 2018

Reading List – July 2018

By the beginning of July last year, I had read 30 books – which is an amazing achievement! This year, I’m a little bit slower on 25, but I am still more than happy with that! Bearing in mind that I am now self-hosted and trying to write better quality posts, I think the tradeoff is worth it!

Reading fewer books this year has definitely given me that opportunity to put more of the necessary time into my blog. It does mean, however, that some of the books I planned to read this year weren’t even touched. Therefore, I am dedicating July to tying off some of the loose ends and reading books I should have gotten around to sooner:-

Death in Dulwich and The Girl in the Gallery (London Murder Mysteries #1-2)

Goodreads – Death in Dulwich

Goodreads – The Girl in the Gallery

I’m starting July exactly where I left off last month because I have a blog tour coming up for this series. On the 14th July, I’ll be reviewing both Death in Dulwich and The Girl in the Gallery. I’ve run over on these because I had a wonderful opportunity to read and review Ravencry by Ed McDonald for Gollancz. However, with a shorter deadline than these two books, I had to put them aside temporarily to fulfill all of my obligations.

I’m currently over half way through Death in Dulwich, so I did manage to get a fair amount of this read last month. The narrative is reasonably easy to follow and Beth is a well-developed character. I am yet to decide if she is a particularly reliable narrator, or just an overzealous woman desperate for the truth. All will pan out in due course, I am sure.

A Darker Shade of Magic

Goodreads – A Darker Shade of Magic

Back in February this year I vowed to pick up A Darker Shade of Magic and experience the writing of V.E. Schwab for myself – only, never got to. This is a series I feel I could really get into, so I need to take the plunge and get reading. I am not putting this off any longer.

The premise of magic and the idea of multiple realities, without really being science-fiction is really interesting. If the ratings on Goodreads are anything to go by, I don’t think I’ll regret reading this book. We’ll just have to see if it lives up to expectation!

Children of Blood & Bone

Children of Blood & Bone

Children of Blood & Bone

Children of Blood and Bone is one of my April cast-offs. Conversations are still being had about this book on the likes of Twitter and other social media platforms, and I am intrigued by the magic in the narrative. I have waited too long to pick up this book, and can only hope I enjoy reading it as much as I want to.

There has been a lot of buzz about the book highlighting issues experienced by ethnic minorities. In an interview on Mashable with Toni Adeyemi, she explains that there are references to police brutality and racism within. I’m also really looking forward to seeing a different culture. Reading Children of Blood & Bone will be an entirely new experience for me.

The Mansions of Murder

Mansions of Murder

Goodreads – The Mansions of Murder

March of the ARC’s (aka, my March reading list) was a reasonably long list, and I didn’t get around to picking up this one. This is my last Netgalley read, so once I have reviewed the book I am going to close my account.

This is not the only reason I want to read the book though. I am enjoying a few mystery reads at the moment. Combine this with its historical theme and there you have a book with promise. In my eyes anyway… and that’s what counts, right?

The Eye of the World

the eye of the world

Goodreads – The Eye of the World

This poor book has been on my TBR since 2014 and I STILL haven’t gotten around to it! I’ve re-read the first chapter sample several times. The writing really interests me, but I just can’t seem to commit to picking up the book. I have sampled the audiobook book before to get around this subconscious aversion I have. Unfortunately, I don’t like the narration. I will prefer reading myself for sure. I am now on a mission to read this (at least this year) because my friend Rachael devoured the series herself and recommended it to me.

I’ve already given myself a back-out clause for this month though. I know, I know. Call me awful, whatever, but I have a busy month coming up personally. I have over a week booked off work, but I am visiting family for some of that time. As a result, I can’t promise I’ll spend that time reading.

Obviously, I am going to try to read as much as I can though. Pinky promise.

What is good is that I already have most of these books (I think I only need to buy The Eye of The World), and I am pretty much on a spending ban until then. I’ve already bought myself a few books to make myself feel better about the prospect…

Which books are you picking up this July?