Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Mystery Monday Extra Special: The Chinese Shawl


THE CHINESE SHAWL
(Miss. Silver: #5)
Written by Patricia Wentworth
1943; 320 Pages
Genre: mystery, detective

Rating: ★★★★

Laura Fane has returned to London to collect her inheritance but it is not the happy moment she
anticipated. Her father was expected to marry a cousin but instead fell in love with Laura's mother. Her father has left her everything including the estate that his jilted fiancee occupies. She wants Laura to sell her the place so she can leave it to her niece Tanis. Laura is not sure what to do.

When Laura is summoned to visit Tanis' aunt Laura discovers Tanis is manipulated and will do anything to get her way, including blackmailing. When Tanis ends up murdered Miss Silver is on the case and everyone is a suspect.

Another great mystery in the Miss. Silver series. Randal March, Miss. Silver's former charge aids her in solving the murder. I like the chemistry between the two much like Holmes and Watson. The way they bounce off of each other makes the solution of the mystery much more enjoyable.

k (My Novelesque Life)

Mystery Monday Extra: Danger Point


DANGER POINT 
(aka: In the Balance)
(Miss. Silver: #4)

Written by Patricia Wentworth
1941, 225 Pages
Genre: mystery, detective

Rating: ★★★★

Miss. Silver is on the train returning from her holiday with her niece when a young lady stumbles into her compartment. Right away she can tell the young girl is afraid of something and tries to get her to open up. The young woman, Lisle overheard some women gossiping about her husband. His wealthy first wife's death may have not have been accident and now that his estate is in jeopardy again will Lisle be next?

A predictable but engaging mystery. Like in Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca the new bride is frightened into thinking her husband is the killer of his first wife. And, also like in Rebecca you will be at the edge of your seat wondering if the husband is misunderstood or a monster.

k (My Novelesque Life)

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Mystery Monday: Another Winner by Raybourn



A CURIOUS BEGINNING
(Veronica Speedwell: #1)
Written by Deanna Raybourn
2015; 337 Pages
Genre: mystery, historical fiction, romance

Rating: ★★★★

(I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY in exchange for an honest review.)

When I first picked up Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn I  fell in love with the gothic historical mystery series, featuring Lady Julia.  I tried Raybourn's standalone novel, The Dead Travel Fast,  and had mixed feelings about the plot and characters (review will be featured on TBT).  I tried her "Roaring Twenties" series and found some were better than others.  I was sad to hear that there would be no more books in the Lady Julia series, and wasn't sure how to feel about her newest historical mystery series, featuring Veronica Speedwell.  She sounded like a strong-willed woman like Julia but would it be as good? I started the novel last month and LOVED it. I think I might even like it more than her Lady Julia series as more novels come out.

Veronica is a fun character! She is a bit like Julia's sister Portia in that she believes that sex outside of marriage is a must for a future spinster like her. She speaks her mind and what comes out of her mouth is priceless.  Veronica is a scientist that is interested in studying butterflies and has gone on expeditions and written papers (under V. Speedwell). However, she is constantly trying to prove herself to her peers.  Like most of Raybourn's novels the action pretty much starts at the beginning.  As Veronica buries her remaining aunt she starts to get ready to leave town and start on a new adventure but instead adventure finds her.  As she is about to be kidnapped a German baron comes to her rescue and tells her she is in grave danger.  He takes her to his most trusted friend, Stoker, to hide while he discovers the truth...but is instead murdered and the police are looking for Stoker for the murder.  Now Veronica and Stoker are on the run to clear their name and find the murderer of the baron.

There is so much going on this novel that it has the feeling of a fantasy novel - epic journey to the truth.  This historical novel feels like it was written in the time it was set and it was easy to see the era.  The banter between Veronica and Stoker is also great - very Clark Gable and Joan Crawford.  I recommend this novel (and series) to every Raybourn fan and those who love a good mystery!

k  (My Novelesque Life)

Monday, 12 October 2015

Mystery Monday Postponed

After all that turkey AND ham for dinner I need some tome to recover but will be back tomorrow night with Mystery Monday and two Mystery Monday Extras.

k (My Novelesque Life)

Friday, 9 October 2015

TBT: Historical Romance






HER SCANDALOUS AFFAIR
(standalone)
Written by Candice Hearn
2004, 384 Pages
Genre: historical romance

Rating: ★★★★

Richard (aka Major Lord Mallory) returns home from "the wars" and finds his beloved grandfather on his deathbed. His cold non-maternal grandmother sends him on a mission to find the long-lost Mallory heart before her husband dies. At one of the social events in London he sees the brooch pinned to Lady Isabel Weymouth's bosom. Was this socialite widow a jewel thief as well? Richard steals the brooch from Isabel (who is borrowing the jewelry from her grandmother) then Isabel steals it back the next day. So begins the game of jewel thievery but soon they don't know if they are stealing the brooch or one anothers's heart.

A fun historical romp sizzling with passion and a hint of mystery and action. A great read all around. Hern has as a way with dialogue and characters. Even when they were a bit cliched you still felt love or hate for them. It is a predictable story that keeps you entertained.

k (My Novelesque Life)

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Quickie Review: Photography and Poetry




EMBLEMS OF THE PASSING WORLD: POEMS AFTER PHOTOGRAPHS OF AUGUST SANDER

Written by Adam Kirsch
2015, 128 Pages
Genre: poetry, photographs, nonfiction, history

Rating: ★★1/2

(I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY in exchange for an honest review.)

In the Emblems of the Passing World we see photographs of August Sander of Germans from before World War I to World War II.  The photographs are beautiful and capture so much emotion and make you wonder the story behind them.  Unfortunately, I was not a fan of Adam Kirsch's poetry.  I am not sure the poetry really conveys anything about the photo and often are just jumbled words.  I have to admit I stopped reading the poems after 60 pages and just looked at the great photos.  I would only recommend this book to those who enjoy great poetry.

k (My Novelesque Life)

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Throwback Toddlers, Tots and Teens Tuesday


Tonight I am doing a review of a novel that I read four years ago but is a series that is still doing well.  I may be in the minority about this book...

FALLEN
(Fallen: #1)
Written Lauren Kate
2009; 435 Pages
Genre: young adult, paranormal

Rating:

After a bizarre fire kills a friend, Luce is sent to a reform school Sword & Cross to "recover".  Most of her classmates seem odd yet intriguing. One student in particular catches her eye, gorgeous and standoffish, Daniel Grigori. He turns out to be a Fallen Angel and they have spent many lifetimes trying to be together.
 

I started out liking the novel and the teen angst and longing was not annoying like Bella and Edward. I thought that the "mystery" (quotes because you know what it is and it says it in the synopsis but it still remains unnamed) dragged out for too long and even when answers were given it still came out stilted. I sort of felt letdown when everything was explained. Unfortunately, I will not continue with this series as I don't have any curiosity left for the series.

k (My Novelesque Life) 

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Mystery Monday: Dr. Charlotte Stone - Book 4



THE LAST TIME I SAW HER
(Dr. Charlotte Stone: #4)
Written by Karen Robards
2015; 336 Pages
Genre: romantic suspense, suspense, mystery, paranormal, supernatural

★1/2

(I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY in exchange for an honest review.) 

Last summer when I finished the third book, Last Whisper, I was a bit shattered when it ended with a cliffhanger.  I thought if this was the last book in the series I would be devastated.  After I picked myself up off the floor I moved on with life the best that I could.  As other books came into my life I slowly let Charlie and Michael go.  By the time I saw that book four was being released (my mind probably had blocked out the trauma) I had not realized that I needed to read this book AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! Last week, I realized I missed reading and reviewing this book in August and September so I decided to get on that. OMG as soon as I started the first page all the emotions and scenes from book three flashed through my eyes.  I spent my day off reading as much as I could.

This is a hard book to review as everything I want to say sounds like a spoiler or might lead to a spoiler.  So bare with me please...Charlie heads back into work, after some time off, to hand over files to a lawyer who could be Michael's twin...except they have different eye colours.  Before Charlie can investigate him there is a prison break on death row and she is taken hostage along with a school bus with young kids. While her life is in danger all she can think about is clearing Michael.

From the first chapter I was hooked till the end but I did have a few little problems.  There were certain things and parts of the story that kept getting repetitive to the point I was getting a bit annoyed.  Charlie's devotion for Michael at times felt over the top but I think it annoyed me only because of the ghost/human relationship.  And, the last 1/4 of the book felt really rushed. I would have rather the book ended on another cliffhanger and for another novel to be written.  I am not sure if this is the last book in the series.  Robards did tie everything up and there was no real anticipation for another book.  Yet, if there is book 5 on how things progress I would definitely read it.

k (My Novelesque Life) 

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Toddlers, Tots and Teens: YA Historical/Paranormal Fiction


THE DIVINERS
(The Diviners: #1)
Written by Libba Bray
2012; 592 Pages (18 Hours and 14 Minutes)
Genre: young adult, paranormal, historical, mystery, suspense
Audio Read by January LaVoy

Rating: ★★★★1/2

Last month for one of my reading groups we had the theme of Young Adult for September being all about back to school.  We had a poll and The Divinersby Libba Bray was chosen.  This is book one in the series by the same name.  Set in 1926 - post WWI and during the Prohibition - young Evie O'Neil is rebelling too much for her parents and is sent to stay with her maternal uncle in New York City.  Evie is excited to leave her boring old hometown where memories of her late brother seem to be everywhere.  Also, in New York is her friend, Mabel Rose a good girl with intellectual parents who are always off protesting for a cause.  Her Uncle Will, or Unc as Evie calls him, is hoping that Mabel and his assistant Jericho will keep his niece grounded and out of trouble.  It doesn't look good when she meet a con named, Sam Lloyd and another odd character, Memphis Campbell.  She also become friends with Theta Knight, a Zeigfeild Girl, and her friend Henry.

Will is the curator of an Occult Museum and and expert in the occult so he is called to help the police with a murder scene with cryptic occult stuff.  Evie is scared her uncle will figure out she has a secret that has to do with a special gift, but can't help use it to help catch a serial killer.  As the case affects all the characters they discover they are not the only ones with a secret...nor that something evil has awakened.


This is one novel I would recommend to adults who love young adult books.  It has everything one looks for in a good story - a bit like Deborah Harkness' The Discovery of Witches - and I really enjoyed the historical and paranormal elements.  The actual case is a bit like a B-movie or radio drama from the 30s and 40s but it really fit the book and the period.  While I found it silly at times I also thought it was perfect for how Bray writes this novel.  The dark is balanced with humour and young adult chatter.  As well as this book is written and feels like it's written for adults when it comes to love and romance you remember they are just young people.  There is nothing really explicit in this novel but with the dark theme I would say this book is for 15+. This is a perfect "mom-daughter" novel to read together.   I cannot say too much without revealing spoilers but I really recommend you try it.

I listened to this novel on audio - read by January LaVoy - and found she did an awesome job in giving each character a distinct voice and even the era.  You can listen to an sample on Goodreads.


k (My Novelesque Life)

TBT: The Last Victim - Robards



THE LAST VICTIM 
(Dr. Charlotte Stone: #1)
Written by Karen Robards
 2012; 321 Pages
Genre: romantic suspense, mystery, paranormal 

Rating: ★★★

My first book by Karen Robards was Superstition - a romantic-suspense with paranormal elements. I enjoyed the storyline, characters and found it quite good on the suspense scale.  I have since read several books by Robards and on the whole have really liked them.  In 2012, while at the library I picked up her newest novel in hardcover, The Last Victim.  I had not read the synopsis as Robards was now on my "must-read" authors.  The novel starts with Dr. Charlotte "Charlie" Stone, an expert in criminal pathology, interviewing serial killers on death row for her research.  The serial killer we meet along with Charlie is Michael Garland.  Charlie is a buttoned-down by the rule kind of gal but has this other side to her.  Michael who is a charming smart-ass ruffles her feathers a little but wants to see her really flustered.  Then Michael is killed by another inmate and Charlie is the only one that can see him, along with the FBI clamoring for her assistance on another serial killer...wait...oh, did I mention that Charlie has the ability to see spirits?  Yes, she can she communicate and see ghosts.  When Michael realizes she can see him he attaches himself to her.  As Charlie tries to aid the FBI with the Boardwalk Killer - who is either a copy cat or that same killer that murdered her best friend, Holly when they were just young girls.

We are also introduced to FBI Agent, Tony Bartoli who serves as the good guy love interest while Michael is the bad boy foil.  Now I didn't think there was going to be much of a love triangle as one is alive and well, the other is dead...and a serial killer.  I liked the banter between Michael and Charlie but I am not buying the romance angle.  I like Tony and think he would make a great hero. As I read the book I was intrigued enough to keep reading and was enjoying it but there were times i was putting the book down and saying "really?"  I enjoy paranormal novel but ghosts and humans as love interests is not my thing...in saying that I will be reading the next book in the series, lol.


THE LAST KISS GOODBYE
(Dr. Charlotte Stone: #2)
Written by Karen Robards
 2013; 336 Pages
Genre: romantic suspense, mystery, paranormal 

Rating: ★★★

(I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review).

Charlie, an expert in criminal pathology, is great at her job in seeing what is in the minds of killers and can also see dead people! In fact, the man she is starting to have feelings for is a ghost and may also be a serial killer.  Trying to runaway from that part of her life she puts her energy into helping the FBI capture the killer dubbed as the "Gingerbread Man."  In helping Agent Bartoli she may have just put herself in the spotlight and maybe the next victim for the cruel manipulating murderer.  As Charlie tries to feel more towards the living man in her life who has only shown her kindness she give Michael more ammunition to never leave her side.  While she figures out her love life can she also capture a killer.

I enjoyed this novel a lot more than the last book, The Last Victim.  In this novel, we have bypassed the "she-can-see-dead-people" thing and that her best friend is a psychic (and maybe a Voodoo Priestess), but to be honest I am still "ugh" about the ghost and human romance thing.  The one thing I love about Karen Robards' writing is that the suspense and character development take center stage so that little things like weird ghost relationships don't seem so bad or a deal breaker.  I also am not a fan of love triangles but Robards keeps it from getting juvenile.  Charlie has two men who are vying for her attention and she is legitimately - in my opinion - thinking it over.  I also like that we see more of Buzz and Lena and get to see more of their characters development.  I am in for the third book.


THE LAST WHISPER
(Dr. Charlotte Stone: #3)
Written by Karen Robards
 2014; 352 Pages
Genre: romantic suspense, mystery, paranormal 

Rating: ★★★

(I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review).

 After her last case Charlie is thinking about staying on the sidelines when it comes to capturing serial killers.  She almost makes good on that promise until Lena, an Agent that Charlie aids in special cases, personally asks fer her help.  Lena's sister, Giselle is missing and what she does know sounds like the MO for the Cinderella Killer.  Lena wants more than her professional help but also her unique skill of seeing dead people.  Charlie heads to Las Vegas with her best friend, Tam and her lover and ghost, Michael in tow.

I am really enjoying this series far more than I would have imagined.  This paranormal romantic-suspense series has a great female lead.  While she is not always the wisest with her decision making she is realistically flawed which makes her more endearing.  Michael, her ghost love interest, is charming, dangerous and a bad bet for a future.  Together the two differently wounded characters have great chemistry and their "romance" and future is very intriguing.  In saying that I should warn you that book three leaves you with a huge cliffhanger.  As soon as you reach the last sentence you cannot believe the novel has ended.  There better be a book four or I am going to be very disappointed.

So what about the mystery?  Right, Kaminsky's sister has gone missing and Charlie is called in to help the FBI Special Unit find her.  This book is more of a character and spirit world storyline than mystery.  There is still suspense in other aspects and I enjoyed this novel but be warned as a standalone this novel may not work so well.   


Next week for Mystery Monday will be book FOUR in the Dr. Charlotte Stone series!



k (My Novelesque Life)